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corrupt, and ruin our fellows. No man ever had the face to do such a
thing. No; books may have taught such things, but they never taught them
as noble things. The man never lived, that would stand up and say, "It
is a glorious thing to betray trust, or to ruin one's country, or to
blaspheme God." Men do such things, but they don't reverence nor respect
themselves for doing them.

This then being settled - and it is a stupendous fact - the right
principle about culture, being thus set up, high and irrepealable in the
human conscience and in the sentiments of all mankind - what says the
common judgment of men about the happiness or misery of following the
right? Does it say - "It is a blessed thing to be a bad man; it is good
and wise to be a base or cruel man." Does it say - "Happy is the miser,
the knave, the drunkard." No, it does not. There is temptation to do
wrong; _that_ all know; there is a notion that it may promote some
temporary interest or pleasure; there is a disposition in many, to
prefer some sensual gratification to the purer satisfactions of the
higher nature; but there is, at the same time, a deep-founded
conviction, that misery in the long run must follow sin; that the
everlasting law of God has so ordained it to _be_; and that only the
pure, the noble, the heroic, the good and godlike affections can ever
make such a nature as ours, content and happy.

Here then is another stupendous principle settled. And now, I say, this
being is a lover of happiness. He is not wise; he is not clear-seeing;
he is not good either - _i.e._, he is not fixedly and determinately good;
he is weak too; he is easily misled; he is often rebellious to the
higher laws of his nature; but - I hold to that - he is a lover of
happiness; and happiness, he knows, can never be found, but in obedience
to those higher laws. He is a lover of happiness, I say; he cannot be
worse off, without wishing to be better off; if he is sick, he wants to
be well; if his roof lets in the rain, he will have it repaired; if the
meanest implement he uses, is broken, he will have it mended. Is it not
natural - is it not inevitable, that this tendency should yet develop
itself in the higher concerns of his being? Is it not in the natural
order of things, that the higher should at length gain the ascendency
over the lower, the stronger over the weaker, the nobler over the
meaner? How can it be thought - how can it _be_, in the realm of Infinite
Beneficence and Wisdom, that meanness and vileness, sin and ruin should
be strong and prevail, and gain victory upon victory, and spread curse
beyond curse, and draw their dark trail over the bright eternity of

No, in the order of things, this cannot be. Grant that there are evils,
difficulties, obstacles in the way. But in the order of things,
principles do not give way before temporary disturbances. Law does not
yield to confusion. Gravitation binds the earth, notwithstanding all the
turmoil upon its bosom. Light prevails over darkness, though cloud and
storm and night interrupt its course. The _moral_ turmoil upon earth's
bosom, war and outbreak and widespread disaster, the cloud and storm and
darkness of human passions and vices, the bitter struggles and sorrows
of humanity, the dark shadows of earthly strife and pain and sin, are
yet to give place to immutable law, to all-conquering might and right,
to everlasting day.

I am as sure of it, as I am of the being of God - as I am of my own
being. The principles of progress are laid in human nature. If man did
not care for himself, I should have no hope of him. If he could not go
out from himself, and find therein his improvement, virtue and
happiness, I should have no hope of him. But these two principles yoked
together, in the Heaven-ordained frame of our being, will draw on to





The writer to the Hebrews affirms that Jesus Christ is "the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Paul exclaims to the Corinthians,
"Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we
him no more." Christ was the same; yet before the generation that he
left upon the earth had passed away his relation to the earth had
changed. Thus does the work of Christ shape itself afresh to meet the
needs of every generation. Compare together the Christ of the first
century, the Christ of the thirteenth, the Christ of the sixteenth, and
the Christ of the nineteenth centuries, and you would hardly think they
all represent the same personality. Christ is always the same. His work
is always substantially the same; but because the ages change, the
method of this work changes. The same needs always exist in the heart of
humanity, but in different ages these needs manifest themselves in
different ways, and are to be met by different instrumentalities. And,
further, it is not merely because the needs of humanity continually
change their aspect that the work of Christ is ever changing. No age is
a recipient alone. There is no action without reaction Each age
contributes something to the work of Christ. It adds new forces, new
methods, new machinery. Its spirit, and by this I mean its real, vital,
energizing spirit, becomes united with the spirit of Christ, as it is
present and active in the world.

