MARCH, 1874. Missionary Work in General.
I CANNOT give you any counsel as to your settlement until I know something of its circumstances. I am hoping soon to know. May God grant you wisdom in all your plans! Although we are so much crippled at home, I find that there is great strength to our Society in your two foreign embassies. God will not suffer us to want because of any effort that we may make for the heathen. Your letter about Egypt does indeed make one long for the time when Egypt shall be third with Israel and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land, and we must look for the land of Sinim at last to yield her children to God. There seem to be fresh disturbances in China which one hopes will prepare the way. Meanwhile we have charge of India. Oh, how one begins to realize very slowly the small extent of the conquest of the world which has yet been effected for Christ! Is it not that we have striven to conquer for Him, instead of letting Him go forth conquering and to conquer, while we humbly come after His victorious steps? Yes. Always remember that He must win the victories. We have to watch and pray and toil and talk, but all is empty words unless He smite the nations with the rod of His mouth, speaking through us by the power of the Holy Ghost.
GOOD FRIDAY. Redemption--European Work--Collect for Good Friday,
MAY the power of our Lord's redemption be very abundantly manifest in your mission. In the midst of the heathen the act of redemption seems to come more prominently before the soul. In a Christian community, however much people may be living below their Christian calling, the various gifts of sanctifying grace often put the work of redemption practically aside. It is acknowledged as a dogmatic truth--at least it is well if it is so acknowledged--but it seems to be a natural thing to be among the baptized, and Satan's natural hold of us is thus ignored. But it is a glorious thing to turn any from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, and I hope our Society will be blest of God for the accomplishment of this.
One man cannot do everything. Take care that the European work is well subordinated to work for the heathen. Our collect to-day for "Turks" had a meaning which far surpassed any former Good Friday. We felt we were praying not for abstract Turks but for a people within reach.
APRIL 9. Regeneration.
THANKS for the Mirror. It is interesting to see that notice of our Society written from a heathen point of view. I should be glad to have any Brahmo publications. . . . What one needs to bring home to their minds, I think, is the necessity of regeneration. I should think their Brahman training would in a great degree fit them to receive this truth. This world into which we are born is a world of death. We must die to it in order to live. But then we need to be born into a higher life before we die, lest we perish in death. This, therefore, is the record "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 of God hath not life." This world bears upon its surface the evidence of being a world of condemnation from which we need to be delivered. Modern Christianity has so miserably lost sight of this standpoint of Christian teaching as given us so plainly by S. John. The idea of legal satisfaction has taken the place of regeneration, first in the moral theology of the Western Church, and then in the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith. The idea of mortal sins being committed by the unbaptized is fatal to the acknowledgement that they are altogether dead in sins. So, throughout, sin is considered as an impediment to enduring God's judgement, rather than as a forfeiture of the divinely-communicated life. There can be no salvation out of Christ, not because God would punish the heathen, but because the state of punishment in which they are remains upon them, and can only be taken away by their being taken into Christ. "When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall" we "also appear with Him in glory." Modern Christianity says that the wicked will die. S. John says that all who do not come to Christ are dead. The transmission of our nature in a dead and guilty state from generation to generation is, I should think, an idea that the Brahman mind would receive. The individual being thus involved in the collective substance of the race is akin to their own teaching; and so the substance of Christ being the regenerating principle to the new race of the baptized, and consequently our eternal life and salvation being not a matter of simple individual reward but of grace--reward to Christ the head, derived from Him to His members. Hence the necessity, with a view to salvation, of accepting the Catholic Faith with a view to incorporation into Christ, and thus, after this, but not before, a judgement according to works, by which the saved people shall be tested whether they be worthy of eternal life or no, as is set forth in the much calumniated and much misunderstood Athanasian Creed. I was surprised to read in Trench's Lectures on Plutarch how he had caught the idea of the seminal principle of humanity containing in its transmission a quality of merit or demerit. A Hindu ought to find this much easier of acceptance than a Greek. The attention to the more or less of actual sins in Western casuistry seems to me to have put almost out of sight the doctrine of original sin as a practical consideration. It remained as a doctrine, but being disregarded as a practical reality it generated a sense of injustice, as if its penalty were only akin to the penalty of actual sins, and so there followed European unbelief. Meditate frequently on S. John iii and on his first Epistle. They contain the true principles of conversion.
S. PHILIP AND S. JAMES. Poverty.
YOUR Holy Week must have been a strange one. It was the furnishing and preparing of the upper room. I hope the Master will indeed come to the house, not merely for a transitory feast, but for a permanent habitation. I am sure you will not be extravagant. Of course you must have certain appliances in that climate for health's sake. It would be false economy to squander strength or life, but I would try to keep the house as much to native simplicity as is compatible with such requirements; and keep the chapel also seemly for worship, and clean, but within the limits of religious poverty.
Much love to all the community, for those whom I know not by face I seem to know with an intense sympathy as the firstfruits of India to welcome us in the love of Jesus.
FRIDAY AFTER ASCENSION DAY. Sickness--English Work--Spiritual Life--Special Providences--The Kingdom of Christ.
I DO not feel any doubt that your sickness is a token of God's love sanctifying and accepting your work by teaching you your weakness. Hindrances of this kind are great tokens that God has some special work to be done, but He wants to bring us to more prayer, deeper humility, patience more perfect. He often calls us to wait, just because He wants to discipline our own souls for the attainment of greater gifts which He has in store. We must recognize His hand in all these matters with thankfulness, knowing that He loveth us. I suppose your health decides the question of the chaplaincy. It will be a long time before you are strong enough. I must say I have a strong feeling against the mere English work. It will be a great detriment to the heathen mission. I incline to keeping pretty nearly for them alone. Otherwise you will get involved in English distractions. . . . But the great matter is to get the match well alight before you try to kindle the fire, and so the spiritual life of the house is the primary necessity. At this time we must specially entreat our ascended Lord to make manifest within us all--England, India, America, Germany, Italy, France, Russia, Turkey, all our colonies--the power of the Holy Ghost, quickening us for that work for the accomplishment of which He sent that Blessed Spirit down at the first. As we have received the Spirit, "let us also walk in the Spirit," and then we need fear no dangers from without, nor doubt of any work that may be before us. Whenever any matters make us feel apprehensive as to the future they should stir up our faith to act in the fullness of the Holy Spirit within. I hope our house at Patna will be greatly blessed in the manifestation of this Holy Spirit. ... I look upon the doctor's presence with us as a special provision of God's love for this emergency. We must gain a great habit of faith by taking notice of all the tokens of God's watchful care. We must remember He does not say, These signs shall follow them that have Me with them, but those who not only have Me, but believe that they have Me. [The house was actually at Bankipur, near Patna. Bishop Milman of Calcutta placed Father O'Neill there in a house once occupied by the S.P.G. Mission.] How little do we really lay hold upon the inner life which Christ's presence in the fullness of His Holy Spirit would perfect within us. He does not come to us with the gift of the divine life merely in order to keep us going in the way of the world, but in order to manifest in us that divine power which by His Ascension He has assumed. May He grant us to realize that the Church collectively and our bodies individually are indeed a temple, having a Shechinah which does not merely fill the house wherein it is, but quickens the house so that each stone is a living stone, living with the very life of the undivided God.
Events round about us look critical at home. I cannot help a conviction that something serious will happen soon. "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads." l We may shrink from great catastrophes in the world, but when they happen we shall only learn to appreciate the more fully what it is to have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken. It seems as if our forefathers had held to the fact of baptismal regeneration, and the later movement had dwelt upon the fact of the real presence; and it seems as if it were for this age to rejoice in the power of the inner life of the Saviour wherein we are new-born, without which the external fact of Christ's presence in the Holy Eucharist and the dogmatic truth of our regeneration would be valueless. There is somewhat akin to this in the transition of the Apostles [from companionship] with the risen Saviour to the living union with Him which His Ascension effected. He is not ascended from us but in us, lifting up His head to breathe, as it were, the pure air of the height of the mountain of God, while His blood circulates in us His members here below. Surely it is expedient for us that He is gone up on high. If He were to come down our life would stagnate.
MAY 22. Reading of Holy Scripture.
I AM very glad that you have adopted the practice of an hour's daily reading of Holy Scripture all together. It is most desirable. May God, indeed, bring His word home with power to all of your hearts as you carry on the study! . . . If we want strength for any work of God, we do well to seek it in Holy Scripture. Those minds have been the greatest which have been most filled with it. The misery of our day is that we have so many books that we have scarcely any time for reading the one which is all-important. The writings of men belong to one nation or another, but the word of God speaks to the mind of all nations, the universal human mind formed after the image of God. If we would speak home to the mind of the heathen, savage or refined, we may be sure that the divine word will come home to them with a power far beyond any utterances of uninspired origin. The universal power of the Holy Scripture is indeed one great testimony to its divine origin.
JUNE 9. Wakeful nights.
[A portion of this letter was printed in the first series of Father Benson's Letters, published in 1916, It is reprinted here with its context.]
AS for the mode of spending wakeful nights, it is difficult to advise. Sometimes the bodily state is so restless during a wakeful night that it is impossible to give the mind to continued devotion. Sometimes a little quiet reading may be the best means of tranquillizing oneself for sleep. Of course you ought generally on such occasions to try to get to sleep. It would not do to turn these times of nervousness into vigils for spiritual purposes. The frame wants sleep all the more because it rejects it. You should do that which you find most helpful in disposing you to sleep. Sometimes a little quiet bodily exercise, a gentle turn in the compound, or a bath, may be useful. If you find you are able to give the time to any religious exercises without increasing nervous excitement, then you may take such opportunities as great occasions of thankfulness. I remember my mother during a long illness found the study of the Italian poets physically very helpful. There was just enough difficulty about reading a language with which she was not very familiar to give her the occupation which her mind wanted, and so much of the difficulty was merely mechanical. Anything more immediately touching the affections would have been too much for her to bear at that time. If you are able to turn such waking times to account, whether for linguistic or spiritual purposes, well and good. The simple reading of Holy Scripture, not for study, but as having a sacramental power to soothe the soul, may bring much comfort, and it tends imperceptibly to form the thinking habits according to the mind of God, so that it is very profitable. It is often disappointing to find when one is wakeful how utterly incapable one is of going through any religious exercises. The same nervousness which destroys the power of sleep destroys very often the power of tranquil thought and simple loving devotion. It seems to be such loss of time, void of profit both for this world and the next. But it is not so really. We must give up ourselves to the will of God, and the acceptance of His will is the true way of sanctification. We learn our nothingness by such helplessness, and that is the greatest lesson we can learn.
I ENCLOSE you a letter from Nassau. Matters in that diocese seem to be coming to a crisis--and so, in fact, it is everywhere. It makes one think of S. Peter's warning about the ark wherein few were saved. How many boats, great and small, will be swamped! How few will be saved! What an exemplification of detachment Noah's Ark is, floating on the wide waste, and living with an unassailable life in the Son of God! May God grant us to realize the same detachment in our vocation.
JULY 9. Bodily Suffering--S. John's Gospel, chapter vi--Prayer--Patience.
I SAW your sister to-day. Her suffering is very great and increasing. Yet surely we can see that a blessing from God is coming to her along with it. God uses bodily suffering as a great means of sanctification. I feel more and more that the Western doctrine of the soul's purgatory is an impossibility; but the suffering of the flesh, whether in this world or in the Day of Judgement, seems to be such a necessity. It fills one with much peace to think of the soul being absent from the body, and present with the Lord, unclothed of its own sinful nature and living in the body of Christ whose member it is, that "building of God . . . not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," in which the soul has eternal life. People do so little realize the truth of our substantial union with Christ. The heaven of the four living creatures, with each individual soul as an eye in their wings, would be no heaven to most people. They want to walk about, and talk, and think, and be in heaven just what they were on earth. There is so little idea in modern Christendom of the individual soul being lost, as it were, in the communion of saints.
I was amused to-day at receiving your letter about the Commentary. I have just done one twenty-first part of the task which you assign me. I have just sent a MS. to the press on chapter vi. It is, as you say, strange how all commentators miss the drift of so many passages. It seems to me that chap, vi is our Lord's claim to be the prophet like unto Moses, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom God hath sent." Our Lord claimed to feed them with Himself in a way which should far exceed the feeding of the Israelites by Moses: thus He accepted the challenge of the Jews that He ought to act in a way no less wonderful for sustaining His people on their pilgrimage than Moses did for them of old. . . .
Of course the real work of converting India is to be done only by patient prayer. If you were to find ever so many converted during your lifetime, we ought rather to regard this as the result of the prayers and perseverance of unobtrusive self-sacrificing men who have gone before us. The real result of your life in India will, in like manner, be reaped by those who come after you. If you live a life of prayer, God will draw to you such as shall be saved. Do not be discouraged because it is a slow work. Immediate success is, in comparison with toilsome barrenness, like mustard and cress in comparison with the growth of an acorn.
JULY 23. Locality of the Mission--Poverty--Brahmoism--Mr. Bowen--Jesuit Missions--Patience--Modesty.
I AM sorry in one sense for your having to move, but I am not sorry at your getting away from those premises. [The premises once occupied by the S.P.G. at Bankipur, which had been assigned to Father O'Neill by Bishop Milman, and were of considerable extent, had been bought by the Indian Government for a medical school.] I would much sooner settle in some smaller way. I think, however kind it was of the bishop to put us there, that large premises are a serious hindrance to poverty. It is not like the Bombay settlement of which we are only the nucleus. But I would much rather our mission should do its work--principally witness, prayer, preparation--with as little of external surroundings as possible. If I were in your place, I think I should pack up most of the things you took out, and leave them in a box. One could not refuse many presents, but I felt them to be in many ways grievous "impedimenta" to missionary life. In settling anywhere I would keep clear of the English as much as possible. I know the bishop's anxiety to get chaplains for English work, but that is not our purpose, and it must damage real mission work. I would much sooner settle in Bundelkand, or among the hill tribes, than in an English town; but I should think some large town where the English are few or scarcely any would be the best. I do not see how one is to carry out a life of poverty in an English chaplain's position. One must be out of sight. I always feel a grieving here for the old days when I was in the village at Cowley in a comparatively poor cottage. One did feel such a love for those Germans from the Nagpur mission whom I happened to see at the S.P.G., which I think I mentioned to you.
Do not be deluded by the Brahmos. [i.e. the Brahmo Samaj, a theistic society opposed to polytheism, mythology, and idolatry, founded at Calcutta in 1828 by Ram Mohan Ray.] I do not think they are worth spending any great effort upon. I should only use them as a reflecting medium, that what is done to them may react on others. I have much more hope of a thoroughgoing Brahman. I am very glad you have written a letter in the Mirror. From time to time, not too often, and very carefully written, a letter there may be useful, more to others than to themselves. Their mysticism is all rubbish. Mysticism and pride are like the smoke of the pit, not the incense of the altar. They are much more likely to succumb to unintentional than to aggressive work. They want an "inspiration" in the missionaries. It is pretty much like the Jews complaining of Jesus Christ. In fact on their part it is the same. We must expect them to be in India what the Gnostics were to the early Church. Their words often true enough, but their hearts utterly earthly, and their attempts at a "high" life the worst form of denying the supernatural. It is important to watch them and to know as much about them as one can, but to live just quietly and unobtrusively before God and leave them in His hands. They will, if they are in earnest, recognize the power of a missionary life. One of the worst features in them is that they should not have eyes to see how much divine life there has been in the mission work, in spite of all its shortcomings.
Oddly enough I have just had Mr. Bowen's meditations lent me, at the very time when Father Page's letter arrived saying he had had an interview. I think to live away from Europeans, as he did, is the real thing to do, only it will be easier to do this in a city where there are few English. I should think the mission stations of the Jesuits--you say they are generally single-handed with a catechist--would give you an idea of what is practical for us. Only be sure and have what food is necessary for health. ... I do not know when I shall have another priest whom I can send to you. Probably not for some time.
It is easier in some respects to settle down into the life of a mission station without others than with them. We must be content with what God gives us, whether in the way of fellow labourers or of results. I think that is so delightful which one reads of Mr. Bowen, that, though he has baptized but few persons himself in those twenty-six years, yet he has never felt any disappointment. That is the true spirit of a missionary, to rejoice in God and leave one's work in God's hands. Work carried on in that spirit is sure to have its results. The great lives of the world are just those which seemed to leave no result behind, because no man knew of them. Nothing seemed to come of what they did, for what they did was given to God. After the first gathering in of those Jews who were beforehand prepared for Christ, how scanty and how full of sorrow are the conversions as narrated in the Acts! The great thing for us is to tarry the Lord's leisure, and we shall be able sooner than we think to say, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes."'
Do not let yourself get involved in too much work in different places. I hear from Madras that the bishop makes some difficulty as to our working or holding a retreat there. Be careful not to overstep such prejudices. We have plenty of work in the other two dioceses. In going about to hold retreats there is also the danger of us, who are young and new to the work, seeming to be setting right those who are older and more experienced. Therefore be very careful not to do anything of the kind without the full and hearty invitation of all who have to do with it. Some, I know, would welcome us, e.g. in Madras, but if there is any feeling on the part of senior men or the bishop we ought to hold back, for after all we are not there for the purpose of that work, but for the natives. It is a glorious armour, the armour of the religious life, but we must gird it on with much self-distrust in our new sphere of action.
JULY 31. Certainty of Success.
YOU must not think you can do nothing against the idolatry that is round about. Oh, no! The Church of God roots itself slowly and silently, but the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations, and the breath which exhales from a missionary's cell is a power greater than that of the most eloquent of philosophers or the most powerful of statesmen. You must live through the period of burial before you can begin to see results, but your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord, and idolatry is to disappear before it as surely as the walls of Jericho before the marching and hymns of the Israelites. We are not to expect to see the stones move until the seventh day. So must our faith and love and perseverance be tested. So shall you surely gain the victory.
AUGUST 12. The Infancy of a Mission--Times of Silent Waiting.
I HOPE that you will take care to nurse the mission house through its "infancy." Do not mind a mission house having infancy. Infancy is a very sacred thing. Silence is specially dear to God. Of course, wherever you are you cannot expect to be doing anything so as to see results for many years to come. It is just the trial of your patience which will be the great means of your sanctification, and so, being sanctified, you will be able to praise God for the answers to your prayers which you will see in years to come from the other side of the grave. Only do not be too venturesome. You cannot do English work in an Indian climate. Your life for some time to come must be a quiet witness before man, and a constant prayer to God. S. Francis Xavier felt himself very tongue-tied. God can use our silence as much as our words. But then, we must commend our silence to Him to turn it to account. It is in this patient waiting that the self-sacrifice of a missionary's life really consists. People do not commonly think of it. In fact no one can realize it until going out there. . . .
I am sorry that you have not gone to the hills. I sent out the money because I thought you might possibly be going off on a journey which might be an expensive one. . . . Plainly, what you have to do just now is to rest. . . . Give yourself up to a life of prayer to God. Think of the future of the mission, and "for their sakes" sanctify yourself, that those who come after you may be "sanctified through the truth." I know well what the apostolic weariness of such a waiting time is. I have had some waiting in my day. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." May He grant you a renewal of strength, and after patience has had her perfect work send us some fellow workers suitable to join you. Plainly it would not be right for you to be doing much preaching even if you were in a more English city. Think of S. Paul's years of imprisonment at Caesarea. So India of the future shall find itself advantaged by your necessary silence. Accept God's will, and God will open the way for you in due time. The work will go on all the faster by and by, if now you are continuing instant in prayer. Think of the loneliness of the patriarchs--Abraham, Jacob, Joseph. It is not for nothing.
AUGUST 20. Benefit of a "Retired Locality.
AS for the influence of our work, we must look for that to grow up by God's providence, if He gives us bodily health and grace to persevere, not by being in any prominent or central position, but by the effect of devoted life. I quite know how great an effort this is. I should not have thought of imposing the hardness and isolation of a missionary life upon you, if you had not offered for it so many years back. It must be a great strain, such as in this country we cannot realize. But God, Who has given you the desire and the readiness to offer, will give you strength to perform. I do not doubt that. But I do think we should lose the supernatural strength of the hidden life in patient witness among the heathen, if our station was exposed to the fussiness and outward prominence of life in Calcutta. I do not believe we should do any mission work there, or have more than a transitory effect. A retired work, and a life of devotion and prayer very little heard of by others, is what will surely tell the most in the end, not only upon the neighbourhood, but upon others at a distance. God will manifest His power in bringing to light, for the increase of His glory, whatever has been done in simple reliance upon Himself. Quite true, you cannot expect to make any number of converts worth mention for many years, but it is not those who have made the most converts whose lives have really been the most influential in extending the kingdom of Christ. The law of Christ and of God in nature and in grace is "one soweth, and another reapeth." There must be weary seasons of seemingly resultless prayer and toil before there can be a harvest such as God would give.
AUGUST 27. The Struggle of Missionary Life--Slowness and Difficulties of Missionary Work
ONE does feel ashamed of oneself to be writing, from all the comforts of home, words of encouragement to you in the struggles of your distant campaign. Yet do not think that because I have not experienced I do not estimate the difficulties of your position. I quite feel that very likely I may have been kept at home because God saw that, whatever might be the impulses of my heart, I should not have been able to bear the hardships of a real missionary life. These hardships, I know, are not those which the world counts. Not poverty, nor climate, nor sickness, nor outward difficulty, but loneliness in spiritual struggle. The silent watching through hours which seem wasted for a victory which seems hopeless, the oft-weary prayers for the heathen around while the heart feels the terribleness of inward struggles, greater than ever known before, which seem to make the conflict impossible. Yes, the missionary has to bear the struggles of the hermit saints and the warrior all in one--the hermit struggling with Satan and the warrior in the worst of all conflicts in the trenches. Do not think I should ever grudge of my best for the work, but "I have no man." Well, our Lord Jesus will be the Man to stand by you as He did by S. Paul, as He did by the palsied man, both to help and to heal. Others can take part with us in the outward struggle. Jesus takes part with us in both struggles. Jonathan had his armour-bearer. We in our loneliness have Jesus for our armour-bearer. We could not bear the armour of the heavenly warfare ourselves. If He bears it for us, and gives us arrow after arrow to shoot, not one will fly in vain.
I can quite imagine how difficulties open out before you. It must be so as we strive to climb the heights of heroic sanctity. But remember that thus it is that we must lay the foundations of a future mission work. We cannot begin and cultivate the soil all at once. There must be felling of the old timber, and many roots left to die and rot upon the ground before they can be removed. I hope before many years are out I shall have some men to send and enter upon the fruits of your pioneering. Remember that you are yourself to be in some sort the root of a future Christianity. You have not got so much to plant as to grow. Whoever comes out after you will not so much take up your work as be grafted into your life. I am not disappointed at the sickness and desertion which have marked the Indian work. I believe they are tokens that God is pruning you thoroughly that you may grow and bring forth fruit abundantly. . .
It seems to me that that Sunday reunion of young men from the college may be full of results. Do not expect a convert at once. Some of the fruits of my ministry to which I look back with the most gratitude took nearly a twelve-month of family prayer and exposition before they were brought out of dissent. You must not let the remembrance of exciting mission work at home make you discontented at the apparent resultlessness of work abroad. In fact pastoral work at home must be very much of the same character. People take years and years to Christianize, and then it is only one fruit here and there which ripens for heaven. If we could only see what one ripe fruit is, we should be satisfied even with one.
SEPTEMBER 4. Addresses to Indians.
YOUR last letter was a very encouraging one with the account of your first Sunday evening with the students. I felt sure that God would open to you some door of usefulness. Nothing would seem to be better. Of course they will need to be tested if they do show any readiness to accept truth. Their perseverance is not equal physically to the vividness of their impressions, so that I expect that Europeans often set them down as hypocritical because of seeming untruthfulness, whereas it is rather a physical constitution which causes the readiness to accept, and the incapacity to retain. You will therefore require great caution; and do not be discouraged by seeming failures. How many failures our Blessed Lord had to bear with in Judea amongst the chosen people! How the Apostles found their converts running off! "Ye did run well; who hath bewitched you?" We must not expect that perseverance belongs to the nineteenth century, either in England or in India, more than it did to Jews and Galatians in the first.
OCTOBER 16. Future of the Society--Guidance of Providence.
WRITING to our Indian dependencies is always a great joy. More than a joy: it is a strength, for I cannot but feel that your mission work is a great source of grace to us at home. May there ever be such a fruitful interchange of prayer and effort that our Society may span the world in the indissoluble glory of the Holy Ghost! There certainly does seem to be a time of special manifestation at hand, and as God has planted our little Society in so many points of special influence, He must be intending us to have some great work in moulding the future. We must be ourselves preparing for it in a spirit of simple devotion and entire detachment. I am so glad you are able to write as you do about leaving the future in God's hands. I am sure it is best to be entirely guided by the indications of His providence. We can form no idea for ourselves. We must be ready for anything and preparing for anything. I wish I had some one that I could send to you as a coadjutor. I hope before long I may be able to do so.
NOVEMBER 19. Oneness of the Society.
YOUR letter is a very strengthening one to us at home. I quite feel that you, who are gone as pioneers of missions, go forth in order that the Society may become sanctified in your persons in various spots, with a view to future conversions. We cannot expect to see much fruit, but be assured the branch that is purged will bring forth its fruit in due season. I am sure that our whole Society drinks in, by God's mercy, a blessed draught of sanctifying grace by the patience and endurance of our distant missionaries. You must try and feel in return that, however much separated by space from the Mother House, you and it are thoroughly one in that which binds us much closer than daily intercourse can bind. Oh blessed love of Jesus, wherein we are also to love one another! No member of the Society can ever be alone. In all loneliness you must try and realize how thoroughly we are indissolubly one.
DECEMBER 10. The Companionship of Jesus--Benefits of Solitude--Accumulated strength of the Body of Christ--Hindrances.
YOU will have found this in one sense a very lonely Christmas. May you experience the joy of the holy fellowship of all the company of heaven keeping festival with you! The throng of men is very apt to hinder our seeing that which is so near us. The lonely soul has many joys of divine revelation, and can exult as none other can in the vision of the glory of Jesus. He ever delights to show Himself to us. He ever delights to abide with us. He is with us who remain at home and with you who are gone. . . . You must not think that your time is wasted because you may seem to have but few inquirers. Your life is a life of witness to His truth, even to those who do not hear the sound of your voice. We shall pray that God may give you grace to bear this life of lonely witness worthily. His eye is ever resting upon you, and His hand sustaining you. In loneliness with God we attain to experience the powers of God. In our more active work amongst men we are very apt to lose sight of God's power in the very results which it effects. Loneliness brings the soul to a real habit of worship, so that we find God as being, in Himself, our sufficiency, our reward, our refuge, and our strength. When He strengthens us to live, in humble devotion before Himself, He is doing much more for us than by any strength whereby we may be enabled merely to speak with men. The strength which we receive in such seasons of privacy is an accumulating strength which makes itself felt as the emergency arises. God does not give us His strength for nought. Strength, as it is treasured up in any one of the members of Christ, makes itself felt throughout the body of Christ. I was thinking the other day how we, in these last days of the Church, must be stronger than any that were before us. As the number of God's elect becomes complete, and all the redeemed are gathered into paradise, each having some special gift that God has given him as the manifestation of the Pentecostal Spirit, so there must be a pressure of the energies of the body of Christ against the world. The energies in which all have served God upon the earth do not die with their bodies, but live in the body of Jesus, where their blessed spirits abide; and so the body of Christ shines out ever more and more with growing perfection, and we upon the earth are like the front waves of a mighty flood, which, dashing on against some barrier, breaks down the dam by the force of the collected waters. The waters break through where there is some weak point in the dam, and all the supernatural energies of the body of Christ will break forth wherever the world has least hold over us to keep us back. Any gifts which we may have of the world only serve to make the darn strong, and hinder the divine manifestation. We must live as the heirs of all the ages of Pentecostal life, and Christ will make His power to be known in us even more than it was ever known in earlier days. The accumulated grace of Christ must first break down the barrier of our earthly hearts, and then it will break through and overflow the evil of the world. We must see that we are each one of us treasuring up this power, whether we witness its bursting forth or no. What we see in the way of success matters little, but the whole body of Christ partakes of the consequences of what we are. I do really believe that our Society is gaining great strength by means of the grace which God is giving to you through the trials of the past year and the novitiate of our Indian mission. We must pass through the novitiate, and it may be a long one, before we can go forth in the fullness of strength. God is calling you to the special work of sanctification: "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." l Your solitude and suffering and prayer shall not be lost. India and England too shall reap the benefit, and God shall be glorified in our Society, according to the promises of His unfailing love.
When I think of you being in India, I can praise God for not letting me go there sixteen years ago. [If Father Benson had gone to India at that time, as he had intended, probably the Society of S. John the Evangelist would never have come into being, nor Father O'Neill have gone to India as a Religious.] How little one can tell what is likely to come of our hindrances. We must give them up into God's keeping, and He will always make them result in good far beyond the immediate loss.
DECEMBER 31. Union of the Society--First Epistle of S. John--Waiting--Sensible Devotion.
I HAD quite intended sending you a Christmas Day letter, but I had not written it beforehand; and when I came down from the midnight Celebration I was really unable to do as I had intended. First it was impossible for me to get anything written before two o'clock, as I had been almost all the time in church. However, if we are living in the power of the incarnate Word, we need not the mere utterance of human expression to make us feel the bond of divine love. The same Word speaks in both our hearts. He knits the community in one, however much we may be separated. Our true life, our oneness, is in Him. May His blessing be with you, speaking through all your acts with His divine power, the voice at which devils tremble, by which men are blessed, and in which the Father rejoiceth. May you learn the power of His word, with more and more of experience, through all the years that He may call you yet to serve Him.
We are now keeping our annual retreat from Sunday to Sunday. ... I am taking the Epistle of S. John as the basis of our retreat--The Manifestation of the Eternal Love (chap, i): Transfiguring Love: Penitential Love (chap. ii). Justifying Love: Renewing Love: Restraining Love: Illuminating Love (chap. iii). Filiating Love: Purifying Love: Obedient Love: Fraternal Love: Self-sacrificing Love (chap. iv). Mediatorial Love: Experimental Love: Corresponding Love: Triumphant Love: Impetrative Love: The Eternal Welcome of Love (chap. v).
What a sight the Mela must have been. [A great religious assembly of Hindus.] I do not know, but I should fancy that mission preaching was likely to be more effective quietly, in the ordinary village life, than in the excitement of such a concourse. Yet if, after several years, one listener is brought to the faith that makes the annual visit well worth while. I could not help thinking of the man at the pool of Bethesda, not eighteen, but thirty-eight years. The waiting times of Holy Scripture are stupendous if one thinks of living through them. It is so difficult for us not to fancy that men of faith must have seen the end. But no, they died in faith--Abraham, Moses, David, Hosea, Jeremiah, Daniel. The missionary ought to find great encouragement in these and the other teachings of Holy Scripture, by which we learn with patience to wait for the fulfilment of the divine promises, a fulfilment which shall be so far beyond what we ever expected. We must live and mark out the land we would evangelize with the Cross of many a weary year of resultlessness, and yet feel assured that our labour is not in vain in the Lord. God treasures up every cry of the lonely heart. It is more powerful in the end than the most eloquent preaching amidst man's applause.
I do not think that I ever replied to what you said about a convert's faith. I think I can quite understand the consciousness of the present faith being less intense than the earlier false one. I think it is so always. Religions exert the most hold and power over our nature when they are most akin to it. Things supernatural do not affect the sense so much as things debased. Even in Christianity it is those forms which alloy the truth which get the most hold of the nature. They who are "of the truth" must live with less sensible emotion. The loving trust in God has not that strong sense of union which union has when it is sought for some inferior end. The bitterness of party spirit is apt to be more intense than the energy of true love. The doctrine of assurance, or a devotion to some miraculous image of the Virgin, stir their respective followers much more than the pure love of Christ. The work of the Spirit of God is so tranquil, so unobtrusive, that its power is not felt or known. It remains for martyrdom to show the strength of the Spirit of God, or, at least, confessorship. The Spirit of God shows its hold upon the soul by what it causes us to do. We often seem to ourselves to be acting without faith, because we are really acting in it; and faith is opposed to sensible emotions. On the contrary, if Satan holds possession of the soul he makes his presence felt as a master. There is all the difference as between continuous flashes of lightning and the pure calm daylight. The more diabolical the doctrine the more intense and violent is the conviction likely to be, which Satan will inject into the hearts of those over whom he tyrannizes.
JANUARY 7, 1875. The Prayer of the Missionary--The Epiphany of Christ.
