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man protest and recoil, without organizing against itself the mightiest energies of our being.
Through experience of good and evil the moral life of man began; through experience of good and evil the moral life of the race has advanced; through experience of moral suffering and gladness two worlds of objects and causes have rolled into distinct and everlasting opposition + the world of human good and the world of human evil. This general determination of all things into one or the other of these two worlds is an astonishing achievement; it is besides one of the solidest grounds for hope in progressive enlightenment and finer discrimination. The illumination of experience is the ultimate teacher; from its wisdom there can be no appeal. Its reasonings are not in words and propositions but in sorrow and tears; its judgments are not primarily in books but in the agony and bloody sweat of human lives.
What Grant felt when on a critical day he said, “Let us have peace,” his experience as a soldier conditioned, Sherman's famous remark that "War is hell” was coined by one who had gone through that inferno. There is a process going on among all races in all parts of the wide world in which there is an increasing repudiation, in the name of life, of lust, cruelty, dishonor, selfishness, inhumanity. We are familiar with the sacred tradition in the case of individual souls. The tradition is wider than we know; it is the record of the continuous emancipation of mankind from one evil after another in the long courses of time, and these evils when assembled are the witnesses of an immeasurable moral victory. Human beings, on a wide survey, can no longer do what they have done. Even in the horror of war the atrocious things that men are doing are generating more and more the force that shall eventually end war. The race is even now, in the presence of the continental eruption of the brute in man, silently gathering in a great purpose to annihilate this horror of human history. Evil in its most gigantic form is calling into existence in the heart of the world the force that shall destroy it. Evil under a thousand disguises seeks the blessing and the suffrage of human beings; good disfigured, and apparently an alien in the land, often seems to invite rejection and curses. Mankind under the
Divine illumination of experience will more and more repeat the great repudiation and confession of the prophet Baalam:
“How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed?
The self-destructive nature of evil in human experience is the negative side of the presence in man of the Eternal Spirit. The basal idea of our religion is that man is made for honor and not dishonor, righteousness and not iniquity. The great saying of Augustine expresses the law of our being both as essentially alien to evil and as essentially akin to God: “Thou has made us for Thyself and we are restless till we repose in Thee." The Parable of the Lost Son is the great example in the teaching of Jesus of the principle of the self-destructive nature of evil rising up into the highest religious meaning. The younger son with his portion of his father's goods goes into the egoistic life with passionate intensity and with the utmost confidence that the kind of experience he has chosen is good and not evil. The experiment is pushed to the farthest limit of endurance. At every step forward in this egoistic course the evidence that he is mistaken increases; as he perseveres the demonstration becomes plainer and more cogent; as he still elects to disregard the vital argument it continues to ascend till, like the hurricane in the path of the ship, he can no longer face it and live. Reason in the courses of experience is too strong to allow his delusion to endure; the great reversal comes, what was good is seen to be evil, what seemed evil is now known as good. “And when he came to himself he said ... I will arise and go to my Father.” The profoundest philosophy of man's being and history lies in that great Parable, the insight that makes final despair of the victory of good over evil impossible.
We need a far more serious system of moral education, as a proof of our sympathy with the idea of the self-destructive nature of evil, as a sign of our faith in the Deity resident in the spiritual nature of man and as an assertion of that freedom whereby we may accelerate the victory of good over evil. When Greece was going to wreck the cry Plato was for a nobler and completer education. In the
succeeding generation Aristotle became the servant of the same national need. That these two great educators failed to save their nation does not mean that we should fail to note their wisdom. The adequate education has perhaps never been even outlined; the best that we have has never been adequately applied. It is, however, clear as sunlight that human lives must be shaped from the earliest years under the influence of the highest moral ideals, if we are to make headway against economic evil, social evil, the evil of inverted values, insane perspective, the illusions of the egoistic life and the disguised horrors of inhumanity. “No revival, however sincere and noble, can be more than the merest beginning. Nothing is finer in the career of Dwight L. Moody than his final complete subordination of evangelism to education. Intermittent influence is nearly useless; all substitutes for the steady reign and unbroken sovereignty of Christian ideas from life's beginning to its close are utterly disappointing; only the energy of the truth in which God lives, seriously and constantly applied, can give us the character in men and women for which the world waits. Play, learning, working, love, marriage, parenthood, business, citizenship, our whole earthly life must come for interpretation to the Christian ideal as the infinite perfecting grace of our human world.
We need a new appreciation of the value of Jesus at this point. His claim upon the reverence of mankind has here its sovereign vindication. His value as a maker of character, as a creator of the highest kind of human being carries in it a mighty appeal. What we owe to him here, slack and unresponsive as we are, is unspeakable. His work for children, youth, serious men and women, the moral leaders and prophets of our world is immeasurable. Our poor bewildered eyes cannot fail to see our whole higher human world as it moves in the radiance of his teaching and spirit. Yet
He is not now a glorious abstraction, a manufactured article of theology, doing logical duty mainly among doubtful propositions; he is the sovereign human force, near to man, infinitely attractive in his true character, the creator of the completest life possible for man. In his first disciples he turned peasants into prophets, fishermen into world
teachers for all time. That is the index of his greatest achievement.
The capacity for hero worship is perhaps the second best force in our being, and it is unsurpassed in setting free the highest in man, the power to worship God. The worship of God is the adoration of the Absolute worth and he who lives in ever-deepening admiration of the moral heroes of the race is on the way to the beatific vision. What Washington and Lincoln are to this nation with its ideals and hopes wise men know; what the prophets, apostles, martyrs, saints, the glorious servants of our kind, might mean for the renewal in successive generations of the Christian ideal and obligation our surest leaders begin to dream. Old Plutarch and his Lives set an example which has yet to be followed. Our wealth in heroes is undeveloped and unused.
When our living leaders surround our existence from first to last with a wise selection of the majestic dead our human world will awaken from its torpor like the earth in spring. And as the hero of all highest heroes, as worthiest among the worthy, we must present as the supreme creative force in men's soul the character of the Lord Jesus.
Our faith in God the God and Father of Jesus Christ, as Paul described him, imminent and yet transcendent, whose transcendence is the Infinite moral reserve of the universe, must of course be our ultimate confidence. Our world belongs to him, and we honor him best when we live in the sense of his responsibility for the race that he has made. Our faith in God must be for today and for all time. We must supplicate him to work through all the ideal energies of the race, to augment them without ceasing, and to renew in them the sense of his presence with men. We must not forget the demand of a New England theologian face to face with the reign of iniquity, “Give the Almighty time.” The campaign is eonian; where and when it will end we know not. As in the Platonic myth philosophy takes refuge in poetry so in our fight with the beast we follow the sure rational principles of our faith into the eternal world, and in imagination, we anticipate the sovereignty of those principles there. The vision of a universe clear of all sin, cleansed from every stain of moral evil, taken back as a perfected har
mony into the heart of the Absolute symphony, is for sincere souls the greatest militant faith that human beings can hold. Such a faith covers the struggle in time, in the name of Eternity, with inextinguishable hope.
This sense of Eternity is our strength as it works in the self-destructive nature of evil, declaring with old Ben Jonson "the devil is an ass"; as it manifests itself in the Deity alive in its constitution and in the higher experience of mankind; as it organizes itself in nobler forms of education and sets free great creative instincts through hero worship; as it becomes light and salvation in the Lord Jesus. This sense of Eternity is our ultimate ground of victory; here we have length and width and depth of vision; here are gathered for completer organization the moral forces and capacities of man; here operates and here stands in reserve the Eternal spirit. In this faith we call to one another in the darkest hours of the fight: