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VII.

THE CERTAIN TRIUMPH.

THE CERTAIN TRIUMPH.

DURING the progress of these addresses you have been invited to consider whether the commands uttered by Jesus of Nazareth, apparently as specific directions for human conduct even in some of its details, were not intended to be actually and literally obeyed; and in particular whether what He called the New Commandment of Love, promulgated by Him with such solemnity, and obeyed by Him with such complete and limitless obedience, was not designed to be accepted as the law upon which was to be founded a new society, a hitherto unconceived scheme and order of things, described by Himself as the Kingdom of Heaven. We have had to face the fact that those commands are now given hardly the pretence of obedience by those who nevertheless call themselves Christians, and we have been obliged to confess that “ Christianity” is a name for something which the world has yet to see. If “ Christianity" means discipleship of Christ and submission to His commands, it contemplates, we have seen, a thorough revision of existing standards, practices and institutions, and profound modifications in individual lives. To the proposition that the more difficult maxims of conduct laid down by Christ are the extravagances of an impracticable religious idealist or the rhapsodies of a poet, we have given what may be called a most positive negative. We have confronted also the more plausible position which admits the duty of literal obedience to Christ, but postpones that duty to the far-off day when all men shall agree to it. Although we have allowed our vision to stretch away to that time when the dominion of the earth shall be the Lord's of Love, and human society, refashioned and built into the likeness of a City of God, shall have become a society in which, rivalry for success transformed into rivalry in mutual service, every man has opportunity for that happiness which is now denied except to the few; although we have seen that such a new earth is what Christianity proposes: we have been constrained to conclude that the duty of resisting not the evil, of turning the other cheek, of lending to every borrower, of refusing to lay up treasures upon earth,-in short, that the duty of obeying Christ, is not postponed until such a time as it shall have become conducive to happiness to obey Him, but that it lies upon us now, whatever its inconvenience, however certain to result in material disaster, however certain to cast those who embrace it under the feet of the mob which riots for part in the good things of the world. This stern conclusion we have seen no honest way to avoid. The words of Christ are explicit; His example is plain. The plan of His life is unmistakable. The demands He makes of those who undertake to follow Him are absolute and uncompromising, and utterly inconsiderate of their immediate personal happiness.

But if I have represented the obedience of Christ as a stern thing, it must be my business to-day to persuade you that it issues in joy. As music out of discord, freedom out of service, as out of conflict, peace, and out of action, that rest which remaineth

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