I OUGHT to have dated January 8th, for it is already past midnight; but unless I write tonight I shall not get my letter off by to-morrow's post. I cannot send you a long letter, but I do not like to miss a post, even though I have nothing to say which may be worth the shilling, yet I cannot bear the thought of some little missive not coming. He Who led the wise men by a star can lead the people of India to His truth. No other power can. Ours must be lives of prayer to develop the power from Him. He gives us waiting times that they may be prayer times, and so Abraham's long years of waiting were for the building of altars to God. He had to symbolize herein the one purpose of his life, which was to be the father of the great Victim. We have not to build altars but to minister at that which is already built in the heavenly temple, fulfilling the virtues of our high calling in bringing forth into manifestation the glory of the one Victim Who is found clothed with the seed of Abraham. It would be a terrible thing to be a missionary sent to preach Christ unless indeed we were slaves of Christ, separated unto the gospel of Christ, dedicated first to prayer and to the ministry of the word, as the outcome of our communion with God. And so we need not look upon the darkened earth with despair. We may "wish for the day," and look up, for the day shall dawn. It comes from above, not from below. Man may be dark, but the light of grace shall equally shine on all. "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." But God, if He sends us, means to confirm our word with signs from heaven, after He has tried the perseverance of our faith. "For the love that I bear unto them they take My contrary part; but I am prayer in the midst of them." So must we be the representatives of the great Mediator, bringing down the fullness of the divine light upon them that are in darkness. "Abraham rejoiced to see My day." We must rejoice to see, not our day, but His day; not the results of our work immediate upon our toil and suffering, but the sure results of His grace, ordered in all things and sure, sure to be whenever the time shall come. It seems to us, perhaps, to be useless to fill the water-pots with water, but when the hour is come we shall find that our waiting time of discouragement and want and prayer and faith and obedience and love has brought forth its full results. Nothing that we have asked in the Name of Christ can be held back from us. Be sure you will have a glorious Epiphany in India, and however far off it may be, you will be able, by God's grace, to claim it as the result of your solitude and prayer. Those hidden prayers, to which God calls you, are the buried title-deeds of the prophetic estate which you will be able to claim in the new kingdom of the restoration.
I suppose your plans are by this time more fixed. The intervention of Government: was quite unlocked for, and so one must accept it as a plain manifestation of the divine will. The star will shine out to guide you. Of course, I cannot offer any suggestion. The bishop's wishes seem to be the best criterion. Could you go within reach of Delhi so as to work somewhat along with Winter? I confess to having a personal predilection for Bundelkand. That seemed to be suggested to us at the first with various good reasons, but I am quite without bias. The sun shines over all the world in turn, and God's grace will shine in and from you wherever you are, for I am sure you will be looking to Him always. The dust of our feet is not forgotten. If we are true to Christ, the pathway of divine light is being made bright by every step of holy obedience, as it were with diamonds. Be sure the language to convert India is the language of heaven, that is, prayer. The tongues of men and of angels will avail nothing to spread the gospel of Christ, but the mediatorial life of divine charity, lifting up man before God with a crucified heart in the power of the Holy Ghost.
FEBRUARY 12. The Unseen Order of God--Delhi and Ephesus.
YOUR accounts of the various missionaries and their ways are very interesting. We must look for God to bring the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, out of the chaos of the earthly Church, as the present earth came out of the chaos of former worlds. We know that the various manifestations of God's Holy Spirit in His Church are not to die away under the power of Satan. However much ill-regulated zeal there may be, yet as it comes from the Spirit of God it shall effect God's purpose in spite of all that Satan may do to mar its working. As we now see the power, we shall hereafter see the order and beauty of the work of God. When that day of the revelation of Christ comes, how shall we see our own highest ideas of order transcended by the result which God will then bring to light! He knows how to establish His own in their true places, while all around seems to be unsettlement and confusion. One is like a ball rolling without any certainty over the board until at last it drops into a hole, but He knows exactly what the destination is to which our rolling about is to bring us. One dare not wish to be at rest, for He knows where we are to settle, and in His wisdom we are each of us safe. So with our spiritual consummation, and so also with your temporal settlement at the present time. I do not fear but that good will come of your uprooting. Delhi seems to me a promising place, but I would not have you settle there nastily. I suppose too that Delhi is in some respects like Ephesus, and so there would seem to be a link between your life and the last years of S. John. If you do settle there, you will be in the midst of great architectural splendour of iniquity. May the Word of God make the fabric to collapse, and however humble the outward building of the truth may be, I hope the glory of the spiritual building will be a joy of eternity. I never noticed till the other day how S. Paul's commending of the elders to God and to the word of His grace ' leads on to promulgation in the midst of those very elders of the teaching of the incarnate Word by S. John.
MARCH 5. Solitude--Jonah--Heathen Faith and Prayer.
IN solitude God teaches us many things, and you must have altogether a good deal of real solitude although you have been a good deal along with others. In solitude we learn both our own littleness and the greatness of God's power to do with us whatsoever He wills. A little surrounding, even two or three, makes one forget the smallness of the individual in comparison with the vast world of work; but when one is alone in the mighty waters, like S. Paul a day and a night floating on the deep, one feels the mightiness of the power of God and His all-sufficiency. I have to preach this afternoon at All Saints' on Jonah. (My course there is on the "forty days" of Holy Scripture.) May that power which subdued Nineveh subdue India before you. I wonder what happened to the men who threw him overboard. Their deprecation would secure them from the charge of innocent blood.
Thanks for your letter. I did not imagine that a heathen could love his god. I do not think it possible. "Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth" the true "God." There may be an intense passionate devotion which the devotee supposes to be love, but I should think it was a possession acting like an intoxication. Elijah when subdued before the still small voice was a much greater man than when he was calling down fire from heaven upon the altar at Carmel. Probably, however, there was much more consciousness of zeal on the latter occasion than on the former. With him it was the true God Who was the object of different affections in both cases, but the parallel would be in the change of the earthlier into the heavenlier affection. There would be a real knowledge of self in the latter case, which was wanting amidst the excitement of the previous occasion.
I suppose there will be a good deal of opportunity for the doctor to practise in your part of the city, and this will bring you into intercourse with many of the people. Do not, however, be disquieted if they are slow to move. Probably S. Paul's converts in many places were few. We may be sure that such as are ordained to eternal life will believe, if we are true to the divine ministry among them. The divine election connotes our industry as one of its conditions, but it should give us a blessed tranquillity in periods of long and unpromising expectation. We look for promises, not to the deceitful appearances of the world before us, whether they be good or bad, but to the unfailing truth of Him Who sends us. His work is being done in the world in a very marvellous way in spite of the powers of the world. Let us be constant in prayer to Him that He will send labourers to do the work.
MARCH 12. Easter Blessing--Need of Prayer.
I SUPPOSE this will arrive before Low Sunday. May all Easter blessings shine out upon you! In one sense solitude helps us to realize the great festival glories of the communion of saints. You have, at any rate, the two or three to whom our Lord's presence is so specially promised. May you all rise up to Him in the glory of holy contemplation. Surely it cannot be long ere Christ come again.
The slowness of mission work makes us realize how very little prayer is really being made by Christendom to God. If Christian people generally said "Thy kingdom come" as if they meant it, what consequences would there be! If we could see, we should find that God is giving far more in answer to prayer than we could have any right to expect.
MAUNDY THURSDAY. The Power of the Cross.
TO-NIGHT we seem to be watching on each side of Gethsemane; you from the East, and we from the West. May we so watch around the Cross that we may come to sit down with those who are partakers of His promise in His heavenly kingdom. ... I look forward to some postulants after Easter. We may be sure God will give us increase according to our real needs. Probably we need to be kept down for a while, in order that we may rely upon God. The victory is not to numbers; one Jonah converted Nineveh. The power of the Holy Spirit bowed down men's consciences before him. No man can come to us except it be given him of our Father. It is just in proportion as we are living in the fellowship of the Holy Ghost that we shall find the power of the Holy Ghost. We must be living true to the Crucified. We cannot overleap that step in evangelical life. It is not enough for us to point to Him; He must be manifest in us, still crucified in the world, though glorified in the world beyond. Such a number are carried away with the dream that, as Christ has died, we may live in this world in the results of His triumph. It is like claiming to take possession of an enemy's capital by lodging in a hovel on some battlefield of victory. This world can never be to us anything but a hovel and a battlefield. The country we claim is on the other side of the dark river. The less we have to make ourselves feel at home here the better. The most dangerous times are when all things are smooth.
APRIL 22. Modern Christianity a Mockery--Solitude.
YOU mention Ram Chandra and Tara Chand. [Afterwards a catechist at Panch Howd.] They are two men in whom I have for many years felt a great interest. I hope they are going on well, and realizing the supernatural life of Christianity. More and more I feel what a miserable mockery of Christianity Christendom is. The utter repudiation of the supernatural life as a real divine transformation of the soul is so sad. One hopes that believers gathered in from among the heathen will believe that they are drawn into the life of God. In Western Christendom the Holy Eucharist has so entirely overshadowed Holy Baptism, that the food of our life is made to be a gift greater than the life which it sustains. Without a full acknowledgement of the supernatural change wrought at our baptism, our spiritual life becomes a metaphor. . . .
I fear you must feel sometimes very solitary, but I hope the grace of the Society is a stay to you. We must all feel the distant houses of the Society to be a real strength to our own selves. Our life must deepen as our work widens. We must never lose that hold upon one another which sympathy, intercession, vocation, obedience, community involve. I quite think that, by God's mercy, we have been enabled to realize our unity in Christ in a remarkable degree. I want our central house to grow in strictness of observance. Then we shall be more of a support to the branches in various parts of the world. In all seasons of loneliness remember the Lord will stand by you and help you. You can scarcely feel more lonely at Delhi than I have often felt during the last twenty-five years at Cowley. Loneliness has its trials, but it has great blessings belonging to it. We need loneliness for the purpose of training. How God trained in loneliness the great men of old, down to him that is the greatest of all that have been born of women! How many Christian saints have been trained in intense loneliness, voluntary or involuntary, as the case might be! The Lord "took him aside from the multitude" to give him the natural gifts of hearing and speech; so He takes us apart if He wishes us to learn His will.
APRIL 30. Troubles.
YOU must not think one can ever be weary of hearing of troubles, for troubles are only the plural of life. Eternal life is the changeless act of divine bliss; may God bring us to it in the end! Life is action upon the earth also, but the acts of earth are manifold and each one full of toil. By them we are perfected for that act of eternity. The power of the eternal act shows itself, inspiring the many decaying acts of life and perfecting them for its own glory. So may God lead you onward by the discipline of present toil and manifold embarrassment to the joy of His kingdom. . . . I do not think it really matters much where you settle down; the eye of God will rest upon your labour of love if it is really done for His Name's sake, and it will not be in vain in the Lord. Years after years must go by, but the bread shall be found after many days, growing up in the harvest which has been watered with many prayers.
FEAST OF THE ASCENSION (MAY 6). Trouble belongs to Earth; Rest to Heaven--Solitude--Delhi--Guidance of God as to Locality.
IT is quite pleasant to think that you and Father Page and Father Rivington are keeping our festival all together at Bombay, and what a glorious festival it is. [S. John a. P. L., the Patronal Festival of the Society.] It is at once lost to sight and glorified by the feast of the Ascension which absorbs it. Even so, all true glory is in the loss of that which is of self, by absorption into that which is of God. May our Society find the glow of the Ascension resting upon us during the coming year. Outward difficulties must not drag us down, but rather force us to ascend. If they do so, how indeed shall we welcome them! They are indeed the loving discipline by which we are fitted to follow our dear Lord in the heavenly life. It requires much detachment to bear them joyfully, but these troubles do help to detach us, not in the way of making us discontented, for that is only a strong sense of attachment to earth after all, but in the sense of helping us to realize the power of spiritual joy to outshine all. We learn the calmness of the heavenly glory into which Jesus is ascended by the very interest of the earthly life from which He was delivered, and in which we awhile remain; but there remaineth a rest for us. This rest remains. It is not merely future. We are to experience it now. We must act in its strength, the peace of God which passeth all understanding. It is the possession of this sure abiding place which gives us stability amidst a changing world; and this home with Jesus is a place of repose for us, so that we can be detached from place and associations of every earthly home. Jesus, enthroned above the angels, carries us to rejoice with Himself in the presence of the heavenly citizens. Our home is in heaven, not merely by expectation, as the fathers of old sought a better country, but by grace; for we are made partakers of its joys by supernatural communication, and every rent of the earthly envelope of life only serves to disclose to us the glorious substance of the heavenly reality which shines out within. If a child is eager to see something which has been given it, how it tears off bit by bit the paper in which it is wrapped! and so should we rejoice to have heavenly life revealed to us by the perishing of all outer things. We must have our eyes open to see that which is within.
It is a great strength to the Society that you all are able to meet together from time to time. Even when you are separated, the consciousness of another branch of the Society being at work in India must be a stay. Perhaps the sense of loneliness which grows up even in spite of this, may help to make us realize more fully how intense must be the loneliness of the mere ordinary missionary who goes forth with no other ties than that of the common priesthood. This should make us both glorify God, Who enables them to bear up against such privations, and also it should make us careful to cherish the sympathy and sense of oneness which God in His mercy vouchsafes to us for our support. Indeed in England the sense of loneliness comes over one very often. Bodily presence is often not much more than a burden, when those who are present have so little consciousness of what one feels to be the only realities of life. Even in the midst of Church-people the minds of men are now so occupied with externals that one is nearly as much shut off from them on one side of controversy as on the other, if one really is clinging to the centre and not to the circumference. I do feel it a great strength to myself that you all in India are carrying on the work of Christ, bearing witness to His truth in the bond of our brotherhood life. Such a sense does not supersede, but develops, the work of the Holy Ghost, Who is at once the bond between us and Christ, and the bond between us all, in every form of relationship which the body of Christ permits within itself. Nothing in that body exists as a mere dead, superfluous, tolerated mechanism. In the glorified body of Christ all is life, and we are members one of another in Him; and as in the body of earth some parts are joined together in special links of interdependence and nervous sympathy, so in the body of Christ we have our special higher relationships in addition to those which are common to us along with all others, and it is the healthy working of these which must be our support and delight as we think of S.SJ.E. throughout the world.
I am sorry that you have any unsettlement at Delhi. In itself I do not see that it can at all matter "where your mission is. Obstacles in any place are just a token that the Holy Ghost does not suffer you now to preach the word in that district. So the loss of the buildings at Bankipur seemed to be a token of God's will that we should move on. It cannot really affect our own future. If S. Paul was not suffered to preach in Asia, it was because God had a call for him to Macedonia. God never hinders for the sake of hindering, but for the sake of bringing His people to some other point where the blessing is waiting for them. The great aim of our earthly discipline is to bring us thus to look for whatever blessings He has in store. Our life is through the valley of the shadow of death, but faith always seeks the bright hill-top, whose loveliness is waiting for us with a welcome, though we cannot discern its features. It is impossible to tell beforehand where God's work is most likely to find congenial soil, for it is supernatural, and none can accept it unless the Father Who sends us draw him, nor can we force it on any unless the Father sends us to him; so that the great satisfaction is just to feel oneself in the hands of God, whether in a country district or in a city. No human carelessness or degradation or anything else can really hinder the work of God's Spirit, if it be His will to work. There is no Nazareth too bad to receive the message of an angel, and germinate with the grace of Christ. Your time will not have been thrown away in getting experiences of different parts, for after all you could not under any circumstances have expected yet to have any converts growing up under instruction. You have been gaining knowledge of various classes of minds and of various ways of working, and probably this apprenticeship of migration will be the most serviceable wherever you may eventually be. My advice would be just simply to accept any post that the bishop suggests. As I said, I cannot think that there is any reason in the nature of things for such as we to choose one place rather than another. Only may God bless you everywhere.
MAY 13. Trust in God--Delay.
WE only want a place where we can kneel down and pray, and then the gospel message is sure to go forward. We may not see its progress, but it will work, as a voice on the mountain-top detaches the avalanches from summits and precipices beyond. It is a good thing for us not to have our own liking in the place of settlement. God puts us just where it is best for us to be by taking us out of our own will and judgement. It is for us to exult as we feel ourselves to be swimming in the wide ocean of His love. . . . Do not be anxious about time any more than about place. Mission work is like charging an electric machine. The rubbing all tells, though no result comes for some time. So there must be an outlay of faith and prayer, and all is accumulating towards the final result. God does not forget anything that is done for Him, but He does require us to trust His memory, His providence, and His love. These interruptions to which He has subjected you are not hindrances, though they seem to be so to us. They are all working out the great purpose which God has for you.
WHITSUNTIDE. Pentecostal Hopes--Death--Joy--"Brahma Asceticism.
THIS festival calls to mind the little cloud arising out of the western sea which the prophet's servant saw, and encourages us to anticipate the mighty shower of grace which shall yet be vouchsafed to India; or again, as the holy waters of Ezekiel's vision flowed eastward from the house of the Lord, at first only up to the ankles, but afterwards so deep that one must swim therein, and the waters of the sea were healed thereby and became full of fish; so may Pentecostal waters indeed bring forth abundantly round about you, that the net may be filled and we may come to dine with Jesus on the shore of the eternal joy.
I am writing this at All Saints' Home, and have just been interrupted to go and see an old patient, who has been nursed here for fourteen years, and a penitent, who is speechless, at S. Agnes' Home. They are both just near to die to-night. How death equalizes all things and makes us indifferent to accidents of earth! How utterly all the differentiating features of life pass out of sight, as souls are set free from this earthly prison house and enter into the glorious presence of Jesus! Do not the things of this world seem just like a counterpane thrown over one's bed? If one is to wake refreshed in the morning, one must sleep through the night without any thought of what its material may be. If one does think about it, whether its beauty or its ugliness, one cannot sleep, and then one cannot wake refreshed. There is indeed a difference. We may not be able to summon sleep for the body at command, but in the soul's sleep our will must go to sleep, as well as other features of earthly sensibility. O what a delightful thing to be like a child that a mother takes, perhaps, and lays down again, and if it wakes again it is only to have a mother's kiss and feel the sweetness of her loving care! So must it be with us and our heavenly Father. Amidst all the changes of life, we must just open our eyes to His loving providence, so full of grace and of the power of the Holy Ghost, and sleep the better, not disturbed but soothed by the sweet embrace of His love. You will find this, I am sure, both in your sickness and in your moves. God has been wonderfully good to us, and He is leading us in various ways more and more to trust simply in Him, just like a child who is awake enough, not to care, but to know in the fullness of love that it need not care. May God grant you indeed to have a right judgement in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort. How that word "rejoice" anticipates the cry of the present day that religious truth is nothing else but religious joy, only converting the proposition, for religious joy is nothing but religious truth, and religious truth always is joy although it is not always manifest as joy. You will, I am sure, learn by God's gracious discipline to rejoice in infirmities. They are the foundation of apostolic life, and joy is the life of that life; for joy is in the Beatific Vision, and that we have if we are working for God in constant mindfulness of His presence. How interesting the notices of the Brahmos in the Mirror have been lately, speaking out so strongly of the need of the ascetic life. Gnosticism always tended in that direction. But it is a great element of truth for them to possess. We must not therefore attribute much importance to the fact of their having this idea, but we must rejoice that they have what, unhappily, their Christian cousins in the present day are wanting.
JUNE 4. Conversion of India--Virtues necessary for the Work--Psalm cxxxiii--God -proves us by delays.
IT is quite true that India seems to be getting ready for some great work of conversion which God may do through some man whom He will raise up for the purpose. Most probably the fire will be kindled by the breath of His Holy Spirit moving simultaneously on many. God delights to act rather through several than through any one. So it was at Pentecost. There were twelve. So now, probably, in India we may look for a missionary idea to seize upon many in various parts at once. We must pray that it may be so, and every one who does thus pray will surely be called to take part. We cannot be in any place so remote as to be out of God's sight. Keep Him before your eyes in constant prayer and you will be ever within His remembrance. But this requires apostolic charity, and therefore we cannot look to have any share in the work if we are in any way pushing where others do not want us; and apostolic obedience, to go just wherever we may be sent by constituted authority; and apostolic detachment, so as to be really at heart quite indifferent to place; and apostolic patience, so as to be ready to wait as many years as God may will before we see any result or tokens of His being with us. Without all this we cannot really do any abiding mission work either at home or abroad. We have suffered sadly from the want of these principles in the Church movement at home for the last twenty years. If the Church is to rise up to her glory, cither within the limits of ancient Christendom or among the heathen, it must be on the principles of Psalm cxxxiii--charity, the many abiding in one; obedience, receiving the unction from Christ the Head through the episcopate as Aaron's beard; detachment from place, Hermon and Zion participating in one refreshment of a holy dew; patience, in full expectation of the blessing of life for evermore. We may be sure God will do this work in His time, if we wait for it patiently. But He must prove us by waiting and many upsets before He can use us with confidence. He must have confidence in us as well as we have faith in Him, and that confidence He has by proving us, as if He were incapable of knowing us otherwise. He knows all His creatures through and through by divine knowledge, yet deals with us as it were upon a human level, "Now I know." Therefore, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation." God leads us out at last into a wealthy place. You need have no fear of the future if you trust yourself to Him.
FEAST OF S. BARNABAS. Desertions--Results.
IN fact it is very useful for us that some do drop away. It just tests who have a vocation to any particular work. The defalcations in India are not so sad as those were which we ourselves experienced in the first days of our Brotherhood at home, when those whom we expected to join us fell away. God has greatly prospered us beyond our deserts, and He will carry us onward according to His good purpose. Trust yourself entirely to Him. He will provide you with fellow workers, and He will appoint your habitation. He has chosen you that you may bring forth fruit, and that your fruit may remain. The fruit of our labours which we see in this world is very perishing and very deceitful. The true fruit is that which we shall not see until the day when Christ Himself shall come to acknowledge His work in us. The less we think about success and disappointment meanwhile the better. Our true life and its true fruit are hid with Him in God, and the knowledge of this should set us free from all care and make us rest in the fullness of His peace.
JULY 22. Divine Assistance.
YOU speak of prudence as involving the calculation of divine assistance. It does not seem that we can calculate on supernatural assistance in any plan that we devise. It is not promised to us. We may rely upon it in the fulfilment of any plain duty. But if we thought any plan of our own sufficiently important to warrant our looking for supernatural assistance, it would be like throwing ourselves down from the temple and trusting to the promise of angels. We must not take divine promises as going beyond the conditions which God assigned. If we do not calculate upon God's help to supply our defects, we may always calculate upon it to multiply our results. But, to take a common case, I cannot think it justifiable to run into debt in church building and say we are building upon faith, when after all we are only building upon credit. We have no right to look to God to make up the deficit. It is not faith but dishonesty. When anything comes to us in the way of obedience, then indeed it were imprudent to refuse to obey God because we did not see how He could help us.
AUGUST 25. Detachment--Prayer--Spiritual Power--Mortification--Our nothingness.
GOD does in His great goodness lead us to see more and more of our own sin. There is a great danger in having any one object of religious work before us in such a way as to draw us from the simple desire of doing God's will. It does not matter what we do, or where. Nothing avails without detachment, and with detachment anything is good, for there can be no true detachment without love. To convert India is a great work, but to give my heart to God is a greater. Buddha did the first, and failed of the second, for he knew not God. To give our heart to God implies the knowledge of God, Who created the heart for Himself that He might both possess it and fill it. To give the heart to God is to have the heart filled with God, for He cannot appropriate to Himself the heart in any other way than by filling it. But then it must be wholly emptied of all other things ere He can occupy it. He carries us through various modes of discipline that He may thus empty the heart for Himself. We often begin by desiring to do great things for God, but there is one only end, and it is the desire to be nothing. The more truly we are given to God, the more possible it is for us to be His instruments in bringing others to Him. We cannot bring any to Him, but His peace shining through us can draw others to Himself, if there is nothing in ourselves to hinder it. One must learn one's own nothingness in a heathen city, as the first power through which that city is to be converted. We must lie hid for a long time resultless, if our work is to grow in the end. It is the long-sustained prayer, the ceaseless communion with God, which must make itself felt in due time. If you have any others at any place along with you, you must try and organize the house for constant intercession as much as circumstances will allow. If our house is a house of prayer, living in the power of God, the heathen will come round it as moths round a light, and then will die a most blessed death unto the world as the fire of God touches them. It is impossible to convince them by arguments. We may silence them. But we want to have them so convinced that they may not be silenced, but rather that they may learn to speak with the word of God. It is only the word of God coming to their heart which can make them thus show forth His praise. We have not to win them to Christianity as to a set of opinions, but to breathe upon them Christian life as a power, "that ye ... may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." I So shall our gospel be not in word only, but in power. We cannot give forth life save by dying. Many a mortification of the outer nature is needed, not mere austerity, for that does not always mortify, but a real dying to ourselves. "I die daily" is the law of apostolic life. You will find your past experiences in Bengal a great strength to you if they have been a real mortification, so that you can now enter upon any fresh work with less reliance upon self, less thought of self, less expectation, more simply ready to do God's will without either shrinking or forcing. Any disappointments we have had are often much more resultful in blessings for the future than success would have been.
We must thus learn our nothingness before God. At the same time we must be careful to avoid self-disparagement before men. The less we speak of ourselves either for praise or blame the better, except, of course, to those to whom we look for spiritual counsel and correction. We should just come into any position, however great or however small, as naturally, as noiselessly, as the air. Our very unworthiness to do the work of God disappears in our nothingness.
SEPTEMBER 16. Settlement at Indore--Principles of Work--Answers to Prayer--Deadness to Self and to the World--How Souls are Won--Christ in us--God's care for us.
I HAVE your telegram. May God bless you in the work at Indore! It seems as if you had been hitherto following on and asking the question, "Master, where dwellest Thou?" For surely that is only another form of the question, Where wilt Thou have me to be? For wherever Thy faithful servant is, there art Thou, O Lord; even as he is wherever Thou art. And now you have the answer, "Come and see." It is difficult for us to realize Jesus dwelling where nothing else but heathenism is seen, and yet we cannot see where Jesus dwells unless we live in the future as a present already realized. We must come up to heaven and then we see that which shall be hereafter. Faith is "the substance of things hoped for." We can be content to forgo outward results, and all of present circumstances that can cheer the soul, if we have thus, by faith, a real hold upon the substance of the future; and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day and for ever, so that if we hold Him Who is the Head, we have indeed all the predestined future as our portion to be enjoyed even now. For all is nothing save in Him and with Him and through Him, and He is Himself all to us, our all-sufficing portion, containing all that our hearts can desire. Yes, we find the emptiness of earth a joy because it opens our hearts to possess Him.
So we must take possession of Holkar's dominions in the Name of the Lord, and they are ours. "The earth is the Lord's, and all that therein is." r "All things are yours," for "ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." We must not merely hope for future possibilities, nor must we anxiously anticipate; we must accept the country as a gift from Him and in Him.
It is a joy to feel that the Society is breaking new ground, and not merely building on other men's foundations. This was the original idea of the Indian mission, that where He had not been spoken of men might hear; and God has been guiding us onward to this. You will be able to settle down there much better after the experiences of other works which you have seen and shared. We must combine the zeal of the Church Missionary Society with the regularity of the S.P.G. and the spiritual consciousness of sacramental life as belonging to the early days, alas! too much forgotten--easy to be wished for, but so hard to rise up to. It is, however, the Spirit of God which can lift us up with wings like a dove to abide in that Pentecostal power. I am afraid there is little more than a glamour of romance about Roman missions, or a fervour lacking substance in those of certain sectaries; but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and His power is ours upon one condition, that we will be content to live in His weakness. That is our difficulty. We measure power by results, not by promises. If S. Paul could have seen the Christendom which would emerge from his ministrations--well, perhaps it was as well that he did not. He probably never thought of "this way" becoming the way of the world as it did. So we cannot conceive of the Christianized India, which may come out of our missions, but indeed I hope it never will. Far better for us to think of the paradise that certainly "will come out of them. Other successes are more disappointments than failures themselves, but the great success of a paradise filled with true saints living in the light of God, and the wonder of being there where Jesus is--this must strengthen our hearts to every endurance, fill every success with hope of something better to come out of it, cheer every struggle with consciousness of certain victory, and make all times of expectation seem but as a moment in the brightness of the ultimate vision.
I think I am right in the idea that there is no existing mission of any kind at Indore. It will be a blessed thing to have two or three just settling down to pray, and waiting to see whom the Lord will bring round them. You must not expect great answers to your prayers at once. This answer itself has been a long time coming. . . . And then the true answer to prayer will be in yourself, to fit you for further answers. We must have been changed by our prayers according to the requirements of God, before we can receive external answers so as to be a blessing to us. A gift to us unchanged would be a curse. We must be learning to find our joy, our whole joy, in Jesus alone, before we can find any true joy for Jesus' sake in anything else that He may give. This is a life-long lesson. We are content to receive Jesus as an addition to ourselves. The great gift is when we lose ourselves, and have nothing but Him. Perhaps we cannot attain to this while we are in this world. S. Paul seems to have done so, yet perhaps not as an habitual state. He left himself behind when he was caught up to paradise. Oh, we must leave ourselves behind, hate our own lives; so shall we see our Master and dwell with Him and find His power within us. The more simply you are dead to the world, the more will you be able to bring the world to the life of Christ. We cannot reproduce the glory of heaven on this side of the grave. We can live in heaven while our senses look upon the world around us, as dying eyes upon a battlefield look on dead forms of comrades round about. You will need constantly to have at heart that text, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." l It is not men drawn by eloquence, or learning, or music, or ritual, or influence, who make solid Christians--" Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts" 2--it is souls really won out of the grasp of Satan by prayer. These must be our crown of rejoicing. All else are only flowers that fade. May you have grace to lift Christ up, not only by word in preaching, nor under veils in Sacraments, but in the manifest power of the life of God, living with Christ, and showing forth Christ manifestly living in you. As living in Christ we can take part in the intercession of Christ, as the head and the heart, while we are the earthly mouthpieces speaking with all the power of His life.
The entrance of the Society upon this new sphere of work is indeed a crisis in our history. I suppose it was on Holy Cross Day you sent your letter; I got it on the fifteenth. Our patron stood beside the Cross, and lived upon it. May we indeed live upon it, while we lift it up before the heathen. How good God has been to us in making the difficulties all work round and change into triumphs, both in Bombay and now in your work. And your Bombay life, learning Marathi, will have been the very thing you wanted. So little do we know what we are preparing for. In all these ways we learn to be resting child-like upon God: "Shew Thou me the way that I should walk in, for I lift up my soul unto Thee."
SEPTEMBER 22. Indore--Prayer that Jesus may be glorified--Asceticism.
I WROTE to you last week to congratulate you on the conquest of Indore. O yes, if we go forth in the Name of the Lord God, we go with conquest certain. We know not the vicissitudes of the campaign, but we know the end of it. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." "Only be strong and of a good courage." Joshua must have been disheartened at the sluggishness of Israel. So will all be who have to lead the people of God. Still the word remains, "Only be strong." . . . You must look for prayer to make the walls of Jericho fall before you. It may be a long time before the answer comes, but it will come if you and yours persevere in prayer. "Ask of Me and I will give thee" Indore "for thine inheritance." We must ask as God's gift not to us, but to His Son. We must cherish an intense longing to have Jesus glorified in that country. If we take an interest in its people, how much more does He? We must recognize our interest in them as being a mere faint reflexion of His, and pray, not because we are working there, but because He died for them. He gives us the opportunity of praying, in order that, through us, He may speak for them to the Father.
While keeping up the devotional tone of the community, you must be careful not to err on the side of asceticism. You must keep them all properly fed, so as to do their work, and arrange fast days when you can have them without exhaustion.
OCTOBER 14. Settlement in one place--Poverty--Sequence of Dogmatic Teaching--Preaching and Prayer--Fasting.
MY own idea would be to settle down some place and remain there, not move about, unless it were for a few months in the winter. If one is known as a devotee at a particular place, the news would be carried far and wide, and people would come round one as the people of Judea round John the Baptist. If one moves about, one is no one. It is important to remember that one preaches far beyond the limits either of seeing or hearing. People know that a prophet is among them.
Then I should very much deprecate the idea of building or even renting "a good house." The poorer one's place of lodgement, the better. The less one is like an ordinary English gentleman, the better. Where one has to work among the miserable proletarian population of civilized Christendom, one must, of course, have institutions and buildings; but my own idea in going to break fresh ground would be to begin upon a thorough law of religious poverty. I should not have more things with me than I could pack up in two hours, a chamber where one could sleep either in it or on the roof, and a portable altar in the corner. I think the great trouble at Bankipur arose from our having got involved in the S.P.G. premises. Of course, if we take up one of their missions, we must take their "plant"; but I am sure that "nowhere to lay one's head" is a better tradition.
