Stacks Image 385


CHAPTER VII.


THE KINGDOM OF GOD.


"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." — Rom. xiv. 17

IT is not my purpose to amplify the negative part of this scripture, which denies that the kingdom of God consists in external ordinances, in eating and drinking in scrupulous conformity to ceremonial requirements. I shall dwell wholly on the positive statement of the contents of genuine Christianity. There is a sense in which God has three kingdoms. The first two constitute the platform or pedestal on which the third is erected. First, God reigns over the material world by the mechanical necessity of physical laws. In this kingdom there is no freedom. The subjects, whether floating atoms or blazing suns, bow to the law of necessity. To this kingdom our bodies belong. The laws of gravitation and of vital chemistry are ceaselessly at work in them, whether we will or not, whether we wake or sleep. In the second place, God presides over a moral government requiring obedience to the universal law of moral obligation. God did not give us the privilege of choosing whether or not we would be in this kingdom. We are in it by no vote or consent of ours. The moral law is imbedded in our very constitution. We can escape it only by escaping two beings, God and ourselves. We may disobey and suffer penalty; we may obey and enjoy the reward. But on the basis of these two kingdoms stands another. No one is in it of necessity, but everyone enters freely. The law of this kingdom is love of righteousness. All who love righteousness love God, its perfect embodiment, and belong to this kingdom, hence it is purely spiritual with an ethical basis. It was founded by the Father. When some method of making the wicked righteous was needed, he devised the scheme of the atonement. Hence he is no impersonation of mercilessness holding an iron scepter, as some falsely assert, but a tender Father devising the ransom of his banished ones. "God so loved the world," says the divine record. The atonement is a river of love rising in the heart of the Father, flowing through the self-sacrifice of the Son and emptying itself on the earth in the gift of the Holy Ghost to restore to human souls the lost image of God, righteousness and true holiness. The Son of God is the administrator of this kingdom. He is head over all things to his church. "My kingdom is not of this world." From the residence of a majority of its subjects it is called the kingdom of heaven. The census of that kingdom would be so great that the number on the earth are to the number in heaven as a handful of sand is to a continent, or as the planets of our system are to the milky way powdered with stars. We have said that the fundamental qualification for this kingdom is righteousness. This may exist with little peace and less joy. A righteous man may be disturbed by fears and distressed by doubts. Many a righteous soul has inward unrest because of the constant warfare with hereditary proneness to sin. "But," says one, "is not peace always attendant upon righteousness as its natural fruit?" It is the natural fruit of perfect righteousness. But many do not advance into this land of peace,

"Where dwells the Lord our Righteousness,
And keeps his own in perfect peace,
And everlasting rest."


Hence the pertinency of the exhortation as correctly rendered in the Revised Version, "Being justified by faith, let us have peace with God through Jesus Christ." Peace is to be sought by slaying all her enemies.

That righteousness may exist without conscious assurance of acceptance and peace and without even a knowledge of the historical Christ, is no new and strange doctrine, as may be seen in the introduction of Peter's sermon at Cæsarea: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him." Cornelius was in a state of acceptance as a servant, in doubt and fear without the Spirit of adoption, because he was ignorant of the giver, Jesus Christ. Says Paul: "When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law are a law unto themselves, which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness."

On this ground the pagans need no probation after death. They who by living up to their best light have put on the elements of Christ's character have the essential Christ, though ignorant of the historical Christ.

Jesus, in that most sublimely awful passage which ever fell from his lips, represents the decisions of the day of judgment as turning not on the treatment of the historical Christ, but on the treatment of his representatives, the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the naked, the homeless child, the prisoner. Every one has a chance to become acquainted with the essential Christ and to reject or to assume and manifest his spirit. What a throng of good Samaritans, of humble peacemakers, of humane men and tender-hearted women in the humble walks of life, whose names the trump of fame never sounded, will be surprised to hear that they have ministered unto Jesus Christ! They lived in fear of losing heaven and died in doubt of their destiny.

