The Leaven of F. D. Maurice

F D Maurice


"Christian Socialism" -- a phrase which still sounds "a combination wholly preposterous" to many a pious ear. Yet it was a phrase deliberately chosen by the small "band of brothers" who gathered around the Anglican theologian Frederick Denison Maurice in 1848. Maurice wrote, "[It] will commit us at once to the conflict we must engage in sooner or later with the unsocial Christians and the unchristian socialists." The "socialism" of 1848 was not much by later standards, but it did take a stand: "I do not see", said Maurice, "my way further than this: competition is put forth as the law of the universe. That is a lie."

Prominent among this "band of brothers" were John Malcolm Ludlow, a layman and barrister, and Charles Kingsley, country priest and novelist. Ludlow, according to some, should be reckoned the real originator of Christian Socialism in Britain; he was the practical organizer, constantly prodding the others to move further than they really wanted to go, and continuing to work in support of trade unions, "friendly societies" and cooperatives long after others had pulled back. Towards the end of his 91 years he described himself as "mainly a Radical all my life, although I have often said that I consider myself a better Conservative than many that called themselves such."

Kingsley was not much of an original thinker -- when he tried he could be, frankly, a little bit wacko. But as an interpreter and popularizer of Maurice and as a prophetic voice on behalf of God's poor, he was "like a flame". "I will speak in season and out of season," he wrote. "My path is clear and I will follow it. God has made the Word of the Lord like fire within my bones, giving me no peace till I have spoken out." Typical was his denunciation of the "Manchester School" of economics as a "narrow, conceited, hypocritical, anarchic, and atheistic scheme of the universe."

Maurice, as Conrad Noel notes, "was a profoundly original Catholic theologian, not bound by the letter of tradition, but developing its spirit." His rejection of the prevailing Calvinism (which saw life, in Maurice's words, as "a few short years of misery here as an earnest of, and preparation for, that more enduring state of wretchedness and woe") did not lead him, as it has led so many others, into the kind of liberalism that rejects the very possibility of doctrine and theology. "Every hope I had for human culture, for the reconciliation of opposing schools, for blessings to mankind, was based on theology. What sympathy then could I have with the Liberal Party, which was emphatically anti-theological, which was ready to tolerate all opinion in theology only because people could know nothing about it. . .?"

To the limitations of Calvinistic and Tractarians systems, writes Gilbert Binyon, Maurice

opposed the fuller theology -- a revival of which had been adumbrated in the message of Coleridge -- of the early Fathers of the Church, such as Clement of Alexandria, than whom, he thought, it would be difficult to find a purer or truer man or one more to be reverenced as a teacher or loved as a friend. . . His desire was to ground all theology upon the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost -- not to begin with man and his sins; and to ground all human morality upon the relation in which man stands to God -- not upon dread of punishment or expectation of reward.
It is in the "theological reformation" that Maurice sought and to such a large extent effected, rather than in this or that particular social project, that his most lasting contribution lies. The selections that follow are intended to hint at the flavor of this theology. If they are less overtly "political" than others in these pages, they point at fundamental Christian truths upon which Anglo-Catholic and other Christian Socialists based their thought and practice.

On the "socialism" of 1848-1854, Vida Scudder offered these observations:

The Christian Socialism of Kingsley and Maurice was both more and less than its name implied. It did not even perceive, far less grasp, the economic doctrine which the word Socialism to-day [1912] carries. The founders of the movement were stanch monarchists and aristocrats. Yet spiritually they rested on a principle deeper and more radical than that which ordinary socialism has discovered: the principle that the brotherhood of man is an absolute reality [an ontological reality, not a "goal" or an "ideal" -- Ted M.], springing from the fatherhood of God. This principle underlay all the profound theology of Maurice. . . The enunciation of that principle had not become a truism in those days nor sunk into cant. It led at once, with the strong men possessed by it, to very radical inferences, both in theory and practice. . . It was all a plea for the permeation of society, in its every activity and relation, by the law of Christian love. It had as keen a sense of the reality of the unseen as had the thought of Newman, but it had a keener sense of the reality and importance of the seen; and the world to it was less a foe to be overcome than a kingdom to be redeemed.
If the Anglo-Catholic Socialists of later years were to go beyond the economic and political outlook of the earlier Christian Socialists, it was always with a sense of deep indebtedness. Conrad Noel writes, "It is quite possible that Maurice and Kingsley would have drawn back from the development of economic socialism as espoused by Churchmen today; but just as the abolition of slavery is an inevitable deduction from Pauline philosophy, and the Lollard revolution from the teachings of the theologian who repudiated it, so Church socialists of the present owe much of their socialist make-up to these Catholic Fathers of the nineteenth century."


