« PředchozíPokračovat »
necessity. Each man knows, experimentally that he is as free in matters moral as material. Without capability there is no responsibility. If man is dead he is both irresponsive and irresponsible. If dead, it is nonsense to appeal to his will and mockery to bid him move. It is needless to repeat that Christ recognized man's autonomy and called out human initiative.
I remark second: Salvation, as described by Christ, is not a single instantaneous act, but a regulated process. It is not an importation from without, but a gradual evolution within. By many, however, it is regarded as a sudden influx, or immediate change. In some quarters men talk of getting religion as of getting a suit of clothes. It is a sort of garment which one may put on and off as he does his hat or his coat. It is a sort of imported commodity that may lie around loose. It is not life, but a thing apart from life. It is a tangible deposit, handed down from heaven, and may be received as one receives a Christmas gift. It is commonly supposed that one must agonize to get it, and when it comes it comes either like a thunder bolt, or as snow falling from heaven. It is thought to have already been wrought out by something already done, and may be received by a single act of faith. One needs only to believe and the work is done, and henceforth he may rest on his oars. It is a sudden revolution or surgical operation wrought by another. Man's part is simply submission and trust. It comes to most men as to Saul, when he was struck blind and unhorsed. It may be a sudden surprise; or one may have to agonize and wait long. He will know, however, when he has it, by feeling flighty and sentimental. He will show others he has it by contempt for everything except bibles and churches and praying and religious gatherings. This de lineation of the common view of salvation may seem somewhat severe, but it cannot be more severe than the view is senseless.
Christ taught that salvation is a regulated process. It is not an importation from without; but a development within. It is not something added onto life, but a cultivation and maturing of life itself. It is not something against nature, or different from nature, but a fulfillment of man's higher nature. It is not a gratuitious commodity received ab extra, but an end attained ab intra through growth. We reach salvation, according to Christ, by pass
ing through the divine curriculum. It is a subjection and commitment of one's self to divine discipline. It is an awakening and drawing out of the soul by and under divine influence. It is entering on a normal life and struggling to live a real life. It is man finding himself and coming to his real, higher self. It is opening himself to a diviner life and giving himself to its attainment by a divine method. It is dying to the lower that he may live to the higher. It is being born from above and sacrificing all else in the intere of one's real selfhood.
The process of salvation, therefore, is one of counteraction and evolution. We are saved spiritually, as we are physically and mentally. We are saved to physical health by counteracting disease and complying with the conditions of health. We are saved mentally by observing the laws of the mind, and displacing ignorance by replacing it with knowledge. We get neither health nor knowledge as a gift. Nor, do they come in a day. We are delivered from sin by displacing it with righteousness. We must sacrifice and crucify the lower self on the cross of self denial. We save our lives by losing the things which would destroy them, and observing laws which make life possible. Life is neither an infusion nor a gift, but a growth. It comes by conforming to the principles of life and fulfilling the conditions of living. We reach it only by traveling the path of self denial and self sacrifice. We are saved by the cross of Christ only when we take up our own cross and follow him. We are saved by the sacrifice of Christ, only when we sacrifice self as Christ, and for Christ.
I remark third: The road to life is through death. Only as the lower dies is the higher born. There is no gain without loss, or salvation without sacrifice. The law of the natural world is the same here as the spiritual. Christ's principle finds verification in all realms. Scientists tell us only by losing its life the cell saves it. The seed must die or there can be no harvest. The blossom must go that the fruit may come. This great principle threads every department of thought and life. There can be no success without self denial. The business man, the scholar, the athlete and the soldier must pass through Christ's curriculum. All progress, industrial, social, intellectual and moral is the fulfillment of this law. Everywhere the cross is a symbol of sacrifice and the condition of all achievement. Every step the race has taken forward
has been through struggle. As nations have suffered they have prospered. Ease always emasculates, and self indulgence destroys. Men, as multitudes come to their height only by taking up the cross.