In considering the relation of Christ to the present age, we have then
to consider it under two aspects. We have to consider each as a giver,
and each as a receiver. We may help to make this double relation clear
by saying that Christ is present to this nineteenth century at once as a
problem and as a power. No questions have stirred more deeply the heart
of the age than those which have to do with the person and the office of
Christ. The answers to these questions shape the aspect in which he
stands to the age, and become therefore parts and elements of the power
by which he acts upon the world. But this statement does not exhaust the
twofold relation of which I speak. That which the age gives to Christ is
not merely its thought about him. The secular thought and life of the
age bring their contribution, they are themselves a contribution to him.
They furnish one part of that complete organism of which Christ
furnishes the other. If the age, in any fundamental forms of its thought
and life, seems to stand in opposition to Christ, this apparent
opposition is only the antithesis of elements which belong together. If
what we call the spirit of the age seems, in any respect, to stand in
opposition to the spirit of Christ, this only shows the need that each
has of the other. The spirit of this nineteenth century needs the spirit
of Christ, and the spirit of Christ needs the spirit of this nineteenth
century. It is not then merely that the thought of the age clears away
something of the obscurity and the misconception that have gathered
about the person and the work of Christ. If all he said and did were as
truly comprehended now as they could have been at the first, no less
real, no less important, would be the offering which this age would
bring to him. Neither does the fact, that the work of Christ needs the
work, and that his spirit needs the spirit, of the century in which we
live, necessarily imply any imperfection in his original work, or any
thing originally lacking in his spirit. The question as to what he had
in reserve, as to the limit, or the lack of limit, of his insight and
comprehension, is one that I do not need, and do not intend here to
raise. There is a kind of work that cannot be done all at once. There is
a fulness of spirit that cannot manifest itself all at once. It is
sufficient to know that Christ recognized this fact as well as we can.
He affirmed it as clearly and as confidently as it is possible for us to
do. "I have," he said to his disciples, "yet many things to say unto
you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth,
is come, he shall lead you into all truth." All, so far as we can see,
that it was possible for any spirit to do at one moment, Christ did. He
infused into the world a spirit of love and faith and consecration, a
principle of enthusiasm for humanity. He added to these the vitalizing
power that came from his personality. This he did, and with this he was
forced to be content. He told us the nature of his work, and foretold to
us its history. It was to be as a little leaven which a woman hideth in
a measure of meal till the whole is leavened. He hid in the world the
leaven of his truth. That was all that he could do. It is for us to
witness, and to contribute to, the completion of his work.

In considering the theme before us, I shall speak, first, of the
external history of Christ, next of his teaching, and finally of his
personality, in their relation to the present age.

In considering the relation of Christ to the present age, we are met,
then, first by the most external form of this relation. The external
history of Christ, the very framework of many of his highest and purest
teachings, contains elements that are utterly opposed to the habits of
thought which are most peculiar to the present century. I refer to
whatever in the history of Christ implies the exercise of any miraculous
power by him.

The idea of a miracle is opposed to the fundamental axioms of the
popular thought of the present. The writers who best represent this
thought do not hold it necessary to disprove the fact of miracles. They
simply affirm, with Strauss, that the time is past when a miracle can be
believed. On the other hand, the miraculous is inextricably intertwined
with the history of Christ. We find miracles recognized, not merely in
records the genuineness of which has, with or without reason, been
suspected. In Epistles of Paul, the genuineness of which no critic of
repute has ever dreamed of assailing, the miraculous element is
recognized as distinctly as in the Gospels. We have at least the
testimony of Paul - one of the grandest souls that ever lived, a man whom
we know and honor as we know and honor few - that he believed himself to
have wrought miracles, and that he believed the other apostles had done
and were in the habit of doing the same. And we further have his
testimony, with that of others indorsed by him, in regard to the most
important of the miracles of Jesus; namely, the manifestation by Jesus
of himself to his disciples after his death.

Here is a collision between the form of the external manifestation of
Christ and the spirit of the age. The age itself has given such
prominence to this that we cannot overlook it. The idea of miracle is so
foreign to the spirit of the age that it has a fascination for it. It
has less importance than any thing else in the history of Jesus, and yet
nothing has more occupied the thoughts of the thinkers of the present

For the reasons already stated, we must concede a certain degree of
right to both sides of the great controversy. If we cannot eliminate the
miraculous from the history of Jesus, neither can we, nor would we if we
could, eliminate from the spirit of the age that element which finds it
hard to accept a miracle. The very antagonism between the two, the right
which each maintains being granted, shows the need that each has of the
other. Each has a contribution for the other which could be received
from no other source.

In the first place, the absolute incredulity with which the most
thorough representatives of the thought of the time receive any story of
the miraculous shows that now, for the first time, a miracle is seen to
be in the truest sense of the word a miracle. To the child or the savage
a miracle is hardly possible. Either every thing is a miracle or nothing
is. It is only as the absoluteness of law is recognized that a miracle,
which is in appearance a violation of this law, begins to produce its
full impression. The present age has placed behind miracle a mighty
background of law. From out this does miracle first stand forth in its
true nature, as something demanding yet defying credence. Those who
blame the spirit of the age for lack of faith in this direction should
at least give it credit for this immense contribution to the idea of
miracle, by which, for the first time, a miracle stands forth absolutely
in its true nature.

