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him notanding is his peace of
seen by him? What if but echo of his teaching? What if stratification is marked on every page of his epistle? What if we see in it doctrinal thought in varying stages ? All of no consequence. The word speaks for itself; in itself finds its authority and power.
93. And thus the logical conclusion of Christ's teaching. He is no ascetic. In set terms He preaches no doctrine of self-sacrifice; but it follows as a simple, inevitable result. Man himself is changed. He has made choice of a higher good. He has a new table of values. He has found joy; the peace of God which passeth all understanding is his; and it proves impossible for him not to communicate his happiness. Acts to others, maybe last word in selfrenunciation, come to him as a matter of course. Life is different to him: he even finds his supreme bliss in that of another. He would be the last to admit that he has made any sarcifice of self. It was only his own pleasure he sought. It is but an accident that such pleasure is coincident with the pleasure of another. Or still, if pressed, he will point out that he has only taken a long shot. It was his own happiness he sought, but he had been taught by a higher wisdom that happiness is not always the guerdon of those who make it their direct pursuit. How impossibly sentimental ! would be our comment, but for the fact that we have actually known such saints. And with such ideal, how safe the perfect liberty that is in Christ. And more, how low amongst us to-day the standard required by the law, to the life led by many a most ordinary citizen. A sense of duty is far more exigent than any statute. And how vain any requirement of the law. Circumstances change every hour. The very function of life is adapting itself to changing conditions; but love the mainspring of action, and man will not wander far from the way. And for us to judge one another is impertinence itself. Who are we to sit in judgment on another? If a man do all
coudt The One is solely Duty Sonnasked is duty as a
that the law requires of him, discharge his duty as a citizen, it is officiousness for us unasked to say what further he should do. Duty done as between man and man, more is solely a matter between him and his God. The last form of righteousness Christ ever countenanced was righteousness for other people. But how of these who we know have no such love of God? Shall not the enlightened illumine the unenlightened? Yes, when my eating my dinner can satisfy your hunger. And who is the enlightened? Some selfsatisfied observer of forms? It is little that the spread of God's kingdom owes to such. As far as man's part in such spread has been concerned, it has been mostly found in self-sacrifice alone. Not that selfsacrifice was part of such teaching, only the inevitable result. Far from the thought of Christ in His teaching to lessen any joy of man, still more to suggest that in any possible way unhappiness can in itself be a good. Here He absolutely parts company with the ascetic, pagan, Buddhist, or savage who would see in suffering itself anything desirable or pleasing to an All-Father. That one may have to give up the pleasure of the moment for the higher pleasure to come may be the very necessary training of us all; but our end is a fuller happiness, not a lesser one. Probably all the higher pleasures of life will be found in giving up to-day for the sake of tomorrow. And certainly it seems a law of life that to those thus acting the world belongs. There is little good apart from self-denial in some form or another. Some make sacrifice for worthy, some for unworthy objects; but realization depends on such sacrifice. And if for unworthy objects, disillusion in the end is very real. On the other hand, sacrifice to bring another happiness is to find one's own assured. Thus the teaching of our great Master, but—but somehow we are not quite sureanyway, not as yet. As an academic proposition, a philosophy, it has our approval; as a working proposition, well. ... There we will leave it.
is very happinesse our
THE IDEAL ESTABLISHED.
