THE AUTHOR OF THE SPANISH BROTHERS
EARLY YEARS IN DUBLIN
HAPPY as were the relations between the Pastor and his flock at St. Barnabas, Mr. Alcock never felt settled there. His heart turned wilfully to "Ould Ireland," and just four years after his coming to Douglas he received a unanimous and urgent call from the Trustees of a district church in Dublin, known as "Bethesda," since the appointment went with the chaplaincy of the adjoining Bethesda Orphanage. His people in Mona, while deeply feeling what the loss would be to themselves, felt they ought not to try to hold him back. Loaded with blessings from those whom God had blessed for ever through him, he went away. His congregation got up a handsome testimonial for him, but this came to his ears, and he begged that the money might be given instead to clear the debt still remaining on the church and the day-schools attached. This was done, to the last penny. Out of the sheaf of testimonies of love, I may quote one, written to Miss Alcock after her father’s death by a brother clergyman of the Island.
He was not only such a holy man, but so highly gifted. His sermons were of marvellous power: I have not heard the like since. And then — you will pardon me? — that dear face, so very full of expression, so loving, so peaceful and calm, I shall never forget. I have him in my mind’s eye, as the day I last saw him.
His daughter writes: —
It must be added that the countenance, as well as the character, combined a peculiar strength and dignity with the gentleness and loving-kindness so tenderly remembered. His was not only the spirit of love, but pre-eminently also the spirit of power and of a sound mind. He could be stern in condemning and exposing evil, and at the same time full of gentlest compassion for the evil-doer. Had he not been so universally revered, he would not have been at the same time so intensely — we may say with truth so passionately — beloved.
And without these qualities we should not find — as I do in going through packet after packet of testimonies preserved by his daughter — that he won this love even more from men than from women. His pastoral friendship was a rarer blessing to a man facing the rough world than it could be to a sheltered woman: it had a woman’s tenderness, with the fibre and experience of a man.
He needed all his powers for the task before him. His predecessor, the Rev. W. H. Krause, had preached what was called "Particular Redemption." "Though in accuracy it ought to have been ‘Particular Atonement,’ " Miss Alcock writes. She continues: —
"The doctrine," as it was called, was that the atoning death of Christ was for the elect only, and not "a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." His successor was, and always continued to be, a moderate Calvinist; but he preached in all its glorious freedom and fullness the Gospel — the Good News of the love of God to every human creature — the message of mercy to a lost world. He struck the keynote in his first sermon when he said "Bethesda means ‘House of Mercy’ — and a house of mercy this is, and shall be, by the grace of God, to every sinner that enters its doors."
It would be difficult now to believe the amount of opposition and bitter feeling evoked and evinced in consequence of these words . . . Through all the storm that followed, the Pastor was kept in perfect peace. None of the depression which had beset him in former changes touched him now. Never once did he utter a harsh or uncharitable word of any of his opponents. When others condemned them he would always find something to say in their defence. For instance, it was once said that "They who hold these views narrow the channel of Christian love." "We may believe that at the same time they deepen its current," he answered. He had his reward. Many who at first opposed him bitterly became his staunch adherents — some his personal friends. Even those who sought elsewhere the teaching they desired (as they were fully justified in doing) could not withhold their tribute of admiration for his personal holiness and devotion.
Among those who remained were many who had chafed against the exclusive element in Mr. Krause’s teaching: these included the Trustees by whom Mr. Alcock had been called to the chaplaincy unconditionally.
But those who left were among the wealthy, and in a Voluntary church this could not but cause anxiety to the authorities, especially in regard to the local position of Bethesda. The church accommodation of Dublin, especially on the north side, was far in excess of the Protestant population, which, moreover, was yearly diminishing, as the current of fashion set strongly towards the southern district.
The "proprietary" chapels of Dublin had been called into existence by the Evangelical Revival, which wakened a desire for more directly spiritual teaching than could then be generally found in the parish churches. But the increase of religious earnestness reacted on those churches, and diminished the need for Voluntary ones. Quite near to Bethesda, the celebrated "John Gregg" was preaching to overflowing congregations. Without the adherents of Mr. Krause, who came from all parts, the church had no natural congregation to fill its ample pews. But filled they were, and the many pecuniary responsibilities, including the Orphan Institution, were well maintained.
