The ideal of God for every servant of His is a heart that absorbs. His whole truth, and a mind that passes on to others all the truths that it knows.  This divine ideal is difficult and costly, as every minister knows; but the Holy Spirit is behind it with infinite power.  At Chicago Mr. Moody once held a Dissatisfaction Meeting for all pastors and churches who were not satisfied with their spiritual attainments: and it was said to be overshadowed by the presence of God as few assemblies have been since the day of Pentecost.




The first fact we learn  is that God expects such knowledge in every Christian - after a time - as to sufficiently equip him for teaching others.  “Ye ought to be teachers” (Heb. 5: 12).  The principles in this are of tremendous importance: they reveal the expectations of God concerning each one of us.  First - God expects us to pass on all we get, and He expects us all to do it. “Ye” – all – “ought to he teachers” - of others.  Someone is waiting to be taught by you.  Secondly - our teaching capacity is exactly measured by what we have learned: if the rudiments of the Gospel are all we know, or believe, or love, we cannot be teachers - we are still in the infant class, when we ought to be standing at the teacher’s desk.  “Ye ought to be teachers, (but) ye have need that one teach you  Thirdly - God expects progress exactly measured by the number of years since our conversion.  “When by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers  One night when General Gordon, of Chinese fame, was assisting in a Manchester ragged school, when the lads had been more than usually troublesome, the city missionary remarked that Gordon would never receive the praise of men for such work as for his achievements in China.  “My dear fellow,” said Gordon, “if I can be the means of leading one of these lads to the Saviour’s feet I shall esteem that the greatest trophy of my life, and to hear the Master say by and by, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me,’ will be to me an undying honour




Now what is the practical fact with which the Apostle presents us? “Ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God  Why? Because “everyone that partaketh of milk” - that is, lives on a milk diet – “is without experience in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe  Here is a case of arrested development.  Babyhood, or infancy, is nearly always spoken of in Scripture with tenderness and compassion; but here it is not babyhood, but babyishness; it is the deformity of arrested growth, not the lovely freshness of recent regeneration.  So then we arrive here at a remarkable Divine principle.  As every human is classified by the food he assimilates, so every Christian is graded according to the truth he is able to receive.  The Hebrew Christians had been converted, probably, for some thirty years; those in Jerusalem had probably listened to Christ; and now, when they should have been masters of truth, spreading it everywhere in all its phases, they are cradle-folk, able to assimilate nothing but milk.  It was not babyhood, but babyishness.  In the words of Dr. Graham Scroggie:‑ “The carnal Christian has spiritual life, for he is spoken of as a ‘babe in Christ,’ but there is little or no spiritual growth.  He is like Lazarus, who, though raised from the dead, was yet ‘bound hand and foot with grave clothes’, until deliverance came


The Foods


Now look at the foods.  What is the milk?  “The rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God”: and these first principles are defined for us, as foundation stones, thus - repentance, faith, the baptisms of water and of the Spirit, resurrection, and judgment.  All this is milk: absolutely essential to an infant, and therefore constantly to be presented in Sunday Schools and Gospel gatherings: but it is all milk only.  Doctors tell us that a diet of milk alone will keep us alive, but that it imparts no strength.  Now what is the solid food?  Teaching such as Paul wanted to give on Melchizideck, and could not: revelations of how the glory of Christ lie concealed in such Old Testament histories as Melchizideck’s: the deeper typical, and. historic and prophetic teachings which God has purposely made harder of digestion in order to make man’s blood, and not infant’s.  It was in their refusal of type-study that the Apostle discovered the infancy of the Hebrew Christians.  In its apprehension the Gospel is the simplest of all things: in its comprehension it yields its wealth only to the deepest study. God’s truth is purposely complex so as to exercise all the muscles of the mind, and feed all portions of the frame; and great truths, or great apprehensions of simple truths, yield only to those who seek them with laborious toil.  “Solid food is for full-grown men  We are to absorb the truth, all the truth, without prejudice, without bias.  Preaching in Brighton, Henry Howard said that once he was trying to get up a sermon for children.  He said to himself, “What has the heart to do with seeing  “I went to the telephone,” he continued, “and called the principal doctor in our city.  I asked him if there was any disease of the heart that affected the eyes. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘certainly, Mr. Howard, there is.  We call it a “dirty heart”!  ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘that will do for me!’  I asked him for particulars, and he explained that it was a disease in which ulcers formed on the inner walls of the heart.  There was no pain there, but the blood vessels of the eyes were affected, the eyes became bloodshot, and if there was no cure the blood vessels burst, and the man became blind.  A clean heart - a clear vision!”


Senses Exercised


How then can we escape the peril?  Babyhood is clearly not God’s ideal for his Church.  An infant may be perfect as an infant: but that no infant remains an infant shows that to be an infantile Christian is to fail utterly of God’s ideal.  A milk diet supports life, but it is incapable of imparting strength. An infant takes its food without thought, without effort, without discrimination.  But God wishes us to pass from mere Gospel-imbibing, to that more difficult region where we have got to choose our food.  “Solid food is for full grown men, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil  It is not only absorption of the truth but use of it, that produces the full maturity of Christian powers.  It is a constant handling of the truths of God’s Word - a deep experimental acquaintance with the whole range of revelation - a mind stored and apt at every point, that makes senses alive and alert with divine wisdom.




The Holy Ghost concludes with a powerful exhortation.  “Wherefore let us cease to speak of the first principles of Christ, and press on unto perfection: ... and this will we do if God permit.” How shall we achieve it?  By more time set aside to the Bible; by more patient digging into its mines; by immediate and incessant obedience; by a humbler-heart of faith as we read; by a more regular attendance where it is expounded; and by a more passionate desire to pass on all that we have as yet obtained.  Lavoisier competed for the prize for the best essay on lighting the streets of Paris.  Finding in the course of his experiments that his eyes were not sufficiently sensitive to detect the difference between the power of the different flames, he shut himself up in a dark room for six weeks, when his sight became so sensitive that he was able to perceive the smallest distinctions.  He gained the medal.  “Cease to speak”:- baby language is very sweet, very tender, very lovable; but baby language is not for men. “Cease to speak”:‑ not forget it, so as to have to learn it again; not doubt it, so as to have to be convinced again; not forsake it, so as to have to come back to it again: but cease to speak about it.  Here are three powerful reasons why we should.  One—“ceasing to speak, press on unto PERFECTION”: the only perfection God knows lies in a deeper knowledge, and practise, of belief, in His Word.  Is there anything worth living for beside the growing into perfection as God sees it? a perfection which can be won only by painful toil and heart - whole acceptance of the blessed Scriptures. Two – “this will we do, if God permit, for” if I do not, I may never be able.  So thick and black are the doubts raining in on us to-day, that nothing short of the complex Scriptures can meet a complex situation; and the soul who refuses to advance an inch beyond the Gospel [of the grace of God] is a baby whose infant cry may be stifled at any moment.  Thousands to-day are shaking to their foundations because they have resolutely refused the further truth which would have established them; and the man who refuses apostolic perfection is in peril of abandoning apostolical principles.  The last reason – “this will we do, if God permit  But will He?  We do not know.  No man is sure of tomorrow.  But we know that God permits for us perfection to‑day.  J. R. Green, the historian, lies in Mentone, and on his grave are these words:‑ “He died learning”: higher up, in the Bernese Oberland, where four climbers perished in an accident on the grave of the guide it is written:‑ “He died climbing  SO can we.


Just a few more miles, beloved!

And our feet shall ache no more;

No more sin, and no more sorrow,

Hush thee, Jesus went before:

And I hear Him sweetly whispering, -

“Faint not, fear not, still press on,

For it may be ere tomorrow,

The long journey will be done