Paths To Power - Steadying Power
( Originally Published 1905 )
"After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, saying: I must see Rome." Acts xix. 21.
ASK that you study with me a single event in Paul's life which, as I believe, will afford us much help in estimating rightly the quantity and quality of the power, at once propulsive and regulative, received by Paul from his Lord Christ. That event is Paul's visit to Rome. I say visit rather than presence, because the presence of such a man any-where is a very visual affair; he sees things. Such a man lives so vigorously that any fact becomes at once a factor with him. Is it a visit to Rome? His whole character is expressed in it and by it. It takes place first in the soul, then on the map of earth. To live in this high manner is to transform the world into an opportunity for the mind. To act according to an inward vision is the only way we may adopt by which we be sure of seeing outer things. He gathers up all his past into the quick and eager present, and his total character invests his act with its own significance. This thing has perspective and retrospective. "After these things." This man' s life has an order, continuous, consequential. Here is background. Listen, "Paul purposed: I must see Rome"; still there is continuity and logic; and here is foreground also.
Paul must have been in the full maturity of his powers, when, about the year 54 of our era, he had laid firmly the foundations of the churches in the cities of Asia, and he made the remark, "I must again visit Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia, and, after that, I must see Rome." Such a man has literary style which is indeed of him, and he says his great things with an effortless naturalness and lucidity which often leave us, who are a little laborious at our emphasizing, in the mental condition of one who mistakes the thunder which hits nothing for the lightning which finds the heart of the oak. How straightly his thought goes to the mark! Consider the incisiveness of this man's mind. It gets at the core of current events. In that very year the incarnation of paganism ascended the throne of Rome and began the reign of Nero-Caesar. Was the embodiment of the new faith, Paul, ascending another kind of throne, to oppose him? The answer to this query develops the fact that the important acts of life are done unconsciously. Then it is that a man freely steps upon some mighty necessity. The necessity is in his character. Remember that word must "I must see Rome." That fact of the soul is more than granite. A necessity of his personality finds a firm footing of reality. Paul and his destiny may have, not only to step upon it, but also to stand there for a time. We hope it may bear him up. So much now for the first appearance of this idea in his mind "I must see Rome."
This idea appears again; and what of the second appearance? All important ideas reappear in this manner, and they will stay with any Paul until they are at peace in the form of deeds. Seven years are passed, and Paul is sea-worn and storm-tossed. He is in a gale. The men on board with him are in a panic of fear. The idea is still in its commanding place in his mind. He is in a different environment, no longer on land, but upon wild waters. But he is clinging to his idea. The sailors have nothing to cling to. A typhoon has broken forth upon them all. Only one man among them all is sane, calm, and confident as to the result of the struggle with the elements. And this man is not a professional sailor who is steady because he knows, nor is he a stupid fellow who is quiet because he does not know. He is only a preacher of a despised heresy is this Paul in whose soul twangs the tense lyre-string, "I must see Rome." But he speaks to them like a kingly friend. He says to the terrified crew: "And now, I exhort you to be of good cheer; for there shall be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of God whose I am, whom also I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must stand before Caesar; and lo, God hath granted thee all them that sail with thee." His good cheer has its logic, and he adds his conclusion as to the conduct which his character proclaims as a law unto them, "Where fore, sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God, that it shall be even so as it hath been spoken unto me." Now, that kind of a man will reach Rome do not doubt it for a minute!
A conviction born of a divinely bred plan is once again the granite under his feet. It is of the same texture as it was, when the idea first took the form of a purpose he is going to Rome. We have a fine advantage in studying his approaches to this event, for the significant remark is one that caught the attention of his friend and companion, Doctor Luke, and Luke, probably the author of the Acts of the Apostles, says, "After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, saying, 'I must see Rome.'
