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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
J. Jackson Goadby
From the book, Timely Words, 1869
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith to Him, Yee, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto Him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." John 21:15-17.
There is very much about this incident to fasten our attention. The scene itself, where Peter was questioned by his Master, was fitly chosen. On every side lay familiar objects, which Peter had known and loved in his boyhood, and in his riper years: the pebbly shores of the Lake of Galilee; the small promontories, covered with flowering shrubs; the deep blue water, on which he had so often seen the midnight stars reflected; the snowy ravines of Hermon, which appeared like a white line upon the northern sky; the nearer hills of Gadara, that looked, from this distance, like a long level plain.
On this lake Peter, since his call by the Master, had often seen surprising evidences of His power: in stilling the tempest, in walking to the frightened disciples upon the yielding waves as if they had been solid earth, in rescuing Peter from impending death. Hereabouts many other wonderful works had been done, many words uttered,—of wisdom, of warning, of rebuke, and of love; all now linked, by the law of association, to some well-known objects;—so that turn where Peter might he saw something to recall the power and wisdom of his Lord.
Nor was the time at which this questioning took place without its significance. The Master had been snatched from the midst of His disciples, the Lord from His servants; and during that interval what memorable events had transpired. Peter could not forget some of these: his own loud boastings of unshaken fidelity; his misplaced violence in the garden; his flight from his Master's arrest by the armed band; his creeping into the hall of the palace after John; his threefold denials of his Lord; his Lord's sorrowful look, that smote the rocky heart, and brought forth floods of tears; his wonder during the days which succeeded the death on the cross; and that interview which his Lord had granted him, and which had given rise to the joyful exclamation of the resurrection night, "The Lord hath risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon." After all this he finds that the Master is still unchanged; has the same tenderness, the same quick discernment of the heart, the same unshaken affection.
There is also for us another value, over and above all this. Christ, the King, is now laying the foundations of His kingdom. In these repeated questions to Peter—whether Jesus is asking for more love than Peter gave to his calling, or to his fellow-believers, or than they had at present given to Him—we shall learn more about the Christianity of Christ than from ten thousand encyclical letters issued by men who claim to be supreme heads of the Church, and with mock humility call themselves "the servants of servants;" or from any number of ecclesiastics who teach for doctrines the commandments of men. We have a test given in those questions as to what is true discipleship, a test which was applied by Christ Himself, and which we also may apply individually.
What is this test? Is it love for the thoughts of Christ? There is great moral beauty in them, which skeptical men have not been slow to perceive, and from which they frequently pilfer without acknowledgment. No teacher ever clothed his thoughts in such fascinating Parables: so true to nature and fact; so vivid, as to read rather like narratives than pictures to illustrate truth. Although there are but thirty Parables in all, we may affirm, without fear of contradiction, that there is nothing like them in the whole literature of the world. They are not mere rabbinical tales redressed and reset. They are, in the highest sense, original.
As a consequence, they are fresh, with dewy freshness, after the lapse of nearly twenty centuries, speaking out through their wondrous words to men of every clime and age. They supply, in the brief compass of a few pages, more moral and spiritual teaching than all the libraries of numberless sages. If only one comes to them with a receptive mind, new beauties of thought, new depths of meaning, constantly appear. They are themselves the revelation of life, and the seeds of life. There is in them a power to touch the conscience, and awaken the soul. Hidden to some, from their want of docility, they are yet revealed to others who are "as little children."
And that which is true of the Parables of Christ, is more emphatically true of all that was spoken by the Son of God. His words are full of disclosures of Divine thought and love, of human need, of the present and the future. They are vaster than the ocean, deeper than the abyss. "Never man spake like this man;" because never man had so much to speak, or of such a character, or such an inner life. "In the words of Christ all the scattered and intersecting rays of truth extant in humanity are collected and blended into the full and perfect light of day." He claims to be "THE truth," and He is what He claims.
