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personality of Christ is the most impressive. The most eminent characteristic of modern religious thought is that it is Christocentric. Too often has Christianity been thought of and spoken of as the religion of the Bible. It is not the religion of the Bible; it is the religion of Christ. The scoffers of Antioch builded better than they knew. They gave to the disciples a name so characteristic that the very life of the Church depends upon its fidelity to the connotation of that name. A Christian Church was living and growing, multiplying in numbers, advancing in thought and in the development of Christian institutions, for two thirds of a century before the last book of the New Testament was written, and we know not how much longer before the idea of a New Testament canon was developed. In the Christocentric attitude of modern Christian thought we can regard with peaceful complacency the critical questions which are so full of terror for a bibliolatrous faith. It matters not whether the gospels are inerrant, if only they give us a substantially true picture of the life and character of Jesus. If the Pentateuchal legislation is an accretion of codes belonging to different ages and more or less inconsistent with each other, and if prophetic predictions have again and again failed of fulfillment, it is yet enough for us that the law and the prophets were a preparation for Christ and found in him their fulfillment. Christ himself is not merely the inspiration of Christian life and the center of Christian dogma, but the foundation of Christian apologetics. "Ye believe in God, believe also in me," said the Master to his perplexed, doubting, sorrowing disciples, while he yet waited for the glorification which could come only through the cross and the sepulcher. Enthroned by the reverent love of humanity, inspiring the world's highest thought and noblest life, Christ might say to the doubters of our age, “Ye believe in me, believe also in God.”

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Art. VIII.DOES GOD SUFFER?

YES, he does. This is our answer to the question. To sustain it we give the following reasons, which we think rise to the dignity of an argument:

I. The philosophical reason. Nature is varied enough to suggest that its Maker has infinite resources. Some flowers are beautiful; some, fragrant; some, both. Birds have differ

, ent shapes, hues, and powers. Beasts and men differ in their places and capabilities. Through the whole realm of being there is diversity. No part bears the impress of all. The careful observer, however, will find one capacity common to all forins of life. The gradation of this capacity marks the grade in the scale of being—in some places large, in others small. But as a principle it is the common basis of life. It is the capacity to suffer.

Who shall say there is no form of pain to the seed that, breaking the crusted earth, must burst its own skin before its first leaf can be developed? Who can watch the bird emerge from its shell, the crab shed its cast, or any other form of bursting life, without the conviction that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together?” As far as observation goes the capacity for pain is universal. The biblical statement would include vegetable, as well as animal, life.

We hold it to be true that the Divine cannot impart what he does not possess; also, that what he possesses is held as attribute of his nature. He has no beauty but of essence, no wisdom but of mind, no will but of being. That he possesses beauty few will doubt. Jesus saw more beauty in the lily than he had seen before. He saw no more than the lily possessed. Since he read its message—a message beautiful as its form and fragrant as its perfume—it has not been more beautiful, but its native beauty has been seen more clearly. The song of the mocking bird is sweeter in itself than the screeching of an owl. Not all God's creation is grounded in the realm of utility. “In a great house there are . . . vessels ... to honor, and some to dishonor." Christ's appreciation of the beautiful-shown in a love for the solitude of the mountain,

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the stormy lake, the flowers of the field, the sparrow on the housetop, and the children clustering around him in his toil— all proclaim that God sees beauty where beauty is. Yea, they show that God is beautiful. Is it because a sight of the Divine fills with fear or with reverence that the angels cry, “ Holy, holy, holy?” Are we to ascribe glory to God because he does not possess it, or because it is his? Indeed, the eternal love of equity, native to the Divine, must be surpassingly beautiful to the spirit taking cognizance of it. No wonder Faber, breaking into song, sings,

How beautiful, how beautiful,

The sight of Thee must be ! There were no beauty in nature unless beauty were native to God. Man would have been without will unless the divine Being bad possessed will. He could not give what he did not have. We do not measure the will of God by that of man. The gift can never be the measure of the giver. God has freedom, for that he has iinparted. Man is free to do right or wrong. Does some one suggest that this makes God free to sin? We are not afraid of the implication, for we believe it to be true, though we have no fear of his sinning. God is as free as man.

God is free to anything. He is as infinitely free as he is infinitely good. The stability of the Divine is grounded in his purity, and not in any circumscribing of his liberty. We prefer to believe that God is good because he wants to be, rather than to believe he is good because he has to be.

