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« Reply #180 on: March 25, 2006, 05:43:34 AM »

Great Faith - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


The Disciples Were against Her

Once more, the disciples were against her— "Send her away, for she crieth after us." They had come northward for a little rest, and they were irritated at being so disturbed. Perhaps what they meant was this: "Give her the boon she craves, and let her go. The crowd will be sure to gather at her cries—for the sake of peace grant her, her request." But the very fact that they could speak so, shows that they viewed her in an unkindly light, and, from the moment that they saw her, had cast upon her uninviting looks. So had they acted with the mothers of Salem when they brought their little ones to Jesus. How much more natural such conduct now, when the mother was a Syrophoenician and a heathen. Yet all the angry looks of the disciples, and their biddings that she should hold her peace, and their drawing together to keep her off from Jesus, and the fact that they were men and she a woman—all this was powerless to dishearten her or to quench the shining of her faith.

Christ Seemed to Be against Her

But there was one other obstacle she had to conquer, for Christ Himself seemed to be against her. When she pleaded with Him in all her mother's passion, He answered her never a word. These silent lips were terrible enough—they were so unlike all she had heard of Him; but when He spoke it was like the knell of doom, robbing her of the hope that was her life—"I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Do not imagine it was said to try her. It was said in the perfect sincerity of truth. There is an order in the plans of God, and the time of the Gentiles was not yet. But what did the woman do—did she retire? Did she say, "Ah me, my case is hopeless now"? There is something magnificent in what she did—she came and worshipped and cried to Him, "Lord, help me." Again Jesus raised another obstacle. He uttered that dark word about the dogs—not the wild and masterless dogs of Eastern streets, but the "doggies" which even then were household pets. And the alertness, the ready mother-wit, with which this mother parried that rebuff is one of the most delightful things in Scripture. Who could have blamed her if, being called a dog, she had turned in womanly anger and gone home? Instead of that she catches up the words and turns the supposed taunt into an argument. And it was then that Jesus, charmed and captivated by that refusal to admit defeat, crowned her with the encomium of our text. Her birth was against her; her knowledge was against her; the Twelve were against her; Christ seemed to be against her. But her great faith broke every obstacle—and her daughter was made whole that very hour.

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George H. Morrison Devotions

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« Reply #181 on: March 27, 2006, 04:33:14 AM »

March 26

Son of Man - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?— Mat_16:13

The Name by Which Jesus Most Frequently Called Himself

There are two names which our Lord was wont to use when He spoke about His person or His work. The one was the Son of God, and the other was the Son of Man. It was not often that He used the former title, if we may judge by the Synoptic Gospels, and when He used it, it was always in some moment of unusual importance and solemnity. But it is different with the latter, "the Son of Man." This was constantly upon the lips of Christ. It seems to have been His most familiar word when He referred to His person or His work. And so deeply engraven is this upon our hearts, and inwrought into the thought of Christendom, that whenever we hear the expression "Son of Man" we at once revert to the figure of our Saviour. Under this name, then, our Lord described Himself. By this He conveyed His thought about Himself. It was a name He loved with deep affection, and which welled to His lips in the most diverse circumstances. Nor should it be forgotten that in the whole New Testament, where the title "Son of Man" occurs so often, only on two occasions is it used by anyone other than the Lord Himself.

Jesus Never Defined or Explained the Meaning of "Son of Man"

Now it is notable that in all His use of it our Lord never pauses to define the name. He does not explain what it conveyed to Him, nor what He meant it should convey to others. When our Lord gave Simon his new name of Peter, He was careful to interpret its significance. "Thou art Peter," He said, so that all could hear, "and on this rock I shall build my church." But when He laid aside His own name Jesus, and began to speak of Himself as Son of Man, He offered no explanation of the name, and never declared the reason of His choice. Equally noticeable too is this, that no one ever asked Him to define it. It seems to have been accepted without comment, and at least in a measure to have been understood. For men were not slow to interrogate the Saviour, and to ask Him what He meant by this or that, but we never find anyone enquiring of Him what was the meaning of this "Son of Man."

Not a New Name

Now the reason for that absence of all questioning will suggest itself to every reader at once. This was no new name, coined at a moment's need, it was a name that was wreathed with old association. There was not a Jew who heard the Master use it but would find it encircled with familiar thoughts. It was a name they had been accustomed to since childhood in their reading or hearing of the ancient Scriptures. And it came to them, not as a word of novelty, nor with the arresting touch of the unknown, but as a word that was a heritage of Israel from the far-off day of prophet and of psalmist. In other words, this was a borrowed name, and it was borrowed from the roll of the Old Testament. It was not a title coined for the occasion; it was fragrant with happy and with holy memories. And what Christ did was to take the hallowed name, and to breathe upon it with the breath of life, so that it glowed into a new significance and expanded into undreamed-of fullness.

Let me just say in passing that that is the real meaning of originality. If only we had just thought upon that matter, I think that we might understand our Saviour better. It is not the nature of originality to say what never has been said before. The genius that is most strikingly original is hopelessly in debt to all the past. Originality consists in this—in taking all that the past has got to offer, and then in so passing it through heart and brain that it leaps forth as if a recreation. We speak of the originality of Shakespeare, yet who is more deeply in debt to his predecessors? We speak, and we can do it with all reverence, of the originality of Jesus. Yet do remember, that that does not mean that Christ owes nothing to the past of Israel. It means that He gathers up that mighty past, and makes it new just because He is new. It should never distress you to find in the Old Testament the rudiments of one of the beatitudes. The past was Christ's, but just because He was Christ the old was all transfigured on His lips. And so with His favourite name "the Son of Man"; it was not new, it was an ancient title; it was drawn out of the storied past of Israel, but Christ has made it different forever.

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« Reply #182 on: March 27, 2006, 04:35:02 AM »

Son of Man - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


Why Did Jesus Choose This Name?

