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life-in bearing the fruit of the Gospel to those who are less favored than themselves.
We beseech of thee that all the members of this church, of its schools and of its missions, may dwell in thy remembrance, and be quickened day by day, not only bearing out blessings to others, but receiving blessings themselves. May they be built up in thy faith, and established in those virtues which they seek to inculcate.
We pray for all the churches in this city, and all who labor in them. May they be united more and more perfectly in love. May all evils that offend and divide be taken away. May thy people of every name see eye to eye. May heart beat responsive to heart. And through this land take away all causes of offense. Unite thy people that there may be a power for intelligence and right-living that shall be felt throughout this great nation.
We beseech of thee that thou wilt bless all colleges and universities and schools, and that thou wilt bless those that teach, that intelligence may prevail everywhere, and be the forerunner of virtue and of true piety.
Let thy kingdom come in all the world. May men who have lived to destroy learn to protect and build up. May nations be dashed against each other'no more. May peace and prosperity prevail the world around, that thy name may be honored and glorified on earth as it is in heaven.
Hear us in these our petitions, and answer us through the great grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Spirit, shall be praises evermore. Amen.
PRAYER AFTER THE SERMON.
OUR Father, wilt thou add thy blessing to the word of exhortation and exposition. Make thy truth to shine into the inward heart of every one. Let us not stumble upon the letter nor upon the instrument. May we have the Holy Ghost-thy divine inshining-to teach our inner man, that we may have experimental knowledge of thee, and of our life in thee. May we feel that the channels between thee and our souls are not stopped. May there be an influx, a constant flow of thy life into ours. So may we live patient under trials, strong under burdens, full of faith under clouds, and ready to live, ready to die, dying in life continually to all that is evil, and living to all that is good. Grant that the Spirit of God may thus be with us.
We thank thee for the hope of those who have gone before. How many dear little children of ours are with their Saviour and with God Our parents rest from their labors, and rejoice in their saintly habitations. How many companions of ours walk no more weeping, no more sick, no more suffering! How full has heaven become of those who are precious to us! And, Lord, we are coming, sometimes
lingering, sometimes losing our way, but drawn by a thousand memories of love, drawn by the inspiration of God, drawn by the power which controls the universe; and grant that we may so come that thou shalt not be ashamed of us. So may we come that there shall be many flocking to witness our entrance, to rejoice in us and with us, and to lift us into the presence of the Divine. Then, in the very hour of our attainment and triumph, what crowns and laurels we have we will cast at thy feet, O blessed Jesus Christ, Master, Model, Saviour, Lord, saying, Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
THE PROBLEM OF LIFE.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."-1 JOHN iii. 2, 3.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."-ROM. viii. 18-21.
Man's imperfection, the universal sinfulness of man, the corruption of man's conduct, and, in one sense, of his nature, has been admitted in all ages, and by all schools of Christian theology, and just as much in other religions as in the Christian. It is a fact about which there can be no disputation. The whole world lies in wickedness.
The theory or philosophy of the fact of universal sinful ness has varied. Without regarding for a moment the conceptions given by those of other religions, there are two Scriptural germs from which two very different views of the condition of the human race may be evolved. One is the historic, or supposed historic, view regarding the origin of man; and the other is what might be called the prospective, the prophetic view, as regards the development or termination of man-one acting from the past, and laying foundations in supposed history, and the other taking its forms.
SUNDAY MORNING, June 7, 1874. LESSON: Matt., xx. 17-34. HYMNS (Plymouth Collection) Nos. 255, 1.935. 1.203
from the future ideal, and arguing from that what must be the condition antecedent or preceding such a prophetic development.
The parable of the Garden of Eden, of the fall of man, and the universal sinfulness of men as derived from their involuntary connection with the great unknown Head, strangely enough has formed the basis of the most enduring and the most universal theory, a theory, however, which is also the most oppressive, and the most inconsistent with every one of those feelings which spring up under a rigorous education in the ethical principles of the Gospel.
It is not possible to develop in the human mind that character which made Christ what he was; it is impossible to develop any human being according to the ethical principles which Jesus taught, and then, in the light of the text and of the reason and the humanity of any Christian. period, to go back and assume the facts and the philosophy which have lain at the basis of the theology of ages, without the violation of every moral instinct, of the sense of truth, of the sense of justice, and of the sense of honor. Truth, justice, and honor are in such a sense fundamental that if you violate them there is no foundation on which any system can stand, and all systems must go to the dust; and that religion which has come down to us teaching that we are condemned not on account of what we have ourselves done, but on account of that which was done for us thousands of years ago; that religion which teaches us that we are held amenable to eternal penalty on account of the sins of others, is so violative of every educated instinct of right and justice that no man can contemplate it with any degree of moral emotion and not repudiate it in his nature as the foundation of a theology.
This view when compared with the views of human experience under a divine providence grows more repugnant to the educated moral sense of mankind under Gospel influIt contorts the truth, and distorts our view of the divine government. It puts the divine government on grounds which in any human government would be scandal
It attributes to God elements of character and of
administration which would cover any earthly ruler or parent with infamy.
The difficulty is not alleviated by saying that God is greater than man, that he is infinitely powerful, that therefore that which is right in man would not necessarily be right in God, and that that which is right in God may be wrong in man. Such a line of reasoning as this confounds the radical elements of right and wrong, and destroys the moral sense of the rules of judgment; for that which is right in God must be right in man, relative to his condition, and in due proportion and measure. The essential quality of right must be the same as regards the ruler and the ruled, at one end of the law or the other; for if I am wicked in such a way as to subject me to eternal penalty, with what kind of reasoning or conscience can I turn around and confess my guiltiness and my desert of everlasting punishment, and then worship the same act which I condemn in myself, springing from the same attribute in God? It stultifies human nature to do it. That which is wicked in man would be wicked in God; and it would be as much worse in God than in man as it is more pernicious in an infinite being at the head of government than it can be in an insignificant being at the bottom of government. There must be the same truth, the same justice, the same rectitude, the same benevolence, the same morality, in the one case as in the other. There must be one platform both for him that rules upon the circle of the heavens and for them that are ruled in the lower parts of the earth.
In the New Testament there appears a new germ, which, although it is not developed, is, both by John and by the Apostle Paul, opened in such a degree as to make its development quite possible, indeed almost inevitable, with us. It is derived, not from the past, but from the future. I have just read in your hearing Paul's latent theory:
"The creature was made subject to vanity."
By vanity is understood the transient, the evanescent, the secular.
"The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope."