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him and shot at him and persecuted him." Thousands to-day are conscious of this isolation, and find it hard to bear. An old writer wittily observes: "Let those who would be singular be very virtuous." Many are thus nobly singular, and those about them resent it. Sometimes in the home circle fine character excites dislike, and the household is ready with taunt and persecution. In business, decided Christian lives may provoke unfriendliness and embitter the days of clerk, assistant, or workman. And in public affairs serious. goodness is apt to irritate the community, and the singularity of uncompromising truth and purity is denounced. If genius offends, grace much more offends; if brilliance of intellect arouses resentment, pure goodness not rarely evokes positive malignity. This enforced solitariness of life is not easy to bear, and it brings special temptation and peril. Whatever we may be to the world, let us not be a speckled bird against God, as Israel came to be. Find the grace which enables the bird of purity to defy the birds of prey. Seek His fellowship and strength who trod the winepress alone. He knew best what such loveliness meant.
Single, yet undismayed, I am;
THE DIVINE SOURCE OF
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.-1 Tim. i. 15.
|HRIST JESUS came into the world." The
salvation of man-that is, his deliverance from the debasing element, the destroying element is from above; it is directly divine and supernatural. Christ came into this world, descended from a higher sphere, that He might renew this.
Man cannot save himself. God never does anything for us that we can do for ourselves. He never gave a system of philosophy. The universe is before us, and we are left to our intelligence to frame a reasonable explanation of it. He never gave us a system of government. We were left to discern by reflection and experience the laws which determine human welfare. He never gave us a system of science. We were left to puzzle out for ourselves the problems of nature. What we are capable of doing God leaves us to do, although we may serve a long apprenticeship of thought and suffering before we attain the necessary proficiency. But we could not save ourselves, and
therefore God has stepped in to deliver us by a mighty act of extraordinary grace. He has acted in the moral kingdom as He does not in the intellectual and social development of the race, the reason being that we have a natural power adequate to the situation, but not a moral power. The Incarnation was the stoop of God to do for mankind what it could not do for itself.
There is no power of redemption within the race. Men prate about doing without God, yet they cannot lift themselves out of the mud without Him. In the street we see an acrobat stand upright, another instantly leaps upon his shoulders, another on his, perhaps a fourth mounts higher still on the human ladder, and one might think that they meant to scale the heavens; but this kind of thing comes to an end long before they touch the morning star. Some think that a similar trick may be tried in another sphere, and accomplish the elevation of the race. The schoolmaster is to mount the sturdy shoulders of the tradesman, the politician is to support himself on both, the scientist is to carry upward the imposing column, and lastly the æsthete must crown it with his light, graceful figure, and together they will raise society into the seventh heaven of perfection. But these admirable combinations go no farther in the moral world than they do in physics. If society is to be lifted to high levels, it will be by a hand out of heaven.
There is no law of salvation operative in the world. God does not do that in one way which He has already done in another. Many think there is a law of healing in the world-silently, slowly, but really curing the maladies which afflict us; a law of uplifting-silently,
slowly, but irresistibly exalting the race to the stars. If this were the case, if God had already implanted a law of salvation in the world, He would not do over again what He had already done in creation. The fact that Christ came into the world proves that there is no natural redemption.
Whenever men are saved it is by the intervention of superior strength and goodness. It is so with the individual sinner. He is helpless, often painfully helpless, until directed, encouraged, and assisted by noble friends. They take him in hand, instruct him, smooth his way, until he recovers himself. "The impotent man answered Jesus, Sir, I ve no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool." Picture of the impotent sinner in all generations! It is the same with the debased classes: if they are saved, help must come from without. Left to themselves, to the policeman, the pawnbroker, and the publican, they would rot from year to year. Only as men and women of superior education and character come to the rescue is there any hope for them. To the East End of London Oxford sends its culture, South Kensington its pictures, the West End its music, Westminster its politicians, all Churches their messengers and charities. There is hope for the lapsed classes only as the wise, the rich, the kind, and the godly come to their aid.
It is the same with fallen nations-they never raise themselves. A writer of distinction says: "The civilization of America once lost was never recovered till help came from without, in the shape of European intercourse and colonization. To be isolated is plainly
to lose the power of recovery, and the longer the isolation the more profound will be the decay." The higher nations must save the lapsed nations.
It is the same with the race-it can no more lift itself out of the slime than a person, class, or nation can. The salvation of humanity depended upon a superior Power coming to its rescue and working out its redemption. "Christ Jesus came into the world." How did life originate upon this planet? The grass, trees, flowers, birds, animals, whence came they? What was the origin of the first mysterious seeds which held within themselves these various forms of life and beauty? Lord Kelvin believes that meteoric stones are seed-bearing agents, and that it is not improbable that these aerolites first brought to us the seeds of vitality and loveliness from distant worlds. It may be so. The law of the cosmos may be that living worlds vitalize dead worlds. So the Son of God descended from the celestial universe that He might bring into this realm of death and despair all those glorious truths, influences, and hopes which are making the desolate sphere to blossom as the rose and to shake like Lebanon.