Great Texts of the Bible
The Unselfishness of True Religion
Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?—Job 1:9.
Before the throne of Jehovah are gathered “the Sons of God.” We meet the phrase elsewhere in the Old Testament, and we find it again in this Book, as used to designate beings of other than human mould, employed as God’s ministers of mercy or of judgment, whose creation dates from a period older than that of the material earth and of us its inhabitants. Among these beings, who come to do homage to their Lord, is one who bears the title of “the Adversary,” or “Opposer,” the Satan, as the word stands in the Hebrew, who reports himself as fresh from travelling to and fro on the surface of the earth. Jehovah Himself calls his attention to one, of whom He speaks as my servant Job, and bears His own testimony, a more than human testimony, to his goodness. He repeats, reminding some of us perhaps of similar repetitions in the oldest of classic poets, the very words in which the author had introduced him: “Hast thou considered,” he says, “my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.” But “the Adversary,” clearly a malignant spirit, has his answer ready. “Doth Job fear God,” he asks, “for nought?” He insinuates at once a doubt, and more than a doubt, as to Job’s motives. “Hast thou not,” he goes on, “made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath, on every side? Thou hast blessed the works of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will renounce thee to thy face.” I myself, he seems to say, could be as pious as Job, were I as prosperous as he. “It is easy,” says a character drawn by a modern satirist, “to be virtuous on a handsome income, on so many thousands a year.” The temptations of poverty are obvious, and strike the eye. Satan sees them at a glance. Those of wealth, which wrung from the Great Teacher the words, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God,” are more subtle and hidden. Satan read the one, Jesus Christ the other.1 [Note: 1 Dean Bradley.]
1. The word “Satan,” or “adversary,” or “accuser,” supplies one aspect only of Satanic character. He is here presented not as the “tempter,” the one who suggests evil to man; but as the “accuser,” the one who insinuates evil about man. No one name sums up the whole character of the fallen angel. It is as an “accuser” that he appears here. Job was a perfect and an upright man, one who feared God, and turned away from evil. The devil in the capacity of tempter had very little elbow-room in the life of Job. Hence he appears here as the false accuser of the man whom he could not successfully tempt.
We must be careful not to impose upon the Book of Job or this prophet conceptions belonging to a more advanced period. The Satan of these books is no mere “evil spirit,” the real enemy of God though His unwilling subject. There is no antagonism between God and the Satan. The idea that the “attacks of Satan are aimed primarily at the honour of God”; that his purpose is to deny that God is “ever disinterestedly served and sincerely loved by any being whatever”; and that “the object of the trial of Job is precisely to demonstrate to him the contrary”—such an idea is altogether at variance with Old Testament conceptions. The Satan is the servant of God, representing or carrying out His trying, sifting providence, and the opposer of men because he is the minister of God; hence Job’s afflictions, represented as inflicted by the Satan in one place, are spoken of as due to the hand of God in another, “thou hast set me on against him, to destroy him” (Job 2:3), just as Job’s friends “came to condole with him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11), and of course everywhere in the poem the Almighty is assumed to be the author of Job’s calamities both by the sufferer and by his friends. The angels and Satan among them are the ministers of God’s providence. The Satan being the minister of God’s trying providence, which is often administered by means of afflictions, it was an easy step to take to endow him with the spirit of hostility to man which such afflictions seemed to reflect. This step is taken in the Book, though not very decidedly.1 [Note: A. B. Davidson.]
2. What are the signs of the “Satan” character?
(1) The first sign is a want of regard for one’s fellow-creatures.—This is a faint enough way of putting it, so far as Satan is concerned, the spirit that moves through the world, deceiving and destroying, of whom Christ has said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” With no belief in principle or goodness, he can cherish no reverence and feel no pity. All may be treated remorselessly where all are so contemptible. The belief and the moral nature must in the end come into harmony; and where a spirit sets itself only to doubt and deny, it sets itself also to tempt and seduce. It must prove its own theory valid. Hence, probably, what otherwise seems insanity—the temptation of the Son of God, in whom there was no shade of sin. The mocking and sceptical spirit, which feels nothing but hollowness within, sees nothing else around and above it, and believes it possible to drag all that seems to be higher down to its own level.
The possession of reverence marks the noblest and highest type of manhood and womanhood: reverence for things consecrated by the homage of generations—for high objects, pure thoughts, and noble aims—for the great men of former times, and the highminded workers amongst our contemporaries. Reverence is alike indispensable to the happiness of individuals, of families, and of nations. Without it there can be no trust, no faith, no confidence, either in man or God—neither social peace nor social progress. For reverence is but another word for religion, which binds men to each other, and all to God.2 [Note: S. Smiles, Character, 14.]
