THE MANLINESS OF JESUS BY THE HON. AND REV. FRANCIS E. C. BYNG, M.A.

, CHAPLAIN IN ORDINARY TO THE QUEEN AND TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE O COMMONS.

St. Matthew xi. 8. — ^^But^^what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold^ they that wear soft clothing are in kings^ houses. The defenders of Christianity have to change their position from time to time, from one point to another, in order to hold their own against attack. If we prove that it is not the one thing which its enemies declare it to be — for instance, wavering, like the reed shaken in the wind — then they alter their tactics, and say, " No, perhaps not altogether wavering, but it is a weak, effeminate system ; there IS nothing manly about it." I would wish to show you that the eminent characteristic of Christianity is manliness, and that manliness, apart from Christianity, is very often only the display and exercise of physical strength and courage. I think that, if religion means leading a godly, instead of an ungodly life, if it means exercising self-control and self-denial, if it means confessing

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2o6 JftUvMk aia» iFo^ of ^na &W»t one's sins and infirmities, and seeking help and strength from above to enable us to be better, and do nobler things than we have done hitherto, and have higher aims, and to do all this, not for the sake of reward, or from love of praise, and the satisfaction of encouragement, but for its own sake, — then, I say, that, so far from being effeminate, religion is a manly thing, and he only is base, and mean, and effeminate, who gives in to temptations and becomes the slave of sin. Slavery is not an honourable condition, and yet how many of us bear its galling yoke, in a spiritual sense, who would struggle for emancipation, if the slavery affected us in a mere temporal sense ! You may consider this subject from any age of life you like, and you will see that it costs an efTort

to young and old to live a godly life, and any effort is of necessity a proof that we are not yielding to sloth and self-indulgence ; and religion IS not effeminacy. These vices of sloth and ease are effeminate, if you like ; these weaken a man's character ; these make him the wearer, so to speak, of soft clothing, which is the feature of the courtier rather than of the disciple. There is an effeminacy in speech as well as in deeds. The calling things by their wrong names.

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iFdnUK( anH Jfot^ of %tinii (Sj^cistt 207 calling " evil good, and good evil, putting darkness for light, arid light for darkness, bitter for sweet, sweet for bitter," being afraid to call wicked things and men by their distinct titles. How different does a sin appear when it is dressed up in fine clothes, and does not appear before us in its hideous nakedness! How often is a gentler word found for untruth than lie, for dishonesty than theft, for latent treachery than impurity ! The great Greek historian, we read, points it out, as the surest degradation in his own troubled day, that men spoke of virtues as if they were vices, and of vices as if they were virtues. "They altered, at their will and pleasure, the customary meaning of words in reference to actions. They branded prudent caution as 'mean procrastination,' they glorified reckless audacity as social courage ; if a man was calm he was taunted with cowardice, and if he were brutal he was belauded for manliness." This habit begins very young, and we cannot be too cautious in warning the young that sin is sin, whatever gloze or overlaying of paint, society and custom may choose to use, to erase its irregularities of outline or shape its ugliness into form. Whether rightly or wrongly, courtiers have been generally looked upon as flatterers, men who dare not speak the

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2o8 dFricnlHt utOi iPo(«( of Sc^ust eixbu truth. It was of Bourdaloue — I only quote from memory — the court preacher in the reign of Louis XIV., that the story is told, that when preaching I

upon death before the king and court, carried ^ away by the earnestness of his feelings he ex- i claimed, "We are all mortal," but quickly recovered himself, and with an obeisance to the royal pew, said, " Except your Majesty." Now, although the common sense of to-day, apart from other proper feelings, of every one, rejects this, and repudiates as an unwholesome food such gross flattery, which is simply a lie, are we not all apt to be more ashamed of using base names for base deeds than of doing those deeds ? Our resolutions are "sicklied o*er" with the effeminacy of parleying, of tampering with sin, rather than repulsing and denouncing it. Although we would rush forward with eagerness if we saw a friend in danger to his body or life, we stir nor hand nor foot nor voice when he is incurring the danger of destruction to his soul. Is this manliness.? Is it not mean and cruel cowardice and treachery ? And does religion, whose enemies and scoffers say of it that it is fit only for women Stnd priests, teach this — does it uphold this ? If you want to see how religion bears itself, how it

