from The Good News of God; sermons by Charles Kingsley. New York, Macmillan, 1898.
ISAIAH lix. 15, 16. And the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him.THIS text is often held to be a prophecy of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I certainly believe that it is a prophecy of his coming, and of something better still; namely, his continual presence; and a very noble and deep one, and one from which we may learn a great deal. We may learn from it what 'salvation' really is. What Christ came to save men from, and how he saves them.
The common notion of salvation now-a-days is this. That salvation is some arrangement or plan, by which people are to escape hell-fire by having Christ's righteousness imputed to them without their being righteous themselves.
Now, I have nothing to say about that this morning. It may be so; or, again, it may not; I read a good many things in books every week the sense of which I cannot understand. At all events it is not the salvation of which Isaiah speaks here.
For Isaiah tells us very plainly, from what God was going to save these Jews. Not from hell-fire -- nothing is said about it: but simply from their sins. As it is written, 'Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.'
The case is very simple, if you will look at Isaiah's own words. These [of whom Isaiah is speaking] had become thoroughly bad men. They were not ungodly men. They were very religious, orthodox, devout men. They 'sought God daily, and delighted to know his ways, like a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinances of their God: they asked of him the ordinances of justice; they took delight in approaching unto God.'
But unfortunately for them, and for all with whom they had to do, after they had asked of God the ordinances of justice, they never thought of doing them; and in spite of all their religion, they were, Isaiah tells them plainly, rogues and scoundrels, none of whom stood up for justice, or pleaded for truth, but trusted in vanity and spoke lies. Their feet ran to evil, and they made haste to shed innocent blood; the way of peace they knew not, and they had made themselves crooked paths, speaking oppression and revolt, and conceiving and uttering words of falsehood; so that judgment was turned away backward, and justice stood afar off, for truth was fallen in the street, and equity could not enter. Yea, truth failed; and he that departed from evil made himself a prey (or as some render it) was accounted mad.
And this is in the face of all their religion and their church-going. Verily, my friends, fallen human beings were much the same then as now; and there are too many in England and elsewhere now who might sit for that portrait.
But how was the Lord going to save these hypocritical, false, unjust men? Was he going to say to them, Believe certain doctrines about me, and you shall escape all punishment for your sins, and my righteousness shall be imputed to you? We do not read a word of that. We read -- not that the Lord's righteousness was imputed to these bad men, but that it sustained the Lord himself. -- Ah! there is a depth, if you will receive it -- a depth of hope and comfort -- a well-spring of salvation for us and all mankind.
You may be false and dishonest, saith the Lord, but I am honest and true. Unjust, but I am just; unrighteous, but I am righteous. If men will not set the world right, then I will, saith the Lord. My righteousness shall sustain me, and keep me up to my duty, though man may forget his. To me all power is given in heaven .and earth, and I will use my power aright.
If men are bringing themselves and their country, their religion, their church to ruin by hypocrisy, falsehood, and injustice, as those Jews were, then the Lord's.arm will bring salvation. He will save them from their sins by the only possible way -- namely, by taking their sins away, and making those of them who will take his lesson good and righteous men instead. It may be a very terrible lesson of vengeance and fury, as Isaiah says. It may unmask many a hypocrite, confound many a politic, and frustrate many a knavish trick, till the Lord's salvation may look at first sight much more like destruction and misery; for his fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into his garner: but the chaff he Will bum up with unquenchable fire.
But his purpose is to save -- to save his people from their sins, to purge out of them all hypocrisy, falsehood, injustice, and make of them honest men, true men, just men -- men created anew after his likeness. And this is the meaning of his salvation; and is the only salvation worth having, for this life or the life to come.
Oh. my friends, let us pray to God, whatsoever else he does for us, to make honest men of us. For if we be not honest men, we shall surely come to ruin, and bring all we touch to ruin, past hope of salvation. Whatsoever denomination or church we belong to, it will be all the same: we may call ourselves children of Abraham, of the Holy Catholic Church (which God preserve), or what we will: but when the axe is laid to the root of the tree, every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and is cast into the fire; and woe to the foolish fowl who have taken shelter under the branches of it.
And we who are coming to the holy communion this day -- let us ask ourselves, What do we want there? Do we want to be made good men, true, honest, just? Do we want to be saved from our sins? or merely from the punishment of them after we die? Do we want to be made sharers in that everlasting righteousness of Christ, which sustains him, and sustains the whole world too, -and prevents it from becoming a cage of wild beasts, tearing each other to pieces by war and oppression, falsehood and injustice? Then we shall get what we want; and more. But if not, then we shall not get what we want, not discerning that the Lord's body is a righteous and just and good body; and his blood a purifying blood, which purifies not merely from the punishment of our sins, but from our sins themselves.
And bear in mind, my friends, when times grow evil, and rogues and hypocrites abound, and all the world seems going wrong, there is one arm to fall back upon, and one righteousness to fall back upon, which can never fail you, or the world. --
The arm of the Lord, which brings salvation to him, that he may give it to all who are faithful and true; which cannot weaken or grow weary, till it has cast out of his kingdom all which offends, and whosoever loveth or maketh a lie.--
And the eternal righteousness of the Lord, which will do justice by every living soul of man, and which will never fail or fade away, because it is his own property, belonging to his own essence, which if he gave up for a moment he would give up being God. Yes, God is good, though every man were bad; God is just, though every man were a rogue; God is true, though every man were a liar; and as long as that is so, all is safe for you -- and me, and the whole world: -- if we will.
Sins and Wickedness
from a Sermon by Charles Kingsley for the Fourth Sunday in Advent.
In Good News of God.
