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every man alike. All are included, slave as well as free, aboriginal as well as conquering race. Where else such all-embracing toleration ? Mysteries and religions were exclusive in those days. Men were not all prepared to meet at a common altar. The Jew was not the only superior person. Christ alone is the one universalist. And a passing thought: If the teacher be not found in Christ, where is he to be found? Chance platitudes here and there are no sufficient solution. This is the problem those have to solve and they are good men and learned men—who see no historical Christ. Whence the work, the masterworkman never existent? And non-existent, who the conceiver of so marvellous a creation? Nowhere in lore or legend do we find such teaching. The marvel is not to be found in the wonders attributed to Him, and common to every cult of the time, but that so infinitely outside His environment He could see deep into the heart of every man, and in an age of slavery, illusions, and shams, could preach realities, freedom, and truth. The man who conceived such thought would be as difficult to place and establish. Christ is the commanding figure of that past, and we can imagine no such past with Him wanting in it. Woman equal of man? In Christ she finds her liberty and rights. The slave, of less value than cattle, with his master may now join in the same worship. But it is in Christ alone he finds his right. With Christ no man so mean as to be beneath His notice; no man so great as to be above His teaching. His freedom was for one and all—for those their iron fetters galled, for those who hugged their golden chains. It was not that Christ came as setter aside of established rule. Freedom He confers, but it is freedom from within, freedom from the trammels of superstition, freedom from folly. Christ realized that for happiness there must be law and order. The worst law is better than no law. We never find His teaching in antagonism to ordered government. And so His apostles. We have the extreme instance of Onesimus, an escaped slave, whom Paul bids return to his master. Christ will not be trapped with the vexed question of the tribute money, but we are to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. It was altogether a higher freedom He would bring, freedom of the individual soul. It was against forms and observances, posing and pretending, that He fulminated—not against a necessary rule. Jew and Gentile alike were slave to outward observances, and He knew the misery of it all. We all must have our shibboleth to mark off the elect. And it cannot be said, Off to the brook with him! Not a second's hesitation. And Christ will have no elect. The worship of the Father was doing His will, and He never left in doubt what that will was. It was not praying, nor preaching, nor fasting, and talking, but doing—doing, with love the mainspring and driving force to make it effectual. And that His kingdom spread was that His early disciples did do His will—a very plainly indicated will —that men should live straight, moral, simple, joyous, unselfish lives. Thus they bore witness to the power within them, the power which knew no law. The slave no longer stole, the master no more was merciless, the maid no longer frail, the youth no longer false; and in a mutual respect was the safety of all. And the domestic life bore witness to the change. Husband and wife were one in their Lord, and honest toil was the rule of life, and in their moderation they commanded the respect of their fellow man. Beautiful talk the world has always been flooded with; it was in their lives they pointed to Christ. And it was their lives that first made a world wondering ask, What manner of teaching was it that inspired such acts ? And the same beautiful lives have kept Christ's torch burning through the ages; and as long as they exist we need never fear for His kingdom in this world.
