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The Consolations of the Cross
Addresses on the Seven Words of the Dying Lord

Given at S. Stephen's Church Boston, on Good Friday, 1902 together with Two Sermons

By Rt. Rev. C. H. Brent, D.D.
Bishop of the Philippine Islands.

New York, London and Bombay: Longmans, Green and Co., 1904.

III. The Consolation of Christ's Love of Home and Nation.

Woman, behold thy Son! . . . Behold thy Mother! S. John xix, 26, 27.

AS yet no word of sympathy had been uttered for Christ: all sympathy had been from Him for others. But at last the two from whom He would most desire an expression of sympathy come nigh,--Mary, the Lord's mother, and John, the beloved disciple; the Virgin and the virgin-souled. John had brought her that she might be near her Son. Perhaps just now the rabble had begun to disperse and the Cross could be reached easily. At any rate they are close enough to catch words spoken from the Cross as they stand in silent sympathy gazing at Him. He sees and recognizes their pain. But He has consolation for them, the consolation of new responsibility: "Woman, behold thy Son! . . . Behold thy Mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home." The mute sympathy shown by the two as they stood near by calls [25/26] out His responsive sympathy, and He binds them together in a new relationship for their mutual comfort and support. Christ establishes this close kinship, He whose earliest thought was of His home duties; He thinks in His last hour of His mother, and gives her into the safe-keeping of His friend.

Is it not a consolation to us that when the Son of God became Man, it was as the Son of Man? He entered into the world along the beaten track, taking His place as a child in the family, as a patriot in the nation, exhibiting to us how to live in the common relations of daily life. He was subject to his parents in the humble life of the Nazareth home. Of Jewish blood, He confined His labours to His own country and people, only touching incidentally the vast world beyond. By deliberate choice He limited the range of His human experience, and through the narrowness of the conditions into which He thus entered, He reached the widest possible sweep.

I. From the manger to the Cross He declares to us the sanctity and opportunity of family life. Cherish therefore the ties of [26/27] home. They are the greatest and grandest things in the world. When they are broken by the inevitable separations that are the common lot, by calls to far-off duty and by the stern summons of death, you will look back with aching heart on the occasions you let slip of being tender and of anticipating the wants of those you love. God gives you a holy trust; accept it, and faithfully meet its obligations; realize your blessings now while they are in your control. The time will come when you will have only a memory of home life. May it be a happy one! For you cannot reclaim the past; the opportunity that through selfishness, or indifference, or thoughtlessness has slipped away is gone forever. There is no pang keener than that of mourning neglected opportunities of tenderness at home. To those of us from whom the opportunity has gone it is only left to pray God to open another hereafter, that in the higher life we may spring to fulfil the duty left undone here. It is a consolation to think that we may be permitted beyond the grave to serve first of all those whom we wounded or neglected here on earth.

[28] 2. For thirty years our Lord counted the home a large enough sphere for His activities. When He ceased to live in the family and to serve it, He served that development of the family which we call the nation.

Two things lay a supreme claim upon us, the family and the nation, the latter being second only to the former: the nation is but the family writ large. That which corresponds to filial love in the home is termed patriotism in the nation. The one leads to the other. The best citizens are the truest sons. Now Christ was a patriot. Look at His title as He hangs on the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." To the last He served the lost sheep of the house of Israel, though He longed to touch with compassionate hand the yearning Gentile world. So loyal was He to the people of His blood that, in spite of the fact that His self-chosen title, the Son of Man, indicated His relation to all mankind, His followers strove to claim Him as the special property of a few. St. Paul spent a lifetime trying to make men realize that Jew and Greek, bond and free, had equal rights, [28/29] equal claims, in Christ Jesus. It was hard for them to understand how one could be loyal to one's own nation without despising other nations.

Christ was indeed the universal man. He alone had the right to say, "My country is the world, and all mankind my countrymen." But He claimed this right by means of home and country. At the beginning you can best, you can only, serve your country by serving your family; then later you will awake to the gladness of serving the world by being a loyal citizen of your country. Two characteristics marked our Lord's patriotism and separated it from what had gone before, lifting all patriotism to a new level of beauty and perfection, (a) His love of His own nation was illustrative of His love for all peoples as well as the means of creating and maintaining it. (b) He loved the Jews not for what they had been or were, but for what they were capable of becoming and ought to be.