Righteousness is conformity to the law of God; holiness is conformity to his nature. Righteousness, if possible without a knowledge of Christ, as in the case of pious pagans living up to their best light, affords little peace and less joy because of grave uncertainty and painful doubt. It is a scheme of justification by works and not by faith in the personal Christ. Repeated failures lead the thoughtful moralist to utter the despairing cry, "O, wretched man that I am." He is like a man attempting to cross the gulf of perdition walking on a single hair stretched from mountain top to mountain top. Having no balancing-pole, he is constantly in unstable equilibrium, and full of fear lest at every step he may lose his balance and irrecoverably fall into the yawning chasm. He cannot cancel one sin by meritorious works. He can find no day in which he can do overwork and thus compensate for past sin. The law claims the full revenue of his powers every moment. But the righteousness which results from faith in Christ has grounds for both peace and joy in various degrees. The justified person is required to keep the whole law and to be perfectly holy. To such is given the command, "Be ye yourselves holy in all manner of living, for I am holy" (I Pet. i. 15, R. V.). Every soul is required to make a complete consecration to Christ and to turn away from every known sin. In the lower stages of Christian experience this involves a painful struggle and frequent failures. This is because duty has not been transformed into delight by the inspiration of perfect love.

We may compare the kingdom of God to a three-storied temple founded on Christ, the corner stone. The first story is a basement partly underground, the region of shadow and darkness, the cellar-kitchen of this palace, where servants toil in fear and hirelings work for wages. As servants, they are faithful, conscientious and true to their Master's interests. They are not drones, nor gluttons, nor drunkards, nor stewards wasting their Master's goods. Their service is voluntary. They have chosen it in preference to any other. Yet they are not joyful, but rather fearful that they shall fail to please their Master and so lose their wages. For they toil with an eye to the reward, and every day after twelve o'clock they often look over their shoulders to see whether the sun is not setting, so that they may quit for the day and draw their pay. While they believe that they are serving the best of masters, they sigh when they contrast their condition with that of his acknowledged sons and daughters in the parlors above. They are tempted to be sad and envious, not cheerful and songful. In this state of mind there is danger of discouragement and abandonment of the service. For it is natural for to escape from an irksome employment. The predominant motive of their service is fear, not love, and there is no magnetism in fear to attract and hold them steadfast. We forgot to say that this lower story is righteousness. It has always had a very numerous population. The Old Testament saints nearly all dwelt here. Here John the Baptist toiled. Here live today a large number of legal, not evangelical, Christians. They are under the law. Here are many good Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Protestants generally. All unconsciously they make obedience to the law the ground of their justification, while they have in their hands the New Testament, which declares that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified, for by the law is the knowledge of sin, not deliverance from its guilt and power. It is an irksome, uphill business this earning salvation. It is always attended by a discouraging sense of failure. The sincere and devout portion of the vast Roman Catholic church here dwell under the yoke of religious bondage, both priests and people dying in gloom illumined with a single ray of hope that they may escape hell and get into purgatory, a figment of pagan mythology utterly unknown to revelation. I am so charitable as to believe that the truly pious among them will find the gate of heaven open at their coming, and that they will be saved on the same terms as any other image-worshipping pagans, through the spirit of faith and the purpose of righteousness. By this we mean the disposition to embrace Christ, the object of faith, were he properly presented to their faith, and the desire to keep the moral law were it clearly revealed to them without the chaff of traditional errors. Here again are God-fearing Mohammedans, who follow their best light, a few ethical rays from our Bible struggling through the dense fog of the errors of Islam. Here are two other classes of honest and prayerful Unitarians, those Jews who, through mis-education, rather than from badness of heart, have their eyes blindfolded to the beauty of Christ, the true Messiah, and those self-styled liberal Christians who in sincerity worship the Father, but cannot call Jesus Lord because they have not the Holy Spirit; over whose eyes cataracts have grown so that they cannot see the Central Sun in the heavens of Christian theology, the divinity of the Son of God. So far as these classes, blinded by prejudices of education and misled by blind religious guides, follow that path of righteous living revealed by the light which faintly comes to them through clouds of error, so far they may be accepted of God through the mediation of his Son, "though," as John Wesley says, "they know him not." They cannot be classed among the willful rejecters of Christ. They may be saved as servants, though they have not lived as sons. They have always dwelt among the bondmen and have been actuated by servile motives. If they have ever heard of Jesus Christ, the great emancipator who makes "free indeed," through some misconception of their privilege or of his power they have failed to appropriate his proclamation of liberty. The difficulty with those who serve God in the legal spirit is that their acts of obedience are viewed as duty, a word not found in the Bible in the sense commonly ascribed to that term. Acts of duty are consciously performed. These are they who are legally right because they honor law. But they do not freely and spontaneously love the Lawgiver. They are like boys learning to write by painfully imitating the teacher's copy. Their action is constrained and not spontaneous and free. In the legal stage of religious experience we are thinking only of the law and its rewards and punishments. People who abstain from crime under the pressure of this motive are worthy of some commendation, for they are better citizens than those who disregard all the sanctions of law. But we reserve our highest commendation for those citizens who because of their love for their fellow-men spontaneously fulfill all the requirements of law, unconsciously obeying its precepts and refraining from its prohibitions. They help the cripple who falls in the street; they feed the hungry; they refrain from theft, adultery and murder because of the feeling of philanthropy and love of virtue, and not because of any law human or divine.