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Jftkv^^ anH iFo^ of 3)e0u0 0]^ri^t 209 lives and acts, you will not find it — if it be true — tricked out in gay apparel, yielding to the suggestions and inclinations of ease and voluptuousness. John the Baptist was Herod's prisoner, not his courtier, and his rough garments covered no shrinking, frail, delicate body. The character of the perfect man, as taught by Aristotle, was developed out of the two cardinal virtues — manliness and self-mastery ; the one lifting up the hands which hang down, and strengthening the feeble knees ; the other making straight paths for the feet, by purging the eye of the moral sense, and following " right reason " for a guide. The two, when working together by the power of the Holy Spirit, constituting that moral power which St. John rejoiced to behold in some young men who had probably been his own sons in the faith, who were strong, and in whom the Word of God abode, and

who had overcome the wicked one. And these elements of holy violence are needed still. We require, if we would so run that we may obtain, if we would so fight as to gain the mastery, the temper of men striving for the mastery, though temperate in all things. The Christian character, or rather the natural temper in which the Spirit of God finds a home, and on which He grafts His

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3IO iFcfeiOHt aiO) iFo(s( of %t%n» ^j^ctet fruits, is essentially manly, honest, and straightforward ; free alike from sickly cravings and languid sentiments, unreal words, meaningless prostrations, and vague expressions about his inward convictions and feelings ; resolute, but not rude ; not diffident, and yet not presumptuous ; firm, without obstinacy; simple concerning evil, but wise unto that which is good. Are such characters bred and .matured in homes of ease, and lives of self-indulgence ? Do they not require times of visitation and inquiry from God to draw out what is in a man ? And then, when they come, these days of mental perplexity or practical emergency, who stands firmest in the fight, whose hand would you sooner grasp ; the man of faith and of practice, the man of deep-rooted religious conviction — impulsive, perhaps, but yet only so on principle — or the man of ever-shifting, varying fancy, whose life is a divided service between God and Mammon, an unreal visionary in religious matters ? It is not always your men of great intellect, in range and power, your men of keen emotions and lively sensibilities, whose judgment we may depend upon, upon whose wisdom we can rely. These former have been led away in crises of their spiritual life, dazzled by a more gorgeous

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:ffxknt» anH Jfot^ of %iikuii &ixiiit 211 ceremonial, attracted by the show of a more comprehensive creed, and misled (as we think) by the specious and illusory pretensions of a supreme, infallible, but mortal human guide. We require

manliness to support our faith, to deepen our religion. Was Esau manly when he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage ; or Saul, when he reserved the best of the spoil, from Agag's country, for his own gratification ? Circumstances are ever occurring in every one's life to form his character, for evil and for good. Different circumstances, it is true, but different because our characters are varied. What we have within us, what we are in our moral being, will be affected by external events. " Things outward Do draw the inward quality after them." In every call of life, in every profession — whether our lives be led here at home, or whether we be called to other lands, with other occupations, interests, and aims — manliness, as opposed to effeminacy, manliness in conversation, in dress, in pursuits, in our amusements and pleasures, should distinguish every Christian, and will distinguish him if he be one in heart and soul. Self-mastery, as opposed to self-indulgence, will be the distinctive,

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212 dFcknM aiOi ipoot of ^u% H^WsiU perhaps singular, feature of his character ; and there IS nothing more enervating to any character than the habit we all get into, sooner or later, of making^ excuses for ourselves. The reckless and improvident man is called the light-hearted, generous friend ; the man of the world knd the fop is held up as a specimen of the well-dressed man. The apparel oft proclaims the man ; and yet he owes very often much more of his outward appearance to the art of his tailor or hairdresser, than to his natural good looks. The woman of the world is sought after for reasons of mere worldly interest and curiosity, and, alas! the young girls of the period, as they are called in familiar phraseology, are popular because they are amusing in a sense far from being creditable. These are not signs of manliness or womanliness, are they ? A true religious training for the young, and a true religious life among the elders, would not produce this life of being clothed in soft

raiment, which belongs to the luxury of a palace rather than the reality of an unostentatious, holy life. Mistake me not, misjudge me not ; I preach no rules of asceticism which I am not inclined to follow

