* * * * *
“Tho’ world on world in myriad myriads roll
Round us, each with different powers,
And other forms of life than ours,
What know we greater than the soul?”
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“There is joy
in the presence of the angels of God over one
sinner that repenteth.”—LUKE XV. 10.
This is one of many sayings of our Lord which reveal His sense of the infinite worth of the human soul, which is the central fact in His teaching about man, and the only one with which in the present chapter we shall be concerned. Other aspects of the truth will come into view in the following chapter, when we come to consider Christ’s teaching about sin.
“The infinite worth of the human soul”—this is a discovery the glory of which, it is no exaggeration to say, belongs wholly to Christ. It is said that one of the most magnificent diamonds in Europe, which to-day blazes in a king’s crown, once lay for months on a stall in a piazza at Rome labelled, “Rock-crystal, price one franc.” And it was thus that for ages the priceless jewel of the soul lay unheeded and despised of men. Before Christ came, men honoured the rich, and the great, and the wise, as we honour them now; but man as man was of little or no account. If one had, or could get, a pedestal by which to lift himself above the common crowd, he might count for something; but if he had nothing save his own feet to stand upon, he was a mere nobody, for whom nobody cared. We turn to the teaching of Jesus, and what a contrast! “Of how much more value,” He said, “are ye than the birds!” “How much then is a man”—not a rich man, not a wise man, not a Pharisee, but a man—“of more value than a sheep!” “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” It was by thought-provoking questions such as these that Jesus revealed His own thoughts concerning man. And, of course, when He spoke in this way about the soul, when He said that a man might gain the whole world, but that if the price he paid for it were his soul, he was the loser, He was not speaking of the souls of a select few, but of the souls of all. Every man, every woman, every little child—all were precious in His sight. It is man as man, Christ taught, that is of worth to God.