James Houston Eccleston.

The James Houston Eccleston day-book, containing a short account of his life & readings ... chosen from his sermons; online

. (page 8 of 10)
Online LibraryJames Houston EcclestonThe James Houston Eccleston day-book, containing a short account of his life & readings ... chosen from his sermons; → online text (page 8 of 10)
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companion as Christian fervor rises in some glad
meeting of praise; or comforts in the deeper
trials of life-sorrow. But after all, for the un-
poetic, every-day, constant wear, it may be well
doubted if any one of the four serves quite like
this business man, St. Matthew's, plain, steady
record of the Life Divine among men!




Martha's hint would almost read, "Master,
your promise is small comfort. Away off in the
unknown future may rise the mountain of hope
lighted with the glory of God, and filled rank
on rank with the risen people of our Maker,
saints of every age to sing His praise. But to
me the one stubborn, all-consuming fact is that
my brother is dead.'' Then the mighty words,
first spoken in the ears of a living being. "I
am the resurrection and the life." And it is
too much for her. She does not know what this
teaching is. But she knows who this Teacher
is, "Thou art the Christ": she can believe in
Him. She does not ask for an explanation why
suffering and death are permitted in the world.
She does not ask for a description of the blessed
dead when they are gone, or whether we will
know one another in that Land of Light. She
concentrates her whole religious power and her
entire religious life in the Lord and Saviour.
Everything gathers to Him; she knew his life
and His power, and she felt His presence. But
we know His death and mighty resurrection,
His death bringing Him a step closer to our



human life, if His resurrection lifts Him far
away to the level of the majesty of the life of
our God.


The speechless cry of an overburdened spirit,
wearied with the trials of life, or borne down
with the struggle against sin, has still the Friend
of all friends to plead with the Almighty Father,
in the gracious Saviour's Name, and ask help
for which we can cry, but which we cannot
describe. "The Spirit itself maketh interces-
sion for us."


Dignity which must be always defended had
better be entirely disposed of, or rather doesn't
exist: it is very often a very thin disguise for
a bad temper. I have seen clever young people
made almost worthless for life because their
parents taught them that a bad temper was a
very dignified piece of peculiarity. Strife is as
old as the Tower of Babel, and as common as
the row which broke up that pretentious build-
ing. But if you want a peculiarity which stands
out above all surroundings, take that friendship



between David and Jonathan, where each was
too grand to suspect a fault or failure in the
other, and which held through all the dangers
of open war!


The man great enough to fling down his weap-
ons, and trust without a doubt his great Friend
was he who, armed as God armed him, and sure
in God's great promised defence, stood between
two threatening armies while others cowered in
their tents. The man who is confident he is
right in God's sight, who feels his security in
God's favor, can afford to allow his dignity to
take care of itself.


There are people in the world whose chief
purpose, one is disposed to think, is with their
own rough surfaces to rub smooth those who are
next to them. The world has never thought it
worth while to call attention to any piece of
ill-humor as especially wonderful; but it bows
to-day in adoration over the prayer, "Father,
forgive them." And that rises so high in its
solitude that only those most like Him in Hfe



ever approached His eminence. One other
prayed, "Lay not this sin to their charge": and
the world leaves Master and disciple almost
unapproached in their splendid peculiarity of
life and death.


There is nothing peculiar in battle-fields
strewn with men made in God's image, some
broken, some bleeding, some dying with blas-
phemy on their lips, some dead with the clutch
of hate on their hands, and its scowl on their
marble face. There is nothing peculiar in sacked
cities, and homeless women and fatherless chil-
dren. Plunder is as old as the days of Abraham,
and murder is only just not as old as the race.
Individuality enters only where a gleam of the
Christ-spirit shoots across the waste! In the
Civil War a dying man looked up and asked an
officer of the enemy to kneel and pray God for
Christ's sake to receive his soul; and amid the
turmoil of retreat and advance the prayer was
made, and the man slept his sleep: but countless
other men made only common blocks in the
sad mosaic. Nobody wondered at them; but
this one was a manly soul, serving God. Where-



ever this is, we find a man preserving his indi-
viduality; and of course his manliness.


I know very well that when servants take
places, they must expect servants' work. But
if you will look closely you will find that your
religion must be one which will reach as far as
your treatment of those under you. After all,
the hardest gauge of one's religion is the esti-
mate of the one next to us. But suppose Christ
should measure by that! "Oh! that is senti-
mentahsm!" Well, I do not think I ever traced
a Christian precept quite down to anybody's
door that the person inside did not call it


One of these is intended to be put at the
street corner, en a sign, "Take heed that ye do
not your righteousness to be seen of men": and
the other is to be written on the walls of your
own selfishness and hiding homes, "Let your
light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works." And one is as much the



command of Christ as the other. And both are
intended to rebuke the same fault of hypocrisy
— one is the hypocrisy of exposure and exhibi-
tion, and the other the hypocrisy of conceal-
ment and hiding plain duty. Read the last
verse this way, "Let your light so shine that it
may fall on your works, and men may see them,
and not you: and also that men may assign
all the glory to God and not to you."


Only the object of faith can make faith. Only
he whom you trust can make you trust, and keep
you trusting him. If we have any faith in God
it is the gift of God. He, His Son and His
Spirit make us trust; unless the devil or man
has lied about Him, and we have listened.




For Christ's sweet sake, come give us that
argument against which the cleverest skeptic is
silent — a Ufe led under the light of Christ!


The Bible is nowhere more true than where it
teaches that persistent doubt is as distinct a
hindrance to the Almighty as indulgence.


So unseen, yet forever at hand, no partner
with sin, no belittler of wrong, no companion of
neglect, no admirer of self-will; nay, but the
very Hero of the crucifixion of self, He is in and
near each home, each toiling, patient, right-
minded man, and diligent woman.


"Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass
away." That petition was not granted. There
was the instinct of prayer, there was the impul-

^^6 "


sive seeking for protection from that enormous
Power above, which was leading the steps of
that same praying Man. But your salvation
and mine depended upon God's not granting
that one petition. But He answered that prayer.
Do you pretend for one moment that the Christ
took nothing by His prayer?

Could you or I ask any higher privilege, dare
we expect any greater evidence of sonship, than
that we should pray with Christ, and with Christ
be blessed?


The glory of God is a man free to know and
do what is right.

Right is too often left to the frail exaction of
a social demand.

The enduring element of which the Temple
of God must be built is simply and only one
thing, and that is RIGHT. It is not faith, it
is not hope, it is not love; and it is all three:
but it is right. And more than that, it is not
what you and I may think is right. It is not
even the best that we can do. The thing that
is to last, the thing that is built within the
foundation and walls of this Temple is RIGHT



as it stands in the sight, and dwells in the soul,
of God.


"How much prayer, and how often?" As
often as your words will carry an aspiration after
God's life and rule and reign. And when the
heart is cold and there is no aspiration.? Kneel
in silence till God's Spirit tells you that Christ
came not to give rules for prayer, but to lead
the outcast and humble, and the industrious
man and busy woman, and the rich merchant,
and the reserved noble — all upwards toward
God; and till you learn that if we could have
prayer at will, and at our own bidding. He had
never left high Heaven and come to earth!


The world by human wisdom could never
find God, and He had to be revealed. The
world by human wisdom would never follow God,
but the power of the Holy Ghost through the
wisdom and understanding of consecrated men
and women of every age has been spreading the
ideal reign of the ideal King. From the great
heads of the Church of God, and the great



Christian men who occupy high places in the
realms of the world, on down to the humblest
teacher in Sunday or day-school, or the most
patient companion in social or home life, the
instrument which God's kingdom needs, and the
blessing for which your Church so wisely prays,
is the patient reading of God's truth, and patient
thought on God's message under the power of
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.


