Skip to main content

Full text of "Self-knowledge and self-discipline"

See other formats

3fl3L. MAJ. 



45. 6d. 

BLES OF OUR LORD. Crown 8vo, y. 

8vo, y. net. 
















Censor deputntus. 

Vicarius Generally 


die 28 Oct., 1905. 

Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, 
These three alone lead life to sovereign power. 
Yet not for power (power of herself 
Would come uncalled for), but to live by law, 
Acting the law we live by without fear. 







THERE are two spheres of knowledge in which every 
one who is endeavouring after any growth in the 
spiritual life must be making some advance. The 
knowledge of God and the knowledge of self. We 
can all readily perceive the necessity of growth in 
the knowledge of God as essential to any develop 
ment of the spiritual life. The connection is obvious. 
" This," said our Lord, " is life eternal, that they might 
know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom 
Thou hast sent." A certain moral sympathy is abso 
lutely necessary as a condition of friendship, and holi 
ness consists in friendship with God. If we would be 
in any sense the friends of God, we must have at least 
that desire for holiness without which such friendship 
would be impossible, the growth in the knowledge of 
God is the deepening of this friendship. " If we say 
that we have fellowship with Him and walk in dark 
ness, we lie and do not the truth." 

3 i* 


But the knowledge of self is as necessary for the 
spiritual life as is the knowledge of God. It is at 
once a condition and an effect of this knowledge. 
The more we grow in the knowledge of God the 
deeper our knowledge of self, and if we would attain 
to any knowledge of God there must be some know 
ledge of self. When Isaias saw the Lord s Glory in 
the Temple there was at once a deepening sense of 
his own sinfulness, " Woe is me, because I am a man 
of unclean lips, and I have seen with my eyes the 
King, the Lord of hosts". For the soul is created 
in the Image of God, and it cannot approach His 
Presence without perceiving how unlike it is to Him 
in whose Image it was made. To know God is to 
know self. To have no knowledge of God is to walk 
in darkness, to have no absolute standard by which 
to gauge and measure oneself. Those who shut God 
altogether out of their lives are able to live in stupid if 
not happy ignorance of what a failure their lives are. 

And yet there are few things more surprising, when 
we come to think of it, than our ignorance of ourselves, 
nay, more than ignorance, for ignorance only means 
failure in knowledge, but we go beyond that, for we 


are, many of us, not only ignorant of a great part of 
our own character, but we often imagine ourselves to 
be quite different from what we are. It seems almost 
impossible that it should be so, did we not know it 
to be only too true. 

How is it possible for a man to close his eyes to the 
most patent and pressing facts connected with himself, 
involving the gravest consequences, which are perfectly 
evident to every one except himself? We are often 
amused by hearing others giving their opinion of 
themselves and their gifts and powers. We are 
amused, sometimes amazed, that their estimate is so 
utterly different from what those who have but a very 
slight knowledge of them can see at a glance to be 
the true one. We hear people boast of gifts that 
every one except themselves know they do not possess, 
or on the other hand men of great powers and influ 
ence tormented with an almost morbidly low estimate 
of their capacity. And yet we do not consider that 
perhaps we too are as completely mistaken in our 
judgment of ourselves. Most of us have known in 
some time of our lives what it was to be accused of 
some fault in our character which we repudiated at 


the time with indignation begotten of the sincere con 
viction that the accusation was untrue, and yet perhaps 
years afterwards we found ourselves mistaken and that 
the criticism was correct. How is it possible that such 
a thing should be ? Listen to two friends discussing 
and criticising one another, what is more common 
than the tone of protest or repudiation with which 
some fault or some virtue is discussed, and yet do we 
not feel naturally inclined to say, " Surely the man 
must know himself better than his friend can know 
him, if he says he hasn t that gift or fault who can 
know whether he has or not better than himself?" 
We do not say this because experience has proved to 
us how often the critic is right and that in many 
cases a man is the worst judge of himself. 

Indeed one may have a very deep knowledge of 
human character in general, and yet be profoundly 
ignorant of one s own character. We look with the 
same eyes, yet the eyes that pierce so easily through 
the artifices and deceptions of others become clouded 
and the vision disturbed when they turn inwards and 
examine oneself. And moreover it is to be remem 
bered that self-knowledge has nothing to do with 


mere cleverness or intellectual insight, but is largely \/ 
if not entirely moral. 

When we consider how intensely self-conscious is 
the age in which we live, and the amount of time that 
most people spend upon themselves one way or an 
other, what an absorbingly interesting study is that of 
the human heart, and all the more interesting when it 
is one s own, we are amazed that we are, nevertheless, 
most of us, so lacking in self-knowledge, that very 
often our latest acquaintance could tell us things 
about ourselves that we should refuse to believe, yet 
that are undoubtedly true. 

No sooner do we become thoughtful and begin to 
pray and try to get near God than all this comes 
upon us with an overwhelming sense of incapacity. 
How are we to advance ? what are we to struggle with ? 
Deep shadows are seen to lie across the soul but we 
cannot tell what casts them. We feel held back from 
God but we cannot grasp and bring to light what it is 
that holds us back. We know well, indeed, some on 
or two prominent sins which have dogged our life s 
path for years, and against these we struggle bravely 
and are conscious that God is helping us but of these 


we are now scarcely afraid, such faults are visible, 
tangible, in a sense healthy, inasmuch as they can 
be met and fought face to face, but it is the unseen, 
the impalpable, the mysterious, that paralyses even 
the strongest men, and to these the soul has now 
awakened. There are ghostly fears that flit about the 
background of the soul, stirring up evil, suggesting 
all kinds of doubts and fears. We hear the silent foot 
steps of unseen foes hurrying hither and thither. We 
find ourselves at times excited by an unreasonable an 
tagonism to the God, Whom, with all our reason and 
all our hearts, we long to cling to and to serve. At 
other times the heart is wrung dry of every emotion, 
every serious thought is chased from the brain, till 
kneeling before God with silent lips and dull vacant 
mind we feel almost hopeless. " If I only knew what 
it is that holds me back, if I could only see the 
enemy I should not fear to fight him, but I now begin 
to realise that there is a life within of which I know 
nothing, that my mind has formed, habits have grown, 
and strangers have entered and taken possession of 
my heart and I know them not, neither their nature 
nor their name." 


The soul on awakening to God wakens to the sense 
of its ignorance of itself, and the impossibility of 
making any decided advance without self-knowledge. 
It is at such moments haunted with the thought of the 
possibility of having been insincere in confession, or 
that there is some unforgiven sin binding it to earth, 
or at others it fears delusion, fears that it has never 
really repented and that the prayers and Communions 
that seemed earnest were the mere result of emotional 
excitement. Verily, it is possible to imagine anything 
when one finds oneself the victim of effects traceable 
to no known cause, on first awakening to the fact that 
one is practically a stranger to oneself. A stranger, 
that is to say, to a whole inner world of motive, of 
complex aims and wily thoughts that slip off into the 
darkness as we try to turn upon them the light of 
conscience, leaving us with a deepening sense of alarm 
and restlessness. We are surprised and shocked when, 
as sometimes happens, we find some strong motive or 
passion or ambition standing like a draped form whose 
expression we cannot catch, in the very council chamber 
of the soul, arguing with the reason or threatening the 
conscience or stimulating the imagination to take its 


side and plead its cause, standing there with the ease 
and bearing of an honoured counsellor whose words 
are wont to have weight, and the voice is as of one in 
authority ; but when we strive to grasp and unveil it, 
that we may detect its origin, the voice is suddenly 
hushed into silence and it is gone. We are awakened 
to the knowledge that motives sway us which we 
cannot analyse, and yet which seem to have gained 
position and power long ago, though we have only 
now become conscious of their existence. 

It is only in moments of retirement or of prayer, 
when the soul is hushed in silence and we pass in spirit 
through its various chambers and corridors, that, if 
we suddenly find ourselves face to face with such a 
presence, we are able to recognise its nature, and at 
once trace many of our gravest failures to its agency. 
Whence did it come we ask ourselves? How long 
has it been there? How did it gain admittance? 
That pride that somehow found entrance to the heart 
and set itself to watch and manipulate our thoughts 
at their very source. We have seen it now for the 
first time face to face and it has been like a revelation, 
it has explained a vast deal that was hitherto incom- 


prehensible, the reason of those hours of despondency, 
of that bitterness towards people of which we were 
quite conscious, indeed, but never knew the cause of 
before, of that spiritual lassitude, yes, of the victory of 
that temptation which we hated and fought yet could 
not overcome. We see it all now, we are like a man 
who discovers a thief in his house, a discovery which 
explains many losses he could not understand before. 
We have found that all unconsciously an enemy has 
entered the soul, taken up his abode there and used 
its God-given powers to injure itself and to dishonour 

Such moments of insight reveal to us in a startling 
way how little we really know about our own inner 
life. How we have grown and developed and formed 
unconsciously to ourselves. 

But it is not only at such times as the first awakening 
that the soul is conscious of its ignorance of itself. As 
we advance in the spiritual life and in the practice of 
systematic self-examination we are often surprised by 
the discovery of vast unknown tracts of the inner life 
of the soul. They seem like great plains stretching 
out in mystery and wrapt in mists that sometimes for 


a moment lift, or sweep off and leave one looking for 
one brief instant upon great reaches of one s own life, 
unknown, unmeasured, unexplored. Men stand at such 
moments breathless in wonder and in awe gazing upon 
these great tracts upon which they have never looked 
before, with kindling eyes and beating hearts; and 
while they look the mists steal back till all is lost to 
sight once more and they are left wondering if what 
they saw was reality, or the creation of their fancy. Or 
sometimes they see, not far-stretching plains which 
fill the soul with an awestruck sense of its expansive- 
ness and of how much has been left absolutely uncul 
tivated, not these plains but mountain peaks climbing 
and reaching upwards till lost in the Heavens, echoing 
it may be with the voice of many streams whose waters 
fertilise and enrich those small tracts of the soul s life 
which have been reclaimed and cultivated and which 
many a man has thought to be his whole inner self, 
though he never asked himself whence those rich streams 
had their source. Now he sees how their source lay 
in unmeasured heights of his own inner being whose 
existence he never dreamed of before. In one brief 
instant they have unveiled themselves. He looks 


i again, and they are shut out from his eyes, there is 
no token visible that he possesses such reaches, such 
heights of life. The commonplaces of his existence 
gather in and crowd upon him, the ordinary routine 
of life settles down upon him, limiting and confining him 
on all sides, the same unbroken line measures his hori 
zon, such as he has always known it, the same round of 
interests and occupations crowd in upon his hours and 
fill them, the pressure of the hard facts of life upon him 
are as unmistakable and as levelling as ever, bidding 
him forget his dreams and meet and obey the re 
quirements of the world in which he lives. And yet 
the man who has caught but a momentary glimpse 
of that vast unknown inner life can never be the same 
as he was before ; he must be better or worse, trying 
to explore and possess and cultivate that unknown 
world within him, or trying oh, would that he could 
succeed ! to forget it. He has seen that alongside of, 
or far out beyond the reach of, the commonplace life of 
routine, another life stretches away whither he knows 
not, he feels that he has greater capacities for good 
or evil than he ever imagined. He has, in a word, 
awakened with tremulous awe to the discovery that his 


life which he has hitherto believed limited and confined 
to what he knew, reaches infinitely beyond his know 
ledge and is far greater than he ever dreamed. 

Such glimpses come to men at the most unexpected 
times and in ways which it is impossible to account 
for, often in moments and under circumstances that 
one would have said were most unsuitable. I think it 
has probably been the experience of not a few to be 
startled almost in the act of some great sin, or before 
the excitement of it has well passed away, by a sud 
den reaction and a vivid breaking in upon their souls 
of the sense of great spiritual possibilities. The spiritual 
side has awakened to protest and convince the man that 
he is not wholly animal. Certainly there is no influence 
more deadly to the spiritual nature than sensuality, and 
yet I venture to assert that in the moment after some 
grievous fall many a man has been conscious of the 
deepest spiritual yearnings. And such desires are not 
to be lightly put down to self-deception, they are in 
truth more real than the sensual, they rise up to face a 
man on the road to ruin and to show him clearer 
visions of the possibilities that he is setting at naught. 
Often such outbursts of spiritual longing, while yet the 


stain of sin lies deep and fresh upon the soul, lead men 
to do and say things that seem so unreal that those 
who know them well are tempted to call them hypo 
crites. But there is nothing further from their minds 
than hypocrisy, they are simply passing through one 
of those strange awakenings of the soul, in which they 
are torn with such convulsive movements in this direc 
tion and in that, towards the beasts and towards God, 
that in one instant they pass from the most degrading 
to the most spiritual frame of mind ; no wonder those 
who look on misjudge such men. They do not under 
stand themselves. The sin has been the occasion of the 
momentary lifting of the mists that hung over the vast 
unknown heights of the inner life, and the man has 
been staggered by what he has seen. 

Or again, how common it is for one who lives a 
very self-indulgent, idle, easy-going life, who has 
never known what it is to forego a pleasure, to come 
suddenly face to face with a person whose life is 
one constant act of sacrifice. Such a life appeals 
to certain sentiments that are dormant if they are 
not developed in every human heart. They see 
the objective expression of those inarticulate feelings 


and their souls are stirred to the depths. Buried 
beneath the oppressive and deadening influence of 
years of self-indulgence, the spirit of unselfishness 
and sacrifice is appealed to, and for one moment it 
rises and cries out, " Here I am, I too could once 
have led such a life as that". An unknown life, with 
in the hardened crust that seemed to be the whole 
life, makes itself felt. The soul awakens to perceive 
possible heights and depths within it that it had 
never imagined. 

On the other hand, what a strange scene and what 
a striking instance of men s ignorance of themselves 
was that at our Lord s Last Supper when He said 
to the Apostles, " One of you shall betray Me," and 
they began every one of them to say, " Lord, is it 
I ". No sooner had they been told that one of them 
should be guilty of this awful crime than the words 
seemed to act upon the Apostles with the strange 
result of revealing to each of them its possibility as 
they looked within it seemed to them as if they were 
capable of unknown depths of evil, as doubtless under 
the stimulating Presence of our Lord they daily per 
ceived new and yet unmeasured heights of devotion 


and sacrifice. The effect of our Lord s words upon 
those holy men amidst all the sacred surroundings in 
which they were uttered is a startling and typical in 
stance of the way in which the sudden presentation 
to the mind of some great sin reveals to it possibilities 
of evil hitherto unthought of. The depths seem to 
open beneath and reveal unfathomed capacities of sin. 
Surely it is no exaggeration. The soul is capable of - 
eternal growth in love and hate, and at such times 
when any fresh knowledge of it s capabilities is 
granted, though it can see at most but a little way, 
it can feel the depths and the heights that are 

Such occasions as we have been considering give to 
the soul, in a moment, an outburst of light upon its 
inner self, revealing a vast and wide-reaching side of 
the character it never knew before. 

But there are times in some sense more bewildering, 
when a man is made aware not merely of what he was 
ignorant of in himself, but how completely he mis 
understood himself, how different he really is from 
what he had thought himself to be and I do not know 
that there is any occasion which brings this out more 



strikingly, even alarmingly, than the effect of a sudden 
great change in the circumstances of one s life. 

What revelations have been disclosed by illness, or 
by bodily or mental suffering ! Under their rough 
handling sometimes in a few years a character be 
comes so changed that it is almost impossible to re 
cognise it. And yet we cannot say that suffering or 
sorrow made these changes, in the sense that they en 
gendered in the soul characteristics that were not there 
before, no, they did but develop them or reveal them. 
All unknown to that pleasant easy-going nature there 
lay within it germs perhaps more than germs of 
discontent, bitterness, repining and lavish selfishness, 
and when the sun of prosperity sank behind the dark 
night of suffering all this night brood of evil awakens 
into active life. 

How often, again, one looks forward to some great 
event that will change the whole environment and 
interest of one s life. A person anticipating such an 
event looks forward and plans and considers. He 
asks himself what effect this will produce upon his 
character, will he be better or worse for it, will it make 
him stronger or weaker, will it draw out the spirit of 


sympathy or of antagonism. He places himself in 
imagination and he has perhaps a very vivid imagina 
tion in his new surroundings, he lives in them and 
brings all possible contingencies to bear upon himself 
that he may as much as possible gauge and measure 
himself so that he may not be taken unawares. At 
last the event so long anticipated comes to pass and 
all the forecasts prove to be utterly wrong, the effect 
upon him is different altogether either from what he 
hoped it might be or feared it would be. The man 
placed in the setting of circumstances different from 
those which he had long been used to, finds that he 
is utterly unlike what he had imagined himself to be. 
His hopes and fears were alike miscalculations. He 
had planned that the same man as he had known 
himself, should be in these new surroundings. There 
was to him, as he looked forward to the change, but 
one uncertain quantity, and that was the new material 
or moral or religious world in which he was to find 
himself As to these he had made no mistake, the \ 
mistake lay in supposing that he knew the person 1 
who was to be placed amidst these circumstances. < 
There he was completely mistaken. No sooner did 


the change take place than he found that he no longer 
knew the man. He was amazed to find himself wholly 
different from what he had imagined himself to be. 
New faults came to light, new virtues sprang to his 
defence, old temptations came to life in the new soil, 
and he finds that the mere change of external things 
shows him to be altogether a different person from 
what he had thought. 

It is one of the strange powers in human nature to 
weave so closely into the texture of its life things that 
are altogether external to it, that soon it fails to separate 
the personal source of thought and activity from the 
sphere of its actions. One gets quickly into a mechan 
ical round of life. One meets with the same people, 
one goes through the same routine of duties, and the 
interaction of these external things day after day and 
year after year produce effects that one can readily see, 
but in course of time the outward things are lost sight 
of as causes, and the man judges of himself and his 
surroundings as one. He has not, for instance, realised 
that the constant companionship of one who is full of 
gentleness and love draws out on his part a response 
of affection and gentleness which is not developed at 


all in other departments of his life or in dealing with 
other people ; yet because the surroundings of home 
are mellowed by influences that draw out a sympathetic 
response, the man looks upon himself and is considered 
by others as gentle and kind-hearted ; he has never had 
his home disturbed by things that irritate him. The 
external things have so far responded to the interior 
tastes that in this respect at any rate he is wholly 
ignorant of what the effect of a constant jar between 
these would be. At last, in the course of years, the 
perfect adjustment between the outward surroundings 
and the inner state is so complete that the fact of their 
making, so to speak, but a mechanical combination is 
lost sight of, and the man looks upon himself and his 
environment as one and the self-same thing, he has 
swung so long with the movements of the machinery 
that he has been unable to detect where the movement 
of the machinery ends and that of his own personality 
begins. Then suddenly this combination comes to an 
end, he finds himself amidst surroundings different from 
those which he had been accustomed to, and these 
new circumstances act upon different elements in his 
character which had not in the former state of things 


been brought prominently forward, and the result is, 
the man does not recognise himself, the effect of the 
change baffles all his forecasts, all his resolutions. He 
is at loose ends, external causes that used to produce 
quick response from within have ceased to act, and 
the response has consequently ceased to come ; other 
things that acted as barriers to protect some weakness 
or defect from revealing or developing itself have been 
removed, and the effect of all this is much like that of 
removing the metal from the mould before the cooling 
process is completed. 

Thus it happens that some great change taking place 
in middle life acts as a revelation of character to many 
a person, revealing dispositions, defects, habits, of which 
they were wholly unconscious. 

Again, I think that not unfrequently the very know 
ledge that many do possess of their own character 
blinds them to any deeper knowledge. There are in 
most people some one or two more or less strongly 
marked characteristics, and of course multitudes of 
others no less real, though not so clearly defined. 
Now it often happens that the mind is so constantly 
taken up with the observance of these more marked 


characteristics that these very subjects of interest and 
study keep it from going deeper and analysing the 
more subtle and delicate movements that are taking 
place and having their way in the soul. Indeed this 
is sometimes the case to so great a degree, that while 
the mind is watching and taking pleasure in the action, 
and as it may seem development, of some well-defined 
virtue, it is utterly unconscious of the quiet working of 
a brood of petty vices and snarling passions that are 
steadily eating out the foundations of the very virtue 
upon which the attention is fixed. There have been 
moments when, if these people had not been so blind, 
they might have felt the very edifice that they took for 
granted was so strong, shake and tremble beneath the 
assault of some temptation that had nothing directly to 
do with it. The foundations had begun to give way. 
Hidden away, so to speak, underground, out of sight, 
that hissing brood was at work, and he whose soul was 
the scene of all this remained in complete unconscious 
ness of what was in progress within him. At last the 
work is completed, the virtue is undermined and falls. 
And then not uncommonly a curious thing takes place 
in the soul. The virtue that was almost a natural 


characteristic has filled so much space in the thoughts 
and life of the soul that the mind instinctively turns 
to look at the old landmark, and in a short time this 
virtue simply transplants itself from the moral life to 
the imagination. The person who practised it for so 
long, now begins to dream about it, and eventually to 
imagine that he practises it. And this hideous and 
yet by no means uncommon trick which he has played 
upon himself is the outcome of being content to rest 
with a very partial and self-evident piece of self-know 
ledge. Had the person whose soul was the scene of 
this tragedy from the first formed the habit of sound 
ing the unknown depths, of looking into those parts 
of his character which were hidden from him, such a 
disaster never could have happened. 

The partial knowledge therefore that satisfies so 
many is in itself a very serious danger. In some 
cases the mind will dwell, as we have been consider 
ing, upon some virtue which conceals from it a steady 
deterioration in other directions. When the conscience 
is for a moment awakened by a sense of uneasiness 
and a feeling that there is danger, it is lulled to rest 
by a few minutes contemplation of the solid pro- 


portions of the virtue that fills the forefront of the 
soul. One is apt to think, for instance, when alarmed 
it may be by the sense of the powerlessness to pray 
and the consciousness of a growing separation from 
God, " After all, I can t be really falling away while I 
am so unselfish or so patient ". This is the piece de 
resistance, this it is to which the mind instinctively 
turns in moments of uncertainty, and this in fact so 
fills the horizon of the moral life that the eyes are 
blinded to the true condition of affairs. 

In other cases it is not a virtue but a sin which 
blinds the soul to further knowledge of its true state. 
One grave sin, probably springing from the natural 
temperament, so absorbs the mind that it becomes 
incapable of perceiving, on the one hand, a steady 
rallying of the powers and a stir and movement up 
wards throughout the whole region of the moral life, 
which ought to fill it with hope, as the presage of a 
coming victory ; or, on the other, an ever-spreading 
deterioration, a springing up all over the inner life of 
the rank weeds of neglect. The mind turns always to 
the same point, gauges all by that one sin, " it is no 
worse than it was, therefore / am no worse ; it is no 


better, therefore / am no better". But it does not 
perceive how though the sin itself seems stationary the 
will is gradually weakening in all directions and losing 
all power to hold out against the pressure of any strong 
inclination, or, on the other hand, gradually growing in 
strength and purpose. The knowledge of that one sin 
closes the eyes to any further knowledge, even that of 
the baneful and deadly influence which is spreading 
from it throughout every department of the moral life. 
There is a certain appearance of self-knowledge arising 
from the fact that, as the victim of this condition of 
things says, he knows how bad he is, whereas there is 
nothing farther from the truth. He is unable to tell 
how bad he is except in this one particular, and in all 
else he neither knows how bad or how good he is, or 
whether he is deteriorating or improving. 

If therefore there is to be any spiritual growth, there 
must be a growth in self-knowledge. We cannot make 
any serious attempt to conquer our sins till we know 
what they are. 

First, then, we must get our minds clear on one point 
which is likely to be very misleading. Self-knowledge, 
in the sense in which we use the word in the Christian 


life, is not by any means a necessary consequence of 
self-analysis. One may have a considerable power 
of self-analysis and display much skill in the way in 
which one is able to dissect oneself, and yet have no 
proportionate self-knowledge. Self-analysis leads no 
more necessarily to self-knowledge than the analysis 
of another person s character necessarily involves the 
knowledge of that person. We know that it is not so 
with others ; if we have "any doubt about it we can 
soon put it to the test Here is some public character 
who lives more or less before the world. You have 
watched and studied him closely, read all his utter 
ances and tried in every way to get at the man s 
inner character, and you have formed your estimate 
of it carefully and reasonably, and you say you know 
him through and through. Some time afterwards you 
meet this man, and somehow or other the first half- 
hour s interview leads you to alter all your conclusions. 
You see clearly that your analysis, so far as it went, 
was correct, but there were other things it is impos 
sible to say what that you had not considered, or 
knew nothing about a tone, an atmosphere, that 
breathed round and through all that you had analysed, 


giving its tone and colour to all, and in a most 
unaccountable way modifying, if not wholly alter 
ing, your conclusions. That something, that tone, or 
colour, or whatever you may call it, is personality ; 
it is that which combines and blends and harmon 
ises all the different parts of the character, bringing 
into working relations the most paradoxical elements. 
There is as much difference between the estimate you 
formed of the man by your analysis and that which 
has been the result of that half-hour s interview as 
there is between a thing that is dead and living. You 
smile as you think of the judgment you had formed 
of him before you had met him it was so true and 
yet so utterly false ; so limited, so biassed, so inhar 
monious it was like a caricature. And yet, as you 
compare it with the true estimate which you have now 
made it is difficult to say where you went wrong, and 
still more difficult to discover how a few minutes 
conversation has so altered your opinion. It was not 
by any means merely owing to what he said, though 
now and again some few words seemed to send a shaft 
of light from his very heart and reveal it but it was 
not that alone it was that and a hundred other 


things too. The whole person radiated out influences 
that interpreted him a look, a trick of manner, the 
expression, the tone of voice but who can tell what 
everything blended and harmonised a number of 
different, sometimes directly opposite traits, and pro 
duced that extraordinary impression which can be 
produced by personality alone. You studied the man, 
so to speak, apart from his personality, and it was like 
trying to understand a man s expression by the study 
of his skeleton. 

Now it is, not altogether indeed, but to a certain 
extent, the same with the study of oneself. Self- 
knowledge is a far deeper and more comprehensive 
thing than self-analysis, indeed one might have a very 
deep self-knowledge with little power of self-analysis. 
There is that subtle thing the self that has to be dealt 
with which eludes all analysis. I may know various 
things about myself, I may to a certain extent under 
stand the working of my mind, I may watch with 
interest the conflicting elements struggling for the 
mastery within me, I may be intensely introspective 
and spend long periods of time in analysing and 
docketing the litter which a day s work leaves scattered 


, about my soul and yet I may have never hitherto 
come face to face with that inmost self which sets the 
machinery I have been studying in motion, and which 
blends all the scattered fragments of knowledge about 
myself that I have been able to bring together. 

I think that this kind of self-knowledge, like the 
knowledge one gains through contact with another 
person, is moral rather than intellectual. Doubtless 
the intellect has its work and office in both cases, but 
as surely as one will never attain to any intimate 
personal knowledge of another by the intellect alone, 
so surely one will never attain by it alone to the know 
ledge of oneself. Much therefore of the self-examina 
tion which takes not uncommonly the form of an 
intellectual pursuit after certain dimly defined char 
acteristics which ever seek to escape our scrutiny, or 
of a strenuous effort to disentangle motives and aims 
as closely interwoven as a chemical combination 
much of such self-examination fails to give the results 
which the time and labour and earnestness expended 
upon it deserve. The inmost self wraps itself round, 

% like the silk-worm in its cocoon, with the outcome of 
its industry and activity, and through this process of 


search we are but unravelling the silk thread, not get 
ting to know the living centre from which it was spun. 

And how then are we to get beneath the surface 
to reach to the self? How are our self-examinations 
to reach any deeper than self-analysis ? It is easy to 
state the difficulty which all are conscious of, but how 
is it to be met ? i 

I would suggest one or two lines of thought which, 
if followed out, will I think at any rate put one some 
what in the way of self-knowledge. 

I believe that there are few people who have not at 
one time or another in their lives been startled by the 
power of self-revelation that comes to them through 
other people. I do not mean the judgments of others 
passed upon them, at any rate not the spoken judg 
ments, nay, not even the silent unspoken judgments 
coming from look or manner, which are often more 
severe than those which are uttered in the sternest 
language. I do not mean this. I mean the flash of 
light which often pierces through a dense fog of self- 
deception or of misunderstanding of oneself, merely 
from the presence of another. There are few of us 
I think who cannot say to some one : " You have 


been the light of my life ". " In thy light I have 
seen light." " Your life has been the light of my 

Surely it is so. You have come for a moment into 
the presence of one whose life is a silent but most 
eloquent rebuke of the inmost tone and temper of 
your own life ; and as you stand within the radiance 
of such a presence you feel at once what you ought 
to be, what you might be, and what you have failed 
to be. Had you been told what now you see, you 
would not have believed it, nay, you would have pro 
tested with honest indignation that the criticism was 
most unfair, but standing there in the presence of one 
who reflects in a remarkable way those virtues in 
which you specially fail your characteristic failures 
hidden as they are from your own eyes you see and 
judge yourself. Such is the mysterious power of 
personal life. In his completeness you see your own 
incompleteness, in his success your own failure. A 
person in all the strange attractiveness of character 
comes before you, the incarnation of forgotten ideals 
and of unrealised ambitions, smothered and stifled 
under a rubbish heap of worldliness, selfishness, sloth, 


and the living image of what you perhaps once 
dreamed you might be pierces through all that over 
lies and weighs upon the soul and calls forth a faint 
reflection in its mirror. In seeing what you might 
have been you see what you are. 

For instance, there is one who is living a life of 
utter selfishness, never denying a fancy or a desire, 
and complaining about every little unpleasantness that 
comes, as such things must come, into the most shel 
tered life. Such a person is brought by chance into 
the presence of one whose life is a prolonged act of 
physical suffering combined with ceaseless work for 
others. These two lives are brought into contact. 
No word of judgment is spoken but one of those 
two leaves the presence of the other self-revealed and 
self-condemned. The shabby and earth-stained reality 
stands face to face with the ideal fought for and at 
tained, and in the light of that presence it sees light. 

Now such experiences, real, and most searching as 
they are, are but hints, pointing us to a more perfect 
method still by which to attain self-knowledge. 

The more perfect the life that crosses our path the 
clearer and more penetrating the light that it all un- 



consciously sends flooding our souls. Is it not possible 
then to bring ourselves into the presence of one who 
is absolutely perfect ? Surely we can. And all the 
light that other lives shed upon us are but faint 
glimmers compared with that which flows from the 
Presence of Jesus Christ. " His Life is the Light of 
men." " In His Light shall we see light " in all its 

Our self-examinations deteriorate often I think into 
an interesting and often unilluminating piece of self- 
analysis because it is, so to speak, conducted in the dark. 
It should be done in the Presence of One who realises 
all our noblest, often our forgotten, ideals. Our self- 
examination is not an abstract thing, it should be the 
comparison of ourselves with the most perfect, and at 
the same time most stimulating standard. What a dif 
ferent thing it is to rise from our self-examination with 
the knowledge that our prayers are poor and cold and 
feeble, but that we cannot help it, which may be 
perfectly true, and with the knowledge gained from 
the comparison of our prayers in their coldness with 
the prayer of our Lord in His agony, or the cry, " My 
God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me ". In this 


latter case we have learned how mild and complacent 
has been our acceptance of coldness in prayer, or on 
the other hand how it has led us to cry out in our 
effort, to smart with the sense of loss as we utter the 
cry of dereliction. One state is the knowledge of a 
fact that may leave us no whit the better, perhaps 
more indifferent as we get used to recognise it with 
complacency, the other is a spiritual experience, it is 
something that leaves the soul better or worse for the 

Or again, how different it is to rise from one s self- 
examination with the technical piece of dry unradiat- 
ing knowledge of the fact that to-day one has given 
way six times to irritation whereas yesterday one only 
gave way five times, or, on the other hand, with the 
knowledge that has come to one s soul from the com 
parison of oneself in the presence of the irritating 
circumstances of one s life with the example of our 
Lord, say, when He was smitten on the Face by one 
of the High Priest s servants, or when He was in the 
presence of Pharisee or Sadducee who was striving only 
to catch Him in His talk. The knowledge gained in 
the one case is purely intellectual, in the other case 



it is far more, it is again a spiritual experience. In 
presence of that unruffled calm, of that unfailing love, 
one sees oneself and is self-condemned. One gets a 
moment s glimpse of a nature all sore and bitter and 
on its defence against men who are not loved, of an 
inner life of irritation and disturbance where self reigns 
and all things are judged by the standard of one s own 
personal taste. The Light from the Presence of our 
Lord is that of which Simeon spoke, " This child is set 
that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed," 
and of which the Psalmist spoke when he said, " Where 
withal shall a young man cleanse his ways, even by 
ruling himself after Thy Word," that Word which took 
Flesh to be our example. 

Therefore if we would attain to any true self-know 
ledge, let our self-examinations be conducted in the 
Presence of our Lord, with an ever-deepening know 
ledge of His Personal Life. Such examinations, how 
ever poor and low the life that is revealed by them, 
will not be discouraging, but will be found to be at 
once humbling and stimulating. " He killeth and He 
maketh alive, He bringeth low and He lifteth up." 
In that wondrous Presence there can be no lurking 


remnant of pride, still less of hopelessness. The reve 
lation quickens hope and stimulates action. 

But once more. The great method of gaining any 
knowledge from Nature is by experiment. The 
students of Nature no longer sit at home and specu 
late, they go out and question her. In a very true 
sense the same may be said of the moral life. We are 
put here upon earth, so to speak, to be questioned. 
And the answer that God listens for, is not the answer 
of the lips but of action. This is the true meaning of 
temptation. Each temptation is a question put to the 
soul. "What kind of a being are you, do you love 
God, or the following of your own inclinations?" 

Now, as God permits temptation as a means by 
which we reveal ourselves to be on His side or against 
Him, we cannot do better than resort to somewhat of 
the same method to gain self-knowledge. 

If you would attain to any real self-knowledge there 
fore, do not be content with speculation as to what you 
may be, or what under certain circumstances you might 
be. Test yourself, find out what you are by experi 
ment. Do as you would do if you would gain any fresh 
knowledge of Nature, question yourself by action. 


For instance, you have a general and indefinite be 
lief that you are not uncharitable or sharp-tongued, 
or disposed to gossip. In your self-examination you 
do not find any sharp rebuke of conscience in such 
matters. But do not be content with that, put yourself 
time after time through the day to the test of experi 
ment and watch for the answer given you by facts. 
Resolve, for instance, in the morning to mortify your 
self in speech so many times, half a dozen, or a dozen 
times in the day. I think the result of a few days 
effort to keep such a resolution will be no small sur 
prise to you of how much you fail, and how unmodi 
fied you are with your tongue ; there is nothing easier 
than to place ourselves in ideal states of mind there 
is no more rude awakening than the facts which result 
from experiment. The first question put to Nature 
in the form of experiment has exploded many a 
philosopher s dream, and one day s experiment in 
certain unexplored regions of the moral life has re 
sulted in a rude but healthy awakening from mistaken 
dreams about oneself. 

Or again. You say and you believe that you are 
not really self-indulgent, that you take your food and 


sleep for the sake of health, not for the pleasure they 
afford in themselves. Well, try this theory about 
yourself, test it by experiment Resolve to practise 
so many acts of mortification in those matters of food 
which in no way affect the health but merely the 
palate, or arrange for yourself the full measure of time 
that your health requires for sleep, and then rise 
promptly to the moment, put these things to a few 
days test and see if your theory about your indiffer 
ence in matters of self-indulgence be correct. 

The answers that such experiments give bring with 
them the conviction of truth and are often like rifts in 
the clouds that befog us, enabling us to get a true 
estimate of our strength and weakness. In the light 
of such experiences slf-examination becomes more 
serious and more real, we find after a few months 
that its character has changed in an unaccountable 
way, and that the best way in which the change can 
be described is by saying that the sphere of self-ex 
amination seems to be transferred from the study of 
details to the knowledge of a person. We are, no 
doubt, examining the details of daily life, but they 
are not mere isolated or dry facts, we see them 


emanating from a living person whom we appear 
almost to have discovered, and it is the facts seen in 
the light of this personal life that changes their whole 
character. To use a comparison that is applicable 
within certain limits, it is like one watching the 
action and movements of bodies under the power of 
gravitation before the law was discovered, such a 
person would see a multitude of different acts isolated 
and disconnected moved in a manner that seemed 
more or less orderly, but without meaning and without 
connection. Then we may imagine the great dis 
coverer, in the moment of his discovery looking 
with kindling eyes and beating heart upon the same 
phenomena. Wherever he looks all things are under 
the same law. An apple falling from a tree is like 
a beam of light through a sphere everywhere cracking 
and rent with fissures and showing the whole interior 
in a blaze of light. Before he saw effects, now he sees 
effects in the light of their cause. 

So it is with oneself, the surface of one s life gets 
somehow broken through, and we see the throbbing 
pulsation of that mysterious source of action the 


So may we persevere, in such ways as we have 
been considering, or in any of those manifold ways 
in which God is wont to teach those who are in 
earnest, determined that we will not rest till we have 
penetrated through the many chambers and corridors, 
thronged with those strange forms that hurry hither 
and thither bringing news from without or carrying 
out orders from within, filling all with the noise and 
tumult of their activity, till we have forced our way 
through all this and entered into the presence chamber 
and lifted the veil and seen ourselves face to face. 



WHATEVER we may be able to learn from the study 
of Nature, whether of art or science, all that we know 
of good and evil, and of the great moral struggle, we 
know through our own nature alone. So imbued are 
our minds with moral ideas that we seem to see them 
reflected in the world of Nature, but it is only that 
extraordinary responsiveness with which she always 
meets man. It is a strange thing when we come 
to analyse it, that so much light and shade, so many 
lines and curves, so much inanimate matter, should 
be able in such an extraordinary way to reflect the 
mind of man, that we even transfer to it our own 
moral ideas and struggles. Who has not felt that 
not only can the skies and the earth and the winds 
rejoice with us in our joys and sorrow with our 
sorrows, but that they echo our stormy passions, and 
reflect our wrath and rebellion and cruelty, and melt 
with us into tears of penitence and sing with us our 

Te Deums. 



And yet all that we know of the moral life we 
know through our own nature alone, all else is but 
the reflection of what passes in the soul of man, the 
central and ruling figure upon earth. 

We only know of sin as human sin, and we only 
know of goodness and virtue as seen through our own 
nature. When we think of the goodness and love 
of God we think of these attributes as seen in and 
shown through the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ. 
When we think of diabolical wickedness, it is only 
human wickedness enlarged and intensified that we 
can imagine. Man stands midway between the seen 
and unseen, acted upon by the powers of good and 
evil, influenced and swayed by them, and the sensi 
tive instrument through which they are revealed. 
But here upon this earth no knowledge of any 
moral kind can come to us save through our own 
nature. If it is to come here to man it must enter 
through man s nature, it can come through no other 
door, it is only as uttered and expressed in terms of 
human nature that human beings can understand it. 
There may be forms of wickedness that the evil 
spirits commit which human nature is incapable of and 


consequently knows nothing about ; if man cannot 
commit these sins, how are they to become known 
here amongst men ? I know the human struggle, 
the human failure and victory; I can enter without 
difficulty into sympathy with the man whose temp 
tations are very different from my own ; any evil or 
any good that has ever been done or is capable of 
being done by man I can understand, its highest 
reaches, its lowest depths. I am moved to self- 
condemnation and to effort by the deeds of men 
infinitely above me, and I can feel the horrible fas 
cination of the wickedness of men far worse than I ; 
but with human nature my knowledge ends. The 
whole moral world is to me the world of men. As I 
look within I know indeed full well that I stand 
amongst Powers and Beings that are not human, 
but I only know them as they act upon my heart and 
my mind, and interpret themselves in terms of my 
own nature. 

And who can doubt that this nature of ours is 
as capable of revealing evil as good. Indeed there 
are those who assure us that we know more about 
evil than good. Certainly the great heights of the 


spiritual life are known to but a few, but I think 
that the utmost depths of wickedness are known 
perhaps to fewer. At any rate we cannot deny that 
alongside of the wonderful revelations of goodness 
and virtue which have been made known through men 
and women, there has always been the dark shadow 
of sin. Our nature has shown us what sin is, and 
has manifested a hideous power of adapting itself 
as the instrument of evil. It can reveal to us the 
perfection of virtue or of vice, as it seems, with equal 
facility. I can think of people through whom I have 
seen shine the virtue of spotless purity, of perfect 
self-sacrifice, of unclouded sincerity and truthfulness, 
and I have seen in them the radiant beauty of which 
our nature is capable. But I know people also who 
have shown me to what depths of degradation human 
nature can sink. 

If then man s nature is equally capable of good 
and evil, if the same human nature which shines 
with holiness in our Lord can become the prey of 
every evil desire and be possessed by a legion of 
evil spirits, if it can take delight in all that is holy 
and pure and of good report and be transported 


by the love of God and kindled with the desire for 
all that is noblest and best, and if it is equally 
capable of turning away from God and revelling 
in all that is worst and basest, if it is capable of 
being indwelt by the Holy Spirit or of being pos 
sessed by the devil, the question arises what is this 
evil which men commit so easily? Is there in our 
nature some evil thing whose fermentations produce 
evil desires and evil actions? Could we, if we took 
man to pieces, find within him that which is the 
source of evil ? If men are to become holy are 
they to be instructed to destroy something in them 
selves which, when they have destroyed, they will 
be able to become good? Or, if this seems too 
material a view of evil, are there in man certain 
powers or forces which make for evil and certain 
others which make for good ; and shall we say that 
a bad man is one who has developed the forces of 
evil within himself, and a good man is one who has 
destroyed all these and developed the forces and 
powers which make for good ? Does a man feel as 
he grows in holiness that he has gradually killed 

out certain powers that were apparently an integral 



part of himself, and that he has developed certain 
others ; that the inner conflict has been one in which 
one part of himself was arrayed against the other, 
and that the victory of good over evil has been the 
victory of the higher powers by the killing out of 
the lower, and that consequently the triumph of 
good over evil has been purchased by a certain loss, 
as the victory of one army over another is won by 
the death of many a soldier? 

It has seemed to some as if it were so. There are 
those who will tell you that there is a certain tame- 
ness about good people, a lack of fire and force and 
energy, which is to be found in men who are not good ; 
that the strongest men are not the men who are over- 
careful about the subdual of pride and temper and 
ambition and passion. They insist that such virtues, 
for instance, as are taught in the Beatitudes and are 
essentially Christian Poverty of spirit, Mourning, 
Meekness are lacking in virility, and that there is an 
element of weakness in the ideal Christian character 
as compared with that of the man of the world. And 
it would be said, no doubt, that the reason of this is 
that the victory over evil and the triumph of these 


virtues is purchased at too great a price, the destruc 
tion of certain powers and of certain elements of our 
nature which we characterise as evil. The strong man 
needs to develop and to use everything with which he 
finds himself equipped, and to use all his powers is 
simply to be human. 

Now such a view of evil, as something positive, the 
fermentation of some evil substance or the possession 
of powers in themselves bad, is essentially unchristian. 
There is nothing, no substance, no power, no faculty, in 
man that is in itself bad. The Catholic doctrine of the 
Incarnation teaches that our Lord assumed our nature 
in its entirety, and that whatever belongs to our nature 
was in Him. We cannot imagine that He assumed 
into union with His own Divine Personality anything 
that was inherently evil, or that in creating man He, 
the Creator, created and placed in him what was evil. 
Analyse the soul of the greatest sinner and the greatest 
saint and you will not find in the sinner any single 
element that is not in the saint. Compare the soul of 
the Magdalene or of St. Augustine before and after 
their conversion. There was nothing lacking in either 
after their conversion that was there before. As saints 


they were not weakened or emasculated. Who would 
have cared to read their history if they had not been 
converted ? who, on reading their history, does not feel 
that their lives after their conversion were the lives of 
those who had "come to themselves," that they were 
then their real selves, that somehow they got the power 
of self-expression in the fullest and highest sense ? They 
lost nothing, destroyed nothing, but were in full pos 
session of all their powers. There was much in the 
Magdalene which she had never used, perhaps never 
dreamed of, till she came to our Lord ; He revealed 
to her the secret of true self-development, which is 
another word for sanctity ; and she found under His 
guidance that everything in her had henceforth to be 
used, and used in a fuller and richer way than she had 
ever imagined possible before. It was in no narrow 
school of self-limitation, in no morbid school of false 
asceticism, that this poor sinner was educated in the 
principles of sanctity, but in the large and merciful 
school of Him who has been ever since the hope of 
the hopeless, the friend of publicans and sinners, who 
knows full well that what men need is not to crush and 
kill their powers, but to find their true use and to use 


them ; that holiness is not the emptying of life, but the 
filling ; that despair has wrapped its dark cloud round 
many a soul because it found itself in possession of 
powers that it abused and could not destroy and did 
not know how to use, and who taught them the great 
and inspiring doctrine, " I am not come to destroy but 
to fulfil ". 

No, if there be a lack of strength or virility in good 
people, it is not because they are good, but because 
their goodness is imperfect, or of a spurious kind. In 
proportion as a man is really good he will be strong. 
We often forget that the Apostle of Love, who is so 
frequently represented in art as almost effeminate, was 
in fact "the Son of Thunder". The gentlest of the 
saints will be found to be really a stronger man than 
many a one not a saint who has gained a character for 
strength. Holy people often surprise us by showing 
a courage and firmness we did not give them credit 
for. The weakness with which they are credited 
arises from their view of life, that they do not care to 
make a stand or to fight for many things that ordinary 
people set a high value upon, because they do not 
think them worth it. 


For the difference between goodness and badness 
does not consist in the presence or absence, the pre 
servation or destruction, of anything within us which 
is evil, but in the right or wrong use of powers in 
themselves good. Sin is the misuse of powers which 
God has given us, the use of them for ends for which 
they were never intended. It is as though a soldier 
took the sword which he was given to defend his 
country and used it in the cause of her enemies. 
Every power, every faculty, every gift of our nature 
was given us for good. They were given us for the 
service of God, and are capable of being used in His 
service. We take these God-given powers and use 
them for an unworthy end, and we sin. The heart with 
which I can rise up into the closest union with God I 
can use in loving what God most hates. The heart of 
the greatest sinner is the same faculty and is capable of 
the same acts as the heart of the greatest saint. It is 
not the heart itself which is evil. The most degraded 
and vicious of men have the same divine power of love 
as the holiest. The difference is that one has set his 
affections on an object unworthy of them, the other has 
turned to Him who has made our hearts for Himself, 


So, again, it is the same will with which I choose 
right which I can use in choosing wrong. The will is 
good whatever I use it for. I violate my whole nature 
and weaken the will in choosing evil. I act according 
to my nature, and my will grows stronger and ever 
more reliable as I choose good. The will that has 
been most enslaved by the constant choice of all that 
is base and vile, and which seems incapable of making 
one good ,choice, even such a will is in itself good ; 
the evil lies not in the will but in the objects upon 
which it exercises its choice, it is the abuse of a 
great and noble power. You have not to destroy , 
it or rid it of anything inherent in it to become 
good, still less to lay it aside unused, but rather to 
use it, weakened and debased as it is, in the energetic 
choice of good. 

Thus we might take one after another of those 
powers which have been the cause of the greatest sin, 
and see how, though the instruments of sin, they are 
in themselves good, and in the use of them the saints 
became saints. 

Augustine did not lay aside his great intellectual 
gifts when he gave up his Manichaean errors and 


became the servant of Christ, we see rather the eman 
cipation of his intellect. The Truth made him free. 
His intellect apparently got a new expansion when 
he turned it to the Truth. It was as though a great 
power which had been cramped and distorted and 
was never able to use itself to the full, was at last set 
free to exercise itself upon objects worthy of it. 

It is necessary to be quite clear on this point, for 
upon it will depend our whole view of the reformation 
of life and character. If you are struggling to destroy 
the evil that you believe to be in you, it is indeed a 
hopeless task, and you are condemned to failure at 
the start. If, on the other hand, you realise that the 
change from a life of sin to a life of holiness is but a 
change in the objects upon which you exercise the 
powers which God has given you, you will feel that it 
is by no means hopeless on the contrary, that it is 
pre-eminently reasonable. There is infinite inspira 
tion in the thought that you are striving to use your 
powers for the very purpose for which they were 
created. If you know that your heart was created 
to love God, there may be great difficulties in train 
ing it to turn away from unworthy objects, but you 


cannot doubt that it can love God ; only strive long 
enough therefore, and you must succeed. 

There are not a few, I think, who, if they could 
realise this, would feel that it is just what they need 
to give a stimulus and inspiration to their whole life. 
To them mortification means death, not life. They 
are striving to kill what will not be killed. In their , 
hearts they feel that the spiritual life is rather an 
empty life ; many things that they used to do they 
feel that they must not do, but they find nothing else 
to fill the place of what they have given up. Their 
reason tells them that mere repression is not life. 
Yet in the past they found so much sin mixed up 
with most of what they did, that the only alterna 
tive seems not to do, and one thing after another 
has been given up. Study yourself, examine the 
structure of your being, and one thing will impress 
you every faculty of your mind, every power, every 
member of your body, was made for action. The 
body is the instrument of the mind s action, the 
senses are the channels through which it is fed. The 
eye was made to look, to see, to gaze upon things 
outside. If in penitence for sins which they have com- 


mitted a man closes his eyes and will not look upon 
the fair scenes and sights of God s creation, he should 
know that this is only temporary and as an act of 
penitence and discipline, that he may gain control, 
and bring them from wandering and wantonness to 
use them better and with true freedom in the service 
of the soul. The servant has assumed too much in 
dependence, nay, has begun to rule his master, and 
he must be taught his place. So with everything. 
The hand was made for action, the mind to think, 
the will to choose, the heart to love. The tongue 
was made for speech, not silence. If it has been 
used for evil, it must be trained and disciplined that 
it may be used for good. Many a time, indeed, when 
it fain would speak it has to be forced to keep silence. 
Why? not merely that it may simply become an idle 
and useless member of the household of the soul, but 
that it may become what it was intended to be, the 
instrument of the soul s utterance in the service of 

Mortification, therefore, is not an end in itself, it is 
but a means to an end, and the end is the truest and 
fullest use of everything that we have. " Tis life, not 


death, for which we pant " the death is a death unto 
sin as the means of entering into a larger life unto 
righteousness. Self-discipline must necessarily be in 
proportion to the misuse of any sense or power, but it 
is the true use of it that we aim at in every act of self- 
discipline. " For the joy that is set before us we en 
dure the cross" we do not endure it merely for its 
own sake, but for what lies beyond it. And we bear 
those acts of self-denial and self-restraint because we 
feel and know full well that through such acts alone 
can we regain the mastery over all our misused powers 
and learn to use them with a vigour and a joy such 
as we have never known before. 

There is nothing morbid in such acts of restraint 
of mortification. They are full of promise. They are 
full of hope. There are times when, charing perhaps 
under the restraint that is put upon them, for a 

moment our powers find their true outlet and break 

- , i - 

away with bounding joy in the channels prepared for 
them. Such moments are an earnest of what is to 
come and strengthen us in our hard task. The lips 
that were often sealed in penitential silence for bitter 
words, for unkind criticism, irreverence or unrestrained 


chatter, find moments when they can make amends 
and heal by loving words those they have wounded 
in the past, or speak with the burning eloquence of 
strong conviction for the faith they have once blas 
phemed. The hands that have done evil deeds and 
suffered under the discipline of restraint find moments 
when they are used in the service of kindness and 
chanty and fill the heart with a joy that was worth 
waiting for. And then the penitent soul cries out : " I 
know now that all these gifts of God are good and 
were made for use, not merely for repression. I am 
bringing these wanderers back into the true way of 
life, these rebel servants to be my helpers in the 
service of God." 

This, I think, is what St. Paul means when he says, 
" As ye have yielded your members to serve un- 
cleanness, and iniquity unto iniquity ; so now yield 
your members to serve justice unto sanctification ". 
And again, " Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal 
body, neither yield ye your members as instruments 
of iniquity unto sin : but present yourselves unto 
God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your 
members as instruments of justice unto God ". 


The picture before his mind is a vivid one. He 
sees the soul the servant of sin and using all its 
members, faculties, senses, in the service of sin, and 
increasing thus the sway of sin. Eye, ear, hand, heart, 
imagination, working for sin, in its service, and drag 
ging the soul down. Well, he says, I do not ask you 
to give up the use of one of these powers, or to 
leave them idle, I ask you to give yourself no longer 
to sin, but to God, as one alive from the dead, and 
then use every power you have in the service of God 
as instruments of justice unto holiness. Use them for 
the very purpose for which they were given. It is in 
the splendid energy of positive action that the morbid 
power of sin is to be overthrown. Let God reign in 
your heart and you will find plenty of work for head 
and hand. 

Of course, between this vigorous living in the full 
and free exercise of all the powers, and the life of 
sin, there lies that period of discipline and morti 
fication in which the misused powers have to be re 
strained and checked and trained for their true work. 
A man who all his life has used his imagination for evil 
will not find it easy to use it as the handmaid of faith. 


There will be revolts and relapses, and the pictures of 
the past from which he has turned, he will find often 
vividly mirrored upon it. There will be days of dark 
ness when it seems to him as if he had undertaken an 
impossible task. But he will be sustained by two 
thoughts, that this misused faculty, however defiled, 
however much disordered, is in itself good, and that 
only in using it for that for which it was given can it 
be redeemed. These thoughts will sustain him and 
encourage him to bear the suffering which is the price 
of its redemption. 

It is as though one who had a great talent for music 
but had no technical training, and consequently could 
never produce the best results of his art, were to put him 
self under a great master. The first lessons he will 
have to learn will be, for the most part, to correct 
his mistakes, not to do this and not to do that ; it will 
seem to him that he has lost all his former freedom 
of expression, that he is held back by all sorts of 
technical rules, that whenever he seeks to let himself 
go he is checked and hampered. And it is no doubt 
true. But he will soon begin to realise that as he 
learns more and suffers in the learning, possibilities 


of utterance reveal themselves which he has never 
dreamed of. He knows, he feels, that he is on the 
right path, and as the channels are prepared and the 
barriers against the old bad methods more firmly fixed, 
he feels the mighty tide of his genius rise and swell, he 
hears the shout of the gathering waters as they sweep 
before them every obstacle and pour forth in a mad 
torrent of glorious sound. All those days of restraint 
and suffering are crowned with the joy of the full 
and perfect expression of his art. The restraint and 
discipline he knew full well in those seemingly un 
fruitful days were but the means to an end. The end 
is always before him, and the end is positive ex 
pression. The dying to his old untrained and bad i 
methods is but the birth throes of a larger and richer; 
action verily " for the joy that was set before him he 
endured the Cross " of discipline. 

And this is the true principle of all Christian self- 
discipline. Without such an inspiring motive it is 
meaningless, it is cruel self-torture. We need who 
does not know it to fill our life, not to empty it. 
Life is too strong a thing, our nature is too positive, to 
be content with mere restraint and repression. Many 


a soul who has given up one thing after another and 
emptied its life of interest after interest, learns to its 
dismay that its energies finding no means of expres 
sion turn inward and revenge themselves in morbid 
self-analysis and sickly scruples. They need an outlet ; 
they need interests. You may check the flow of a 
stream while you are preparing to divert its channel, 
but you cannot stop it. If you try, it will only gather 
force behind the barriers that hold it back, beat them 
down and rush through with a strength and volume all 
the greater for the restraint. And the stream of life 
cannot be merely held back. Many a man trying thus 
to repress himself finds after a time that temptations 
have only grown stronger and passions more violent, 
and that he seems to have become worse rather than 
better through the temporary resistance. What he 
needed, what might have protected him from failure 
and despair, was to be taught that all the restraint was 
but temporary, and in order to turn the stream into 

its true channel. 

But again, we all know the tendency that there is in 
the different powers of our nature to assume an inde 
pendent life, to live and act not for the good of the 


person, but simply for their own gratification, often to 
the great injury of the person. The central power if 
it is not constantly on the watch loses control, and the 
members of the body and the powers of the mind take 
matters into their own hands and live for themselves. 
We are often scarcely conscious of this till we waken 
up to find that we have lost control of ourselves. That 
one after another of our senses and faculties (our 
" members," as St. Paul calls them) refuse to obey us 
and are living each its own separate life. Nay, more 
than that, that they often make factions, and combine 
to dethrone conscience and place some base passion, 
it may be, to rule in its place. There is a well- 
organised revolution taking place, so quiet that con 
science is scarcely alarmed till it finds its power is 
well-nigh gone. Many a man living an easy, self-in 
dulgent life is startled to find all unknown to him a 
deadly alliance between the senses and the imagina 
tion against reason and conscience, and that a civil 
war has already begun, that conscience has almost lost 
all power of command and the will is in chains. Or 
again, that the heart, intent upon its own gratification, 
has called in imagination to its aid and seduced the 


reason itself from its natural alliance with conscience 
to help it to gain its own ends. 

And each sense, each faculty, in proportion as it lives 
for itself, gathers strength as it absorbs into itself the 
life that was meant to feed the whole nature, and thus 
exhausts and enfeebles the rest. There are men 
whose intellect seems to have dried up and absorbed 
the life of the affections, and there are others in whom 
one passion has grown to such enormous proportions 
that there is life and nourishment left for little else. 

And this breaking up of the soul s unity and strength 
is the result very often not of any conscious act on 
the part of the individual, but merely of neglect, of 
leaving his nature to take its own course and follow 
its own inclinations. " Eternal vigilance is the price 
of liberty," and we must exercise this vigilance un 
ceasingly over every department of our being, every 
sense, every faculty, every inclination, if we would 
keep ourselves free. 

One tyrannous single thought, one fit 
Of passion, can subdue the soul to it. 

It is indeed a strange subversion of the order of 
nature that a man cannot use his powers as he wills, 


but that they use him ; that he cannot think of what 
he wishes, but that his mind seems to have broken away 
from his control and to have its own thoughts ; that he 
cannot love what he knows is worthy of his affections, 
but that his heart enslaves him to that which reason 
and conscience abhor. 

And yet it is most true. Who does not know what , 
it is to find some part of his nature acting in direct 
defiance of his will. At first it seems as if the dis 
obedience was not deliberate, as if it were the lack of 
sufficient care on one s own part, and one only needs 
to be a little more firm and peremptory in command ; 
but soon there is left no possibility of doubt the will 
issues the command, and it is defiantly disobeyed. A 
person knows, for instance, that the dwelling upon cer 
tain memories of the past are bad for him, bad in 
every way, making him morbid, paralysing his powers 
and rendering him incapable of doing his work. He 
determines that he will close the door of his memory 
against the return of these thoughts. He does not wish 
to recall them, he deliberately wishes and decides to 
forget them, and he issues his command to the mem 
ory to forget them. But he finds to his dismay that 



this faculty, which is but a part of himself and has no 
existence apart from him, seems somehow to have 
developed a life of its own, a life which apparently 
has passed out of his control and which seeks its 
own gratification, not his good, and simply ignores his 
command. Where does it get this life ? where does it 
get this will of its own ? how can it act except as a 
faculty of his mind, an integral part of himself? It is 
his memory, his power of looking backward, yet there 
it is, living and acting as if it had an individuality of 
its own, a source of evil to the person by whose life it 
lives. Well may he ask, how can this be ? Yet who 
does not know that it is true. Or perhaps it is not 
the memory but the heart. The heart has begun to 
love what reason and conscience forbid. The reason 
ridicules it, the conscience issues its stern commands, 
but the heart with a mighty sweep of passion carries 
all before it, and amidst the protests of conscience and 
the dictates of reason has its own way. 

Now it is the office of self-discipline to bring all 
these rebel powers back under obedience, to allow no 
dual authority throughout the kingdom of the soul ; 
to see that no part of the nature develops any life of 


its own, but that all co-operate for its well-being ; 
that no sense or faculty acts or lives merely for its 
own gratification, but for the good of the person to 
whom it belongs. 

This is the work of self-discipline which lies before 
every man who through carelessness, self-indulgence or 
sin has lost in any degree the power of self-command. 
His faculties have got out of control and wandered 
after their own fancies ; they must learn that they can 
only be of service in the kingdom of the soul as they 
obey the sovereign authority of the will, and co-operate 
with all the other powers for its well-being. But he 
must let these undisciplined faculties know that they 
have their place and their work, and that when they 
have learnt control they will do better work and have 
a deeper satisfaction in it and a larger freedom than 
they ever had in the days of their wildest licence. 
The vagrant off the streets who has never known 
what it was to check an impulse or obey a command 
finds at first the discipline of the drill-ground discour 
aging work, often well-nigh intolerable, but he sees 
what it has done for others, he is inspired with a 
belief that it will make a man of him, and he is soon 


conscious of the invigorating influence of solidarity, 
the thrill of the multitude, the power that comes 
through co-operation and through surrender to au 

And even so we must collect our vagrant powers 
and faculties and train them to the word of command 
and teach them to keep step, holding the more eager 
and impulsive back and urging the sluggish forward, 
dealing patiently with each raw recruit that has been 
won from a life of slackness and independence to join 
in the service of the great army of the Patria of the 
soul. The discipline and strictness of the drill-ground 
will be felt by each, even the very lowliest member of 
the body or the humblest power of the soul, to be no 
unmeaning check to its action but a great and inspir 
ing preparation for a better work than it ever did be 
fore, each co-operating with the rest, and all moving 
forward at the word of command of conscience, to 
do battle against the enemies of the soul. How dif 
ferent such results from the isolated skirmishes, when 
friend was often mistaken for foe, and the days of 
riot and pillage when these vagrant powers fought or 
feasted as they pleased, having no clear aim before 


them, recognising no authority and obeying no word 
of command. 

We must discipline, therefore, all our powers of 
mind and body to co-operate for the well-being of 
the person; we must bring them back from their lax 
life of idleness or isolation and teach them that only 
by working with all the other powers of the soul can 
any of them do its best work ; that as the general 
cannot fight without his soldiers, no more can the 
most brilliant faculty of the mind do its work per 
fectly without the humblest and poorest ; that as " the 
eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee, 
nor the head to the feet, I have no need of you," no 
more can the head say to the heart, I have no need of 
thee, nor the reason to the emotions, I have no need 
of you. We must bring them back and train them 
that they may work in obedience, and that they may 
work together teaching some to wait, forcing others 
to action, punishing some and encouraging others ; 
forcing any passion or any faculty that has pushed it 
self into a position of undue prominence or command 
to take for a time the lowest piace, punishing it if it 
be necessary, often even reducing its strength and 


rebellious spirit by starvation, but only that it may 
learn to do its work better. We must allow no voice 
of inclination or passion ever to issue a command or 
assert authority till order has been restored through 
out the whole kingdom of the soul, and there is but 
one ruler whose lightest word is law, and that ruler 
receives his commands from God. 

Such discipline is no unreasonable restraint upon 
our powers, its purpose is to restore to the soul the 
exercise of its full power, which lies in that order and 
co-operation upon which its unity depends. 

I. And in the practise of self-discipline we need 
Patience. Impatience, too great anxiety to see quick 
results of our efforts, will only delay the work. We 
are dealing with the most delicate instruments, which 
can very easily be put out of gear. We must not be 
discouraged if the neglect or abuse of years takes 
years to rectify. The mind is a very delicate instru 
ment, and if it be overstrained its elasticity is de 
stroyed. Many an act of self-discipline that we 
know is good we may not be able to practise except 
in the course of time. A very little over-pressure may 
cause a reaction which makes the last state worse 


than the first. We must season the materials before 
we can bend them to our will. It is impossible to 
make sweeping reforms and sudden changes. Habits, 
whether good or bad, are only formed by constantly 
repeated acts ; a very little done day by day and per 
severed in will effect more than can ever be effected 
by violence. It is well to remember that there is such 
a thing as undisciplined efforts at self-discipline need 
less to say that such efforts always end in failure. We 
have to treat the wayward faculty or the wanton sense 
as we would treat a spoilt child to win it back little 
by little, and with unwearied patience, knowing well 
that any effort at compulsion will certainly end in 

2. And we need Prudence. It is always well to 
remember that we have no right to think that the 
goodness of a cause can ever exempt a person from 
the ordinary laws of prudence in the method of carry 
ing it out, still less that we are to expect that God 
will remedy the effects of our imprudence. The work 
of grace is always dependent upon a foundation built 
upon the laws of nature. If a person overstrains his 
mind by too much prayer, his mind will suffer just as 


much as if it were overstrained by too much study ; 
the fact that the intention was good does not alter 
the result of a foolish action. 

And so a man cannot suddenly forego all that he 
has been habituated to by years of self-indulgence. 
Whatever is in itself wrong of course he can and must, 
for wrong-doing is never either useful or necessary. 
But in regard to giving up what is not wrong he must 
hasten slowly. Prudence must ever stand by his side 
and speak her word of wisdom on every step of the 
way. The pampered body will only rebel if it is 
; handled roughly. Under the guidance of Prudence it 
must be trained by degrees to do without those things 
that by long use have become almost necessary to it. 
One must return to a normal life before one can hope 
to be able to endure an ascetic life. And the mind 
that has been left so long in unrestrained licence or in 
sluggish inaction must not be brought suddenly under 
restraint, but it must gradually and gently be won to 
accept the wise and patient discipline which it recog 
nises as its liberator from the slavery into which it has 

3. And lastly, we need to look constantly for the 


assistance of Divine grace. We cannot act alone in 
the work of restoration, nor can we be restored merely 
to a state of mended and repaired nature. The reme 
dies that God supplies are supernatural, and if we are 
to be restored at all, we shall have to rise higher 
than we could by nature. He pours into our wounds 
the oil and wine of Divine grace, so that as the wounds 
are healed the medicine that heals them transforms 
our nature and endows it with a new vigour. The 
struggle to be merely natural, moral, masters of our 
selves, quickly teaches us that this is impossible, the 
work is beyond us. We cannot merely become what 
we were before, we must become more. If we would 
restrain ourselves and recover ourselves we must call 
in the Great Physician, and in His Hands we shall find 
a New Life instilled into us and a New World open 
out before our kindling eyes. 



THE spiritual life of most people may be said to begin 
from one of two starting-points. The thought of God 
or the thought of self. There are many whose minds 
with a natural instinct turn tc God. The things of 
faith have ever been a reality to them. Even when 
their lives have been most inconsistent their faith has 
shone clear and undisturbed. 

And there are others who have been driven to God 
through the knowledge of their own great needs the 
natural tendency of their minds is to turn inward, not 
outward. They have been driven to look outwards and 
upward by what they have found within. 

Their knowledge of themselves, of the strength of 
natural inclination, of their own temperament, of the 
power and persistency of habit, deepens their sense of 
hopelessness, and shows them that they have no power 
of themselves to help themselves, and only when, like 
the woman in the Gospel, they have " suffered many 
things from many physicians, and were nothing the 



better but rather worse," they are driven at last to 

If there had anywhere appeared in space 
Another place of refuge where to flee, 
Our souls had sought for refuge in that place 
And not in Thee. 

And only when we found in earth and air 
And heaven and hell, that such could nowhere be, 
That we could not flee /row Thee anywhere, 
We fled to Thee. 

Self-knowledge apart from God can indeed only lead 
to despair. For he who has sunk to earth knows well 
he can find no lever on earth or within himself to 
raise him. How can he ? How can anything within 
himself raise him above himself? How can anything 
on earth raise him above the earth? Like the piece 
of silver, in the Parable, that has fallen to the earth, 
he needs the Hand of Another to raise him. 

From one or other, therefore, of these two starting- 
points the religious life of most men will be found to 
begin. From the knowledge of God or the knowledge 
of self. But though they may begin from either of 
these two poles, earth or heaven, the end must be the 
same. One will learn from the greatness and Holiness 


of God, the greatness of man s destiny to whom He 
has condescended to reveal Himself. The other will 
learn from the greatness of his own needs, the greatness 
and the Love of God who delivers him. For, as it has 
been well said, " He who believes humanity requires 
no higher influence than its own, will see in Christ no 
more than a man like himself; he who thinks man s 
only need is an example, will look upon Christ as an 
ideal man ; he who thinks man only needs virtue, will 
look upon Him as a great moral teacher. But he who 
feels that the need of his nature is something more 
than nature can supply, will seek for the supernatural 
in Christ" 

Now there are in the Apostolic College two men 
who severally represent these two starting-points of 
Christian knowledge and life, St. John and St. Paul. 
St. John is the type of the objective mind. He looks 
upward and outward. Like the eagle he spreads his 
wings and soars aloft and gazes into the Face of the 
Sun. In all his writings he tells us little or nothing 
about himself. He lets us into none of the secrets of 
his own inner struggles. We know him mainly as the 
mirror in which the Person of Christ is reflected. He 


is the Divine the great contemplative. He is like 
that "sea of glass mingled with fire" of which he 
writes, " that is before the Throne of God ". When 
he speaks of himself at all it is almost impersonally 
he is " the Disciple whom Jesus loved ". He is the Dis 
ciple who leant upon Jesus Bosom at the Last Supper. 
The one whose life was "hidden with Christ in God ". 
What can we learn from him directly of the mysteries 
of the human soul, of the conflict with evil, of the 
anguish of penitence and the haunting memories of 
sin ? He tells us indeed of the infinite Love of God. 
He is the Apostle of Love, and he reveals to us the 
greatness of man s destiny who can rise into such inti 
mate and close friendship with the Most High. 

How different, on the other hand, is St. Paul. There 
is no secret of the human heart that he does not know. 
His experiences are for the world. He gives them 
all freely and generously to mankind. He has that 
wonderful and rare charm, the power of speaking of 
himself without a shadow of egotism. He tells us 
of his own idealism and of his utter powerlessness to 
realise his ideals, and how at last he gained the power. 
Whatever he tells us comes with the freshness and 


vividness of a personal experience. St. John, if I may 
say so, stands behind his writings, St. Paul stands in 
the forefront The personal element is everywhere. 
Across the ages the man lives before us ; his words throb 
and vibrate with an intense personality rarely equalled 
and never surpassed. He is the representative of the 
subjective mind, looking inward, studying, analysing, 
and recording its own workings. 

We could ill afford to do without the Revelation of 
both these Apostles. One will appeal most to one 
type of character, the other to another ; but we need 
both. St. John is like the great arching heavens 
above us, calm in their serenity ; St. Paul like the 
storm-swept world beneath ; but as earth and heavens 
can never be separated, so these two great teachers 
together are needed to show us the way in which 
man can be united to God. 

Now it is certainly untrue to say that the one thing 
which we need in order to overcome sin and to attain 
perfection is a more perfect knowledge of our own 
nature and its laws. We do not find that the best 
physiologists and the best psychologists are necessarily 

the best men. Indeed, if we know ourselves at all, we 



are painfully conscious that under great temptation we 
often act in direct opposition to our knowledge. The 
drunkard and the sensualist know full well that they 
are ruining the health both of mind and body, but I 
doubt if this knowledge alone has ever succeeded in 
making one or other either temperate or pure. In 
deed, according to the teaching of our Lord, this is 
taken for granted : " He that knew his Lord s will 
and did it not shall be beaten with many stripes ". 
The mere knowledge of what we ought not to do, often 
even of the disastrous results of what we are tempted 
to, will not necessarily hold a man back from doing 
it. St Paul utters the experience of every man who 
has ever striven after a high standard when he says, " I 
cannot do the things that I would," and again, "the 
good which I will I do not, but the evil which I will 
not that I do ". 

Yet at the same tiuie, though it is certainly not the 
whole truth to say that ignorance is the only cause, 
or the chief cause, of failure, there is undoubtedly 
an element of truth in it. Many a life s failure has 
been caused by ignorance. Many an earnest person 
has lost all the joy and conscious success in the spirit- 


ual life through not understanding himself. If we 
understood ourselves better we should certainly be 
able to put ourselves to better use. There are not a 
few who have failed through striving after the impos 
sible. A failure to obey the laws of our physical 
nature will cause ill-health or death. The violation of 
the laws that govern the working of the mind may 
cause insanity, and the ignorance of these laws has 
made shipwreck of the spiritual life of not a few. And 
ignorance of the higher and more subtle and mysteri 
ous laws of our inmost being must cause failure and 
suffering in proportion. The truth is, we need both to 
know ourselves and the laws that govern our lives, 
and also to know and to apply the remedies which God 
has provided to heal the diseases caused by the viola 
tion of these laws. 

And yet it is no doubt true that no two men are 
exactly alike either in their character or experience. 
Each individual to a certain extent must stand alone. 
Most of us, I suppose, have felt that in the greatest 
moments of life, when some serious choice had to be 
made or some great temptation faced, we could get 
little help from others except the kindly help that 


comes from the sympathy of a fellow-creature. At 
such moments every one feels the isolation of his own 
personality. It is impossible to put into words so 
that another can understand just that which makes 
the difficulty my difficulty. 

But, on the other hand, so alike are the workings of 
the human heart in all, so really one is human nature, 
that the knowledge of oneself will help very largely to 
the knowledge of others, and it is possible so to analyse 
the structure and working of the soul as to be able to 
get some knowledge of the causes and results of those 
inner struggles which are the common lot of mankind. 
The temptations and disposition of one may be very 
different from those of another, yet the causes of 
temptation and of failure or success may be, nay, 
assuredly are, the same in all. 

To this knowledge St. Paul shall be our guide. 
As we study his wonderful analysis of himself and the 
inner conflict which he experiences and describes, we 
feel as if he were reading the veiy secrets of our hearts, 
and more, that we understand ourselves and the tor 
tuous workings of our nature as we never did before. 
And, like all great masters, what he discloses is so 


simple, so natural and so true, that we almost wonder 
we did not guess it ourselves. 

I. In the first place, he describes for us that inner 
struggle that goes on ceaselessly in every human 
heart. Man is not at one with himself. His soul is 
like a household divided against itself ; often it is like 
a kingdom in a state of revolution. This inner con 
flict is not the conflict between the flesh and the spirit 
the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit 
against the flesh. It is far deeper and more intimate, 
it is within the very springs of our being. The inner 
soul is not at one with itself. It has to decide and to 
act often, in some things most often, in the teeth of 
a deadly opposition, and the opposition arises from no 
outside source but from within. If the whole soul, the 
person at one with himself, had to meet opposition or 
temptation from without it would be a comparatively 
easy matter, but he who goes forth to battle does not 
feel sure of his troops, nay, he knows that one-half will 
oppose him, and that in the battle he cannot be sure of 
having his resources at command. While fighting with 
some foe from without, he has at the same time to 
fight a more dangerous foe within, who at any moment 


may hand him over, bound and captive, to the enemy. 
This is that inner conflict which St. Paul describes 
with a master s hand in the seventh chapter of the 
Epistle to the Romans. We all know it, we all ex 
perience it daily, yet we scarcely realise how anomalous 
it is. There is nothing like it so far as we know upon 
earth. Every other living thing is at one with itself, 
though, it may be, at war with all the world. We can 
not imagine that the beast has to wage any inner 
conflict with itself in order that it may live according 
to the laws of its animal life. Whatever may be 
the struggle for life with its environment, every in 
stinct, impulse and passion co-operate for its well-being 
and to lead it to its end ; the dim light that shines 
within is sufficient to enable it to see things only as 
they exist in relation to its narrow and circumscribed 
life; it is disturbed by no misleading appearances 
from without, by no false lights within. The whole 
machinery of its being co-operates to lead it directly 
to its end. The tree spins its wondrous web, shaping 
branch and bud and blossom and fruit with unerring 
certainty and steady purpose. It never pauses, never 
makes a false start, never tries another model. It only 


knows what it needs to perfect its own life. Amidst 
a multitude of other lives different from itself it lives 
content, its perfection results from its perfect unity, all 
its resources are at its command and co-operate for its 

Man alone, amidst all these living things around 
him, lord of them all and using them for his service, 
is not master of himself. He is torn and tortured by 
the inner struggle, the incapacity to rally all the forces 
within him to pursue his end and attain to his own 
perfection. What success can he look for till this is 
secured ? How can he meet some seductive temptation 
with any hope of victory when he knows already that 
his heart desires and is determined to have what his 
reason tells him will be his ruin ? 

2. But again, St. Paul shows us the seat of this 
inner conflict. It lies in the highest region of the soul s 
life. There is discord in the council chamber of the 
soul and the whole kingdom suffers from the lack of 
union amongst its rulers. The revolt or disobedience 
of the humblest servant or the lowest official in its 
service springs from this. Every department feels it 
and suffers from it. The conflict is primarily between 


the moral and intellectual powers. The mind and will 
are not at one. The mind sees and delights in what 
is good and the will chooses what is evil. " I am 
delighted," says St. Paul, " with the law of God ac 
cording to the inward man : but I see another law in 
my members fighting against the law of my mind, 
and captivating me in the law of sin that is in my 
members." The order of nature is overthrown, the 
will refuses to obey the guidance of reason. The 
legislative and executive are in open conflict What 
the mind desires the will refuses to carry out. 

Who does not know this ? Who has not experi 
enced it? The hatred of the sins we commit and 
continue to commit ; the love of the good we desire and 
intend to do, and yet often do not even try to do ; 
the will going its own way in direct disobedience to 
the reason. We admire and wish for self-control, 
and hate ourselves for the impulsiveness to which we 
yield. We love the spirit of unworldliness, and are 
worldly to the heart s core. We hate insincerity, and 
are eloquent in the praise of truth, and are thoroughly 

And this opposition between our ideals and acts 


does not in any way arise from hypocrisy, but from 
the fact that " we cannot do the things that we would ". 
Here in the highest region of the soul s life there is 
discord. All other acts of the will are of secondary 
importance compared with its action in the moral 
sphere, and here it fails ; obeying promptly the reason 
in almost all its other commands it revolts and dis 
obeys in this, and often the light of some good desire 
is still shining in the mind while the will has broken 
away and turned to the evil it hates. 

We are so accustomed to these extraordinary para 
doxes that we do not realise how amazing they are, if 
they happened in any other than the moral sphere we 
could only account for them by madness. And yet no 
one can doubt that the moral life is the highest ; nay, 
we all recognise it as the essential life of man to which 
everything else should be subservient. 

What should we think of a man who constantly 
acted in direct opposition to his political convictions, 
or to his artistic or literary tastes ; or of a skilled and 
cultivated musician who loved the great masters but 
never played any music except of the most debased 
kind ; or of a man of refined tastes who always 


chose his friends from the most vulgar and ignorant ; 
or of one who constantly voted not only against his 
own party but against his own interests ? And what 
should we say to such people if in excuse for their 
inconsistencies they were to answer that they could 
not help it " I cannot do the things that I would " ? 
We could only assume that such a course of action 
was the result of insanity. 

Yet in the moral life such paradoxes are so common, 
such every-day experiences, that we scarcely think of 
them, or if we do, we speak of them as being only the 
inconsistencies which are common to the frailty of 
human nature. And yet they are not common, they 
are in direct opposition to man s invariable rule of 
action in every other department of life. There is 
nothing like it in all his experiences. Who could 
imagine a man constantly acting against his own 
interests, his own desires and his own tastes, hating 
the things that he did and still doing them ; going 
forth with the full intention of pursuing a certain 
course which he had planned out and wished to 
pursue and doing the very opposite ? No, there is but 
one isolated department in man s nature where the 


law of his action is altogether exceptional. Where 
the intellectual and moral faculties refuse to co-operate, 
and the will deliberately, often contemptuously, vio 
lates the commands of the reason. It is as though 
one came across a land where all the rivers flowed 

This then is the cause of the loss of that inner 
unity of which every one of us is so conscious. Man 
is not at one with himself, he is not sure of himself, 
he is not certain that he can and will do what he 
wants to do, he is not master of the manifold resources 
that lie within his own nature, because he is not sure 
of the loyalty of his own will. Nay, in certain things 
he is almost certain of its disloyalty, that it will betray 
his highest interests, and sell his birthright, as the son 
of God, for a mess of pottage. 

But why is this, if in other things the will and 
reason co-operate so well, what is the cause of this 
exception in the highest region of the life of the soul ? 

Now St. Paul traces it to another conflict more 
deeply seated still. In a moment in which he was 
conscious of this revolt within himself he cried out 
in amazement at his own inconsistency, " The good 


which I will I do not, but the evil which I hate that 
do I". He then proceeds to analyse and record his 
own experience. He finds that these extraordinary 
moral inconsistencies arise from the fact that our 
nature is the scene of the constant strife of four forces 
each struggling with the others for its own ascendency 
over the soul. They are not impulses, or what we 
ordinarily mean by passions, which are violent and 
fitful in their action, they are forces acting as forces 
do act under law. 

And these four forces he calls "The Law of the 
members, the Law of the mind, the Law of sin, and 
the Law of the Spirit of Life". 

To these four forces, working with all the persist 
ency and precision of Law, he traces all that passes in 
the soul of good or evil, and to their conflict most of 
the paradoxes. Now one force asserts itself, now 
another, and the will sways and is bent accordingly. 

But if we look more closely we shall find that these 
four Laws work in pairs. One pair working together 
for evil and the other pair for good. " The Law of my 
members brings me into captivity to the Law of sin," 
and the " Law of my mind " delivers me over to the 


" Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus our Lord 
which sets me free from the Law of sin and death ". 
The conflict is not directly between sin and holiness. 
There is a force, a Law, that leads to sin, a tendency 
in the soul not directly sinful but preparing it for sin, 
which, if it be allowed to have its own way will bring 
the soul under the dominion of sin. And there is a 
Law which, if it be allowed to operate, will lead the 
soul, held captive under sin, to its Deliverer, the Law 
of the Spirit of Life which sets it free from the Law 
of sin and death. 

Let us study a little more closely these four Laws 
working for the ruin and for the salvation of man. 
The study will not, I think, be unprofitable in help 
ing us to understand ourselves, our weakness and our 
strength, and in enabling us to see the central point in 
the spiritual conflict where everything depends upon 
the practise of a steady watchfulness and self-dis 

I . The Law of the members. 

According to St. Paul, there is a law working in us 
resulting in acts and desires which are not in them 
selves sinful but which prepare the way for sin. We 


know well enough what is definitely right and what 
is wrong, but there is something else, in itself neither 
right nor wrong, belonging to the debatable land, the 
borderland between right and wrong. The region 
neither of light nor darkness, but of twilight. The 
soul that dwells under the law of this land will cer 
tainly end in passing over into the kingdom of dark 
ness and of sin. The heat of the battle does not, in 
fact, lie in the direct conflict with evil, but with things 
in themselves neither right nor wrong. The man who 
determines that he will not do what is positively wrong, 
but will do everything else that he wishes, will find 
that in the long run he cannot stop short of actual sin. 
There are in Nature a multitude of phenomena ap 
parently having no relation to one another which a 
careful study shows to be all the product of the same 
law the falling of an apple to the ground, the mo 
tion of the stars in their courses through the heavens, 
the weight of the atmosphere. And there are in the 
life of man a number of acts and words, of desires and 
inclinations, which, however independent they may 
seem, can all be brought under one category, the 
working of one steady and changeless Law whose 


object is to bring him under the dominion of sin. 
This St. Paul calls " the Law of the members ". Let 
a man yield himself unresistingly to the control of this 
Law, and he will ere long find himself under the cap 
tivity of the Law of sin. 

We turn away at first in disgust and shrinking from 
sins which later on enslave us. We have not yet been 
sufficiently habituated to other things which relax the 
will and weaken the voice of conscience and lower 
the moral tone and prepare the way for a terrible fall. 
Little acts of self-indulgence, not one of them wrong 
in themselves the delight in the approbation of others, 
the full enjoyment of the gratification of the senses, 
the shrinking from hardships and the difficulties that 
life involves, the whipping up of the fagged and tired 
powers of mind or body to meet some necessary strain 
by resorting to stimulants, the dulling of pain by a 
narcotic, the turning from the uncongenial surround 
ings of domestic life to a friendship that is not in 
itself wrong but is fraught with danger such things 
as these, not one of which in each separate act could 
be said to be wrong, have ended in the shipwreck of 
a soul. They all were the outcome of the constant 


working of that Law of the members which leads men 
captive to the Law of sin. 

It is against this Law that the soul must keep up a 
constant warfare. Sin can only gain a footing when 
this Law is allowed to have full play. The morti 
fied and disciplined life alone will be able to re 
sist the assaults of sin. There is, as St. Paul says, a 
constant and unceasing warfare between this Law of 
the members and the Law of the mind, before the 
Law of sin can exercise its sway over the soul, 

2. The Law of sin. 

For sin, too, works by law. St. John speaks of sin as 
lawlessness : " Sin is the violation of law ". Yet these 
two statements are not contradictory. Sin is the 
violation of the law of the soul s true life, but sin has 
its own terrible law. Just as disease is the violation of 
the law of physical health ; it sets itself to destroy 
those wonderful combinations and harmonies that are 
the result of life ; but disease works by its own law. 
Every physician knows the different stages of the 
progress of the fever, or the growth of the tumour or 
cancer. He knows the law by which they grow. They 
grow by a law which is opposed to the law of the well- 


being of the organism which they have seized upon. 
In relation to that organism, they act in violation of 
law, in relation to their own development, under law. 

And it is the same with sin. Sin is the entrance 
into the moral life of man of that which is in deadly 
opposition to it, but which nevertheless works by its 
own law. The law of sin is death. It is the destruction 
of the moral life. Let sin enter into and take possession 
of the soul, and it dies. The will, though still in full 
possession of its strength for other work, is powerless 
to meet the assaults of sin. The reason that with 
wisdom rules the whole nature in the ordinary affairs 
of life becomes clouded and obscured in moral action. 
The powers of the soul become impregnated with 
disease, they refuse to co-operate for its well-being. 
They pass under the dominion of the morbid action 
of sin. The body once beautiful with the vigour and 
buoyancy of youth, laid low under the ravages of 
disease, robbed of every ornament of beauty, ex 
hausted and overwhelmed with weakness, is but the 
image of the soul dishonoured, discrowned and defiled 
by sin. 

Thus sin once admitted and indulged, lives, grows 


and develops by its own law. Its growth is like that 
of an organism which feeds upon the very life of the 
soul, absorbing its strength. Its life is the soul s death, 
its strength the soul s weakness, its growth the soul s 
decay. We cannot bargain with it and say it shall go 
so far and no farther, we can do but one of two things 
kill it, cut it out as we would some cancerous growth, 
or leave it, and then it will grow according to its own 
law, not in obedience to any control of ours. We 
probably know nothing of that law, of the slowness or 
rapidity of the growth of some one sin which we leave 
to itself till we find how deep its roots have spread, 
how exhausted the soul s life and how hideous and 
abnormal has been its development. Some organisms 
grow slowly, others with astonishing rapidity. And 
it is the same with this parasite sin some sins grow 
slowly and almost imperceptibly ; the growth of such 
sins as selfishness, pride and many others is so gradual 
that the conscience of their victims is not wakened 
or disturbed often till the roots are deeply em 
bedded and the nature well-nigh enslaved. On the 
other hand, there are sins that grow and spread with 
a terrible rapidity, like the leaven which in a few hours 
spreads through and transforms the mass of dough. 


Think of such a sin, for instance, as impatience if 
left unchecked. How quickly it develops into anger, 
bitterness, revenge. How the imagination becomes 
discoloured, giving the words and actions of others an 
utterly false interpretation. How the victim of this 
temptation isolates himself more and more in morose 
and vindictive brooding, how the reason becomes de 
luded by the misleading of the imagination, and the 
once kindly heart is wrung dry of all affection and pos 
sessed by harsh and cruel hate. All the normal rela 
tions of life become strained or broken till the poor 
deluded soul is left isolated in a bitter solitude, its 
hungry nature feeding on a poison that vitiates the 
springs of life. 

He then who yields himself to the Law of the mem 
bers will find himself delivered over to the Law of sin. 
These are the two forces working with all the persist 
ency of law which co-operate for the ruin of the soul. 
Beginning with the easy-going, pleasure-loving enjoy 
ment of all that life has to offer, shrinking only from 
what is painful, and ending in the grim and hopeless 
slavery of sin. Our Lord has drawn the picture. The 
Prodigal going forth to a life of unrestrained pleasure 


with probably little knowledge or thought of anything 
positively evil, and ending with the cry, " How many 
hired servants in my Father s House abound with 
bread, and I here perish with hunger". 

But there are two other forces that work with equal 
persistency and co-operate for the soul s welfare and 
deliverance. " The Law of the mind " and " the Law of 
the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus our Lord " one of 
these is natural, the other supernatural, yet both equally 
work by Law, and they work always together. As 
truly as "the Law of sin" needs the "Law of the 
members" to prepare for it, so does the "Law of the 
Spirit of Life " need the preparation of the " Law of the 
mind". Obedience to the natural law of the mind is 
the preparation by which the soul is brought under 
the Law of the supernatural power of the Spirit of 

3. " The Law of the mind." It is the law of the true 
self. The Law of the members is the Law of the lower 
self, and this is ever warring with the Law of the mind. 
As one or other of these gains the victory, one of the 
other two corresponding forces rushes in and takes 


There is then a Law in constant and unceasing 
action whose object is to lift the soul up to all that is 
best in it, nay, above itself into the supernatural. It is 
no intermittent impulse coming now like a mighty wind 
and again sinking into stillness. No, it is a Law always 
acting and always in the same direction. Amidst the 
din of conflicting motives that clamour for a hearing 
in the council chamber of the soul, one voice is always 
to be heard speaking for its true interests, against the 
sacrifice of the whole to a part, of eternity to time 
one influence always acting for it. It is the Law of 
the true self, the Voice of Conscience. It is not an 
abstract law, nor an external law promulgated like 
the Law of Sinai from without. It is above all things 
personal ; St. Paul calls it the Law of my mind. It 
interprets all external law personally for the indi 
vidual. There are obligations and duties that are 
binding on some and not on others, arising from voca 
tion, position, religious training, spiritual attainments ; 
all these are taken into consideration. It knows and 
gives due weight to the past, understands the capacity 
of the soul, its possibilities and its destiny. It does 
not press upon one the standard of another, but in- 


terprets and applies all external standards to the in 
dividual. It will urge one to enter the priesthood and 
another to enter public life, it will lead one into the 
married state and another into the state of celibacy. 
It is the Law of the perfection of the individual soul. 
Whatever be the complications brought about by past 
sin it can point the way to liberty. 

But, like all law, its strength and its weakness lie in 
the fact that it acts in the minutest details as well as 
in great things. The same law which controls the 
movements of the heavens controls the autumn leaf 
as it falls to the earth. And the Law of the mind is 
ever acting in the smallest details of daily life. With 
its prophetic vision it sees the soul, already perfect, 
entering into the Vision of God ; and that it may 
attain that end, it issues its command in some small 
and insignificant detail of duty ; its eye is always on 
the future, but its commands are in the present As 
when our Lord having foretold the martyrdom of St. 
Peter, turned to him and said " Follow Me " as 
though He would say, If you would be able to die 
the martyr s death begin now by following Me. 

So the Law of the mind works like the sculptor with 


his eye on the model and his hands upon the clay, 
moulding it by touches so light that they are scarcely 
perceptible. We forget this prophetic character of 
conscience, and thinking its commands often are in 
significant, being unfaithful in that which is least, we 
fail in the great result. If we would realise at each 
prompting of conscience " this has more in it than I 
can see, it is the voice of my ideal and perfect self 
leading me on to perfection, this little detail is the 
next step towards perfection," we should be more 
prompt in obedience. 

But shall we say then that to emancipate ourselves 
from sin we need but to follow the leading of con 
science? Surely not; we should find that very soon 
the commands of conscience were beyond our power 
to obey. What we need even more than light to 
know the way, is strength to follow it. Conscience 
with its prophetic voice can lead indeed, but who can 
follow. "To will is present with me, but to accom 
plish that which is good I find not." The soul weak 
ened, diseased and paralysed by sin can follow but a 
little way with faltering steps and gasping breath. 

It needs to be led to One who can heal its wounds 


and endue it with power. Conscience cannot save the 
soul from sin, but it can lead it to its Deliverer. 

4. The Law of the mind brings it to its Liberator. 
And the Liberator of the soul is not a law though it 
works by law. It is a Person. The Law of the Spirit 
of Life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Striving to obey the 
voice of conscience, following it with halting steps, the 
soul finds itself handed over to a living Person who can 
flood its whole nature with quickening influences, and 
the energising hope that a person alone can give. 
This soul half-dead in trespasses and sins finds itself 
at last encircled in the sweet Breath of the Spirit of 
Life, its fagged and jaded nature healed and soothed 
by the Balm of His Presence, so strong and so gentle. 

But even the Spirit of Life works by law. His 
action upon the soul is never lawless and capricious. 
He leads the soul through the Law of the mind. 
Conscience is as it were a valve through which the 
stream of grace flowing forth from the Spirit of God 
floods the soul. If conscience be closed and the Law 
of the mind violated, the stream is stayed, if con 
science be open, the stream rushes forth in a mighty 
torrent, refreshing, invigorating, uplifting all the powers 


of the soul. And then there is a kind of double action 
the conscience itself hears the voice of the Spirit and 
becomes illuminated with supernatural light and sensi 
tiveness, and so opens more promptly and more fre 
quently, till by the ceaseless flow of grace in which every 
faculty becomes steeped, the whole being is supernatur- 
alised. And it cries out in the joy of its deliverance 
and healing, " The Law of the Spirit of Life has set 
me free from the Law of sin and death ". 

But once more. The seat of the conflict lies not 
directly between sin and virtue, but, as the experience 
of all shows, and as St. Paul teaches, between the Law 
of the members and the Law of the mind. " The Law 
of my members fighting against the Law of my 
mind captivates me in the Law of sin." Sin as yet 
perhaps dare not disclose itself. It sends forth its 
champion to exhaust the nature and tamper with 
conscience before it reveals itself. Behind the Law 
of the members stands sin, behind the Law of the 
mind stands the Spirit of Life, while conscience and 
the Law of the members do battle. It is as it was of 
old. The Philistines sent forth their champion and 
the people of God sent theirs, and Goliath and David 


did battle. David with his sling and stones but with 
all the forces of righteousness behind, and Goliath 
with his giant strength and mighty sword and all the 
enemies of God behind him. If Goliath conquered 
Israel must have been defeated, as Goliath fell the 
forces of the Philistines fled before Israel. 

And thus the great moral battle, whether the soul 
is to be ruled by sin or by the Spirit of Life, depends 
upon the victory of the Law of the members or the Law 
of the mind. The trifling acts of self-indulgence or 
self-will against which conscience so vehemently pro 
tests from the first waking in the morning when the 
Law of the members cries, " Rest a little longer," and the 
Law of the mind cries, " Arise, and prepare for the work 
of the day," on through every hour, almost every 
moment of the day the tide of battle ebbs and flows. 
And behind these two combatants whose conflict is over 
things so trifling that they scarce seem to have any 
moral value at all, stand the two mighty powers of life 
and death, of sin and righteousness, awaiting the issue. 

This, therefore, is the seat and centre of self-discipline 
in that twilight land where the finest rays of light so 
blend with the darkness that the presence of the two 
can scarcely be detected. 



THE one supreme result of all the multitudinous acti 
vities that crowd and press upon human life is the 
formation of character. That which gives an intense 
interest to all that is going on around, whether in 
themselves most eventful or most trivial, is the know 
ledge that all these things take their part in the 
shaping of character for eternity. These things are 
temporal, many of them momentary, but their effect 
is eternal. 

Machinery just meant to give thy soul its bent, 
Try thee and turn tbee out sufficiently impressed. 

Just as in some factory we hear the clash and see the 
movement of the machinery, and to the untrained eye 
and ear all seems a bewildering and deafening com 
bination of energy and noise, and then we are shown 
the work done, the result of all this activity the 
woven texture of the tapestry. So it is with life. 
All these forces within man or outside of him that 


seem incapable of any moral interpretation, and de 
signed, if they have any design at all, to force him 
to work the needs of body and of mind, the motives 
that set the machinery of his nature going and tend 
to develop this power or that, the ambitions or passions 
that drive men to live the most strenuous of lives, or 
the lack of motive and will which leaves others to 
drift aimlessly where the currents and tides of other 
lives may lead them, the struggle for food, the lust 
of power, or money, or influence, the vast multitude 
of people and things that claim men s time or interest 
or affection all these things, everything great and 
small, most ephemeral or most lasting, everything that 
compels men to work or dooms them to idleness, 
everything that calls out a moment s interest or lays 
its grasp upon the heart, all these things, whether men 
believe it or not, or ever think of it, have one supreme, 
one eternal result the making of character. 

We visit the scenes of ancient civilisation, once the 
centres of intense activity, now silent and deserted; 
the records of human genius and ambition are all 
around us, yet the interest which they awaken is not 
merely the interest of the antiquarian, there is a deeper 


and more human interest these were the scenes of 
moral conflicts, these streets and palaces, these mighty 
temples and amphitheatres witnessed the struggle of 
conscience with human passion and sin, which we 
know so well, the struggle of the eternal with the 
temporal. The earthly end of those ancient civilisa 
tions was soon fulfilled and they passed away, the 
thousand things that set its wheels spinning and kept 
them going, they have passed away, but the characters 
that were formed by them, whose shaping these silent 
streets and crumbling walls witnessed, remain for ever. 
The things that seemed so important, that stirred the 
city to its depths and filled the streets with eager 
crowds, have passed like a passing storm and left no 
trace but upon the souls who bear them for eternity. 
How little we realise this, the supreme purpose of 
life. As we think of men whose names are known in 
the social, political and literary world, and think of 
what they have done and how they have made their 
names memorable, we forget that the momentous 
question for them is not so much what they have 
done, as what has been the effect of all they have 

done upon their own moral character. 



It is not necessary that a man should realise this to 
make it so. Some realise it keenly, others never give 
it a thought, but it is true for every one whether he 
believes it or denies it. The veriest trifler who plays 
all his life upon the mere surface of things, the 
materialist who denies that there is any future life, 
and who professes that moral distinctions are but the 
outcome of social instincts and hereditary training, are 
as deeply marked by life as the most serious and the 
most religious. No one can escape from it, whatever 
his creed, or, if he has no creed, whatever his philosophy 
of life, or if he has no such philosophy but lives only 
in the passing moment. Whether he ever pauses to 
think of what he is doing or not, the principle is the 
same for all the effect, the one lasting effect of life is 
character. As the noise and movement of the machin 
ery of outward things sinks into silence, and the strain 
and pressure relaxes, each one passes out into the 
silent world beyond, a lonely figure bearing upon 
himself the moral results of all he has passed through 
for eternity. Man has his ends in it all and they may 
be only temporal, God has His end and it is eternal. 

