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A CERTAIN notable divine has said that "since Jeremy Taylor and Richard Baxter, English Protestantism has had no great casuists." Nor does he think it much to be regretted, or find the intricacies and refinements in which casuistry delights helpful to robust and manly character. We are constrained to agree with him; not only in this, but also when he says: "It is safer to leave men to the guidance of those great and obvious moral laws whose authority every pure and honest heart acknowledges." But what are those " great and obvious moral laws" to which we are to bow our wills in hearty obedience? The world has never been entirely agreed upon an answer to that question. On the one hand is the denial of all such moral laws. The Nihilist and the Socialist agree in repudiating all moral restrictions. Their liberty is licence, and its outcome is anarchy, unspeakable and unendurable. The Utilitarian has his selfish statute of limitations to personal liberty. The Christian disciple finds the sum of obligation in one word-love. He finds an example in Christ, finds an expounder of Christian ethics in the Apostle Paul.
We are now to consider the doctrine of Christian liberty, as Paul
unfolds and illustrates it, in doctrine and in life. In doing so, we are not to forget that the great and obvious moral laws" of the Christian system are, like their Author, "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever"; but that the scene and the conditions of their manifestation, in human conduct, are ever shifting. The open questions at Corinth and Rome in the first century touch us not at all, except as illustrations of a principle; while they may be the living questions of the hour in India and China-it having taken eighteen centuries for these laws to come squarely to grapple with the life of uncounted millions in these lands.
1. Personal liberty is defined to be freedom to do as one pleases. Probably there is no broader definition than this, and probably nobody on earth enjoys such liberty.
"Yet know withal, Since thy original lapse, true liberty Is lost, which always with right reason dwells."
There is no such thing as lawless liberty; no liberty which does not acknowledge its limitations. It is limited by one's own convictions; by conscience; and even by the imperfect views and infirmities of others; by our health; by lack of means; by lack of courage or moral stamina; by hereditary traits and disabilities.
We cannot believe what we please, for we are limited by the laws of thought and evidence. We are limited in our conduct by society. No man lives to himself in the trades, the schools, or in the learned professions. We cannot divorce liberty from law. To divest personal liberty of reigning principles would be to bring in anarchy among
Strictly speaking, personal liberty and Christian liberty are one and the same. What is morally binding upon a Christian man is, in a sense, binding upon everybody. What any man may rightly do as accountable to God, a Christian may do.
It always was, it always will be, the duty, not only of Christians but of every man, to love God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself, and to put his liberty under the limitations of that reigning principle of love.
Christ did not, when upon earth, for the first time announce it, nor Iwas it then for the first time accepted or rejected. Still in Him it found a fulfilment and an illustration never seen before; and He bound it as a yoke upon the necks of His disciples, to draw this world out of the sloughs of selfishness up on to the table lands of righteousness, and brotherhood, and consequent peace. No Christian man can, therefore, say: "I am under the same limitations as to moral obligation as any other man, no more, no less."
Does discipleship, then, mean nothing? Does putting on Christ. add no warmth of colour to morality and move to no higher levels of self-sacrifice than expediency?
Some things are for a Christian man innocent and harmless. If he abstain in things indifferent, it is not because it is morally wrong to indulge, but out of deference to the conscience or scruples of others, or the possible peril to which his example might expose those not so strong. His Lord and Master " 'pleased not Himself." And "it is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master."
Christian liberty is the liberty to be Christ-like. When a man becomes the disciple of Christ, this is all the liberty he has. Rather, let me say, he advances into a higher realm of liberty than that of the merely ethical right; into the liberty of love and the self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness of love. To the man who has put on Christ this is the grandest liberty in earth or Heaven. The one absolutely
free man who ever walked the earth was Jesus of Nazareth. The
truth makes other men free. He was the Truth, and so was Freedom itself. Saul of Tarsus becomes the slave the doulos-of Christ and the child of liberty at the same moment. This slave of Christ was the freest man in Greece or Rome. To his great, strong nature, his skilled, dialectic mind, an idol was nothing at all. Meats and drinks. and special days were indifferent matters; every creature of God was good and to be received with thanksgiving. But all were not able to make their way through this tangled mass so easily. All could not so easily shake off the influence of past idolatries. So he 66 says: At a feast you can certainly eat what is put before you, if no point of conscience be raised; but if any one says this is a religious (idolatrous) offering, then you must decline it, on his account. I say on his account, for your own conscience in the matter is not here the question. This is my own way in everything, not indulging my personal tastes, but acting for the benefit of others and the salvation of my brethren."
