This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
It has always been weary. Its weari■*■ ness is and has been deep and quite universal. They who work, not only, but they who play, also, are weary and have been so since history began. They who are weighted with disease, and they who are in the vigor of health alike, have been and are weary. o class could in the past, neither can it now, be exempt from weariness. Burns at his plow, and Solomon on his throne, have voiced the fact and all we who have no clear voice of song or speech such as they had, enduring voicelessly, know the fact. And Jesus promises rest — upon conditions, it is true — but still he promises rest! The promise is very sweet. It has ravished many hearts. Can he keep his promise? Can he give what wealth, pleasure, power, philosophy and art have failed to give? His first appearance is much against His promise. He is a toiler with His hands. Such is the unvarying tradition, and such is the practical certainty. He is a tireless toiler as teacher, physician, and friend. The most massive mind and the toughest body known to history must have been taxed to their utmost — perhaps overwhelmed — by any one of several of His days, so filled were these days with toil. Besides the prophet looking forward to Him called Him "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. ' ' He said of Him also, ' ' Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." And again the prophet foretells that He should be " taken from prison and from judgment," and that "His soul" should be made "an offering for sin. ' ' And from Gethsemane arises a cry of anguish, 375
376 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT and from the way to the cross the sound of a body falling under its burden upon the pavement, and from the cross comes over seas and centuries a wail of woe that is penetrating to every human ear. How impossible on the face of the matter is any reasonable hope of rest at the hands of one so awfully burdened ! But there is something convincing in the voice of Jesus in this promise and so we are led to go down more deeply into His life and work to see if anywhere we can find justification for it. Perhaps this toiler's, this anguished sufferer's promise of rest has its origin in some deep and innermost center of experience — some core of calm and refreshment in His life of burden and storm. And it may be that He has done such things for mankind as tend to make this promise reasonable. Perhaps, for example, He has given rest of body to classes of creatures long overburdened. We shall have gone down only a little way in the experience of Jesus as it is exhibited on the pages of the ew Testament before we shall find clear intimations of the central calm which we have conjectured. Thus He says to His disciples in the shadow of the cross, "My peace I give unto you," and again He says to them in the same awful shadow ' ' These things have I spoken unto you that in me ye may have peace. ' ' Let us go on down into the life of this toiler — this sufferer, and we shall hear Him saying, still in the shadow of the cross, "In the world ye shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer I have overcome the world. ' ' And if we go down to yet another level of this soundless life we shall hear a quiet voice saying, "The hour cometh, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone because the Father is with me." Even Grethsemane and the cross cannot hide — nay, they display — the restful center of the life of Jesus. In the former through a veil of tears and blood we see the angels ministering to Him while He
concludes agonizing prayers in perfect submission to the will of the Father. From the latter the voice of the sufferer still says "Father" and at last "My Father," thus declaring His
HARRY D. SMITH 377 sense of His kinship with the very source of all. Even in the awful heart-breaking cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" it is not hard to detect the hope which is ever under the despair of the good — and there is rest in hope. But of all the utterances of Jesus which show the heart of peace which beats behind the toil and tragedy with which he clothed His spirit for a time, none is more impressive than His allusion to Himself as "The Son of man who is in Heaven." Here on earth — still "in Heaven!" His soul "exceeding sorrowful even unto death" still possessed of the shoreless, fathomless peace of oneness with God ! So Jesus does not mock us by offering to us what he does not possess. He himself had the rest which he offered to others. ow as to our second conjecture. Has Jesus given bodily rest to long overburdened creatures? The answer of his personal ministry is manifold, impressive. He was always lifting loads from bodies. The fainting he refreshed with food for which they had not worked, and so he lifted one day a load of labor from thousands of bodies. The barren night toil of his fishermen friends he more than once made suddenly and unwontedly fruitful with a word, and thus saved them from the weariness of added labor. He lifted disease from bodies with the same ease and even greater frequency. He "rebuked" a fever and it left its victim. He bade the paralytic "rise take up" his "bed and walk," and was obeyed. He stopped a hemorrhage of years. He made the leprous sound and wholesome. And three times at fewest he lifted from human bodies the appalling weight of death. The answer of His ministry since His ascension is not less but more manifold and impressive. The principles of His
Gospel through the influence of His church have been more widely beneficial to weary bodies than was the Lord Himself in His personal ministry. Through His people and their friends he feeds millions as once he fed thousands of the dependent. By the social order, the self-respect, the spirit of self-help, and the ambition to produce wealth in order to be more useful, to which the Gospel leads, the toil of man-
378 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT kind is being- made fruitful in such degree and kind as almost to belittle the astounding miracles which Jesus wrought in filling the nets of his friends of Galilee. He has taken from the women in many lands the oppressive weight of inappropriate physical labor. He has withdrawn the children of many lands from premature employment in their industries. He has continued to lift the load of disease. In Christian hospital and dispensary, and by the hands of missionary physicians and surgeons and nurses, he is banishing disease as of old he did with his word. Only now he does this for millions and not for a few. His influence through his people in the laws of civilized lands is even careful to take the burden from the back of the overworked or diseased beast — a reminiscence of his manger-cradle. And so it seems credible that Jesus can give rest. He has the secret of it in his own experience and he has given rest to many tired and exhausted bodies of both men and women and children and lower animals. He who can lift the weight of death from the human frame — what cannot be expected of him? Perhaps he can even share with others that rest of spirit which nothing can destroy — not even Gethsemanes and Calvaries, For after all this rest of the spirit is the real rest. Any other rest is superficial and evanescent. And this is the rest of the promise which we are considering. "Rest unto your souls." Such is the phrase of the promise. But why, you inquire, say "perhaps" about a fact estab-
lished by the testimony of millions of the noblest persons of many generations? Only, of course, because in our thinking now nothing is intended to be asked of the merely Christian consciousness but all is to be derived from the common knowledge of our race. We wish, if we can, to ground ourselves in a character of reasoning which shall be as valid in a mosque as in a cathedral, in a Shinto shrine as in a mission chapel. Therefore we put aside Stephen dying at the hands of murderous sectaries yet with a light of heaven on his face. We therefore will not hear Paul — Paul the ambitious — saying, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am therein to be con-
HARRY D. SMITH 379 tent." We decline to note the voice of ambitious Augustine saying, "See, Lord, I cast my care upon thee." or will we hear Savonarola as he prays quietly on the day of his martyrdom "Lord I know that thou art the eternal word; I know that thou didst shed thy blood for our sins. I pray thee that by that blood I may have remission for my sins;" nor will we see him as he mounts the scaffold of death composed, calm, absorbed, a sacrifice upon the altar of civic righteousness and political liberty. We turn away from the voice of Huss as he goes to the stake at Constance saying, ' ' In the faith of that Gospel which I have lived, preached and taught, I now joyfully die." We try to forget the countless less known but not less credible souls who, as a result of faith in Jesus, testify that they have been as channels of the "peace like a river." It is well-nigh impossible to shut out of our thinking now these witnesses to the power, not only, but the practice of Jesus as a giver of rest to the soul of man. But let us do our best to do so that anyone here who does not know our Lord may see if it be not true that it is not necessary to depend for evidence of this power upon the statements of others as to their own psychological conditions.
A very simple method is open to us of thus avoiding appeal to the inner experience of Christians. We may inquire whether or not the Gospel is intrinsically suited to give rest of soul to one who believes it. What then, as far as we can now know, is the source or what are the sources, as the case may be, of the unrest of the human spirit ? Instantly a phrase which has become a proverb presents itself^ I mean the phrase "intellectual unrest." It has sometimes been supposed, I believe, that such unrest is more or less peculiar to our own time. But that is not true except in respect of certain phases of such unrest. Men have always and everywhere felt precisely in proportion to the vigor and acuteness of their thinking that they knew little and that little very partially, and their souls in like proportion have beaten themselves into exhaustion or madness against the bars
380 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT of the narrow cell of their knowledge. o relief has come from widening knowledge. The reason is plain. It is that each solution is only a fresh question or, as often happens, many questions. Our case in respect of knowledge is the same in one particular, at least, as it is in respect of light. In the twilight which forms the edge of the tiny circle of a hand lantern's shining is room for only a few indistinct objects, while in that twilight which makes the edge of the vast circle lighted by the high power electric lamp is room for a multitude of such objects. That is, widening light raises more questions, whether it be light of lamps or light of knowledge. But intellectual unrest is not alone the fruit of the fact that the questioning involved in the pursuit of knowledge is endless. It grows also out of the essential nature of certain capital questions which the human mind is ever asking. Thus questions of God, duty, and the future may not be mentioned
in the notable treatise of the hour. Both the writer of such a treatise and its readers of this hour may repel — nay, they may sternly seek to exclude — such questions from their consideration. But it is quite useless. These are not enemies from without. They lurk, however forgotten for the moment, in the mind of every man. They will be considered. They declare themselves, as it were, akin to any other question whatsoever and as therefore germane to every discussion. And so at the end of the hour they are apt to be found in the very forefront of reasonings which some had imagined were wholly removed from their vicinity. But most disquieting is a dissonance which always appears to the thinker upon these supreme questions. This dissonance the theologian calls sin. However, it is not now of consequence what we may call it. It exists and seems to the thoughtful man the very root of misery, the very heart of woe. It is always to be reckoned with by the thinker without regard to his religion or to his lack of religion. ow how, if at all, does the gospel of Jesus meet this unrest of the mind? Certainly not by explicit answers to all our questions. Such explicit answers, had they been given, would
HARRY D. SMITH 381 no doubt long since have called for yet other explicit answers. And so far from trying to explain how evil or discord can be in a world fashioned by a good and perfect God, Jesus exhibits such evil or discord as the occasion and the explanation, in part, of his own coming into that world. He does not use the method of philosophy or science, though on that account we must not think that what he says is either unscientific or unphilosophical. "The world by wisdom knew not God." The final object, doubtless, whether men are conscious of the fact or not of all search of the human kind. The methods of human wisdom being discredited, he uses another and a different method.
