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CHAPTER XVIII.

THE SERVICE OF GOD AND MAN.

Isaiah xlii. 1-7.

We now understand, whom to regard as the Servant of the Lord. The Service of God was a commission to witness and prophesy for God upon earth, made out at first in the name of the entire nation Israel. When their unfitness as a whole became apparent, it was delegated to a portion of them. But as there were added to its duties of prophecy, those of martyrdom and atonement for the sins of the people, our prophet, it would seem, saw it focussed in the person of an individual.

In history Jesus Christ has fulfilled this commission both in its national and in its personal aspects. He realised the ideal of the prophet-people. He sacrificed Himself and made atonement for the sins of men. But having illustrated the service of God in the world, Christ did not exhaust it. He returned it to His people, a more clamant conscience than ever, and He also gave them grace to fulfil its demands. Through Christ the original destination of these prophecies becomes, as Paul saw, their ultimate destination as well. That Israel refused this Service or failed in it only leaves it more clearly to us as duty; that Jesus fulfilled it not only confirms that duty, but adds hope and courage to discharge it.

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Although the terms of this Service were published nearly two thousand five hundred years ago, in a petty dialect that is now dead, to a helpless tribe of captives in a world, whose civilisation has long sunk to ruin, yet these terms are so free of all that is provincial or antique, they are so adapted to the lasting needs of humanity, they are so universal in their scope, they are so instinct with that love which never faileth, though prophecies fail and tongues cease, that they come home to heart and conscience to-day with as much tenderness and authority as ever. The first programme of these terms is given in ch. xlii. 1-7. The authorised English version is one of unapproachable beauty, but its emphasis and rhythm are not the emphasis and rhythm of the original, and it has missed one at least of the striking points of the Hebrew. The following version, which makes no attempt at elegance, is almost literal, follows the same order as the original that it may reproduce the same emphasis, and, as far as English can, repeats the original rhythm. The point, which it rescues from the neglect of the Authorised Version, is this, that the verbs used of the Servant in ver. 4, He shall not fade nor break, are the same as are used of the wick and the reed in ver. 3.

Lo, My Servant! I hold by him;

My Chosen! Well-pleased is My soul!

I have set My Spirit upon him;

Law to the Nations he brings forth.

He cries not, nor lifts up,177177   The English equivalent is, nor is loud.

Nor lets his voice be heard in the street.292

Reed that is broken he breaks not off,

Wick that is fading he does not quench:

Faithfully brings he forth Law.

He shall not fade neither break,

Till he have set in the Earth178178   This time with the article, so not the land of Judah only, but the Earth. Law;

And for his teaching the Isles are waiting.

Thus saith the God, Jehovah,

Creator of the heavens that stretched them forth,

Spreader of Earth and her produce,

Giver of breath to the people upon her,

And of spirit to them that walk therein:

I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness,

To grasp thee fast by thy hand, and to keep thee,

And to set thee for a covenant of the People,

For a light of the Nations:

To open blind eyes,

To bring forth from durance the captive,

From prison the dwellers in darkness.

I. The Conscience of Service.

As several of these lines indicate, this is a Service to Man, but what we must first fasten upon is that before being a Service to Man it is a Service for God. Behold, My Servant, says God's commission very emphatically. And throughout the prophecy the Servant is presented as chosen of God, inspired of God, equipped of God, God's creature, God's instrument; useful only because he is used, influential because he is influenced, victorious because he is obedient; learning the methods of his293 work by daily wakefulness to God's voice, a good speaker only because he is first a good listener; with no strength or courage but what God lends, and achieving all for God's glory. Notice how strongly it is said that God holds by him, grasps him by the hand. We shall see that his Service is as sympathetic and comprehensive a purpose for humanity as was ever dreamed in any thought or dared in any life. Whether we consider its tenderness for individuals, or the universalism of its hope for the world, or its gentle appreciation of all human effort and aspiration, or its conscience of mankind's chief evil, or the utterness of its self-sacrifice in order to redeem men,—we shall own it to be a programme of human duty, and a prophecy of human destiny, to which the growing experience of our race has been able to add nothing that is essential. But the Service becomes all that to man, because it first takes all that from God. Not only is the Servant's sense of duty to all humanity just the conscience of God's universal sovereignty,—for it is a remarkable and never-to-be-forgotten fact, that Israel recognised their God's right to the whole world, before they felt their own duty to mankind,—but the Servant's character and methods are the reflection of the Divine. Feature by feature the Servant corresponds to His Lord. His patience is but sympathy with Jehovah's righteousness,—I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness. His gentleness with the unprofitable and the unlovely—He breaks not off the broken reed nor quenches the flickering wick—is but the temper of the everlasting God, who giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. His labour and passion and agony, even they have been anticipated in the Divine nature, for the LORD stirreth up seal like a294 man of war; He saith, I will cry out like a travailing woman. In no detail is the Servant above his Master. His character is not original, but is the impress of his God's: I have put My spirit upon him.

