THE OLD-NEW AND THE NEW-OLD

" But these things have I told you that, when the time shall come, 
ye may remember that I told you of them." JOHN xvi. 4. 

JESUS CHRIST is just upon the point of leaving 
His disciples. He has but a few more days to 
spend with them, a few more words to speak to 
them. And so, as He sits gazing into their faces, 
He is moved to tell them what has been the whole 
method of His teaching of them. He tells them 
that He has always had this hour in His sight, that 
always, when He has been speaking to them, it has 
been not simply the present moment of which He 
has been thinking, and which He has been trying to 
feed with truth; He has also had the future in His 
mind. He has been storing in the granaries of their 
nature provision for the wants which were to be de- 
veloped in far distant days. 

The disciples must have been deeply impressed 
and touched by those words of their Master. They 
must have felt their whole nature taken up into His 
hands. Their future needs must have grown real 
to their anticipation when they heard their Lord say 
that He had been providing for those needs. And 
the warm sense of His affection, of how entirely He 
loved them, must have filled their souls with strength 
and comfort. For there is no proof and sign of love 
like this which, in its own extremity of suffering, 
forgets itself and takes care that those whom it loves 
shall not suffer because of its departure from them ; 
and goes to its martyrdom making each footprint 
of its agony a well out of which they may drink. 

It was the token of Christ s thoughtfulness for 
them that must have touched them. No benefac- 
tion touches us deeply which has not the idea of 
thoughtfulness pervading it. That is the reason 
why we are not touched and grateful at the benefi- 
cence of nature, save in a figure. The sky has not 
treasured its rain because we are going to need it by 
and by, nor stored its sunshine because it foresees 
that the earth will lie naked and shivering when 
February comes. Law cannot win our gratitude, 
however it may stir our admiration and our gladness. 
But God foresees our need, and stocks the world for 
its supply. "Thou hast prepared a table before me," 
says David. It is the preparation more than the 
table that draws His soul to God. And so, even 
more than the truth He had laid up for them, the 
fact that He had laid up truth for them was what 
impressed the disciples with the love of Christ. 

But when we look at what Christ had actually 
done, we are impressed with the wisdom and the 
depth of His treatment of His servants. It is in- 
deed the method which all wise and loving education 
naturally takes. It makes the difference between 
the teaching which is hard and meagre and the other 
teaching which is rich and sympathetic. A master 
orders his servant to do a certain task, and he gives 
him just the instruction which that task requires. 
But a father educates his son, and he stores away 
into that unconscious nature a hundred things which 
his experience has taught him that the boy's ad- 
vancing experience will by and by require. A 
worthy teacher deals worthily with his scholar ; and 
it is like the fitting out of a ship in some southern 
harbor for the voyage which she is to make in arctic 
seas. She lies there in the sunshine at the hospitable 
wharf, with the warm atmosphere about her, every- 
thing bright and open and summerlike; and men 
are bringing on board great casks of provisions and 
bales of thick warm clothing. They are making her 
walls thick and her doors close, to keep out cold 
which as yet she has never felt. They are strength- 
ening her sides for the assaults of icy seas of which 
she has not dreamed. Long months the stores of 
clothing and of food will lie in the darkness of her 
hold. She will sail forth, and for a time it will ap- 
pear as if there were no use for such strange pro- 
vision. But at last the day will come, among the 
icebergs, close to the pole, when she will need them 
all; and then they will come forth to bear their 
blessed testimony to the wise care which filled the 
ships hold with them on the June day when she 
was loaded. So does the teacher tell his pupil 
things of which the pupil sees not now the meaning 
or the use, that, when the time of need shall come, 
he may remember that his teacher told him of them. 
Every now and then we hear from parents and 
from teachers talk which we cannot help thinking 
foolish and shortsighted. "Let us teach children," 
so it runs, "nothing which they cannot immediately 
understand." If we really mean by "understand- 
ing" the clear and immediate apprehension of the 
truth and all that it involves, then surely such words 
describe a very meagre education, and one that pro- 
vides only for a very monotonous and narrow life. 
The ship which men load thus must sail forever in 
the zone where it was freighted. If it cross the 
circle and sail into another zone, its food will spoil 
and its crew will lie shivering and frozen on its decks. 
If you say, "My child has never yet met sorrow, 
and so I will not tell him what the sources of con 
solation are; he has not met temptation, and so I 
cannot inspire him with the thought of the sinfulness 
of sin ; he is not sensible of the attraction of study, 
and I must not tell him of the duty of study ; he has 
never asked for truth, and so I will teach him no 
creed" do you not see how meagre all this makes 
your relationship to him? Do you not see how 
suspiciously it keeps you standing over him, deter- 
mining that he shall have no food until the appetite 
cries out for it? Do you not see how it loses for 
him all that crowding and tempting forth of appetite 
which comes from the sense of carrying untasted 
food stored in the bosom of his life? Do you not 
see how it limits your opportunity of help to him 
and leaves the long future, when you may be gone 
out of his sight, beyond the chance of any such 
ministry as your love craves to give him? 