He made forgiveness the very inbreathed life
of the Church. The parable does not say to
collect no debts, and does not say that you
must be able to forgive as God does. It says
you must have a forgiving heart, which Christ
will give you, provided you will take it and use
it, provided you will receive His forgiveness. For
with that will go, not the clutch upon another's
throat and brutal imprisonment of him, but
right Christian pity. Let us go back, then, to
the prayer each debtor cries, "Have patience
with w^."


Oh! the possibility of a human being to fling
upon human life a light which should expose



the false and show the true; which would ter-
rorize with denunciation, and yet attract with
the perfection of love; which could denounce a
punishment which staggers human belief, and
yet offer a reward which is too much for human
hope, as did the Life of all lives, the Shelter of
all shelters, whose constant life was one of
denial of self and ease, and whose last tremen-
dous appeal alike to God and man was His
death on Calvary. The ideal Man, the ideal
Teacher, the ideal Sufferer, the ideal Shelter!
Who comes to Him and asks forgiveness, may
have it when he is willing to learn and follow
Him. And the closer he lives to his Lord, the
more he will rule in love those who are in the
power of his love and rule in justice those in his
power of place. His own life will rebuke what
is false, and plead for what is true: he will be
to his brother what His Lord is to him, "The
Shadow of a great Rock in a weary land."


Love is one of the best discoverers of what
one is. It is the quickest, keenest and deepest
sight we can have turned in upon us. There is
nothing like pure, strong love to see what is in

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US, of right and of wrong, of need for rebuke
and for help. Nothing Uke love teaches that.
Quick love, emotional love, may be feelingly-
blind to the first of its objects; but careful love
is the closest student, and is in the quickest
position to diagnose a failure, and suggest treat-
ment. And by His love, the Christ who loved
me has found a failure in me, in each of us, as
He always will. He looks. He hears. He stoops
with all His perfected human sympathy to know
our need, then turns to the exhaustless treasure
of Divine Wisdom to know our remedy.


I know there has been many a bit of hidden
giving, and God has lost no glory. I have
naught to say of giving for God and Christ;
He will surely find it, and men will see and
give glory. But alas for the wild talk against
loud, blatant, street-corner hypocrisy, which in
one man's mouth is to excuse himself from public
worship, and in another's to keep his too well-
loved dollars.


If there is no Christ here to meet, if there is
no word from God in this Bible, if there is no



Lord in the sacrament, if there is no Spirit to
come in answer to an humble prayer, if the whole
thing is a human device to be "seen of men,''
then by all means have nothing to do with us,
and shun us as a thing to be hated of God and
despised of men, for it is a cheat, and that alone!
But if Christ lives, and loves us; if He has put
within us faith growing into trust, and hope
growing into love, then by all means come to
the house of God, and help bring the blessing
which Christ promised to united prayer.


I doubt if there is a bigger lie in Satan's rep-
ertoire than the claim that men do not feel their
sin against God. They may not feel it as they
ought; but men and women always in quiet
hours admit responsibility to God, if they be-
lieve at all. But if we measured more God's
pitying, saving love in Christ, then we would
measure more our injury done Him through
ingratitude, and we would see more clearly what
an enormous power there is to bring life and
growth into our lives, endless, exhaustless power
to do whatever He asks.




Any number of people are willing to believe
themselves agents of Providence provided they
are winning! Men leading successful armies will
be very careful to allow the Almighty a share in
their actions. The trouble is to get the acknowl-
edgment of Providence when we are losing!


I do not deny the summons to faith of such
a mighty truth, I do not deny its tax, nay, its
very burden. But this I say, shut out the
Christ and there is no light in the world. "While
I am in the world, I am the light of the world."


Among beautiful hills one day we rode beside
a clear, laughing stream, running richer and
richer for a while: and then under shaded rocks
it dwindled, lessened, and was gone; for the
great, hard earth had swallowed it from our
sight. And then we rode over the hills, and lo!
beyond on the farther side we found a broad,
deep river swelling and flowing beneath the


gladdest of sunlight. Who can deny that the
glad stream of life grows sluggish, and is at last
swallowed up beneath the weary hills of death*s
wide domain, and through its gloomy hills runs
the dark valley of its shadow? And only one
great Teacher comes to tell us that beyond there
the lost stream bursts in a glory of power, and
very gladness of light and life never lost again!