There are many in our day, who deny this indebtedness of the human character to the Divine, and in the Service of Man would have us turn our backs upon God. Positivists, while admitting that the earliest enthusiasm of the individual for his race did originate in the love of a Divine Being, assert nevertheless that we have grown away from this illusory motive; and that in the example of humanity itself we may find all the requisite impulse to serve it. The philosophy of history, which the extreme Socialists have put forward, is even more explicit. According to them, mankind was disturbed in a primitive, tribal socialism—or service of each other—by the rise of spiritual religion, which drew the individual away from his kind and absorbed him in selfish relations to God. Such a stage, represented by the Hebrew and Christian faiths, and by the individualist political economy which has run concurrent with the later developments of Christianity, was (so these Socialists admit) perhaps necessary for temporary discipline and culture, like the land of Egypt to starved Jacob's children; but like Egypt, when it turned out to be the house of bondage, the individualist economy and religion are now to be abandoned for the original land of promise,—Socialism once more, but universal instead of tribal as of old. Out of this analogy, which is such Socialists' own, Sinai and the Ten Commandments are, of course, omitted. We are to march back to freedom without a God, and settle down to love and serve each other by administration.

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But can we turn our backs on God, without hurting man? The natural history of philanthropy would seem to say that we cannot. This prophecy is one of its witnesses. Earliest ideal as it is, of a universal service of mankind, it starts in its obligation from the universal Sovereignty of God; it starts in every one of its affections from some affection of the Divine character. And we have not grown away from the need of its everlasting sources. Cut off God from the Service of man, and the long habit and inherent beauty of that Service may perpetuate its customs for a few generations; but the inevitable call must come to subject conduct to the altered intellectual conditions, and in the absence of God every man's ideal shall surely turn from, How can I serve my neighbour? to, How can I make my neighbour serve me? As our prophet reminds us in his vivid contrast between Israel, the Servant of the Lord, and Babylon, who saith in her heart: I am, and there is none beside me, there are ultimately but two alternative lords of the human will, God and Self. If we revolt from the Authority and Example of the One, we shall surely become subject, in the long run, to the ignorance, the short-sightedness, the pedantry, the cruelty of the other. These words are used advisedly. With no sense of the sacredness of every human life as created in the image of God, and with no example of an Infinite Mercy before them, men would leave to perish all that was weak, or, from the limited point of view of a single community or generation, unprofitable. Some Positivists and those Socialists, who do not include God in the society they seek to establish, admit that they expect something like that to follow from their denial of God. In certain Positivist proposals for the reform of charity, we are told that the ideal scheme of296 social relief would be the one which limited itself to persons judged to be of use to the community as a whole; that is, that in their succour of the weak, their bounty to the poor, and their care of the young, society should be guided, not by the eternal laws of justice and of mercy, but by the opinions of the representatives of the public for the time being and by their standard of utility to the commonwealth. Your atheist-Socialist is still more frank. In the state, which he sees rising after he has got rid of Christianity, he would suppress, he tells us, all who preached such a thing as the fear of the future life, and he would not repeat the present exceptional legislation for the protection of women and children, for whom, he whines, far too much has been recently done in comparison with what has been enacted for the protection of men.179179   Bax, Religion of Socialism. These are, of course, but vain things which the heathen imagine (and some of us have an ideal of socialism very different from the godlessness which has usurped the noble name), but they serve to illustrate what clever men, who have thrown off all belief in God, will bring themselves to hope for: a society utterly Babylonian, without pity or patience,—if it were possible for these eternal graces to die out of any human community,—subject to the opinion of pedants, whose tender mercies would be far more fatal to the weak and poor than the present indifference of the rich; seriously fettering liberty of conscience and destitute of chivalry. It may be that our Positivist critics are right, and that the interests of humanity have suffered in Christian times from the prevalence of too selfish and introspective a religion; but whether our religion has looked too297 intensely inward or not, we cannot, it is certain, do without a religion that looks steadily up, owning the discipline of Divine Law and the Example of an Infinite Mercy and Longsuffering.

But, though we had never heard of Positivism or of the Socialism that denies God, our age, with its popular and public habits, would still require this example of Service, which our prophecy enforces: it is an age so charged with the instincts of work, with the ambition to be useful, with the fashion of altruism; but so empty of the sense of God, of reverence, discipline and prayer. We do not need to learn philanthropy,—the thing is in the air; but we do need to be taught that philanthropy demands a theology both for its purity and its effectiveness. When philanthropy has become, what it is so much to-day, the contest of rival politicians, the ambition of every demagogue, who can get his head above the crowd, the fitful self-indulgence of weak hearts, the opportunity of vain theorists, and for all a temptation to work with lawless means for selfish ends,—it is time to remember that the Service of Man is first of all a great Service for God. This faith alone can keep us from the wilfulness, the crotchets and the insubordination, which spoil so many well-intentioned to their kind, and so wofully break up the ranks of progress. Humility is the first need of the philanthropist of to-day: humility, discipline and the sense of proportion; and these are qualities, which only faith in God and the conscience of law are known to bestow upon the human heart. It is the fear of God that will best preserve us from making our philanthropy the mere flattery of the popular appetite. To keep us utterly patient with men we need to think of God's patience with ourselves. While to us all298 there come calls to sacrifice, which our fellow-men may so little deserve from us, and against which our self-culture can plead so many reasons, that unless God's will and example were before us, the calls would never be obeyed. In short, to be most useful in this life it is necessary to feel that we are used. Look at Christ. To Him philanthropy was no mere habit and spontaneous affection; even for that great heart the love of man had to be enforced by the compulsion of the will of God. The busy days of healing and teaching had between them long nights of lonely prayer; and the Son of God did not pass to His supreme self-sacrifice for men till after the struggle with, and the submission to, His Father's will in Gethsemane.

II. The Substance of Service.

The substance of the Servant's work is stated in one word, uttered thrice in emphatic positions. Judgement for the nations shall he bring forth.... According to truth shall he bring forth judgement.... He shall not flag nor break, till he set in the earth180180   This time "arets" with the article. So not the land of Judah only but the world. judgement.

