”I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” —JOHN 10:10.

ON MONDAY, July 28, 1875, there was inaugurated in this place what is now universally known as the Keswick Con- vention. During this period the number of persons who have attended these annual gatherings cannot, in the aggregate, have been less than 200,000. These have been drawn from every part of the world, and have been representative of every Protestant denomination.

All who have attended Keswick will know what it stands for, but there are numberless people besides who think of the convention in various ways: some with mere curiosity, some with a noncommittal interest, and some more critically. And so it may be well, at this the commencement of another season of holy convocation, to recall and reaffirm what has been the distinctive message of Keswick throughout these years, and what immediately we are here for, ever remembering that a movement must be judged by what it professes and undertakes to do, and not by what lies outside its scope.

Of course there are some things that are taken for granted: things which, though not our distinctive message, are the foundation and warrant of it: such truths, for instance, as the evangelical doctrines of the Person and work of Christ, His real humanity, His proper Deity, and His atoning sacrifice on Calvary. Also the need and adequacy of the Gospel in this world of sin; and, as being our first source of knowledge of these things, the veracity and authority of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. These truths are not Keswick’s distinctive teaching, for they are held and taught by all branches of Evangelical Christendom; but here they are assumed.

What, then, it may be asked, is the distinctive message of this movement? A former distinguished leader was once asked what was the difference between a conference and a convention, and after a moment’s reflection he replied, “A conference has a subject, but a convention has an object.” As applied to Keswick, that is not a mere epigram, but a great truth. This convention has an object, and that object is nowhere so briefly and adequately expressed as in the words of our text, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Here Christ distinguishes between “life” and “life more abundant,” and it is for the interpretation of this distinction, and that we might know experimentally this maximum life, that we are now gathered.

‘Tis life, not death, for which we pant;
More life, and fuller, that we want.

We cannot but have been impressed in our reading of the New Testament, especially of the writings of Paul and John, with the high level on which their thought moves when dealing with the subject of the Christian life. Phrase after phrase stands out in mystic grandeur of truths which have their origin in heaven, and their home in the human heart: such passages, for example, as, “For me to live is Christ”; “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”; “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” And accompanying such passages as these, are others which point the way to the realisation of the blessed secret, such as, “Let us go on unto perfection”; “Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”; “Be filled with the Spirit”; “Know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled unto all the fulness of God”; “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” And there are yet other Scriptures which show the need of these, and which illustrate the fact that one may have life, and yet not have abounding life; that one may have the assurance of spiritual union with Christ, and yet be a stranger, for the most part, to that communion which is alone the outcome of obedience and trust.

Two illustrations will suffice. Remonstrating with the fickle Galatians, Paul says, “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Better-instructed Christians than they were are making the same mistake; and the matter is of vital importance, for we can never rise to the level of experience set forth in the foregoing texts so long as we are providing substitutes for the Holy Spirit.

But perhaps the immediate point is best illustrated by the
words of Peter at the time of his vision at Joppa. He saw, as it were, a great sheet let down from heaven, full of creatures clean and unclean, and when bidden to rise, slay, and eat, he replied, “Not so, Lord.” How glaring a contradiction stands fixed in those words! He who says, “Not so,” should never add “Lord,” and he who truly says “Lord” never will say “Not so.”

From these, and such-like passages of Holy Scripture, we must sadly acknowledge that Christians in general have been, and are, content with an experience far removed from the divine ideal. We have made the intellectual apprehension of truth a substitute for the power of it in our hearts, and are in danger of regarding Christianity as a philosophy rather than as a life. Christ is the complete answer alike to every false ground of hope, and every false theory of life. The answer to legalism is “Christ died for us,” and the answer to licence is, “We must die with Christ.” Religious belief is not enough: there must be moral change. It is the discrepancy between our profession and our experience that needs looking to; and we must deal with it, not in the twilight of past attainment, but in the noontide of divine possibility. The Christ, who dying did a work for us, now lives to do a work in us. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” There is great need that the truth be broadcast that abounding life is possible; and it should encourage us to know that in the experience of a multitude it has been, and is, actual.

All Christians have what the New Testament calls “eternal life,” for without this one cannot be a Christian; but not all Christians have entered into the experience of abounding life. There can be relationship without fellowship; there can be union without communion; there can be life without health; there can be privilege without enjoyment; there can be movement without progress. One may war and yet not win, may serve and yet not succeed, may try and yet not triumph; and the difference throughout is just the difference between the possession of eternal life, and the experience of abounding life; the difference between “peace with God” and “the peace of God”; the difference between obtainment and attainment. Abounding life is just the fulness of life in Christ, made possible by His death and resurrection, and made actual by the indwelling and infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is not the will of God that we should be as fruitless trees, as waterless clouds, or as savourless salt; but that we should fulfil the highest functions of our Christian calling. Christ’s promise is that He will slake the thirst of all who come to Him, and His purpose for those who come is that “out of their vitals shall flow rivers of living water.”

