and Address to the Jury
TTT Editor's Notes: The following was written in response to Doug Parker's, 4-page tract/paper printed in newspaper format titled: "A Spiritual Fraud Exposed," which was widely distributed to workers as well as friends all over the world in1954.
NOTE: "Counsel" is Alfred Magowan and "Witness" is Doug Parker
Click Here to read more about Alfred Magowan
Cross-Examination of a Witness
and Address to the Jury
in the case of
YOUNG versus OLDER and CO.
COUNSEL: In your indictment of these men, you paused for a moment or two to utter these words: 'Thank God for a Bill of Rights; Trial by jury; and the Habeas Corpus Act.' Was this trinity of our liberties invoked in the preliminary trial of these men in their absence? What rights were they given? Where was the jury? And why were the prisoners not produced in court as required under the Habeas Corpus Act?
WITNESS: There was no court case in the actual meaning of the words. I circled the earth in gathering information against them; and it was so conclusive in condemning them, that my only duty lay in the exposing of them in print as frauds and hypocrites.
COUNSEL: I am afraid much of my questioning will have to do with the rather sordid subject of money, seeing that you make so much of it. You begin your indictment of John Hardie by coming to the conclusion that he wanted your money when he encouraged you to sell out, and go into the world as a preacher of the Gospel. I will now ask you what lawyers call a hypothetical question: Go back in your mind with me to that strange moving of hearts recorded in the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. Listen while I read two verses from the 3rd chapter
'And all that believed were together, and had all things common, and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men as every man had need: And this from the 4th chapter-- 'And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul; neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had an things common ...Neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
That chapter ends with telling about a Cypriot by the name of Joses Barnabas selling land, and laying the money at the apostles' feet. And the beginning of the 5th chapter records a tragedy--the sudden and terrifying death of a man and his wife for not telling the truth about their sale of land, when they brought the money to Peter. Now I want to ask if you think there was any ground for questioning the motives behind the receiving of these moneys by the apostles?
WITNESS: No, I would never think of questioning them, because their words and actions as righteous men in the sight of God were attested to by the miracles which they wrought.
COUNSEL: But when this man whom you called an unbalanced evangelist told another prospective evangelist that God did not want his money, you had no hesitation in saying the unbalanced one wanted it. And the scornful tone in which you aspersed his motives seemed to reveal an antipathy to him hard to understand, seeing that you never saw or heard him, and what you knew about him came by the way of unfriendly hearsay. How would you account for this strange antipathy?
WITNESS: He was the founder of this 'unscriptural, unnatural, revolting and unholy Sect'; and as trees are known by their fruits, I knew him by the evil outcomes of his life as a supposed preacher of the Gospel.
COUNSEL: You do not hold that what we call the Papacy was the fruit of Peter's life and apostleship?
WITNESS: I do not. We know he was genuinely called and sent; and there was a gradual decline and falling away after his day.
COUNSEL: Did you ever hear it said that it is easy to believe in dead prophets and apostles—as the Pharisees and scribes and religious rulers in Jerusalem said they believed in Moses? He was dead long enough to be universally acknowledged and canonized as a saint. But they did not believe in Jesus; and were very diligent in seeking evidence against Him, so that they could be rid of Him. Would you say that you would have believed in Him and followed Him had you lived when He was looked upon by the 'best people' as being worthy of the shocking death of the cross?
WITNESS: I hope that I would; and believe that I would; and am now a member of His Church.
COUNSEL: You use three adjectives in describing the chief defendant: An unbalanced evangelist; an outstanding evangelist; and a powerful evangelist. Which would you say is the right one to use, seeing that they are not in agreement with each other?
WITNESS: I would say he was an unbalanced evangelist.
COUNSEL: Then he was not an outstanding or a powerful one?
WITNESS: He was all three in the way I used them.
COUNSEL: Strange that a man who had more influence or power than any other man of our time in persuading thousands of young men and women to devote their lives to the preaching of the Gospel can be accounted for and dismissed by the use of one adjective! Should that not be taken as a reflection on the want of power of ordinary well-balanced evangelists?
WITNESS: I look upon it as evil influence.
COUNSEL: Do you recall that the occasion on which Jesus spoke about a sin that could not be forgiven was when the Jerusalem scribes said that His power to do good came from an evil source? So it would seem to be a dangerous thing to say that good comes from evil. And do you not think it rather serious to set at naught the lived lives of so many of the most promising young men and women of our generation?
WITNESS: I look upon them as dupes of this unbalanced evangelist.
COUNSEL: In your indictment you reflect on their education--or lack of it; and think Christ's servants need to be educated men; how then would you account for all the apostles—excepting Paul, who was the only learned one among them?
WITNESS: They had the advantage of being taught by Him in person; an advantage that no disciple of His ever had since.
COUNSEL: But every generation of disciples have His teaching inscribed in the four gospels: which ought to be sufficient, when added to and confirmed by the discipline of their lives. Would you not say that soul-discipline was more like the first discipleship than head-learning—which very often makes men vain?
WITNESS: I am not well educated myself; but still I think that a good education is needed to fit men for the ministry. It gives them presence and distinction; and 'the cloth' to set these off, I consider to be a great advantage.
COUNSEL: Returning to your favourite topic, you have this to say in the indictment: 'The tramps say they have no collections. In strict parlance this may be correct; but it is not the whole truth. They may not collect, but they receive donations, so that while Messrs. Irvine and Co. do not collect, they RECEIVE; and the receipts are sufficient to send the preachers to America, Scotland, anywhere else; and to take Mr. Irvine to South Africa and other places abroad. The regular clergy could not afford these trips. The tramps can afford it, but they go another way about it: THEY OBTAIN THE MONEY.' If they do not beg it, or steal it, or make a levy on unwilling contributors to obtain it: what is wrong with receiving it?
WITNESS: They get it by misrepresenting themselves as the suc¬cessors of the apostles. It was on the strength of that misrepresentation that I was induced to join them, and offer them my money.
COUNSEL: When you sold out your business, and offered them the money: were you inwardly constrained to become a preacher of the Gospel? And if so, why did you draw back from following that high calling, and use the money you had already renounced to go on a trip abroad—which it is suggested cost you thousands of pounds?
WITNESS: Looking back from here, I hardly think I was called to be a preacher. I had so much admiration and respect for these preachers, that when John Hardie set so high a calling before me, it made such appeal to me that it would have been hard for me to resist it.
COUNSEL: Your admiration and respect turned to gall and wormwood when you reflected on your renunciations, and decided you had been hoaxed by men who could not prove their spiritual genealogy farther back than to this man Irvine? All your hope of salvation was built on the authenticity of that rootless spiritual family tree?
WITNESS: That seems to be so; but I have recovered from the delusion; and now I am safely back in the Church from which I had been inveigled by these bogus preachers.
