D. M. Panton.


Our Lord stated one of the most practical truths by coining a wholly new phrase, never found before in Holy Writ, and never found in classical literature; and a phrase over which, perhaps most of all, the disciples anxiously brooded.  "And He said unto all, If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY" - not a cross of ivory or jet or gold dangling on the bosom, but rough, sharp-edged cross-beams - "and follow Me" (Luke 9: 23).  The anarchists of Finland took a minister of the Gospel, and cut a cross in his breast, rubbing in salt.  The Roman orator, Cicero, summarising the spirit of the world, gives exactly the contrary counsel: "Not only let the cross be absent from the person of Roman citizens, but its very name from their thoughts, eyes and ears."  Our Lord's picture is a very startling one.  Criminals on their way to crucifixion had to carry their own crosses; and the disciples must often have seen the long procession of murderers and rebels on their way to crucifixion.  Now the significance of the phrase is immense.  Jesus regards every follower of His as a potential martyr: for the only use of a cross is for crucifixion; we carry a cross, because Golgotha is the goal.  Simeon carrying a cross in the footsteps of the Lord is a photograph of God's design of a disciple.   It is extraordinarily beautiful.  Our Lord assumes the ideal for every believer; He takes it for granted that we are all capable of the highest; He supposes that every one of us wishes to follow Him up the very pinnacles of glory; and therefore He sees every disciple staggering under a cross-beam on the way to Golgotha.


But this truth is conditioned by a fact of the first importance.  Jesus says: "If any man would [is willing to] come after Me, let him" - for cross-bearing is entirely the doing of the man himself - "take up his cross" - a deliberate action of open-eyed choice - "daily" - for once joining that procession, we are never to fall out: it is not a great sacrifice made once for all, but a readiness to die for what we believe all the time - "and follow Me."  This reveals that the taking up of a cross is purely optional.  Our cross - for each has a cross peculiar to himself: "let him take up his cross" - is not something compulsory, but a thing of choice; it is not misfortune, or disease, or anything unavoidable that comes to us in the way of providence: it is something painful which, because Christ commands it or because Christ experienced it, we deliberately take upon ourselves; with our eyes wide open we lift the cross-beam, and fall into the procession, knowing that what we carry may cost us our lifeOur obedience must be, in will if not in event, an obedience unto death.


So a cross lies in each believer's pathway.  None of us needs to manufacture one: "there is enough wood in every man's forest to build all the crosses he will ever have to carry"; and they are always waiting at our feet.  We have a most remarkable example given by our Lord Himself.  Jesus said to the young ruler: "Take up thy cross, and follow Me" (Mark 10: 21).  And what was his cross? "Sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor."  The Lord supposes that we may flinch from our cross, may shirk it, may walk around it; for He says elsewhere, "He that doth not take his cross and follow after Me is [not lost, but] not worthy of Me" (Matt. 10: 38).  "I shudder," Fenelon wrote to a friend, "at the mere shadow of the cross."  But in the admirable words of Archbishop Tillotson: "He that cannot take up a resolve to live as a saint, has a proof within himself that he is never like to die as a martyr."  Said an old mystic: "Never run after a cross, and never run away from one."


Now it is profitable to ponder why we should take up our cross cheerfully, buoyantly, courageously, joyously.  "let us therefore go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach" (Heb. 13: 13).  For (1) religion must prove its sincerity by its martyrs.  John Witherspoon, in a crisis of American history, said: "Although these grey hairs must soon descend into the sepulchre, I would infinitely rather they should descend thither by the hand of the public executioner than desert at this crisis the sacred cause of my country": it was these words that the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the United States was born.  The rough, jagged edges of the cross cut into the 'flesh.'  The humiliating ritual; the doctrine which at once involves unpopularity; the loneliness which only compromise can avoid; the practice which at once costs - in purse, in reputation, in health, perhaps life; the impossible attitude (as the world regards it) into which loyalty to the Word of God forces us: it is in our cross that the world sees Christ.  A company of unbelievers once followed on of their number to the grave.  On the bier was a cross.  Someone reproved them for their inconsistency; but they answered, "No; the cross stands for all that is noblest in manhood."


Again (2) the Via Dolorosa is the highway of holiness.  "There is no independence upon earth so strong," says Bishop Moule, "and so nobly strong, as that of a Christian who wills to be Christ's servant. There is a power and presence in such a life, be it the poorest and the simplest, which in these days, as in days long gone, can attract more than wonder from those who may least betray the feeling.  For what is it but a breath of the victorious martyr-spirit, the spirit in which seventeen centuries ago Polycarp stood invincibly superior before the heathen world and the cruel flame?"


The shadow rend.

And o'er us bend.

O martyrs with your crowns and palms;

Breathe through these things

Your battle-songs,

Your scaffold prayers, and dungeon psalms!


Again (3) generations yet to come are depending on our fidelity. When we walk on coral rocks our steps are made sure by the depths of countless fossil millions: so today we ourselves are treading on the laid-down lives of the noble dead; and souls not yet born again are depending on our death-in-life as the dust of their highway to God.  A Church-house in Japan was built partly of stones which were once cast at the missionaries by an infuriated mob: these missiles of destruction the Christians preserved to construct a house for the glory of God.  As an early Puritan at home wrote to the 'Mayflower' emigrants in the midst of their sufferings: "Let it not be grievous unto you that you have been instrumental to break the ice for others. The honour shall be yours to the world's end."