This method is very bold. It is astounding indeed. He puts himself in the place of truth. He says, "I am the truth." To the deepmost questionings of the mind he is the true answer, he says, and he is to be accepted by faith. The mind that is wretched with baffled desire to know truth is invited to find peace by trusting him. He exhibits himself as his own best credential. He declares that he is the light of the world, the bread from heaven, and that he gives the water of life. o argument is necessary to prove to the eye that light is light nor to the human system that bread and water are what they are. Thus Jesus exhibits himself to the mind. He does not argue much in support of doctrines. He does not appeal to authority. He himself is the center of authority and he himself, and not a system of doctrines, is to be received and trusted. So Paul could write, I know whom I have believed. Jesus says, I will give you rest. You shall find rest not in a literature, a science, a philosophy — not even in a philosophy of religion otherwise called a theology — but in him. He invites us to take an attitude similar to that of a little child who neither understands his father's business nor his father but nevertheless knows him sufficiently to trust him and to be happy in doing so. I say, he invites us, who understand neither the world about us nor God nor his own gracious self, still, out of such knowledge as we have of him, to trust him.
382 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT Is there any other hope of such rest of mind as we seek? I do not know of it. It seems "We have bnt faith, we cannot know." And this hope is raised higher in us by particular expressions of Jesus as to his authority. We crave to know, not merely to guess, however shrewdly; not even to see what we wish to see about God and our relations to him as highly probable. How perfectly the untremulous voice of Jesus meets this craving! Is there a God? Jesus assumes that there is.
ot a fleck of doubt is in all the mighty day of his certitude on this point. How does God regard man? Jesus answers, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life." Is there anything for us after death? Jesus answers, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die." By what authority does he say such things? He answers that he had been with the Father from the beginning and had shared his glory before the creation of the world; that the Father sent him into the world and that in all that he said and did he varied not a hair from his commission; that he and the Father were really one; and that therefore all authority in heaven and on earth had been reposed in him. Since we cannot know and have but faith, — can we dream of a fitter object of faith than he thus appears? Is he not precisely such a center of rest as the mind must have if it is ever to rest at all? Is not faith in him the one and only conceivable solution of our ultimate problems of the intellect? Browning writes boldly, ' ' The acknowledgment of God in Christ, Accepted by the reason, solves For thee all problems in the earth And out of it, and so far has Advanced thee to be wise." Who will chide his boldness? A second source of unrest is in the affections of mankind. In whom is there a quiet heart? Who can say with the
HARRY D. SMITH 383 psalmist, "My heart is fixed?" There is much truth in a simple song of our time where it says, "The world is dying for a little bit of love." Human love, much as we owe to it,
is constantly failing many who trust it. Even when it is most steadfast and most full there is a longing in the object of it to be loved more intelligently. Besides, death puts a period to the service of human love. And worst of all we cannot be as sure as we could wish of our own affections. We often lose the affections of others, or at least the advantage of such affections, through the cooling of our own. Can Jesus give our hearts the rest they cry for? It is certain that Jesus loved with such a love as no other person of history has shown to us. He loved his immediate disciples tenderly, and as one of them wrote, "unto the end." He loved the rich young ruler who was so enamored of wealth that he failed to profit by his love. He loved Lazarus, the friend whose guest he often was when he was in the vicinity of Jerusalem. He was tenderly considerate of his mother — even while he bore the pangs of the cross. He was most gracious to children and made by his example a new world for them — a world which should have them in its midst. But you say, these were all more or less lovely. What of the multituds of the unlovely who by reason of being unlovely have most need to be loved? How good it is to be able to say that he loved them also. The outcasts of poverty, vice, disease, race, religion — he loved them all. And his enemies — what of them ? He loved them also and prayed for them! even while they crucified him. He loved the world. He gave his life for it. He was "The lamb slain from the foundation of the world" to take "away the sin of the world." And his care is to be extended beyond the present world. He is to provide for us in another world bodies and dwellings and a society, which alike are to be fair and imperishable. Here is a love full, steadfast, intelligent and lasting. A love which knowing all, is able to forgive all. A love capable of inspiring worthy love and so of fixing the heart in a center of rest.
