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Clark, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." — Psalm 126 : 6. I PIETY means something. , 1. It means more than a profession of religion to be pious in the true sense of the term. It is possible for ns to make very loud and long professions of righteousness and at the same time be manifestly wanting in true piety, that unfeigned godliness which purifies the soul and imparts the strength and beauty to life and character that enables it to be a glory to God and a ministry of blessing to mankind. 2. Piety means more than the exact observance of the forms of religion. We may have all the forms of Godliness and yet be denying (in one way or another) the real poiver thereof. It is difficult to think of anything more hollow and more hateful than formal piety. Is it not this kind of so-called Christianity that has done much to bring into contempt the very word pious ? How often we hear expressions like this : ^^He is a very pious fellow, look out for him." But those who make such remarks usually understand the irony of what they say, and know very well that the ''pious fellow" of whom they speak has no real piety. 3. Piety really means all that is comprehended in genuine love of God, and honest and earnest devotion to his service. It presupposes purity of heart and life, so far as attainable in a world of temptation and sin. II. There is often much of pathos in a life of piety; in a life full of love to God, and devotion to his service.
1. This fact is evident from the very nature of things as they now exist in this world. (a) Sin is an awful reality in our world. And the pious heart is opposed to sin, is in conflict with it in every form. Hence there are sure to be days of sadness, days of weeping in the lives of those who cannot look upon the reign of sin with indifference, not to say with satisfaction. The pious heart must be deeply moved when it appreciates something of the unspeakable worth of the liberty wherewith Christ has made it free, and at the same time knows that so many souls are refusing this blessed liberty, and choosing rather the continued bondage and burcien of unrepented and unforgiving sin. In this world the saved must weep for the lost. The laws of the spiritual kingdom make it certain that he who knows the baleful power of sin, in his own heart and in the hearts of others as well, will have more or less of pathos in his experience, until he has finished his earthly course. (h) The frailties and limitations of an earthly life are abiding realities. N"otwithstanding the triumphs of Christian love, and the victories of faith, there is very much in the manifold mysterious things, within and about us, in this strange earthly life of the soul calculated to move the heart to melting and the e^^es to tears. So frail are we and such our limitations in understanding. 2. The fact that a life of piety may be a life of pathos is emphasized by the experience of pious men and women through all ages past, in human history. (a) Among Old Testament characters we find almost numberless illustrations of the union of deep piety and profound pathos in a human heart and life. Take for example, Abraham. No one can doubt this man's piet}^, surely Abraham loved and trusted God. And he was exceeding
anxious to please his Lord. Still his life was, in many respects, most pathetic. Truly there were many days of weeping during the one hundred and seventy-five years of this long life journey. N'ot to speak of the pathos of Abram's call, when the Lord said unto him, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee." Or of his sad
508 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. and pathetic experiences in connection with Lot. ^e need only call attention to that tragic chapter in his history, which records the story of his sad and weary journey into the land of Moriah, to be convinced that his, though a life of piety, was also a life of pathos. Who can read the first ten verses of the twenty-second chapter of Genesis and then question the fact that there were most pathetic experiences in the life of him who was called the father of the faithful? How our very souls are stirred with deep emotion as, in imagination, we accompany him and his son Isaac, his only Isaac whom he loved, on their sad pilgrimage to the distant mountain whither God had sent them in the land of Moriah ! Was it not a most pathetic moment in that life, when : "Isaac spake unto Abraham, his father, and said, my father : and he said, here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said. My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. So they went both of them together." But Abraham is only one of the many Old Testament characters whose lives illustrate the truth which we are considering. Had we time we might speak of Moses, the mighty man of God, who served his Lord so long and so well, and yet lived a life so full of most pathetic experiences. From his very childhood to the time of his mysterious death his whole life seems to have been filled with pathos. Taken from his mother's loving arms to be the foster son of a proud princess in the
home of a rich and wicked king, brought up amidst the vanities and dangers of a palace, and at the end of many years of ease and honor and pleasure, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; returning to his people, hoping to be of service to them, but discovering that they were not ready to receive him. He then goes far away into a desert land and for forty years waits and works in obscurity. Then, conscious of great weakness, he takes up (in obedience to a divine call) a work such as no other man has ever undertaken. And then there comes to him all the pain and pathos of those long and eventful years of wandering in the wilderness, praying for and pleading with a
THE PATHOS AND POTEIs'CY OF PIETY. 509 people whom he loved and wanted to save, yet a people who were often full of rebellion against their God and of wrath toward him. I am sure no one can read the life of Moses without seeing that, although he was a man of piety he was also a man in whose experience there was much that was pathetic. Again we might refer to the illustrations afforded by the lives of the many godly womicn referred to in the Old Testament. Such as Hannah, the mother of Samuel, as well as Esther and Kaomi and Euth and man}^ others who like these went forth weeping, bearing the precious seed of womanly piety and mother-like devotion to the welfare of the world and the glory of God. But time would fail us to speak of all the Old Testament saints in whose lives we find very clear demonstration of the fact that pathos and piety often go hand in hand. (h) Among the most noteworthy characters mentioned in the l^ew Testament we also find many examples to confirm us in the belief that a pious life may have in it much of pathos. We can take time to refer to only a few of these great and good characters.