One has to do the Baptist's work, calling people to a sense of sin. One has to get them to realize the spirituality, personality, and holiness of God. Of the last, I suppose, the Hindu has no notion; but though he has it not as a Hindu he has it as a man, in spite of Hinduism. It can therefore be awakened. The holiness of God must be apprehended before a sense of sin can be awakened. Then the personality of God, not merely as a colossal man, or a composite monster, but the living personality which philosophically involves the doctrine of the Trinity, for a living, loving God cannot be other than triune. But I suppose it must be a work of time to get a Hindu really to know the personal God as a Being existing altogether distinct from creation, time, and space. People must come to know this before they can intelligently accept a Saviour. So God trained the Israelites for two thousand years in the truth before Christ came. Then would follow the doctrine of the Incarnation, contrasting so intensely with the incarnations of Hinduism. And here it would be very important to show that it was wrought by the simple power of the Holy Ghost (I fear that the article "conceived by the Holy Ghost" is very much slurred over as compared with the words that follow), and not by any personal fitness or natural power of the earthly parent, that so the incarnate Son of God might be seen in that detachment of being which the gospel represents, the eternal Son taking the manhood into God. Then our sanctification in Christ by sacramental incorporation into Him. But I should keep the Sacraments as mysteries to be as little as possible disclosed to mere inquirers. They should be taught that there are means for them to be truly incorporated into Christ, that this does away with all caste notions, that they must become new creatures in Him.
I suppose you will generally do more good by talking with individuals than by speaking to crowds, and by talking with those who come to you rather than with those whom you seek out. One must remember "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" Therefore a constant cry of prayer ought to be the strength of the mission, frequently carried on without ceasing day and night. I should have much more faith in calling the people round me by prayer than in carrying the gospel into the market-place. A mission of this kind would have very little laborious exercise, and therefore there would be the less drain upon the natural constitution. The chief work of life would be prayer, and conversations with the few inquirers would amount to little more than recreation. This would make fasting the easier.
It is important to choose a site that is as healthy as possible, and to arrange diet as may be most helpful. I quite agree that the men should not be required to observe the fast days as they would do in England. I should think, however, that if people are not stirring about very much, fast days would be rather a gain in India. This must be a matter of experience. But fasting is a great element of power.
I did not mean to write at such length. I do not know whether my hints will be of any help to you. You must, of course, take such a line in starting as you feel you can work best. But I certainly would incline to the "poverty" rather than to the "good house" line of mission.
FEAST OF S. SIMON AND S. JUDE. Training by Sickness--The Apostolic Spirit--Unobtrusiveness and sympathy in Mission Work.
GOD is no doubt fitting you by the discipline of sickness for your work. Man trains man by developing the powers of man's nature. God trains man by making us learn the nothingness of all that is in man, that we may live in the power of the divine nature. So He trained Jonah for the conversion of Nineveh by his burial in the sea and in the whale's belly. Sickness and difficulties are necessary to effect the same purpose for us. The degree of result will be proportionate to the degree of discipline. We are not to think that we can, as it were, profit by other people's experience so as not to need this personal discipline. However much we know the power of God intellectually, we need to learn it experimentally by having the outer self utterly humbled, prostrated, crushed. Sickness and difficulty do this work for us. They make a real break between us and the world, such as no effort of our own can do. After his years of madness Nebuchadnezzar praised the God of heaven. You should accept all dislocation, weakness, etc., just as the means by which God would bring you to some greater work that He means to effect. All work that is done in any human strength perishes. Therefore we see of necessity how the great bulk of work undertaken in the Christian Church must collapse. We must learn the secret of our own nothingness if we would gain the fullness of apostolic power.
We need not say much about our nothingness. Rather we must look away from ourselves--look to God, be absorbed in the thought of God, so as not to think or speak of ourselves, live in God and for God. I have just been giving the lay-brothers an instruction upon the apostolic spirit of Religious. The Apostles were not different from other men by their zeal, their boldness, their learning, their capacity, but because they were ever living in God from Whom they came. They were not separated from God by being sent from Him. The Son is begotten of the Father, but ever remains in the very substance and glory of the Father. So the Apostle goes forth from God, having mission, but abides in God, having life. And so the Lord works with him, confirming the word with signs following.
I should think it was important to be very unobtrusive in taking up one's abode there. I should watch opportunities and get invitations to speak to some few of the Indians. Probably more would be done with individuals than by public preaching. I do not see that there is any need to do anything overt which would arouse opposition. Opposition will come when there is success and the heathen begin to feel the mission's power, but I should think it was needless to approach them in any way that would give offence. The Athenians mocked at S. Paul's speech, but they were not made angry by it. We should try and build up the Christian faith upon any foundations of natural religion which may be lingering in their religious system, or, if not in their system, in their hearts. They must get to feel the need of what Christianity offers before it is any use offering it to them. If you settle down in a thoroughly humble, unpretending way, such as befits religious poverty, I do not think there would be much opposition. Satan has not yet learned to believe in the power of poverty. I should get over the difficulty of settling by not settling. One cannot expect to plant Christianity, like a laurel-bush, just where one chooses. As God moves us about, we know He means to bring us into connexion with special souls. Through them you might, I should think, get invited to address congregations more or less numerous, generally less; but let them get interested and inquiring, and above all take care not to upbraid them. May God direct you!
NOVEMBER 10. The English Government and Missions--Openings for the Gospel--'Differentiating Features of Christianity.
IT is very sad how the English Government has discouraged mission work, but it has been so all over India. Perhaps it may work for good in the end. If it retards conversions, it also checks the spurious ones. It is good for us to feel that we have God alone working with us. His work is sure to tell in the end. If Israel will not be gathered, the Gentiles shall come in at the call of Christ, and though a missionary may preach for years in an Indian city without making a convert, yet not one of those years shall be lost. The word of God shall go forth in all its power. You will find the notices of S. Paul's residence in heathen cities especially interesting now that you are getting beyond English and Christian surroundings. We must always remember that he almost always had the way opened for him by Jewish settlers. The great thing will be to try and find those, if any, who are hungering after righteousness, who feel that their souls have a craving which Hinduism does not satisfy; just as S. Paul took advantage of the confession involved in having an altar to the "Unknown God." The chief difficulty, I imagine, in India is the moral sense being wanting. No theology can avail unless there be a moral sense to welcome the revelation of God. They that are of the truth will hear the voice.
On Sunday evening I gave an address to an undergraduate missionary association in Corpus. [Corpus Christi College, Oxford.] My subject was Christianity in face of the other religions of the world, chiefly with reference to Max Muller's Science of (Comparative Theology. The points which I dwelt upon as differentiating the Church of Christ from all other religions were: Firstly, its historical and prophetical character, developing itself by progressive stages of authenticated history up to the completion of its original prophetic announcement, so that it came to the full in the full light of modern history; whereas other religions merely existed without any announcement of their own destiny, and by the very fact of their greater antiquity they spring out of darkness and legend. Secondly, its Pentecostal or dynamical character. No other religion claims to regenerate or lift man up to God. None escape from the charge brought against Judaism that it was weak through the flesh. Christianity may or may not be true in her claim, but the claim to regenerate, deify, is her fundamental principle. This claim needs the prophetic antecedents as its warrant, and a noonday birth as its security. Had this claim come out of darkness and legend, it would have been too great to be trustworthy. But our fault has been treating Christianity as a phase of thought respecting God, instead of treating it as a divine life. It must be set aside as a sheer imposture, or acknowledged to be without a rival. The mere comparison of details of doctrine and morals is only like comparing the skeleton of a man and of a brute, without taking notice of the existence of reason as a differentiating principle.
NOVEMBER 18. Providential effects of Climate and of Weakness.
I TRUST that both your novitiate of sickness and your future life of prayer will go up before God, and bring many from heathenism to the obedience of faith. Be careful not to waste your energies. Think what long intervals of repose and prayer marked off and supernaturalized the active periods of S. Paul's life. We cannot crowd into our life more than God put into his. The law of temperature will effect for you very much what imprisonments and manual labour did for him. God arranges this so as to effect manifold purposes. As He has ordained the law of man's labour, which originated in man's curse, to be his blessing, so that the necessities of hunger force fallen man into energies which otherwise would stagnate; so He makes periods of inactivity necessary in order to ensure what otherwise our zeal might overlook--the tranquil and refreshing work of communion with Himself. May He of His goodness make Himself very manifest to you in your sickness, and, as you find the weakness of the outer man increasing, strengthen you so much the more continually in the inner man, for the accomplishment of His will. The weaker we are the more we can do for God. Our strength rather unfits than fits us to be God's instruments. The Old Testament had its Samson, for bodily strength typified spiritual, but we cannot exercise real spiritual strength until we have learnt the nothingness of all that is outward. Every faculty by which we touch upon the outer world, and its strength and praise and glory, is sure to fall a victim to some Delilah bondage, and enslave us to a Philistine usurpation. We need, all of us, to be blinded and mocked, to feel our own weakness and to have it felt by others. Then God can make us pull down the world. So it was with S. Paul, and so it is in quasi-Christian England and in heathen India.
NOVEMBER 25. Father Greatheed---True and Fake Brightness--Slow Growth.
TO-MORROW will be our parting Celebration for Father Greatheed. He is to sail from Liverpool Saturday night at 10 o'clock, in the Timor. May God indeed bless his voyage and his residence along with you, that your lives may go up in the power of prayer which the Holy Ghost teacheth, and the merits of the life of Christ, to be the torch-flame kindling a mighty conflagration of divine love. I cannot help feeling that many lives are like fireflies in the dark valleys of history--bright with their own brightness, but giving no light to others. We must, on the contrary, really burn with a devotion which consumes self and communicates itself from and through us to others, because it is Christ living in us. The utmost zeal and activity in mission work does not turn the firefly into a spark, and we need to be sparks. . . .
It is scarcely probable that you will live thirty-six years to do Indian work; but if you live half that time I do not doubt your seeing good results of your labours, if only you are content to labour and wait, striving earnestly in prayer, not seeking for yourself, but welcoming those whom God draws near to you. Remember I am not at all anxious to hear of conversions, nor do I expect the first converts to be reliable. When the religious mind is so lost to the sense of sin, as in Hinduism, the daylight will rise upon the soul with the gradualness of a northern twilight, not with the sudden burst of the tropics. It is weary waiting and wishing for the dawn while the vessel aground seems liable to sink, but the trial of patience worketh experience of God's will. When we speak, whether to one Nicodemus or to many in a congregation, we must speak in the brightness, having just come from worshipping with Jesus as the Head. We do not need to speak much for Jesus. If we are living the life of Jesus, Jesus will speak from Himself on our behalf. The natural heart can resist the most convincing arguments, but not the consuming fire of the divine life whereby we ought to be sanctified.
DECEMBER 2. Effect of Christianity upon Nations--Rejection of Christianity by Europe--Blessing of Weakness.
IF you spend Christmas at Indore, how it will bring home to you the wondrous power of the Incarnation! As now the whole population around you are living in utter ignorance of the Son of God, so was all the world; but the truth has made its power to be known in city after city, and country after country. It has brought joy and honour to those who have received it, and those who have rejected it have sunk in darkness and misery. The Church's condition upon the earth has ever been that of a pilgrim, seeking here no abiding city. Asia and Africa have witnessed vast tracts covered with multitudes of episcopal thrones which have been swept away. The culture which Christianity developed forsook these peoples as they fell away from the faith. Europe has received the heritage of the incarnate God, but with no more pledge of stability than the nations before it. If Europe does reject the faith, yet she cannot drive this mighty presence of truth from the world. She must fall into degradation as her punishment, but some other nation shall rise to glory by welcoming the Stranger whom she repudiates. If we do ever feel inclined to take a desponding view of the Christianity of Europe, we ought to find in it an encouragement to do the work of missions, since God has certainly provided some nation to receive that which Europe scorns. History tells us of this ever-conquering power of the mysterious Traveller. In this fact we see the great evidence of the truth of the religion of Christ. Had her home been a more settled one, we might have imagined that there was some sort of national idiosyncrasy which gave to the Church of Christ a local welcome; but she has ever won her way, not from centres of power, but by her own inherent vitality, when the actual centres whence she emanated had become unworthy of her continuance by their weakness and decay. What a glorious nation, or confederacy of nations, shall India be if she does accept the faith of Christ. Oh, yes; surely He is the Son of God Whose grace unfailing raises up race after race to honour, such as nothing but the life of God can give. It is strange that a man of intelligence and noble heart can live in a heathen country and fail to recognize the divinity of the life of Christendom by the mere power of contrast.
I think your tour with Padre N. must have been very interesting. [Nehemiah Goreh.] I suppose you will now have got back home again, if indeed your present house be a "home." Perhaps you are rejoicing to keep Christmas with the consciousness of not having a home. To have no certain dwelling-place has ever been the object of my ambition, and I suppose I needed to be turned out of the dwelling-place of my ambition, for I seem to be put very immovably in this place, and the very work which might have called me away pins me down the more tightly to a locality. One must rejoice to know that one's home is fixed in the predestination of God, and the growth of any institution of His Church is as definitely foreknown to Him as the original place that was marked by prophecy for the birth of our Head.
If we had more numbers and more health and more capacity every way, perhaps we should perish in our pride. It is well for us to feel the tug of the world with its many wants, that we may feel our own littleness and rejoice in the strength of the Child Who needs not our strength to protect Him, but protects us with His own. "My soul doth magnify the Lord."
DECEMBER 9. Ventures of Faith--God's Guidance--Suez Canal--Decay of Turkey.
GOD will surely bless us if we make ventures for Him trusting in His word. Did Pere Balmand tell you anything about his style of living? One would like to know exactly what various people have striven to do, where they have failed, and how they have succeeded. I should think the Holkar is not likely to interfere if he understands that you merely come to preach the gospel to his people, so that they may know what it is and accept it if they like.
However, one knows that if they persecute in one city we are to go to another, and so we shall come at those who have been really called by God. We cannot tell by the map where to find them, but God, by His providence, will bring us into contact with them, leading us about by various things--oppositions, necessities, persecutions. What we have to do is just to be guided by Him, and if we recognize His providence in external events we shall be sure to accomplish His will.
All England is full of the Suez Canal just now. It has been a wonderful stroke both of fortune and of genius for Disraeli. No Prime Minister ever did a thing which was so popular on all sides. It looks very much as if Turkey were dying. One wonders what will be the effect of her fall upon Christendom throughout the world. Mohammedanism in India must feel it. And then the shock to Mohammedanism must be felt by the other religions. Besides which, one feels that the fall of the false prophet must coincide with other special arrangements of divine providence. How strange it would be for English clergy and old Catholics to join with the Patriarch of Constantinople at the reopening of S. Sophia! May God grant both a reopening and a reunion!
CHRISTMAS EVE. Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard--Missionary Bishops for India--Hired Houses.
I SEEM to hear Lauds going on at Indore and Bombay: "To-morrow shall the wickedness of the earth be done away." [Opening versicle of Lauds, Christmas Eve.] It is a joyous versicle anywhere. O how full of joy it must be to you! "Tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." In drawing up some meditations it has occurred to me that the call of the labourers before sunrise means the Jews. At the third hour the others called are the Gentiles at Pentecost. At the sixth and ninth hours, two seasons of great religious awakening and ingathering, possibly the conversion of the barbarians and the Reformation period. The eleventh hour, just before the close of the world's day, the missionary movement which shall be just before Christ's second advent. How that parable identifies missions with a special going forth of Christ Himself! The steward pays, i.e. administers the grace of sacraments, the daily pay. It is the Householder in person who calls. May He indeed go out into the market-place of India along with you, and call many in. They "preached everywhere, the Lord working with them."
The question of missionary bishops for India is assuming a new form, and we seem likely to have something done. I hope they will not have curate bishops. It would be better to let the whole machinery die out and to start afresh than to make such a mistake as that. However, no doubt God will order all for good, if we are faithful. It seems to me that you are quite right to live, like S. Paul, in a hired house--also like the Society at Cowley for two years--rather than build anything great or small. Of course, with my imperfect conception of what is possible at Indore, I can only advise upon certain grounds of abstract principle, and all I say must be reduced by the greatest common measure of facts and sense of mind and body. "To-morrow shall the wickedness of the earth be done away." O that wondrous to-morrow will soon be here! God grant us to meet in its joy!
DECEMBER 30. Many hear gladly--Few believe--Unlawful Occupations--Unknown Martyrs--Low standard of Christendom--Value of Martyrs.
IT is wonderful to hear that the people come so full of eagerness to hear. You must not expect many to continue on. But how this eagerness testifies to the power of the Good Shepherd's voice! His message finds its way to the simple heart, even though that heart be degraded and the lips that utter the message be the stammering lips of a foreigner. One God, one human race, however broken up into many languages, one universal need, one all-sufficient Saviour. We must remember how the people thronged about our Blessed Lord, and yet how far their hearts were from Him. Nevertheless, how full and perfect was His love for them! So must we accept people to the fullest love in His Name, whether in England or in India, without considering whether it will be reciprocated. No, "love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God." J We must be content with idle curiosity in the many, thankful if among those many there be some who will receive Christ. When there is so little truth to be found in Christendom, we cannot expect much in heathendom. No, it is but few that are chosen. The levity of which you complain is, I suppose, very much what S. Paul had to meet at Athens. When he seemed to be a setter forth of strange gods, we must not wonder that the people make strange mistakes as to us. However, the work of God goes on. "The Lord knoweth them that are His." All that the Father hath given to us shall come unto us, and we must take care to lead them steadily on to Him.
You ask about the poor Bajanewalas. [A low class of Hindus whose occupation is to provide music and singing for weddings, etc.] Their case is a very difficult one. What they are to do one cannot say. One can only say the Lord will provide. I think there can be no doubt that they must at any cost give up their calling if it involves them, as I suppose it must, in seeming to join in Hindu idolatry. Some few Bajanewala martyrs may be the seed of the Church at Indore. It is just as acceptable to God to starve because we will not sing, as it was to be thrown to wild beasts because men of that day would not offer incense. If some will accept the faith and die for it, it will develop the power of grace. O how easy to talk of this! Well, if it were easy to do it there would be no blessing on the doing. Surely it is unknown martyrs who keep God's Church alive upon earth. Christendom would soon collapse if there were not some blessed sufferers, in whom the triumph of God's grace is being made continually manifest before angels and devils, though not before man. What a different martyrology would be written by the angels from any which we find in our books! "Right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints," I but it is hidden from human knowledge. Miraculous deaths are better than miraculous lives. An ignorant Bajanewala full of love may be of much greater use than some learned theologian full of light rather than love. Of one thing we may be sure, God overrules individual and collective operations of grace. He will not allow the individual to suffer by reason of surrounding difficulty. It matters not whether we live or die. We are born to die, and we are converted to die well, and if we cannot die well we certainly should not live well. God will give grace to die, if there is need to die. I fear that God does not generally call us to die because He knows we cannot use the grace to die. But then what is the use of living all square with the world? I often feel about young men in draper's shops and elsewhere, what would be the effect if they were to make a thorough stand for truth? But the miserable conventionalities of Christendom seem to make one speechless. It is hard to call some few to act upon a different standard from the rest of Christians. One feels that true Christianity would be altogether a new religion to Europe, and yet one cannot look for spring blossoms upon stems that know no brightness except the red leaves of autumn. In a heathen country, on the contrary, one must look for a real upgrowth of true Christian life. Those who have grace to come to Christ shall come to Him truly, and find His power as they do His work. As many as receive Him, to them gives He power to become the sons of God, and to act as the supernatural life requires. We may trust, therefore, that in special difficulties God has some whom He has called to true conversion, and He will cause some external deliverance to appear if it be necessary and good. The land may be sanctified either by their death or by their life, as He sees good. The life of the Church on earth glows with the life of Paradise. Martyrs are not of value because they die under circumstances of great human prominence, as human witnesses to their own strong convictions, but because in the energy of death the grace of Christ is developed in His body the Church, and the Church on earth grows with the vigour of those who have passed on into Paradise. We are all one body in Christ. It is not so much the intercession of the saints as their actual existence which is of value to us. Every one who has been faithful unto death becomes an organic channel of life from Christ, in Whom he lives, to the body of Christ remaining upon the earth. I think modern hagiology has tended sadly to obscure this truth. People look upon saints in heaven as separate individuals like Homeric gods, whereas really their life is in us, for it is Christ's life in both. We grow out of the body which is in Paradise. So the firstfruits of a country are really the germ of the future Church of that country; not merely the first drops of a shower, but the bud that has to be developed. One must, therefore, look for it to be developed in the fullness of its supernatural energy, and look for those energies to last on in the sacramental life of a future generation. It would seem to be almost a natural necessity that the first Christians of any nations should have to endure very supernaturally in order to develop the spiritual life of the people in ages to come.
FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY, 1876. Civilization--Truth and Falsehood--"Dogmatic and Spiritual Truth--Transforming Power of 'Truth--Episcopal Jurisdiction in India.
day of the feast is actually over, but I cannot resist the pleasure of dating my letter in its brightness. O yes! its brightness is as the brightness of many days. It sums up in one day all the brightness of all the days of earth, and it is a day which stretches on to shine throughout the days of eternity. Specially is it a bright day for writing to the Indian mission. The star was seen by the Wise Men in the East, and now we must be the star of India. We know not who there are ready to welcome its brightness. The germs of capacity latent within the human heart need the ray of holy light to fall upon them ere they can show themselves. One does wonder at the scanty love of truth, the miserable levity of people born and bred within the Christian Church; but how can a people such as those of India be expected to have any regard for, or conception of, truth. No doubt it was once a lingering token of the life of paradise, and the less civilized people are the more it lingers among them; but a people of ancient civilization and intellectual culture and religious superstition, like the Hindus, cannot be expected to have a perception of truth remaining. The wild Indians of America offered to take a boy from us and give him such a training as would make him a useful man and speak the truth; whereas they did not care to give up a boy to be taught, after the European fashion, things quite useless and the practice of falsehood. If Christian civilization has made us such, what must Hindu civilization produce? We have at least the supposition of the truth. We worship the truth, even though in works we deny Him. What can we expect of a nation whose god is not only a false god, but a god practising deceit without there being any consciousness of the inconsistency! People may hold true doctrines and think themselves Catholics, Orthodox, Evangelicals, as the case may be; but their clear views do not make them saints, do not raise them much at any rate beyond what they might have been otherwise. On the other hand, the truth must make us free if the truth has us within its almighty grasp. If we are "holding the Head," I we shall find that the truth, the mind of Christ, is a living power that we may be true in love, speaking the truth from the heart; not from the surface of the natural heart, but from the depth of the supernaturally-communicated heart of Jesus. Out of this supernatural abundance of the heart the whole life must speak, and then the eye will see dogmatic truth, otherwise it can only see its caricature. How much of the repulsiveness of controversial truth and of men's antagonism to the faith arises from the grotesqueness of fragmentary statements which want the clothing, the atmosphere, the elasticity, the emotion of the divine life. We must get the Hindus to live in some consciousness of the mysterious controlling inspiration of Christian life. If they change doctrines for doctrines they have become perhaps worse than before. They must exchange death for life, weakness for power, darkness for light, as they turn from dead idols to serve the true and living God. To serve Him is to live with His life. Not, however, that I would disparage the Catechism, but I should not put it into any one's hands until they were really in training for Baptism. Statements are clear when the Holy Ghost has opened the eye to see their clearness; but the truth flows on from man to man, from heart to heart, and the Holy Spirit goes forth in our daily intercourse to spread mysterious fertility and fill hearts with grace. Do not be discouraged because they seem to learn so little. The want of memory bringing them again and again to you, as children say to a mother when they have heard a story, "Tell me that again," may itself be a divine appointment to make them receptive of living, life-giving truth spoken in love and received in curiosity, until the wonder of the hearer's mind changes into a glow of divine love quickening his heart. The Wise Men took a long journey, knowing almost nothing about Him to Whom they came. Probably they went home rather perplexed than instructed, but they had felt the power of God speaking to them from heaven, and this must be the deep principle of all true conversion, and it is a transforming principle. May God use you and those who are with you for the advancement of His glory by the transformation of many souls! . . .
We must deal very carefully so as to keep up a real high supernatural standard of religious aim in our Hindu novices. They must feel that the Society is true to God and to the life of Christ in all the power of the Holy Ghost; and although we minister in India, yet, after all, the aim of our life is to be ourselves converted to God, not merely to convert India to a traditional form of European belief about God. The less we think of converting, the more are men likely to be converted by us. Our one thought must be simply to live for God, and God will use us for His will.
As to the Bishop of Calcutta, I am going to surprise you by a statement that you are not under his jurisdiction at Indore at all, any more than under that of the Bishop of Bombay. You may be working for him there in deference to his wishes, but plainly he can have no more jurisdiction in Holkar's dominions than he has in China. It is a strange thing that this has not been seen hitherto. It is the solution of an immense difficulty. People have been living under a terrible thundercloud of letters patent. But how can the Queen issue letters patent over territories which do not belong to her? The Indian bishops have felt that India was parcelled out into those tremendous sees, but it never has been and could not be. Lord Salisbury seems to have been the first person to find out what one would have thought was self-evident. It is just one of those cases in which people have imagined a difficulty to exist until the shadow became a reality to their minds, and they got paralysed before it. Lord Salisbury yesterday was talking to Berdmore Compton [Vicar of All Saints', Margaret Street] and Mr. Pinhey, [Mr. Justice Pinhey of the High Court of Bombay] and they were deprecating the dreadful evil of having curate bishops, which ought certainly to be resisted at any price, when he threw this new light upon the whole question, and said that after all the letters patent were no hindrance to the increase of the episcopate, for they could only apply to that part of India which Was already under British Government at the time of the passing of the Act for making those three sees, and all the rest of India, whether governed by us or under native rule, is wholly free for the Church to map out and assign to bishops as she pleases. This seems to be a most joyous discovery, and entirely changes one's idea of how to increase the episcopate in India. Surely it is just another token of the advancing day, like the moment when one begins to see colour on the face of nature as the sun rises.
JANUARY 19. Christmas at Indore--Aid to Converts.
IT is a delightful thought to have celebrated the feast of the Nativity for the first time in that country. Many were in Bethlehem who wondered at the things told them by the shepherds. They were to go away; but, though they went away, multitudes were to flock to Bethlehem in devout gratitude. So, surely, your invitation, as you say Adeste Fideles will have its answer in due time. The seven days of Jericho have their fulfilment in long periods of Christian supplication. As the thing sought for is greater, so the patience must be greater with which it is sought, and the appointed time may be yet far off. But the result is as sure in the one case as in the other. Your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. It is indeed a blessed thing to be living, as you are striving to do, the life of pilgrims upon earth. So shall we go from strength to strength, and appear at length before God in Zion. . . .
I quite think that converts should be treated with indifference outwardly. One convert that triumphs over his difficulties in order to save his soul breaks the way for others to follow; but any number that come with the help of money, even though not given as a bribe, seem rather to stop the way of the crop and to perpetuate difficulties for others.
JANUARY 28. Purification by Suffering--The Heart and the Intellect--Preaching Jesus Christ.
I HOPE you have got all right again. You must not construe anything I have said as favouring any attempt at asceticism that may be injurious to health. I hope you have not been trying too much. These sicknesses are a token of God's blessing. Even though they may stand in the way of your intercourse with natives, yet they do not hinder our intercourse with God. Rather, bodily suffering is one of the best ways of rising up to Him, and we become fitted to speak of the transfiguring life just in proportion as we have been taken into the cloud. In so many ways the day of the Lord is darkness and not light. It is darkness which prepares us, darkness which preserves us, darkness which perfects us. Illuminations are very untrustworthy. If we have eyes to see the darkness, it is much better for us. Light cometh in the "morning," and darkness may be of bodily weakness, or outward suffering and necessity of body, or spiritual temptation, or absence of comfort and joy and divine consciousness. Eye salve prepares the eye to see, but blinds it for a time. So the discipline of earth and the gifts of grace darken for a while, but they fit us for the vision that shall be.
In Edinburgh I saw my Brahman friend again. I fear he has gone backward rather than forward. My conversation with him made me feel very much the need of simply setting forth the person of Christ as the object of love to which the soul must be drawn. Christ is the fulfilment first of the Law, and of the Prophets afterwards. Evidence from prophecy, however strong to the intellect, leaves the heart where it was. The intellect battles against it. The love of God is manifested to us in Christ, and love is the fulfilling of the Law. Man's heart has a law within it which needs to be fulfilled, and which is fulfilled, by Christ alone. The soul which has not the consciousness of this law cannot come to Christ, for it cannot desire Christ. However good the primitive teaching of Vedas may be, the abstract law fails to satisfy the yearnings of love. The risen Saviour quickens this yearning by the manifestation of Himself, and satisfies it too. The true cry of the convert is, Lord, to whom else can we go? Thou standest alone. In Thee the love of God is manifested. We are apt to lose sight of how much the love of God is obscured in nature. True, there are evident tokens of divine love underlying the outward manifestations of nature. But, as a parishioner said to me the other day, he did not see that God was good and loving. Nature seemed to him to be full of cruelty in every department of life. There is a great deal of truth in this. Nature, as we now see it in its fallen, ruinous condition, bides God's love. It is Christ in His personal manifestation, as struggling with the evil of the fallen world, Who really makes manifest to us that God is Love. Nature cannot efface from the human heart the craving after a God Who is Love, nor can any amount of ruin efface from the surface of nature the tracery of the love with which it ought to shine. Cruelty is but love out of shape. Love is the primary existence, without which we could not conceive of cruelty. And so the Gospels stand so admirably at the threshold of the New Testament Scriptures, for the life of Christ is its own highest evidence, appealing to the human heart that all may come from afar to worship Him. The personal Christ must awaken in our hearts an ecstatic enthusiasm, which is quite different from merely assenting to the truth of the religious system which He embodies or inculcates.
FEBRUARY 10. Schools--How to win Souls.
ONE would be sorry to drop an existing school that professed Christianity, but my bias is not in favour of starting one. I think your apostolic character comes out more clearly without a school. S. Paul evidently had no thought of that kind of work. He was anxious to make the truth known to those whose hearts were touched. God drew converts to him, and God guided them as to the management of their families. There must have been the same educational difficulties at Corinth and Ephesus as there are at Indore. Schools are an element of our social superiority. We want them to accept our religion and the Christian faith upon other grounds. Social superiority has a great tendency to outshine spiritual superiority. It is a very difficult thing for any people to receive the message of heaven from their earthly social superiors. This difficulty one finds in England; it is the difficulty of modern mission work. I have not, however, sufficient knowledge of the social circumstances of Indore--what a "school" really means in India--what a Government school, what an ordinary mission school, what an ideal mission school, what a native mission school. Unless I could realize these various educational agencies more exactly, I should not like to give a very decided opinion. You cannot look to have any converts for a long time, unless there be some special work of grace. Teaching Christianity to the young, and proving its truth to the old, are very different things from winning hearts to Christ. There are short and easy methods for the one, but the other can only be done by lengthened prayer and fasting. "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." So in a better sense than a merely physical one there will be a virtue, a power of the Holy Ghost going forth from us. May He indeed draw many, through us, to Christ, in all the world.
FEBRUARY 16. Falling off of Inquirers.
OF course it is only natural that the crowd of inquirers should dwindle away. But it does not follow that nothing has been done for them because they do not come on to be catechumens. Year after year some souls will be moving themselves towards the pool, and yet do not get there. Their paralysed spiritual efforts get exhausted, but there has been some exercise of them. Perhaps after many efforts they will get on. At any rate the witness has been made. It does not matter to the evangelist whether his hearers receive his testimony or no, as long as their rejection does not arise from any wilfulness on his part. No, it is a nobler thing to bear a rejected message than to have the reward of man's acceptance. God chooses those whom He loves best to do the work which has no reward but His love. Work which ends in the love of God is not fruitless. If it were, the Cross would be fruitless. No, the work which dies out in God's love rises in God's love with God's life.
It is only man's life which is lost after all. One Isaac is better than all the children of Keturah. If it is true that even in human estimate the world does not know its greatest men, much more is it true that the world does not know, cannot know, its divine men. Surely "the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." Do not doubt the efficacy of God's word spoken in the power of the Holy Ghost because your inquirers cease to come. It is for you to show them that you live not for them but for the word which you have to speak. The mere knowledge of your life is worth hours and hours of jangling. How seldom does one speak with an inquirer for an hour without saying many things that one regrets. But if the inquirers stay away they know the aim of one's life, and that is good, and it teaches them, if we are persevering, patient, restful, more than all our words could teach. They watch us from a distance and see not our faults, whereas in our best actions and words they see our faults more plainly than our good reasons.
MARCH 16. Mission Tours.
THESE tours are like Abraham's walking up and down the land he is to possess, or like the daily procession round the walls of Jericho. We must take care that they are made with the fullness of faith. One may apply to them the old motto about minutes, Pereunt et imputantur. These tours are not forgotten, even though they seem to end in nought. They are all telling. They are part of our struggle with the principalities and powers that sustain the dark tyranny of Hinduism. It is part of the toil by which the strong man is being bound before it is of any use attempting to spoil his house. God shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly. Too often he is forgotten in mission work, and so mission work is like sowing seeds upon the shore below high-water-mark. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Our difficulty is not with man. It is with him that holds man under his dominion that we have really to fight. No preaching of missions will avail without real stern fighting against him.
FEAST OF S. BENEDICT (MARCH 21). Blessing of Birth in a Christian Land--OurLfpes the Evidence of Christianity--Personal Experience.
AS we come into close contact with the heathen, we learn indeed to praise God that we are born in a Christian land. How little are we accustomed to value this great privilege, and, as one dwells upon the thought, what a mysterious thing it seems for oneself to have been brought so unconsciously into the great covenant of grace, while the great multitude of mankind are left outside. Yet was it neither our merit nor our fathers', but that the works of God might be made manifest in us. Let us look up to Him, Who gave us the first grace, to perfect us for His work, whatever or wherever it may be.
I hope you have found your tour with Padre N. interesting. I can scarcely imagine that it can have any immediate results. Of course one cannot tell who they may be whom God has prepared, so that He may suddenly open their hearts to receive the message. Yet one would think that heathen would require to see the truth of Christ's religion tested by the lives of the mission band before they would attend to our words. The Gospel is the great book of Christian evidence stamping the New Testament with a divine authority; and the life of the mission priest ought to be, as it were, an appendix to the Christian evidence. "Be ye followers of me," says S. Paul, "even as I also am of Christ."
The towns of India have not had the preparation which the great towns had for the preaching of the apostles--as the devout Jews were scattered everywhere--pointing men to Christ. The people must want some reason for looking upward with expectation to the message that you bring. The value of such a journey seems to be chiefly to call attention to the fact that you have come among them with a message; and it will be needful for them, as for him of old, not so much to come and hear as to "come and see." The joyous life of one given up to Christ will speak home to many hearts. We are "a spectacle to the world, and to the angels, and to men."
When we think of our lives being required as evidence to others, it makes us dwell upon the greatness of the experience of divine love vouchsafed to ourselves. How all external evidences pass away as little worth compared with the great evidence of the voice speaking in our own hearts! How in the strength of this voice one feels, in spite of weakness, that one ought to be able to stand up against the world, even though it were all alone! How one feels the reality of this voice by the nothingness of the world, when one thinks of what the world would be without it! I suppose the Hindu devotees, however much determination and pride they may have, must be quite without anything analogous to the joy of Christian life. Thou art anointed with the oil of gladness above thy brethren. Even in modern Christianity how little of that ecstatic joy there is which filled S. Paul's heart and inspired his writings. Ever since the vision of a temporal Christendom came over the pure revelation of the kingdom of God, there has been too much seeking of a home on earth to allow of any real ecstasy. Our joys cannot be of a higher order than our hopes. May God indeed enable us so to see His glory that we may rejoice therein, and in outward weakness experience its power.
MARCH 31. Conviction of God's Power precedes acceptance of His Love--Supernatural Conviction of Truth--Hope.
THANKS for your letter from Silotiya. [A small village about twelve miles from Indore.] It is cheering to have a man, such as you describe, prophesying the Christianization of India. The enemy often has more foresight than the conquering party. If he merely foretold the downfall of Hinduism it would not be worth much; but it shows he feels the power of Christ when his words are such as you describe. The people must feel the power of Christ before they can feel His love. There must be a general conviction of the one before there can be an extensive individual acceptance of the other.
What is the great difficulty in the way of conversions at home? Is it not the weak sense which people have of God's power, of the power of truth? Satan's masterpiece for the last age of the world is to persuade men that God is too good to be feared, too sluggish in His leniency to be capable of exerting His omnipotence. If people did believe in God the Father Almighty, they would soon accept the rest of the Creed. To regard Christ as a conqueror is the first step towards recognizing His victory upon the Cross. Until people realize the antagonism between Christ and the world they cannot come to Him to be saved out of the world. The mere logical process of the faith, or the mere appeals of the gospel narrative to our tenderness and sympathy, do not avail unless the powerful antagonism of Christ to the worldly heart is felt. Not till then can we know His redeeming love or yield Him any true gratitude for our own deliverance. But this cannot be unless we have a clear sense of His approaching victory over the world. So in Christian countries there can never be any active sense of our relation to Christ unless there is a hasting unto the day of His appearing, an eager desire and anticipation of His second advent. The sense of His victory over existing religions must be the analogous consciousness in heathen countries. The people at large must realize the antagonism, and the victory approaching, and the weakness of their own worship, and then the necessity of coming to yield themselves up to Him will force itself upon individuals. The generation of an atmosphere of apprehension is a work which has to be done in India before there can be any extensive Christianization of individuals. We have to be marching day by day round Jericho. At last the walls will fall with a sudden crash. The fear of the Israelites was upon all the nations of Canaan. So Rahab believed to the saving of her house. Just in the same way the apprehension of a conqueror coming out of Judea was the one great feature of the first triumph of the gospel. We are not to be disappointed because many who seem to catch glimpses of truth nevertheless fail of any substantive love of the truth. The rosy clouds of morn presage the day, although they belong themselves to the exhalations of the earth.
I cannot help feeling that we need to seek very earnestly for ourselves, who do believe, that we may have a more supernatural conviction of the truth of Christ. It is one thing to be convinced of supernatural truth, it is another thing to be supernaturally convinced. It seems as if there ought to be soon an overpowering outburst of supernatural life among Christians, which will be like the change of the colourless twilight to the clear perspective of the active day. It is what we cannot anticipate. It is that certitude which men's minds are now very much craving after, and which various phases of religionism among Christians seek to attain by a jumble of intellect and faith, logic and tradition, assumption and authority. The supernatural of Christian history stands to such a bright supernatural vision much in the relation that squibs and crackers do to an electric light. We want the supernatural no longer as a mere accidental, but as the abiding, and so in some sense a natural principle--really natural, and more intensely natural than anything belonging to the lower nature can be. The unction of the Holy Ghost would then be indeed as a stream of burning oil lighting up the earth with the vision of heaven. We cannot effect this for ourselves. It is not for us to know the day nor the hour, but we can wait and pray, and when the time is come God can give. The supernatural unction will surely be our guide amidst the darkness of the last days, when the moon is turned into darkness and the stars are fallen from the spiritual heavens.
What will happen to Christendom and heathendom within a very few years none of us can say. And yet the great developments of the end are foreseen, and they are being prepared by God. And it is by working on in hope that we must look forward to our share, if God calls us to those struggles against the world which may fit us to receive these gifts. Perhaps we dwell too much upon our shortcomings, instead of looking forward to the infinite power of the divine gifts which are to change us. We ought to long to feel the pillars of the house, not pining over our blindness--though that be the penalty of our own sin--but conscious of the unchangeable love of God, ready at any moment to manifest His power. We very much need to rise out of ourselves into God. Penitence and faith bring us to baptism, but baptism should bring us to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, whereof we are made partakers. I fear we dwell too much in the past instead of claiming our real position in the sanctuary. Many people talk of one body and one Spirit, but know very little of the one hope of our calling.
GOOD FRIDAY. Conversions the Gift of God to His Son--The necessity of Intercession.
I AM shortly going up to the chapel for my hours of the watch. [Continuous prayer is observed in the chapel of the Mission House at Cowley from Vespers on Maundy Thursday till Compline on Good Friday.] With what holy joy we ought to keep this day, if we are really penitent. We follow Jesus, and He went forth to Calvary, knowing that all things were given to Him by the Father, and that He was come from God and went to God. The people of India were included in that gift. He riseth from supper in the power of this knowledge, that He may cleanse the sons of Levi that they offer unto the Lord a sacrifice in righteousness, and it is in the power of cleansing that we must seek to assert the claim of Jesus. "Ask of Me, and I shall give thee." Jesus asks by us, and we must be careful to remember that we cannot receive any souls for Him, whether in England or in India, except by asking. Jesus has not made it easy for us to convert any, but He has given us a claim upon the Father, and as we ask so shall they be given. The preventing grace of the Holy Ghost brings men over to the acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
One may fear that our mission work is too apt to fail because we make it our own work, instead of simply regarding the conversion of a nation as the gift which the Father gives to the Son. Inexhaustible and irresistible is the love and the truth wherewith the Father gives all to the Son. We have to receive in the Son's Name. We must be faithful to Him whose Name we bear, and we must be conformed to the suffering life wherewith He obtained the gift. We must know at one and the same time the joy of the Father's love, to which He is welcomed and we are welcomed in Him, and we must know the sorrow of sin with all the intensity of a Redeemer's anguish in proportion as we would share a Redeemer's joy. There is anguish enough in Christendom to make the heart ache, when one thinks how few of all those multitudes are willing to be His. Yet you must know more of the anguish of contemplating souls under Satan's power than we can possibly do. Do not doubt that they are given to Christ. They are waiting for us to claim them as we ought. Indeed, however hard may be the bondage of Satan under which they groan, there is more hope of claiming them than of helping those who have been already given over to Christ, and yet will not give themselves. We are given to Christ for His glory and our own benefit. If, therefore, we do not rejoice to have been given to Christ, He is glorified but we are not benefited. Oh, let us hope that India will welcome her transfer into His hands in a very different way from what Europe has done!
APRIL 27. Hopes of Future Growth.
WE have had a glorious day at Keble. [The opening of Keble College Chapel, S. Mark's Day, April 25, 1876.] I could not help thinking how God was making the stones to cry out amidst the dumbness of man's faith. I hope your own building work is finished by this time, and if it is not so handsome as Keble, yet I hope that the cells and the oratory at Indore and at Silotiya will show that they germinate with that same life which has gathered into itself the art and the learning of Europe, after sprouting from the boards of the manger at Bethlehem. Be sure it is the same mustard seed. Even though it seems to us sometimes slow-growing, yet really it grows great and it grows fast. Our hopes are quicker, perhaps, but at the same time our hopes never reach to the greatness of the growth that is to be. Even small unexpected successes, like the rapid growth and grandeur of Keble College, should only serve to make us remember that the true term of growth for all we do in Christ is something beyond not only our expectation but our imagination. We must indeed take care and not let our expectations crystallize upon the living principle of our divine hope. We must always cherish a hope reaching forth into infinity. The frost of our own earthly satisfaction is very apt to nip off the germs of divine purpose. We must look forward with the eyes of God, and in the power of God and with the co-operation of God realize God in ourselves, and ourselves in the work of God, and so shall we open our mouths wide and God will fill them, and as we feed on Him Who gives us Himself we grow into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
MAY 5. Looking Forward to the Coming of Jesus--Union of (Christians--Hindrances arising from the Natural Heart--The Witness of Life.
IT is the Eve of our Festival. [Feast of S. John before the Latin Gate, May 6.] May the New Year shine upon you with the fullness of joy. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but out of all the Lord delivereth them. We might wish indeed that we might die in the caldron. Coming back to the world is no deliverance. Our true deliverance is from the world, and from the evil one who tyrannizes over us as long as we are here. But we have to wait, and in learning to wait we are delivered from ourselves. The beloved disciple had a long waiting time, and he saw the dark clouds gathering over his own immediate work, and the darkness of future ages involving the Church in evil as long as the world should last. Oh, what a weary prospect must those Apocalyptic visions have been to him who truly loved Jesus and His Church! Nevertheless he was content to bear the prospect and to contemplate the future, looking forward to the end, even to the coming of Jesus and the glory of His manifestation. So must it be weary work for us to behold the sin of the world, Christendom worse than heathendom; but joy cometh in the morning, and we must be looking forward patiently to that joy. "Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to Thy voice: cause me to hear it." It is but a little while. The gardens where He dwelleth are not the pleasances of earthly delight. Mary must weep in the earthly garden, and cannot touch the risen Lord. We too must run at His call. We can never say that the winter is past, nor that the flowers appear upon the earth; but the Beloved speaks thus to us, and we hear His voice and are satisfied, for He speaks of the better earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, and He calls us, "Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away." So we arise at His call; so we find the truth of His words. When He speaks we must rejoice at His voice. If the friend rejoiced, how much more must the bride. And how must we be looking and longing to hear that voice! Tell me where Thou feedest. Draw me, we will run after Thee. "Make haste, my Beloved, and be Thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices." Oh yes, the whole longing of our life must be summed up in one word which makes us forget all else: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" And now you are inviting Him to come forth into the field and lodge in the villages, and you shall find as you get up early to the vineyard how the vine flourisheth and the pomegranate buddeth forth. The power of the Resurrection shall be manifest, and you shall find how the tender grape has in it still the blood of the divine life with all its sweetness, and the pomegranate shall open at last the full treasury of its seeds.
One does very much wish to have as much unity, sympathy, and mutual supply amongst all the missionaries of the Church as possible. I hope that I shall be able to see the Review with your article in it. God has been calling us to help on the sense of unity, without which there can be no active life, and that both at home and abroad. Your travels in the north, and Father Rivington's in the south, will both of them have tended in this direction. Do not be distressed because the country people are dull of hearing. Commonly one has more to fear from people's intelligence than from their dullness. Not that intelligence has any power as an active weapon against divine truth. The more we are opposed by the intelligence of the natural heart, the more is the glory of the divine wisdom made manifest in us. But intelligence is too often a sad obstruction. It is the worst form of dullness, when the heart is dull because the head is proud. The mind may be without form and void, and darkness brooding over it, but God can say, "Let there be light." Remember also that mission work is not like parish work at home; your life is preaching to all the region round about. Have Christ with you, and those of distant parts will come near. God has distant souls that He wishes to call by your ministry, as He had at Caesarea when Peter was at Joppa. You may have little opportunity or power of speaking to them, but they will talk about you even though they have never seen you, and they will feel the divine power and witness of your life much more than they could feel any words in any language. I hope that by God's grace the growth of our Society, both in India and elsewhere, will be a stubborn fact which the natural heart must acknowledge--the more stubborn because it is so tender, the more powerful because it is so insignificant. The Hindus will see their own greatness crumbling away as a mass of dead matter. They must see that in us the grace of Christ grows up as a tender plant, and seeing its life they shall learn to live themselves by feeding thereon.
MAY 19. The Swami Narayans--Slow Progress of Christianity--Success of Heretics in Mission Work--Roman Missions--Future of Christianity in India.
I WAS at an interesting lecture by Monier Williams the other day in Oxford upon what he called a Puritan sect of Hindus, the Swami Narayans. Their founder was contemporary with Bishop Heber, and is now worshipped by 200,000 people as an incarnation. He said that these sects are by no means infrequent in India, springing up and spreading rapidly, and then dying out again. I suppose in reality they are, in relation to Hinduism, not very different from what some of the orders of the Franciscans would be to Christianity. It is remarkable that an effort for purity and asceticism should be able to act so powerfully in the midst of Hindu corruption. This readiness to take up with such a reform does not lead me to think, as I fancy he thought, that they would in the like way be ready to change to Christianity. The devil is quite ready to let people travel about for their health as long as they do not leave his country, but he does not let people claim passports to leave for the kingdom of truth without great difficulty.
I am sending you two papers which seem to me very useful--Lightfoot and Maclean upon the comparative progress of ancient and modern missions. People are so fond of expatiating upon the past, just as they do upon the future, because it is easy to fill up every blank to suit one's own fancy. I have felt for a long time that one ought to wonder rather at the progress than at the slowness of modern missions. When one thinks of the asthmatic invalid which Christendom has been for the last thirteen hundred years, one does wonder that the voice of the Spirit of God can be audible in the Church at all after so many ages. Did it ever occur to you how S. Paul puts himself in antagonism to modern thought with reference to the reception of Christian faith? We are apt to think that it is only natural for Christianity to spread by reason of its inherent truth, but he says that it is part of the great mystery of godliness, not only that God was manifest in the flesh and received up into glory, but that He found some to believe on Him in the world. The world, of course, as a whole, would reject Him, but there were a chosen few, and He was believed on by them in spite of the world round about them. This triumph of the divine truth over the natural heart is itself a part of the great mystery.
When we add to Maclean's statistics the further moral corrections which are necessary, what an infinitesimally small and strangely dragging work the conversion of Europe has been! The gathering in of the nations has done more towards swamping the fishing-boats than landing the fish. In fact one would think that we might have been much forwarder in the work of filling heaven and making the number of the elect complete, if there had not been so many recklessly baptized. Yet no doubt God does overrule all for good. The diluted and debased forms of Christianity may be used by Him as a means of getting some into a life of which, so long as they are in this world, they have little idea. One always feels somewhat suspicious when missionaries speak of success, and I am afraid I am inclined to think that those missions which are truest to Christ will be slowest in their success. I suppose that, historically, heretics have propagated Christianity more rapidly in various countries than the Church has done; but the work of debased Christianity, though more rapid, is not enduring. The features of modern Rome, from which the early Church kept so sternly aloof in order not to be assimilated to the heathen round about, must naturally make Romanism more attractive to a heathen than something better could be; but then, probably, he accepts the Christian faith in a sense little removed from his earlier habits of thought. Things which may be helps to a decrepit Christianity may be the death of a Christianity just emerging from heathenism, which, if it has not spiritual strength, has no chance of living.
Systematic theology and accurate apprehension of the rationale of the faith it may well wait for. Probably it could not understand these things, if it would; for the apparatus of its old worship fills the mind with old ideas even though under new names. I suppose one must expect a nation like India to pass through a long period of cloudiness before it sees theological truth clearly. We cannot make the Indian mind start with the Christian faith as the European leaves it. Philosophies must rise and fall, and faith start afresh in the new soil of each nation in turn, freed from the systems which have grown up around it in its earlier home. We cannot tell how long the period of transition will be. We must not expect to see the new state of things. Had we lived when Gnosticism was dominant, how could we have imagined the Church either of Constantine or of Hildebrand or of Leo X; or if we had lived just before the Reformation how could we have imagined the colonial Church of the British Empire! The kaleidoscope of divine providence has not yet exhausted its manifestations. The faith remains unchangeable, but we must expect that it has yet to be brought forward in many new harmonies and utterances of living power. Enough that we have worked without seeing. Our reward must not be to see results on earth, but to see the King in His glory.
MORROW OF THE ASCENSION. Conversion the Work of God through the witness of the Church--Sermons--Our Ascension with Christ.
MAY this glorious festival shine upon you with the fullness of the power of our dear Lord's triumph. "Sit thou on My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." How slow we are in receiving these words! We want to make men subject to Christ, instead of letting God do it. So it is that we want such tremendous apparatus for parochial work at home and mission work abroad, whereas once there were twelve men, and their sound went out into all lands, and their words into the end of the earth. "The Lord gave the word, great was the company of the preachers" (feminine)!--not many-men to preach, but communities that testified by their very existence, for these "preacheresses" that spring up at God's word are the Churches throughout the world. [Ps. lxviii. ii. Literally, women that publish tidings (of victory).] We try to bring people, and as the work increases we find our incapacity, like S. Peter dragging the net which brake--the net of the Jewish Church. We must live in the life and world-wide power of our Lord upon the throne of His glory. And that power comes forth just in proportion as we ascend into it. May God make us to experience this more and more!
We need very much to have our sermons ruthlessly cut down. Randall always says that he owes his preaching to the unsparing way in which his father used to scratch out page after page of his early sermons. [Vicar of All Saints', Clifton, and afterwards Dean of Chichester.] We are to trust in God, but we are to cultivate the instruments which He has given. We may always be sure He gives us all we want, but nothing to spare; and therefore we must make the most of what He gives, and never desire anything that He withholds. He will make the Spirit of His dear Son to operate gloriously through the members of His ascended body. We must remember we have His ascended body within us as a power bearing us upward in union with Himself. The life of the Church is a perpetual ascension until the time comes when evil shall have prevailed upon all the earth, and then it shall be found that the whole body has ascended, and the New Jerusalem shall be seen coming out of heaven from God, and Jesus shall come with all His saints to judgement.
I hope the hot weather is not hurting you. "The sun shall not smite thee by day." l Our true selves are living m a brighter sunshine in the presence of Jesus at the right hand of God. What happens to our bodies does not touch our selves, living in Him.
JUNE. Remarriage of Converts.
AS to the marriage question, my own feeling would be that a convert ought not to put away his wife, but that, if she wishes to be released from her marriage, she ought to be allowed to go, and the husband be free to marry again. This seems to be S. Paul's teaching. I am not quite sure what Mr. Vallings thinks about it. Apparently not this. I fancy he considers that the marriage ought to be altogether indissoluble. If the unbelieving one is allowed to depart, I cannot think that, in this case, the Christian is bound to widowhood. Baptism is a death. The old ties, however sacred with the sanctions of natural piety, cease to exist, not because they are not real sanctions, but because the acceptance of the higher life of the faith leads a person into a really new life. If, therefore, there is nothing inconsistent with that new life the old sanctions remain. The old marriage becomes sanctified so far forth as the believer is concerned, by the sanctification of his whole being. If, however, the other party to the contract wishes to draw away from it, the believer, having passed into a new life, is dead to the old, and is free to contract obligations which would not have been lawful while the old lasted. The old last on until annulled by an authority equal to that which initiated them. Therefore I think that by "departing" we must understand a legal annulling of the heathen marriage, not a mere informal leave-taking. When thus annulled, the obligation would not revive if the other party subsequently became Christian. The Christian is free to marry again. The former connection belonged to the natural sinful estate, and is no hindrance. A Christian would otherwise be in bondage to one of Satan's servants. There is no harm in continuing intercourse with the unbeliever in what is not naturally sinful, but such bondage might involve the separated believer in difficulties and temptations which would lead to much evil. This is my first view of the case, but I do not speak confidently. Certainly polygamy should not be tolerated among Christians. I do not know how this is with the Mohammedans of India; I fancy they do not commonly have more than one wife.
VIGIL OF S. JOHN BAPTIST. Disappointment here, success hereafter.
THIS is our day of quarterly retreat, and Friday the day of our weekly intercession for missions to the heathen; and the life of S. John Baptist leads us specially to think of you in your life of solitary witness and prayer amongst the heathen, like the great precursor in the wilderness. We are sometimes tempted to doubt whether this is "He that should come" when we see Him leaving our work apparently unheeded, but in truth He is only leading us through the necessary discipline of faith. S. John Baptist cannot be the greatest outside the kingdom of heaven, unless he does experience more than any other the decay of every earthly thing. He must not know Christ as bringing him success here, if he is to welcome Christ in the glory of the other world. So S. Peter and the Apostles must toil all night and catch nothing, if they are to have the wonderful draught of the true morning. We are, in fact, being tried right on all through life whether we are content to let our disappointments, delays, and difficulties be proportionate to the gifts we look for when life in this world is ended.
S. PETER'S DAY. Early Indian Converts.
IT certainly is a very important thing to discourage wanderers. Converts will naturally be apt to try one form of religion after another. They cannot generally have intelligent reasons for deciding what to accept, and any little ground of dispute will be likely to unhinge them. In time truth will prevail and absorb earnest hearts into itself, but the most convertible stock is not the most lasting. We must not be disappointed because the first race of converts is not perfection. We are very apt to think that the early Christian converts were something'far ahead of us, and so no doubt many of them were, but the Pastoral Epistles show us what very odd clergy, as well as laity, were found amongst them. So too there were plenty of "Christians in heart," like even that eminent disciple Constantine. We should scarcely like an unbaptized Rajah to be as influential in our synods as Constantine was at Nicaea. It is encouraging to reflect what the Church has lived through. The promise is sure that the gates of hell will not prevail in the end, but it is very evident that they have prevailed, and will continue to do so as long as the world lasts. In fact the very trial of our faith consists in this. The people come out upon the walls of Jericho and mock us, but these walls will one day fall down.
JULY 7. Departed Parents.
MISS H. told me of your mother's death a few days ago. The thought of it must rather give us peace than sorrow. It is a great comfort to know that the last period of her life had been so happy a one, and her whole life had been a continual looking unto Jesus. May the full brightness of His countenance shine upon both our parents as they rest together in the brightness of His love; and let the thought of them draw us upward. If in some matters those we love mayt have differed from us while they were with us on earth, we know that they have and can have no other wish for us now, but simply that they may see us conformed to the will of Jesus. The things which in natural affection they desired for us are seen by them now as nothingness, and the things which once they dreaded for us are seen by them as the staircase of heaven, dark perhaps to those who are looking up, but bright with ever increasing brightness in their eyes as they look down and long to see us pressing onward.
JULY 13. Building--Reports of Mission--Mission Work and Ultramontanism--Conversion of higher races through tower--Pictures.
I AM afraid your house is scarcely existent at present, but we know that if this house be dissolved, "we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." J In building this house, we, as God's under- workmen, are very like the Indian carpenters as your under-workmen. How many a thing God has set one to build, and we have not got it roofed in until some monsoon came, or too often we have been content to roof in with little else than mud, and so roof and all have gone. Yes! after all we have to raise the walls of mud: God must Himself put on the roofing.
Whether it is best to be in the native town or in the country I cannot say. I expect the witness of your existence is much the same both places. I suppose that in either place you will have plenty of visitors coming to lionize, conceited people coming to argue, idle people coming to pass the time, persons with an object coming to be inquirers, and more fully developed liars professing themselves ready to be converts. This is the sort of material out of which the mud walls of the heavenly Jerusalem are to be built! There needs to be a great process like the screening of gravel, which does not seem to have anything to do with the fabric, and yet it is all needful by way of preparation. You say that reports of mission work are very little to be trusted. In fact how few people ever form any idea of what has been done. So much of what takes the most time and gives the most trouble leaves nothing to be seen, and so often what claims to be the daughter of Zion is like "a lodge in a garden of cucumbers," ' both in the rapidity of its creation and the lack of endurability.
What you say of F. P. is interesting. I expect that a Roman doing mission work in India ceases to be Ultramontane in anything but a strong conviction in his own heart that he is as he always was. Ultramontanism cannot live without constant communication with Rome. It requires the mechanism of an earthly centralization, which is quite inconsistent with the world-wide Church; and so by degrees the throne of Christ is seen clearer and clearer as the centre, and the .earthly vicar becomes little more than a name; and then, when the heart begins to recognize the eternal city whose builder and maker is God, practical connection with that abiding city which men ought never to have sought upon the earth begins to fade, and with this the whole range of spiritual eyesight becomes enlarged and glorified, although the eye may be unconscious how the object on which it is gazing has changed, and the lips may call the object by the old nomenclature. It is curious to find that even up in the Central Provinces the converts should be from the South. One may see that this habit of oriental peoples to remain distinct in new homes of migration may lead those lower races, as they become elevated by their adoption of Christianity, to become centres of spiritual life to the other races, which in their stubborn periods were so incapable of conversion. The outcast tribes becoming centres of Christian life here and there throughout India will do for the future what the Jewish colonies did in the first ages, and the barbarian invasion in a later age. I fear that we must expect that as in former times Christianity gathered up many a corruption in its progress, so it will be again now. The waters of life will carry along with them many an earthly element from the humanity which is the channel of their transmission, like the waters of the Rhone coming down from the mountains; but we know that those same waters shall leave all their deposit in the lake of death, and flow on in their lustrous purity, as the Rhone flows so pure and bright out of the basin of Geneva.
I do not know what Lecky says about pictures; I will look at it. I must confess that my own mind gets more and more away from pictorial Christianity. [Rationalism In Europe, vol. i, pp. 216-34.] The Apocalypse is so essentially supra-pictorial. Its glory is in the ceaseless flux of its imagery, which is constantly becoming something else before the mind has grasped what it thought it was. Keble College chapel is very splendid, but those great mosaics seem to me to hold the mind down rather than to lift it up. One of the beauties of coloured glass is that it merely suggests an earthly form without being like one (for the Munich glass is, I think, repulsive), and another is that the play of light through prevents your seeing it clearly as a dead picture, and also is constantly changing so that the figure seems to live with the ray of light that passes through it.
AUGUST 4. The Word of God in us--Evangelicals and Catholics--The Irvingites--Eternal Punishment--Purgatory--Redemption of the Body.
I AM very glad that the installation of the bishop was so happy. That the newspapers should vilify him is no hurt. I hope he will indeed be found to be what they sneeringly call him, "the man speaking with the voice of God." I more and more feel how much we need this. We need to be the supernatural mouthpieces of the Holy Ghost. It is not the written word, nor even the Word hidden in Sacraments, but the Word manifest in our persons which must convert the world. "Their sound is gone out into all lands. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun." The shining forth of the divine Shechinah is a voice. The Word is the light. We have not to speak about Him merely. He must be speaking in us, and then, whithersoever the word goeth, it will accomplish the will of the Father in the power of the Holy Ghost. Our outer nature and its gifts do really only serve to deaden this voice. It is so difficult not to substitute what is earthly for what is heavenly. But if a glass be covered with gold it shines with the reflection of exterior life; it is incapable of transmitting the light from within. So any natural talents shine with the light of the world, but rather refuse to become the light of the world. Human reason and learning, though necessary to us in our fallen estate, are such a hindrance to our higher life. And so with institutions, ritual, and everything else. One longs to be free of the scaffolding, and see the building.
I quite agree with what you say about the Evangelicals and ourselves. Orthodoxy at one time, the rationale of the sacramental system at another, the propriety of symbolism at another, a practical philanthropy grappling with social needs at another--these things are very apt to take the place of the love of the personal Christ in the power of the Holy Ghost. No doubt people are often misled, not knowing what spirit they are of. Men need to "try the spirits." So Evangelicalism is apt to degenerate into fanaticism. Love without light is as bad as light without love, for God is both light and love. Vagueness may become the death of God in the affections as much as rationalism, whether orthodox or unorthodox, in the understanding, or ritual in the outer sense. But we must have a love as intense as our nature will bear towards Him Who is the real object of our faith, not towards the means of grace in themselves; and that is where we are apt to fail. If there were more love of Christ there would be more desire of death. It is a sad thing for people to die calling out "Glory" as a mere matter of human excitement, which it too generally is; but it is a blessed thing to live and suffer in the world, because we know death is glory and are sure that it must come soon. The Irvingites unhappily crystallized and froze up the idea of Christ's second coming when they gave it its true place as the one object of Christian contemplation. But if with them the fountain became a hard mass of shining ice, to dazzle rather than to nourish, with most of us the thought is a fountain which does not flow at all. Then again the thought of Christ's Passion is so apt to carry us back, and hope dies out in what people are pleased to call faith. How few people have faith as "the substance of things hoped for." It is for us mainly a reliance upon things past and finished. Oh, if we can but live seeing heaven opened and Jesus calling us to die to the world--really to die--that we may as really live to God! This consciousness of life in God must make us really indifferent to outer things, trembling rather at "the garment spotted by the flesh" than admiring its beauty.
I have not spoken about eternal punishment, which I meant to do. It would be quite a good thing to write for some Reviews, even external to the Church, if they let one. We cannot ask help from without. We may give help to those who are without, in so far as their work is not antagonistic. Oxenham has written some able papers in the Contemporary Review. [Four papers in the January and three following numbers, 1896, by the Rev. H. N. Oxenham; reprinted under the title Catholic Eschatology and Universalism. (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1878.)] Only I think he minimizes the thought of suffering more than we have a right to do. No doubt intelligent nature must wake up in another world to its own misery because it has not God. The idea of mere torture inflicted by God as exhibited in pictures of hell is a monstrosity. But the soul formed in God's image needs no torture. It must agonize in its own craving. I think the delineation of external torment has degraded the idea of hell, and made man feel a sort of brutality in God in inflicting it. If people felt that the torment of hell was their own doing, that it was just as much a law of nature as a famine, or a plague engendered by human idleness and filth, they would have retained the acknowledgement that God is not bound to interfere in the one case more than in the other. He does reward all human acts of virtue in their own order of merit, but this no more tends to mitigate the craving of the soul for God than a bank of violets tends to mitigate the hunger of those who have not tilled their corn field. What people need to feel is that existence in another world is the continuation of our existence in this, and that eternal life is a free gift to fallen men which, having been forfeited by the fall, never can be claimed as a right by any, and that without it human nature suffers in eternal starvation.
