Preached May 15, 1853.
JOHN'S REBUKE OF HEROD.
|But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison,| -- Luke iii.19, 20.
The life of John the Baptist divides itself into three distinct periods. Of the first we are told almost nothing, but we may conjecture much. We are told that he was in the deserts till his showing unto Israel. It was a period probably, in which, saddened by the hollowness of all life in Israel, and perplexed with the controversies of Jerusalem, the controversies of Sadducee with Pharisee, of formalist with mystic, of the disciples of one infallible Rabbi with the disciples of another infallible Rabbi, he fled for refuge to the wilderness, to see whether God could not be found there by the heart that sought Him, without the aid of churches, rituals, creeds, and forms. This period lasted thirty years.
The second period is a shorter one. It comprises the few months of his public ministry. His difficulties were over; he had reached conviction enough to live and die on. He knew not all, but he knew something. He could not baptize with the Spirit, but he could at least baptize with water. It was not given to him to build up, but it was given to him to pull down all false foundations. He knew that the highest truth of spiritual life was to be given by One that should come after. What he had learned in the desert was contained in a few words -- Reality lies at the root of religious life. Ye must be real, said John. |Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.| Let each man do his own duty; let the rich impart to those who are not rich; let the publican accuse no man falsely; let the soldier be content with his wages. The coming kingdom is not a mere piece of machinery which will make you all good and happy without effort of your own. Change yourselves, or you will have no kingdom at all. Personal reformation, personal reality, that was John's message to the world.
It was an incomplete one; but he delivered it as his all, manfully; and his success was signal, astonishing even to himself. Successful it was, because it appealed to all the deepest wants of the human heart. It told of peace to those who had been agitated by tempestuous passion. It promised forgetfulness of past transgression to those whose consciences smarted with self-accusing recollections. It spoke of refuge from the wrath to come to those who had felt it a fearful expectation to fall into the hands of an angry God. And the result of that message, conveyed by the symbol of baptism, was that the desert swarmed with crowds who owned the attractive spell of the power of a new life made possible. Warriors, paupers, profligates -- some admiring the nobleness of religious life, others needing it to fill up the empty hollow of an unsatisfied heart; the penitent, the heart-broken, the worldly, and the disappointed, all came. And with them there came two other classes of men, whose approach roused the Baptist to astonishment.
The formalist, not satisfied with his formality, and the infidel, unable to rest on his infidelity -- they came too -- startled, for one hour at least, to the real significance of life, and shaken out of unreality. The Baptist's message wrung the confession from their souls. |Yes, our system will not do. We are not happy after all; we are miserable. Prophet, whose solitary life, far away there in the desert, has been making to itself a home in the mysterious and the invisible, what hast thou got to tell us from that awful other world? What are we to do?|
These things belong to a period of John's life anterior to the text. The prophet has been hitherto in a self-selected solitude, the free wild desert, opening his heart to the strange sights and sounds through which the grand voice of oriental nature speaks of God to the soul, in a way that books cannot speak.
We have arrived at the third period of his history. We are now to consider him as the tenant of a compelled solitude, in the dungeon of a capricious tyrant. Hitherto, by that rugged energy with which he battled with the temptations of this world, he has been shedding a glory round human life. We are now to look at him equally alone; equally majestic, shedding by martyrdom, almost a brighter glory round human death. He has hitherto been receiving the homage of almost unequalled popularity. We are now to observe him reft of every admirer, every soother, every friend. He has been hitherto overcoming the temptations of existence by entire seclusion from them all. We are now to ask how he will stem those seductions when he is brought into the very midst of them, and the whole outward aspect of his life has laid aside its distinctive and peculiar character; when he has ceased to be the anchorite, and has become the idol of a court.
Much instruction, brethren, there ought to be in all this, if we only knew rightly how to bring it out, or even to paint in anything like intelligible colours the picture which our own minds have formed. Instructive, because human life must ever be instructive. How a human spirit contrived to get its life accomplished in this confused world: what a man like us, and yet no common man, felt, did, suffered; how he fought, and how he conquered; if we could only get a clear possession and firm grasp of that, we should have got almost all that is worth having in truth, with the technicalities stripped off, for what is the use of truth except to teach man how to live? There is a vast value in genuine biography. It is good to have real views of what Life is, and what Christian Life may be. It is good to familiarize ourselves with the history of those whom God has pronounced the salt of the earth. We cannot help contracting good from such association.