At the first Mr. Alcock met the situation by insisting that his own salary of £400 should be reduced in proportion, which meant for a time a loss of £150 a year. When called, he was offered £100 more than had been raised for Mr. Krause. Within a comparatively short time — perhaps two or three years — the reduction was gradually made up; but the pastor having taken a house suitable to his position, and to the means expected, his family had to practise careful economy in other things. By this time the girls had each an allowance of one shilling a week, out of which they had to find their own gloves, postage, stationery and "little things," which alas! included the white quilled borders worn inside the bonnet then — a heavy item! Mr. Alcock gave them each a sovereign at Christmas, and "Aunt Sally" gave thirty shillings. Debbie spent little on postage, but writing-paper was dear then.
The Bethesda controversy must have been an utterly new experience to Debbie, and deeply felt. At last, Real Life struck home to her through her father. As George Eliot says of her heroine, "Esther," "Her intensest life was no longer in her dreams, where she made things to her own mind: she was moving in a world charged with forces." And these forces buffeted the one she loved supremely. But the joy of seeing how nobly he bore himself was greater than the pain of the conflict. All through her stories one can trace the touch of one who knows something of the world as men know it, and has seen, too, how a man of God can tread down the burning ashes on its path unscathed. We may owe many a touch of high-minded honour, and tender, Christian grace in her characters, to the Bethesda episode. And by some of those conscientiously fierce supporters of Mr. Krause, she may have been learning unconsciously how to paint the conscientious persecutors of the Past.
As to the doctrine around which the battle raged — as she observes, that "controversy is now defunct," — so very few remain who hold it, and even they are dying out. The last extract to be given from her own record of her childish thoughts relates to her father’s view.
My first childish wrestle with Calvinism I remember all these years — I suppose because it brought what of all things I most disliked — a "No," though a very gentle one, from my father’s lips. My father, who questioned me sometimes, though not often, asked me one day what was meant by Election. I had really been thinking on the subject, so I answered slowly, deliberately, and with an air of conviction, "God knows beforehand those who will come to Him, so He chooses them."
"No," said my father, "that is not right." And then I first heard the well-known Calvinistic formula, "Chosen, not for anything God knew or foreknew in them." I fear my father’s non-approval of my sentiments gave me more concern than the loss of what I had thought a very good solution of a real difficulty.
All which made him a Calvinist might be summed up in one Scripture verse, "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee. I do not doubt that this is, and has been the case with a multitude of others, and that it partly accounts for the fact that although Calvinism, looked at from the outside, presents features that are hard and repellent, not to say repulsive, it has yet been the creed not only of a host of the strongest, purest and noblest men and women that the Church and the world have ever seen, but of thousands of the gentlest and most loving-hearted. To the man or the woman, God has "appeared" — shown Himself; and henceforward it is "I," and "Thee." We two in the whole universe — the Eternal, Infinite God, and me — worm of the dust, crushed before the moth, and yet a living soul — a "person" — "known of Him, chosen by Him before the foundation of the world — ay, and loved! Think of the awful sublimity and yet the infinite sweetness of that thought! His love is everlasting, like Himself: it cannot change. This magnificent gift is mine, mine, mine forever — my ray of love out of the Infinite!
And the proof that this "share in His Love" is indeed for me and none other — is the loving-kindness which has drawn my heart to Him, and makes me — faintly and feebly indeed, yet with all I have to give — love Him because He first loved me. Was it any wonder that this — in the Reformation age at least — was pre-eminently the creed of the martyrs, and that, rejoicing in that everlasting love with joy unspeakable and full of glory, they could face the worst that fiends and fiend-like men could do to them
With a light laugh,
And clasp the burning robe round, thanking God?
True, there is another side to this. "Where there is strong light, there is deep shadow": What of the not-elected? How the most benevolent and tender-hearted men and women kept this out of their thoughts — how my own father did — was for long years a mystery to me; but I partly understand it now. His love to God was so trustful and so intense, he was sure that all God did must be right and loving; and he knew that as yet we can but very imperfectly understand His dealings. He whom his soul loved had whispered to his heart "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shall know hereafter."
Those words were written more than fifty years after the Bethesda controversy. We shall have to return again to the solemn subject, but to trace the gradual development of Deborah’s own mind, we must pause here for a little picture of herself at seventeen, and her outward as well as inward life during the next few years. First comes a letter from her proud and happy grandmother to the stepmother: —
From Mrs. Innes to Mrs. Alcock.
