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198

LVII

THE SENSE OF MISSION

“As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”—John xvii. 18.

THIS word of the Master was recalled to me when I was reading Mr. Moulton’s very tender and inspiring life of his brother. It was a life controlled by divine constraints. Even the lighter movements were in the leash of divine possession. The playfield was consecrated as well as the battlefield. Indeed, there is one phrase in the biography which seems to me to give the secret of his life. “One of the last sermons he preached in India was from the word ‘must,’ and it was characteristic of him that he should have taken such a theme, for to him, the entire visit to India was not a tour, but a mission.” That is a most significant phrase, “not a tour, but a mission.” It links the life of 199Dr. Moulton with the life of the Nazarene. His movements were parallel with the purpose of the world. His boat moved in the mighty trade-wind of the divine purpose, and he was ever being borne forward to God’s desired haven.

What was the power and ministry of this sense of mission in the life of the Master? For one thing He was always about His Father’s business. He never came to any secular patch of ground on which he could build no altar. There was nothing profane; that is to say, there was nothing outside His conception of sanctity and sanctification. Everything was in the temple of worship, whether it was the making of a yoke for some neighbouring farmer in Nazareth or the telling of the good news in the high courts of Jerusalem. And so it is with the friends of Christ, who are held by the same sense of dedication and commission. They see the Master’s banner on every site, every place is hallowed ground, every circumstance is under the ownership of one Lord, and they look upon it as part of the heavenly fields.

But there is more than this. Christ Jesus 200approached every circumstance with the strange and wonderful purpose to make it pay tribute to His Father. The road of consecration led right up to it, and therefore it must be dedicated to the divine glory. It must be compelled to disperse its treasure to the honour of His Father’s name. There is something very awe-inspiring when our Lord had His first gloomy glimpse of the Cross. There is a natural shrinking of the spirit. But it is only for a moment. He calls His tremendous mission to His consciousness. “For this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” In that surrender, and in that prayer, He made the gloomy and masterful circumstance His subject. And so it is in all lives that share His sense of sacred mission. They meet things as though by appointment. They do not run up against them by chance, as though life was a lottery, and as though circumstances tumbled together by caprice. Everything along the road is handled in the spirit of commission by the commissioner of the Lord. He handles leaden caskets as he handles golden caskets, and in the leaden casket 201he finds the precious scroll. He faces leaden skies with the same confidence as sunny skies. He walks the muddy, rutty road with the assurance with which he treads the grassy paths. He faces precipitous hills with the same serenity that he walks the sweet and fragrant vales. The rugged task is his as well as the enticing privilege. The prickly chestnut burr is for him as well as the soft and toothsome fruit. He meets every experience in the sense of a divine mission, and he masters it, by compelling it to be the servant of character and the liege-man of his Lord. And so “all things work together for good.” “All things are yours.”

Emerson says somewhere that the light is always given on the necessary journey. Yes, life which is constrained by a sense of mission is life which is light in the Lord. “Light is shown for the righteous.” It springs up like lamps upon the necessary road. Our “must” has its correlative in providence. When He sends us on a mission “He goeth before.” “I go to prepare a place for you.” The lamps are even now being lit. The hostels are appointed and furnished. Everything 202is ready. And therefore Christ is nearer to us than our circumstances, for our circumstances become the high roads through which He approaches our soul.

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