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My soul is for a crown aspiring
The crown of righteousness ;
For God, and nothing less.
Assault me, and I bleed.
I know I shall succeed.”
Do not sell your birthright for a mess of pottage. What shall it profit you if you gain the whole world and lose yourself ? Sirs ! I beseech you, for your own sakes, for Christ's sake, for God's sake, be men !
Science and Religion.
“ Be careful for nothing ; but in every thing by prayer and sup
plication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”—PHILIPPIANS iv, 6, 7.
M\HIS, and one or two similar passages of
1 Scripture, have given rise to a celebrated misrepresentation of Christianity. “Be careful for nothing,” “take no thought for the morrow,” &c., were alleged by Strauss, Buckle, and others, as proofs that the New Testament is opposed to industry and commerce. It was further maintained that the world could do better without Christianity than without commerce; and we were therefore advised to discard Christianity as
i Upon this subject see also · Defects of Modern Christianity and other Sermons, pp. 177 and 247-259.
a thing of the past, opposed to the better instincts and wiser reflections of the nineteenth century. But a glance into your Greek Testament—nay, a little common sense—will suffice to show you that this objection to Christianity is utterly without foundation. When Christ tells us to “take no thought for the morrow,” it is plain, from the word used in the Greek, that He is warning us, not against prudent, but against anxious thought. If a man insures his life, though he is in one sense taking thought not only for the morrow but for an event that may not happen for thirty, forty, fifty years, yet he is in no way violating Christ's commandment; he is performing a duty which necessarily follows from the golden rule. So in regard to our text, “Be careful for nothing” might be better rendered, “Be not anxious about anything.” It is the same word that is translated elsewhere, “ take no thought.” And without consulting our Greek Testaments, we might surely have guessed that the active, earnest, energetic, hard-working Paul was not exhorting us to apathy, to indolence, to a care-for-nothing-andnobody state of mind. On the contrary, the freedom from anxiety which he commends to us, is the essential condition of true work. There is nothing more enervating than worry.
Now, according to the apostle, we are to get rid of anxiety, and so to be prepared for successful work, by means of prayer. “Be careful for nothing: but ... let your requests be made known unto God.” In this sceptical age, however, when the very foundations of our faith are being shaken, it is somewhat difficult to believe in the efficacy of prayer. The opinion is becoming general that answers to prayer must be impossible, inasmuch as they would imply violations of natural law. But this difficulty may, I think, be at once removed. Let us ask ourselves what we mean by a law of nature. What do we mean, for example, when we speak of the law of gravitation? Why, simply, that all bodies or particles of matter in the universe attract one another, and so tend to come together. But mark you, though they tend to come together, this can be prevented. Suppose your child is leaning from a window at the top of the house, and that he leans a little too far, loses his balance, and falls out. Gravitation will inevitably and remorselessly drag him to the ground unless some one interferes. But if you see his danger, and rush forward and catch him, he will be saved in spite of gravity. That law has not been violated; it is still acting, still tending to drag the
child downwards: but you have counteracted it. You, who were born yesterday and will die tomorrow—you, with your puny strength, have got the better of a force that is perhaps as old as eternity and as infinite as the universe.
There is another point I should like you to notice. The unchangeableness of these laws is the very quality that enables us to counteract them. If we could not depend upon the way in which any force was going to act, we should not know with what other forces it might be resisted. Take the case of lightning. We know that a lofty building has a tendency to attract electricity from a thunder-cloud. We also know that some metals are good conductors. Hence we attach metallic rods to every valuable structure, so that the electricity may be conducted thereby into the ground, instead of lingering about the edifice and destroying it. But if the laws of electricity were changeable,—if, for example, the same metal was sometimes a conductor and sometimes a non-conductor,—we should be altogether helpless. It is only when we foresee precisely the effects of natural forces, that we understand what to do if we wish to counteract them. As the Duke of Argyll says in his ‘Reign of Law,' “It is the very inviolability of these laws which makes