Thomas Hancock.

The pulpit and the press, and other sermons, most of which were preached at S. Nicholas Cole Abbey online

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Online LibraryThomas HancockThe pulpit and the press, and other sermons, most of which were preached at S. Nicholas Cole Abbey → online text (page 13 of 22)
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who now so glibly repeat it, and would pervert it to the
building up of their own Babylons, are the children of
those who persecuted and cast out the prophets.

The " time-spirit " is nowhere more clearly discernible
in any age than in the formation of new sects. They
are its own products, and peculiarly exhibit what is best


and what is worst in an age. The Church is the social
organ and expression of the mind of the eternal and
universal Spirit " unto whom," says our apostle, is
"glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all
ages, world without end." Therefore in each age the
Church is witnessing to much which that particular age
thinks untimely, or proper enough for the past, or
possibly proper enough for the future. If the Church
be Catholic in time, as well as in place, it cannot be
otherwise. A sect, on the contrary, is one of the organs
and expressions of the transient and limited views of
that age in which it separates its adherents from the
universal-humane christened fellowship in the parish,
the nation, and the human-kind the Catholic Church.
An exact historical physiology of the sects would
demonstrate the particular contribution of the age-spirit,
the secular spirit, to every sect. An age imparts to its
sects a character which they would not have had if they
had separated from the Church in any earlier or latter
age. Thus it would have been impossible for Presby-
terianism, or Independency or Anabaptism, to have
arisen out of our age, or come to any vigorous growth in
it, because the thoughts and cares of the time are not
now directed, as they were in the sixteenth and seven-
teenth centuries, towards the realisation of a perfect
visible Church on earth, which shall contain no one who
is not a " saint." A new sect, if it is to thrive, must
catch and embody a quantity of the floating convictions,
opinions, and usages of its age, both good and bad. Its
inclusion of these gives strength to it while the age lasts,
but they become a source of weakness and decay within
it when a new age or world, with other thoughts and
other wants, confronts the sect, and then men fall off
from it to a newer sect, or to unbelief, or return to " the
mother of us all."


There is no need to illustrate this truth by the history
of the sects which have already perished, or of those
which are now kept in a show of life by scarcely any-
thing but organisation, party-zeal, attractive preachers,
heredity, and money. We see it in that sect which is at
present the temporary idol of the religious and monetary
worlds, and is being so strangely bedaubed with un-
discerning praise by newspaper-men, by self-called
"practical" politicians and economists, by honest-hearted
lovers of their kind, and by the popularity hunters who
always follow a multitude to do evil, and therefore fail
of the insight or the bravery to criticise anything which
the noisy clamour of the moment is pleased to glorify.
The so-called " Salvation Army " which Mr. Booth has
enlisted, considered in itself and apart from the direction
along which he now promises to march it, is simply (as
I have already said) the latest English evolution of the
Moravian-Methodist-revivalist conception of religion as
an emotion towards God, and an instantaneous flight
from the terror of hell to the certain assurance of heaven.
" Every transient gleam of piety," said a wise and holy
critic, 1 " is concluded to be that flame in which the Holy
Ghost descended, and though it wants the main circum-
stance of resting on them, yet serves to personate the

It seems, upon the surface, to be the least of all
religious theories to " mind earthly things," even though
ever so innocent a use be made of the quality " earthly."
Nor had its astute founder, until a recent period in its

1 " Decay of Christian Piety," by the author of " The Whole
Duty of Man," 1665 (1672 ed. p. 153). Substitute the " Count "
(Zinzendorf) for the " General," and the descriptions of
Moravianism by the Rev. Thomas Green, 1755, may be read,
allowing for the difference of the two ages, as an exact description
of the " Salvation Army."


history, any intention to divert the attention of his
captains from heaven to earth. But he has been forced,
by the character and demands of the age, to see that he
can only justify the continued separation of his captains
from Christ's whole Army of the baptized in the
parishes, in the fatherland, and in foreign nations, by
putting them upon secular service. He has been forced
to see that he can only ask the rich richly to endow his
sect or rather himself by devoting its supreme
attention to earthly things, by dressing it in a garment
of socialism, by finding some wholesome and thriving
social work for his officers to do. An "army" of
expensive officers cannot go on for a whole age beating
drums, blowing trumpets, enlisting recruits, and causing
its voice to be heard in the streets. So deeply has the
necessity of immediate social reform, and the fearful
looking for judgment in the shape of a social catas-
trophe, seized upon the mind of our age, that a sect is
now bound to be socialistic, or to be a failure.


