M. M. (Morrison Meade) Davis.

How to be saved : a study of first principles online

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follow them" (14: 13). The old man puts his hand
to his ear, saying, "My hearing is not as keen as it
once was; please repeat that verse to me;" and it is
repeated slowly and distinctly. "Thank God for
that precious passage," he continued. "It pro-
nounces a blessing on those who die 'in the Lord.'
I have been in him for fifty years and I am soon to
die. And it promises 'rest.' I am tired. The long,
rough road has worn me out. And now as a tender
mother at the close of day rocks the tired child to
sleep, so God will lay my wearied body down to rest
in the bosom of the earth till the resurrection morn.
But this is not all. It says my works are to follow
me. I have not done much, it is true, but I have
done something; and these little waves of influence
which I placed in motion, like pebbles dropped in
the sea, will continue to roll on long after I am
gone, and they will never stop until they reach the
shores of eternity."

His teacher quotes another passage: "And God
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there
shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying;
neither shall there be any more pain, for the former
things are passed away" (21:4). His old face
brightens, and he praises God that there will be no
pain, no sorrow, no tears and no death in the home
to which he is going.

A third time his reader quotes to him: "Blessed
are they who do his commandments, that they may
have right to the tree of life, and may enter in
through the gates into the city" (22:14). Again


this ripe old saint breaks forth in praise. "I remem-
ber," he says, "that in Eden, before sin came, our
parents held sweet communion with God, and dwelt
near the tree of life. But when sin entered they
were driven out into the cold, dark world; but in
Christ we are to regain all this, and to retain it for-
ever and forever." And with this last utterance
the angels came and bore his yearning spirit back to

A wonderful book is this. It found this young
man groping his way in darkness, and it gave him
light. It first led him to the Christ, the Son of
God, and the Saviour of men. It next told him how
to be saved. It then led him in ways of usefulness
and joy as a Christian. And finally it opened the
grave for him and hung a light in its dark vault;
it unbolted the gates of the New Jerusalem and
ushered him into the presence of the tree of hfe,
and God wiped all his tears away. How shall we
account for its perfect adaptation to the wants of
man? There is but one way: each has a common
author. The Being who created man with these
fourfold wants is the Author of this book with its
fourfold supplies.


1. Why is the New Testament of special inter-
est to us?

2. Is it systematically arranged?

3. Give the first want and first division.

4. What four miracles were studied by the
Hindoo ?


5. What was the purpose of the miracles?

6. Give the incident of "WilHe and LiUie."

7. What is the second want and second division?

8. Give the four classes outside the church.

9. Give the third want and third division.

10. Give the fourth want and fourth division.

11. What three passages are studied by the Hin-





1. Manifestations of Wisdom.

a. The Wisdom of Childhood.
h. The Sermon on the Mount.

c. Church and State.

d. Marriage in Heaven.

e. The Great Commandment.
/. The Adulterous Woman.
g. The Parables.

2. Peculiarities.

a. He Made No Mistakes.
h. He Spoke without Effort.

c. He Spoke without Hesitation or


d. He Never Expressed a Doubt.

e. His Language Supremely Simple.

/. He Combined Marvelous Sweep, Per-
fection AND Power.
g. His Words Are Full of Inspiration.
h. His Teachings Are Small in Bulk.

3. How Account for All This.

a. Not by Long Life and Experience.
h. Not by Superior Advantages.
c. But Because He is God Manifest in
the Flesh.

4. Manifestations of Purity.

a. Freedom from Selfishness.
h. Freedom from Ambition.


c. Freedom from Pride.

d. Freedom from Covetousness.

e. Freedom from Revenge.

/. Freedom from Sectarianism.

5. Completeness of His Character.

6. A Few Witnesses.



The Wisdom and Purity of the Christ.

In our studies thus far we have settled, we hope,
three important points: the existence of God, the
Bible as his message to man, and the perfect adapta-
tion of the New Testament to our spiritual wants.
In the last of these studies we found the Christ, and
saw something of his wonderful power — sufficient,
perhaps, for our present purposes. But in this and
in our next two studies we will linger about him.
He is so inseparably associated with Christianity that
he must have a large place in the study of its first
principles. We can not ignore the sun while we
study astronomy.

