Category Archives: HISTORY & WRITINGS

 KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF

Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

A life was lost in Israel because a pair of human hands were laid unbidden upon the ark of God. They were placed upon it with the best intentions, to steady it when trembling and shaking as the oxen drew it along the rough way; but they touched God’s work presumptuously, and they fell paralyzed and lifeless. Much of the life of faith consists in letting things alone.

If we wholly trust an interest in God, we must keep our hands off it; and He will guard it for us better than we can help Him. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”

Things may seem to be going all wrong, but He knows as well as we; and He will arise in the right moment if we are really trusting Him so fully as to let Him work in His own way and time. There is nothing so masterly as inactivity in some things, and there is nothing so hurtful as restless working, for God has undertaken to work His sovereign will.

“Being perplexed, I say, ‘Lord, make it right! The night is as day to Thee, Darkness as light. I am afraid to touch Things that involve so much; My trembling hand may shake, My skilless hand may break; Thine can make no mistake.’

“Being in doubt I say, ‘Lord, make it plain; Which is the true, safe way? Which would be gain? I am not wise to know, Nor sure of foot to go; What is so clear to Thee, Lord, make it clear to me!'”

It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God’s hands and leave them there. You cannot help God in any way. Your intentions may be good but God does not need your help. Stay in your lane and watch Him work and bring His plan to fulfillment.

HOLD FAST

“But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.” (Revelation 2:25).

The other day we asked a Jewish friend how it was that his countrymen were so successful in acquiring wealth. “Ah,” said he, “we do not make more money than other people, but we keep more.”  The save for rainy days and when they cannot work they have secured an investment. Beloved, let us look out this day for spiritual pickpockets and spiritual leakage. Let us “lose nothing of what we have wrought, but receive a full reward”; and, as each day comes and goes, let us put away in the savings bank of eternity its treasures of grace and victory, and so be conscious from day to day that something real and everlasting is being added to our eternal fortune.

It may be but a little, but if we only economize all that God gives us, and pass it on to His keeping, when the close shall come we shall be amazed to see how much the accumulated treasures of a well-spent life have laid up on high, and how much more He has added to them by His glorious investment of the life committed to His keeping.

Oh, how the days are telling! Oh, how precious these golden hours will seem sometime! God help us to make the most of them now. It is time to lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth. So many have invested on this earth in earthly things. The cares of the world and when death comes they wonder why so many heartaches. I urge you to make wise choices before it is to late.

DAILY DEFILEMENTS

Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they are many that fight against me, O thou most High.” Psalm 56:2

There are some enemies which only come to us at interludes. But you will note that it was different with the psalmist. It was rarely and briefly that his enemies fell upon him to destroy him. What inspired his bitter cry was that every day he lived he was in peril: “Mine enemies would daily swallow me up.” He never woke with a heart that was at peace saying, “Thank God all is well today.” At any moment he might hear the ringing of the battle cry. And it was that which almost broke his heart and drove him into a wild despair to God and robbed him of all power to be happy.

Now, who the Psalmist’s chief enemy was we don’t know, but if we don’t know his, at least we know our own. The deadliest enemy we have to fight is the sin. That is the power bent on our destruction which we must conquer somehow or be crushed. There are certain sins, like certain enemies, that give us times of rest between their onsets. There are certain temptations which, being foiled today, may not return until a year has passed. But there are others, like the Psalmist’s foes, whose peculiar characteristic is just this, that every morning when we wake up, we dread them, and every day we live we have to battle with them.

I suppose there is no one reading this who cannot remember a day when he fell terribly. Have we not all had hours when we defied the right and broke down every barrier of conscience? My brother and sister, in whose heart such hours are living in all their bitterness, remember that there are other sins than these. When a soldier is out on a campaign, there may come a day when he is wounded. The bullet has found him and his rifle drops and he cries for water as they lift him, but remember that every day that he marches, and many a day there is no thought of wounds, there is the gathering of dust upon his arms. Let that dust gather, and in a little while, you would scarcely recognize him as a soldier. Let that dust gather, and in a week or two, his very rifle will be a useless instrument.

And so with us too as we take up the spiritual warfare; there may come a day when we are badly wounded, but always and every day there is the defilement of the march. There are the dust and soil of the everyday road. There are temptations that reach us not like a storm, but like the gentle falling of the rain.

Although seemingly minor and insignificant, these sins of everyday rob us of our present joy and peace. It is these which write lines upon the brow and bring the look of uneasiness into the eye. You may destroy the lute by breaking it in two, and there are homes and hearts ruined like that. But a little crack within the lute makes all the music mute, and so is it with our little sins.