COUNSEL: And now that you are back on solid ground, or should we say the Original Rock on which the church was built(?), you have returned to your business, and have largely recovered the bank balance so seriously depleted by the wild goose chase to the end of the tramp-preaching rainbow: would you still call yourself a disciple of Jesus?
WITNESS: Is not that synonomous (sic) with being a member of the Church?
COUNSEL: Now as this cross-examination is so largely occupied with money, we find it hard to get to more important questions; so let us consider other aspects of this mammon side of things. You are opposed to the receiving of money by these preachers who have forfeited any claim they had on your admiration and respect. Are you satisfied with the money side of Church affairs?
WITNESS: Clergymen, being educated men, are more likely to be honourable than men of doubtful background. I am glad to say that I have every confidence in them.
COUNSEL: Your Church is what is called an Established or State Church. It has revenue running to something like 10 million pounds a year derived from investments in property of one kind and another. It also has power to levy and collect land tithes, which might also be said to run into millions. And as it is most unusual for any religious meeting to be held in Christendom without the intrusion of money by one appeal or another, it would appear that 'making a poor mouth' for or by the clergy is not very commendable.
You say the tramp preachers are able to move about the world quite freely, while the clergy, not being so well off, are cramped and retarded in their movements. That may be so said of curates and vicars; but you are aware that the higher clergy are world travellers; and that the Archbishop of Canterbury circled the globe a year or two ago, and attended that world gathering of church leaders in Evanston, U.S.A., not so long since. You think that is beyond criticism?
WITNESS: I do.
COUNSEL: But you objected to the tramps' leader having money to spend that way. I suppose you are aware that the Archbishop travels saloon or 1st class in his voyaging around the earth; but perhaps you are not aware that the man of your condemnation, Irvine, always travelled steerage. Then there is another thing: Much of the revenue collected by the Church is put into the building and maintenance of cathedrals and thousands of other costly houses of worship. The men you condemn had no sources of revenue; asked for no money publicly or privately or in their assemblies; built no houses of worship; had no endowments; no schools or colleges or universities; walked where other men were carried; lived on the plainest fare—even going hungry when that was needed as part of their discipline, or pilgrim discipleship. Fifty years ago, or in the days of their greatest spiritual power, they thanked God for a diet of raw turnips in Scotland when porridge would have been esteemed a luxury. Now I ask you: which came nearer to the manner of life of the preachers of nineteen centuries ago?
WITNESS: They may have been like that fifty years ago, but as I have only been in this world half that length of time, I can only say that the preachers I have known fared as well as other men on that level of life.
COUNSEL: I wonder if we could make our escape for a little while from money and the outwardnesses of men's lives. As a professing disciple of Jesus, do you think you did well in holding these men up to the scorn and ridicule of a world you knew would be pleased to see them exposed in a comparable nakedness to that of Noah in his tent, as Ham discovered him?
WITNESS: I thought it my duty to do what I could to deliver worried and troubled people out of their power, and prevent others coming under it.
COUNSEL: As a learner in Christ's school, where, in His teaching, did you find ground for exposing them?
WITNESS: He exposed the hypocrites in the 23rd chapter of Matthew.
COUNSEL: Is there anything in His teaching that gave latitude or encouragement to His disciples to challenge their personal adversaries (who also called themselves His disciples) to a duel in a court of law?
WITNESS: I have not had much time to read or study the Scriptures.
COUNSEL: Could you imagine Him challenging anybody to meet Him in such a court?
WITNESS: I am afraid I could not.
COUNSEL: Did you expect John Hardie to accept your challenge?
WITNESS: I hardly thought he would.
COUNSEL: You once heard that on a particular occasion he was said to be disgruntled. Would you admit that you were disgruntled with him when you decided to strip him of the last rags of honourableness and decency as a professing servant of Christ?
WITNESS: I would hardly use the word 'disgruntled'; but I would admit to being wounded in my spirit.
COUNSEL: Do you not think that heart wounds are such that no human court's decision could be expected to heal them?
WITNESS: I suppose that is so.
COUNSEL: You speak of the pleasure of going to press a second time against John Hardie and those associated with him: a pleasure brought about by the response to the first edition of their exposure. I think you called it an amazing response. If you had been fifty years older, you would hardly have thought it amazing, or even surprising. You would have known the human mind and heart and imagination a little too well for that. I suppose you know even as a very young man that the more sensational newspapers, and which contain the greatest numbers of exposures, have the largest circulations?
WITNESS: Yes, I am aware of that.
COUNSEL: Have you given much thought to the terms and conditions of Christian discipleship as set forth by Christ Himself in the Gospels? Have you, for instance, taken much notice of this from the 14th chapter of Luke: 'If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters: yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.' How do you understand that?
WITNESS: I think the word 'hate' is generally interpreted to mean 'love less.'
COUNSEL: Then Christ goes on to this conclusion: 'So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.' Was that where John Hardie got his authority to ask you to forsake all that you had?
WITNESS: I suppose so—if he had any authority to ask me to do anything.
COUNSEL: You do not think he would have asked you without scripture to support him; and you would hardly have expected that he should widen the door for you which he found so narrow for himself fifty years ago?
WITNESS: No, I suppose not. But perhaps he had not so much to forsake.
COUNSEL: Now if I might ask you another hypothetical question: Supposing you had been fortunate enough to live when Christ was going about His work of teaching young men how to live to the best eternal advantage. And supposing you had been that rich young man who came to Him to enquire the way to eternal life: and was advised to keep the commandments: which he was ready to admit he had kept. But not being satisfied, he went on to ask if there was anything else; and this is what he was told: 'One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.' Now, I ask you: if you had been in that young man's place, and that condition had been put before you: what do you think you would have done?
WITNESS: I am hardly in a position to say. I might have been like him, thinking the terms of discipleship too strict, and returned to my possessions.
COUNSEL: Well, that is an honest answer. You hardly think you would have been offended at Him for holding the door so slightly ajar. Nor could you imagine the young man returning to his possessions being anything but sorrowful. That is to say, you could not have imagined him getting angry, and deciding on a trip to Nazareth for the purpose of investigating Christ's life there before going to preach. You could not imagine it: but supposing he had so decided to use his money instead of giving it to the poor: do you think that if he had gone to the right sources—that is to say, the unfriendly ones—he could not have found something to comfort him in holding on to what he had?
WITNESS: Are you insinuating?
COUNSEL: Supposing he had gone to those who laid hold of Him in his home town synagogue and hustled Him out to what is now called the hill of precipitation, to throw Him over it to His death: if, I say, he had gone to them, would they not have been glad for the opportunity to pour out their bitterness against Him? And might we not suppose it would have pleased them to have what they said proclaimed from the housetops, as one way of taking out their ill feeling against Him?