It is possible to advance so far in the Christian life as to be free from the law as an impulse to right living because we have found a better motive, love toward God and man. When this new motive is enthroned and servility to law is eliminated, the transition is from bondage to liberty.

But a broad staircase leads up into the apartment of peace; while the Lord of this castle is constantly inviting those below to ascend, to exchange the place of servants for that of sons. For he is willing to adopt the whole crowd into his family, but only now and then one has the good sense to believe in the sincerity of the offer and to accept it, to doff the servants' livery and to don the many-colored robe of sonship and heirship. This room is spacious and sunny and resonant with songs. Yet its occupants do more work than the servants downstairs. But they do not work for wages, but from love to their adopted Father. They are sons; they belong to the royal family; the whole estate is theirs. This gives a new character to their labor, lifting it infinitely above the drudgery of wage-service. When the hired man marries the daughter of his employer he doesn't play the gentleman at leisure and cease working, but he works all the harder because he now is a member of the firm. This takes all the irksomeness out of his toil and bedecks it with roses. "And because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." The filial feeling is suddenly breathed into the soul. Fear of a servile kind which brings torment is removed. Fear of death disappears and the fear of future ill. Child-like trust in the newly-found Father mostly banishes fear and enthrones peace. The habit of faith becomes fixed, love lubricates all acts of obedience and stern duty is dissolved in love. Service ceases to be a task and love knows no burdens. The beneficent law of habit now comes in to afford an additional safeguard to the gift of peace. Paul says of Christ, "He is our peace." And Jesus says to his disciples in every age, "My peace I give unto you." Hence it is the rightful heritage of every believer. It is described as the "peace of God" because He is its source and origin. It is the deep tranquillity of soul resting wholly upon God in contrast with the unrest and anxiety engendered by a self-centered and worldly spirit. It is said by the apostle to "pass all understanding" (Phil. iv. 7). More literally, it transcends every mind, every attempt of the strongest intellect to realize its qualities and to describe it as "keeping guard over our hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus," i. e., so long as we retain faith, the vital link of union with the Prince of Peace. What power has he to calm the troubled spirit! He can say to its warring passions, its cringing fears, its clamorous desires as he said to the winds and waves of the sea of Galilee, "Peace, be still," and there will be a heavenly calm in that soul. Brethren beloved, I know whereof I affirm. The once stormy Galilean sea within me has heard that voice divine and a blessed calm has ensued. Jesus is the great Peacemaker in tempest-tossed souls.

"Jesus protects; my fears begone:
What can the Rock of Ages move?
Safe in thy arms I lay me down,
Thine everlasting arms of love."