Our present purpose is to show that his wisdom

and purity prove his divinity. "Never man spake

like this man" (John 7:46). If he is divine, this

must be true. His speech must not be that of man

with his faults and frailties, but the voice of God,

and perfect as its Author.

a. The Wisdom of Child-

I. Manifestations hood. Doubtless His mother,
of His Wisdom , , „, .. .

when we see her, will tell us that

while he was a little boy playing about her knees,
he said many strangely wise things for one of his
years. But so far as the records show, his wisdom
was first manifested in his twelfth year. His par-
ents had taken him to Jerusalem. What wonders


greeted his vision. The great buildings, the mag-
nificent court, the impressive ritualism, the solemn
sacrifices, the sublime music, and the millions of
worshipers, must have deeply impressed his young
mind. But these were not the most impressive
things. The temple was the seat of Jewish knowl-
edge. There their teachers met in council; there
their Scriptures were interpreted; there the law was
expounded ; and so interested was the boy in all this
that when his parents started on the homeward
journey he lingered in this delightful atmosphere.
A search was made for him, and he was found in
the midst of these teachers, hearing them and asking
them questions (Luke 2:46). How we wish we
knew some of the questions he asked. But we will
have to wait till we pass over to the other side.

b. The Sermon on the Mount. Even at the
risk of being called sacrilegious, I venture to say
that this old and revered title "Sermon on the
Mount" is largely a misnomer. This is no mere
sermon, but rather the inaugural address of our
King as he mounts his throne and begins his reign;
a general summary of the principles in the charter
of the new government.

Is it feeble and commonplace? Does it savor of
the spirit and thought of the time and place in
which it was spoken? Does it not rise above these
like the dome of heaven rises above the earth? Is
not every word and sentence as fresh as when they
fell from the gracious lips of the great Teacher?
Does it not contain the germs of individual and
national civilization, and the truth by which a lost


world is to be saved? Does it not bear the unmis-
takable impress of heaven?

c. Church and State. Few questions are more
complex than that of church and state. And the
Pharisees and Herodians, anxious to involve Christ
in their party quarrels, asked him whether it was
lawful to pay taxes to Rome. A shrewd trap truly.
Whatever the answer, he must be entangled. If
he answers "Yes/' the Jews will turn against him.
If the answer is "No," the Romans will arrest him
as a rebel against Caesar. But his answer is neither
"Yes" nor "No." He called for a penny, bearing the
image and superscription of the Roman emperor,
and said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are
Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's,"
and thus laid down the only principle by which this
vexed question can be settled (Matt. 22: 15-22).

d. Marriage in Heaven. The Sadducee, with
his coarse conceptions, incapable of thinking on
spiritual things, thought to entangle Him on the
subject of marriage in the future world. They tell
him of a woman who had seven husbands, and the
seven were brothers, and ask, if there is to be such
a world, whose wife will she be. He told them that
life would be continuous, but that the true life was
spiritual, not fleshly, and therefore the future life,
as regarding marriage, would be like that of the
angels (Matt. 22:23-30).

e. The Great Commandment.. The Talmud
says there are 613 commandments — 248 positive and
365 negative — and none but an angel could keep
them, hence their anxiety to find one comprehensive


enough to embrace them all, and so he is asked:
"Master, which is the great commandment in the
law? Jesus said unto them, Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy mind." Here they would have
had him stop; for in their selfishness and conceit
they recognized no obligation to others. But he
did not stop, but continued: "This is the first and
great commandment; but the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these
two commandments hang all the law and the proph-
ets" (Matt. 22:34-40).