Well, that being so, why did this title so appeal to Christ? Why did He love to use it of Himself? Why was it so often on His lips? There were many other names He might have chosen out of the stores of psalmist and of prophet. In Isaiah you will get twenty titles that describe the office and glory of Messiah. And all these were familiar to our Lord, whose mind and heart were steeped in the old Scripture, yet the one He chooses from them all is "Son of Man." Why, then, did this title so appeal to Him? There is only one way to discover that, it is to go back to the Old Testament page, and find the meaning of the words "Son of Man" there. If we discover that, then we discover the thoughts that moved before the mind of Jesus, when in the quiet of Nazareth He made His choice of the name that was to mark His ministry. I do not imagine for one single moment that He used the word in a dogmatic way. There was nothing hard or cold about His use of it—nothing of fixed and stereotyped significance. It was a plastic and suggestive word for Jesus, now shining in one light, now in another, and we must reverently try to trace these lights to that Word which was a lamp unto His feet.

To Indicate His Humiliation—Psalm Eight

First, then, we shall turn to the 8th Psalm for one of the notable uses of the word: "What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him?" The psalmist has been gazing at the heavens and contemplating their majestic grandeur. He stands perhaps upon his palace roof, amid the silent beauty of the night. The moon has arisen, and over the sleeping city there streams the silver pathway of her radiance. And the heaven above him, undimmed by any cloud, is ablaze with the countless glories of the stars. It is one of those eastern nights of perfect beauty when the stars are like the eyes of heavenly watchers looking down with an infinity of calm upon the weary and troubled hearts of men. Now, had the psalmist been a poet only, he might have rested in that outward beauty. But he was more than a poet; he was a spiritual man ever awake to the touch of the divine. And looking upward into that night of beauty what was borne in upon his soul was this—how could a God whose finger made the heavens be mindful of a creature such as man? "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained; what is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him?" You see, then, the thought in David's mind when he uses that expression "son of man." He is thinking of man in all his native lowliness, of man contrasted with the glowing heavens, of man so frail compared with moon and star, yet crowned with a glory akin to that of angels. Man but a breath contrasted with the stars, yet greater than they in fellowship with God; man but the needy creature of a day, yet lifted up above all heaven's magnificence. "What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him?"

Now, when you turn to the words of Jesus, you find Him using the name in the same way. For Jesus also it carries the significance of man in His lowliness and yet exalted. "Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Or again, where He is foretelling His own passion: "The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men." And yet this lowly and suffering Son of man is to be crowned with glory and honour, for "Hereafter," He cries, "ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power." I think there can be no question that that was one charm of this old name for Christ. It blended together His humiliation with the joy of glory that was set before Him. It spoke of Him as a man of sorrows and as One who shared the frailty of our frame, yet it ever suggested the glory that was His, and the honour that was in store for Him from God.

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« Reply #183 on: March 27, 2006, 04:36:58 AM »

Son of Man - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


A Prophet Identified with Manhood—Ezekiel

Again, when we turn back to the Old Testament, we light upon the title in Ezekiel. God calls Ezekiel the son of man not less than seventy times. "Son of man, stand upon thy feet"; "Son of man, seest thou what they do?" It is thus that God constantly addresses him. You will understand, then, how the title "son of man" came to be charged with a prophetic import. It became familiar to readers of Ezekiel as the name for the prophet of the living God. And so when one called himself the "son of man," amid a people so intimately acquainted with the Scriptures, it would at once suggest to them his claim to stand in the succession of the prophets. But why did God choose this title for Ezekiel? Was it just to indicate his lowliness? Nay, rather, it was God's reminder to His servant that he was one with the people whom he warned. He was not to speak as one who stood apart, untouched by the sorrow and the tears of Israel; he was the son of man, the sympathetic man who was bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. Thus you see that in the mind of Israel there clustered these ideas around the title. Familiar with it from Ezekiel's writings, it spoke to them of one who was a prophet; and yet this prophet was not a man aloof and unable to enter into his people's heart. He was a son of man, the man of sympathy, one who was touched with a feeling of their infirmities.

And again, when we turn to the words of Christ, we find Him using the term in the same way. He uses it to claim prophetic power, and yet to reveal His sympathetic heart. "The Son of Man hath power to forgive sin"; "the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day"—that is the voice of One who was a prophet, charged with a message greater than Ezekiel's. And yet, "the Son of man came eating and drinking"; "the Son of man came to seek and save the lost"—that is the voice of One who was a Brother, and who was filled with intensest sympathy for man. That also is one secret of the charm which this ancient title had for Jesus. It revealed a yet half-concealed prophetic claim, and told that His word was the oracle of God; and yet it suggested that He was rich in sympathy and able to be compassionate to the weakest, and fitted to bear the burdens of humanity, and to be the Brother of the tired and weak. Was He the Son of Man?—then He was Brother-Man, and all might find in Him their Friend and Helper. But was He the Son of Man ? — then, like Ezekiel, He was the Prophet of the living God.

Associated with the Nations—Daniel

Then, lastly, and most notably of all, we find this title in the Book of Daniel. Let me recall to you what it implies in Daniel, and in what connection it was introduced. Daniel had had a vision of four empires that came up like four great beasts out of the sea; and then to these bestial and inhuman kingdoms succeeded another and a nobler kingdom. Within it were all nations and all peoples; it was a dominion that was to last forever. And over it, coming with the clouds, Daniel saw one like to the Son of Man. Now that was a vision of Messiah's kingdom, superseding the bestial kingdoms of the world. And who was the Son of Man who reigned within it? He was the expected Messiah of the Jews. And so, as the Jews looked forward to Messiah, and dreamed of the day when He was to appear, they came to think of Him, and came to speak of Him, under that ancient name of "Son of man." Let other kingdoms be typified by beasts, the kingdom of Christ is typified by manhood. It is the perfect Man who is to reign, in the golden age to which the Jew was looking. And yet this Man is something more than man, for He stands in the heavens engirdled by its clouds, and the passing of ages leaves no trace upon Him, and the Ancient of Days receives Him as His fellow. It was such thoughts the Jews associated with the name "Son of man."

