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3 3433 07994923


'^ yr er







President Kansas City Baptist TheoloiSical Seminary






574978 ^



R 193 2 L

Copyright, 1915


To the one whose sympathy, faith, and works have
been life's constant support, inspiration, and incitement,


this book is affectionately dedicated.



THE chapters in this volume were originally pub-
lished as editorials in the Sunday School Times,
to which paper, and to its accomplished editor, Charles
Gallaudet Trumbull, grateful acknowledgment is
hereby made. While covering a rather wide range
of title and topic, they will be found to be expositions
of one central theme, the development and operation
of character under the hand of God, through the faith
and work of the Christian, in his threefold relation-
ship, — to God, to himself, and to his fellows.

They are gathered here with the hope that they
may be of help to some who, in the midst of the
intricate duties and difficult problems of our present-
day life, are seeking to do justly, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with their God, assured that it
is God who worketh in them both to will and to work,
of his good pleasure.




The Survival of the Unfit .

II. Character by Salvation .

III. Nature's Parable of Grace .

IV. The Weakest Link .
V. God's Uncomfortable Comforting

VI. God's Comfortable Comforting

VII. Present-Day Holiness

VIII. The Dusk of Faith .

IX. Rewards That Cannot Fail .




X. The Tragedy of Individuality

XI. The Power of Individuality .

XII. The Triumph of Individuality

XIII. Who Shall Give You That Which Is


XIV. Prerogative, Privilege, Power?
XV. Bad Temperament as an Asset

XVI. The Limitations of Self-Respect .

XVII. The Saving Grace of Inconsistency

XVIII. The Formula of Immunity .

XIX. The Christian Duty of " Front " .

XX. Martyrs Who Miss Their Crown







" The Need of a World of Men for Me "


XXI. Sympathy the Proof of Spirituality . .137

XXII. The Touch of the Sun

XXIII. Sympathy's Golden Gains .

XXIV. Sympathy for the Strong .
XXV. Insidedness

XXVI. The Grace of Graciousness

XXVII. The Penalties of the Seat of the Scornful

XXVIII. The Imposture of " Appeal " .

XXIX. The Blessings of Inertia .




XXX. Childlikeness or Childishness? . . .189

XXXI. When the Oldest are the Youngest . . 194

XXXII. The Morning and Evening Harp . . 199



What is the soul's best season, when she makes

Her gains of girth, and grace, and glow of flowers?

Ofttimes it falls in Fortune's tropic hours,
And oft in grief's chill wind, that rudely shakes
Through strife to strength ; each yields its guerdon fair.

But airs of balm too often bring no bloom,

And blasts austere both bole and blossom doom :
Deeper her Summer lies than sun or air.

Rife with rough winds, or rich with breezes bland,
That season brings its fruitage from above.

Scatters its graces thick on every hand.
Wins strength from softness, bloom from bitter strife,

When through wide open gates of faith and love
Pours a full tide of God's transforming life !


THE " survival of the fittest " is a fact as old as
the law of cause and effect. It was proclaimed
by our Lord when he said, " Unto everyone that hath
shall be given; but from him that hath not, even that
which he hath shall be taken away from him." Those
individuals or species which were best adapted to their
environment, or were capable of adaptation, lived,
flourished, and advanced. Those which were not, or
could not be made to be, perished. One observes the
workings of the law everywhere, among plants and
animals and men.

And yet there seem to be exceptions. We some-
times find the survival of the unfit. Some who do
not at all seem to display the qualities that match
their surroundings are found not only to be surviving,
but to be magnificently successful. We hear of a
great leader, and picture to our imagination a being
strong, robust, confident, self-assertive. Ushered into
his presence, we find a man weak of physique,
stammering of tongue, mild of manner, an asthmatic
skeleton, like William of Orange, an epileptic like
Caesar, perhaps like Paul. The revulsion of the sur-
prise is almost ludicrous. Yet these outward weak-
nesses may hide a frame of steel, a heart of fire, so
that the unfitness is only partial or apparent.