Rather, tell your child or your scholar the very 
best you know ; tell it as simply, in as true relation 
to his intrinsic nature as you can ; tell him of Christ 
in all the richness of His love ; so you will be feeding 
him for days which shall not dawn for long years 
yet. Put the whole seed of truth into him, and as 
his ship sails on from zone to zone, each new zone 
will call out its new growth to greet it. The deck 
will be always bright with flowers, always opening 
anew in each new climate out of seed which you 
planted against that hour. So let your scholar or 
your child sail forth out of your schoolroom or your 
home, carrying in him unknown strength and char- 
acter which shall unfold for the supply of emergen- 
cies of which as yet he has not dreamed. 

But when, in a more deliberate way, we take the 
words of Jesus Christ which declare this truth, and 
find in them His statement of the whole method of 
His religion, it is necessary for us to join with them 
some other words of His. "Lo, I am with you 
always, even to the end of the world," He said. 
These two utterances, together, seem to include the 
whole system of the perpetuation and development 
of the Christian Faith. See how they co-operate 
with one another. Jesus says that He has sown in 
His disciples hearts truths which the coming ex- 
periences and emergencies of life are to unfold. He 
says also that He Himself will be forever present to 
preside over the unfolding of those truths. He 
stores His Church with all that it is going to need. 
Yet He does not send it forth out of His hands, to 
have no more personal connection with Him, but 
He goes with it to make the truth which, in the 
days of each new need, it brings out of its treasuries, 
fresh and vital with Himself. 

Behold the completeness and proportion of that 
picture ! Here is an historic faith which yet is always 
full of spontaneity ! Its historic character gives it 
solidity and continual identity. Its spontaneity 
makes it the new faith of each succeeding age. It 
is a faith which may picture itself under the meta- 
phor of a rock or under the metaphor of a fountain. 
Some men, in Christian history, thinking of Chris 
tianity only as an historical religion, have made it 
hard and stiff and formal, a thing of traditions and 
of precedents, to be unearthed out of patristic books 
and to be cultivated by the preservation of old cere- 
monies. Other men, scarcely recognizing the his- 
torical nature of Christianity at all, have made it a 
thing of immediate inspiration. The present Christ 
was everything, the historic Christ was almost noth- 
ing. Their religion might be almost said to perish 
and be born anew each instant. 

It is the glory of the New Testament pictures of 
these two utterances of Jesus, that they preserve 
the strength and escape the weakness of each of 
these two ideas by blending them with one another. 
The Churchman and the Quaker meet in the full 
Christian of those wide, wise pages. The thing 
which the Church is to-day, it has been potentially 
from the beginning, and yet it becomes this to-day 
by the immediate power of a present Christ. Like 
the tree which had all the luxuriance of this sweet 
and gorgeous springtime in the seed which the 
farmer planted who died fifty years ago, and yet 
which blossomed this spring because spring had 
come and this May s sun had shone; so the Church 
and the Faith, historic and spontaneous at once, 
have in them, as they present themselves to-day, the 
power of the Christ who spoke by the side of the 
sea of Tiberias words which His disciples then only 
half-understood, and also the power of the Christ 
who to-day feeds them with His ever-living love, 
His ever-timely wisdom. 

Of course all this is true not only of the historic 
faith, but it is true of all life, for all life is historic. 
"De nihilo nihil" there is no life upon the earth 
to-day that has not come of previous life. To feel 
the beating of that previous life, to recognize as 
elements in what is done to-day the force of things, 
known or unknown, which were done years and 
years ago, that is the historic spirit. No institu- 
tion of the present, however it may seem to have 
sprung yesterday out of the soil, no life, however it 
may seem to be free from every bondage of the past, 
is capable of being understood without the activity 
of that historic spirit. 

And yet that spirit alone can never read the entire 
secret, or account for all the power of any institu- 
tion or life. Everything is historic, but nothing is 
entirely historical. Everything that truly lives, lives 
now. There is a living power, a power of life, which 
now vitalizes that which has come down of the past, 
and makes it a true being of the actual present. 

Here is an act which some man he may have 
been a ruler playing with the fates of empires, 
he may have been a farmer doing the springtime 
ploughing in his field here is an act which some 
man has done this week. How shall I study it? 
How shall I understand it? What shall it mean to 
me? Most impressive is it if I think of it historically. 
I see the far-off centuries converging on this mo- 
mentary action. I hear the sweep of distant forces 
crowding onward through forgotten periods to in- 
sure that this thing shall be done. I see men of 
long-vanished times and of mysterious races plan- 
ning for they know not what, but really to make 
this possible. Then, coming nearer, I see the recog- 
nizable play of cause and effect, effect and cause, 
each cause issuing as effect, each effect turning into 
cause. I hear the click and clank of the machinery 
from which at last issues this event. 

All that is wonderfully interesting and impressive; 
and yet how I have failed to tell the story of the 
action, if this is all I have to say! To leave out all 
the tale of present energy and purpose ; not to ob- 
serve nor to describe the stream of living power in 
the statesman's or the peasant's nature which plays 
on all this historical machinery and makes it live; to 
let go all the personality and spontaneity of will; 
that would be the grossest blunder. It would be 
the blunder of a pedant, and a pedant's blunders 
always are the worst blunders. To misread the 
working of present, vital force is bad ; to deny pres- 
ent working force is infinitely worse, for it degrades 
the world to a machine. 

The truth is that the vital power of present men 
and present motives is what keeps the world alive 
to-day. Living desires of living souls, the wishes, 
the determinations of men to do and be things here 
and now, these are what constitute the world s 
vitality. History accounts for the forms of their 
activity, but the springs of their activity are in 
themselves. All history might be abolished; all 
that is in man by inheritance might be eliminated 
and cast out ; man might stand as fresh and new as 
if he were an Adam of yesterday, with no garden, 
no fall, no experience behind him; and he would 
live clumsily, awkwardly, but he would live. He 
would begin to make history, for history is the 
utterance of life, afterwards becoming the feeder 
and teacher of life; but it is never the creator of 
life, and so it is always the inferior of those fresh 
currents of vitality which are forever issuing new 
and original from the fountain of God, and flowing 
through the vital channels of men's wills. 

"There is nothing new under the sun" is a true 
but also shallow proverb. "Everything under the 
sun is new" is vastly truer and profounder. In the 
meeting of the two proverbs, in the combination of 
them as the account of life, lies the meeting of the 
historic and the spontaneous consciousness of man. 

You remember how Tennyson nobly sings : 

Love thou thy land with love far brought 

From out the storied past, but used 

Within the present, and transfused 
Through distant times by power of thought. 

There is the true spirit of history. The storied past 
opens her gates and out of them comes the great 
caravan bringing its precious freight of rich associa- 
tions, noble deeds, and truths wrought out in the 
experiences of other days. The caravan slowly 
winds over the desert of the centuries until it enters 
the city of our present life. Then down from the 
camels backs come the rich and fragrant bales. 
They are torn open by the eager hands of present 
needs. Their contents are seized for present use. 
Thought transforms them into shapes in which the 
future is to use them. And by and by we load the 
camels once again, to travel on over new deserts to 
new cities of the still distant times, bearing the 
treasures of history made richer by the free uses of 
spontaneous life to which they have been freely put. 

Such is all life an Adam ever being born, an 
image ever being formed out of the dusty past, but 
made a true existence in the present by the direct 
inspiration of the living God. 

And now, to return and consider the position of 
our Christian Faith. Christianity is an historical 
religion. Think what its great creed is, which we 
say together Sunday after Sunday. It is a recital of 
history. It is the epic of a human life. Something 
which actually happened, some one who actually 
lived, it is in these that we believe. True, those 
historical events and that historic Person were the 
utterances on the theatre of human life of everlast- 
ing principles, of truths and forces which had been 
real in the universe eternally. That Christ was the 
Everlasting Son of the Father. His sacrifice was 
the utterance of an Eternal Love. His Resurrection 
was the triumph of the Essential Principle of Life. 
Behind His history, as behind all history, there lay 
those first and fundamental truths which must be 
true before anything can happen in the world. But 
none the less the manifestation of those eternal 
truths and natures in Christ, and the events that 
came in their developments, were epochs in the his- 
tory of man, producing new results and starting new 
processes. If a child s life, touching the earth like 
a feather, cannot be laid upon our planet without 
changing its equilibrium and making life here differ- 
ent from what it had been before, surely the life of 
Jesus Christ, the exhibition of God s nature in the 
life of man, must have opened new sources of power, 
and altered every life of man which should be lived 
upon the earth forever. 

This is what we mean when we say that Christian 
ity is an historical religion. Do you, a total stranger 
to our faith, ask what our faith is? We must first 
of all draw back a curtain ; we must show you a Per- 
son, walking in certain fields still extant in the 
world s geography, treading on pavements which 
we still may tread, toiling up mountains and over 
plains where our feet still may struggle in their 
weariness this Person at a certain recognizable 
time, a certain date, doing certain recorded acts, 
living a certain life, Him we must point out to you 
and say: "He is our religion. That Christ is 
Christianity." 

But then, when this bewilders you, when you 
seem to find it all so remote and long ago, when the 
historicalness of it all seems to take it outside of all 
your present needs, then is the time to tell you how 
the historic Christ is a perpetual Presence among 
mankind, making His own record a living Power. 
The Christ of history becomes the Christ of the soul. 
The story becomes quickened by the actual presence 
of Him of whom the story tells. It is so wonderful ! 
It is as if while I read the record of what the martyrs 
did, the very martyrs themselves were here looking 
me in the face, firing me with their actual enthus- 
iasm, each of them, as he pointed to the picture of 
a deed, saying: "Yes, I did that by the power of 
God ; and you can do it, too, for God is your God 
as truly as He was mine." How the two elements 
would work together ! How the old past would live 
with the new present ! How the power of history, 
and the power of an immediate inspiration, would 
minister to one another ! 

Now, that is the feeblest picture of the way in 
which, in Christianity, the historic Christ and the 
ever-present Christ become one power for the salva- 
tion of the soul. "I am he that liveth and was 
dead, and lo ! I am alive for evermore." So Christ 
described Himself to John in Patmos. The "was 
dead" is history. Back comes the well-remembered 
scene of Calvary and the tomb in the garden. All 
the distinct facts that happened there come back, 
and "Lo, I am alive for evermore," makes those 
facts new, present realities to the soul which needs 
the assurance of the love, and the example of the 
patience, which were stored away in them centuries 
ago. The Christian reads his Bible, and the Christ 
beside him and the Christ within him make clear to 
him the soul of the Christ who walks and works and 
suffers in these blessed pages. That is the meeting 
in oneness of the historic and the eternal Christ. 
The Christian presses the Bible to his heart, and 
deep utterances all his own, utterances of love and 
help and wisdom which have been kept in that Bible 
for him, unread by any other of the millions who 
have pressed it to their hearts, come forth at the 
summons of his Christ who lives in his soul, and 
give themselves at last to him for whom they have 
been waiting all these years. 

To keep either one of the two aspects of our faith 
alone breaks its completeness, and so makes it weak. 
Some men and some ages have thought almost 
solely of its historic character. They have spent 
their devotion in the worship of its sacred places. 
They have sent Crusades for the rescue of the Holy 
Sepulchre. They have travelled in long pilgrimages, 
that they might touch the ground on which the 
blessed feet of Christ trod. They have made the 
preservation of the forms of the earliest Church 
the object of their toils and prayers. They have 
clung to first statements of truth as if there were no 
living Spirit of Truth among men to-day. On the 
other hand, there have been ages and men to whom 
the historic character of Christianity has meant very 
little. To them the great Christian religion has 
found its only sanction in the present needs and 
instincts of the human soul. Christ has by them 
been hardly thought of as an actual being who once 
lived on earth. He has become a world-pervading 
Spirit, a name for all the upward forces of the soul 
of man, a dear conception of the present God. 

We can see the danger of hardness and formalism 
which must beset the first kind of men and ages. 
We can see the danger of vagueness and subjectivity 
which must beset the others. And we are right. 
The first men and ages have become hard and formal. 
The others have become vague and subjective. But 
the true faith has the defects and vices of neither, 
because it has the truth and excellence of both. It 
is sharp, clear, definite, objective; and yet is free 
and fresh and spiritual and different and new for 
every soul. Its Christ is there in Palestine, and yet 
here in the soul. He is all the more there because 
He is here, and all the more here because He is 
there. The inner pilgrimages, the visits of the 
weakened will for the recovery from its weakness to 
the holy places in the soul where Christ abides, are 
all the more vivid and real because of that voice 
which cries down out of history from the last day, 
that great day of the Feast, when a visible Saviour 
stood in the old Hebrew Temple and cried, "If any 
man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." And 
those venerable spots in Palestine are and have ever 
been the inspiration of mankind, because each new 
soul, as it became conscious of itself, found their 
spiritual geography repeated in itself, and all that 
once took place there taking place again and forever 
upon its little stage. 

This is the complete Christianity. Let us beware 
lest in our lives it lose either of its two parts, and 
become incomplete. Let the voice, which summons 
us to be Christians, call us with both of these inspir- 
ing tones. Come to Christ ! " let it say ; and let the 
Christ to whom it summons us be both the Christ of 
history and the Christ forever manifest and power- 
ful in thef ml o souan. Come to Him who lived in 
the blessed story of the Gospels. Come, and as 
truly as if you were Peter or John, make yourself 
His disciple and follower. Come to His manger- 
cradle, and adore the mystery of God made man. 
Come walk with Him and hear His teaching. Come 
to His Cross, and feel the rich power of the perfect 
Sacrifice. Do this really and definitely, so that 
when men ask you, when you ask yourself, "Who 
is your Master? " your glowing face shall turn, your 
eager finger shall point there, to the Man of the 
days in Palestine, to the summit of history where 
stand the shining feet of the Incarnate God. 

And yet, let the cry, "Come to Christ," keeping 
this meaning, be to you also the summons to a 
present Righteousness and Love, to an immediate 
Divinity here at your side, here in your heart, 
whom you may hear speak words of loving wisdom 
which were never spoken to any ear before ; let it 
be your Christ, who is the utterance of God s Love 
calling you and of your possibility of holiness. Let 
it be your Christ, to whom you come in answer to 
an invitation, in the claiming of a privilege, that is 
all your own. 

Let us come back for a moment to where we 
began. Jesus Christ is taking leave of His disciples, 
and He says: "I have told you the truth. All the 
truth which you and they who come after you are 
to need forever, I have given you." And the dis- 
ciples sit silent and awed, as men who hold mys- 
terious, unopened treasures in their hands. And 
then Christ goes on: "Not yet do you know, not 
yet can you know, all the rich meaning of what I 
have given you ; but when the time shall come, then 
I will be with you, and we together will open these 
closed words of mine, and then all that is in them 
shall be yours. * 

Can we conceive a nobler, a more inspiring or 
gracious programme for human history than that? 
As the years have gone by, as again and again "the 
time has come," and the Christian world, the Chris 
tian Church, has "remembered that its Master told 
it of these things," and has seen the covering drawn 
back and the deeper meaning of some word of His 
made plain, and has known that it was by His pre- 
sent spirit that His historic word was being illu- 
minated, has not His promise been fulfilled? 

What "times shall come" in the future, who shall 
dare to say? We only know that the full time, the 
whole time, has not come yet. What light shall 
stream out of God s word, richening and deepening 
all the light that it has shown before ; what the old 
ever-new story of the Gospels may have to say to 
the new needs of the men and the society and the 
nations which are yet to be, no man can presume to 
say. The new-old Christ in the old-new world ! 
can we not hear Him saying, as He repeats His 
precious truths: "These things have I told you, 
that ye may remember that I told you of them." 

This makes the unity of the succeeding genera- 
tions. To each of them the ever-present Christ 
opens something more of that treasury of truth and 
life which was enfolded in His historic Incarnation. 

They are one with each other the fathers, the 
medievalists, the reformers in their common loy- 
alty to the Incarnate Lord and Master; while each 
lives his own life in that degree of the truth of the 
Lord and Master which has been made known to 
him. 

And as between the ages, so between contempo- 
rary men. To each different soul among us different 
"time" has come, and with each "time" its own 
enlightenment. And yet all the enlightenments are 
broken lights of the "Light which lighteth every 
man." Shall we not all be one in Him, however 
each "cannot but speak those things which he hath 
heard and seen "? 

There is no other name under heaven given 
among men, whereby we can be saved, but the 
name of Jesus Christ. And yet each man is saved 
by Christ with his own appropriate salvation. Let 
us give ourselves to the eternal Christ, and then wait 
working, and work waiting, till, little by little, but 
ever more and more, He shall show us of His truth 
and lead us at last into whatever chamber of His 
righteousness He has made ready for our eternal 
home.