It is a strange thing when we consider it, that of 


most of the great enterprises which men undertake, 
what they would consider the mere accidents are often 
the most important results, and the enterprises them 
selves, their success or failure, are in truth but acci 
dents. How many men realise that by far the most 
important result of the business they are engaged in, 
which taxes all their powers, mental and physical, is 
not whether it succeeds or fails, but whether it makes 
them honest or dishonest, thorough or slipshod, gener 
ous or mean towards the men they deal with in a 
word, the moral effects upon themselves. Many a 
man has purchased success at the price of moral 
failure. Who would believe, if he were told, that the 
most important act in a day s work, in which great 
issues were at stake and all a man s resources were 
taxed to the utmost, was the self-control that was 
exercised, or the answer given to the supreme question 
that was being pressed home during all those hours 
of strain and tension, "Will you surrender principle 
for the sake of success ? " The success or failure of life 
cannot be measured by material results, it must be 
weighed " in the balance of the sanctuary ". Each of 

us is cast into the seething caldron of the world with 



latent possibilities of good and evil, and we come forth 
well-shaped, strong and purposeful, or crushed, mis 
shapen, demoralised. 

We are thus led to look beneath the surface of all 
that is going on around us, and to see all as the 
machinery designed by God for the moulding of 

It is indeed a gigantic and massive machinery. But 
if we consider the vastness and complexity of the 
system He has formed for the development of the 
human body, needing countless ages of preparation and 
comprising not merely the earth but the solar system, 
and for all we know a great deal more, and if we realise 
how much more valuable the moral life is than the 
physical, it will not surprise us. And it will, moreover, 
encourage rather than discourage us. For in times of 
difficulty when we are depressed with the slowness of 
our progress and the smallness of the results achieved, 
it will help us to realise the greatness of the task in 
which we are engaged by considering the greatness of 
the machinery we must employ. The conquest of a 
temptation and the slow development of some virtue, 
the gradual building up of character, may be greater 


things than they seem to us. If it needs so extended 
and intricate a system, such a play of forces, such a 
combination of people and things, to produce results 
that seem so small, it may be that I am mistaken in 
my estimate of their real value. If the world and all 
that is in it exists for man, and if man s work here 
is to overcome evil and to do good, then I am justi 
fied in estimating the value of goodness, which I can 
see but dimly, by comparing it with the magnitude 
and costliness of the machinery needed to produce 

Think of the amount of energy of mind and body 
that is expended in one day in such a city as London, 
and then compare it with the net results as seen by 
the Eye of God, the results that remain and will remain 
for ever a little deepening of the lines of character 
in each person concerned, the threads of habit woven 
a little firmer, the voice of conscience somewhat clearer 
or less distinct, the will sunk a trifle deeper into its 
ruts or lifted a little out of them, and here and there 
some great victory for good or evil. The comparison 
of such results, as the only permanent ones, with all 
that it has taken to produce them, must force us to 


realise how different God s estimate of the true values 
of things is from ours. 

Life, then, is but the machinery by which character 
is formed. But in judging of a man s character we 
judge it as a whole, with all its paradoxes and con 
tradictions it is a Unit. We are led instinctively to 
lay stress upon some things, and to pass over others 
more lightly, to bring together the good and bad, the 
weakness and the strength, and to blend them some 
how into one harmonious whole. One virtue does not 
make a good man or one vice a bad man. The best 
men often have great faults and the worst have their 
virtues. Sometimes we are surprised to find what 
good deeds a bad man will do, though we know that 
somehow they do not change his character. Peter 
denied our Lord though he was a Saint, and Judas, 
with that vice that ruined him, had the qualities that 
would have fitted him to be an Apostle. 

Indeed, there are not a few good men who have 
graver faults than others whom we know to be bad, 
and there are men whom we justly judge to be bad 
who have never, taking deed for deed, done a thing 
in itself so bad as has been done by a man who is 


justly judged to be good. David s sin was in itself 
worse than perhaps any one sin recorded in the life 
of Saul. 

When we say, therefore, that the end of life is the 
formation of character, and character is such a complex 
thing, how shall we judge it ? 

How can we compare men of utterly different 
dispositions? Here is a man of a hot, passionate 
nature, vivid imagination and strong impulses, his 
blood flows like fire through his veins, day by day he 
has to wrestle with temptations that another whose 
temperament is cold and phlegmatic knows nothing 
about. These two men look upon different worlds. 
What is a temptation to one does not awaken a desire 
in the other. What is sin to one, the other can do 
with impunity. Their temptations lie in different 
directions, there seems to be no common standard 
by which we can judge two such men. 

How, again, is it possible to give due weight and 
consideration to all the circumstances of tempera 
ment, education, religious training ? Yet how can we 
judge of character without such consideration ? We 
must judge men by what they do, and we can only 


judge of acts as in themselves right or wrong. A 
dishonest act is always wrong and must be judged 
accordingly. A murder is a murder whether com 
mitted by a Christian in the streets of London or by a 
savage in the South Sea Islands. Yet when we pass 
from the act to judge the person who committed it, at 
once a multitude of considerations have to be taken 
into account which modify and influence our judgment 
at every step. An act in itself is easily judged as good 
or bad, but an act considered in relation to the person 
who did it is a very different thing. For then due 
weight has to be given to every circumstance of char 
acter, disposition, education, religion, and a hundred 
others. The man with inherited evil tendencies and 
brought up under every degrading influence can 
scarcely be compared with a Christian maiden brought 
up in a Catholic home and sheltered from childhood 
from every breath of evil. 

Yet when we say that the one supreme outcome of 
life is the formation of character, such a statement im 
plies that there is some common bar to which all can 
be brought for judgment, some common standard by 
which all may be tested, whatever their temperament 


or training, whether they be savage or civilised, 
Heathen or Christian, Protestant or Catholic. We 
must get down beneath all the accidents of life, to 
some common all-embracing principle which applies 
equally to all, whatever their circumstances or nation 
ality or religion. 

Is there any such standard by which all can be 
judged? There surely is. For the moral result 
which the multitude of influences and forces that 
act upon any human life produces can be seen in their 
effect upon the action of the will in one special 
direction. Does the will strive after what the man 
believes to be right, or does it deliberately and con 
sciously choose what he believes to be wrong? The 
answer that his life gives to these questions will en 
able us to form a very good estimate of his character. 
And this test is universal, it can be applied to all. 
Many of the standards by which we would judge men 
are inadequate, not a few are artificial. Here is one 
as wide reaching as the human race and which goes 
to the very roots of character. By this test all are 
brought to the same bar of judgment. It goes deeper 
than many of those questions by which men are apt 


to blind themselves to the main issue. No man will 
ever be judged by a standard which he did not know. 
" He that knew the Law shall be judged by the Law, 
he that knew not the Law shall be judged without 
Law," nor will any ever be judged because he did not 
reach another s standard, nor, we may be bold enough 
to say, because he did not reach his own standard, 
only because he did not strive to reach it. 

There is a great deal of emotional sentiment wasted 
by a certain class of people in describing the sordid 
and degraded lives of those who have lived from 
childhood in circumstances that shut them out from 
the possibility of better things, and they ask with 
bitterness why should such people be judged and 
punished for doing wrong that they did not know was 
wrong and for not living up to a standard that was 
impossible. The answer, of course, is simple, they 
will be judged only by a standard that they did 
know. Many of those upon whom such sentiment 
is wasted may be in fact better men and women than 
those who are pitying them. For they may be trying 
harder, while more severely handicapped, to live true 
to their own humble standard of rectitude. 


We feel at once that in judging character everything 
else becomes of secondary importance compared with 
this. It is of the utmost importance to know the 
Truth there can be no more potent factor in life but 
it is of little use to a man to know the Truth if he has 
set his will deliberately in opposition to it. We can 
scarcely exaggerate the value of knowing the purpose 
and Will of God. Yet the man who does not yet know 
the Will of God concerning him, but longs and strives to 
know it, is better off than he who knows it and refuses 
to obey it. " He that knew the Will of his Lord and 
did not according to His Will shall be beaten with 
many stripes. But he that knew not, and did things 
worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." 

By this test, therefore, the whole human race can be 
judged ; it goes deeper and reaches further and is more 
fundamental than the differences resulting from edu 
cation, environment, heredity, or even the difference of 
religious belief. Under this test there is brought to 
light a cleavage in the human race that discloses a 
profound moral distinction between those on the one 
side and those on the other. On the one side are those 
who strive to do what they believe to be right, on the 


other those who deliberately choose what they know to 
be wrong. Some may have very crude and imperfect 
ideas of right and wrong, through no fault of their own, 
and their standards consequently will be very differ 
ent, but the Catholic in the full light of God s Truth 
and with a sensitive conscience, and some savage 
fetish worshipper in the heart of Africa with the dim 
glimmer of an undeveloped and ill-educated con 
science, each striving to live true to what he believes, 
come undoubtedly within the same moral category 
both of these men are good according to their 

This then is what we mean, in the broadest sense 
of the word, when we speak of life as the training 
place of character, and apply it to the whole human 
race. It does not lower our estimate of the value of 
religion or of the supernatural gifts of God, far from 
it, but it goes down to the root and foundation of 
character upon which such gifts must act. 

It is a solemn thing to look out upon the world of 
men in their manifold spheres of life, and to know 
that whatever they may be engaged in, in business 
or pleasure, in labour or in rest, sometimes silently 


and almost unconsciously, sometimes with effort and 
with tears, the will is gradually but surely turning in 
one or other of these two directions, and with an ever- 
increasing ease of choice and rapidity of motion, and 
that the whole character revolves with it. 

But to constitute a moral act the will must be free. 
No one can be held responsible for doing what he 
could not help doing. There is no character in a 
piece of machinery. An act is a moral act in so far 
as the will is free to choose one of two courses which 
lie open before it. And yet it is undeniable that 
while there lies deeply rooted in every one of us the 
ineradicable sense of freedom, there are at the same 
time many occasions in which this sense of liberty 
seems to fail us in the moment of some great temp 
tation. We have it before and we have it after, but 
in the crisis of decision we often lose it. 

I think most people have felt this. Looking for 
ward to the temptation they anticipate, they know 
that they can resist, at any rate that they can avoid 
it, and looking back after the sin has been com 
mitted they are filled with shame and remorse and 
self-condemnation, but at the moment it seemed as if 


all the succours of their nature fell back and they 
were swept away in the strong currents of blinding 

And this is undoubtedly true. Who would be so 
rash as to assert that at any moment every man is 
free to choose as he wills ? That the action of the will 
is unhampered by the past ? That however often a 
man has yielded to a sin, at any moment the will is 
absolutely free from the power of that sin ? Which of 
us who has even the most superficial knowledge of 
himself would make such an assertion ? No, such a 
doctrine could only lead to recklessness or despair. 
Every choice that is made develops a tendency to 
choose in the same direction. The oftener we choose 
anything the easier it is to choose it again. The law of 
habit reigns in the moral order as truly as the law of 
gravitation in the physical. The most difficult things 
become easy in time. It would be as difficult for a 
saint after long habits of virtue suddenly to fall into 
mortal sin, as it would for a man living for years in 
habits of vice suddenly to become a saint. The law 
of habit presses upon the will, driving it into the 
channel which it has cut for itself, and making it more 


and more difficult to divert its course. The sense of 
power that we have when, in some hour of calmness, 
we feel that we need not yield, is the assertion of the 
inherent liberty of the will ; the remorse and self-con 
demnation if we yield, is the revolt of the will against 
its slavery ; the rising tide of passion or inclination that 
hurries it on in the moment of temptation, is the pres 
sure of the Law of habit. 

It would indeed be worse than misleading to tell a 
man who has long yielded to habits of sin that at any 
given moment he could assert his liberty and never 
yield again. We can give him a better, a more in 
spiring hope. We can tell him that he must fight for 
his liberty, that as by his own act he handed over this 
royal captive to the slavery of degrading and unworthy 
masters, he can fight and conquer its captors and set 
it free. That habit can only be conquered by habit. 
That he must form good habits to conquer bad, habits 
of resistance to overcome cowardly habits of surrender. 
That he is born free, not a slave, that this sense of his 
inherent liberty he never can lose ; he can claim it and 
use it, or leave it to haunt him in his captivity to his 
eternal shame .and despair. We can tell him that it is 


not by violent and spasmodic efforts at self-assertion 
that he will overcome, but by steady and unremit 
ting efforts at perseverance. The Law of habit can 
only be conquered by the Law of perseverance. The 
will is under one law, it can only be freed by being 
brought under another law acting as steadily and per 
sistently. " The Law of the Spirit of Life, alone, can 
deliver me from the Law of sin and death." The 
bonds that bind the soul cannot be undone by any 
amount of random efforts to tear them off, however 
violent, or by any expenditure of muscular energy. 
They must be loosened knot by knot ; the mad attempts 
to burst them only draw them tighter and leave the 
poor captive exhausted and despairing. The work of 
years cannot be undone in hours. 

The prodigal who wakens to find himself a swine 
herd in a distant land cannot get back to his father s 
home, however much he longs for it, save by treading 
step by step the road which he journeyed in leaving 
it. If he would hear his father s welcome and sit down 
once more at his father s board, the distance that separ 
ates them must be traversed every sorefoot mile The 
hatred of his present degradation, the sense of the 


madness of his folly in leaving, the fierce revolt against 
his misery and against the citizen of that far-off country 
to whom he sold himself, are of no use unless they 
brace him up to the great resolve : " I will arise and go 
to my father". 

It is the failure to realise this that leads so many to 
despair. The deep-rooted consciousness of freedom in 
theory and its apparent failure in practice. The idea 
that one can at any moment assert one s liberty in the 
face of long-rooted habits ; that the sense of freedom 
needs only to be asserted to realise it in fact. It is not 
indeed a delusion that sense of freedom, it is the great 
reality, but he who has sold himself into slavery must 
purchase his freedom at the full price he received for 
his degradation. There are few, if any, of those who 
have fallen victims to some degrading habit of sin who 
have not made efforts at some time to free themselves. 
They knew, like Samson of old, their own inherent 
power, but they did not know the strength of habit 
and the power of sin. From time to time they would 
shake themselves free of their bonds and prove to 
themselves that, as they thought, they could at any 

moment assert their liberty, but they did not realise 



that their strength was gradually going from them and 
that the bonds with which they were being bound 
were stronger, and they awake at last at the voice of 
the enchantress to find their strength exhausted and 
their freedom forfeited. 

The sensualist has his moments of reaction ; he longs 
for purity, he knows he can be pure. In times of sur 
feit, when the strength of the passion is for the moment 
exhausted or satisfied, his better self comes forth and 
asserts itself. He is filled with a hatred of his sin, and 
makes violent efforts to free himself, and the old habits 
fall back and wait they know that they can afford to 
wait, the efforts are too violent to last ; and when he is 
exhausted and the nervous reaction sets in these old 
habits quietly come back and bind their chains more 
firmly, and the dark despair of slavery settles down 
on him once more. 

The Law does not fear the violent outbreak of an 
angry mob. It is stronger, however numerous the mob 
and violent its attack. What it does fear, and rightly 
fears, is organised revolt. Law against law, organisa 
tion against organisation. And similarly no moment 
ary struggle, however determined, can overcome the 


firm grip of habit. It is only the steady, persevering 
discipline of the will in its captivity that can ever win 
for it its native liberty. No barrier however strong 
will stop the river flowing, you must divert its course 
into another channel. An idle man will not overcome 
his sloth by an occasional day of fussy activity, nor a 
miser his meanness by random acts of generosity, no 
more than a belated summer s day in November will 
stop the approach of winter. And this persistency of 
habit which resists the random assaults to overcome it 
and leads so many to despair, is indeed the greatest 
source of consolation. It is the great source of the 
stability of character If it is difficult to overcome bad 
habits, it is difficult to overcome good. The fact that 
some sin persists in spite of all efforts to conquer it 
must encourage us to feel that it would be at least as 
difficult for temptation to assault or undermine in a 
moment a habit of virtue. If evil habits could be 
overcome by a few vehement assaults, so could good. 
There would be little hope of advance or stability. 
There would be no sense of security ; the work of years 
might be destroyed in a moment. But we know, alas ! 

too well how the habits of the past cling to us, what a 



power of resistance they display. Well, this very diffi 
culty to overcome the evil must give us a sense of 
security ; a habit which will do such good service and 
become the very basis of character is worth striving to 

And no doubt good men have their moments of 
failure, moments, it may be, when under the force of 
violent temptation they sin. And though they must 
grieve over such failures, and grieve as only good men 
can grieve, yet surely they need not lose heart ; the 
habits of a lifetime will not be destroyed by one failure. 
If they repent, those long- formed habits will reassert 
themselves. When a summer storm has passed and 
left behind it ruin and disorder, at once every con 
structive power of Nature sets to work to mend and 
heal and remedy the work of destruction. And one 
storm of sin will not necessarily destroy all those 
positive habits of the soul which have been so care 
fully formed and developed in the past. Sin is in 
deed always bad, but we must not underestimate 
the power of good because we realise the power of 

Thus, as habits are formed, the character becomes 


established for good or evil upon lines which are not 
easily shaken. And the habit of choosing or trying 
to choose what is right builds the character upon the 
firm and stable line of moral rectitude, and one who 
so acts certainly is a good man. 

Everything therefore in which the will is called into 
action affects it in some way for good or for evil, and 
forms the material for self- discipline, fitting or unfitting 
it for its great work in the choice of right and wrong. 
The hundred things in which day by day we are 
obliged to come to a decision and make a choice, 
things in themselves of little importance, these are 
the training-ground of the will. In work, in study, 
in recreation, in the use of all those things which are 
necessary for our daily life such as food and sleep, in 
the intercourse with others, in the daily calls of duty, 
in the exercise of the powers of mind and body, in 
everything we have to do, in our relations with every 
person with whom we have dealings, by the Provi 
dence of God the will has to be exercised and trained, 
and it becomes weak or strong, free or enslaved, firm 
or vacillating, as the result. Each of these occasions 
may be small in themselves and the decisions perhaps 


of little importance, but their frequency enhances their 
value and determines the result in graver matters. 

We come forth from the daily round of work and 
pleasure to take part in the great moral conflicts which 
at once test and form us. But we shall find that the 
will has already its own marked characteristics which 
were developed in spheres of choice that apparently 
had little or nothing moral about them. He who 
habitually struggles with everything however harm 
less in itself that tends to get too much hold upon 
him, checking and mortifying his appetite, denying 
himself in things he likes, foregoing the use of that 
which he might legitimately have, that he may not 
allow these things to encroach beyond their proper 
place, who trains his will to use the material things 
which he needs only as means to an end, never allow 
ing them to become an end in themselves, he is not 
likely to fail under the temptation to unlawful pleasure. 
The victory or defeat in some sudden and violent 
assault of passion may depend upon whether one has 
practised self-discipline in such small matters as food 
or sleep or little acts of self-indulgence. 

Life will thus become in all its multitudinous oppor- 


tunities a great school of moral discipline, preparing 
and training the will to be strong and firm, and free to 
refuse evil and to choose good. 

It is not, we must ever remember, upon the conduct 
of the soul in the moment of temptation that victory 
or defeat depends. It is upon its conduct in the lesser 
events of life. It is upon the constant struggle to keep 
the will from becoming enslaved to the mere tastes 
and inclinations. 

The result of a great battle does not depend upon 
the moment s struggle, but upon the discipline and 
training of the troops in the past. Before a blow is 
struck or the first shot fired the issue of the conflict 
is practically decided. 

The conflict, therefore, must be unceasing ; the op 
portunities of training the will present themselves 
every hour. Man ia to be the master of all his 
powers and all his inclinations, and of all those ex 
ternal things that God has placed in the world around 
him ; he is to be the slave of none. He must wrestle 
with everything that tends to gain too much hold upon 
him till he has taught it its proper place, and then in 
the hour of temptation he will find that his will does 


not fail him. It is his attitude and bearing towards 
the small things that will decide the issue in those 
great moral conflicts upon which the welfare or ruin 
of his soul depends. " He who is faithful in that 
which is least is faithful in much, he who despiseth 
little things will fall by little and little." 

And it is good to remember that if the will has been 
conquered and enslaved by sin, in the effort to re 
cover and regain its freedom it does not stand alone. 
There is One with it to guide and to strengthen it. It 
is alone in its downward course. It has Another to 
help it to rise. One who will teach it the way, illumin 
ating the mind with supernatural light, and endow 
ing the will with Divine strength. It could not rise in 
its own strength ; habits hold it in their iron grasp ; it is 
in truth fast bound in misery and iron. Its own utter 
helplessness is its hope. Out of the depths of its de 
spair it must look up to the Highest. In its utter ruin 
it must look to Him who created it. He who made it 
alone can lift it up and restore it. 

And yet it is no easy task. Its salvation does 
not mean any change of circumstance any out 
ward change at all ; the removal of any outward 


difficulty. It must be restored, healed, strengthened, 
illuminated within. This poor, broken and distorted 
thing must be mended and made fit to do the work 
of God, to overcome evil and to do good. We often 
expect our prayers to be answered by the removal 
of obstacles that stand in our way. But no, that 
would not strengthen or restore us ; our prayers are 
answered by enabling us to overcome the difficulty ; 
they are answered within. We do not expect merely 
that God will pity us and pardon us and admit us to 
heaven, but rather that here on earth God will mend 
and heal us and enable us to do His work. The 
sinner must not only be pardoned but restored before 
he can enjoy the vision of God. And in every step of 
this restoration there must be the act of the soul and 
the act of God, the will striving and God helping. 
" Apart from me," said our Lord, " ye can do nothing," 
yet without our co-operation God can do nothing. 
The rusty wheels of our disused nature must be 
moved, and as they move the unction of God s grace 
must flow over them. At first the motion is heavy 
grinding, clumsy and agonising, but as the sacred oil 
of Divine grace flows over them the movement becomes 


freer. It is in action alone that the restoration can 
take place, and the will weighed down by the burden 
of the past gradually and by slow degrees regains its 
strength and elasticity. At first the task seems hope 
less, the rust of long disuse impedes its every move 
ment and the law of habit holds it in its ruts ; but as it 
struggles, crushed by its own weight, the dim light of 
faith grows stronger and gives birth to a joyful hope 
that stirs it to more persistent effort, and the sense of 
the Divine Helper becomes clearer, surer, more abid 
ing. It finds that in every effort of the will there flows 
into it and over it a healing power that enables it to do 
what was once impossible, and through every channel 
of the soul the voice of the awakening waters is heard 
after the long night of winter, and everywhere the 
tokens of returning life are felt, and it knows within 
itself that he who was dead is alive again, he who was 
lost is found. 



ONE of the most remarkable characteristics of all 
forms of organic life is the power of adapting itself to 
the circumstances in which it is placed. It will en 
deavour under the most altered conditions to live, and 
in order to live it will resort to all kinds of contrivances, 
sometimes effecting such changes in its outward ap 
pearance that none but a trained eye could detect its 
identity. And yet with all these adaptations it will 
preserve its identity. 

Man possesses this power in perhaps a higher degree 
than any other form of life. He can find his home in 
any country, in any climate, under an almost infinite 
variety of conditions. He can live and adapt himself 
to circumstances involving the most violent contrasts, 
and soon settle down and find the means of making 
himself at home. The change of the temperature by 
a few degrees of greater heat or cold will kill many of 
the lower forms of life. But man can pass from the 

sunny plains of the South to the ice-fields of the North 



and is soon at home in his new abode. He who has 
been brought up in riches and luxury can adapt him 
self to poverty, and one who has never known a day s 
illness, when health is lost, in a few months settles down 
to the life of an invalid. And with all these external 
changes there are corresponding changes in the person 
himself, no doubt, both inward and outward, but they 
do not affect his identity. The young man goes forth 
to the battle of life brave and strong and comes back 
aged, worn and disappointed, bearing the scars of 
many a conflict and many a defeat, with powers of 
mind and body decayed, yet through all these changes 
the man is the same. 

And this power of adaptability is at once the hope 
and the despair of all who seek to do men good. It is 
the hope, because they know, however low a man may 
have sunk, if he will but struggle to rise he can find 
his home and his happiness in better things. It is the 
despair, because they know, however high a man may 
have risen, he is capable, if he falls, of making himself 
at home in his degradation and his sin. There are on 
all sides men who have risen and are happy in a life 
that once seemed impossible, and men who have sunk 


from all that was noblest to a life of shame, and still 
in their way are happy. 

But man has other needs and another life beside 
that of his physical nature. He is something more 
than an animal and needs more than food and shelter. 
He may have every comfort and luxury that life can 
supply and be miserable, or he may be living in want 
and suffering and solitude and be happy. We can 
never judge of a person merely by his physical sur 
roundings. A healthy body and a plentiful supply 
of the good things of this world are no necessary 
indications of a happy life. 

For the life of man is above all things a mental life. 
He can never rid himself of the companions of his 
mind. He is not the mere creature of his outward 
circumstances. There are other surroundings that are 
far more intimate and closer to him, than any external 
things, however nearly they may touch upon him. 
These things can but touch the surface of his being, 
his thoughts enter into the sanctuary of his soul. 
Lazarus in his outward wretchedness and squalor was in 
better company than Dives in his purple and fine linen. 
The beast is wholly dependent upon what he finds 


around him. Man can live a life practically independ 
ent of most of these things. In the utmost solitude he 
can gather around him a company of his closest and 
most intimate friends, and in the crowded thorough 
fares of life he can be alone with them. You may 
tell a man by his friends, but there are no friends so 
intimate as his thoughts. If you know the companions 
of his mind you will know what kind of man he is. 

It is not the sufferings or the consolations of life 
that directly affect character, but it is the thoughts 
which men call around them at such times. No ex 
ternal thing can in itself affect the inner life of the 
soul. Men are material, the soul is spiritual. We 
often attribute to such things some moral character 
istic, but in themselves they are neither good nor 
bad. The same things do harm to one person and 
good to another suffering has been a curse to some 
and a blessing to others ; poverty has closed the door 
of heaven to some, to others it has been the source 
of beatitude. The value of these things can only be 
understood by the thoughts which they are the oc 
casion of the soul calling around it. Some trouble 
comes into a person s life, and instantly there gathers 


around him, through the door opened by that trouble, 
a crowd of thoughts, anger, rebellion, bitterness, dis 
content, and at the same time thoughts of penitence, 
acceptance, the example of our Lord. The outward 
trouble has thrown open an unseen door into the 
spiritual world, and in flow this mixed crowd of 
thoughts, swarming around the soul and clamouring 
for a hearing, and it must choose amongst them all 
which it will listen to and which it will reject, and 
by that choice it rises or falls. One person chooses 
thoughts that heal, encourage and strengthen him, 
another those that stir him to bitterness and revolt. 
The morality lies not in the thing but in the per 

The contrast between the outward occasion and 
the inward choice is often startling those things to 
which we are wont to attribute beneficent results 
producing not uncommonly the very reverse, and the 
things which we consider evils sometimes being the 
source of great moral blessings ; or again, the same 
things producing evil in one man and good in another. 
Two people fall under the same calamity it destroys 
the faith of one, it is the turning-point in the life of 



the other, and the occasion that first leads him to look 
to God. We can never foretell the moral effect which 
any combination of circumstances or events will pro 
duce upon any one, not even on those whom we think 
we know best ; men go down under circumstances in 
which our knowledge of them would have led us to pre 
dict with confidence that they would rise, and rise when 
we expect them to fall. Nay, we cannot anticipate 
their effect upon ourselves. We have occasionally 
been amazed to find that something to which we 
looked forward with confidence as a blessing has in 
the event proved very much the reverse. Such in 
stances show that these external things are in them 
selves unmoral, neither good nor bad, and if we look 
within ourselves at any such crisis we shall see very 
clearly that the moral effect is to be traced to the 
thoughts which they suggest and are the occasion of 
our choosing. 

Could we look through the outward happenings in 
the world of sense to the results in the spiritual world in 
which the soul lives, our eyes would see strange sights. 
Some event, it may be of little moment, a word, a 
look, a suggestion, the presence of some person, and the 


magic result. It seems to open an unseen door through 
which the strangest rabble crowd in and press around 
the soul, and a very babel of voices urge, entreat and 
argue, quarrelling and pushing forward for a hearing. 
And what a crowd ! Some drawn from the lowest 
slums of the spiritual world, vulgar, low-born, degraded, 
suggesting everything that is base and unworthy ; 
others with clear, calm voices that pierce through the 
tumult, pressing some specious fallacy in well-clothed 
argument ; others pressing forward, claiming a hearing 
as they have so often been heard before ; and others 
again of noble form and gentle mien, waiting for a 
look, a word of recognition that they may drive this 
noisy crowd away and speak words of inspiration and 
courage. And the soul must choose, and what it 
chooses it will probably choose again and again, till 
that chosen thought gains the right of entrance, and 
closes the door to all others, and becomes the constant 
companion of the soul, and in every event great and 
small it enters and takes its place, instructing its pupil 
as to its meaning, interpreting it, explaining it, its 
hidden purpose, its power for good or evil, or misrepre 
senting it and making the good seem evil and the evil 

10 * 


good, and gradually becoming master of its whole life, 
the moulder of its character. 

Indeed, it is true. These secret and unseen com 
panions of the soul, intangible and volatile as they 
are, affect our whole view of men and things around 
us. The hard, substantial facts of life are interpreted 
by them, they become plastic in their hands, and 
change their appearance and colouring at their bid 
ding. These phantom forms that rise out of the 
darkness and return to it again, colourless, impal 
pable, ethereal, that speak in inarticulate whispers 
and touch us with ghostly hands, they are more real 
to us than the solid earth and the strong mountains. 
They can veil the heavens for us and take the 
brightness out of the sunshine and deepen the 
shadows at noonday or make the darkest day seem 
bright. For they come from the same land whence 
the soul comes, they are of closer kinship than any 
material thing can be; and it is the mind that sees, 
not the eye, it is in the light that burns within that 
all outward things are seen. Amidst the pleasant 
laughter and genial companionship of friends some 
thought silently enters, holds up its lantern and casts 


its pale light around, and seen in that light all is 
suddenly turned to ashes, the voices lose their ring 
and the laughter becomes hollow arid cheerless; one 
thought in an instant has changed the whole scene 
from life to death. 

It is thus in the thoughts which men choose as 
their companions on their way through the world 
that the key to their interpretation of life is to 
be found Different men view the same things in 
different ways. And the same men in the course 
of a few years alter their whole view of life. They 
have simply changed their companions on the road. 
Indeed the breaking with one set of people and the 
forming ties of friendship with others of a different 
type is often but the outward evidence and result of 
a hidden and inward change of the more intimate 
friendships of the mind. How can one who has learnt 
to take delight in thoughts that are low and degrading 
care any longer to associate with the high-minded? 
And who that has fought and conquered the evil de 
sires that once enslaved him will care longer to associ 
ate with the boon companions of his past degradation ? 

It is then in the light of our thoughts that we see 


and interpret the people and things around us. By 
a change of thoughts we change our view of life. It 
often seems to change the very people with whom 
we have to do. A feeling of resentment has some 
times the effect of apparently changing the expres 
sion of another s face. And the same people look 
very different to the cynic and to the man of gentle 
and kindly feeling. It is undoubtedly true that the 
lines and shadows on the faces of those about us 
deepen or grow lighter under the changing thoughts 
within our own minds ; we are astonished again and 
again to find how a person s face grows more at 
tractive, becomes sometimes wholly transfoimed as 
acquaintance kindles into friendship and friendship 
into affection. Even the tones of the voice, even 
the meanings of the words that are spoken, have a 
different sound and receive a different interpretation 
from the changing moods of the person who hears 
them. It sometimes seems impossible that some 
simple kindly meant words should be misunderstood, 
but to the ears of one person the voice sounds in 
sincere and the words receive the colouring and 
interpretation that comes from a mind filled with 


bitterness and antagonism. Surely there are not a 
few who look back upon misunderstandings, broken 
friendships, and some of the greatest mistakes in 
life, mistakes that it is now toe late to rectify, and 
see clearly that the cause of them had no objective 
existence ; it sprang wholly from their own subjective 
attitude of mind which led to a false interpretation 
of words that were spoken and things that were 
done. Others who heard and saw and knew things 
as they were, sought in vain to explain, but it is the 
mind that sees, and the mind in its bitterness was 
out of tune with the world. 

And so, again, a bad man sees evil everywhere and 
a good man sees the world radiant with goodness. 
" To the pure all things are pure, and to the impure 
nothing is pure, but even their own conscience and 
heart is defiled," and because of the defilement of 
the heart everything looks defiled. Two men go 
through the same streets, see the same scenes and 
people, yet the impression left upon the mind of 
each is different. The impression is the result of what 
their minds looked for. 

But what wonder that our thoughts affect our judg- 


ment of men and things outside when they affect 
our judgments of ourselves. Many of us appear to 
ourselves to be wholly different people from what 
we really are. A few words overheard in childhood 
have been to some the beginning of a romance which 
they wove about themselves and which coloured their 
whole conception of themselves through all the years 
that followed, and even some very rude awakings to 
the reality have only caused a few hours of pain, till 
they could readjust themselves to the shock, and fall 
back into their wonted thoughts. A parent s mis 
conception of his child has often settled down upon 
him as a dark cloud that prevented him from ever 
knowing himself as he was in truth. And again, the 
constant companionship of some morbid self-conscious 
thought has hindered the usefulness and stunted the 
growth of many a life once full of promise. And 
many a man who has always regarded himself in the 
cold chilling light of self-depreciation and timidity 
has wrapped his talent in a napkin and done nothing 
for the world or for himself. 

