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Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdomof God." Hear the interpretation of the law: "Ye have heard that it hath been said............but I say unto you"-and then came the principle of righteousness, of duty, of truth, in the inward parts. Watch his own application of it in all his life of selfrenunciation. "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." It was always and everywhere. the teaching of Christ that duty, based on loyalty to God, that righteousness is the very foundation of Christian character. And in one form or another, more or less clearly apprehended and expressed, this has been from that time down to the present, the conception of his followers. Obscured in various ways it may have been, but its necessity has always been acknowledged, and even the least consistent of the followers of Christ have freely admitted that of all men they were bound to live the truest and act the best. This deep and abiding sense of obligation has rested on something entirely different from grounds of expediency. The Christian says within himself "I ought,' following the example of Christ, and with loyalty to him, to do this, and the motive has stood the test of fire and the rack. There is, then, a definite Christian conception of righteousness and duty. God grant it may never fail from the earth!
Once more, the founder of Christianity taught unequivocally the doctrine of eternal life, that is, the life of God, that those who will may share with him. There is no more sublime conception of which the human mind is capable. To know Him, "whom to know aright is life eternal," to share the thoughts of God, to live a part of His life, to feel the assurance that this divine life, whatever else may fail, cannot possibly be blotted out; what more, or what else can the soul of man aspire to? And has any explanation or re-statement ever put it better than
the simple form in which the followers of Christ still receive it -"the gift of God is eternal life”?
But the true measure of all these conceptions is their actual embodiment in tangible form. It has been well said that "Christianity is not a theory but a life," and our apprehension of it will be far from complete unless we consider one more and a very practical aspect of it.
The most impressively unique feature in the life of Christ was its absolute unselfishness. Looking abroad through the world, and backward through its history, taking in the long record of persistent self-seeking, in the coarse forms of avarice and sensualism, and in the refined forms of modern luxury, we need to keep our eyes steadily on the fact that Jesus of Nazareth not only taught unselfish love of others, but did actually live for others; that this was in great part his gospel, that it was so understood by his disciples, and that there have been ever since his time those who have sacrificed themselves, their own interests, and what men hold most dear, for the sake of doing good to others, and so fulfilling the law of Christ. The fact is worth dwelling on. The spirit of Christ has actually There is such a thing as unselfishness
entered into some men.
Such in barest outline is what appears to me the most essential part of what Jesus Christ lived and taught. Has the onward march of scientific discovery, has the development of philosophical thought in any form affected by so much as a shadow the great central figure of Christianity? Has any one found a defect in the sublime gospel of Christ-I mean his own gospel, as he himself taught it? Has anything come to light that prevents any one of us from being his disciple, learning of him, catching his spirit, doing a part of the work that he began,
and left us to finish? Is there not here something that we
know is eternal ?
But around this central figure has been built up a system of theology that by perhaps the majority of Christians, and apparently by all who are not such, is still believed to be the Christian faith. It is a most venerable structure. Into it have been built the lives and thoughts, the aspirations, the sacrifices, the martyrdom of men of whom the world was not worthy. It is something not to be lightly thrown into the limbo of forgotten dreams. It is our heritage, let us not forget it, of men who walked with God. Yes, but of men! Aud no work of man has ever stood unchanged through any long period of time.
Turning now very briefly to a consideration of biological science in its present stage of development, we fiud, precisely as in the study of Christian ideas, that scientific conceptions are based on certain facts. These facts are perfectly obvious to a normal and properly trained mind. They have, it is true, no moral quality. Their belief renders a man neither better nor But as facts they are indisputable. These, as the data of science, correspond, in a certain sense, with the data of the Christian faith. As in the one case, a theological system, so in this, a system, known as biological science has been built up. Actual workers in this field of inquiry know very well that the facts are not all in, and that even what are regarded as fundamental conceptions have slowly taken form, and are still subject to modification? Some of these, however, have attained such a degree of probability as to command the assent of those who are familiar with the facts and open to conviction. Of these the theory of evolution is best known, and has had most to do with changes of theological views in recent years.
In its application to the human species, this doctrine
teaches that man, like all other animals, has attained the structure, powers and character he now possesses through successive stages of development. I need not point out how completely at variance with old-time theological ideas this doctrine is. When
it was first taking form theologians were not slow to perceive that it involved, as regards the accepted system, very serious consequences, and it is not at all strange that they should have so long, and in some instances, bitterly opposed what has become as well settled as the law of gravitation. For, while the essentials of Christianity have, as I believe, been absolutely untouched by the theory of evolution, it is certain that in its relation to hitherto commonly received theological conceptions, its influence has been in the highest degree destructive, involving, to use Prof. Le Conte's expression, the necessity of a complete reconstruction of Christian theology,
Nothing short of such a frank admission will meet the case. It is neither wise nor right to attempt to demonstrate a harmony that does not exist. It is, as I believe, necessary to begin at the foundation if a consistent theological system is ever to be built up? And such an admission ought to excite no surprise. It is simply saying that theological science, like all other human systems, is necessarily of slow growth, and is subject to the limitations and hindrances that everywhere arise from misconceptions and unwarranted assumptions.
This reconstruction of Christian theology, already begun, calls for high scholarship, a scientific temper, untiring patience and a living faith, if the structure is to stand. Mistakes will inevitably be made, as they have been in the past, but a student of biological science should be the last one to be troubled by this, or to utter a single unkind word as the work is going on. He knows that the history of his own science is a history of
mistakes; mistakes made by the best and most conscientious investigators of one generation, to be corrected by those of the next. He has learned to take no man's word as final. He knows no such thing as infallibility, except in the laws of nature. that are the laws of God, and yet he has boundless faith in the fundamental facts and principles from which he is constantly drawing inferences and conclusions.
It is, then, both scientific and Christian to expect mistakes, but to look for their gradual elimination and the final develop-. ment of a consistent system. It is unscientific and unchristian. to interpose a single obstacle in the way of those who, in the face of more than ordinary difficulties, are engaged in the good work of giving consistent form and expression to Christian conceptions.
It is still much too early to attempt to show what the "new theology" will be when the principle of evolution has become more fully understood and its legitimate consequences realized. The task of its development, of course, belongs to theological, not to biological science. But meantime, certain tendencies. are so strongly marked that they can hardly escape the least observant. These are doubtless due, in part, to various c but it may be safely assumed that evolutionary views have had their full share in inaugurating them.
Of these may be mentioned, first, a marked change of attitude toward the Bible. An increasing number of the most conscientious and intelligent leaders of Christian thought are coming to look upon the Bible simply as the lamp through which the light of God shines, the record of God's revelation of himself to men. Prof. Schurman of Cornell University, says: "I hold the Bible to be a guide to God, though a guide needing re-interpretation with every advance of human knowl