Often the realization of unfitness is truer because
it is by the man himself. He is intrusted by God or
circumstance with honors and tasks and responsibili-
ties, and he sees nothing in himself that measures up
to them. He has to act like a man of iron; he feels
himself to be a man of lath. He is thrust into the
battle, sword or spear in his hand, while every fiber
of his nature protests against it. The situation de-
mands qualities that he knows he does not possess.
Men insist on placing him there, and he looks with
incredulous wonder at them. Timid, retiring, self-
distrustful, without popular gifts, he finds himself
pushing some aggressive enterprise, some venture of
daring boldness, perhaps in the teeth of bitter oppo-
sition, as if his face were indeed the flint he knows
himself not to be. Perhaps a quiet man, a domestic
man, a man of peace, he is forced to be a warrior,
a world-traveler, a man of afifairs. And in observing
others we are at a loss, again and again, to under-
stand how equipments such as theirs could be in-
trusted with such endeavors. We could have chosen
a thousand men better adapted to the situation.
Yet strange to relate, those who seem, and feel them-
selves, and are, so tremendously unfit, are not only
managing to live, but are conspicuously " making

Is it all a travesty of the law, or at least an over-
riding of it? Is God's world topsy-turvy, and the
law of cause and effect sometimes operative and
sometimes not?

That men may for their own good know the true
sources of power, God purposes to show mankind



that Jehovah can save with many or with few, and
can make the weak things of the world confound the
mighty. Let the successful man reflect on that!
Perhaps he is simply a modern and conspicuous in-
stance of God's power to make a thing that is not as
though it were. It may be very often that the Father,
willing to show at once his power and his grace,
chooses to let his lightnings flash through a thing of
clay. But God is not a God of caprice, and it will
be found, if we look far enough, that some thread of
character, found or made by God, ran through
the clay, and conducted the divine electricity to its

These cases may simply reveal to us the fact that
God's estimate, infinitely more accurate, is also very
different from ours. Few people are strong where
they think they are, and very often men are not weak
where they think they are. Two confessors were
facing the great ordeal of martyrdom. One feared
greatly that his courage would fail and that he would
dishonor his Lord. The other was sure he never
could. In the face of the flame they changed places.
Our estimate of our own ability and fitness goes
oftener astray, no doubt, in the direction of exaggera-
tion, but sometimes it is the other way, and some-
times both. Not few have been the authors who have
scorned the " potboilers," in which their most splen-
didly effective work was done, while they chased
ridiculously some phantom of a " masterpiece." A
man can often have no worse judge of his abilities
than himself. Therefore if a man find himself, by
no eager self-seeking of his own, in a place for which



he feels himself inadequate, why not assume that he
who placed him there knows his size best, and will
not desert him in his task ? " Behold, I have made
thee this day a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and
brazen walls." The brass of God's making is worth
a thousandfold the " natural " variety.

It is plain, moreover, that in most things fitness
is not so much a matter of equipment as of will-
power. What we do and are depends little upon our
equipment, much upon how we use our equipment.
Power lies deeper than in equipment. Men do not
see with the eye, however dull or however delicate;
they see with the brain. They do not see even with
the brain; they see with the mind. In the last
analysis they do not see with the mind; they see with
the will. The old skit at the evolutionist told a great
story nevertheless :

" A deer with a neck that was longer by half
Than the rest of his family's — try not to laugh —
By stretching and stretching became a giraffe,
Which nobody can deny."

We develop new organs or make the old ones over.
The will runs new grooves through the brain, almost
literally makes itself a brain to its own order. Fitness,
within limits, lies not in the wit, nor in the weight,
but in the will. Wilt thou?

And some of us may comfort ourselves in the
thought that simple proximity is one of the greatest
elements of fitness. There is everything in being on
the ground. A thing at hand is vastly better for
God's purposes than a thing a thousand miles away.



The man seems to a good many of us, and to himself,
like the jawbone of an ass, or even the ass itself, cer-
tainly no better than an ox-goad; but the Philistines
are here, and the battle is on, — and the battle is won.

