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eousness. This conception of God may be brought into the category of science, and even be required by it. It allies itself with its great postulates and demonstrations, and not only falls in with its analogies, but is needed for their application to humanity and its history.
So of the atonement: it contains a truth that mankind has never been willing to live without, and yet it has always been putting on new forms and yielding a richer life. It is the most elastic of the doctrines, capable of very low and very high expression. The conception of it that prevailed two hundred years ago shocks us of to-day. And more recent views of it as a matter of penal satisfaction and substitution, and as a mere contrivance for the expression of the divine feeling, no longer feed spiritual life; and so we are struggling towards St. Paul's and the Christ's own statement of it as containing the law and method of life for every man: “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” We are getting to read this truth as meaning Christ formed in us, a law and way of life. And just as the older conceptions fade out, and the greater ones dawn, is there not only a deeper spiritual life, but a plainer coördination between the life they beget and the necessities of human nature.
So also of regeneration : the foundations of this stringent doctrine are broadening and deepening with advancing thought. It has been held simply as a moral necessity, having its basis in sin; but we are beginning to see that the Christ taught it also as a psychological necessity. We must be born again, not merely because we are wicked, not be cause of a lapse, but because we are flesh, and need to be carried forward and lifted up into the realm of the spirit, - a constructive rather than a reconstructive process. Thus presented, it appears at once as a universal necessity, and allies itself with the thought of the age.
In the same way, the much and justly criticised doctrine of divine sovereignty and decrees is resolving into the universality of law, the favorite conception of the age. Science, with its doctrine of an original, ultimate force, advances more than half - way towards this assaulted truth, while the larger conception to which it has helped us has taken its debatable features out of the hands of both contending schools.
Or take the doctrine of sin, its inheritance and its relation to the personal will: the old-time presentations of it were crude and harsh, but as we interpret it in the light of experience and history, we affirm it with increased emphasis. The keenest thought of the world is overtaking the thought of revelation. The doctrine of heredity as found in the pages of science, the doctrine of freedom as found in the pages of philosophy and the observation of life, yield nearly all we care to claim.
So, too, of the miracles. I do not think the best thought is now stumbling over miracle, as it was a few years ago. Modern intelligence has grown so wide that it embraces both law and miracle in one harmony, and cares little to find any line of demarkation between them. Law fades out into miracle, and miracle runs up into law. No one now defines one as the violation of the other. An assertion of “ the reign of law” does not disturb us so long as we are conscious of the hourly miracles wrought by personality. The point of contact and union may not be seen, but we trace their converging lines into the mystery that surrounds God's throne, believing that they meet in Him, who is both a will and a force to the universe, - a force in it, and a will over it.
Take next retribution, the most controverted of doctrines : the subject has merely fallen into the crucible of modern thought, and is emerging in new shape. It will never be denied so long as men have eyes to trace cause and effect, and it will never cease to have power so long as it is kept in that category, where only it belongs, and where it becomes simply a matter of intelligence. Just now we are shifting our point of view, and stripping the subject of certain arbitrary and dogmatic coverings that had come upon it. We are putting it in the light of law and daily experience and Christ's word. We are finding out that it is not a matter of future time, but of all time; or rather, not a matter of time at all, but an eternally acting principle. But it is undergoing no greater modification at present than it has undergone in the past. It has fallen into an atmosphere of hope, and so allied itself with the spirit and logic of revelation, and is thus becoming a genuine motive to conduct and ceasing to be an incubus of despair. The true preacher of retribution is not
one who tones it down to mere remorse and separation from God, — things that no evil-doer takes into account, — carefully separating from it all physical suffering and every other conception of pain calculated to move men; a retribution eliminated of all motive, and simply drawn out into infinity. Instead, he sets the subject in the practical light of cause and effect in the external world, and in the more searching light of the same law working in the moral nature, where it binds hand and foot and casts into the outer darkness; he points out the horrible consequences of crime and ignorance and low pleasure; he unfolds the wretchedness that follows avarice and self-seeking and indolence and low-thoughtedness; he makes it clear that the wages of sin is death ; in short, he emphasizes the two features of retribution that alone are effective, namely, its nearness and its certainty, and lifts it into the timeless ranges of eternity, where alone its true emphasis is found. Like the kingdom of heaven, of which it is the dark shadow, it is not to be defined by any Lo here or Lo there, or shut within any time-phrases. Dogmatism on either side is no longer regarded with favor. So long as we cannot explain evil, we have no right to claim definite knowledge of its consequences. So long as we cannot sound the depths of our own nature, we cannot predicate with certainty what that nature will do or become in any direction. The most reverent and profound thought of the day merely seeks to rescue the subject from a dogmatism that reflected immorality upon God, and made it a burden too heavy for the human spirit to endure; provoking thus an instinctive rejection that paved the way to total unbelief. The new thought is in the interest of faith ; the old was fast ministering to doubt and denial and fierce contempt. Meanwhile the Christ's words grow luminous under the tenderer thought of humanity, and are seen to uphold the human heart and reason, while they also hold the conscience steadily to the contemplation of the immeasurable evil of sin.
Take last the inspiration of the Bible. The theories of a generation ago are fast disappearing, verbal, dynamic, plenary, an inspiration covering all historical and scientific reference ; none of them are any longer insisted on. There is not now, and probably never will be, any generally accepted theory of inspiration, simply because it cannot be so compassed; as the Christ said, “ Thou canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth." It is the breathing of God upon the soul; who can put that into a theory ? So far as it shall have form or method of statement, it will be found in the larger truth of the Holy Spirit in all the scope of its action. We are getting to speak less of the inspired book, and more of the inspired men who wrote it; the quality or force of inspiration lying not so much in the form, or even matter, of the thing written, as in the writer himself, — his relation to his age, the clearness of his thought, the pitch of his emotions, the purity of his spirit, the intensity of his purpose. We do not so much look into a book to find an infallible assertion as into the