But a love for the words of Christ is not Christianity. We may love them artistically, as the best of their kind; just as men love the best books or the best pictures. They may be preferred, not for what they say, but for the way in which they say it; for their form, rather than for their spirit. Or men may assume the airs of "higher criticism," as modern philosophers call their skeptical presumptuousness, and say,—"Unquestionably, Jesus stands first as the teacher of morals; and to Him, therefore, one must bow on questions of this kind." Or, if this be not the offensive, half-patronizing air assumed, it may be this: "I know all the words of Christ, if not by heart, at least so familiarly that I should detect one upon the instant if it were ever quoted in my hearing. What more is needed?"
But is THIS Christianity—accepting Christ's words as revealing the truest kind of morality, or merely knowing those words, having some sort of apprehension of their meaning? Would the fact that a man had kept all these from his youth up; or that he knew the Gospels by heart, be the proof of discipleship that Jesus himself would demand? Is this how He tests His followers? That the disciple will treasure up the words of His Master is certain; but the apprehension of them, or their retention by the memory, are not infallible proofs of discipleship. Readers of the New Testament are not necessarily Christian men, although they may read it without any skeptical bias, and with critical appreciation. Something much more than this,—closer, more searching, and more personal,—is declared by Christ Himself to be the only sufficient test of discipleship.
Nor, again, is any mere love for the wonderful "works" of Christ enough, any gazing, with awe-stricken heart, at their majesty and power. There is, confessedly, very much about those miracles to arrest attention; their unlikeness, for the most part, to the miracles of an earlier time; their larger and more glorious character when they bear any resemblance to those which preceded them; their ease and naturalness to Christ, seeming so to befit His whole spirit and demeanour; their revelation of inherent Divine energy and power.
Moreover, they differ so entirely from the pretended miracles which Apocryphal writers of the early Church invented—are never mere wanton freaks of power, never ostentatious—that men must be struck with the difference with the impossibility of invention in the one case and of the proof of invention in the other. Never wrought for His own personal convenience, they stand as conspicuously out for their truest and purest benevolence.
At once, as we think of them, pictures arise before our imagination of those weary and famishing multitudes on the grassy plain who were plentifully fed by such apparently improbable and inadequate means; of the fever-stricken, who were calmed and cooled, and won back to soundness of health; of the blind, who, through His gracious power, were permitted to gaze upon this dædal earth, and these fair over-hanging heavens; of the lame, who leaped like the wild gazelle ; and of the deaf, to whom wisdom at one entrance had been quite shut out, now for the first time hearing the song of early birds, and the sweeter music of human affection.
One thinks of those afflicted creatures, demonized once, but now delivered from their infernal thralldom, quiet, thankful, happy—"sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in their right minds." Or one recalls that sad and sorrowful procession, just merging from the narrow gate of Nain, headed by the bier of the widow's only son; a procession which was presently stopped in its mournful march, the bewailing hushed, the tears of the mother dried up, and he who was dead now walking back into the city, to the wonderment of himself, and of his mother, and of his friends.
Or one thinks of that other scene, when the blooming daughter of Jairus was delivered from the icy grasp of death; or of that still more memorable incident on the other side of Olivet, toward the sunrising, where the brother and the friend beloved had died, and where, standing by the tomb, Jesus had cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" All these events, so astonishing in themselves, produced both fear and gladness in those who saw them, have filled the imaginations of painters, and poets, and readers in every age of Christendom. But a love for all these may spring from motives far removed from that which alone deserves the name of true discipleship.
I may stand in awe before the grandeur of the miracles of Christ; I may marvel at their uniqueness, their ease, their number, their variety, their humanity; but except I see in them more than this, I misread the "wonders," and misunderstand the "signs." I have yet to come to acknowledge of the truth. All this admiration and astonishment are compatible with an absence of that true root of inner life without which my other possessions are barrener than ice. Many who were spectators of the miracles still remained in their condition of spiritual darkness; and many to whom each of these "works" of Christ is familiar, even to the minutest detail, would fail to respond to that test which Christ applied to Peter.