This peace is genuine and no sham. Jesus called it "my peace" in contrast with the world's hollow peace. The Oriental salutation, Salaam, salaam, Peace, peace, like all compliments, had degenerated into an empty and insincere form. But the salaam of Jesus is sky-born, the first installment of that everlasting rest that awaits all the children of God. This undisturbed repose of the soul we may have in this life. How blessed it would be if every regenerated soul were panting after this rest!

"O that I might at once go up,
No more on this side Jordan. stop,
But now the land possess.
There dwells the Lord our righteousness,
And keeps his own in perfect peace
And everlasting rest."


Jesus intimated the superiority of his peace to that of the world. His peace inheres in the soul filled with the Holy Spirit. The world's peace is determined by outward things and is as changeable as external conditions.

The English discoverer, Drake, and his men from the top of the Isthmus of Panama saw below them westward a placid sea so fair and still that they called it the Pacific Ocean. It was a calm day and the sea appeared smoother because of the height from which ft was seen. It is easy to profess to enjoy peace on fine days "when we are high above all trouble; but our test must be when we are in the midst of the waters, when the waves thereof roar and are troubled. Is it Pacific Ocean then; or do we find as may be those early adventurers did, that it was too hastily named?"

Every Christian needs this heavenly peace. Seek him who is our peace. Cry after peace as the almost frantic Greek poet amid the ceaseless wars which desolated the states of Greece breaks out in prayer to the goddess of peace, "Irene, Irene, descend from heaven upon our discords and wretchedness." Thus pray for the descent of the peace of Christ to heal the troubled heart.

But great as is the blessedness of peace, Paul intimates that the kingdom of God affords a richer banquet. We have three degrees of beatitude set before us, rising like a climax: righteousness is good, peace is better and joy in the Holy Ghost is best of all, the crowning grace which God has to bestow on believers in his adorable Son. It is the link which unites us with God. It is the first installment of heaven paid on earth in advance. This is more than the joy which is the natural sequence of right doing. The approval of conscience is the lowest degree of the joy of righteousness. If the act be not merely right but beneficent, if we have by sacrifice benefited some person, the joy rises in quality and intensity. Hence the generous deeds of the unregenerate are to them a source of felicity. This arises from the very constitution of human nature. Happiness and virtue are not divergent but parallel lines. We are as moral beings so constituted that joy must follow the exercise of benevolence. This joy is natural. But the joy of the Holy Ghost is supernatural. It is handed down direct from the Giver of all good gifts through the agency of the Holy Spirit. It flows not in the channels of nature, but is a fruit of the Spirit. Paul intends to discriminate between the natural joy of rectitude and this heavenly joy in Christian experience by styling it the joy of the Holy Ghost. It attends his residence in the soul. For there is a mystery next the three-fold personality in the unity of the divine nature, the two-fold personality of the believer, the human interpenetrated by the divine personality inhabiting it as his temple. This miracle of the fulness of the Spirit was first manifested in Adam in Eden when the breath of God conveyed not merely animal and intellectual life, but spiritual life resulting from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Sin dissolved this mysterious union and the heavenly personage withdrew from his polluted sanctuary. From being filled with joy pervading every capacity, Adam became desolate indeed. The supremely blessed became supremely wretched. To be sundered from God, the fountain of bliss, is hell. When sin entered the soul of Adam that deep celestial spring ceased to send up its refreshing waters, and he became the subject of intense thirst. His posterity born in his fallen image share also his tormenting thirst. They all flew from spring to spring of sensual pleasure, but still they thirsted till Jesus stood up in this spiritual Sahara and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink." The satisfying nature and the inexhaustible abundance of the water of life are intimated in the fact that out of the believer shall flow, not drops as from a spile, not brooks which dry up "in the summer's heat, but rivers, Amazons and Mississippis of living water. Then John, in a blessed parenthesis, for which I mean to thank him when I shake hands with him in heaven, strips off the imagery and tells us in plain words that Jesus is describing the joy of the Holy Spirit, who was not yet given in Pentecostal fulness. To this fountain Jesus sets a perpetual finger-point in his last words in the Bible, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come . . . and take the water of life freely."