Not only does the spirit of the age thus furnish to miracles the
background that they need: it furnishes to them also a content. The
thought of law does not stop with the background of laws of which I
spoke. Laws may be finite: law is infinite. The miracle sets at defiance
the great background of recognized laws; but itself can be only the
manifestation of some higher, grander, more comprehensive law. Thus does
a miracle more truly than ever before come as a real revelation. For the
first time it has its full and logical meaning. It was before expected
to prove something which from the nature of the case it could not prove.
No miracle, however stupendous, can prove the truth of a principle in
morals. It can show, indeed, some superiority, in some respect, in him
who works the miracle; but this superiority may not be of a nature to
demand implicit confidence towards the person in all respects. It may be
like the superiority of the European over the ignorant savage. The
missionary may win the trust of the simple barbarian by sending a
message written upon a chip; but the sailor, bringing the seeds of all
the vices of civilization, can "make the chip speak" as well as the
missionary. But when the miracle testifies of the comprehensive law
which it manifests, then first does it have a meaning which cannot be
wrested out of it. Nay, then first does it become really sublime.
Before, it was a single meteor flashing in short-lived brightness across
the sky. Now, it is the first manifestation of a vast system of worlds
of which we had not dreamed. Such is the contribution which the spirit
of the age, through the very antagonism of which I spoke, makes to the
miracles which constitute so much of the external form in which Christ
meets it.

On the other hand, miracle brings a no less important contribution to
the spirit of the age. This spirit tends, not only to look upon law as
absolute, but to look upon the system of laws which it has discovered as
final. These laws tend continually to become narrow and hard. They tend
to become merely a system of physical forces. There is danger that the
spirit may become shut up within these physical laws as in a
prison-house. The miracle demonstrates to the senses that these physical
laws are not absolute, even in their own realm; that these physical
forces are encompassed and interpenetrated by spiritual forces; that
matter is at the last subordinate to spirit. It may not reveal the
nature of these spiritual forces; but it does reveal their presence. All
do not need this demonstration. The same truth may be reached in other
ways. The laws of thought reveal it. The spiritual consciousness may be
sufficient unto itself. Christ himself regarded his miracles as of
comparatively small account. He wrought them because he was moved to use
whatever power he had to bless mankind. If he healed the sick, it was
because he loved to heal them. He sympathized with sorrow and suffering,
and, so far as he could, would remove their cause. But the miracles
carry, as we have seen, their own revelation with them; and they have
their place, however lowly, in regard even to the spiritual
consciousness. The albatross, we are told, with all its magnificent
sweep of wing, cannot lift itself from the flat surface of the deck on
which it may be lying. Just because its wings are so strong and large,
it needs to be lifted a little, that they may have space to move, that
they may have freedom to smite the air. When this freedom has been given
it, then it mounts upward, sustained by its own inherent strength. So is
it, sometimes, with the spirit. It has strength of its own. It has a
self-sustaining power. But it sometimes needs to be lifted a little way
above the dead level of its daily life, above the plane of physical
relations, before its wings find strength and freedom to beat the air.
Then, leaving its temporary support behind it, it mounts in glad flight
heavenward. Such help many have found, and may yet find, in the miracles
of Jesus. The miracle may lift the level surface of life as if into a
wave, from the crest of which the spirit may start upon its flight.

From the external manifestation of the history of Christ, and the
external relations in which through this he stands to the present age,
we pass to the inner power of this life. Within these external
manifestations we find his teachings. We have, then, next to consider
the relation in which Christ stands to the present age as a teacher. We
shall find here the same twofold relation which we have found before;
and the external may thus stand as a type and illustration of the
internal. We will first consider, under this aspect, the basis and form
of the teaching of Christ, and next its substance.

The spirit of the age is truth-seeking. We speak often of the eagerness
for wealth that marks the age. I think that when, from the distant
future, men shall look back upon this period of the world's history, the
search for wealth will not be seen to fill the place that to us it seems
to occupy. The age will be seen to be animated by a nobler quest than
this. The search for truth will be seen to be the quest by which it is
marked most really. We speak of the corruption of the age, of the
trickeries of trade, of the unscrupulousness of speculation, of the
pretence and display of fashion, of the venality of politics. All this
is true. These things deserve the denunciation of the moralist and the
preacher. But behind all this is the life which truly marks the age. It
is the life of patient, earnest, honest search for truth. I believe that
never and nowhere has there been manifested, to so great extent, such
conscientious and self-forgetful love of truth for its own sake as may
be found in the scientific investigations of the present day. Such
accuracy of research, such microscopic delicacy of measurement, such
patient and unprejudiced examination, I believe to be unequalled in the
history of man. This proves that, in spite of the frauds and falseness
of which I spoke, the age is really sound at heart. Theologians
sometimes speak of the flippancy and conceit of the science of the day.
The terms would be more true applied in the opposite direction. Theology
is more open to such charges than science. A love of truth that would
fling away even the highest glory of the earth and the hope of heaven,
if so be truth may stand pure and perfect, has something sublime about
it. Well might the theologian take a lesson from the man of science in
regard to this consecration to truth. For theology, with its
presumption, its prejudice, its pretence, its glossing over of
difficulties, its leaning upon authority which it feels at heart is not
authority, its saying what it does not exactly believe, that it may not
contradict those who perhaps do not believe exactly what they say, may
well stand ashamed in the presence of the science of the day that has
left all to follow truth. Theology should give to science not
tolerance, not patronage, but reverence. While it utters fearlessly the
truth that is given it to speak, it should in its turn seat itself as a
learner at the feet of science, and seek not only to gather the facts
which it has to teach, but to catch something of its spirit, the spirit
that loves truth, and that will suffer nothing to take the place of

