Hence, even scientifically considered, the final aim of thinking must be, to arrive at some thought which will take hold of this primary fact of sin and uproot it; which will show how the world may be purged of sin.
Slowly but inevitably we are moving to this great Thought. It is summed up in one word: Redemption. The watchword of a century ago was gravitation. It explained the poise of the universe by a great and hitherto undiscovered law. The watchword of yesterday was evolution. It explains progressive change: the mounting-up of life “through spires of form.” The forms of the universe are seen in a series which is in the main ascendant, and in which the survivor is supreme. The watchword of to-morrow is Redemption. The Thinker will some day live, who will make that great word Redemption stand out in all its vast majesty and significance. This, I take it, is the work of our new century.
Redemption is the explanation of the existence of man, of his present progress, and his future destiny. It is the great mystery of joy in which the race partakes; the spiritual culmination of all things earthly; the forecast of eternal things yet to be.
Redemption is not a dogma; it is a life. Redemption is a perpetual and ascendant moral growth. It marks a world-balm, a world-change. It is in the spirit of man that it works, and not in his outer condition, or external strivings. It is ultimately to root sin out of the world.
Through stormy sorrows and perpetual desolations comes the race to God. Zion is the Whole of things—the encompassment of space, and time, and endless years,—an environment of immortality and peace.
Virtue leads the race to Joy, and there is no byway to this height. The final aspect of the universe is joy. Joy is elemental—a vast vibration that sweeps through centuries as years! A day in His courts is as a thousand, and a thousand years are as one day, because they thrill with an immortal and imperishable emotion. The seraphim and cherubim, Sandalphon and Azrael, are angels of enduring joy. Joy is the soul’s share of the life of God.
Thus when the world has breathed to us the holy name of Christ, it has told us the highest that it knows. The March of Sages is toward a Redeemer! The banner of Wisdom is furled about the Cross!
Lo, my soul, look
And mark the busy stir:
Wouldst thou say, in pride and scorn,
Our God is not in her!
Nay, the bonds, the wares, the coin,—
These, in truth, are passing things;
Other treasures thrill the life
Of earth’s great merchant kings!
We, they say, would
wake the power
In mountain and in mine;
And transport, from sea to sea,
The cedar, oak, and pine:
Build the bridge, and plant the town,
Enter every open mart;
Make our nation’s commerce flow,—
But this is not our heart!