It was about 6.20 a.m. when we reached the canal bridge at Tel-el-Kebir. Two or three hundred Highlanders, a squadron of cavalry, and some odds and ends of mounted corps had just arrived. The seamy side of a battle was here painfully apparent; anything seemed to be good enough to let off a rifle at. Dead and wounded men, horses, and camels were on all sides. Some of the wounded had got down to the edge of the water to quench their thirst; others were on the higher banks, unable to get down. Many of our officers dismounted and carried water to these unfortunates, but the men were not all similarly disposed. I heard an officer ask a man who was filling his canteen at the canal to give a drink of water to a gasping Egyptian cavalry soldier who was lying supporting himself against the battlement of the bridge. “I wadna wet his lips,” was the indignant reply.1 [Note: Autobiography of Sir William Butler, 235.]
(2) The next consequence to the spirit which has no belief in unselfishness is the want of any centre of rest within itself.—The condition of Satan is thus described, in verse 7, “And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Incessant wandering, “going about,” “seeking rest and finding none,” is the view given of him in Scripture. There is the constant endeavour to find a fixed point, and inability to discover it; and this may be the truth intended to be conveyed in that strange but significant narrative (Matthew 8:28) where the evil spirit is urged from place to place by the conquering power of good, till it is driven to beg for a refuge in the lowest and most grovelling forms of creation,—to find itself, even here too, rejected, and cast forth naked and shelterless. This is most certain, that if the heart does not give quiet, no place in the universe can, and the personal head of evil has been for ages making the attempt to find that quiet in vain.
The place both of the past and future is too much usurped in our minds by the restless and discontented present. The very quietness of nature is gradually withdrawn from us; thousands who once in their necessarily prolonged travel were subjected to an influence from the silent sky and slumbering fields, more effectual than known or confessed, now bear with them even there the ceaseless fever of their life; and along the iron veins that traverse the frame of our country, beat and flow the fiery pulses of its exertion, hotter and faster every hour. All vitality is concentrated through those throbbing arteries into the central cities; the country is passed over like a green sea by narrow bridges, and we are thrown back in continually closer crowds upon the city gates.2 [Note: Ruskin, Seven Lamps of Architecture (Works, viii. 246).]
(3) There is still another effect to be remarked of this want of belief in unselfishness—the failure of any real hold on a God.—It was so with the great spirit of evil. He could not deny God’s existence. This was too plainly forced in upon him and felt by him, but he had no just views of a God of truth and purity and goodness, else he had never continued so to resist Him. He had a belief that made him tremble, but that never stirred him up to lay hold on God, because he saw only heartless power seated on the throne of the universe. It is within the sphere of every spirit to make and maintain its own world and its own God, and the God it makes bears the character of its world.
The sneerers and scoffers at religion do not spring from amongst the simple children of nature, but are the excrescences of overwrought refinement, and though their baneful influence has indeed penetrated to the country and corrupted many there, the fountain-head was amongst crowded houses where nature is scarcely known. I am not one of those who look for perfection amongst the rural population of any country; perfection is not to be found amongst the children of the Fall, be their abode where it may; but until the heart disbelieve the existence of a God, there is still hope for the possessor, however stained with crime he may be, for even Simon the Magician was converted. But when the heart is once steeled with infidelity, infidelity confirmed by carnal reasoning, an exuberance of the grace of God is required to melt it, which is seldom or never manifested; for we read in the blessed Book that the Pharisee and the Wizard became receptacles of grace, but where is mention made of the conversion of the sneering Sadducee? and is the modern infidel aught but a Sadducee of later date?1 [Note: George Borrow, Letters to the Bible Society, 128.]
What In Memoriam did for us was to impress on us the ineffaceable and ineradicable conviction that humanity will not and cannot acquiesce in a godless world: the “man in men” will not do this, whatever individual men may do, whatever they may temporarily feel themselves driven to do, by following methods which they cannot abandon to the conclusions to which these methods at present seem to lead.2 [Note: Professor Henry Sidgwick, in Memoir of Tennyson, i. 302.]