Blocked Channels

I read this article I will share with you. Some fifty or more years ago the United Kingdom there was a new weed. It was a pond weed living in the water, and so it found its way to the canals, and it was a little and inconspicuous thing to which nobody except the botanists gave heed. Would you believe it, that in thirty years the canals were being choked by it? It blocked the channel, delayed the passing ships, threatened the very existence of the waterway. And it was far more difficult than ice to deal with for ice can be broken with sufficient pressure, but all the pressure in the world was powerless against this living and compliant tangle.

Brothers and sisters, you may be sure of this, that true peace demands an open channel, an unobstructed way to God if one is to walk with music in his heart. And I say that no tragic fall so blocks the channel between earth and heaven as do these daily little and unnoticed sins that grow and gather in the passing days.

It does not take a wound in the eye to make the eye a source of misery. Lodge only a grain of sand within its orb, and all the pleasure of vision vanishes. And so for multitudes who are not reprobate, who have been saved by Christ, there is no joy, no peace, no song, because of the intrusion of the little sins.

I know a meadow not five miles away from where thirty years ago the trees were beautiful, and men would travel to see them in the summer for there were few elms like them by the Clyde. And now half of these elms are dead, and for the others, summer is a mockery. And it wasn’t a storm that did it: it was the daily pollution of our Babylon. They are still rooted in the finest soil, and you too may be rooted in Christ Jesus. No one would question that your deepest life is hidden with Christ in God. But even so rooted, you may miss the joy of your salvation, and miss it because every day you live you are subtly and insensibly defiled.

Little Sins Foster Despair

Such daily defilements have a peculiar power of fostering despair. They are like sickness in that point of view, and you know that sickness is a type of sin. Let a man be stricken with some sudden illness, and my experience is that he does not despair. Doctors will confirm this. It is not then that he loses hope or meditates to death. He summons all the strength that God has given him that he may battle the disease. Or if he is too weak for that, for disease in a day may make us weak as water, then he lies there, not in dull despair, but in a strange and acquiescent peace.

I shall tell you when it is that even the bravest is brought near the margin of despair. It is when every day and all day there is the gnawing away of some hidden malady. It is when a man goes to work and mingles with his fellows in the street, and all the time, like a dull undertone is conscious that there is something wrong. It is that which leads so often to despair. It is that which makes the thought of death familiar. It is that which is the secret, never guessed at, of many a startling and unexpected suicide. And I feel that in the realm of sin which is so strangely linked with that of sickness, there is something analogous to that. Did you ever know of anyone despairing after a terrible and tragic fall? I never read of any in the Scripture. I never saw any in my ministry. But ah, how many I have seen who come to despair of ever attaining the highest–they were so crushed, so humbled and disheartened by the defilement of their daily sins. It is our little sins and not our great sins which have such a terrible power to make us hopeless. For our great sins cast us upon Jesus, and there is always hope when we are there. But our little sins leave us with ourselves and seem to mock us when we seek the highest, and tempt us to think that what we hoped for once must always be impossible for us.

How to Deal With Daily Defilement

One thing at least is clear, and that is that we must never contemplate escape by flight. If God has given us our work to do, then we must continue with it in spite of all the soiling. There can be no escape from daily sin by flying from the path of daily duty. It is such dreams that build monasteries, and many a monastery becomes like Sodom. You remember how Peter, on the mount of glory, wanted to build tabernacles there. He wanted to live forever in that solitude where all the voices of the world were hushed. And then the Saviour led him down again, right into the jostling of the crowd, and Peter learned that life was not given for a hermitage.

What would you think of a man who left his home here and the business he made his living by all because amid our grimy streets his face and hands grew dirty every day? Yet he who seeks to fly from his daily task because of the temptations which it carries and the defilement it inevitably brings is just as cowardly and absurd. Either you must conquer where you are, or you will not conquer anywhere. Flee from the devil, and he will resist you. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Do you recall that hour when Christ washed His disciples’ feet? Do you recall the word He said to Peter, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit”? My brother and sister, in that great word of Christ’s there, lies the Master’s answer to our question. There is His treatment of the daily stain. He that is washed–and Peter had been washed. He had been bathed in the spirit of his Lord. Once and for all, coming to Jesus Christ, his guilt had been washed away forever. And now says Jesus, “Let me wash thy feet; let me cleanse off the soil of the daily walk”; and what He said to Simon Peter then, He says to you and me. I do believe that when a man is saved, he is saved not for a time but for eternity. I do believe that when we look to Christ, in that very moment all our sin is pardoned. But every day we need another cleansing for we have been traveling by dusty roads, and Christ is always stooping and ready to bestow His forgiveness. Do not rest at night till thou hast had it, my sister and brother. Summon the hours of the day before thee. Put forth thy feet and let Him wash them, for they are very dusty with the journey. So when thou awakest, thou shalt again be clean and ready for everything the day may bring, glad about the confidence of him who sang, “When I awake I am still with Thee.”