The trouble and tragedy is that the Church has been content to live between Easter and Pentecost; on the right side of justification, but on the wrong side of sanctification; on the right side of pardon, but on the wrong side of power. The difference between the world and the Church is in the relation of each to Calvary. But it is not enough that the Church and the Christian be on the right side of Easter, which has brought us forgiveness and life; we are called also to the experience of Pentecost, which offers to us abounding life—life which is characterised by trust, and peace, and rest, and joy, and love, and power, and victory. We are as unable to live this life in our own strength as we were unable, in the first instance, to save ourselves by our own efforts; but He who began a good work in us can and will perfect it in all who yield to Him. A mechanistic psychology denies what it cannot explain, but the joyful experience and witness of a host of Christians, from the apostolic age to the present time, has been that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death.”

If one is living before Easter, the Christ of the New Testament is not in his experience at all: he is spiritually dead. If one is living between Easter and Pentecost, Christ is in his experience as Redeemer and Saviour: he has spiritual life. But not unless one is living from and in Pentecost is the Lordship of Christ a reality to him, or can he enjoy spiritual health, which is holiness.

No one can but be impressed by observing the change which Pentecost wrought in the experience of the apostles. In the between time from Easter to Pentecost two things characterised them: fear, and a lost sense of vocation. We see them first behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, and then later, Peter, who had been called to high apostleship, said, “I go a fishing!” and the others said, “We also go with thee.” No one can live the abounding life who is in the grip of fear, or who has failed or ceased to believe that God has for him a programme of life.

This between-experience has been the trouble from the beginning. It is illustrated by Israel in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan, and by Paul’s subjection to self, between his deliverance from the guilt of sin and his freedom from its power, as set forth in the Roman letter. It is this that is taught by the apostle’s threefold analysis of men as “natural,” and “carnal,” and “spiritual.” The “natural man” has not reached Calvary at all; the “carnal man” is on the right side of the cross, but has not reached Pentecost; and the “spiritual man” has entered by Pentecost into the Kingdom which is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The carnal Christian has spiritual life, for he is spoken of as a “babe in Christ,” but there is little or no spiritual growth. He is like Lazarus, who, though raised from the dead, was yet “bound hand and foot with grave- clothes” until deliverance came. Is not this sadly illustrative of the experience of many Christians, people who are in bondage to fear, or doubt, or self; or sin? Yet freedom is our inheritance; we are called to the liberty of the sons of God. It will be a great day for each of us when we penitently acknowledge that we have not been what it has been God’s purpose to make us; and it will be a greater day when we dare to believe that we may become all that it is in His power to make us.

It is this aspect of truth which Keswick exists to emphasise. The movement is not ignorant of; nor indifferent to, the social implications and obligations of the Gospel; but it is held and taught that the value of our outward activities is determined by the reality and depth of our inward experience; that it is the man who is entirely right with God who is best qualified and equipped to help his fellow men. It was not until after Pentecost that the disciples socially applied the Gospel; and it was not until after Pentecost that they were fired with enthusiasm and determination to carry the Good News to all mankind, whatever the cost might be: and ever since then, the Church’s greatest days have been when she has lived and wrought in the power of Pentecost, which is normal Christianity. The Christian Church has plant, and organisation, and money, and learning, and much besides; but all this can be of no avail if she lacks Pentecostal power. We have banked more on prestige than on prayer; we have organised more than we have agonised; we have allowed ritual to obscure reality; we have thought more of conferences than of consecration: in short, we have displaced the Holy Spirit, and it is high time that we recognised the cause of our spiritual stringency.

The way out, and only way out, is by a return to Pentecost, which is the source and secret of abounding life. But nothing effective will be done so long as we think in terms of the Church as a whole. We must be personal if we would be practical, for the Christian Church is only the aggregate of all Christians, and it cannot be better than the spiritual experience of those who compose it. The experience of Christians is not necessarily Christian experience. Christian experience is what the New Testament reveals, what Christ by His holy Passion has made possible, and what the Holy Spirit yielded to makes actual: but the experience of Christians is, too often, one of lack of peace, of joylessness, of prayerlessness, of worldliness, and of defeat: and can anyone imagine that such an experience as that is Christianity! If Christ has called us to holiness of life, it is because He has made it possible; and if we will dare to believe that, and to draw upon our resources in Him, we shall experience in our hearts and demonstrate to others the reality of abounding life.