384 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT
"Herein is love." As we think of it, how natural it is to sing with Wesley: "Love divine, all love excelling, Joy of heaven to earth come down! Fix in us thy humble dwelling All thy faithful mercies crown! "Breathe, O breathe thy loving spirit, Into every troubled breast! Let us all in thee inherit Let us find the promised rest ! ' ' A third source of spiritual unrest is in the conscience. "Conscience doth make cowards of us all." The sense of disagreement with the source of all, and the sense of inferiority and the fear which accompany it, are in every soul which can at all decide between right and wrong. The reason is that "all men have sinned." There is none good, no not one." ow has Jesus any balm for wounds of conscience? Why now we come to the very center of the gospel. Paul tells us that "being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ. ' ' That is, faith in Christ gives rest of conscience. But we are to accept Paul's testimony just now no further than it may appear to be intrinsically reasonable. So let us inquire how the gospel is suited to give peace of conscience to one who believes it. First, perhaps, in the working of gospel in us to bring us to peace of conscience, is the assurance that Jesus loves every human soul. That is, we are made sure by the gospel that Jesus would do for us whatever he could. And then we are assured by the gospel that Jesus is not only utterly loving but that he himself lived a flawless life. He is, therefore, a perfect sacrifice for sin.
And then we observe with admiring wonder how God is enabled by Jesus to be "just," that is, to strike sin so that the very universe reels under the stroke, and, at the same time, to be "the justifier of him that believeth." The cross condemns sin and justifies the sinner. And further, when we see the holy heart of Jesus brimming over with compassion for us and are assured by him that he came from the Father
HAHRY D. SMITH 385 and that he and the Father are one, it no longer seems impossible, but certain, that the holy God can and does forgive sins. ow if, with these assurances, one can say, I have accepted the pardon of Christ in the way pointed out by him, why should not peace come down upon his conscience "like rain upon the mown grass?" But it is time to conclude. We have seen that Jesus, in spite of labors, sufferings, and the cross itself, possesses the rest he proffers. We have seen that in his personal ministry and by his influence later, he gives rest of body to men, women, children and lower animals. We passed, without a glance at them, multitudes we might have seen of those followers of Jesus who in the most assiduous labors of life and in the pangs of horrible deaths exhibited the signs of inward peace which he himself exhibited. We declined to hear such followers 1 as they testified that they knew the secret of a peace that the world can neither give nor take away. We have seen that by its self-evidencing and authoritative character, the gospel is capable of giving rest of mind to him who believes it. We have seen that Jesus provides in his own unique and limitless love an anchor and a haven for every heart. We have seen that he has provided, in his affection for the sinner, his perfect life, and his death for sin, such a medicine for the fiery fever of the conscience as warrants one in hoping to be cured by it. His promise of rest for the soul is therefore a
promise as credible as it is alluring. It remains to us in our present thinking together to consider any condition or conditions upon which Jesus bestows his priceless gift. "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me . . . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Thus he instructs us. That is, a yoke and learning are conditions of rest. What is it to take the yoke of Jesus upon us ? Clearly it is to submit to him. It is this, whatever else it may be. And how are we to submit to him? Quite simply, i.e., by beginning in sincerity to try to observe his directions as expressions of the loftiest wisdom and as commands of the su-
386 THE EW LIVI G PULPIT preme authority for the government of men. And what is it to learn of him? It is anything else than to continue thus in submission to him? But what would he have us do for him? "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ? ' ' Clearly some task is to be performed for him. There is here no mere question of a tenet to be cherished, or an emotion to be nurtured, or a ritual to be celebrated, and perhaps enjoyed for its beauty and dignity. Once he directed the apostles to teach the peoples of the nations who should become his disciples "to observe all things whatsoever" he had commanded them. Thus it becomes certain that rest may be had by submitting to and working for him. Was ever anything more startling or seemingly more revolutionary? Work and you shall have rest! And yet the matter is really simple. Who was ever peaceful because he was idle? Is it not a commonplace of our experience that idleness breeds restlessness while work is apt to make one contented? Work is not then, our daily experience being the ground of our judgment, necessarily, an enemy of rest, but rather its good friend. When work is not the friend of the rest of spirit which we seek, it is, is it not, because the work is not congenial rather than merely because
it is work? And why is it not congenial? Are there not two reasons either of which is possible? Perhaps our task is in itself good and proper but some fault in us keeps it from seeming so. Or perhaps we are right minded but our labor seems slight or unprofitable. Is not our need a "yoke" — i. e., a means of adjustment to our task? And who should be able suitably to adjust us to our task in this world if not One who is at once in the secret of our nature through wearing it himself, and in the secret of all labors through having made all things? Thus it appear that rest of soul may be found in Christ; and that it is to be attained by faith in Christ ; and that faith in Christ is a faith which works the will of Christ. I repeat, it is a weary world. But it is not without hope of rest, for Jesus invites it to rest. May it more and more accept his gracious invitation.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.