« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
that they do not do more—that they do not do more than they have a right to do. They yield outwardly; to assent inwardly would be to betray the faith ; yet they are called deceitful and double-dealing, because they do as much as they can, and not more than they may.
4. Again : the cheerfulness, contentment, and readi. ness with which religious men resign their cause into God's hands, and are well-pleased that the world should seem to triumph over them, have still further an appearance of craft and deceit. For why should they be so satisfied to give up their wishes, unless they knew something which others did not know, or were really gaining while they seemed to lose? Other men make a great clamour and lamentation over their idols; there is no mistaking that they have lost them, and that they have no hope. But Christians resign themselves. They are silent; silence itself is suspicious--even silence is mystery. Why do they not speak out? why do they not show a natural, an honest indignation ? The submitting to calumny is a proof that it is too true. They would set themselves right, if they could. Still more strange and suspicious is the confidence which religious men show, in spite of apparent weakness, that their cause will triumph. The boldness, decisiveness, calmness of speech, which are necessarily the result of Christian faith and hope, lead the world to the surmise of some hidden reliance, some secret support, to account for them; as if God's word, when received and dwelt on, were not a greater encouragement to the lonely combatant than any word of man, however powerful, or any conspiracy, however far-spreading.
5. And still stronger is this delusion on the part of the world, when the event justifies the confidence of religious men.
The truest wisdom is to stand still and trust in God, and to the world it is also the strongest evidence of craft. God fights for those who do not fight for themselves; such is the great truth, such is the gracious rule, which is declared and exemplified in the Gospel : “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves,” says St. Paul, “but rather give place unto wrath, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." Do nothing, and you have done every thing. The less you do, the more God will do for
you. The more you submit to the violence of the world, the more powerfully will He rise against the world, who is irresistible. The less you ward off the world's blows from you, the more heavy will be His blows upon the world, if not in your cause, at least in His own.
When, then, the world at length becomes sensible that it is faring ill, and receiving more harm than it inflicts, yet is unwilling to humble itself under the mighty hand of God, what is left but to attribute its failure to the power of those who seem to be weak ? that is, to their craft, who pretend to be weak when really they are strong
6. To this must be added, that the truth has in itself the gift of spreading, without instruments; it makes its way
in the world, under God's blessing, by its own persuasiveness and excellence; “So is the kingdom of God," says our Lord,“ as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep, and rise night and day,
1 Rom. xii. 19.
and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how !.” The Word, when once uttered, runs its course. He who speaks it has done his work in uttering it, and cannot recall it if he would. It runs its course; it prospers in the thing whereunto God sends it. It seizes many souls at once, and subdues them to the obedience of faith. Now when bystanders see these effects and see no cause, for they will not believe that the Word itself is the cause, which is to them a dead-letter-when it sees many minds moved in one way in many places, it imputes to secret management that uniformity which is nothing but the echo of the One Living and True Word.
7. And of course all this happens to the surprise of Christians as well as of the world; they can but marvel and praise God, but cannot account for it more than the world. “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Sion,” says the Psalmist," then were we like unto them that dream ?." Or as the Prophet says of the Church,“ Thine heart shall fear and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee," and here again the Christian's true wisdom looks like craft. It is true wisdom to leave the event to God; but when they are prospered, it looks like deceit to show surprise, and to disclaim the work themselves. Moreover, meekness, gentleness, patience, and love, have in themselves a strong power to melt the heart of those who witness them. Cheerful suffering, too, leads spectators to sympathy, till, perhaps, a reaction takes place in the minds 1 Mark iv. 26, 27.
g Ps. cxxvi. 1.
8 Isa. Lx. 5.
of men, and they are converted by the sight, and glorify their Father which is in heaven. But it is easy to insinuate, when men are malevolent, that those who triumph through meekness have affected the meekness to secure the triumph.
8. Here a very large subject opens upon us, to which I shall but allude. Those who surrender themselves to Christ in implicit faith are graciously taken into His service; and," as men under authority,” they do great things without knowing it, by the Wisdom of their Divine Master. They act on conscience, perhaps in despondency, and without foresight; but what is obedience in them, has a purpose with God, and they are successful, when they do but mean to be dutiful. But what duplicity does the world think it, to speak of conscience, or honour, or propriety, or delicacy, or to give other tokens of personal motives, when the event seems to show that a calculation of results has been the actuating principle at bottom! It is God who designs, but His servants seem designing; and that the more, should it so happen that they really do themselves catch glimpses of their own position in His providential course. For then what they do from the heart, approves itself to their reason, and they are able to recognize the expedience of obedience.
How frequently is this remark in point in the history, nay, in the very constitution of the Church! Jacob, for instance, is thought worldly-wise in his dealings with Laban, whereas he was a "plain man," simply obedient to the Angel who "spake unto him in a dream,” who took care of his worldly interests for him, and proteoted
him against his avaricious kinsman. Moses, again, is sometimes called sagacious and shrewd in his measures or his laws, as if wise acts might not come from the Source of wisdom, and provisions were proved to be human, when they could be shown to be advisable. And so, again, in the Christian Church, bishops have been called hypocritical in submitting and yet opposing themselves to the civil power, in a matter of plain duty, if a popular movement was the consequence; and then hypocritical again, if they did their best to repress it. And in like manner, theological doctrines or ecclesiastical usages are styled politic if they are but salutary; as if the Lord of the Church, who has willed her sovereignty, might not effect it by secondary causes. What, for instance, though we grant that sacramental confession and the celibacy of the clergy do tend to consolidate the body politic in the relation of rulers and subjects, or, in other words, to aggrandize the priesthood ? for how can the Church be one body without such relation, and why should not He, who has decreed that there should be unity, take measures to secure it? Marks of design are not elsewhere assumed as disproofs of His interference. Why should not the Creator, who has given us the feeling of hunger that we may eat and not die, and sentiments of compassion and benevolence for the welfare of our brethren, when He would form a more integral power than mankind had yet seen, adopt adequate means, and use His old world to create a new one? and why must His human instruments set out with a purpose, because they accomplish one ? Nothing is safe in Revelation on such an interpretation. As the expe.