Men talk of the intricate paths of life, and they
are many. And none are more so than those
which wind about in the four walls of the house
in which you live. And if you would walk them
doing kindly service, and avoiding weak conces-
sions to wrong on one hand, and harsh exactions
of right on the other, then let in the blessed
Christ into that home. You may give a wide
berth to that harsh-tempered one in your home
who is so exacting: but do you let the Christ
tread the narrower way of kindhness and love?


Paul, now the aged, is shut up in Caesar*s
prison, with not much longer to live, and he is



writing to his son Timothy at Ephesus. "Only
Luke is with me.'* So has said many a man
and woman, shut in some prison of old age or
feeble health, shut up in some small moment of
life and its trial. Luke at least is with me.
Something is left of Luke's strange, beautiful
story of the Httle Child of Bethlehem, and the
angels; and the song of the shepherds survives,
and their strange report, learned long ago in
home and nursery. Somehow God has given
them the chance to sit with Luke awhile, and
learn his fascinating stories of the human life
of Him of Nazareth, which sank deep down in
memory, when memory was in the soft, impres-
sible state, where the characters once sunk never
have quite gone out. And so when the hard
knocks of Hfe have beaten away much which we
thought would never be gone, the tempted, tried
and grieved heart thanks God that at least Luke
with his strange, staying story is "with me."


Debate as you will what you call the philos-
ophy of the Atonement, one fact obscures with
its light all others — Jesus of Nazareth has
alone of all men been able to forgive. And the



glory of His religion is that He is able to for-
give, and to rule by forgiving. Men believed
then and men beheve now that Jesus can and
does forgive. The Magdalen, the maniac, Peter,
Paul — what an endless host have shouted their
praise to God, sure that this Man has forgiven!


Three kinds of people have self at the centre.
Your hurrying, fussy little people seek the crowd
because it is a crowd, and they want to be
amused: these are rather light people, without
reserve force, with nothing to turn to, who are
miserable when threatened with an hour by
themselves; they have found that about the
worst company in the world is themselves, and
a good many people agree with them.

Then there are cool, solitary characters who
keep solitary because they wish to be comfort-
able in work or indulgence, and do not want
to be disturbed. These are often strong people
and useful people. They are big enough to get
above the masses, and not quite big enough to
come back to them again.

Then some persons of position carefully avoid
"society people," and look for people a little lower



down, because these gratify their vanity, and
yet are dreadfully hard on people who toady
to wealth. I know no more subtle vanity, nor
any weaker, than that which avoids people of
position because it finds it more gratifying to
gather about it persons to whom it is easily


The exclamation comes instinctively, "Why
we must select friends, we can't all go together,
men will divide." Yes, I know: Herodias and
Judas and all who said, "Give us Barabas,"
went with the crowd, and they had plenty of
company; it is easy to go with the crowd.
The pulpit always pleads against going with
the crovv^d. And yet remember, Jesus of Naz-
areth went with the crowd as well. John the
Baptist in his severe honesty and purity avoided
men and sought the wilderness: Jesus of Naz-
areth sought men and avoided the wilderness.
"I must go to the villages, go among the people,
live there while I can, for therefore am I sent."
He is perhaps the only Man who mingled among
men, simply from a sense of duty; did not seek
them for amusement, or flattery or gain, but



recognized the fact that He was here among
men, with a sense of obhgation to do them good.


Christ's world ever widens in breadth and
space and time, and yours and mine does not.
We weary a bit over it; I don't care who we are,
life grows trying. And it is because our lives
cross so many others. Bad enough if we cross
a stranger line, still worse if it be one nearer
home. The truer the man, the more he grieves
at these battle-places. Do you not see that
earth might be Heaven if only we had Christ's
wide and ever-widening love.? Conflict is too
often the world's gift to the proud claimant of
the right to say who he will or will not have in
his world.