Once again, a word as to Paul's mental manner and its expression here. Let us not be misled by the lightness of Paul's touch. We may be misled, for we are complex; he was simple and straightforward. These are marks of supreme genius and its moral intensity. The power serene is behind all great utterances like this, "I must see Rome." A man who does not appreciate values in literary style, may ask, "Did he say, 'I must see Rome?' Is this a tourist enjoying to the full the gayety and culture, the artistic and literary associations of multitudinous cities and districts with new and ancient fields of enchantment for the traveler? Has he been running up and down Asia, and is he now preparing to descend on what is now Europe with mental kodak and Baedecker? Is it such a man and with such an aim who says, `I shall pass through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem. After I have been there, I must also see Rome.' "?
The answer may well be delayed. Until we know who he is, where he is, and why he is talking thus; or rather, until you and I feel the Almighty Spirit in whose planful secret Paul purposed, his words may appear as unmeaning an item as this questioning portrays. He will seem to be only a kind of sated amateur photographer, with only one thing more worth his taking, the one thing that superior and traveled persons may cruelly ask him about when he gets home, whereat he shall embarrassingly confess, "I was not there, and that thing which I saw not is Rome." Paul clears the air, and he says, in a high manner, "I must see Rome." This man is serious. There is a demand upon him, and that demand is of God, and it is the desire of the man. Duty and desire are one. It is thus in every great soul's experience. Let us tarry with a phrase. The large significance of the proposed event was gained when Paul "purposed in the spirit." Consider that phrase —you hear it from every deep man who has a voice. If he had not done that— "purposed in the spirit" the history might as well have told us that Paul said, "I must go out to mend my tent, as aforetime." "Purposed in the spirit." O this, then, was the constant and intense fire in which the littleness was all burned out of the iron bigness, so that there was left only the steel greatness of his desire, "I must see Rome." The fire in which a plan is conceived gets into the plan; and the infused spiritualities rescue the consequent event from being merely human history, and it becomes divine history also. There is something of the biography of God in every lofty man's life.
Well, Paul! you shall see Rome not as a jaded tourist, not even as a quick-eyed student of men and manners, not even as an enthusiastic lover of its art, arms, jurisprudence, and literature, but you shall see Rome as a man pledged to the Master of Men, Jesus Christ. Of course you can see Rome only as His follower, a man with the method of Jesus, the Crucified; and, therefore, you shall see Rome after you have entered Appii Forum a criminal, after storms have drenched you, and you have been taken for a murderer and then for a god at Mileta. Such are the contrasts in any ardent soul or strenuous life. These are experiences which eliminate the apparent from the real man. But they are not intimate and decisive. Yes, you "must see Rome," Paul! We speak to you from the viewpoint of the insistent ages. You will first be forced to appeal for your life to Rome, but the Prefect Burrus will not be waiting for you as a guest, when you toil along the Campanian road. He will be waiting for a prisoner; and you will be received, not as a hero, but as a troublesome lawbreaker, chained to one of the Praetorian Guards. Your eye will glance upon Campus Martius, dotted with lovely villas, or upon the arch of Titus, standing firm against the white background of snow on distant mountains. These will be incidental. This is not what you went to see, but you will see it all. Yes, Paul, you must see Rome.
