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Faith Without Miracles

by Henry P. Liddon (1829-1890)
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Preached at the Ordination of the Bishop of London, in St. Paul's, on Trinity Sunday, May 31, 1874. 
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"And many resorted unto Him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this Man were true. And many believed on Him there."
                                            óJohn 10:41-42

The Jews of Jerusalem had attempted to lay violent hands on our Lord at the Feast of Dedication, and He retired into the district beyond the Jordan; It was at the end of December, in the winter before His last Passover. The final conflict between Light and darkness which was witnessed on Calvary could not now be long delayed. But the hour had not yet come: and therefore, in the words of the Evangelist, "Jesus went away again beyond Jordan, unto the place where John at first baptized, and there He abode." There is a subtle charm in finding ourselves, as life and work are drawing towards the end, amid the scenes which witnessed our first hopes and efforts; and our Lord, with His true Humanity, would, we may be reverently sure, have shared in feelings which belong to the loftiest side of our common nature. But the district would not have been welcome to Him: only from its connection with His earlier days. It was the place where John at first baptized. It was just a year before that the intrepid Baptist, after being imprisoned in the gloomy fortress of Machserus, on the border of the desert, had, partly for political reasons, partly for his intrepid adherence to moral truth, been laid in a martyr's grave; but though his voice was silenced, his work survived him. 

Certainly the "Scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem had rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him;" but it was otherwise with the honest, earnest populations of the Jordan valley. Among these people the Baptist's preaching had made a deep impression; and particularly they had noted what he said about "One Who, coming after him, was preferred before him." The consequence was that when Jesus retired from the violent controversies of Jerusalem into this peaceful district, He found something more than welcome memories of the past and a hospitable reception. The seed which John had sown had not perished in a soil like that: it had struck root, and had grown; it had been watered no doubt by the oft-repeated story of the Baptist's wrongs, culminating in a cruel death a story repeated and pondered on by affectionate hearts. Nothing fosters truth like the sufferings of its representatives. And so the seed had grown, first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear; and the fields were white already to harvest, when the Divine Reaper came on His way. His appearance finished a spiritual work which had been begun long before. "Many resorted unto Him and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John said concerning this Man are true. And many believed on Him there." 

Now the language of these Jordan converts appears to suggest matter for fruitful consideration on an occasion like this, when we are about to witness the bestowal of a Divine Commission upon men who are undertaking spiritual work in the Church of God. St. John's disciples state two things about the man to whom they owed their conversion to Jesus Christ: he did no miracle, yet all that he spake of Christ was true. 

Let us consider these points in order. 

I. That the Baptist should have performed no miracle, that he should have given no outward sign that he had come from God, must strike any who reflect upon the fact as remarkable. He was the heir of ages of miracle; and he spoke to a people which knew its own history, and might well have looked for miracles at hands like his. Spiritually speaking, he was in direct succession from Daniel, from Elisha, from Elijah most of all. Himself a prophet, he was himself also the subject of prophecy; the last prophet of the Hebrew Canon had distinctly announced him, and at his birth a heavenly messenger had predicted that he would live and work in the spirit and power of Elijah. 

What did this reference to the prophet of Carmel mean, if its subject was to have no share in the supernatural powers which awed the apostate court of Israel? In one respect, which our Lord glances at, the Baptist stood on a higher eminence than his great predecessor. "The prophets and the law prophesied until John." 

He was closing the system in and for which Elijah had laboured; a system which had been inaugurated and maintained by miracle, and which it was natural to suppose would not be closed without some sign of corresponding meaning. Yet "John did no miracle." 

Nor is the fact less remarkable if we consider the other side of the work which the Baptist had in hand. He stood on the frontier-line between two dispensations. He looked forward as well as backward; he told men to repent because a new spiritual organisation, which prophecy had glanced at, which Jewish Rabbis had guessed at, which was intimately bound up with the very heart and substance of the national hope, was now at hand. He announced what he called the "Kingdom of the Heavens;"  and we, as we look back upon that which he announced, know that the kingdom which dates from the day of Pentecost was itself cradled in miracle. Its Author worked miracles; His Birth, His Death, His reappearance among men, His final departure from the scene of sense, were all accompanied by miracle; His Apostles, in His Name, worked miracles just as He did; and it might have been supposed that the forerunner of a system like this would have worked them too. The Jordan people felt the contrast between the works of Jesus and that of their first teacher when they said, "John did no miracle." 