GOD HAS CHOSEN ME

Sir Godfrey Gregg D. Div

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10).

Does not the Word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yes, is it not an asbestos armor, against which the heat has no power? Let the affliction come–God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayest stride in at my door; but God is in the house already, and He has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayest intrude; but I have a balsam ready–God has chosen me. Whatever befall me in this vale of tears, I know that He has chosen me.

Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, His presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom He has chosen for His own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is His sure word of promise to His chosen ones in “the furnace of affliction.” I have been cast aside, lied on, scandal and hurt by some of the very people that sat and sup with me. Those I have helped has seen it fit to be the most horrible towards me. But I have good news for you. Though you slay me, yet will I trust Him and today I am not broken but I am made stronger. My message is not to bring you back to the table of repentance, but in all your ways acknowledge God and let Him direct your path.

Pain’s furnace heat within me quivers, God’s breath upon the flame doth blow; And all my heart in anguish shivers And trembles at the fiery glow; And yet I whisper, “As God will!” And in the hottest fire hold still.

He comes and lays my heart, all heated, On the hard anvil, minded so Into His own fair shape to beat it With His great hammer, blow on blow; And yet I whisper, “As God will!” And at His heaviest blows hold still.

He takes my softened heart and beats it; The sparks fly off at every blow; He turns it o’er and o’er and heats it, And lets it cool, and makes it glow; And yet I whisper, “As God will!” And in His mighty hand hold still.

Why should I murmur? for the sorrow Thus only longer-lived would be; The end may come, and will tomorrow When God has done His work in me; So I say trusting, “As God will!” And, trusting to the end, hold still.

The burden of suffering seems a tombstone hung about our necks, while in reality, it is only the weight which is necessary to keep down the diver while he is hunting for pearls. The road may look well to walk but there is a Hill of Difficulty we have to climb. O, for a thousand tongues to sing our great Redeemer praise. We are ready to cross over and I say come with me.

TRUE HABITS

Sir Godfrey Gregg

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:” (Colossians 2:6).

It is much easier to keep the fire burning than to rekindle it after it has gone out. Let us abide in Him. Let us not have to remove the cinders and ashes from our hearthstones every day and kindle a new flame, but let us keep it burning and never let it expire. Among the ancient Greeks the sacred fire was never allowed to go out; so, in a higher sense, let us keep the heavenly flame aglow upon the altar of the heart.

It takes very much less effort to maintain a good habit than to form it. A true spiritual habit once formed becomes a spontaneous tendency of our being, and we grow into delightful freedom in following it. “Let us not be ever laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, but let us go on unto perfection, and whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same things.”

Every spiritual habit begins with difficulty and effort and watchfulness, but if we will only let it get thoroughly established, it will become a channel along which currents of life will flow with divine spontaneousness and freedom.

My brothers and sisters, we are called to a place of worship and establishment. However, there are certain preparations to be made and secure a solid foundation. It, therefore, behooves us to find the foundation which has been laid and continue to build there. Jesus told Peter He will build the church on a certain rock. That could only be the revelation of His word. So, let us continue to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life. Blessings all.

THE TRIUMPH OF TRUST

Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.” Psalm 55:23

The value of a word and the power that it has over our hearts depends largely upon the man who speaks it and on the circumstances of its utterance. When Paul said to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice,” how inexpressibly these words are deepened by the circumstances of the Apostle–no longer young nor free, but a prisoner in a Roman cell with his life-work seemingly shattered at his feet. Living words have the quality of life. They are born and bear the fashion of their birth. They may be robbed of meaning or may be filled with meaning, by the hour in which the spirit utters them. So it seems to me the only way to enter into the grandeur of our text is to learn the circumstances of the Psalm. What kind of man was this who said so confidently: “But I will trust in thee?” What were his circumstances? Was he happy? Was everything going very well with him? A study of the psalm will show us that.

The Psalmist Was a Man Unanswered

First, note that he was a man unanswered. He knew the bitterness of heaven’s silence. His opening cry in our deep psalm is this: “Hide not thyself from my supplication” (Psalm 55:1).

It is an easy thing to trust in God when swiftly and certainly our prayers are answered. There are some who read this column whose life is a compact of answered prayer. But when we pray and the face of God is hidden, and we are restless because heaven is silent–it is often difficult to trust Him then. Especially is that true of intercession when we have been praying for someone who is dear, that God would spare a life or kill a habit or bring the beloved prodigal home again. To continue trusting when we have prayed like that and the prayers have seemed to go whistling down the wind, is one of the hardest tasks in human life. The splendid thing is that the psalmist did it. He refused to regard silence as indifference. He knew that a thousand days are as one day to God and that sometimes love delays the chariot wheels. Heaven might be silent and the face of God averted and all the comfort of fellowship withdrawn, but “I will trust in thee.”

The Psalmist Was Afraid

Observe next, he was a man afraid. “The terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me” (Psalm 55:4-5). Now if the writer of this psalm was David, he was one of the bravest souls who ever lived. As a shepherd lad, as an outlaw, as a king, he had given most conspicuous proofs of gallantry. Yet that gallant and courageous heart cries out: “The terrors of death are fallen upon me; fearfulness and trembling come upon me.”

Such hours come to the businessman when he has grappled with some big concern; to the lawyer on the eve of a very important case; to the mother, brooding in the quiet night on the responsibilities of her home and children; or to the pastor, praying for his flock. Suddenly our courage fails for reasons that are often quite inexplicable. Things are not different, duties are not different, but in a strange and mysterious fashion, we are different. And men who faced the lion and the bear and were quick to answer the challenge of Goliath experience the fearfulness of David. All of us have fainting fits, even the strongest and the bravest; hours when the strong men bow themselves and when the keepers of the house to tremble. David had them in their full intensity, and the good thing is that when they fell on him, he lifted up his heart and cried, “But I will trust in thee.”

The Psalmist Was Imprisoned

Observe next, he was a man imprisoned. “O that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6). Now, this does not mean that he was in a dungeon. It is evident from the psalm that he was not. It means that he was weary of his lot; he was dead-sick of it; he loathed it. The meanness of things to that great heart had grown intolerable. He would have given worlds to fly away, but that was the one thing he could not do. In the providential ordering of heaven, he was bound, as it were, by fetters to his place. And I believe there are few people anywhere, whatever their lot or calling, who have not known the longing to escape. To escape from the bondage of ourselves–what a craving we often feel for that! To get away–just to get right away–from the routine which meets us every morning, how overpowering at times is that desire! It was then that David rose to a better way. The wings of a dove would never give him rest. The thing he needed was to find his rest under the overshadowing wing of God–right there, just where he was, amid the burdens and the cares of kingship, “I will trust in thee.”

The Psalmist Was Deceived

Observe lastly, he was a man deceived. Somebody he trusted had proven false, and it had almost broken David’s heart (Psalm 55:12-14). A man his equal, his guide and his acquaintance to whom he used to turn for loving counsel; a man with whom, on quiet Sabbath mornings, he used to walk into the house of God; a man whose friendship he had never doubted and on whose loyalty he would have staked his life had played the part of Iscariot to the Psalmist. What a devastating revelation! What a tragic and desolating hour! How many people have lost their faith in God when they have lost it in a man or woman? Yet David, amid the ruins of that friendship, deserted by one he clung to as a brother, says, “But I will trust in thee.”

SINCERITY

Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” Psalm 51:6

There is a remarkable foreshadowing of the insight of Christ Jesus in these words. They ring with that depth which is so clear a note of Jesus’ moral teaching. We have been inclined to think of the Old Testament as dealing with the outward sphere of action; we have been inclined to say that it was Jesus who first ran down the action into the heart. But we must not separate the Old and New by any hard and fast distinctions such as these. They intermingle, both in creed and character. If Abraham saw Christ’s day and was glad, David saw Christ’s day and was sad. He recognized God’s passionate insistence that a man should be thoroughly sincere.

It is worth noting, too, that when David recognized this, he had a broken heart. David had sinned, and David was repentant, and a repentant man sees deeply. There are some hours in life when we are blind; hours when we see nothing and forget everything; and all our past, and all our honour and duty and God, and heaven and hell, fade and are blotted out. But when repentance comes, we see again. We see what we have done and what we are. We touch a sinfulness far deeper than our actions. And that was David’s case. On ordinary days he might have been content with ordinary sacrifices; but in an hour like this it was “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,” and “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts.”

This, then, is God’s insistence on sincerity, and it is always a hard thing to be sincere. Life is so full of little insincerity’s that it is often the man who is seriously struggling to be true who feels most keenly how untrue he is. It is always a hard thing to be sincere. But there are times when it is harder than at other times. And it is especially hard today.

The Struggle for Existence

One reason it is so hard to be sincere is the fierce struggle for existence. There is a fierceness in a modern competition that makes it very hard for a man to be a man. There are so many interests involved, so many whirling wheels within the wheels, that to be true to self is difficult. Men are not free as the shepherd on the hills is free. Men are combined and interlocked in the great mechanism of modern life until at last, to say what a man thinks and to be what a man is, is one of the quiet heroism of honesty. Thank God, there are such heroisms!–as worthy of honour as any deed upon the battlefield. But when to be sincere spells heroism, we must not wonder if insincerity is common. Few men are heroes. For one soul that has a passion for sincerity, there are a hundred that have an overriding passion for success. And this, and the great gulf between Monday’s warfare and Sunday’s worship, and the compliance’s and the accommodations and the silences have tinged our city life with insincerity.

