DISAPPOI TME TS BY A THO Y W. THOROLD, D.D.

Lord Bishop of Rochester

Who hath believed our report — Isaiah liii. 1. All kinds of sorrow, disappointment is at once the most universal, inevitable, abiding - , pathetic, and in some aspects of it noble. The man who fails, and docs not care for failing, will never deserve to succeed. The man who desires, if it be a good and lofty thing that he desires, supposing him to be a man of purpose, tenderness, and insight, should he desire it in vain, cannot be quite the same man afterwards. It is not too much to say that the greatest men in the world — those whom we respect, admire, even love more than any others — are those who, when they missed their aim, even though they did not take the world into their confidence, carried the marks of their trouble on them to the grave. Elijah on Horeb, John Baptist in the dungeon of Machaerus, ma)' we not add the apostle in his prison at Caesarea, longing for liberty and for Rome, touch our hearts and win our enthusiasm, even more than the grandest of conquerors at the pinnacle of their triumph. For prophets and cvan-

216 QUESTIO S OF FAITH A D DUTY gclists to be human, and to make us feel it, tightens the cord that unites the least and the greatest. Let us glance at some of the disappointments which fill such a large place in the chapter of earthly sorrow ; and then ask what we are to do with them, if we would fulfil the counsel of God. There are — to select a few out of many — disappointments in our earthly affairs, in our moral and religious progress, and (as the prophet's question indicates) in our public duty for God. Disappointments in earthly affairs come to all of us in turn, and in the

Hush of youth cause us keener pain than at any other period. ay, they are often the only sorrows we are then called to know. They pass ; they leave their mark, which is what they are meant to do ; when we look back at them over a vista of years, how thankful we feel they came. God said o to us about what would have been harmful, presently to say Yes to us about what was helpful. To all who are sore with trouble of this kind, the Psalmist's words should come home, full of healing wisdom: "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." Disappointments in our moral and religious progress have a morbid as well as a healthy side ; are occasionally the result of over-introspection, are suggested by the secret repinings of spiritual pride. Self-consciousness is the bane of sim-

sokkow 217 plicity, and simplicity is the flower of the soul. To forget ourselves as much as possible, to walk in the light as God is in the light, without too much thinking about it, but as a simple matter of course, because we belong to Him ; to avoid watching our growth, but to trust God with it, while we do our duty in and for Him, is the ideal life, and the life that is also possible for all. But often it is too high for us, we cannot attain unto it. Our faults are like weeds, which may be cut down with the mower's scythe, but which have their living roots far down below. Sometimes they take us by surprise, and are too much for us ; and then in an unguarded moment we seem to have lost the spoils of years, and to have gone back to our petulant and undisciplined childhood. It is still hard to love God for Himself, it is still hard to carry the cross which I le chooses for us, and to surrender the treasures which He claims. Jealousy, or selfishness, or pride, or worldliness seem as vital and mischievous in us as ever. There is but one thing

wc seem to be sure of — and the multiplying years have at least done this for us ; we see more than we ever did how beautiful, how glorious, how heart-satisfying the Lord Jesus Christ is ; and if we seem as far off as ever from having attained to anything of His perfection, His image seems more desirable than ever, His love passeth knowledge. All sorts of remedies are given us : this teacher and that

218 QUESTIO S OF FAITH A D DUTY teacher profess to tell the secret of a sinless life. One tells us that holiness is by faith. So it is, if it is meant that faith is the secret of that plentiful grace which can alone build us up into our Lord. So it is not, if it is meant that faith or anything else can modify, suspend, or repeal the immutable laws of the spiritual kingdom, or that any amount of believing what is not true can make what is never promised or intended come to pass. To all souls beautifully, grandly disappointed from time to time, by the shallowness of their knowledge, or the inconsistency of their lives, or the indevoutness of their worship, or the poverty of their love (these disappointments are in God's good providence transitory phases, not permanent depressions), let me offer a word of warning and a word of counsel. While there is practically no limitation set to our moral and spiritual progress, the old Adam nature in us makes absolute sinlessness a presumptuous dream. We cannot hate sin too much, nor watch against it too constantly, nor crucify it too relentlessly. But it is always here — living, and visible, till death translates us into the sinless land. The constant imitation of the Lord must be our one purpose, " Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." The Indwelling Christ must be our safeguard : " I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and

SORROW 219 the life which I now live in the flesh 1 live by the faitli of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Walking in the light shall ensure our continual pardon : " If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another ; and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." The other kind of disappointment — that incurred in our public duty towards God — is indicated by the prophet's complaint. It is the noblest of all, for it ought to have the least amount of self in it. " Who hath believed our report ? " The preacher preaches, and hearts are still hard. The mother prays, but the son of her love will not yield himself to the Saviour. There is the philanthropist, who yearns for the deliverance of the tempted and oppressed ; the teacher, who feels that the message he has to deliver, were it believed, would change the face of the world ; the statesman, who longs for measures to make it easier for men to be virtuous and temperate ; the missionary, who sees millions for whom his Lord suffered under the iron yoke of corruption and idolatry, but who year after year utters his message, and men are as deaf to it as the fury of the sea to the song of a child. These know what disappointment is ; we respect, we honour, we love them for their disappointment. All we say is, and with the deepest reverence, God feels it as much as you do, and because He feels it you feel it. But if He will not

220 QUESTIO S OF FAITH A D DUTY take short cuts for healing the world's miseries, you must not wish to take them. You have only a part of the task to do. Bless Him that you have any of it, whether in seedtime or harvest, whether in winter or spring. Do what

He gives you to do, and pass on the torch and the plough, and the seed-basket and the sickle, when your work is done ; and be well assured that your name, as one of His workers, when He comes back to pay His wages, shall be found written in His book in the end of the years. The disaf- Does any one ask if Jesus was disappointed ? point incuts TT j tt tt of Jesus. He was, and He was not. He was so occasionally, but not finally. He was disappointed when the disciples could not cast out the demoniac child. He was disappointed when they understood not the miracle of the loaves, for their heart was hardened. He was disappointed, keenly disappointed, when St. Peter tried to dissuade Him from His cross. He was disappointed when, after His great discourse in the synagogue of Capernaum, many of His disciples went away and walked no more with Him. He was disappointed because Jerusalem would not let Him save her, and showed His disappointment in a flood of tears. He was disappointed when His disciples slept, while He was in His agony. But He was not disappointed in the work of His life, nor in the results of His Passion. ever was His spirit in more perfect and joyous peace than when in the upper

SORROW 221 chamber He said to His holy Father, " I have glorified Thee on the earth ; 1 have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do ; " when on the cross He said, as He died, " It is finished ;" " He saw the travail of His soul, and was satisfied."

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