Maltbie D. (Maltbie Davenport) Babcock.

Fragments that remain from the ministry of Maltbie Davenport Babcock, pastor Brick church, New York city, 1899-1901 online

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Online LibraryMaltbie D. (Maltbie Davenport) BabcockFragments that remain from the ministry of Maltbie Davenport Babcock, pastor Brick church, New York city, 1899-1901 → online text (page 1 of 16)
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Charles E. Robinson, D.D.

Malibie D, Bahcock

A Reminiscent Sketch and
Memorial. Third edition, cloth,
with four portraits, - net ^1.00.

" The picture is drawn as no one
could have done it unless under the
guidance of Love, whom Tennyson
calls ' the great portrait painter.'

* TAe most ideal master he, of alU

" It was indeed hard to give any true
presentment of a man like Babcock,
so vivid, so dazzling at times, so lov-
able always; but the writer's success is
quite wonderful." — Henry Vaft Dyke.

" No biography could have breathed
out more faithfully or sweetly the
lovely fragrance of this remarkable
me."—I^odert£. Speer.


[iflS^PRi^ i

Fragments That Remain

From the Ministry of

Pastor Brick Churchy New York City, i8gg-igoi

Reported and arranged by


And voices are heard that only come
WUh the winds f from a far-off shore.
— Washington Gladden.

New York Chicago Toronto

Fleming H. Revel I Company

London and Edinburgh





]^ 1924 L

Copyright, 1907, by

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 80 Wabash Avenue
Toronto: 25 Richmond Street, W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street

To the great multitude who were
cheered and strengthened by Dr,
Bahcock's words and who still
remember him with reverent af-
fectioUy this book is dedicated






DURING the years that have passed since Dr.
Babcock closed his eyes on this earthly scene,
to open them in the full glory of his Master's
presence, there has been a constantly expressed regret
that no record of his sermons has been preserved.

The present volume is composed of notes taken — not
in short hand — and written out immediately after the
service by the aid of a retentive memory, for private use,
and with no thought of publication. No one can be
more keenly aware of their limitations than the writer.
Notwithstanding the fact that many who were accustomed
to sit under Dr. Babcock' s ministry have assured her
that as they read they seem again to hear his voice and
see his form, she has hesitated to put them into perma-
nent form, hoping that other, fuller and better manu-
scripts might be forthcoming. But as several years have
elapsed, and no other series of his sermons seems to be in
existence, and no sufficiently legible original manuscript
has been discovered, she has at length consented to pub-
lish these notes.

During Dr. Babcock's ministry she was not a member
of the Brick Church, and cannot account for the peculiar
circumstances which drew her there and constrained her
to take and preserve these notes, unless it was a provi-
dential leading. Probably the most helpful modern
sermons are those of Frederick Robertson, of Brigh-
ton, — one series of which would have been lost to the



Christian public but for the fact that notes of the dis-
courses were preserved in the same informal manner that
these have been from the ministrations of Dr. Babcock in
New York.

In yielding, however, to the demand for publica-
tion, which it seems impossible further to ignore, the
writer wishes again to assume entire responsibility for all
defects, and to admit the probability that in some cases
she may unconsciously have expressed Dr. Babcock's
thoughts in her own words. Yet she feels assured
that his thought is faithfully transcribed, and that with
rare exceptions his exact phraseology is given to the
reader; and she has reason to believe that these ad-
mittedly fragmentary notes of occasional sermons will be
received with appreciation, not only by those who were
permitted to hear, but also by that far larger number
who felt the influence of this prince of preachers.

These "fragments" are given to the public with the
earnest desire that they may extend and perpetuate the
influence of a life that was unique in its power and sweet-
ness. May He, who was the inspiration of Dr. Babcock's
life, again reveal Himself through these printed words as
He did when they were spoken.