91. And this the end of the freedom that Christ taught? To bring joy into life. This duty almost—to find a joy in life—was one of the striking features of Christ's philosophy. And the joy found by His disciples was one of the things that most impressed a joyless world. To others they seemed to have laid hold of some burning truth, which made them joyful at all times and ever desirous to share their joy. All going well, and they were seen enjoying life to the full. Everything ill, and still the same serenity and peacefulness was theirs. Yes, it was a wonderful thing, this new teaching—its best missionary a happy face. And it attracted. Others would know the secret of it. Whatever happened, they were children of their Father. All would be right. It was no simple fatalism. It was the confidence of the child when with its parents. Some will see in this the ideal of Epicurus. Quite possible; who shall say that such thought played no part in Christ's philosophy. But He was not Epicurus. He did not teach that joy or happiness was the end of life, the end to be pursued, and the disastrous results of which pursuit He too well knew; but the duty of finding joy in every condition of life, however placed. And more, He taught His disciples how such joy was to be theirs. It was no mystical, mythical, imaginary joy He meant, but the actual joy of actual life. Joy in work, joy in play, joy in feasting, joy in society, joy in children, joy in plenty, joy in wine, joy in the good things God had given man--joy as the worldly man understands joy. It was no long faces that Christ loved. He found no pleasure in the kill-joy. So much was this His attitude that those of His time deemed it necessary to expostulate with Him. Why, they demand, do the disciples of John fast oft and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees, but Thine eat and drink?--and enjoy the cornfields on the Sabbath day, as they angrily pointed out on another occasion. And His reply-imagine one more pungent, more complete repudiation of their lachrymose philosophy—“ Can the children of the bride-chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them?” Others might fast and pray, but the bridal party knew neither days nor hours nor seasons, but rejoicing only. Such the Jewish law in
its most meticulous severity. And Christ our bridegroom ever with us, our lives are to be one long day of rejoicing. For ever are to be ended the fast days, the Sabbaths, the fetishes so dear to the Pharisees of every age. For right into the heart of man Christ looks. “Give Me thy love," He asks; "'tis nothing more I want, with nothing less will I be content.” Give Me thy love, and in return I will give thee freedom, perfect freedom from the law, and, above all, from the shibboleths of man which would make of life a burden and of religion a curse. And joy He would have us possess—the joy of the wedding-feast is His illustration—a joy the culmination and realization of every earthly, not mere spiritual, desire. And He would have His disciples communicate their joy. Thus He would have His kingdom spread; in the radiance of their faces He would have them tell the prize which they have made their own.
And if, in addition to thus finding joy in our own life we can also bring a little joy into that of another we go far to justify our own existence.
Nor is this limited to the individual. It is a national, a universal truth as well. Woe to the man or nation who thinks to live to self alone.
92. And with every confidence Paul takes up the message of his Master. It is freedom, perfect freedom, freedom from the law in its entirety, that Christ came to bring mankind. And the result? What of a society with no law, no sanction, no authority? What the result? And in his magnificent letter to the Galatians he works out the answer to his own query. Perfect liberty knoweth no law; and result? Beautiful lives are the result. This the thesis he so grandly elaborates. Christ has made us free, we are under no law whatever; every command has been swept away, every form and every ceremonial—which for the moment was identified with the burning question of circumcision. In the eye of the Jew disciple, Christ was but an addition to Judaism. To accept Christ in His fulness, all other articles of Judaism had to be also accepted. It was practically the attitude of every disciple of other faiths as well. The Buddhist disciple would have the convert also accept the ordinary details of the Buddhist faith. So the Greek'; so the Egyptian. But for the moment it is Jewish thought that is in the ascendency, and it would impose itself on all alike. And circumcision was made the battleground, exactly as when the Idumaeans would join the old Jewish faith. It was the all-essential fetish of Judaism. It was their shibboleth, and it was to be the test of membership with Christ Himself. And Paul brushes it and every test aside. He will have no shibboleths. With Christ he abominates them and every other fetish of belief. And what did liberty like this mean? No such liberty had before been known. Perhaps for one short moment a Greek philosophy had striven to free man's mind; but the attempt had hardly made itself patent before it was still-born in a world with which it was out of sympathy. And this higher liberty of Paul? Liberty run riot. And then the beautiful conclusion: we are free in Christ; we have His spirit in us, and so why fear that our great liberty will be abused ? His Spirit in us, and His works will abound. And what such works? Attending the synagogue? Paying of tithes? Making of prayers? Giving of alms? Keeping the Sabbath?
-all duties dear to the theological mind. No, these do not happen to be mentioned, not even inferentially. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace wonderful triad of happiness—longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.”
And some of us are concerned that these writings have not come down to us exactly as we were once taught to believe. And what more do we ask than their own very enunciation in support of their message? What criticism can possibly affect such mighty words as these? What matter the human agency by which they have come to us? They have come. What matter if this epistle never was written by Paul? What if never