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- Discipline and Other Sermons - 4/28 -


add, like our Lord, 'Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.'

And of dangers in general this we may say--that if we pray against known dangers which we can avoid, we do nothing but tempt God: but that against unknown and unseen dangers we may always pray. For instance, if a sailor needlessly lodges over a foul, tideless harbour, or sleeps in a tropical mangrove swamp, he has no right to pray against cholera and fever; for he has done his best to give himself cholera and fever, and has thereby tempted God. But if he goes into a new land, of whose climate, diseases, dangers, he is utterly ignorant, then he has surely a right to pray God to deliver him from those dangers; and if not,--if he is doomed to suffer from them,--to pray God that he may discover and understand the new dangers of that new land, in order to warn future travellers against them, and so make his private suffering a benefit to mankind.

This, then, is our duty as to known dangers,--to guard ourselves against them by science, and the reason which God has given us; and as to unknown dangers, to pray to God to deliver us from them, if it seem good to him: but above all, to pray to him to deliver us from them in the best way, the surest way, the most lasting way, the way in which we may not only preserve ourselves, but our fellow-men and generations yet unborn; namely, by giving us wisdom and understanding to discover the dangers, to comprehend them, and to conquer them, by reason and by science.

This is the spirit of sound science and of sound religion. And it was in this spirit, and for this very end, that this Ancient and Honourable Corporation of the Trinity House was founded more than three hundred years ago. Not merely to pray to God and to the saints, after the ancient fashion, to deliver all poor mariners from dangers of the seas. That was a natural prayer, and a pious one, as far as it went: but it did not go far enough. For, as a fact, God did not always answer it: he did not always see fit to deliver those who called upon him. Gallant ships went down with all their crews. It was plain that God would not always deliver poor mariners, even though they cried to him in their distress.

Then, in the sixteenth century, when men's minds were freed from many old superstitions, by a better understanding both of Holy Scripture and of the laws of nature, the master mariners of England took a wiser course.

They said, God will not always help poor mariners: but he will always teach them to deliver themselves. And so they built this House, not in the name of the Virgin Mary or any saints in heaven, but, with a deep understanding of what was needed, in the most awful name of God himself. Thereby they went to the root and ground of this matter, and of all matters. They went to the source of all law and order; to the source of all force and life; and to the source, likewise, of all love and mercy; when they founded their House in the name of the Father of Lights, in whom men live and move and have their being; from whom comes every good and perfect gift, and without whom not a sparrow falls to the ground; in the name of the Son, who was born on earth a man, and tasted sorrow, and trial, and death for every man; in the name of the Holy Ghost, who inspires man with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, and gives him a right judgment in all things, putting into his heart good desires, and enabling him to bring them to good effect. And so, believing that the ever-blessed Trinity would teach them to help themselves and their fellow- mariners, they set to work, like truly God-fearing men, not to hire monks to sing and say masses for them, but to set up for themselves lights and sea-marks, and to take order for the safe navigation of these seas, like men who believed indeed that they were the children of God, and that God would prosper his children in as far as they used that reason which he himself had bestowed upon them.

It is for these men's sakes, as well as for our own, that we are met together here this day. We are met to commemorate the noble dead; not in any Popish or superstitious fashion, as if they needed our prayers, or we needed their miraculous assistance: but in the good old Protestant scriptural sense--to thank God for all his servants departed this life in his faith and fear, and to pray that God may give us grace to follow their good examples; and especially to thank him for the founders of this ancient Trinity House, which stands here as a token to all generations of Britons, that science and religion are not contrary to each other, but twin sisters, meant to aid each other and mankind in the battle with the brute forces of this universe.

We are met together here to thank God for all gallant mariners, and for all who have helped mariners toward safety and success; for all who have made discoveries in hydrography or meteorology, in navigation, or in commerce, adding to the safety of seamen, and to the health and wealth of the human race; for all who have set noble examples to their crews, facing danger manfully and dying at their posts, as many a man has died, a martyr to his duty; for all who, living active, and useful, and virtuous lives in their sea calling, have ended as they lived, God-fearing Christian men.