It is thought by some that Jesus teaches the woman at the well the impossibility of losing our relish for this water, and hence the impossibility of a total and final apostasy. This doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, the best annotators do not find in this utterance of Christ. Says Bengel, "Truly that water, as far as it depends on itself, has in it an everlasting virtue; and when thirst returns, the defect is on the part of the man, not of the water." This is clearly seen in the Greek, generally, in the New Testament. Where believing is spoken of as the condition of salvation the tense indicates continuity and not a single act. "If any man thirst, let him be constantly coming unto me and be always drinking. Out of him who perseveringly believes in me shall flow rivers of living waters" (John vii, 37, 38).

The peace of Christ and the joy in the Holy Ghost depend on persistent, appropriating faith. The perpetual fulness of the Spirit resulting from this kind of faith is the condition of fulness of joy. The joy inspired by the Spirit is unique. It is totally unlike natural gladness such as arises in worldly men when their corn and wine are increased. Hence it is indescribable. A simple emotion cannot be defined. You may talk forever of the peculiar emotion of the young mother who feels the first pulsation of maternal love, when her first-born child is laid in her bosom. The feeling must be forever unknown except to those who have had such an experience. It is so with every kind of emotion. We can describe it only by stating under what circumstances it arises. If you have never been in those circumstances the person who speaks of such an emotion speaks to you in an unknown tongue. The joy of the Holy Ghost is to an unbeliever as vague and meaningless as the colors of the rainbow described to one born blind. The world is not rushing to obtain this joy, because it is to them perfectly unreal. Why should they not reject the effect when they disbelieve in the cause, the Holy Spirit, "whom the world cannot receive because they see him not" with their bodily eyes, all the organ of vision they have, in the absence of the eye of faith. The demand is sometimes made that the Christian should explain his spiritual joy in terms understood by unregenerate minds. The demand is as impossible and as unphilosophical as the description of the taste of oranges would be to a Laplander who never saw this tropical fruit. The joy of the Holy Ghost must always be attested by its possessor in language which is an unknown tongue to the unregenerate. They can have the testimony translated to their spiritual intuition only by visiting the house of the Interpreter as did Bunyan's pilgrim. The glorious dreamer in Bedford jail was on intimate terms with this interpreter whose office it is to take of the things of Christ and to declare them to believers whose souls are open upward to receive the personal Paraclete. The joy inspired by his indwelling is intense, "unutterable and full of glory," the highest in degree and the purest in kind which the human soul can experience in this world or in the world to come. For the bliss of heaven comes from union with God, and the Holy Spirit in us effects that union. That the joy of heaven is a continuation of the "joy of the Holy Ghost" experienced on the earth is implied in the wonderful words of Christ to the Samaritan woman, "But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth, i. e., continually obeyeth my word, and perseveringly believeth on him that sent me hath present and eternal well-being, his joy will be as lasting as his obedient trust, and it will be of the same kind in both worlds. The same truth is expressed in the earnest of the Spirit. The Spirit enjoyed 'here is a pledge of our full heavenly reward. But it is customary to pay the full wages in the coin with which the earnest, the money paid down to bind the bargain, was paid. This is the spirit of adoption, the first installment of heaven. No Christian need die to have the secret of heavenly bliss divulged to him. If he claims his full heritage in Christ he has a slice of heaven for his daily rations while journeying to heaven. And this is the best surety of heaven. That was a wise woman whom I once heard in love-feast testifying thus, "I am carrying heaven with me on the way so as to be sure that I shall have it at the end of the journey." In the experience of the inward joy of the abiding Comforter the jubilant shout is often necessary as a safety-valve. But those whose sense of propriety is so extreme as to tie down the safety-valve find relief in the apostolic injunction, "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms" (James v. 18). The revisers do not limit the singer to the Hebrew psalms" "Is any cheerful, let him sing praise." Singing and making melody with the heart to the Lord is the natural expression of the heart filled with the Spirit. (Eph. v. 19)

