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house in political action. Because John's nobles had a conviction they wrested back their ancient freedom, so of the hosts of Cromwell and those of America. Expediency may slay her thousands but the man with a mighty passion of conviction who is the incarnation of his belief will slay his tens of thousands. Conviction is the very lifeblood of moral action. There is no reform today that is being accomplished without men of conviction. God pity the nation whose men have ceased to be men of conviction, whose women hold principle lightly. Except the Lord of Moral Conviction build the city they labour in vain that build it.
So splendid a thing is conviction. It has power to convince the reason, to determine the will, to fire the heart. There is no dynamo generating such voltage as comes from the power of a princely passion.
2. Will you notice that conversion is the birthday of conviction?
The birthdays and anniversaries of great occasions are kept with reverence and with happy devotion because they are full of significant inspiration. There is no day more worthy of observance than the day on which a princely passion gained the allegiance of your soul.
You long within your heart to know the power of that kind of a conviction. That cannot occur until you give your reason, your will, your heart into its keeping. The moment that you do turn
to such a conviction and it masters you, you are converted; you are turned about. The fact that conversion is the birthday of conviction is equally true of a business proposition, of a scientific theory, or of a moral cause. You do not invest in a business enterprise until you are converted to the inherent worth of it; when you are converted you act on your conviction. You can never have a conviction ruling your life as a master passion until you have first of all been converted to it.
This holds in the realm of religion. There have been false conceptions of conversion. This has exhibited itself in two directions.
Many have kept themselves aside from connection with the church because they have thought that conversion meant some strange, mysterious, emotional experience which they have never had. There may be such accompanying phenomena. This was so with Paul, but not with Matthew or James or John. . It is an accompaniment and not the thing itself.
On the other hand, many have thought they were converted when they have really never seen the birthday of a mighty conviction that rules the will and fires the heart as well as convincing the reason.
Christ must have had this in mind that night when in the upper room He sat and talked with His friends for the last time. The shadow of the cross was even now sending a shiver amongst the gentle silver foliage of Gethsemane, soon death would be knocking at the door for Him. But He
was unconcerned for Himself. He knew whence He came and whither He went; but He was much concerned for His friends. He knew how human and frail and blind they were. And yet He was having to trust all His mission to them. He told them to be comforted, to trust in God and in Him. He told them to be full of love and humility, to be servants of one another and humanity. Especially was He concerned about one of their number whom He saw had the stuff of gold but the uncertainty of quicksilver. Turning to Peter He said notwithstanding his protestations of loyalty, “Tonight thou shalt deny me thrice, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not. When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren.” “When thou art converted?” But surely Peter had been converted long ago. That day by the seashore when the fascinating Personality and compelling Voice said, “Follow Me," had he not left his net and followed ? By the waters that gushed from the cavern at Cæsarea Phillipi, had he not made the first Christian confession, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.” That ecstatic day on the mount when they dwelt so close to the spiritual frontier, had he not exclaimed, “ It is good to be here, let us live here forever.” Surely, Peter had been converted long ago if anybody ever was! But the discerning eye of the Master saw that real conviction had never yet gripped his reason, nor made his will adamant and his heart molten fire. But the day of Christ conviction was coming to Peter, when he
would be willing to lay down his life for the sake of that power of love which he held most dear. That day of real conviction would be the royal birthday of his conversion.
3. The play of the princely passion whose birthday is conversion is manifold. How varied is the sphere through which the hidden electric energy manifests its power. It can thresh wheat, transport it across the continent, grind it into flour, bake it into bread, and light the street and the shop where the bread is sold, and take the orders of those who would eat it. To perform its service electricity must be coöperated with by certain sympathetic surroundings. Some substances are spoken of as being conductors and others as non-conductors of electricity. The play of the princely power called conviction is limitless in its expression, but it, too, like electric energy, is dependent on sympathetic conductor for its work. The play of this power is not selfward, but outward. “When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren." What a clarion call, what a living test is that to all who have felt the master passion of Christ conviction.
It is suggestive of splendid enterprise. A church is more than a mere congregation; it is a living organism. If the church and the individual in it has had that real conversion which is the birthday of conviction there will be instant heeding of the injunction,“ Strengthen thy brethren." There will be as much power of initiative and of constancy here as in any other undertaking of practical life.
There are many ways of pushing forward the great enterprise of “strengthening thy brethren.” There is the avenue of prayer. Who can tell the measure of resource that comes unsuspectedly to human souls because some devout heart hath borne them aloft on the wings of prayer? Who can know the fulness of those divine messages that are carried through the wireless circles of the spiritual realm? Paul knew that secret, therefore he said, “I make mention of you continually in my prayers." Strengthen thy brethren through prayer at the family altar, in bands of intimate fellowship, in the secret oratory of thy heart. Strengthen thy brethren through sympathetic love, through the unconscious influence of your own strong and modest character.
Using the master passion of conviction what enterprises of magnitude the church shall undertake! When the challenge is heard how it stirs the ranks to the attainment of better methods in the Sunday School, a pushing forward of all the churches' work through education and evangelism, the sending of churches and schools and hospitals through all the world. There are five particular points where those under the princely passion of Christ may strengthen their brethren. Here is emphasized the necessity of finding out God's way with a boy; the saying of men and women and little children for the heavenly Jerusalem by giving them the wholesomeness of an earthly Jerusalem that is heavenly to live in right here and now through the