Therefore no man need spend much time in under-
estimating himself, or in estimating himself at all, or in
bewailing his own weakness and looking for the thou-
sand men who no doubt are far superior to him. All
that is neither here nor there, since he is here and
they are there. God knows where he is, and has put
this upon him. Who is he that he should question?
Let him push on, knowing that he is just the one
man for that task, since he is the one man who is
in it.

And let us remember that no man radiates force;
he simply transmits it. He is not a source; he is a
channel. The reason why God so conspicuously uses
the " unfit " is because they are the more willing
channels of his force. They are the poor in spirit.
They are not forever thrusting themselves in the way,
and shutting him out. They " give God a chance."
Their very sense of unfitness casts them upon God's
strength, and removes the obstacles that hinder his
power, — pride and self-will and self-direction. Their
very agony of helplessness is the condition of his help.
He found them, or made them, more willing to be
made the channels of his grace.

The survival of the unfit? Can there be a more
magnificent picture of fitness than this? Behold this
man, chosen by God rather than by himself, equipped,
not with accomplishments and powers, but with will
.and purpose, surrendering his own judgment, pleas-



ure, self-estimate, at the call of need, which is the
call of God, ready to do the thing that lies at hand,
in touch with God and surrendered to him. Do these
"exceptions prove the rule"? They are the rule —
at its highest.




"QALVATION by character" is an attractive
*^ phrase, and a dangerous one. It does indeed
suggest a valuable truth of the Christian life, and of
God's dealing with the soul. " Salvation without
character " may never really have been taught by any
so-called gospel teachers, but many have understood
them to teach it, and every rightly constituted mind
shrinks from that. Nothing can be more explicit than
the demand of the Scriptures for a salvation that shall
be present and practical ; not only a thing imputed, but
a thing possessed. " Except your righteousness shall
exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees,"
is the Master's specification, " Holiness, without
which no man shall see the Lord," is both an Old and
a New Testament requirement. John declares of the
New Jerusalem that " there shall in no wise enter into
it anything unclean." Therefore, in so far as the
phrase " salvation by character " insists that salvation
is not simply outward and legal, and that, in the end
and at the root, God's laws are not to be evaded by
any " legal fictions," even though we call them " gos-
pel offers, " the phrase may serve a good purpose.

But just as it reads, without careful explanation,
" salvation by character " contains a dangerous fal-
lacy, wrapped up in the various meanings of salvation



and character. It is either a contradiction in terms,
or a mocking tautology.

" Salvation by character " is not salvation at all, in
the gospel sense; it is evolution, development, days'
labor, not salvation, rescue, grace. For salvation im-
plies a saving force from without, a Saviour. The
question of the ages is not properly, " What shall I
do to save myself ? " but " What shall I do to be
saved?" If men have ever in the Scripture been
counseled to " save yourselves from this crooked gen-
eration," it has been by accepting the salvation offered
through Christ. But the popular phrase makes salva-
tion an achievement of man, not a gift of God.

.Or else the phrase is a mere truism, a mathemat-
ical equation, which leaves you where you were be-
fore, — a gospel with no " news " in it. Salvation hy
character? Salvation is character. The aim of all
God's work with man is not to put him, as he is,
into an external heaven, but to make him heavenly.
Heaven would not be salvation if heaven did not im-
ply holiness. Heaven is simply the environment
appropriate to salvation when that is complete. The
salvation for which God is working is the reproduction
in us of the character of Jesus Christ. Salvation is
character; character is salvation; and you have the
meaningless and helpless tautology : " character by
character " ! The poor soul finds that he is engaged
in lifting himself by his bootstraps. In short, this
formula conceals under its specious show of reasona-
bleness an utter absence of the needed motive power.
You are as far from your goal as ever. " Let there
be light," and there was light. But it was God who



said that. " Let there be righteousness," says the
phrase " salvation by character," and the man who
has come into bitterest experience of his own sin and
helplessness exclaims, " Wretched man that I am !
who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? "
" Your rope's na lang eneugh," said a despairing
sinner to a similar counselor. This is " salvation by
formula." I asked for bread, and I received a syllo-
gism; for power, and I got a phrase.