J. B. G.




The Holy Spirit 13

Power ....... 27

The One-Talent Man .... 39

Hope 51

Thanksgiving 65

There go the Ships 75

Prayer d)"/

Affliction . . . , . . .99

Little Things 1 1 1

Opportunity 123

The God Whom We Worship . . .133

Work : I 143

Work : H 155

Frustrating the Grace of God . . .165
Atonement ....... 173

Foreign Missions . . . . .181

Living Stones 189

God's Plan 193

Not Words but Deeds . . . .197

Service 203




Confidence in God 209

. 221

Considering Jesus


Things that Survive 241

Remembering the Lord . . . . 25 1
Joy 262



The Parable of the Pounds
The Parable of the Talents
The Ten Virgins .
Rabbi Ben Ezra .




The Incarnation 311

Parting OF the Ways 311

The Criterion 312

The Habit of Prayer 313


Children 313

The Holy Spirit 314

Giving 315

Christ IN THE World . . . . .315

Power 315

Love 315

Communion 315

Prayer 316



" May our daily life be a ritual of the gospel.
May we remove all barriers ; may we give the
Spirit His opportunity with us that Christ may
live in us ; may we not deprive Him of His
opportunity by our sin, O send forth Thy
Spirit into our hearts that we may know our


" And I will pray the Father ^ and He shall give you another
Comforter^ that He may abide with you forever '^ — John 14 : 16.

GOD is a discovery, not an invention. God was
before man knew of Him, before man formulated
a theology. More than this : man knew God
before he expressed that knowledge in a theology. Ex-
perience always precedes explanation. The life is lived
before it is described.

You do not say, ''The Letters and Life of Gladstone,"
but, ''The Life and Letters," because the life makes the
letters. You look at flowers ; you study, you compare
them, you love and admire them, and the classified
knowledge becomes botany : but the flowers preceded
botany. You look at rocks, and see that this one was
acted on by fire, and you call it igneous or plutonic ;
other rocks appear to you to have been formed by the
action of water, and you classify accordingly ; thus you
have the elements of geology: — but did you see geology
written across the rocks ? Did you see botany written on
the flowers ? In every case, the explanation, the science,
followed — did not antedate — the experience. Life is
lived ; it is studied in its various phases, and you have a
biology, a science of life, but always the life first.

So with theology. Theology is only man's attempt at
a systematic arrangement of what he knows of God by
revelation and from his own experience. It is not final ;



it is not perfect ; it is not complete ; it is human ; it is
not to be worshipped ; it is only an attempt. We say,
" Up to the present writing, this is how it appears to us."
But we do not expect it to be crystallized in that form,
any more than great and good men of past generations
expected us to accept their work as final. We hope to
add to it ; we feel sure that succeeding generations will.
Our knowledge is very imperfect, but we have some ; we
do know some things, and we know that we know them.
And because we know only a little and not all, because
there remain some mysteries insoluble by us, some diffi-
culties that we cannot explain, our ignorance does not
cast shame on our knowledge.

I carry a candle through the darkness, and it sheds a
little circle of light. I hold it as steadily as I can, I
throw out the Mght as far as I can, I trim the candle
and try to extend the circle of light, and I see some
things, and see them plainly, and rejoice in what I see.
But some one says, '' See the darkness — it engulfs every-
thing 1 " No, it doesn't ; it doesn't engulf the light from
my candle. 1 hold it before me, and go on steadily, step
by step, hoping and believing that some day all the dark-
ness will be illumined. Use the knowledge you have;
proceed on that ; more will come as fast as you can and
will use it.

O I love mystery ! What would Christmas be without
mystery ! What would heaven be without mystery !
Fichte once said, "If you held out your hands to me
with truth in one, and the search for truth in the other,
and gave me my choice, I would refuse the truth, and
enter on the search for it " ; and so would I, and so
would you. Mystery is God's allurement along the path
of knowledge ; it is His challenge to a hungry soul.