/. The Adulterous Woman. And when these
sanctimonious hypocrites, knowing his mercy to the
erring, seek to involve him in a controversy with
Moses, he drove the truth into their guilty con-
sciences by saying, "He that is without sin among
you, let him first cast a stone at her;" and they,
"being convicted by their own conscience, went out
cne by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the
last." And turning to the woman, he asked : "Where
are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned
thee? She said, No man. Lord. And Jesus said
unto her. Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin
no more" (John 8:3-11).

g. The Parables. Much of the Master's teach-
ing was parabolic, the simplest, and yet the most diffi-
cult method of teaching. At first sight one feels that
any one could use it. But here, as everywhere else,
Christ is inimitable. These parables refuse to be
duplicated. A brainy unbeliever once declared his
ability to duplicate them, and promised to do it in


one day. But at night he asked for more time, and
another day was given. When it was gone he still
wanted time, and a week was added. Then a month,
and then three months, when he gave up the effort,
saying he believed them beyond the power of man.
And such is the conviction of those who have
studied them most. They grow bigger and brighter
the more we study them; and what at first seemed
a surface truth, deepens into a fathomless sea; and
tlie margins apparently so near together become as
wide as the world.

Schaff well says: "Christ's intellect is truly mar-
velous; he was never deceived by appearances; he
penetrated through the surface, and always went
straight to the heart and marrow ; he never asked a
question which was not perfectly appropriate; he
never gave an answer which was not fully to the
point, or which could be better conceived or exressed,
How often did he silence his cavilers, the shrewd
and cunning priests and scribes, by a short sentence
which hit the nail on the head, or struck like light-
ning into their conscience, or wisely evaded the trap
laid for him. Is such an intellect clear as the sky,
bracing as the mountain air, sharp and penetrating
as a sword, thoroughly healthy and vigorous, always
ready and always self-possessed" — is this the intel-
lect of a mere man? Is he but one in many of the
world's great thinkers ? Is he not rather the many in
one — totalized humanity? Is his not a voice divine?
There are striking peculiarities
about the wisdom of Christ which
argue with equal force his divinity.


a. He Made No Mistakes. Other great teachers,
as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, often confess their
errors. But Christ made no such confession. And
the shrewd enemies who watched his every word and
work, failed to find a mistake.

h. He Spoke without Effort. Other famous
men often reach dizzy summits, but it is after long
and labored effort. But he speaks the highest truth
in simplest tones, and there is no sign of weariness;
no more than in the mountain spring from which
fresh, sweet water is always gushing.

c. He Spoke without Hesitation or Consul-
tation. The wisest men hesitate and consult before
venturing an answer on great questions. But Christ,
whatever the question, always answered promptly,
and without counsel. On the green grass, on the bow
of the boat, on the mountain-side, in the home, in the
synagogue, everywhere this was true.

d. He Never Expressed a Doubt. Even great
Socrates often left his disciples in doubt. Of im-
mortality he said: "If death is a removal hence to
another place, and if what is said of death is true,
then those who live in Hades are henceforth im-
mortal." And among his last words, after receiving
the fatal cup, he said: "The hour of separation has
come ; I go to die, and you to live ; but as to which
of us is destined to an improved being is concealed
from every one except God." But however intricate
and difficult the theme, Christ always spoke with
absolute assurance.

e. His Language Was Supremely Simple.
Goldsmith says of Johnson: "You make your little


fish talk like whales." And many others have this
fondness for swollen language. But Christ spoke o£
the loftiest subjects in the simplest language. Who
ever needs a dictionary to study his words ? His lan-
guage is simple enough for a primer, and yet each
word sparkles like a gem, and his sentences and ser-
mons dazzle like a cabinet filled with diamonds. No
wonder the common people heard him gladly.

/. He Combined Marvelous Sweep, Perfection
AND Power. Read the parable of the prodigal son.
Note its mastery of principles; its breadth of vision;
its knowledge of the human heart ; its simplicity of
definition and its grasping and grouping of details.
One might as well attempt to brighten the sun or
sweeten the rose as to try to improve this masterpiece
in composition. And Dickens, supreme in the
pathetic style, when asked for the most pathetic
story in literature, answered, "The Prodigal Son."

g. His Words Are Full of Inspiration.
Shakespeare has inspired many during the three hun-
dred years since he wrote. It is claimed that "twelve
great students of four nationalities" have written
commentaries on his dramas. This is remarkable.
But no admirer of the bard of Stratford has been
inspired by him to leave home and loved ones and
go to darkest Africa to give the message of his
adored master to the people there. Yet during the
last century alone the intellectual stimulus of
Christ's v/ords has been so great that more than
two hundred dictionaries and grammars, in as many
dififerent languages and dialects, have been given
to the world.