Many modern Christians become so highly cultivated and refined in their taste as to rebuke the spontaneous hymn breaking out in the pews, independent of the chorister's tuning fork or the organist's keynote, and to take offense at the amen or hallelujah in the congregation not printed in the ritual. They deem such freedom unbecoming the dignity and solemnity of Christian worship. It is possible that the Spirit, who dwells only where there is liberty, departs from those assemblies which attempt to imprison him in stiff forms. He desires to develop individualities by bestowing different gifts severally on whomsoever he will. Dr. Stalker says that the prophets addressed only nations, but Jesus Christ discovered the individual. This latest discovery it is the office of the Holy Spirit to create anew, preserving all original traits so far as they are innocent. Men are not at their best when pruned of all personal peculiarities. Grace is not a die which makes all souls alike like dollars dropping from the mint. There is the same variety in the new creation as there was in the original creation. There should be the same variety in the expression of Christian experience. Let not the quiet find fault with the exultant. Let all the people praise the Lord, each in his own natural way.

The notion is widely prevalent that an emotional religion must be fitful and unstable. It is true that feeling excited by appeals to the sensibilities only, without any inculcation of truth upon the intellect, is to be deprecated. This results in a Christian character described by Christ as the stony-ground hearer that hears the word, and anon with joy receives it, but having no root in himself he endures only for a while. The failure is not to be ascribed to the joy, but to the lack of deep moral convictions resulting from a reception of Christian truth used by the Holy Spirit as a subsoil plowshare breaking up the fallow ground of the heart as a preparation for a spiritual life which will grow more and more robust as persecutions and tribulations increase. Scholarly men are apt to think that feeling stands on a lower plane than the understanding and that it is not consistent with large thinking powers. Hence comes the error which spoils so much preaching warming at the head instead of the heart. It is thought that he who addresses the emotions and melts his hearers to tears is not so great as the master of syllogisms who welds a flawless chain of argument. Hence the tendency of the schools is to repress feeling and to intensify the dry intellect; whereas few people reason while all feel. All popular preaching takes the line of the sensibilities. The great orators of the ages have been emotional men. Study the sermons of Whitefield, Spurgeon, Beecher and Simpson and you will find them all mastering men's wills through appeals to feeling based on truth clearly presented to the intellect. Christianity addresses the whole man. Such fundamentals as the atonement, the day of judgment, heaven and hell, are adapted to awaken a torrent of emotion so strong as to move the will to right action. Sinai trumpets its alarm to fear, while Calvary tenderly speaks to gratitude and hope. The preacher has a message which can satisfy the strongest intellect and yet sway men of low degree, the illiterate, the barbarian, the savage. The intellectual dwarf, "who thinks the moon no larger than his father's shield," can believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners, and be quickened into spiritual life, be filled with the joy of the Holy Ghost and be lifted to an immeasurably wider horizon of thought.* Again how true is the scripture, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." How many Christians miss the secret of spiritual power. They are weak to resist temptation, and lack power to draw others to Christ. There is much friction to overcome in themselves. The oil-can is as necessary to the continuous motion of the train as is the piston-rod, for without oiling the machinery would soon be destroyed. Christian joy is to the believer both impulse and lubrication. It is not work that kills, but worry. There is much less danger that a joyful Christian minister will wear out by his excessive labor than that a dry, unanointed, emotionless preacher will be used up by the friction of his unoiled machinery. The joy of the Holy Ghost neutralizes physical pain, cheers in sickness, comforts in penury, lightens every burden and makes Christian labor fruitful. The joy of the Holy Spirit lifts the soul above the most depressing circumstances. Three days after the battle of Gettysburg a wounded and dying officer was found in a stable into which he had crawled, shouting happy. Without food, without water to quench his thirst intensified by his loss of blood and by the heat of July; without human companionship, with the prospect of dying alone without the means of sending his farewell message to the loved ones at home, he testified that so great was his Christian joy the days spent in that stable were the happiest of his whole earthly life. It was the presence of the Holy Ghost in their hearts which enabled Christians in apostolic times, and Methodists in the "back country" in England, whose houses were plundered and furniture carried off by persecuting mobs in the days of Wesley, to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had their own selves for a better possession (Heb. x. 34, R. V., margin) here in the present life.

