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sort of foundation and without any sort of probability. A world in which pain of any sort should be wanting is an inhuman world of which we can form no conception and which makes no appeal so far as we can conceive of it. It would be a world without choice, without effort, without growth, without service, without anything, in short, that we understand by life. It may be said that the world of the future, the world of the triumph of the Incarnation, when the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of God and of His Christ, wherein all things are finally put under the feet of God, is such a painless world and that it is the ideal state. That seems to me a misunderstanding of the completed kingdom of God. What are expelled from that kingdom in order to attain to this perfection are sin and death and all those evil things which are dependent upon them. Certain kinds of pain must therefore be conceived as absent because the conditas of them have passed away. But there are certain phenomena of life, which we may still include under the designation of pain, which must continue just because the life of the future remains finite and therefore capable of expansion and growth. One instinctively revolts from the passivity and idleness of popular conceptions of heaven. Heaven is not idle ease but intense activity. It makes demands for exertion and service; and however willingly and gladly the demands are met, it is inconceivable that the meeting of them shall not involve self-limitation of some sort, and limitation means pain - pain transformed and glorified, if you will, but still pain. In its lower stages pain is a matter of quivering nerves and thwarted will: but in the higher experience of humanity its essence is in the self-limitation demanded by service and in the effort that must always be demanded by further growth. And if we may still cling, at least as symbolizing some actual transaction, to what the superior person tells us is the mythology of the Bible, both the fall of angels and of man was from a sinless state to a sinful because of shrinking from the pain which must always be present in the conditions of finite life.
But to return to the life of our Lord. He assumes sinless humanity, but also suffering humanity. It was not inconsistent with the goodness of God that He should suffer. He willingly suffered that He might attain the ends of His redemption work. He put Himself under the conditions of human life to disentangle human life from sin, which is unnatural to it, not from suffering, which is natural. Suffering was one element in the discipline of His humanity and by His acceptance of it He revealed its true place and function in human experience. Whatever else is meant by the fall, this must be meant, that man declined the suffering which is involved in the subjection of his will, and abandoning the divine method of his development chose the method of self-assertion and self-pleasing. Our Lord calls man back to the true theory of life- teaches him to triumph over suffering of one order by the acceptance of suffering of another: teaches him to disentangle the threads of suffering which are mingled in his experience and to distinguish those which are the result of sin from those which belong to the constitution of his nature: to eliminate the one and use the other. Man is thus able to see the facts of life in a true perspective, and to avoid that confusion of thought which classes all pain together and takes it to be inconsistent with goodness, falling thus into pessimism and a godless estimate of life. He is able to understand and accept pain as a necessary factor in the discipline of one spiritually imperfect as he travels the long road which leads to his self-realization as the child of God. All upward paths are rugged and difficult, pass through Gethsemanes and over Calvarys, are momentarily lost in the hopelessness of sealed tombs, before they attain to the dawn of the Resurrection and the triumph of the Ascension.
The Cross is no accident in the life of humanity; it is the divinely erected sign-board pointing the way to victory. It tells that for all God's sons there is a possibility of perfection, but that it is a perfection won through suffering. The Cross offers itself to every human life, not as a threat but as a promise: a promise that those who endure shall enter into the life of God. Only, there is but one door, the door of the Christ-experience,
the door on the posts and lintels of which blood is sprinkled, the blood of the Cross. The Cross, I say, is no accident: pain is not something external to human life, arbitrarily imposed and which we can conceive of as absent. It is not an intrusion and an impertinence; pain is an integral part of all human experience, present as a factor indispensable to man's spiritual health and growth.
Where spiritual ideals are wanting, or are wanting in power, there will always be a rebellion against discipline; and I suppose that it is safe to say that the ideals of the America of to-day are not spiritual. I should not call this an irreligious time there is much interest in religion - but prevalent religious ideals are thin and jejune. The conception of our Lord which is widely spread is that of one whose chief gift to humanity was an example of a refined moral life. That life has a mysterious back-ground which at this late day is impossible of exact definition, nor does the nature of it matter very much. We may permit a certain sort of worship; but again, worship is a term of rather vague content. Interest in religion tends to drift away from such matters as the definition of the object of worship and to concern itself with a certain type of character, kindly tolerant towards others, or bustling and active in the promotion of social well-being, according to temperament. We are becoming a kindly disposed people much given to good works, but less and less able to understand religion as energy and sacrifice, less and less likely to embrace it as spiritual discipline.