It is not a matter of debate if such thoughts were in the mind of Jesus. There can be no question in the matter, for we have the testimony of Christ Himself. On two occasions our Lord recalled this prophecy in words whose reference is unmistakable, and both times He identified Himself with the Son of man of Daniel's vision. In His prophecy over Jerusalem, He predicted that they shall see "the Son of man coming in the clouds with power and great glory." And when standing before Caiaphas He thus addressed His judges, "I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Of this, then, there is no doubt, that the name was to Jesus a Messianic name. He would never have used it had He not wished to intimate that He was the promised Messiah of the Jews. And so it tells us that here is Christ indeed; the Man in whom all humanity is centered, yet the Man who knew that He was more than man, the Fellow of the everlasting God.

____________________

George H. Morrison Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
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(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #184 on: March 27, 2006, 04:38:42 AM »

March 27

Elijah or Jeremiah - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Some say that thou art…Elias,' and others, Jeremias— Mat_16:14

Elijah—A Prophet of Wrath; Jeremiah—A Prophet of Tears

It is of the deepest interest to discover what was the common impression about Jesus, and in this report conveyed by the disciples we get a hint of the utmost value. "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" said Jesus; and the answer was, "Some say…John the Baptist: some [and probably the greater number], Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." Now there are many interesting suggestions in these answers; but one of them to my mind exceeds all the others. Did you ever think of the vast difference there was between the characters of Elijah and Jeremiah? Yet some said about Christ, "This is Elijah," and others said, "No, it is Jeremiah." If you read again the page of the Old Testament you will appreciate the gulf between the two. The one is ardent, enthusiastic, fierce sometimes. The other is the prophet of the tender heart and tears. And the remarkable thing is that the common people should have taken these types, which are so wide apart, and should have found in both the character of Christ. In other words, the impression which Jesus made was that of a complex, inclusive personality. You could not exhaust Him by a single prophet. It took the range of the greatest to portray His character. And I want to try to bring before you some of these qualities of different natures, which harmonise so perfectly and wonderfully in the human nature of our Lord.

Christ to Be Obeyed and Loved

First, then, I am arrested in Christ's character by the perfect union of mastery and charm. It is one of the rarest things in the world to find the masterful man possessed of the indefinable quality of charm. There are some people born to be obeyed, and there are some other people born to be loved; but it is very rarely that the compelling nature, in the language of Scripture, is "altogether lovely." Think of the masterful men whom you have known; the men whose distinguishing attribute was power; the men who never insisted on obedience, yet somehow or other always were obeyed; the men who were very quiet, and very strong. Such men are always needed in the commonwealth—such men are always secretly admired; but it is very seldom, in this curious world, that such authoritative men are loved. What they lack is the indefinable quality of charm. They can master everything except the heart. They appeal to all that is strong and virile in us. Yet they do not appeal to the imagination. And it is strange what a deal the people will forgive, and how they will cover up a hundred failings, in the man who appeals to their imagination.

Christ Was Characterised by Power and Love

Now when we turn to Christ, the first thing we observe is that the mark of His character is power. Here is no sentimental dreamer from the hills; here is a regal, authoritative Man. Read over His life in the Gospels once again and mark how often that word "power" occurs. "His word was with power," says Luke. "The kingdom comes with power," says Mark. "The multitude glorified God who had given such power unto men," says Matthew. We are quite wrong in saying about Jesus that the first impression which He made was that of gentleness—the first impression which He made was one of power. He spake with authority, and not as one of the scribes. And why did men leave all when He said, "Follow me"? And in the garden when He was betrayed, and said to them, "I am he"—why did the rabble shrink and fall away? There is something so magnificent in that—in the sheer power of that defenceless manhood—that I defy any painter to portray it. Yet look at the little children how they came to Him, and nestled without a tremor in His arms. And think of Peter by the sea of Galilee, "Lord, Thou knowest that I love thee." Some men are born to be obeyed, some to be loved; but Jesus pre-eminently was born for both. That is why people said, "Lo, here is Elijah," and others, "No, it is Jeremiah." All that had marked the noblest of the prophets was harmonised and reconciled in Him. Untold authority, infinite sensibility; a will that would not swerve, a tender heart; the union of mastery and charm.

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« Reply #185 on: March 27, 2006, 04:40:16 AM »

Elijah or Jeremiah - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


Christ Characterised by Remoteness and Accessibility

Again, I am arrested in Christ's character by the union of remoteness and accessibility. There is something in Christ that always suggests distance. There is much in Christ that tells us He is near. Now there are many people who convey the impression of remoteness, though none in the same way as Jesus did. There is the man who is absorbed in some great work, for instance; and we feel that he moves apart when we meet him. And there is a certain type of the religious spirit that is so cold and so icily immaculate that a poor sinner, like the rich man in hell, sees what a gulf there is between him and Abraham. What you feel is, when men are so remote, that you must not trouble them with your small matters. You must not look to them for the sweet word of sympathy. You must not expect them to bother about you. They lift themselves apart like some high alp, which catches the morning, but is always snow clad; while we poor mortals, with hearts so weak, so warm, must struggle along in the valleys as we may.

There never lived on earth a Man who so impressed men with His remoteness as did Christ. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord," was how Simon Peter reacted to His presence. You remember how Milton in his Hymn of the Nativity says, "Kings sat still with awful eye, as if they surely knew their Sovran Lord was by!" and I tell you there are a hundred touches in the Gospel that confirm that impression of the incarnate Lord. It is the height of childishness for any Gospel student to say that Jesus was just a genial socialist. "Gentlemen," said Napoleon, "I know men, and you may take my word for it, this is more than man." For He stood apart; men felt He was remote; there was the touch of the far away about this figure. Some said Elias, and others Jeremiah; no one said, "A genial, pleasant neighbour." The strange thing is that though Christ thus stood remote, men still should have come to Him with every worry. "Come unto me," and they came from every rank—from the lady of the court to the poor reprobate. And He who stood so far apart that He could say, "Thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace"; yet He stood so near that there was not a sorrow He could not appreciate and understand. Some said Elias, that lone figure, standing apart from the surge and flow of Israel. And some said Jeremiah—tenderhearted, whose tears were a river for his people's sorrow. And both opinions were wrong, yet both supremely right, for Elias and Jeremiah both were here. Christ was far more lonely than the one, and far more sympathetic than the other.