Modern Europe has emerged from the middle ages with throes of agony. England was born in the sore travail of Elizabeth's day. Our own nation sprang from the loins of our martyred sons. Humanity has fought its way up, at the point of the bayonet. Every achievement in the history of the world has been baptised with blood. Man could not have come to his height in a paradise of ease. Such a state may have been suitable for the race in its infancy, but the goal of the modern man is in the future. The face of the twentieth century is turned toward the morning.
It is a noteworthy fact that Christ made no moan over a lost Eden. He taught that each man may make his own Eden. A paradise of ease, where the race would have remained ignorant of good and evil, without exertion or hardship, would have been a calamity. Undeveloped sav. agery and puerility may suit children. To an ambitious, struggling man, a paradise of stagnation would be hell. The price of all real-life is suffering. The road that leads to the stars is steep. Who would live must die that he may live. Christ blazed the path and pointed the way. He worked the process and showed man how it may be worked. He asks each man to make the experiment. Who finds life, therefore, must follow him to the cross. Only through death we enter life.
"Heaven is not reached at a single bound;
WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF SIN?
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither tempteth He any man, but every man is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own passions. Then, when his passions have conceived they bring forth sin; and sin when it is finished brings forth death.-James 1:13-15.
S'A single discourse, no matter what his scholarship ana
ability, or what the resourcefulness and receptivity of his audience. Such is the vastness of its scope and the ability necessary to its successful treatment that I approach the task which I have set for myself this morning, with a deep sense of my inability; and I could wish the task were committed to abler hands. Would that I had the splendid diction of a McCauley, the fine analytical ability of a Frederick Robertson, the deep spiritual insight of a Phillips Brooks, or the logical acumen of a Henry Ward Beecher, that I might do justice to this great theme. The most I can hope to do, however, within the brief time alloted to me is to stimulate inquiry and start thoughts, and, leading you to the shore of the great surging sea of sin, bid you look out upon its great expanse, which stretches away into illimitable blackness and darkness.
Sin is the one dark blot on the fair name of humanity. It is the one foul stream which has flowed through all history. It is the one venemous sting which has poisoned the fountains of life and embittered all human experience. We hear the moan of this dreadful calamity through all literature. If Aristophanes would persuade us that this is the gayest possible world, Sophocles would have us know that we stand amid the debris of broken homes, wrecked lives, shattered hopes and bleeding hearts. II Catullus, with his optimistic philosophy, would fling a wreath of roses over the ulcerous Roman life, Juvenal, with his mordant satire would lay bare the diseased conditions of human socitey, and would have us believe
that Roman society is representative of social conditions everywhere, and in all ages. Sin has always been a dark shadow on human life. As the goddess who came to Thebes could be tracked by the blessings which she left in her path, so the influence of sin may be tracked through the centuries by the death and destruction it has left in its wake. It is the great catastrophe in human experience, about which philosophers have dreamed and poets have sung; and the one dreadful tragedy over which men and angels have wept.
With all its ravages, however, there are some who would have us believe that sin is not a reality. It is but a figment of the imagination and a fancy of the human reason. It does not exist in reality, but only in terms. The unreasonableness of this view is seen in the very bitterness of human experience; and the reality of sin is demonstrated in its very destructiveness. One needs only to open his eyes and look about him to see that for some strange reason things are out of joint. Life is filled with bitterness and sorrow. The fondest hopes are sometimes blighted. The happiest homes sometimes ruined and the most stalwart characters sometimes wrecked by a single sin.
The author of this passage of scripture was combating a most pernicious error. There were those in his time who disclaimed any responsibility for their sins, and sought to absolve themselves by charging their wrong doing upon God. They held that they sinned, not because they wanted to, but because they were forced to. They were tempted by God and led astray by extraneous forces, over which they had no control. James denounced this view of life in terms as scathing as they are uncompromising. Man, in his judgment, is not a machine. No one can truthfully say that he is tempted to sin by God, since this would be inconsistent, both with his nature and his purpose. God is incapable of being tempted to do evil, and such is his nature that he could not and would not tempt man to do so. The true origin of sin, therefore, must be sought elsewhere than in God or man's constitutional inability. Its real seat and source is in man's own passions. He is enticed through his own thoughts and drawn by his own inclinations. When his thought conceives, it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.