Between the time when Paul first made the utterance, "I must see Rome," and the time when the little, unimpressive man walked between the Coelian Mount and the Palatine, toward the golden milestone at the head of the Roman Forum, as a felon and a despised prisoner, the occurrence of this shipwreck, whose story became our morning lesson, must be placed. It is an intermediary fact. It stands in marvelously sympathetic relations with the younger Paul, who at an early time said, "I must see Rome," and the maturer Paul who, later, having found his manhood crystallized by experience and his faith hardened to a gem by suffering, is actually in Rome. "I must see Rome." Ah, this voice never was that of a wandering son of luxury, half weary of the visions of civilization, feeling that he had only one more novelty for the sensitive plate of his fancy, and then the list of mental snap-shots would be complete. No; Paul had even then so yielded to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that Rome, with its Caesar and its chains, was as inevitably in his path as Calvary had been in the path of his Lord. "I must be about My Father's business," said the Master. "I must see Rome," said Paul. All of Paul's "therefores" and they are like the stars for multitude are loaded with this divine dynamic. The thing, however, with which we are most concerned, at the present time, is this: Paul's vivid realization of the fact that events have no true complexion save that which is illuminated with the morning of God's purpose transforming itself into his personal, persistent desire. As he touched the destined event, "I must see Rome," seven years later, when the masts were straining in the toils of the equinoctial storm and the sea was sweeping over the decks and filling the ship, the event bore another appearance to the men next to him but not to Paul. At the first, he had said, "I must see Rome," with a dignified and propulsive power behind that must, which made it an event in which he exulted. When he looked forward to the event Iater on, as it came up in his experience with the tempest at sea, he exulted still more triumphantly, though he was in a hard place. The divine event in a human life had not changed. Only the cheer which he heard in his own soul he uttered; and it communicated itself, in an inspiring way, to the hearts of the others, when he echoed what God said, "I must stand before Cesar." Get the divine note in this human affair. He feels this, "God says in me, Be of good cheer, and I believe God." "I believe God," not a theory of God, not that He is this or that, or that this or that about Him is true, but "I believe God." It is a person's faith in a person. Not an abstraction hovers near. It is character resting nobly in character. That is more than belief; that is faith.
O what a saving of the power which one needs to husband, because life at its best is so exhaustive, lies in one's having his personal desires identical with God's purpose in him and through him! He can never arrive at this happy situation, unless he believes far more deeply, admiringly, lovingly, and hopefully in God than he believes in himself. His basic thought must be, "I believe God." To furnish out a pro-gram for one's own life would be easy enough, if each life were not of divine origin, to be lived by a divine impulse and according to a divine method. To externporize a plan for one's endeavor would be apparently simple enough, if the whole issue and destiny of one's being were not an affair of eternity. It would be a task without weariness and unworthy of watchfulness, if our human life were not loaded with a divine purpose, and quick and ardent with the expectation of God. "Thou art wearied in the greatness of the way" O my soul! Now, think of the economics of the truly religious life. Paul is God's man. "Whose I am," he says. Let him own the loved sovereignty; and he does. This relieves him of the irreverent inventiveness which proudly yet laboriously cogitates, and at length produces a plan of action for himself. That is God's affair. And now, like a car full of human interests, he is "on the trolley." From the divine purpose concerning him, he catches fiery momentum, because he is receptively in connection with it. It is above him, infusing its own motive-power into him, and sending him on without expense to him-self. Is this not the way in which you and I may, at once, economize and augment our personal force? "I believe God!" O Paul, you are not, as many of us are, off the line of energy!
To desire to do the thing which God aims at this is the divine human combination which means ease and certainty of movement, progress toward a worthy end, and, at last, complete achievement of the hopes of man in God and the purposes of God in man. Do not pity Paul. Reserve your pity for the man who labors and frets with his narrowly conceived plans; do not insult Paul with your silly sighs because he is going to Rome. His wish and thought and dream are born of the Holy Spirit in Whom he purposed. What he ought to do that alone is what he yearns to do. He does not need to rub dry woods together to make a flame of urgent vitality. Flint and steel struck with difficulty, and at length fire this is not his necessity. God lives in him; the fire of a great personal love of duty burns already. He has not to pay for fire or fuel. He says with a gladness which you and I will know only when we are joyfully lost in God and His purpose concerning us, "I must see Rome."
But here is found the philosophy of good cheer. Do not try to make this a cheerful world, except by communicating to other men your belief which comes up out of your faith in God. That is the ductile line soft to the touch, and firm to withstand as silken copper the line which communicates the current of fire from event to event, until the hasting splendor illumines all of life and duty. "I believe God." But to believe God, as Paul believed God, involves something more than the deliverance of Paul from unpleasant duties. It forecasts something more than his being excused from a dark and tragic experience. It involves the heroic life. Large problems are produced by large duties. Duties come with vision. "I believe God?" Do we, indeed? Then, we must pay for our enriching faith in precious obligations. Just because Paul believed God, he must see Rome. He must see Rome, with his eyes strained in searching out solutions for divine mysteries in our human life mysteries and solutions of them such as he could not dream of, when first he thought of seeing Rome. He is God's man, in this oncoming event. He must estimate this occurrence, his certain going to Rome, alongside of the fine hopes and high duties as to the Gospel of Christ which were now able to weather gales and outride tempests. Well, then, the time for a storm had come. Each duty had previously cried out in his heart, when Paul said, "I appeal unto the Emperor." Here is a man of ultimates. Nothing but consummate wrong can finally judge the consummate right. Just as His Master, Jesus, was "driven into the desert, " and for the same reasons, Paul "must see Rome." As Jesus "returned with power," and only after a similar process of education, Paul will preach good cheer to these half-crazed sailors.
