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Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament
Preached in the Oratory of S. Margaret's, East Grinstead

by John Mason Neale, D.D.

London: H. R. Allenson, n.d.


"Where the word of a king is, there is power."--ECCLES. viii. 4.


Where the word of a King is. The Word, as Moses says, is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, as it is this day. So nigh, that you have each of you this morning handled, that you have only to lift up your eyes and you will now behold, the very Body of the SON of GOD. His most Holy Flesh has touched your lips this day; and, I will not doubt that it has also been received in your hearts, as they must receive it to whom it is to be the savour of life unto life. This Word, this Good Word which the FATHER indited; this Word, which came down as the rain and the snow from heaven, and returned not thither until it had watered the earth; this Word, that is to be a lantern to your steps, and a light to your paths; that Word--to use S. Peter's own language--that Word, I say, ye know. Not long ago we heard the difference between the Voice in the wilderness, and the Word in the Kingdom; the Voice that cried in the Desert; the Word, of whom it is written, He shall not strive, nor cry. Where the Word of a King is, there is Power.

And then it follows, does it not?--that if anywhere there be not power,--then the Word of the LORD cannot be there. And this is a most fearful thought for all of you. For see. If you are suffering yourselves to be the servants of one temptation, or of many;--of one, that you will not resolutely say to it, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea,--namely the infinite Ocean of GOD'S mercy: my way to Heaven lies through and over this, and through and over it I will go: or, again, if a great number of vexatious little temptations cling round you, fettering you here, perplexing you there, tying and binding you everywhere,--the seven green withes with which Samson was bound;--and you will not, for your LORD'S sake, keep on in ridding yourself of them, how can it be said that the Word of a King is with you? And yet most surely He is and has been: is renewed among you every morning, as your manna for that day's wilderness journey. And is not that a miserable condition? Who has such privileges in regard to the most blessed of all Sacraments as you have? In that respect, what could have been done more for this or for any vineyard, that GOD has not done in it? And with what result? Is it to be with this result,--that there is weakness instead of power in all you do? a helpless, shiftless way of trying for a little, and then falling back into apathy? Endeavouring for a day, and then giving up for a week? Sometimes trying without praying, and at others praying without trying? And remember: it is not as if the power came first,--and then, you having it, proceeded to make the effort. No: the power comes by means of the effort: the poor impotent man is commanded, Stretch forth thy hand: and at the moment of the endeavour, the paralysed nerves are strengthened, the contracted muscles are made strong. Ask yourselves then, What can I do to prove this power this very evening? what fetter can I break? or to what prize can I look forward?

Now, though I could tell each of you, as you know very well, of some sin or temptation against which to-day, while it is called to-day, you ought to exert yourselves,--some uncircumcised Philistine that defies the army of the Living GOD, the little army of GOD'S Grace, in your heart: that is not for this time; that is even for a yet more solemn moment,--when I shall learn how far there has been the Power which ought to go with the Word of a King. But of one effort I may speak openly to all of you. None of you can need this Strength more than that dear Sister who is about to undertake [new work at a distance] for a season. That is just a case in point. It is said to her, as it was said to the Israelites of old, If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it us. There it is: "if the LORD delight in us:"--the Bride able to do anything if she have the Bridegroom's ever-present love,--but woe to her if she goes forward in her own strength: or if, while she distrusts that, she distrusts His also, As Rupert says: "Strength enough and to spare: fountains of strength, not to be fathomed by the imagination of man; abysses of strength, to which all the difficulties that all evil spirits can stir up are nothing." I will go forth in the strength of the LORD, and make mention of His Righteousness only.

Now, for all your sakes, let us go to one of these fountains of strength,--a place where of old the mighty men were gathered together,--the place where they still love to be collected. Where the Word of a King is, there is Power. Well, then, the Word of a King has ascended to His Triumphal Throne on the Cross: the LORD is reigning from the Tree: the Word of the King indeed, JESUS of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. We are wont, and most rightly, to see, in that glorious place, the perfection of all love; where, because the LORD could give us no more, therefore He gave us Himself: where He wrote that large letter of love which never can be read through to the end of Eternity. But not the less are we to see in it the perfection of all power; and in those streams which thence are parted, and go out to water the whole Church of GOD, the fountains of all the mighty deeds that ever have been done, or ever will be done, to the consummation of all things. And so the hymn says very well--

"Wherefore, sinner, haste to these Fountains of Salvation;
Strength thou mayest gain therefrom and illumination."

I have told you, I think, before, how holy men have seen in these, the upper springs and the lower springs which every faithful soul must, like Achsah of old, make petition for from the True Caleb. The Wound in our LORD'S dear Side the upper spring, because not inflicted on Him till He had already won the victory; till He was already freed from the Valley of the Shadow of Death; till He had already passed through the vale Baca--a spring belonging rather to the fulness of joy in the next world, and the infinite perfection of strength, of which the Prophet speaks:--And it shall come to pass in that day that he that is feeble in you shall become as David, and the house of David shall be as GOD. But the other Four Wounds are the four rivers of the earthly paradise: rivers without which no good work can prosper, no victory can be gained, no power manifested.

