There are others who say that Christ appeals to the gentler instincts of man,—to his unselfishness, his meekness and compassion. Yet some of the most admirable Christians have been ambitious and aggressive. Others say, He appeals to our need of help. But self-reliance is a Christian trait. Others say, He appeals to our sense of sin—our need of pardon. But many a Christian goes through life like a happy child, scarcely conscious at any time of deep guilt, and never overwhelmed by intense conviction or despair.
The truth seems to be that Christ appeals to our whole selves. He calls us by an attraction which is unique. In the universe there exists a force which we must recognize—though we do not yet in the least understand it—which is gradually drawing the race Christward. The law of spiritual gravitation is, that by all the changing impulses of our nature we are drawn upward unto Him. Spohr’s lovely anthem voices this cry of the soul:
“As pants the
hart for cooling streams,
When heated in the chase,
So longs my soul, O God, for Thee,
And Thy refreshing grace.
“For Thee, my
God, the living God,
My thirsty soul doth pine;
Oh! when shall I behold Thy face,
Thou Majesty divine_?”
1. Jesus calls us by the mystery of life. There are hours of silence and meditation when the great thought I am beats in upon the soul. But what am I? Whence came I? A heap of atoms in some strange human semblance—is that all? And so many other heaps of atoms have already been, and passed away! Blown hither and thither—where? The universe reels with change. Star-dust and earth-dust are alike in ceaseless whirl. Little it profits to build the spire, the sea-wall, the dome, the bridge, the myriad-roofed town. A new era shall dawn upon them, and they shall fall away.
Not only that, but each man who lives to-day has less possible material dominion than he had who preceded him. Only so many square feet of earth, and now there are more to walk upon them! The ground we tread was once trodden by the feet of those long dead. I am taking up their room, and in due time I must myself depart, that there may be footway for those who are to come after me. Only the under-sod is really mine—the little earth-barrow to which I go.
There is no question more baffling than this simple, ever-recurring one: What am I? If I should decide what I am to-day, I discover that yesterday I was quite a different person. To-day I may be six feet in height, and climb the Alps; yesterday I lay helpless in swaddling clothes. Yesterday I was a thing of laughter and frolic; to-day I am grave, and brush away tears. As a babe, was I still I? What is Myself? When did I come to Myself? How far can I extend Myself? My feet are here, but in a moment my spirit can flee to Xanadu and Zanzibar. There is no spot in the universe where I may not go. Where, then, are the limits of Myself?