(a) Christ's national love was not exclusive. The Jew of old emphasized his love for his own race by an uncompromising [29/30] hatred of the outside world. Whereas Christ's love of His chosen people was an index telling of His love for the whole human race of every kindred and tongue. In our day we need such a pattern of patriotism, for the old Jewish spirit lingers. National self-applause is as ill-bred and vulgar as personal conceit,--and doubly so when the deficiencies of other countries are exhibited as a foil for our own imagined perfection. Spread-eagleism is a sin as well as a vulgarity. Amongst us, too, frequently it is considered necessary to hate a competitive nation or to foster those race prejudices, the roots of which are buried deep in the past, in order to display what we deem an adequate degree of patriotism. Never was there a more deadly or dangerous fallacy. Just as well might we argue that in order to exhibit filial love and true devotion to our family, it behooves us to hate every other family in town. The law of equal love applies to the broad stretches of life as exactingly as in personal ethics. It is a principle of profound importance that we should love our neighbour nations as ourselves; that we should [30/31] render them rich service, when necessity requires at cost to ourselves. It is not the "peace conference" or the amenities of diplomatic relations that will bind together all nations in unity and concord, but rather the growth of that higher patriotism that learns to look with disinterested eyes on the concerns of other countries as though they were its own, that would blush to secure an advantage for itself at the cost of wounding the life of a foreign state, that would not hesitate to be generous to a people in weakness and need, be the sacrifice that is entailed never so great. When the common people, who are the nation, foster the spirit of international sympathy, then, and only then, can we hope for international peace.

(b) Again, Christ's patriotism protested against the slavish adherence to tradition that coiled around the Jewish nation until its deepest life was extinct. He coveted for His people freedom, daring in ventures untried, in fields unwon. We know how in Church life the letter killeth. It is equally true in the life of the State. If the literal use of the Bible means death to the Spirit, much more does [31/32] the literal use of the greatest Constitution ever framed involve death to the State that gave it birth. Better were it to have no Constitution than to have a good one and to worship it. The Magi without a Bible were richer than the Pharisees with the law and the prophets. Christian patriotism reverences the past, but tunes its life to the future. It lingers fondly over its traditions; but will not consent to become a slave to them. It meets present needs with conscience and mind alert to use what the situation demands. Some of our most prominent statesmen trusted the written Constitution, but not the government of and by the people: they trusted the men of yesterday and their work, but not those of their own generation. That is, they believed in and loved their country for what it had been and not for what it might become. True patriotism believes that God holds the nation in His hand to-day not less than yesterday, and guides and controls its destiny from moment to moment. When clouds of national misfortune lower, when novel and grave perplexities vex the soul, when the ship of State is called upon to set its [32/33] sails in foreign seas, it is then that the true patriot trusts his fellow citizens most, and holds himself ready according to his capacity and opportunity to serve his country with willing hands and hopeful heart. Christ peers into the souls of men, even into the darkest corners, and draws pearls therefrom: in the Samaritan woman, in publicans and sinners, He discerns potential saintliness. At the darkest moment in Jewish national history he perceives its greatest opportunity. He has ever in His mind what they may become, the spiritual masters of the world. It is only on the eve of His death that He shuts the door of opportunity to His nation when it refuses His last offer. The Jews prefer selfish exclusiveness to universal service. Their self-chosen penalty is national disintegration and conspicuous impotence,--the ultimate doom of every self-centred nation.

May God plant deep family affection and Christian patriotism in our land, so that we may love not merely with our emotions, but with our energies, and see and use all our opportunities in home and State. May those who are already active aspire to a still wider [33/34] reach of filial and patriotic love toward which to move.

Let us pray for our families and for our Nation.

AT the cross her station keeping
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Where He hung, the dying Lord;
For her soul of joy bereaved,
Bowed with anguish deeply grieved,
Felt the sharp and piercing sword.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Now was she, that mother blessed
Of the sole-begotten One;
Deep the woe of her affliction,
When she saw the crucifixion
Of her ever-glorious Son.

Who, on Christ's dear mother gazing,
Pierced by anguish so amazing,
Born of woman, would not weep?
Who, on Christ's dear mother thinking,
Such a cup of sorrow drinking,
Would not share her sorrows deep?

For His people's sins chastised,
She beheld her Son despised,
Scourged, and crowned with thorns entwined;
[34] Saw Him then from judgment taken,
And in death by all forsaken,
Till His spirit He resigned.

Jesu, may her deep devotion
Stir in me the same emotion,
Fount of love, Redeemer kind;
That my heart fresh ardor gaining,
And a purer love attaining,
May with Thee acceptance find.


GRANT, O Lord, that whosoever are joined together in the holy estate of Matrimony, may faithfully perform and keep the vow and covenant between them made, and may remain in perfect love together unto their lives' end.

O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour to behold and bless thy servant The President of the United States, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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