"God in His very self is love, and for love's sake He became visible to us. And while the unspeakable part of Him is Father, the part that has sympathy with us is Mother. By his loving the Father became a woman's nature, a great proof of which is He whom He begat from Himself; and the fruit that is born of love is love." -- St. Clement of Alexandria.


The Anglican Church

from The Kingdom of Christ, 1st ed. (London: Darton and Clark, Holborn Hill, 1838). Letter no. 4.

"My great wish is to show you, that the Anglican Church was led, not by reason of any peculiar excellence or glory in the members or teachers of it, but by a course of providential discipline, to put worship and sacraments before views, to make those acts which directly connect man with God the prominent part of their system, -- that which was meant to embody the very form and meaning of Christianity, -- and those verbal distinctions which are necessary to keep the understanding of men from error and confusion, as its accessory and subordinate part."


The Creed

from a sermon preached on Septuagesima Sunday, 1849, by Frederick Denison Maurice. In The Prayer Book. London, James Clarke & Co., 1966.

And they that know thy name will put their trust in Thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. -- Psalm 9:10
Every one must, I think, at some moment of his life, have been startled by the wonderful force of the words in Scripture with which he had been most familiar, and which had seemed to him most common-place. For instance, the word 'trust' which meets us at every turn in the Book of Psalms -- how soon we came to think of it as a kind of catch-phrase, as one which was characteristic of a peculiar people who lived some thousands of years ago in the East! In overwhelming troubles, in a time of utter weariness, when every calculation has been disappointed, when there seems no fair ground for expecting help from any quarter, when all is dark without and within, how has this little word dawned upon a man, what a witness it has seemed to give of a world of light somewhere, perhaps not far off! To be told that he may trust, or put his trust, in God; that this is not a sin, but a duty; that it has nothing to do with prospects of success, or even with the conditions of his own feelings; that the command is addressed to those who are in the midst of failure, upon whom the world has been frowning, who have found no resources in their own present consciousness, or in recollections of the past; to learn that such persons have best understood the command, and have obeyed it best; this is strange; what was a common-place becomes a paradox, and yet in that form the man receives it, entertains it, ascertains it to be true. To fear God he knew was right, whether he did it or no; to love God he had always held to be right, were it possible. But to trust in God, without being certain that he does either fear or love; to trust because all is in God which he has not and feels he has not, in himself, this is precisely what he needs, and precisely to this the book which had seemed a dull repetition of unmeaning sounds is inviting him.

There is another word in my text which has an inseparable connection with this. The great privilege of the Jew throughout Scripture is said to be this, that he knows the Name of God. He is not called to trust in some power which has sent him into the world, and which is exercising dominion over him, and with the nature and purposes of which he is unacquainted. It is assumed on the plainest ground of reason that such trust would be impossible. It might be prescribed, but the rule could not be obeyed; it might be desirable, but no one could practice it merely because he wished it. You cannot trust a thing, or a mere power, or a mere law. Trust must be in a Person; you cannot trust a Person whom you suspect of possible malevolence to you. Therefore this was the feeling which grew with the growth and strengthened with the strength of every Jew who understood his own position; 'If I am to trust in God He must declare Himself to me. I trust Him because He has made me feel and know that He is Righteous, and that He cares for me. I cannot see Him, but I know His Name.'

Let us understand this well, brethren, for it is very important in reference to notions that are current in the present day. If there is to be a religion of trust, and not of slavish cowardly fear, that religion must have a Revelation, the revelation of a Name for its basis. A religion which creates its own object cannot be one of trust. I cannot rest upon that which I feel and know that I have made for myself. I cannot trust in that which I look upon as a form of my own mind or a projection from it. . . Neither can I trust in any shadowy, impalpable essence, or in any Soul of the world. If this be the God I worship, my worship will be one of doubt and distrust, whenever it is at all sincere. If I do not seek all strange, monstrous means of propitiating the unknown Being, it is only because I am altogether uncertain whether he is real enough for such services. . . All superstition, all priestcraft, in its worst and most evil sense -- we cannot repeat this proposition too often, or put it in too may shapes -- has its root in vague, indefinite religious apprehensions; not resting upon the knowledge and confession of a Being who is not our image, but who has declared Himself to us that we might receive His image . . .