We shall see by and by that the human race is a vast unit, and that Adam's sin is no mere imputation. We sinned in Adam, and in Adam we fall. Nature sees the consequence of the fall. Faith teaches us whence those consequences began. We are not by nature in a state of probation in this world. We are in a state of condemnation until we have come to believe in the only-begotten Son and to be made His living members. Then our probation begins. The idea of hell as a place where fresh tortures are inflicted, instead of being the state in which we come to know our own misery has done much evil, and the Roman doctrine of purgatory has aggravated it by making people think that God accepts a certain amount of artificial pain as a compensation for guilt.
The substitution of purgatory for the Day of Judgement, i.e. the substitution of the cleansing of the soul in the intermediate state, as if the body could then be taken up as a merely neutral appendage, for what the Athanasian Creed teaches, viz. that we must give account and receive reward in the body at the last great day for all the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad (because the body is as much oneself as the soul, and needs God as much as the soul does, being formed for God as much as the soul was), this Manicheism, which really underlies the Roman doctrine, has added to the difficulty of making people feel that hell is not to satisfy God's anger, but God's unchangeable law. It sets aside the material part of our nature as if it were incapable of moral character, and elevates the spiritual as if it were capable of rising to the requirements of God's life; whereas both body and soul can live, and can only live, by the perfecting power of the new birth, giving them a life entirely different from that which they can have by nature, although their nature was formed to live by it and therefore craves it.
But both body and soul have sinned; one cannot be cleansed without the other, and neither can be cleansed for God, but only by the indwelling of God. So the oloklhron I shall be preserved to be without blame in the appearing of Jesus Christ. Christ does not only appear to us as our Judge, but in us as our Righteousness; and those who love Him not have not life, and cannot get life elsewhere. The elect are not chosen because Gpd wished to save a certain number of men, but because the body of Christ demands a certain number for its manifestation. We must be careful to think of man's salvation as being not an act of mere pity on God's part, but as being for the manifestation of God's glory.
AUGUST 12. Intercourse with Dissenters.
I AM very glad that you saw something of Mr. P.'s street preaching. A little intercourse with him may be very helpful. God's Holy Spirit may be leading him onward. We must be ready to work along with the Blessed Spirit wherever we see any indications of preventing grace, although we must be careful not to outrun the Holy Spirit, or urge matters in our own strength. Gentle sympathy and cooperation is far more effective than controversy. If, therefore, we are able to show this without compromising our own position all is well.
SEPTEMBER 13. HAWARDEN. Retreats--The Coming End--Japan.
THERE are a great many retreats going on just now--tokens, I hope, that the seven locks of Samson are growing; they must grow before any freedom from external oppression can be of any avail. It matters not what prison-house we are in, if we are crippled and blind. But then I suppose history teaches us that the freedom of the Church, after she has shaken off her alliance with the world, will be her own death and the death of the world. We cannot look for any age of the renovated Samson; this final inspiration is the end of all things.
I told you of the Japanese gentleman coming to visit us. We have since then been praying daily for the empire of Japan, and last week I had a long letter from Corfe [Bishop of Corea] asking me to take a Japanese youth to train for the priesthood. The Japanese movement seems to be a step towards the incoming of those from the land of Sinim which will, I suppose, be the last sheaf of the mission harvest.
I hope that------will come to a spiritual apprehension of divine truth as taught by the Church. It is very difficult for those who have lived in the delusive spirituality of their own conceptions to rise up to the truer spirituality. But God can raise them.
SEPTEMBER 22. Hindu Idea of God--Mission Schools.
WE had a very interesting talk on our way home from Cuddesdon upon the Hindu idea of God and Prakriti. [The word means Nature, or that which produces.] I had never understood it before. How one feels their unconscious God to be a dead abstraction, and how one realizes the living and true God by contrast! With them God rises really into life out of a divine death, for unconsciousness is deadness. And thus one comes to see the divine importance of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the act of God and His consciousness and His procession within Himself, lest He be indeed a dead abstraction after all. [The Schoolmen were wont to speak of God as "actus purus," pure act, by which they meant to express His necessary self-existence as eternal activity and perfection.] The very clearness of the philosophical reasoning seems to show that their god is dead--moved to the incarnation from without, and not by the interior principle of his essential love--dead and contingent, and therefore not the true God. Oh, those simple words of Hebrew faith to God as yet un-incarnate, "Thou God seest me"! And that joyous acknowledgement of the faithful, "God so loved the world, that He gave His Son"! If love rests after all upon the abyss of divine unconsciousness it perishes altogether.
We must not be disappointed if our schools do not make Indians into Christians. Does any European school turn out its Christian boys as saints, which yet they are called to be? More and more I feel the misery of the nominal Christianity which constitutes Christendom. The worst is good people being so content with it.
MICHAELMAS EVE. Eternal Punishment--Knowledge, Love, and Faith--Mission Schools.
I THINK I meant to express very much what you mean about eternal punishment. By "law" I did not mean an abstract law superior to God, but the unuttered Word, the very consciousness of God. Also I did not mean to deny His wrath, but to raise it into the calm region of eternal justice, and remove it from the region of vindictive passion requiring to be sated by a certain amount of pain. The debt of our sin can only be made good to God by love. The first payment ot love would be equivalent to paying the last farthing, and would set the soul free from torment. But, alas! in the condition of the lost that payment never comes. No demonstration of God's power and goodness can really waken the lost soul to love. The intellectual consciousness and the heart do not go together in that world, if they have not been brought together in this. In this world God moves the heart by the gift of His Holy Spirit, and the intellect is shaken thereby. In the next world God will operate immediately upon the intellect, and this will harden the heart instead of subduing it. A revelation thoroughly demonstrated would probably have the same effect upon us now, viz. of hardening us. The moral of probability [?][The note of interrogation is Father O'Neill's. Possibly-some words have been omitted; Father Benson seems to have meant, the moral education of having to act upon probability rather than upon demonstrative proof, cf. Bishop Butler, Analogy, etc., Introduction, § 4.] and the discipline of faith enable God to let Himself be chosen by the heart in a spirit of love, the understanding assisting, but not compelling, assent. If we did yield to the necessities of logic, we might admire God but we could not love Him. As it is we learn to love Him first, although having very imperfect knowledge, and this love following develops the intellectual powers, so we know Him also better. But the eternity of hell really seems to arise from the incapacity of the soul to be moved to love. It is no want of love on God's part which makes hell eternal. It is the transcendent character of love to which the fallen soul cannot rise.
I send you a paper by General Tremenheere, which will, I think, be interesting to you, if you have not seen it. What he says about the use of non-Christian teachers is very true. The mission system has so very much gone on the idea that knowledge must bring love, instead of loving faith bringing knowledge. The less people know until they begin to love the better. So our Lord gave Himself to be loved as a fellow man before He proclaimed Himself as God. I do not imagine that the General appreciates adequately the result of mission work. His letter in the Guardian seemed to me to be wrong. We cannot be too thankful for those vague Christian influences which, however far removed from true Christian form and substance, are yet like the dawn, the golden clouds that precede the day. I should think it would be a very important thing to get good Christian men to take the Government schools. One man working in that way would probably be able to exercise more influence silently, and outside of school, than a catechist who had evangelization for his professional school work.
OCTOBER 5. Meditation and the Dibine Office.
YOU speak about meditation not being obligatory. I certainly considered that it was an obligation unless other duties made it impossible. Every one in the Mission House has it down in his time-table. Moreover, now we have two meditations on Wednesday and Friday, being silence days, and three upon the monthly retreat. I will send a copy of our House Rule, for though you cannot observe it fully, there are some features of it which you might observe.
I do not feel inclined to diminish the Offices. Without this I think our devotions would get very desultory. They are in fact, if properly used, one of the best forms of meditation and of Scripture study. We should be careful not to say them too fast. Certainly I should wish you all to consider that there ought to be an hour of meditation daily, if possible.
OCTOBER 13. Death of Father Coggeshall--Hospitals.
WE have had a great event since I last wrote. Father Coggeshall died on Friday. How little did we think of this when we saw him years ago! [i.e. when Father O'Neill accompanied Father Benson to America in 1870. Father Coggeshall was an American Novice of the Society.] It seems to give stability to our Society to have one thus permanently bound by death to the living Rock. May we have grace to follow him there, as he has followed us here!
With reference to your plan of a hospital, I do not know quite what you contemplate. I do not think that institutions are very helpful from a missionary point of view. They are necessary where Christian society is established. But I always feel that any pecuniary help which one gives to people hinders their coming to Christ. At home, if one has to lend money or to give gifts, I always feel as if I had locked a door with a silver key. They may not speak against one, but they seldom love. One must be careful that an institution, which of course will require constant supervision, does not hamper the external work. However, I do not know exactly what you contemplate, and therefore I cannot judge. Only you should be free to go anywhere, and not get parochialized, in a heathen district.
OCTOBER 19. The Coming of our Lord.
IN your letter you spoke of the second coming of Christ. It is very sad that Christians in the present day think so little about it. We are absorbed in thinking what we can do, how long we shall have to get our work finished. But the one great thought of the Apostles was to love His appearing. If we love Him we must long for His appearing. Lord Jesus, come quickly! How should our hearts be filled with the thought of His glory, and the glory of His elect along with Him, and of our own glory not added to His but derived from His! The glory which shall be our joy there is the very same which has been our strength here. It is not an earning of a future reward, but a revealing of a present strength. The appearing is not a coming to us, so much as a coming forth from within us, showing Himself truly within us, perfecting our faculties that we may apprehend that which is beyond our thought while we are here. The appearing is a revelation, so that when He shall be revealed, we also shall be revealed with Him in His glory, and He at His coming will be glorified in His saints and we in Him. He will be glorified by the very fact of developing within us the power of beholding His glory. We shall be glorified in Him by the very fact, the very power, of seeing it. "We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." And all earthly life is only the training of the outer nature that we may become partakers of this heavenly vision, the bringing of our outer nature into subjection to Him, that there may be nothing in us of ourselves, but we may be the simple instruments of His manifestation of Himself, the elect mirrors of His glorious energy, the righteousness of God in union with Him.
The Brahman looks upon all consciousness as nil. I suppose that really is because we cannot think of the divine consciousness save as an exaggerated form of our own consciousness. But in the coming of Christ our own consciousness as a separate human fact will pass away. The power whereby we shall know and see Him is not ours but His. We shall know the nothingness of all created things and the glory of God as He is, by knowing all things with that knowledge which is eternal life, not merely an extension of human consciousness but a development of divine consciousness within us. No approximation to this divine knowledge such as we have here can ever satisfy the human heart, for it was formed to be the instrument of that divine revelation, just as the eye was formed to know things not by feeling but by seeing. Here the more we know, the more do we come to know our ignorance. When He is revealed within us we shall know as we are known, see all things as God sees them, yea we shall behold the glory which Jesus had with the Father before the world was. Surely we ought to get to desire Christ's coming more intensely as the time draws near.
As a stone falls more rapidly as it draws near the ground, so ought our hearts to be hurrying on to bury themselves in God, as He draws near to us. Natural things affect us more as they come nearer. How great must our spiritual obtuseness be, that the near approach of God leaves us so little altered. Rather we think of it less than men did of old. "Who shall stand when He appeareth?" J Those only who stand because He appeareth, who would be prostrate if they could be without Him, and are erect with hope and love because He comes. We must keep our hearts clear of all hopes short of His coming. That is the great way to learn to desire it. In modern times we have such great hopes of what Christianity will do for us, that we lose our hope of what Christ's coming shall do for us. The brick walls we build to cover with our own frescos, hide the glory of the scenery of the heavenly land that is beyond. It was said of the old conquerors, Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. It ought to be true of us with a slight alteration, Solitudinem faciunt, pacem inveniunt. "They make a wilderness, and call it peace." "They make a wilderness, and find peace."
NOVEMBER 10. ON BOARD THE "CITY OF BOSTON." The Serampur Mission--Preaching--Reason and Faith--Communication of Faith and Grace to others.
HERE I am again on the Atlantic. A much larger vessel than the one in which we crossed six years ago. We have had a very prosperous voyage as far as the transmission of our material frames from England to America. What has been our spiritual progress meanwhile? Alas! I fear not much. One does feel very much as if we were about to find Niagara Falls in New York harbour, over which we should all be precipitated. Is it not thus that people are hurrying on to the next stage of life, regardless of the great plunge which awaits them?
I have been reading on board Marshman's Story of the Serampur Mission. It is a very interesting summing up of what seems to me to be one of the most remarkable episodes of the Church's missionary life. One feels that they were Baptists by accident and Churchmen by essence. It is interesting to notice how very few conversions they had for several years, and then several hundred converts round them after about twelve or fifteen years. It is so delightful to see a work growing as that did in spite of such intense opposition of every kind. One feels too that it was a token of God's love causing it to come to an end when those first men died almost in disgrace; for if they had died in the full odour of the Connection's approval it would have been a strong nucleus for evil, whereas now whatever there is of it is really a new work. I do not know what the state of the Serampur establishment at the present time is.
I suppose it is natural for converts to want to put before others the reasons which they have for accepting the Christian faith, but we must certainly avoid argumentation as much as possible. Mission preaching is the utterance of the word of God in the power of the Holy Ghost. There must be the love of the truth if men are to accept it. "With the heart man believeth." Probably arguments suggest as many difficulties as they refute. Love awakens desires which nothing but the truth can satisfy. Converts therefore must be very much on their guard not to rest their own faith exclusively on their natural reason, and not to expect the same reasons which God used for moving them to be equally effective for moving others. Reason must be conducive to faith. We cannot believe contrary to reason, and reason points on towards the results which faith beholds; but reason cannot see the objects of faith, much less can it give the sight; and as a sustaining power it is only like the stick to which a "tree is tied in order to support it when weak. Faith is the sustaining vigour of the living tree.
This must be always God's special gift to each individual. We can only communicate it to others in proportion as we live in love to them, praying to God; and in love to God, losing all thought of ourselves as we become the channels of His grace to them. We must be as the unconscious hem of His garment through which His grace streams forth. The virtue is in us only while we cling to Him, and the life which we communicate is not ours but His. The power of sectarian leaders is just the reverse, human eloquence, reason, influence. This power again is but for the moment, for what is derived from man dies with the man. But the mediatorial grace of the Christian ministry lives on as He does, from Whom it comes. Even within the Church all those human instruments which multiply the operation of Christ do tend to abbreviate its efficacy, wedding it with that which is human, instead of letting it assume the human into its own divinity. The great thing for us all, in all our ministrations, is to feel ourselves truly taken out of ourselves into Him, not living ourselves but He living in us. We must leave it to Him to do the work, being ourselves just ready to act at any time and in any way as He may please to use us, knowing that our work will succeed according to His purpose, not according to ours; simply acting in blind faith and blind love, as we hope for the manifestation of God to change faith into light, and to perfect love in the full vision of peace.
NOVEMBER 11 (TO FATHER GREATHEED)--Translations of the Bible--Bearing of the Dispensations of God on Individual Souls--Relation of the Holy Ghost to the Father and the Son--Western Teaching on the Holy Ghost--The Heavenly Jerusalem.
NO doubt the translation of Holy Scripture will by His grace develop the meanings of the original inspired word. The words as they come from God have meanings ready to be manifested in due time, beyond what they contained grammatically for the exegetical capacity of their first recipients. Each language, on the lips of God, has power to rise to a world-wideness of meaning beyond what it could have had as spoken by a man to another of his own nation. This I fancy was one reason why God chose the Greek language, not in its classical perfection, but in its state of disintegration and transition, and with the specialities of grammatical inaccuracy, etc. These weaknesses of the outer frame serve to give play to the divine life breathing within.
May God give you much grace in your present time of special prayer and meditation. He will make all things plain to you in their time--the purposes of His providence and the mysteries of His revelation. We shall find how these are connected, how the mysteries of revelation contain the laws of our own individual guidance. The discipline of each individual soul comes out of the larger dispensation of grace by which the whole Church is governed, and the dealing of God with His Church is the reflection upon a created mirror of the love wherewith He loves His own Son eternally.
You ask about the Holy Ghost as the blessing which the Father gives to the Son. I suppose there is a truth implied in that statement, but I should think it was not quite truly put. The Holy Ghost is the bond of love, binding together the Father and the Son by the fact of the double procession. Hence the modern Greek Church seems to have suffered a serious injury by losing sight of that great truth, although I suppose Western theology has suffered almost as much from the Western way of putting it. The act of divine life seems to be, as it were, a circulating act, which as originative is called the Father, as derivative is called the Son, and as in continuous procession is called the Holy Ghost.
The procession is not merely an action of God ad extra, but it is the activity of God within Himself, circulating but indivisible, complete in its origin, losing nothing in its derived condition, continuing on as a self-sustaining power as it proceeds from the perfect consciousness of the Father and the Son. The Holy Ghost is therefore the act of life wherein the Son is generated eternally, and whereby the Son lives, giving back the fullness of divine love to the Father. It would not be right to conceive of the Holy Ghost as an act ot blessing supervening upon the generated Son, for that would be separating them, whereas they are consubstantial. The act of divine life in its purest, essential contemplation is love, and the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of love. God generates His Wisdom by the very act of love whereby He is the fount of love, and the object of love eternally to Himself. The Son loves the Father because He abides in this act of love whereby He is Himself eternally generated. He loves the Father with the very same love whereby He is generated. The Spirit of love does not supervene upon His action whereby He gazes upon the Father, so as to give power to His gaze; but the Holy Ghost proceeding from Him is the only act whereby He beholds the Father.
In the mysteries of the Incarnation these transcendent relationships of the undivided Godhead begin, as it were, to divide themselves. The Spirit of God rests upon the humanity of the Son, and it is by the power of the anointing Spirit that He offers His humanity with all its actions to God. Thus from the humanity of Christ, as the Head of the new creation, the eternal law of the divine activity spreads itself to the newly constituted universe, His body, His fullness, the habitation of the Godhead.
The heavenly Jerusalem with all its satellites, those myriads of the angel hosts that wait around it! I think you must have heard me speak of the foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem, that it is really itself the foundation of the universe; not resting upon any external foundation, but resting upon the inherent being of God, so that the incarnate Son of God, as the central Being of the heavenly universe, sustains the city of God as the sun sustains the planetary system. I do not think this is generally recognized as it should be. People see pictures of the heavenly Jerusalem built upon hills and forget that it hangs upon nothing, rests upon God Who dwells within. The twelve foundations are as the interior belt of planets holding the city around the glory of God wherein they themselves rest. So Christ is the sure Foundation, Christ the Head and Corner Stone, not by any confusion of metaphor, but because the culminating glory of the city principle inherent in its central fundamental. There must be, as you say, something of great importance hidden under the parable of precious stones, foundation stones, the stones of the High Priest's breastplate. They linger on from a past world, having gained a deathless lustre in the fire which disintegrated other things, their lustre so mysterious, so solid, so liquid.
You will find in S. Augustine the teaching about the Holy Ghost in some degree as I have tried to express it. Richard of S. Victor develops the doctrine. S. Thomas Aquinas seems to me to have missed its importance, and because he did not give it so much importance the whole of Western theology lost very much of its hold upon the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, and the real taking up of human nature into the life of God. Then again, the Ignatian Exercises lost so much of the purity of the triune life by not developing the doctrine of the Holy Ghost sacra-mentally, and modern devotion became, so to speak, purple instead of white, because this great element of truth was neglected, as other writers followed the lines thus marked out.
FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS. Results of Missionary Labour--Dispensaries--Rival Missions.
HOW Epiphany assumes that God will bring the tidings home to the most distant! None who are really seeking Him shall fail. We speak to many who heed not, but the word of God travels on, in ways unknown to us, to those who are known to Him. All we can do is to trim the lamps and watch, as it were, for the flash of the Pentecostal fire to kindle them. Yet we know that we have that fire within ourselves, and that constant effort on our part is essential to the bursting forth of the flame at the appointed occasions of divine providence. It is in some degree like the rubbing of an electrical machine in order to get it charged. There must be many turns before a spark is seen. In the fruitless effort of preparatory years of toil the operative power of the Holy Ghost is, as it were, generated within ourselves, so that we may become instruments of His converting grace. Our labour is not in vain in the Lord. If it produce no result externally, it effects its result within ourselves, fitting us for future and greater works. If God were to give us success very quickly our work would end in nothing but dwarf results. French [Bishop of Lahore] was saying the other day that he had to work five years before he had a single convert; but, as one saw in the Mutiny, his work was a wonderfully resultful work in the end.
I should think a dispensary, if you can manage it, would be a very useful institution. Our Blessed Lord ministered to the sick, and we may well seek herein to follow His example. We have to do by science what He did by divine power; but the love which moved Him should be the very same in us, moving us to do the same works as far as we may with those instruments which He gives to us.
It is impossible to say how the new mission workers at Indore may affect you. One thing we may be sure of, viz. that whatever leads towards Christianity leads ultimately towards the Church as the true embodiment of truth. But sometimes it may cause trouble at the outset.
CONVERSION OF S. PAUL, 1877. The Rev. A. Tooth.
YOU will have seen by the papers that Tooth is gone to prison. I hope great good will come of it. I do not imagine the Government will let him remain there long. I do not doubt that God will make this season of retirement full of blessing to him. One is thankful that they have got a man who had his congregation so thoroughly with him. It becomes a great exposure of the tyranny of the Public Worship Act, and it must make Tooth himself feel so entirely free from the misgivings which he would have felt if he was conscious of having aggravated many of his parishioners.
FEBRUARY 8. Eternal Punishment--Credo quia impossibile.
I HAVE been reading your article on Everlasting Punishment. I like it very much. One ought to make it an axiom of faith that what is true in the infinite not only may, but must, contain some element involving it in hopeless contradiction for the finite intelligence. We may catch glimpses of solutions, but nothing more. If we could understand it, it could not be true. This is, in fact, the great saying of Tertullian which, baldly stated, seems absurd, but in other words is a self-evident truth--Credo quia impossibile. It is not the grotesqueness of inherent impossibility, but the existence of some element, transcending human measure, which is really essential to the truth of what we believe. It is fearful how the notion of universal restoration is spreading, even amongst good Churchmen.
NOT DATED. The Church Crisis in England--Ecclesiastical Courts and Disestablishment.
I HOPE people are beginning to learn what the real point at issue is, viz. that the Court of Final Appeal is not the Court which the Church accepted, and therefore it has no claim upon us. This was put forth by Mr. Keble in the Gorham tumult; but people are much more inclined to quarrel about its constitution, which matters little, than about its constitutional character, which is the really essential matter. I have little hope of seeing things right themselves so as to restore the establishment, for really the Church was disestablished in 1832 by the change of the Court of Delegates. But I hope we shall be able to pull on for a long time, established by cohesion if not by constitution; for every year that we do is giving time for more souls to be gathered into the consolidated life and energy of the Church, before the great shaking in which the majority must be shaken off, and the elect will scarcely be saved.
It is decidedly a good thing to write for the Indian Evangelical Review if they will insert any articles. We cannot have the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin help us to build, but there is no harm in our doing what we can to improve their own little suburbs. Besides the direct good that is thus done, it tends to show kindliness and to win them to friendship.
FEBRUARY 22. Ceremonial.
YOU are in a very different position from Bombay. There I should advise making as little deviation as possible from other churches; but you have to give the tone to the first churches of the district, and it is therefore better to begin things as they should go on.
MARCH 8. Sending out Sisters--Dissenting Missions.
I DO not think we need despair because people are slow to come forward. God is very slow in everything He does. It is some one else who is specially active because he knows his time is short. We must take care not to run the danger of destroying the sanctity of our workers by careless exposure to difficulty. Now Sisters are very good, but many of them by no means supernatural, except that they have baptismal grace. They do require great sheltering in order to live in any way up to their calling.
I suppose the evangelization of India by sects is only what has happened formerly. Missions have been very much in the hands of heretics. We must take care to show them all kindness, but hold back from active co-operation. We must not be led away by the charms of their piety and zeal, although we may praise God for any of His gifts of grace which we see to be in them. Their work will eventually come round to the good of God's Church. God blesses those who do their best, however imperfectly taught, and He makes their work grow on until it reaches results which they did not contemplate.
MARCH 16 (TO FATHER GREATHEED, AT CHANDA). Power of the Communion of Saints--Acting not for Christ, but in Christ--The Communion of Saints in Solitude.
IN your loneliness among the heathen you must try and realize the glory of the communion of saints in the body of Christ--the whole body of Christ operating through yourself in your loneliness upon the heathen round about. Amidst the manifold associations of Christendom we seem to feel ourselves rather as individuals in Christ acting towards one another; but in outposts, such as you are occupying, one must feel the whole thrust and energy of the body of Christ summing itself up, as it were, in our own persons to make itself felt upon the particular locality. The finest point of a spike strikes with the full force of the huge machine from which it derives its impulse, and so our own littleness must strike upon the crumbling earth of man's nature with all the momentum acquired through the weight and impulse of the body of Christ. We are not acting for Him, but in Him. That seems to be the great difference of thought between ancient and modern Christianity. One for Christ, the other in Him; one looking to Him, the other living with His life. One having Him, the other not having Him. Alas, how much external profession of faith there is, how little internal exercise of faith! How anxious we are about how little careful we are How we want to be something different! How little we recognize the necessity of being true to our own higher selves as representations of Christ in the world! How we expect the energy of the world to count up for our greatness in heaven! How little we value that death unto the world by which the greatness of our heavenly life may be brought into consciousness! How easy it is to talk of these things! How the world chokes up the heart, so that even when we want to breathe the life of heaven we find ourselves unable!
May God enable you in the isolation of your life to grow to the increasing experience of that what we can do; about what we are heavenly citizenship from which no distance of space can separate us. We are very apt in our mutual intercourse one with another, even in the most devout forms, to let the earthly aspect hide the heavenly reality. Christian friends are too often merely friends. When alone, we must realize the divine aspect of Christian love wherewith we all live in the contemplation of God. How prone people are to degrade even saints in paradise to a sort of earthly friendship, and to look forward to heaven hereafter as a sort of revival of earthly interests with all their personal littleness! In solitude we must try and realize how it is heaven to speak to God in Christ, and how the voice, the love, the desire, the worship, the consciousness, the divine contemplation of all the heavenly host fills our hearts with one mind and one voice. We must try and learn this unceasingly, and probably nowhere so well as when we are alone. Therefore indeed was the old saying so true, "Love thy cell, for it is heaven. Be constant to it and thou shalt find the delight thereof. Neglect it and thou wilt be unable to enter into its joy."
FEAST OF S. BENEDICT, MARCH 21. Grace given with Work--The Temptation of our Lord.
MAY God grant you much blessing and strength both of body and soul in the year that is coming. God has wonderfully gathered round you the elements of manifold works. I do not doubt that He will in His goodness enable you to bring them into organization and development. The growth of our work and its need must be an assurance of His gifts to our own souls also, for He will not suffer us to be lacking for any work that He gives us. Therefore it is our own fault that we do not rise more to individual holiness with the increase of work. Would that we were each of us growing as our work does grow in all its parts. Then indeed our Society would become strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. God has given us a wonderful work to do. Let us take courage and rise up to the full measure of its requirements with holy love.
I have been taking our Lord's Temptation on the Wednesdays at S. Thomas', Regent Street. One could not, of course, treat the subject in London just now without passing on from the personal application of the Temptation to its collective application as involving the history of the Church, the body of Christ. The close seems to show that the body of Christ will at last be in a state of utter exhaustion throughout the world when in her weakness she will speak the words of power, "Get thee hence, Satan," and will enter into the glory of the Father. The wasted form upon the mountain-top seems to find its final manifestation in the few solitary strugglers who will be left, very likely without sacraments or sympathy, seeming ready to die, but that death shall be the overthrow of the gates of hell, and not their triumph. The holy angels shall come, and Jesus too, in all the glory of the Father, to be glorified in His saints. One is tempted sometimes to hope that that day may be near at hand. At other times one is tempted to be fearful, for who will endure the last days of trial?
EASTER. The Linen Clothes.
THE napkin that was about His head and the linen clothes of the body were all in one place, for the body, having become spiritual in the resurrection, had not caused any disturbance of the clothes as the removal of a body naturally would have done. S. John, therefore, saw and believed. He saw from the position of the clothes and from the gaping neck of the headband, which probably would have the point of the nose still remaining marked in its outline, that the body had not gone by a process of natural removal, and he at once believed what he had not before understood, that our Lord was risen from the dead.
EASTER (TO FATHER GREATHEED). Knowledge of the Resurrection--Dying to the World--The Face of Jesus--The Sympathy of Jesus--The Oneness of Jesus with all mankind.
HERE we are in this high festival! Would that our hearts could rise up to it! Year after year, instead of getting nearer to its appreciation, I think its glory only seems to outstrip us all the more. One seems to hope to appreciate it by pressing onward. One longs simply to lie down and die, that thus one may know what can only be known by dying. Meanwhile, it is one's joy to know that everything whereby we can die to earth is a means of attaining to this glorious knowledge, and that is the only thing worth our living for. We are apt to strive after this knowledge by reasonings, imaginations, and pictures. Yet we are not worthy to touch the risen form. It is the Holy Ghost Who must teach the inmost heart by His own most sweet inspirations. Otherwise we cannot know; and this is the science of the Holy Ghost, the teaching which none can receive but those who are crucified with Christ and dying to the world. As we die to the world we become filled with the knowledge of God, and strengthened for the work of God.
What a Good Friday and Easter you must have had in the lonely station of Chanda! I think you must have felt it to be quite like a burial. I do not doubt that our risen Lord would make Himself very manifest to your heart. Not only so: He does not always give us the full manifestation which we expect at some time of external privation, but He never fails to use such times as means whereby to develop within us the ever-increasing brightness of His countenance. That Face of love will shine upon us more and more as the hatred and scorn of the world increases, or as any circumstances of divine providence isolate us from external sympathies, and that sweet Face is never withdrawn. We may turn from It, but It never turns from us. It watches by us in sorrow, rejoices over us in struggle, strengthens us in weakness, calms us in success.
O yes! we need to learn more and more of the personal love of Jesus to ourselves, and we cannot know that truly except we know what it is personally to suffer for Him. As we experience His strength working within we are gladdened. We gain what is more than present gladness--the capacity for future joy.
I hope you will be enabled, by God's goodness, to bring some of the people round you to a knowledge of the Christian life. We need very much to realize that true sympathy of our Lord with every child of man by which He bore our sins--that intense consciousness of being of one substance with every individual man in every place and age, which, by reason of the perfection of His own humanity, belonged to Him. Our sympathies are stinted. We are shut in within little prison-houses of our own experiences. Beyond that range, even though we may make efforts of imagination, yet we feel only the more how great the separation is. But Jesus felt the true identity into which He was brought with every man that should ever live, for although their deadness might separate their consciousness from Him, His life made His consciousness really and truly enter into the sadness of their dead estate. The whole mass of humanity, in all its countless personalities, was assumed by Him. His own personal manhood was not a thing broken off from the rest and indifferent to it, but a member of the vast race, and therefore suffering with all their sufferings. How truly He feels with us in our ministries, and even with the most reprobate Christians, or with any heathen to whom we minister. This identity with Jesus by nature, as it prepares the way for our higher identification with Him by the regenerating grace of Holy Baptism, is nevertheless distinct. It brings before us the capacity of new life which remains even in the most fallen condition of our humanity. Wherever we go with the grace of the resurrection, Jesus has gone before with the preparatory grace of redeeming love. I fear we often forget this.
APRIL 20. Long Life--World Conversion.
WHEN one sees how people outlive their true selves--and there have been so many instances--one feels all the more strongly the desire not to live too long. I should like, if it may be, to finish the year of Benedictus Dominus, but it has been getting on very slowly of late. . . . [The title of a volume of meditations on the Antiphons to the Benedictus at Lauds throughout the year. New Edition. (Longmans.) 1897.] Not that we are to expect that there will be a great conversion of the nations. I think that is just the old European idea which we have to get rid of. Missions were measured more by the converts who came than by the truth of the Holy Ghost Who went forth, but Who was sadly crippled in His going forth by the earthliness of the organization of the Western Church. We may hope for a little nucleus of Christian life to be eliminated from the effete mass of Eastern and Western Christendom, and then for such a flash of light as shall speak home to hearts whom God hath called. It must be a little flock who shall win the kingdom at the last.
MAY 25. Pentecost--Triumph of Love over Limitations of Space--Controversy and Love--Heresy no new thing.
I TRUST that the blessed fires of Pentecost are kindling in you, and around you, that glow of heaven which makes the outward heat of the day even in India become cool. The fire of the divine love strengthens us the more as it burns the more. It is a fire whose breath is as a holy dew of sweet refreshment for the soul. O may we experience it evermore increasingly!
