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another order than theirs, or as an angel descended from heaven to govern the world, but as the final product of the world; he sums up in himself all the material world ; he is made of the dust of the earth. We can hold fast that close relationship which science and the Bible set forth as existing between man and the other kingdoms of nature. According to it, the human organism which serves to support life and the physical instincts, would, if it had been left to itself, as it is in the case of the rest of the creatures, have been destined to perish.
But is man only a superior kind of animal? Does not a new order of things appear in him? As he is at the summit of the organic world, does not the world of mind, reason, and morality begin with him? He is the bond of union between the world of nature and the divine world. Why should he not have been placed in that condition in order to spiritualize matter, and to lead it to the conquest of new attributes? In a word, what hinders us from deciding that man was placed here below to win corporeal immortality, and that if he had not sinned he would have gained eternal life, and engrafted it in his body upon changing and ephemeral matter ?
Our hypothesis is in full accord with Biblical teaching. The actual death of man would be the consequence of his demerit or of his sin. It does not conflict with the teaching of science. Science brings to light the almost complete identity of our organism with that of the lower animals; but it asserts with nu less clearness the superiority of our faculties of reason. The human kingdom, in its estimation, forms a separate kingdom. In common with the higher animals man has instinct and will. But with the moral and religious sense which raises him to the idea of duty, he sees opening before him another domain than that of sensation and pleasure. He has to choose between the gratification of an instinct, and the repression of it in view of a higher good to be preserved.
We may see how this idea of the origin of the moral activity of man is in harmony with the very letter of the narrative in Genesis. The temptation which he first meets with on his way is one of the most simple and childish kind. If he had conquered it, he would not doubtless have thereby attained to holiness, as a popular and poetical opinion imagines he would have done. The way is long, and the degrees manifold between childish innocence and free and perfect holiness. A first victory would have given an initial and important direction to the moral being, but it would not have been the only victory. Other temptations of a higher order would have come to offer liberty the opportunity of gaining strength, and of making progress. What is more probable than that sufferings—the trial of patience-would have been then as they are to-day in the life of many a Christian, in the number of those temptations, and that to attain to the height of free obedience it would have been necessary to climb the steps of sorrow? In this educative office of suffering would then be found the justification of the laws of nature, and of what we are tempted to call their severity.
But at each victory, at each trial surmounted, the moral being brought nearer to God, would doubtless have been enriched with new energies. And in consequence of these energies man would have triumphed more easily over suffering-he would have brought it into subjection, he would have made the laws of matter more and more subordinate to those of the moral world, and would have confronted death with such a vitality and expansion of strength, that death would have been a glorification of all the constituent elements of human nature, including those of the material world.
There is no need to admit a change in the order of nature consequent upon man's failure. The earth, prepared to be the scene of man's victory, was also prepared, in case of his defeat, to be the scene of corrective chastisements and of a merciful restoration. Man, who had not been able to rise to the conquest and the calm possession of all his moral attributes, remained in his flesh the partaker of the law of decay and death to which all imperfect organisms are subject. In his nature, intended to become spiritual, death necessarily excited henceforth a keener pang, a greater horror than in the case of the other creatures. It had the salutary effect of directing his attention to the inward disorder from which the outward sprang. Suffering and death from being an ordeal became a chastisement as well.
Our hypothesis is in harmony with the general teaching of Christ, in which suffering, instead of being regarded as the punishment of sin, is considered as a moral test, and as a means set in operation by God for the attainment of an excellent end (John ix. 3 ; cf. Luke xiii. 2, 4, et parall.). And as we have said, it does not conflict with science. On the points in which it has a moral and spiritual bearing, it is above the domain of science; but on the lower plane, in which it touches upon natural and physiological questions, it can be perfectly harmonized with the teaching of science.
SUNDAY IN CHURCH.
THE MORNING LESSONS.
TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER
TRINITY. THE SUPREME ATTAINMENT. Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. -1 Cor. xiv. i. The counsel of the Apostle is to this effect, that while the possession of a loving spirit is that which is to be most earnestly desired and most strenuously cultivated, it is well to wish for the special “gifts” for which the Corinthian Church was distinguished ; yet, if they did covet these, they should prize most that one of them which was most serviceable – prophesy, or the inspired speaking of Divine truth. There are :
I. DESIRABLE DISTINCTIONs in the Church of Christ. It was well enough for the members of this church at Corinth to enjoy these gifts of tongues, or of healing, or of interpretation ; there were certain advantages to he enjoyed, if not by others, yet by the possessors themselves : they brought with them the comforting assurance that God was with them, and by His Spirit manifesting His approval. For temporary purposes, in a nascent and struggling condition, these “gifts" were not to be undervalued. They have now disappeared, and we have no
reason to regret their absence. This epistle contains enough to show that not much reliance was to be placed upon them. There are distinctions existing amongst us now which we may regard as aids to spiritual forces, for which we may be thankful, but on which we are not greatly to rely ; of these
wealth, social station, intellectual brilliancy, stores of learning, the knowledge of the human frame and the arts of nursing and healing. As wor rs in the wide field of holy usefulness, we shall rejoice in the possession of these and turn them to good account: but we must make them keep their place in the order of excellence and importance. There is
II. ONE SUPERIOR GIFT : it is that of “prophecy. By this is not meant, particularly if at all, the foreknowledge of events, but the utterance of Divine truth under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. If such utterance is not open to us now, we may render service which is scarcely distinguishable from it, and which is almost equivalent to it in spiritual value. For, after thought and prayer, calling forth all our resources of knowledge and experience, and bringing down the influence of the Spirit of God, we may now speak that which tends to “edification and comfort and consolation” (ver. 3).
We can declare the known will of God, “the THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER mind of Christ,” and by so doing can “build
TRINITY up” in all spiritual manhood, (1) enlightening the mind with all holy truth ; (2) persuading
GOD'S WAY AND OURS. the soul to decision, to devotion, to consecra
And Naaman said .... Are not Abanah tion, to sacred service ; (3) comforting the
and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better heart with those “consolations which are in
than all the waters of Israel ? may I not wash Christ Jesus.” This edifying ministry, with in them and be clean ? So he turned and went all its intrinsic excellence, is open to us all. away in a rage.—2 Kings v. 12. Personal experience, familiarity with the WE have here another illustration of the Divine Word, and genuine human sympathy truth that a man himself is not necessarily are its simple qualifications. But we reach, the best judge of his condition, or of the
course he should take to improve it. Perhaps
he “ought to know best," as he thinks and III. THE SUPREME ATTAINMENT. “Follow
as he says, but it is very probable that he after love"; that is the counsel of the Apostle;
does not. The onlooker sees what the partici. that is the great commandment. We have to
pant does not see. But for the counsel of consider--1. In what this grace consists. It
that captive maiden in Syria, and but for the is that love to man which is gained from Jesus
brave and faithful remonstrance of his Christ ; and it includes (1) a real spiritual
servants, Naaman would have carried his attachinent to His disciples because they are
leprosy to the grave. Let the shrewdest and His ; (2) a genuine and practical pity for all
the most learned man realize that it is quite the children of need and sorrow ; (3) a sacred
possible he may be mistaken about himself yearning over those who have gone astray and
and his well being, that in the suggestion of whom we can help to restore. It therefore
some very humble person may dwell the includes an appreciation of that which is true
wisdom that will heal or save him. But the and right in those who are good, and a pro
special truth of the text is this, that instead found discernment of possible worth in those
of insisting on that course which we think the who are evil. It means such a regard for,
best, it behoves us to adopt the one which and interest in, our neighbour as will triumph
God has provided for us.
Why bathe in a over difficulties and drawbacks, and will last
river at all, objected Naaman ; but if I must when other things have faded: see ch. xiii. do that, why wash in the poor stream of 2. Why this is the inost valuable acquisition.
Jordan; are not Abanah and Pharpar better Because it constitutes a very large proportion rivers than all the waters of Israel ? And his of Christian character, allies us to the very
resentment against God's method of healing best and most heroic inen and women, causes
him very nearly led to the failure of his us to resemble our Divine Leader in His chief
mission. God desires to do great things for characteristic, and constitutes us children of
us all ; but it is in the way which He knows our Father who is in heaven : Matt. v. 43-48.
to be the best. If we will not adopt His 3. How it is to be acquired. “Follow after
methods we must go without His blessing. charity," pursue it patiently and sedulously.
It is not for us to prescribe the channels of Do not look for it as an endowment to be
His communication. This waywardness of suddenly and supernaturally conferred, but
ours often stands in our path and it may rob regard it as an acquisition to be devoutly and
us of even the highest good. This duty and diligently attained. (1) Study the character
this danger may be seen inand disposition of Jesus Christ. (2) Have much fellowship with the Lord of love, with I. OUR ATTAINMENT OF KNOWLEDGE, and the Father of mercies. (3) Strive to cast of that practical wisdom which fits us for our forth every intrusive uncharitable thought, earthly life. We cannot acquire this without and seek to nourish every thought that is laborious study, patient observation, repeated generous and gracious. (4) Do kind things thought and consideration. The mastery of to those of whom you wish to feel more the elements of learning often seems to be kindly ; for kindness is the parent as well wearisome drudgery, and if we do not go as the offspring of love. (5) Ask for the away in a rage,” we are tempted to break off renewing, transforming influences of the in vexation and to long for the “royal road” Divine Spirit.
to learning and wisdom. But we must accept
the method which God has prescribed for us, or remain in ignorance or folly.