And see how it was on the Cross; how there went out marvellous power in every saying delivered from that glorious pulpit. Then, more than ever,--then in a sense far exceeding anything before, He taught them as one having authority. Father, forgive them! Was there no power in that petition, the first which the Immaculate Lamb made from the Altar, the first which the Acceptable Priest made on the Great Day of Atonement? Pass but a few days, and the three thousand and then the five thousand shall bear witness to the force of that intercession. The people, it is written, shall be willing in the day of Thy power. And what was the day of His power, but the Day of the Cross? Again: Verily, I say unto thee, To-day shall thou be with Me in Paradise. That, too,--was there no power in that word? which in one moment dismissed the Cherubim with the flaming sword which turned every way, and once more opened the passage to the Tree of Life--opened it, not to the wise or the holy, but to one poor thief in the last hour of earthly misery! Truly, one might quote what the multitude had said before, What thing is this? What authority is this? for with power He commandeth the spirits, and they obey Him. Yes, and we may say too, that the expression of human weakness, I thirst, was not less the expression of Omnipotence." Henceforth, O poor sufferer, I consecrate bodily infirmity to My work. Disease, weakness, hunger, thirst, I have made them Mine: My true servants, My messengers who shall do My bidding. I, the GOD of omnipotence, have hitherto been adored in My strength; now henceforth, I will also be worshipped in My weakness, yes, and for it."

And yet once more: what was the mightiest word that ever was spoken, since GOD first said, Let there be light, and there was light? Is it not that which was uttered from the height of the Cross, It is finished? and by the utterance of which He brake the gates of brass, and smote the bars of iron in sunder? The gates that Satan had reared up from the beginning of the world, the bars which that Old Serpent had forged when he deceived Eve at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

So, my Sisters, you have seen where strength is to be found when you need it; and you know how more especially they, who are best read in the Book of Calvary, have explained the four streams of Eden of the lower springs which gushed from the LORD'S Body; how, for example, in Pison, the river which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, that is, misery, where there is gold, and the gold of the land is good, they saw the glorious Wound of the Right Hand; by which we are to pray to be strengthened in all deeds of self-denial, in all actions carried on aggressively for God's sake, that by our own misery and suffering, we may gain for Him the gold of good works done for love. That is the river which our Sister, who is going out to-morrow, has need of to follow her continually: praying that she may not care though the name of the land is Havilah, so the gold of that land be good; so that Bdellium, the sweet incense of praise--and the onyx stone, which signifies perseverance, may there be found. But we have another Sister, called not to action, but to suffering. Is there none of these Wounds, is there none of these springs, that would meet her case? Most surely. Our great King does not confine his power to one class or set of circumstances. The second river is Gihon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia; that parched land, which has no refreshing dew, which is always burnt up by a fierce sun and an iron sky. True type, then, of pain and bodily suffering. And so answering to the Wound of our LORD'S Left Hand, the left side being always accounted that of affliction and trouble. And so I might go on; but enough already to show how on the Cross, where the Word of a King was, there was power. [Hiddekel, i.e., the swift river, may be taken as applying to the Wound of our LORD'S Right Foot, and reminds us how Thy Word runneth very swiftly, rejoicing as a giant to run His course. So the Right Foot will figure our LORD'S Divinity, and the Left His Humanity. So the mighty Angel set his right foot on the sea, the abyss of Godhead, and his left on the earth, the lowliness of manhood. For Euphrates signifies "fruitful," and He, the Sower, came to plant good seed in a guilty world, and to water it with His own blood, even in the land of Egypt, where Thou sowedst Thy seed and wateredst it with Thy foot.]

And where else is the Word of a King? Where, but in the Blessed Sacrament which is now before your eyes? There is power indeed. In that pure white circle are contained the germs of all graces which the greatest Saint ever manifested;--are contained all the collective good works of All Saints. In that circle, so formed as to symbolise the sum paid down for the price of our Redemption, all the power of the King is hidden,--all the strength that He displayed on the Cross,--all the might by which He overcame the sharpness of death, and opened the kingdom of Heaven to all believers. Dearest Sisters, did you ever think of this? that probably, in one year, you receive that Blessed Sacrament oftener than many Christians, many earnest Christians too, in the whole course of their lives? And if so--not only, what ought you to be? but--what must you expect, if you fail to stir up this grace of GOD? I confess it terrifies me sometimes lest any of you should come unprepared to this feast, and very habit should tend to make you careless. Oh, how earnestly I pray--it is no mere figure of words!--oh, how earnestly I pray, that this may never be so!

And then, if it is not so,--if you are receiving the strength of the Sacrament with the Sacrament itself, why then, feel, why then, show, that nothing is impossible, nothing really difficult, to you! Either what I am telling you is true beyond truth, or the foulest of falsehoods. You know, in your heart of hearts, how true it is. And so, what follows? but Try! Try with yourselves, if the difficulty lies in yourselves; try with the world, if the task be in the world; but, anyhow, so try so pray, that, as here it is true--Where the Word of a King is, there is Power, so in the next that dear prophecy may be fulfilled--The LORD their GOD is with them, and the shout of a King is among them.

And now, etc.

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