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— St. John vi. ii, 12. The mind with which our risen Master for ever influences the living Church from His throne through Heaven is to be detected in glimpses and flashes through the records of His deeds while still living as a Jew among Jews. And this because the acts and the words which then He did, make known to us a single, and definite Person, possessed of a certain final character, type, mind, will, purpose. Just as a man is always the same whatever he does and wherever he is, changing his time without changing himself, so with the Lord. His personality reveals in one set of circumstances what He for ever is ; and this is why we are justified in considering actions done on earth as typical of His eternal activity in the Church. What He was then that He still is ; and we therefore read the gospel story, not merely as a record of past facts, but also, that so reading, we may look up to high Heaven, like birds that sip at pools and lift their
112 The Church in the Gospels. heads, — may look up and say, " Lord Jesus, I know Thee now, as Thou art before God in glory." And here, in the miracle of the loaves. He seems to have let His secret, repressed till then, break out for a moment — the secret of His Church. He allows Himself to exhibit for one short hour the plan and purpose wherewith He looked to use after Eesurrection those Twelve whom He had chosen. Here, then, we can look close into His mind ; here, then, we can see, indeed, the mystery of that anticipated Kingdom. We can watch the Master as He founds, and builds, and orders. Let us look at Him closely. First, what is the motive from out of which He sets Himself to ordain a Church ? It is compassion for crowds. It had been compassion for crowds that had first bent Him to call and send out those Twelve.
" When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd," and He called unto Him His Twelve, and gave them power to heal and to preach. So it had been ; and now it is the starving of the crowds that impels Him to set those shepherds in motion. Compassion for hungry crowds — this, then, is the everlasting secret behind the Church of Christ ; this is the motive which puts all in action ; this is its primary spring and source ; this is the form and fashion in which God makes Himself known through the Church. The Church is the steady witness and abiding proof of the compassion of God — of God, the great God and Father of all. Whose eternal character displays itself in helping them to
The Mind of the Church. 113 right who suffer wrong, and in feeding the hungry; Who never, at any time, left His compassion without witness, in that He always sent upon all rain from Heaven ; and now that same God sends from Heaven His Son that He may build for the poor and needy a city in the wilderness and gather Himself houses like a flock of sheep. So wide, so universal, is the compassion of that One Father, Who made all to be of one blood, sending His rain upon the just and upon the unjust, and making His sun to shine on the thankful and the evil. Let us consider this in its depth, and width, and height. It is the compassion of the entire Godhead that builds the Church — the compassion of God, the great Father, made known to us through the tenderness and tears of a human heart, in flesh and blood, in Jesus Christ, His Son, our Brother. That compassion, as it is in Christ Jesus, offers itself in a shape that enthrals and subdues with a touch of human kinship ; but, nevertheless, it is, still, in Him but a revelation of that supreme compassion which moves the Father to send His Son into the world. The compassionate mercy of the Father sends His Son ; and it is made manifest and sealed to us in that hidden, yet felt Spirit, whose very ame is given Him for His pity, the Advocate, the Spirit of Consolation, the Comforter.
The Ministry of the Church, then, issues out of the deep compassions of the Triune Godhead. And what is the active force which animates, and sustains, and fills, and advances it ? Thanksgiving. Jesus, taking the bread, lifted up His eyes, and blessed and brake— I
114 ^^^ Church in the Gospels. all which St. John sums up in the words, " Jesus gave thanks : " He made His Eucharist. The thanksgiving of Jesus was the power that was infused into the bread, by which it swelled and grew and multiplied and sufficed. The thankso^ivino^ of Jesus is the breath of the Church. Just as His compassion is the form in which His Godhead looks out upon us through the Church; so, in thanksgiving, Jesus makes known to us the perfection of the Creature, the crown and glory of His Manhood. As God He comes down in pity ; in the name of mankind He looks up and gives thanks. And consider how solemn is the act. For the entire creation grew together to reflect and repeat the glory of God; and yet the echo of God slumbered in the hollow bowels of the dumb earth until there was one who could wake up the shout by a living voice. Man is the first among the creatures to deliver back from the rolling world this conscious and delicious response, the recognition of the Father Who begat him. He, and he alone, is ature's priest, her spokesman, her mediator. It is his part, in the midst of her silence, to lift up in her name the voice of thanksgiving. The life that passes into him from its far home in God is redelivered out from his lips back agam in the sound of thanks. Through thanks it completes its circle, moving from God to God. In that thanksgiving man makes the discovery, the full disclosure of his sacred origin. Always he is in God and exists by God, but in thanksgiving he sets his own seal to the work of God within him ; he gives back love for love ; and there is no other end to which man ever
The Mind of the Church, 115 ultimately sets himself but this of thanksgiving. It embraces all his possibilities, and satisfies all his aspirations. Man lives for this and this only — that by word and by deed he may give thanks unto God. And Jesus Christ is the Crown and Sum of humanity, and this one thing, therefore, He does, He gives thanks for ever and for ever ; He takes all our loaves, takes all the poor, scant, pitiful offerings we can bring out of our niggardly baskets, and over all He lifts up His eyes to Heaven and blesses the ame of the Lord. And the thanksgiving is mighty ; it works and stirs in the heart of the Church ; it warms, quickens expands, and lo ! the strange, unceasing change begins. Under its working dead things live, and dumb things speak, and blind things see, and dry things soften, and every stone becomes bread, and frozen things yield, and run, and sing, like rivers among the hills, and all silent things shake themselves loose and break into vigorous life. The breath of the Lord fills His Church as He spreads His Hands abroad and offers His great Eucharist. And we, too, stand with Him. We are empowered by His intercession, we are authorised by His brotherhood ; we, in Him, complete the perfect office of a redeemed mankind, and all our growth and all our force come to us out of the heart of those hours, those blessed hours, when with Angels and Archangels, and all the company of Heaven, we, too, take our place and mingle our voices in amongst the thousand times ten thousand who, as the sound of many waters, sing the new and eternal song of the Lamb, and cry to one another and say
ii6 The Church in the Gospels, " Holy, holy, holy ! we praise Thee ; we bless Thee ; we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory ! " Compassion is the motive with which the Church is built, and thanksgiving is the force by which it is made alive ; and what is the nature and character of its activity ? Order, organised order, is the stamp of Christ upon His Church. " Make the men sit down ; "
arrange them, distribute them ; they are very hungry, and they are in crowds, there will be confusion if care be not taken ; there will be a rush and scramble, and some will get too much and the weaker will get nothing ; see to it that every one — woman and child — has a bit ; " make them sit down," — sit down in squares like flower-beds (in twelve squares probably, one for each of the Twelve), and keep the men apart from the women and children ; and find them grass, and set them in rows, like plants in their beds, so that the ministers can pass in and out among them. And when that is done, and all is ready, in quiet and care He divides the bread to the disciples, and they divide to the people ; and, at the end. He bids them clear up everything, store it away for the morrow, that nothing be lost. How seemly, and orderly, and measured, and steady, and wise ! Do we sufficiently remember how incessantly our Lord loved to talk to those twelve whom He had so methodically sifted and selected, of order, place, and regularity, of servants in households, each in his separate lot, — one the porter, and another the steward, so that in that regulated life the food should all be brought out in due season ? How He loved to tell them of the monotonous steady
The Mind of the Church. 1 1 7 forethought of the banks and warehouses ! " Yes, be ye, too, good bankers," was the word He is reported to have said to the Twelve. " Be as he who, for many a long day, while his lord is far away, works out the dull work of turning five talents into ten, and two into ^ ^r How he loved the soldier-faith of the centurion who saw that the spiritual kingdom was directed and ordered by graduated authority from end to end, just as he himself had learned under the formal discipline of the army, where each stood above the other in regular sequence, and all action was easy and thorough so long as each in his place took the commands from those that stood higher and passed them to those beneath, who came and went at his bidding ! How He loved to parallel His Kingdom to the laws of natural growth of seeds, of corn, and leaven, — growth which is the triumph of organic and compacted and constructed life ! Our Lord loved order, loved method,
loved system. He loved to use harmonious means. He loved the precision that is involved in all creative artistic action. He loved the graduated scale of ministers that constitute the perfection of a household, of a city, of a kingdom. And how, indeed, should we ever believe that He did come from God, if He had left His spiritual work to the confusion of chance, unformed, unformulated, and disordered, while every fragment of God's natural world speaks in another language altogether, speaks of methods and modes of arrangement, of forethought, of combination, of organisation, precision, direction, co-ordination ? In nature everything is systematic.