Nor can it be said that the time at which John lived was not of a character to make miracles probable. All the analogies of Israel's history pointed the other way. Miracles occur mainly in sacred history when a new truth has to be proclaimed for the first time; or when an apostate or immoral generation has to be recalled to the truth and holiness which it is in danger of forgetting; or when a revelation is well nigh discredited and trodden out of men's daily thoughts by the stress and intolerance of heathen persecution. Egypt, Samaria, Babylon, are, so to speak, the natural scenes of Biblical miracle; Moses, Elijah, Daniel, the appropriate organs of miraculous power. 

Yet in the Baptist these several conditions seem to meet concurrently. The Baptist had to prepare the way for a new revelation. He had to do this by recalling men's minds in a corrupt and careless age to the first principles of the Jewish theocracy; his baptism, unlike that of Jesus Christ, was an acted sermon it was an outward pledge of renewed fidelity to the moral truth which had come down from Moses and the prophets. Surely under these circumstances, if we are to go by historical analogies, we might have expected a miracle-worker. If at any previous time miracles had recommended or had upheld God's truth in the minds of men, we should have looked for them at the hands of the austere prophet of the wilderness who immediately preceded our Lord Jesus Christ. If the suggestions of the old history of Israel were to go for anything, the days of John the Baptist should have been so we might think a miracle-working epoch. 

Yet in spite of this, "John did no miracle"; that is the first fact on which the Jordan converts lay stress. On the other hand this is the second fact he produced conviction. "All things that John spake of this Man were true." St. John had made heavy demands upon the faith of these converts. He had said that Jesus was altogether greater than himself, so much greater that he, John, was not worthy to unloose and hold His sandals when He entered a house or the temple the duty of the lowest slaves! He had said that Jesus held in His hand 'the winnowing-fan of judgment', with which He was on the point of thoroughly purging the floor or territory of Palestine, separating the just and holy souls who would acknowledge His mission from the mass of corrupt and hypocritical chaff around.  He had said that Jesus would baptize, not merely, as he himself did, in water, which was to symbolise repentance, but also in the Holy Ghost, and in the fire, whether of God's Love or of His Justice. 

He had, as reported by the fourth Evangelist, gone far beyond this. Jesus was the Lamb of God not merely the perfectly innocent Sufferer, but the predestined Victim Whose death was to atone effectually for human sin. Nay more, Jesus, although coming after St. John in the order of time, was before him, not merely in the order of eminence, but in that of real existence. "He was before me." He was in flesh and blood, and younger in years than His forerunner, Jesus was yet indefinitely more ancient; His true existence reached back into an Eternity when as yet the Baptist was not. 

These were tremendous assertions, yet the people of the Upper Jordan could say in after years, "All things that John spake of this Man are true." They looked hard at Jesus; they listened to Him; they watched Him; they felt that there was something about Him which altogether transcended their ordinary experience. John's language might well have seemed paradoxical: yet face to face with the fact they felt that it was sober, prosaic truth. They were plainly in presence of a superhuman Being of unspeakable holiness and of fathomless love, Whose Person, Whose self-sacrifice, Whose judgment of men,  Whose baptism, was, or might well be, all that John predicted. "All things that John spake of this Man are true." 

Yes! mark it well: John had been a full year at the least in his martyr grave, and the world had gone on its course, talking and thinking of topics of the day, and forgetting the victim of royal levity and female passion. And well nigh three years had passed since John had been there; he was "out of sight" in his prison first, and then in his grave, in the fortress away to the south; but he was not "out of mind." He lived, if not in bodily presence, yet by his words, and in the memory of those who had heard him. All those sayings of his, now that he was gone, lived in human hearts deep down beneath the daily speech and works of men ; and they would have been forgotten in time if none had appeared to verify and claim them, or if, when He did appear, they had been felt to be distorted, or beside the mark, or exaggerated. As it was, when Jesus presented Himself, there was a common upheaving of convictions and hearts. 
 

"This," men said, "this is the Man, this the Character, of Whom our loved and murdered master spoke to us of old." "All things that John spake to us of this Man are true." 