. . . With regard to Debby, I do find her greatly improved, in fact I do not think I at all knew her before this visit, at least since her childhood. When she was here last, I had, before she left me, become so deaf that I could with difficulty hear a word from her. But, besides the removal of this impediment to our communication, I find she is now a great deal less reserved, to others as well as to me — that she joins in conversation much more freely, and when we are alone I find her a most entertaining companion. We discuss books and all sorts of things, in a way that proves to me that she has read much and reflected on whatever she has studied, while she seems to have quite got rid of some of her old prejudices, and the excitement which used to attend her remarks on historical events. In writing, she appears to have considerable command of language, and I would be rather tempted to encourage her taste for composing tales in prose, in which time and practice might hereafter enable her to produce something worth publishing. But of all this you will be the best judge when she lays the fruit of her pen before you. She is still awkward and unhandy, and I fear will always be so, in some degree, but she sees it herself, confesses it with much grace, and does all she can to amend her little defects. In summing up, I can only say that I think her most amiable, and would be very sorry to exchange her for many that appear far more perfect.
The "excitement" referred to was hardly lessened, but no doubt was better controlled. The wisdom of encouraging writing in prose seems obvious, for a girl whose ear was so deficient — none of her early verses which I have seen will scan. Yet her own heart turned to the verse she so loved to read and hear.
With the return to Dublin, Mary had come back, to Debbie’s great joy, and the Game with her — but no longer with "wild disregard of the facts of history and the possibilities of life." Debbie read up the subjects diligently. The girls were expected to spend several hours a day at plain sewing, and the Game went on all the time, if they could get a room to themselves. No objection was made to their sitting in their own large, pleasant bedroom at the top of the house winter and summer without a fire! Unfortunately they lost little warmth by this, for in Mrs. Alcock’s home, where probably the dining-room was hardly used except for meals, it was the rule of the house to bank the dining-room fire after breakfast and leave it untouched till just before the three o’clock dinner. This rule she kept up at 39, Eccles Street, Dublin, where the dining-room was the general sitting-room — the drawing-room being usually kept for company — and this through the bitterly cold Dublin winters, not seeing what suffering it meant to the daughter whom she loved with ever-increasing love. The father, living in his study, did not notice it; and in those days there was a common idea that it was not good for young people to sit over the fire.
Debbie cared little while life — real life and dream life — were quick with living interest; none the less her health was being undermined.
In Dublin she began to make friends of her own. One of the leading supporters of Bethesda was the venerable Arthur Guinness, head of the great firm which gives the name to "Guinness’ Stout." In Ireland, this was then considered an enterprise in favour of temperance, as stout was so very much less intoxicating than "the craythur."
He died not long after Mr. Alcock’s coming, and his place was taken by his son Benjamin — afterwards Sir Benjamin Guinness, whose only daughter formed a friendship with Deborah uninterrupted till her death.
From the first, Mrs. Alcock had a class for young women, which her daughter was always thankful to have attended. "Mama was an admirable teacher," she said. "She taught me how to teach by questioning. It is so much easier to talk straight on yourself. She questioned; and what is more, she could give leading questions that would suggest the answer. She used to say that every question ought to be so put that no girl who knew the answer could have any doubt of its being the right one."
Mr. Alcock had a class on Fridays for young ladies, who soon numbered about one hundred. In course of time Debbie had one for the younger children of gentle people — boys and girls together, ranging in age from about nine to fourteen or fifteen. One of her pupils was a little "Charlie," now Sir Charles Ball, a physician at the head of his profession in Dublin. His teacher remembered his answer when she asked the class of about thirty if they knew what a mummy was. "A person put in pickle," he said promptly. He was a younger brother of Sir Robert Ball, the great astronomer.
Another pupil, who came in later years, was John Baptist Crozier, the present Primate of All Ireland. In 1912 Miss Alcock renewed the acquaintance by sending him a copy of the Church Gazette, containing her sketch of her father’s life, and had the great pleasure of receiving the following reply —
MY DEAR MISS ALCOCK, —
So many thanks for sending me that delightful sketch of your beloved father’s life, which I have read with the deepest pleasure. I remember him so well in Bethesda, and how my dear father and mother prized and profited by his preaching. I was about twelve years of age when my dear brother MeryV, and I joined your Friday class, and we loved it much. I still vividly remember your teaching.
Then we all delighted in your books, The Spanish Brothers and so on, especially, in later years, The Czar.
May the Maker’s best blessing rest upon you now and always, and an abundant entrance be granted you into the Home above.