Turn the phrase around, however, and it glows with
meaning. It is the vital bond that unites faith and
works. " Character by salvation ! " This places every-
thing in its logical order. It meets all the demands
of the moralist; it expresses the fullness of the gospel;
it refers the power and glory of redeemed humanity
to their true and glorious source. Is not this tautology
also? Yes, blessed tautology, the tautology of grace,
" salvation by salvation," a divine effect produced by
a divine cause.

" Character by salvation " is the root-teaching of
Jesus: "Ye must be born from above." It is the
teaching of Paul : " Work out [or, outwork] your
own salvation " — there is character — " with fear and
trembling " — how little of the thoughtless confidence
of the ethical-culturist or of the smug complacency of
the Pharisee, ancient or modern ! — " for it is God who
worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good
pleasure," — there is " salvation," the gracious mercy
of a God whose love on Calvary " would not let us
go," though it cost his Son, and whose love would
not stop on Calvary, but works with us every day and
hour in holy impulse and righteous deed. This rope



is long enough to reach to the lowest depths of human
sin and need, but the heights from which it comes,
and to which it lifts us, are at the topmost summits of
spiritual beauty as they are seen in the Son of the

This is a gospel, in very truth; the gladdest good
news that could be uttered to man, for its proclama-
tion is this : " The law of the Spirit of life in Christ
Jesus shall make you free from the law of sin and of
death." Into this struggling heart of yours I will put
the power of an endless life, and then, as you strive
to express that life, I will add strength and victory,
and by my grace, working with and through your
effort, you shall be changed into the same image from
glory unto glory, until Christ shall be fully formed in
you, and you shall be like him, for you shall see him
even as he is. The beginning and the progress and
the end shall be of God, the appropriation shall be by
the threefold human channel, " faith, working, through

There is nothing mechanical or external about this;
it goes to the very heart of man, as it comes from the
very heart of God. It does more than satisfy an
ethical demand, it gives a divine assurance of the ful-
fillment of our highest spiritual longing. It does not
remove religion from the region of individual will
and effort, it makes man a co-worker with God in his
own salvation. It demands all that there is in a man,
of manly purpose and love; but it vivifies and em-
powers that human resolution by the purpose and will
of God. Here is no formal transfer of righteousness
on the accepting of a formula; it is the offer of a new



relation and of the power to realize the quality and
result of that relation in actual living. Here is not a
thing mechanical, translation into heaven, but a thing
spiritual, transformation into the heavenly.

The other conception has thoroughly proved its
utter powerlessness to lift fallen humanity out of its
helplessness and sin, and yet it has ministered
viciously to human pride and self-righteousness. The
true conception gives religion its most beautiful and
helpful aspect, by removing it from the self-centered
and the Pharisaic into the living and spiritual and
filial. When a man sees that, work as he may, — and
work he must, — he has nothing that he does not re-
ceive, that all is of grace, and gladly accepts " salva-
tion " on those terms, he enters into real sonship; for
in his initial act of faith and surrender, and in the
thousand daily acts of obedience, faith, and love, he
is receiving into himself the life and power of the
Father. This is sonship, and nothing else is. This
state of dependence, reception, and consequently of
gratitude and love, is the normal state of the human
spirit in its relation to the divine spirit. " Father,
give me the portion of thy substance that falleth to
me," is the everlasting cry of the prodigal who does
not know how to be a son. " Son, thou art ever with
me, and all that is mine is thine " is God's formula
for sonship. Independence, in some ways, of all men,
may be a sign of manhood, but dependence upon God
in every way is the crown of sonship.

In this natural atmosphere of sonship, character
comes to its highest. Strength, purity, self-control,
increase and deepen, as obedience and love impel to



the doing of duty, the enduring of suffering, the
overcoming of temptation, as becometh a son of God.
Pride, ambition, envy, jealousy, self-seeking, die in
that air of utter dependence where the soul longs with
an increasing love for the things of God, and glories
not save in the cross of Christ and the all-achieving
grace of God, as, through all life's tests and trials,
God's salvation works out our character.