We may therefore, in view of the three stages of Christian experience, regard the kingdom of heaven as a three-storied temple founded on the corner-stone Jesus Christ. The lower story embraces all in every nation who fear God and work righteousness but, like Cornelius, are so encompassed with the doubts and fears of their legal service as to be void of the peace given by assurance. These are mostly those who are in the early stage of Christian experience, in which the witness of the Spirit is intermittent, a ray of sunshine through the rifted clouds, followed by days and weeks of a sky completely overcast. There are also found here those who have the spirit of faith and the purpose of righteousness, whose attitude toward the unknown Saviour is that of readiness to accept him and his law of life as soon as he may be presented. These are servants of God but not yet sons. They are safe because they are on the rock "though they know him not" (Wesley). Yet they are exposed to great discouragements because of the joylessness of their service. For it is human to leave an irksome course of life. Moreover, those who dwell in this lowest department are nearer to the inviting fields of worldly pleasure whose perfumes regale the senses and deaden their feeble spiritual life.

But a broad staircase leads up from this room to the apartment of peace, and the Lord of the temple is constantly inviting the dwellers below to ascend, and some are daily urging their way upward from the place of servants into the place of sons, the place of peace. Here also dwell Gratitude and her sister, Hope. Doubt and fear and fierce temptation, although they sometimes steal into this room, do not abide there. There is too much sunshine for these bats and owls, birds of darkness, and too much jubilant music warbling from the lips of these sons of God.

"Lord, how secure and blest are they
Who feel the joys of pardoned sin!
Should storms of wrath shake earth and sea,
Their minds have heaven and peace within."


Yet there is an apartment still higher up in this temple of the Lord to which a pleasant and gentle voice invites the sons and daughters in the parlor below. This upper room is reached not by a staircase but by an elevator. It is the apartment of the abiding Comforter. Joy fills and floods it. Here dwell a quartet of noble sisters, Love, Purity, Gladness and Assurance. From their countenances a solar light is diffused through all the room. Sorrow cannot dwell in their presence. The blessed Paraclete pours upon each head the oil of gladness. Here is the fountain from which he who perseveringly drinks will thirst no more to all eternity. He will find this water within himself a self-sustained fountain springing up to everlasting life. Here Jesus spreads his richest banquet and his banner over the feast is love.

"Blest Saviour, what delicious fare!
How sweet thine entertainments are!"


Here every morning the occupants find manna showered from heaven, for there is no roof to this apartment save the serene and bright blue sky wherein the sun of righteousness ceaselessly shines all the year.

The dwellers here have a clear view of the upper world, a land of promise more glorious than burst upon the vision of Moses on Pisgah. His was full of foes; theirs is full of friends. His was to be conquered by bloodshed; theirs is already purchased by the blood of sprinkling.

Through the clear, Italian atmosphere the morning bells of the new Jerusalem are ringing. This is the natural place to be translated from, and some are every hour stepping into Elijah's chariot and going up with a shout through the open portals of that beautiful city. Translations may take place from the lower stories, but this is not the natural order. It is the divine will that every inhabitant of this temple should get as near as possible to heaven before his translation. Progress is the law of his kingdom. Hence the inhabitants of the roofless apartment where joy abides are generally mature in years. Yet some youths following undeviatingly the leading of the Holy Spirit have found themselves suddenly lifted to the lofty tableland of purity and joy where a long and happy life awaits them before their translation to their eternal mansion. Thrice and four times blessed are they who in life's morning mount up to this blessed altitude of Christian experience and spend all their future years in this pure and bracing atmosphere above the storms and clouds.

How many will this apartment of the Lord's temple contain? Should all the tenants of the lower stories ascend today they would find ample room.