Witness: Do you not think these are evil surmisings, both against the young man, and the synagogue men of Nazareth?
COUNSEL: You went to the home town of this man Irvine to learn about his youth and young manhood there. And you found so much not to his credit, that you decided it must be given to the world. If it had been favourable to him, do you think you might have had the same urge to publish it? Or to put it another way: the discrediting of him was confirmation that you decided wisely and well when you decided not to give your money to John Hardie? But you know that Irvine was converted under John McNeill's preaching in the town hall at Motherwell when he was about 30 years of age. Ought you not to have done what God was thought to have done: forgiven him when he repented, and blotted his sins out of the book of his remembrance? If a man made a new life beginning, is it fair or charitable to rake in the ashes of his dead life for evidence against him? Did you not do that in Kilsyth? And did you not suppress some favour¬able testimony about him, because it would have weakened your case in the Exposure you were determined to make? If you do not think these questions are admissible at this stage, you do not need to answer them.
WITNESS: I would prefer not to answer some of them.
COUNSEL: You have made what is called 'capital' out of what the old exiled and deluded Irvine said to me in Jerusalem about the great experiment. I wondered that you did not mention my reply that it was a great experience—which I would not have liked to miss. You mock at the ridiculousness of the idea of an experiment in Christianity: but was it so ridiculous?
In one of my letters to you, I explained what was meant in these words: 'IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIMENT." An experiment in brotherhood, where all were on one level; where possessions had no power over the hearts of men; where there was no desire for honours or titles or distinctions; where men could walk together, and call each other by their first names; where there was faith enough to believe preachers would not starve if they went out into the world without visible means of support. An experiment in passing through this world without conforming to it; and where spiritually-minded men could maintain their pilgrimage, when Establishment was calling to them, and pulling at them from every side. An experiment in serving, without expectation of reward in this life; where something of the sufferings of Christ was to be expected; and where the soul could be disciplined by all that it would be required to pass through—unto the final purifying of the heart. A very great experiment indeed, and in which thousands of young men and women took part—to be made in an image and likeness not to be attained in any other way, or by any ordinary means.
I leave it to the jury—which I hope will eventually include all those who have read the Exposure—to decide if indeed it was, or was not, a great experiment in Christianity. And I think I might say that if there could be a roll-call of the thousands who lived what you call 'destructed lives' from the turn of the century, it would show a great multitude, ready to affirm that by obedience to the claims of Christ upon them, they got more out of this life of heart-satisfying fulness and lasting worth, than if they had lived in any other way, or by any other known leading whatso¬ever. And if, as you say, they were dupes: might not that be said of those who in the ages before them 'lost their lives, that they might find them'?
WITNESS: That may or may not have been true of those who went forth in the first quarter of this century; but it could hardly be said of most of those I have known.
COUNSEL: And yet two or three years ago you offered 'your life and your all,' as you say, to be actively associated with them. Might it not be that if you closely scrutinized your own heart, you would find some holding back there, to match the falling away in them?
WITNESS: It could be so, as it has been with better men than I am.
COUNSEL: You might even agree with me that if your method of investigation had been used in the second half of the first century you could have written a more comprehensive Exposure than this one. Indeed I might say that you would not need to write it, seeing that it is written already to the Seven Churches in Asia! And if you were critical of the first half of that century, there would be no dearth of censurable material. Indeed the Ecclesi¬astical authorities in Jerusalem found plenty against our Lord Himself: enough to condemn Him in their eyes to the special death reserved for the worst criminals. I suppose you are aware that the breaking of religious or ecclesiastical rules, or living from within by the guidance of individual good conscience, has been through what are called the Christian ages, looked upon and punished as a capital offence. And not only were the 'guilty' condemned to death: they were also tortured on the way to it; and because the Ecclesiastical Powers had the power of State as well as Church, they were not satisfied when they had meted out agonizing death, but were driven by their zeal for the one true holy Church to condemn them to the pains of hell for ever.
WITNESS: Yes, I am aware of that; and I am aware of more than that, having seen the same spirit in the preachers who tried to make me believe they were the lineal spiritual descendants of the apostles Christ sent out into the world to preach His Gospel.
COUNSEL: You will also be aware that the Church of your present choice makes the same claim: 'apostolic succession,' it is called.
WITNESS: But with more proof to support the claim, I hope.
COUNSEL: No, but with much less.
WITNESS: How could that be? Can there be anything less than nothing.
COUNSEL: Less than nothing is called minus: and minus it is in this case, as in the case of the other chief claimant to this spiritual family tree. Sheep succession never runs to goats or swine. Vine succession might run to wild grapes, but it would never run to brambles or thorns. Human weakness, and the self distrust that is its proper accompaniment, would never run to world power or religious vain glory or ecclesiastical tyranny. Voluntary poverty would never run to church wealth. Meekness would never run to arrogance. If Peter made himself poor in obedience to the disciple commandment of forsaking all that he had, no successor of his would glory in the abundance of this world's wealth. And if he was told by his Lord that the servant must not be above his master: no successor of his would ever dream of sitting on thrones of world power and glory: thrones that his Master refused.
Apostolic succession would be a succession of apostles: not a succession of Ecclesiastical hierarchies up and down a long line of dignitaries recognised and honoured by the same world that hated and despised 'the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.' And whatever the tramp preachers who tramped the earth fifty years ago may have become in these latter days, they came nearer the original mark of apostleship than those established church dignitaries who set them at nought, and did what they could to hound them off the earth. Do you agree with that?
WITNESS: I see what you mean, and once thought that way about them, and was deeply disappointed in them when they came so far short of the promise made to my youthful expectations.
COUNSEL: But do you not think some allowance ought to be made for them on the ground that all men have been passing through times of trial and stress and temptation beyond anything known or anticipated at the beginning of the century? It would not have been fair to Peter to judge and condemn him for that lapse under pressure in the High Priest's palace, when he was driven to deny the truth with cursings and swearings for emphasis.
The day of Pentecost brought to light the real rock of which his spirit was made: and if the dark night of denial needed to be redeemed, it was redeemed on that brightest of all days, when as a mighty man of spiritual valor he accused the thousands of his hearers of the murder of the Son of God. And was rewarded for his courage by a mighty cry of penitence from them.
WITNESS: That is so; and I begin to see that hasty judgments of men are likely to have to be repented of; and that charity excels condemnation as the glory of the morning is more to be desired than the darkness of the region of the shadow of death.
COUNSEL: Now I want to ask you an unusual question. As you glance backward over the past two years, would you say that you were inwardly driven to do what you did? Or to put it in apostolic language, that 'necessity was laid upon you'? That is to say there was a working together of times, circumstances, movings, and events? You had no idea that your personal difference or dispute with John Hardie would lead on to what it did? I ask you this question because it may be that the time had come for the beginning of judgment on tramp preachers who had become what you would call an organised religious tyranny. Would you look on it in that light? or put it in that way?
WITNESS: I would need to have time to think it over; but it is certainly true that I had no idea what lay before me when I decided to see England before — before — deciding what the future course of my life would be.
COUNSEL: I thought you were going to say before going forth to preach the Gospel!
I find myself in some of my writing on every page in your Exposure; and most of what is written under your heading of Conclusion was written by me. Was it altogether fair to the many people who would read it that they would think the writer agreed with the Exposure?
WITNESS: You gave me liberty to use anything you had written as I might think fit.
COUNSEL: But you knew I was not in favour of stripping myself bare by agreeing that what I had given my life to was a spiritual fraud. When you were shocked by what I told you about the GREAT EXPERIMENT, I did not leave it there, but told you my reply that it was a GREAT EXPERIENCE. Should you not have set the one beside the other?
WITNESS: I did not bring your name into it, because I thought you would not wish it.
COUNSEL: I did not wish it, and do not wish it now; but as I do not consider myself of the seed or stock of Ham, I would never have done what he did; and therefore I do not consider myself in good company pressed in beside 'Partial Reporters' and other unfriendly newsmongers, who never could give a fair account of what they did not like. I once wrote to one of them to correct something in his Sunday paper, and the correction was twisted to make me look like a fool.
Under the picture of Wm. Irvine at the tomb is something I wrote about another man. Should it have been put under his name as if it was said about him? He neither had a high pitched nor a deep voice, but a husky one with a strong Scotch accent. And he was no inflamer of men's passions, nor exciter of their emotions, but appealed to the best that was in them. And there were no more promising young people than those who responded to it.
WITNESS: No, it should not have been put under his name and picture.
COUNSEL: And under the other picture on the same page of your Exposure you say that a newspaper characterizes this man as 'a sincere, but misguided tragedy'; and as apparently that char¬acterization was made when he was a young man, did you not stop to wonder why it was made?
WITNESS: I gave very little thought to it.
COUNSEL: Well, I might enlighten you. He was a great admirer of John the Baptist, and was diligent in prescribing his remedies for the social and religious ills of mankind. He laughed at the comic figures cut by the twins Ecclesiasticism and Mammonism; pictured tuppence hapenny looking up to thruppence; said that he might have continued in the Church of Ireland, and risen to the dignity of a bishop wearing gaiters. And of course the admirers of the twins could not tolerate such levity, and had to avenge the indignities done to them by a preacher who preached against money instead of against sin—like all respectable evangelists. They could not find anything in his life with which to upbraid him. His sincerity and devotion to his convictions provoked admiration to keep strange company with their flaming angers. And the giving away of his money so that he might not be a contradiction of what he preached: what was that but the sure evidence that he was a little bit wrong in the head! And so the god of this world—otherwise known as Mammon—gave him the strange bill of health you quoted: 'a sincere but misguided tragedy.' But to come back to the Exposure as a whole: Is it not like hitting below the belt to attack a dead man? And that it is not very courageous to issue a resounding challenge to an old man, while knowing beforehand that he will refuse to fight?
WITNESS: Should age give a man immunity—if he is guilty of the charges brought against him? And not even the grave should give him immunity.
COUNSEL: 'The crimes' are such that no human court of which I have any knowledge could try men for them: unless it was a 'packed' ecclesiastical court like that which tried Jesus, and found him guilty of crimes which Pilate's secular Roman court did not recognise as crimes. There were monstrous crimes innumerable committed against men of good conscience through the so-called Christian ages, but the criminals were never brought to justice or judgment, because they were either the Powers-that-be, or in league with them. If the men you have been incensed against have committed such crimes as might be proceeded against under Australian or American or British law, you have had time and opportunity to bring the charges. And if you think you have the evidence that courts would recognise as evidence, were you not duty bound to proceed—instead of sitting in private judg¬ment, and issuing this shocking mixture of prejudiced opinion, distorted facts, historical confusion, and runaway surmisings and imaginings; and sitting in judgment on motives, as if they could be known or revealed by any light—except that which shines from God's judgment throne. When that light shone on the greatest prophet-poet who ever put quill or pen to paper, the effect was put by him in such words as these: 'Woe is me! for I am un¬done; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.' What would any of us have to say about anybody if one gleam of that Light was to shine upon our hearts?
WITNESS: I am afraid we would echo what Isaiah said, and wonder if our undoneness could ever be remedied.
COUNSEL: I am glad to hear you say that; and what else could be said by any of us?
WITNESS: I think I now understand Job putting his hand over his mouth when God began to question him; and when He had finished with him, all be could say was: 'Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes'
COUNSEL: But as this is a court and not a revival meeting, there are other questions I would like to ask you: In justifying your Exposure of what you call bogus preachers, you say that Jesus exposed the hypocrites in the 23rd chapter of Matthew. On what grounds did He expose and denounce them?
WITNESS: On the ground that they were not what they professed to be.
COUNSEL: They sat in Moses seat, He said; meaning, we may suppose, as magistrates to administer justice as Moses had done in the wilderness. Their judgments were just apparently; and those who went to them were advised to do as they advised. You would not say they were condemned as unfair, or unwise, or corrupt in the dispensing of justice?
WITNESS: I would not.
COUNSEL: On what special grounds then were they judged, and had this said about them: 'Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?'
WITNESS: They laid burdens on people which they were unwilling to carry themselves. What they did, they did for applause or for commendation as holy men. They liked to be recognised as religious leaders when they went about the city. They were very zealous in the gaining of converts to their faith. They magnified small religious duties, and touched lightly on more important things. And were more concerned about the outsides of their lives than with what they were at heart.
COUNSEL: Might these things be said of these men you call bogus preachers?
WITNESS: I am sorry to say I am afraid they might.
COUNSEL: Might they also be said of the clergymen of your church? WITNESS: They are not on trial here.
COUNSEL: If it could be shown that they had even less to commend them than those you call bogus preachers: would you be fair and say that what is sauce for the goose is sauce also for the gander?
WITNESS: But I do not think it could be so shown.
COUNSEL: Are you aware that Jesus warned His disciples against religious or ecclesiastical climbing? That He warned them against ecclesiastical titles? That (in apparent anticipation of what we call Popery) He told them to call no man their father, seeing that that was what God was to them? That He said: 'But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren'?
WITNESS: I admit that He said these things.
COUNSEL: Would you say that these bogus preachers you have been so diligent in exposing their spiritual nakedness to the gaze of an unsympathetic world: would you say they are ecclesiastical climbers? That they dress to get recognition and special respect? That they are honoured guests at political and ecclesiastical banquets? That they make fine drawn distinctions between certain tweedledees and tweedledums of religious observances?