The English word judgement is a natural but misleading translation of the original, and we must dismiss at once the idea of judicial sentence, which it suggests. The Hebrew is "mishpat," which means, among other things, either a single statute, or the complete body of law which God gave Israel by Moses, at once their creed and their code; or, perhaps, also the abstract quality of justice or right. We rendered it as the latter in Isa. i.-xxxix. But, as will be seen from the note299 below,181181   The following are the four main meanings of "mishpat" in Isa. xl.-lxvi.: 1. In a general sense, a legal process, xli. 1, let us come together to the judgement, or the law (with the article), cf. l. 8, man of my judgement, i.e., my fellow-at-law, my adversary; liii. 8, oppression and judgement, i.e., a judgement which was oppressive, a legal injustice. 2. A person's cause or right, xl. 27, xlix. 4. 3. Ordinance instituted by Jehovah for the life and worship of His people, lviii. 2, ordinances of righteousness, i.e., either canonical laws, or ordinances by observing which the people would make themselves righteous. 4. In general, the sum of the laws given by Jehovah to Israel, the Law, lviii. 2, Law of their God; li. 4, Jehovah says My Law (Rev. Ver. judgement), parallel to "Torah" or Revelation (Rev. Ver. law). Then absolutely, without the article or Jehovah's name attached, xlii. 1, 3, 4. In lvi. 1 parallel to righteousness; lix. 14 parallel to righteousness, truth and uprightness. In fact, in this last use, while represented as equivalent to civic morality, it is this, not as viewed in its character, right, upright, but in its obligation as ordained by God: morality as His Law. The absence of the article may either mean what it means in the case of people and land, i.e., the Law, too much of a proper name to need the article, or it may be an attempt to abstract the quality of the Law; and if so mishpat is equal to justice. when used in Isa. xl.-lxvi. without the article, as here, it is the "mishpat" of Jehovah,—not so much the actual body of statutes given to Israel, as the principles of right or justice which they enforce. In one passage it is given in parallel to the civic virtues righteousness, truth, uprightness, but—as its etymology compared with theirs shows us—it is these viewed not in their character as virtues, but in their obligation as ordained by God. Hence, duty to Jehovah as inseparable from His religion (Ewald), religion as the law of life (Delitzsch), the law (Cheyne, who admirably compares the Arabic ed-Dîn) are all good renderings. Professor Davidson gives the fullest exposition. "It can scarcely," he says, "be rendered 'religion' in the modern sense, it is the equity and civil right which is the result of the true religion of Jehovah; and though300 comprehended under religion in the Old Testament sense, is rather, according to our conceptions, religion applied in civil life. Of old the religious unit was the state, and the life of the state was the expression of its religion. Morality was law or custom, and both reposed upon God. A condition of thought such as now prevails, where morality is based on independent grounds, whether natural law or the principles inherent in the mind apart from religion, did not then exist. What the prophet means by 'bringing forth right' is explained in another passage, where it is said that Jehovah's 'arms shall judge the peoples,' and that the 'isles shall wait for His arm' (ch. li. 5). 'Judgment' is that pervading of life by the principles of equity and humanity which is the immediate effect of the true religion of Jehovah."182182   Expositor, second series, vol. viii., p. 364. In short, "mishpat" is not only the civic righteousness and justice, to which it is made parallel in our prophecy, but it is these with God behind them. On the one hand it is conterminous with national virtue, on the other it is the ordinance and will of God.

This, then, is the burden of the Servant's work, to pervade and instruct every nation's life on earth with the righteousness and piety that are ordained of God. He shall not flag nor break, till he have set in the earth Law,—till in every nation justice, humanity and worship are established as the law of God. We have seen that the Servant is in this passage still some aspect or shape of the people,—the people who are not a people, but scattered among the brickfields of Babylonia, a horde of captives. When we keep that in mind, two or three things come home to us about this task of theirs. First, it is no mere effort at proselytism. It301 is not an ambition to Judaise the world. The national consciousness and provincial habits, which cling about so many of the prophecies of Israel's relation to the world, have dropped from this one, and the nation's mission is identified with the establishment of law, the diffusion of light, the relief of suffering. I will give thee for a light to the nations: to open blind eyes, to bring out from durance the bound, from the prison the dwellers in darkness.183183   This might, of course, only mean what the Servant had to do for his captive countrymen. But coming as it does after the light of nations, it seems natural to take it in its wider and more spiritual sense. Again, it is no mere office of preaching, to which the Servant's commission is limited, no mere inculcation of articles of belief. But we have here the same rich, broad idea of religion, identifying it with the whole national life, which we found so often illustrated by Isaiah, and which is one of the beneficial results to religion of God's choice for Himself of a nation as a whole.184184   See ch. xv. of this volume. What such a Service has to give the world, is not merely testimony to the truth, nor fresh views of it, nor artistic methods of teaching it; but social life under its obligation, the public conscience of it, the long tradition and habit of it, the breed—what the prophets call the seed—of it. To establish true religion as the constitution, national duty, and regular practice of every people under the sun, in all the details of order, cleanliness, justice, purity and mercy, in which it had been applied to themselves,—such was the Service and the Destiny of Israel. And the marvel of so universal and political an ideal was, that it came not to a people in the front ranks of civilisation or of empire, but to a people that at the time had not even a political shape for themselves,—a mere herd of captives,302 despised and rejected of men. When we realise this, we understand that they never would have dared to think of it, or to speak of it to one another, unless they had believed it to be the purpose and will of Almighty God for them; unless they had recognised it, not only as a service desirable and true in itself, and, needed also by humanity, but withal as His "mishpat," His judgement or law, who by His bare word can bring all things to pass. But before we see how strongly He impressed them with this, that His creative force was in their mission, let us turn to the methods by which He commanded them to achieve it,—methods corresponding to its purely spiritual and universal character.