The sum, then, of what we have endeavoured to say is just this, that it is the intention of God that Christ shall be not only Saviour, but also our Lord; that we shall be not only justified, but also sanctified; that we shall be delivered not only from sin’s guilt, but also from its power; that we shall not only live, but live triumphantly.

By Christ’s death and resurrection, apprehended and trusted, we enter into eternal life; and by whole-hearted yieldedness to Christ as Lord and Master, we enter into the experience of abounding life. The yieldedness becomes a reality when, renouncing all known sin, and looking to Christ to accomplish in and through us by His Spirit, what by His death He has made possible, we follow on in love and obedience.

The evidence and expression of such an attitude will be in Christlikeness of character, and in sacrificial service for men. For the exhibition of such a life as that, the world is waiting; and surely the experience of such a life must be the devout desire of each of us. Then let us believe Christ when He says He came that we might live like that; and let us believe that He has given to us His Holy Spirit for its realisation. Here and now in this evening hour, let us claim our inheritance.

We need not wait for Him. He is waiting for us. In this place and moment He is offering Himself to us as the source of strength and satisfaction, as well as the place of safety; and if we will but receive Him, fear will be exchanged for trust, doubt for certainty, ineffectiveness for success, defeat for victory, and sadness for joy. We have tried trying and have failed; why not now try trusting? We have wrought in our own strength and have found it to be weakness; why not now take hold of His strength? The faith we once exercised for the possession of divine life, let us now exercise for the experience of abounding life; and as Christ met us then, so He will meet us now. May our attitude in the quiet of this tent, in this evening hour, be one not of yearning, but of yielding; not of struggling, but of resting; not of asking, but of taking. Let us go out to live the abounding life. May it be so, for His Name’s sake!


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Cast Your Burden upon the Lord

    Again, I doubt not that Satan leaves us – no, I know that he does – when the Lord says to him what He said in the wilderness, “Get you hence, Satan.” And He does say that when He sees one of His poor children dragged about, tortured, wounded, bleeding. The old Hell-dog knows his Master and he flies at once. This voice of God will come when the Lord sees that we cast ourselves wholly upon Him.

    Let me remind you of a story of a gentleman who, riding along in his coach, saw a packman carrying a heavy pack, and asked him if he would like a ride. “Yes, and thank you, sir.” But he kept his pack on his back while riding. “Oh,” said the friend, “why do you not take your pack off and put it down in front?” “Why, sir,” he said, “it is so kind of you to give me a ride that I do not like to impose upon your good nature, and I thought that I would carry the pack myself!” “Well,” said the other, “but, you see, it makes no difference to me whether you carry it or do not carry it – I have to carry you and your pack – so you had better unstrap it and put it down in front.”

    So, friend, when you cast your burden upon God, unstrap it! Why should you bear it yourself when God is prepared to bear it? Beloved, there are times when we forget that, but when we can come and absolutely yield ourselves right up, saying, “Lord, here I am, tempted, poor and weak. But I come and rest in You. I know not what to ask at Your hands, but Your servant has said, ‘Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.’ I lie at Your feet, my Lord. Here I am, here would I be. Do with me as seems good in Your sight – only deal in tender mercy with Your servant.” Then will the Lord rebuke the enemy! The waves of the sea shall be still and there shall be a great calm.

Watch and Pray

    I close by reminding you of the limitation of our rest. Satan left Christ “for a season,” or until a fit occasion.

    Dear friends, if we have peace and quietness, and are not tempted, do not let us become self-secure. The devil will come to us, again, at a fit opportunity. And when will that be? There are a great many fit opportunities with you and with me. One is when we have nothing to do. You know Dr. Watts’ lines – “Satan finds some mischief still, for idle hands to do.”

    He will come and attack us when we are alone. I mean, when we are sad and lonely, and are sitting still, and moping by ourselves.

    But Satan also finds a very fit occasion when we are in company, especially when it is very mixed company – a company of persons, perhaps, who are superior to ourselves in education and in station – but who do not fear God. We may easily be overawed and led astray by them. Satan will come then.

    I have known him frequently come and find an occasion against the children of God when we are sick and ill, the old coward! He knows that we would not mind him when we are in good health, but sometimes when we are down in the dumps through sickness and pain – then it is that he begins to tempt us to despair.

    So will he do with us when we are very poor. When a man has had a great loss in business, down comes Satan and insinuates, “Is this how God treats His children? God’s people are no better off than other people.”

    Then, if we are getting on in the world, he turns it the other way, and he says, “Does Job fear God for nothing? He gets on by his religion.” You cannot please the devil and you need not want to please him! He can make a temptation for you out of anything!

    I am going to say something that will surprise you. One time of great temptation is when we are very spiritual. As to myself, I have never been in such supreme danger as when I have led some holy meeting with sacred fervor and have felt carried away with delight in God. You know that it is easy to be on the Mount of Transfiguration and then to meet Satan at the foot, as our Lord did when He came down from that hill.

    Another time of temptation is when we have already done wrong. “Now he begins to slip,” says Satan. “I saw him trip. Now I will have him down!” Oh, for speedy repentance and an earnest flight to Christ whenever there has been a grave fault, yes, and before the grave fault comes, that we may be preserved from falling!

    And Satan finds a good occasion for tempting us when we have not sinned. After we have been tempted and we have won the day and stood fast, then he comes and says, “Now, that was well done on your part, you are a splendid saint!” And he who thinks himself a splendid saint is next door to a shameful sinner, depend upon it! And Satan soon gets the advantage over him.

    He will tempt you when you have obtained some blessing that you have been thinking was such a great gift. Just as you have secured the thing that you are seeking, then comes a temptation – to which all I have to say is this – “Watch.”

    “What I say unto you, I say unto all,” said Christ, “Watch. Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). And by the conflict and the victory of your Master, go into the conflict bravely and expect to conquer by faith in Him, even as He overcame!

    Condensed from the sermon, “Satan Departing, Angels Ministering

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    “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season” (Luke 4:13).

    Beloved friends, we have very much to learn from our Lord’s temptation. He was tempted in all points, like as we are. If you will study the temptation of Christ, you will not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. If you see how He worsted the enemy, you will learn what weapons to use against your great adversary. If you see how our Lord conquers throughout the whole battle, you will learn that, as you keep close to Him, you will be more than a conqueror through Him that loved you.

    From our Lord’s temptation we learn, especially, to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Let us never mistake the meaning of that petition! We are to pray that we may not be tempted, for we are poor flesh and blood and very frail. It is for us to cry to God, “Lead us not into temptation.” But we also learn a great deal from the close of our Lord’s great threefold trial. We find Him, afterwards, peaceful – ministered unto by angels – and rejoicing. That should teach us to pray, “But, if we must be tempted, deliver us from the evil,” or, as some render it, and very correctly, too, “Deliver us from the Evil One.” First, we pray that we may not be tempted at all and then, as a supplement to that prayer, yielding the whole matter to Divine wisdom, “If it is necessary for our manhood, for our growth in grace, for the verification of our graces and for God’s glory, that we should be tempted, Lord, deliver us from the evil, and especially deliver us from the impersonation of evil, the Evil One!”

    It may be a long time, when you are suffering from his attacks, before he will hold his hand, for he will try all that he possibly can to lead you into evil and to destroy the grace that is in you. Still, he does come to an end with his temptations sooner than he desires, for, as God has said to the mighty sea, “Until this time shall you come, but no further; and here shall your proud waves be stayed” (Job 38:11) – and so says He to the devil. When He permitted Satan to try the graces of Job and to prove his sincerity, He let him go just so far, but no farther. And when he asked for a further stretch of power, still there was a limit. There is always a limit to Satan’s power and when he reaches that point, he will be pulled up short – he can do no more. You are never so in the hands of Satan as to be out of the hands of God. You are never so tempted, if you are a believer, that there is not a way of escape for you!

    “When the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him.” When the Lord had foiled him at every point – had met every temptation with a text of Holy Scripture and had proved His own determination to hold fast His integrity and not let it go – it was not till then that the enemy departed. O brothers and sisters, if you can hold out, if you can stand against this and then against that; if you are protected against frowns and protected against flatteries; if you are protected against prosperity and against adversity; if you are protected against sly insinuations and open attacks – when you have won the day, as by God’s grace you will do, even as your Master did, then the enemy will depart from you!

    He leaves God’s people very quickly when he sees that they are sustained by superior grace. He hopes to catch them when grace is at a low ebb. If he can come upon them when faith is very weak, when hope’s eyes are dim, when love has grown cold – then he thinks that he will make an easy capture. But when we are filled with the Spirit as the Master was, (God grant that we may be), he looks us up and down and he presently leaves. Like an old pirate who hangs about on the lookout for merchant vessels, but if he meets with ships that have plenty of guns on board and hardy hands to give him a warm reception, he goes after some other craft not quite so well able to resist his assaults. O brothers and sisters, be not merely Christians, only barely Christians, with just enough grace to let you see your imperfections, but pray to God to give you mighty grace, that you may “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10), so that, after the devil has tested you and found that the Lord is with you, that God dwells in you, then you may expect that, as it was with your Master, so it will be with you – Satan will leave you.


(Contd in Part 2.)