You sometimes make statements about the affections,
the will, the mind, and you know what you are talking
about. No, you don't. The affections ? the will ? the
mind ? — what do any of us really know about them ?
But we speak of them, and more or less clearly convey
our thoughts, — not always stopping to explain seeming
contradictions, knowing that fuller experience will unfold
them to our hearers. So Christ, in that Upper Room,
was talking to a group of plain men, not scholars, and
He spoke (as we might say) in words of one syllable,
stating sublime and incomprehensible truth most simply,
and leaving it without explanation, to be understood by
them as their experience unfolded it. He knew whereof
He spoke. He told them quite naturally of the Father
and of Himself and of the Holy Spirit. He made no at-
tempt to explain and " reconcile " ; it was truth, and He
could trust it to go out and do its work. He did say,
'' If you will live up to the knowledge you have, I will
manifest Myself to you " — offering manifestation in place
of explanation : and that we can have, and thousands do
have. I do not know whether the explanation of Peter,
regarding the mysteries of our faith, would be worth
much ; but, O, what would I give to have ^is experi-
ence ! I do not know how Paul would state his theory
of the Godhead ; but, O, that I might know what Paul
knows of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit !

And the only way to arrive at knowledge, to gather
experience, to receive manifestations, is to use the knowl-
edge you now possess, to travel by the light shed round
you now. I do not understand the chemical process by
which bread becomes blood — the vital fluid by which I
work and love and hate and endeavour and accomplish
things. I know it does do this. I know the fact, and I


eat bread. I know the effect, but I do not understand
the cause. I could tell you about what I attempted and
what I accomplished yesterday, and also what bread and
beef and porridge contributed to my physical upbuilding,
but if you ask me about the chemical analysis, I cannot
tell you. I cannot explain how the food forms chyme
and chyle — (which, by the way, always seem to me as if
they ought to be two German commentators). I do not
know why, when I am startled or ashamed or roused by
some pleasurable emotion, the blush mounts to my
cheeks, and hangs out that signal flag between the phys-
ical and the spiritual. But I do know that that blood
coursing through my veins is my life, and that it depends
on food, and so, trusting to my experience, I eat food,
and I live. And the scholar and the labourer alike live
by the same means. They may put the resultant power
to very different uses, but it comes to them both. One
man may use his new power to dry the tears of a little
child, to help some struggling brother; he may use
it in manual labour, while you use it to form a phi-
losophy of life or to elaborate a system of theology ;
but, in both cases, it is the food eaten becoming ef-
fectual. Be careful that you who put it to an in-
tellectual use do not despise him who uses it in other

Men have taken the statements of Christ, and thought
them over and pieced them together and tried to reconcile
them (which they never can do fully, for truth is infinite ;
we shall never wholly understand these great mysteries),
— but they form as clear a conception, plan, classification
of the facts given to them in the Bible about God, as
they can, supplementing it by their experience, and the
result is a the-ology — a science of God. Some of us see


in it a tri-unity — a trinity. The words are not in the
Bible ; they are man's effort to express what they see

Then when I close the book, and try to see God in
nature, I form a system called Natural Theology. It
teaches me much. I see the majesty of God in the
mountains. I see His power in the ocean. I see beauty
in the landscape. I see infinitude in the stars. But this
system is of little worth for a sinner : for there comes a
time when I fall, and grovel, and despise myself; then
God's power only crushes me, and His majesty belittles
me, and His beauty is a rebuke, and infinity an awful
condemnation. I do not see the love of God, — it is not
there. There is only irresistible force. I do not see the
Father yearning over His wandering boy. I must turn
back to the Bible to see God unbosoming Himself in Christ,
to see Him hating sin (and, O I am so glad He hates it,
and I know I ought to hate it, and I do), but to see Him
loving the sinner. I do not understand such love, but
I can trust to it, and act on it.

I want to speak of two points in conclusion : first, the
explanation, and second, the experience, of the Trinity.
I hesitate greatly over the explanation, — it must of neces-
sity be so unsatisfactory ; but I rejoice in the experience,
— there I am on sure ground.

I. As to explanation : let me give you my metaphys-
ical idea of God, — meta-physical, that is, beyond the
physical, as above it. Metaphysics has been defined
thus : When a man understands what he is saying, and
conveys that understanding to his listener — that is phys-
ics ; when he does not understand himself, and fails to
make his listener understand — that is metaphysics. In
view of which definition, perhaps I had better not give


that explanation, or, at least, not call it by that name.
But — I see in myself a composition that helps me in some
faint way to conceive the Trinity, — the Tri-unity. I see
in myself not a dual, but a three-sided personality, each
element expressing itself independently, while yet I am
only one man. (I know some here will not agree with me,
but this is my view of it). I am perfectly conscious of
having in myself a physical part, a mental part, and a
spirit, — heart, affection — call it what you will, — these
three working in greater or less unity ; and still I am only
one: — I am a tri-unity. So in some way — some dim
way — I can see that God may be a Tri-unity. But this
is speculation, thought, analogy, — it /troves nothing. It
is very faulty at best, but may help to some conception
of God.

