Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

thing for them, but are unable to do it aright; then we may throw ourselves on the help of God. We may say to God, “My Father, I am here, ready to do anything I can; show me how to do it.” And by some sure but mysterious law the way is opened, the help comes. · We see that as faith leads to work, so also work may lead to faith.

This is a form of piety which is to be; a Christ who is to come. It is piety coming from work as a sacrament; the religious form of duty. And I think it will be in some respects higher and stronger, deeper and more thorough, than the sentimental piety of the church, the emotional piety of the revival meeting, the salvation piety of the Calvinist, or the intellectual piety of the religious thinker. It will be loving God with all our strength. The moment we undertake any really Christian work we need this kind of piety. Here, for instance, is a young girl who takes a class in a Sunday school. She desires not merely to hear the children repeat lessons from the Bible, but to lead them to God. She wishes to impart to their souls some principle by which they can be kept safe amid all the trials and temptations which may come.

How can she ever do such a great work? She feels wholly inadequate to the task. She is discouraged when she thinks of it. Therefore she may very likely give it up, and say she is not fit to be a teacher, that she does not know how, that she is not good enough, and the like. But suppose she believes that whenever we wish to do any Christian work, any good for others, some power will come to us if we ask it. Then, instead of giving up her class of children, she will ask of God before each meeting that he will help her to do them real good; and if she finds that this prayer is always answered, she will go on with increasing courage and faith.

Let us suppose another is asked to be a visitor to the poor. This, also, is a difficult duty. To go as a friend, not as a patron; to help, and not to harm; to make them feel that you are a brother or a sister, not an official visitor; to say the right thing, the wisest thing, to put a new spirit of faith, hope, cheer, confidence into their hearts, - who can do this by any power of his own? But if we believe that there is a divine law, working as regularly as the laws of physics and chernistry, by which a prayer for help to enable us to do good will give us power which we should not have unless we prayed, then we can go to any task, however difficult, with courage and faith.

How we shrink from seeing one in some terrible distress,

some one on whom an awful calamity has fallen! We say, “ What can I do? I can do nothing." But if we believed that God would certainly give us power to say the right word, to pour life and comfort into that bruised heart, and if we asked for such power, we should go instantly and cheerfully, because we should go relying wholly on him.

Clergymen are often called to the dying or the bereaved. Once I hesitated, lest I should not find the best words of comfort. Now I know that the right thing will be given. At such times we may trust in the Master's promise, “Take no thought what to say or speak, for it shall be given you in that hour what ye ought to say."

Jesus says, “If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it. Ask and receive, that your joy may be full.” Again he says that God will give all things when we ask in the name of Christ. Now, to “ask in the name of Christ” is certainly not merely to use the word " Christ.” It is not to say, “We ask it through Jesus Christ.” It is to ask in the spirit of Christ. But the spirit of Christ is that which does good to others. When we wish to do good to others, we are in the spirit of Christ. If then we pray for power to help others, we are praying in the name of Christ. Then we may ask what we need, and be sure that it will be given. Some power, some faith, some love, some wisdom will come to us, to enable us to help others.

Thus may piety be born of duty, and work be a sacrament, helping us to come into the love of God. All the other methods of piety are good, but perhaps this may be the best of all. The piety is good which comes to the human soul through churches and worship; through sympathy and communion; through the sense of sin and the sense of forgiveness; through intellectual aspiration scaling the heights of universal law. But possibly the best of all may be the faith born of work, the piety which comes through duty, the prayer which is made for power to help our fellow-men.

Piety which is born out of morality will have this advantage. It will be nearer than any other to prayer without ceasing. As these Christian duties meet us, not on Sunday only, but all through the week, this will be a piety for all the working hours of life. As we see the results of this prayer, our faith will continually grow stronger.

This prayer will bring us near to Christ as well as to God, for it will be the result of work done for Christ as well as for God. It will be natural, rational, and practical. We shall pray just as we work, because there is something to be done which cannot be done well without prayer. This piety will be for men as well as for women, and we shall no more hear it said that religion is excellent for one half of the human race and not for the other. The prayer of action will balance and fulfil the prayer of sentiment. It will be more universal than any other, for all persons are called to do Christian work, but not all men are sacramentally inclined ; not all are able to believe in the atonement; not all are disposed to sympathetic religion; not all are made for philosophical piety.

Finally, this piety which comes from daily Christian work will tend to develop the highest form of Christian character. For it makes religion not a separate part of life, but an inspiration of the whole; not a sentimental feeling appropriate to Sundays and churches, but a vitalizing power creating love, thought, and action all the time. It gives a wellrounded character, in which action and love, morality and piety, works and faith, are harmonized and made one.

It makes the natural life also supernatural; it brings down heaven to earth and lifts earth to heaven.

Some men do not incline to sentimental piety, nor to sacramental piety, nor to the piety of creeds, excitement, and revivals. They do not easily accept the piety of atonement and expiation, which loves God because of one's personal salvation from death and destruction. They have not much taste for philosophical or mystical piety. But they are well fitted for the piety which is born out of daily duty; for the prayer uttered when occasion arises, and not as a form or ceremony. They are constituted for this kind of religion, and I hope that through them may come another sight of divine love acting through steadfast law, - that influx of life which comes into every soul that seeks strength for it. This will be an influence from God to revolutionize the world. Then will the love of God and the love of man be seen to be one, and the whole Christian life be formulated in four blessed words, — from God, for man!

No doubt all these forms of piety are meant to be united. The time will come in which we shall

« AnteriorContinuar »