And just one thing respecting this man whom we are to follow for some time to-day. Let us not be afraid of seeming to rise into a mere enthusiastic panegyric of a man. It is a rare man we have to deal with, one of God's heroic ones, a true conqueror; one whose life and motives it is hard to understand without feeling warmly and enthusiastically about them. One of the very highest characters, rightly understood, of all the Bible. Panegyric such as we can give, what is it after he has been stamped by his Master's eulogy, |A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.| In the verse which is to serve us for our guidance on this subject there are two branches which will afford us fruit of contemplation. It is written, |Herod being reproved by John for Herodias.|
Here is our first subject of thought. The truthfulness of Christian character.
And then next, he |shut up John in prison.|
Here is our second topic. The apparent failure of religious life.
The point which we have to look at in this section of the Baptist's life is the truthfulness of religious character. For the prophet was now in a sphere of life altogether new. He had got to the third act of his history. The first was performed right manfully in the desert -- that is past. He has now become a known man, celebrated through the country, brought into the world, great men listening to him, and in the way, if he chooses it, to become familiar with the polished life of Herod's court. For this we read: Herod observed John, that is, cultivated his acquaintance, paid him marked attention, heard him, did many things at his bidding, and heard him gladly.
For thirty long years John had lived in that far-off desert, filling his soul with the grandeur of solitude, content to be unknown, not conscious, most likely, that there was anything supernatural in him -- living with the mysterious God in silence. And then came the day when the qualities, so secretly nursed, became known in the great world: men felt that there was a greater than themselves before them, and then came the trial of admiration, when the crowds congregated round to listen. And all that trial John bore uninjured, for when those vast crowds dispersed at night, he was left alone with God and the universe once more. That prevented his being spoilt by flattery. But now comes the great trial. John is transplanted from the desert to the town: he has quitted simple life: he has come to artificial life. John has won a king's attention, and now the question is, Will the diamond of the mine bear polishing without breaking into shivers? Is the iron prophet melting into voluptuous softness? Is he getting the world's manners and the world's courtly insincerity? Is he becoming artificial through his change of life? My Christian brethren, we find nothing of the kind. There he stands in Herod's voluptuous court the prophet of the desert still, unseduced by blandishment from his high loyalty, and fronting his patron and his prince with the stern unpalatable truth of God.
It is refreshing to look on such a scene as this -- the highest, the very highest moment, I think, in all John's history; higher than his ascetic life. For after all, ascetic life such as he had led before, when he fed on locusts and wild honey, is hard only in the first resolve. When you have once made up your mind to that, it becomes a habit to live alone. To lecture the poor about religion is not hard. To speak of unworldliness to men with whom we do not associate, and who do not see our daily inconsistencies, that is not hard. To speak contemptuously of the world when we have no power of commanding its admiration, that is not difficult. But when God has given a man accomplishments, or powers, which would enable him to shine in society, and he can still be firm, and steady, and uncompromisingly true; when he can be as undaunted before the rich as before the poor; when rank and fashion cannot subdue him into silence: when he hates moral evil as sternly in a great man as he would in a peasant, there is truth in that man. This was the test to which the Baptist was submitted.
And now contemplate him for a moment; forget that he is an historical personage, and remember that he was a man like us. Then comes the trial. All the habits and rules of polite life would be whispering such advice as this: |Only keep your remarks within the limits of politeness. If you cannot approve, be silent; you can do no good by finding fault with the great.| We know how the whole spirit of a man like John would have revolted at that. Imprisonment? Yes. Death? Well, a man can die but once, -- anything but not cowardice, -- not meanness, -- not pretending what I do not feel, and disguising what I do feel. Brethren, death is not the worst thing in this life; it is not difficult to die -- five minutes and the sharpest agony is past. The worst thing in this life is cowardly untruthfulness. Let men be rough if they will, let them be unpolished, but let Christian men in all they say be sincere. No flattery, no speaking smoothly to a man before his face, while all the time there is a disapproval of his conduct in the heart. The thing we want in Christianity is not politeness, it is sincerity.
