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assimilation of truths. This is the method by which the child's mind is developed. It is fed and nourished by truths welling up from the fountain of intuitions within or streaming in through the channels of the senses from without. Could we cut off the supply from those two sources, the child's mind would remain undeveloped and infantile. Every truth dropped into the mind of the race has this expanding power. Newton conferred a great benefit on the race by discovering and proclaiming the law of gravitation because of the utility, in the arts, of acquaintance with the law. But he thereby conferred a much greater benefit through the quickening and enlarging power of such a truth, which started so many minds on ten thousand voyages of successful exploration and research. To say that the mind grows by feeding on truth is only another way of saying that it grows by perceiving the mode of God's working in the material or in the spiritual world.
Now Christianity reveals to us the grandest truths we can grasp. Let us notice two or three by way of illustration.
1. It gives us the true idea of God, the grandest truth which the mind can possibly take up. I do not say that the unaided mind can get no idea of God, though some profound thinkers believe that. I think theistic belief may be reached without revelation. But how vague and dim is the vision which is gained! How unsatisfying to our longings! It is questioned by many whether the mind unhelped could reach the idea that God is a beneficent moral governor of the universe; so limited is the range of our view of his operations in the material and in the spiritual world. But the Scriptures reveal him to us as a personal Being, self-determined, not bound, like Zeus, in the fetters of blind Fate; infinite in power and wisdom and justice and goodness; the Creator of
the worlds and all that in them is, existing before the mountains were brought forth or ever the earth was formed, from everlasting to everlasting, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, without variableness or shadow of turning; and better still, they reveal him to us as the loving Father of us all, yearning for our love with infinite compassion, taking us up when father and mother forsake us; though marshalling all worlds, yet hearing the faintest cry of his weakest child and noting the fall of the sparrow to the ground. Here is the grandest thought the mind can think. The Science of God, Theology, if we take the term in its literal sense, is the sublimest of all sciences. If we take it in its large and implicit sense as denoting the methods of God's working in His world, it comprehends and enfolds all sciences, all knowledges, all wisdoms, as the sky enfolds and encompasses the earth.
2. Or we may look at the plan of redemption. I do not care to discuss any theory of the atonement. It is sufficient for my purpose to call attention to two great facts: first, that, as all concede, men are in disharmony, mal-adjustment with God, in alienation and estrangement from Him; and, secondly, that He longs to bring them back, that He has so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him may have everlasting life, that herein is love, not that we first loved Him but that He first loved us while we were yet enemies to Him. This is the great central fact in the life of the race. Some of the best thinkers have agreed that even the secular history of the race should be written from Calvary as the point of outlook. What a truth is redemption for the mind to take up and nourish itself on!
3. Or if more specifically we turn to the life of Christ, what do we find? A cloud of mystery broods over the begin
ning, a flash or two of light is flung upon the childhood, then follows a long period of seclusion and quietude in the carpenter's home. Suddenly this man emerges from obscurity upon the life of Judæa with a magnetic power, which draws after him thousands, who hang entranced upon his lips. He wields an equal and a marvellous power alike over the forces of nature and over the hearts of men. He goes about doing good, unstopping the deaf ears, unloosing the dumb tongues, unsealing the blind eyes, cleansing the lepers, and above all preaching His glad gospel to the poor. He raises the dead to life. He seeks out the most forlorn outcasts, and speaks peace to their souls, even speaks forgiveness to their sins, while at the same time he scorches and smites with the lightnings of His holy maledictions those whited sepulchres, the scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. He breathes into the Mosaic law, which the doctors had changed into a stiffened corpse, the spirit of sweetness and makes it a living thing again. Though by the waving of his hand he could summon legions of angels to his aid, he goes meekly and alone to the cross, he bears the hiding of his Father's face, and all this for you and me; he bursts the bars of death and rises triumphant to the side of his Father. The loving care of his disciples gathered up a few of his words, and those words so few that they can easily be printed on one side of one of our metropolitan morning newspapers, so simple that a child can linger over them with appreciative delight, and yet so profound that eighteen hundred years study of them by the best thinkers of the world has not exhausted or fathomed them. Those words so few contain the solution of the gravest problems of life, with which the Aristotles and Platos and Zenos had striven in vain; they carry the key to all wise and noble and successful living; they have
changed the whole stream of history; they have in them the seeds of all that is best in what we proudly call our civilization; they are destined to work out the regeneration of the world from pole to pole and from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof. You are often advised to read the biographies of great men for your instruction. Here is the biography of biographies, the life of lives. It contains within it all that is noblest and sweetest in all other lives, and how infinitely much besides !
And in respect to all this truth which Christianity presents, mark that we can never outgrow it, no matter how far we advance in our acquisitions. God ever has some new truth before us to incite us to new quests. When we have conquered one little field, He draws aside a veil and shows us another ripe for the harvest, and bids us thrust in our sickles and delight our hearts with the golden reward. We may believe that so it will be in Heaven, that "hills on hills and Alps on Alps arise to stimulate us to the ever fresh pursuit of new truth. If we could suppose our hearts untouched by these truths, which God presents, it is clear that merely as an intellectual nourishment and stimulus nothing could be compared to Christianity. No knowledge of earthly tongues, no science of the material universe, could be likened in grandeur and expanding power to this science of God, to this highest ethical and spiritual truth. It bears the mind in its flight far beyond the outermost walls of the visible and material universe into the unbounded region of spiritual and infinite truth.
II. Let us see how Christianity increases our intelligence and moral force by the duties it enjoins, and especially by the spirit in which it commends and commands them.
In immediate connection with the idea just considered we
may notice that the scripture implicitly, if not explicitly, enforces the duty of learning all we can of God's methods; in other words, of cultivating our intelligence. So that an indolent christian scholar, or an ignorant christian man, if the ignorance is voluntary, are paradoxes. The indolence and ignorance mar the symmetry and subtract from the perfection of Christian character. Wherever Christianity has had a pure development schools and colleges have sprung up in its path.
2. It enjoins the cultivation of all the virtues and tempers which belong to the highest type of character. It includes the virtues of chastity, honesty, purity, self-control, which all agree are the conditions of the best development of the body and the mind. These indeed are taught by many systems of philosophy, notably by the Stoical. But there are also distinctively Christian virtues. We may take for illustration the conspicuous one of self-sacrifice, not in the sense of blind submission to fate, but of a loving surrender to God, which leads men to work for highest ends in a Christlike spirit.
3. It is in the spirit with which Christianity brings us to duty that its highest destination is found. The old systems brought the reluctant soul to duty, as it were, by a dead lift on the conscience, by main strength. Christianity finds the motive to duty largely in love to God and to man. Other systems make duty largely negative, Christianity makes it positive. Even the Mosaic dispensation was largely prohibitory. Eight of the ten commandments were negative, thou shalt not. Men were on so low a moral plane that they needed to have hedges and fences of prohibition set up before them, and they were driven like a herd to their destination. Now Christianity fills the heart with love to God and love to man as the grand mo