I hope you have had a nice visit to Bombay. It would be very cheering on both sides. I wish I could have taken part in it. You are, however, constantly in my heart. I cannot believe, sometimes, that we are so far apart. As we grow indeed in the experience of the Holy Ghost we ought to rise beyond the limitations of space, for space is after all only one of the delusions of our outward sense. Love ought to triumph over it and act without any such barrier.
I am glad that Mr. ------ has taken your remonstrance well. It is much better that what you wrote should have its effect on him, than that it should appear in print. We help one another very little by seeming to be fighting for one another. The less controversial our public teaching is the more effective it will be in the end. The simple utterance of truth in its fullness of love is that which wins the day. Love is of God. Controversy is human. For this reason we need not fear it. All that is written against us will soon come to nought.
We should always remember what a vast amount of dissent, even misrepresentation, the apostolic Church had to go through. We are so used to see various classes of people treated of in a separate chapter of Church history as "Heresies," that it is hard for us to realize that they did not exist as a separate world outside of the early Church. It is difficult for us to think how the Apostles failed of being recognized by many as the limiting organization of the Catholic Church. The Holy Ghost separated them from the poisonous forms of philosophy and false religion which saturated the Christian people, and so the Church lived on and grew, and so now. People of our own day may not be able to discriminate between truth and error, Churchmanship and dissent, but one will live and grow, the other will decay and die. We must leave the future with God.
JUNE 13. Disestablishment.
I AM sorry that Mackonochie has come out in the Nineteenth Century. I must confess that I do not yet quite see how good Christians can take part in circulating infidelity and atheism by writing in the same magazines. It is a strange phenomenon of the age to have Roman and English bishops, Mr. Carter, Mackonochie, and atheists all writing in defence of their several tenets within one binding. It is rather an alliance of Christ with Belial; but I suppose it cannot be helped. But I am afraid more people are likely to be made sceptics by Harrison than Christians by Mackonochie's "Disestablishment." I do not think he and his party at all realize what convulsions will attend such a change. If the bulk of the nation throw aside the remains of Christianity which hold them together, there will be nothing to restrain the outburst of Satanic fury. A modest Church with an impoverished clergy ministering devotedly for the love of God is a beautiful vision. But the Clergy List will be a much cheaper list twenty years hence if this programme is carried out. Possibly it may be reduced to a penny tract! People do not see that schemes which are to be perfect in one respect require to be perfect in all respects.
Clergy who may work very well in an establishment cannot be adapted at a moment's notice to an apostolic simplicity, which, by the way, however suitable for an apostolic position, is in itself scarcely suitable for the pastoral organization of a wealthy Christian community. Politicians, both ecclesiastical and civil, are so apt to be impatient, and not to see that society has to grow gradually out of various forms of disease before it is capable of being organized according to the requirements of a healthy condition. In fact the separation between Church and State will be of very little good unless there is also a separation between the Church and the world. The nation must resolve itself into the hostile camps of apostolic times if the Church is to gain by being free. "Free to fight" if you please, but "free and friendly" is even worse than being bound.
JUNE 13 (TO FATHER RIVINGTON). Simultaneous Conversion of Jews and Heathen--of Conversion of Whole Nations--Migration of Christianity from Europe to Asia--Spread of the Word Preached.
YOU write rather despondingly. We must not despair. If we are to despair in India where Christianity is, so to speak, in its infancy, what must we do in Europe where it seems to be rapidly drawing near to death? Humanly speaking we might indeed imagine that its decay in Europe would hinder its growth in Asia. The branches cannot fructify if the main stem be withered away; but the main stem of the Church is in heaven and its virtue is imperishable. When therefore the tree withers away in one place, we may expect it to grow up in another. As the falling away of the Jews was the bringing in of the Gentiles, so let us hope that the falling away of the old Christendom will be the bringing in of the heathen. S. Paul seems to imply that the Jews will be converted in the time of the apostasy. May we not hope that the heathen Gentiles will be gathered in likewise. The tradition of Enoch seems to point to something of this kind, for the Gentiles to whom he would preach would, I suppose, not be the old Christendom, then apostate, but those who had not known Christ. We must carry on our mission work with a real confidence of success. Whether India will ever be a Christian country may be very doubtful. I cannot say I wish to see it. The experience of Christianizing countries leads one to believe that the country is Christianized at the expense of the souls, and when all are Christians none are. We must surely look for Christianity to grow up in India in some very different form from that of the West. Let us hope that it will be a form of never-ceasing stand-up fight with the world around. The shorn Samson of Europe seems to be only fit to be mocked by his enemies in his blindness. Let us hope that the Samson vigour of a Church truly militant against the powers of darkness may be developed in India. Probably it will not be a bad thing for the missionary to be able to say to the Hindu, I offer you Christianity, but it is now no longer the religion of most of my countrymen. Imperfect as was men's hold of it, Christianity was the source of the greatness of Europe; but Europe has now rejected it. Europe is perishing, and the offer of life is now made to you.
The Church of England in the present day is probably the first Church since very early days which has been in a position to offer a complete and free Christianity to the world at large. Perhaps it is well that we were very much crippled in days when we were wanting in a sacramental consciousness of divine truth. It was not Xavier's fault that he had only a maimed ecclesiasticism to present to the people, in place of the divine consciousness of the body of Christ. God is awakening His Church to the conception of the truth, while the devil is arousing the world to the hatred of it; but we may be sure we shall be too much for the devil somehow. If we are tempted to despair of India, China, and the rest, probably the devil is equally confident of keeping them; but it may be that while he comes forward securely in the hope of consolidating Europe under his dominion, he may look back and find that God has caused a mine to be sprung within the very fortress of his old tyranny.
As for locality, I think it is pretty clear that Bombay is the place to work from. The effect in Bombay may not be so much as you might hope. I expect it has been quite as much as you had a right to hope. But then the effect of what is done there may very likely be felt far away. You cannot at all tell where, or to what extent. Even in dealings with the Hindus the secondhand results may often be greater than the primary. The minds of many have to be saturated with Christian principles before any can come forward as converts. At least I expect it commonly will be so. In these days locality is almost destroyed. What you do in one place is spoken of everywhere. So God will cause the seed of divine truth to be carried to His chosen people in many places by those very birds of the air who pick it up from the wayside. All we can do is to speak the word where God puts us, and He will make it prosper wherever, and to whatever end, He pleases.
JUNE 22. Disestablishment.
TO-NIGHT I preach at S. Alban's. Troubled waters! Their troubles I do not mind cheering; but I doubt if I should have gone there if Mackonochie's disestablishing article had appeared in an earlier number of the Nineteenth Century. I am very grieved at his taking up such a strong line. Doubtless he is logical against establishment, but then he is still more illogical in the residuum of modern Christianity which he would leave unestablished. If we play at being children, we neutralize the growth of our intellect but not of our stature. The Church of the nineteenth century cannot accept one or two logical results of the teaching of the first. Besides which the divine wisdom of the first great Teacher was shown in making certain leading features of Christian sociality a matter of counsel and not of obligation. It is astonishing how narrowly people judge of a great social system by one or two eliminable details.
JULY 12. Prayer.
I WISH I could run over for a week. India is a long way off. Heaven is much nearer. There we can meet--and do meet constantly. Nor do we ever meet there in vain. The more one thinks of the power of prayer, the more strange it is how little one does pray, how little one desires to pray, how little one can pray! Yet the Holy Spirit will help our infirmities. We are coming to the end of the second week of the retreat. Year after year one feels that one ought in every way to have made much more progress since one came into Religion. How quickly ten years and more go by! One does wonder to see what God has done around, and how little one has permitted Him to do within.
JULY 12 (TO FATHER GREATHEED). Christian Evidences.
I DO not think we dwell sufficiently on the evidences of religion. We are so apt to take the excellence of Christianity as the all-sufficing evidence. The Indians with whom I have spoken at Edinburgh never seem to have thought of evidences, merely comparing Christianity with their old religion and thinking it probably better; but they cannot get thus any reasonable conviction. In fact they seem almost incapable of entering into the historical bearings of the subject. What is more sad is the entire neglect and scorn of the historical evidence by our men of science. They could understand, but simply never read what the evidence is. I think the fault is greatly on our own side--that we do not realize the importance of evidence for ourselves.
JULY 27. God's Wonderful Works.
GOD works in ways that we can little expect. If we live true to Him, He will bring people to Himself through us. It is not our work which brings them. It is His. And so He often brings the most unlikely.
JULY 27 (TO FATHER GREATHEED). Expectation of growth in Holiness.
OUR retreat is all but over. Oh, may God grant us to be left somewhat higher up, and nearer Him, than we were at the outset! One does not feel it so strange that modern Christianity does not spread. The strangeness rather seems to be that it lives. When one contemplates what the ideal--God's purpose--of Christian life is, one feels it strange that we can use the phraseology of the faith as we do, and leave the reality unregarded. Yet how little is August likely to differ from June, in spite of all our meditations. I fear we do not sufficiently anticipate changes in ourselves. We ought to look to be changed from glory to glory. We are apt to fear lest there be pride, ambition, self-righteousness, and so we are afraid to think of our having attained to any glory at all. But, in fact, we cannot rise out of ourselves unless we do dwell upon the thought of the divine glory which we have received. We disparage our Christian faculties under the idea of humility; but unless we value these primary gifts of God's grace we cannot use them aright, nor advance to anything further. We ought to be expecting great things at the hands of God. "Open thy mouth wide, and I shall fill it." We are too content to think that God will deal with us merely after the measure of human capacity and possibility.
AUGUST 2. The Communion of Saints--Little Things--Want of Men--The Success of Dissenting Missions.
THIS month seems to join us very specially together, although you cannot come over to share it with us. As we put the world a little more aside we seem to be drawn into closer community of action with all others. As one feels that those in paradise are specially near to us, so in retreat one feels nearer to all our brethren scattered in various parts.
After all, life is made up of little things. We cannot be always doing what we think to be great ones. It is not doing great things, but living a great life, that is required of us, and that great life is the life of Christ. That great life consists much more in doing little things than great ones. What seems great before the world often shrivels up the real energies of life. The calmness of the Holy Ghost is not noticeable to the world, nor even to ourselves; but we shall find its greatness in the joy of God.
I hope that the intercourse with the Prime Minister and the Holkar may in due time lead to some results. One would not desire that any result should come from it at once. The real gathering in of the people to Christian life must be by slow degrees, and one does not wish that leading persons should be the first converts; but by association with them you may get hold of some who would otherwise be unable to come near.
I wish we had numbers sufficient to undertake some evangelizing work among the soldiers. It is one of our chief forms of poverty, poverty of numbers. It is necessary, however, for the Society to go through a certain apprenticeship of the apostolic life, without any certain dwelling-place, before any numbers can attempt it. We must pray that God may send labourers into the harvest which seems to be ripening. The discipline of our own souls in patient expectation is a necessary preliminary. If we are diligent in prayer we need not doubt that the men we need will be given to us.
The letter from the C.M.S. missionary was very satisfactory. I confess that I fully share the feeling that the Bishop of Colombo is said to have expressed. Few persons can have a greater appreciation of individual piety outside of the ranks of the Church than I have, and I do not doubt that God often uses such men for His purposes; but it is a punishment to the Church for her faithlessness that He does so use them--a punishment not only in that she is set aside from an honour which she might have had, but also because the result of their work, however overruled by God for good, is a permanent injury to the cause, and generates a trouble with which the Church has to do battle through long generations of schism. The success of such missions is, I expect, more rapid than durable. The Serampur mission is, I think, perhaps the most interesting episode of missionary history that I know. I do not know what there is to represent it now. One feels almost thankful that the original band of heroes came to such an end of reproach. It was a great token of God's favour. So the Madagascar martyrs are probably one of the most remarkable manifestations of the power of divine grace, but I fear the present Madagascar mission is much more given to prating of what the Church may do than to do real work of its own. A man like Brainerd seems to be raised up to do God's work for a transitory need, and he and the whole people for whom he worked have passed away. [David Brainerd (1718-47), American missionary to the North American Indians; see his Life by Jonathan Edwards. (T. Nelson & Son, London, Edinburgh, and New York, 1858.)] I expect that dissenting missions are thus blessed of God for a time, but that if they live on they turn to be mockers. One is tempted to say of them: "O that Ishmael might live before Thee!" But they live to thwart the more supernatural workings of the true Isaac, if they live at all. One can distinguish, I think, the individual grace which is often found in sincere and pious dissenters, from the corporate grace of the Church which operates even when the individual piety is more dull.
WE certainly ought to distinguish between the gifts of the Spirit. Some are personal, and some are ministerial. However, the exercise of the charismata, of whatever kind, ought to be subject to Church authority. "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." That must mean, in modern times, some sort of episcopal license. The unwieldliness of dioceses does not set individuals free to act simply for themselves. What is truly supernatural and from God may seem to transcend formal licenses, but if it is really from God it will show its supernatural character so unmistakably as to obtain some legal mode of expression. Patience under repression may be the very power by which such gifts need to be matured. Impatience and haste would certainly destroy their divine efficacy.
HAWARDEN. Coming apart with Jesus.
I AM making our retreat here on the words "Come ye yourselves apart"--upon the thought of coming apart with Jesus: as Man, in all man's perfection, developing all that belongs to man's nature by the law of association with a perfect Man; as the Son of God, the image of the Father, from whom the Holy Ghost proceeds; as the Word of Wisdom which never can be silent, which therefore teaches us whenever we really come and listen to Him; as the Head of the body, the Church, teaching all the saints even as us, and us as them; as the Head, and therefore the mouthpiece, of the whole body, speaking to us by speaking in us, becoming our wisdom, our mouth, speaking for us both to God and to man, so that no word of ours is truth unless He speaks it, even as He at the first suggests it; we as priests in some sense His mouthpiece, and yet He in a true sense ours, for our words would be hushed and dead unless His living glory were round about us while we speak, so that His presence surrounding us gives life to our words, that they may go forth from our lips and take their way in the power of His Spirit, wherewith He appropriates them and carries them home to the hearts and consciences of men. The various points of doctrine respecting Jesus become thus a means of expansion of thought, by which coming to Jesus in natural fellowship rises to the truth of coming to Him in mystical fellowship of eternal life. It is this living identity with Jesus that must be the power of all our mission work. The dead reason of the Schoolman and the dead Bible of the Protestant are both alike incapable of making Jesus known. In proportion as we live with Him and in Him shall we find the resistless power of the word, not the word of man but in very truth the Word of God. We must come to Him so as to come out of ourselves, our own thoughts, wisdom, understanding, power, simply to hear what the Word saith, and as we hear so to speak, and we must speak in such subordination to Him that He may truly speak to those round about us.
NOVEMBER 15. Union in Christ--Temptations of Satan.
FATHER Page is looking very well. It is a great pleasure to have him. I wish we could have you all over here. However, we are all together in the close embrace of our dear Lord. Distance affects not His love nor His power to bind us either to Himself or to one another. Indeed we cannot be bound to Him except in proportion as we are bound one to another, for He is the infinite all-comprehending love. What will be the joy of the manifestation of the communion of saints perfected in Him at the time of His appearing! Let us hope that that is not far off! Doubtless there must be first of all great troubles in the world. But if those troubles are severe they will be short, and God will give to His elect sufficient grace to weather them.
One must expect that one who has done good battle against Satan will be very sorely tried by temptations. In the warfare with Satan accomplished victory does not lead to present peace, but even though there may be at times a lull, yet the storm must break out even stronger than it was before.
NOVEMBER 22. Waiting for Converts--Sisters.
I HAVE no doubt it does seem dreary to you, waiting on and living among the heathen, with so few hopes of converts and so many discouragements. But never mind. The joy of paradise will be great and the number of God's elect in heaven will be complete. Our hermit lives on earth will soon be merged in the great communion of saints. It seems, perhaps, as if time were being lost among the heathen while there are so many English capable of being aroused. Well, let that thought quicken you to give much time to intercession both for English and for heathen, in the remembrance how much they react on each other. I have often urged you to remember that you must expect the best part of ten years to go by before you can look for any converts. The prayers and weariness of that waiting time should tend to develop and strengthen your own spiritual life, so that you may be able to feed with convenient food from heaven the children whom God shall give you in due time. Your life, just living as you are, does more to preach Christianity than any amount of sermons. The bread sown beside all waters will be found after many days. The missionary's capacity of holding out for those many days is just one of the conditions of ultimate success. The converts are to be your real children, and they must be brought forth with a long and burdensome period or gestation and sharp travail pangs. A life of ascetic witness for Christ must appeal to them, and constant prayer must rise up for them. Do not doubt that thou shalt have this child also! [cf. Gen. xxxv. 17.]
I cannot say I think Sisters, if there were any tree, would be a help to you. I would not have any with me, if I were at Indore. Sisters belong rather to settled work amongst English, or natives where there is large English influence. They are too delicate for the rough pioneer work. S. Paul could not have had Sisters dependent on himself. You would scarcely ever be able to leave Indore if you had them, and they would call upon all your time to attend to their own needs of many kinds in a foreign country. Some years hence, when you are getting to be at home in India, and convert families are forming around you, you would find a body of Sisters for schools and nursing very useful. But not during this John Baptist period of the mission life. Isolation from English interests and associations must be the strength of your work. I do not doubt that God will give you grace to persevere as you have begun. I have written at great length, for I want you to feel the great hopes which there are if you can but hold on.
FEAST OF S. ANDREW. The Call of Christ--Onward and Upward.
MAY our good Lord call many to follow Him, and give grace to us all that we may persevere and follow Him, as He ever calls us onward. Although our state be fixed as priests, religious, missionaries, yet the call of Christ is ever onward and upward; to live more fully in union of heart and mind, of will, of word, of deed along with Himself. The very solitude of our lives is one of the forms in which He calls us to follow Him, and He is with us, working with us most powerfully in proportion as He puts all else away from us. He is our companion and guide in solitude, binding us to Himself by His Holy Spirit, and He by the power of the same Spirit binds us together in every bond of holy association and brotherhood.
FEAST OF S. JOHN. Patience--Intercession--The Lord's Prayer--Waiting
I CAN well understand how grievous the pressure of long continued waiting must be, when you do not seem to be making any way among the heathen. But I always warned you that this must be the case. You cannot expect to get converts from heathendom (at Indore) faster than I can expect to get communicants from amongst the prejudiced antagonists which I may find in an English parish. But then one of the great signs of an apostle is patience. There are two kinds of martyrdom--blood and patience. It is specially to this latter that we are called in the Society of S. John, who styles himself companion of the faithful "in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." [Rev. i. 9.] Do not think that your work is failing because your patience is sorely tried. Rather take this as a token that you are accepted.
This long waiting time shall lead to much fruit by and by. Only give yourself to very constant prayer. Individualize objects of intercession. Strive to realize the wants of the place, and say the Lord's Prayer very often for each separate person and thing. Remember that the first step towards obtaining what you ask is that the Lord's Name may be hallowed in you. People do so often make that the last petition instead of the first. But the order of the petitions in the Lord's Prayer is as important as the subjects of the petitions. Before God can grant us any petition, even the conversion of a heathen country, He must have His Name hallowed in us by our prayer. We must have our hearts identified with His will, and that chiefly by learning to wait. Those must wait the longest to whom God means to give the most. But it is by such long strivings of prayer that God would train us to get great answers. When we are content to pray for praying's sake and gain nothing, then God will be able to work miracles in answer to our prayer.
Of course it is very wearisome to the natural flesh to have the days go by apparently for little more than waste. But it is not waste. God is carrying out His purposes which are much better than ours. The more you can restrain yourself the better. Do not think the time required for waiting can be utilized for some other purpose. No. If some other interest fills it up, then it is no longer waiting time. God does not put us off for the sake of delay, but just in order that we may learn to wait. Watch and pray must be the constant motto. We may expect that the very sight of one given up to God, waiting thus in the midst of them, would be much more influential with them in the end than any declamation or authority. By and by you will be inclined to say, "Who hath begotten me these?"
I do not know, after all, that there is much more weary waiting in a heathen mission than there is in ordinary parochial work at home. The great difference is that the missionary expects results and is a long, long time before he gets them, whereas the priest of a parish in a Christian country is content with the nominal Christianity which he finds all round about him, and his happiness is an illustration of the proverb, "Blessed are they that expect nothing." God bless you, and grant that as the beloved disciple had the grace to wait through his long life amidst hopes that seemed only born to perish, so we may have the grace of patience and the full apostolic reward.
JANUARY 11, 1878. Our Preparation.
I SUPPOSE this will reach you just when you are returning from Allahabad--I hope returning with joy, without having had to go on your way thither weeping. [Early in February Father O'Neill and Father Rivington preached a mission at Allahabad.] Rather I hope that the tears of former years will be abundantly prolific in the sheaves of years to come. Indeed we must go forth weeping year after year. Some features of our life are like mountain-tops which attract the clouds around themselves, but the bright plains would be barren if they were not irrigated by the moisture of holy sorrow. The features of our life which are joyous, smile with the wealth of our darkest storm clouds. How little do we appreciate the bearing of the successive phases of our life upon one another! We must learn all the more trustfully to commend each new year and each new work to God, Who does know all from the beginning, and makes the changes of life contribute to that result which He requires from us. The fruit of "every month" requires its own special preparation. We know not what we are being prepared for. May we only so accept God's husbandry as exercised towards ourselves, that we may be able to exercise it and work along with Him towards others.
FEBRUARY 21. Madagascar--Signs of the End.
I HAD a very interesting letter the other day from the Bishop of Madagascar. I would commend that island very specially to your prayers. Its Christianity is of a very mongrel character. The wholesale and compulsory baptisms remind one of the conversion of the Goths in Europe. Now it remains for the Church to bring this chaotic Christianity, which is little more than nominal, into a state of order and beauty--a great work of a new Hexae'meron. Yet one hopes the word of God will accomplish it, and the bishop is just the man for the post. It will be a hard work, and unless there be some very special providence it must in the ordinary working of grace be a very slow one. However, Africa and Madagascar are a long way off for the beginning of a letter. I cannot help feeling that both for them and for us the time is not long. Shall we not see the ten kingdoms which are to have power one hour with the beast? Rome and Constantinople have apparently come to end as the heels of Nebuchadnezzar's figure.
MARCH 14. Work of Grace sifted, not destroyed.
WHAT a wonderful mission it seems to have been at Allahabad. May God grant an ever-developing increase to the fruits thereof! The work of grace knows no limits. It has its overthrows. We must expect them. By-repeated overthrows the results of grace are continually sifted, and the good is set free for a further process of developing activity. There is ever the elimination of the elect going on, and Satan knows not what he is doing by clearing away the evil which would otherwise choke the good seed. But these overthrows never destroy God's work altogether. When one sees large congregations, it often occurs to the mind, I think, how many of these are really to be saved? One does feel so very much that the great bulk of churchgoers have no more portion with the Lord Jesus than the heathen.
MARCH 21. Conversion the Work of the Holy Ghost.
WE must always remember that it is only God Who can touch men's hearts. We are too apt to think that men must be swayed by certain gifts of our own, but the work is really wholly and entirely His. One does feel tempted to rely upon other gifts. Surely we may look for a great manifestation of the Holy Ghost in these days. Whether it be the end of all things or no, there can be no doubt that this is a great crisis in the world's history; and the Holy Ghost cannot let mankind pass through such a crisis without coming to fit them for it, whether they be ready to correspond with the guidance of the Holy Ghost or no. It is so difficult to realize that He, unseen, dwelling with all the multitude of the Christian Church, is yet no mere abstraction, but a power ruling personally, influencing men's wills, judgements, actions. We so much more naturally think of the personal man whom we know as taking the lead and then of the Holy Ghost as following that lead, than we do of the Holy Ghost as taking the lead and causing man by various suggestions which the Holy Ghost makes within the soul to follow that lead. He speaks through the willing instrument.
APRIL 4. War without, Peace within--Contest between the Church and the world.
IT seems likely that Easter will break out upon us with a cry of war, but amidst the wars of the outer world we may have the fullness of peace, if we are resting in the love of our risen Lord. This world is not the world in which or for which we have to live. Our bodies breathe within it. That is all. Our life is hid with Christ in God. The growth of the work in America is very wonderful. In fact everywhere the power of Christ does seem to be asserting itself. Only the power of evil asserts itself in opposition. So the struggle goes on increasingly, but the gain is always on our side. Satan does not seem to see how utterly powerless is his outcry. The noise which people make is only the utterance of discomfiture everywhere. The true victory is always on the side of Christ. What we lose in the war with the world is what we feel we never had. We only seemed to have it. We are in fact better off without it. As we lose what was ours only in appearance, we gain real and substantial victories for the faith. The Church lost much in former times by her own inactivity and worldliness, but it does not seem as if she ever lost anything by Satan's violence. His bluster only serves to detach what we may gain by the power of the Holy Ghost. The victories of the Blessed Spirit are meanwhile very quiet, and full of peace. He rules in ways that we cannot see. After a little while we find out what He has been doing without our knowledge. His work comes to sight like the underground work of the seed of life. Suddenly does it fill our hearts with joy.
MAUNDY THURSDAY (APRIL 18). Christ our Life--'Predestinating Lo)>e.
I HOPE that your Easter will be with much blessing to the people with whom you are, and to yourself above all. As we minister the gifts of Christ, we know that He always calls us to share what He gives by us to others. We give forth the gifts of the Spirit most truly in proportion as we retain them most perfectly for ourselves. Christ gives Himself to be our rood, and we live because He lives. The more truly His life is ours, so much the more does it give itself forth from us. And as we give it forth it comes back to us, a principle of life ever circulating in the body of Christ, quickening, unifying, sanctifying, glorifying. I do not know how many communicants you are likely to have. I suppose very few. The few may be all the more precious. God does not value congregations by numbers. Nor even by what we are able to see at present of their spiritual progress. He knows what He is calling each one to be. The glory of His predestination baffles the conjectures of our sight. Our comfort in ministering is to know that each one of these has had a share in the redeeming love of Calvary, a personal deliverance from Satan's power by that individualizing love, which created each and redeemed each and seeks to sanctify each.
MAY 10. A Life of Prayer.
THE same day there was another funeral from our house, Sister Mary (Bruce), a Sister left alone from the old community in Osnaburgh Street. ["Our house" means here the House of the All Saints' Sisters in Margaret Street, W. Father Benson was for many years their director.] For years--probably nearly twenty-five--she has kept her rule of something like twelve hours' devotion daily, living in great poverty, supported by Mother Ethel and Dr. Pusey, and their last cheques were found in her desk uncashed. She was taken to University College Hospital, and died under our Sisters' care.
MAY 17. Our Union in Dispersion--Sowing and Reaping--Tinnevelly.
THANKS for your letter of Good Friday. How that day does draw us together! All one in a Redeemer's heart--and now, in our dispersion amongst His redeemed, we have to carry out the message of that energizing love which makes us one with all mankind. We are as His rays, and a ray cannot be taken away from the sun. It lives by a perpetual energy of that light which is the source of all other rays; and all are one in their source, their life, their spreading power. Only their direction varies. So we, as individuals, vary only in the direction of Christ's aim which He takes through us. Our source, our life, our substance, our power are one. Amidst our dispersion it is full of joy to know that we are one. The children of men were dispersed from Babel; but the children of God, though dispersed, are not separated in going forth from Jerusalem upon the steps of that Babel-multitude to teach all nations. As He came down from heaven, Who is in heaven, so we go forth and yet remain ever at home. Our citizenship in the heavenly city is never interrupted. In truth it is only while we abide that we can go forth. Not to abide were to be like him who fell from heaven. Going forth is of unity and life. Falling is of death.
I quite think it would be a great pity to move from Indore. You will find that year by year your position there will be stronger. God may spare you to witness a great ingathering from Indore like that which is now at Tinnevelly. We have to wait. That glorious harvest is surely God's gift as an answer to the many weary years of Dr. Caldwell's ministry out there. We may also take it as a gift of encouragement for ourselves in a younger generation of mission work. One soweth and another reapeth. Sowing is not so interesting as reaping. Casting in seed seems like casting away time. But it is after all the great work. It is the work of Jesus Himself. He is the Sower. Not until this world has passed away will He appear as the Reaper. Then they who have sown with Him shall reap with Him, even if they have not reaped before.
MAY 23. Heroic Faith.
AN age that is not heroic can scarcely be expected to give birth to heroic children. We need very much to cultivate the heroic consciousness as a necessary element of perfect faith; but yet we must accept all the humbler degrees of faith. We shall mistake recklessness for heroism, unless we are careful to reserve a full appreciation for the tenderer characteristics of humility and love for those around. But I think it is very necessary to impress upon catechumens the blessedness of reproach, suffering, poverty, isolation.
ASCENSION DAY (MAY 30). Hinduism a Preparation for the Gospel--The Joy of Christ in Heaven.
MAY our ascended Lord shed forth upon you the brightness of His power, and waken into life the region round about you. As a country that has been flooded yields after a time to the power of the sun and bursts forth into a luxuriant vegetation, so one may hope that India, which seems to have been flooded spiritually with a desolating flood of God's anger, shall rise to the more luxuriant manifestation of grace, as the warming glow of Christian love shines out upon it with the light of truth. There are deep religious truths mixed with the desolating falsehood of Hinduism; and as the waters leave their virtue when they dry up, so I hope Hinduism will leave a moisture behind which shall indeed be found to be the work of God's Holy Spirit, making men correspond with the kingdom of light in the life of grace. So may our ascended Lord claim India for His own, and show forth the fullness of His glory therein. Though it may not be until long after you have been gathered into His rest, yet shall all that have taken part in the long process of preparation rejoice together with those who at any future time may witness the harvest, and the joy of all shall be the expression of the joy of Him that sits upon the throne, the very joy of our Lord.
How little do people think of the actual present joy of Christ as Man, the Head of the body, in giving forth His grace from the throne of His power to every individual member of His body! The joy of returning consciousness to a numbed limb seems in some feeble manner to express the joy of Christ in raising His body from the sluggishness of earthly life to the energy of His own life in the glory of God. That awakening life has too often somewhat of pain. So the resuscitation may be with pain in the soul. Then too we should remember how He gives His grace, not by a mere physical necessity, as is the case in the action of the head upon the material body, but with a free and living power of individual will to each. Every gift of grace to any one in any sacramental act of the Church, and in the gratuitous distribution of His abounding benefits, must be a real act of joy to Christ as the Head of the body. The fixed law of sacramental action--His legislative love--does not interfere with the spontaneous delight which He finds in giving grace to each soul according to that law, His executive, distributive love. How we ought to dwell upon the joy of Christ as our ascended Head in the ministrations of grace according to our need! Yet I fear that commonly people think of grace as a sort of spiritual power in the heavenly body, like electricity in the inanimate, existing with results for us, but without any real joy for Him.
OCTAVE OF THE ASCENSION (JUNE 6). EAST GRINSTEAD. Power of the Ascension.
I AM here keeping the inside of this week in retreat. Of course our meditations are all upon the Ascension. Would that we could but be worthy of this great mystery! How strange it is that we can know the reality of it, and be so little moved by it! The Crucifixion and the Resurrection are mysteries of the past, however abiding in their consequences, but we are always living in sight of the throne where He, ascended, sits, and yet we seldom think about it. It was by the prophecy of the Ascension that our Lord confounded the Jews, "The Lord said unto my Lord." Surely if we kept the thought of that all-watching sovereignty of the ascended Saviour more constantly in mind, we should find ourselves brought to participate in its power. It was this sight which strengthened Stephen with so much wisdom in his address to the Jews. If we lived more in the light of this glorious sovereignty, we should experience the power which glorifies it. I will make thy foes thy footstool. We cannot have the co-operation of the Lord the Spirit, Who proceedeth from the Father, to confirm the word with signs following, unless we are living within the radiance of the throne of the Lamb from whom He proceeds. Unless we see the lines of Church life converging towards that one Head from whom they all proceed, we cannot have any real consciousness or appreciation of the unity of the Church; and so, through losing practical sight of this doctrine, people lost the thought of, or tried to provide a miserable earthly substitute for, the unity of the living body of Christ.
JUNE 13. WHITSUN WEEK. The Unity of the Spirit.
MAY the Blessed Spirit make His glorious presence more and more manifest throughout the Church, enabling us increasingly to realize that unity wherein He makes us all one wherever we may be, in spite of those manifold divisions which seem to break up the body of Christ into so many parts. It is a joy to feel His presence binding us even with many that persist, as far as human antagonism can go, in holding aloof from us. Oh how great is the joy to feel that His presence makes us one so sympathizingly, so perfectly, with those who, though separated from us by outward circumstance, are really looking to His guidance, hearing His voice, rejoicing in His love, acting in His power, according to the same blessed intuitions as are our portion at home. The presence of the Society lights up the world wherever any of our brethren may be. Oh, let us seek to be cheered increasingly by this holy light of brotherhood in Christ, a unity in the Holy Ghost, which, as it makes the whole Church one should shine with such special lustre of divine and human love throughout our Society.
