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body is allied to the animals, man himself is
related to the infinite Spirit.

Stand fast in the faith that each man is free.
The fundamental truth of religion is that man
is a spirit. That goes before the reality of G-od,
since because we are spirits we know G-od. If
we are not spirits we can have no more idea of



Faith for Our Time. 125

God than a rock can have of the music of the
spheres. This shows that the effect of false
philosophy may be as pernicious as that of false
religion. If I am a spirit I may rise to the
inference that there is a Father of Spirits ; if I
am not a spirit, I should infer and aspire no
more than other things. Following this point,
and equally important, is the realisation of free-
dom. Every individual is so constituted that
he may decide for himself what his character
shall be. I do not say decide what he will do f
for a man may choose one thing and be com-
pelled to do another. What is done voluntarily
is a revelation of character. What is done
from compulsion simply shows that for the time
one is in the hands of a resistless force. No
one blames himself for doing what he is com-
pelled to do, and no one else blames him for so
doing. We condemn ourselves when we choose
that which we know to be wrong. A man is free
when he may choose either right or wrong. If
he cannot choose, there is no right and no
wrong, and no such thing as moral action.
There is in our time a rather unusual tendency
toward belief that men are not free. The study
of heredity without reference to other equally
evident facts leads directly to fatalism. The
old Calvinistic theology, with its highly moral
motives, knocked the foundation from under
morality by its emphasis on the doctrine of
Election. Many persons are still living under



126 Faith for Our Time.

the shadow of teaching which says that what
men do was ordained from the foundation of
the world. Then the Diety is responsible for
human conduct, not those who have no choice.
On all sides we hear words like these : " It
makes no difference what we do, it will all be
the same in the end." " When my time comes
I shall die." This tendency in thought works
bitter ruin, because it leads to justification of
wrong-doing, especially sensuality. Men say
that they were born as they are, that they do
not and cannot choose their courses, but are
impelled to them. There is some truth in this
statement. No man chooses his heredity ; nor
has he any chance to say where he would like
to be born or how he would be trained — but
still freedom is also a fact, and that it is funda-
mental and indestructible consciousness certifies.
You ask why this is so greatly emphasized?
Because there will be no attempt to do right,
and no strenuous resistance of wrong, when
men believe that righteousness is beyond their
reach, and that the battle against evil tendency
is hopeless. No man fights when he knows
that he must fail. If we are not free, then we
do what we must, and whether we lie or steal,
sacrifice or love, the moral quality of our acts is
the same. Not free? A burglar enters a
house ; is detected ; to make his escape shoots
and kills the father of a family. Do not blame
that burglar; he did what he must do. Not



Faith for Our Time. 127

free ? Against the background of lofty snow-
peaks and barren rocky precipices is lifted a
little wooden cross. A broken-hearted mother
kneels there and prays. " Poor, silly thing ! "
someone says ; and someone else : ' ' How touch-
ing ! " But if she is not free she is only doing
what she must, and is unworthy either of praise
or blame. That person is in infinite peril who
begins to argue that he is impelled to his con-
duct by inherited tendencies which are resist-
less. High standards of conduct are dependent
upon a keen consciousness of freedom. Every
man is free to choose. Therefore character is
not something ready-made and to be put on like
a garment, but something which every man
makes for himself. Destiny in a certain real
sense is the result of individual choice.

"Stand fast in the faith." What faith?
Faith in the moral order of the world. Notice
the progression in the thought. Men are
spirits, allied to that which is above ; they are
free, therefore appeals can be made to them to
choose the right and to avoid the wrong ; they
are the subjects of a moral order. What does
that mean ? To say that we live in a physical
order is only saying that we inhabit a world in
which if we leap from a precipice we will be
dashed in pieces ; if we inhale foul gases we will
be made sick ; if we are fastened in a burning
building we will be burned. No man can get
out of the physical order. The laws of nature