The discussion in the 14th of Romans and the 8th, 9th, and 10th of 1 Corinthians ranges over what may be called the Debatable Ground of things, in themselves indifferent, but gaining their moral quality, as acts, from the circumstances in which they are put forth.
No phase of Christian practice has probably provoked more intense resentment than this presented by the great apostle. There can be no question but that to many to carry out a scheme of life which makes large room for the scruplesof conscience of other men is to expose one's self to the charge of of being a "fussy old bigot." But as Paul puts it, "How possible it is to mix together the vigour of a masculine and manly intellect with the tenderness and charity which is taught by the Gospel of Christ."
II. Christian liberty is the liberty
to be Christ-like, and that is all the liberty we have.
In this light,
1. If Christian brethren are disposed to stand upon their rights | and do what they think themselves honestly entitled to do, Christian liberty gives to their brethren who differ from them no right of censorious judgment. St. Paul says expressly to such: "Let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? So long as he is true to his convictions of duty in his bolder, freer course, "he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand." It is possible that, in condemning him for worldliness, I may be violating the royal law of charity.
2. Christian liberty gives no warrant to any to follow the example of such at the expense of conscience. Though it be not immoral to enjoy it in and by itself, "it is sinful in the man who thus, against his conscience,imitates the freerChristian."
3. The rights of Christian conscience are above the rights of Christian liberty. And so far is this from being a burdensome yoke, worn from love to Christ and love to men, it is a yoke both easy, and light, and joyous.
4. But now it will be asked, "Are the weak always to give law to the strong? There are limits to self-abnegation. Weakness is a bad thing; and if a constant homage be paid to it, it tends to make others weak. I may think it right, for the sake of my own moral vigour and for the sake of the moral vigour of those who are in danger of becoming morbidly scrupulous, to live the bolder and freer life which my own conscious approves.'
"We, then, that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves;
for even Christ pleased not Himself." It is not the weak giving law to the strong; it is the
strong giving law to himself in accordance with eternal principles of heavenly love. Yea, it is Christ, the mighty, the great, the grand, leading the way in self-abnegation, and we, who have the mind of Christ, following on as best we can. The infant in the cradle: Is that weak, puny thing always to give law to mother-love? Are mothers never to outgrow this tyranny of the cradle? Must they always be bound by an infant's cry? How long must this antiquated nuisance keep mothers within these intolerantly narrow limits? Does infantile weakness give law to mother-love, or does mother-love, obedient to its own instinct, tie itself down to the cradle the freest thing this side the love of Christ on this earth?
It may be said that the mother ties herself down to infantile weakness only so long as she must, and for the sake of leading weakness up on to the heights of strength. Certainly. And so let us do toward the weak everywhere. Weakness is not a good thing in itself. But let us take care that our nurture is not an ostrich nurture; but the nurture of tender, considerate, Christian love.
"There are limits to this selfabnegation." Well, possibly. But who will drive the stakes? Searching the New Testament for the limits, we cannot find them. There are times when we may say it is a man's duty to stand alone for the right against the world; though, as matter of fact, no man ever so stood. With Elijah were seven thousand who had never bowed the knee to Baal. Behind Luther were the Reformers before the Reformation, and around him many -yea, far more than he knewfully abreast of him in their detestation of the corruptions of the Papal Church and their sympathy with a pure, spiritual life. But all this takes us into another realm, off the playground of things in
themselves indifferent, among the forests of God and the everlasting hills.
III. But, beyond this, the use and abuse of Christian liberty in the fellowship of the strong among themselves seems to be quite as much deserving of consideration and to indicate a field where no less is it needful that the charity which suffereth long and is kind have free course and be glorified.
It will never do to class all the scrupulous among the weak; all who cannot in conscience walk the freer, bolder life, of which we have many examples, as narrow, bigoted, and illiberal. We must dissent from this classification, as having neither justice nor sense on its
side. It should be considered that they who, as leaders of Christian thought, walk the freer, bolder path, with little tenderness for the consciences of their brethren, are the few, not the many; that they are matched, in every way, in intelligence, piety, good works, and breadth of range in culture and outlook by those who decline to enter upon the high seas of modern adventure to bring the Church and the world together; that bishops and presbyters, synods, conventions, conferences, and assemblies, and the great bulk of the literature of the Church are on the conservative side. Now, then, Christian liberty would seem to say, with emphasis, as between such:
1. We must learn to trust each other, as honest seekers after the right way.
2. We must learn to put far from us censorious judgments, for to his own master every man stands orfalls.
3. And, certainly, the strong owe something to each other, as workers in a common cause and servants of the same Master. Something, we say not how much-that they obstruct not one another's way, nor lay burdens on each other's shoulders, nor inflict pain upon each other's
hearts; or, if this must be, then only for some high commanding reason, which shall have behind it the imperative of conscience.