Christ Characterised by Enthusiasm and Tranquility

Once more I am arrested in Christ's character by the union of enthusiasm and tranquility. His feelings were often powerfully stirred, yet the whole impression is one of profound peace. There are men who can walk unmoved through a vast crowd. When Christ saw a crowd, He was touched with compassion always. There are men who can stand beside a grave emotionless, but by the grave of Lazarus, Jesus wept. There are men who can view all manner of iniquity and never lose a moment's peace about it; but Jesus, in a mighty surge of indignation, drove out the buyers and sellers from the temple. Clearly, this is no cold, phlegmatic nature. There is nothing of the steeled heart of the Stoic here. Here is a man whose eye will flash sometimes, whose soul can be roused into a glow of passion. And yet the one impression of the whole is not that of an eager, strained unrest; the impression of the whole life of Jesus is that of an unutterable peace. It is very easy to be bold, yet calm; to be uninterested, unimpassioned, and so tranquil. It is very easy to deaden down the feelings, till a man has made a solitude and called it peace. But the abiding wonder about Christ is this, that He had an ardent, eager, enthusiastic heart; yet He breathed such a deep, such a superb tranquility, that men instinctively felt He was at rest.

Christ Was Characterised by Abnegation and Appreciation

Then, in closing, and most notable of all, there is the union of abnegation and appreciation. I regret using such ungainly words, but I know no others that so express my meaning. What is the last word in the ideal of Jesus—is it asceticism, or is it joy? Let me show you in a word how Christendom has leaned at different times to different answers.

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« Reply #186 on: March 27, 2006, 04:41:58 AM »

Elijah or Jeremiah - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


Think, then, on the one hand of mediaeval painters who have portrayed for us the Man of Nazareth. It is not the Christ who considered the lilies whom they paint. It is the Christ of agony and shame. You know that figure kneeling in the garden. You know that face with its awful look of agony. You know those hands with the blood dropping from them, and St. Dominic looking upward with enraptured eyes. And even where the suffering is shrouded by an art as exquisite as it is perfect, you know that the appeal of all such art is, "Come, and let us mourn with Him awhile." It is not joy that animates these pictures; it is a calm and holy acquiescence. It is not intense delight in the glad world; it is unquestioning acceptance of the will of God. He has given up everything, this Christ, to die for men, and the last word of that art is abnegation.

And then I turn to some modern paintings of Christ, and I seem to be moving in a different world. I turn to Renan, to Zangwill, or to Dawson, and I hardly recognise the painter's figure. He is entranced with the vision of the divine life, says Renan, and He gives Himself with delight to its expression. He is the incarnation of the spirit of joy, says Dawson. And Mr. Zangwill, in his Dreamers of the Ghetto, says, "I give the Jews a Christ they can accept now; the Lover of warm life and the warm sunlight, and all that is fresh and beautiful and pure." Is this the mediaeval Sufferer, with the blood-drops, and with the crown of thorns? Is this glad poet with His glowing cheek the pallid figure of mediaeval paintings? It is not suffering that is the keynote here. It is positive, intense, and simple joy. It is not abnegation of the world; the keynote is appreciation.

"Some said Elias, others Jeremiah"—have we not here another echo of such judgments? The wonder of Jesus is not this or that; the wonder of Jesus is this and that together. There is a joy that has no room in it for sacrifice; it is too selfish, too sensuous, and too shallow. There is a sacrifice that is absolutely joyless, without a gleam of the sunshine on its cross. But Christ was happy as a child in this green world, because not a sparrow could fall without His Father; yet He gave up everything and died on Calvary, that guilty men and women might be saved. In the deepest of all senses Christ renounced the world, and trampled all its glory underfoot. The first condition of following in His train was that one should lead the life of self-denial. Yet He who so followed Him was never deadened to the call of lovely or delightful things; He was led into a world where birds were singing, and which was beautiful with the lilies of the field. That is why in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. All are united in that wonderful character. That is why you and I can never say, "He was Elias," or, "He was Jeremiah." Embracing both—all that was best in both—and all that is highest and fairest in humanity; we fall before Him and reply, with Peter, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

____________________

George H. Morrison Devotions

Dist. Worldwide in the Great Freeware Bible Study package called
e-Sword by Rick Meyer: http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
Full Featured - Outstanding - Completely FREE - No Strings Attached

(The goal of Rick Meyer is to distribute excellent Bible Study
Software to every country on earth in their own language FREE
of charge, and that goal gets closer by the day.)
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« Reply #187 on: March 28, 2006, 12:57:54 PM »

March 28

Founded on Rock

Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church— Mat_16:18

Christ Wanted to Be Understood

To understand these words aright we must endeavour to recapture the right atmosphere. The words were spoken under intense excitement. The hour had come when our Lord felt it necessary to tell the disciples plainly of His death. So He had led them to the rocky solitudes which lie about the sources of the Jordan. And first, lest the shock should overwhelm them, He set Himself quietly to discover if they had solved the secret of His being. No one will ever triumph in the Cross who has wrong views of the Person of our Lord. In His own beautiful way He did not begin with that. He began by asking what other people thought. Then, having elicited an answer, He said, "But whom say ye that I am?" And immediately, with glorious insight, in a light that broke on him from heaven, Peter cried, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." To be understood is always sweet, especially after long misapprehension. It is a thrilling hour when one is understood. And so perfectly human was our Lord, that the cry of Peter moved Him to His depths, and stirred Him with profound emotion. The words of Jesus are not a cold pronouncement. They are a glowing and impassioned utterance. They are not a statement of theology; they are the glad cry of a heart. He could face the cross and all its desolation, and be tranquil in His darkest hour, in the assurance that He was understood.

Did Christ Point to Himself When He Said, "Upon This Rock I Will Build My Church "?

