Nothing to say for ourselves—that is what it comes to, when we know the truth about ourselves. And when at last our mouth is stopped, when our last poor plea is silenced, when with penitent and obedient hearts we seek the mercy to which from the first we have been utterly shut up, then indeed we
the ground wherein
Sure our soul’s anchor may remain.”
“Not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to His mercy He saved us.”
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“I spend my whole life in going about and persuading you all to give your first and chiefest care to the perfection of your souls, and not till you have done that to think of your bodies, or your wealth; and telling you that virtue does not come from wealth, but that wealth, and every other good thing which men have, whether in public, or in private, comes from virtue.”—SOCRATES.
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“Seek ye first ... His righteousness.”—MATT. vi. 33.
Righteousness, as it was understood and taught by Christ, includes the two things which we often distinguish as religion and morality. It is right-doing, not only as between man and man, but as between man and God. The Lawgiver of the New Testament, like the lawgiver of the Old, has given to us two tables of stone. On the one He has written, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind “; and on the other, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” In these two commandments the whole law is summed up, the whole duty of man is made known. It is well to emphasize this two-fold aspect of the truth at a time when we are often tempted to define religion wholly in the terms of morality, and, while insisting on the duties which we owe to each other, to forget those which we owe to God. If there be a God righteousness must surely have a meaning in relation to Him; it cannot be simply another name for philanthropy. Christ at least will not call that man just and good who does right to all except his Maker. In the Christian doctrine of the good life room must be found for God. At the present moment, however, it is the subject in its man-ward aspect that I wish specially to keep in view, partly because some limitation is obviously necessary, and partly also because it is this of which Christ Himself had most to say.