The autocratic English head of this new inter-
nationalist sect is not only appealing, as I was saying
last Sunday, to the age's faith in money as the worker
of miracles : he is appealing to the age's perception of
the need of a social revolution, to the age's terror of the
approach of a social catastrophe, and to the age's super-
stitious credulity in wholesale self-advertisers and
project-advertisers. The age, or world that now is, can-
not believe that the Saviour who shall bring forth judg-
ment on the nations, must be One who shall " not cry,
nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the
streets." Whatever is not big and loud, pretentious,
prodigal of promises, and tinctured with some quackery,


it calls " theoretical " and " unpractical." It cannot
understand how " the Kingdom of Heaven is like to a
grain of mustard-seed, which indeed is the least of all
seeds " ; how the full power of it can only be given to a
" little flock " ; nor how the Church, the social organ of
the Kingdom, can begin in a small upper room. It
fancies the Kingdom of Heaven grows like the most
prodigious fungus, that its power can only be given to a
huge and clamorous multitude, and that a true Church
must hire nothing less than a hippodrome. Hence Mr.
Booth is asking those who have money to endow his
army, or rather himself, with colossal sums of gold and
silver, in order that he may experiment upon a costly
and elaborate scheme for the extirpation, or rather the
modification, of some of the evils of pauperism, or Mam-
mon's long tyranny over Christ's poor. He does not
propose to attack the tyrant. If he did, he would get a
prophet's, rather than a sect-leader's reward, and would
get few bank-notes. So mad is the age or world, that
he is sure to get the gold. Princes, bishops, archdeacons }
noblemen, merchants, theatre-managers, and popular
preachers, hasten to pour gold and silver at his feet.
Believe me, it is no pleasure to a quiet man to raise his
insignificant voice in discordance with their thunders of
applause. I have not felt free to waste time upon the
study of his scheme, which I am told is a conglomerate
plagiarism, like the degraded paste-and-scissors periodi-
cal " literature " of our age, from plans which others are
working, or schemes which others have originated.
Many years spent in the study of history have destroyed
my belief in all self-called " practical " men, and in all
schemes, except that scheme of God for all the ages, in
which we already live, and move, and have our being.
Hence, I have no inclination to make a detailed examin-
ation of the latest scheme.



The one important thought for every Christian about
this scheme, as I said last week, is that its demand is
for "earthly things," of which money is the type and
chief. Its schemer cries " Money, money, money ! "
Money which is offered, or comes to us without the
foregoing demand of a material or spiritual highwayman,
is an oblation and a sacrifice ; and until money is out of
use will have its place in apostolic work. But in the
social disease the pursuit of money has been the original
seed of evil. I cannot think God will allow Mr. Booth,
or any one else, to cast out Beelzebub by the invocation
of Beelzebub, or Mammon by the help of Mammon.
These devils of despair, pauperism, oppression, vaga-
bondage, and harlotry, which he promises to cast out of
England if the rich will provide him with colossal riches,
are the necessary products of that very Mammon which
he is invoking, to which he is praying, and without
whose help he says he can do no such miracles. It is
not apostolic to be going all over England pursuing
riches, in order therewith to try and undo those very
evils which the pursuit of riches alone has done. " This
kind goeth not out " by riches. By the pursuit of riches
it enters in and dwells in our social body. How come
the streets and lanes of our city to be crowded with the
" submerged tenth " of paupers, harlots, and vagabonds ?
Because Mammon as Landlord has robbed them of their
own common lands to create estates for himself, driven
them despairingly into the towns to compete against
one another for the smallest wage which Mammon as
Capitalist will grant them. Has not the Lord raised up
prophets age after age to declare this truth to the rich ?
The sermons of our bishops and priests, from the
Reformation until the baleful victory of Puritanism over
Church and Commonwealth, and its suppression of
moral preaching in England, are full of that witness.


