W. Kaye Dunn: THE aim of the writer, when missioning, is to so use the teachings of Modern Psychology, as to bring home to men and women, boys and girls, that Christianity is supreme common-sense, and is necessary to their highest efficiency. He seeks to persuade them, by force of unescapable facts, to accept Jesus Christ as their Master, and to publicly declare that acceptance by regular attendance at the Lord's Table, and by entry into Church Membership. Because of these supreme and Divinely appointed tests, no others are used - no after meetings, no holding up of hands, no intrusion whatever upon the lawful privacy of the hearer.
The address which follows is the fourth and last in a short psychology series, freely illustrated on the black board. In the previous addresses the teacher has dealt with the existence of habit channels; their formation unwittingly in the past; how they may be controlled; the making of new habits; the seriousness of sin; the forgiveness of sin, which is not only promised in the Bible but arranged for in the very brain itself; the necessity of giving the whole heart to Christ.
The writer hopes that by such a use of the New Psychology he has brought home to his hearers, with intensity, the truth that if any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold! all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
At this point in the series, some in the congregation or "School," may have resolved to sign the simple pledge:- "I now decide to accept Jesus Christ as my Master." To such this teaching is offered. It may be called in technical terms the Psychology of Sanctification.
W. Kaye Dunn: I AM sure that many of you have been thinking over the teachings of the past three days. Some of you have arrived at a new understanding of your mental machinery. You have resolved no longer to live as a sort of irresponsible stowaway on board your own ship. You intend henceforth, under God, to be the intelligent engineer of it. You have resolved to get rid of certain deeply marked bad-habit channellings [neuron paths in the brain], and to cultivate other and good-habit paths to take their place. Good, very good! I believe in your earnestness, and congratulate you.
Yet, let us carefully understand, in the light of these teachings, just what you have, and have not, done. You have decided that the old habit channel, A-B, so deeply cut, shall be put out of use, and that a new one, A-C, shall take its place. Excellent again. But promisings cut no channels, even as plans for homes build no houses.
It is only the passage of an actual current across the brain that makes the new markings of that new channel A-C. In short - Doing does it.
Thus we see the truth of the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. No poor soul that has arrived at its hell - here, in this world - but has said fifty times, "I will not do it again." It was said in great earnestness too - but good resolutions cut no channels! The poor fellow who signed the pledge for the twentieth time would have opened up the first tracks of a new teetotalism, had he walked past the door of his drinking haunt. But, alas, he did not. Doing, and doing alone, does it!
Are you jealous? It is because you have built into the nerve matter of your brain an apparatus for jealousy. No man who wishes to succeed in this world can afford to be jealous. Jealousy sends out a wireless signal that arouses in other people a hindering jealousy in reply.
Here is how a big business man used these teachings to rid himself of this hindrance. He resolved that within twenty-four hours of hearing of the commercial success of any business competitor, he would see him, or 'phone him, or write him in congratulation; and, moreover, he would cheerfully tell three other people of the success. And he did. That man used his new path four times on every possible occasion, with the natural result that he has not a streak of jealousy in him to-day. Doing does it.
Too many people get no permanent good out of mission services [evangelistic campaigns] because they mistake shivers in the spine for proofs of conversion. Faith, indeed, we must have, but if the real faith is there, it will reveal itself in works rather than in emotional shivers. It is no proof of faith in Christ that one sheds tears on hearing a choice rendering of "He was despised." Doing does it! It is only when the doing of the new thing sends the brain current along a new channel for the first time, that the real building up of Christian character begins.
Seeing that only doing does it, never pigeon-hole a new resolution until you have begun on it. So to speak, never let the written pledge out of your hand until you can write across it "Begun." I had in my London Church a work-girl with a very pert tongue, who, when she became a Christian and thought out the things she would have to do differently, put down first on the list "being cheeky to my forewoman." Had you known the girl you would have approved her decision. She went to business on Monday morning full of her new resolution. But if her supervisor should not speak to her she would have no chance of replying in the Christian way, and so could cut no new channel. Moreover, if no such conversation occurred on Tuesday or Wednesday, there would be a real danger of the new resolution being forgotten and forsaken. So my advice to this girl was, "If your forewoman has not spoken to you by eleven o'clock to-morrow morning, you go and speak to her - e.g., ask her if she said that the making order you are working on is for ten dozen or twelve. Then when she has told you say your first courteous `Thank you, Miss!'" After making resolutions, make opportunities.