Nor, is the activity which men show in what passes under the name of Christian work, sufficient evidence that we have the root of the matter in us. If you only think of it, there is much to awaken love for that which now passes current among large classes of men as Christian work. By attention and diligence in it, applause is won, desirable associations are formed, substantial gains are secured. Wherever there is a Church in alliance with the State, there are temptations to become ministers at her altars for those who have nothing but the form of godliness; and although the Establishment of England was never so conspicuous for the piety of its clergy as at the present moment, he would be a bold man who ventured to say that that piety was the offspring of the Alliance of the Church with the State. So again, in regard to what is called Christian work among the sects outside the pale of the
Establishment, there is still much to attract certain minds. They may gain through it a position of prominence which would otherwise be hard to secure. There is the temptation to do what is done, from love of applause, or love of pre-eminence, or love of power. The applause, or position, or power, may not seem of much value in the eyes of more ambitious men; but they are not destitute of influence upon scores and hundreds of their fellows. Now the mere fact that a man is in any sacred office, or is giving himself to any so-called Christian work, is no unquestionable proof of piety. The presumption is, that no man would seek such offices or duties who had not some love for the work they severally represent; but the holding of the offices themselves is no necessary guarantee of the existence of that true root of Christian life which the Apostle Peter really possessed.
Still less would it do to take the bare fact of confirmation by the hands of an Episcopal bishop, or the formation of Church relations by any of the various methods adopted in different religious communities,—as enough. One may take part in a solemn ceremony, or repeat a creed, or feel one's heart thrilled and subdued by the witchery of sacred song, or take a certain pleasure in listening to the advocacy of truth, and yet lack "the one needful thing." The painful evidences furnished by the worldly lives of the "confirmed," or "the members" of different religious societies, are sufficient attestation of this fact to all whose eyes are not blinded by the prejudices of sect or party. If the ordeal which Peter was able to bear were one to which every individual member of every Church in Christendom should now be submitted, how many would give Peter's reply? How many would have within them the spirit that prompted it?
Nor, further, is a love for the heaven which the New Testament reveals, any proof of true discipleship. There is very much to draw out men's hearts toward that heaven, even in the brief and scanty pictures of it which that Divine Record reveals. Its perpetual peace strikes the fancy of those who live in whirlpools of excitement and confusion; its unceasing joy is sure to fasten the desires of the sad and mournful; its perfect health will be for the suffering and sick a blissful and welcome picture; its absence of want, a delight to those who now feel the pinch of poverty.
To have no more sorrow, nor sighing, neither any more pain; to be with one's friends and companions evermore; to be in the midst of all the great, and wise, and noble—no more to be separated, to die no more—all this produces a certain desire, indefinable, yet pleasant, winsome, entrancing. More than this: we may so talk of the joys of heaven, or so hear others speak about them, until we grow impatient to share their fulness; and though all this may be true, men may still be unable to bear the test of Christ.
It is an unwise and an unscriptural plan to make a love for heaven, apart from all else, the test of true faith, as some are wont to do. One may picture a heaven, and love the creation of our brain, without dealing fairly with the revelation of that future which Christ and His apostles have given. Nay, one may even wish above all things to have that heaven, and yet leave out of our wish the One perfect Being, who is its centre and joy. A mere vague love for a beautiful, calm, joyous, unchanging state is not the love which Christ Himself makes the ruling test of discipleship.
But, asks someone, where so much is excluded, what is left? If a love for the words of Christ be no real test, nor a love for His "wonders" and "signs," nor a love for so-called Christian work, nor open alliance with Church organizations, nor yet a love of heaven—where shall we find the true test? Just where our Master and Lord has placed it--LOVE FOR HIMSELF. "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou ME?" This is the very pith and core of Christianity, the truest, the simplest, the severest test of discipleship. This is the Christianity of Christ, so different from the Christianity of creeds, and of many avowedly Christian Churches.
There is in this, however, all that the most evangelic creeds clamour for, till that Christ asks, whatever Churches may desire. How, for example, could Christ claim this love and be a true "Teacher sent from God" unless He were "one with the Father?" Fancy any human being putting himself before all others, claiming precedence in affection to husband, wife, child, father, mother,—except there were in Him, not merely a Divine afflatus, a delegated preeminence, but the life of life, the love of love,— Eternal life, Incarnate Deity? It is because He is Immanuel that He can ask for this precedence, and must. Think, moreover, of the power which this love, reciprocated far beyond what we can give, must certainly incite.