We could cite Bishops Latimer, Scory, and Pilkington,
Doctors Some, Lever, Bernard, Gilpin, John Moore,
Henry Hammond and a hundred others. "There are
certain beggars," said an English priest (Dr. Robert
Some) in Elizabeth's reign, " who of purpose keep their
legs sore to get money by it. If they are justly misliked
who gain by their own sore legs, what deserve they to
be thought of who gain by other men's sore legs ? "

The undoubted good which Mr. Booth's captains have
here and there done, amidst the unconsidered evil which
they have done, and are doing, and are likely to do,
needs no emphasis. It is not wholesome for any of us
to be reminded incessantly of our own good works.
That they have never "reached," as the phrase is, the
intelligent among the poor, and cannot do so with their
doctrine, is evident on all sides. Whatever good they
have done seems to be due to the fact that they have
not had the riches which their " general " now asks for
them, but have been poor, and belonged to the poor.
It was the teaching of the Abbot Joachim and the
Minorite reformers that pauperism, with the social evils
it begets, is a giant far too powerful for so feeble a
dwarf as wealth to cope with. Poverty alone, as the
Saviour and His apostles proved and taught, has power
and nerve enough to cope successfully with such a
monster. " Your fight in the future," a venerable
American prelate is reported to have said to his clergy,
" will be with the front pew," that is, against the very
faith in money which has brought the Church and its
clergy into bondage, the poor into vagabondage, and
the existing divine "Scheme" of humane society into

You may set up a patent social factory for converting
the raw material of pauperism, vagabondage, and
harlotry into competent, orderly, and moral men and


women ; but while you are busy on this, the Mammon
which has found the money for your factory does not
and will not cease to be as busy as ever in his own
factories, heaping up a hundred-fold denser mass of new
paupers, new vagabonds, and new harlots.


The age, time, or world around us will not cease
telling us that we can do no great good without much
riches. " Fall down and worship me," says that world-
spirit, "and I will give you all the kingdoms of the
world " to save them. That in us which belongs to the
world, and is of the world, and is not of the Father, but
minds earthly things, listens with willing credulity. It
is only the new man within us which has ear to hear
and the heart to believe the hard counsel and word of
command which Jesus gives to those whom He sends
forth upon His battle for the redemption of their fellows.
<: And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto His
disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter
into the Kingdom of God ! " This explains the charge
which He gave to the Twelve whom He entrusted with
the keys of the Kingdom, and which He gave again, in
almost the same words, to the Seventy : " Provide
neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses."
" Preach, saying, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand ;
heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead, cast out

We see in the Acts of the Apostles how the first
soldiers of Christ understood and obeyed His command.
" Silver and gold have I none," said St. Peter to the sick
beggar, " but such as I have give I thee." What did
the apostle give him ? The Lord had not only told the
rich young man who wished to follow Him that he must


first sell all that he had, and himself distribute to the
poor, and not by proxy, as an old man might do : but
He added that he should then have "treasure in heaven."
So He had said to the apostles, " Lay up for yourselves
treasures in heaven," where eternal health and whole-
ness are, where there is no wasting rust or destroying

St. Peter's treasure was in heaven, in that kingdom
which the apostles were to proclaim "at hand." St.
Peter's "citizenship," his "commonwealth," was where
St. Paul in the text says his also was, "in heaven."
That is, it was where Jesus Christ is, "whom," as St.
Peter said, in his sermon after the lame man's healing,
" the heavens must receive until the time of the resti-
tution of all things (and not simply of one lame beggar)
which God hath spoken by all His holy prophets since
the world began." The heaven which St. Paul contrasts
with "earthly things," and "from whence we (whether
apostles or lame men) look for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus
Christ, who shall change our vile body," is not future in
time, nor a long way off in space. Heaven lies all about
us, independent of time and space, and is where the
name and saving power of Jesus are, separate from us
only by a " veil."