II. THE FORMATION OF OUR CHARACTER. We wish to be strong and brave, to be characterized by rtitude and endurance, to be masters of ourselves, to be able to respect ourselves, and to command the esteem of the wise and good. We should like to be all that is admirable and, if possible, all that is noble in the character that we form. But how shall we build up within ourselves this honorable character ? God has arranged that we do this (1) by the hourly discipline of the home, by parental and fraternal instruction, direction, correction, and even friction ; (2) by the conscientious and careful discharge of daily duties, some of them of infinitesimal consequence; (3) by meeting and mastering the vexations, the minor difficulties and disappointments of our lot, as well as (4) by enduring the larger sorrows of life and gathering experience therefrom. Probably we do not appreciate this method ; we feel about it as Naaman felt when told to bathe in Jordan, that it is gaining a great good in a very small way. We should like to dispense with this discipline and these duties and worries. But it may not be. “This is the way, walk ye in it,” says the providence of God, and we have no choice but to obey. III. OCR ENTRANCE INTO THE KINGDOM
We want to know all that can be learned about God, about our spiritual nature and its capacities, about our human life and its possibilities, about the future world. We prefer to solve these great problems by the exercise of our mental faculties, by interrogating our own nature, by scientific researches, by logical and philosophical reasoning. But this is not the path that conducts to the gate of heavenly wisdom. We must become “ as little children" if we would enter the kingdom of truth-must be docile, trustful, enquiring. We must come in this spirit to the Heavenly Father and accept His teaching. We must leave much that is inysterious to be understood in the plenitude of our powers farther on. We must become as fools that we may be wise indeed. (1 Cor. iii. 18).
IV. OUR POSSESSION OF ETERNAL LIFE. Of all the great questions we ask, the greatest and most practical is this, What shall we do that we may enter into the life which is eternal, that life which is found in the favour,
the likeness, the near presence of God ? Here
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER
THE GENTLENESS OF CHRIST.
I, Paul, myself intreat you by the gentleness of Christ.—2 Cor. x. i. GENTLENESS is not so much the essence of goodness as it is its exquisite setting; it is a . kind way of being good. It is not the tree itself but the blossom upon its boughs; but the tree of which it is the blossom is the tree of life. Gentleness has sometimes been confounded with weakness, but nothing could be wider of the mark. It is, rather, the quiet utterance of power. There is none so gentle
the Lord God omnipotent." We see and feel His gentleness in the way in which He is daily conferring His bounties, in which He is warning us of the passage of our life and the approach of death, in which he chastens us and seeks to draw us nearer to Himself. Gentleness is a beautiful attribute of strength, both human and Divine. Most appropriately
it characterized the Son of Man, the Son of
WHICH HE EXERCISET
We are almost afraid of power in the possession of man.
When we think of the Pharaohs, the Herods, the Cesars, the Napoleons, we shrink from the committal of power to any human arm. But we turn to Him who had such power as these potentates had not, whose word the elements of nature instantly obeyed, and who held life and death at His command ; and we find that He did not brandish His power before the eyes of men; that He studiously shunned all display, and begged that His work might not be blazed abroad ; that He refused to put forth His power to punish any human being, however malignant or mischievous his opposition might be; that He only wrought to heal and bless. He laid a gentle hand upon the sick; He spoke gentle words to those who appealed for His succour, quietly and graciously. He went on His way, His heart full of tenderness and His hand of helpfulness, and there went virtue out of Him to heal and save,
to revive and to rejoice.
II. THE WAY WHICH HE TAUGHT DIVINE TRUTH.
intended but halting service (Matt. xxvi. 41.)
the daughters of wisdom and virtue. 6. Gently He bore Himself at the last sad scenes ; sufferinginsultand violence without resistance, even calling to mind all that could extenuate the guilt of those that wronged Him.
We may beseech men by the gentleness of Christ (1) to have their own character and conduct clothed with this grace ; that themselves and their life may be beautiful and attractive like their Lord's. (2) To yield their hearts to Him who is the rightful object not only of high regard but of a true affection; this gentle Lord of truth and grace is one whom we can love and therefore serve. (3) To shrink from the condemnation of Christ. We can afford to disregard the threatenings of the violent, but we may not despise the earnest warnings of the calm and true. From the "wrath of the Lamb,” from the solemn and severe rebukes of the gentle Saviour (Mark ix. 42. 49; Matt. xxiii.) we should flee, not “ looking behind ” us. “ Kiss the Son, lest He be angry. . . . Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."
Men of brilliant powers often like to flash them upon society ; illustrious teachers have shone like comets in the sky, attracting the gaze of all men ; genius often dazzles and bewilders. But the Great Teacher, not neglecting the opportunity that offered, went quietly and meekly to His work of utterance. He chose the humble wayside, the upper room, the shaded garden, where He could teach His disciples. He met the solitary woman of alien race and equivocal character and taught her truth to which all ages will reverently listen ; some of His most precious words were drawn forth by the questions of undiscerning disciples, or of evil-minded enemies. But the gentleness of Christ is best seen in
FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER
ERROR AND FAILURE AND SIN.
THE SERVICE OF SONSHIP.
III. THE WAY IN WHICH HE TREATED
1. Gently He excused the extravagant zeal of one of His disciples, discovering for her a justification she would never have found for herself. “She has done it for my burial” (Matt. xxvi. 12). 2. Gently he bore with infirm discipleship correcting their frequent misunderstanding, enlightening them in their darkness, and on one occasion most graciously accepting their
Wherefore thou art no more a servant but a son.-GAL. iv. 7. It is well to draw from the hope of future blessedness the help we need in order to bear with patience the trials of the passing hour. But it is not well to accustom ourselves to