We are fond of repeating that love is the mightiest impulse to which the human heart is obedient. You may work through fear, or interest, or duty; but there is no impulse so comprehensive in its grasp, so mighty in its effect, as the impulse of love. There is, for example, the love of the mother for her offspring. See, how, in the sickness of her child, that love will clothe the weak and fragile form with surprising power. There is energy within her soul that will not yield to sleep, and that prompts her, though worn with patience, to watch as if unwearied still. No other impulse would produce the same results. You could not secure, either from duty, or from interest, an equal tenderness, though you might obtain some shadowy likeness to her unweariness.
No hand can smooth the pillow so carefully, and no hired service can render the same patient attention. She is tending the couch of her sickly, of her only child, and of one who is therefore dearer to her than life. Love is trustful. When adverse things are said or done, love believes that an explanation is possible; and will patiently wait, though the explanation be long delayed. Love is inventive; not only to help, but also to devise the means of helping. Love is quick-witted, and can read a sign or a symbol intuitively. When the heart is surcharged with love, a whispered wish speaks louder than a thundered commandment. Love is daring and self-forgetful; will boldly venture, like Mary ventured when she hurried to the sepulchre, while it was yet dark, and while rude soldiers were about; and though her Lord was absent, would still sit over against the sepulchre and weep.
Love is pre-eminently strong. The mother's affection for her fallen child lingers the longest, dies hard, and dies slowly. When others have given up all hope of amendment, she will hope against hope. Many waters cannot quench her love, neither can many floods drown it. Love is the pre-eminent Christian grace, whose panegyric an Apostle has sung. Love is the test which the Master applies to every disciple. Possessed of this love, what works will not men attempt, what service will they not render?
And even when our love may flicker and seem ready to perish, the recurrence to that great love wherewith He hath loved us again fills the lamp and trims the flame. As the daughter's love is deepened and enlarged by acts of disinterested kindness shown by her mother, so the disciple's love for the Master grows truer and stronger as he brings before himself, by the aid of God's Spirit, the persistent, unwearied, unmerited, everlasting love of his Saviour and Lord. He is "constrained" by it, as nothing else would constrain him. He is patient because of it, knowing that He will do all things well.
He can, therefore, wait, with the firm conviction that love shall yet appear in all his Master has placed upon him. What he knows not now, he shall know hereafter. He is quick to discover his Master's love where others would not discern it; reads a symbol with appreciative heart; becomes bold in His service; and has his own love preserved and nurtured by the everlasting love which flows out to him from his Lord. His words are "more precious than rubies," because they are the words of his Master. His "works" are accepted as the patterns of higher, of spiritual, of enduring good. His service is a delight, "for His sake, and the Gospel's." His own departure is joyfully anticipated, because his exodus from this world will bring him into the immediate presence of Christ his Lord.
The question of the Master does not touch upon the genesis of Peter's affection, but only upon its existence. And it is in this light that we are now looking upon it. The words of Christ are necessary to reveal to us the mind of Christ. His "works" testify of Him as nothing else can testify. His Cross reveals the love which passeth knowledge. But the test to which the Master subjected Peter was intended to reveal the use that Peter had made of all his opportunities. None had been so favoured, save John and James; none so repeatedly an eye witness of His majesty and grace. Jesus is, therefore, putting to the proof the result of all.
To hear the words of Christ; to behold His power; to gaze from afar upon His cross; to rush hurriedly into His empty tomb—is one thing. It is quite another to have that within one's breast for which, in Christ's estimation, nought else can be substituted—personal affection for Him. You may have love for the morality which Jesus teaches, love for His beneficent works, love for those who pass among men for His people, and love, also, for His heaven: but unless you have love for Christ Himself, all your vauntings of preference are as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
This is the surest test of our reception of His Gospel—that we can say what Peter said, and with unfeigned lips. He submitted to the test, and did not fail. The trial of his faith brought him out of it stronger in character, holier in life. The Master's test is also the one adequate test for every Christian. The words, the works, even the Cross, are the means—love for our Lord is the end. We shall, therefore, best know whether that end is reached by applying the touchstone furnished by the Saviour Himself: "Simon, son of Jonas, LOVEST THOU ME?"