But if adaptibility is the condition of life, and we 
can adapt ourselves with such extraordinary versatility 


to the changing conditions of our physical surround 
ings, we can do so to an infinitely greater degree to 
our mental and spiritual. There is a limit to the 
power of endurance of heat or cold, yet men can 
adapt themselves to the constant presence of thoughts 
that chill every hope and ambition and blight every 
noble desire. The same man may rise up to the 
contemplation of God and live in the Communion of 
Saints, and find his joy only in those things that are 
pure and holy and of good report, and within a few 
years he may turn from all this and choose for his 
companions the spirit of evil and delight himself in 
all uncleanness. He may do this and preserve his 
identity, adapting himself to the companions of his 
choice. In two short years at most Judas Iscariot 
had run through all the scale of spiritual experience 
from the highest to the lowest. In but a few years 
the narrow Pharisee with his exclusive views of Jewish 
privilege and his scorn for the Gentile world, breaks 
away from the traditions and training of his youth 
and cries, " In Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor 
Gentile, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free," hence 
forth he rejoices to see the God of the Jews as the 


God of the whole world, and the Messias not as a 
deliverer of one small people only but as the Saviour 
of the human race. 

Yes, we have always to remember for good or for 
evil this almost unlimited power of the human mind 
to adapt itself with comparative ease to the presence 
of thoughts once unknown or hated. The constant 
presence of an uncongenial companion, the hostility 
of one whose path we have crossed, the feeling that 
one has a grievance, such things are often the oc 
casion of thoughts that with terrible rapidity take 
possession of the mind and leave the impress of 
their presence upon the character. 

There are many who have fallen from a childhood 
and early youth of spotless purity into a life of sin. 
There are men of business who have never diverged 
from the path of honesty till after middle life. There 
are men who knew nothing of the vice of intemperance 
till long after their characters and habits were formed 
and their position seemed well secured. To such 
persons the memory must still be clear of the first 
approach of the temptation that was later to take 
so firm a hold upon them, of the recoil of the mind 


from it, with terror and repulsion, and yet with a kind 
of horrible fascination. How it came again and again 
and stood at the door of the soul waiting its admission 
with a kind of insolent assurance that if it waited long 
enough it would have its way. How by degrees the 
mind was seized with a kind of tremulous excitement 
at its approach and bid it begone in tones of less 
confidence. And how it gradually became habituated 
to its presence outside the soul, feeling its influence 
though never yet allowed deliberately to cross the 
threshold. And then how it seemed to gain a certain 
strange influence over the various faculties, exciting an 
unaccountable curiosity and forcing them as it were 
to look at it if only that they might realise how hate 
ful it was. And then how at last it pushed open the 
door in a moment when conscience was off its guard 
and entered, and in an instant demoralised the whole 
household of the soul, loosened the passions, won over 
the imagination and hypnotised the will, and though 
it was driven out and the doors barred against it, in 
that moment of its entry it had made allies for itself, 
and now the passions and again the imagination would 
loosen the bolts and the will itself would open the door 


for it, and so it entered without let or hindrance, with 
an ever-weakening protest from conscience, till at last 
it gained possession, presided in the council chamber 
of the soul, cowed and silenced reason and took the 
reins of government into its own hands. 

Thus does the mind gradually become habituated 
and finally controlled by thoughts that once were alien 
to its whole training and habit. 

We have indeed the power of refusing admission to 
them. In this matter we are certainly free to choose 
our friends. We are not responsible for the presence 
of a thought that we instantly repel. In the pressure 
of the crowd that is constantly coming and going no 
doubt some thought occasionally passes the guard of 
conscience in disguise, and such can but be expelled 
the moment it reveals itself. 

But as time goes on the power of choice becomes 
less free. The stream narrows and the currents be 
come stronger. It is just as with human friendships, 
with advancing years men make fewer friends, but 
cling all the closer to those they have. They become 
a part of their life, and the rights of friendship are 


In early youth the manifold interests of life, the 
versatility of the mind, the morning freshness that rests 
upon the world, make life very complex its currents 
flow forth in many directions. But as time goes on 
it becomes more simple, the passions, the desires, 
the friends, the interests, become fewer, but all the 
more concentrated and intense. The many streams 
of youth flowing in deepen the channel and increase 
the volume of the river, and it is hard to change its 

So it is with the mind : its choices have been made 
long ago, the claims of the thoughts that have been 
its companions for years are exacting and they will 
not easily yield to a dismissal. They know the ways 
of the house of the soul, they claim the right of old 
friends to come and go as they will, and if they are 
barred out they will force an entry. A thought that 
once could have been expelled easily and with scorn, 
dominates the soul now with insolent contempt and 
lords it over its cringing and frightened master. The 
elasticity and buoyancy of youth are over, the mind 
has no longer the rebound that once it had, nor the 
power of casting off its old associates. " When thou 


wast younger thou didst gird thyself and didst walk 
where thou wouldest, but when thou shalt be old thou 
shalt stretch forth thy hands and another shall gird 
thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldest not" the 
silken threads of thought and act have woven them 
selves into strong ropes of habit which bind and shape 
the character. 

Sow an act, reap a habit. 
Sow a habit, reap a character. 
Sow a character, reap a destiny. 

The character, therefore, will depend upon the 
thoughts. I am what I think. I am what I think 
even more than what I do, for it is the thought that 
interprets the action. An act in itself good may be 
come even bad by the thought that inspired it. A 
cup of cold water given in the name of Christ will be 
blessed, while " if I should distribute all my goods to 
feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be 
burned, and have not charity, I am nothing". A 
kindly person is one whose thoughts are kindly, a 
bitter person one whose thoughts are bitter. A man 
who fights against the first approach of every evil 
thought is not likely to yield to sin in the hour of 


temptation, but one who has allowed his mind to be 
come habituated to such thoughts will find in the hour 
of assault that the citadel of his soul is betrayed. If 
Eve had not looked at the fruit of the forbidden tree, 
thought about it, and desired it, she would not have 
yielded. There is always an inner struggle and an 
inner yielding long before there is the outer, a yield 
ing of the soul in thought before there is a yielding 
of the body in act. The startling moral collapse of 
some one well known and highly esteemed, which so 
often sends a shock of horror and amazement through 
the community, is only the last act in a long, silent 
and unseen drama. The evil deed that showed the 
world it had mistaken its man, really did but disclose 
the secret of his character ; he did not become bad by 
doing the deed, he did the deed because he was already 

It is behind the veil in the silent world of thought 
that life s greatest battles have to be fought and lost or 
won, with no human eye to witness, no voice to cheer 
or encourage. There the strong citadel of the soul 
stands, a solitary outpost on the confines of the king 
dom of God, and bears the brunt of ceaseless assaults 


and there the costly edifice of some seemingly com 
pact and well-built character falls tottering to its 

Clothed in these shadowy and illusive forms the 
mighty forces of right and wrong do battle around the 
will ; while the fair world smiles in the joyous sun 
shine and the merry voices of children are heard in the 

What a contrast there often is between the outward 
calm and the inner storm. The quiet life spent in 
the narrow routine of domestic duties, which seems so 
sheltered, so peaceful, so ignorant of evil who knows ? 
Inwardly it may be the prey to wild thoughts of revolt 
and ambition, hungering for the excitement of the 
great world that has only been seen in feverish dreams ; 
or daily doing battle with naked passions that lift it 
to the heavens and cast it down to hell. For no out 
ward barriers can limit the soul or bar the door to the 
thoughts that seek to enter. 

It is not where a person is that matters, but what 
he is thinking about. The whole edifice of the spiritual 
life may be tottering to its ruin and the enemy rush 
ing in like a flood while the subject of this terrible 


disaster is on his knees and uttering the sacred words 
of prayer. 

It is within, therefore, that the great battle of life 
must be fought ; it is within, with our own thoughts, 
that we must struggle if we would see the world of 
men and things as it really is. 

Our character, therefore, will largely depend upon 
the practice of that inner discipline by which we shall 
be enabled to gain control over our thoughts. Till we 
have done something in this direction we must always 
have the feeling of insecurity ; we cannot feel sure of 
ourselves ; for we do not know whither our thoughts 
may lead us, or what they may induce us to do. The 
external restraint that we put upon ourselves may give 
way any moment from the pressure from within. A 
storm of bitter thoughts will find vent in words perhaps 
when we least desire it, or long-indulged thoughts of 
sensuality may in one unguarded moment lead to an 
act that causes exposure and ruin. 

We must strive, therefore, to gain control over our 
thoughts, guarding the approaches of the mind, that 
amidst the crowd that is constantly coming and going 

none may escape our vigilance, and, above all, that 



none may be permitted to assert an independent 

And yet such a task, reasonable and natural as it 
seems, is not easy. For quite independent of the 
inherent difficulty of exercising this constant vigilance, 
and of the fact that when we begin to take the work 
seriously in hand, already the mind has formed its 
habits, and we find that many a thought enters un 
bidden and refuses to go when ordered, or if it goes 
returns almost before we are aware, and that some 
have enslaved the imagination and others the reason 
and others the heart, and that these faculties revolt 
against the commands we put upon them and push 
aside the guards we set up and open the door to 
them themselves. Besides all this, there is another 
difficulty, still greater and fraught with more serious 
danger. There is the danger that arises from the 
exceeding delicacy and sensitiveness of the mind 
itself. It will not bear any unwonted strain. And 
any undue introspection induces a morbid condition 
which not unfrequently has more disastrous results 
than the lack of discipline itself. It has sometimes 
happened that an earnest effort to gain control over 


a mind long unused to discipline, suddenly exercised 
without due caution and discretion, not only defeats 
its own purpose, but brings on a mental paralysis 
which makes all concentrated thought impossible, or 
so overstrains the machinery as to endanger mental 

And therefore the effort to control the thoughts 
must be practised with great caution. The desired 
results will never be gained by strained endeavours 
to drive away certain thoughts that have become 
habitual. I think it has been the experience of most 
of those who have tried this method that the thoughts 
definitely refuse to go nay, that such violent efforts 
to banish them only give them a firmer hold. You 
cannot, for instance, get rid of self-consciousness by 
trying, however hard, not to think of yourself. The 
thinking that you must not think of yourself only 
results in thinking of yourself all the more. You are 
as a matter of fact watching yourself all the time. 
The effort not to be proud will not necessarily lead 
you one step in the direction of humility. Humility 
is a very much more positive and vital thing than the 

absence of pride. 



There is a better way. The positive rather than 
the negative way. Let not your mind be overcome 
with evil, " but overcome evil by good ". The emptying 
the mind of evil is not the first step towards filling it 
with good. It is not a step in that direction at all. 
If you succeeded in emptying your mind of every un 
desirable thought, what then ? You cannot empty it 
and then begin to fill it with better thoughts. No, 
you must empty it of evil by filling it with good. 
Nature abhors a vacuum. You drive out darkness by 
filling the room with light. If you would fill a glass 
with water you do not first expel the air, you expel 
the air by pouring in water. And in the moral life 
there is no intermediate state of vacuum possible in 
which, having driven out the evil, you begin to bring 
in good. As the good enters it expels the evil. 

Therefore the effort of the soul must be to fill the 
mind so full of healthy thoughts that there is no room 
for others trying not so much not to think of what 
is evil as to think of what is good. 

The mind is ever working, never at rest. It will 
feed upon whatever food is given it. If it is given 
wholesome food, it will develop and grow strong. 


If it is given unhealthy food, it will grow morbid and 
sickly. If it is given no food, it will feed upon itself 
and wear itself out. 

Mental sloth, inaction, a lack of any intellectual 
interest, leaves the mind open to become the prey 
of any thoughts that may enter, or turns it in upon 
itself If it were kept in a healthy activity and its 
interests were constantly engaged, a great deal of 
mischief would be avoided. And this consideration 
should not be forgotten, or ignored on the ground 
that any work of restoration or penitence can only 
be done by the grace of God. That is perfectly true ; 
apart from Him we can do nothing. But the use of 
Divine grace never dispenses us from the exercise of 
prudence and common-sense. If you are ill in body, 
prayer and faith do not prevent the use of medicine 
and proper diet, nor do you need less such natural 
remedies for the ailments of the mind. 

He therefore who would overcome any habit of evil 
thoughts must do so indirectly rather than directly, 
trying not so much not to indulge in anger as to fill 
the mind with loving and kindly thoughts, meeting 
discontent by rejoicing in the Will of God, self-con- 


sciousness by wrapping oneself round in the Presence 
of God turning as promptly as possible to think of 
something bracing when one is conscious of the pre 
sence or approach of evil. 

This, and the constant effort to keep the mind 
interested and occupied about healthy subjects that 
it can enjoy without strain or weariness, will do much 
to recover it from the ill effects of the lack of discipline. 
It is a great matter to know how to give it relaxation 
without laxity, and by its studies and recreations to 
prepare it for prayer and the more strenuous work of 
life. A mind that has a wide reach of interests and 
is constantly kept busy will have no time and no care 
for morbid thoughts. And the mind that is constantly 
fed on healthy and nourishing food will turn away 
from poison however daintily served. 

All this, it will be perceived, can be done with little 
introspection or self-analysis. It is based on the 
wisest of all systems, that Nature works best if she is 
not too closely watched. A person who is always 
anxious about his health will never be healthy. Nature 
knows her own laws, and it is not good to interfere 
too much even for the sake of putting them right. It 


is not an unknown experience that torturing scruples 
may take the place of mental laxity and a ceaseless 
introspection, which is the enemy of all freshness and 
spontaneity. We must take heed that in the efforts 
to overcome one evil we do not fall into a worse. 
We have to change the habit of the mind without 
giving it any undue shock, to keep it well in hand 
without seeming to watch it, to bring it under con 
trol without enslaving it and while seeming to leave it 
in perfect liberty. And to do this we need to have 
some confidence in its power to rectify itself if it be 
healthily fed and duly exercised. 

But once more. If we would get our thoughts under 
control and discipline them to the best purpose, we 
shall soon find that it is not with our thoughts alone 
that we have to deal. Thoughts are the product of 
the mind, as acts are the product of the body. 

If a man desires to do the best work in his power, 
it is not merely the work he must consider, but the 
body by which the work is done. One may devote 
all one s attention to the work in hand with very 
poor results, because it is the instrument which does 
the work which is out of order and needs repairing. 


And it is the same with the thoughts. As is the 
mind, so are the thoughts. Any defect in the mind 
discloses itself at once in the thoughts. A healthy, 
vigorous mind will produce healthy thoughts, and a 
diseased mind morbid thoughts. We often act like 
men who wonder at the badness of their work and 
try to improve it, but do not realise that the cause of 
it is ill-health and that they cannot do better till they 
are stronger. And we wonder at our thoughts that 
they are so unworthy, so feeble, or so little under 
control, but we do not realise that the fault lies in the 
unhealthy or untrained condition of the mind. It will 
never do better work till its health and training are 

Now, in the original design of God the mind of man 
was one, all its powers co-operating for the well-being 
of the person and all guiding and aiding the will in 
its choice of God. As we look down into the depths 
of our being we are conscious of dumb, blind move 
ments of passion and feeling and excitement. We 
feel that there is a world of unexpressed desire, of 
inarticulate thought, which lives without any act of 
our own, wherein all the elements of life are striving 


for utterance. It is the seething, tumultuous spring 
of the soul s life. We hear it like the voice of many 
waters, we feel it like the dumb pulses of a struggling 
life. It lives without any action of the will ; we cannot 
tell whence it comes or whither it goes. Then from 
this source the stream of life goes forth in two direc 
tions into the field of knowledge and into the field 
of love. On the one side in search of all that is to 
be known, and on the other towards all that is to 
be loved. These two streams were intended ever to 
flow together and intermingle. Into the hot currents 
of passion and feeling the cooling waters of reason 
were to flow, tempering and calming them. And the 
cold stream of reason was to be warmed by the hot 
waters that flow from the heart. The heart was to 
kindle with its warmth the pale light of reason. And 
the light of the reason was to illuminate and control 
the blind impulses of the heart. Thus love should be 
reasonable, and reason should be aglow with love. 

But in our fallen nature these two powers which 
were intended to co-operate for the well-being of the 
person tend to drift apart. The intellect becomes 
separated from the affections, speculation from practice, 


pure reason from the moral life. The reason acts 
alone and as if it were sufficient to itself; and love 
uncontrolled and unguided by reason goes forth as a 
blind impulse, a passionate outburst, and, losing its 
lustre, its sullen fires smoulder in the senses, con 
suming the whole nature. 

We need, therefore, by constant discipline to bring 
these two outflowing streams together and to mingle 
their waters. Do not be content to know the Truth ; 
rouse your heart to love it. Do not be content with 
an unintelligent love of the beauty of Truth ; know it, 
study it, think of it. " Thou shalt love the Lord thy 
God with thy whole heart and thy whole mind." 

Indeed, the devout Catholic will find in his holy re 
ligion the best of all schools of discipline. He will not 
be content with an ignorant delight in the beauty of 
his Faith, and he will find it scarcely possible for long 
to rest in a cold intellectual study of it, for here the 
heart sets the brain on fire, and the more he knows 
the more he loves, and every new throb of his heart 
opens some hitherto unseen door into a deeper know 
ledge, and the warm and luminous stream of these 
intermingling waters bears him on their strong currents 


from faith to sight. For when these two separate 
insincerity and untruth must be the consequence, and 
where one or other controls the mind, it will fail to see 
things as they really are. 

It is a terrible thing to let the heart live its own life 
separate from the intellect. To know what is true 
and to love what is false. To feed the mind upon 
one thing and the heart upon another. To let the 
life of the heart drift into a different channel from 
that of the head nay, to let it live upon that which 
the head condemns. Such a divorce between the 
two powers, which should co-operate and help one 
another, leads finally to a double life of falseness and 
insincerity in which each goes its own way, and the 
cold and loveless intellect and the passionate and 
unreasoning heart rend the inner life in twain. Who 
can trust the judgment of such a mind. What wonder 
if its decisions are misleading ; and what must be the 
condition of the inner life of one in whom the radiant 
forms of truth and the base desires of uncontrolled 
passion have come to terms and live peacefully 

But again. If one of these two sides be unduly 


developed to the detriment of the other, the mind 
will suffer in consequence and will fail to gain the full 
knowledge of the truth. For the heart is needed even 
for the acquisition of knowledge. There are secrets 
that can never be disclosed save on the condition of 
love. The poet has a revelation to give which is 
wholly unknown to science. Love opens the eye to 
see what the unaided reason never could see, or if it 
did, could not understand. No one ever yet knew 
another thoroughly who did not first love him. It is 
not merely that love transforms and idealises, it leveals. 
" He that loveth not knoweth not God." If therefore 
the intellect be unduly developed to the neglect of the 
heart, the intellect itself will find that there are certain 
fields of knowledge closed against it to which the heart 
alone can supply the key. 

And certainly one who has lived the life of the 
affections to the neglect of the intellect will never expe 
rience the highest enjoyment of the affections. For 
there is such a thing as intellectual love a love that 
springs from and blends with knowledge ; such a love 
as that which we can imagine a man of science who is 
also a poet to have for Nature. Such love as our Lord 


commands us to exercise towards Himself when He 
says, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy 
whole mind". 

We should therefore discipline ourselves by the culti 
vation of that side in which we are defective stirring 
our hearts to love what we know " while I was thus 
musing the fire kindled " ; or forcing our minds to 
acquire deeper knowledge of what we love, that the 
whole mind being brought to bear upon the whole 
truth, as a flawless mirror, it reflects it as it is. 

But once more. The soul stands midway between 
the past and the future. The light of the present falls 
for the moment upon it, but only for a moment ; in an 
instant the present becomes the past. And the past 
sinks into the darkness and cannot return, the future 
is shrouded in darkness and cannot be foreseen. But 
for the light of the passing moment the soul s life would 
seem to be surrounded on all sides with darkness; 
like the bird that flies through the lighted chamber 
coming from the night and returning to it again. 

Yet man must look backwards and forwards. He 
cannot live in the fleeting present. Out of the past 
come the experiences, the warnings, the lessons which 


are to guide him, and if he cannot see some little way 
into the future he will stand trembling upon the edge 
of the light of the present, too timid and fearful to 
press on. He must look backwards and forwards if he 
is to make the best use of the moment. The currents 
of the past must press him forward, the eager antici 
pations of the future must draw him onwards. 

God has given him two great powers one which 
looks backwards into the farthest past and stores up 
its treasures, the other which presses forward and lifts 
the veil overhanging the future. These two powers 
are memory and imagination. Without memory we 
should gain no experience, acquire no knowledge. We 
should have momentary visions of swiftly passing 
scenes, rising for an instant into view and plunging 
into the darkness. Life would be a bewildering scene of 
kaleidoscopic changes, each vision isolated and dis 
connected. Like one hurrying through some strange 
country at breathless speed, never able to pause and 
consider and draw lessons from what he sees, for each 
moment s vision stands alone. By memory we turn 
the great searchlight of the mind upon the past and 
dispel the darkness; and wherever the circle of that light 


is turned the past is seen again, not it may be in the 
warm colours of the living day, but in the pale yet pene 
trating light in which memory clothes it. By memory 
we can accumulate the wisdom and experience of past 
ages, and store our minds with knowledge and daily 
increase its treasures. And the voices of the past call 
to us in the chamber of the memory with words of 
warning, encouragement and instruction, urging us 
forward, holding us back, and pointing out to us the 

And by imagination we can peer into the future. We 
can see the goal at which we aim, the rest for which 
we labour. We can make the unseen more real than 
the seen, and things which are not than those which 
are. We can anticipate events long before they come 
to pass, and see visions in a flash which take years to 
carry out and realise. Without imagination the hands 
fall heavy at the side, the feet are weighted with lead, 
the mind gropes forward through the darkness and 
stumbles at every step. We light the torch of the 
imagination and walk with steady step and kindling 
eye into a future bathed in its light. 

Thus we can look backward and forward, and in the 


wisdom of the past and the anticipation of the future 
tread with head erect and wide-eyed vision the path 
that is set before us. 

Yet these two great powers given us by God to aid 
us in our earthly sojourn can be abused, and become 
not the spring of progress but a source of stagnation 
and failure. 

It is possible to use both memory and imagination 
as instruments of self-indulgence, as an end in them 
selves, and not as means to help the soul onward. 

There are those who find in the memory no stimu 
lant to action, no lesson or warning for the present, 
but a chamber of pale dreams and ghostly forms 
where they spend listless hours of sadness or regret, 
and from which they come forth unmanned and spent 
and incapable of action. They live in the past, not in 
the present or future. They live in it, not to learn any 
lessons but to indulge themselves, breathing in those 
faded perfumes which like narcotics deaden and stupefy 
the powers, unfitting them for the work of life. Who 
that has passed middle life does not know the danger 
of turning the chamber of memory into a place of 
shadowy dreams and vain regrets and weary longings ? 


Where the heart exhausts its strength by the passion 
of its yearning for what can never be again, and the 
mind grows weary in thinking what it might have 
done, and old deeds buried in the years rise and lift 
accusing eyes that make the heart grow sick with 
despair. Who does not know what it is to come forth 
from such memories unmanned and exhausted, and 
feeling their ghostly and unhealthy shadows rob the 
very sunshine of its sweetness. 

And imagination, too. It can be abused and become 
a source of self-indulgence and a hindrance rather than 
a help to life. 

It is the greatest of all the powers the creative 
faculty, the power of vision by which things are first 
seen and then made real. It saw the world s great 
buildings before a stone was cut in the quarry. It 
has heard music that the skill of the musician has 
sought in vain to reproduce, and seen forms of beauty 
of which the greatest works of art are but a faint 
shadow. Its visions have led science on to its great 
discoveries, anticipating with giant strides the slow 
processes of the reason. It has planned the battle 
and secured the victory for the great general before 



the first blow was struck. It has anticipated every 
forward step that the human race has ever taken, 
painting the vision in vivid colours before the eye 
of the seer, who having seen urges men forward to 
make the vision real. It has stood from the dawn of 
our race beckoning us onward, like some great magi 
cian filling the air with sights and sounds that seem 
like dreams but stir men s minds to thought and 
their hands to action. 

And so if we draw from the treasury of the memory 
the wisdom of the past, imagination urges us ever 
forward; it is " the sting that bids nor sit nor stand 
but go ". 

And this great power that transforms life and creates 
new worlds can be, and is by not a few, prostituted to 
be the source of idle amusement and self-indulgence. 
There are many who do not try to make real the 
creations of their imagination or use them as a stimu 
lant to action, but who turn to them from the realities 
of life ; who live in a dreamland of their own fancy 
which becomes to them more real than the facts of 
life itself; who use this great gift as the handmaid of 
their vanity or sensuality, and fly for refuge from the 


demands of life into a world of unreality and dreams. 
The power which has acted as one of the greatest 
stimulants to urge men forward is used by such 
people as a drug under whose soothing influence 
they are content to dream away their existence. 

It is the office of mental discipline to recover the 
powers of the mind for the work for which they were 
given, and to restore to them their proper balance and 
unity. And this can only be done in its fulness in 
the service of God. With heart and head united, and 
each helping the work of the other; with the roots 
sunk deep into the past, and life enriched and urged 
forward by all the wisdom and warnings of memory; 
and imagination lifting its burning torch and making 
vivid and real what has been revealed to faith the 
action of the will will be invigorated, and the soul 
will press forward to the prize of its high calling in 
Christ Jesus our Lord, 




MOST of the heresies that have opposed the Church in 
her progress through the world have arisen from the 
undue pressing of one side or one part of the Truth. 
For the Truth of the Christian Faith can generally be 
stated in the form of a paradox. And any failure to 
keep perfect balance and proportion in these state 
ments results in error. The history of the struggles of 
the early ages is the history of the wonderful instinct 
with which the Church ever preserved the mean 
between the extremes towards one or other of which 
the human mind tended in the definition of the 
doctrines of the Faith. 

In the definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, on 
the one side were the Sabellians, who in their effort 
to preserve the idea of the Unity of the Godhead 
sacrificed the Threefold Personality; on the other 
the Tritheists, who pressed the doctrine of the Three 
Persons into that of three separate and distinct Gods. 
Between these two stood the Church, preserving the 


Truth and rejecting the extremes of both. The God 
head is one in Three Persons. " The Father is God, 
the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, and yet not 
three Gods but one God." 

So, again, in the doctrine of the Incarnation. The 
mind faltered before this great doctrine, and bent now 
towards one side now towards the other. Some, ac 
cording to their natural temperament or their sense 
of the needs of man, pressed the Godhead of Christ to 
the injury of His perfect Manhood. Others sacrificed 
the perfection of His Manhood to what they be 
lieved essential to His Godhead ; or yet again, so de 
fined the union of the Godhead and Manhood as 
to destroy the Unity of His Person. 

But amidst all these controversies that spread over 
several hundred years, ranging from gross heresy to 
the nicest and most delicate overpressure or under 
statement of a Truth, the Church ever kept the 
balance between the extremes of the contending 
parties, and taught that " Christ is perfect God and 
perfect man," and that the Union was effected " not by 
confusion of substance but by Unity of Person ". 

So, again, with the doctrines of human life. There 


has always been, long before they were clearly defined 
and condemned, a tendency in certain minds towards 
Calvinism on the one side or Pelagianism on the other. 
Some, looking upon the nature of man, have felt most 
keenly its inherent badness, others its inherent good 
ness, and the one have formulated their belief in the 
extreme doctrine of Calvinism, the other of Pelagian- 
ism. But the Church recognising fully all the evil and 
all the good that is in man, taught that his nature is 
neither wholly bad nor wholly good, but that he is a 
being created in the Image of God, but fallen, and 
that without God s grace he cannot attain to his per 

Again, in regard to man s spiritual life. There have 
been those who have taught that man s greatest act 
is to be still and to leave God to work within him ; 
that man can do nothing, God must do all. On the 
other hand, there have been others who, feeling the in 
tensity of their own struggle and little sense of super 
natural help, have taught that man must fight as best 
he can his own battles. And the Church, recognising 
what was true, and rejecting what was erroneous and 
exaggerated in each, taught the Truth in the great 


paradox of St. Paul : " Work out your own salvation, 
for it is God that worketh in you ". 

There is the same danger of this pressing of part of 
a truth in the practical life. Man has many sides to 
his nature, and his conscience must take them all under 
its care. If he neglects part he will find that he has 
injured the whole, for all are a part of the one Person. 
It is true in more senses than one that " the eye can 
not say to the hand I have no need of thee ". Every 
member of the body must be used for the welfare of 
the whole organism. And every side of life must be 
used if a man is to be at his best. Indeed, if any one 
sets himself to develop merely one side, he will find 
that he fails to perfect even that side, for it needs 
many things that come to it from other quarters. 
One man determines to develop the social side and 
altogether neglects the religious, but he finds in time 
that the social side fails in its perfection through the 
lack of just those things that religion alone could give 
him. Another neglects the social side for religion, and 
he soon finds that his religion becomes fanciful, fantas 
tic and deceptive unless it be brought in contact with 
the hard facts of human life and experience. An- 


other determines that he will give his life to the train 
ing and development of his reason alone, but he learns, 
perhaps too late, that he is not merely a reasoning but 
a moral being, and that the reason isolated and separ 
ated from the rest of his nature surfers vengeance at 
the hands of -those powers which as its fellow- workers 
would have helped and perfected it. 

There is the same danger in the struggle with sin 
and the effort to form virtues. Many people who set 
themselves to conquer one fault and give their whole 
minds to this will find, if they are not careful, that 
they have only fallen into another. 

For virtue cannot thrive in the narrow soil of one 
department of the soul s life, imnourished by the 
streams that should flow into it from all sides, and 
unpruned by the hand that watches over and labours 
for the enrichment of the whole. Every Christian 
virtue has more sides than one, and is a more compli 
cated and delicately balanced thing than we imagine. 
It has to look, as it were, towards God and towards 
man ; towards the person in whom it dwells and 
towards others ; towards itself and its place in the 
soul and its relations with other virtues ; it has to be 


tended in its growth by the intellect as well as by the 
will and affections, and has to endure much severe 
pruning at the hand of reason ; it must be able to live 
in the open and bear the hard dealings of the rough 
world, and it must grow in the silence of prayer and 
the Presence of God. There may be such a thing as 
the overgrowth of one virtue to the crowding out of 
others that are equally or perhaps more necessary. 
Or, on the other hand, we may develop a virtue in 
one department of life to the neglect of all others. 
It is not uncommon to find a man a very different 
being in his domestic relations from what he is in 
public life. There are not a few who are thoroughly 
truthful and honest in all the concerns of life except 
in the conduct of their business. But a virtue is not 
a Christian virtue if it is exercised with exceptions. 
It must have its roots in the person and spread 
through every department of the soul s life. 

In the effort to conquer our faults, therefore, we 
have to be on our guard against the danger of be 
ing one-sided. For the very virtues that we may be 
striving for are not so simple as they seem, and the 
materials of which they are formed, if not mixed in 


exact proportion, may produce not a virtue but a fault. 
Humility is the perfect blending of the very highest 
and the lowliest thoughts of oneself. The humble 
man is conscious at once of his own nothingness and 
of his exaltation as God s creature whom He would 
unite to Himself. And he somehow contrives with 
the deepest sense of his own unworthiness to maintain 
a dignity that wins respect ; if he leaves out this self- 
respect his humility is not true humility, and ends in 
self-degradation. Meekness is the blending of gentle 
ness and strength a strength that has been won by 
victory over self and passion, and a gentleness that 
is the witness that this victory is the outcome of no 
harshness and bitterness towards self or the world, but 
of love. Test true meekness by the severest trials 
to which it can be put, and you will find in it no 
flaw of weakness or harshness, but a dauntless courage 
of the loftiest kind and an inexhaustible gentleness. 
So with charity. Christian charity is not a blind dis 
regard of facts, a refusal to see things as they are, a 
condoning of the sins of others. It is the love of the 
sinner springing from the love of God which necessi 
tates the hatred of sin. There is a great deal of 


spurious charity in the world making excuse for sin 
or explaining it away, devoid of strength and virility, 
and often mixed with insincerity and unreality. True 
Christian charity blends in perfect proportion justice 
and love. 

Thus we might go on and see how every virtue in 
volves the balancing and blending of characteristics that 
seem at first sight almost opposite, and thus embrace 
the whole many-sided nature of man and keep him 
exact and well-proportioned. There is more truth 
than we realise in the saying, " Every vice is a virtue 
carried to extremes ". 