But Christ was not a truth-seeker. It does not appear that he ever
doubted or questioned. Pilate asked the question, What is truth? It does
not appear that Jesus ever did. Jesus came not to seek the truth, but to
announce it. "To this end," he cried, "was I born, and for this cause
came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." He
came to bear witness unto the truth, but it was truth that came to him
without his seeking. Neither does it appear that Christ loved truth
above all things. To the Jesuit there is something better than truth,
and to this he will sacrifice truth itself. I assert nothing like this
in regard to Christ. Truth was to him fundamental and essential. He
would not accept or tolerate what was false. But still to know was not
the great object of his life. There was something better to him than
truth; namely, life. He would rather be than know. At his touch truth
sprang into life. If he came to bear witness to the truth, this was only
a step in his grander work, the work which he proclaimed at the very
beginning of his mission, when he cried, "I am come that they might have
life, and that they might have it more abundantly." And, further, Christ
did not merely teach life through truth: he taught truth through life.
"If any man," he said, "will do his will, he shall know of the
doctrine." And John was full of the spirit of his Master when he cried,
"The life is the light of men."

We see more clearly the antithesis between Christ as a teacher on the
one side, and the present age on the other, in this fact: viz., that
Christ speaks with authority to an age which rejects authority. The cry
of the age, in the world of the intellect as well as in that of
politics, is for liberty. But to this age, as to every age, Christ comes
as a master. "My yoke," he says, "is easy;" but it is a yoke none the

If the relation of Christ to his truth is so different from that of the
spirit of the age to its truth, it must follow that the two forms of
truth rest on different bases. The faculties by which the age seeks
truth must be different from those through which the truth came unsought
to Jesus. This age seeks truth by the discriminating and investigating
power of the understanding. Truth came to Jesus through the intuitions
of the soul. In him the moral and spiritual faculties were full of
strength. He lived as naturally in the world of spiritual realities as
other men live in the world of physical realities. As we need only open
our eyes and see, so his spirit had only to open its eyes and it saw. As
the voices of the outward world come to us without our listening for
them, so the voice of God came to him whether he would or no. And this
was the ground of the authority with which he spoke. Whoever speaks from
the moral and spiritual consciousness to the moral and spiritual
consciousness may and must speak with authority. We may illustrate this
by an extreme case. When a man is lurking for the commission of some
crime, or after he has committed it, he feels the mastery of all
innocent things. The rustle of a leaf may excite his dread. To a voice
denouncing his crime, or crime like his, he listens as to the voice of
God. This recognition of the mastery of a higher degree of life after
its own kind is felt at every stage of moral and spiritual development.
If the soul be comparatively guilty, it recognizes this mastery with
dread. If it be comparatively innocent, it recognizes it with joy. Such
was the authority with which Jesus spoke. Though he spoke with
authority, what he said did not rest on this authority. It was the
authority with which the awakened calls to the sleeper, bidding him
awake, for the world is bright with the morning. The voice penetrates to
the obscured consciousness of the sleeper. He stirs himself, he opens
his eyes, and rejoices for himself in the morning brightness. So Christ
called to a sleeping world. Nay, he called to those who were dead in
trespasses and sin, and they that were dead heard the voice of the Son
of Man and lived.

If the truth taught by Jesus and the truth that is sought by the present
age rest on such different bases, they must be, we should suppose, in
some respects different each from the other. But, if each be truth, they
must be the complements each of the other. And, if they are the
complements each of the other, they must need one another. Each must be
imperfect without the other. Each must find a certain confirmation and
support from the other, and each must complete for the other the circle
of truth. We are thus led to look at some points in the teaching of
Christ, and to see how these complete and are completed by the truth
which the present age seeks and finds.

In the first place, Christ teaches us of the loving providence of God.
He awakens in our hearts all childlike instincts of trust and
confidence. He tells us that God is our father, that his love watches
over all his children, that it follows the prodigal in his wandering

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