The Christian Catechists taught their disciple the Name into which at baptism he would be received. We are not left to conjecture the nature of the instruction. The short treatise of St. Augustine, 'De Catechizandis rudibus' is at least a voucher for the African Church in the fifth century. From the severe opinions which we have heard imputed to that great man, and which unquestionably may be drawn out of his controversial writings, you would imagine that he especially might be inclined to lay the foundation of his doctrine in some dark view of the Divine character, however he might afterwards introduce the consolations of the Gospel. A man who had felt sin so deeply might, one would have thought, have laboured first to awaken the sense of it in his Heathen converts before he proceeded to any other side of divinity. The great duty he conceives of the Catechist is to set forth the absolute eternal love and goodness of God. He is to declare God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth. Here was the first step in the divine revelation; that which laid the axe to the root of devil-worship, divided worship, material worship; that which offered to the victims of each a high tower in which they might take refuge. No doubt they would often have a hard struggle in flying to it; the enemies would dog them continually; they would be asked how they knew that there was such a Being whom their senses told them nothing of. They would be called Atheists and self-deceivers. Polytheists, and Philosophical seekers after Unity, would mock them equally. Their own hearts would repeat the scoffs which came from without. But are the words true or not? If not men must of course go on in their delusions; there is no helping them; material worship, divided worship, devil-worship, must be left to degrade and rend in pieces the Universe. If the words are true, they will prove themselves true. The Father Almighty will prove himself to be a Father. They that know that Name will trust in it. They must. Their misery, their Atheism will drive them to it. And He will not fail those who seek Him.

But the question -- How is He a Father, how do I know He is? cannot be evaded. The Church had no wish to evade it. She acknowledged that something more was implied in the Revelation of a Father than His Name; that there must be some one to reveal Him. She proclaimed the Name of His only-begotten Son, our Lord. She says that He revealed Himself as he Son of God by being conceived of the Holy Ghost our Lord, by being born of the Virgin Mary, by suffering our death, our burial, by going down into the Hell we tremble to think of; by facing all our enemies visible and invisible, all that we actually know we must meet, all that our imagination dreams of; that He rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat down on the right of the Father, and will come again to judge the quick and the dead, If God be absolute, eternal love, as St, Augustine makes the Catechist affirm, how has he shewn it? Has it come forth, or is it all hidden in his own nature? Has it come forth to some other creature, or to man? Has it met him where he needs to be met or somewhere else? Has it encountered the actual woes of mankind, or only those which affect a particular set of men? Has it been found mightier than these, or has it sunk under them? Has this love been cheerfully entertained, or did it encounter ingratitude? Was the ingratitude too strong for the love, or the love for the ingratitude? Is the victory for all times, or only for that time? Is He who you say is our Lord really our Lord? Does He reign over us? Will he leave all things just as they are, or set them right at last? These questions have a claim to be answered; that is no Gospel to humanity which does not answer them; the Christian Church said, 'This is the answer' . . . And again, supposing the words be true, all we have to do is to proclaim them and live upon them. He who has sent us into the world for that end can prove them. Those that know His Name will trust in Him, and so they find that He has not deceived them. . .

I believe in the Holy Ghost. I believe that there has come from the Father and the Son One who can reveal them to me and to all men; who does promise to dwell with us for ever, and to remove the corruptions that hinder us from receiving the Light which would enter in and fill us. I believe that he has brought men into a Unity which is not based upon different notions and opinions, but upon the Divine Name, a Church for all kindreds of nations. . . I believe that He who quickens our Spirits will quicken also our mortal bodies, will deliver them out of he bondage of corruption, and make them like Christ's glorious body. I believe that we shall not always see truth in dim mirrors with winking and feeble eyes, but shall mount up on wings as eagles, and gaze upon the sun in its brightness, and enjoy that life everlasting, which is the knowledge and love of God. . .

