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ners who are working with him in the
store, but from the rivals who are compet-
ing with him outside, he learns. He mar-
ries, and his wife imparts life to him and
he imparts life to his wife, each dependent
[ H9 ]


upon the other. Children come and they
in turn become his teachers and his Hfe-
givers. The mothers here know that !
Nothing that they have yet given to their
children can compare with what their chil-
dren have given to them. Our children
are our great teachers, our great ministers,
for something of God*s own life looks out
of their strange and mystic eyes. So we
go on giving our life to one another, help-
ing or hindering one another in our high-
est development. And above all and
inspiring us all is the great Help-Giver
— Christ.

We make a great mistake and we do
not understand the foundation of our
Christian faith, if we regard Christ's life as
spent in Palestine and lasting only three
short years. The very basis of our Chris-
tian discipleship is this : That he rose from
the dead, is living, and that here to-day he
is doing for us what he did for those of
the olden time. He is still here, still
pouring into his followers the treasures of
his illimitable life. The question is not.
What can you do ? but. What can you and



God together do ? Not, What can you do
apart from him to win your way to his fa-
vor ? but. What can you do as the recipient
of his favor ? Christ in us is the hope of
our glory.

This is the foundation, the heart, the
life of our life. He is still here, and all
that he says we can do — we can do be-
cause he can do it in us and for us. This
is prayer. It is opening our heart to the
heart of God, laying our hands in the
hand of God, through Jesus Christ our
Lord, and asking and receiving life ! So
that we can live in poverty or in wealth,
in sorrow or in joy, so that we know both
how to be abased and how to abound, so
that we also can say as Paul said, " I can
do all things through him that strength-
eneth me."

Thus far I have been considering the
question. How does Christ save us ? How
are we to avail ourselves of this salvation :
this ideal of life, this inspiration to life ?
We make a great mistake if we sup-
pose, as we often do, that we are to
try ourselves to build up our own char-
[ 151 ]


acter. To be saved is to attain Christlike-
ness in life and character, and to do this
I am to do the work that God gives me
to do, and am to leave to God the mak-
ing of my character. Let me illustrate.
I am sick — a little cold, nothing serious,
as it seems to me. I call the doctor, who
tells me to go to bed, and to bed I go.
He says, " To-night eat only gruel," and
gruel I eat, although I would rather have
beef-steak. If now I begin to worry
about myself, if I ask, " What do you
find my pulse to be ? What my temper-
ature? What is the matter with me?
Am I going to be very sick ? " the doctor
will laugh at me, or he will change the
topic, or sharply forbid the questioning,
or possibly even deceive me. No doctor
wants a patient to try to cure himself.
If a patient begins to study his own
symptoms, that he may help cure him-
self, one of two things happens : either he
thinks, " I am not sick at all," or else he
thinks, "I am very sick," and in either
case the doctor's difficulties are increased.
Is the best type of pupil in a school the
[ 152]



pupil who is inquiring what her courses
are to be, what her marks are, what kind
of scholar she is, and whether she is doing
her work in the best way ; or the pupil
who takes the work given her to do and
does it faithfully and well, leaving the
shaping of the curriculum and the forma-
tion of the courses and the general work-
ing out of results to her teacher ? Which
is the kind of pupil of whom it is easiest
to make a scholar ?

What I understand Christ to say to us
is this : " Do not trouble yourself about
yourself. Leave yourself to me. I will
take care of you ; do you simply take care
of your duty. Do you say to me, I am
very vain ? I will carry you through ex-
perience to take the vanity out of you.
Do you say, I am very selfish ? Seek for
the opportunity to render service, render
the service, but leave me to carry you
through experiences that will take the
selfishness out of you. If you are selfish
I will put another's burden on you and
make you bear it, and in the bearing of
another's burden you will learn unselfish-

