Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

MORAL ENVIRONMENT. 158

shrewdly a and persist conditions tell you tha cumference, bondage, fre chy, from from despot and philoso from indiviu he tell you the interest gradually u their spirit, directions ? incongruities ently not sci

It is the pierces at o ing system, takes its hea makes them leaving behi ordinances, a of the people this is the s ance, freedoi

We cann founder socia largest view historical, or ligion tell a MORAL ENVIRONMENT.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” — 1 CORINTHIANS XV. 58.

Is it for this that St. Paul has led us through his mighty argument, to confirm us in the homely duty of steadfastness ? Is it for this only, mere everyday fidelity, that he has taken us along this grandest highway of thought, compassing the whole history of humanity, spanning the gulf of death, and tracing human destiny till it is lost in the ecstasy of final victory and eternal life? One would think that having lifted us to such heights, he would leave us there to bask in the eternal sunshine and drink the joy of the victory over death. It seems an anticlimax in thought and style, that after the mighty themes brought before us, — the sway of death from Adam to Christ, the resurrection from the dead set forth by analogies drawn from heaven and earth, the mystery of the spiritual nature and the deeper mystery of the image it shall bear, – it seems out of keeping that we should be called upon to fold the wings upon which we have followed him in his inspired flight, and drop back into the mere ploddings of every-day duties. Whether it seems an anti-climax or not, depends upon one's conception of what is high and low. A mere rhetorician would not have dared to add anything after the sublime assertion of the victory over death and the grave. A sentimentalist would have said: “there can be nothing higher or better than such a frame; here let us abide.” But St. Paul, being no mere rhetorician and nothing whatever of a sentimentalist, saw that there was something higher than victory over death, something more essential than comfort in the revelation of destiny; and so he leads us on to what he conceives to be highest and best. It is an interesting disclosure of the underlying traits of his mind that is made by the purpose lying back of, and running through, this chapter. His aim is not to enlarge our knowledge of the future, not to reveal our destiny, not to comfort mourners, not to take away the fear of death ; all these ends are gained, but they are not the primary ends before him. He sets this matter of resurrection from the dead right in the minds of the Corinthians because false views of it were injuring and perverting the service they were to render. So long as they believed that resurrection meant some spiritual transformation already past, they were incapable of true service; their hope was behind them, their inspiration was a spent force, there was no sufficient motive for thorough fidelity; for in morals the motive is always ahead. They had dropped a definite and inspiring hope and taken up in its stead some fantastic notion that resurrection from the dead meant simply an awakening of their spiritual nature, type of mistake made now as well as then, and followed

by loss as great. Such are they who deny all validity of fact to gospel narrative, and shrink all the objective revelations of God into the interplay of their own emotions. Take definiteness and outward reality away from the Faith, and there will be no more strong, definite service, but instead endless and useless introspection upon the mysteries of our nature, the rehearsal of which comes to be regarded as the fulfillment of all righteousness, – a very tiresome thing, and so dropped, or exchanged for the startling assertions of atheism; for between a God revealed and atheism there is no restingplace. St. Paul is careful that they of his day shall fall into no such mistake; hence these words that sound like the trump of doom, awakening echoes in the under-world, and calling in the courses of the stars to aid him in his saving work. His single aim is to keep men from lapsing out of a true and rational service to God. Service ! service that is steadfast, that flows out of unmovable convictions, that always abounds in work, that is kept to its standard by the most inspiring of hopes, that is confident of success, knowing it is not in vain in the Lord because he is the Lord of an actual resurrection. Such is the height to which he leads us, beyond which there was, in his mind, nothing higher, as there can be nothing higher in the mind of any one who rightly measures human life. For service unites in a practical form the two highest qualities or forces of our nature, — love and fidelity; one covering our emotional, the other our moral faculties ; one fixing us in the eternal order of human sympa

« ElőzőTovább »