Kilkenny religious life has been influenced with an abiding influence by your father and Peter Roe, as I knew when I was Bishop of Ossory.
Your affectionate old pupil,
JOHN B. ARMAGH.
In one of her earliest letters to me Miss Alcock said that her outward life had been so uneventful — if she were required to tell its story, it would be marked, she thought, by the books which had influenced her. Somewhere about the end of the first year in Dublin, one of these landmarks came. A friend lent either her or Mrs. Alcock Kingsley’s Alton Locke. Debbie took it up and was spellbound at the first pages. Here were the very questions which had wrung her own soul, described in the experience related of a boy more lonely than herself, in a back street of London. The wonder was to find such thoughts in the heart of one who now from his soul adored the Lord Christ. As she read on, a new world opened before her — the dreadful underworld where toilers sweat — and she saw how she had
Sat in a cloud and sung, like pictured angels
. . . while right below
Mildews the black, fermenting heap of griefs
Whereon the state was built.
She saw the tragedy of common human life, and yet the glory, the charm of it, wherever Love comes in.
Then came Mrs. Alcock, picked up the book, read a few pages, and in a blaze of honest indignation packed it off, out of the house. She said it was "setting class against class." Debbie was silent, but thought to herself, "No, he is trying to bring the classes together — to make them understand one another — not to drive them apart."
The book was gone, but nothing could take away the clues to human life that it had given her. Bethesda, being a district church, had no parish; she had no opportunity of visiting even the Protestant poor. The picture of suffering that Alton Locke had given was new and appalling to her. In her old age she said, "Alton Locke is a very young book. Young people are always in extremes — and why? Because they have not the knowledge which balances the case. Alton Locke is full of one quality belonging to the young — the noble young: it is the passion against wrong." She gave, as an instance, how "A generation of us grew up with a passion against the crimes of the French Revolution." She had come to see that even those crimes — putting to death with as little pain as possible by the guillotine — were light indeed, weighed against the horrible suffering inflicted by the cruel oppressions which it stopped. Yet deeper far than the social question came the eternal one brought forward. Could the doctrines of future punishment in which she had been reared be false? She put the thought from her.
I asked her once if it was through Kingsley that she learned not to fear that enjoyment must be wrong. "No," she said. "Not then. I read him and fought with him, though I loved him. I fought with him point by point, and loved him — oh! how I loved him! — all the time."
The following letter, written in 1877, to Miss Scott Moncrieff, a very dear and valued friend of later years, is inserted here as showing something of the conflict she passed through in regard to future punishment, and where she rested, from about this time up to the year 1886, when her opinions may be said to have developed and crystallized rather than changed. It is written after reading the Life of Norman Macleod, and begins:
I know not when we have all enjoyed a book so much. I wish that book had come into my hands fifteen or twenty years ago. I think it would have saved me much dumb conflict and misery. . . . But there are battles which every one must fight out alone. On one of these (one which I love him in my heart for having had to fight, and upon which his experience most helps me) I have gone through the agony step by step, drunk the bitter cup drop by drop, prayed over it.
With deep sobs when passion’s course was free,
And with mute lips I’ the anguish none could see.
I need not explain that I mean the problem of the everlasting destiny of so many of our race. On this subject, I almost regret that the biographer gave some of his speculations to the world, lest the theory he suggests should encourage the disloyal to Revelation, and "offend" the loyal, who are pretty afraid of going one step beyond what the Lord hath revealed, "to say less or more." But I thank him for letting us out of the struggle, although personally I feel as if "The burden has fallen from me; it is cast into the sea." Perhaps partly because intense feeling wears itself out; there may be things which you "know in yourself" you never can live through in the same way again. But, I hope, more because I can — at least I think I can — leave the souls of my brethren and sisters where I leave my own, with Him Who died for them. "This kind goeth not out, save at His feet." I do not know why I have written all this today, but I do know that this difficulty outweighs all other difficulties of Revelation to my thinking.
In the same letter Miss Alcock says, "He seems all his life to keep so close to Christ, and it helps wonderfully to find that one can do that with not only ‘a mind to blend with outward life,’ but, what perhaps is harder, a mind to enjoy poetry, fiction, fun — even to create in these departments, and to answer all the demands upon heart, brain and hands of a life full to the brim."