How are we to account for the conviction thus produced in the minds of those people of the Jordan valley by the Baptist's ministry, when he dispensed altogether with the instrumentality of miracle? 

Certainly we are not to account for it by saying that miracles are practically useless for the purpose of producing religious conviction. Holy Scripture and the common or general sense of human thought both forbid us to say that. Scripture says expressly that miracles are a great agent in producing faith in the mission of the worker. Jesus Christ, says St. Peter, was "a Man approved of God by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of the Jewish people."  The multitude followed Him, says the last Evangelist, "because they saw His miracles, which He did on them that were diseased."  Men argued, as they looked on, with the blind man, "How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?"  or, more decisively, with Nicodemus, "No man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him."  And, therefore, when Jesus did the beginning of His miracles in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory, His disciples believed on Him; and later on, "many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles that He did." And the Jewish authorities felt that Christ's miracles were on this account a formidable fact. "What do we ?" they said, "for this Man worketh many miracles." And when He had passed into His glory, and His Apostles undertook to preach Him to the world, "God also bare them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and with gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will";  and these supernatural agencies, as we know, did as a matter of fact largely recommend to a reluctant world the faith which the Apostles preached. 

The modern disposition to depreciate the evidential force of miracles is mainly due to two causes. It represents a reaction of religious thought from the system of Paley, who without disrespect to a great and honoured name may be thought to have made the case of Christianity depend too exclusively upon the Apostolic conviction of the reality of the greatest Christian miracle; through not having taken collateral lines of evidence sufficiently into account. But it is also due to a profound, although not always avowed, disbelief in the reality of any miracles at all a disbelief which is due to an assumption that the generally unvarying order of nature must, in virtue of some occult necessity, be always invariable. These reasons for depreciating miracle belong to the history of modern thought; and to import them into the interpretation of Scripture is to make an historical as well as another and graver mistake. But at the same time, nothing is more clearly stated in Scripture than that the effect of miracle in producing belief is not of a mechanical and resistless character. 

Miracle is God speaking emphatically from behind the veil of nature to a particular state of mind or conscience; and if the requisite state of mind or conscience does not exist, the miracle is fruitless; in order to succeed it requires a certain inward susceptibility on the part of the eye-witness, such as faithfulness to natural light would supply. No mere external force or fact can subdue the human will; if the will is determined against any spiritual impression, no material fact, however extraordinary, wrought before the eye of sense, can compel internal sympathy and assent. If Moses and the Prophets do not persuade to repentance, men will not be persuaded though one rose from the dead.  

Men will acknowledge the outward fact; but they will seek to diminish its importance, or they will refer it to some evil agency, to Beelzebub, in order to escape an unwelcome admission. Therefore our Lord distinguishes between merely eating of the loaves, and recognising the inner meaning of the miracle; and although He insists that to have seen and rejected His miracles entails "sin" upon the Jewish people, He speaks in the highest terms of the faith of the Pagan centurion, which did not wait for miracles to call it forth. And here indeed we may reverently trace one of the main objects with which the last Gospel was written. When, at the end of the first century of the Christian era, the first three Gospels had been for some thirty years in circulation, the question would naturally have occurred to their readers, Why it was that the people who had seen so many miracles of our Lord could have rejected Him? The fourth Gospel recognises the fact, and accounts for it. "Though Jesus had done so many miracles among them," says St. John, "yet they believed not on Him: that the saying of Esaias might be fulfilled, which he spake: Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him." 

Prophecy pointed not merely to the glory and force of the miracle-working Christ, but to the state of mind of the generation which would reject Him; and St. John, by selecting certain representative miracles and attendant discourses of our Lord, and manifesting thus how close was the connexion between His teaching and His miracles, shows how the Jews, instead of believing His teaching on account of His miracles, rejected His miracles because they shrank from His teaching. We cannot be surprised then that the fourth Evangelist carefully recorded the triumphs of a ministry like that of the Baptist, which had been unattended by miracle, while yet it had achieved so much for faith. The case of the Baptist showed that, if miracles could not compel faith, faith might exist apart from miracles ; and in this way it has also a permanent interest for the Christian ages, and for ourselves, the present or expectant members of the Christian ministry. 