How many men, on all this planet, in that hour, would have dared to go to Rome under those circumstances, exultingly? And yet, the souls that make this world a cheerful place for those who are practically shipwrecked and forlorn these are men who ground their cheerfulness on just such a fact as this: "I must see Rome." The fact that they have a more ultimate trial is our hope. They, only they, are those who transform the discords of our storm into music; and the poor and helpless, the panic-stricken and hopeless, cling to them with a faith born only of despair. "Ah," you say, "I am no Paul; I am only a fellow-passenger." Well, then, you, my brother, must cling to Paul or to some such man, at this an hour in your experience. Let me prepare you; don't expect him to be out of trouble. He will be valuable to you only because he is sure to get into greater trouble. If he is the Christ, or Christ's man Paul, he will be more than storm-tossed; he will be chained; soon he will be on his way to his Nero. That man who can succor you is on his way to Rome.
There never has, and there never shall be, a cogent argument for good cheer which does not rest upon some fact or factor that has been, or some fact or factor that will be, apparently, a great sorrow. Sacrifice and atonement are at the basis of all human progress. Paul was actually following his Lord with intellectual and spiritual sympathy at this point, for the good cheer of the race of human beings stands exultantly upon the saddest event in history. Paul was following his Master in his mind, first, and then in the body. Look at his Master, to understand His servant. The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth is the darkest blot on the history of man. What could have been a more apparently awful disaster? And yet that fact of Golgotha furnishes the basis on which we greet the seen and the unseen "with a cheer." It is the source of all the comfort, joy, and hope of the human family. So Paul's sad fate was the basis of their good cheer. Hear, now, Paul's exhortation, "And now I exhort you to be of good cheer, for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but only of the ship; for there stood by me this night an angel of God, Whose I am, and Whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must stand before Caesar, and lo, God hath given thee all who sail with thee." What did it mean to Paul, to stand before Caesar? He was not to be there on exhibition; he was not there for his own pleasure, or for a dividend, or for his health, as we say; nor was he there for any other reason, or consideration, except to be Christ's man at that crossway in human affairs, and for this he was to be tried for his life. He was not sure of an acquittal. He was taking Christianity to Rome in a way none other could. He was the avant-courier of a faith sure of universal empire, to a world-throne whose dream of universal empire was dying. He was already finding his proposed visit to Rome turned into a business trip. Like his Lord, he was about his Father's business. He never forsakes the way of Jesus. Away back yonder at Jerusalem he had astonished Festus, by the bold termination of his speech, when he said, "I appeal unto the Emperor."
That was an independent remark; but it involved Paul's greater dependence on God. He had slipped from the jurisdiction of the Jewish sanhedrin and put his case before the judgment seat of the emperor at Rome. He had exchanged the fierce hate of Judaism for a more powerful antagonist and the almost certain condemnation of the most merciless monarchy in the world. What, though he should be acquitted and preach in Asia and in Spain? The fact would remain that he had flung himself at once and irreversibly against the spears of Rome. "Be of good cheer," he says to us, when we falter again. What a firm viewpoint a man has who can say, "Don't you worry or fret. The involved darkness and locked-up agony of the probable fate upon which I throw myself for Christ's sake, the certainty that the event must occur, whatever may be its issues this constitutes the basis of your good fortune. Be of good cheer. Your small difficulty will be passed, in the graver one to which I am hastening. I must see Rome." Christ, his Saviour, had given good cheer to humanity by His offering Himself upon the altar at Calvary; why should not His disciple and apostle give good cheer to these sea-lashed men, by the very anticipation and certainty of yielding up his own life, if need be, upon the altar at Rome?