St. Paul says emphatically that our citizenship or
commonwealth " is," not that it can be, may be, or here-
after will be, " in heaven." That " the Kingdom of
Heaven is at hand " was the first sentence of the
Gospel which the Lord commanded His apostles to
preach, the first article of the Christian tradition. The
heaven where the apostles' treasure and citizenship lay,
and where the lame beggar's power of walking proved
also to lie, was as near to the miserable man as were the
earthly things, his lameness and misery.

St. Peter's " gift " was the Lord's sign or miracle,


showing how near our citizenship in heaven, and its
health, are to us men. " In the Name of Jesus Christ,"
said St. Peter, " rise up and walk. And he took him by
the right hand, and lifted him up, and immediately,"
heaven being so close at hand, " the feet and ankle-
bones received strength." Whence came that strength ?
Out of the heaven at hand, near to us, whence we look
for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, " who shall change
our vile body " (individual and social), " that it may be
fashioned like unto His glorious body." The miracle
which all the riches in the world cannot do, the poorest
man in the world, by the aid of science, or the fuller re-
velation of God's laws in nature, may some day approach
to doing.

It may be said, the apostles did not refuse silver and
gold. No, indeed. But they did not ask for it from all
sorts and conditions of men, caring not how it had been
gained. Neither did they promise, like the advertise-
ments of " the Salvation Army Building Association "
in Mr. Booth's War Cry, to give a good percentage
to those who endowed them with capital, engaging that
their investments should not only yield their earthly
things " four per cent," but also be used for extending
the Kingdom of " Mammon " ? No, the War Cry
amazingly says, " of Christ." When money was freely
offered to the apostles, they took it ; and then, not
" minding earthly things," those bold Christian politi-
cians used it for the immediate establishment of a
heavenly commonwealth upon the earth.


That apostolic socialism, that heavenly Jerusalem,
built up by Christ's apostles in the very streets and
houses of the Herodian and Pharisaic Jerusalem, you


may say, soon fell. Yes, just as its King fell and was
crucified, died, and was buried to rise again from the
dead. That commonwealth has not perished ; it re-
turned to heaven, whence it came ; as St. Paul says,
it is in heaven, where mankind's King and Saviour is.
And, having once been manifested in the earth, as the
King was, it remains a possession for all ages, and will
never be forgotten so long as the world stands. But it
is not a mere memory ; there it is, as Christ is, expected
by all sufferers and all soldiers of righteousness to
appear again in " power and great glory " at the re-
stitution of all things.

Such was the use which the apostles made of the
money that was freely laid at their feet. Who can
imagine St. Peter saying, " Silver and gold have I none ;
but I will go to Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, the Pharisees,
and Sadducees, and beg or frighten them into giving
me a mountain of silver and gold, so that I may try
to heal every lame and wretched beggar in Jerusalem,
and divert from the city its coming judgment " ? The
apostles took what was freely offered, the willing obla-
tions forced upon them by those who had sold their
possessions and lands. They distributed it to the
whole Christian democracy ; they kept no autocratic
hand over it They called upon all the Christian people
to elect the distributors of it, so that it might serve all
as the common-wealth ; and they ordained those whom
the voice of the Holy Ghost, diffused through the whole
Church, elected as its ministers.

The apostolic refusal to be autocratic spenders of the
common wealth of the Church became one of the great
starting-points in the history of Christendom. Out of
it the Holy Spirit evolved and instituted for all ages
and all nations the sacred order of deacons. They now
serve as the Levites of the " High Priest after the order