h. His Teachings Are Small in Bulk. We
regret that no shorthand reporter was there to
catch every word of wisdom as it fell from his lips,
and so we have but little of his teaching. Augus-
tine uses thirty volumes to systematize his theol-
ogy; and Calvin uses forty; and Paul writes more
of the New Testament than does its Lord. We
can easily read all he said in a single hour. He
seemed not to care to preserve his words, but cast
them abroad like the sower does the seed, knowing
that they would not return unto him void, but would
accomplish that whereunto they were sent (Isa. 55:


There must be a solution for
3. How Account .i • , u i iiri- ^ •

- for All This strange problem. What is


a. It Is Not His Long Life and Rich Expe-
rience. Socrates was threescore and ten when
he drank the fatal poison; and Plato was eleven
years older when he died. But Christ was only
thirty-three when they nailed him to the cross.

b. It Is Not His Superior Advantages. The
world's famous teachers have generally been life-
long students under the most favorable circum-
stances. Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, etc., spent their
lives in studying books and listening to living teach-
ers. And they traversed the world in search of
knowledge. They sat at the feet of the priests,
sages and philosophers of Egypt, India, Italy and
Greece. But Christ had no schools except the very
poor ones of his people, and no books except the
Old Testament, and he was too busy at the car-


penter's bench to go to the world's famous teachers,
and there were no great ones in Galilee.

c. Because He Is God Manifest in the
Flesh. In the eloquent language of another we
close: "Without science and learning he has shed
more light on things human and divine than all
other scholars and philosophers combined. With-
out the eloquence of the schools he has spoken
such words of beauty and power as were never
spoken before or since. Without writing a single
line, he has set in motion more pens, furnished
themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, and
sublime poems and works of art, than whole armies
of great men of ancient and modern times. He has
built a pyramid of knowledge to which no man has
made an addition in two thousand years."

„ ., . If Jesus is divine, he must be

4. Manifestations r ^ • ,

of His Purity ^^ perfect m purity as we have
found him in wisdom ; and if he is
thus perfect, he is divine. Here the issue is sharply
drawn, for what greater exception in human life
than to find a sinless man?

Plutarch says: "The evil passions of men are
inborn, and not introduced from without; and if
strict discipline did not come to the aid, man would
hardly be tamer than the wildest beast." Seneca
says: "All is full of crime and vice. Iniquity pre-
vails in every heart; and innocence has not only
become rare, but has entirely disappeared." And
Marcus Aurelius says: "Faithfulness, sense of hon-
or, righteousness and truth have taken their flight
from the wide earth to heaven."


And this testimony from heathendom is corrobo-
rated by the church. The entire Christian world,
Greek, Latin and Protestant, is a unit as to the
universaHty of sin. Even the Virgin Mary is not
an exception, for her sinlessness is explained in a
Papal decision of 1854, as the result of a miraculous
interposition, and the reflex influence of her holy

But, bad as was the world at large, there was
never a worse age and place than those of the
advent of Christ. When he looked out from the
manger of Bethlehem he saw a world rotten to
the core. This was specially true of Palestine,
and in Palestine there was no spot quite so bad
as Nazareth. It was so corrupt that there was
a proverb: "No good thing cometh out of Naz-
areth." It was the headquarters of the Roman
legions, and, maelstrom-like, had sucked into its
voracious maw all evil. There is no such place of
corruption as a mass of men with no women except
those who are bad. The best people fled from the
place as from a pestilence. And yet it was here
Christ spent his childhood, youth and manhood,
and it was here he grew into the fairest flower that
ever bloomed in the gardens of God. Like the
water-lily in the filthy slough, he developed the
whiteness and purity of the snow despite his sur-

This is the high claim we make for our Christ.
We assert that he is the only one who has carried
the spotless purity of childhood through youth and
manhood ; the only one who has passed through life,


touching it at every point, and then emerging from
the tomb and going back to the bosom of the
Father as pure as when he came. And this is the
claim he makes for himself. Speaking to those
who were thirsting for his blood, he said: "Who
of you convicteth me of sin?" (John 8:46). And
this challenge has been ringing down through the
ages from that day to this, and no man has yet
been able to convict him of sin.