Evidently, even then, at the age of forty-two, she felt the need of help to realize that things delightsome need not separate us from the love of Christ. This shows up the weak point in her training; is not the weak point of the present day in the opposite direction — to leave out the duty and the joy of sacrifice?
A few months after Miss Alcock’s death, I received a letter with a description of her father’s preaching in Bethesda, and of its influence on some of his hearers; and after much hesitation, I feel that a part of it ought to be given here.
The Rev. John Alcock’s preaching dwelt with tremendous force upon the consequences of going out of this life unsaved. Among his hearers were not a few young men, and of these — one group in particular — men searching after truths to be held on conviction, not secondhand. That terror in the Hereafter was made real and personal to them by the emotional and dramatic ability of the great preacher. Sunday after Sunday he attracted crowds to his large Dublin church by his powerful sermons. He preached with an extremity of entreaty, lent by his complete conviction of the eternal issues hanging on our smallest words. Dramatically, it was even more poignant than the Greek idea of the pursuing Furies ; and on the lips of a great orator, it became almost overwhelming. He used each chord of emotion, but always to the same end — awe. Thirty years after, one of that group could repeat his very tone and gestures. "Occupy till I come" was the text of one sermon which impressed him unforgettably.
Visitors to Bethesda would tell how the old sexton used to say, "Mr. Alcock, sir, is a great tragedian," and add "So he was." Thus to that group of thinkers the doctrine of eternal suffering in hell was made no mere conception, lightly held, and but half comprehended.
To them it seemed a blasphemy of the Father’s love; and bitterly they felt what appeared to them the unconscious hypocrisy of those who could profess a religion where "Perfect love was so compound with fear." Few now can realize the full horror of that conception of hell which terrorized the minds of two generations back.
But the fibre of a more intense courage and endurance than we know today was there. The way of life was narrow — few could enter in; suffering was man’s appointed lot. . . . We shudder at the darkness of their belief; we forget to envy them their intense and personal faith in the personal presence and power of God, their loving and ever-living Father. It was this faith which in Miss Alcock overcame the monotone of her surroundings."
The names of this group of thinkers were given in confidence. Personally, I knew none of them, but there were two — men who rose to posts of some distinction — whose after course had been described to me by one who knew it well. Both had profoundly what would be called "the religious temperament," the instinct for worship, the reaching out into the Unseen, and with it a spark of genius. They were unusually fitted to lead, to inspire others in the pathway of righteousness and faith. Both lived and died agnostics, their lives unusually pure, holy and benevolent in practice, but in belief owning no dependence on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, although it was by the moral standard of His law, taught by His servants, that their own principles were formed. And it was the awful conviction, forced on them by Mr. Alcock’s overwhelming earnestness, that the doctrine of eternal torment was an integral part of Christianity, that drove them away from Christ.
Miss Alcock never knew this; but by the number of similar cases that she did know, within her own comparatively small experience, she felt there must be hundreds of thousands kept from the Light of Life by the same barrier. What is perhaps even more serious in the present day, so very many teachers feel it impossible to preach that view, though not seeing their way to disown it altogether, that in the modern pulpit "Judgment to come" is left out, with the gravest consequences. Our Lord and His Apostles preached forgiving love, but they never left out the wrath to come. I take exception to one passage in the letter quoted above, the one which says that Mr. Alcock "preached with an extremity of entreaty, lent by his complete conviction of the eternal issues hanging on our smallest words." If this is meant to imply that such entreaty is bound up with his belief in an eternity of torment, the present generation can point to many a preacher as earnest, as pleading, who does not hold that view. This is not the place to give a list of names, but I may just mention the well-known instance of Canon Hay Aitken, the founder of "missions" in churches, and a mighty soul-winner.
While her father lived, Miss Alcock never allowed herself to think she did not accept his view. "Although," she said, in her usual quaint way, "I believe I was like my countryman who said, ‘There’s fifty bushels of wheat on that floor; but I expect when I come to count them, I’ll find it’s only forty they are.’ Every one finds some way out of it; they put it from them, or they could not live."
What these suffer who cannot do this, men like the Rev. John Alcock know. His friend, and his daughter’s, the Rev. Christopher Eades, describes hearing him preach on the Rich Man and Lazarus.
I heard a sermon of your father’s, just two years ago, on that parable (?), on which, oh, that I could model all my own! The pulpit, the whole woodwork of the building, seemed to tremble under the power of it (Isa. VI. 4). Is not impressive preaching better than instructive?