Yes! 'I believe:' in this form the Church taught its baptized member, if not its Catechumen, to speak. For she felt that the baptized man is not to lose hold of that which at such a cost has been won for him, but that he has need to be trusting every moment the Name that has been made known to him. And so this creed, this baptismal formulary, has become a Christendom possession, which all beggars and nobles, old men and children, have a share and a right in. There is no charm in its words: they may have been varied at different times; new clauses may have been introduced into it to protect the rest from invasion. The worth of it is this especially, that it has so little to do with sounds, that it is so much a Creed of acts, that all the Divine Mystery comes forth in real manifestations meeting real necessities that are common to all.

It is a creed for the people which the schoolman cannot and dares not meddle with; and yet which he is obliged to confess says much more than he can say in hundreds of folios. It is a tradition -- often it has been called the tradition of the Church. As such we receive it, and rejoice in it. But on this ground especially, that it is a continual protection against traditions, that when they try to force themselves upon us, we can always put this forward as a declaration that what we believe and trust in is not this or that notion, or theory, or scheme, or document; but that it is the Eternal Name into which we are baptized and in which the whole Church and each member of the Church stands. As it has come down to us it must be a tradition. But it is a tradition which we cannot value for its own sake. Not the utterance, but that which is uttered; not the form, but the substance which it sets forth is the object and ground of our belief. . .

No protests against those substitutes for living faith in a living God, which have been introduced into any part of Christendom, can have anything like the force which there is in a distinct, personal, united assertion of that faith. And this especially because the Creed occurs in the midst of confessions, prayers, thanksgivings, which interpret its use. We do not put it forth to shew what a different religion from other men. We say in whom we believe, because we are about to cast ourselves upon Him in utter helplessness, to ask help from Him for ourselves and all mankind, to beseech the Father through the Son to renew in us that Spirit of Holiness, and Fear, and Love, who can enable us to know His name, but to trust in it evermore.


The Eucharist

from a sermon preached on Easter Day, 1849, by Frederick Denison Maurice. In The Prayer Book. London, James Clarke & Co., 1966.

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. -- I Corinthians 15:45

The Son of God has come to be the quickener, and restorer, and regenerator of our race. In His Resurrection God declared that death had no power over Him, because He was united by an eternal bond to Himself. In His resurrection He declared that death had no power over us, because we are united to Him in the Well-Beloved. Our Baptism proclaims this truth. God acknowledges us in that simple act as members of Him who died for us and rose again. We give ourselves to Him to be quickened with His Spirit. He does quicken us with that Spirit. In the strength of it, in entire dependence upon Him we are to live day by day, hour by hour. This is the fruit of the Resurrection - - of that restoration of the Universe which He fulfilled when He broke from the tomb, and declared that Man was under a law of life, and not of death; the child of a living and loving Father, not the bondsman of Nature. But because the Resurrection is past, because we may claim the blessing at once, because we have claimed it, and have tasted of its power and freedom, is it therefore not future? Can we receive it at all without receiving it as the pledge of an infinite treasure for which we are to hope? Has Christ died and risen again to give a few proud philosophers or ascetical Pharisees some high notion about the powers of the soul, and the meanness of the body? Has He not entered into the state of the lowest beggar, of the poorest, stupidest, wickedest wretch whom that Philosopher or that Pharisee can trample upon? Has He not come to redeem the humanity which Philosophers, Pharisees, beggars, harlots share together? Has He not come to tell each man, 'There is no life for thee in thyself; there is perfect life for thee in God, and it is a restorative life, which can work in thee, at the very root of thy being, and make thee a new and holy creature?' Is there any limit to the feebleness of either body or soul in themselves? Was Christ's death only a bodily agony? Did not his Soul sink into a deeper weakness -- a more awful desertion? Is there any limit to the Restoration which is effected in man when the Divine Power acts upon Him? Did Christ's Resurrection only show that his mind was still the same as it was before the nails pierced His hands and feet? Did he not say, 'Handle me and see; for if a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have.' If we claim some high glory and inherent immortality for the soul, we come inevitably -- men have always come -- to think that this wonderful frame of the body, this glorious sense of sight, with all that it has apprehended and may apprehend, this mystery of sound, this power of touch, and taste, and smell, the capacity of motion, even the organs of speech, are all to be cast aside, and become the prey of death. Some fine particle, some pure essence of this which I call myself, is to survive: all that has been most intimately and dearly associated with me, that has been the instrument of my communion with the bright world around me, and with brethren of my own [human] race, all this living machine, the mystery of which it has required six thousand years very imperfectly to penetrate, must be extinguished utterly for each man after threescore years and ten, during which it has been maintained through sorrow and strife, endured, rather than enjoyed. Oh, strange and cruel faith to come forth from those who so eagerly and passionately proclaim the dignity and glory of the species! Faith which they do not hold, or how could they admire men who devote themselves with honest zeal to the investigation of the truths of science, and of those laws of art, which concern the relation of our senses to the external world? Those truths, those laws bear witness, as the mythology of every civilized and savage people does, the dreams of Elysium and Walhalla, that men do look, must look, for a redemption of their bodies. That they are bound down to earth, tormented with plagues and diseases innumerable, we know. That this bondage, these plagues and diseases, express their true state, their proper meaning, no man in his senses can really believe. Yet it requires nothing less than the faith that God is the restorer and regenerator of Humanity, and that He has commenced the restoration and regeneration of it from its root, to justify the witness of our reasons and consciences, and to persuade ourselves that the charnal-house does not interpret the law of the Universe. 'If the Spirit of Him who raised up Christ from the dead dwell in us, He shall quicken also our mortal bodies;' this is the answer, the one answer to that horrible and crushing, but most natural supposition. We must mount higher than the soul if we would descend lower. We must believe that man is not merely made a living soul; but that he is joined to One who has been made to him, and to the whole body of which he is a member, a quickening Spirit.