Nor does it matter how you feel whilst you are doing it. Doing does it. Take the question of forgiveness. On Sunday your minister brings it home to you that there is no escape from the plain teaching of Christ - you must forgive. As he speaks you feel the weight of God's word, and resolve to obey it; and in particular you resolve that the next time you meet Brown, whom you have been avoiding for eighteen months, you will say "Good morning" to him, and do it cheerfully and handsomely.
With that in your mind you walk home a happy man, resolved on a good deed. But nothing is done yet, nor can anything be done until you meet Brown. On the following Wednesday you see him coming towards you, less than a hundred yards away. Then you begin to feel faint, and to tremble at the knees. Something within you whispers that you are not quite well to-day, that it would be wise to let Brown pass this time, though you will certainly hail him to-morrow when you feel better. But if you cross the road and avoid the interview you have also avoided your first channelling [neuron path in the brain], and, moreover, deepened the old one.
Never mind how you feel! Only doing does it, and you must do it now. Walk right on! Possibly the absence of saliva in your mouth, through nervousness, will so dry up your tongue that only a very indistinct guttural will escape you, in place of the "handsome Good morning" you had intended on the Sunday. But to utter even that poor guttural, the thought current went across your brain in the new direction, and so created the first track of a new habit channel. As a piece of elocution no doubt the utterance was a failure, but as an effort towards a Christian manhood the whole incident was a triumphant success.
It will be slightly easier to do it in better fashion to-morrow. In a week or so that channel will be deep enough to enable you to say your "Good morning" quite passably. By and by you will become a large-souled forgiving man, and with the frequent forgiving will come the easy forgetting.
Do not be afraid of "ghastly failures." They are generally first steps towards man-making successes - for doing does do it. How terrified most of us are of being voted "clumsy"! We choose to lose heaven rather than be guilty of doing a good deed somewhat awkwardly. There was a fool who said that he would never go into the water until he could swim - a parable that, with a point for some Christian folk! You must be willing to be clumsy for Christ's sake - and your own.
And Not-doing does not do it. In the matter of home lessons not done, you may have got round your old school teacher occasionally. But you can never get your own brain to give you marks for what you have not done. If you do not do, you get no channelling. Hence Jesus continually insists that we must do what He says. "Why call ye me Lord, and do not the things I say?" (Luke 6:46) He says that in lieu of deeds He will not accept complimentary words such as "Lord, Lord, dear Lord." His one test is, What are you doing about these things of mine?
James employs sarcasm when he writes, "Thou believest! Thou doest well!! The devils also believe, and tremble!!!" (James 2:19) The Christian believes - and does. John, speaking in the name of Jesus, says, "Do the first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick" (Rev. 2:5). Peter declares, "If ye do these things ye shall never fall" (2 Peter 1:10).
Again, Jesus says, "Whosoever shall do and teach these things shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19). These people shall be called great because they are great. For behind this saying is the truth that we do not know a thing properly until we can, and do, teach it - a weighty reason that for being a thorough-going Sunday-school teacher.
At another time Jesus likened His hearers to men who built houses either on rock or on sand. (Note that He spoke this parable to His hearers, to those who actually had climbed the Mount, and heard the Sermon, and not to those who were not there.) In the light of these teachings on Habit-channellings, we can see the causes behind the effects.
Imagine the case of the man who was likened to a builder on sand. That man, as he listened to Jesus, felt that the Master had brought home to him the three danger habits of his life. He went away, told all and sundry what a searching sermon Jesus had preached, but did nothing differently. Three months later circumstances combined to throw him into a mental storm. He was excited beyond control. In his heat he said and did those three evil things in the sight of men - and from that day his standing and reputation were washed clean away.
To be plunged into the unexpected mental storm is, sooner or later, the sure fate of every one of us. It may be upon you before your supper this very evening. An annoying young brother may "get on your nerves," and provoke you to so passionate an outburst that you swear at him before you quite know that you have done it. That is the first time your people at home have heard you swear. Hitherto, you have reserved the evil practice for business use only. But the swearing habit-channels had been so deeply cut that the torrent surged into them and out in speech - and instantly you felt that your high standing with your people had received a blow from which it would never recover - swept away like a house built on sand.
But the other type of Christ's hearer, when it was brought home to him that he possessed three deep danger channels, went away and, as a sincere disciple of Jesus, began to do differently. In three months' time he had opened up three good and deep brain paths. Surely and swiftly came the storm to him, and in reply thereto he poured out three glorious deeds - and stood forth a revealed man. He was seen of men to be as a house built on the rock.