The incident teaches us more than this. It reveals the power which Christ possesses of applying the test to each individual heart. The reply of Peter pointedly singles out this Divine prerogative. "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." Under the gaze of his Master's eye, he felt that there was nothing hidden, and that there could be nothing hidden, even in the innermost recesses of his heart. His Lord knew all things, and, therefore, must know what was passing within the mind of His Apostle.
"All things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do,"—the secrets of all hearts are disclosed. He can put to the proof those who are called by His name. He alone can tell whether the feeling within us toward Himself is one of mere admiration, or of love; of cold and critical apprehension, or of consuming desire ; of reluctant and half-hearted reverence, or of deepest devotion; whether He is "that just person," as Pilate's wife thought Him; or "the holy one of God," as even daemons declared; or whether, as Mary and the beloved disciple, there is but One who can fill all the heart and thought: (the first supposing from her question on the morning of the resurrection, that he whom she had taken for the gardener, and all other dwellers in Jerusalem, was thinking of her Lord)—"Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou halt laid Him, and I will take Him away;" and John, adopting the same indirect and yet pointed method of speaking of his Master, until it became a distinguishing feature of his style; or, whether, with the Centurion, Jesus is regarded as "verily a righteous man;" or, with Thomas, smitten by His kindness and patience, he can at length clasp His feet, and exclaim, in ecstatic and adoring love—"My Lord, and my God!"
He knoweth all things. He therefore sees whether our love for Him is pure, or selfish; a love for Himself, or a love for what we may hope to receive from Him; a love of goodness, or a love of gifts. It is possible to look upon Christianity solely as a good investment for the future, and upon the Sinless Saviour as a champion who has earned our gratitude for His heroic venture upon our behalf. But such a purely commercial view of the truth gives no true sympathy with Christ Himself, or with His purpose and spirit.
No unbiased reader of the New Testament can fail to discover the uniqueness of the life of Jesus: that while other men are born to live, He was born to die; that the shadow of the Cross always rested upon His sacred heart; and that every onward step was also a step upward to the altar of sacrifice, until He laid down His life for the world. No passionate words can overstate the magnitude of our debt to Him. But that which made the sacrifice was not the mere fact of the crucifixion it was the spirit of self-surrender which shone through it all. "He pleased not Himself;" His meat and drink was to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work. Herein is love; and herein is the stimulus for every sincere disciple. We love Him, because He first loved us. But this is very far removed from the huckstering spirit which some minds would make the standard of Christian life.
Christ knows all things. He knows, therefore, whether our love for Him be a momentary impulse, or a supreme and abiding affection. The most worldly men are not altogether destitute of occasional glimpses of a better life, and of occasional glimpses, also, of Him who is its true Revealer and Source. Some startling Providence, or humanizing sorrow, or terrible calamity, seems, upon the instant, to sweep away the clouds from their horizon, and show them the Light of Life.
This is not fear exactly, and yet there is a good deal of fear in it. But the love that Christ asks for is the perfect love that casteth out fear,—a love at once complete, supreme, and abiding. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." "Continue ye in my love." Well, therefore, for us, if when the Master should apply His test, whether now or hereafter, we be severally able to take Peter's words for our confession,—"Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee."
When Peter confessed his love for Christ, his Master set him to work. By this fact we are plainly taught, that the true license for proclaiming the truth, as well as the true motive, is this very affection. If, therefore, we have this affection within us, we shall not need prompting to work for our Lord, or urging to win souls for truth, for holiness, and everlasting life. Nor shall we wait to speak of our Master until we can speak in the purest and most fitting words. We shall get to work at once, and seek to make up for the deficiencies of speech by the earnestness of our spirit. We shall have spur enough within us in this very love to aim at the highest excellence, and never to be satisfied with any offering we may lay upon His altar.