Often we want advice, or help, or influence
or someone to plead for us. How many go
through life never needing and never asking such?
Not many. Everywhere men and women, boys
and girls, are looking for these natural priests,
people made by nature fit to advise, and able
to plead.




The person most "in your power" is the per-
son who cares most for you.


Most of US think of sorrow as the root idea
of repentance: it is not; hope is. Where sorrow
is the root idea there is blank, horrid, hopeless
remorse. St. Peter wept enough, but it was
because he had wounded a kind friend. Judas
wept none at all, but the fires burned out his
soul in grief hopeless and despairing; he could
see only an enemy.


Inspiration is one thing: revelation is another.
God's revelation in Christ was direct. The in-
spiration of its recording was given to Matthew,
Mark, Luke and John.

Men do not have to be electricians to see by
the light, and men need not know the mysteries
of Inspiration before they can see by God's
truth, if they will.




Many are willing to have the Almighty God
over them, provided He holds Himself ready to
work miracles which will save them trouble;
but not if His miracles exact trouble.


Any amount of people will believe that the
Ruler of the universe has something to do with
an earthquake or a volcano: it is hard for us
to believe that He controls the bloom of a
peach-tree, or the recovery of a httle child.


God will judge the world in righteousness:
not in whim, not in jealousy, but in RIGHT-
EOUSNESS. And by whom? By the men
about you in your Hfe? No! By that Man
whom He has appointed. Not one of your mis-
erable, little bits of people who will come and
lay a microscope down to see some spot on you,
which by some marvel they have not on them;
but judgment by this great big, broad, loving,
pure, gentle, blessed Man!




Of all things needed in this world, it is for
big, broad men, men who have not failed, to
be our triers. Put me before some little man,
one who has succeeded in one way and failed
in a great many, who has some one virtue and
many faults, and how he will scrutinize, and how
merciless he will be! And then find some great-
hearted man, who has by God's grace conquered
most of his own vices and he will be the gentlest


Oh, what is a holy, loving Christian life in
its personal touch upon those near it not worth,
in this great world where at last the strongest
power is that of Christ, and the most lasting
life is His undying love!

Believe me, some soul waits to greet you,
who will thank God for Christ's coming, and
for YOURS.




When we start with All Saints' Day we rush
at once to the "Communion of Saints/* and
the heart will have this thought.

If there is any truth to me real it is that
while their knowledge of life here can never de-
stroy the glad life of those who have gone before,
yet beyond all question if love here be love
there, then not one trial here ever escapes the
pitying sympathy of any who are allowed to
know the trials of their loved ones; and over
nothing do they yearn more to tell us their
triumph than when they see death's sad pres-

Each believer only makes one more in the
family of God; but the family is complete only
with that one, and it may be you or me.


Not a man has ever lived who honestly gave
his allegiance to Christ and wrought for Him,
from whose life the Lord has not taken the good
and given it to the Church at large.




A great, strong man on a throne, or behind
an army, or behind a huge fortune, who simply
tries to make all men let him go ahead while
he makes them stand still, is an enemy; and
we rightly enough treat him as such. And the
entire question of government among us is to
know where that Hne runs which, while protect-
ing the weak, leaves the strong, to rush on and
carry the great country with them.


When God's great Providence forces the
fighting, by ordering or permitting some great
loss, then depend upon it, it is because you and
I have some weak point, which, unless exposed
by assault, we would never admit is there.


Consciousness and conscience make men what
they are. Many a field has been dark with
blood to gain for men the noblest right of man,
the right to seek and find and follow right, as
his Maker shows it.




Religion is the attitude of the mind toward
God. But that is only the reflex of His mind
upon us. As He is to us, so at best we are to

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Online LibraryJames Houston EcclestonThe James Houston Eccleston day-book, containing a short account of his life & readings ... chosen from his sermons; → online text (page 8 of 10)