The whole philosophy of good cheer, in the mingled lights and shadows of this world of ours, manifests itself in the confident and heroic use of events which are apparently hopeless and despairful. They alone are the bases upon which there rise and reign the shouting hopes and promises of mankind. To live in this confidence requires insight the insight of Christian faith. A soul like Paul saying "I must see Rome, " makes a pivot upon which there swings back into true relationship with the well-known street which is called "Now," a bridge which connects our traveling hopes with the other end of an unknown but firmly built street which is called "Forever." The awful pressure upon the pivot may be heard in the cry, "I must see Rome!" But it is a glad cry, when it comes from Paul. It has behind it the enormous movement of the Infinite God; and Paul's must "I must see Rome! " quivers and throbs with the heart-beat of God. Find me anywhere in history an event in a man's life in which Christ has so lorded it over the man himself that the man is lordly over the event itself, in which he must see his Rome because his Saviour and his Master has first seen His Calvary, in which the possible doom which is before him is entirely lost sight of in the certain moral splendor of the thing which is accomplished, and I will show you an event which is a pledge and promise of good cheer to humanity. Only there ordinary men unfurl flags of hope. Paul had got to reach Rome, and that meant that they who clung to him would get through the gale somehow. It was God's business as to the "somehow," and He would attend to it.
After all, what does Rome mean? Rome is the name of those capitals in life and time to which we take what we have for the ultimate trial. The sincere thinker says, only after being annoyed and tried, "I appeal unto the Emperor." " `I must see Rome.' I must get it before the Supreme Court. I believe in my idea, but I must urge its claims before the tribunal of last resort, before I can wholly know and trust my thought. I must carry my deliberations and my argument, my mental strain and achievement, to the point where it shall stand before the most intense and searching opposition the world can offer it. "I appeal unto Caesar." I must have it antagonized by all the strenuous and effective enginery that shall ever dare to object to the truth as I see it." That is Paul going to Rome. Whoever abides on the ship with any heroic sailor like that, on the ocean of investigation and discovery, as he cleaves the sea of tumultuous intellectual tempest, will certainly get wet. Do not expect calm seas, if you have divine ideas in the hold. He will have to get rid of much ballast and cargo. It often takes more genius to refuse than to do. Cling to the essential; that man will be saved. Just because the brain he trusts in and the heart he believes in are so obedient to the impulse of truth's enthusiasm that his leader must see Rome, the ship may indeed be lost, a thousand interesting errors by which truth comes to be known as truth may be swept away let them go! nevertheless the human freight that trusted in Paul's God and in Paul shall be saved with Paul. All on board his ship of thought belong to the heroic and cheerful thinker who sails Rome-ward.
What is Rome to you and me? Rome is the name of the place in life and in time where the roadways of this world's meaning are centered, and every sincere man's purpose, or conviction, or plan for humanity, says, "I must see Rome." Take your soul's truest friend in any walk of life. His mind is not under the dominion of whims, nor is he obedient to sudden gusts of impulse; on the contrary, he is steadily working under the mastery of a sturdy idea, and a serious enthusiasm possesses him. You meet him day by day; yes, you have just embarked with him a little way, in some really chivalrous effort whose heroism shall deepen as you go further with him. Suddenly the air changes, and it grows squally. Public opinion is against him and you. By and by a panic strikes you. He is calm. You are suspicious that you have trusted the ideal too far, and you are fearful that everything is going to the bottom. Then, like these sailors with Paul, you empty the ship of very much that you regarded as very valuable; and the tossing Mediterranean beneath you receives your cargo of wheat, without giving you back a penny for it. Anything to be safe! With breakers in sight, you cut the ropes, and the boats fall off; but there is one thing that does not go, and that is the steady and strong spirit of your friend, who, as you know, has a hundred times as difficult a problem in front of him as you have in front of you. That is the saving thing. "Tell me!" you say, "must I get my cheer out of his more dreadful trouble?" Yes. He says, "Do not worry. If I thought this was the most serious difficulty into which I could get, I would be worrying, too. But we are only in an unquiet estuary of my trouble; you must not fret; I have to go out into the unknown and tossing sea of my stormier problem; you are certainly safe with me, until I get to it; but you must stay so long with me that you can safely land at the one point which I must pass as I go on over crest and trough of sea, to my broader destiny. Believe with me in "the long run." That will land me in Rome. I know I will be delivered out of this, because I know that I have a vastly more important and critical hour to meet, and more athletic and imperious foes to confront. I have appealed the cause of my life to the highest court I know; I am living and working on the heights and before the heights. I must see Rome, for I have appealed unto Caesar, with this divine ideal of which I am the slave. Nothing can sink here, with me and that fact on board. You can be quiet, and of good cheer, for I must see Rome." That is Paul's way of pressing the oil out of the rock of his difficulty. Is it not sublime?