128 Faith foe Our Time.

are everywhere ; if they are obeyed they
become servants ; if they are disobeyed they des-
troy. If a skipper puts his rudder one way the
wind will fill his sails ; if he puts it another the
same wind will send him to the bottom of the sea.
Now while our bodies are subject to the physical
order our spirits are subject to the moral order.
The moral laws are as universal and regular as
the movement of the tides or the sweep of the
stars. This moral order manifests itself in two
ways : in the lives of individuals, and in the
movement of society. The distinction between
truth and error, between right and wrong, is
clear, universal and eternal. Eighteousness
always brings blessing ; wrong-doing is always
followed by suffering. If one leaps overboard
in mid-ocean he cannot expect that the waters
will suddenly become buoyant ; but he might as
wisely do so as to imagine that he can believe a
lie or commit a crime and escape loss and misery.
This is the one way in which the moral order of
the world appears. The other way is in the fact
that all things are moving toward blessing, and
every flower, every tree, every waterfall, every
mountain, and the combined action of all
individuals, however evil their courses may he be
when taken singly, together work out an evident
purpose of love. A thousand discords may form
a noble harmony, and this world is so arranged
that a thousand evil lives may work toward a
beneficent and blessed society. No thanks to



Faith for Our Time. 129

the individual ; all thanks to Him who turns
even evil into a minister of benefit. The moral
order is as real and as inexorable as the physi-
cal. Everywhere and for ever truth and right
issue in blessing ; everywhere error and wrong
end in misery and death. And yet in spite of all
antagonisms events are so overruled that each
year the race moves steadily and gloriously
onward and upward. No wrong goes unpun-
ished. The politician may buy votes, or he may
sell the welfare of the community for the suc-
cess of his party, and say that the end justifies
the means. It does not, and sometime he will
learn that his crime is of the same nature as
that of Judas. Others may imagine that things
done in the da rk are hidden ; but the darkness
hides nothing ; the day in which all things shall
be revealed swiftly approaches, and retribution
and judgment are as inexorable in the moral as
in the physical order. The first man disobeyed,
and was cast out of the garden ; the chosen
people forgot Jehovah, and became a by-word
among the nations. On the other hand the
Apostles were persecuted, but those who died
unknown are now leading the procession of the
nations. On the very spot near Constance
where John Huss was burned a monument is
raised to his memory. The blood of the mar-
tyrs is the seed of the Church. Never imagine
that this moral order will make an exception of
any one. Never dream that secret sin is

9



130 Faith for Our Time.

unknown to your fellow men, much less to G-od.
Never lose heart because work is not appreciated
— all good work tells some time. Above all,
never for one moment, because one individual
or a million go wrong, think that the end of all
things is to be collapse. To see Grodless nations
and individuals receiving their merited doom,
and then to find that each new century lifts the
race nearer the " one far-off divine event," is to
make belief in Providence imperative. The
moral order is proven by science, by scripture,
by history, and every man who turns his eye
inward sees in the depths of his own conscious-
ness something more wonderful than the starry
heavens above.

"Stand fast in the faith "—what faith?
Faith in man as a spirit ; one who is always free
to choose as he will, and yet who is the subject
of a moral order from which he can never escape ;
and still more, stand fast in absolute confidence
and gladness in the Divine grace. An eminent
Christian thinker recently said : " It is time to
bring back into our English speech the good old
word e grace/ "* The word matters little, but
the fact of which that word is the symbol dis-
tinguishes Christianity. "Man is a spirit."
" Yes," says natural religion ; "yes," says the
profoundest philosophy; "yes," say Buddha,
Zoroaster, Mahommed. "Man is free." "Yes,"
philosophy says again ; " yes," say all schools of

* Eev. P. T. Forsyth, D.D., Cambridge, England.



Faith for Our Time. 131

morals which have any place for the idea of
duty. "Man is in a moral order." "Yes,"
say all religions equally with the Christian, for
all declare that righteousness ends in blessing
and wickedness in misery. But suppose that
this free spirit has violated the moral order
from which he cannot escape ; suppose he has
preferred to follow a lie ; in the place of purity
has chosen to be impure, and instead of honour
has chosen dishonour. Is he only like a man
falling from a precipice ? Is there no fate for
him but to be dashed in pieces ? " Nature
never overlooks a mistake," says the materialist;
"not until a man has achieved goodness by his
own strength can he be good," say most of the
religions ; but our Master, the Christ, uttered a
Divine truth when He represented the prodigal
coming to himself and finding that his father
had never ceased to long for his return. " No
escape from moral law as there is none from
physical law," say all other teachers ; but that
Man of Nazareth says, " Though you have done
wrong and deserve nothing but suffering, yet
you are in the hands of One who for His own
sake cannot allow any to perish who are willing
to be saved." Nature is beneficent as well as
just. It is as much a Divine law that one who
repents shall be treated as if he had not first
chosen sin, as that he who so chooses and con-
tinues in wrong-doing shall perish. This is the
message that all men need. Men know their guilt,



132 Faith for Our Time.

and it is difficult for them to believe that there
is any way out of the abyss into which they
have fallen. But there is. Jesus Christ lived
in this world to make every one understand
that no one is so utterly lost, so absolutely un-
deserving, but what all that the cross symbolises
— sacrifice even unto death — will be used to
bring him to his true life. If there is one
message more Christian than another it is that
which declares that though the moral law is
inexorable those who repent and turn from their
wrong are subject to another law — the law of
grace, which says that when the vilest forsakes
his evil and seeks a new life all the energy of
God is on the side of the penitent. That is the
message for the prisons and the slums, for the
outcast and the desolate. That is the truth for
those who have committed great sins, and whose
hearts are being consumed with anxiety and
remorse. Such persons are all about us. Those
who can read human eyes see revealed in them
strange secrets. In the ears of all men sounds
this great word "grace," which means, You
deserve nothing, but out of pure love your
Father offers you a new chance and Divine
strength. God is what Christ was when He
prayed for those who crucified Him. Trust
Him. You can do nothing; but you may accept
what He gives.

These are some of the elements of the faith
for which all Christians should stand. They



Faith foe Our Time. 133

may have been in the mind of Paul when he
wrote to the Corinthians, and they may not;
they would be a part of his message if he were
speaking to-day. As they are appreciated life
will be happy and fruitful ; without them, joy,
hope, usefulness are impossible.

Stand fast in this faith — let nothing shake it :
Man is a spirit ; the body is his house ; his true
companionship is with spirits ; death belongs to
matter ; life is the quality of spirits.

Man is free. He can choose as he will. If
circumstances bind him to the earth his love
and choice can take hold of truth and right,
and no power can break their grasp.

Man is in a moral order. He realises his
being only as he does right and follows truth ;
truth and right bring peace and joy ; error and
wrong are for ever tied to misery.

But no man is so utterly lost that he may not,
if he only will, receive strength to conquer all
the tendencies that drag him down, and such an
illumination of mind and heart as will assure
him that nothing can separate him from the
love of God.

To conclude, then, once more remember :
That you are a spirit ; that you are free ; that
you are in a moral order ; that God is gracious,
and there is pardon and strength for all who
repent and follow Jesus Christ.



IX.

THE CHURCH A SOCIETY OF
SAVIOURS.



IX.
THE CHUECH A SOCIETY OF SAVIOIJRS.

•* As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so sent I them
into the world." — John xvii. 18.

These words are a part of the prayer of our
Lord for His disciples just before His betrayal.
The Supper had been eaten, and the shadow of
impending calamity rested upon the company.
The spirit of the Master was heavy as He drew
near to Gethsemane and Calvary. For the last
time during His earthly ministry He was alone
with His disciples, and the words which He
spoke to them were of the nature of a final
exhortation. This prayer from beginning to
end is the loftiest utterance in the Holy Scrip-
tures. In that sacred hour when He was speak-
ing what He desired to have His disciples
remember for their inspiration and guidance
after He had gone ; when He looked into the
future and saw what trials would press upon
them, He commended His companions to His
Father and their Father, and spoke the words
of our text : " As Thou didst send Me into the
world, even so sent I them into the world."
Similar words were uttered after the crucifixion
and resurrection. The disciples were in an