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or practise ; I ask for no austerity, no moroseness, in religion. I have always thought and felt the religious life, of living with Christ, to be an enlivening, hopeful life ; but I cannot go through the world with my eyes and ears open, and not pretend to see and know that there are many things around and about us which require our individual attention to reform and improve. And on no point more than this one of misinterpreting religion is there greater mischief done, or greater mistakes made. Religion must not be fashionable, must not be, if it is to influence you for good, merely emotional, taken up with intense, almost feverish eagerness for a while, and as quickly dropped, and totally forgotten. That is the effeminacy of religion. It shows no discipline of the heart, no self-control, no depth of earth, and I am sure there will come from it no abiding fruit Because all these blots are found in a decently respectable and religious people ; and, moreover, the fault of this disease, which eats out all that is pure, and healthy, and vigorous, is quite as obvious to those who listen as to those who 5peak. "Well, what do you want us to do.^" I fancy some one may say ; or a less patient listener might add, " If you are so good and perfect, will

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214 ^cicntMt an)) iFof)$ of ^m 0jM^t you tell us how we may attain to this high standard ? " It is because I am neither good nor perfect, because I need guiding and keeping, that I warn you against these dangers ; and the one simple danger you have to beware of, is weakening your religious life — dwarfing its growth, perhaps wither-

ing Its fruit, entirely through adopting an easy, self-pleasing religion. And I will tell you what my idea of this spurious religion is. People who are disinclined to obey the spirit of Christ's teaching generally find fault with the letter of it. As to dress, "Am I to dress in sackcloth to be a Christian." To which we answer. Nobody wants you to dress beneath your station in life, nor. above it. Neither manner savours of religion : ** Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not expressed in fancy." The camel's hair and the leathern girdle is not a suitable dress for the nineteenth century. Nobody wants you, in order to show your religion, to eat locusts and wild honey ; but, then, while you eat and drink, and entertain as your means of hospitality not only allow, but enjoin, think of the hungry, and poor, and needy at yoiir gates. Do

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dFtUnl^iS anl^ JFot^ of %t^viii e^xiiiU 215 not be extravagant in dress, or in eating and drinking. There is a mean between asceticism and pampered luxury. " Well, what shall I do to show I am religious ? What good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life ?" "Keep the commandments." "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God ? " Take a healthy, manly, religious view of life, its work and duty. Have that onward-pressing spirit that achieves the mightiest of conquests, the mastery of self. Be a good soldier of the Cross of Christ. Be at home in your daily lives what we suppose you to be by your profession here — that is, religious men and women. You have the name of God and the law of God on your lips often enough. Do not seek exemption from the work of God ; and, above all, for herein lies also the effeminacy of religion, be not weary in well-doing ; be not discouraged if you do not succeed at once and for ever in subduing the evil of sloth, or spiritual indifference within you. The enemies to our souls* happiness will be driven out as the foes to the Israelites were — by degrees, one by one. Remember, God alone can put into our hearts good desires, and He will bring the same to good effect.

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2i6 dFtitiOMt anil JhM of ^u% tiDjM^t There is no impatience (for that is a sign of weakness), nor querulousness, nor dissatisfaction in true religion. True religion derives its strength from communion with heaven, not from contact with earthIt is a confidence that has great recompense of reward. Its fruit is quietness and assurance for ever. Religion has no attractions such as the earth and earthly things possess. It is simple, unostentatious. The garments with which it invests you, though little attractive to the eye, will never be moth-eaten ; and if, beloved, ye put on the " ornament of a meek and quiet spirit," remember it is " in the sight of God of great price." If you will but take religion into your daily life, not as a strange, adopted child, but as belonging to yourself, one of the family ; if you will only believe it to be " the one thing needful ; " that it is not, if it be true, inconsistent or wavering, vacillating or effeminate ; if you can only believe that man's true manliness is to be pure, upright, honest, selfsacrificing; that the only thing you need be ashamed of is yielding to sin — you, who would feel yourselves disgraced if you were called effeminate in other matters, weak, or cowardly, will blush to think you should be numbered among those

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:fftkv^1i anl^ dFo($s of %tsiu% tiDjftri^t 217 of whom Christ has said, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

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