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Lord Bishop of Rochester

A candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed,
and not to be set on a candlestick .' — MARK iv. 21.

Lord Bishop of Rochester

A candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed,
and not to be set on a candlestick .' — MARK iv. 21.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 14, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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USEFULLESSBY ATHOY W. THOROLD, D.D.Lord Bishop of RochesterA candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed,and not to be set on a candlestick .' — MARK iv. 21.THE duty which no one can disclaim, thetest which no one may evade, and thepraise which no one will despise, are all includedin the homely word of usefulness. Who will saythat it is not his duty to be useful ? Who willpretend that he cannot be useful if only he caresto be ? Who will deny that, after all, the mostequitable verdict on a man's life, when it is done,will be passed on the amount of usefulness thatcan be discovered in it ? We admire a man'sbrilliancy, or we envy his capacity, or we listento his eloquence ; but a man may be brilliantand capable and eloquent, and yet the world maynot be much the better fur him, possibly eventhe worse. But to say that a man is useful — inother words, that he has served God and hisgeneration with such gifts as were at his disposal,inevitable.258 QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYand earned, when he died, the two great rewards,of being missed and being regretted — is, after all,the greatest commendation that a human soulcan receive.Usefulness First let us notice what may be called theinevitableness of usefulness for every one who isin spirit as well as profession a true disciple of Christ. The Lord Himself reasons about it in
the verse that prefaces this passage, and showshow it must be so if there is light in us at all.He had already told His followers that they werethe light of the world. But the use of light aswell as its function is to shine. So it is withthe Christian. " Is a candle brought to be putunder a bushel, or under a bed, and not to be seton a candlestick ?"A Christian is a Christian, not merely for thepersonal object of his individual salvation, butthat he may glorify God in saving others. True,he must divest himself of self-consciousness. Hemust not feel himself, not suffer other people todiscover, that he thinks himself to be indispens-able to the accomplishment of the divine designs,or that he can ever be more than a very insigni-ficant factor in the mighty work of the world'ssalvation. Also, if he is not to destroy his ownchanges of usefulness, he must be constantly onhis guard against religious priggishness, as wellas against the habit of forcing divine things,either with arrogance or untimeliness, on theattention of his neighbours. But he is to shineSERVICE 259as a light in the world, if he would not be missingone of the chief ends of his salvation.The scope of a Christian's usefulness is very n,,wide indeed. "Before men," Christ said, Hisdisciples were to make their light to shine. Butthere arc several spheres of usefulness, in theirorder of importance and necessity, more or lessopen to us all. First of all, there is the home.Wherever else we may or may not be useful, letus, above all things, endeavour to be useful athome. o doubt it will often be hardest here,for the last place where a prophet has honouris his own country ; and we remember the warn-ing, " that a man's foes shall be they of his ownhousehold." But if we are prophets only awayfrom home, and neglect kinsfolk and servants,
as if we had no sort of responsibility for them,an abyss of startling disappointment may oneday yawn under our feet. Our first duties arewith those who arc nearest and dearest to us.We need not assume a superiority or claim adeference which do not properly belong to us.evertheless, if our light does not shine athome, gently, steadily, continuously, naturally,we must not expect it to make much impressionon people outside.In society we can be very useful, if we areonly earnestly bent on it, and cultivate tactand modesty and self-effacement. It is notthe mere utterance of religious opinion whichis resented, so much as the harshness and260 QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYdogmatic self-assertion with which it is toooften accompanied. It is a great art to knowhow to converse in a mixed society on the highestof all topics ; yet it comes by practice and skillin using opportunity, and by a heart made calmand brave through prayer. Christ cherished inthe heart will mean Christ confessed by the lips.It is often to the surprise and disappointment of careless people that Christians are so dumb andtimid about the things which as they profess tobelieve are before everything else in the world.One other observation may be made here :it will be recognised as true in the experience of some of us. It is extraordinary, uncalled for,even unreasonable, calls to usefulness which, if accepted at the cost of personal sacrifice, simplyfrom the mere joy of going out of our way toserve Christ, that bring often the happiest resultsand the deepest gladness. " I do it, not becauseI must, not because it belongs to me, but becauseHe loved me and gave Himself for me, and I wishto please Him." Such occasions of usefulnessmay not come often. Let them not be neglectedwhen they offer themselves. The heart, whichis listening for the voice of Christ, will always

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