Nothing smaller than this can be the gospel; and
this is the universal gospel; the gospel for the man
in the depths, smothered and drowned in his sin, for
whom " salvation by character " could not come in a
million years; the gospel for the moralist, seeking to
reach the shining goal of Christlikeness from the im-
possible levels of his own achievement; the gospel for
the Christian, conscious of the spaces still ahead of
him, but pressing forward toward the mark. Not
"salvation without character," which is absurd; nor
"character without salvation," which is impossible;
nor "salvation by character," which is a tautology;
but " character by salvation," the triumph of God's
grace in the life of man.




Does Nature Ever Forgive Broken Laws?

TT is commonly said that nature knows no forgive-
■*• ness; that upon every transgression she visits her
exact recompense of reward, and with her there is no
remission of sins, not even by the shedding of blood.
Huxley's comparison of natural law to a great antag-
onist at chess, benevolent on the whole, mildly wishing
our welfare, but holding rigidly to the laws of the
game, and exacting his penalty for every infraction,
would be accepted, even by most Christian thinkers,
as a fair picture of the fact. How comes it, then, that
when we enter into the realm of the spirit we find
another law counteracting, if not superseding, this
" law of sin and death " ?

It is not so. There is no contradiction, or change,
only a development. Professor Drummond's greatest
intellectual service, perhaps, was in reminding us that
we dwell in a universe, not a " multiverse," or even
a "duiverse"; that one set of laws runs through the
whole. The Ten Commandments are a law of love,
and so is the Decalogue of Hygiene, and the Twelve
Tables of (God's) Political Economy. It was no dif-
ferent God who gave the Bible, or new God who gave
the New Testament. To be sure, we fully perceive



that the old law is a law of love only in the light of
the life and death and living power of Jesus Christ.
He brought life and immortality to light. But they
existed before, in the heart of God, and were at work
in the world. A thousand facts and forces were more
or less dimly indicating them; they came out into
clear relief when he revealed them.

The abundant signs of the grace and forgiveness of
God in nature might seem to be overshadowed or out-
weighed by the countless manifestations of the stern
rigidity, and what some would call the cold and re-
lentless certainty, of the operation of his laws. Now
that we have seen the glory of God in the face of
Jesus Christ we are prepared to perceive, in his lower
and lesser revelation of himself, gleams here and
there of the same gracious smile, and realize that the
great antagonist is in fact our great Partner, our great
Protagonist indeed, intent, within limits and on con-
ditions, upon winning our game for us, and eagerly
seeking to prevent our errors, correct our mistakes,
and repair our injuries. But the sweep of the epi-
demic, the roar of the tornado, the unmanning rock
of the earthquake, typify so strikingly the resistless
wrath of God, while the slow onset of disease as the
result of broken law so illustrates his rigid justice
and causality, that we have failed to perceive the
mighty hand of tenderness and mercy at work in and
with and through and above all the rigidity and the

" It is God. His love seems mighty.
But is mightier than it seems."



The universe is no soulless machine of law, it is the
plastic instrument of a heart of love; not a maudlin
love, a love that blesses " hit or miss," but a love
that, while it profoundly respects justice, right, holi-
ness, truth, also seeks to forgive and repair. There
is nothing said about forgiveness, in nature; it is not
blazoned on the sky; but what forgiveness is in the
spiritual, repair is in the natural world. " Which
is easier," said the Master, " to say, Thy sins are
forgiven; or to say, Arise, and walk?" "But that
ye may know," saith God in nature, " that there is
forgiveness of sins, I say unto the sick of the palsy,
Arise and walk."

We see this play of the divine grace in God's for-
bearance, the prophecy of his forgiveness. Nature

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Online LibraryPhilip Wendell CrannellThe survival of the unfit : powers, principles, and practice in man-making → online text (page 1 of 11)