III. The Temper of Service.

1. He shall not cry, nor lift up,
Nor make his voice to be heard in the street.

There is nothing more characteristic of our prophecy than its belief in the power of speech, its exultation in the music and spell of the human voice. It opens with a chorus of high calls: none are so lovely to it as heralds, or so musical as watchmen when they lift up the voice; it sets the preaching of glad tidings before the people as their national ideal; eloquence it describes as a sharp sword leaping from God's scabbard. The Servant of the Lord is trained in style of speech; his words are as pointed arrows; he has the mouth of the learned, a voice to command obedience. The prophet's own tones are superb: nowhere else does the short sententiousness of Hebrew roll out into such long, sonorous periods. He uses speech in every style: for comfort, for bitter controversy, in clear proclamation, in deep-throated denunciation: Call with the throat, spare not, lift303 up the voice like a trumpet. His constant key-notes are, speak a word, lift up the voice with strength, sing, publish, declare. In fact, there is no use to which the human voice has ever been put in the Service of Man, for comfort's sake, or for justice, or for liberty, for the diffusion of knowledge or for the scattering of music, which our prophet does not enlist and urge upon his people.

When, then, he says of the Servant that he shall not cry, nor lift up, nor make his voice to be heard in the street, he cannot be referring to the means and art of the Service, but rather to the tone and character of the Servant. Each of the triplet of verbs he uses shows us this. The first one, translated cry, is not the cry or call of the herald voice in ch. xl., the high, clear Kārā; it is ssa`aḳ, a sharper word with a choke in the centre of it meaning to scream, especially under excitement. Then to lift up is the exact equivalent of our "to be loud." And if we were seeking to translate into Hebrew our phrase "to advertise oneself," we could not find a closer expression for it than to make his voice be heard in the street. To be "screamy," to be "loud," to "advertise oneself,"—these modern expressions for vices that were ancient as well as modern render the exact force of the verse. Such the Servant of God will not be nor do. He is at once too strong, too meek and too practical. That God is with him, holding him fast, keeps him calm and unhysterical; that he is but God's instrument keeps him humble and quiet; and that his heart is in his work keeps him from advertising himself at its expense. It is perhaps especially for the last of these reasons that Matthew (in his twelfth chapter) quotes this passage of our Lord. Jesus had been disturbed in His labours of healing by the disputatious Pharisees. He had answered304 them, and then withdrawn from their neighbourhood. Many sick were brought after Him to His privacy, and He healed them all. But He charged them that they should not make Him known; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Behold, My Servant ... he shall not strive, nor cry aloud, neither shall any one hear his voice in the streets. Now this cannot be, what some carelessly take it for, an example against controversy or debate of all kinds, for Jesus had Himself just been debating; nor can it be meant as an absolute forbidding of all publishing of good works, for Christ has shown us, on other occasions, that such advertisement is good. The difficulty is explained, by what we have seen to explain other perplexing actions of our Lord, His intensely practical spirit. The work to be done determined everything. When it made argument necessary, as that same day it had done in the synagogue, then our Lord entered on argument: He did not only heal the man with the withered hand, but He made him the text of a sermon. But when talking about His work hindered it, provoked the Pharisees to come near with their questions, and took up His time and strength in disputes with them, then for the work's sake He forbade talk about it. We have no trace of evidence that Christ forbade this advertisement also for His own sake,—as a temptation to Himself and fraught with evil effects upon His feelings. We know that it is for this reason we have to shun it. Even though we are quite guiltless of contributing to such publication ourselves, and it is the work of generous and well-meaning friends, it still becomes a very great danger to us. For it is apt to fever us and exhaust our nervous force, even when it does not turn our heads with its praise,—to305 distract us and to draw us more and more into the enervating habit of paying attention to popular opinion. Therefore, as a man values his efficiency in the Service of Man, he will not make himself to be heard in the street. There is an amount of making to be heard which is absolutely necessary for the work's sake; but there is also an amount which can be indulged in only at the work's expense. Present-day philanthropy, even with the best intentions, suffers from this over-publicity, and its besetting sins are "loudness" and hysteria.