There are three things which we remark in this truthfulness of John. The first is its straightforwardness, the second is its unconsciousness, and the last its unselfishness. The straightforwardness is remarkable in this circumstance, that there is no indirect coming to the point. At once, without circumlocution, the true man speaks. |It is not lawful for thee to have her.| There are some men whom God has gifted with a rare simplicity of heart, which make them utterly incapable of pursuing the subtle excuses which can be made for evil. There is in John no morbid sympathy for the offender: |It is not lawful.| He does not say, |It is best to do otherwise; it is unprofitable for your own happiness to live in this way.| He says plainly, |It is wrong for you to do this evil.|
Earnest men in this world have no time for subtleties and casuistry. Sin is detestable, horrible, in God's sight, and when once it has been made clear that it is not lawful, a Christian has nothing to do with toleration of it. If we dare not tell our patron of his sin we must give up his patronage. In the next place there was unconsciousness in John's rebuke. We remark, brethren, that he was utterly ignorant that he was doing a fine thing. There was no sidelong glance, as in a mirror, of admiration for himself. He was not feeling, This is brave. He never stopped to feel that after-ages would stand by, and look at that deed of his, and say, |Well done.| His reproof comes out as the natural impulse of an earnest heart. John was the last of all men to feel that he had done anything extraordinary. And this we hold to be an inseparable mark of truth. No true man is conscious that he is true; he is rather conscious of insincerity. No brave man is conscious of his courage; bravery is natural to him. The skin of Moses' face shone after he had been with God, but Moses wist not of it.
There are many of us who would have prefaced that rebuke with a long speech. We should have begun by observing how difficult it was to speak to a monarch, how delicate the subject, how much proof we were giving of our friendship. We should have asked the great man to accept it as a proof of our devotion. John does nothing of this. Prefaces betray anxiety about self; John was not thinking of himself. He was thinking of God's offended law, and the guilty king's soul. Brethren, it is a lovely and a graceful thing to see men natural. It is beautiful to see men sincere without being haunted with the consciousness of their sincerity. There is a sickly habit that men get of looking into themselves, and thinking how they are appearing. We are always unnatural when we do that. The very tread of one who is thinking how he appears to others, becomes dizzy with affectation. He is too conscious of what he is doing, and self-consciousness is affectation. Let us aim at being natural. And we can only become natural by thinking of God and duty, instead of the way in which we are serving God and duty.
There was lastly, something exceedingly unselfish in John's truthfulness. We do not build much on a man's being merely true. It costs some men nothing to be true, for they have none of those sensibilities which shrink from inflicting pain. There is a surly bitter way of speaking truth which says little for a man's heart. Some men have not delicacy enough to feel that it is an awkward and a painful thing to rebuke a brother: they are in their element when they can become censors of the great. John's truthfulness was not like that. It was the earnest loving nature of the man which made him say sharp things. Was it to gratify spleen that he reproved Herod for all the evils he had done? Was it to minister to a diseased and disappointed misanthropy? Little do we understand the depth of tenderness which there is in a rugged, true nature, if we think that. John's whole life was an iron determination to crush self in everything.
Take a single instance. John's ministry was gradually superseded by the ministry of Christ. It was the moon waning before the Sun. They came and told him that, |Rabbi, He to whom thou barest witness beyond Jordan baptizeth, and all men come unto Him.| Two of his own personal friends, apparently some of the last he had left, deserted him, and went to the new teacher.
And now let us estimate the keenness of that trial. Remember John was a man: he had tasted the sweets of influence; that influence was dying away, and just in the prime of life he was to become nothing. Who cannot conceive the keenness of that trial? Bearing that in mind -- what is the prophet's answer? One of the most touching sentences in all Scripture -- calmly, meekly, the hero recognises his destiny -- |He must increase, but I must decrease.| He does more than recognise it -- he rejoices in it, rejoices to be nothing, to be forgotten, despised, so as only Christ can be everything. |The friend of the bridegroom rejoiceth because he heareth the bridegroom's voice, this my joy is fulfilled.| And it is this man, with self so thoroughly crushed -- the outward self by bodily austerities, the inward self by Christian humbleness -- it is this man who speaks so sternly to his sovereign. |It is not lawful.| Was there any gratification of human feeling there? Or was not the rebuke unselfish? Meant for God's honour, dictated by the uncontrollable hatred of all evil, careless altogether of personal consequences?