Yet, after all, what he preached was in practice only the solemn truth, that those who deliberately go counter to the Law of God must inevitably bring upon themselves consequences inconceivably awful. Eternity is beyond our power to grasp. To him, as to so many of us, it then appeared that the doctrine he taught was bound up with the authority of Holy Scripture, the revealed word of God, and there was no question as to the choice between the two, we must leave the vast Unknown, Unthinkable, and hold fast to the truth by which we have to live and die. There Deborah took her stand for more than thirty years, fearing, as she writes to Miss Moncrieff, anything that would be "disloyal to Revelation." Where she landed finally must be told when the time comes; her position cannot quite be described under either of the three terms in use: "Orthodox," so called; "Conditional Immortality," perhaps better expressed in Mr. White’s own term, "Eternal life in Christ only"; and "Universal Restitution." She has passed from earth without being able to make her own confession of faith, as she had intended, and she left it to me, as a sacred trust, to make it known. I hope the various papers in my hands will prove sufficient to give it clearly; if not, I have notes enough to complete them. Her memoir is not the place in which to enter fully into so vast a question, but no record of her life could be complete or honest if this question, so constantly before her mind, were left out of it.
Perhaps this may be the right place in which to say that although neither of us ever named to the other the possibility of a memoir of her being written, I think she had it in her mind that it would have to be done, and by my hand, if I survived her, as I always prayed I might. And on several matters of faith or fact where she was particularly careful to tell me very clearly what she held or felt herself, and longed for others to believe or know, I feel directly responsible to her for making them a part of her life story. One of these is her father’s influence; another, this dread question of the Future; another, the joys and pains, the duties and the highest ideal of the imaginative author’s life and work. If I dwell upon this last in a manner tedious to the general reader, may I plead how little has ever been written for imaginative writers, from the Christian standpoint of Whole Consecration? Frances Havergal made that her aim indeed; but she had so very little of conflict or temptation, compared with Deborah Alcock’s!
The letter quoted alludes to "the monotone of her surroundings." But viewed from within, her life was full of strong colour — father, mother and girls all passionately in earnest in their different vocations. The glory of the Past glowed in it, making "glorious riot" in the Game — Gustavus Adolphus and that singularly noble figure, John Frederic Elector of Saxony, playing their parts on battlefield, in diet or in prison, before the youthful ladies as they sat and sewed. And behind their glowing lights, to Debbie there crouched and quivered still the black shadow of a darkness she could never pierce, over the edge of the world. She was always climbing up there and looking over — into What? Her feeling was not negation — rather a sense of the untold devastation and anguish it would be if her faith were groundless, an agony to get hold of something that her hand could clutch. She looked out into the starry heavens and felt with Pascal: "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me," gazing, with our modern knowledge, into spaces infinitely more vast than Pascal knew: —
Looking away from the Known to the Unknown, from the seen to the Unseen. But whither? and to Whom?
There we stop. Or rather, there I stop — the "I" that represents each one of us — a lonely, trembling human soul, awfully conscious of itself, awfully conscious, too, of the Eternities and Immensities around it. And out of the depths I call, with all the passion of that human cry which sends its ringing sound through all creation, "Is there anyone to hear? Any to answer?"
There is! there is. It is no dream, no illusion. From out the Eternities and Immensities — nay, from beyond them — through the immeasurable space, the Infinite Silence, a Word has come! But again we cry, "In what language? What speech is there, common at once to the Infinite and us, that we may understand it?" And the answer must be "There is none — no speech nor language; it is non-existent."
Therefore the Word of God to us must be not like our words, the sign of a thing, but the thing itself. Coming from the Source of Life, it would be a living thing; coming from the Source of Thought, it would be a thought — and not a thought expressed only — a thought embodied. This Word must partake of the human, or man could not receive it; it must also partake of the Divine, or God could not speak through it.
Such a Word from God, we claim to have. For "The Word was made flesh," and "The Word was God."
These are Miss Alcock’s own words, taken from an unfinished MS., written at intervals during the last two or three years of her life. The pilgrim, who had been learning all through the long years what Christ can be, in her old age took up her pen to write an answer to the girl who had cried out in her agony, alone — and not to her only — to the generation who cry out now, with the same old questions in a new garb. Whether it is possible for me to fill up the gaps in this MS. from memory I cannot yet tell; the present task claims precedence. If it is, the little book will be called by the name she gave it — The Silence and the Word.
VII. GROWTH, AND RENUNCIATION
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