of Melchizedek," who is touched with the feeling of our

It is the express function of the deacons, as every
bishop in Christendom says to a deacon when ordaining
him, " To search for the sick, and poor, and impotent
people of the parish, to intimate their names, estates,
and places where they dwell unto the curate, that by
his exhortation they may be relieved with the alms
of the parishioners or others." It would not cost the
expenditure of one single penny for every deacon in
Christendom to begin so to fulfil his office. The earlier
Puritan sectaries had no craving for so wide a sphere as
a parish. They thought the parish too wide, as con-
taining the reprobate majority of parishioners as well as
the elect minority of " saints." Hence, they " gathered
churches," as they called it, out of the parish, and had
no desire that their churches should be big. But the
newer sectaries of the Moravian-Methodist evolution
complain that the parish is too small. "The world is
my parish," say they, with all the ambition of a Wesley,
but without his respect for the Church. " My preaching
powers, my organising gifts," says one after another
of these men, " are so great, that I cannot be content
with a narrow sphere ; I want a big chapel, a big hall,
big audiences." If you say, the deacons have failed to
do their work, what pledge have you that they would
have succeeded if they had been called " majors " or
" captains " ? Besides, our deacons are not elected by
the voice of the common Spirit in the whole local
Christian commonwealth, as the apostolic deacons were.
The ordination of our deacons is apostolic ; but their
call usually comes from merely one individual member
of the Church. How can we expect them rightly and
fully to execute their office, or even to understand it,
until the Church has her part restored to her in their call ?



"And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there He sat with
His disciples. . . .

" When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and
take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into
a mountain Himself alone." ST. JOHN vi. 3 and 15. (Holy
Gospel for Lent IV.)

IF this mountain were mentioned only here, in St.
John's preface to the sign of the feeding, we should
hardly see its importance at this crisis in the life of
Jesus. St. John does not call it indefinitely " a moun-
tain," as our version does, but he twice calls it " the
mountain." It was some point in the heights above the
lake which Jesus first consecrated, and afterwards used
as a consecrated place.


First, before the miracle of the feeding was wrought,
" Jesus went up into the mountain, and there He sat
with His disciples." He had chosen it as a place of
escape from the crush of the people and from the
dreadful temptation of popularity, as a seat of rest
and of quiet education of the future fathers of the

1 March 15, 1891.


Church, amidst whom He sat as Bishop in His pastoral
chair. It was the mother of the cathedrals, or mother
churches, of Christendom. When Jesus went up into
the mountain, He began in person an act of which
the building of our St. Paul's on the highest part of the
City of London, was a continuation by His Spirit. It
was from His cathedral throne, as the Bishop and pastor
of all souls and bodies, that He looked down upon the
thronging multitude, and taught His apostles to make
the questions of the bodily needs of the people a first
thought of their minds, as the fathers in God of the
hungry and of them that are out of the way. It was
from this mountain, and from the sacred synod He had
held there, that He descended to feed the crowd.

Secondly, after the miracle of the feeding, " He
departed again," says St. John, " into the mountain." I
do not know how the I5th verse, which records this
second ascent of the Lord into the sacred height, came
to be omitted from the Eucharistic mid-Lent Gospel of
the English Church. As St. John rounds off the episode
of the feeding with such harmonious completeness, by
showing that this work of the Saviour ended, so to
speak, where it had begun, I was led to examine
the mid-Lent Gospel in other National Churches of
Western Europe, to see if they also omitted it, and
I found that they include, as a part of the Latare
Gospel, the verse which relates the second retreat of
Jesus into this same hill of the Lord.

For the second verse in our text is as certainly
the epilogue of this history, as the first verse in our
text is the prologue of it. When the satisfied crowds
enthusiastically cried out, "This is of a truth that
prophet that should come into the world," Jesus found
Himself submerged in even a more terrible popularity
than that from which He had so lately fled. He saw


that the hungry and needy, of whom the kingdoms
and republics of this world take so little count, had
already in their hearts and imaginations elected Him as
their king, and that they were meaning to establish
an autocracy for Him by force. It was then, at this
crisis in His life, "when Jesus therefore perceived
that they would come and take Him by force to make
Him a king," that " He departed again into the

St. John emphatically marks the difference between
His first and His second retreat. Although the sign
of the feeding was indeed concluded where it had
been planned, yet there was a distinction between
its beginning and its ending which must have power-
fully impressed St. John and his fellow-apostles. It
began in His sacred synod. He had made them His
comrades in the discussion of it, His fellow-workers
in the doing of it. But after it was done, and had
produced so startling a social-political result, Jesus not

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Online LibraryThomas HancockThe pulpit and the press, and other sermons, most of which were preached at S. Nicholas Cole Abbey → online text (page 13 of 22)