1 1 8 The Church in the Gospels. and everything is definite ; everything must be done in one way, and in that way only, or it cannot be done at all ; there are lines and channels, all laid down and fixed. And as we pass up and out of the natural world, we are bound to expect no breach between the manifestation of God in nature and His revelation in Christ. Here, too, in this new region, we shall instinctively look for the same Mind to be at work, with its peculiar joy in the beauty of order. And so it certainly proves. The type, the ideal, that we were familiar with in the lower level, prevails also in the higher. As we pass out of the natural kingdom we find ourselves moving through a spiritual country which is governed and controlled, where words have a fixed meaning and offices have fixed rules, and there are roads and paths, and the broad highway, and mutual services, and ordered ministries ; and, ever as we walk, we see descending out of Heaven in all the comeliness of bridal grace the Holy City, set four square, with three gates on the east, three on the west, three on the north, and three on the south, and the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal, and the walls are measured with a golden reed, according to the measurement of an angel, one hundred and fortyfour cubits, and there are twelve foundations, and twelve gates, and every foundation is a separate jewel, and every gate a single pearl. That is our vision, towards which our pilgrim steps are set ; a vision in
which law and rule are no temporary necessity, but the eternal glory of God's holy ame. Yea, and even to us, even in the earthly courts of that great Kingdom,
The Mind of the Church. 119 the sweet strength of Divine order reaches, and we, by faith in that vision, can joyfully recognise the echoes of the Heavenly Kingdom in those distributed ministries, and regulated offices, by which the Church admits, and encompasses, and feeds us, allotting to each member its separate part, under the sanction of that law, " which has its seat in the bosom of the Lord, Whose voice is the harmony of the world, to Whom all things in Heaven and earth do homage, and all with uniform consent admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy." That is the Church, and each soul within the Church must reflect and embody the spirit of the Bride. Each one of us is set to display these three graces of the Church — compassion, thanksgiving, and order. This is our high calling, and no one may decline or fall short of it wilfully. We are called to careful and trained activity ; and we may not hang back at the doorway through which we enter. We cannot arrest our spiritual life at the forgiveness of sins. ever, indeed, will the penitential under-current cease to flow ; for ever we sin, though " we walk in the light," and the sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus must ever renew the blessing of our first pardon. But, beyond our pardon, there is a new life wherein we walk in the glory of the faith of Jesus Christ. And this redeemed life must be the life of citizens who can move with clear eyes and steady steps through the measured streets and by the appointed gates of this clean and comely City, the new Jerusalem. Discipline, thanksgiving, compassion, — these are our
I20 The Chu7xh in the Gospels. three notes ; and we must reverse the order in which they show themselves in our Lord and Master. For
we come from below upwards, while He descends downwards from above; and, therefore, for us there must be, first, the discipline of rule before our thanksgiving can be possible. There must be rule, — rule in the entire man : rule in the affections and appetites, that they may yield themselves servants unto righteousness. And together with rule in the affections, rule also in the mind, that our faith may disentangle itself and become articulate where before it dumbly felt, and see where it blindly touched, — rule in the mind until slowly the whole being is mastered, and the heart can move freely in the novel terms, and glow in a rich and outspoken creed. And, again, rule and discipline in the will, that it may bring captive every thought into the blessed bondage of Jesus. Kule in the affections, mind, and will ; this there must be ; — and the rule will seem long and the discipline strict, and it may all look at first to us dry and severe. Then begins the wonder : we thought it bondage, and, lo, it becomes freedom ; we seemed to be crippled, and, lo, we expand and grow. It is the new man in us that strengthens and makes increase, and moves and warms; and within us at last there springs up, as the sound of living waters, as the outburst of a bird's clear song, a strange and transfiguring joy such as we knew not before ; and we feel as if our spirits leapt, and danced, and sang ; and we wake as a garden of spices wakes at the breath of the wind from the south ; and there rises the rushing sound of our new praise, and we find we can give
The Mind of the Church. 1 2 1 thanks to God ! We glorify God, we give thanks for His great glory, and give Him worship, and honour, and dominion, and power. So begins our thanksgiving ; and, then, out of thanksgiving, we win compassion. As we turn our eyes, full of blessed tears, from the great White Throne, upon brethren and sisters who starve, how we love them, and yearn over them with a new yearning, and our own happiness in God drives us out of ourselves ! We cannot bear it alone ; why are they not as we are ? Oh, that we could tell them what we know! how shall we rest till they have tasted and drunk ? And we begin to understand what St. Paul was saying when he cried, "Oh, ye Corinthians, our
mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels." So our thanksgiving becomes compassion. Out of our human devotion in giving ourselves to God, we gain a touch of the Godhead to which we give ourselves. We gain this Divine power of pity. We look out upon our fellows with the yearning of the Father — " Oh, that my people would hearken unto Me ! " — and our eyes begin to moisten with the tears of Him who wept over the city, and said, " Oh ! Jerusalem, Jerusalem." That, when it is gained, is Christian charity, — no light emotion of passing pity, no accident of temperament, but a habit, a nature, a character of life, settled, rigid, and eternal. This is charity as it is in Christ; no fruit of earthly seed which the light winds have sown, but the perfect fruit of that trained and cultivated growth whose root is faith, whose flower is hope, — a fruit which the effort
122 The Church in the Gospels. of Divine husbandry has built up into Divine growth. "Ye are God's husbandry." He would spend His skill upon you, for He desires your fruit. But there is no skill without schooling. We omit and forget the schooling, and because we forget it we see so little necessity for careful scientific training, and our faith remains vague and unstable, instead of a noble spiritual building. The Church, on the Feast of Trinity, asks of us the harder and rarer task, asks us to surrender our unsteady emotion to the rule of Christ's creed, to the discipline of Christ's law, that at the end of the long line of Trinity Sundays, Advent may find us at least one or two steps further on the road that leadeth to perfection. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=970
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