[ 153]


ness." I am not to set myself to make
a better man of myself. My work is to
be done without regard to myself, for the
sake of loyalty to Christ. One of the
most common and serious obstacles to
salvation, that is, to the natural and
healthful development of Christlikeness of
character, is the pernicious habit of self-
examination. The very passages often
quoted from the Bible in support of this
habit do really forbid it. " Search me, O
Lord, and know my heart, try me and
know my thoughts, look well if there be
any wicked way in me, and lead me in the
way everlasting." What does that mean?
Does it counsel me to search my own
heart and see if there be any wicked way
in me, and then the Lord will lead me
in the way everlasting ? No. I do not
know myself and cannot comprehend my-
self, and cannot search myself. If I come
in the spirit of this text, I shall say to
him, " Do you search me, do you try me,
do you see if there be any wicked way in
me. I want you to know it all. Then
put me through such discipline in life as
[ 154]


will make me a better man. I will go
where you lead, I will do what you tell
me to do, but I will leave the examination
to you/' The Armenians have a saying,
" No camel ever sees his own hump."
No one ever knows the evils that are in
himself. I do not want to know the
evils that are in me; they would dis-
hearten me. But I want God to know
them all, and I want to leave God to cure
them all. If I will, day by day, take
care of my duty he will take care of my

" With me/' says Paul, " it is a very
small thing that I should be judged of
you or of man's judgment : yea, I judge
not mine own self. For I know nothing
against myself; yet am I not thereby
justified : but he that judgeth me is the
Lord." ^ If I examine myself and con-
clude as the result of that examination
that I have done nothing wrong, nothing
that I need be ashamed of, that does not
satisfy me. I do not know. And if I
say, " I am all wrong and must be made

> I Corinthians iv. 3, 4. Revised Version.



all over again/' that certainly does not
satisfy me. And neither result helps me
to be better. So I put it all behind me,
take myself as I am, and say to him,
"Though I am as wavering as Peter, as
ambitious as John, as dishonest as Zac-
cheus, as proud as Paul, as resolutely
sceptical as Thomas, I put myself in your
hands just as I am. If you will tell me
what to do, not to make myself a good
man, — that I am not engaged to do, ^
but what to do to help other people,
what love to other men and women calls
on me to do, I will honestly try to do it,
and will leave you to make what you can
out of such a man as I am."

This little contribution to spiritual ex-
perience would be sadly defective if it did
not at least recognize a truth which can-
not be here more than merely recognized:
the fact that life-giving involves sacrifice.

When a young girl graduates from
college, and says, " I am going to teach,"
she fancies, notwithstanding her own col-
lege experience, that all the pupils will
welcome her instruction and look upon

[ 156]


her as a benefactor. When the babe is
laid in the mother's arms, the mother,
notwithstanding the experience of other
mothers, says, " This dear child will repay
my love with love, and my service with
gratitude." The great leader is gradually,
by no force of his own, pushed up to take
a position of leadership ; and he thinks
that the men who follow will rejoice and
applaud and thank him for his leader-
ship. But when the teacher goes to her
school-room she finds her scholars resist-
ing her influence ; when the mother sees
her child growing up from the nursery
into the school, she finds herself called
some day by the little boy "the old
woman," and her own love ill paid in in-
gratitude and carelessness; the leader is
stoned and abused by the very men who
follow him, and do not know that they
are following him.

It costs something to give life. And
the great God above us — it has cost him
something to give his life. It has cost
him his Son ; or, if we transfer the figure,
it has cost the Son the crown of thorns

[ 157]


and the cross and all the Passion to give
himself. He is the example — showing
what we may be ; he is hope — inspiring
us with the ambition to be; he is still
with us, pouring his life unto us ; he is
the great sufferer and the great self-sacri-
ficer — pouring out his life-blood that he
may give his life-blood to us.

There are those who are satisfied with
their present life, who are content with the
life they have lived, and with the life they
are living, and with the character they
have attained; for such the Gospel has no
message. But for those who are not sat-
isfied with the life that they have lived,
who are not satisfied with the character
they have attained, who want to be better
than they are, more than they are, larger
than they are, richer in character than they
are ; for those who see this life of Christ
and say, "I wish 1 had the power to live
that kind of life and be that kind of
man," for those the message of the Gos-
pel is : The Christ who has shown you
the pattern inspires you with the hope,
pours into you the life, and, still crowned

[ 158]


with thorns, waits for the time when he
shall see of the travail of his soul and be
satisfied, because you have awakened in
his likeness, and see him as he is, because
you are like him. Then, but not till
then, shall we know what salvation really

[ '59]

''™* lOANDEPT.

■■ ..V TE1.NO.642-3A0S



Return to desk from which borrowed.
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below.

MAY 22 1948

i 1 WIay'57NV

MAY 12 1957

LD 21-100m-9,'47(A5702sl6)476

YB 280 1 5



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Online LibraryLyman AbbottSeeking after God → online text (page 7 of 7)