The accusation is put in the form of a question; and a question may be more incisive than a statement. There are few forms of speech which can be so suggestive as the interrogatory. This is a commonplace in the Satanic art of suggesting evil. It is also a convenient cover for cowardice; although it was not so in this case, as it is supplemented by a bold and specific assertion. The literal and perhaps the most forcible rendering of this question is “Doth Job serve God gratis?” This is the exact significance of the Septuagint translation. It is the form, too, in which the irony of the Hebrew is best expressed. The suggestion is that in the case of Job there was no disinterested goodness, no unselfish piety.
1. It is an insinuation, not only against Job, but against all men.—The view embodied in Satan’s words is one which we have heard whispered, or loudly spoken, or taken for granted, now and here, as there and then. There is no such thing, we are told, as a love of goodness for its own sake. There is always some ulterior aim, some selfish motive. Even religion, we hear, even the religion of Christ, is a mere matter of selfish interest. It is nothing more, even when sincere, than a selfish device to escape from pain, and enjoy happiness hereafter. “Doth Job fear God for nought?” You see how far the words extend. They cover a wider range than that of the character of one child of Adam. They go down to the very springs of human nature; down to the very essence and even the existence of goodness itself. “Can men and women care for goodness and mercy, or for truth, or for righteousness, for their own sake?”
Job was a typical saint. According to Divine testimony there was “none like him on the earth.” If Job’s piety had turned out to be selfish and self-seeking, what hope could there be of others? So much hinged upon this. The vindication of Job would also be a vindication of human piety at its best. It was well worth Job’s suffering to expose the Satanic fallacy. It was worth all the endurance to turn back the edge of that cruel suspicion, not only against Job, but also against men of Job’s spirit throughout the ages.
Every one who values the highest interests of his race must look with deep pity upon the efforts of many whose chief aim it seems to be to depreciate humanity, and to show their ingenuity only by repeating, in every varied form, the old question of the mocking spirit, “Doth Job fear God for nought?” There is a literature which makes it its pleasure to depict affection that it may trace its slow decline, and to analyse human nature that it may exhibit its meanness, which when it paints goodness gives us the superficial gilding of a paltry amiability, and puts heart after heart into its crucible that it may reduce all to dross. It passes with many for deep knowledge of the world, and finds its refrain from some worn-out men of pleasure who repeat “vanity of vanities” with another aim than the “Preacher,” and from some younger men who affect the worn-out style as lending them, at an easy price, the air of insight and old experience. After all, it is a shallow philosophy, and unhappy as shallow, which degrades human nature and casts doubt on the Divine, and leaves us to infer that dust and ashes are all that is.1 [Note: John Ker, Sermons, 112.]
I cannot but enter the most emphatic and earnest protest I am capable of uttering against the dreary mechanical utilitarianism which would resolve even secular life into one vast scheme of selfishness. The world, all that is best and noblest in the world, does not act from purely selfish motives. There are grand lives lived, there are noble deaths died, by statesmen, by soldiers, by sailors, by clergymen, by doctors, by travellers, by common stokers on our railways, and common miners in our coal pits, for the sole love of England, or of Humanity, with no tinge of a base self-seeking nature in the hearts that thus labour and thus fall. Not from any cold-blooded calculations of gain come such lives and deaths, but from the influence of the Spirit of God, from which cometh every good, true, noble, brave thought and deed that ever glows in the soul of man, and burns itself into action upon earth.2 [Note: T. Teignmouth Shore, Some Difficulties of Belief, 212.]
Miss Anna Swanwick, the translator of the dramas of Æschylus, formed a class of shop girls and servants. Once when she was trying to interest them in Milton, some one suggested that instruction in arithmetic would be more useful, considering their work and future. She thought not, but resolved to leave it to themselves to decide. So at their next meeting she put the question to them, Which do you prefer—instruction in the poets or in book-keeping? and, not to hasten their decision, left them to discuss it among themselves, telling them that she would come back for their answer. When she returned she found that only two of the girls were in favour of what bore upon their ordinary work; all the rest wished what would take them away from it or lift them above it.3 [Note: W. L. Watkinson, The Ashes of Roses, 195.]
2. It is also an accusation against God.—The arrow launched at Job flies farther: in the end it reaches God Himself. If Satan is right, it is not only that there is no such thing as disinterested goodness, but God Himself is robbed of His highest and noblest attribute. If He can no longer win the hearts, and retain in joy and sorrow the reverential affection of those on whom He showers His benefits; if He can no longer inspire anything but a mercenary love, He may be all-powerful still, but there are surely those among our fellow-creatures, whom some of us know or have known, who must come before Him in our homage. Heaven and earth are no longer full of His glory. Vital is the question which the challenge stirs, and rightly has it been said, that in the coming contest, Job is the champion, not of his own character only, but of all who care for goodness, and of God Himself.