WITNESS: Having put themselves outside the respectabilities of the political and religious world, they could hardly expect to be invited to its feasts.
COUNSEL: Would you say that He whom they and you call Master and Lord put Himself outside that world when He said to the chief priests and elders of the people in the temple, that the publicans and harlots went into the kingdom of God before them?
WITNESS: He was different.
COUNSEL: If there was a falling away among these preachers you are so concerned to expose: did they fall away to the unchristian lengths of dressing differently from other men, or giving and receiving titles of honour—against the teaching of their Lord?
WITNESS: They could not give or receive titles and distinctions, not having any ecclesiastical schools to confer them; but they were addicted to preaching their own importance, and setting themselves above all other men whatsoever as the only true servants of God: setting all others at naught, and making themselves as indispensable as the priests of the religions they condemned. If that was not a falling away, it was an exalting of themselves inexcusable in men who called themselves homeless preachers.
COUNSEL: I quite agree with you; but you would hardly say that what is seen to be wrong in them is right in others who also call themselves the servants of Christ?
WITNESS: No, I suppose not.
COUNSEL: Do you admit the wisdom of, and the necessity for the sending of prophets and preachers at certain seasons of the mankind year? And if so, how should they be sent? What manner of men should they be?
WITNESS: Do you mean in their spirit?
COUNSEL: Yes, I mean that; but I also mean much more than that. You are aware that Jesus spent a night in prayer before calling and sending the twelve; and even with that preparation, one turned out badly; and another one would have found it hard to get past you as a sentry—had you been on guard that night! So we would be right in saying that the sending of preachers was a very important part of our Lord's work; and that much depended on how they were received by those to whom they were sent: if they could be depended on as faithful messengers.
WITNESS: That is so. But do you also include clergymen?
COUNSEL: Clergymen, so far as I know, do not profess to be sent preachers; but to be shepherds of flocks committed to their care. Is that how you understand it?
WITNESS: Yes, but they have to be preachers in the caring for their flocks, and teachers as well.
COUNSEL: You will agree that sent preachers, if they are to fairly represent Christ as His ambassadors, must be what I might call well-delivered men.
WITNESS: What do you mean by well-delivered? And how would we know if they were or were not?
COUNSEL: By well-delivered I mean they must be above reproach where this world is concerned. They must be as unencumbered in their goings as if they were soldiers going forth to battle against their nation's enemies. They must have been set free in their hearts from the power of money and possessions—as all the first preachers and their converts were at Pentecost.
WITNESS: Did it make any difference whether they were married or single?
COUNSEL: Paul and Barnabas had to defend themselves against
Corinthian doubts that they were apostles. And the grounds for doubt were that, unlike other apostles, they were unmarried men; and that they worked with their hands. But quite apparently there was no VIRTUE in the one state more than the other. Peter was married, and Paul was not: and what more is there to be said about it? Have these preachers said much about it?
WITNESS: They have not said so much about it? but they do what they can to leave the impression that it is better to be unmarried.
COUNSEL: Did not Paul do the same And what to him was liberty has been used to bring hundreds of thousands of young men and women into priesthood and monastic bondage. The great pronouncement about it is in these words of our Lord (when Peter enquired about it): 'He that is able to receive it: let him receive it.'
WITNESS: That ought to be sufficient.
COUNSEL: And now to return to the vital subject of delivered hearts and sent preachers. You have made a case against preachers on the ground of fraud. And you have not only found the preachers you know to be guilty, but you have impeached the purity, the honesty, the integrity, the devotion of hundreds who lived and laboured and suffered and died before you were born. And you have done this injury to their memory on the rather flimsy ground that they were dupes of one particular man, for whom you appear to have conceived a violent dislike, although for many years now he has been in the custody of death and the grave. And you have done this as a Christian. I want to know if you consider that fair, or honest, or upright, or charitable? You have even, in your exasperation, written and proclaimed this to the world (or a section of it): 'No religious craze of modern times was so unscriptural, so unnatural, so revolting, and so unholy.' You have also found so ill a savour rising from their past that you exclaim: 'and O what a past!' as if it was unspeakable. Surely you did not mean to leave it to all kinds of imaginations to fill in their own pictures of the dreadful and terrible and horrible depravity—of which the most abandoned underworld might be ashamed?
WITNESS: No, I did not mean to do that.
COUNSEL: I am persuaded that you did not: but what could be expected from religious imagination running immoral riot in such a field as that?
WITNESS: I suppose a man ought to be on his guard against using intemperate language, or giving scope to evil surmisings when the tendency runs that way.
COUNSEL: Mrs. Grundy can sometimes be an unscrupulous re¬spectable lady, and not too much to be trusted in the ranges of her imaginings where enough has not been said to give her solid ground on which to build her house of condemnation of those she does not like.
But this is getting away somewhat from the point. It has seemed to be a necessity in the religious realm of mankind's life, and in the prospect of reckoning times that prophets were sent in the Old Testament, and preachers in the New. Perhaps you could tell me why?
WITNESS: Well, if you mean priests or clergymen, I suppose it is to teach faith and morals. To conduct religious services. To christen, marry, and bury people; and to prevent the encroachments of lawless underworlds.
COUNSEL: Quite so, but I was not thinking of such men as these. Like the poor, we can depend on them being ever with us. Old Testament prophets were not temple or organization men. They were not residents or citizens or property owners. They seemed to come from nowhere; and the religious organizers were full of zeal to hustle them back to there as soon as possible. You are aware that the great controversies of the Old Testament were between kings and priests on the one side, and prophets on the other; and the prophets always got the best—and the worst of it?
WITNESS: That seems to me a contradiction. Explain your meaning.
COUNSEL: They had the better of the argument, but had to pay for it by early or sudden death. And against them also were the false prophets, who out of the abundance of their worldly wisdom always kept on the safe side, and so saved their lives where the true prophets lost theirs. Expediency was the guide of the one, and Faithfulness of the other.
Put it another way: there has always been conflict between temple men and wilderness men; between organized men and individual men; between men of this world and men of the world to come. It is not a question of good men and bad men on opposite sides of a great moral gulf or divide. You will recall what Paul wrote to the Romans: 'For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.' When did this world ever make a deep and wide distinction such as that?
WITNESS: I am afraid such distinctions are beyond my present ranges.
COUNSEL: Come with me now to the New Testament, and consider the greatest of the Sent Ones—the Son of God Himself. He expressed the fulness of the love of God to the world—as hardhearted religious men are never tired of quoting. And His world responded by hating Him, and never rested from its hate until it had Him safely nailed to a cross. Have you considered why it gave Him hate for His love, reviling for His compassion, ridicule for the company He kept; and crowned its enmity by attributing His works of sympathy and pity to the dirtiest of all the devils—Beelzebub the lord of flies?
WITNESS: I am afraid I had not considered it as I might have done had I read the Gospels more.
COUNSEL: He said it hated Him because its deeds were evil. This is what He said to His brothers when they urged Him to go to Jerusalem for the feast of tabernacles: 'The world cannot hate you: but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil' And let us be quite clear about it: it was not the world of publicans and sinners and outcasts from society which hated Him. It was not the world of what are called the common people: they heard Him gladly. It was the rich and religious overworld: and with very good reason, because He appeared to make light of its weightiest matters, as when He painted that little word picture of a camel on its way through the eye of a needle!
His Yes was always confronted by its No, and the other way about. And when He made that shocking and treasonable utterance: 'Ye cannot serve God and Mammon,' we are told that 'the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.' The base metal of what they were at heart was made to show through the gold plating of their profession: His very presence among them, as well as His words and works, was bound to have that effect on them—as a shaft of sunlight reveals the floating motes in a room: motes that would never be seen apart from it.
WITNESS: But that was the world of Judaism which rejected Him. We live in a world that honours Him, and is called Christendom after Him.
COUNSEL: Is there so much in a name? Are Christians less at home in this world than the Jews? Do they not also think they can serve God and mammon? Are you not convinced that you have convicted what you call bogus preachers of covetousness? Are there no religious and ecclesiastical climbers now? Above that, on the fourth page of the Exposure where you thank God for the groundwork of our triple freedoms: The Bill of Rights; The Trial by Jury, and the Habeas Corpus Act, you quote this: 'The kings of this world exercise lordship over them, but ye shall not be so': Was that not aimed at the climbers and self-glorifiers who from the beginning of mankind's sojourn here have made a cockpit, a shambles, and a hell of God's good earth? And what difference does it make whether they are called military, political, or ecclesiastical—if they would burn up the world to warm their ridiculous little SELVES? Are they not of the world because they have been christened and confirmed as the children of God?
WITNESS: Are not these bogus preachers like them? Do they not make themselves comfortable in this world? Do they not climb according to their abilities? Have I not given instances of their over-lording cruelty? Did they not covet my money? And do they not cast out of their fellowship those who do not take them at their own ridiculous valuation of themselves?
COUNSEL: If they do these things, then they have fallen away from the tramp preaching faith of 50 years ago, and have the spirit of religious establishment, if they do not have its forms. But so far they have been content to have their churches in men's homes—instead of laying heavy burdens on poor people's shoulders of building cathedrals, churches, chapels, universities. They have not yet begun to glorify the head at the expense of the soul by making preachers out of brain material: listening to lecturers in colleges dissecting God as an Ology, and giving them degrees of learning to feed in them what ought to be starved to death. They have not yet begun to wear distinctive clothing. or to walk in long robes like the scribes and, the Pharisees, of whom our Lord enquired: 'How can ye escape the damnation of hell?'
If I admit that tramp preachers have fallen away by becoming self-important; by trying to make themselves as indispensable as priests and clergymen; and like them claiming apostolic succession to give themselves religious power. If I admit that it was wrong for Wm. Irvine to have money to leave in a will (if your testimony about that was correct). If I say it was wrong for preachers to have a thousand dollars in their pockets, as you bring to their charge: will you he fair with me and admit that what is wrong on a small scale does not become right when done on a large scale?
WITNESS: I hope I would be willing to admit whatever is true.
COUNSEL: If I was to tell you that a London vicar made a name for himself by sitting out in the rain collecting money for charity; and dying before he could settle his affairs, left 30,000 pounds (unexpectedly by anybody); would that be as dreadful as Wm. Irvine leaving one or two thousand—after he had given the rest of it away in his lifetime? (If indeed he did leave it—of which so far there has been no proof given to me.) Would a vicar leaving thirty thousand be as culpable as an old ex-tramp preacher leaving one or two thousand?
WITNESS: I suppose he would; but vicars do not make a special virtue of poverty as tramp preachers do—or did.
COUNSEL: But tramp preachers never collected money from passersby, for charity or anything else. They never begged anything from anybody for any purpose whatsoever. Ought that not to be put to the credit side of their account?
WITNESS: They appeared to be deficient in their sympathies and compassions; and if they were moved to any kind of charity, they were careful to see that it kept well within the circle of their own fellowship.
COUNSEL: Among the charges that you bring against these preachers is that they organized themselves under a name or names. Was that wrong?
WITNESS: They did it to escape military duty in war-time.
COUNSEL: Was it any more wrong for them to organize than for any other body of people?
WITNESS: Their manner of life and teaching from their earliest days were against organization. They did not think the cause of Christ's righteousness and kingdom could be best served by any kind of denominational boundaries or barriers.
COUNSEL: Do you think they were right in that view of things? Or that they did wrong in changing from it?
WITNESS: If they went by what is written in one of the prophets about association and confederacy (Isaiah 8: 9) they ought to have kept to it, and not allowed themselves to be urged or driven into a religious corner where they had to conform to escape military service.
COUNSEL: Would you not say that these were the best reasons for remaining unorganized: When Jesus sent His apostles to preach the kingdom of God, He gave them three similitudes for their guidance. First they were to be the light of the world. Second they were to be the salt of the earth. And third they were to be like leaven: that is to say, Illumination, Savour, and Influence; and that to be as these, they could not do differently from their Lord?
WITNESS: But these men did do differently, and so separated themselves that they were like the sun in eclipse; like salt in a mine; and like yeast that never came in contact with flour.
COUNSEL: What light shines forth from your present Church? What savour of Christ does it have? And what is the kind or quality of its influence? Or to put it another way: Is there anything distinctly. Christian about religious services??—about theological education and training?—about marrying couples? or burying the dead?—or collecting millions of pounds to build and to repair what are called houses of worship? Perhaps you have not read this from the prophet Hosea: 'For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multi¬plied fenced cities; but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.' Holy houses, and military establishments! And are they not still among the chief concerns and preoccupations, not of little Israel only, but of the mighty Christian nations of the earth?
WITNESS: I cannot keep up with your questions; but where would we soon find ourselves apart from religion and defence?
COUNSEL: And where do we find ourselves with them, or in spite of them? Do we not appear to be heading for something more dreadful for the whole world than Hosea anticipated for the Israel of his time? And is not Science the fore-ordained executor of the will of Abaddon the Destroyer? And is not that angel appointed to be the balancer of world accounts?
WITNESS: These things are too much for me.
COUNSEL: They are too much for any man; but we are required to face them just the same.
ADDRESS TO THE JURY.
You have heard the evidence on both sides. You have had time and opportunity for reflection on it. You know that the Habeas Corpus Act was made null and void in the cases of some of the accused because they were in the custody of Death; and he has not yet any authority for delivering them up. That waits on what is called the sounding of the Last Trumpet.