JULY 12. The Presentation of Christ in the 'Temple.
JUST one line of love from the midst of our retreat. I know that you are united with us in our approach to our dear Lord. We have just reached the mystery of the Presentation, the second Friday. May we indeed be presented by Him in His glory! How distinct was the glory of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna, and the faithful expectant few, from the glory of the Temple surroundings in which the great bulk even of the devoutest worshippers prided themselves. So must the glory of our life in the Church be a glory which the world cannot understand. The world is occupied by that which is to pass away, whereas our glory cannot be revealed until the things which can be shaken have been removed for ever. We are apt to have hopes for Christ, whereas our true hope is in Christ. "Lord now lettest Thou," etc. Oh to depart and to be with Christ! But then we must carry about with us the Christ despised and unknown. The birds which symbolized the Holy Ghost were the offering of the poor, and we must praise Him for that spiritual glory of the Holy Ghost which we can only know in the poverty of earth.
AUGUST 1. The Great Tribulation of the last Days.
HAT a delightful thing it is to think that one may be permitted to welcome Christ! yet, if years suffice, who can tell that one would persevere. I do not think that we can at all realize what it will be to live through those few years of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy--no sympathy, no sacraments, no hope; the enemy so scoffing, so powerful, and so plausible, probably in many respects so Christian and so devout, a thorough world-wide presentation of Judas, [The Greek form of Judah, which means "praised."] whose praise is great of man, though not of God, and who will meet the Son of Man with a kiss, though in treachery.
OCTOBER 4. Universalism--Supernatural Christianity to be looked for in New Converts.
JUST now our great trouble is with Universalism. It seems as if we are come to the confines of religion, and that looks like the approach of the end. Practically it is the fight as to whether religion is a reality or no. If all come the same in the end, all is but a lie in the progress towards that end. If Europe accepts Maya, I hope Asia will accept Christ. The rejected of one country shall be the Lord of another. We are apt to think much of position as a means of Christianizing the heathen. More and more I feel that the gospel will be spread into new districts, not by the faithfulness of the older Christian countries, but in spite of their unfaithfulness.
You speak of new converts, and what we ought to expect from them. I think we ought to look for nothing short of a full supernatural Christianity. We shall not get more than we look for and demand, but I believe that we lose, even in numbers, by being content with feebleness in individuals. Of course, we have no right to look for a high apostolic Christianity to grow up if we are not living according to it. But a missionary Church must have a consciousness of the supernatural within herself and live upon it, and must call those outside not to copy defects, but to live upon the supernatural vitality whereby she seeks to live. "Follow me, as I follow Christ " is the only appeal that wins any true following. But we cannot follow Christ by the maxims of diluted Christianity. The heathen will recognize, not at once, but in due time, the claims of a supernatural religion; but I think that there must be a very supernatural attraction of divine grace to draw them to accept a religion merely because it is provably true, but without calling them to a present supernatural energy. This seems to me to account for the success of religion in times of persecution. It is at such times, and almost only at such times, that the convert can be called to put forth the energies which must belong to a true and living religion. I do not imagine, of course, that all the apostolic converts were rising up to the fullness of supernatural practice, but they had a clear consciousness of the supernatural demand which the religion that they accepted made upon them. We must "gently lead those that are with young"; but the life of the converts, if it has the tenderness, ought also to have the fruitful-ness, of that condition. I do not think we shall improve people into Christianity. Improvement which has not the living germ of supernatural faith is more likely to be a hindrance than an advance.
OCTOBER 11. The Voice of the Church.
IT seems to me that the ordinary idea of the living voice of the Church is an unwarranted conception. Christ, as the Head of the Church, is the speaking organ of the Church (if I may use such a phrase). The mouth is His. Within and throughout the Church there is the fellowship of His wisdom, the mind of Christ; so that all persons by regeneration acquire a faculty of spiritual intuition, as S. Paul says, "judging all things." But there is no promise that the Church shall be able or ready to speak at all moments. If His Spirit stir the intelligence of the body there will be a bright consciousness of truth filling all His members; but there is no promise that they should be able to get the Church to speak at any moment, and on any subject, that they may please. The utterance of the voice of Christ is at the Father's bidding, not at man's suggestion. Probably, in fact, we cannot expect it to speak in any adequate sense of the word until Christ comes personally again. Then He will speak--He, the Head of the Church, and so the Church will speak. But the determinations of councils and doctors are, after all, only the intense consciousness of the truth which the Church possesses by virtue of her superior intelligence. The "One Faith" is not an ever-growing formulary developing itself in refutation of the various heresies which spring up from age to age, but rather the spiritual faculty whereby we are enabled to contemplate the things of God. It is not so much the orthodox formula as the supernatural reason. People want to have some organ to be continually enunciating truth; but this would be of no use, for the truth in all its essentials has been enunciated long ago. But the thing of real value is the "understanding heart" which rises up to the fellowship of the truth as it is in Jesus.
NOVEMBER 15. Church Buildings.
CERTAINLY the fine churches of the present day are a remarkable sign of the times. I sometimes wonder how far it is a healthy sign. Of course one is thankful to see God's worship nobly imaged forth in architecture, amidst all our growing populations; but one is rather fearful lest the hardness of the stone should be a symbol of the hearts of the worshippers, although the beauty of form may symbolize the loveliness of divine truth. It seems to be a not unlikely precursor of our Lord's second coming. We know how the forty-six years of Temple building heralded His coming at the first.
NOVEMBER 28. Intercession.
TO-MORROW is the day of intercession with us, S. Andrew's Eve. May God draw His people to great earnestness in prayer at this time! As we pray, so He will answer. It is only in a spirit of prayer that we can undertake any work however largely supported, and in the strength of prayer we may look for the smallest works to grow. God tries our faith, develops our work, and carries it onward to the full purpose of His predestination by manifold delays. If there were no delays, difficulties, hindrances to try our faith, He could not make our work grow according to His will.
FEAST OF S. JOHN THE EVANGELIST. God uses our Weakness not our Strength--Mission Agents--The Individuality of the Love of Christ--The Disciple whom Jesus loved--Growth of the Ministry.
GOD uses our weakness to make manifest His strength. How one finds this exemplified time after time; and again how difficult it is for us to accept in all its fullness that other truth, that He Who uses our weakness sets aside our strength. It is so difficult for us to believe that our strength must be set aside--so difficult for us to set it aside in order that we may be available for His purposes. Yet we find as time goes on that so it is. Whatever it is on which we may have relied God is sure to set it aside, and if we can join with Him, or forestall Him in so doing, then indeed we shall find the blessing.
I quite realize the necessity which you mention of having trained Indian agents as the work grows, but what I deprecated is having untrustworthy Indian agents. A thin external coating of preparation is almost worse than none. We must first get the Indian--I mean get a real hearty Christ-loving, Christ-following Indian. Any young man of this character, prepared to suffer all things for Christ, having indeed already so suffered, is of incalculable value. Where there is love the training will follow easily, but I do not think an Indian agency is worth much if it does not get much beyond the professional type of schoolmaster in England. Mechanical agencies may perpetuate a system, but there must be an enthusiasm about an agency which is really to affect the hearts of a great nation, and win them to Christ. In fact how can a man in youth wake up to the knowledge of Christ's love to himself, without becoming beside himself with joy at the thought of it.
It is difficult for us, who have been brought up in the full daylight of that knowledge, to realize what the sensation must be of first coming to that knowledge. True there may probably have been various occasions in our conversion when we have felt the power of that love in a manner quite different from ordinary, but it can scarcely fail of being somewhat dulled by our having nothing more than the well-known formulae wherein to express it; but one who has been really brought from darkness to light ought to wake up to the sympathy of those words, He "loved me, and gave Himself for me," and ought to delight to think of himself with wonder as the disciple whom Jesus has loved.
We in England are apt to think that we disparage the love of Jesus unless we lose ourselves in its universality, but we need much more to dwell upon its individuality. Not in pride nor in bigotry, but in absorbing gratitude we need to dwell upon the personality of the Saviour's love, Who has chosen us and put us into the ministry, when so many have not been chosen who might have been. One can scarcely appeal to the heathen, especially if oneself has lived as a heathen, without having this consciousness like S. Paul and S. John. It is a wondrous thing, that intense self-consciousness, which gathers itself in order to plunge and be lost to self in the consciousness of the transcending love wherein it is overwhelmed. Such seems to be the love of S. John in calling himself "the disciple whom Jesus loved." It is not the vanity of comparing himself with others as if Jesus loved them less, but it is the absorbing thought which causes others to be put out of sight. All others disappear. The consciousness of self alone remains, and it remains only so as to be passively receptive, the nothing which receives the all, existing simply to be loved, and acting simply as that love necessitates.
We may feel sure that as converts come round God will provide the teachers. In fact, with the growth of the Church in a country, it is as with the growth of the animal frame. You cannot take a strong backbone in order for the flesh to come round it. The backbone is itself a development of the growing form. So the growing Church is sure to have her inherent organism developing with her growth, if properly cared for. We have at first to provide the swaddling clothes, but we may be quite sure that God will cause the strong bone and muscle to grow.
JANUARY 22, 1879. SWANSEA. Death of Father Benson's Brother--Mission at Calcutta--Conversion of Princes.
MY brother Starling has been killed by a fall while out shooting. He was a most excellent brother. The General [Father Benson's eldest brother] is here with his nine children, and he was quite like a father to all of them. Death brings the members of a family all together--those that are living on earth; thus will the resurrection bring together all that are living in Christ. Only two of us remain out of a large family that was once. May God grant those who are round us now so to live that they may live eternally. Really one trembles more, I think, for Christians in London society than for heathen that never heard of Christ. There, in India, everyone saved is a gain. Here, in England, every one that fails is a loss. If only we prayed more earnestly, surely English society would be different from what it is.
You will soon be on your way to Calcutta. I look forward with much interest to that mission. It is very refreshing to think of so many of the Society being united in the metropolis of India. [Fathers Page, O'Neill, and Rivington took part in the mission which was preached in February.] May God of His great love bring us all to meet in Jerusalem! The clouds overhead seem to be brightening with the approach of the descending city of God!
I suppose the Holkar is getting better as you say nothing about him. One does not know what means God may use for bringing him to the faith. It is not many of the judges of the earth that have given heed to the admonition of the Psalter. Well, we must be very thankful if the poor of the land become kings and priests unto God through Jesus Christ. The conversion of Europe was accelerated perhaps, but it was not bettered, by the conversion of princes. One or two humble converts, patiently bearing witness to the truth amidst much oppression, are more helpful to the Church of the future than any sovereign powers, however kindly in their purposes.
FEBRUARY 6. Mission at Calcutta--Faith--Divine Truth not demonstrated by Reason--Need of Love in order to Believe.
I SUPPOSE this will find you at Calcutta, and therefore I shall direct it to the bishop's care. May God abundantly bless the mission! We have been commemorating it for some time in our intercessions at None, and I constantly bring it before God at the holy altar. I wish I could be lending you a helping hand in the work upon the spot, but that is of God's ordering. He puts each of us where He would have us to be, and it is our joy to know that He is working out by us, not our will in our own way, but His will in His own way. He willeth all men to be saved, and hath committed unto us the message of reconciliation. If we work in His way we shall help to the accomplishment of that glorious end. I hope indeed that the guidance of His Holy Spirit will be very manifest with you all in this momentous undertaking, and that the power thereof may be felt throughout the English population of India. If it is, the effect upon the Indians will be proportionate. And yet, again, it may be that they will reject the word. God forbid it! But even then it will be the best way of preaching to the Indians, for they will see that we do not silently acquiesce in the want of religion which our countrymen exhibit.
The issues are in God's hands and we must not be over anxious to see what He is purposing to do. Enough for us to work our little share in His work. The less we see, the more we shall effect, if we are living simply with Him. Whether we seem to see much or little, we must not think there is much because we see it, nor that there is less because we do not. Faith's real measure is the promise which God has given. Seeing or not seeing results, it is upon the promise that we must rely; rejoicing often not to see, that faith may win the more; not to have, that hunger may lead to a truer fullness of the work of righteousness.
"Choose to believe, not see: sight tempts the heart
From sober walking in true gospel ways."
I was very much interested in your account of the discussion between Father Goreh and the minister. I am not surprised at the minister seeming to have the best of the argument in many points. Truth has a self-demonstrative power flashing out to the overthrow of men's hearts and the awakening of their consciences, as when our Lord appeared to Saul; but the self-demonstrative power of truth is very different from the demonstrableness of truth by human reason. Human reason will be more able to vindicate all round something which man has invented. A human system suits human logic better than a divine system. Divine truth is always bursting the limits of human logic; and just as people think they have got a clear view of it, they find something which upsets all their reasoning. They cannot eliminate the infinity from the equation, and all their arrangement of factors is mere child's-play until they do. With systems of falsehood, whether human or diabolical, the infinite has no real existence. It decorates for a while, but it is easily got rid of when need be. In order to grasp the infinite, man must seek to lay hold upon it with his affections as well as with his reason. The affections without the reason lead to an earthly fanaticism dazzled by meteoric light. The reason without the affections is never satisfied until it has killed by analysis the mysterious thing whose vital action it desires to understand. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." It is by the love of the truth that we must attain to salvation. However, the two together cannot lay hold upon God unless God reveal Himself. "It pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me," says the Apostle, who previous to that revelation had had much love of the truth and much learning in the lore he loved. God must show Himself to the affections, and then the reason will follow with the blessed utterance, "I know Whom I have believed."
So the arguments from prophecy are conclusive when the soul has caught a loving glimpse of Jesus Christ; but we cannot love Christ merely because we have an intellectual conviction of His supernatural character. The supernatural element necessitates apparent contradictions. That which suits one of the natures does not suit the other. With a religion that is only a pantheistic or atheistic philosophy, there is no active inconsistency upon the surface. The inconsistency is driven down into the depths of mystery, where the human mind can contentedly leave it. A person, embodying the finite and the infinite, disturbs the natural sense with claims that are inconsistent with the finite, and humiliations that are inconsistent with the infinite. Reason can sweep the stage of philosophy, so as to make it clear of inconsistences for all the actors that are to tread it, and the sweepings behind the scenes do not trouble the mind's eye. I do not think that any one was ever argued into truth. Faith which worketh by love must be primarily kindled by love. This is true of persons who have to be rescued from false forms of Christian life, as well as of heathen. Controversy always embitters. This is the victory that over-cometh the world, faith which worketh and conquereth by love. May the Holy Spirit of divine love draw many hearts and minds around you, and through you, to Him Who is the truth, both during this fortnight's mission and ever after.
FEBRUARY 21. Work of the Society.
I KNOW not where this will reach you after the Calcutta Mission. I hope you will all get well through it, and that the spiritual results may be full of fruit to the glory of God. He Who used the three hundred that lapped has been pleased to call our little Society to varied works far beyond our strength, but in so doing we may be sure that He desires to sanctify us and prepare us for greater works to come. Oh, if we will yield ourselves up to Him, how wonderful is the future, as we see it stretching out with continual expanse to the fullness of the infinite love wherewith He is calling us. [From May to October of this year Father O'Neill was in England, and consequently there is a gap in the correspondence.]
DECEMBER 10. Life through Death.
WE must see things born in weakness, and perish in death, ere they can live to eternity. We are slow of heart to rise from the Judaic length of days, to the eternity of the Day of Christ; and so we look for a manifestation of God's omnipotence in outward circumstances, rather than of His divine, eternal, personal glory in the inner life of our fleshly weakness. We want the divine character of our life in Christ to be self-evident in this world of sin and shame, instead of being hidden from man, seen of angels and received up into glory, to be manifested to all mankind hereafter.
Pray for a blessing on my American journey.
FEAST OF S. THOMAS. GETTING NEAR NEW YORK. The Future.
IT seems a long time since you and Puller and I were in Boston harbour for the first time. [1871.] So much has developed since then that one cannot look back to it as if it belonged to the decade which is now closing. At least so it seems to me. Well, what will the 'eighties witness! How impossible it is to look forward. Only we know that the love of Jesus will be our constant stay if we are looking to Him; and God is guiding, preparing, proving each one of us for fresh openings of service, in which we may gain further experience of His love, whether in lives of wider work or more hidden devotion. Let us see that our hearts are really being drawn closer to Him in constant prayer. We must look more and more for the manifestation of His supernatural power in proportion as we call upon Him. I have been much interested in reading Ozanams Life. I think you have his works. If I remember right, Russell sent them to you. I never read them, but they must be interesting.
JANUARY 15, 1880. NEW YORK. The Last Days.
WE must, I doubt not, if we live, see the Church on earth more and more wasted by error, through want of discipline; but if I am left alone, and can endure, the surrounding trouble will do me no harm. A discipline which forces on me an assent to a lie is what I really have to dread. Whenever the last days come for the scattering of the faithful, we know well that they will be of short duration, and if the saints of the last days have to live without sympathy and without sacraments during the days of antichrist, it will be but for a short time. The darkness of those days will doubtless be terrible to live through, but the Lord knoweth them that are His, and He will take care of them when the gates of hell seem to have accomplished their triumph. If we live on into those days, we shall have to wait for the Son of Man to come again and destroy the wicked one with the breath of His mouth, and then we shall see the Church coming forth unharmed in her perfection from the safe keeping of divine love--the gathered Church of all ages, the heavenly Jerusalem. We cannot hope to see a Church upon earth realizing our ideal of what a Christian Church ought to be, but we must look forward to that vision of divine triumph, that we may be strengthened to abide in the faith and patience of the saints, the tribulation of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. We must take care that we rise up to the supernatural demands of the Church of Christ upon ourselves. Only so can we attain to consciousness of the supernatural life of the Church. We lose our own faith in the Church of England, if we do not rise up to the demands of our calling. The scandals which newspapers make known everywhere are too apt to draw us away from the simple prosecution of our own duty, and so they naturally destroy faith. Faith cannot be built up by theories, but must be strengthened by action; and action will strengthen faith in proportion to the greatness of the difficulties which God suffers us to meet in carrying out our work, whatever it may be.
JANUARY 30. Trials of Faith.
YOUR letter just received does indeed fill my heart with thankfulness. [The letter referred to told of the happy termination of a time of doubt as to the position of the Church of England in respect to the Roman claims. Letter lxviii in the former series of Father Benson's Letters relates to the same subject.] "They feared as they entered into the cloud." We are apt to think of the brightness of the Transfiguration, without remembering the darkness and fear through which they entered into the glory of the vision. So it ever is with us. The king's daughter, that is, the humanity of Christ in all its various modes of manifestation and union, is all glorious within; but there is no external beauty for the natural heart to desire. It is a great gift when we rise above reasoning to simple faith. You will not find the trials of the last few weeks too much when you come increasingly to experience their abiding results. Blessed child-like faith! When we have let our reason grow like ivy over a house, we cannot have the old fabric stand out in its newness without much pain. But God can, and God will, renew us if He sees us to be really loving Him. Only let us abide in His love, and let us always be prepared for fresh assaults. What terrible assaults the Fathers in the desert had! Yet "He giveth more grace!"
FEBRUARY 19. Philosophy and Faith--S. Thomas Aquinas.
IT occurred to me that, just as Nebuchadnezzar's image was to tumble and fall down before the stone could fill the world--the stone would not vivify it--so with human philosophy. It cannot be brought as a standing figure to be made alive by divine grace. It must fall utterly to the ground ere Christian faith can take its place. This seems indeed to be the teaching of the Epistle to the Corinthians, "After that . . . the world by wisdom knew not God." We must, therefore, expect a great intellectual blinding dust in the downfall of human systems of thought, that divine grace may raise the world out of ignorance, not merely supernaturalize it out of carnal wisdom. I am very thankful the Pope has reinstated S. Thomas in the Roman schools. It is a remarkable move, and must, I should think, be very helpful as a reaction in favour of a better state of things than their modern text-books encourage.
MARCH 5. The Crucifix--The Passion in Relation to the Glory of Christ--Good Friday.
I SHOULD feel rather doubtful as to the helpfulness of a crucifix with the heathen. I think I have read that the Romans, in their Indian missions, have pictures and not statues. The heathen would evidently be exposed to a danger in the sight of an image, which we should not at all feel. An image of God to them would be (i) not merely an image of the assumed humanity, but of the divine, constitutive, personal Being; and (2) they would be likely to regard the image as possessing a sort of divine life, such as they attribute to their own idols. I suppose considerations like these made the early Fathers so stern in their rejection of any representations of Christ. One must be very careful that their idea of the Incarnation is not a mere substitution of the Name of Christ for the heathen deity, but that they appreciate the moral, spiritual, theological difference between the ideas of the Incarnation as they hold theirs and we hold ours. Also we must be very careful to bring home to them Christ in His glory.
S. Paul's mission preaching evidently had much more to do with what came after the Cross than with what led up to it--Christ in glory, and ourselves bearing the Cross that we may rise to the glory. I think one sees that the early Church felt the power of Christ's triumphal mediation transforming themselves, and that the later Church increasingly, until S. Anselm formulated the teaching, strove to use the Passion as a means of self-stimulation, instead of yielding themselves up to the power of the Spirit communicated from His heavenly throne. How entirely the Passion is seen simply through the lustrous halo of the Ascension in S. Paul! We were escaping from the Evangelical teaching some thirty years ago, but I think we have very much fallen away from the sense of the resurrection power, chiefly, I think, through Roman books of meditation, and probably in part from a desire to show other Church people that we did look to the Cross as the foundation of all our hopes. But we want the building, otherwise the foundation will be of no use. And the building is in heaven, where He is placed as the corner-stone, Whom the builders of the earthly fabric rejected whilst He was below. We can never rise to the patience, boldness, perseverance of Christ, unless we are living in, and calling others to share, the glory of the life wherewith He abides as our High Priest at the right hand of God.
During Passiontide we have great need to take care that our mourning is not for Him but for ourselves. I fear there is a temptation to make our Good Friday too much like weeping for Tammuz or the Mohammedan wailings that you are familiar with at Indore. I always regret that we have lost the old Saxon use of red for Good Friday and have got the Roman black, which certainly symbolizes a faulty idea that requires keeping in check in one's teachings of the season. We need to dwell upon the glory of His sufferings in order that we may glory in suffering with Him. May we have grace to enter into all the sorrow of that Heart wherein He felt the burden of our sins. It is only as we know the personal love of God towards ourselves that the Son of God can be thus revealed within us, truly shown to our inmost consciousness as the living principle from whence our spiritual nature is derived, and to which we must ourselves be conformed.
And we need so much to learn the continual pressure of sin upon His human consciousness during the whole of His life on earth, of which the great struggle on Calvary with the powers of darkness was the outcome. We are so apt to regard the Passion as a sort of accident that might have been avoided, instead of its being a law of continuous life while He, the Son of God, was under the conditions of our fallen state. But we can only know this pressure of the sinful state in proportion as we live with Him in the glory where He has made us to sit with Him in the heavenly places.
MARCH 12. Scattering of S.S.J.E.
AS the risen sun spreads his rays far and wide, so must we feel in our scattered condition no token of exhaustion and weakness, but a pledge of the inexhaustible Love from whose brightness our vocation is derived, and of whose lustre our mission has to tell.
MARCH 19. Hindu Idea of Sin.
I SUPPOSE that the idea of sin requires to be developed from its most elemental germ in the Indian mind. Evil is a universal calamity from which the individual man requires to be rescued by cosmical developments and transmigrations, but sin as a personal outrage against the personal sanctity of God must be quite unknown to them.
GOOD FRIDAY. The Holkar's Opposition not to be feared.
MAY God open the heart of the Holkar to receive the truth! One feels that one must desire this, and yet one has a sort of conviction that the opposition of a man in his position is more helpful than his favour. Neros are better for the children of the Cross than Constantines. S. Stephen might have been very much discouraged with the result of his preaching; but on the day of his death he did not know that he had been preaching to S. Paul. This may help to give some encouragement when there seems little or no result. Nothing ought to discourage us if we live in the true spirit of the Crucified. Our failures are the greatest successes if we bear them heartily for GOD.
APRIL 16. Prayer.
YOUR house must be a great fortress of constant prayer. Words fall with all the more effect upon the heart of man if they go up to heaven first of all. We are apt to think how we can speak the most widely. God does not measure the value of our words by the number of listeners, but by the earnestness of faith.
ASCENSION DAY (MAY 6). God's Provident Arrangements--The Ascension of Christ our Strength and Joy.
WE may be quite certain that God in some mysterious manner makes the power of His Church to speak, and the power of the heathen to hear, so proportionate that none shall suffer. He knoweth them that are His. He disciplines us in various ways, so that if we are corresponding with His training we may be ready to go forth in His Name to those who will accept our testimony. As we labour among them that reject we must ourselves be growing in faith, so as to be capable in due time of winning those that shall believe and be saved. The Lord upon His throne is, we may be sure, working along with us. Only His word must be confirmed in our own hearts with divers signs and gifts of the Holy Ghost before He can confirm the word to others. Surely we may look for Him to grant to His Church that supernatural faith, in the close fellowship of His ascended glory, which may enable us to go forth as the Christians of the first age and conquer by dying. It is strange that we, believing as we do in the Ascension, can be so content with life in the world, and treat it as if it were after all the only life. Christians have so denuded the life with Christ in His glory of every thought which can make that glory a reality, that they have prepared the way for that miserable Buddhism which is now taking possession of Europe, so as to make people look forward to another life as a Nirvana. We need to learn the present power of the kingdom of our ascended Lord as our actual strength and joy day by day, so that we may look forward to its blessed fruition as the true development of it in a future state. We look for more gifts and more clearness of manifestation, whereas what we really want is just to be ourselves more true to the light which is shining, that so we may make it more manifest. How patiently God deals with us! How lovingly He trains us! Our whole being, while we live in the fellowship of the Ascension, ought to be continually reproducing that which the legend tells of the body of our Patron Saint coming out brighter from the boiling oil. [Ascension Day in this year fell upon May 6th, the date of the Festival of S. John a. P.L.] So ought the sorrows and discipline of earth to make us radiate with a purer, more transparent lustre, the glory of the indwelling Godhead which is our true life.
JUNE 18. Delays giving time for Prayer--Fundamental importance of the Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity--Building.
ONE feels that just as in the life of S. Paul there were the long imprisonments, etc., giving him time for prayer, so the delay necessitated by outward circumstances in the mission work of India must be God's appointment to give time for prayer. How the Apostles prayed without ceasing! One does wish that one could get away from the distractions of English life and work, to be given up to prayer and intercession for the growth of Christ's kingdom. It is difficult with so many noisy demands upon one's time to pray as one ought, but it would be a blessed thing if one could be just for some time shut up without the possibility of hearing, saying, or doing anything, that one might be forced to pray. Perhaps God may have some such discipline in store for us, that He may rouse His Church and perfect the number of His elect.
I am very glad of what you say about the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. It does seem to me to be the root evil of the present day, the want of pure theology. People are full of disputes about sacraments, eternal punishment, inspiration, and the like; and yet the people who know a great deal about these controversies know next to nothing about the Holy Trinity. But this is the Creed. The others are only corollaries of the Creed, and are helpful or hurtful just in proportion as they are made subservient to this fundamental doctrine--valueless, even when rightly held, if their connexion with the eternal relationships of the Blessed Trinity is not recognized. Our doctrine, teaching, experience of the Church, must be, so to speak, in a comatose state, unless there be an active, experimental, loving knowledge of the Name of the Holy Trinity, which is the living power wherewith the Church is bound together by the Holy Ghost sanctifying all the elect people of God. It is the want of this knowledge which is the strength of unbelief, heresy, and prayerless-ness at home; and it can only be by living in the experimental power of this holy Name that any mission work can be effectively done abroad. . . .
If you think well of it there can be no harm in devoting that £100 to this work, for I suppose we could part with it again if the ground did not eventually suit. But I would very much advise to keep clear of being burdened by an establishment, catechist, or the like. I think you have burdened yourself a good deal by the students. They must be a great drain on devotional and missionary energy, and unless they are very satisfactory they are a hindrance to the radiance, so to speak, of the missionary life. An establishment of any kind needs a great deal of supervision, and I think we should be much happier if we were.
JULY 30. Life hidden in God--The Right Method of Mission Work--The historic Christ and the mystical Christ.
I DO indeed trust that God is leading us onward in a growing appreciation of His power and grace. The times get more and more evil, so that we as Religious ought to be getting more and more absorbed into the divine life, that we may be able to bear witness to God in the midst of the evil. We cannot bear witness to Him save by living in Him. The more we are hidden from the world in Him, the more will He use us as His instruments for making Himself known to the world. We are so slow to grasp the real power of hiddenness in God; and yet our own efforts, although we fancy they are on behalf of God, are so much more apt to obscure the divine self-manifestation than to bring people to acknowledge the truth. The struggle of reason with reason is but the clash of arms, often bringing death, but not life; but the conversion of souls is by the breath of the living God, touching upon the hearts that are dead that they may live, and if we are to breathe forth this life we must be breathing it ourselves by constant prayer. I have no doubt that this is what we chiefly want in our mission work amongst the heathen. If we could have two or three priests or laymen living in the various cities of India, just in poverty and prayer, the result would be found in ten or twenty years' time.
You speak of progress being slow; I did not know that in one sense of the word you had made any progress. I did not expect that you could have any converts at present. What I think is important is just to live a life of Christian witness and devotion in the midst of the people, very much as one of their own people would live, avoiding the eccentricities occasioned by the errors of heathenism, but retaining the continuous prayer and elevating it into the glow of Christian faith. I think they would get their curiosity excited, and would come one by one, as time went on, to inquire about us, as they would go to one of their own gurus. I have no belief that public preachings, or controversies, or books, are likely to convert people generally. Of course they have their position and are necessary in various ways and places, but I cannot think that a Hindu would be satisfactorily converted by aggressive disputations or proclamations. "He shall not strive, nor cry." The chief reason which must win a Hindu to Christ must be the contemplation of a man living for many years amongst them the life of Christ. The historic Christ of the Gospels can scarcely be brought home to their consciousness save through the mystical Christ of their experience. Many years are needed for this, but the life of Christian witness shall not fail in the end. Our Lord's preaching in Judea was prepared for by thirty years of hiddenness, both of the Baptist's life and of His own. Yet at last He came as the fulfilment of the prophecies. How much more is such a preparation needed for His being made known to a strange people that have no knowledge of the prophecies, and very little power of appreciating their value even if informed about them.
I do not think we have any new form of mission work to invent; but we have to train ourselves patiently for this mission life, and to live patiently and prayerfully, so that another generation may enter into the fruits of our labours. I am sure that the chief work will be the Nicodemus work, speaking with those who come to us drawn by a sense of some divine power connected with us. We must avoid any approach to the lies with which de Nobili spoilt his work. [Founder of the Jesuit mission at Madura, South India. He announced himself as a Brahman of a superior order from the West, and forged a fifth Veda containing portions of the Bible, by means of which many thousands of Brahmans were persuaded to become Christians. On the discovery of the fraud the majority of them relapsed to Hinduism.] We must keep quite clearly the utter difference and contradiction between our religious system and theirs. What is needed is a life simply devoted to God which they can see and value, and which God also sees and values, and which has therefore both the divine and the human assurance of ultimate triumph. The probability is that, if we are content thus prayerfully to live on with God, we shall find at last that a nation is born in a day. Individual inquirers for a few years may result in a Pentecostal three thousand sooner than we anticipate. But we must be very careful not to be expecting it within any given time, only to feel quite certain of the ultimate victory.
AUGUST 6. Hiddenness of Life.
AS years go by one is thankful to feel the -£x remainder diminishing; but one hopes that those which remain, even though they be few, may be more to God's glory. How much of self has mingled even with the attempts for God's glory in time past. To outlive this intermixture, and find the stream of life flowing more transparently, is the only purpose that can make life worth the living. I often wonder if it may not have been a snare of the evil one to keep me at home to organize a greater work, instead of going out to do a smaller work in India by personal service and with less notoriety. It is a terrible evil in the present day that one has to live so much before the world, and therefore so little before God. What we want is hiddenness of life. Even in nature the highest and most delicate functions of physical life are carried on quite hiddenly. One cannot be the heart of the body of Christ, and live at the tips of the fingers. Yet the fingers have their life, if one can only be a part of the fingers and not a ring!
AUGUST 20. Church Buildings.
DOUBTLESS church buildings are a necessity as the number of converts increases. But the real temple to contrast with that of Diana or Siva is the temple of the Christian community itself, the living temple, as opposed to that of stone. Surely the Community realizes its true character while it feels itself migratory and houseless. Handsome churches seem to me to be a necessary evil of our day where there is a Christian population, and as a matter of history they have generally sprung up rather as the sepulchre than as the home of the living Church.
