Victory and the Kingdom of Heaven
Yes, the kingdom of heaven, as at first, is taken only with violence. It is always waiting for those brave enough, morally resolute enough and spiritually determined enough to seize it, to conquer and hold it. It is never, and never can be, the growth of chance, of propitious circumstances, of favoring institutions, or natural drift. For it is founded on virtue—which is by its very nature a victory!
The gospel addressed the heroic, angelic sentiments and powers in humanity. It never advanced a foot under any mere average or prudential feelings. Its only progress has been that of men of faith who trusted in great hidden powers in the soul, which Christ and God stood ready to loose and to make victorious.
— Henry Whitney Bellows (1814-1882)
A Difficult Probation
A great ideal is not to give us the comfort of enraptured vision, but to demand of us the offering of hard self-sacrifice; a holy hope does not put wings upon us to fly to easy and instant realization, but bestows on us an inner light not to be quenched by outer darkness, and a fortitude of soul that will sustain us as we climb the painful way to shrouded heights; every daring faith is a difficult probation; and the vocation to serve and save mankind is to be tested not by the fluent assurances of the lips, but by the steadfast consecration of the devoted heart.
— William L. Sullivan (1872-1935)
The Burden of Loneliness
Loneliness is ever the concomitant of greatness; but, of all the lonely great ones, Jesus of Nazareth must have been one of the loneliest. His mountain vigils and his withdrawal into solitary places were more than symbols of the seclusion of his spirit. They were a refuge from it. The hilltops and the stars, the desert silences, were more companionable than men, whose narrow intellects distorted every thought which he would fain communicate to them, upon whose lips his talk of spiritual realities was turned into something wholly foreign to his thought.
There is no loneliness so great as spiritual isolation in the midst of one’s well-meaning, would-be followers…. In and between the lines of the New Testament, I read that Jesus was compelled to bear the burden of such loneliness as this.
— John White Chadwick (1840-1904)
One Family of God
It is true that the precise form in which Jesus conceived of this Kingdom of God cannot be ours, any more than we can hold to his view of the way in which the Kingdom was to be realized. But his hope, the hope of Israel, of a coming order in which men should live together in mutual trust and love as members of one family of God, that hope is ours.
To live the life of Jesus is the way to make ours the faith and hope of Jesus. To live by the method of Jesus is to come to full personal conviction, through an experience which is for us finally authoritative, that the God in whom he believed and trusted is our God.
— William Wallace Fenn (1862-1932)