God is eternal and unchangeable ; therefore, since He
is love. He must always have been love, and must always
have loved, even before man existed. There must have
been that in Himself, in His personality, which could be
an object of love. He must have been a sodality, a fel-
lowship, a brotherhood, a fraternity. Plato says, "Be-
nevolence is goodness reaching down." It seems to me
that love is goodness on a level — intercourse between
equals ; and God is love. All forms of earthly love help
us to understand God. In earthly fatherhood we see a
faint type of His fatherhood ; from the relation of son —
so beautiful even here — we can reach a faint understand-
ing of the relation between God the Father and His Son,
our Saviour. In the mutual love of brothers we find a
mental rest for our conception of brotherhood in the
Trinity. Love is not only the activity of one towards
another; it is also the bond that unites them. The
Father must love the Son, and the Spirit of the Father


must become the Spirit of Christ, forming a channel of
communication between them.

2. But let us pass on to our experience of the three-
fold manifestation of God ; for now I know whereof I
speak, and so do many of you. God's revelation of Him-
self is generally divided into three parts — the period of the
Old Testament, the time of Christ and His disciples, and
the ages since. The first is called the dispensation of the
Father, the second is the short period when Christ was
on earth, and the centuries since have been called the
dispensation of the Spirit. Yet all these manifestations of
God were present in each, and the life of the Spirit has
been the unbroken bond between God and His people.
But for illustration of God's Spirit working in men, we
must come to Pentecost. There is the power of the
Spirit in its fullness, to which all the rest led up.

You know there is a time in the training of a child
when he rebels against authority — have you no recollec-
tions to serve you ? — when he obeys because he must ;
when he inwardly rebels, but a wholesome knowledge of
the results of rebellion and of the laws that will then be-
come operative, holds him to the path of obedience, how-
ever reluctantly. Then comes a time when he begins to
admire his father, when he says to the other boys with a
flourish, '^You ought to see ;;z^ father ! " when he no-
tices how his father ties his necktie, and goes up to his
own room to practice. Then I meet him as a young man
of nineteen, and there is a grave look in his face, and a
cordiality in his manner, and certain tricks of the head
and fingers, and I say, '^ How like your father you have
grown!" First, rebellion; then, admiration; then, an
unconscious imitation that makes him a reproduction of
his father, and proves the father's life in him.


You see a baby boy just learning to talk ; a few years
later he is in school and about to say his first piece, and
in the novelty of it he loses himself and blushes and
stammers. You are sorry for him, but you smile and
say, "It will come"; and it does, — he gathers himself
and goes through with it. Not so very long after that,
you see him again. Now he can talk ! Nor does he
need to use the words of others. He is master of himself.
He can speak his own thoughts with conscious power.
A learner, an imitator, an originator.

Do we not know that stage of Christian experience
when our allegiance to Christ was dull hardship ? "I
know I must do this, but I don't want to." "I know
this is wrong, but I'll do it anyhow." " I wonder if this
is wrong, and if I dare, as a Christian, do that ? " That
is all very unsatisfactory ; we are just beginning. But
we pass on from this to a point where we honestly long to
be like Christ and honestly try. We make good reso-
lutions and we break them. We resolve that we will not
lose our tempers, that we will be sweet and thoughtful and
forgiving and Christlike, and the resolution lasts to-day,
to-morrow, the next day, perhaps, and then we fall — we
are down again, and we say " It is all of no use." O yes,
it is ! It is of great use ; it is fundamental. Where is
the trouble ? It is here — you are living in the second stage
of development, the stage of admiration and conscious
imitation, not yet of the unconscious reception of the life
that will find its own expression. Keep on with the imi-
tation till the life develops, as it surely will. These ef-
forts are like the candle ; they will guide you safely to
Him. You try to develop the fruits of the Spirit, and
when you least expect it the fruits of the flesh become
manifest. They hang from the branches of the tree, and


in your disappointment and discouragement, you tear
them down, only to find that that is useless, for the bud
remains, and will again develop. There is no help for
you but in the acquisition of a new life that will live in
and through you.