So the world of the future comes cheerfully out into the full matin and from the vespers of the past, because there are souls that are not afraid of the distracting midnight which lies behind a coming day. But here is another truth this indeed, that, in a grand sense, only to the souls that move on toward the Rome of some deeper difficulty is the angel of God able to say, in the midst of the less interior difficulties which men meet, "Lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." "All on board are thine." This is the refrain of a divine epic to any soul. A true man has his wealth in the men who trust him. Just that truth the angel of progress does proclaim to such men as was Paul. Just that is the lofty function of the good and the great to own values in other men not because they are getting out of their problems unharmed, but because they are conquering them, by sending their lives forward into graver problems, whether to be harmed or to be unharmed they know not, and they care not. Then comes the hour when they cannot be harmed. "Stay on board, my brother!" says Paul, truly and wisely. "Cling to God's man and you will be safe."
Let us recognize, this morning, the divine persistence of a personality like that of Paul, when, within it, is the momentum furnished by the power behind it, the swift and strong God. Of course, he has reached Rome. No man who must see Rome, whose heart has been told that God expects him to keep his soul's engagement with Almighty Truth in Rome, ever failed to arrive at Rome. Given the power behind Paul's eyes, and he must see Rome. The universe would have dropped to pieces, as a rock dissolves into sand, if a man like Paul, sent from such a power as was the Divine Intention behind him, could miss striking the spot in this universe toward which, like an arrow, he was aimed. The Almighty goes along with those who have taken Him on board. To have drowned Paul off the coast of Cyprus would have been to have drowned the Eternal God from a corn-ship of Alexandria. Fate cannot drown Father.
When Paul reached Rome, he had in him the Jew, but he had also the Roman citizen he started out with, when he claimed his prerogative and appealed unto Caesar. But he was more, after that voyage and shipwreck. The little old man, bald and weather-beaten--he that had labored at the helm of that ship, stronger than the Northwest wind was more erect of soul than the promontory under whose lee he had been guiding the craft. More vigorous and tenacious than Euroclydon, in whose tempestuous heart the planets charged, he was now as various-minded as the sea which had whitened with rage and then tore the tackling from their masts. He was now ready to help cast any anchors, or lower any boats, or shift any ship amidst blinding rain, so that she might meet the gale victoriously. He was fearless of any treacherous sand upon which any vessel had grounded, or the rocks against which, in a moment, that ship had once seemed about to plunge. This Paul was now more Roman than any Roman in Rome. He was a Christian in his valor. Everything else had been washed away, or jerked away, or blown away, in that voyage; and when he arrived at Rome, he was ready to stand in Nero's Rome. His eyesight of spirit made him able to see Rome to its very heart.
O how God helps us to see Rome! And it is Nero's Rome, bloody and perilous, but O how splendid for the deepening of Paul's life! A well-fed and yet true minister prays, "I want power! let me have the burning coal!" Is he willing to have God answer his prayer for power? God takes him to it by ship wreck and chain, and when he reaches it, Nero's Rome is there, with its power to deepen him by peril and suffering. O my brothers, it means this expenditure to get power.