In the light of the law of environment this is
marvelous. Man has been called a creature of cir-
cumstances. He seldom rises above his surround-
ings, and his early influences usually cling to him
through life, making or marring his character. No
one expects the powers of resistance in the hothouse
plant, and no one expects them absent from the
storm-shaken oak on the unsheltered hills. Oliver
Twist never fully recovered from his stay in Fagin's
den, and Jean Valjean never cast off the influence
of his convict life. But Christ, the Sun of right-
eousness (Mai. 4:2), was as little contaminated by
the evils which surrounded him as is the king of
day who lights and purifies the filthy earth.
Let us now note this thought in detail:
a. He Was Free from Selfishness. This
detestable vice, so abhorred in others, and yet so
common in ourselves, had no place in him. It was
he who said: "It is more blessed to give than to
receive." And when we imbibe this spirit we move
out from the lowlands of selfishness, where every
drop of blood is poisoned, and we are sick and
barren, to the highlands of benevolence, where is


perpetual health, joy and f ruitfulness. Renan says :
"He is free from all selfishness, the source of our
sorrow, and thought only of his work, his race and

h. He Was Free from Ambition. He was
ambitious, it is true, but it was a holy ambition. He
would reign, but only in the hearts of men; and for
them he freely gave his love, his life, and his
heart's blood. His ambition was unlike that of
Cyrus, Alexander and Napoleon as vice is unlike
virtue, as right is unlike wrong. His people once
pressed him to take a crown, but he departed from
them into a mountain that he might be alone with
his Father (John 6: 15). "Ecce Homo" says: "We
scarcely know which to admire most, the prodigious
originality of his conceptions, or his entire free-
dom from worldly ambition in the execution of his

c. He Was Free from Pride. This was the
first sin to enter the human heart, and it seems
determined to be the last to leave it. Give man
money, position and power, and he is filled with
pride. When the flowers are fullest of the dews of
heaven, and when the wheat is richest and ripest,
they bow their heads in gratitude; but the more we
are enriched of God, the higher our heads. But
how different the Christ. When he preached his
great sermons he acted as if there were scores about
him who could have done better. After his stupen-
dous miracles he seemed unconscious of the fact
that he was the only being on earth who could do
such deeds. When he lifted the heavy heel of death


from the heart of Lazarus he walked away from
the grave as if he were leaving the carpenter's
shop after a day of ordinary toil.

d. He Was Free from Covetousness. This sin
is well-nigh universal among men, but there is no
trace of it in the Saviour. He might have had mil-
lions for his cures, and yet he lived and died the
poorest of the poor. "The foxes have holes, and
the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man
hath not where to rest his head" (Matt. 8: 20). He
was so poor that a miracle was necessary to pay
his temple tax (Matt. 17:24-27). And he was so
poor in death that his body rested in a borrowed
grave (Matt. 27:59, 60).

e. He Was Free from Revenge. Plato, being
told that some one was circulating slanderous and
malicious reports about him, said: "What of it? I
will take care to so live that none will believe
them." How beautiful the thought that a pure life
is its own best defense; and how noble the heart
that would only silence, not harm, an enemy. But
Christ seeks not simply to silence, but to save, his
foes. When in the death agony of Calvary, he
prayed: "Father, forgive them; they know not
what they do." And when he sent his disciples
forth to save men, he told them to go first to Jeru-
salem and preach to those who murdered him.

/. He Was Free from Sectarianism. How
great the difference between Jesus and the great
men of the world at this point. They are sectional,
but he is universal. They are identified with some
particular people and age, and partake of their


peculiarities. Even great Moses, who is honored
and revered in three religions, is not only a Jew
by birth, but he is also a Jew in feelings, habit
and thought. Demosthenes rose high in his day, but
he never rose above the Greek type of thought and
character. Luther can never be understood if not
studied as a German. Calvin, though exiled from

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