God gave David his wish that his son should build a glorious temple, which was of course symbolical; but how miserable was the worship of the builder, and how short-lived its glory. Then too, in Christian times, how church building reached its height of perfection just when saintliness died out. Indeed how very generally the cathedrals of Europe were built up by simple iniquity of every kind, and when built how quickly they were followed by spiritual desolation. The outward church building seems to me almost to gauge the temporal success and proportionate spiritual collapse. In a settled Christian population this is doubtless a necessity. One must endeavour to get people to erect handsome buildings because of the idea of secular glory which has so eaten into the Church's life, and which needs to be nourished like a tumour on the body; but one does feel, I think, that S. Bernard's puritan instincts were much more true, and that this outward glory is only to be tolerated as a necessity in dealing with a corrupt and worldly age of nominal Christians.
AUGUST 27. Slowness of Mission Work--The Accuracy and Fullness of the Judgement.
THE account which Father Page gives of your work at Indore is very encouraging. You know the sun has to shine a long time, melting the ice, softening the clods, warming the earth, before it can touch the germs which are buried in the soil. By and by with soft moistening showers these germs thus warmed begin to grow. It is just so with mission work. We cannot make things grow by digging up the earth in which the seed is contained. The life of a missionary must make itself felt, just simply radiating the Holy Ghost, softening prejudice, melting down opposition, until the ice, which was as fetters, is changed into a vivifying power of holy nourishment. This effect upon society must be going on for a long time before there can be any spring of individual conversions, putting forth the buds of Christian life. We are apt to think that, at any rate, we would like to see it before we die. Perhaps we may; perhaps not. More likely no, than yes. But whether before we die or not we certainly shall see it in the end. Do not let us doubt that, whatever we have done, God will let us see its result. The result will be all the greater if we have not seen it. The time is coming when he that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together. We shall receive in the body whatever we have done, both good and bad.
Perhaps we little realize how truly and, if I may say so, how physically we shall receive in the body of the resurrection all the evil that we have done; but I am sure that we realize much less how equally in fullness of reality we shall receive the good which by God's grace we have been enabled to do as the members of Christ. We are apt to make the joy of eternity much too vague, as if it were rather conditional upon the fulfilment of certain duties, and not a real discriminatory assignment to each of that which each has actually done. So we lose sight of the great law of individual continuity.
The law of the conservation of forces, on which modern scientific thought dwells so much as if it were the destruction of Christianity, is the very basis of the final judgement; for that will be the manifestation of all the forces that have ever operated within us during life, which go to make up our individual character, and many of which have become quite hidden during earthly life, by change of circumstances accumulating around us. There will be the manifestation of all the pride, covetousness, sloth, self-will, impurity, envy, etc., as well as of all the efforts of devotion, however secret, whereby they have been resisted. And then, as our individual life is a life in community in combination with all the forces of society, so the manifestation of- the individual in the general judgement will be a manifestation of all the acts affecting others--prayers, fasts, warnings, teachings, forbearance, meekness, example, encouragement, as well as also of all the acts which have affected others for evil. There will be no chance reward, no unrequited worth, no divine partiality. Here it seems to be a chance whether we have to labour in a January or an April. There we shall find that the January labourer is just as much rewarded as if it had been for him to bring home the fruits in the full baskets of autumn. Yes, he will be as truly remembered, and, if I may say so, the pay of a January day is higher than that of a June day. But we shall all find that every stroke of our work has told in our Master's gratitude, if not in our contemporaries' good will. And so it tells upon the general perfection of the body of Christ, whether it tell upon any special locality or no; perhaps all the more largely upon the one when it is least perceptible in the other. But it is very encouraging to feel that your presence at Indore is so much recognized as it seems to be. You must be quite content with that, without looking for anything more particular for a long time.
AUGUST 27. Imprisonment of Prabbadas--Patience under Persecution. [He was imprisoned by the Holkar for selling tracts as Father O'Neill's agent, but was released with a warning after one day's imprisonment, upon the demand of General Sir H. Daly, the British Resident. See Life of Father Goreh, by C. E. Gardner, S.S.J.E., p. 251.]
I HAD just finished my letter to you when the packet of letters was brought me from Cowley. So we have some one in prison! I should like to know exactly who the dear boy is. May God grant an abundant blessing! It is useless for me to advise you. Before this letter arrives, in fact before now, circumstances must have developed one way or another. All I would say is, Be firm as a rock, be as unmoved also.
Do not do anything to provoke opposition. Preaching the gospel does not involve street preaching. House-to-house conversation, or conversation out walking with individuals, is probably better in itself and cannot well be attacked. This onslaught will have preached abundantly for the rest of your time of residence. Do not show any signs of impatience or insolence, or of what might be interpreted as such. Act in strict conformity with any orders you may receive from the bishop. He is responsible and not you, if he tells you what to do. If by his orders you should have to move, you need not regret anything. We are not to expect a campaign without seeing gunpowder and smoke. We know well the enemy has no ball. India is plenty big enough. You will not have gone through all the native states of India before the Son of Man comes. God bless you, and sanctify the imprisonment of the boy! Of course he must be got out. But I suppose he is out by this time.
SEPTEMBER 3. The same Subject--Constituted Authority--Prayer and Preaching.
NOTHING ought to be done to provoke opposition, or defy constituted authority, but at the same time we must not fear what man can do unto us. What is wanting now is quiet unobtrusive private talking with individuals whom God may bring near to us. Evidently the Apostles, like our Lord, did very little preaching of such a kind as modern missions contemplate. More prayer and less preaching would, I believe, do more for the Church both at home and abroad. Your presence is a perpetual witness to Christ. I have also instituted a weekly observance on Wednesday on behalf of the Indian mission--one of the Fathers to fast on bread and water, and say the whole Psalter, with the Lord's Prayer or suitable Collect between each Psalm.
SEPTEMBER 10. The same Subject--Ultimate Blessing of Persecution.
I AM glad that Sir H. Daly interfered. I do not feel any doubt as to the ultimate good of this persecution. We may be assured that Satan never strikes any blow that does not fall back upon himself and wound himself with a deadly destruction. The more simply we can rest in God the better. It was much better that the Resident should interfere of his own will than for him to do it at your request. Whether you stay at Indore, or move elsewhere, God will be glorified. Removal of place is no failure of duty. Indeed, as I often said, the great fault of Christendom has been the settling down in one place with a determination to act for that place, instead of acting for the world. Wherever we go, God will go with us, and He can speak to the heart of any that He chooses. His witness must be borne to all nations, but we are not to expect that each nation will welcome it.
OCTOBER 1. Preaching Tours.
I SUPPOSE you and Father Goreh are now upon tour. May God bless your words! You may expect them to be found "after many days," but you must be content that they lie buried, as it were, in barren winds for a long, long time. They are not lost for all that. If they are spoken in the power of the Holy Ghost they live for ever, and accomplish whatever God pleases, which is far more than we can imagine. But God never lets us see what we are doing, if He is calling us to any really great work.
ALL SAINTS' DAY. ON BOARD THE "REPUBLIC."
The Apocalypse--The Scholastic Philosophy--S. Anselm and the Atonement--Danger of Philosophizing in Theology--Effect of the Conversion of the Roman Empire on Christianity--The Millenium--Knowledge of the Truth by Communion with God.
I HAVE brought with me as my reading-book for the voyage, Williams on the Apocalypse. I always take great delight in it, and it is a subject which draws us together, for I know that you delight in it also. Indeed, how people fail in seeing the revelation of Christ in His Church, just because they neglect that book which has so much blessing promised to the readers of it. It is that book which solves the enigma of Church history, rather than Church history which solves its difficulty. As we study that book we learn to look for the mystery of Christ, instead of running after specious phantoms to which the natural heart is inclined to affix the name of Christ. We learn the mystery of Christ gradually unfolding Himself. I have been very much struck with the same teaching as brought before us in the Psalms when considered mystically.
You asked me some time ago about the scholastic and modern philosophies. I really cannot give much of an answer. I do not expect that the Schoolmen really interfered much with the domain of modern science. I do not believe that there is any antagonism in their system to modern inductive philosophy. They were men of great experiments, but they had not the opportunity of searching into so large a realm of natural information as our modern men of science. My own impression is that modern men of science generalize and form laws upon much more hasty induction than the Schoolmen would have used. It is wonderful how many of the difficulties of modern science were met by the Schoolmen with great skill, although, of course, they were acquainted with those difficulties upon a much more limited range of subjects. Nevertheless, they were quite alive to them. For instance, the difficulty of development in creation met them not in the great Darwinian imagination, but in successive originations of life such as are involved in parasitical forms. The mites of a cheese were sufficient to make them think how such creatures could have their place consistently with the primary act of creation. They answered that they were created en dunamei. They came into existence by virtue of a law which God enunciated at the first. Consequently they were not disturbed as if the progress of creation, or the germination of life out of decay, interfered with the original personal act of the Creator. I believe that the scholastic method, instead of crippling the inductive method, would have saved much hasty generalization as to laws. How confidently people speak of "laws," which are of their own invention, and which have to give place in the progress of science to other laws. I believe there is more hasty induction now than the Schoolmen would have permitted. In fact there is more eagerness to "advance science," which is another conceited phrase for registering ignorance. Whereas in old time they would have been, I think, more content with recording facts.
I do, however, get more and more to feel how much harm the Schoolmen did to their own province of theology. The change from the Fathers to the Schoolmen was from day to night, from tradition to argumentation, from revelation to reason. It seems to me that S. Anselm has done more harm than almost any teacher by his endeavour to make plain the Atonement and all other divine truths to the necessities of human reasoning. With the intention of making good this or that aspect of divine truth, he has, first of all, eliminated the divine life. So the theory of satisfaction took the place of the great doctrine of man's regeneration in Christ; and this led the way to all those cavillings about justification, merit, etc., which plunged the Church in the Judaism of the Middle Ages and Tridentine teaching and the literal antinomianism of protestant teaching, from which we were saved only by the strong hold that our Church divines had upon the primitive truth as the real safeguard--a hold which often kept our Reformers right in spite of themselves, or rather in spite of the current of pious thought which was around them.
And now it is to the same source that we owe the rationalism and unbelief of our own day. The danger of philosophy in matters that are supernatural is overwhelmingly great. It does not matter what theory we have of the transmission of light or sound, but a theory of the transmission of grace which goes beyond child-like faith in the regenerating renewing presence and personal operation of the Holy Ghost, and which ignores our personal identification with the glorified Saviour as having all His life, and no life but in Him, does lead to the overthrow of everything. The moment we externalize ourselves from Him to consider how His actions and requirements fit in with preconceived human notions of divine necessity, we lose all sight of what He really is, although the brightness of the thought of Him may still fill the pious mind, just as the sunlight remains for a time upon the dazzled eye when it is turned away. As to your suggestion about S. Augustine's teaching having received a warp by reason of the conversion of the Empire, I know not what to say. I do not see how it could affect his doctrinal statements. I think there is no doubt that it did affect the view which the great Fathers took of the future of the Church. They doubtless began to think of the great earthly future of the Church which seemed to open before them, and then rose up the idea that the gospel should be sovereign over all nations, and not merely be preached as a witness to all nations. This found its culmination, of course, in the Roman hierarchical system, and as the Church empire developed in its solid self-sufficiency, the remembrance of the personal presence of the Holy Ghost as the living bond sustaining and preserving the Church came to be lost, and the Pope was thrust into His place because such an earthly system wanted an earthly head. But this began later, and in fact has not found its full issue till the recent decree of infallibility. The result was brought about not doctrinally but practically. The spiritual idea of Catholicity, all bishops being one by reason of the one Spirit Who spake through each individually, and then correctively through all collectively, that which is set before us in Ephesians iv---died out, and the machinery alone seemed to remain. It was not the introduction of a new doctrine but the loss of the first love which was the real evil.
As the mechanical and external thus cooled down by the loss of the spiritual and divine life, the various errors of the Roman system naturally took their place where the radiant beauty of the Bride of Christ had shone out before. Thus it was that devout men like Anselm began to think they could harmonize reason and revelation. But I do not see how S. Augustine could have found the effect of such a change. It took a long time to operate. In fact about a thousand years. It is very curious that the close of a thousand years should find such a distinct change in everything about the Church. It is almost as if that was the time when Satan was loosed--East and West divided; Catholic jurisdiction consequently destroyed; corruption of every kind dominant. I suppose one may feel that Satan could not be loosed to attack the Church, unless before the close of the Millenium the Church had really lost her hold on Christ the King. His loosing must be of the nature of a judgement, and that implies sin as requiring it. We are so apt to think of the Millenium as if it meant nothing but holiness. I do not, however, mean that I have any formed opinion that the first thousand years were the Millenium, but merely intended to call attention to the fact of the change, and it may indeed be one interpretation though not the primary one. Yet certainly the thousand years do find the change completing itself, from Catholicity of ecclesiastical discipline to Papalism; from Catholicity of doctrine in all its mystery and life to the rationalism and human completeness of the Scholastic age; from missionary expansiveness by the power of the Holy Ghost to the incapacity of the later missions backed up by one national government after another, but obtaining such insignificant results.
Well, there can be no missionary success resulting from Scholasticism. As missionaries we have just to carry the burning torch and kindle hearts with the fire of the Holy Ghost. The simpler the way of doing this the better. But the primary need is to have our own hearts burning brightly. The less we think about how we live the better. The great matter is to see that we do live, by constant prayerful communion with Christ. I often wish that every book could be burnt except the Bible and Prayer Book! We must be seeking communion with God by listening to His voice and asking for fuller gifts of His Spirit. How appalled an Apostle would be to think of having to get Christian truth out of a modern library!
Well, I am afraid I am offending somewhat against my own teaching in sending you such a voluminous letter! May God bless us all and guide us into all truth! Only let us always remember the promise is that He will guide going before; not that He will correct, going behind. This is the meaning which is too often put upon the words. There is no promise that He will teach us what we want to know, or that He will keep us right in our investigations, but that He will teach us what He wants us to know and show us all truth by His inspirations, while we look not for truth as an object of curiosity, but to Him as the Truth and the sole object of love and desire. Oh, may we learn to love Him more and more!
CHRISTMAS EVE. Christmas Eve--Patient Expectation of the wording of the Spirit.
I AM very thankful to hear that John Michael is going on so well. God does not need great intellects, but loving hearts, to do His work. We need patience to wait God's time, and expectation to feel convinced that if we do wait for the vision it is sure to come at last. The great call of to-day is to wait for the salvation which God will send us to-morrow. Our whole life is a Christmas Eve for the morrow of eternity; and so our various times of preparation in His work are as eves to a glorious nativity that shall surely be revealed.
I knew that the time would come when you would hear, as it were, the going amongst the mulberry leaves at Indore. I had scarcely looked for it so soon. You must not think that all will come with a run now that you begin to feel the working of the Spirit round about you. There will be repeated seasons of call--doubtless many rejections--but the house shall be full at the last. We ought to feel very much encouraged by the consciousness of the Spirit of the Lord coming upon us and urging us to a work. As we feel Him to be drawing, we know that the work is to be done. Continually does He draw us to various duties in His service, and we do not feel the drawing. The sluggishness of our earthly nature deadens us to the sense of His call. But when we do feel it, then we must cherish it. Probably its reality may be tested some few times by the absence of apparent issue, but we are being strengthened meanwhile for the work. God's call is an assurance both of work to be done and of strength to do it. The "little one shall become a thousand," but we must not expect to see the growth, though we wait for the results. The child is caught up into heaven, and grows there far out of our sight. But we shall see the child soon descending out of heaven from God as the glorious city, the Lamb's wife.
I am very glad that the school chapel has been begun at Chanda. [A town in the Central Provinces, head-quarters of the Mission of the Scottish Episcopal Church.] I hope angels will bear many living souls from S. Catherine's to their safe shelter in the paradise of God.
JANUARY 21, 1881. The Snow--The "Place Prepared" for the Missionary
FANCY London for a couple of days without letters from north or west! I went up on Monday night, meaning to return next day, and could not get back till Thursday. The Dean of Christ Church was in a train on Tuesday--twenty-six hours on the road. He did not reach Oxford till Wednesday evening. With a considerable sense of meminisse juvabit one feels almost as if one had suffered a wrong in having been so near such a mischance and missing it! Rather one ought to be very thankful that one has not suffered in this snow as so many have done. The suffering everywhere, but especially in London, has been terrible.
This eventful year has begun severely. One can form no notion of what will happen in the course of it; not because things are going on so smoothly that one does not look for change, but because things are so full of stir and excitement that one can form no idea what combinations and revelations may be effected. One does feel as if antichrist might spring into his short-lived power any day.
Did I tell you of my idea that the "place prepared" for the Woman is a place of hiding during the days of antichrist--not that she goes there at once, but that while Satan is chained for a thousand years she and the world are seen as the harlot and the beast; and then, after the sins of the flesh and the world have been punished by the letting loose of Satan, she will at last go to the place prepared for her, hidden from all sight of man, during the days of antichrist, the three and a half years, the 1,260 days. I think commentators generally seem to imagine that she goes to the prepared place at once; but I think we must allow her first to go, not to the prepared place, but to the place of her own fleshly mind, i.e. riding upon the beast.
I shall be very much interested in reading your Notes on the Apocalypse. It takes a good many years of study, however, to gain any real mastery of its contents. With each reading one seems to get a fresh consciousness of its manifold teachings, and what you say is very true, its power cannot be developed by a commentary. Each one must search for himself.
I am afraid sometimes that your reading and writing must somewhat interfere with the more immediate work and prayer of missionary life. When I hoped to go out, my idea was to get away from books as much as possible. I should think that one would have to get hold of the people, their ways of thought and life as well as of language and native literature, and to give much time to intercessory prayer on their behalf, if one is really to work an effect on them. It is important to keep steadily in mind the special work of getting ready "a people prepared for the Lord." It must be slow work, not perhaps having so many discouragements as home work, but more entirely void of encouragements. The only thing to strengthen us can be the knowledge of Him that sends us, Whose word cannot return void, although it may often seem to lose itself in empty air. At home we are cheered by the fruit of other men's labour, while we ourselves sow for them that come after. On missions we have to sow for the future, without having the results of the past to cheer us while we reap them. We must feel more and more cheered as we see the Day approaching. The waiting-time seems long, and many things seem to be adverse, but the welcome at His appearing shall be glorious, and every difficulty shall be known as a fresh element of victory.
MARCH 4. Baptism of Cyril.
THE account of Cyril is very interesting. May God illuminate him to become a great teacher of His Church by the power of the Holy Ghost. I am glad that you have removed him from the reach of his kindred. He will probably be very helpful in Bombay, and free from disturbing apprehensions. It is very cheering to find a soul thus brought near by the power of divine grace. Such evidence of divine attraction is a token of God's presence working along with us, and is worth much more than any mere results of our own persuasion. We must recognize the one or two that come in this way as being the first big drops of a thunder-shower to be loosened ere long by the lightning flashes of grace. Our hearts may be too eager in looking forward for God to do great things for us, but we are too apt rather to be dull and unhopeful, as if we were never to look for results beyond the measure of natural probability. Oh rather let us run before the devil to the entering in of Jezreel that we may indeed rejoice in the seed of the living God!
MARCH 18. Attitude towards Opposition--Street Preaching.
WHAT you say about the Holkar is cheering, for it implies that your presence in his territory is making the power of grace to be felt. We must expect evidence of grace rather in the antagonism of Satan than in the adhesion of converts. There must be a breaking up of the crust of heathenism before any individual escapes can be effected. The Holkar's anxiety implies that Satan is alarmed. God be praised! We ought to welcome any hostile measures with thankfulness. At the same time we must be very careful not to do anything to provoke them. Hostility to the power of grace in us is one thing; hostility to our own outward action is another. Grace is sure to triumph over every form of hostility. Our own activity is very generally beaten. Very often it would not be safe for us to conquer until our own activity is beaten down, that we may learn our feebleness. I would have you very careful not to do any overt acts of missionary aggression. The Holkar's counter movement will be a much more effective preaching of the gospel than any processional proclamations that you can make.
I have not much faith in out-of-door preaching, except to prepared hearts. It is by private intercourse, or such a kind that the Holkar cannot reach, that the most good will be done. Get as much as possible into private relations with the people. If they come and talk with you, and Holkar threatens them for doing so, great good will be likely to follow. But the Holkar's action ought to be against them, not against you. The early Christians were martyrs rather as converts than as preachers. Christian life evidently told the most upon surrounding heathenism, when it was least aggressive upon an unwilling heathenism. In modern times human aggression has been very much substituted for divine attraction. Early bishops who were martyred ministered to Christians. They were not commonly aggressive. We must cultivate the life of the Holy Ghost in the community of the faithful, and He will draw unto us those whom God calls. I would urge, therefore, your being very careful to avoid preaching or tract sellings such as the Holkar may prohibit. You have announced Christ to Indore. Two courses remain open. Either to abide in prayer, confident that the Holy Ghost will bring converts to you in due time, and using or making opportunities for private conference on religious subjects, or else moving on to proclaim Christ to some fresh city.
FEAST OF S. BENEDICT. MARCH 21. Conversion of India by Diligence in Prayer--Truth.
HOW encouraging is the letter which you enclose telling of the Fakir's baptism. I am sure that many souls shall be won for Christ in India if we are diligent in prayer, but there must be the wrestling through the night season of much darkness, disappointment, and dreariness, and we must believe that the answer is given, though we see it not. We may very likely pass away without knowing that our prayers have been answered; but how joyous it will be to find the answer to our prayers stored up in God's loving memory, to burst forth in the full welcome which He will give us.
What Monsignor Capel calls our national prejudice on behalf of truth is a very great blessing. I hope we shall not lose it. I suppose it is the result of a Saxon origin, and an intelligent sense of the purpose, even if not always of the dogmas, of religion. The two probably combine towards forming the estimate of truth which we have. God is truth, and a clear personal sense of our relation to God must be the only basis of truth among men. This does not seem to be possible, and therefore truth would be only accidental, in a pantheistic system such as that of Hinduism. The revelation too of God in the Person of His Word gives such marvellous power to truth in the Christian system, giving such importance to human speech as the image of the divine.
ASCENSION DAY. The Ascension.
WE are too apt to think of Christ's power and kingdom as if it were absolutely won, instead of remembering that it requires the continuous intercession of our great Head to sustain it, and continuous intercession on our part in order that we may individually appropriate the powers which belong to it. In proportion as our life of prayer rises to the demands of our great High Priest, so does our life of sovereignty rise to the imperial authority of the world-wide King, Whom we claim as our everlasting Father. As the generation of the Son is an eternal generation, not a past fact, so the power and kingdom of our ascended Mediator are a continuous living gift from the eternal Father, not a mere surrender of creation to the Son as the delegated agent of a remote authority. So must we cherish the divine life of the kingdom of Christ that we may be filled with its glory.
JUNE 16. Asceticism--The Power of the Mystical Life.
THANKS for your very interesting account of that Brahmo ascetic. I quite think that the more our life can be assimilated to that of the Hindu contemplative, the more likely we are to make way among the people as missionaries. I do not mean that I would imitate their ascetic life, as learning it from them and using it as a means of approach to them, but rather I mean that by so doing we are getting nearer to that effective life-giving truth, which we profess to bring to them and which is what they are really longing for. God will make known the truth to elect souls, not by argument and discussion, but by the junction of the prayerful lives of teachers and taught, as in the case of Cornelius. [Written and sent to Father O'Neill by a Brahmo Sadhu, who had heard a lecture on Brahmoism given by the Father at the Albert Hall, Calcutta, in May of this year.]
We are so apt to treat earnestness of purpose and orthodoxy of conception as if they constituted the two essentials of the Christian character. But really neither of them is of any good unless these two become one, i.e. unless the dogmatic statements germinate as the very seeds of the mystical life, so that all earnestness of purpose comes from the supernatural powers in which we believe. Discussions and lectures are very good in their way, but we as a religious community must be seeking the more excellent way, the mystical rapprochement towards those who are humbly and unobstrusively seeking God.
VIGIL OF S. JOHN BAPTIST. Pantheistic and Christian Conceptions of Bin.
I READ over those verses which you sent me with constant delight. Surely God Who has permitted a soul thus to yearn after Him will not let that soul go away unsanctified. I wonder how far that class of mind has any knowledge of sin. In rising out of the pantheistic conception of God to the conception of the personal Fatherhood of God, there is the corresponding change in the estimate of the Creator which needs to be developed. With the pantheistic conception of God there is the cosmical conception of sin. As the personal conception of God is developed, we begin to see His inherent holiness, and in contrast with that we see our own inherent sinfulness. This is, I suppose, what would be to such minds as his the great difficulty--to know the thirst which the soul feels, as being a condition of penalty and not of hope, a fallen and not merely an imperfect condition; so that the satisfaction of that thirst is an act of God's free bounty to us through the mediation of Christ. It is sin which has occasioned this thirst, and we must be born again of water and of the Holy Spirit so as to rise out of the death of sin, before we can drink the water of life so as to have our thirst satisfied.
JULY 22. Our Union in Christ realized in Common Devotions--The "Summa" of S. Thomas Aquinas--The True Agnosticism.
THANKS for your letter written on the Vigil of S. John Baptist. Those days are very precious as times of special communion together, independently of their value as days of humiliation before God, and intercession for His kingdom. [The Vigil of S. John Baptist is one of the days observed by the Society of S. John the Evangelist as a strict fast and day of retreat.] The sense of communion is not merely that of human sympathy wakened into momentary action, but it is the stronger, nobler principle of the living bond of grace. Where two or three of you shall agree in any matter there am I in the midst of you. It is our Lord's presence as the personal Head, manifesting Himself by the personal agency of the Holy Ghost, which is so full of power of every kind. One feels that presence all the more when the agreement is carried out in various places. He is with us when we are all together in one chapel; but when we are scattered throughout the world and meet by agreement in offices of devotion, then we feel the nothingness of earth and experience our true home in God. One of the Jewish names for God was Makon. [This word means "place."] We live in Him. His loving Spirit is an abiding home of eternal life, wherein all the children are for ever one; and that unity is developed around us in a firmer, sweeter grasp by the unity of the body of Christ, whose members we are.
I am very glad that you are studying S. Thomas' De Deo. I am sure the great fault of later ages has been controverting about corollaries, instead of meditating upon fundamental truths. It has made religion very selfish, and theology very dark. I think you will find that many of those explanations which he gives have a very real value, although, of course, no human reason can comprehend what is divine. We must meet the agnosticism of the present day, which rejoices in putting God aside, with that true agnosticism which rejoices in simple absorbing love. But although love confesses its ignorance, it delights to approach towards that which it shall know hereafter. And our reasonings are not to satisfy the insults of unbelief, but the cravings of sweet desire. The dazzling glow of the divine life prevents our seeing things in God--seeing God as He is; but we can see forms in our own nature, mind, and heart, created as we are in His image, which serve to lead us onward to worship Him in truth and praise Him with a humble prostration of the intelligence. Our very efforts to explain are helpful to us if they are subordinated to the plain principles of faith; for, in helping us to see what we do see, they help us also to see how much more there is which we do not see in every thought which we can have respecting Him.
AUGUST 12. Evangelization like the Temple Lights.
I WOULD not have you feel burdened by the difficulty of spreading the gospel. Our effort must be to keep it burning in our own hearts and in those around us. It will be sure to spread according to God's will. We must be ready to co-operate with the opportunities which He gives us. Any feeling of its being our duty to force it upon the attention of the unwilling and the unprepared will, I am sure, be not only a burden to ourselves, crushing out our power, but also it will cripple us in the delivery of our message. Energies, which should rise up in prayer to God, are damped by the dull effort to kindle the green wood which will not burn. I get more and more to feel how alien the modern idea of street or bazaar preaching is from scriptural and apostolic practice. The four great candelabra of the Feast of Tabernacles, whose light shone over all the city as they stood fifty cubits high in the Temple courts, the wicks formed of the old garments of the priests--these must be our model: our feet always standing secure within the consecrated limits of the Religious life, our light burning with the inheritance of priestly intercession. The more carefully we keep the lamps trimmed, the more will God bring people to rejoice in the light thereof. The men that trimmed the lamps had to climb high ladders. It was indeed a work of no little danger. So to trim the lamp of a Religious priest is indeed climbing the height of Jachin--climbing to the throne of the Great High Priest. This lamp is kept burning by garments which wax not old. They do not perish, though they burn. The righteousness of the saints in Christ burns evermore, lives evermore with the fire of the Holy Ghost, which gives them lustre and does not consume.
SEPTEMBER 1. The Gospel for the Poor--Knowledge through Love--Agnosticism.
I HAVE not much faith in appealing to the educated classes of India. There, as elsewhere, it is to the poor that the gospel is chiefly and primarily to come, although one would do one's utmost to inform the educated classes also. It is, however, the heart which must teach the intellect to know God by loving Him, not philosophy which can teach the heart to love God by knowing Him. The approach to God by the intellect can only arrive at the door labelled Agnosticism, however it may be painted with imaginations of a Deity lying hid in the sanctuary beyond. It is the child-like voice of the loving heart which will cause the porter to open the door, that simple souls may come in and know what the princes of this world could not understand; and it is they, the simply child-like, who will make the power of divine truth spread itself upward, so that the educated and philosophical classes may give themselves up by God's grace to the wisdom spoken among them that are perfect.
OCTOBER 7. Faith our one Need.
NO doubt the difficulties of starting must be proportioned to the greatness of the issue. Ye now therefore have sorrow because, . . . In all mission work we must remember this. We must take encouragement from difficulty, and not allow ourselves in despondency. We need to bear in mind the command to Joshua, "Only be strong." It is the simple strength of faith which God requires of us. He will plan. He will provide. He will make openings. He will let loose the enemies we are to conquer. He will tread them under our feet. We have simply to attend upon Him, obey Him, follow Him, and fear nothing. What strange vicissitudes we should have seen if we had accompanied S. Paul! ] suppose there was quite as much to trouble him amongst his converts as there can be now among the catechumens of India.
The two following letters, written by Father Benson to Father Page, on the death of Father O'Neill, and on some remarkable fruits of his life, are added as a fitting close to the series.
COWLEY S. JOHN, Feast of St. Michael, 1882.
THANK you for your most interesting letter. It was a great mercy that you could be with him at the last. One longs to be with him for ever in that blessed presence of Him, Whose love is everlasting life.
I do not see any possibility for us to keep the Indore Mission afloat. I hope that the grave at Indore will put forth living branches, but there may be a time of stillness first. If others carry on the work which we cannot, we must be thankful that God permitted one of us to start it. I am sure that Father O'Neill's death will not be fruitless, whether its results be found immediately on the spot or elsewhere. It is very delightful to hear how fully he was appreciated by such various classes of persons. A holy death does more to establish the unity of the body of Christ than many courses of lectures. These, alas! are too apt to operate in quite a different way. We must draw people into unity by living true to Christ and dying in the impulse of His love which bears us to the throne of God. I do not think people are ever talked into unity. Moses did not find it a very acceptable office when he said, "Sirs, ye are brethren," and the Israel of God is as unwilling to be corrected in its quarrelling now as it was in those old days of the early Egypt. But "right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." There is a voice of triumph in the grave, though we can scarcely hear the endless alleluia with which it drives away the powers of darkness.
A life is not fruitless because there may be no converts to count. A heathen district must be saturated with Christian influence before we can look for individuals to come forward. In fact it would be impossible for such natives to accept Christ upon sufficient grounds. They have not the moral or the historical training, but they can learn something of Christ from the moral spectacle of Christian self-sacrificing love.
July 10, 1891.
I WAS very glad to read in the S.P.G. Report for this year that Dr. Hoppner had baptized a man who was first drawn towards the truth by Father O'Neill's preaching at Indore, and on coming some time afterwards to Roorkee could no longer resist the truth, but put himself under instruction. Such subsequent effects are much better than sudden impulses, and one is so glad to hear of results coming from dear Father O'Neill's life, although I am sure there are many of which one will not hear until the Great Day. When Samuel Gopal showed me the other day the hovel where he lived, and the oratory where he spent hours in prayer, I could not help feeling that it was a more important place in the history of India than many a battlefield marked by crossed swords upon a map. [Father Benson ceased to be Superior-General in July, 1890, and was at this time on a visit to India.] No life can fail of its full result which is thus really given to God. The same convert at Roorkee brought with him a young man of the "Gareria" or shepherd caste, whom this Brahman had influenced to renounce Hinduism and become a Christian. So here we have two results of those few years at Indore coming to light quite unexpectedly nine or ten years after.