There are two interpretations of these words which I mention only to discard. The first is, that when He said "On this rock," He pointed with a gesture to Himself. My learned namesake, Dr. Morison, in his quite invaluable Commentaries, is the best-known upholder of this view. But surely it is not like our Lord to convey truth by an unrecorded gesture. When the moving of His hands is eloquent, the Gospel is always careful to portray it. And our Lord was so watchful of His little words that it is incredible He should have said and, when the contrast of the gesture called for but. It is the most profound of truths that the Church is founded upon Christ. It is founded on Him who loved us and who died for us, and who rose again on the third day. But here, in this moment of emotion, our Lord was not thinking of Himself; He was thinking of those who recognise His mystery.

Did He Mean Peter?

With equal conviction do I discard the view that our Lord meant Peter as an individual. With that mystic gaze of His, Peter was the type and representative of multitudes. There are hints in the story (as is so often true) that Peter spoke in the name of the disciples. There flashed into words on his eager lips, the truth that was inarticulate in them. And if there was a gesture of our blessed Lord, was it not rather a waving of His hand over the company gathered at His feet? To them, just as truly as to Peter, Christ was not Jeremiah or Elias. For them He stood in solitary grandeur, different from and greater than the prophets. And what they all felt in their inmost core, though they could not command speech to utter it, broke into utterance on Peter's lips. It is incredible that in such high emotion our Lord's vision should have stopped at Peter. Moved to His very depths He saw in Peter the guarantee and the foretaste of His triumph. He heard in Peter's cry the voice of millions, echoing through every country of the world, confessing Him and adoring Him as Lord.

"The Rock" Is the Confession of All Who Acknowledge Christ as Lord

So do I hold with a very strong conviction that such was the meaning of our Lord. Peter was the forerunner of confessing and adoring souls. The Church is not founded on an individual, and that individual soon to be called Satan (Mat_16:23). It is not founded on any form of words, for rock in Scripture is never used of words. The Church is founded on confessing lives, on all those who acknowledge Christ as Lord, and of these Peter is the forerunner. Empires are founded upon force; kingdoms upon mercenary armies. Institutions are founded upon money; secret societies on catchwords. But the Church is founded on living men and women, confessing in gratitude and wonder "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." In the deepest of all senses the Church is founded upon Christ. But let those who confess His name never forget that it is also founded upon them. Let them see to it that it is not founded upon sand, blown about by every desert wind. Let them see to it that it is founded upon rock.

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« Reply #188 on: March 31, 2006, 05:22:38 AM »

March 29

The Master Builder

I will build my church— Mat_16:18

Jesus Used the Term Church Only Twice

Only on two occasions did our Lord use the word Church, here and in the eighteenth chapter, where He says, "Tell it to the church." In the rest of the New Testament the word occurs with frequency, sometimes of the universal church, and sometimes of the local church. But to the lips of our Lord Himself it rises only twice. It has been argued that He never used it, and that it really is due to the evangelist, writing at a later date, when the word had passed into the common speech. But that our Lord actually used it seems to me entirely likely, and that for two considerations. In the first place, you have it in the Greek Old Testament, and with that version our Lord was quite familiar; and in the second place He only used it in the closing period of His ministry. Hitherto He had spoken of the Kingdom—that was the word which was always on His lips. Now, as the end approached, was it not natural that He should talk of the instrument for bringing in the Kingdom? For that is what the Church is, not merely a spiritual fellowship, but God's great instrument for bringing in the Kingdom which is righteousness and joy and peace. How has the Kingdom come in Britain? How is it coming in India and Africa? Everywhere it is coming through the Church. Men say they have no use for the Church, and yet they profess to reverence our Lord, for whom it was the instrument of heaven.

Christ's Confidence in the Future

What first arrests us in the words which I have chosen is the profound confidence of Jesus in the future. We must remember that the words were spoken when the shadow of the end was on His path. In a little while He would be crucified. His very disciples would forsake Him. Men would say He was a noble visionary, but now His beautiful visions were extinguished. And just then, when everything was darkest, our Lord looked down the echoing aisles of time, and said with a serene and perfect confidence, "I will build my church." The same confidence you meet again as He sits at the Supper with His own. There He was on the verge of His betrayal. Yet there He never for one moment doubted that through the ages, till He came again, He would be remembered by adoring hearts. Sometimes you hear men say that they tremble for the ark of God. Let them not forget the fate of him who was the first to tremble for the ark of God. When once the heart has heard the Lord's assertion, "I will build my church, "such solicitude is irreligious.

He Will Build His Church through Human Instrumentality

Of course, when our Lord says, "I will build," that does not mean His hands will do the building. One recalls the dictum of the ancients, quod facit per alium, facit per se. We read in the Gospel of St. John that Jesus tarried with them and baptized (Joh_3:22). Yet in the next chapter we are told that Jesus did not baptize, but His disciples (Joh_4:2). He baptized (it is the word of Scripture), and yet He did it not with His own hands; He did it by the hands of His disciples. "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it" (Psa_127:1). Does not that mean that though the Lord be builder, the masons must be busy all the time? So when Jesus says, "I will build my church," He means that He is going to build it by the toiling hands and consecrated lives of sinful men and women like ourselves. "Young man," said the old minister to Carey, "if God wants to convert the heathen He can do it without you." But that old minister was wrong. It is through those who dedicate their lives, as Carey did, through those who toil and pray and give, that the ages see the fulfilment of the words, "I will build my church."

Assurance That the Church Is Going to Be Completed

In these words, lastly, we have our great assurance that the building is going to be completed. That is why the Lord says, "I will build." We know the story of one who thought to build a tower, and had his vision of that tower completed. But long before the cornerstone was in place, that visionary's resources were exhausted. But the resources of Jesus Christ are inexhaustible—all power hath been committed unto Him—and His church is going to be built. It must be a depressing thing to be a mason when the contractor is on the verge of bankruptcy. How can a labourer toil with all his heart if tomorrow the work may be suspended? But the joy of service in the Church of Christ, a joy that ought to thrill through every toiler, is that no such dark dubiety as that can hang like a chilling cloud over his toil. Our Master-builder has resources infinite. His power is co-extensive with His vision. We have His Word that the building will be crowned and His Word will never pass away. In such sure confidence, itself a spring of gladness, the humblest worker plucks up heart again when the arm is weary and the sky is grey.