Now, for the training of our character here on earth 
each of us has two spheres of discipline and activity. 
We have our life and duty to ourselves, and we have 
our life in its relationship to others. A duty is a 
debt, something that we owe. This debt is not of 
our own making ; it is a law under which we find 
ourselves placed a law, indeed, which we are free to 
keep or to break, but which if we break we must 
bear the consequences, and the immediate conse 
quence is some moral loss to ourselves. I cannot with 
impunity violate my duty to myself for the dearest 


ties of friendship, or the closest bond of kinship, and 
I cannot violate my duty to others for any advantage 
to myself. The law of self-development can never 
be, though it sometimes may seem to be, in conflict 
with the law that regulates my relationship with 
others. There is a sense in which one must never 
sacrifice oneself for others, any more than one may 
sacrifice others for oneself. God has so ordered it 
that the welfare and perfection of the individual is 
bound up with others : "It is not good for man to 
be alone ". Except in the case of a very special and 
marked vocation man is meant to be and to live as 
one of a multitude bound to it by many ties, and 
yet at the same time he must guard and shield his 
own life so that it does not lose itself in others. Let a 
man isolate himself from others, and he soon becomes 
eccentric and morbid and loses the true perspective 
of things and gets a distorted view of life. Let him 
throw himself unguarded into the crowd, and he 
quickly loses his own individuality and becomes soft 
and plastic. From the moment in which conscious 
ness awakens, on throughout the whole course of life, 
our duties to others and our relations with them be- 


come more involved and far-reaching, and our duty to 
self more peremptory and exacting. 

And consequently in the life of every man whose 
character is developing on its proper lines, there will 
be found to co-exist two apparently contradictory char 
acteristics dependence and independence. These 
two must blend and harmonise in due proportion as 
life advances. The man who is recklessly indifferent 
to others bears the mark of failure stamped upon him, 
and he who is wholly dependent loses all individu* 
ality and all power of influence in the world. This is 
true of those who are naturally strongest or weakest, 
and it applies equally to women and men. It is a 
constant surprise and delight to find these two char 
acteristics co-existing often where we least expect it. 
The strong man whose most prominent characteristic 
is individuality, leadership, the power to stand alone, 
in proportion as he is influenced by religion will be 
found to have a surprising consideration for others. 
There is in him no reckless indifference to the men 
he has to deal with, he does not glory in isolation 
and trampling upon their opinions, but he feels and 
recognises their rights. As we get to know him better 


another side of his character discloses itself, rich with 
the ties of many friendships and a large toleration, 
and open to many influences that soften and widen 
and enlarge his whole nature. Who does not know 
such men, and feel the contrast between them and 
those who delight in differing from others and in forc 
ing their own opinions and in standing apart and alone. 

And on the other hand, how many who seem 
most weak and easily influenced, when it comes to 
a question of principle show a strength that can 
resist the world. 

It is the harmonising of these two apparently 
opposite characteristics, balancing one another and 
correcting one another, that produces such exquisite 
and delicate results. The roughness and independ 
ence which is the natural danger of the strong man 
gives place to a considerateness, a readiness to be 
influenced, a delicate sensitiveness that is all the 
more attractive because of its unexpectedness. And 
the most dependent and naturally weak is protected 
from colourless insipidity by a moral strength that 
rounds the character off and saves it. 

A healthy life, therefore, should have its roots 


spread deep and wide in the soil of the human family, 
and its whole nature open to the manifold interests 
and influences and associations of the world around it, 
and at the same time an ever-deepening sense of the 
claims of God, of conscience and of Truth, so that 
it never likes to part company with its fellow-men, 
but is strong enough to stand against the whole world 
at the command of duty. 

Now this dependence of our nature upon others, by 
which we are meant to be humanised and kept from 
going off into eccentricities of thought and action, 
is secured for us in many ways, and amongst others 
by the fact that in the two strongest and deepest 
feelings in our nature we cannot stand alone. 

Man was made for eternal happiness, and if he 
refuses it he must have eternal sorrow. Joy and 
sorrow, therefore, are no superficial things, they are 
the heights and the depths of our nature. And it 
is a strange thing that whatever else each of us can 
keep to himself independently of the whole world, no 
man is independent in his joys or his sorrows. The 
veriest stranger whom we have never seen before can 
for a moment cloud our happiness or cast a ray of 


sunshine through the darkness. The passing of a 
fellow-creature in the street, a face seen for a moment 
in a crowd, can haunt one for days with a feeling of 
distress. Any one can rob me for a moment at least 
of my joy, any one can give me some momentary 
passing pleasure. A word, a look, and I bear about 
with me for the whole day an open wound; or again, 
some kindly word of encouragement opens a spring 
of joy that makes the whole world look brighter 
while it lasts. I doubt if any combination of mere 
circumstances can give us such happiness or sorrow 
as one human being can give. No bodily pain is half 
so acute as the pain which one man can inflict upon 
another, and no happiness is so deep as that which 
comes from human fellowship. The presence of one 
person can destroy the happiness which every circum 
stance of life combines to produce, and the saddest 
and most unhappy surroundings can be forgotten or 
transformed by the presence of a loving friend. What 
a power lies in personality. All the events, surround 
ings, consolations and sufferings of life sink into in 
significance before it. A little child can do more to 
gladden its mother s heart than everything the world 



has to give her. Two human beings wrapped in one 
another s love can see the world go to wreck and 
ruin without a sigh. And truly "the light of the 
whole world dies when love is gone ". Yes, one person 
has more power to give joy or sorrow to another than 
all the wealth and influence in the world. The heart 
cannot rest or find its satisfaction in these things ; a 
person steps in amongst them and changes them all. 
The presence of an unloving husband or wife has 
often turned all the wealth and material comforts and 
social enjoyments the world has to give into ashes. 
And pinching poverty and constant ill-health and 
grinding work have been transformed by the presence 
of love. 

It is undoubtedly true, each of us, men and women, 
irresponsible and thoughtless as we often are, hold 
within our hands the happiness and sorrows of others. 
We cannot help it or escape from it. The power 
is in us inalienably almost from birth to death ; in us 
because we are persons ; and we are responsible for 
the use we make of it. Indeed, so mysterious is 
this power that the very presence of a person who 
does not realise his responsibility is often the source 


of the keenest pain of all. What greater misery is 
there than to be linked to another who ignores you, 
who shows neither interest nor concern in your doings, 
neither blames nor approves, neither loves nor hates, but 
freezes you up by the blight of an absolute indiffer 
ence. It would be easier to bear aggressive dislike. 
The failure to exercise the power to give happiness 
to others is not merely negative in its results, it is 
the source of the most positive suffering of all. Thus 
there is no escape from the responsibility involved in 
the possession of this power. Not to use it where it 
is due is to destroy all happiness. 

Strange power, indeed, to be committed to such 
weak and unworthy hands, yet there could be but one 
thing worse, that none could interfere with the joys 
and sorrows of others. We might envy their happi 
ness and pity their sorrows, but we could not help 
them. It would be a world of isolated individuals 
wrapped in inviolable selfishness ; each must take care 
of himself and the world must go its way. 

Now this power of giving happiness and sorrow to 
others springs mainly from two great passions that 
exist in every member of the human race Love and 


Hate. There is no one without them. They are the 
strongest and deepest powers we possess. It is by 
these the world is ruled. It is doubtless true that 
every great movement depends upon thought; the 
conflict that effects a great revolution is a conflict of 
ideas, and the revolution is the victory of one set of 
ideas over the other. But the masses will not be 
moved by philosophical conceptions ; they are moved 
by passion, and philosophy has to be translated into 
the hot language of feeling before the multitude are 
stirred. The crowds surging through the streets of 
Paris on the eve of the great Revolution knew little 
and cared little about the speculations of a dreamy 
philosopher ; those ideas had come to them in the 
practical form of paying off old scores. Cold specu 
lation was on fire with human Passion and the face of 
Society was changed. 

Love and hate, then, are the most universally felt 
and the most easily excited of all the powers of our 
nature, and it is mainly by these that the happiness 
and sorrows of others are affected. The presence of 
love wherever it is, in however obscure a person, will 
at least do something towards lightening the sorrows 


and securing the happiness of others ; and hate equips 
the most insignificant with an instrument that works 

And yet both of these are, equally, Divine gifts. 
" Love is of God," says St. John, " and every one that 
loveth is born of God, and knoweth God, for God is 
Love." But love involves and necessitates hate. God 
hates evil, and such hatred must be an essential attri 
bute of God. The power of hatred then is as truly a 
Divine gift to man created in the Image of God, and as 
necessary an element in the Christian character as Love 
is. " O ye that love the Lord," said the Psalmist of old, 
"see that ye hate the thing that is evil." He that is 
incapable of hating is so because he is incapable of 
loving. The intensity of the power of hating will 
always be in proportion to the power of loving. We 
feel instinctively that a man who cannot hate, whose 
anger and moral indignation can never be roused, is 
a poor creature. A strong man will always be strong 
in his likes and dislikes. All this may, and as a 
matter of fact, generally does, work evil. But it is 
not essentially evil but good. Love can work evil as 
truly as hate can, for it may be exercised on an un- 


worthy object and in a wrong way, but it is not there 
fore an evil thing, and no more is hate. They are 
both part of the equipment of man s nature. They 
work together, they grow together, and together they 

And the instrument with which hatred rights its 
battles is Anger. And Anger, too, is an essential part 
of man s nature, as it is also a Divine attribute. If 
man is to be Godlike, created as he is in His image, 
he must be like Him in this too. We read of " the 
wrath of God ". We are told that our Lord " looked 
about upon them with anger" ; nay, it is an Apostolic 
precept, " Be ye angry and sin not ". And yet, if I 
were to ask what has hurt the affections, broken the 
hearts and ruined the homes of men more than per 
haps anything else, you would tell me that it was 
Anger. And yet no man is worth the name of man 
who does not sometimes get angry. Indeed, the anger 
of no one is perhaps to be feared as the anger of the 
just and good. How is this ? 

Anger is the sword which God puts into man s 
hand to fight the great moral battles of life. The 
more he loves God the more he will love good and 


hate all that assaults or tries to undermine good. And 
as he was created to love God, and all else in God, so 
he was only to hate all that was opposed to that love. 
And into the hands of hatred was given the glittering 
and sharp-edged sword of Anger to fight its battles, 
that is to assault and drive off every approach of evil. 
Without anger hatred could but smoulder in the heart. 
It needs an instrument of defence and attack, and 
this was given it by God, a power for good, that does 
not hurt the man who uses it aright, but makes him 
strong and keeps him safe. 

But man, alas ! can turn away from God and live 
for himself, or for the things of earth, and in so doing 
he changes the centre around which the orbit of his 
life was meant to move, from God to self. He becomes 
self-centred. But in turning from God he loses none 
of the powers of his nature. He finds himself there 
fore possessed of manifold gifts and endowments, all 
of which were meant to aid him in that moral and 
spiritual life which leads to God as its end. And 
these gifts he now uses for himself. And finding in 
his hand the sword of Anger he seizes it and fights 
with it his own battles, not the great moral battles 


for which alone it was intended. He draws it and 
strikes at everything that hinders him in the pursuit 
of his own ends, everything that touches his self-love. 
He uses it for purposes the very reverse of those for 
which God gave it to him. He can use it to oppose 
good and to establish evil. Yes, a wild mob with 
flashing swords of Anger, drawn in reckless madness 
around the Cross, striking and wounding the all-holy 
Son of God, crying " this is the Heir, come let us kill 
him that the inheritance may be ours " ; this was in 
deed the most supreme and most dramatic moment 
in which men used against God the weapon He 
put into their hands to fight His battles. The 
weapon of Anger, let us never forget, is good, God- 
given, though it may be drawn in a most unworthy 
cause. It is not the anger that is bad, it is the ill-use 
to which it is put. 

The peevish ill-temper of a vain woman is essenti 
ally the same thing as the splendid moral indignation 
of the saint. One is used as God meant it to be used, 
the other is abused for man s unworthy purposes. 
In the one case the use of it strengthens the steady 
arm that wields it, and it loses none of its sharpness 


and lustre in the use; in the other case every blow 
weakens the hand that strikes, and the weapon itself 
with hacked edge and broken blade forfeits its strength 
and its glory. There is nothing more noble than the 
moral indignation of a good man against what is 
hateful to God. Is there anything more humiliating 
than the wild and reckless blows of a proud and 
selfish man, dealt by the blunted and dishonoured 
sword of his misused temper ? 

It will be seen from what has just been said that if 
we would control our anger so as to prevent its being a 
source of suffering to others and of injury to ourselves 
we shall never really succeed merely by the effort to 
check it, however faithfully we may try. Still more 
hopeless would be the effort to destroy it altogether. 
We could not destroy it even if we would, and 
if we did we should inflict an irreparable injury 
upon our character. We need it as an essential 
part of our moral equipment. It is to be controlled 
rather than killed ; to be sanctified to the service of 

We must strive to check it and control it, no doubt, 
but if we are ever to succeed we must do more than 


that. We must strive to conquer that which is the 
cause of its abuse, and that, as we have seen, is the 
reign of self in the soul the living for self instead 
of for God. As we choose God as the end of our life, 
more and more steadily every part of our nature will 
fall into place, and work for the development of 
the soul as His creature and in His service. The 
battle with our anger must be both direct and in 
direct direct, to check and restrain it when it arises, 
like a man who has got into the habit of putting his 
hand to his sword on every occasion on which he is 
vexed ; indirect, by the constant effort to dethrone 
self and set God in its place. Only as this is effected 
can any victory over temper be lasting, or a victory that 
"does not destroy but fulfils". Only so can we feel 
sure that we do not lose any of the fire arid force of 
our nature with which God has endowed it. A per 
fect victory over anger does not make the man who 
gained it colourless, tame or effeminate, no more than 
it injures a piece of machinery to put back into its 
place some part that had got out of gear, and by its 
displacement and undue prominence hindered the 
work of the machine. Saul of Tarsus, the hot-headed 


and intolerant persecutor, lost none of his fire and 
energy when he became the " slave of Jesus Christ ". 
St. John the Apostle of love was the " Son of Thunder " 
to the very end. 

It is therefore no easy task. The man who is the 
slave of anger has allowed that hatred which was 
originally but the hatred of evil, which is but the 
other side of love to God, to break away from 
this love and to exist apart and to act indepen 
dently. It has no longer anything to do with the 
love of God. It has passed over to the side of self. 
Even when it does rise up in anger against evil, it 
becomes largely a personal feeling of bitterness and 
irritation. Such hatred has lost its savour, and it is 
of such that the Apostle speaks " the anger of man 
worketh not the justice of God". It is not, so to 
speak, the sharp edge of love, it is rather its enemy. 
The love of God begets a holy and ennobling hatred 
of evil, but no hatred, not even such hatred of sin, 
will ever beget the Love of God. 

Therefore to win anger back to be the instrument 
of the soul s proper warfare, the heart must return to 
its true home and shelter in God. Loving God, the 
soul will love all in and for God, and will hate only 


what God hates, and will draw the sword of Anger, 
sharpened and polished once more by faithful discip 
line, in the sacred warfare of Justice and Truth. 

And if anger and hatred are the cause of suffering, 
love is the unfailing source of happiness. However 
ungainly and uninteresting a person may be in other 
ways, love can transform him ; however humble and 
ungifted, it endows him with an irresistible power. 
A man may resist argument or force and feel the 
stronger for it, but no one ever yet felt the stronger 
for resisting pure love. One who can be conquered 
by no other power can be conquered by this, and the 
vanquished is not humbled by his defeat, nor the 
victor elated by his victory. It is the one thing that 
binds more closely the conquered and the conqueror. 
For love was made to win, and all things were made 
to yield to it. It is the bond that holds the Hosts of 
Heaven together and binds them to the Throne of 
God, and wherever on earth there is lasting union 
love has made it. It can never rest short of posses 
sion, and to gain possession it will break through 
every barrier. It is love which brought God down 
from heaven that He might unite Himself to man 


and lift him up, and this same Divine frenzy when 
once it has entered the human heart will not rest till 
it enters into the possession of God Himself and sits 
with Christ in heavenly places. What strength it has 
given to the weak, what courage to the most timid, 
enabling them "to bear all things, endure all things 
hope all things, believe all things," that they may find 
rest in God. 

This indeed is what love was given us for, to raise 
us into union with the Infinite, to give us power to 
conquer the world. 

But if we lose sight of God and live for some earthly 
end we do not lose this mighty force. We hold it as 
an integral part of our nature, and we are free to use it 
as we please. No doubt it loses much of its power and 
exhausts and wears out the nature that misuses it, but 
still, even at its weakest it is great. By it we rise or 
fall, and bind ourselves to God or to earth. It quickens 
and stimulates every faculty to fight for the possession 
of that which it desires. 

Love in the hands of an unprincipled and irrespon 
sible man becomes therefore a most dangerous weapon, 
and if anger and hatred have their victims so has love. 


A power that can conquer the world in the hands of 
a man who has the instincts of a savage is a terrible 
power. Therefore to bring happiness to its possessor 
and to the world it must be disciplined ; without dis 
cipline, the stronger it is the fiercer it is. 

But you say, love does not go or come at my bidding, 
it acts spontaneously, I cannot help loving. And yet 
God lays His commands even upon our hearts : " Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart ". 
He would not bid us do what is impossible. To bid 
us love Him is not only to assure us that we can, but 
to forbid the love of all that would take us from Him. 
It is the " first and chief of all the commandments ". 

Love is not a mere blind passion, it must be con 
trolled by reason. " Love has eyes," and the eye of 
the heart is the reason. But it is in its first movements 
that the outgoing of the heart must be controlled, later 
on it may be impossible. There is a moment in the 
growth of any undue or unlawful affection when, with 
comparatively little effort, it could be checked, when 
conscience and reason give their warning, and if the 
will exerts itself all will be well; if such warnings are 
neglected the heart quickly breaks away from all 


control and becomes the most violent of the passions. 
It is by the yielding in things small and insignificant 
in themselves, each one of which could have been 
easily resisted, that love becomes an unruly passion 
and a source of suffering and misery to its victim and 
to the world. 

And, on the other hand, it is by small things often, 
that the love which we owe to others is gradually 
killed out. You may allow your mind to dwell upon 
the veriest trifles some little mannerism, some natural 
defect, the tone of the voice in a person with a lovable 
and generous nature, till all the affection you once had 
and which you owe as a duty is destroyed. 

But as it is with anger, so it is with love. In so far 
as the soul deflects from God as its true end, so far 
will it find these great powers which God gave it 
for edification become a source of destruction. No 
one can keep his heart in order except by turning 
it first to God. The power that is in it is too strong 
merely to be restrained; it needs an outlet, and the 
outlet is the infinite Being of God. To try to rule one s 
heart in the lesser things of life while its whole current 
is misdirected, is folly. If the river breaks from its 


channel, and does not hear and obey the call of the 
ocean, its strength becomes a source of danger. And 
if the heart be not turned to God, everything that 
makes it a power for good can make it a power for 
evil the intensity of its affection, its loyalty, its fidelity, 
all these remain to be expended on unworthy or un 
lawful objects. 

Therefore the affections can only be really disciplined 
as the current of the soul streams Godward. It is not 
merely with this or that sin, by excess or defect of love, 
that we have to deal. To try to love a little more or 
a little less in such cases would be a vain task. We 
must look deeper. Only as we try to love God aright 
can we love man aright ; only by turning our heart 
steadily towards God shall we be able to set its move 
ments right towards man. 

Now one great school of the affections is the Moral 
Law. The Ten Commandments. Our Lord interprets 
the whole Law as teaching the love of God and the 
love of man. You will notice the order not first the 
love of man, but first the love of God. "This is the 
first and great commandment : Thou shalt love the 
Lord thy God with thy whole heart, thy whole mind, 


thy whole soul, and thy whole strength. The second is 
like unto it " (and necessarily flows from it) : " Thou 
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." It is by placing 
ourselves under certain laws of commandment and 
prohibition that the heart becomes trained to turn 
towards its true end. These commandments say 
nothing directly about love. But they forbid that 
which destroys it, and direct certain practices which 
tend to develop it aright. Love is there ; like a stream 
it is ever flowing; it needs to be directed into its 
proper channel, and the soul needs to be warned 
against that which destroys it. 

Take, then, the first four commandments which 
teach us our duty to God. Obey these, and the love 
of God will deepen in your heart ; violate them, and 
your heart will turn away from God. You must allow 
no rival to God in your heart : " Thou shalt have no 
other God before Me ". You must give the worship 
of your heart to God; you must learn to reverence 
His holy name, and you must dedicate certain times 
to His service. Violate one or all of these, and your 
love to God will fail or die ; obey them, and the stream 

of your affections will flow in its true channel God- 



ward. How true to experience it is that the loss of all 
love to God can be traced to the breach of one or more 
of these commandments. Some idol is set up in the 
heart which becomes His rival ; the worship of His holy 
name is neglected ; the spirit of lowly reverence is lost ; 
the times which should be devoted to His service are 
neglected, and God has ceased to be loved. And it is 
only by the observance of the first commandment that 
we can keep the second. The more we love God the 
more we shall love man, the less we love God the less 
we shall, in the true sense of the word, love man ; our 
love will become capricious, fitful, unreliable, not 
charity but passion. If you feel that your love for 
your fellow-men is dying out in the fumes of selfish 
ness, there is but one way to revive it strive for, pray 
for, the love of God. As the heart turns towards its 
source it will be quickened and expanded. There is 
no true, no lasting spirit of charity apart from the 
practice of Religion. 

Therefore we cannot keep the commandments which 
comprise our duty to men, unless we are keeping those 
which teach us our duty to God. And these last 
educate and discipline our affections towards one an- 


other. They begin with the first duty of children to 
their parents, and regulate and control the outgoings 
of the heart towards others, forbidding hate, lust, 
selfishness, insincerity, covetousness ; controlling un 
lawful desires, checking passion in its first beginning, 
and thus keeping the heart pure and its currents 
flowing in their proper channels. 

Ask yourself, if you find that you fail in charity, 
whether by loving in a wrong way or by failing to love 
as you ought, by loving too much or loving too little, 
ask if there is any one of the ten commandments you 
are deliberately breaking. Are you yielding to anger 
or sensuality, or selfishness, or unkindness in speech, 
or discontent, or envy and jealousy ? All these, or any 
of them, injure or wholly destroy that spirit of charity 
which is the Love of God manifesting itself in the 
human heart towards its fellow-creatures. 

Love must thus be trained and disciplined, and the 
" Law is the schoolmaster ". Obey the Law, place your 
self under its commands and restraints, and your love 
will cease to be passion, and guided by reason it will be 
a source of blessing to yourself and to the world, 



THE Revelation which God has given to His Church 
is at once stimulating and disappointing. It is stimu 
lating inasmuch as it deals with matters so great and of 
such vast interest to mankind and affecting us so in 
timately, and it is disappointing in that it fails to 
answer so many questions which we long to have 

It confines itself chiefly to two points to disclose to 
man the meaning and the reason of his present mysteri 
ous state, and the method of his restoration. All else 
is subsidiary to this. The Fall and the Restoration of 
man. The Revelation is made to man and for man, and 
always for practical not speculative ends. It does not 
satisfy our curiosity, however reverent and natural that 
curiosity may be, but confines itself to the purpose it 
has in hand. 

It is remarkable that while the mystery of man s 
being has always been the subject of study and specula 
tion, fascinating and perplexing beyond all others, the 



greatest minds of antiquity seem never to have come 
anywhere near the simple solution which Revelation 
gives that man is created in the Image of God, and 
fallen. He is in the Image of God, and is therefore 
ever haunted by great ideals ; ever seeking after God 
and striving to be God-like. He is fallen, and the jar 
of the fall has dislocated his whole being, and robbed 
him of that supernatural gift which preserved the order 
and harmony of his nature and kept the body under 
the control of the spirit 

Wherever we turn throughout history we know that 
men were feeling that struggle of the flesh with the 
spirit of which we are ourselves so conscious. How 
ever far back we look, however strange the life men 
lived, one thing enables us to bridge the ages and 
to enter into sympathy with them. Whatever their 
interests and aims, and however different from ours, 
these men and women were like us in this at least, 
they knew and felt what we feel. Beneath the surface 
there was the same struggle, issuing as it does to-day 
in the life of each individual, in the victory of the 
spirit over the flesh or of the flesh over the spirit. 
And yet as to the cause of this struggle their specula- 


tions resulted mainly in the conclusion that matter was 
evil and the soul Divine, and that these must struggle 
till the soul should be emancipated and set free from 
contact with matter. 

Now, in the Gospel we find two classes of sayings 
about the body one of warning, the other speaking 
of its honour and dignity. We read such words of 
St. Paul as : " Mortify the members of your body which 
are upon the earth " ; " If ye live according to the flesh 
ye shall die, but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds 
of the flesh ye shall live " ; and again, " He that soweth 
in his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he 
that soweth in the spirit shall of the spirit reap life 
everlasting". The flesh is set against the spirit in 
such passages as being the source of danger, corruption 
and death ; to live after the flesh is to die, to mortify the 
flesh is to live. And then in contrast to these passages 
we read such words as : " Your members are the 
temple of the Holy Ghost " ; " The body is not for 
fornication, but for the Lord and the Lord for the 
body " ; " Shall I take the members of Christ and 
make them members of an harlot?" And in the 
most solemn moments of our Communion with God, 


when we try to forget the flesh and to rise on the 
wings of the spirit, it is on the Body of our Lord 
that we feed our souls. 

And we are conscious of something corresponding 
with both these classes of sayings in our own experi 
ence. There are moments when it seems to us as if 
the source of all the evil were in the flesh ; we feel 
" the corruptible flesh weighing down the incorruptible 
spirit"; we feel the tides of passion and materialism, 
that take their rise in the flesh, wash over and swamp 
the spirit till for the moment the animal nature appears 
to be wholly triumphant. And we know how true St. 
Paul s words are : " If ye live according to the flesh ye 
shall die ". 

But again, there are times when the body itself 
seems lifted up, and partakes of and adds to the joys 
of the spirit. Wave after wave of spiritual joy sweeps 
through the open channels of the flesh, and fills it 
with a new and intoxicating joy, before which the 
pleasures of the flesh seem poor and sickly. At such 
moments we are dimly aware of the possibility of 
the body, after a long process of training and dis 
cipline, being uplifted and spiritualised, and entering 


into a closer and more intimate union with the life of 
the soul, where the lust of the flesh against the spirit 
and the spirit against the flesh would be at an end. 
And then we know that the flesh is not evil nor the 
source of all evil in our life. 

Let us not always say, Spite of the flesh to-day 

I strove, made head and gained ground on the whole ; 

As the bird wings and sings, let us say all good things 

Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more now than flesh helps soul. 

Yet such moments of spiritual exaltation are rare, 
and have often to be paid for by a reaction in which 
the flesh renews with greater violence its assaults upon 
the spirit. They hold out to us no certain prospect 
of such a happy union here on earth as that of which 
the poet speaks when " nor soul helps flesh more now 
than flesh helps soul ". On the contrary, though they 
may be the earnest of a perfect union to come, like the 
Transfiguration of our Lord, a moment of prophetic 
vision of what shall be hereafter, they warn us that 
the warfare has by no means ended, that there is need 
of renewed vigilance and self-discipline. 

But apart from such rare moments of exaltation, 
which support and are themselves illuminated by the 


teachings of Revelation, men might well ask if this 
age-long conflict between flesh and spirit is never to 
come to an end ; if there is no remedy to heal this 
strange discord in the highest of God s creatures upon 

The witness of each individual is that it is persistent 
and unceasing from the dawn of consciousness till it 
is lost in death. That no one can ever remember its 
beginning, and so far as experience goes it has no end 
on earth. That one does not escape from it either by 
yielding to the flesh or by living for the spirit The 
saint bears upon his face the marks of this ceaseless 
struggle ; the most sensual bears those traces of the 
protests of the baffled spirit that show the man is not 
a mere animal. No one has ever yet reached that 
spiritual height where he could relax his watchfulness 
and cease to struggle. There are stories told of those 
who after years of self-discipline and mortification 
grew careless and relaxed their vigilance and fell. 
No, so far as the experience of individuals goes, 
the battle is lifelong and unceasing. Victory of the 
higher nature over the lower can only be gained by 
constant struggle, and being gained it can only be 


maintained on the same condition. If there be a 
moment s respite, beneath the mountain the giant 
breathes, and we must beware. 

Or if we turn from individuals to the evidence of 
the human race it is the same. Wherever we look 
through the past the battle is raging ; there is no sign 
that it has but lately begun ; men seemed to look 
upon it as much as an integral and essential element of 
their earthly life as we do to-day. The lost records 
of the past are constantly being brought to light. 
Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, are yielding up their 
treasures and enabling us to enter more and more 
vividly into those ancient civilisations ; but we do not 
seem to get any nearer the beginning of this inherent 
conflict in the life of man ; nor is it within the power 
of our imagination to suppose that science will ever 
discover for us the records of an age where man was 
at one with himself and supreme master of all his 

Nor does civilisation do anything towards lessening 
this inner conflict. It is as sharp and keen to-day, so 
far as we can judge, as it was thousands of years ago. 
We cannot think of or imagine any of the arts of 


civilisation that could stay it or heal it, or that one 
who is the heir of all that modern progress and the 
developments of later times has to give, suffers from 
this terrible dualism one whit less than the primitive 
savage. The triumph of the flesh may show itself in 
less gross and brutal ways, no doubt, but the conflict 
is none the less keen. And as long as that conflict 
lasts and men know no remedy for it, surely our 
boasted civilisation is but surface deep underneath 
are still burning the fires of the volcano. Many a 
man who has been brought up under all the refining 
influences of his age, living amongst the most culti 
vated and educated men of his day, has thrown ap 
pearances to the winds, and beneath the garments of 
culture and civilisation has shown himself with the 
naked passions of a savage. 

No, however far we look back into the past, this 
dualism is seen wherever man is found, and there is 
no sign or token of its ceasing, nor of the conflict 
between flesh and spirit becoming less acute. There 
is no living member of the human race that can say 
he has found the remedy and made a truce. We who 
are the children of a later age, and have heard the 


prophets of our own day prophesy great things and 
declare the wonders that are to be wrought by science 
and education and a deeper knowledge of the laws of 
life, know full well that however great the enrichment 
of life in material things, and however wide the spread 
of knowledge, not the smallest step has been taken 
towards setting man at one with himself. 

What then is to be the end of it ? We cannot sup 
pose that the God of order and unity created man in 
this state of disorder, an exception to all His other 
works. Yet we find no human record of its beginning ; 
we find no hope, no hint, of any prospect of its ending. 

One of two things alone seems possible if this strife 
is not to be eternal. 

i. Some have lived as though they would trample 
upon and conquer the spirit, till the last spark of its 
life is drowned as the unchained passions of the flesh 
burst forth like the loosened waters and swamp it, and 
unity is purchased at the price of that which raises 
man above the beasts. There have indeed been times 
in the past when it has almost seemed as if it would 
be so. There are men in our own time who seem 
to have well-nigh succeeded in beating out the man 


and beating in the beast. But however low they 
may have sunk, however strong the animal nature 
and weak the spiritual, it still lives on if only to re 
buke and condemn "a spark disturbs this clod, a 
sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go ". Man cannot 
destroy it and be happy as a beast. When he has 
sunk to the lowest depths, " and fain would fill his belly 
with the husks that the swine did eat," he begins to 
dream about his Father s home and the possibility 
of arising from his degradation. He has tried hard 
enough and long enough to destroy the dualism which 
torments him by slaying his spiritual nature men try 
it still but it is impossible, for it is his very self. 

2. Others have sought to bring the inner strife to 
an end by the destruction of the flesh. They have 
looked upon the flesh as a snare in which man, who is 
a spiritual being, has become entangled. If he would 
trample upon it, despise it, starve it to death and try 
to live as much as possible as if he had no body, then 
the spirit would gain strength as the coils of the flesh 
were loosened, and, at last, the soul would cast it aside 
for ever in death like a dishonoured and threadbare 
garment and live henceforth as a pure spirit. 


But against such a theory we may notice two 

(1) The Asceticism that seeks such a deliverance, 
itself bears witness to its untruth. It leaves upon the 
soul that so treats the body the marks of its revenge. 
The body refuses to be so sacrificed without leaving 
the deep impress of its protest in the moral in 
juries which it inflicts upon the soul. We have but 
to look at the effects of heathen asceticism to feel that 
it is a violation of nature. The soul does not rise, nor 
grow strong, it becomes dreamy and unreal. Between 
such practice and that of Christian asceticism there is 
as much difference as there is between life and death. 

(2) On the other hand, the body will often revolt 
against being treated with unreasonable severity, still 
more against any effort to ignore it, and will assault 
the soul with those very temptations from which it 
sought to escape ; if we try to ignore it, it will become 
more insistent in its demands, if we treat it too hardly 
it will make us feel its power. 

We cannot end this inner conflict, therefore, by the 
killing out of either one or the other ; each refuses to 
be slain, and the effort only increases our anguish 


What then, is this discord to go on for ever ? and 
is man to be content to struggle on in darkness with 
no light as to its origin or end ? Age after age went 
by ; the struggle waxed fiercer and fiercer ; times were 
when the flesh seemed wholly victorious and the spirit 
dethroned and dishonoured ; men questioned one an 
other as to what was to be the end. But no answer 
was given till Christ came. And He came and laid 
open not only the secret of the future but of the past. 