And thus, my brethren, has the Resurrection become so inseparably connected with the Christian Passover, the eating of Christ's flesh, and the drinking of His blood. Apart from the belief of Christ as the risen Head of humanity, the source and spring of life to it and to each man, that festival is the most idle and unmeaning of mockeries; grounded upon that belief, it is the profoundest and most comfortable of all verities. How fearful to say, 'The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto Everlasting Life;' if we do not think that the body of the Lord was actually given for that man to whom we speak, if we do not believe that it is God's good pleasure that his soul and body both should attain an eternal life; if we do not think that he has a right to trust God for all that He has promised . . . Is there a man or a woman of whom we dare not say, Christ died for thee? . . . Each man needs to hear it for himself, to believe it for himself. But the language which speaks to him as an individual claims him as a member of family. He is eating the one bread which is to sustain all as well as himself; he is drinking of the divine, universal life. He has no property in Christ which all around him have not, which all who have the same flesh and blood, the same death have not equally. The Father who raised Him from the dead has in Him quickened the whole race. Though we receive each for himself, the gift contains a promise and a prophecy for the whole Church and for mankind . . . and we bless God that we who have duly received these holy mysteries have been fed with the body and blood of His Son, and are owned as very members incorporate in His mystical body, which is the company of all faithful people; that we are heirs through hope of a wider, an enduring inheritance, the inheritance of mankind . . . We confess a Unity which lies beneath all other Unity; a deep eternal mystery of Reconciliation and Peace which shall overcome the mystery of Division and Evil once and for ever. . .

[You] set at naught the meaning and power of Sacraments, the more you refuse to recognize them as witnesses of a Present God, of a Living Helper. For this has been . . . the origin of all the schemes and systems which in past days or in our own have excluded the light that would shine forth upon men, which have driven poor people into confusion, and earnest hearts into doubt and despair. The connexion between God and Man has been lost out of Theology; a notion has been substituted for a Living Being; a power working in past time for one that is acting upon us now.

When the evil becomes felt, when a deep groan proclaims how hard the bondage is to the spirits of men, they seek all devices for deliverance. They fancy that the evil lies in the reverence for that which is old; in the acknowledgment of a Divine Revelation; in forms which speak of an invisible world, as related to ours; in the dream that a Divine Presence is still ruling amongst us. They seek to break these bonds asunder, and cast away these cords from them. They know not that in them lies the secret of their emancipation from the fetters which human systems have fastened on them. They know not -- though they may learn from sad experience -- how they are riveting all those chains of iron by their zeal to shake off these silken chains. If anyone ventures not in harshness, but in deep sympathy, with a consciousness of all their temptations, and an inward sense of the truth of their complaints against the sins which he and his brethren have committed, to tell them so, he must look for pity and scorn from them, as well as indignation from those whom they denounce. But if it be the truth, it will prove itself truth to some hearts here and there. There will be old men fainting and weary, there will be young men utterly falling, who will hear the testimony which comes to them from words that they loved in their childhood; who will learn from them that God is still with us of a truth, that He has raised up His Son Jesus Christ, and us in Him, and that He does quicken us anew day by day with His Spirit. They will wait upon Him, and renew their strength, and at last mount up on wings as eagles, and run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.