My brethren, I am far from saying that no miracles have occurred in the Christian Church since the Apostles' days, or that they may not occur in our own. Looking to the unaltered relations between God and His works, we must feel that what has been, may be. Looking to the unlimited character of the Gospel promises, we cannot wisely say that their complete fulfilment was meant to be confined to the age of the Apostles, or to the first three centuries, or to any one period of the history of the Church. But the possibility, or even the probability, of miracle is one thing ; the proof that a reputed miracle has occurred is another. There are miracles in the Primitive Church so much in keeping with Apostolic precedent, and so well attested, that it is difficult to see how they can be set aside except by denying the possibility of their occurrence. On the other hand, a miracle like that of La Salette, and many of which it is a sample, is discredited by its typical character, and still more by the insufficiency of the producible proof that it ever occurred. Miracles at any rate have been dispensed with, as a rule, in the Church of Christ, for reasons which we may reverently conjecture; the great miracles remain to us in the Gospel and the Apostolic records: and if it should be said, with or without truth, of the modern Church, "She does no miracles," there is no reason whatever why it should not be added by believing hearts, " All things that she has said of her Lord and King may be shown to be experi- mentally true." 

II. These considerations suggest encouragement and instruction for all of us, but especially for those who are about 
to be ordained today. 

i. And first, encouragement. What a good man needs chiefly, when he is first setting his hands to the work of Jesus Christ in His Church, is encouragement. There may be, here and there, a self-confidence, a shallowness, a levity of temper which treats Ordination as it might treat a call to the bar, as a piece of inevitable ceremonial in a professional career. To most men who have any seriousness of purpose or any approach to a real perception of what is at stake, the case must be far otherwise. A man who is on the eve of his ordination, if he is worth anything, feels, as he never felt before, the awfulness, the greatness, the holiness, the love, of the Being Whom he is freely undertaking to represent. He feels as it was impossible to feel it in the more ordinary levels of life, the intricacy, the mystery, the manysidedness of human nature that human nature to which, for his whole life, he is going to address himself in his Master's Name. Above all, he feels, as never before, his own personal weakness his insufficiency for these things, as well as the many sins and shortcomings of his past life: like the prophet, he feels himself a child ; 1 or as a man of unclean lips, whose eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts; or like the simple and sincere Christians of antiquity, when they were called to high office in the Church, he would fain hide himself rather than undertake "onus reormidandum angelis " a burden from which the 
angels might wisely hold back. 

"Ah!" many a man has said to himself in these solemn hours, "the case would be different if we were really on a par with those Apostles in whose steps we tread. We might do Apostolic work if we could really wield Apostolic weapons. But we are face to face with a world which looks with cynical calm, or with declared hostility, upon our work and message ; and yet we do not, upon occasion, heal the cripple, or smite the sorcerer with blindness, or shake off the deadly serpent into the fire, or pass through prison bars under the guidance of angels, or expel the spirit of evil, or raise the dead. These things may happen; but, as far as experience goes, they do not happen; and we find ourselves, like the Apostles, in charge of a supernatural Creed, but without the supernatural aids which they could command." 

Many a man has said this to himself, but surely he might find comfort in the Baptist. The Baptist was not a minister of the kingdom of heaven as we: he only announced it. He had no such chartered means of communion with the inmost Heart and Life of God such as we Christians enjoy through the mediation of the Only Begotten Son. He was more than a prophet! true, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven was to be greater than he. Our Ordination at this hour confers a gift which in its fulness was certainly denied to him. Yet though the herald of an unrealised future, intrusted with no miraculous certificates of his mission, he made an impression upon the souls of men that was profound, ineffaceable. 

Why should not we? He did not despair because at his word the desert did not again witness the miracles of the age of Moses or Elijah: why should we? 

But many a man at his Ordination would state his grounds of discouragement in other words. "There are, if we may adapt the word, miracles within the sphere of nature and order; miracles of spiritual insight, miracles of persuasive eloquence, miracles of practical pastoral ability, miracles of biblical or theological acquirements. These, at any rate, are given in different measures to some in all ages of the Church; and yet we may feel that, for lack of aptitude or of opportunity, they each and all are denied to us. There might be some hope, if one such power were conspicuously ours; as it is, must we not feel that there is little or nothing that we can hope to achieve in the great kingdom of souls?" 