The Pressure of Public Opinion

I think, too, it is harder to be sincere because of the increasing pressure of public opinion. It seems there never was a time when the thought of so many was so quickly voiced and registered. For centuries the people had no voice. They lived and loved and had their griefs and died. But what their thought might be on the great themes mattered no more to their rulers than the thought of brutes. Then came the awakening of knowledge, the dawn of power, the rising of the people like a giant, the vote, the newspaper; until today the thought of the people have been caught and voiced, and public opinion is a dominant power. It is an untold blessing. But the voice of the people is not always the voice of God, and in the tremendous pressure of general opinion, it is harder for a man to be himself. It is a difficult thing to be an individual. I am so apt to be all warped and pressed out of the mental form that God has given me until my life becomes play acting and all the world a stage, and I don’t have the courage to think, and I don’t have the heart to feel, and I don’t have the heroism to be myself. And losing my individuality, I cease to be sincere.

A Time of Transition

But perhaps the deepest cause of insincerity is that we are living in a time of transition. All times to some extent are that. There is never an age, however dull and dead, but the old like a river is watering its plains, and the new like a spring leaps up into the light. But there are some times when the transition is very sharp and clear, and we are living in such a time as that today. Old things are passing away. Old faiths are in the crucible again. Old truths have got to be recast and readjusted. There is not a doctrine, whether of heart or Bible, but earnest minds are trying to reset it in the growing knowledge of these latter days. In one pew a father and a son are sitting; and though the father may never dream of it, there is the space of centuries between the two. For the father, with all the loyalty of his heart, still clings to the great message of the past; and to the son, the strain is to reconcile that message of his childhood with the wider horizon that he cannot yield.

That is the pain of a transition time. There can be little question that for many the only antidote for that pain is insincerity. It is impossible, it is utterly wrong, to cast away the past. It has meant too much to us and been too much to us for that. It is impossible, it is utterly wrong, to flout the new. It is the air we breathe. So springs the temptation to be insincere, to join in the worship that was formed and fashioned when faith was an enthusiasm, to sing the hymns that were the music of unclouded souls through the enthusiasm of our faith is gone and there are more clouds than sunshine in the sky.

Insincerity Robs a Man of His Dignity

Insincerity takes all dignity out of life and makes this world a very low place. We think we can be insincere, and men will be tricked and never find it out. O brethren, God Almighty has His own awful ways of writing a man’s insincerity upon the heavens and engraving it as with a pen of iron on the world. All reverence is impossible, all purity is stained, and all innocence rebukes me when I am insincere. If I am false and double, I cannot hear the laughter of my children but what it sends a pang of pain into my heart. Better be excitable, better be inconsistent, better be dead than insincere. Peter was excitable, brimful of inconsistencies; yet if ever a sincere heartbeat, it was the heart of Peter–and Jesus was Christ to Peter and heaven was heaven. But Judas, I don’t know what his other sins were, was insincere till he came to feel the very sincerity of Jesus was like an insult; and, insincere, he went to his own place.

Insincerity Distorts the Character

Insincerity carries yet another curse. I hardly think that there is any sin that mars and distorts the character like this one. That master theologian Augustine gave us a phrase that has become historic. He spoke of splendid sins. And perhaps there are some sins that in some lights, though not the light of God, have certain elements of splendor in them. But all the insight and all the love of Augustine could never find an element of splendor in the man or woman who had ceased to be sincere. There is no sin that so eats the manhood out of us as insincerity. There is no sin that so robs the character of its quiet and restfulness and strength, and leaves it restless, shifty, self-assertive, loud. The nation has often wondered at the sweet equanimity of our revered Queen. And it was Bright who said the Queen was the most truthful being he had ever met. It is the insincere man who exaggerates. It is insincere who flatters. It is insincere who plays the coward in the crisis. When I have won something of the sincerity of Christ, I shall know something of His strength and peace.

Insincerity Destroys Our Influence

Surely no sin saps and undermines our influence as insincerity. Perhaps you think you have no influence. You feel yourself a very uninfluential person. Come! the humblest woman reading this, it is not so! Most of us think far too much of our abilities and far too little of our influence. We are so interwoven in the web of life that we are making and molding each other every day. In ways mysterious, out of the depths of this mysterious self, we touch and turn each other. And perhaps the men who influence us most are the men who never tried to influence us at all.