And those who are sighing over the condition of the Church, and have tried scheme after scheme for reforming it and bringing back its unity, and have found only fresh disappointments and despondency, will learn that they may go back to the one source of Reformation and Restoration; to Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. As they think upon the stones of Zion, and it pitieth them to see her in the dust, a voice will come to them from the inmost shrine of mercy, and they will know that it is the voice of Him who spoke of old to His prophets. It will come to them like the full melody of an Easter Hymn, answering the low Miserere of Passion-Week. 'Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, thou that dwellest in dust, for thy dew is as the dew of herbs.' 'The Spirit shall be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness shall become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be counted for a forest. And the work of Righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of Righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.'


Loving in Deed and in Truth

from The Epistles of St. John, by Frederick Denison Maurice. Cambridge, MacMillan, 1857) Also in Reconstructing Christian Ethics, ed. by Ellen K. Wondra. Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, c1995.

If any man hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother hath need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion against him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

You may have very ecstatic feelings about the Christian brotherhood at large; but are you ready to help that particular brother, who is lying destitute there, not with feelings, but with a little of the actual food and raiment that he is in need of?"

This would be a searching question. I do not know which of us might not sometimes quail at it. But what does St. John mean by putting it in this form: "How dwelleth the love of God in you?" Does he wish us to understand that the very love which is in God, is communicated to us, is to dwell in us? Does he blame us for not allowing this love to dwell in us? That must be what he is saying. It isimpossible to explain his words in any other sense. You will see as we proceed, that he repudiates the other sense which is sometimes given to them, as if by the love of God he signified the love we bear to God. And without anticipating future passages of his discourse, I think we have read enough already to see that his whole method would be changed if he taught that we climb to Heaven by acts of love, and not Heaven comes down and declares itself to us in acts of love.

"My little children, let us not love in word; neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." That easy way of loving, by talking about love, was a way into which Christians might fall in Ephesus as well as in London, in the days of the Roman emperors as well as in the days of Queen Victoria. St. John warns his children of it with fathetly gentleness; but there is a sting in that very gentleness. He would not tell them not to commit this hypocrisy if he did not know that they were likely to commit it. No; nor would he tell them of it, if he could not also tell them how they might avoid it. If they had no love to draw upon but their own, I do not see how it could fail to run dry very soon, or what would be left but a sediment of word love and tongue love, which never clothed any human body or comforted any human soul yet. But if he could assure them that they were under a law of love, that God's love was burning clearly and brightly always, and that it was their fault if it did not burn in them,-- he might well add, "Why should we cheat ourselves of the greatest of all blessings by not yielding to the power of this love, by not allowing it to express itself in our acts?"

"And hereby, " he adds, "we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." This verse, like the last, seems to break down the barrier which separates the Apostle's world from ours. How often we hear persoms say, "Well, I hope I believe as I ought to believe. I hope I am holding the trutb. But there is great uncertainty. Some people think one thing, some another. I should like to have some security. I wish I knew some one who could tell me, That is opinion you should hold, that is the opinion you should reject; that is the thing you should do, that is the thing you should not do." Those who speak thus generally ask for some external dictator who shall relieve them of their responsibity. There are others who are craving for an inward assurance. They want to be able, as the hymn says, "to read their title clear to mansions in the skies"; to have some authentic token that they shall be blessed hereafter.

These anxieties which are at work now, have been at work always, though they may have presented themselves in different aspects. St. John addresses himself to them, and turns them to the most practical account. You want to know that you are of the truth? Ask the God of truth to keep you from loving in word and tongue, and not in deed and in truth. You want to assure your hearts respecting your relation to God? Ask the God of love Himself to dwell in you, and to direct your thoughts and acts according to His will. You will not need dictators to tell you what the truth is, if the Source of all truth is leading you into it. You will not need assurances about a future heaven, if you have heaven within you now.