Again (4) the doctrine of a lifted cross counterbalances the danger of an unbalanced statement of the doctrine of grace.  The Roman Church takes up the cross in order to be saved; we because we are saved: Rome works towards salvation; we work from salvation, towards glory.  Nevertheless the enormous Roman martyr-roll speaks to the wise heart.  The Société des Missions Êvangéliques de Paris sent out an appeal for a self-denial week.  It was accompanied by an extract from a letter of M. Wilfred Monod running thus: "How is it that Protestants have produced on a man like Père Gratry, the impression which he formulates as follows? 'Protestantism is, in essence, the abolition of sacrifice.  To abolish mortification, abstinence and fasting; to abolish the necessity of good works, effort, struggle, virtue; to shut up sacrifice in Jesus alone and not let it pass to us; no more to say, as St. Paul did:  'I fill up that which is wanting in the sufferings of Christ,' but rather to say to Jesus on His Cross, 'Suffer alone, O Lord' - there is Protestantism."  We know that this is not true; yet no one can live in the heart of Evangelicalism without a profound discomfort over the truth that is in it.  In Christ's conception the Christian is a man with something to die for; and the man who has nothing worth dying for has nothing worth living for.  Martyrdom may be life long, or it may be consummated in an instant; but in every case it is the essence of Christianity, and the only legitimate meaning of the cross.


Again (5) no cross, NO CROWN.  The sorrow into which the cross plunges us in the furnace in which our crown is forged. "Were the felicities of the next world as closely apprehended as the felicities of this, it were a martyrdom to live" (Sir Thomas Browne).  No sooner had Jesus spoken of His crucifixion, and then of each disciple following with a cross, that we read: "the fashion of His countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and dazzling."  It is a saying of profound truth - carry the cross, and you will find it will carry you.  It is the path into the glory.


So, in an ever-deepening crisis of the world's history, let us shoulder our cross strongly, buoyantly, joyously.  A draft was to be taken from an American regiment when transport was too limited for all to cross the Atlantic; and lots were cast by putting as many papers into a hat, and crosses were marked on as many papers as the men to be taken.  "If ever I prayed in my life," one lad wrote to his father, "I prayed today that I might draw a cross."  May God save us from failing Him in the great crisis!  The rally of the Serbians, when they routed the Austrians, was due to one fact.  King Peter was an old man over seventy, and crippled with gout; but he went to the front at a desperate moment, and, addressing the men, he said: "Heroes, you have taken two oaths, one to me, your King, and the other to your country.  I am an old, broken man on the edge of the grave, and I release you from your oath to me.  From your other oath no one can release you.  If you feel that you cannot go on, go to your homes, and I pledge my word that after the war, if we come out of it, nothing shall happen to you.  But I and my sons stay here."  The summons felt like an electric shock; not a man moved; and the Austrians were rolled back in broken and routed legions.




Saviour, in Thy love abiding,

Fearing naught by day or night,

In Thy promise simply resting,

Knowing Thou wilt lead aright;


Safe and happy, cleansed and pardoned,

Wholly lord, for ever Thine,

Closer draw me - never leave me,

All to Thee I now resign.


Keep me in the part of duty,

Thine is such a rich REWARD,

Fearless help ME face the conflict

In the armour of the Lord.


Powers of darkness would deter me,

Turn me back, my way impede,

In Thy love, O Lord, abiding,

Ever for me intercede.


Keep me daily, hourly, trusting,

May my life more fragrant be,

When the mists of doubt encompass,

With Thy might, Lord, STRENGTHEN ME.


Soon life's trials will be over,

Soon life's cares for ever cease,

No more sorrow, no more sadness,

Only then Thy perfect peace.


Ever watching for Thy coming,

Ever prayerful would I be,

Waiting for Thy glorious Advent,

Waiting, Lord, Thy face to see.


Keep me in Thy peace, Lord Jesus,

Hold me to Thy heart of love.

And when earthly cares are over,

Grant Thy promised rest above.

                    - Doris Goreman.



Must I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease?


And sailed through bloody seas.


Since I MUST fight if I would reign,

Increase my courage Lord!

I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,

Supported by Thy Word.


Are there no foes for me to face,

Must I not stem the flood?

Is this vile world a friend of grace,

To help me unto God?


To gain that PRIZE I towards that goal will struggle

Which God has set before.

To gain that prize 'gainst sin and death I'll battle

and with the world make war.


And if it brings me here but shame and troubles,

And scorn, if pain life fills.

Yet seek I nothing of Earth's empty baubles,

My God alone my longing fills.


To gain that prize, to reach that CROWN I'm pressing,

Which Christ doth ready hold.

I mean His great REWARD to be possessing,

His booty for the bold.


I will not rest, no weariness shall stay me,

To hasten home is best.

Where I some day in peace and joy shall lay me,

Upon my Saviour's heart and rest.


O happy band of pilgrims, look upward to the skies,

Where such a light affliction,