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« Reply #189 on: March 31, 2006, 05:24:17 AM »

March 30

The Transfiguration - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light— Mat_17:1-2

Scenes on Mountains

How often the Bible brings us into mountain scenery. It was on a mountain that Abraham prepared to offer Isaac and that men received the law of Moses, and from a mountainside the law of Christ. The bitterest conflict between Elijah and the prophets of Baal was on Mount Carmel. John was on a great mountain when he saw the new Jerusalem descend; and on a mountain occurred the transfiguration. Do you think that choice of place is but an accident? I do not think so. For always, in the grandeur of the mountaintop, lifting its masses silencewards and heavenwards, have men perceived God's choice environment for the highest hours of holiest souls. The dullest of us knows the fuller life that stirs us on the hills. It is a fitting scene for the transfiguration.

The Transfiguration Was an Answer to Prayer

First, then, let us note that the transfiguration was an answer to prayer. Jesus took Peter and James and John, we read, and went up into a mountain to pray and as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered (Luk_9:28-29). It may be we shall never grasp the mystery of the prayers of Jesus Christ. The simplest prayer you ever breathed raises a score of problems when you think on it, and these problems are multiplied a thousandfold when we are thinking on the prayers of our Redeemer. But the fact remains that Jesus prayed, intensely, passionately, resolutely, till the end; and if it is asked what He was praying for on this mountain, I think we may reverently give this reply. It was the thought of His sufferings that filled Him. It was the vision of His death that bowed Him down. Eight days before, Jesus had talked of that. He had told His disciples how He must suffer and die. And all the evangelists date this mountain scene from the memorable hour of that conversation. It was of His death, too, Moses and Elias spake. Now, these are hints of the inner life of Jesus. These are like far-off echoes of His cry. His hands were trembling as they grasped the cup. The shadow of the cross was on His soul. He went to the hill to agonise with God, and the transfiguration was the answer.

Thus, then, we reach the inner meaning of the scene. It was not a spectacle. It was not acted out for James and John. Its chief importance was for the heart of Jesus. Can we discover, then, its meaning for Christ? Can we see how it greatly strengthened Him for Calvary? That is to get to the marrow of the story. For the memory of this hour was music to Jesus, when all the daughters of music were brought low. It was song and strength to Him, when He went forth to die.

Jesus Received a Fresh Assurance of His Father's Love

Note first then, that the transfiguration gave to Jesus a fresh assurance of His Father's love, for there came a voice out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son." There are times when we are sorely tempted to doubt the love of God; and if our Redeemer was tempted in all points like as we are, this sore temptation must have fallen on Him. And the one week, in His three-and-thirty years, when it would light on Him with most tremendous power, would be the week before the transfiguration. Till then, Christ had been climbing upward, amid the welcomes of an eager people. From then, He was to journey downwards to the Cross of Calvary and to the grave. The tides were turned. The crisis had been reached. With terrible clearness He realised His death. Oh, what a task, in the full sight of Calvary, still to believe in the changeless love of God! God saw, God understood. God strengthened and established the human soul of Jesus. And from that hour—come agony, come death, Jesus is still the well-beloved Son.

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« Reply #190 on: March 31, 2006, 05:26:07 AM »

The Transfiguration - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


His Agony: Misunderstood on Earth, But Understood in Heaven

Again, the transfiguration assured Jesus that if His agony was not understood on earth, it was fully understood in heaven. In His sufferings and in His death Jesus was never understood on earth. Men understood the wisdom of His speech. They saw the power of His deeds of healing. But His sufferings they could not understand. The thought of crucifixion was intolerable to the disciples. Even Peter, who loved his Master so, out of his love would have kept Him from the Cross. But Moses and Elias understood what Peter and James and John quite failed to see. They spake of His decease (Luk_9:31). It was the theme of heaven whence they had come. There might be none to sympathise on earth; but the spirits of just men made perfect, in the home above, were following with unbounded love and wonder the progress of Jesus to the cross.

Assurance of the True Greatness of His Mission

Mark, too, that the transfiguration assured Jesus of the true greatness of His mission. We never doubt the greatness of that work. We now know the value of His life and death. The centuries are but a commentary on His power. Yet we sometimes wonder if in the weary round of humble service, the greatness of His task was ever bedimmed for Jesus. We are amazed, as we read the Gospel story, at the seeming insignificance of many of the days and deeds of Christ. He lived in villages and companied with humble folk. He healed their sick; He preached to unlettered crowds. So day succeeded day, and the sun rose and set, and men could not see the splendour of His work. Was Jesus sometimes tempted to forget it too? If so, it was the very love of God that sent Moses and Elijah to the mount. For Moses and Elijah were the past. They were the spirits of the law and prophecy. And now the past hands on its work to Jesus. All that the law had vainly striven to do, and all that prophecy had seen afar, was to be crowned on Calvary. His, then, was no fragmentary life. It was the very crisis of the world. For all the
past was centering in Him, and from Him the future was to stretch away.

The Transfiguration Encouraged Jesus

And lastly, note how the transfiguration encouraged Jesus because it gave Him a foretaste of His glory. His sufferings were near; His death was near; but on the mount Christ knew that heaven was nearer still. For the dazzling glow of heaven was on His face, and the saints of glory were standing by His side, and His Father's voice was music in His ear. Not that heaven was ever unreal to Jesus; but in view of the intensity of coming sorrow, there must be intense conviction of the joy beyond. It is this that was granted to Jesus on the mount. Is it not given to His children too? There is always the burning bush before the desert. There is ever the mountaintop before the garden. In the strength of the joy that is set before us, we endure the cross and despise the shame.

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« Reply #191 on: March 31, 2006, 05:28:07 AM »

March 31

The Child in the Midst - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them— Mat_18:2

Jesus' Love for Children

I want to speak on Jesus and the child to show you out of the Bible story how precious childhood was to Jesus Christ. And I want to do it just that we may feel that when the Church which is His body tends the children it is certain to have the blessing of the Master.

