« PreviousContinue »
clear ourselves of such responsibility. We must not ignore these things. Where the privileged and unfettered indulge such bestial instincts as the army of women upon our streets in London, less fortunate, in whom the same practice and the same life, encouraged by some of those whom we meet and talk with day by day—a life made possible because of the atmosphere that these women have been permitted to breathe, and for which we cannot rid ourselves of responsibility-it must bring its natural penalty, and in this world. He who thus trifles with God's opportunities may some day be asked to account for another's fall, besides his
Here I question myself in company with you. There is a compromise with conscience, which is a luxurious indifference to the state of things I have taken a moment to describe. You may ask yourself what matters it to you that at our gates men are living lives of vice and wickedness and ignorance. It matters much to you, for we are trustees of a higher life which God has given us to see. If we spend our lives, even in a modest way, in comfortable indifference to what our brethren are doing in the great city or in the great Empire to which we belong, we are sinning against God. Our earthly citizenship demands something more, and it must be rendered to our Heavenly Father.
I believe in a patriotism which is not often asserted to-day. “Mafficking
Mafficking " is one thing; to stand by your country, and to believe in those who are of your blood and speech, is another. If God had meant us to be entirely cosmopolitan, he would not have planted the solitary in families. If England has a mission to the world, we are summoned to be loyal to England.
Have mercy upon the fallen, and live so yourself that it will be difficult for them to fall. The Lord requires something from those of us who have time to take care of ourselves. There is a beauty owing to our fellows for the sake of the Lord, who has given us the time in which we live and the opportunities to live as we do. Strive for the highest; it is within reach of everyone. Live for God. The best way to do it is to raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind. I cannot pretend that I have no responsibility, nor can you. It is practice that matters, not preaching. If a new revival of religion is coming--and I am one of those who hope for it-I believe it will show itself in social redemption; spiritual men will fight the fiercest battle on behalf of the hungry, the poor, and the sad, and for Christ's sake men will brothers be to those less fortunate than themselves, and will try to understand before they condemn. Deal justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. “For they that be wise shall shine with the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever.”
If a man die, shall he live again ?- Job xiv. 14.
THIS is a question asked in the Old Testament
and answered in the New; asked in a good
many cases, but nowhere perhaps so plainly as in this chapter and this book. But the question which is left a little uncertain in the Old Testament, or to which an affirmative answer is given with hesitating voice, becomes a triumphant certainty in the New. Christianity came to tell us about the deathless, ageless life, on the authority of Him through whom life and immortality have been brought to light. His words ring in our ears in confirmation of this text, which is our promise and our surety: “ Because I live ye shall live also,” “ I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die."
It is sometimes said that interest in the subject of personal immortality is not what it used to be, that in point of fact the world-by which we mean humanity -is becoming increasingly secular in interest and in outlook. Some of you are doubtless familiar with the words of that great scholar, historian, and thinker, Mr. Lecky. In his “Rise and Progress of Rationalism in
Europe," Mr. Lecky tells us that undoubtedly men are becoming increasingly secular in the focus of their interests. We may learn something from the silences of the pulpit. Ministers and elderly men will both agree with me that whereas once upon a time sermons were always charged with appeals based upon the tremendous issues of conduct, not for time but for eternity, nowadays we have become so practical that appeals are not made from sanctions drawn from considerations of judgment to come, and the blessedness of heaven or the terrors of retribution. Now, mark this. In history it has always been true that when the
. pulpit has taken to moralising, morality has lost its dynamic. We can learn our morals elsewhere, prudence will teach us the importance of a certain regard to conduct; but the highest achievements of conscience in any century have been made, not in accordance with the dictates of prudential maxims, but in obedience to the tremendous sanctions drawn from the consideration of man's eternal citizenship.
Again, we are told that to-day, intellectually, there is more uncertainty about the fact of personal immortality than there ever was before: and perhaps that is true, though not so true as some of you think. We are less certain in some ways because of a new habit of mind induced by acquaintance with the methods of modern science. Young men, who know nothing at all about science, are under the domination of certain notions, derived from the methods of science, and you regard nothing as proven which has not been the result of conclusions arrived at after laborious observation and experiment. In other words, that is proof to you which has been obtained by the inductive method. Now, young men, permit me to say that there is another kind of proof than this. I want you to concede this before we approach the heart of the great subject we have in hand. There is another kind of proof than that which is derived from the inductive method. Moreover, nothing can be absolutely proven even by that method. And again, the things which you do daily, the objects to which you give yourself, the aims of which you are most conscious and to which you devote your energies with most enthusiasm are not the result of your inductive proofs, have little to do with observation and experiment, but are rather the fruit of a Divine impulse. The best things in human nature are not the things which you stop to reason about at all, but the things that you feel and know and see to be the highest.
Again, it is said that to-day there is a cessation of desire for personal immortality—perhaps I ought to have said a comparative cessation of desire. I have met people who tell me that they have no wish for a life of personal existence beyond the grave. There are several ways in which they could come to such a feeling and condition as that; one is mental ennui. I think that the sense of the mystery of life is so great, the sense of illusion so appalling, the fruit of the noblest effort so small, that some of the best of men gradually grow tired, and cease to bother about what may come, and just wait for the great dissolution without expectation and without hope. A larger number are represented by such a person as this. I heard a City man speak the other day, and I took a mental note of his case. He spoke to a friend in these terms: