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before, and yet his every thought, word, and deed is really that of his great leader. Can you talk of selfdenial to such a Christian? He had forgotten that such a man as Saul of Tarsus or Paul ever existed; he lives only in his Master's work, and is transfigured by it. This, and nothing less, is Christianity, and this is the very highest and grandest heroism. Paul conquers Europe single-handed, alone he stands before Cæsar's tribunal, and yet he is never alone; and from the gloom of the Mammertine dungeon he sends back a shout of triumph. And Peter walks steadily, cheerfully, and unflinchingly, in the footsteps of his Master to share his cross.
Let us, before leaving this topic, notice carefully just what religion, and especially Christianity, is not.
1. It is not merely opinion or intellectual belief in a creed. This may be good, or even necessary, but it is not religion. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble." We speak with pride, sometimes, of our puissant Christendom, so industrious, so intelligent, so moral, with its ubiquitous commerce, its adorning arts, its halls of learning, its happy firesides, and its noble charities. And yet what is our vaunted Christendom but a vast assemblage of believing but disobedient men? Said William Law to John Wesley, "The head can as easily amuse itself with a living and justifying faith in the blood of Jesus as with any other notion." The most sacred duty may degenerate into a dogma, asking only to be believed. "I go, sir," answered the son in the parable, "but went not."
2. It is not mere feeling. It is neither hope of heaven's joy, nor fear of hell's misery. It may rightly
include these, but it is vastly more and higher. It is neither ecstasy nor remorse. The most resolutely impenitent sinner can shout "Hallelujah,” and “Woe is me," as loudly as any saint. Now feeling is of vast importance. It stands close to the will and stimulates it, but it is not conformity. The will must be aroused to a robust life.
3. Christianity is these and a great deal more. Mere belief would make religion a mere theology. Mere emotion would make it mere excitement. The true divine idea of it is a life; doing his will, not indolently sighing to do it, and then lamenting that we do it not; but the thing itself in actual achievement, from day to day, from month to month, from year to year. Thus religion rises on us in its own imperial majesty. It is no mere delight of the understanding in the doctrines of our faith; no mere excitement of the sensibilities, now harrowed by fear, and now jubilant in hope; but a warfare and a work, a warfare against sin, and a work with God. Religion is not an entertainment, but a service. We are to set before us the perfect standard, and then struggle to shape our lives to it. Personal sanctity must be made a business of.*
A little more than thirty years ago a regiment was sent home from the Army of the Potomac to enforce the draft after the riots in this city. Some of you may picture to yourselves a thousand men with silk banners and gold lace and bright uniforms, resplendent in the sunshine. You could not make a worse mistake.
First in that gray early morning came two old flags, so torn by shot and shell that there was hardly enough
*This page is mainly a series of quotations from Dr. R. D. Hitchcock's sermon on "Religion, the Doing of God's Will.”
left of them to tell whether the State flag was that of Massachusetts or Virginia. And behind these came scant three hundred men. All the rest were sleeping between Washington and Richmond, some on almost every battle-field. The uniforms were old and faded from sun and rain. Only gun-barrel and bayonet were bright. And the men were scarred and tired and footsore, haggard from hard fighting and long, swift marches. For these men had been trained to be hurried back and forth behind the long line of battle, that they might be hurled into it wherever the need was greatest. I do not suppose that one of them could have delivered a fourth-of-July oration on Patriotism. They were trained not to talk, but to obey orders. But they had stood in the "bloody angle" at Spottsylvania all day and all night; and in the gray dawn of the next morning, when strength and courage are always at ebb, faint and exhausted, their last cartridge shot away, had sprung forward at the command of their colonel to make a last desperate, forlorn defence with the bayonet against the advancing enemy. Numbers do not count against men like these. What made them such invincible heroes? It was mainly the resolute will and long training to obey orders. A Christian should never forget that he is a soldier in the army of the Lord of Hosts; that enlistment is easy and quickly accomplished; but that the training is long, and that he must learn, above all, to "endure hardness."
And so, my brothers, I beg of you to preach a heroic Christianity, for if there ever was a heroic religion it is ours. If you offer merely free transportation to a future heaven of delight on "flowery beds of ease," you will enlist only the coward and the sluggard. But
everyone who has a drop of strong old Norse blood in his veins will prefer a heathen Valhalla, though builded in hell, to such a heaven. And his Norse instincts will be nearer truth than your counterfeit of a debased Christianity. But preach the city of God's righteousness on earth and now among men, and call on every heroic soul to take sides with God against sin within himself and the evil and misery all around him. There is an almost infinite amount of strength, endurance, and heroism in this "slow-witted but longwinded" human race waiting to leap up at the appeal to fight once more and win a victory after repeated defeats before the sun goes down. Appeal to this and point to the great "captain of our salvation made perfect through sufferings," and every man that is of the truth will hear in your voice the call of the Master and King. You will not be disappointed, but among the publicans and fishermen of America you will find heroic souls, who will leave all to follow, as faithfully and unflinchingly as those from the shores of Galilee.
And what of faith? Faith is the personal attachment of a soul to such a leader. Fortunately the Bible contains a scientific monograph on this subject. I refer, of course, to the eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews. And the whole result is summed up in a few words of the thirteenth verse. The great heroes, like Enoch, Noah, and Abraham, "saw the promises afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
They saw the promises afar off, dimly, on the horizon of their mental vision; as one looks into the distance
and cannot tell whether what he sees be cloud or mountain. And until they could make up their minds that there was some substance in the vision, they did not embrace it. They were not credulous. Neither were they carelessly or heedlessly sure that there was and could be nothing in the vision but mist and fancy. They recognized that on their decision of the question hung the life of which they meant to make the very most. They looked again and again, and kept thinking about it. Thus they became and were "persuaded of them." And most people stop here with a merely intellectual faith in their heads, and very little in their hearts and lives. Not so these old heroes; they were not so purely and coldly intellectual that they could. not do anything. They "embraced them." They said, that is exactly what I want and need, and I'll have it, if it costs me my life.
Now a promise is always conditional; if you want one thing, you must give up something else. It involves a choice between alternatives; you can have either one freely, you cannot have both. It was to them as to Christ on the "exceeding high mountain," God or the world; God with the cross, or the world with Satan thrown in. And the same alternative confronts us.
Moses could be a good Jew or a good Egyptian. Most of us, while resolved to be excellent Jews at heart, would have said nothing about it, but remained sons of Pharaoh's daughter in order to benefit the Jews by our influence in our lofty station. We should have become miserable hybrids with all the vices and weaknesses of both races, but with none of the virtues of either. And for all that we should ever have done