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temptations from beneath, we are so tempted from above, tempted of God in all the wonderful and happy ordering of his natural and human world, that only by the most miserable neglect of our temptations to the higher and the highest things can we fail of making such a choice as shall not only make this mortal life what it should be in spiritual power and grace, but at the same time make our assurance of another life more strong, and our entrance on its mystery such as theirs who, coming among friends of loftiest nature, find themselves untroubled and at home.
THE PRICE OF MORAL FREEDOM.
"WITH a great price obtained I this freedom," said the Roman captain. "But I was free born," said Paul. And in the two we have a brief epitome of the contrasts that appear in human life. Their speech was of the freedom of the Roman citizen. To have the freedom of that citizenship was something fine and great, as you will easily appreciate if you will pause a moment and consider what the Roman Empire was in the first century of its career, over how many lands the city of the Tiber held the shield of her protection and her flaming sword, the splendors of her constructive genius and the beneficence of her sway, and the long period of peace that she had given to the world, one of the longest in its history. No wonder men were proud if they could claim that they were born into the freedom of that city which in its political structure was coextensive with the empire in its sweep from Spain to Syria and from the coasts of Africa to those of Germany and Britain! No wonder those who were not born citizens of that city were glad to buy its freedom with a great sum of money!
But there is an empire in comparison with which that of the Roman city was of narrow bounds and trivial power and petty history. It includes that and every other empire that has come and gone among the chapters of its history and the illustrations of its growth and power. It is the empire of the moral life of man. To have the freedom of this empire, to be born into it, if that were possible,— what a glorious privilege were that! If not so privileged, were any sum too great to pay for it, if haply we might have it for our own in indefeasible possession?
The Roman captain and the apostle, I have said, the one boasting himself a free-born citizen, the other that he had bought his freedom with a great sum, epitomize in brief the differences and contrasts in the empire of our moral life. Between these two extremes herd the great multitude, the vast majority of men and women, neither born free nor the ors of a freedom they have bought for little or for much. Time was when a liberal theology, that of our Unitarian pioneers, found in the born freedom of the apostle the type of every man's original estate. It made no allowance, or the most insufficient, for the differences of natural organization, the excellences or the deformities and limitations of our inheritance from former generations. Each new-born baby was a new-born Adam, with no past behind him either to help him onward or retard him on his way. His will was free, unhampered by the dead men's clothes which do not soon wear out, according to the canons of our later teachings of heredity and atavism,- the reversion of the individual to the physical or moral likeness of some far-off ancestor or racial type. For him there was the choice of Hercules on the one hand and the other-love sacred and profane, persuading him with counter-invitation; and, he could take or leave, whichever one he would. It was a very simple and attractive exposition, and it had in it one element of great advantage over the traditional creed. Assuring men that they were free to choose the higher and to spurn the lower things, it helped to make them so in very deed and truth; while, for those who believed themselves "born under sin" and without any power in themselves to break its hold, it was most natural to say, "The villainy you teach me I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." That not more were found to act upon this hint shows how much better human nature was than Calvin said. Men who believed that the Almighty, for the praise of his glorious justice, had probably elected them to everlasting wickedness and shame, went on doing the best they knew year after year, more worshipful than he.
But our early Unitarian exposition of human nature and ability, so simple, so attractive, so encouraging, has broken down under the weight of countless illustrations of the differences in men's inborn tendencies and dispositions, the differences of their opportunities as well, to which weight has been added, making the catastrophe more absolute, that of the whole mass of evolutionary principles, with their assurance of the shaping influence and control of an incalculable hereditary force. And so it happens that, just when the Calvinistic doctrines of depravity and election are drawing near to the extinction of even that ghostly adumbration in which they have for some time now survived their first estate, you will often find our Unitarians asking if those doctrines were not, after all, poor, clumsy symbols of things very real and terrible in our human life,— the inheritance of evil tendency, the fatal power of this, conjoined with that of baleful circumstance, to overmaster and enslave the moral will. That some are born free they make no positive denial. Willing and glad are they to recognize that it is so, to hail the favored natures, all of whose aptitudes and instincts, tendencies and inclinations, gravitate to pure and noble things. Though mindful of certain disappointments here and there where they were least expected, volcanic eruptions of iniquity breaking through where never a rumble of disorderly passion had been heard before, they would say, "Let not him that putteth on the harness boast himself as he that taketh it off." They would have men not too confident that they can take the apostle's boast of native freedom on their lips. But that many are born into a state of slavery they have as little doubt. For them the huts of narrow, selfish aims, the manacles of evil tendency, the lash of master-passions driving them to servile tasks. Of such is the kingdom of the majority in this present life. Thank Heaven there are those "born under sin," bred to this service, who somehow have achieved the moral freedom of the world, whether by a great price which they themselves have paid for it, or by the grace of others who have redeemed
them from their servitude with patient love, or broken its inveterate bonds with sudden force, and carried them away as with a conqueror's might to make them sharers of their joy!
The freedom of the will, as it was formerly conceived, is now a doctrine that has little reverence among the philosophical and scientific. Of the doctrine of the necessitarians, as it was formerly held, the same thing can be said with equal truth. The force of circumstance is seen to be of less importance than the force of character in determining the choices of the will. The range of deliberate choice has been much narrowed by the psychologists, who have suc ceeded the metaphysicians in the study of these matters, and with much more satisfactory results. And even where there is deliberation there is less frequently that effort, or even the recollection of it, which is commonly illusory, which our traditional conceptions have held to be inseparable from genuine moral actions. "The immense majority of human decisions," says Professor James, "are decisions without effort." And, while many of our teachers who are now enskyed and sainted, and some whom now we cannot but revere, would say that no decision without effort is a moral decision, the average scales of judgment do not tip that way. Nothing is more effortless than the will's determination by the clear balance of deliberation one way or another, unless it be that "reckless and exultant espousal of an energy so little premeditated that we feel rather like passive spectators cheering on the display of some extraneous force than like voluntary agents," or that sudden passage from an easy and careless to a sober and strenuous state of mind, in which the right thing, which just before seemed quite impossible for us, seems as inevitable as the gravitation of the planets to the sun. "We know what it is," says Professor James, “to get out of bed on a freezing morning, in a room without a fire, and how the very vital principle within us protests against the ordeal. Probably most persons have lain on certain mornings for an hour at a time, unable to brace themselves