Now it is this, my brethren, that we want. The world-spirit can rebuke as sharply as the Spirit which was in John; the world-spirit can be severe upon the great when it is jealous. The worldly man cannot bear to hear of another's success, he cannot endure to hear another praised for accomplishments, or another succeeding in a profession, and the world can fasten very bitterly upon a neighbour's faults, and say, |It is not lawful.| We expect that in the world. But that this should creep among religious men, that we should be bitter -- that we, Christians, should suffer jealousy to enthrone itself in our hearts -- that we should find fault from spleen, and not from love -- that we should not be able to be calm and gentle, and sweet-tempered, when we decrease, when our powers fail -- that is the shame. The love of Christ is intended to make such men as John, such high and heavenly characters. What is our Christianity worth if it cannot teach us a truthfulness, an unselfishness, and a generosity beyond the world's?
We are to say something in the second place of the apparent failure of Christian life.
The concluding sentence of this verse informs us that John was shut up in prison. And the first thought which suggests itself is, that a magnificent career is cut short too soon. At the very outset of ripe and experienced manhood the whole thing ends in failure. John's day of active usefulness is over; at thirty years of age his work is done; and what permanent effect have all his labours left? The crowds that listened to his voice, awed into silence by Jordan's side, we hear of them no more. Herod heard John gladly, did much good by reason of his influence. What was all that worth? The prophet comes to himself in a dungeon, and wakes to the bitter conviction, that his influence had told much in the way of commanding attention, and even winning reverence, but very little in the way of gaining souls; the bitterest, the most crushing discovery in the whole circle of ministerial experience. All this was seeming failure.
And this, brethren, is the picture of almost all human life. To some moods, and under some aspects, it seems, as it seemed to the psalmist, |Man walketh in a vain shadow and disquieteth himself in vain.| Go to any churchyard, and stand ten minutes among the grave-stones; read inscription after inscription recording the date of birth, and the date of death, of him who lies below, all the trace which myriads have left behind, of their having done their day's work on God's earth, -- that is failure or -- seems so. Cast the eye down the columns of any commander's despatch after a general action. The men fell by thousands; the officers by hundreds. Courage, high hope, self-devotion, ended in smoke -- forgotten by the time of the next list of slain: that is the failure of life once more. Cast your eye over the shelves of a public library -- there is the hard toil of years, the product of a life of thought; all that remains of it is there in a worm-eaten folio, taken down once in a century. Failure of human life again. Stand by the most enduring of all human labours, the pyramids of Egypt. One hundred thousand men, year by year, raised those enormous piles to protect the corpses of the buried from rude inspection. The spoiler's hand has been there, and the bodies have been rifled from their mausoleum, and three thousand years have written |failure| upon that. In all that, my Christian brethren, if we look no deeper than the surface, we read the grave of human hope, the apparent nothingness of human labour.
And then look at this history once more. In the isolation of John's dying hour, there appears failure again. When a great man dies we listen to hear what he has to say, we turn to the last page of his biography first, to see what he had to bequeath to the world as his experience of life. We expect that the wisdom, which he has been hiving up for years, will distil in honeyed sweetness then. It is generally not so. There is stupor and silence at the last. |How dieth the wise man?| asks Solomon: and he answers bitterly, |As the fool.| The martyr of truth dies privately in Herod's dungeon. We have no record of his last words. There were no crowds to look on. We cannot describe how he received his sentence. Was he calm? Was he agitated? Did he bless his murderer? Did he give utterance to any deep reflections on human life? All that is shrouded in silence. He bowed his head, and the sharp stroke fell flashing down. We know that, we know no more -- apparently a noble life abortive.
And now let us ask the question distinctly, Was all this indeed failure? No, my Christian brethren, it was sublimest victory. John's work was no failure; he left behind him no sect to which he had given his name, but his disciples passed into the service of Christ, and were absorbed in the Christian church. Words from John had made impressions, and men forgot in after years where the impressions first came from, but the day of judgment will not forget. John laid the foundations of a temple, and others built upon it He laid it in struggle, in martyrdom. It was covered up like the rough masonry below ground, but when we look round on the vast Christian Church, we are looking at the superstructure of John's toil.
There is a lesson for us in all that, if we will learn it. Work, true work, done honestly and manfully for Christ, never can be a failure. Your own work, my brethren, which God has given you to do, whatever that is, let it be done truly. Leave eternity to show that it has not been in vain in the Lord. Let it but be work, it will tell. True Christian life is like the march of a conquering army into a fortress which has been breached; men fall by hundreds in the ditch. Was their fall a failure? Nay, for their bodies bridge over the hollow, and over them the rest pass on to victory. The quiet religious worship that we have this day -- how comes it to be ours? It was purchased for us by the constancy of such men as John, who freely gave their lives. We are treading upon a bridge of martyrs. The suffering was theirs -- the victory is ours. John's career was no failure.
Yet we have one more circumstance which seems to tell of failure. In John's prison, solitude, misgiving, black doubt, seem for a time to have taken possession of the prophet's soul. All that we know of those feelings is this: -- John while in confinement sent two of his disciples to Christ, to say to Him, |Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?| Here is the language of painful uncertainty. We shall not marvel at this, if we look steadily at the circumstances. Let us conceive John's feelings. The enthusiastic child of Nature, who had roved in the desert, free as the air he breathed, is now suddenly arrested, and his strong restless heart limited to the four walls of a narrow dungeon. And there he lay startled. An eagle cleaving the air with motionless wing, and in the midst of his career brought from the black cloud by an arrow to the ground, and looking round with his wild, large eye, stunned, and startled there; just such was the free prophet of the wilderness, when Herod's guards had curbed his noble flight, and left him alone in his dungeon.
Now there is apparent failure here, brethren; it is not the thing which we should have expected. We should have expected that a man who had lived so close to God all his life, would have no misgivings in his last hours. But, my brethren, it is not so. It is the strange truth that some of the highest of God's servants are tried with darkness on the dying bed. Theory would say, when a religious man is laid up for his last struggles, now he is alone for deep communion with his God. Fact very often says, |No -- now he is alone, as his Master was before him, in the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.| Look at John in imagination, and you would say, |Now his rough pilgrimage is done. He is quiet, out of the world, with the rapt foretaste of heaven in his soul.| Look at John in fact. He is agitated, sending to Christ, not able to rest, grim doubt wrestling with his soul, misgiving for one last black hour whether all his hope has not been delusion.
There is one thing we remark here by the way. Doubt often comes from inactivity. We cannot give the philosophy of it, but this is the fact, Christians who have nothing to do but to sit thinking of themselves, meditating, sentimentalising, are almost sure to become the prey of dark, black misgivings. John struggling in the desert needs no proof that Jesus is the Christ. John shut up became morbid and doubtful immediately. Brethren all this is very marvellous. The history of a human soul is marvellous. We are mysteries, but here is the practical lesson of it all. For sadness, for suffering, for misgiving, there is no remedy but stirring and doing.
Now look once more at these doubts of John's. All his life long John had been wishing and expecting that the kingdom of God would come. The kingdom of God is Right triumphant over Wrong, moral evil crushed, goodness set up in its place, the true man recognised, the false man put down and forgotten. All his life long John had panted for that; his hope was to make men better. He tried to make the soldiers merciful, and the publicans honest, and the Pharisees sincere. His complaint was, Why is the world the thing it is? All his life long he had been appealing to the invisible justice of Heaven against the visible brute force which he saw around him. Christ had appeared, and his hopes were straining to the utmost. |Here is the Man!| And now behold, here is no Kingdom of Heaven at all, but one of darkness still, oppression and cruelty triumphant, Herod putting God's prophet in prison, and the Messiah quietly letting things take their course. Can that be indeed Messiah? All this was exceedingly startling. And it seems that then John began to feel the horrible doubt whether the whole thing were not a mistake, and whether all that which he had taken for inspiration were not, after all, only the excited hopes of an enthusiastic temperament. Brethren, the prophet was well nigh on the brink of failure.
But let us mark -- that a man has doubts -- that is not the evil; all earnest men must expect to be tried with doubts. All men who feel, with their whole souls, the value of the truth which is at stake, cannot be satisfied with a |perhaps.| Why, when all that is true and excellent in this world, all that is worth living for, is in that question of questions, it is no marvel if we sometimes wish, like Thomas, to see the prints of the nails, to know whether Christ be indeed our Lord or not. Cold hearts are not anxious enough to doubt. Men who love will have their misgivings at times; that is not the evil. But the evil is, when men go on in that languid, doubting way, content to doubt, proud of their doubts, morbidly glad to talk about them, liking the romantic gloom of twilight, without the manliness to say -- I must and will know the truth. That did not John. Brethren, John appealed to Christ. He did exactly what we do when we pray -- and he got his answer. Our Master said to his disciples, Go to my suffering servant, and give him proof. Tell John the things ye see and hear -- |The blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the Gospel is preached.| There is a deep lesson wrapped up in this. We get a firm grasp of truth by prayer. Communion with Christ is the best proof of Christ's existence and Christ's love. It is so even in human life. Misgivings gather darkly round our heart about our friend in his absence; but we seek his frank smile, we feel his affectionate grasp: our suspicions go to sleep again. It is just so in religion. No man is in the habit of praying to God in Christ, and then doubts whether Christ is He |that should come.| It is in the power of prayer to realize Christ, to bring him near, to make you feel His life stirring like a pulse within you. Jacob could not doubt whether he had been with God when his sinew shrunk. John could not doubt whether Jesus was the Christ when the things He had done were pictured out so vividly in answer to his prayer. Let but a man live with Christ anxious to have his own life destroyed, and Christ's life established in its place, losing himself in Christ, that man will have all his misgivings silenced. These are the two remedies for doubt -- Activity and Prayer. He who works, and feels he works -- he who prays, and knows he prays, has got the secret of transforming life-failure into life-victory.
In conclusion brethren, we make three remarks which could not be introduced into the body of this subject. The first is -- Let young and ardent minds, under the first impressions of religion, beware how they pledge themselves by any open profession to more than they can perform. Herod warmly took up religion at first, courted the prophet of religion, and then when the hot fit of enthusiasm had passed away, he found that he had a clog round his life from which he could only disengage himself by a rough, rude effort. Brethren whom God has touched, it is good to count the cost before you begin. If you give up present pursuits impetuously, are you sure that present impulses will last? Are you quite certain that a day will not come when you will curse the hour in which you broke altogether with the world? Are you quite sure that the revulsion back again, will not be as impetuous as Herod's, and your hatred of the religion which has become a clog, as intense as it is now ardent?
Many things doubtless there are to be given up -- amusements that are dangerous, society that is questionable. What we give up, let us give up, not from quick feeling, but from principle. Enthusiasm is a lovely thing, but let us be calm in what we do. In that solemn, grand thing -- Christian life -- one step backward is religious death.
Once more we get from this subject the doctrine of a resurrection. John's life was hardness, his end was agony. That is frequently Christian life. Therefore, says the apostle, if there be no resurrection the Christian's choice is wrong; |If in this life only we have hope in Christ, then are we of all men most miserable.| Christian life is not visible success -- very often it is the apparent opposite of success. It is the resurrection of Christ working itself out in us; but it is very often the Cross of Christ imprinting itself on us very sharply. The highest prize which God has to give here is martyrdom. The highest style of life is the Baptist's -- heroic, enduring, manly love. The noblest coronet which any son of man can wear is a crown of thorns. Christian, this is not your rest. Be content to feel that this world is not your home. Homeless upon earth, try more and more to make your home in heaven, above with Christ.
Lastly we have to learn from this, that devotedness to Christ is our only blessedness. It is surely a strange thing to see the way in which men crowded round the austere prophet, all saying, |Guide us, we cannot guide ourselves.| Publicans, Pharisees, Sadducees, Herod, whenever John appears, all bend before him, offering him homage and leadership. How do we account for this? The truth is, the spirit of man groans beneath the weight of its own freedom. When a man has no guide, no master but himself, he is miserable; we want guidance, and if we find a man nobler, wiser than ourselves, it is almost our instinct to prostrate our affections before that man, as the crowds did by Jordan, and say, |Be my example, my guide, my soul's sovereign.| That passionate need of worship -- hero-worship it has been called -- is a primal, universal instinct of the heart. Christ is the answer to it. Men will not do; we try to find men to reverence thoroughly, and we cannot do it. We go through life, finding guides, rejecting them one after another, expecting nobleness and finding meanness; and we turn away with a recoil of disappointment.
There is no disappointment in Christ. Christ can be our souls' sovereign. Christ can be our guide. Christ can absorb all the admiration which our hearts long to give. We want to worship men. These Jews wanted to worship man. They were right -- man is the rightful object of our worship; but in the roll of ages there has been but one man whom we can adore without idolatry, -- the Man Christ Jesus.
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