John the Baptist was without doubt one of the most godly men of his age. He was filled with the Spirit from his birth. And all his days were devoted to the service of God. Yet his was, in some respects the saddest of lives. What depth of pathos there was in his prison experience ! How sad it seems that he should experience so much wrong and wretchedness, that he should come to question, if after all, the Christ had really come into the world? What could be more pathetic than his sending his disciples to ask Jesus if he were indeed the Christ ? How dark that prison house must have been to make him doubt, even for a moment, that the one of whom he had borne witness was indeed the Light of the World? And again, how often is our attention called to the many devoted yet sad hearted women who followed Jesus and ministered unto him? Among them all, none could have loved with a heart more full of the joy and of sorrow than was the heart of the mother of our suffering Saviour. Once more, we are led to think of the pathos and the
610 THE AMERICAN BAPTIST PULPIT. piety commingled in the lives and martyr deaths of such New Testament characters as Stephen and Paul, Peter and John; and many such as those of whom the apostle speaks when he says (Heb. 11: 35-38) : "Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance: that they might obtain a better resurrection. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. (Of whom the world was not worthy.) They wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." Such was the pathos in the lives of the pious men and women who became the followers of Jesus in the early days of Christianity. But it is in the life of our Lord himself that we find the most
striking example of mingled piety and pathos. Christ^s devotion to God, the Father, was absolutely perfect. He ahuays did those things that pleased God. And yet, there is a large and true sense in which it may be said that he lived the saddest life the world has ever seen. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. His was a life full of the pathos from the manger to the cross. How pathetic it seems that in the helplessness of infancy his life should be sought by the wickedness and the power of a selfish and ungrateful world, which he had come to bless and to save ! What pathos there is in the story of his return to the home of his childhood in the days of his strong young manhood and early ministry ; returning to do good but received with contempt, imbelief, and murderous hatred ! And thus the sadness and the suffering of his sinless life continues until the culmination is reached in the superlative pathos of Gethsemane and Calvary, the sleeping disciples and the mocking multitude, the agony of the garden and the anguish of the cross, the smitten shepherd and the scattered sheep. (c) And all through the Christian centuries the same truth has been illustrated over and over again in the lives of those who have loved and served the suffering Saviour. Many martyrs and
THE PATHOS AXD POTENCY OF PIETY. 511 missionaries and mnltitucles of godly men and women have gone forth weeping, bearing precious seed of gospel truth and life, during the unfolding years of the Christian era. To name them all would be impossible. But none of them have failed to prove that there is pathos in a life of piety. III. There is potency as well as pathos in a life of piety. 1. We are assured of this blessed fact by God's word. Our text says: "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with 'rejoicing^ bringing his sheaves with
him." And Paul, in closing that marvelous and matchless fifteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, says : "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye Jcnow that your lahor is not in vain in the Lord!' These inspired words are in perfect accord with the entire teaching of God's word, both in the Old and the Xew Testament. Therefore we may be sure that there is potency in piety because the ^Vord of God soys so. 2. The experience of pious men and women through all ages since the world began is also proof of this truth. Abraham and Moses, David and Elijah, and many more mighty m.en of old, renowned for their piety, had many and marked experiences to prove the potency of godliness is their own lives and the world as well. The disciples of Christ demonstrated over and over again in their experiences that it was not in vain to serve the Lord. They were given to see manifold evidences of the potency of their piety. All human history began to be most wonderfully changed through the instrumentality of their love and devotion to Jesus of Xazareth. In the life of the Master himself this truth finds its fullest demonstration. Although Jesus lived a life of suffering and of sorrow, a life which had in it more pathos than any other life this world has known, yet his was a life of divine potency. He went about doing good and the power of that great and good life can never be fully appreciated by men. God alone can understand its real worth. The songs and service of saints in heaven.
512 THE AMERICAN" BAPTIST PULPIT. through ages eternal, will witness to the mighty potency of the selfsacrificing, pathetic, earthly life of the Son of Mary and the Son
of God. Jesus, for the jo^j that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame. And thus has it ever been in the experience of the truly pious followers of the Christ. Livingstone found this true in Africa, Judson in Burma, Spurgeon in London, Moody in Chicago, and numberless others in all parts of the v*dde world where hearts have been warmed with love to God and lives have been consecrated to his service. ly. Application. 1. If in other days pious men and women have found something of sadness and suffering in their lives ; if the blessed Master himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, we should not think it strange if while endeavoring to live lives of piety in these days we too find something of pathos in our experiences. 2. With the assurances given us in the word of God, and the added testimony to be found in the experience of the truly pious through all past ages, we have no right to doubt for a moment the potency of piety. As sure as God's word is true, and the testimony of history and experience can be relied upon, so sure can we be that our labor (even in the great new West) is not in vain in the Lord. The same mighty God who gives us the field and the seed and the seed time has given us promise of harvest time and garnered sheaves. "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.^^ The godly may suffer and rejoice. "The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away."
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