The great teachers of psychology tell us that each day we should deliberately do one thing we would rather not do. Thereby we keep our path-digging spirit fit and ready for new situations. These items done against the grain are by no means to be great deeds, e.g., picking up paper that we have not thrown down, fetching coals when it is not exactly our duty to do so, taking a turn with the tea towel, being courteous to a discourteous person. Trifles? Yes, and so are fire insurance premiums, a mere two shillings covering us against a hundred pounds' fire loss. But the daily doing of these trifles is one of the daily premiums of a first-class manhood.
Men like [Ernest] Shackleton and [R. F.] Scott, of the Antarctic, do not graduate from armchairs. Scott blackened his willing hands a thousand times, where some suburban dude would not have unbuttoned his suede gloves. "Do not bring him up softly," Scott wrote in his last letter concerning his little son.
"In life's small things, be resolute and great
To keep thy muscle trained:
Knowest thou when God thy measure takes?
Or when He'll say to thee
`I find thee worthy. Do this for Me.'"
I have ventured to alter James Russell Lowell's word "fate" to the richer word "God." Every day do one thing against the grain - that is the new teaching. New, indeed! Jesus taught it centuries ago! "Take up thy cross DAILY" (Luke 9:23). You do not take up Jesus once for all on an exciting Sunday night. You retake Him daily, especially in the days of the humdrum, when it is no sparkling episode to be a Christian. It is a greater thing to scrub an unpoetic floor for Christ's sake, than to lilt into an enquiry [counselling] room.
Conversion is the resetting of one's whole self for action along new lines. Conversion is the readjustment of the whole working machinery of manhood. To decide to accept Christ as Master is to begin to do all that one does on His lines instead of on our own.
The moment you begin to Do the teachings of Jesus, that moment you begin to put in the new channellings of a new creature in Christ - and not a moment before. That is not to contradict instant forgiveness on the part of God. He does not await results before accepting you. He trusts you from the moment you give Him your promise.
In the New Testament a man is regarded as being, there and then, what he intends to be. The would-be saints are called saints, though as a matter of fact their saintship was often very crude, as witness the "saints at Corinth." God believes in us infinitely more than we believe in Him. Decide to be a Christian, and He instantly treats you as one. But do not trade on such generosity, and forget to begin on what you have promised to do.
Two things more. Only the doing of the real thing will give you the right channel. I say that because so many do the pretend thing, and get the corresponding channel. I knew a man who was always working for his own ends. Yet whatever he did, he would do his best to bring it home to the other people involved, that he had been at work solely in their interests. At last, I think he did not know when he was pretending and when he was not. That is probably the explanation why certain prominent people who have rogued the public are now in prison, and feeling very unjustly treated.
Be the real thing! You cannot deceive your own brain. You can, though, put in a series of channellings that will cause you to become the deceiver of your self. If you for give, forgive - forgive and have done with it. Do not pretend to forgive, or you will get only the "pretend" channel.
And this: I have a book which tells me all about typewriting, how to arrange the fingers, touch the shift keys, etc., etc. Having read the book, and enjoyed it, I sat down to my machine - and found I could not type. No, only doing does it! Neither can you play the piano on the study of a primer on the subject.
Czerney's, or any one else's, exercises must be practiced thousands of times, not in Czerney's interest, but in the interests of your own fingers, which, in no other way, can attain to the flexibility and independence required for skilful pianoforte playing.
Neither can you be a Christian on sermons! You must go out and do! "Believe and do," says Peter (1 peter 1). "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you," said Jesus (John 15:14).
Jesus comes to us to say that the door of the home of God stands open to us. We are invited to enter again, as the prodigal re-entered his father's House. But the entering is only the first step. The day after the feast the doing begins.
Paul, after setting forth the story of the humility and death of Jesus, and of the salvation He offers to all, then adds, "WORK OUT your own salvation" (Phil 2:12). Lay hold of it, get to work on it, unravel it, experiment with it, find out all the possibilities in it. Worked at after this fashion, Christianity will develop you until you arrive at the fulness of the stature of Christ Himself (Eph. 4:13).
Decide to accept Jesus Christ as your Master, and with that resolution in your mind, go out and begin on life anew. It is a very sensible and a very sane thing to be a decided Christian. So with all your senses, and all your sanity, without tears and excitement, quietly reset your life for the doing of the Christian thing.
A lecture given by W. Kaye Dunn, New Barnet, England, 1925
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