What, then, shall tell us how far we can go? What shall teach us how to be eloquent without screaming, clear without being loud, impressive without wasting our strength in seeking to make an impression? These questions bring us back to what we started with, as the indispensable requisite for Service—some guiding and religious principles behind even the kindliest and steadiest tempers. For many things in the Service of Man no exact rules will avail; neither logic nor bye-laws of administration can teach us to observe the uncertain and constantly varying degree of duty, which they demand. Tact for that is bestowed only by the influence of lofty principles working from above. This is a case in point. What rules of logic or "directions of the superior authority" can, in the Service of Man, distinguish for us between excitement and earnestness, bluster and eloquence, energy and mere self-advertisement; on whose subtle differences the whole success of the service must turn. Only the discipline of faith, only the sense of God, can help us here. The practical temper by itself will not help us. To be busy but gives us too great self-importance; and hard work often serves only to bring out the combative306 instincts. To know that we are His Servants shall keep us meek; that we are held fast by His hand shall keep us calm; that His great laws are not abrogated shall keep us sane. When for our lowliest and most commonplace kinds of service we think no religion is required, let us remember the solemn introduction of the evangelist to his story of the foot-washing. Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came forth from God and goeth unto God, riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garments; and He took a towel, and girded Himself; then He poureth water into the bason, and began to wash His disciples' feet.

2. But to meekness and discipline the Servant adds gentleness.

Reed that is broken he breaks not off,

Wick that is fading he does not quench;

Faithfully brings he forth law.

The force of the last of these three lines is, of course, qualificative and conditional. It is set as a guard against the abuse of the first two, and means that though the Servant in dealing with men is to be solicitous about their weakness, yet the interests of religion shall in no way suffer. Mercy shall be practised, but so that truth is not compromised.

The original application of the verse is thus finely stated by Professor Davidson: "This is the singularly humane and compassionate view the Prophet takes of the Gentiles,—they are bruised reeds and expiring flames.... What the prophet may refer to is the human virtues, expiring among the nations, but not yet dead; the sense of God, debased by idolatries, but not extinct; the consciousness in the individual307 soul of its own worth and its capacities, and the glimmering ideal of a true life and a worthy activity almost crushed out by the grinding tyranny of rulers and the miseries entailed by their ambitions—this flickering light the Servant shall feed and blow into a flame.185185   Expositor, second series, viii., pp. 364, 365, 366.... It is the future relation of the 'people' Israel to other peoples that he describes. The thought which has now taken possession of statesmen of the higher class, that the point of contact between nation and nation need not be the sword, that the advantage of one people is not the loss of another but the gain of mankind, that the land where freedom has grown to maturity and is worshipped in her virgin serenity and loveliness should nurse the new-born babe in other homes, and that the strange powers of the mind of man and the subtle activities of his hand should not be repressed but fostered in every people, in order that the product may be poured into the general lap of the race—this idea is supposed to be due to Christianity. And, immediately, it is; but it is older than Christianity. It is found in this Prophet. And it is not new in him, for a Prophet, presumably a century and a half his senior, had said: The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples as a dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass (Micah v. 7)."186186   Ibid., p. 366.

But while this national reference may be the one originally meant, the splendid vagueness of the metaphor forbids us to be content with it, or with any solitary application. For the two clauses are as the eyes of the All-Pitiful Father, that rest wherever on this broad earth there is any life, though it be so low as to be conscious only through pain or doubt; they are as the healing308 palms of Jesus stretched over the multitudes to bless and gather to Himself the weary and the poor in spirit. We contrast our miserable ruin of character, our feeble sparks of desire after holiness, with the life, which Christ demands and has promised, and in despair we tell ourselves, this can never become that. But it is precisely this that Christ has come to lift to that. The first chapter of the Sermon on the Mount closes with the awful command, Be ye perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect; but we work our way back through the chapter, and we come to this, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled; and to this, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Such is Christ's treatment of the bruised reed and the smoking flax. Let us not despair. There is only one kind of men, for whom it has no gospel,—the dead and they who are steeped in worldliness, who have forgotten what the pain of a sore conscience is, and are strangers to humility and aspiration. But for all who know their life, were it only through their pain or their doubt, were it only in the despair of what they feel to be a last struggle with temptation, were it only in contrition for their sin or in shame for their uselessness, this text has hope. Reed that is broken he breaketh not off, wick that is fading he doth not quench.

