We May Not Rest in It

From “Friendship,” Antichrist and Other Sermons, 273-276 (1913)

We must give ourselves to have him. We must die to live, as all lovers have to learn. We must never think of friendship with Christ as only a boon to be enjoyed; friendship apart from mutual service is merely sentimental and may easily become something worse. The mystical sense of union with God, if enjoyed for its own sake alone, can be, and has been the source of immorality.

“Ye are My friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Christ is a gift — the greatest of all gifts — but we may not rest in it, we may not merely enjoy it. It is all very well to say, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine;” but if we say that and no more, at best our religion will be self-regarding, a sort of cupboard love.

Love that is worth anything always means giving, not receiving; we have to learn by bitter pain that it is more blissful, happier, to give; and it is hard and long, this learning. And we must mean the giving, not merely say it. We offer ourselves, our souls and bodies a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice…

It is St. Paul who dies daily; it is St. Francis who has embraced the Lady Poverty, who is severest in discipline and denials, untiring in service, unsparing of tears — how many tears has your religion cost you?

If a man should give all his wealth, yet it is nothing; and if he should outwardly express great repentance, yet it is little; and if he should be of great virtue, and very fervent devotion, yet there is much wanting; to wit one thing, and that most necessary. That leaving all, he forsake himself and go wholly from himself; and when he hath done all that he knows to be done, let him think that he hath done nothing. We must “give all for all,” if we are to be the friends of Jesus; bitter is the cup that we must drink.

Strange how like it is to earthly love; we are afraid of it, as many a man is afraid of falling into love; for we know not where he will lead us, or what he will demand; we do know that he will lead us far and ask of us something great. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

  1. Neville Figgis, CR (1866-1919) was an English Anglican priest and monk, as well as a notable political philosopher and historian. He taught for many years at Cambridge and was among the most admired preachers of his time. He entered the Community of the Resurrection six years before his untimely death.


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