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“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:11-14

Cheap Grace! It is everywhere. Especially masquerading as Sovereign Grace in the vocabulary and theology of smug self-loving Calvinists. Ah, ‘justified by faith’ – that’s all there is to salvation. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you shall be saved. (That’s the slogan of the shallow evangelicals.) Sign the (Reformed/London) Baptist Confession of Faith, and you are elected, chosen, predestinated, and you have reserved for yourself a niche in heaven. (That’s my experience with the insufferable Calvinists!) Speak in tongues, have a vision of two, utter a prophecy! (That’s the Charismatic version of God’s Grace Unto Salvation!)

So many lies, even in mainline Christianity! But what does the passage in Titus say? The subject: Grace of God. What does God’s Grace do? Instructs us! That word instructs means trains, chastens, disciplines us. The KJV says teaches. No, it is not theoretical teaching in faith-destroying Bible schools and seminaries. It is practical! On one side, we deny ungodly and worldly lusts (sports, television, gluttony) – which is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit takes us through the way of the Cross!

On the other side, we ought to live soberly, righteously and godly in the present godless age. Live like Enoch! Live like Noah! Those three words are enough! Am I sober (self-controlled), righteous (walking in truth) and godly (standing for God, and being a man of God)? No, it’s a long journey, but the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Grace, is here to transform me. Not just a talking Christian, but a walking Christian, reflecting, radiating Christ – and being hated by the world for it!

Looking for the blessed hope…I’m afraid, we have all lost that! Ecce Venit! (Lord, I haven’t reached that far, I’m bogged down with my present cares and problems!)

Why did the Lord Jesus Christ die or give Himself as a sacrifice for us? Here is the purpose of grace – i. To redeem us from every lawless deed, and ii. To purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Not our deeds, self-willed, self-pleasing, done to earn popular approbation. Not our works, not even ‘social work’ and ‘social justice’. And the purpose is sanctification; without holiness we will not see God. God’s people, those whom He loves, are a humble, holy, hidden people; His peculiar treasure, a royal priesthood, His faithful servants, doing His good works (Eph 2:10), according to His good will and for His good pleasure. His beloved children, now mature sons, ready to take up responsibility in the future kingdom of God.

No, but we have cheapened Grace. It is such a huge word in the New Testament, but we have brought our petty and foolish mind onto it and reduced it to a catch-phrase, ‘saved by grace’. I ask, Saved unto what? Titus 2:11-14 explains that.


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(John Robinson was a Pastor to the Pilgrims who set off to America and New England following persecution in their home country. ~ R.D.)

July 1620

“In the next place, for the wholesome counsel Mr. Robinson gave that part of the church whereof he was pastor at their departure from him to begin the great work of plantation in New England, – amongst other wholesome instructions and exhortations he used these expressions, or to the same purpose:

’We are now ere long to part asunder, and the Lord knoweth whether ever he should live to see our faces again. But whether the Lord had appointed it or not, he charged us before God and his blessed angels, to follow him no further than he followed Christ; and if God should reveal any thing to us by any other instrument of his, to be as ready to receive it as ever we were to receive any truth by his ministry; for he was very confident the Lord had more truth and light yet to break forth out of his holy word.

‘He took occasion also miserably to bewail the state and condition of the Reformed Churches, who were come to a period in religion, and would go no further than the instruments of their Reformation. As, for example, the Lutherans, they could not be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; for whatever part of God’s will he had further imparted and revealed to Calvin, they will rather die than embrace it. And so also, saith he, you see the Calvinists, they stick where he left them; a misery much to be lamented; for though they were precious shining lights in their times, yet God had not revealed his whole will to them; and were they now living, saith he, they would be as ready and willing to embrace further light, as that they had received.

‘Here also he put us in mind of our church covenant, at least that part of it whereby we promise and covenant with God and one with another, to receive whatsoever light or truth shall be made known to us from his written word; but withal exhorted us to take heed what we received for truth, and well to examine and compare it and weigh it with other Scriptures of truth before we received it. For, saith he, it is not possible the Christian world should come so lately out of such thick antichristian darkness, and that full perfection of knowledge should break forth at once.

’Another thing he commended to us, was that we should use all means to avoid and shake off the name of Brownist, being a mere nickname and brand to make religion odious and the professors of it to the Christian world. And to that end, said he, I should be glad if some godly minister would go over with you before my coming; for, said he, there will be no difference between the uncomformable ministers and you, when they come to the practices of the ordinances out of the kingdom. And so advised us by all means to endeavour to stick closely with the godly party of the kingdom of England, and rather to study union than division, viz. how near we might possibly without sin close with them, than in the least measure to affect division or separation from them. And be not loath to take another pastor or teacher, saith he; for that flock that hath two shepherds is not endangered but secured by it.’

From Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, 1841

Note: Robinson’s comments on the Reformation, and on the Lutherans and Calvinists. I don’t have much to say about the Lutherans, as they are a silent voice today; but the Calvinists who make a nuisance of themselves must study the wise observations of Robinson and take caution. Otherwise, they will land themselves in a twilight zone, where there is neither light nor darkness. ~R.D.

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(Message given at the Keswick Convention, perhaps, a 100 years ago.)

Go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come—
MATTHEW 5: 24.

I read from the Revised Version: “If therefore thou art offering “—note the vividness of the present tense—”thy gift at the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” We have here the photograph of an arrested purpose. Maybe our Lord, as He stood on some occasion in the Temple, had witnessed a scene in the history of some worshipper that suggested this marvellous representation of an arrested purpose. Here was a soul that, no doubt, knew itself to be a child of God—for these words of Christ follow upon other words that could only be appropriate to a child of God; a reverent soul, a penitent soul, for it had to come to the altar; an eager soul, for it had brought a gift, prompted, we trust, by gratitude and affection; a soul, therefore, in which God’s Spirit was evidently at work in the early stages of its experience, and which trusted and hoped that it might early enter into a deeper experience of God.

I am almost certain that there are hundreds of people in this tent tonight who are children of God by faith, who are reverent and penitent; and we are standing before the altar of self-surrender, beside which stands the Great High Priest Himself; and they have entered this tent with a serious resolution that they will consecrate their whole life to God. And when Dr. Smith spoke about a human life being a channel through which the torrent of the divine nature may flow to men, many a one deep down in the recesses which are not often opened said, “O my God, through my life henceforth, as I give it to Thee, wilt Thou pour Thy mighty self upon a dying world?” I see you standing there. There is a smile on your face, there is even rapture in your expression; you have something which you desire to give to Him upon the altar that sanctifieth the giver and the gift. But just there and just now memory does its work, and seems to stand up like a warning figure, and, pointing backward, says, “Remember!” And as He, the Priest, witnesses that sudden revulsion of feeling, He says, “Go your way; before you can make an offer of consecration, there is a previous work to be done.” You want to skip tonight, but Christ will not let you. You want to come to the act of consecra- tion, but there is something previous. He says, “Go … then come;’ First, “Go.”

It seems to me as if at this moment the Lord is going to send us back to our homes and to our rooms, that in some letter we shall write, or some word we shall speak, there shall be the first necessary preparation for the work of consecration which will follow presently. First “Go,” then “come.” Be reconciled to thy brother, then yield thyself to God. That is, your attitude toward God is determined by your attitude toward your brother. You love God just as much as, and no more than, you truly love the man whom you love least. You have been thinking that your favour in the sight of God Almighty was determined by the fervour of your prayers, the exuberance of your hymns, and the religiousness and constancy with which you maintain your private devotion. But understand today that your attitude toward God whom you do not see is gauged by your attitude toward your brother, whom you do see: and we have got tonight to settle that.

An American clergyman told me that for many years he had pleaded with God for revival, but no revival came. Finally, in despair he gathered his church around him, and rolled the burden of his anxiety upon his people, saying, “I have done all I could; it is now for you to consider your attitude toward God.” Then there rose up in the church-meeting a grey-haired elder, much respected. He said, “Pastor, I do not wonder that there is no revival in this church; there never will be as long as Brother Jones and I don’t speak to one another “; and before all the people the old man went down the aisle to where his brother sat, and said, “Brother Jones, forgive me; for ten years we have not spoken. Let us bury the hatchet.” They made peace, and he came back to his seat, and bowed his grey head between his hands. There was a great silence on the people, and another officer of the church rose, and said, “Pastor, I do not think there is going to be a revival in this church as long as I say fair things to your face and mean things about you behind your back. Forgive me I ” The pastor forgave him, and he said that for the next twenty minutes, in the awful stillness of the place, men with men, women with women, rose and went to square up old accounts with those with whom they were at feud. And then the Spirit of God came down in a mighty rushing wind.

“Thy brother “—someone near you. Has that brother or sister, or that man or that woman, aught against you? You are disposed to say, “I have a great deal against him; he only paid me five shillings in the pound. All the time he tried to do me hurt. He is an ugly, cross-grained, miserable, soul; I cannot get on with him!” The Lord puts His hand over your mouth, and says, “I do not ask you what you have against him. What has he against you?”