138 The Church a Society of Saviours.

upper room thinking of the One who had gone ;
trying to understand their situation without
Him who for months had been more than
friend and brother, when suddenly He appeared
in their midst. No door opened to admit Him ;
as a pure spirit He stood in their presence, and
said, " Peace be upon you. As the Father hath
sent Me, even so send I you." Here we have
the charter of the Christian Church. The dis-
ciples of Christ are the subjects of a Divine
commission ; they are sent by their Master to
continue His ministry ; that which He was they
are to be. This text is susceptible of but one
rational explanation. It distinctly states that
when the Master left the earth He committed
to His disciples His ministry ; that which He
had been they were to be ; that which He had
left incomplete they were to carry on to com-
pletion. In this intercessory prayer He says,
" I pray not for these only, but for those who
shall believe on Me through their word." Thus
He links together His disciples in all centuries,
and makes the text refer to us as truly as to
those to whom it was first spoken.

In these days when the Church is confused
with forms and ceremonies, with creeds and
rituals, when we ask, What shall we believe ?
when speculation is crowding itself into the
place that belongs to life, it is well to heed that
Divine declaration : " As Thou didst send Me
into the world, even so sent I them into the



The Church a Society op Saviours. 139

world." This prayer would never have been
offered had there not been a vital relation
between the Master and His followers. Christ's
work is God's work, and yet ours. The Church
is not a human society ; it is a communion of
those who have received the Divine life. They
may all hold the same creed, or they may not ;
they may worship in the same or in different
forms. The Church is not a club. It is God
in human hearts, doing the same things
which He did in Jesus of Nazareth. Did He
go about doing good? So will His followers.
Was He sensitive to suffering and sorrow ?
Was it impossible for Him not to attract the
sick, blind, deaf, and those possessed with
devils? There is a similar sensitiveness and
attraction in those in whom He dwells. Was
His life in union with the Father, so that He
could say, "Not My will, but Thine " ? In like
manner His followers lift up weak hands and
breaking hearts, and cry in His words, " If it
be possible, let this cup pass from me ; neverthe-
less not as I will, but as Thou wilt." God has
never been absent from the world. Therefore
ours is not only a Divine, but a world-old and
world-wide ministry. The same Spirit who
brooded upon the face of the waters "in the
beginning," who inspired prophets and psalm-
ists, who descended upon Jesus of Nazareth,
the Spirit of the Day of Pentecost, the
Spirit who in these times is convicting of



14-0 The Church a Society op Saviours.

sin and leading beneath, larger horizons and
into fuller knowledge, has never been absent
from humanity. The saving of men is an
eternal process.

Christians are in the world to he what Christ
was, and to do what He did. He came to save,
to comf ort, to bring in better conditions ; but
before all these, to live in and before men the very
life of God, so that they might have at least
some dim idea of what the Divine is, of a
higher realm, and of the Father who claims all
for that which is lovely and good. Our true
destiny is not realised in eating, drinking,
marrying, giving in marriage, and then dying,
but there is that within all which has kinship
with something better and more enduring. Into
the darkness of humanity which was brutalised
there came One who lived the essential life of
the eternities. The mission of Christ in the
world was to be light in darkness, joy in sorrow,
God in humanity. The principle of the Incar-
nation is of universal application. Words are
only symbols ; the fact must be known before
the word can convey meaning. Christ on the
earth is God in humanity, revealing not only His
own existence, but making clear the noble
possibilities of man ; He is God among men,
claiming them for higher things. How can we
be as God in the world ? We need not inquire.
Suppose the reflector in a lighthouse lantern
were to ask, " How can I reflect the light in the



The Church a Society of Saviours. 141

midst of this waste of waters with the fury of
midnight storms beating upon me ? " The
answer would be, "You have nothing to do
except to keep your surface polished in order
that the light may be reflected. Keep yourself
right, and the light will do the rest." Chris-
tians are reflectors of God. It is their duty to
keep clear and clean that upon which the Divine
glory shines, so that its radiance may reach into
all dark places. "When they turn from evil and
open their hearts to God His light shines from
them, and others see in them something of Him.
Christians who realise their name and privilege
show in their time what God is ; they live on
the earth the very life of the Eternal.