Of course Paul reached Rome that once. Yet this was not all. Paul's soul and body reached Rome then; Paul's soul has reached Rome several times since; and Paul's vision will ultimately conquer Rome.
It is my contention that the real Paul has been saying, "I must go to Rome," from age to age. History has its continuity, in the presence of such a man. I wish you to see how the philosophy of history, which lay in the heart and brain of Jesus of Galilee, is illustrated in the fact that Paul arrived in Rome in obedience to his saying "I must see Rome," and that he has arrived there so often since, and will arrive in Rome so often in the future, that by and by he will have subdued even Rome with the victoriousness of Christ.
What a wonderful and perpetual thing is Rome. Let us learn a lesson in the philosophy of history. Many historians have observed how impossible it was that the human mind could have gotten on without an abiding Rome as the center of its interests. Humanity is in its kindergarten-experience always. Like a little child, in its true education, humanity educates itself by making its own playthings and tools, and by building its own wonders. Rome was the finest toy and the most effective instrumentality, as well as the greatest investment in a visible fact, that the child humanity ever made. Rome had a dream of universal political empire. When Christianity came, with its very different dream of universal empire, humanity could not throw its Rome away, because Rome had been so richly representative of human life, and the child had gotten into the mental habit of gathering things around its grand Rome. Christianity, how-ever, removed the emphasis of life from politics to ecclesiastics. Its ideal creation was not a state like Rome had been, but a church. Rome's great and representative man in the past had been Caesar, who was a political pope or papa; the future of humanity demanded an ecclesiastical Caesar, who should be called pope. The child humanity must still have its Rome, and after this manner, the transformation came. Rome was still to be Rome; and though the roadways were now paths of religious enthusiasts, they still found the seven hilled city and their plans radiated from the market place, where the golden mile stone became a cross. Monks and bishops and cardinals looked from the four quarters of the world toward Rome, as once captains and generals and kings had looked. Rome's decision was yet authoritative throughout the world, and the church catholic, taking the place of the state universal, became the Roman Catholic Church. Just as naturally Peter incarnated the Roman spirit. His primacy among the apostles, which everybody admits, was transformed by this same mental and spiritual process into the supremacy of Peter, and he became the first pope. The palace of the Caesars was vanishing: the vatican of St. Peter's successors was coming. Caesar's senate-house had gone: the cathedral of St. Peter had come. The soul and manner of Rome still lived in the Imperial City. Centuries came and went. At last came Leo X., St. Peter's successor. He absorbed all historical and spiritual significance into himself. The pontificate had compelled barefooted Henry, Caesar's successor in a shriveled form, to stand in the storm for days, cowering before the small parchment-faced man called Pope Hildebrand. The church gathered her armies and servants and kings as vassals. Corruption nestled under the papal chair, and iniquity wore the glittering tiara. Rome was going Romeward with characteristic pace and power. Feverish with internal malady, luxurious, greedy, drunken with power, lavish with pretentious honors, the Rome of the fifteenth century attired her-self at length in the garments of the sixteenth century, having no more apprehension that Paul was coming to Rome than had Nero's Rome aforetime. But the spirit of the mighty little man obeyed the commandment of his conscience, "I must see Rome."
Of course Paul must see Rome; and Rome must have Paul within her gates. But where is Paul? There is Hans Luther's son. John Huss has read John Wyckliffe's plea for freedom and truth; and later this Martin Luther has read John Huss's appeal for piety and progress. The forces which gave authority to Paul's conscience are working for revolution in Luther's soul.
"And whoso knoweth God indeed,
Springtime is coming, for Luther is in Rome and St. Peter's Rome; but he is saturated with Paul's epistle, and he walks to the foot of the cold stone stairway entirely loyal to Peter's church, yet resolutely obedient at heart to the Christ of Paul's convictions and experiences. As he tries to ascend on his knees, the awful weight of Rome's iniquity drags him back, and then, with one leap of sublime confidence in something greater than Rome, he cries out, "The just shall live by faith." It is Paul's own word. Now the Reformation is born. Paul has again come to Rome.