To thank God for all these we are met together here; and to pray to God likewise that he would send his Spirit into the hearts of seamen, and of those who deal with seamen; and specially into the hearts of the Royal the Master and the Worshipful the Elder Brethren of this Ancient and Honourable House; that they may be true, and loyal, and obedient to that divine name in which they are met together here this day--the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the ever-blessed Trinity, the giver of all good gifts, in whom we live, and move, and have our being; always keeping God's commandments and looking for God's guidance, and setting to those beneath them an example of sound reason, virtue, and religion; that so there may never be wanting to this land a race of seamen who shall trust in God to teach them all they need to know, and to dispose of their bodies and souls as seemeth best to his most holy will; who, fearing God, shall fear nought else, but shall defy the dangers of the seas, and all the brute forces of climates and of storms; who shall set in foreign lands an example of justice and mercy, of true civilization and true religion; and so shall still maintain the marine of Great Britain, as it has been for now three hundred years, a safeguard and a glory to these islands, and a blessing to the coasts of all the world.

SERMON IV.--GOD'S TRAINING

DEUTERONOMY viii. 2-5.

And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.

This is the lesson of our lives. This is training, not only for the old Jews, but for us. What was true of them, is more or less true of us. And we read these verses to teach us that God's ways with man do not change; that his fatherly hand is over us, as well as over the people of Israel; that we are in God's schoolhouse, as they were; that their blessings are our blessings, their dangers are our dangers; that, as St. Paul says, all these things are written for our example.

'And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger.' How true to life that is! How often there comes to a man, at his setting out in life, a time which humbles him; a time of disappointment, when he finds that he is not so clever as he thought, as able to help himself as he thought; when his fine plans fail him; when he does not know how to settle in life, how to marry, how to provide for a family. Perhaps the man actually does hunger, and go through a time of want and struggle. Then, it may be, he cries in his heart--How hard it is for me! How hard that the golden days of youth should be all dark and clouded over! How hard to have to suffer anxiety and weary hard work, just when I am able to enjoy myself most!

It is hard: but worse things than hard things may happen to a man. Far worse is it to grow up, as some men do, in wealth, and ease, and luxury, with all the pleasures of this life found ready to their hands. Some men, says the proverb, are 'born with a golden spoon in their mouth.' God help them if they are! Idleness, profligacy, luxury, self-conceit, no care for their duty, no care for God, no feeling that they are in God's school-house--these are too often the fruits of that breeding up. How hardly will they learn that man doth not live by bread alone, or by money alone, or by comfort alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Truly, said our Lord, 'how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Not those who earn riches by manful and honest labour; not those who come to wealth after long training to make them fit to use wealth: but those who have wealth; who are born amid luxury and pomp; who have never known want, and the golden lessons which want brings.--God help them, for they need his help even more than the poor young man who is at his wit's end how to live. For him God is helping. His very want, and struggles, and anxiety may be God's help to him. They help him to control himself, and do with a little; they help him to strengthen his character, and to bring out all the powers of mind that God has given him. God is humbling him, that he may know that man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God. God, too, if he trusts in God, will feed him with manna--spiritual manna, not bodily. He fed the Jews in the wilderness with manna, to show them that his power was indeed almighty--that if he did not see fit to help his people in one way, he could help them just as easily in another. And so with every man who trusts in God. In unforeseen ways, he is helped. In unforeseen ways, he prospers; his life, as he goes on, becomes very different from what he expected, from what he would have liked; his fine dreams fade away, as he finds the world quite another place from what he fancied it: but still he prospers. If he be earnest and honest, patient and God-fearing, he prospers; God brings him through. His raiment doth not wax old, neither doth his foot swell, through all his forty years' wandering in the wilderness. He is not tired out, he does not break down, though he may have to work long and hard. As his day is, so his strength shall be. God holds him up, strengthens and refreshes him, and brings him through years of labour from the thought of which he shrank when he was young.

And so the man learns that man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God; that not in the abundance of things which he possesses, not in money; not in pleasure, not even in comforts, does the life of man consist: but in this--to learn his duty, and to have strength from God to do it. Truly said the prophet--'It is good for a man to learn to bear the yoke in his youth.'


Discipline and Other Sermons - 4/28

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