Christ was a Saviour from pain and misery. In
the fullest and truest sense He became man,
fathomed the depths of suffering, not from
curiosity, but for the purpose of bearing
burdens. He is called "the Burden-Bearer,"
"the Great Physician." He went about
doing good; He was sensitive to all that is
human. There have been misunderstandings
concerning the teachings of Christ, and con-
troversy concerning the mystery of His person,
but neither concerning what He came to
do. Theologians and mechanics are in accord
when they speak of His work. Differences
arise only when some one attempts to get
back of facts. Those in sorrow turn to His
words ; when death breaks the unity of human



142 The Church a Society of Saviours.

homes no music is so sweet as that which fell
from His lips ; when poverty grinds the faces of
the poor, they lift themselves in rebellion against
social conditions, cry out against the State and
the Church, but cheer to the echo the name of
Him whom many do not hesitate to call "the
first great Socialist." With all the exaggeration
and extravagance with which His life has been
interpreted, humanity gathers around Him as the
One who, more than any other, has lived for the
purpose of alleviating suffering, healing disease,
bringing better social conditions, and completing
the life of man. What He was His followers
are intended to be. Thousands in this world
are magnetic to suffering; they attract it as
mountains attract storms. Why do some have
the poor and sick ever at their elbows ? Because
in them there is something like Christ. The
Church exists to save men from suffering,
poverty, disappointment, from everything which
works misery ; and when salvation is impossible,
to bring comfort and strength, so that evils
which cannot be removed may be endured.
Think of that Man going into those homes and
among those people with this sole thought:
How may I be a blessing to the sick and sorrow-
ing ? How may I get my shoulder under the
burdens which are crushing hope and joy out of
these my brothers ? What is needed in this
time, when men are asking whether the founda-
tions of faith and the social order are not break-



The Church a Society of Saviours. 143

ing ; whether there is any God and any eternal
life ; whether the Bible is different from other
books, is such a revelation of God in humanity
as was seen when the Master walked the earth.
Nothing can resist Divine life. Do not let us
limit the charter under which we work. We
are called to be the world's saviours ; not only
to save individual sinners from the future
penalties of sin, but to make conditions into
which men may grow, so that their tears will be
fewer, their hunger less pressing, the sights they
see cleaner, the thoughts they think purer. We
are ordained to go to those in the grasp of deadly
disease, and show that though disease may not
be cured, it may be turned into blessing. We
are to realise, and help others to do likewise,
that loss of wealth cannot separate from the love
of God ; that houses and lands may go, and the
losers be the gainers. Hear that word ringing
down the centuries, "Even so send I you."
Sorrow and trial, suffering and sin are close by
us as we walk the streets ; they crowd their way
into our very houses. " Even so send I you,'*
not simply to bind up the broken-hearted, but to
find the broken-hearted. Heavenly things can
be manifested only through things earthly.
Human sympathy is the medium through which
the Divine works. God binds up broken hearts
with human hands. Not to dispute about what
no one understands, but to go as Christ did,
gracious and full of compassion, among the poor



144 The Church a Society of Saviours.

and sick, wherever there are those without the
faculty to get along, and work with them — that
is the mission of the Christian. The Church is
not for heaven, but for earth. Eternity will be
all right if we make time right. Think what
the world was with one Saviour in it ! Think
what it would be with a thousand saviours in it !
Think what one Man has done to scatter dark-
ness, reveal truth, bring in love ! Think what
this world would be if all who bear the Christian
name, in palace and hovel, among cultured and
ignorant, had His spirit, and were serving as He
served ! Eing out the old selfishness ! Eing in
the new Christlikeness ! The Christian Church
is a society of saviours, and if it is a society of
saviours, each member of it ought to be an
individual saviour.

The supreme object which brought our Master
to the earth was the giving of life to those who
were dead in sin. " I came that they might
have life, and have it abundantly." " His name
shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His
people from their sins." His disciples are
called to fellowship with Him in saving indi-
viduals and society from sin. I am not able to
find from a study of the New Testament that
His work in salvation was essentially unlike that
which belongs to His disciples. It was different
in degree, but not in character. Of course I


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