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dencies. This is the positive, creative, productive method in medicine. We are to fulfil bodily existence by filling the body full of life.
We sometimes see bold, bad men, full of energy and ability, who are doing infinite mischief in society-demoralizing politics and encouraging all rascalities. We wish the Lord would take them away. “If they would only die!"
But the Lord knows better than that. He leaves them here to rouse our energy to oppose them. He does. not mean our life should be too easy. We can conquer them if we will, but only by rising to a higher plane ourselves, being willing to made sacrifices for our country, to give our time and thought and means to its salvation. The people must learn that it is a solemn duty to take part in public affairs, and so we shall not destroy evil, but overcome it with good and swallow it up in something better.
Thus, in attempting to get rid of any bad ideas, bad institutions, or bad usages, there are these two different ways of doing it. One way is to attack them directly with argument, rebuke, denunciation ; to get up a party against them, to create a public sentiment hostile to them and so destroy them. The other way is to substitute something better in their place—to persuade men to leave them for the sake of what is more attractive, overcoming error by truth, overcoming evil by good, overcoming war by peace, overcoming wickedness by goodness. One is the destructive method; the other, the method of fulfilment.
Both methods are necessary and useful, but the last is the highest. If a thing is wholly bad, we must destroy it; if it is only half bad, if it is bad mixed with good, then we must make the good better, and so destroy the evil.
Both methods are necessary. Some things are so bad that nothing can be done with them but put them under the ground as soon as possible. They must be destroyed,
up with fire, overflooded with water, swallowed by the earth. Conflagrations, pestilences, wars, earthquakes, floods; these are often divine agencies of destruction when nations and things have grown so bad that they cannot be mended.
Some men are sent to destroy. That is their mission. They are swords in the hand of the Almighty ; his besom of destruction. It is a sad, hard, terrible mission; but it is given to some persons to be destroying angels. They have a large organ of destructiveness put into the back of their heads; they have a mind intolerant of falsehood, a merciless sense of justice, a faculty of criticism sharp as a razor, and they do a necessary work in destroying falsehoods, shams, wicked customs, bad usages. They spare no one in their righteous wrath. They hew down Agag without ruth or pity. Such a man was Elijah ; such another man was John the Baptist. Such men we have had in our times, prophets crying in the wilderness, men dwelling among a people of unclean lips, hunters of heresy, critics who rend with teeth and claws, radical reformers of every kind. Usually they are men of a billious temperament, sallow, thin, with deep sunken eyes, consumed by an inward fire. They live in perpetual strife; they have few friends, though many allies. People fear them, but do not love them. So they go their solitary way to their graves.
But a destructive reform is not the best kind. It is sweeping and indiscriminate, pulling up the tares and wheat both. It is negative, not positive. At best, it only holds back from evil ; it does not incite to good. It feeds on denial, criticism, fault-finding. It is very much given to scolding, which it thinks courageous. It loves to attack whatever is venerable, and often fancies that whatever is old ought to come to an end. It does not know how to build or plant, only how to pull down. It considers its work the
greatest of all, since to fell a forest makes much more noise than to plant one. But the work of destruction is always superficial ; it soon passes by, and by itself is of little value.
A remarkable fact about the work of Jesus is that his reform was radical, because conservative. Opposed to destruction always, he thought it better, instead of pulling out the weeds, to grow them out.
The only thing which Jesus directly attacks is Hypocrisy. What is earnest, what is natural, however wrong it may be, he pities. The only thing he hates is pretence, cant, lies dressed up to look like truth.
The great work of Jesus was Fulfilment. He came to fill everything full of new life, new truth, new love ; to fulfil the Old Testament with the New; the law with the gospel ; nature with grace ; morality with piety ; reason with faith ; this mortal life with an immortal hope.
Jesus was the greatest of all reformers. To him the most sacred things of his time had nothing sacred. The Temple, with all its grand and tender associations, had no charm to him compared with the sincere worship of one true heart. The Temple might be destroyed and made a heap of ruins, and he could raise up a better temple in three days in hearts full of the love of God and man. The Sabbath was not sacred, except as it served man and made man better. The holy and pious men of his nation
the priests and Levites and Pharisees he called these blind and hypocritical leaders of a blinded nation. To a conservative Jew it must have seemed that Jesus was a most dangerous and destructive radical, to whom nothing was venerable or sacred. Not the Temple — he said it would be destroyed; not the Sabbath — it was only a means, not an end ; not the Priesthood he denounced its selfishness; not the law of Moses he set himself above the law.
Though he said, “I have not come to destroy the law or the prophets,” yet he distinctly rejects many things in the law of Moses. He rejects the rule given by Moses about divorce. “Moses for the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives.” He distinctly sets aside the Levitical law about meats. “Hear and understand; not that which enters into the man defileth a man." He distinguishes between the letter and spirit, the substance and form. All in Judaism is true as to the spirit, not as to the letter. It will all be fulfilled ; then the letter will pass away. So spring is not destroyed, but fulfilled, by summer. Summer is not destroyed, but fulfilled, by autumn. Childhood is not destroyed, but fulfilled, by manhood and age. Nothing really good is destroyed; it passes up into something higher. “The child is father to the man," not the man to the child.
Thus Christianity does not destroy the law of Moses, but fulfils it.
It fulfils the Sabbath, which was a command not to work on the seventh day, by a rest of the mind and heart all the time. There is no Sabbath in Christianity ; it has been fulfilled by a perpetual Sabbath. There is no Sabbath-keeping left for Christians; but there is something better than Sabbath-keeping. It is to turn aside from the routine of toil, and rest the mind and heart in love to God and love to man. The essential rest of Christianity is a sense of peace with God and man, growing out of faith and love. This fulfils the Jewish Sabbath. According to the Epistle of the Hebrews, this is the “rest which remains to the people of God.” The original word for “rest » is
a Sabbath-keeping." There remains a Sabbath for God's people; it is to abstain from our own works, as God did from his. Not outward works, for Jesus tells us, "My Father worketh always, and I work ;" but from inward
work, from anxiety, care, unrest of soul, dissatisfaction with our lot.
Thus, too, Christianity fulfils the Old Testament by the New. Christianity does not destroy it. Christianity accepts the doctrines of the Old Testament so far as they go. There were great truths in the view of God as one supreme being, holy, just and good. Christ fulfils it by seeing God as Father. Not the Jewish geology, or age of the world, or Jewish history; not the story of Joshua and the sun, of Jonah and the whale; not the skepticism of Ecclesiastes, nor the Love Song of Solomon, are divine. But the divine element in the Old Testament which has made it outlast falling empires, and constituted it to-day a part of the religion of civilized man, is its perpetual faith in one living, supreme, ever-present God, the perpetual Providence, ruler, judge of men. Out of this faith Christianity grew; this faith Christianity fulfils in love.
It fulfils the Sabbath in a loving rest in the bosom of the Father. It fulfils the temple-worship in a sense of the universal presence of God in all nature and all life. It fulfils the Levitical priesthood by making all men priests and kings to God; it fulfils the ten commandments by the one command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," in which, as Paul says, all the commandments are briefly comprehended.
Love fulfils law. The divine laws working relentlessly in Nature are fulfilled by the divine love which causes them all to work together for the ultimate good of the world.
Human faults and follies are not so often destroyed as fulfilled in something better. The faults and follies of youth are often virtues which have lost their way. They are one-sided and extravagant developments of tendencies not in themselves bad. As years pass on, the frivolity of one is tempered into some deeper purpose. It was not so