194. From the god of the pagan—a god of terror, a god to be appeased—to the God “Our Father," as shown us by Christ, is a far cry. We are being ever reminded of the appalling history of the Church, of the passions and ambitions of its hierarchs, but here for a moment do let us glance at some undoubted work which it has done. After all, it is the world that makes its priests, and not the priests their world. More or less as other men they reflect their age, and are little better or worse than their contemporaries. No doubt they have found power and profit in this conception of a deity to be placated, but it is a little extreme to make them wholly responsible for the notion. The origin of it has to be sought in many social conditions, and whilst it has acted and reacted on them, it has been only gradually that a world, Christian and pagan alike, has been weaned from the horrors of this belief. And to help in this transition has been the work of the Church. It has been much facilitated by the teaching that in the death of Christ, supreme evidence of the love of God, the one allsufficient sacrifice has been made and all indebtedness of man been blotted out. But as years have passed and the story has sunk into a dim past the human mind, still afraid in its own terrors, wants re-assurance and assurance yet again that its debt is paid. And in the repeated service of the mass is such assurance found. And the human mind was the more ready to accept it in all its fulness as in it it found correspondence with ritual well established as part of pagan thought. In their mysteries, obsessed with the same fears, the devotees of many a current cult found peace and rest, and in oneness with the deity of their adoration, assurance was made doubly sure. And of these the best and purest and most sacred were the Eleusinian mysteries which subsisted well into the
Christian era, and of which the underlying thought was found in the beautiful hymn to Demeter and Ceres, attributed to Homer. And the goddess “ went to the law-administering kings . . . and showed them the performance of her sacred rite and appointed her hallowed orgies for all ... which it is in no wise lawful either to neglect, or to inquire into, or mention; for a mighty reverence of the god restrains the voice. Blest is he of mortal men who has beheld these; for he who is initiated, and he who partakes not in these rites, have by no means the same fortune although dead beneath the murky darkness.” We have observed how intense were these old pagan religions, a worship not of idols-mere aids to contemplation- but of the potencies behind them. Our interest in these particular Eleusinian mysteries is the greater because once more they are evidence of how far the teaching of Christ had spread. Once more we find in them a ceremonial persisting which otherwise it would be somewhat difficult to account for.
But even now, with so much progress made, mankind is not to be freed from the bondage of his past. The same terror revived in other guise is still to palsy the mind with fear of that awakening. God is our Father. True! But God can be an offended father; and though a God of love, above all God is just. And He has provided means of grace, and if wilfully put on one side. ... There is little difference in the schools of those days. The Reformation was very much of a political movement. No doubt it was given impulse by abuses then too prevalent in the Church, and it also largely connoted that puritan element in mankind which marked off the Jewish reformer from the rest of his world; but in essentials of belief it showed no great advance. God was still a God who could be offended—and offended, and woe, eternal woe the unhappy offender! With the Church they have the means of grace, and as to what these are, they are equally infallible. Infallibility has been the badge of every creed. Each with the same assurance cries : This way alone to salvation—all other roads lead to hell. And in their hells they vied with those of the pagan himself. And in the “ justice of God” was to be submerged the teaching of Christ, and to be revived all the horrors of those ancient terrible beliefs. But the fatherhood of God was too precious an idea to be lightly surrendered, and a world out of touch with its theology has made it the rock of its faith. God is all just. And so undoubtedly just that He will never give the child of His own making—the child which He loves- a free will to elect its own damnation. The simply not to have known Christ in this world is in itself all-sufficient punishment for the worst of sinners. It is no dread judge His child has to meet. It is no awful form demands his presence. He giveth His beloved sleep-a sleep that is to rejoice in a brighter and more joyous awakening than any here known. A paean of joy is his, the child of his Father. It is no wail of fear, no cry of horrible despair. It is his bliss that he had known his Master in this life. Others less fortunate may not even have heard His name. If he tells others of Christ, it is that others may have the present joy that knowledge of Him brings in this world, not to ensure his entry into God's presence in a world to come. In His house are many mansions, and God will have all His children with Him. He cannot do with one absent : rich and poor, high and low, wise and foolish, good and bad, enlightened and ignorant, His infinite love can be satisfied only when one and all are sharers in His joy.
95. Thus through the haze of time, the gloom of ignorance, the darkness of superstition, we see standing out in unique grandeur the figure of this great Master. We note Him the power of our world; we find Him centre of a faith purer, brighter, and better than any yet given to man. In two words He sums it all—“ Our Father.” As merest philosophy no teaching has brought mankind such increase of happiness as this one all-comprehensive thought. And not merely happiness that is to be, but happiness that is, happiness in this