His answer to man was this. This dualism that 
rends and tortures you is not of God s making but 
your own. It had a beginning and it will have an 
end. It is the penalty of that act of disobedience 
whereby Adam sacrificed the supernatural union with 
God which held the body subject to the soul. The 
soul unaided is not able to keep the whole nature in 
harmonious order. Man s nature was never intended 
to be complete in itself, it was created so that it could 
only fulfil itself and its destiny by union with God. 
That union was lost by sin. Then began the conflict, 
"the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit 
against the flesh ". But the body however rebellious 
is an integral part of man s nature. He must be saved 


body and soul, or he cannot be saved at all. Men 
must pay the penalty of the Fall, that inner con 
flict which ends only in the separation of soul and 
body in death. But the body shall rise again, and 
the risen and glorified body shall live in perfect union 
with the soul ; then " They shall no more hunger nor 
thirst, neither shall the sun fall upon them nor any 
heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the 
Throne shall rule them and shall lead them unto the 
fountains of the waters of life, and God shall wipe 
away all tears from their eyes." 

The answer then of Christian Revelation to man s 
perplexity lies in disclosing the past and the future, the 
Fall and the Resurrection. And between these, the 
dispensation of Christ, wherein He bestows upon man 
the supernatural gift of grace by which once more he 
is restored to union with God. And this gift does not 
indeed establish that inner harmony which was forfeited 
once for all by the Fall, but it bestows upon him a 
power by which he can gain control over the flesh 
to discipline and train it, to check its rebellions and 
teach it to take its place of subordination as the soul s 
servant and not his master, and thus prepare it for 


the Resurrection when once more body and soul will 
meet and live for ever in that perfect union which 
knows no strife nor discord. 

The doctrine of the Resurrection thus protects the 
doctrine of the Fall. It impresses upon us the fact 
that the body is an integral part of our nature, that 
the conflict between flesh and spirit which was caused 
by the Fall ends when its penalty has been paid, and 
man is restored once more in the completeness of his 
nature. Give up the doctrine of the Resurrection and 
the doctrine of the Fall goes with it, and with that the 
doctrine of the Incarnation : " If there be no resurrec 
tion of the dead then is not Christ risen again, and if 
Christ be not risen again your faith is also vain ". 

And thus, in His Life on earth, our Lord refused to 
deal with man merely as a spiritual being. In all His 
actions, in every work of healing, what was the instru 
ment with which He healed ? It was His Body. His 
Touch restored the dead to life, the moisture from His 
Lips gave light to the sightless eyes, His Fingers pierced 
the closed ears of the deaf and opened them to hear 
ing, the very touch of His garments steeped in the 
power that flowed forth from Him healed the woman 


bowed down with disease. In all His dealings with 
man He dealt with him as a composite being and 
taught him to reverence the flesh. 

And in that kingdom which He came on earth to 
found the Catholic Church it is the same. Every 
great spiritual gift which is given to cement man s 
union with Christ is bestowed upon him through 
material channels. 

Thus would our Lord impress upon His followers 
that the body is an integral part of man s nature, 
neither to be indulged nor ill-treated, but by the help 
of His grace, and by the practice of constant discipline, 
to be brought back to that position of dignity and true 
liberty as co-operator with the soul in the service of 
God, which it held before the Fall. 

And it is in the hope of the Resurrection that this 
is to be done. In its essence and in its motive Chris 
tian asceticism is absolutely different from heathen. 
Heathen asceticism would got rid of the body as an 
enemy to be hated ; Christian asceticism would but 
train it for its glorious life in Heaven. The heathen 
ascetic has ever before him the thought of death ; the 
Christian the thought of the Resurrection. For what- 


ever changes will have passed upon the body in the 
Resurrection, the organic unity between the risen and 
mortal flesh will be preserved : " In my flesh shall I 
see God ". 

The deeds that it does upon earth, the habits it 
forms, the life it lives, must as surely affect its future as 
they affect the future of the soul. Character is stamped 
upon the whole bodily frame ; the way a man walks or 
sits or stands all help to show something of his char 
acter. We are told that every thought is registered 
in the molecular changes which it effects in the 
brain ; and certainly the face is the mirror in which the 
soul is reflected, upon which it stamps with ever-deep 
ening lines its thoughts, its passions, its ambitions. 
The difference between the face of a child and that of a 
man is the same as that between a white sheet of paper 
and one covered with writing, or between that of a new 
garment and one that has been long worn. It has 
been said by a well-known and learned psychologist: 1 
" I believe that we are subject to the law of habit in con 
sequence of the fact that we have bodies. The plas 
ticity of the living matter of our nervous system, in 

1 Professor W. James, Talks to Teachers on Psychology. 


short, is the reason why we do a thing with difficulty 
the first time, but soon do it more and more easily, 
and finally, with sufficient practice, do it semi-mechan- 
ically, or with hardly any consciousness at all. Our 
nervous systems have grown to the way in which they 
have been exercised, just as a sheet of paper or a coat 
once creased or folded tends to fall for ever afterwards 
into the same identical folds." Had we but eyes to 
see, we might take scalpel and microscope and read in 
the bodily frame the moral history of the life of the 
soul that was its tenant. Indeed many a character 
istic is stamped so clearly that none can fail to see it. 
Many we fain would hide but cannot, the tell-tale 
flesh has, so to speak, materialised the thoughts of the 
mind, given them form and shape, and revealed them 
to the world. As the body lies still and silent in death, 
its mystery and its pathos is that it has been the in 
strument and co-operator, and remains the material 
record of the soul s life. No thought ever passed 
through the mind for one brief moment but the body 
took its part and wrote the record. Was ever history 
written with such unerring accuracy as is written the 
history of the soul in the body which it inhabits. 


And this body must rise again. Whatever changes 
it may have to undergo it is the same body, the 
partner of the soul here on earth, the material crys 
tallisation of the life of the immaterial soul ; the 
servant that often gained the mastery and entangled it 
in its meshes and seduced it to sin. The body must 
rise again, bearing upon it for good or evil the traces 
of its earthly life. 

If then we are able to form any conception of the 
condition of the risen body it will help us and guide 
us in the practice of self-discipline. The object of all 
such discipline is to subdue the flesh and bring it into 
a state of obedience, and thus prepare it for its life in 
the resurrection. 

Can we then form any idea of the glorified body ? 
For if we can we shall know better what our aim is, 
and we shall find in it the principles which are to 
govern us in the practice of the discipline of our 
mortal bodies. We shall have a model by which to 
guide ourselves, and we shall not be overbold if we ex 
pect to find here on earth some dim foreshadowings 
of what that life is to be beyond the grave. Now, St. 
Paul gives us in Corinthians xv. four characteristics of 


the glorified body. " It is sown in corruption, it shall 
rise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it shall 
rise in glory. It is sown in weakness, it shall rise 
in power. It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a 
spiritual body." 

We cannot indeed expect to find any tokens of the 
incorruption, or the glory, or the power, or the spiritu 
ality of the risen body while we are here on earth, 
however faithful and strict we may be in the practice 
of self-discipline, but I think we can and may expect 
to experience within ourselves that from which such 
results will follow ; to feel those spiritual movements 
within the soul and that taming of the body which 
is preparatory to it, as the first movements of the 
spring are preparatory to the full glory of the summer. 

Let us consider these four characteristics which St. 
Paul gives us, and see how we can use them as prin 
ciples of self-discipline by which the body may be 
prepared for their full enjoyment hereafter. 

i. "It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorrup 
tion." The body here on earth is ever prone to suffering 
and decay, ever face to face with death, the fuel of life 
is constantly consumed and needs to be supplied afresh. 


We can neither act nor think but by the expenditure 
of energy which, if it cannot be renewed, is soon ex 
hausted. But in the Resurrection all pain and suffer 
ing and decay will have passed away for ever. " There 
shall be no more sorrow nor suffering, for the former 
things are passed away." The shadow of death no 
longer lies across the pathway, it lies behind. The soul 
can look back and see the gate of death thrown open, 
the secrets of the grave laid bare and its mystery 
exposed. Its terrors lie behind. It looks forward 
and sees the open plains of endless life bathed in 
unclouded light. When last the soul and body were 
united, the agony of death was upon it, every nerve 
was on the rack as they grappled in their final struggle. 
And now they have met and are united once more, 
and through the veins there surges the currents of 
a life so strong that the memories of the keenest 
moments of youth seem but like the splutterings of 
a dying candle compared with it. Time has no 
meaning, and work no power of wearying. There 
streams through every channel of the flesh a torrent 
of inexhaustible energy that never flags. Ages go by 
and the body is untouched by time in the exhilaration 


of perennial youth. The energy of the Divine life 
breaths from its nostrils, shines upon its brow and radi 
ates from its presence. How could suffering or death 
approach such a being who fills the whole air with its 
pulsing life. And this is the body which toiled and 
suffered on earth, seeking to husband its failing strength 
and vitality that it might live out the threescore years 
and ten of its earthly pilgrimage. 

And where does the body get this wonderful life ? 
Never in the most exuberant days of youth had it 
anything like it Whence then has it received it? 
The body has not within itself t\\e gift of immortality. 
Yet it knows that with such a life flowing in its veins 
suffering and death are impossible. How then has 
the frail and suffering flesh been so transformed, and 
whence comes that torrent of life that transforms it ? 
Its source is in the soul not in the body, it flows out 
upon the body from the soul. The soul is so strong, 
the vigour of its life so great, that everything gives 
way before it as it goes coursing through the veins 
and flooding the body with its energy. As the dark 
ness flies from the face of the morning sun, so do suffer 
ing and death before this mighty stream of life. 


But whence does the soul get this power? It re 
ceived it here on earth. Its first germs were imparted 
to it at the font. "This is the testimony that God 
hath given to us Eternal Life, and this Life is in His 
Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that 
hath not the Son hath not life." And again, " I am 
come that they might have life, and that they may 
have it more abundantly ". This more abundant life 
given in Baptism is nourished by the Sacraments and 
developed by the struggle with sin. It springs from 
union with Him who is the Fountain and Source of 
Eternal Life. That life now flowing with such energy 
had to be cultivated and developed amidst all the 
difficulties of earth ; often it was so weak and nature 
so strong that its pulses were scarcely felt beating, but 
every struggle strengthened it, every Sacrament in 
creased its power. And now, when the soul s proba 
tion is ended and every difficulty is overcome and 
its union with Christ is perfected, behold the life that 
is in it pours out upon the flesh, transforming it and 
making it partaker of its joys. 

And to gain this glorious gift for the body, the soul 
when on earth had to carry on a constant warfare 


with it to discipline it, to refuse its demands, to check 
its encroachments. Often it had to be stern with it, 
sometimes perhaps to inflict suffering upon it in order 
to tame it. But it is with no Manichaean idea that it 
is inherently evil ; no, it is to gain for it this glorious 
bridal gift of immortality with which to endow it on 
the morning of the Resurrection. 

Let this then be the first principle in the practice of 
self-discipline To refuse to the body all that can 
weaken or delay the soul s union with our Lord. To 
let that be ever the first and ruling aim in life; and when 
the body is insistent in its demands for what might mar 
that union, it is good to remember that by refusing it 
indulgence we are gaining for it a better indulgence, 
even immunity from suffering for all eternity. Every 
such act of self-discipline is inspired by the highest 
reason, and looks through the moment s suffering to the 
gain that it secures for eternity. 

2. "It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory." 
The last that is seen of the body on earth is, as it 
passes beneath the shadow of death and is robbed of 
every ornament of beauty with which life endowed it. 
When next that same body is seen it is glorified, it 


shines with a light that transforms it. " Then shall 
the just shine." Here we clothe ourselves with gar 
ments that are to remind us of our fallen state ; then 
the body needs no garments : " It is decked with light 
as with a garment ". The pallor and dishonour of 
death have passed from it as night passes before 
the coming day. 

But whence has the body this brightness? It re 
ceives it from the soul. The body has become, as it 
were, a lantern through which the radiant soul shines. 
And the soul ? When was it set on fire by this Divine 
light that radiates forth from it and does not consume 
it ? The first spark of that fire was kindled within it 
on earth, and had to be tended and guarded through 
all earth s storms and troubles. " I have come," said 
our Lord, "to send fire upon the earth." It is the 
gift of holiness, the presence in the soul of that Spirit 
who came down upon the Apostles at Pentecost in 
the form of fiery tongues. That fire is first kindled 
in Baptism, and the work of life is to fan it into a 
brighter and ever brighter flame. The fire must be 
within, shining outwards from within. " He was a 
burning and a shining light." First burning and then 


shining. There are many who have a wonderful 
power of catching and reflecting the light of another 
as it shines upon them from without ; such light leaves 
the person who reflects it in darkness when it is with 
drawn. It is not merely the reflection of another s in 
fluence that will adorn both body and soul with light 

We must therefore have the fire of personal holiness 
burning within us and shining forth from us, however 
dimly here, if hereafter we are to shine as stars in the 
Heavens. " Ye," says our Lord, " are the light of the 
world " ; and again, " Let your light shine ". And the 
foolish virgins in the hour of death wakened up to 
find their lamps going out and the door of the 
Heavenly Kingdom closed against them, while the 
wise trimmed their lamps and went forth to meet the 

The work of life, then, is to tend the Divine fire 
of holiness that has been kindled within, against 
every breath that may endanger it, and every holy 
deed and thought helps to feed and fan the flame. 
In proportion to the brightness of the fire that burns 

within when the soul goes forth to meet its Judge will 



be the glory with which it will clothe the body in the 
morning of the Resurrection. <( There is one glory of 
the sun and another glory of the moon and another 
glory of the stars, for one star differeth from another 
star in glory. So also is the Resurrection of the dead." 
And the glory with which these heavenly constellations 
shine is kindled here on earth. 

But there is another fire that may burn within us, 
before whose lurid flames the Divine light grows pale 
and dim and at last dies out. The fire that at first as 
the faintest spark burns in the flesh and grows with a 
fearful rapidity, demanding ever more and more fuel, 
till all that is noblest in the soul is sacrificed to feed 
its all-consuming flames, and the heavenly flame dies 
exhausted and untended. 

Therefore we have constantly to make our choice. 
We cannot keep both these fires alight within us, 
we must starve one that we may feed the other. In 
feeding the Divine fire in the soul the fire within the 
flesh must die for lack of food. We may try to 
trample upon it and extinguish it we may make 
violent and exhausting efforts, only to find that it has 
flamed out more furiously. We shall never put it out 


by such methods. There is only one safe and certain 
way. Use all your efforts in feeding the fire of the 
soul, sacrifice to it all that the flesh could feed upon, 
and that deadly fire will die for lack of nourishment 
" Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts 
of the flesh." He who gives all his thoughts and 
efforts to tending the fire from Heaven will in time 
find that the earthly fire has exhausted itself. 

This is the only safe way to meet the demands of 
the flesh when they rise up against the spirit. In 
directly rather than directly. Positively rather than 
negatively. As the spirit grows stronger the flesh 
grows weaker. No man ever yet succeeded in merely 
chaining his passions. The one remedy is to turn to 
God, to live closer to Him, to deny the body by turning 
all one s interests, all one s energies to the cultivation 
of the spirit, and as the disorder of nature is thus over 
come, the passions, purified and disciplined, sink into 
their proper place, 

3. " It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power." 
When last the body was seen it was in the weakness 
of fast approaching dissolution. It could not minister 

to its own wants. Exhaustion paralysed every mem- 

16 * 


her. With faltering and feeble steps the feet had taken 
their last journey and refused to bear the body farther. 
The hand could not lift the food to the lips, the weary 
eyes could look no longer on the sights of earth, 
and the soul imprisoned in the worn-out frame of the 
body could no longer express itself. As the quick 
breath comes from the heaving chest and burning lips, 
and the sweat stands thick upon the brows, and the 
faltering lips refuse to frame the broken and inarticu 
late words, the dying body presents a picture of the 
utmost weariness and exhaustion. The journey of life 
leaves it cast at the gate of the grave too weak, too 
utterly worn out, to take one step farther. Verily it is 
" sown in weakness ". 

That is the last that is seen of the body before the 
thread of life is broken and the soul slips forth in 

And when next it is seen, it is as a giant re 
freshed with wine. It wakens from the sleep of 
death to find itself renewed, invigorated, energised, 
with a power that is inexhaustible and unwearied. 
Here the body has to drag itself after the mind by 
slow and weary movements, but now the body is borne 


along on the strong wings of the soul, it flashes with 
the swiftness of thought from place to place. The move 
ments of the whole man are in perfect union, no longer 
does the corruptible flesh weigh down the incorruptible 
spirit, but the imponderable flesh, penetrated with the 
energy of the spirit, keeps step with it in its glorious 

Whence then has it received this gift ? It falls to 
sleep in death in the utmost exhaustion, it wakens to 
the life of the Resurrection renewed with an energy 
that transforms it Again we answer, this gift is not 
inherent in the body, it is imparted to it from the soul. 
But whence did the soul receive it ? It showed no such 
power during its earthly life, on the contrary often the 
vigour of the soul s life is gained at the expense of the 
weakening of the body. 

And yet if no such power was manifested in the 
soul here on earth, there surely were anticipations of 
it. There were manifestations of a Divine energy that 
nothing could repress or destroy, an indomitable spirit 
that would lash on the body, however weary or ailing, 
and force it to obey. An energy that was awakened 
by no hope of earthly reward and that was often alien 


to the natural man. It is not of earth but of Heaven. 
It is imparted to the soul through its union with our 
Lord by the gift of Divine grace. It was of this gift 
our Lord spoke when He said, "The zeal of thine 
house hath eaten Me up ". It was of this His great 
servant spoke when he cried, " This one thing I do, for 
getting the things that are behind, I press towards 
the mark to the prize of the supernatural vocation of 
God in Jesus Christ". This indomitable power he 
manifested through his life, bearing along his feeble 
body in the arms of his triumphant soul ; " in stripes, 
in prisons, in seditions, in labours, in watchings, in 
fastings". Nothing could hold back that spirit set 
on fire from above, and the poor exhausted body must 
needs obey and follow as he drags it in his tempestuous 
zeal from east to west, from one end of Europe to the 

And each in his measure and degree must manifest 
some spark of that Divine power here on earth if he 
is to enrich the body with it hereafter. The tired 
body cries out against the soul s activity. The spirit 
is willing but the flesh is weak. Yet eveiy victory 
of the spirit over the flesh will gain for the flesh that 


submits a richer endowment, every surrender to the 
flesh will be for it an eternal loss. Every hour of 
prayer, every night of vigil, every day of fasting, every 
work of charity, every act of mercy done for the love 
of God and kindled by the fire of holy zeal, in spite 
of the protests of the flesh, will strengthen in the 
spirit that Divine energy which will enable it in the 
morning of the Resurrection to endue the body with 
its strength. 

4. " It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual 
body." We must not suppose that when St. Paul says 
"it shall rise a spiritual body," he means that it shall 
cease to be a body. Let me repeat it man is by 
nature composed of body and soul ; he will never be as 
the Angels, pure spirits. " He took not hold of the 
Angels, but of the seed of Abraham He took hold." 
Human nature after death is not changed into angelic 
nature. By a spiritual body it is not meant that the 
body has ceased to be a body, and that man has 
undergone so fundamental a change that he has prac 
tically ceased to be man. What then does it mean ? 
It means that the body receives some of the attributes 
of a spirit, that it lives henceforth a spirit s life, it 


becomes spiritualised. There is something analogous 
to this in the natural order. The most solid sub 
stances under the action of heat take the form of gas ; 
though they remain chemically unchanged their pro 
perties are so changed that it is impossible for the 
untrained eye to recognise them ; a heavy mass be 
comes buoyant, elastic, transparent, and a weight that 
a strong man could not lift floats as vapour in the air. 

And something analogous to this takes place in the 
risen body. The soul aflame with the fire of God s 
Presence acts upon the body as fire upon solid matter 
and transforms and spiritualises it The heat of the 
burning soul transmutes it. It is flesh still, as truly as 
every atom of the steam was once solid ice, but it is 
spiritualised, transformed, glorified. The intensity of 
the spirit s life radiates through every nerve and fibre, 
burns out all that is gross and earthly, and lifts it into 
a perfect partnership with its own glorious life. 

And this power which works such wonders in the 
Resurrection is bestowed upon the soul here on earth, 
and if it is to produce its full effects hereafter it must 
be developed amidst the difficulties of this life. The 
soul by the power of Divine grace and kindling with 


the fire of the Love of God must strive as much as may 
be to spiritualise the body, refining it, and purifying it 
more and more from the coarseness and grossness of 
its natural state. There are many things short of sin 
in which the body can be permitted or refused indul 
gence all those things by which the light of faith 
is dimmed and the soul is endangered of losing some 
of its lustre. The stronger the hold the good things 
of this world have upon the body the weaker the soul 
becomes. There is such a thing as living in the 
senses the delight of the senses in their own en 
joyment what St. Paul calls " walking after the flesh ". 
It is not what is ordinarily meant by sensuality; one 
may live such a life and never even be tempted to 
sensual sin. But it is the reverse of spiritual. In pro 
portion as one lives such a life the spiritual life be 
comes weakened and the things of faith lose some of 
their power. 

In the struggle with the body to overcome this 
tendency, to walk in the spirit not after the flesh, 
to deny it pleasures that though not sinful have the 
danger of becoming inordinate, the soul develops that 
power which in the Resurrection lifts the body into 


that union with itself by which it is " raised a spiritual 
body ". 

We are permitted for our encouragement sometimes 
to see here on earth men and women who have so ad 
vanced in the spiritual life that they seem to have 
come as near this as it is possible in this life. Their 
bodies seem almost etherealised. They satisfy its 
wants so far as it is necessary to keep it alive, and 
that is all. They reduce its wants to a minimum, 
but their life, their joys, are chiefly those of the spirit. 

Thus the Resurrection becomes the most practical 
thought in the daily life of the devout Catholic. The 
vision whose dim outlines are ever before his eyes 
becomes the model by which he works, and its laws 
the principles by which he trains the body for 
its Beatitude, when the dualism of earth will have 
ceased, and, grasped in the mighty arms of the soul, 
it enters into its joy and partakes of its glory. 



THERE are two words that constantly keep ringing 
the changes throughout the teaching of our Lord and 
His Apostles. One is " Life," and the other is " Death ". 
And different people, according to their difference of 
temperament and training, take up one or other of 
these words as the keynote of their spiritual life. 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, say some, " is a Gospel 
of Life. It breathes with the vigour of a fresh 
energetic life from beginning to end. In Him was 
Life and the Life was the Light of men. * I am come 
that they might have Life, and that they might have it 
more abundantly. They will not come unto Me 
that they might have Life/ * I am the Resurrection 
and the Life. He that believeth in Me shall never 
die. I am the Bread of Life. < The Law of the 
Spirit of Life hath delivered me from the Law of Sin 
and of Death. From first to last it is full of this 

thought of living rather than dying, of giving forth 



rather than restraint, of letting yourself go in ener 
getic action rather than holding yourself back in 
timid self-repression. What we need is not to die 
but to live and to live more abundantly, to die to sin 
by living to righteousness, conquering evil by good. 
If we thought less of ourselves and gave ourselves 
out more to others, we should get rid of a multitude of 
faults bred of self-analysis and morbid self- repression." 

And so these men tell us that the Gospel is a 
Gospel of Life ; and in Life not death, in action rather 
than in mortification we are to find the remedy for 
our needs. And as we hear them speak, still more 
as we watch them live, we feel that they certainly 
have not got the whole of the truth, and part of a 
truth is often very misleading. There is too much 
talk about life and living to be healthy, too much of 
the very self-consciousness that is deprecated, too 
little taking in it all seems to be giving out, and a 
good deal of it a waste of energy. Somehow such 
people, though they may quote the words of our Lord 
about living, seem very far from reproducing the 
calm strong life that He lived and taught. 

And then there are others who read the teaching 


of our Lord very differently, who say : " Nay, but His 
Gospel is a Gospel of Death, its message of hope and 
joy is only for those who are ready to give up all and 
to die for it * If any man will come after Me let 
him deny himself and take up his cross daily and 
follow Me. He that saveth his life shall lose it, he 
that loseth his life shall find it/ * Unless the grain of 
wheat falling into the ground die it remaineth alone, 
but if it die it shall bring forth much fruit. We are 
buried with Him by Baptism into His Death. If ye 
live after the Flesh ye shall die, but if ye through the 
Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live. 
I die daily, says St. Paul, I bear about in my body 
the dying of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel of Christ 
is a Gospel of death. We must die to everything that 
is of earth that we may gain the things of heaven. 
We must mortify every earthly passion, every human 
feeling and desire. The very beauty of this fair earth 
has its subtle danger ; better turn our backs and close 
our eyes to it and wait for the beauty of that land 
that lies beyond." 

And as we listen to such words, and watch the lives 
of those who teach them, we feel, again, they may 


have part of our Lord s teaching, but certainly they 
have not the whole. And in their lives we feel the 
chill and the rigour of death, but a death that has 
little cheer or hope and still less love. We must 
always respect the sincerity and courage of those who 
are ready to deny themselves, and who reduce life s 
pleasures and comforts to a minimum. But we do 
not feel inclined to follow them, or to believe that 
they have the true secret of that Gospel which sets 
men s hearts on fire. God has not given us things 
merely that we should give them up, or powers merely 
that we should not use them. 

For the fact is, that each of these has taken but 
one side of our Lord s teaching and ignored the other. 
These two words, Life and Death, ring out with equal 
distinctness and ever- recurrent rhythm, one always, 
following close upon the other. Now He seems to be 
speaking about that Life which He came to give, and 
which He would have us live, and, lo, He is speaking 
of Death ; and again, He is speaking of the Cross and 
the Tomb, and behold it is of Life He speaks. They 
are never separated in the teaching of our Lord. 
Neither life stands alone nor death alone. And it is 


the part of those who would follow Him to reconcile 
these two principles in their own practical lives. No 
doubt it is easier to take one of them and try to pro 
duce that, but it will not be the Christian life. You 
may die to everything that the world has to give, or 
you may live with the stream of life ever at full flood, 
but you will not have that exquisite grace, that wonder 
ful blending of opposite characteristics so free from 
extremes, so essentially true, that is the marked pro 
duct of the faithful following of the teaching of Christ. 

No wonder, if it reconciles life and death which are 
ever in deadly antagonism, that it brings together 
and harmonises in the soul other characteristics that 
seemingly are irreconcilable. 

We must, then, in our practical life constantly bring 
together these two principles of life and death. Death 
must ever suggest, nay, if I may say so, bring with it, 
some new experience of life, and life must always 
have upon it the shadow of the tomb, or, better still, 
the light that shines upon it from the other side. 
Death is not all darkness, nor life all light. The light 
of life illuminates and warms the pallor of death. 
The daily dying is robbed of the chill coldness of the 


tomb, for in the agony of death the heart seems only 
to grow warmer and more human. And the life is 
freed from the noise and bluster that so vulgarises it, 
and gains something of the reverence and restraint of 
the chamber of death. A life without any mortifica 
tion quickly runs to seed, and mortification practised 
as an end in itself soon degenerates into hardness and 
cynicism. In every act of dying we must gaze into 
the tomb with the Magdalene till we see it trans 
formed by the vision of life and beauty that lies be 
yond it and shines through it. And in every act of 
living there must be just that element of mortification 
which prevents us from draining life down to the dregs 
and exhausting its energies in the death of decay from 
which there is no door into any life beyond. We 
all know the weariness and disappointment that flows 
quickly upon the footsteps of self-indulgence. 

We must keep before ourselves constantly in the 
practice of mortification this principle, if we would get 
good from it instead of harm. There is no particular 
advantage in the mere act of giving up what we like. 
The idea of giving up the good things of this life, its 
pleasures and enjoyments, simply because it is better 


in itself to be without them, is assuredly a mistaken 
one. There is not necessarily any spiritual advantage 
in the mere act of depriving ourselves of anything in 
itself harmless. The fact of not having does not make 
a man better than the fact of having. Many a man 
suffering from grinding poverty would conceivably 
have been a better man and a better Christian if he 
had not been so poor. In itself it is better, broadly 
speaking, to have than not to have, to have a full life 
than an empty life, to have health and friends and 
the power of enjoyment than not to have them. A 
man who has everything that this world can give him 
is not necessarily a worse man or a less spiritual man 
than one who has nothing. 

Still less can we suppose that the pain of an act of 
sacrifice is in itself > as pain, pleasing to God. That in 
giving up a pleasure or an indulgence or an easy life 
the essential value of the sacrifice is the amount of 
suffering it costs us. Surely not. The suffering, how 
ever important an element it may be, is accidental. 
There are not a few who think that in proportion 
as they cease to feel the pain of some act of self- 
denial it loses its value, and they often torture them- 



selves with fear because they do not suffer more. 
When prayer or self-denial becomes a pleasure to 
them they feel as if a good deal of their value was 
gone. No doubt suffering has its own great and 
mysterious office as a means of purifying the soul, and 
as penance for sin, but that is a different thing. I 
am considering it now merely as an element in mor 
tification and self-sacrifice, and the idea that it is the 
essential element upon which the value of any act of 
self-denial depends is assuredly non-Christian. 

And yet again, the practice of mortification is not 
based upon the idea that the things we give up are in 
themselves bad. There has always been a tendency 
with some minds to regard certain things that have 
been abused by many people as in themselves evil. 
Everything in the world has been created by God, 
and on the morning of Creation " God saw all that 
He had made, and behold it was very good ". Those 
things that have caused the greatest evil upon earth 
are good and capable of doing good. The evil lies 
not in the things, but in the men who abuse them and 
become enslaved by them. The abuse of narcotics 
has been the curse and ruin of many a man s life, yet 


the proper use of them has saved many another. 
" The love of money is," says St. James, " a root of 
all evil," yet in the hands of a good man money is an 
immense power for good. The Church has often been 
pressed to condemn things that have been the source 
of much evil, and has been looked upon as lukewarm 
because she will not take the extreme view that is so 
often taken by those outside, but she has ever been 
firm in maintaining that " every creature of God is 
good, and nothing to be rejected if it be received with 
thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the Word of God 
and prayer". 

Therefore, in the practice of mortification, we do not 
condemn those things which we give up. We do not 
throw the blame upon them but upon ourselves. He 
who grows in the Christian spirit of mortification 
looks with no cold eye of contempt upon the fair 
world in which he lives, still less does he condemn 
those who use what he gives up. The condemnation 
he reserves for himself alone, and he regards with 
reverence those things from which he turns away, 
If there be in him any touch of bitterness or hard 
ness, or any spirit of condemnation of those who 


enjoy what he has abandoned, we know that he has 

For the value of mortification is as a means to an 
end, it is the end that interprets and sanctifies the 
means. And the end is not death but life. It is not 
the act of mortification in itself nor the pain that it 
costs which gives it its value, but what it gains. 
It is not the mere giving up but the receiving. The 
surrender of something good in itself for something 
better. The pain of the sacrifice is valuable as a 
witness and test of the worth of that for which the 
sacrifice is made and the faith of him who makes 
it. It is a surrender of the lower for the higher, the 
dying to things less worth having to win things more 
costly. The act of dying is but the passage into a 
larger life. We do not die for the sake of death, but 
as being the only way to break through the barriers 
that hold us back from a better and wider life. The 
martyrs have been known to sing Te Dcums in the 
flames and on the rack they caught glimpses of the 
life to which death was the short and painful passage 
but it was on the life beyond that their eyes rested. 
It was for them the condition of entering into the 


glory beyond, and they trod with kindling eye and 
outstretched hand that fiery passage, eager to seize 
upon the life to which it led. So St. Paul says of our 
Lord : " For the joy that was set before Him He en 
dured the Cross ". In the darkness He saw the light 
and reached towards it. In His Passion He pressed 
forward to the Resurrection. 

We often dwell upon the act of sacrifice, upon the 
chill of a mortified life, upon the sternness of the de 
mands of Christ, as if such acts ended in themselves, 
but we should look through and beyond them to that 
for which alone they are made and for which alone 
they are worth making, and see the pathway of death 
made radiant with the light of the life beyond. 