Another era passes away, and Rome sinks back again into the darkness and dogmatism, and she has doubts as to those spiritual powers which alone will save the church and nation and the man. Again she marshals her great armies. - She becomes dependent upon ecclesiastical organization, and she annuls the command of her Master and Lord. She makes political domination her business. In a moment, when faith seems most vigorous, but when it is really self-assertive in the shadow of skepticism, Rome pronounces her head infallible. It is a whistle in a grave-yard. Investigation must be suppressed. Liberty is crushed; and the Italian people are crouching with fear. But the unconquerable spirit of a mighty truth is in the air. It is the spirit which carried Christianity from Asia to Europe in the person of Paul the one man whom we are studying. The air is electric with his idea of the functions of the church, and the worth of individual freedom. We see Garibaldi's heroic soldiers; we hear Mazzini's eloquent appeal; we behold Cavour meditating and organizing statesmanship. At last, these sharpen the sword and lead on the noble war, and they conquer. Behold the achievement! Victor Emmanuel has entered Rome, and the tri-color floats above an united Italy. Ah; there is something more accomplished. History is repeating the experiences of men, according to the divine method. Paul has again come to Rome.
A great man is a very dramatic factor, is he not, when he has such a stage? "O yes," you agree; "but what about the ordinary and unstaged and undramatic man that I am and that ever must be?" you add this question. Well, this about you and me, dear friend of the realm of the commonplace, this at least: you and I are under the same God's plans for all His children and for the working out of our destinies; we are touched by the same grace after the same providence; we are plied by the same motives and beset by the same unvarying winds of the Spirit; we are of the same origin and stuff as a Paul and his frightened sailor casting off the ropes; we have success and failure both circulating in us with our blood; —let us now grasp the divine intention in us and for us, even to the loss of cargo and the undergirding of the ship; the thing will work out, and higher destinies and heroisms will rescue us every time from the perils of all lower safeties God's chosen man must be a choice man, and he will reach Rome. O do you not feel the attraction of an overmastering ideal and plan of life even God's purpose within you? In an unstable and shifting world, in a jostling and unordered social existence, how divinely satisfying it is to be wooed and won, caught up out of petty circumstances and held by a planful power which amplifies the forces of one's being and makes one a part of God's reign in His universe! This is the secret of steadying power. It is the gift of God to the least of us, as also to the greatest. It greatens every soul who reverently and joyously abandons everything less than a divine reason or motive for living a human life. Our over exertive and feverish age has cried out, "Get there! Get there!" Well, get where? Ask that question vigorously, my friend, of any and every influence which addresses your integrity and completeness of soul. "Where shall I get?" Until you are sure that it means that you shall emerge out of all deeps of trust as Browning intimates in his Paracelsus, when he sings:
"If I stoop
-that is, until you are made certain that you will attain the purpose of God in yourself for that is your ultimate treasure do not obey its impulse. When you are sure of that, then you will say, "How shall I get there?" Ah, here is the critical point. Start not an inch, until you are certain that the manner of your life is that of a God-infused, God-encompassed, God-guided, and God-driven soul.
You will live life nobly, or not at all. You will be sure of this, only when you are God-enfolded in obedience of Him, through your love of Jesus Christ, inspired by His love of you. Then and only then will you have steadying power. "I send you forth, " He said. Pity only pity for the man who goes forth into a world of problems without visible solutions, of questions without genuine answers, hates without o'ermatching love, fears without the triumphant conviction that a man's somewhere to which he goes is also God's clearly conceived somewhere of higher living pity, only pity for so weak a craft upon an uncharted sea! But, O, what an independence of man's criticism of nature's wrathful elements, of extreme perils, of losses of cargo, of human panic, is that of a man seized by an ideal of life which, greater than he, wraps him up in its safety, urges him on to severer trials which cultivate and issue in finer triumphs, and, at length, watches by his latest earthly day with the beckoning morning flooding the windows of his prison! May you and I have that deliverance, because our life is imprisoned of God's purpose!