Now the one bolt that falls out of the blue to shatter this unconscious influence of character is insincerity. I may be ignorant, and men may not despise me. I may be poor and still command respect. But ignorant or learned, rich or poor, once let men feel that I am insincere and all my influence for good, all my influence on God, is gone. It’s a sad hour when a son sees through his father. Sad for the father, twice sad for the son. And even if a minister has the eloquence of Paul, if his people distrust him, there will be no changed hearts. It is God’s curse on insincerity. It is the separating, isolating power of that heart-sin. There is no more heart-lonely creature in the world than the man or woman who has grown insincere. And to be heart-lonely forever, that is hell.

The Path to a Renewed Sincerity

First, we must win a deeper reverence for ourselves. We must believe in individual possibilities. We must remember there are no nobodies with God. If I am only a leaf tossed by the wind, if I am only a flake carried on the stream, if I am only a light that flashes and is gone, if it will be all the same a hundred years hence, it matters little whether I am sincere or not. I must not mock myself with any self-importance. But if I am a man called into being by an everlasting God, nurtured and bosomed in an eternal love, gifted with faculties that only eternity can ripen, and filled with a ceaseless craving for the truth, to be untrue to self is self-destruction. Therefore, when I am tempted to be insincere, I fall back first upon Bible doctrine. I see my weakness there. I see my fall. But I see there such hopes for me, such possibilities for me, that to be me–myself–becomes a new ambition. And to be me is to be sincere.

Then we must gain a profound faith in God. There is no choice about it. We simply must. I defy any man to be consciously insincere who lives under these eyes that are a flame of fire. It is because God is distant, hidden in the clouds that are around His throne, that we dare be one man within, another man without. The old religious sculptors, says a writer, who came to their tasks with prayer and meditation on unearthly beauty, would never suffer any imperfect workmanship even though placed where a man could never see it. And when one questioned them why the concealed parts of statues removed from human sight should be so exquisitely made, they answered that the eyes of the gods were there. “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, my way is hidden from the Lord, and my goings are passed over from my God?” It is a speech like Jacob’s that makes insincerity so easy. It is the practice of God’s presence which makes it hard.

And we must gain a closer fellowship with Christ. Of all the help whereby I struggle onwards toward sincerity, there is none like daily fellowship with Him. If it ennobles me to live with noble souls and makes me purer to have a pure woman for my friend, how will it shame me into a new sincerity to live with the sincerest heart that ever beat! There are some men with whom I could not gossip. There are some men in whose presence slander dies. There is one Man whose very company kills insincerity, and that is Christ. When I am near to Him, and He to me, I am proportionately true. When I have lost Him, banished Him, driven Him from His center and His throne, like a strong tide my insincerity creeps up again.

There is a sad lack of sincerity today, but let us not be blinded to the fact that sincerity is not the only virtue. I am not necessarily good, I am not necessarily right, I am not necessarily saved because I am sincere. There is a call for new sincerity in every heart, yet that sincerity is but a stepping-stone. I may sincerely believe the earth is flat, and yet for all my sincerity, the earth is round. I may sincerely consider my friend to be a hero, and yet in spite of that, my friend may be a scamp. I may sincerely be convinced Christ never arose, yet Christ did arise and is at the right hand of God today. Sincerity without humility is the obstinacy out of which fools are made. The truly sincere man is always humble, feels like a child amid God’s infinite mysteries and cries in his heart, “Light, light, more light”; till God in His own way leads him there. And the light is light indeed, and the light indeed is love. And neither height nor depth, nor life nor death, nor any other creature, shall separate him from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

THE MINISTRY OF SILENCE

Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

There are certain voices which we never hear except when everything is silent. They reach us as a revelation of the stillness. Sometimes on a summer afternoon one gets away from the city or the village and climbs up the grassy hillside till all the noise of human life is lost, and it is often then that there breaks upon the ear a certain indistinguishable murmur as of the moving of innumerable wings.

Travelers tell us that there are rivers flowing beneath the streets of the ancient city of Shechem. During the hours of the day, you cannot hear them for the noise of the narrow streets and the bazaars. But when evening comes and the clamor dies away and the dew falls on the city, then quite audibly, in the hush of night, you may hear the music of the buried streams.

There are many voices like those hidden waters. You can only hear them when things are still. There are whisperings of conscience in the heart which take only a very little to drown. There are tidings from the eternal Spirit who is not far away from any one of us; tidings that will come and go unnoticed unless we have learned the grace of being still.

The Art of Being Still

And yet the very element of stillness is one which is conspicuously lacking now. We have been taught the art of exercise, and we have lost the art of being still. A recent writer, in a brilliant essay on the music of today, tells us that we are living nowadays under “the dominion of the din.” And whether or not that is true of music, of which I am not qualified to speak, it is certainly true of ordinary life. Our forefathers may have had imperfect ideals of Christian service. They may have tolerated social abuses which we would never tolerate today. But they had one element in their Christian life in more abundant measure than we have it, and that was the blessed element of silence. What peace there was in the old-fashioned Sabbath–what a reverent stillness in the house of God–what a quiet and peaceful solemnity in worship at the family altar! And if today we cannot but be conscious that something of that old spirit has departed, we know that something precious has been lost. It is gain to be immersed in service. It is a high ambition to be energetic. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.” And yet the Bible never says to us, “Be energetic, and know that I am God.” It says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Indeed, we are so in love with noise today that stillness is commonly looked upon as weakness. And it is well to remind ourselves occasionally that often the very opposite is true. When the rain beats against the window pane, we are awakened by its noise. But the snow falls so silently, that never an infant stirs within its cradle. And yet the snow may block up every road quite as effectually as a landslide and dislocate the traffic of a kingdom. Set a thousand digging shovels to work, and you produce a certain effect upon the soil. But when the frost comes with her silent fingers and lightly touches field and meadow with them, in a single night that silent frost will work more effectually than a thousand shovels.

God does not work in this strange world by hustling. God works in the world far more often by a hush. In all the mightiest powers which surround us, there is a certain element of stillness. And if I did not find in Jesus Christ something of that divine inaudibility, I confess I should be tempted to despair. When Epictetus had had his arm broken by the savage cruelty of his master, he turned around without one trace of anger, and said to him quietly, “I told you so.” And when a heathen satirist taunted the Christians, asking what nobler thing their Master did, one of them answered, “He kept silence.” There is a silence that may speak of weakness. There is another silence that is full of power. It is the empty husk that rattles in the breeze. It is the brook and not the river that makes the noise. And it is good that we should remember that when we are tempted to associate quietness with weakness, as perhaps we are all tempted nowadays.

The Stillness of Absorption

There is, of course, a certain kind of silence which is only the outward sign of self-absorption. It does not indicate that a man is hearing anything; it just means that he is withdrawn into himself. I have heard runners say that in long races they have been oblivious to every sound. There may have been a thousand voices cheering them on, and yet they seemed to run in a great silence. Perhaps all of us have had hours such as that–hours of suffering or of intense activity–when we felt ourselves alone in a deep solitude. That is the stillness of absorption. It is not the stillness to which our text refers. It is another quietness that it speaks; the quietness which is the basis of communion. For there are times when we never speak so eloquently, and times when we never hear so finely, as when the tongue is silent and the lips are closed and the spirit is the one interpreter. A love that has no silence has no depth. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” There are people whose love we instinctively distrust because they are always telling us about it. And perhaps it is simply because God is love, in all the glorious fullness of that word, that we have to be still if we would know Him.

Indeed, there is often no surer sign than the silence that the heart has been reached and the depths been broken up. In their greatest hours, men are seldom noisy. I have watched sometimes an audience at a concert–for to me the audience is more interesting than the music–and I have watched the listless attention which they gave to music that reached no farther than the ear. And then perhaps there was some perfect melody, some chord which had the insistence of a message, and it was as if a voice had cried out loud, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

I read this book written by Charles Reade, in one of the best of his novels, tells a story of some Australian miners. He tells how they traveled through a long summer Sunday to hear the singing of a captive thrush. And they were reckless men familiar with riot, but when they heard it, there fell a hush upon them, for it brought back memories of childhood again and of England where they had been boys. In a greater fashion that is true of God. We do not clamber to Him by the steps of logic; we reach Him by the feelings of the heart. And it is just because, when the heart is moved profoundly, there falls upon it a silence and a stillness, that we are bidden in our text to be still and know that He is God.

Probably that is the reason, too, why great silences have a divine suggestion. Great silent spaces speak to us of God. I remember a year or two ago visiting the cathedral in Manhattan. I suppose it is the most magnificent example of Gothic architecture in the world. And I recall vividly, as though it had happened yesterday, how, passing in from the crowded city streets, the thought of the presence of God was overwhelming. I knew He was present in the teeming city. I knew He was present in the crowded street. I knew that where the stir and traffic were, the infinite Spirit was not far away. And yet it is one thing to know, and it is quite another thing to feel, and in the calm and solemn quiet of the cathedral, I felt that God was there. That is what spiritual men have always felt under the silence of the starry sky. That is why they have always thought of God when they lifted up their eyes unto the hills.

Our noisy, talkative life is like the surge breaking on the edge of the shore, and away beyond it is the silent ocean carrying the message of infinity. We lose our sense of God in a big city far more readily than lonely dwellers do. And we lay the blame of that upon a score of things–on the strain of business, on our abundant pleasures. Perhaps there is a deeper reason than all these; it is the loss of the ministry of silence: of the field and the meadow and the hill; of the solitude’s which are quivering with God. Spare your compassion for the Highland dweller. The man may be far richer than you think. It may be he has kept what we have lost in the keen and eager zest of city life. It may be he has kept, in all his poverty, those intimations of a present God which are given where a great silence is, as of the lonely field or meadow.

Why God Makes Silences

As I close by suggesting that this is the reason why God makes silences in every life; the silence of sleep, the silences of sorrow, and then the last great silence at the end. One of the hardest things in the world, as you all know, is to get little children to keep still. They are in a state of perpetual activity, restless, eager, questioning, alert. And just as a mother says to her child, “Be still,” and hushes it to sleep that it may rest, so God does sooner or later with us all. What a quiet, still place the sickroom is! What a silence there is over a house of mourning! How the voices are hushed, and every footstep soft, when someone is lying within the coffin. Had we the choosing of our own affairs we should never have chosen such an hour as that; and yet how often it is rich in blessing. All the activities of eager years may not have taught us quite so much as that. There are things which we never learn when we are active. There are things which we only learn when we are passive. And so God comes, in His resistless way, which never ceases to be a way of love, and says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” If that is so with the passive hours of life, may it not be so with the passive hour of death? What is death but the Almighty Father saying to our talking lips, “Be still”? And I for one believe that in that stillness we shall awaken to know that He is God, in such a love and power as will be heaven.

MY FATHER’S GIVING

  Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

This morning I want to talk a little about giving towards ministry. While I do not ask for any assistance to keep this website going to and fro in the world, you have an obligation to get the message to the people that need it most. So I am talking a little about giving and pray that this message will fall into good soil and we will reap the rewards in the end.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10).

What is God saying here but this: “My child, I still have windows in Heaven. They are yet in service. The bolts slide as easily as of old. The hinges have not grown rusty. I would rather fling them open, and pour forth, than keep them shut, and hold back. I opened them for Moses, and the sea parted. I opened them for Joshua, and Jordan rolled back. I opened them for Gideon, and hosts fled. I will open them for you–if you will only let Me. On this side of the windows, Heaven is the same rich storehouse as of old. The fountains and streams still overflow. The treasure rooms are still bursting with gifts. The lack is not on my side. It is on yours. I am waiting. Prove Me now. Fulfill the conditions, on your part. Bring in the tithes. Give Me a chance.

I can never forget my mother’s very brief paraphrase of Malachi 3:10. The verse begins, “Bring ye the whole tithe in,” and it ends up with “I will pour” the blessing out till you’ll be embarrassed for space. Her paraphrase was this: Give all He asks; take all He promises.”

The ability of God is beyond our prayers, beyond our largest prayers! I have been thinking of some of the petitions that have entered into my supplication innumerable times. What have I asked for? I have asked for a cupful, and the ocean remains! I have asked for a sunbeam, and the sun abides! My best asking falls immeasurably short of my Father’s giving: it is beyond that we can ask.

“All the rivers of Thy grace I claim, Over every promise write my name” (Ephesians 1:8-19).

Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that, ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

SCHOOL OF SUFFERING

Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11).

This was a greater thing to say and do than to calm the seas or raise the dead. Prophets and apostles could work wondrous miracles, but they could not always do and suffer the will of God. To do and suffer God’s will is still the highest form of faith, the most sublime Christian achievement. To have the bright aspirations of a young life forever blasted; to bear a daily burden never congenial and to see no relief; to be pinched by poverty when you only desire a competency for the good and comfort of loved ones; to be fettered by some incurable physical disability; to be stripped bare of loved ones until you stand alone to meet the shocks of life–to be able to say in such a school of discipline, “The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?’–this is faith at its highest and spiritual success at the crowning point. Great faith is exhibited not so much inability to do as to suffer.

To have a sympathizing God we must have a suffering Saviour, and there is no true fellow-feeling with another save in the heart of him who has been afflicted like him.

We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper must first be a sufferer. He who would be a Saviour must somewhere and somehow have been upon a cross, and we cannot have the highest happiness of life in succoring others without tasting the cup which Jesus drank, and submitting to the baptism wherewith He was baptized.

The most comforting of David’s psalms were pressed out by suffering, and if Paul had not had his thorn in the flesh we had missed much of that tenderness which quivers in so many of his letters.

The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ), is the best-shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him, then. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.”

“Strange and difficult indeed We may find it, But the blessing that we need Is behind it.”

The school of suffering graduates rare scholars. Are you one of such?