First, then, we may find how Jesus valued them by the loving way in which He had observed them. With a quick eye and with a loving heart He had been watching them when they never dreamed of it. You can tell how closely He had watched the world by the exquisite beauty of His parables. You can tell how closely He had watched His nation from His certainty that ruin was impending. And so by innumerable incidental references, occurring everywhere throughout His teaching, you can tell how closely He had watched the child. He had watched the mother fondling her babe, and in her joy forgetting all her agony. He had watched the children playing in the market place, and sulking, and quarrelling with each other. And He had watched the boy, when school was over, hurrying home and asking for a piece of bread, and always getting it and not a stone. For Christ the coming ruin was doubly terrible just because children were to be involved in it. For Christ there was no test of loyalty more searching than that a man should love Him more than he loved his children. And all these references to the little people, these recognitions of them in unexpected moments, show you how dear they were to Jesus Christ. That is one of the great and striking differences between the Gospels and the Epistles of Paul. You would never gather from the Pauline letters that the writer was a lover of the child. But when you follow Jesus through the Gospels, when you see how He had observed the ways of children, when you mark the niceness of His references to them, as of One who had watched them for Himself, why then you feel at once that here was One for whom there was a joy for every child. He loved the little as deeply as the lost.

The Busy Jesus Had Time for the Child

Again, the same impression is intensified when we think of the access He gave them to His presence. There was never a more crowded life than His, and yet He always had leisure for the child. The fact is, friends, that in the life of Christ that air of leisure always is amazing. With such a mighty work for God to do, might you not reasonably expect some sign of strain. And yet the one thing that took the hearts of men, and awed them as with the touch of heaven, was just the infinite restfulness that clothed Him. He had a baptism to be baptised with, yet had He leisure for the summer lilies. He had but three short years to do His work, yet He had eyes for the sparrow when it fell. He had to ransom from the power of darkness men and women who were the slaves of Satan, yet always had He leisure for the child. The fact is that Christ like all of us, always had leisure for the thing He loved. It is in the heart rather than in the clock that there lies the secret of the leisure hour. And so when in the midst of all His stress, you find that Christ gave access to the children, you may learn certainly how much He loved them. It is but seldom in the Gospel story that you read of Christ as being much displeased. The impression made upon you there is this, that it took something mighty to stir Him to the depths. Yet one of the rare occasions in the Gospel when we do read that Christ was much displeased was when the disciples sought to keep the children back. It was not done in anger but in kindness. They were distressed because Christ was overburdened. Here was something they could save Him from, as if a mortal man could save the Saviour. But Christ for once made no account of motive, found no excuse in an intended kindliness; He chided His followers because they sought to bar Him from the child. My brother, there was something divine in that; but there was also something human. They were trying to keep from Him, although they knew it not, the very company in which He most delighted. And that—that constant leisure for the child, that open access in the busiest day, is another sweet and subtle indication of the value of the children in His eyes.

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« Reply #192 on: March 31, 2006, 05:29:43 AM »

The Child in the Midst - Page 2
by George H. Morrison


Jesus Loved to Help Children When They Suffered

This impression once again is deepened by the appeal which the sufferings of children made to Him. He not only loved to watch them when they played; but He also loved to help them when they suffered. There were some appeals which Jesus disregarded, as that of the man who wanted a judgment on his property. There were some prayers that Jesus would not listen to, as when the healed demoniac prayed that he might follow Him. But the one prayer that carried Him by storm, the one appeal He never could finally resist, was when a father or a mother came and used the words "My son"—"my little daughter." Everything else must stand aside if it be a child that cries for healing. He cares not what all the mourners think of Him when He asks them unceremoniously to leave the room. With an intensity that we shall never fathom, because our hearts at their warmest are but cold, Christ felt the sufferings of little children. The first healing miracle He wrought was wrought not on a man but on a child. The only cure He gave outside of Israel was given to a little Gentile girl. Of His three rescues from the grip of death, it was only Lazarus who was an adult. The other two who were brought back again were young. You recall the scene on the Mount of Transfiguration, and how Peter would have had Him stay there forever. But Jesus could not stay and would not stay simply because the world was calling Him. And so He descended from the Mount of Glory to take up His cross again and be obedient, and the first to meet Him was an epileptic boy. It is as if, transfigured on the hill, He had heard the calling of the child. It is as if the writhings of that lad had pierced the radiance that en-wrapped Him there. And so may we learn, brethren, if we will, from that irresistible appeal of childish suffering, how near and dear the children were to Christ.

Jesus Delighted in the Services of Children

That impression received further vividness when we recall how Christ delighted in their services. He sometimes refused the service of a man; He never refused the service of a child. There is an excellent sermon by Mr. Spurgeon on Christ refusing first offers of service. Strange though it may seem, He sometimes did that, and sometimes He is doing it today. But the one service that He welcomed eagerly, and never checked, and never thought unworthy, was the sweet service of the little people. "There is a lad here," said Andrew to Him. I think that one word "lad" was all Christ wanted. There is a lad here with five small loaves, and he wants us to take them and make the best of them. I take it that Andrew was intensely tickled at a lad's luncheon for five thousand people; but it was just the thing that Jesus loved. He would not add a scrap to that small store. He wanted to use the offering of the boy. He wanted to show them that in Messiah's kingdom a little child shall lead them. And if that were so out on the hills of Galilee, how much more truly so in the last days, when the children flocked to the triumphal entry, and cried "Hosanna to the Son of David." Men had wanted to cry that before, and on every such occasion Christ had checked them. They had wanted to hail Him as Messiah, and Jesus had refused to be so hailed. But now the children break into that service—for praise is service just as much as alms, and Christ with a glad heart accepts of it. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings He felt that God was perfecting His praise. There was hope for the future, though the Cross was coming, when He had won the hearts of little children. We all long to be loved by those we love. We are proud and happy when they praise us. And it was just because Jesus loved the children that their shouting was like music in His ear.