Now first of all I want you to consider one of the greatest goods in the life of mankind almost from their beginnings on the earth: a good that if it had been withheld, imagination itself might be overwhelmed in the contemplation of the consequences of its withholding: I refer to the sending of unworldly men into a bewildered and self-corrupting world:
What miracle is this? What mystery,
That through the generations, Prophecy
Should for the torment, or the light of men
Loud thunder-roar, or hopeful shine again?
Who were the prophets? Wherefore did they come?
Were they but harbingers of coming doom?
Their rains and dews in gracious season fell;
But in the time of Judgment withering hail
Beat down the crops of ripe Iniquity;
And lightnings struck Respectability:
Who, walking with Idolatry and Pride,
The Law of Retribution had defied.
The prophets were the Soul's barometers,
And not the Intellect's comptometers.
They showed its movements, pressures, changes: these
Were their concern: and not Cosmologies.
They felt the inner movings of the times;
Were sensitive to spiritual climes;
And registered their heart-responsiveness
To every change. Let zephyr airs caress,
And gently stir the leaves on aspen trees
Of spiritual sensibilities.
Let hot winds from the hatred desert blow;
Let Friendship's roses in Love's garden grow;
Let Persecution's clouds upon them lower;
And Hail of Evil Speaking on them pour.
Let Powers of Darkness' vengeful lightnings flash;
And fearsome thunders on their spirits crash;
Let Change in all her variations come,
With promise: or in threatening forms of doom;
Yet do the men, of soul most sensitive,
By words God speaks, continue still to live.
* * * * *
Come forth Imagination! Fly away,
And view poetic deserts, where no ray
Of Light Prophetic ever shone to bless,
And fruitful make Time's Mankind Wilderness.
If prophets had not visions seen; nor wrote
The glory down; the ages could not quote,
As gems of Truth or Beauty, their account
Of what befell them on some holy mount:
'I saw the Lord upon His glory throne
And light supernal on it gleamed and shone;
And round about it flew the seraphim,
Singing their 'holy, holy, holy' praise to Him.
* * * * *
How many generations could survive
The ministry of Science? Or derive
The kind of nourishment their spirits need
From gadget comfort, luxury, or speed?
Is there not something in us which requires
To warm itself at spiritual fires?
Is there not need for great examples of
The heartening influences of God's love?
And is not Conflict needed? Not base wars
Provoked by Moloch, Mammon, Baal, or Mars:
Where flesh is torn, or blown to atoms when
False gods demand great sacrifice of men.
Call ye this war, where high explosive shells,
And bursting bombs, and scientific smells
As special modern attributes of death,
Descend, or rise from earth, to choke the breath
Out of the warriors, before they ever see
A distant prospect of the enemy?
Apostles, prophets, martyrs, teachers: these
Gave substance to the thought of centuries.
Without them, where would be the shining goals,
That would be worthy of perfected souls?
Without their providence, the ages would
Have starved for want of spiritual food.
Would sensitive earth dwellers be content
Without the azure star-filled firmament?
Apart from Beauty, would' Utility
Serve all our needs? Would we not wilt and die
Without the ministry of flowers and trees?
Of birds? and butterflies? and bees?
We need the mountains, plains, and vales, and hills:
The flowing rivers, and the rippling rills;
The changing seasons, and succeeding blooms,
From snowdrops to chrysanthemums; perfumes
In all their ranges of varieties,
To rouse from steep long-slumbering memories.
Men and women of the jury, I read this to you at a moment in history when both prophecy and preaching are on trial for their lives—as if Light and Heat were no longer needed in such a world as this has become—staggering-drunken under the influence of Science, Propaganda, and unspeakable Fear. Day and night, and without intermission, the earth is compassed by words. All the instrumentalities of communication have been drafted into the service of Illwill, Narrowness, Bigotry. Terror, Prejudice, Misunderstanding, Misrepresentation, and Deceit: as if the locusts of the Revelation had ascended from the Pit of Perdition, and were at work destroying all the good fruits of the hearts and minds of men. The earth is grievously afflicted with words: words that unlike those of the prophets, die almost as soon as they are born. And at such a time we are here to try dead men for the treason to the religious world of going forth to preach as Jesus seat His first ambassadors nineteen centuries before them. Not by a hard and fast law or rule, but in the spirit of that original sending.
They made themselves poor—not to be above the level of their. Master in their outward manner of life. They went without visible means of support, in the assurance of the promise that they would be fed and clothed. Some of them, like Peter after the crucifixion, went afishing. Some fell by the wayside through one weakness or another. Some became clergymen—by one ambition or another. They fell. They failed. They went on. They fainted on the desert way. Ten thousand things befell them. Hundreds of them finished their course, and left their bones in alien lands.
And now we are told that they were frauds—or dupes. All sorts of charges are brought against them; and religious passions are inflamed by rumour, innuendo, aspersion, suspicion, hearsay, slander. They are accused of dishonesty, of immorality, of money-love; and they cannot answer back or defend themselves, because they are in their graves.
Then we are told that they ceased to be tramp-preachers; that one of them in particular spent the last years of his life in a pleasant abode; that one of them lived and died under the delusion that he was ordained to become a man of power, and then to die as a malefactor. So we have dead men's characters exhumed and exposed to public execration—like Cromwell's corpse after the Restoration. Evidence that is no evidence is given against them; and witnesses are dragged out of old newspaper tombs to leer at them, and cock a snook at them, and wag their heads at them—as their relatives did nineteen centuries earlier.
It is not denied that there has been a falling away. It is not denied that by that falling away some of them became rulers—and even tyrants. But their falling away was an emulation of religious establishments which were before them. If it was wrong to become Overseers, and to exercise authority after the manner of the kings of the nations—instead of continuing to the end as brethren on the same low level of life as the weakest and the commonest of them: if that was wrong or unchristian: is it right to yoke up Archdeacons, and other hierarchs of Christendom, to investigate them? to throw mud at them? to dig bones out of graves? to try to chase them from the face of the earth?
Let us admit that religious power is a dangerous thing. Let us admit that bodily comfort seldom ministers to the discipline of the soul. Let us admit that Rosebud residences are not flattering to men whose former glory it was to be like those messengers on the mountains whose becoming glory was in their fleetness of foot in the bringing of good tidings. But let us be consistent, and say that Bishops' palaces are also somewhat removed from the Mount of Olives or the garden of Gethsemane--to which the common Master of Popes and Archbishops and tramp preachers resorted at night when no doors were open to Him.