No, my brethren, it is not so. These gifts of God, whether in nature or in grace, have their value; and we are all indebted to Him when here or there He bestows them on any one of His servants. We all of us, for instance, have gained by such gifts as those of the late Bishop Wilberforce; yet it would be an irreligious as well as a foolish idealism which should practically say, "I cannot hope to do any good, because I am conscious of not possessing this or that accomplishment which was so conspicuous in that remarkable man." Depend upon it, brethren, the real work that is done in the Church of God does not in the main depend upon splendid gifts of this kind, any more than it depends upon the power to work literal miracles. As a rule it is the outcome of certain spiritual forces and moral laws which may be appealed to by every one of us ; the real Worker is the same, through the weakest and lowliest, as well as through the strongest and greatest, of His servants: and while it is well to "covet earnestly the best gifts," there is no reason for losing heart if we are denied them. We may work no miracles that will take the imagination of the world by storm, yet we may succeed in doing that which is of more importance, bringing men to see that the Church's teaching about Christ is true. 

2. And this brings me to the instruction which is suggested by the language of these Persean converts. What was it in the Baptist's case which secured the highest spiritual success, in the absence of what was supposed to be the ordinary instrumentality for commanding it? 

There was, of course, first of all, the native power of truth, which cannot be wholly ignored, which is honoured indeed by the ferocity and outcry of prejudice and passion; which may be resisted successfully by an evil will, but which always secures a certain measure of success. There was, secondly, the voice of an inward Teacher, not yet baptizing His people with Pentecostal Fire, but, as in all ages, sanctioning the ministry of His representatives and organs by seconding in the secret chambers of the soul their appeal from without. And we can fall back on this assistance with peculiar confidence, since it is the Christian Church to which this great gift is specially promised. "I will put My laws into their minds, and write them upon their hearts": the Holy Ghost teaches, not in words of human wisdom, but by an inward persuasion, in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 

But the secret of the Baptist's ministerial power was still more peculiar to himself. Thousands of Christians have administered a larger and therefore more powerful truth, under the chartered promise of a richer measure of the Holy Spirit, but with far inferior results. 

That which distinguishes St. John is, first, his clear, well-defined conception of the message he has to give. Repentance first, then the coming kingdom of the heavens, then, and above all, the Person and Work of the coming King. Whether he is addressing scribes or peasants his message is the same. He is cross-questioned by a delegacy which is sent by the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem, and which would have placed a teacher who did not know what he meant in a serious difficulty. He was consulted by publicans, by soldiers, by people generally; his answers were clear and consistent with his whole representation of life and duty. It was consideration for his followers, not vacillation of his own, which dictated the message which he sent from his prison at Machserus, "Art Thou He that should come?" As reported in the fourth Gospel, he says more about the great Object of his teaching than in the first three; but there is no contradiction only progress; the Divine Object before his mind is one and the same. 

There have been ages when it would have been unnecessary to insist on the value of a clear mental conception of what we have to teach. But in our days the distractions of controversy and the sceptical feeling of the time combine to ascribe a certain merit to an indefiniteness which, if it could be justified on intellectual grounds, which I do not care here to discuss, would be, in any case, fatal to spiritual work in the souls of men. The human soul needs, above everything, a clear representation of truth and duty. Indefiniteness paralyses moral force: a cloud is not a thing to rest upon in the hour of temptation. or in the hour of bodily or mental agony. If we ourselves know little or nothing clearly about the unseen world, we had better, far better, hold our tongues; if we do know anything, we cannot be too explicit in stating what we know. Above all things, like St. John, we of the Church of Christ cannot point too clearly, too frequently, too 
earnestly, to the Lamb of God. 

For us He is not the beautiful theme of an old-world literature; He is a living Being, Who exerts upon the world and upon the soul at this hour a blessed and awful influence; Who is, or should be, more to us than any other is or can be. No sermon should be unconsecrated by a clear reference to His Person and His Work ; no enterprise should be undertaken, save with an eye to His glory; no form of ministerial or personal effort should be entertained as practicable apart from Him to Whom as the Lamb that was slain the perfect homage of the intellect and the heart of His servants is pre-eminently due in earth as in heaven. His adorable Person, His unspeakable condescension, His bitter and world-redeeming sufferings, His resurrection glory, His endless intercession in heaven, His spiritual and sacramental gifts chartered to His Church until the end of time let these truths have possession of our hearts and intellects, and we shall not need the power of working physical miracles. 