Such an idea of mortification robs it of its gloom, 
still more of all that charge of unreasonableness which 
is sometimes brought against it. We can gain no 
thing worth having in this world without paying for 
it. To acquire anything however fragile and perish 
able we must part with something we already possess, 
which we value less than that which we would ac 
quire. If we do not think it worth the price we do 
not pay it. The law of gaining possession is the 


parting with what we value less for what we value 
more. He would be unreasonable who only thought 
of the price he paid instead of the thing he purchased. 
He forgets his loss in the joy of his gain. It is the 
possession that his mind delights to dwell upon rather 
than the cost. A man cannot keep his money and at 
the same time get what he has set his heart upon hav 
ing. The question is, which he values most ; and our 
Lord says, " The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a 
treasure hidden in a field, which a man having found 
hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that 
he hath and buyeth that field ". The pain of parting 
with everything was lost and forgotten in the joy of 
his new possession. The predominant feeling was 
joy not sorrow, gain not loss. The pallor of death 
is lighted up with the glory of the life beyond. 
" Mortality is swallowed up by life," 

Such then is the principle of mortification taught 
by our Lord and exemplified in the lives of a vast 
multitude that no man can number. It is in truth 
the carrying out of a natural law in the spiritual life. 
The Saint is but doing in the higher sphere what is 
done every day in the market-place. The principle 


is, " Little for little, much for much, and all for all ". 
He who values this life more than the life beyond the 
grave will purchase its pleasures and enjoyments at the 
price of that life. He who believes that he was made 
for eternity and that in that other world is his home and 
happiness, will be ready to sacrifice this world for it; 
and he who so believes and finds anything here on earth 
come between him and the life which he has chosen 
will be ready, at whatever cost, to give it up. For the 
joy of the hidden treasure he is ready to sell the field. 

But it is not always to the next world that we have 
to sacrifice this. There are ever rising before us while 
here on earth worlds of higher possibilities than that 
in which we dwell. And as the visions of such worlds 
rise before us and stir our hearts with the desire to 
enter into them, the law by which we enter is always 
the same. If we would rise into a world above us 
we must sacrifice the one we dwell in. We cannot 
keep hold of this and at the same time pass up. The 
boy looks into the great world of manhc*)d and sees 
the larger life of those who dwell there, but he cannot 
enter into it till he dies to his boyhood and gives up 
its pleasures and its occupations and passes up into 


the world above him, into which he had so long gazed, 
of which he had dreamed, for which he had prepared 
himself. And so the young man looks up out of a 
life of idleness and pleasure-seeking into the more 
strenuous life of thought and usefulness. He looks up 
and sees those who live in that higher world, he feels 
its attraction and at the same time the strength of the 
bonds by which he is held in his present world ; that 
higher world is all around him, appealing to him by 
its promise of better things, and its vision makes his 
low world of pleasure look very small and limited and 
poor, but he can only pass into the higher by the law 
of sacrifice and mortification, he must seek the things 
of that world above him, set his affection upon it and 
mortify the members of his body that cling to and are 
entangled in that lower world in which he lives. If 
he cannot die to the old life he cannot live to the new. 
It offers itself with all it has to give, but he must make 
his choice, live and die exhausting his powers in the 
narrow life of pleasure, or dying upwards into a life 
that opens out wider prospects and stirs his heart by 
more stimulating hopes. Those who watch him as he 
passes into the new life see the meeting and blending 


of death and life, the death agony to the old, the birth 
pangs into the new, they see how truly life is the 
other side of death, the pain of breaking away from 
some old habit or association the price of being able 
to enter into some keener enjoyment. " Mortality 
is swallowed up by life." 

And these worlds of new promises and better hopes 
are always opening before us, calling us to enter and 
make our own the good things they have to give, but 
always upon the same condition, none can pass upwards 
save by dying to the lower. We may live in the narrow 
world of self-centred egotism, measuring every one and 
everything by the petty standard of their relation to 
ourselves, and we may rise and pass upwards into 
ever-widening spheres of thought and interest and 
activity, till self has been lost sight of in the crowding 
claims that press from all sides upon heart and brain. 
How hard it is to rise, how fast each bond binds us 
to the lower life, how dim and impalpable the vision 
of the world above us till we enter in and take pos 
session ; and how substantial the grip of those things 
for which we live, till with pain and tears we break 
away and die upward into the world above ; and then 


how poor and shadowy and worthless the world we 
leave seems when looked at from above, like the toys 
of childhood seen by the eyes of a man. 

So we pass onward and upward from the lowest to 
the highest edge of the kingdom of human nature, 
ever dying that we may live more fully, the pathway 
of our life strewn with those things which once we 
valued and cast away that we might fill our hands 
with things more precious. The eye becoming more 
keen of vision to see the true value of things, the hand 
more sensitive to their touch. 

But can we rise no higher? Is the limit of our 
natural power the limit of our possibilities ? Are all 
our resources to be found within ourselves and the 
sphere of their activities in the world of men and 
things around us ? No. There are times when most 
men feel capacities for greater things than this world 
supplies. A possibility of knowledge and action that 
craves for a wider sphere than they can find here on 
earth, a power of love that cannot be satisfied. Like 
pinioned eagles men beat against the bars of creation 
and would soar aloft to the infinite. Having risen 
through one realm after another in the natural order, 


from a life of pleasure and self-indulgence to a life of 
thought and usefulness, man cannot rest, he would still 
press onward, break through the limitations of his own 
nature and press his way upwards into the kingdom 
that is above him the Kingdom of Heaven. 

But how can he ? Where can he find a lever to raise 
him above himself? All that is human he can do, but 
within the limits of his nature lie the limits of his possi 
bilities. The beast may develop instincts and intelli 
gence that are almost human, but he cannot cross the 
barrier of his own kingdom. No more can man un 
aided enter into the Kingdom of Heaven than the 
beast the kingdom of human life, or the inorganic the 
world of organic life. 

If he is to rise he must be lifted across the barriers 
and placed by the hands of One stronger than he, by 
a Citizen of that Heavenly City, within its realms. 

And in the first of all His Parables, the Parable of 
the Sower, our Lord taught, from the analogy of 
Nature, the conditions under which such a passage 
from a lower kingdom to a higher was possible, and 
that it was the object of His coming on earth so to 
raise man. 


The method by which his transformation is effected 
does not stand alone, a startling exception to all God s 
ways wherever else they can be traced ; on the con 
trary, there is a close analogy between God s method 
of working in the natural and the supernatural order. 
Our Lord bids us look and study in the workings of 
Nature the methods of grace. 

The silent, motionless, inorganic world finds itself in 
close relationship with another world, touching upon it, 
seemingly almost within its reach, yet infinitely separ 
ated from it. A kingdom of life and beauty rich with 
all the manifold variety of form and structure and 
colour. There is a presence there that it feels but 
cannot understand, that rules everywhere and trans 
forms all that it touches. Into that kingdom it cannot 
force its way. It is shut down and held back by im 
passable barriers. It can push its way up into the 
Heavens, or assume strange forms that mimic life ; and 
under the action of certain forces it seems endowed 
with almost the attributes of life, it can press forward 
to the utmost limits of its own domain, as the sea beats 
upon the shore, but it cannot pass them. The barrier 
between the inorganic and the organic cannot be 


broken through from below. There are points of ap 
proach where the two kingdoms seem almost to meet 
and blend, but upon examination it is found that the 
gulf that divides them is really as wide as ever, they 
are separated by an infinite distance. 

There is only one way by which the lower can cross 
the gulf and pass into the higher kingdom. If some 
visitor from the world above will descend and enter 
into the kingdom below and unite itself to it, taking 
the inorganic into itself and communicating to it the 
gift of its own life, and lifting it into the kingdom from 
which it has come, so and only so can it rise. The 
power to rise is not in itself, it is communicated to it 
from another, one who has life, and by union with that 
visitor from the world of life lifeless matter can be 
made partaker of its wondrous gift. The seed descends 
into the earth, buries itself in its womb, takes into itself 
the elements which the earth supplies, makes them a 
part of itself, weaves them into the texture of the 
growing plant, lifts them across the hitherto impassable 
barrier and transplants them into another world, and 
in transplanting transforms. Who could recognise the 
earth thus transformed by the magic touch of life? 


who could have guessed its latent possibilities which 
the seed has revealed ? The form, the colour, the struc 
ture, the organism of the flower it has received from 
the life which was in the seed, but the material of 
which it is made is taken from the lifeless earth. Take 
it to pieces, and you will find nothing but what is of the 
lower kingdom of inorganic matter. The microscope 
can disclose nothing else, except that mysterious hidden 
presence which no eye has ever seen, which binds and 
fuses the various elements of earth in such wonderful 
combinations and harmonises them into a complex 
unity. Whence comes the glory of that fair flower, the 
exquisite blending of its colours, the perfect moulding 
of its petals and the sweet perfume that bathes it in an 
atmosphere of its own ? It comes from the life. It is 
the crown of glory which life can set upon the dull 
brown earth if it yields itself into its hands. As long 
as that presence, unseen yet vibrating through every 
atom, holds them together they live and are partakers 
of the glory of the kingdom into which they have been 
transplanted, if it relaxes its grasp, they turn back 
towards the earth from which they came. When that 
presence is withdrawn, those wonderful combinations 


dissolve, their beauty pales and dies, the gates of death 
are opened that these elements of the earth may pass 
back again into the inorganic kingdom from which 
they were lifted, and the powers of that higher kingdom 
are withdrawn for ever. The earth rose through the 
gate of death, dying upwards into a higher world in the 
grasp of the power into whose hands it yielded. It 
dies back again through the death of decay, into the 
lower world from which it came. 

And our Lord said : " The Kingdom of Heaven is 
like unto a seed which a man took and cast into the 

If man would rise beyond the limits of his own 
nature and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, he can 
only rise by the same laws as those by which inorganic 
matter can pass into the kingdom of life. 

I. A visitor from the higher Kingdom must descend 
into the lower, take into Himself the elements of which 
that lower kingdom is composed, making them His 
own, infusing into them His own Life and holding them 
in its grasp, endowing them with His power, enriching 
them with His attributes, crowning them with His 

beauty, and penetrating them with His Presence, and 



thus transplanting them into the Kingdom from which 
He comes. 

And this was done once for all when "the Word 
who was with God and was God became flesh and 
dwelt amongst us " ; when the King of that heavenly 
Kingdom Himself came down and uniting man s nature 
to Himself lifted it across every barrier that had 
hitherto held it down, burst open the gates of death, 
and bore it in His mighty grasp to the very Throne 
of God. 

And it is done for each one of us individually when, 
in Baptism, the Sower sows the seed of the Incarnate 
life in our nature. Then there is imparted to each of 
us in our weakness a power that, working like a seed in 
the soil, can lift us up above the capacities of our own 
nature, making us, as St. Peter says, " partakers of the 
Divine nature," and transplanting us from the kingdom 
of earth to the Kingdom of Heaven, from the kingdom 
of Nature to the Kingdom of Grace. 

As the earth is powerless to rise till the seed, bring 
ing a new and mysterious force into it, seizes upon 
those elements in it which yield themselves to its 
influence and transforms and raises them, so it is 


with this Divine seed cast into the soil of human 
nature. It enters as a new force into our nature, and 
there is absolutely no limit to the height to which it 
can raise it. It can " take the poor out of the dust and 
lift the beggar from the dung-hill and set him amongst 
the princes, even amongst the princes of the people ". 
And as the earth becomes transformed under the 
moulding force of the life that is in the seed so that 
it is scarcely recognisable, manifesting extraordinary 
powers and revealing possibilities that were unknown, 
so does man s nature under the forming and quicken 
ing powers of grace. It is the seed that reveals to the 
earth its latent powers, wakens them and uses them. 
So does grace reveal man to himself. Coming into 
his nature it shows him what he can be, new uses to 
which his powers can be put, new combinations, new 
developments. Like the seed in the soil it draws 
under its influence various elements scattered through 
our nature seemingly useless and disconnected, and 
weaves them all into a wondrous unity, seizing in its 
strong grasp all that can be laid hold of and taking it 
into its service. It can enable us to do things which 

by nature we could not do, showing us at once our 



own weakness and its power. And as the earth 
under the moulding hand of the life that is in the 
seed reveals magic powers that transform it, so does 
man s nature as he yields to the forming and quicken 
ing powers of grace. It can be as different as the 
waving corn-field, ripe with its golden harvest, differs 
from the barren earth. Where that heavenly seed 
has been planted all things become possible, the 
Kingdom of Heaven with all its riches lies open to be 
entered and taken possession of, " all things are yours 
and ye are Christ s and Christ is God s ". And as the 
flower in all its glory of colour and beauty of form is 
but matter under the new creative influence of life, so 
is it with man, new born into the Kingdom of God 
with the energy of the Divine life acting within him. 
The material, if I may use such an expression, of the 
virtues of the Saints is human, the creative force is 
Divine. The elements out of which the noblest 
Christian virtues are formed are the elements taken 
from the earth of our poor human nature, but the 
moulding force is in the seed "which is the Word of 

2. But there is another law. The seed cannot act 


upon the earth except it surrenders itself to it. In the 
Parable of the Sower our Lord taught that the growth 
of the seed is entirely dependent upon the soil ; if it is 
hard or rocky or thorny it will prevent or mar its 
growth, if it is "good soil," yielding itself entirely 
to the action of the seed, it will bring forth fruit to 
perfection. The earth must surrender itself to the 
new force that has come down into it to raise it up ; 
it cannot rise of itself, it neither has the power nor 
knows the way into the kingdom of its new inheri 

And with man it is the same. All the efforts of 
his nature cannot enable him to do one act above his 
nature, all his intelligence, courage, determination will 
not enable him to pass one step beyond into the King 
dom of God. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the 
Kingdom of Heaven." This is the work of that new 
Life, that transforming force which, like a seed, has 
been planted in him. It is his work henceforth to 
remove every obstacle to the operation of this seed, to 
surrender himself and all his powers to its moulding 
hand. To die out of the lower kingdom up into the 
higher Kingdom into which this gift would transplant 


him. Henceforth his life must be one of mortification, 
dying that he may live, a yielding of nature to grace, 
a surrender of the things of earth to the powers of 
Heaven, a constant mingling of the sadness of earthly 
surrender with the Divine gladness of Heavenly attain 
ment. No doubt there were tears on the faces of many 
an Israelite on the night of their great deliverance, 
the ties and associations of four hundred years had 
to be broken, they had to go into a new world and to 
leave the old, but as the breath of the desert breathed 
upon their cheeks, as its wide spaces opened out 
before them and led them up to the Land of Promise, 
their tears would soon dry, their "sorrow would be 
turned into joy ". 

There is always a sense of loss at first in passing 
from a lower to a higher life, but the loss is soon for 
gotten in the gain, the games of childhood in the 
strenuous work of manhood, the joys of home in the 
claims and interests of the world. And no doubt the 
breaking with those things which hold us down to 
earth is painful. The restraints and customs of civi 
lisation are difficult for the savage, but when he is 
tamed and educated and civilised he knows how great 


are his gains. And as we pass from the undeveloped 
and spiritually ignorant state of the citizens of the 
kingdom of earth and become citizens of the King 
dom of Heaven we enter into "the glorious liberty of 
the Sons of God". This is the mortification that 
the Christian life demands. The surrender of our 
whole selves to the new Life that descends from above 
to sanctify and energise every power and faculty of 
our nature and fit us to enter into the Vision of 

In such mortification there is no unreasonableness, 
for it is the very height of reason to sacrifice the lower 
to the higher, the ephemeral to that which is perma 
nent. There is no gloom, however great the suffering, 
for he who so mortifies himself knows that he is on 
the road to eternal joy, and oftentimes amidst the 
sorrows of earth he gets a foretaste of that peace 
which passeth all understanding. There is no bitter 
ness, for it is the act of Divine Love, it is done for God 
and in God, it springs from no hatred of self, no 
morbid contempt for the things of the world. It 
endows the soul with a Divine tenderness so that how 
ever hard upon itself it is ever gentle towards others. 


In such a one we see first the conflict and then the 
reconciliation of life and death, death conquering one 
form of life and endowing the soul with another and 
a better, death the conqueror and the conquered : 
" Mortality is swallowed up by life ". 



LIFE is the school of character. We are placed here to 
be formed for eternity. We come unformed and plas 
tic into the midst of surroundings that have a singular 
power over us for good or evil . Each of us has latent 
gifts and powers and tendencies, and the forces of life 
act upon us, moulding and shaping us by their strain 
and pressure. And so sensitively are we constituted 
that everything around us affects us, the air we breathe, 
the special place on earth we occupy, the people we come 
in contact with. You can tell something of a man s 
characteristics by his geographical position, whether he 
lives in the north or south, in the mountains or plains. 
The climate in which he lives, the character of the land 
in which he dwells, all have something to say as to 
the kind of man he is. We are sensitive to all, plastic 
to the touch of everything in this wonderful world in 
which we are placed for our discipline and training. 

And as, wherever we go on earth, above us are ever 


the overarching Heavens, whose influences affect every 
thing we see, mingling with all, colouring all, making 
all Nature smile or frown or weep as they will, so the 
Heaven of God s Presence ever bends over us and 
affects our whole view of life. 

And we should probably be surprised to find that 
of all the influences that help to form us, none is so 
great as our conception of the character of God. We 
read in the Gospel of one whose whole life was spoilt t 
haunted and paralysed, by the idea thai God was not 
just, that He expected him to do what He did not 
give him the power to do. " I know thee, that thou 
art an hard man, thou reapest where thou hast not 
sown, and gatherest where thou hadst not strewed, 
and I was afraid and went and hid thy talent in the 
earth." The stern and uncompromising strength of 
the old Puritans, rigid and unmellowed by love, was 
no doubt the outcome of their wrong conception of 
predestination ; and much of the lack of moral fibre in 
our own day can be traced to the prevalent conception 
of the love of God, too weak to hate sin or to punish 
the sinner. Many amongst us have cast aside their 
faith with its inspirations and restraints, because they 


thought it committed them to the worship of a God 
whom they could not even respect, and yet how often 
we have noticed the bitterness and cynicism which 
even this effort to get rid of God engenders. 

Thus some false idea of the character of God may 
mar a noble life, and to know God in His truth as He 
has revealed Himself, has been the inspiration and 
support of the Saints. It is not only a command of 
our Lord, but an instinct of our human heart which 
bids us be God-like. " Be ye therefore perfect even as 
your Father which is in heaven is perfect," said our 
Lord, as He revealed to us the perfections of God ; 
and in whatever our idea of God fails, our own 
character is certain to fail also. 

Now, the last and the final revelation which God 
has given us of Himself is the revelation of His Love. 
It was not given merely through the lips of Prophet 
or Psalmist, it was given in the Person of our Lord. 
Words may be misunderstood or explained away ; not 
so a Life. In the Life of our Lord, in His actions and 
His words, there is revealed to us a Person who radiates 
forth from His Presence a Love which nothing can 
change or destroy. It shines in every act, it throbs 


and vibrates through every word He utters. He does 
not tell us about Himself. We behold Himself. In 
Jesus Christ we see what manner of being God is, that 
the hatred and scorn of men cannot change Him, that 
their sins do but move Him to pity and to help. He 
assumes our nature, that we may see and know Him, 
and never again doubt Him. 

He does not merely tell us that He loves us, but 
He shows us how immense His love is by laying aside 
His glory, entering into all our troubled life, placing 
Himself under the same conditions under which we 
live, seeing and feeling all things from our point of 
view, and laying down His Life for us. "We saw 
His glory, the glory as it were of the Only Begotten 
of the Father full of grace and truth." 

In Jesus Christ we see, we know, we feel the presence 
of a Person, and that Person is the Eternal God. We 
see His infinite compassion for us : " the bruised reed 
He shall not break, and the smoking flax He shall not 
quench". We watch His gentleness towards those 
whom life s cruelty had crushed, His eager love reach 
ing out towards those in whom the first movements of 
penitence had begun. How He impressed on all who 


came near Him His hatred of sin and His love for the 
sinner. Those who had nothing to hope from man 
gained hope from Him ; they felt how His heart went 
out towards them, they knew He was the friend of 
sinners. His words pierced through the fog of self- 
deceit and sin that enshrouded many a soul, like a 
beam of light, and touched their hearts and warmed 
them and brought them to His Feet. 

The life of Christ has thus shown the world what 
manner of being God is. Before, men had heard 
about God ; now they knew Him, and henceforth 
men s thoughts of God have been revolutionised. 
That vision in the Gospels lives on, and will ever live 
to interpret God s dealings with the world, and to 
keep those who turn to it from being hardened and 
embittered by life. 

And yet we must remember that the Incarnation 
revealed, it did not change God s attitude to man. 
God has not loved mankind any more since or any 
less before the Incarnation. The world was old when 
Christ came down into it, and yet, except some rare 
souls here and there, how many knew that God was 


There was God from the beginning, reigning from 
His Throne, ruling mankind as He rules to-day, in 
perfect and changeless love, and the world did not 
know it. To the open eye of the Christian the love 
of God is seen in all His acts ; there are countless 
multitudes all the world over praising Him, thanking 
Him, clinging to Him in suffering and sorrow and 
bitter trials, knowing and feeling that all is sent to 
them in love, for the discipline and perfecting of their 
souls. Yet in the ages of the past men did not know 
that these trials were sent by a loving hand. What 
multitudes throughout Christendom find their whole 
lives satisfied by the thought of God s love, and see 
the whole world radiant with His love ! Yet His 
love is no greater to-day than it was from the first. 
The same love was there, shining as the sun shines in 
the heavens, but, except by a very few, it was unseen, 

Love is the most difficult of all human character 
istics to conceal ; it radiates as heat radiates from 
a fire. If there be one loving person in a household 
his presence warms the whole house. Try as you will 
you will find it hard, almost impossible, to conceal 


your love for a friend. If a sovereign loves his people, 
the whole country knows it. Yet from the beginning 
God loved the whole world with that same love which 
was revealed in the Incarnation and on the Cross, and 
the world knew it not. 

We may well ask, why and how was this ? 

I think it is owing to the fact that for sinful man 
to be able to understand the love of the All-holy God 
he needs an education. Love is the commonest and 
most universal of all human characteristics. There is 
scarcely any one that is not capable of loving. Yet 
when we come to examine it we find that it is very 
different in different people. The love of any in 
dividual will be very largely the product of the whole 
character. The love of a child for its parent is a very 
different thing from the love of that same child for 
his parent when he has grown to man s estate. The 
child s love for his mother is full of the idea of de 
pendence and protection; as he becomes a man it 
gradually changes, and he becomes the protector, and 
the idea of dependence passes into her love for him. 
The young spendthrift s idea of his father s love is 

measured by his power of giving ; when his father will 



give no more he believes it is because he has ceased to 
love him. The love of the sensualist gradually ceases 
to be anything but physical. In a faulty and corrupt 
character love is a poor and corrupt thing. The idea 
of love, in fact, rises or sinks according to the character 
in which it grows. In a savage tribe it will be a very 
different thing from what it is amongst a cultivated 
and civilised people. In a person or in a people in a 
low state of moral development it is a poorer and 
a lower thing than it will be in that same person or 
that same people in a higher moral state. As we rise, 
so does our idea of love rise. " With the pure it is 
pure, with the holy it is holy, and with the perfect it is 

Now we can only have our own ideas of love. We 
may intensify it in thinking of the love of another in 
whom it is stronger than in ourselves, but it is an in 
tensifying of the same qualities. A selfish man will 
always find that the strongest ingredient in his con 
ception of love is selfishness. It cannot be otherwise. 
We only know it as we experience it. A jealous man 
cannot believe that another who has no jealousy can 
really love. I imagine that if there be a person who 


is wholly incapable of love he will be equally incap 
able of imagining it in another. 

Now we know well by our own experience that 
there is nothing so disastrous as for a low and base 
character to have to deal with one of noble character 
who loves him. He takes advantage of it, plays upon 
it for his own benefit, makes his own use of it, makes 
it serve his own unworthy ends ; it helps to drag him 
down and degrade him. 

And thus if men had known from the first that God 
was love, they could have interpreted that love only 
by an exaggeration of their own conception of love. 
" Thou thoughtest wickedly," says the Psalmist, " that 
I am such an one as thyself." What else could they 
think ? They have no scales in which to measure it 
but their own. If they thought of God as infinite, it 
would be but the qualities of their own love in an in 
finite degree. They would in fact have lost all power 
of knowing God as He is. The more they thought of 
God as loving, the more monstrous they would have 
made Him. 

Indeed, is it not true, that in our own day many 

turn away from God because He does not correspond 



to their unworthy or imperfect conception of love ? 
His love is too strong to yield to them and shape 
their lives according to their own desires. His love is 
too far-seeing to grant what would gratify them for 
the moment but would be to their eternal loss. " I 
would not deal with my child," cries a father, " as God 
deals with me ; I would not put him to such suffering 
if I could relieve him." No, for it needs a stronger 
and a purer love to allow a moment s suffering that 
works a more exceeding weight of glory, than to spare 
it and cause an eternal loss. 

It is not, therefore, so simple a thing as it may seem 
for God to reveal His love to men. They would grasp 
at the thought of His love as an attribute that it 
was the easiest of all His attributes for them to under 
stand, and they would they could not do otherwise 
than transfer to the All-holy God that conception of 
love which they drew from the sickly and unhealthy 
growth in their own hearts, and measure His dealings 
with them by their own poor and faulty standard. 

Therefore, before He revealed to them, before they 
were capable of understanding His love, He must 
reveal to them His Holiness. They must first learn to 


know Him as a God who is a lover of justice and a 
hater of iniquity. The first strain of the hymn which 
rises around His Throne from the glorified Saints in 
their ecstasy of grateful praise is " Sanctus, Sanctus, 
Sanctus ". The name we give to those who love God 
most on earth and live nearest to Him is the same 
Saint. It is the Saint the man most God-like in his 
holiness who knows best His love. It is not that 
the love of God is less seen or less known by the saints 
on earth and in Heaven, but that it is known as the 
perfection and bloom of another attribute. Holiness 
is the flower, love the perfume that exhales from it ; 
holiness is the sun, love its warmth and glow. To 
know God s love we must know His Holiness, and to 
know His Holiness we must be Holy. 

But how is sinful and wayward man to know the 
Holiness of God ? God has to take us as we are. 
Nay, even as we are now, we are the outcome of ages 
of discipline and training. How could God in the be 
ginning prepare for Himself a people who would be 
able to realise His Holiness ? We see how earthly His 
people were when He began to reveal Himself. He 
led them up out of Egypt with a mighty hand and 


stretched-out arm. He marched before them in their 
journeys and rested with them in the overshadowing 
cloud in their camp. He fed them with bread from 
Heaven and gave them water out of the stony rock 
to drink, and they became irreverently familiar and 
petulant at His delays. He holds aloof, and they turn 
from Him and make idols to themselves, and say, 
"These be thy gods, O Israel, who led thee up out of 
the land of Egypt and out of the house of bondage ". 
This intercourse with God, His loving-kindness to 
them, seems only to make any deeper and truer 
knowledge of Him impossible, for their familiarity is 

in very truth breeding contempt. 

How then is He to awaken in them that reverence 
and awe which results from realising His Holiness ? 
The vision of His awful Majesty on Sinai only fright 
ened them ; the impression wrought upon their minds 
soon passed away. They stood like children awed 
and terror-struck at the scenes on the mountain as the 
thunder roared and the lightnings flashed and the 
trumpet waxed louder and louder. Yet within forty 
days, before Moses came down to them, they were 
worshipping the golden calf. No ; no mere manifesta- 


tion of His Holiness, no impression made upon the 
mind, however striking, will act with lasting effect and 
waken them to a realisation of the Holiness of God. 
It can only be done by raising them. If they would 
know God they must themselves rise. 

When He would reveal Himself therefore he places 
His people under a dispensation of commands and 
prohibitions " Thou shalt," " Thou shalt not " en 
forcing them by severe punishments, that so in this 
school of strict moral discipline the conception of 
Holiness might be developed within them by their 
own personal experience. How could they form any 
idea of the Holiness of God if their ideas of morality 
were crude and unformed ; and what advantage would 
it be to them to know intellectually that God was Holy 
if they were unable themselves to rise to any moral 
standard ? 

He did not therefore come down to this ignorant 
and earthly minded people and tell them of His Holi 
ness. He did not even at this stage send Prophets 
to them to speak to them of the Holy One of Israel. 
Such language they were not capable of understanding 
as yet. But He points out to them the pathway; 


He gave them the Law, the Ten Commandments, 
and said to them, " Obey this and in time you ll learn 
to know Me". 

It was only, no doubt, by degrees, in the effort to 
obey it, in the struggles with their own sinful nature, 
that there would grow up in the mind of Israel the 
realisation that the Law was itself a revelation of God s 
character. As the moral standard which the Law set 
before them became clearer to them, they would gain, 
in the purer atmosphere of their own lives, the dim out 
lines of the Lawgiver, and they would know that He 
who forbade evil and demanded goodness was Himself 
Holy. Instead of a Being who would deliver them 
from their Egyptian slavery and feed them in the 
wilderness and give them what they needed, instead 
of One to whom they could turn merely to have their 
needs supplied, they were beginning to know the " Holy 
One of Israel". 

Thus the first stage out of a careless and self- 
governed life to any knowledge of God that does not 
harm us, is the placing ourselves under a stern moral 
discipline. For a mere intellectual knowledge of God 
and of holy things robs the soul of all spiritual power. 


We may know a great deal about God, but to know 
HIM we must rise. 

For the barriers between God and man are not of 
God s making, nor are they in the nature of God, but 
of man. We have not to fight our way through 
barriers which God has set round Himself, that we 
may at last draw near and behold Him. No, what 
ever keeps us back from Him is within ourselves. The 
clouds and darkness that seem round about Him en 
wrap our own souls, not Him ; the struggle to attain to 
the knowledge of God is a struggle with ourselves, not 
with a reluctant God that does not wish to be known. 
The conditions of gaining this knowledge are no 
arbitrary conditions. They are above all things rea 
sonable. Strive to rise, to love goodness, so far as 
you can to be good, to put away those things that 
bind the soul to earth, to understand in your own life 
what holiness is, and the vision of God will break upon 
your soul in ever-growing splendour. 

Thus to Israel of old God s first great proclamation 
of Himself came in the form of the Moral Law. He 
gave them a moral standard which they were com 
manded to strive after. They no doubt had little 


knowledge at first of what it meant ; if they broke the 
Law He punished them. The punishment may have 
seemed to them arbitrary and severe. We, as we 
look back, can see that such punishments were the 
utmost mercy. They drove the people back into the 
path that led to God, they kept them in the school in 
which they were being educated in the knowledge of 
God and prepared for greater and still greater revela 
tions. When Nadab and Abiu were struck dead, 
when the earth opened and swallowed up Core and 
his company, when Moses was commanded to put to 
death the man that broke the Sabbath, these were to 
keep the stragglers within bounds, to warn the people 
back, to hold them if no other way would do then 
by fear, in the grasp of the Law, till it had fulfilled its 
work, laid deep within them the strong foundations of 
moral discipline upon which alone the edifice of the 
spiritual life could be built and they could be brought 
into close communion with God. 

And as the law worked in them and raised them, 
so their idea of God would rise almost unconsciously, 
and gradually become transformed. For the Law was, 
within its limits, making them God-like. And as they 


rose step by step in their conception of goodness, in 
conformity with the Mind of God, they got clearer and 
ever clearer visions of the Holiness of the Law-giver. 
"The Law," says St. Paul, "is holy," it taught an 
ignorant and degraded people what Holiness was. 
God ceased to be to them merely the supplier of 
their needs. The petulance of the wilderness yielded 
to a spirit of reverence and awe ; such cries as they 
had uttered in the wilderness " Give us water or we 
die," " Hast thou brought us out of Egypt that 
we might perish in the wilderness?" gave way to 
the deep spiritual utterances of the Psalms. A few 
hundred years of the discipline of the Law changed 
the irreverent familiarity of their peevish complaints 
into the deep penitence of the Miserere or the spiritual 
yearning of the forty-first Psalm. 

And as they grew more disciplined and more spiri 
tual, so of necessity would their idea of love undergo a 
vast change, and consequently, in so far as they gained 
any conception of the love of God, it would be less 
unworthy of Him. For their knowledge of God as 
the Holy One of Israel was now true, so far as it went, 
imperfect indeed, but not as before untrue. And that 


knowledge would develop and unfold as they held 
communion with Him. In their intercourse with the 
All-holy God, filled as they were with the spirit of 
reverence, gradually their hearts would burn within 
them, the consuming Fire of His Divine Presence 
would be felt. They could not gain any personal 
knowledge of Him who, though they knew it not 
as yet in the fulness of revelation, was Love, with 
out gaining some knowledge of that Love through 
communion with Him. In the burning Fire of His 
Holiness they would begin to see the outlines of 
that other attribute which was to be the subject of 
another revelation. They were being prepared, they 
were preparing the world, for that revelation. It 
could not have been given earlier. They would not 
have understood it. Their minds were not prepared 
for it. To know Him as Love without first know 
ing Him as Holy, would only have led them astray 
and unfitted them for ever knowing Him. The moral 
training must come first. They must advance and 
rise before they are fit to know or capable of under 
standing that God is Love. Those long years of stern 
discipline wrestling with the Law written on tables 


of stone, cold, stern, uncompromising, that would not 
yield, but merely condemned them if they did not 
obey, did its work ; it gave them the moral education 
which fitted them for the deeper spiritual knowledge 
It was in very truth the Pedagogue to bring them to 
the revelation in Christ. 

And as before the sun rises the dawn spreads upon 
the mountains, so, long before Christ had come, those 
who stood upon the mountains, who had climbed to 
the heights to which the Law led them, caught the 
first foretastes of the Love which was revealed in its 
fulness in Christ. 


n TO 
1 U J O 


S JyMwvMuSffl^H