I wondered if you have given enough thought to the seasonal need for the sending of poor men, uneducated men, common men, and men of no religious promise on special missions to religious men? Servants were sent to invite prosperous men to a feast: not only to hear them beg to be excused; but more important than that: to leave them without excuse. They were sent to receive fruits of a vineyard. They were sent as labourers into vineyards and harvest fields. They were sent as messengers; as ambassadors; as prophets and wise men and scribes. Commissions were given to them, and much was required of them. And the Sender of them was very exacting in His requirements: but less so of them than of Himself. First of all they were to be free: free in heart, and free in mind, and free in spirit: free inwardly, and then free outwardly. Free of all encumbrance of houses and lands. Free of worldly ambition with its prides and vainglories and ridiculous strivings to make the best of two worlds: "this one and that which is to come. They were to begin by saying a tremendous NO to a something the Sender called SELF. Then they were to symbolically carry a cross —that they might be kept in constant remembrance of the end of the road.
And if you men and women of the jury think that the denying of self was denying themselves of sugar in their tea, or even of the tea. If you think it was denying themselves of wives after the manner of priests, or of homes after the manner of the tramp preachers. If you reduce it down to that trivial and self-deceiving level, you need to think again.
And here I will quote from the second page of the prosecution's charges against Irvine and Co. It is put under Irvine's picture, and in heavier or darker print than the, rest of the indictment, for emphasis we may suppose:
"Who could have' told that ONE MAN shouting in a high-pitched voice, with dilated and quivering nostrils; transfixing his followers by the intensity of his speech, and the roaring of his voice. Who could have told that here was to be born--a tyranny more dreadful and devastating than any since Pagan rule? There is a power in spoken words we know, that is not in written ones. Hitler's Mein Kampf may have been more 'enlightening' to the 'German people; but his voice was more inflaming and without THAT VOICE there would hardly have been a second World War."
That is what I mean by SELF--the most dreadful and terrible and abominable thing known in this world. From earliest, times it has drenched the world in blood. It would set it afire to warm itself—or light its pipe. It's Genghis Khans.and Alexanders; its Caesars and Napoleons and Hitlers; its little tyrants of ten thousand kinds have expressed the SELF in them by cruel tyrannies ranging all the way up (or down) from donkey thumping and wife beating to Torquemada's fires and Hitler's concentration camps and gas chambers.
I—MY—ME—MINE. That is what I mean by SELF; and we do not have to look outside ourselves to see its ravages, its iniquities, its idolatries, and its abominations of pride and arrogance and graspingness. And in the indictment we were confronted by dishonesties, immoralities, and unbalanced mentalities, which, bad as they are, are like the small dust of the balance in comparison.
Now it may surprise you to learn that it was the Counsel for the defence who wrote what is quoted in the indictment. And it ought to shock you to know it was not written about the man under whose picture it appears in black type for his special damnation. Whatever may be said about the SELF in him after 1914, it was more to be pitied than advertised. The young Amalakite who brought news to David of the death of king Saul, appeared to think he would be applauded and rewarded as a bringer of good tidings; but he did not know the quality of the heart of the man before him, or he would have lived longer by keeping silent.
The Bible is a very dreadful book—in both its Testaments: dealing as it does with two worlds as different from each other as night and day; desert and fruitful field; cruelty and love; and as a raging and rampaging wild beast is from a little child smiling in its sleep.
And no teacher since the world began has been so exacting of the best in His disciples as He whom we call Saviour and Lord. And no preacher since the world began ever went out of the common course of life to stir up such angers against Himself: angers that could only be cooled by seeing Him dead on a cross. And no prophet since the world began could compare with Him in the visions He saw of an evil world's end; or in the language with which He described it. And no prophet or poet, preacher or teacher, priest or scribe, conqueror or king, ever spoke with such authority, or gave to words the exalted and eternal place He gave them, as when He said: 'Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away.'
And it was to glorify Him by how they lived and what they said that many hundreds of the most promising young men and women of these islands were willing to go to the ends of the earth as witnesses to Him forty to sixty years ago. We are told by the prosecution that they were dupes. They are represented as children without minds of their own, seduced or stolen from their parents. But they were strong and courageous children, who in counting the cost of the great enterprise or 'experiment' to which they gave themselves freely and gladly, did not think their lives too dear a price to pay for the privilege that was theirs. We are told that their fellowship was a war from its beginnings. Well, as this is my fifty-sixth year of acquaintance with them, my testimony ought to, be worth something; and I testify that it came as near to being a true brotherhood of united minds and hearts as anything since Pentecost: or at least as anything of which I have any knowledge. And if the world decline, that has been steadily gaining precipitation since 1914—after the manner of Gadarene swine rushing down a steep place towards the sea: if that decline also caught them in its rush, who can be surprised that they are now torn and divided? Or who can congratulate himself as a critical onlooker, that it never caught him or his?
I might quote to you from the Conclusion on the fourth page of the indictment. And I would have some right to quote from it, seeing that I wrote most of it: not as the bringing of charges against the people of my company from my youth, but as a lament in the tone of David's lamentation on hearing of the death of Saul and Jonathan: 'How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thy high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan. Very pleasant hast thou been unto me.'
It was I who saw the old man defendant Irvine in the city of Jerusalem, older then than I am now. At Capernaum we went swimming together in the Lake of Galilee. On Mount Cannel I listened to him reading from the prophecy of Isaiah; and remembering the light that once shone on his commentaries and interpretations, my heart was grieved for him and this is part of what I wrote as a lamentation over him:
What alien spirit on a great man came,
To drive to exile in Jerusalem?
What imp sits at our elbow, us to tell
We hold the keys that unlock heaven and hell?
What cataracts spread over eyes of seers:
That what was crystal clear, at length appears
Like muddy water, or like misty air,
Through which they peer, or gaze with glassy stare?
Distorted vision: is that something new
Beneath the sun? If flesh obscure the view,
Where glorious panoramas once were spread,
And 'light ne'er seen on land or sea' was shed:
Are we so pure of heart, that we can see
What weak flesh veils in dark obscurity?
Should we be hard upon the seer, who now
Sits on his mount apart with gloomy brow?
Should not our hearts he deeply moved for him,
As we look on his eyes grown weak and dim
Should we be hard? The wonder is, the man
Who in his earlier years so bravely ran,
Was not driven raving mad when he surveyed
His world of friendships falling round his head!
And youth, that has yet to prove itself, feels competent to sit in judgment on such a man as this! It would drag him from the nine-year embrace of his mother earth to hold him up to scorn and execration of the world he roared against in the days of his spiritual power. A modern Samson, with his eyes gone, is thought to be fit only to make sport for the religious Philistines of 1956!
Members of the jury: that is all I have to say; and it ought to be enough, if not to acquit the prisoners, living and dead, of the charges brought against them, at least to persuade you that you ought to withhold judgment until you yourselves have safely passed the Judgment Seat of Christ.
DRUMLELLUM, PORTADOWN, N. IRELAND
The Portadown News
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