3. St. John's strength lay, secondly, in his singleness of purpose. His mental energies, his moral aims, were not dissipated. That he might the better concentrate his powers upon the single object of preparing the way of the Lord, he lived apart from men, dwelling in solitude on the meaning and exigencies of his awful message, even when he was not announcing it. He would have been a weaker man had he lent himself to any one of the political or scholastic opinions which distracted Jerusalem: men soon lose sight of a supreme object of interest amid the claims of the social and intellectual world. " A double-minded man" a man with two souls says St. James, "is unstable in all his ways": and instability, of course, means weakness. 

St. John was a man of one soul, a man who could take the Psalmist's words as his own : " With my whole heart have I sought Thee."  This absolute simplicity of purpose, brethren, is a form of moral power which can dispense with miracle. It is unlike anything which the mass of men can recognise in their own lives, and it impresses them accordingly. A soul simply bent upon carrying out the Will of God, so far as it is known, is like a man pushing his way towards a definite object through a crowd of people who are huddling together in aimless confusion or pointless gossip. Depend upon it, St. John Baptist was a power for this if for no other reason : he had only one practical object before him from first to last. 

4. And thus, lastly, St. John's strength lay in his consistency. He was a preacher of Kepentance of high and awful views of God's justice, and of His impending providences. He lived accordingly. As he was not a reed shaken with the wind, so also he was not a man clothed in soft raiment. And this had its effect in an age when the Idumsean Herod was doing what he could to introduce a Pagan standard of luxury into Jerusalem. The life of the Baptist reflected visibly the reality and power of another world; the bleak desert, the locusts and wild honey, the raiment of camel's hair and leathern girdle about the loins, were in keeping with the claims of the man who would dare, when true charity demanded it, to speak the language of the sternest reproof and address the most influential classes of his day as a "generation of vipers." 

My brethren, in all probability, we of the Christian Church sometimes lose more than we think by an opposite course. Society has its claims, no doubt ; but men look in the lives of all preachers of the Crucified for something that shall stand for the mark of the Nails. And if there be nothing, if all be easy, pleasing, smooth, then men say to themselves there is no real correspondence between our lives and our message. We may get through our days without trouble, but we shall not bring souls to faith in Jesus Christ. If we could make up our minds, in whatever degree, to do what we dislike, to undergo what we dislike, to "endure hardness," in that exact degree shall we secure moral power such as can sway the souls of men moral power which is worse than worthless, if we do not use it to lead our brethren to the Feet of their and our Redeemer, but which, where it exists, can dispense with miracle. 

On his Ordination day a man stands as it were upon an eminence from which he looks back over the path which he has hitherto trodden, and forward over the plains, which may or may not be long and weary, to that point on the horizon which all must reach at last. On an Ordination day a man does well to ask himself, What shall I desire to have been, to have done, when I come to die? All the intervening circumstances of clerical life, between Ordination and death, are really insignificant ; marriage, promotion, change of work and scene, loss or acquirement of friends, the great joys, the great sorrows they are everything at the time, but, in the long-run, they cannot be measured with that solemn incident which closes all. And if a man who has served our Lord simply in the Priesthood could choose an epitaph, not to be sculptured by human art upon his gravestone, but to be traced by God's finger on the hearts of his flock, what would he desire but that which was uttered by the Jordan converts over their martyred master: "John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this Man were true "? What will it profit in those awful, searching moments, when we are passing into the presence of the Judge, that we have been literary or eloquent, or men of mark, or even men of great spiritual sympathy and penetration if all this has not resulted in bringing our fellows to the foot of the Cross, if it has done nothing for the glory and the empire of our Lord and Saviour? 

What will the absence of these things matter, the absence of all gifts that impress the imagination, and win honour in the judgment of men, if quietly, perseveringly, unflinchingly, we have kept our eye on Him, spoken, worked, suffered if need be, for Him so that when we are gone, His Love and Presence are lodged for time and eternity in many a soul, and men arise to say of us, "He was a commonplace person; he did no miracle; but we shall bless him in the hour of death and in the day of judgment, and in the everlasting world, for we have found already, by a blessed experience, that all things which he spake, by his words and by his life, of the Kedeemer of our souls, are certainly true"? 
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