Paul speaks of these three stages in a Christian's growth
in his letter to his beloved church at Philippi : — first, the
struggle with the flesh, '* Not having mine own righteous-
ness, which is of the law ' * ; then, the watching and imi-
tation of Christ, ** I press towards the mark " ; and,
finally, the consciousness that he " can do all things" by
the indwelling power. His life had then become a life of
power, with an inward force finding expression through
him. This is inspirit-ation, inspiration !

How shall you attain to it ? By being faithful in con-
scious imitation. Say to yourself, "Christ has in the
world no hands with which to help others; I will be
hands to Him : He has no feet to go to those who suffer ;
I will go : He has no mouth with which to speak comfort
to others; I will speak for Him." Live for Him, and
that means living for others. Parents, live for your chil-
dren ; don't expect them to live for you. Show them an
example of self-forgetting parenthood, that they may know
God better, and grow up to be even nobler than the fa-
thers and mothers who trained them. Be courteous to
servants. Show honourable dealing to employees ; and
do it all consciously for Christ's sake. However often
you have done it before, deed yourself over to Christ
again to-day, and act as if He would keep His promises.
You need not urge or entreat Him to come to you ; He is
standing, waiting, longing to come ; only be sure you do
not close the door. Take His power — He holds it ready
for you.


Do you want to serve Christ ? — I do.

Are )'ou a Christian ? — I am.

Have you given yourself to Him ? — Yes.

Do you try to serve Him ? — Yes.

Are you afraid of the future ? — No, I am not !

How do you know you are His — that He has accepted
you? — Why, I trust what He says, *' Him thatcometh to
Me, I will in no wise cast out."

Then you came by faith ? — Yes.

And you hold to Him by faith ? — Yes.

Then can't you take this next step by faith, and sur-
render yourself anew to Him, and let Him dwell in you
till conscious imitation is all past, your life having been
absorbed and transfigured, and you present His life un-
consciously, irresistibly ?

« Oh, 'tis life, of which our nerves are scant ;
'Tis life, full life, for which we pant ;
'Tis life, and fuller, that we want ! "

"To as many as received Him, to them gave He the
right to become sons of God " — yes, the right ! but we
want the power ; how shall we get it ?

Let me close with those words from Galatians, " When
the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son,
made under the law, made of a woman, to redeem them that
were under the law, that ye might receive the adoption of
sons [and with the adoption, the power to live and act
like sons], and because ye are sons [and you are] He hath
sent forth the Spirit of His Son [the Spirit of Christ ; the
very Spirit that animated Him] into your hearts, that you
too might cry [that the new life in you would be crying],
'Abba— Father.'"

Yield yourselves to Him; let His life have free course


in you ; let him use you ; give up your will ; try to think
less of yourself, to stop envying others. Be careful not
to hold the door closed, but let the Spirit of Christ in,
and let Him so work on you that you. too become sons
and daughters of God.


** Command in us more hunger and thirst. Is
a friefidship breakings a sorrow looming up
ahead of us ? Is there some plan which, it
seem to us, must come true, because for every
reason we can see, it is a good plan ? — Thou


** In demonstration of the Spirit and of power" — i CoR. 2:4.

THE keynote of Christianity is power, not words.
Any one can talk ; every one can talk ; man is
essentially a talking animal, and always has
been prolific in words, talk, speech, debate. We have
our dictionaries, our lexicons, our glossaries — glossa^
glotta, a tongue. There are your Polyglot Bibles, /.

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Online LibraryMaltbie D. (Maltbie Davenport) BabcockFragments that remain from the ministry of Maltbie Davenport Babcock, pastor Brick church, New York city, 1899-1901 → online text (page 1 of 16)