If the prologue be an integral part of the poem, we have here the key to the interpretation of Job. In the incisive words of A. B. Davidson: “This question—Doth Job serve God for nought?—is the problem of the book.” But the difficulty is just to read the poem in this light. And the learning and insight which Davidson and his great confrères, Delitzsch and Dillmann, have applied to the problem throw the difficulty into still clearer relief. It is not merely that the bearing of Job is different; but the whole centre of interest changes. In the poem, the Satan and his cynical assaults on human goodness vanish. It is no longer Job’s piety, but God’s justice, that is in question. As even Godet admits, “The Being who is brought to the bar of judgment is in reality not Job, it is Jehovah. The point in debate is not only the virtue of Job; it is, at the same time, and in a still higher degree, the justice of God.” And Job is now the Prometheus who boldly joins issue with the Almighty. The problem of the poem is to reconcile faith in God with the inequalities of His Providence. And it ends in God’s appearing, not to reveal to His steadfast servant the meaning of His sufferings, but to vindicate His own character as worthy of trust and love.1 [Note: A. R. Gordon, The Poets of the Old Testament, 204.]
Job’s life, as it is traced in the glowing, indignant, faith-inspired words of his complaint, is the triumphant answer. Job does fear God for nought: that is, his integrity is no vulgar barter for wages, as Satan supposes, but deeply founded in the truth of things—so deeply that he takes leave of friends, of family, of life, even of God Himself, as he has hitherto regarded God, in order to be true. And if Job, a man like ourselves, has wrought out the answer, then the answer exists in humanity. There is such a thing as disinterested piety, and it contains whole worlds of faith and insight. Or, to gather the history before us into a sentence: There is a service of God which is not work for reward: it is a heart-loyalty, a hunger after God’s presence, which survives loss and chastisement; which in spite of contradictory seeming cleaves to what is Godlike as the needle seeks the pole; and which reaches up out of the darkness and hardness of this life to the light and love beyond.
1. We must admit that there are some forms in which certain doctrines have been presented and enforced which would seem to sustain the charge. And it is, perhaps, because we have dwelt too much on these aspects of the religious life that the thought has caused some vague uneasiness to ourselves.
(1) Has there not sometimes been too great a tendency to make our individual salvation the sole and exclusive object of the Christian life? In some manuals of devotion, and in books which treat systematically of the religious life, this is painfully apparent. Take, for example, that treatise which has for many reasons justly obtained the reverence of ages, Thomas à Kempis’ De Imitatione Christi. This selfish aspect of Christianity is the one blot on that otherwise luminous and noble work. “His one view of the duty of man,” writes Farrar, “is to be self-absorbed in accomplishing his own personal salvation, in securing his individual safety amid universal conflagration, to save himself on some plank of prayer or self-denial out of the fiery surges of some devouring sea.”1 [Note: T. Teignmouth Shore, Some Difficulties of Belief, 219.]
But let us not err on the other side any more than on this. Selfishness is certainly an evil, when it leads us to subordinate spiritual things to those which are temporal: but if understood as implying a supreme regard to our eternal interests, it is good and commendable; for it is that very disposition which was exercised by Mary, when she dismissed from her mind all inferior considerations, and chose that good part which should never be taken away from her. In this sense Christians are selfish; and it may justly be said of them that they do not “serve God for nought.” For they desire, above all things, the salvation of their souls. They know what they have done to offend their God, and what God has done to save them, and what promises of mercy He has given to all who repent and believe His Gospel. And, knowing these things, they desire to avail themselves of the opportunity afforded them, and to secure to themselves the proffered benefits. And is this wrong? If so, what can all the invitations and promises of the Gospel mean? Why did Peter say, “Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out”? or why did our blessed Lord say, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink; and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”?1 [Note: C. Simeon, Works, iv. 317.]