Finally, let it be said that the course outlined by the great apostle, the liberty that is most rigidly laced and interlaced by love to God and love to men, is the freedom that walks the breezy heights of the mountains of God, where the prospect is broad and fair, where the step is bounding with gladness, and the spirit is invigorated with the wine of Heaven. The yoke of love is the yoke of the free; the yoke of the selfish is the yoke of the slave. As a man among men, a man has the liberty to stand on his rights. As a Christian, a man is supposed to have entered into the grander liberty of self-abnegation for the good of others, in the sympathy, and self-forgetfulness, and tender love of Christ the Lord.
H. C. HAYDN, D.D.
The Necessity of Holiness. EPH. iv. 24.
"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," HEBREWS xii. 14.
"Holiness-without which no man shall see the Lord."
THERE are some words in our English tongue which have an acknowledged power, a grandeur, and a sanctity peculiarly their own. These words grasp the mysterious and infinite that enclose us on every side with all the possible powers of mortal speech, and so present them, as it were, in a somewhat more tangible, though still undefined, shape to our minds. Such words stand before us not simply representative of the noblest and purest to which man can possibly attain, or, even of which he can possibly conceive, but they, in a certain sort, incarnate in themselves the infinite and absolute realities to the outer edge of which only the loftiest imaginings of man
reach, and so have a depth of I. WHAT IS HOLINESS? meaning and a suggestiveness beyond any analysis of human thought. Such words are, of necessity, sacred words; they are not often heard in our common intercourse. All men feel instinctively that they belong only to certain occasions, and come only with propriety from certain lips. We feel that they bring us at once into contact with the invisible and the Divine, and they exercise upon us the influences of these.
Chief among these words stands "Holiness." Take in the full height and length and breadth and depth of this word, and you have, in fact, ascended to the topmost height of heaven and measured the very being of God. And so all men, even the most thoughtless, feel it to be. The very letters and syllables that enclose the central and sanctifying idea are as the garments of Christ. Do you not know men and women who, taught by a subtle instinct, never utter this word? The reason is, that there is a certain spiritual quality suggested by it which is foreign to their characters, and a shade of religious conviction to which nothing in their habit of life and feeling corresponds.
Now, it is with this sacred word, the Divine fact which it represents, that the text is concerned. It represents it as a possession belonging only to the regenerated and renovated soul, 66 the new man created after God." Holiness is not simply an arbitrary condition of seeing the Lord, but a moral and spiritual necessity in order to see Him; in other words, that not only "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," but that "without holiness no man can see the Lord." To "see the Lord," to apprehend all His divine and satisfying attributes, there must be this organ and faculty of "the new man created after God" which is here called "holiness."
There is a very common, and perhaps natural, tendency to confound holiness" with "righteousness or "virtue." No little of the debate which Christianity has with the world is just on this point. The moral law, it is too often claimed, is the measure of religion;
'morality" is "holiness"; virtue is Christianity. But it is very certain that the Scriptures teach no such doctrine. On the contrary, they distinctly and persistently assail and deny it. That ye put on the new man -a life and character beyond any possibility of mere nature-" which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Here, then, is the broad and deep distinction that runs through all Scripture. "Morality," is one thing; "holiness," is another.
Holiness, then, is not to be confounded with "virtue." Nor, let it be cbserved, is any disparagement cast upon virtue by affirming this distinction. They are names, as we have seen, of two things, not
and the same. They do not express the same, quality in character. "They rest, on different capacities in human naturevirtue on the conscience, holiness on faith. They are fed from different fountains- virtue from moral principle, holiness from communion with God in Christ." They may be guided by different directors-virtue depending more self-will. This is intimated in the classical origin of the word, where it expressed the special characteristic of the Roman mind-a certain honourable, proud high-mindedness, pagan but not Christian—and where it was nearly synonymous with valour or such fidelity as depends upon personal courage. Holiness, on the other hand, implies a subjection of self-will, and the presence of those spiritual attributes, like humility, forgiveness, and religious submission,