Our sins and wickedness. The Collect [1928 BCP, p. 95] speaks of these as two different things; and I believe rightly, for the New Testament speaks of them as two different things. Sin, in the New Testament, means strictly what we call "failings." "defects," a missing the mark, a falling short' as it is written -- All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, that is, of the likeness of a perfect man.
Thus, stupidity, laziness, cowardice, bad temper, greediness after pleasure -- these are strictly speaking what the New Testament calls sins. Wickedness -- iniquity -- seem to be harder words, and to mean worse offences. They mean the evil things which a man does, not out of the weakness of his mortal nature, but out of his own wicked will, and what the Bible calls the naughtiness of his heart. So wickedness means, not merely open crimes which are punishable by the law, but all which comes out of a man's own willfulness and perverseness -- injustice (which is the first meaning of iniquity), cunning, falsehood, covetousness, pride, self-conceit, tyranny, cruelty -- these seem to be what Scripture calls wickedness. Of course one cannot draw the line exactly, in any matters so puzzling as questions about our own souls must always be; but on the whole, I think you will find this rule not far wrong --
That all which comes from the weakness of a man's soul, is sin: all which comes from abusing its strength, is wickedness. All which drags a man down, and makes him more like a brute animal, is sin; all which puffs him up, and makes him more like a devil, is wickedness. It is as well to bear this in mind, because a man may have a great horror of sin, and be hard enough, and too hard upon poor sinners; and yet all the time he may be thoroughly, and to his heart's core, a wicked man. The Pharisees of old were so. So they are now. Take you care that you be not like to them. Keep clear of sin: but keep clear of wickedness likewise.
from Alton Locke
By Charles Kingsley
"What!" shriek the insulted respectabilities, "have we not paid him his wages weekly, and has he not lived upon them?" Yes; and have you not given your sheep and horses their daily wages, and have they not lived on them? You wanted to work them; and they could not work, you knew, unless they were alive. But here lies your iniquity; you have given the labourer nothing but his daily food -- not even his lodgings; the pigs were not stinted of their wash to pay for their sty-room, the man was; and his wages, thanks to your competitive system, were beaten down deliberately and conscientiously (for was it not according to political economy, and the laws thereof?) to the minimum on which he could or would work, without the hope or the possibility of saving a farthing. You know how to invest your capital profitably, dear Society, and to save money over and above your income of daily comforts; but what has he saved? -- what is he profited by all those years of labour? He has kept body and soul together -- perhaps he could have done that without you or your help. But his wages are used up every Saturday night. When he stops working, you have in your pocket the whole profits of his nearly fifty years' labour, and he has nothing. And then you say that you have not eaten him!
Pusey and Maurice
from Gilbert Clive Binyon's The Christian Socialist Movement in England, 1931
[I]n beginning with man and his sin, instead of God and His Creation, the Evangelicals took no notice of the changed mentality of the people; their theology became severed from its natural soil in the spiritual and moral instincts and thoughts of men. It was this 'Calvinistic limitation' that prevented Shaftesbury from appreciating Maurice.
The Tractarians had, really, much more in common with Maurice. Their sacramentalism was a perpetual witness against limitations and dilutions of revealed truths. But they scarcely understood this.
Pusey went so far as to say that he and Maurice worshiped different Gods; and Maurice replied, 'I accept Dr. Pusey's statement, tremendous as it is.' The occasion of this interchange of civilities was a Declaration of Faith, drawn up (in 1864) by High Churchmen and Evangelicals, affirming belief in 'the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures' and 'the hopeless torments of future punishment,' and sent to every clergyman in the Church of England, with an entreaty that he would 'for the love of God' sign it. Pusey had played a leading part in the business; Maurice not only refused to sign, but publicly protested against it.
The doctrine of 'verbal inspiration,' by which was really meant an unintelligent literal interpretation of Scripture, had obscured the Revelation which Scripture records, in a way which Maurice believed to be dishonorable to the Word of God. For him, Jewish history interpreted all other history, unfolding God's purpose for mankind. The punishments of God he believed to be evidence of His Will to recall His creatures to righteousness. If, he argued, eternal life is knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, the eternal punishment of those who do not own Christ in His brethren must be that of being without the knowledge of God who is Love and of Jesus Christ who has manifested it.
It is easy to see from the position of Maurice on these two subjects -- the Bible and eternal life -- that he mentally lived in a different world from that of his contemporaries, a more spacious world; to him God was, first, a Father -- with all that implied; to them (so at least he once allowed himself to say) God was merely the provider of a scheme for man's deliverance or the setter-up of a Church system.
[It remained for a later generation of Anglo-Catholics to appreciate and embrace Maurice's contributions, weaving them into a more generous and authentic Catholicism than the Tractarians had been able to achieve. And, unfortunately, it remained for some Anglo-Catholics in our own generation to grumble their way back into another debilitating alliance with Calvinistic fundamentalism. Was it Hegel or Marx who said that history repeats itself -- the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce? - - Ted M.]
Be assured . . .
J. M. Ludlow in a letter to Harold Westergaard (13 December 1898).
"Be assured that sooner or later a storm will break upon you, you will suffer persecution, you will have to make sacrifices for the social faith which is in you. But with the trial you will find consolation. No friendships are so precious as those which are found in struggling for the right. Then will come dark days, when you will feel as if your efforts have been thrown away, when perhaps your friends will turn away to paths into which you cannot conscientiously follow them, when you are utterly crushed with the sense of your own impotence, folly, hypocrisy even. And then again will come a calmer time, when you will find that God has his own ways of doing His work, that no single good purpose you have ever had has been frustrated, altho' the result may be quite different from what you looked to, nay, that seeds which you had sown and thought to have been trodden out of all vitality have grown and borne fruit in unexpected places. How I have run on!"