In the light of a single incident like this, we can afford to smile a smile of pity when men take airs to themselves, and thus write "The Church of England is the only Christian body having mission from Christ in this land. Other bodies of Christians in England (?) may have or may lack a valid priesthood; but all agree in either lacking mission altogether, or in having an intruding mission, which is worthless." Here, surely, the old spirit of priestcraft reappears in the new words of a Ritualist clergyman; but reappears in vain. The darkness which was necessary to make men think a mitred bishop or a stoled priest an angel of light, has long since passed away, and with that day all possibility of would-be religious monopoly, either of grace or work.
Men are not likely to close their New Testaments and take to studying with restless diligence the writings of the Fathers who lived after the Council of Nicaea; or, wanting the opportunity or the power to read their learned trifling, to be thankful for any Patristic crumbs which may fall from the table of Ritualist clergymen. England is too intelligently Protestant ever again to be hoodwinked either by Papist priests, or those who, both in ceremony and in creed, limp after them in base, awkward imitation.
The words of Jesus to His apostle reveal the varied character of the work with which Peter was now solemnly reinvested. The lambs needed caring for, no less than the sheep; and for both no place was then, no place is now, so secure as the fold of Christ. To the younger members of the flock each shepherd will show his fatherly care; and over those of riper understanding, his sleepless vigilance. With this inner monitor,—love for Christ,—men will be quick to discern the wants of every class, and will be as prompt to devise means for meeting them.
Nor is there anything but this love that can brace up the mind to face the difficulties incident to such an onerous office as that of Christian pastor, or sustain men in that office when those difficulties successively arise. The fickleness of some of their flock, the feebleness of others, the wants of all, make large demands upon the pastor's heart. But constrained by this love, he will suffer long, and be kind, envy not, vaunt not himself, be saved from vainglory, from unseemliness, from self-seeking, be bard to provoke, or to accept the thought of evil; ever rejoice in the truth; bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. He will be all this, and do all this, because the love of Christ feeds and nourishes his own. When ready to give up his work, he will recall his Master's patience; when failing in affection, rekindle his lamp at the flame itself of Heavenly Love.
We must, therefore, look to this affection as the source of continued fidelity, as well as the test of discipleship. Here, also, is the secret of that industry which disposes us unweariedly to "stir up the gift that may be in us;" to lay all things under tribute the better to serve our Master; to perfect that which is lacking either in character or qualifications; and yet, struggle how we may, never to think we have now at last attained, or are already perfect.
The empty praise of man is a poor substitute for the enriching favour of God; and unless the Christian pastor is nourished by "that favour which is life," he will soon flag and fail. Moreover, all Christian men, no less than those whom He has called to watch for souls as those who must give account, will strive to please Him who has called them to be "soldiers." Love to Christ will bring upon us the largest blessing, whatever be the sphere in which we work. Depending upon His affection, and ever more seeking it, we shall become the channels of His grace. The more quick and sensitive our own hearts are kept to the love of Christ, the larger will be our ability to awaken that love in the hearts of other men. We shall only become Peters in labour and success as we are Peters in heart.
But what is now our position before our Lord? If He should think fit to prove us, as He proved Peter by the Galilean lake, what would be the issue? What are our actual advantages? Are not we surrounded on every side by symbols and memorials of our Lord? Do not the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, all speak to us of Him? Have not our ties of kindred, our chief nourishment in life's feast, our most abundant supplies for our perishing wants, been engraven with His image?
But with these tokens of our Lord around us, and ever before our eyes, have we shown our readiness to profit by our Master's instructions, or even a swiftness to hear Him when He speaks to us? Does He speak repeatedly, and speak in vain,—by His Word, by His Providence, and by His Spirit? What is now the actual basis and character of our love to Him? Is it coldly critical, or rapturous? Selfish or pure? Fickle or abiding?
And what is your relation to Christ's merciful work of blessing and saving men;—yours, who though not public ambassadors for Christ, are yet His servants, and rejoice so to be esteemed? Do you stand aloof from it, or are you in sympathy with it? Are you helping, or hindering? Teaching truth by life and lip, or perverting men? Saving souls from death, or offending "little ones?" These are searching questions. Lay them to heart. Make them the touchstone by which you try your character and work—lest, when the test should be applied in the day of Christ, you be found wanting, and your work perish; you yourselves being saved, yet so as by fire.