This is not strange; humanity has always found it easier to assimilate its religion to its current standards of life and interpret it through them than to lift and reform this life in response to the ideals which religion offers. It is not expected, therefore, at a time when the ideals of living are those of material comfort, when we loudly boast of a civilization the outstanding features of which are increase in wealth and in inventions which minister to ease of living, when luxuries of all sorts have become the necessities of even the very moderately circumstanced, to find the Cross and its message of discipline
grow more and more unintelligible. But there is all the more reason for protest that the very heart of Christianity is the Cross; that its summons is a summons not to a genial and good-natured treatment of life's problems but to a rigid self-discipline, to a severe subjection of life to spiritual principle, to self-stripping and self-mastery for the attainment of goodness, which are essential to any true expression of the Cross. The Lord Christ did not suffer that we might not suffer; He did not hang three hours upon the Cross that thereafter there might be no more crosses in the world; but He suffered, leaving us an example of the meaning and method of suffering; He suffered that we might know how to suffer and fruitfully to direct our experience of pain to the growth in us of those qualities of His life which are the expression of humanity at its highest, which reveal what humanity may become when it is lifted into union with God. It is only the life which masters the lessons of pain by willing acceptance of this discipline which can be the channel of the divine self-revelation to other men.
The Cross is the revelation of the will of God for His children that, as the Captain of their salvation was made perfect through suffering, so shall they be. Why then should we shrink from pain? There is a natural human shrinking from all things that involve suffering; that is an instinctive reaction of our unsubdued nature. We go out to meet the Cross with fear of the pain of it, and fear of our own strength to bear it. This is intelligible enough. But what I am thinking of is that rejection of discipline, because it is painful, which is a repudiation of the method of the Cross, which declines to be made like Christ in all things. That is not intelligible in one who professes to follow a crucified Master. For again, He did not suffer that we might be free from suffering, but He suffered as our Head, and we, the members, grow up into Him by participation in His experience.
Is it, perhaps, that we lose sight of certain aspects of our Lord's work; of this aspect it may be, that it is the willing offering of His own life that through Him the divine purpose may be advanced? Holy Scripture has a very striking way of
treating human life as the medium of the manifestation of the divine purpose, as it sometimes phrases it, of the divine glory. It seems to teach us that this is a sufficient account of any life, that it show forth the glory of God. The impression I gain from the study of Holy Scripture is that back of the world-process, the ceaseless flux of phenomena, using it, working in and through it, is a Supreme Intelligence directing all its variegated and to us unintelligible movement to foreseen ends - ends that we should see with joy and gladly give ourselves to, if that were possible for us. Infinite power and infinite love handle the phenomena of life; they allot our parts with reference to the whole purpose-small parts in any case, but still vital. In the unfolding of a great tragedy there will be some actors who occupy the stage but for a moment and speak but a few words: the footman who prepares for the coming of the Master, the herald who brings the message of the king, and the watchman who gives the alarm at the enemies' approach - whoever he be he is a link in the chain of events needful to its smooth progress. In the symphony there are instruments which are idle for the most part while the theme is unfolded; but at one moment become vocal, and half a dozen notes from a harp or flute add just the touch needed to bring us the meaning of the master. Our parts in the life of the kingdom of God are like that very minor parts, parts of dependent value, intelligible only in relation to the whole purpose - a purpose we do not see in its fullness, hence the mystery of life. We are called each one to speak his word on the stage, to add his note to the symphony; we furnish a light or a shadow to the growing picture, a tone that is ecstatic or pain-pierced to the chorus - and then we pass to work elsewhere, the work given us here is over. Our refusal of the work is the discord in the divine symphony which we call sin: its acceptance is our contribution to the flow of the divine harmony.
All this, it seems to me, is implied in the wonderful treatment of human history which we call the Bible. There is the mystery of the divine will culminating in God made man and man made divine, the mystery which angels desire to look into; and there