(2) There is another point, which is perhaps of still more practical importance to ourselves; for it not only seems to justify some of the accusations against our faith as being selfish, but it does tend in many of us, perhaps, really to give our religious thoughts and aspirations a selfish tinge. There is no word which we use more frequently in religious phraseology than the word “Salvation.” “To be saved” is beyond all question the very end and object of every religious, anxious soul, so far as it can be summed up in so brief a formula. “To save us” Jesus Christ died. “To save perishing souls” is the one great practical end for which the Catholic Church of Christ exists. Is there not too great a tendency in many of us always to speak and think of that salvation which Christ purchased for us with His precious blood as solely an escape from some future punishment? Have we not read and heard too, frequently, appeals to men to accept Christ as their Saviour from punishment and from hell? Yet such is only a fragment—possibly to some extent a distorted fragment—of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we regard the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God as merely a means by which we are to escape some future pain, there may be a strong tinge of selfishness in our faith. There is a more awful thing than pain, or punishment, or hell itself, so far as we use the word merely to indicate a place of torture—there is sin, the most awful thing in the universe of God. It is to save us from sin that Christ died. Sin and Self, these are the tyrants we are groaning under; it was to deliver us from these that Christ came.
Salvation is not putting a man into Heaven, but putting Heaven into a man. It is not putting a sinful man into a law-abiding community, but writing the law of God in his heart and mind. The real question is not, What will we do under outward compulsion? but, What will we do by inward choice? Salvation is not the change of circumstances, but that central change in us, that change of the heart, of its attitude, its intentions, and its choices, which will make it the conqueror under all circumstances in life’s battles.1 [Note: M. D. Babcock, Thoughts for Every-Day Living, 11.]
2. But now let us directly face this question of the disinterestedness of religion.
(1) And first of all, it is a fact that, in the long run and in the large view, prosperity and the service of God are bound together. That is the idea of life. That is what our sense of justice demands. And no man must deny that fact as it applies itself to his own life. It is not by burning his barns and killing his cattle that Job will get rid of his difficulties and answer the question of his motive in serving God.
It is remarkable to see how really the Bible has two classes of utterances. On the one hand it has such promises as offer blessings to obedience and assure men that if they serve God they shall prosper. On the other hand there are such words as those of Jesus in which He frankly told His disciples that in the world they should “have tribulation” in proportion as they belonged to Him. It is very interesting to put these two sorts of utterances together and ask what will be the total impression which is the resultant in the mind of him who believes them both. No doubt he will decide that what they mean is the certainty that righteousness will come to happiness in the end, but will have to pass through much of suffering upon the way. And, if he be wise, the practical rule by which the man will try to live will be the forgetfulness of consequences altogether, the ceasing to think whether happiness or unhappiness is coming, and the pursuit of righteousness for its own sake, the being upright, brave, and true, simply because uprightness, bravery, and truth are the only worthy conditions of a human soul. Great is the condition of a man who thus lets rewards take care of themselves, come if they will or fail to come, but; goes on his way true to the truth simply because it is true, strongly loyal to the right for its pure righteousness.1 [Note: Phillips Brooks, New Starts in Life, 39.]
Carlyle took occasion to relate how when he was a child of four his parents had given him an earthenware “thrift pot,” a sort of bottle without mouth, but slit in the side to slip pennies in. Somehow he was left alone in the house; there came to the door a beggar-man, pale, weary, worn, and hungry, dripping with wet. “I climbed on the kitchen table,” says Carlyle, “and reached down the thrift pot from its shelf and gave him all that was in it—some fourpence. I never in all my life felt anything so like Heaven as the pity I had for that man.” How different this from “the inward satisfaction and pride resulting from a virtuous action!”2 [Note: Mrs. Brookfield and her Circle, ii. 435.]
(2) But we think, and rightly, of the Christian as looking for blessing not in this life but in the life beyond the grave. “I shall be happy in Heaven,” says the servant of Christ; “I can wait. The glory and the bliss that are to be revealed are well worth waiting for. I can suffer for these few years, sure of the freedom from suffering which I am to have for ever and ever.” What multitudes of souls have fed upon this certainty. What multitudes are feeding on it now and gathering great strength and patience. And we can see at once that this expectation of celestial reward has left behind much of the danger of the anticipation of reward to be received on earth. In the first place it never can be so distinct and definite. It cannot take clear concrete shapes to the ambitious desires, like houses and lands and bags of money, and the visible, audible tokens of men’s esteem. Being of necessity less sharp and distinct before the imagination, the prizes of the celestial life may well appear more spiritual and the terms of their attainment may seem less arbitrary, more essential. Thus they may be the means of higher and purer inspiration.
To ask to see some fruit of our endeavour is but a transcendental way of serving for reward; and what we take to be contempt of self is only greed of hire.3 [Note: R. L. Stevenson, A Christmas Sermon.]