This objective sense of the Servant's temper must always be the first for us to understand. For more than he was, we are, mortal, ready ourselves to break and to fade. But having experienced the grace, let us show the same in our service to others. Let us understand that we are sent forth like the great Servant of God, that man may have life, and have it more abundantly. We need resolutely and with pious obstinacy309 to set this temper before us, for it is not natural to our hearts. Even the best of us, in the excitement of our work, forget to think of anything except of making our mark, or of getting the better of what we are at work upon. When work grows hard, the combative instincts waken within us, till we look upon the characters God has given us to mould as enemies to be fought. We are passionate to convince men, to overcome them with an argument, to wring the confession from them that we are right and they wrong. Now Christ our Master must have seen in every man He met a very great deal more to be fought and extirpated than we can possibly see in one another. Yet He largely left that alone, and addressed Himself rather to the sparks of nobility He found, and fostered these to a strong life, which from within overcame the badness of the man,—the badness which opposition from the outside would but have beaten into harder obduracy. We must ever remember that we are not warriors but artists,—artists after the fashion of Jesus Christ, who came not to condemn life because it was imperfect, but to build life up to the image of God. So He sends us to be artists; as it is written, He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some pastors and teachers. For what end? For convincing men, for telling them what fools they mostly are, for crushing them in the inquisition of their own conscience, for getting the better of them in argument?—no, not for these combative purposes at all, but for fostering and artistic ones: for the perfecting of the saints, for the building up of the body of Christ; till we all come unto a full grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

He who, in his Service of Man, practises such a temper towards the breaking and the fading, shall never himself310 break or fade, as this prophecy implies when it uses the same verbs in verses three and four. For he who is loyal to life shall find life generous to him; he who is careful of weakness shall never want for strength.

IV. The Power behind Service.

There only remains now to emphasize the power that is behind Service. It is, say verses five and six, the Creative Power of God.

Thus saith The God, Jehovah,

Creator of the heavens, that stretched them forth,

Spreader of the earth and her produce,

Giver of breath to the people upon her,

And of spirit to them that walk thereon,

I Jehovah have called thee in righteousness,

That I may grasp thee by thy hand, and keep thee.

Majestic confirmation of the call to Service! based upon the fundamental granite of this whole prophecy, which here crops out into a noble peak, firm station for the Servant, and point for prospect of all the future. It is our easy fault to read these words of the Creator as the utterance of mere ceremonial commonplace, blast of trumpets at the going forth of a hero, scenery for his stage, the pomp of nature summoned to assist at the presentation of God's elect before the world. Yet not for splendour were they spoken, but for bare faith's sake. God's Servant has been sent forth, weak and gentle, with quiet methods and to very slow effects. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor make his voice to be heard in the streets. What chance has such, our service, in the ways311 of the world, where to be forceful and selfish, to bluster and battle, is to survive and overcome! So we speak, and the panic ambition rises to fight the world with its own weapons, and to employ the kinds of debate, advertisement and competition by which the world goes forward. For this, the Creator calls to us, and marshals His powers before our eyes. We thought there were but two things,—our own silence and the world's noise. There are three, and the world's noise is only an interruption between the other two. Across it deep calleth unto deep; the immeasurable processes of creation cry to the feeble convictions of truth in our hearts, We are one. Creation is the certificate that no moral effort is a forlorn hope. When God, after repeating His results in creation, adds, I have called thee in righteousness, He means that there is some consistency between His processes in creation, rational and immense as they are, and those poor efforts He calls on our weakness to make, which look so foolish in face of the world. Behind every moral effort there is, He says, Creative force. Right and Might are ultimately one. Paul sums up the force of the passage, when, after speaking of the success of his ministry, he gives as its reason that the God of Creation and of Grace are the same. Therefore seeing we have received this ministry we faint not. For God, who hath commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The spiritual Service of Man, then, has creative forces behind it; work for God upon the hearts and characters of others has creative force behind it. And nature is the seal and the sacrament of this. Let our souls, therefore, dilate with her prospects. Let our impatience study her reasonableness and her laws. Let our weak312 wills feel the rush of her tides. For the power that is in her, and the faithful pursuance of purposes to their ends, are the power and the character that work behind each witness of our conscience, each effort of our heart for others. Not less strong than she, not less calm, not less certain of success, shall prove the moral Service of Man.


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