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From Weakness to Strength.

From Weakness to Strength.

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Published by glennpease
BY BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D. D,


...from weakness were made strong.

Hebr. xi. 34.
BY BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D. D,


...from weakness were made strong.

Hebr. xi. 34.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 01, 2013
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FROM WEAKNESS TO STRENGTH.BY BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D. D,...from weakness were made strong.Hebr. xi. 34.From weakness were made strong. — These wordsare, as we all remertiber, part of that divine summaryof the Old Testament, in which the record of the past victories of faith is offered to Hebrew Christiansfor consolation and encouragement in a season of trial and danger. The Apostle has spoken of faithtriumphant over the manifold assaults of physicalviolence : he goes on to speak of faith as the springof strength. Through faith the heroes of old timewere made strong from weakness, proved mighty inwar, turned to flight armies of aliens. The gift of strength,' the exercise of strength, the triumph of strength, had all one origin.From weakness were made strong. — The thoughtcorresponds with the festival which the WesternChurch, in the 14th century, fixed to-day, the festivalof the Visitation, the festival of the Magnificat. Thethought corresponds with our own festival, when werejoice to acknowledge that the thank-offering for the blessing of work accomplished, has become also thethank-offering for the blessing of vigour restored for work yet to come. And the thought has a yet fuller and wider application. It expresses a 'law which isfulfilled in the history of Christendom, of churches, of men.
 
24 FROM WEAKNESS TO STRENGTH.From weakness were made strong. — Yes, there is aweakness which is the very condition of strength : anoverwhelming sense of the perils to be faced, of thelabours to be acconaplished, of the problems to besolved, great beyond all comparison with the naturalforces which we can bring to our task : a weaknesswhich answers to the conscious need of immeasurable power : a weakness which constrains us to rest on theunseen, and to realise that in our isolation we are notalone. The Church of God was founded by thatweakness which recognises and rests in the Infinite,when a solitary pilgrim left all to follow the divinevoice, calling him he knew not whither, and Abraham,from a homeless wanderer, became the Father of theFaithful. The charge of Moses was achieved when helaid aside the glory of a royal house and identifiedhimself with a multitude of murmuring and dull-hearted bondmen. The mission of Israel to theworld was discharged, not when the authority of thekingdom was extended most widely, but whenscattered bands of exiles, turning to Zion with un-wavering love, taught the nations something of their spiritual hope.The history of Christendom illustrates the sametruth. When we look back over eighteen centuries,we see how times of material prosperity, of wealth, of splendour, of supremacy, have always been times of exceptional danger. Then Christ has come, and inunexpected ways He has made His power known toFROM WEAKNESS TO STRENGTH. 2$those who lost themselves in Him. When His faithhad conquered the empire, it seemed that the Churchwould embody the spirit of the world, or abandon its
 
largest claims. In different ways Athanasius andAugustine — the one deserted and exiled, the other  beleaguered by his enemies at his death — vindicatedits independence and affirmed its universality. For three centuries Europe was desolated by fierce tribes,and then missionaries from our own islands won themto the gospel. When the Northumbrian Oswald,taught by Aidan, fell with a prayer for the souls of men upon his lips, we feel that the victory was won.The victory was won, and with its final completenesscame the temptation of power. In the triumph of thePapacy the poor were forgotten ; but Francis of Assisisaw Christ in the leper, and again, through those whoclaimed to be less than the least, the message of thegospel reached the humblest and the greatest. Theyears went on. Fresh forces of life were called intoactivity. Fresh treasures of ancient thought wereopened for common use. The bonds of the old order were rudely broken. But, even then, in the day of division and failure and reproach Christ came, and,through the undisciplined expression of individualfaith, He revealed more fully than before His power to hallow every variety of thought and use everyvariety of service.So it has been in the past. In each successivecrisis, when material forces have threatened to over-26 FROM WEAKNESS TO STRENGTH.whelm the faith — when material splendour has filledthe hearts of men, or physical inquiries have engrossedtheir thoughts — Christ has shewn Himself in somecommanding manifestation of spiritual power. Theforce of Imperialism yielded to the constancy of Christian doctors. The force of barbarism yielded tothe voice of Christian missionaries. The teaching of the friars provided that the poor should not be dis-

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