What has your wife against you? Have you been intolerant, have you been irritable, have you constantly demanded of her sacrifice that you have no right to ask? Has there been a domineering, tyrannical spirit in your address toward those nearest and dearest to you? Has any girl or woman living aught against you? Have you excited hopes in that girl’s heart which you have not realised; have you been tampering with that girl’s love, have you been leading her to think that you would be more to her than you meant to be? Has that woman anything against you? Has that servant, that dependant, anything against you? Have you demanded from him that for which you have not paid just wages? Has that poor servant girl a voice against you tonight, because you treat her as a slave? You do not think of her moral need; you do not mother her.
Have those trades-people aught against you? Do they look upon you as hard-fisted? Do they say they would rather serve men of the world than you; that you are always finding fault, that you keep them out of their money, that there is so much parsimony in your dealings with them? Has your brother aught against you? I do not ask if he is a Christian. He is simply a brother man, a man inferior to yourself, a woman or girl, who is altogether below you in position and station, and God Almighty is searching you tonight.

I put it once more, in the most solemn way, to this audience: you want comfort, you say; you want consecration, you say; you want high rapture, you say; you want to be lifted up upon the wings of the cherubim. I know all that. You resent the arrest. You are offering your gift, but God steps in, and says: “Go back and find your brother, your sister, the child, the woman, the man who has something against you.”

Now what does Christ say? He says, “Go and be reconciled.” But you answer, “Why should I? I am the older, I am the employer, I am in many ways superior. Let them come to me. If they want to get right, I am quite prepared to make it right.”

“No,” says Christ; “you must go and be reconciled.” Is there any cause of offence now between you and some man or woman in this world still existing? You know you took things out of your father’s house which were over and above your share; you know that you divided that property unjustly, or at least in a way
which you justified to yourself, but which upset the rest of the family; you know that you have done things in your money matters with your customers and creditors which “won’t wash.” I tell you that it is absolutely impossible to expect that God will accept your gift and baptise you with the Holy Ghost until these things are put right. First go to your brother and tell him you have done wrong; and make restitution. Write the cheque tonight and send it; add the interest. Write the letter of apology, and say, “Excuse me, and forgive me.”

Have you been angry without a cause? When a man allows anger in his soul, it makes him stiff and abrupt and cold. Then Christ says, “Have you let anger make you say of someone, ‘Vain fellow!’ or ‘Ungovernable fool!’ Directly you judge another man in that way, you are judged, and by an invisible court the sentence is pronounced on you that you pronounced. If you call a man a “vain fellow,” heaven pronounces that you are vain; if you speak of a man as a “fool,” the heavenly court pronounces you culpable of folly; and if you count a man as rubbish, you yourself are cast upon God’s rubbish heap—Gehenna—which is not for the future but for now. There are scores of men and women in this tent tonight who are on God’s rubbish heap. He cannot use them because they are not just and right in their relations to others.

You say to me, “I do not feel like it.” No, but that is not the question. You are to will it, you are to do it, you are to obey, and you are to do it in cold blood; and then “come.” Now, in this moment, as I close, Christ stands here side by side with the altar, and He looks into my heart and into your heart, and says, “Re- member! Has any aught against you?” I never shall forget how He came to me. There was something in my life—God grant it may not be in yours—and at that supreme moment, when I knelt by my bedside and said, ” Christ, I surrender my whole manhood to Thee,” He absolutely stopped me. I forced on Him the gifts of my heart, and He refused them, and said, “Stop ! There is something to be done first.” Something had come into my life which was not only affecting myself but my relations to others, and there my whole nature was entrenched; and I said, ” I cannot, and I won’t !” It was only after He kept me waiting at the altar until I saw that the fire was burning out, and that He was leaving and passing away with averted face, that I called my Priest back, and said, “Come back! Don’t leave me here!” and He returned; and there and then there had to be an adjusted relationship with another and with others. Then, when all was done, I. came and offered my gift, and on that gift the fire came.

Now, do you remember something to be done? Then do it, and Christ will fulfil. “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

He will fulfil your life as the summer fulfils the spring and the flower fulfils the bud. 0 Saviour, fulfil our lives; but help us, first, to do what is to be done tonight. I have been told that on this platform Pastor Stockmeyer, before he spoke with wonderful power, said he must confess to a feeling of jealousy toward another minister who was on the platform. I should not be at all surprised if you find out some Christian worker, and say, “Forgive me”; if you find out some man or woman in this tent or at Keswick and say, “Forgive me.” Or you will write a letter before you sleep and post it tonight. You will go; then come.


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Love is the central, animating force in true religion, true Christian living. It is to the moral system what the sun is to the solar system—the warming, illuminating, motivating power for every part. In the natural world every growing tree, flowing stream, passing breeze, floating cloud, falling shower, opening bud, and tossing wave is produced by the force of the sun. So in the spiritual realm every fervent prayer, act of charity, resistance to evil, gentle word, and courageous act is a product of love. It is to the soul what blood is to the body. As the health and vigor of the body depend on the blood, so the health of the soul, the vigor of its righteousness, the bloom and color of its virtues, all depend on the quality and degree of love that pervades the spirit and prompts its movements.

