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the possibility of an unselfish goodness. This suggestion, so skilfully introduced into the prologue, Elihu altogether missed.
In regard to prayer, however, Elihu's teaching is really fresh and valuable. Prayer is too often, as he says, but an instinctive cry for deliverance from pain, whereas it should be rather a request for enlightenment and for spiritual help. If God be a loving God, there must be a wise and beneficent purpose underlying all calamity. As Elihu finely puts it, God delivers the afflicted by their afflictions. And so our prayer, when we are in suffering, should be, not so much that this suffering may be removed, as that we may be enabled to learn from it the lesson it was intended to teach, and to derive from it the benefits it was meant to confer. There is much need that we all lay to heart Elihu's counsel. If we examine ourselves, we shall find that our prayers are most fervent and most real when we are merely asking for some temporal blessing. Our requests for spiritual enlightenment and help are comparatively languid and forced. We are too anxious to inform the Almighty of our wishes and bend Him to our will. But to pray in this fashion is to prostitute our
noblest endowment. We should be chiefly con-
"I do not ask, 0 Lord, that life may be
I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
Of things too sweet.
For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead—
Lead me aright;
Lead me to Light."
Christianity and Pre-Christian
TN this and the following sermons I propose ,*. to contrast Christianity and pre-Christian religion, with especial reference to the doctrines of the Incarnation, the Atonement, and Eedemption,—with reference, that is, to (1) the revelation of the Deity which was given in Christ; (2) the new relation towards God into which men were thereby introduced; and (3) the moral reformation effected by the Atonement.
There are persons who divide religions, as they do all other things, into two classes,— their own, and those which are not their own; or, as they more euphemistically express it, the true and the false. Some even go so far as to restrict the term true religion, not to the common Christianity of Christendom, but to the creed of some one particular sect or denomination. I remember hearing a clergyman find fault with her Majesty our Queen for worshipping in a Presbyterian church, on the ground that, in doing so, she was guilty of "changing her religion." Such an extreme exhibition of narrowness is nowadays somewhat exceptional; but the notion that non-Christian religions, at any rate, are altogether worthless, is by no means uncommon.
That this notion is incorrect, may be seen from the following considerations. (1.) If God be love, it is inconceivable that while He had completely revealed Himself to a few, He should have concealed Himself as completely from the many. (2.) If every religion that is inferior to Christianity is to be called false, Judaism cannot be called true. (3.) In many of the socalled false religions we find, as I shall point out to you, remarkable anticipations both of Old and of New Testament teaching. And what is absolutely true in one religion cannot be absolutely false in another. (4.) The hasty characterisation of all religions but one as false religions, is countenanced neither by the Bible nor by the Fathers. I might quote many confirmatory passages, but two will suffice. St Peter, who was by nature and education inclined to all the exclusiveness of a Jew, confessed on one occasion to the Gentile Cornelius, "God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." And similarly Augustine says, "There. are no religions which do not contain some truth." (5.) The unwarrantable depreciation of non - Christian religions is not the best way of honouring Christianity. If they contained nothing valuable, the fact that Christianity surpassed them would be deprived of all significance. But if, after giving them their full due, and seeing that they did contain much that was true and good, we still find that Christianity is preeminently superior, we shall then all the more heartily and honestly admire, and love, and worship Christ.