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« Reply #193 on: March 31, 2006, 05:31:39 AM »

The Child in the Midst - Page 3
by George H. Morrison


Christ's Estimate of the Child Spirit

The same impression is confirmed again by the estimate which Christ made of the child spirit. It was in the child that Jesus found the type of the true citizen of the heavenly kingdom. "Suffer the little children to come to Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Except ye become as little children, ye cannot even see the kingdom. To enter the kingdom it is by no means necessary that a child should grow into a man. But to enter the kingdom it is always necessary that a man should grow into a child. Christ did not speak of the innocence of childhood. That innocence is gone and gone forever. He came to call the sinners to repentance. His kingdom is a kingdom for the lost. He was thinking of the receptiveness of childhood, of its glorious freedom from the worldly spirit, of the love that fills it, of the hope that stirs it, of its simplicity and sublimity of faith. To you and me, my brother, that is commonplace; but remember it is Christ who made it so. As dearly as the Jew had loved his children, he had never seen that glory in his children. It was Christ who was the first to see it. It was Christ who drew it into the light of day. And now we see it, and we reverence childhood because we are looking at it with His eyes. When a man is far from home, in a strange country, he loves whatever reminds him of his home. Some glimpse of hill, some blossom like the heather, will bring a tenderness into his heart. And that, I think, was why Christ loved the children, and was always so exquisitely tender with them. He was a stranger in a distant land here, and the children reminded Him of home. Of such is the kingdom of heaven—the kingdom here, the kingdom in the glory. I say unto you that in heaven, yonder, their angels are looking on the Father's face. Brethren, with such deep words from Jesus' heart is it any wonder the child is precious now? Is it any wonder that the Church which is His body gives of her best and noblest to their service?

"Feed the Lambs" Comes before "Feed the Sheep."

And then this ever-deepening impression is crowned when Christ risen from the dead. "Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou "Yea, Lord"; then, "Feed my lambs." Then twice over Simon was bidden feed the sheep. That repetition has the note of urgency. But it is not the sheep that are first mentioned, mark you. First of all is "Feed my lambs. "Still in the forefront of the love of Jesus, unchanged by Calvary and by the grave, still deep within His heart, there are the children. My brother and sister, there are many voices that say to us today, "Amuse the children." But this is the glory of the love of Christ that its command is "Feed the children." And this is the wonder of the Christian Gospel that, with great depths in it that none can fathom, it is so simple in its central message that you can tell it to the little child. Tell it, you mothers, to your children, then. Tell it, you Sabbath teachers, to your classes. Let your class witness when you meet in heaven that you were not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. So let us prosecute our work with patience, remembering how Jesus loved the children. So let us welcome the glad song of Christmas, "Unto us a child is born."

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« Reply #194 on: April 01, 2006, 05:55:11 PM »

April 1

How to Be Rid of Contempt - Page 1
by George H. Morrison


Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones— Mat_18:10

The Savage Are Characterized by Contempt of Others

The spirit of contempt is very strongly developed among savage races. A savage is nurtured to hate or to despise. Between his own tribe and every other tribe there is a deep and quite impassable gulf, and it has never entered into the savage heart that love or kindness should seek to bridge that chasm. If other tribes are powerful they must be hated. If they are weak they must be treated with contempt. There is the belief, then, in the sad creed of many a savage, that there is virtue in despising others.

The Spirit of Disdaining Others

And when we pass from the wild life of savagery to the civilisations of the ancient world, the remarkable thing is that we are immediately confronted with the same spirit of contemptuous disdain. We might have hoped that the culture of the Greek, and his swift appreciation of all things of beauty, would have given him a large sympathy with mankind. We might have expected that the world-conquering Roman, strong in his masculine sense of law and order, would have been too large-hearted to belittle. And above all, we might have trusted that the Jew, to whom had been granted the vision of the eternal, would have learned in the great glory of that vision to call nothing common or unclean. But history tells us a very different story. The old world is flooded with the spirit of contempt. And we do not need to go beyond the Bible story to learn how the Greek looked down on the barbarian, or how the Jew disdained the Gentile world. Everywhere, then, where the spirit of Christ is not, we are confronted with the spirit of contempt. A Christless world, if it believes in anything, believes in the holy duty of disdaining. And it is like the courage of the Lord Jesus Christ that He dared to lift up His voice against the past, to charge it with error in its cherished virtues, to tell it that it had gone utterly astray. For all this our blessed Lord was doing, when He taught the lesson of not despising others.

The Duty of Holy Scorn

Of course we must distinguish this despising from what I might call the passion of noble scorn. A man is a poor creature and a poorer Christian, if he has lost his capacity for scorn. There are deeds that a right-thinking man will scorn to do. There are books that an earnest heart will scorn to read. And there are men and women whom a heaven-touched soul would scorn to number in its list of friends. A man is out of line with Jesus Christ who does not hold scorn for certain things. For if ever in the world there was the passion of scorn, it was in the heart of Jesus in the Temple, when He raised His whip and drove the traders out. Such scorn as that is a very holy thing. It is the kindling of a man's best into a flame. It is all that is purest and most divine within us raised to white-heat by intolerable evil. And a man must be very lukewarm for the right, and have sadly confused weakness with charity, who is never stirred so in a world like this. But to despise is something very different. There is nothing of moral passion in despising. It does not spring from any love of goodness. It is not rooted in any hate of wrong. True scorn is an utterly self-forgetful thing. But the man who despises is always full of self.

The Evil Brought about by the Spirit of Contempt

And I think it is not difficult to see the evil that is wrought by the spirit of contempt. It was as the Champion of the weak and the oppressed, so that they might have an atmosphere to grow in, that our Lord spoke so sternly of despising. It is easy to be good when we are loved. It is not very hard to play the man when we are hated. But to be courteous, charitable, gentle, loving, kind, when all the time we know we are despised, is a task that would try the powers of an angel. There is nothing so likely to make a brother despicable, as just to let him see that you despise him. There is nothing so certain to touch the flowers with frost-bite, and chill the air, and make the spirit bitter. And I think that Jesus Christ hated contempt, and banished it imperiously from the kingdom, that chilled and suppressed hearts might have a chance. There is only one thing worse than being despised by others. And that is to be despised by one's own self.

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