The term “walk” applies to all the movements of the spirit and life; it is the ever-going, never-ceasing locomotion of the moral and mental nature. We walk in our words, attitudes, desires, plans, purposes, prayers, sermons, opinions, and business dealings. Every unfolding of the spirit in an outward act, or an intention to act, is a distinct step in the unceasing march of the soul on its journey through life. Footprints on the ocean shore may be erased by the next wave, but our souls are putting footprints into the passing hours which are indelibly preserved in our history.

To walk in love—to speak, to act, to purpose, with the love of God pervading our every movement—is the best and sublimest form of existence. To do this there must be a thorough abandonment of self-will, self-opinion, and self-desire.

It is so easy for us to indulge in a spirit contrary to Christ’s love under the guise of zeal or some other form of virtue. Let us apply walking in love to our preaching, teaching, exhortation, reproving. For, alas, in all such utterances we may be rigidly orthodox, severely truthful—forgetting that we break the truth the very moment we cease to hold the truth in love. How long it takes us to learn that the exact, strict, doctrinal truth, when separated from the proper spirit which should go with it, becomes the instrument of death. Even the doctrine of holiness may be held and taught in such a spirit as to break the law of holiness. Without love the doctrines of salvation may be presented in a way that is actually harmful; but with love even the doctrine of hell may be presented in such Scriptural unction as will save souls.

Apply this walking in love to prayer. Are not a great many prayers worse than wasted because they are uttered in a sharp, condemnatory, or peevish and ill spirit? Have we not heard prayers which sounded like judging or reprimanding others, or addressed to some individual in the company more than to God? Have we ever uttered a prayer for the gratification of self, or for the commendation or the condemnation of someone present? Let us remember that our prayers will ascend and prevail in heaven only in the same proportion as they have the spirit of heaven in them. That which comes from heaven will return thither. It is the love force in our prayers that makes them effective with God or with men.

If we pray thoughtfully, God will give us an inward light to detect any deviation from the spirit of love. We may be about to utter some word or petition which is unwise or expresses a wrong attitude, and before it escapes our lips the Spirit will lead us to utter something quite different, or to modify our tone of voice and manner of expression. As a result, what would have been wasted words is now anointed and effectual by His gentle touch and illumination. To use either flattery or accusation in our prayers may not be equally offensive to men, but it is equally offensive to God, and in either case poisons our petitions. The thoughtfulness which is needed in prayer is not that of intense intellectuality, but that tranquil kind of thoughtfulness which watches the outgoings of our heart to see that they are in harmony with the Word of God and pleasing in His sight. If this form of walking in love were observed, how many kinds of prayers it would weed out from religious services, and even from some which claim holiness.

Apply this walking in love to our feelings toward of others and our opinions of them. Forming an opinion of someone involves the activity of my moral nature. Prejudice is an opinion formed beforehand, or without knowing the facts in the case, and if my mind walks in love, it will prevent prejudice, for love forms its estimate on the basis of knowledge. In our views of other people, other cultures and customs of living, other kind of congregational meetings, other sorts of service and ministry than those of our own, if our judgments were formed under the guidance of love, how careful they would be, how free from rash denunciation. When our opinions are brought into subjection to truth and soberness in love, they will coincide with the Word of God and reflect the mind of Christ.

Apply this walking in love to matters of business. This not only implies that we transact our affairs honestly, but that such honesty and fair dealing is the outflow of a loving heart which, from its loving nature, prefers and delights in fair dealing. We hear it said that “honesty is the best policy,” but the person that is honest for that reason is, at heart, a thief, for on the same grounds he will steal, if stealing becomes the best policy. To walk in love in buying and selling, in borrowing and lending, in begging and giving, in hiring and being hired, in being masters or servants would constitute an ideal society. Though many will not accept this rule of life, we each have the privilege of building a society that does, and even if we should be the only one, it will be to us just the same as if all the world did.

The Holy Spirit has chosen to feed us with such verses as the following: “we should be holy and without blame before him in love”; “being rooted and grounded in love”; “forbearing one another in love”; “speaking the truth in love”; “the whole body… edifying itself in love”; “being knit together in love”; “esteem them very highly in love”; “walk in love.”

When we look back over our lives, and see the times and places where something other than love has governed our words and actions, they look like salt spots upon which no lovely fruit has grown. We may depend upon it that the only manner of Christian living that will succeed is that which springs from the blessed Author of life. “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God.”


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