"There's a wideness in God's mercy
Like the wideness of the sea."


To every believer did Christ give his gracious command, "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." To restrict this promise of fulness of joy to only a few of the many who pray is to destroy all ground of faith for anyone. Fullness of joy was not designed to be a rare and exceptional Christian experience. Ever since the day of Pentecost Satan has been busy in all Christian lands spreading the wicked lie that only a few favorites of God, one in a thousand or a million, can be victorious over sin and permanently dwell on the sun-lit summits of assurance and fulness of joy. Alas, the majority of Christians believe this falsehood and dwell ever on the lowlands of doubt and depravity, and ascribe their wretched state to their constitution or their circumstances, in other words, to their Creator and not to their own failure to claim their full heritage in Christ. The promise of fulness of joy is to all believers today and to-morrow and forever, absolutely without exception. It is the business of your preacher to drive this lie out of both pulpit and pew where it has dwelt for ages, and to get men to believe Christ's glorious truth instead. It is encouraging to know that the truth is steadily mastering and exterminating the lie. Many are panting after a complete conformity to the image of the Son of God, crying, "Nearer, my God, to thee." Many in all the evangelical churches are claiming an experimental demonstration that the Holy Spirit can sanctify wholly and preserve blameless. Many are believing it as a doctrine and attesting it by a joyful experience. When this becomes general in Protestant churches their oneness in spirit will be complete and the prayer of our Saviour will be answered, "That they may be perfected in one." The chief obstacle to Christian unity hitherto has been a lack of love to the common Master.

In conclusion we would utter this caution, Let no one throw away his Christian experience because it is not joyful. This is what the adversary of your soul desires. Are you a servant of God, fearing him and working righteousness? Thank God and ask him to adopt you as a son. Are you adopted and have the witness of the Spirit now and then? Ask for the abiding witness. Are your peace and joy interrupted and variable? Ask in faith for the indwelling Paraclete in the plenitude of his grace. Take large views of God's mercy and benevolent purpose toward you in this life.

Let Paul's cumulative phrases in the ascription at the end of his wonderfully comprehensive prayer inspire you to ask for large things, even to be filled with all the fulness of God: "Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." This power is the personal Holy Spirit, the fountain of supreme joy through the inspiration of supreme love. Get an enlarged view of God's love as the ground of a larger faith. To this end study not only the Bible but the Christian poets. Let this spark from C. Wesley's glowing fire enkindle your soul:

"O Love, thou bottomless abyss,
My sins are swallowed up in thee!
Covered is my unrighteousness,
Nor spot of guilt remains on me,
While Jesus' blood, through earth and skies.
Mercy, free, boundless mercy, cries."


What a tonic to weak faith is Whittier's apostrophe to divine love:

"Immortal love! forever full,
Forever flowing, free;
Forever whole, forever shared,
A never ebbing sea."


I never read Faber without a conscious uplift of soul toward God and a stronger grip of faith:

There's not a craving in the mind
Thou dost not meet and still;
There's not a wish the heart can have
Which Thou dost not fulfill.
O little heart of mine! shall pain
Or sorrow make thee moan,
When all this God is all for thee,
A Father all thine own."


When I present my strongest reason why my petition should be granted, I quote an argument from Paul which has always prevailed and always will prevail while Jesus intercedes: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" After so great a self-sacrifice for me what gift necessary to the highest benefit of that sacrifice to me will he withhold?

When I ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit in his fullness I never fail to quote that promise which has been fitly styled "the dawn of Pentecost," "If ye being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

Where consecration is complete and faith is unwavering and desire for the fulness of the Spirit in all his offices overtops all other desires he never fails to come and bring his all-cleansing power and the joy that is unspeakable and full of glory.








* "All true spiritual life must widen the soul; the more we live with Jesus, the more impossible will it be for any of us to be narrow. Our littleness takes refuge with God, and his greatness makes its abode with us; we offer him our hearts barren of sympathy and deficient in affection, and presently we find the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that is given to us." — J. Rendel Harris