The Old Helmet. Volume II
"Yes, – I know."
"A follower must know where his Master goes. How did Christ walk?"
"He went about doing good."
"He did; but mark, there are different ways of doing that. Get to the root of the matter. The young man who kept all the commandments from his youth, was not following Christ; and when it came to the pinch he turned his back upon him."
"How then, Mr. Rhys? You mean heart-following?"
"That is what the Lord means. Look here – Paul says in the ninth verse, – 'Whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel' – Following cannot have a different end in view from that of the person followed. And what was Christ's? – 'My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.' Are we servants of Christ after that rule, Miss Powle?"
The question had a singular intonation, as if the questioner were charging it home upon himself. Yet Eleanor knew he could answer it in the affirmative and that she could not; she sat silent without looking up. The old contrast of character recurred to her, in spite of the fact that her own had changed so much. She hung over the book, while her companion half abstractedly repeated,
"'My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.' – That makes a way of life of great simplicity."
"Is it always easy to find?" ventured Eleanor.
"Very! – if his will is all that we desire."
"But that is a very searching, deep question."
"Let it search, then. 'My meat is to do the will of him – ' No matter what that may be, Miss Powle; our choice lies in this – that it is his will. And as soon as we set our hearts upon one or the other particular sort of work, or labour in any particular place, or even upon any given measure of success attending our efforts, so that we are not willing to have him reverse our arrangements, – we are getting to have too much will about it."
Eleanor looked up with some effort.
"You are making it a great matter, to be a true servant of Christ, Mr.
"Would you have it a little matter?" he said with a smile of great sweetness and brightness. "Let the Lord have all! He was among us 'as one that serveth' – amid discouragements and disappointments, and abuse; and he has warned us that the servant is not greater than his Lord. It is not a little thing, to be the minister of Jesus Christ!"
"Now you are getting out of the general into the particular."
"No – I am not; a 'minister' is but a servant; what we call a minister, is but in a more emphatic degree the servant of all. The rules of service are the same for him and for others. Let us look at another one. Here it is – in John – "
And the fingers that Eleanor had watched the other morning, and with which she had a curious association, came turning over the leaves.
"'Ye call me Master, and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.' – One thing is plain from that, Miss Eleanor – we are not to consider ourselves too good for anything."
"No – " said Eleanor; – "but I suppose that does not forbid a just judgment of ourselves or of others, in respect of their adaptations and qualifications."
"Yes it does," he said quickly. "The only question is, Has the Lord put that work in your hands? If he has, never ask whether your hands are the right ones. He knows. What our Lord stooped to do, well may we!"
Eleanor dared not say any more; she knew of what he was thinking; whether he had a like intuition with respect to her thoughts she did not know, and would not risk them any nearer discovery.
"There is another thing about being a servant of Christ," he presently went on; – "it ensures some kind and degree of persecution."
"Do you think so?" said Eleanor; "in these days? Why, it is thought praiseworthy and honourable, is it not, through all the land, to be good? to be a member of the Church, and to fulfil the requirements of religion? Does anybody lose respect or liking from such a cause?"
"No. But he suffers persecution. My dear friend, what are the 'requirements of religion?' We are just considering them. Can you remember a servant of Christ, such as we have seen the name means, in your knowledge, whom the world allowed to live in peace?"
Eleanor was silent.
"'Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.'"
"But in these days, Mr. Rhys?" said Eleanor doubtfully.
"I can only say, that if you are of the world, the world will love his own. I know no other way of securing that result. 'Because ye are not of the world,' Jesus said, 'but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.' And it is declared, elsewhere, that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Can you remember any instance to the contrary?"
Eleanor looked up and gave Mr. Rhys a good view of her honest eyes; they looked very intent now and somewhat sorrowful.
"Mr. Rhys, except in Plassy, I do not know such a person as you ask me about."
"Is it possible!" he said.
"Mr. Rhys, I was thinking the servants of Christ have good need of that 'helmet of salvation' I used to wish for."
"Well, they have it!" he said brightly. "'If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be.' That is the end of all. But there is another point of service that occurs to me. We have seen that we must not lease ourselves; I recollect that in another place Paul says that if he pleased men, he would not be the servant of Christ. There is a point where he and the world would come in contact of opposition."
"But I thought we ought to please everybody as much as we could?"
He smiled, put his hand over and turned two or three leaves of the Bible which she kept open at the first of Romans, and pointed to a word in the fifteenth chapter. "Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good, to edification."
"There is your limit," said he. "So far thou mayest go, but no further. And to do that you will find requires quite sufficiently that you should not please yourself. And now how shall we do all this? – how shall we be all this?"
"You are asking the very question!" said Eleanor gravely.
"We must come to the root and spring of all this service and following – it is our love of the Lord himself. That will do it, and nothing else will. 'What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.'"
"But suppose," said Eleanor, with some difficulty commanding her voice, – "suppose one is deficient in that very thing? suppose one wants that love?"
"Ay!" he said, looking into her face with his eyes of light, – "suppose one does; what then?"
Eleanor could not bear them; her own eyes fell. "What is one to do?" – Mr. Rhys had risen up before he answered, in his deliberate accents,
"'Seek him, that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of night into morning.'"
He paced slowly up and down before Eleanor; then went off upon a rambling search through the wood again; seeming to be busy with little things in his way. Eleanor sat still. After a little he came and stood before her with a bunch of ferns and Melic grass and lilies of the valley, which he was ordering in his hands as he spoke.
"The effect of our following Christ in this way, Miss Powle, will be, that we shall bear testimony to the world that He is our King, and what sort of a king he is. We shall proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. We shall have the invisible army of angels for our fellow-servants and co-workers; and we shall be passing on with the whole redeemed world to the day of full triumph and final restoration; when Christ will come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in them that believe – because our testimony among you was believed. But now our business is to give the testimony."
He walked up and down, up and down, before Eleanor for some minutes, in a thoughtful, abstracted way. Eleanor felt his manner as much as his words; the subject had clearly gone home to himself. She felt both so much that she did not like to interrupt the silence, nor to look up. At last he stopped again before her and said in quite a different tone, "What are the next words, Miss Powle?"
"'Called to be an apostle.'"
"We shall not get home to dinner, if we go into that," he said smiling.
"You have preached a sermon to me, Mr. Rhys."