(3) And, after all, character is the essential reward and true ambition of a noble life. For then we pass beyond all of what are commonly meant by consequences, and our thought is fixed upon intrinsic qualities as the true result and recompense of struggle after righteousness. “If I do these brave things I shall be brave.” “If I resist this temptation to impurity I shall be pure.” Bravery and purity as real possessions of the soul; as real as, indeed far more real than, houses and oxen and bags of gold—these make he new ambition.
In the lower stages of personal religious experience, as in the earlier stages of national religious development, the bargaining temper of the patriarch Jacob may be condoned; but in the higher stages, which cannot be delayed without serious loss, the huckstering spirit has entirely passed away. “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money.… But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money.” In our day dollars and divinity are associated without causing any special shock, but to men full of the spirit of Christ the association was sacrilegious; the attempt to obtain spiritual power with money, or to get money out of spiritual virtue, was equally impious. The strong language of Peter shows that profit and piety are utterly irreconcilable in religious thought and motive, although they are often and naturally coincident in practical life.
James Smetham’s painting, poetry, and study of literature did not lead to conventional success; yet toward the end of life he wrote: “In my own secret heart I look on myself as one who has got on, and got to his goal, as one who has got something a thousand times better than a fortune, more real, more inward, less in the power of others, less variable, more immortal, more eternal; as one whose feet are on a rock, his goings established, with a new song in his mouth, and joy on his head.” Here is the exceeeding great reward of devout souls, however carnal fortune may fail.1 [Note: W. L. Watkinson, The Ashes Roses, 197.]
(4) Have we yet reached the end? Is there a higher motive still? There is a motive, or perhaps we ought to say a range of motives, which yet more completely casts aside and leaves behind the taint of mercenariness while it still presents a true prize to the uplifted eye of the struggler with his sins and the seeker for goodness. This range of motives is inspired by two ideas. One of these ideas is the honour which man by his holiness may render to God. The other is the help which man by his holiness may render to his fellow-man.
You go to your Christian friend, your fellow-student, your fellow-merchant, your fellow-man. You say to him, “You are serving God.” And he replies, “Yes, certainly I am, and I am always trying to serve Him more and more”; and then you ask Satan’s question, “Is it for nothing that you serve Him? Do you serve God for nought?” And he replies again, “Oh no, He pays me bountifully.” And then you say, “Tell me what He gives you.” And the answer comes, “He gives me the privilege of honouring Him and helping my fellow-men.” What then? It may be that these rewards seem to be no reward to you. It may be that you look into his face as if you looked upon an idiot, and wondered what distortion of the mind could let him care for things like these. But none the less you see that he does care for them. They make for him a great enthusiasm. They are his “exceeding great reward.”
It is not your business and mine to study whether we shall get to heaven, even to study whether we shall be good men; it is our business to study how we shall come into the midst of the purposes of God and have the unspeakable privilege in these few years of doing something of His work. And yet so is our life all one, so is the Kingdom of God which surrounds us and enfolds us one bright and blessed unity, that when a man has devoted himself to the service of God and his fellow-man, immediately he is thrown back upon his own nature, and he sees now—it is the right place for him to see—that he must be the brave, strong, faithful man, because it is impossible for him to do his duty and to render his service, except it is rendered out of a heart that is full of faithfulness, that is brave and true.1 [Note: Phillips Brooks, Addresses, 10.]
And laid His own hand on the quivering heart,
And made it very still, that He might write
Invisible words of power—“Free to serve!”
Then through the darkness and the chill He sent
A heat-ray of His love, developing
The mystic writing, till it glowed and shone
And lit up all her life with radiance new,—
The happy service of a yielded heart.
With comfort that He never ceased to give,
Because her need could never cease, she filled
The empty chalices of other lives.
And time and thought were thenceforth spent for Him
Who loved her with His everlasting love.1 [Note: F. R. Havergal, “Under His Shadow” (Poetical Works, 789).]
Bradley (G. G.), Lectures on the Book of Job , 34.
Brooks (P.), New Starts in Life, 36.
Davies (D.), The Book of Job, i. 59.
Godet (F.), Old Testament Studies, 183.
Kemble (C), Memorials of a Closed Ministry, 209.
Ker (John), Sermons, i. 98.
Rattenbury (J. E.), Six Sermons on Social Subjects, 53.
Shore (T. T.), Some Difficulties of Belief, 211.
Simeon (C), Works, iv. 314.
Spurgeon (C. H.), Evening by Evening, 22.
Watkinson (W. L.), The Ashes of Roses, 191.
Christian World Pulpit, xvii. 241 (Perowne).