Why is not beauty universal? Why not wisdom? or, even freedom? Why is suffering a universal possibility ? Does some one say because of sin ? We doubt it. It was sorrow, and not pain, that came as a result of the fall. Pain and death were before sin. The very soil of the garden was a result of death in vegetation. The tempter was right in that they should become as God. They came to know sorrow. We believe the capacity to suffer is universal, because it is the profoundest trait in the divine nature. If some grant the ability, but deny the experience, we say no part of the divine nature can be inactive; we are not willing to charge God with the most selfish trait known to an intelligent mind, namely, to refuse activity to one's nature because its working would

like man.

hurt. As well might we expect a mother to cease loving a child because he will grieve and wound her. God does not give to nature a burden that he will not bear. He is a father, and not a Pharisee. All nature proclaims that God suffers.

II. The analogical reason. It is more than suggestive that ascent in the scale of being means added capacity to suffer. Not always added strength, beauty, or enjoyment follows higher life, but always added ability to suffer. The flower cannot suffer like the bird or beast, nor can the latter suffer

Yet nature knows sorrow as well as pain. The bird will fret at the loss of its young. The cat will monrn a kitten gone. Stories are numerous of dog and horse that have died of grief at the loss of master and friend. Over the wayward a parent will mourn for years. Beside the open grave one stands with breaking heart. Somewhere in the ascent pain passes to grief, and from the muscles to the mind. We have seen suffering that, while not of the body, has broken the body by its weight. Beneath a heavy heart the muscles weaken, the nervous forces waste, and the snows of winter fall in June. The grave is opened at the meridian of life. Men say, “He died of a broken heart," which means, of suffering. Why should we be afraid to apply a universal principle? Ascent in life means added capacity to suffer, and argnes the suffering of God.

This reasoning, when applied on moral lines, is called the “Christian conscience.” Why have nations practiced most revolting customs for centuries without revolntion of public opinion ? China has left her innocents in the streets. Only Christian nations forbid cruelty to beasts. It is not a true answer to say the latter are more humane. The truth is, they are more divine. Altruism is no part of heathenism. Impelled by the altruistic spirit of Christianity, the missionary has raised his voice, the Church has felt, nations have heard, and governments have been compelled to listen. Customs of heathenism, hoary with age, have been prohibited, not by the nation enslaved, but by the nation feeling for them. The indignation felt by Christ in the temple has flamed in the Christian conscience, filling every part of the Church militant with feelings of sorrow. The world may know facts. Only

6--FIFTH SERIES, VOL. XV.

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Christians feel them. The life of the heart is not comprehended by the head. Not even the Divine takes cognizance of human sorrow, save through his sensibilities.

This is equally true in the life of nominally Christian nations. There is no reformation in the State but is born of the Christian conscience. The revolt against slavery is in evidence. The declaration on temperance which now gleams in the heavens like the morning star, a prophecy of day—that “it can never be legalized without sin ”—is from the conscience ‘of the Church. The only philosophical answer for this fact is that the conscience of the Church feels, the State sees. The conscience of the State is not moral. The feelings of the Church on this question are not of pleasure, but of pain. One represents the Divine in it; the other, the Divine about it. If an awakened Christian conscience knows sorrow it argues the grief of Him who awakens it. What causes the “ Bridegroom” no pain can never give his “bride” grief. The

' sorrow of the Church means the grief of God. In still a narrower sense the analogical reason may be applied. The life of the Church has expressed itself in revivals. A revival never visits a community save through the sorrow of some heart. It may start, like a spring, in the tears of a mother for her child, and by addition become a river of deep feeling that sweeps a community. A divine law, written in the history of the Church, is no salvation for any without the suffering of some other. One of two things is true; either the activity or the indifference of the Church expresses the life of her Lord. Can it be that the strong crying and tears for the prosperity of Zion is backsliding? And is the complacency we have dubbed indifference the ideal religious state? If God does not feel, indifference is most like him-it never feels.

Personally, we look on those times when we were sorrowfully interested in the salvation of men as being the times in our religious life when we were nearest onr Lord. When with a great longing and earnest entreaty we besought men to be reconciled we supposed we were nearer our Master than when with cold indifference we saw “the wicked come and go from the place of the holy.” Indifference cannot be sinful unless God suffers. The divine in heaven and the divine in human

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