For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind,
And the heart of the eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.—Frederick W. Faber.
None could enter into life but those who were in downright earnest and unless they left the wicked world behind them; for there was only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul and sin.—John Bunyan.
THE NATURE OF SIN.
Henry Drummond has said that sin is a little word that has wandered out of theology into life.
Members of a secret organization known as the Thugs of India feel at times that it is their solemn duty to strangle certain of their fellow men. Do they thereby commit a sin? A Parsee believes that it is wrong to light a cigar, for it is a desecration of his emblem of purity—fire. Others in the western world for very different reasons regard the same act as wrong. Is the lighting or smoking of a cigar a sin for these classes? Is the act necessarily wrong in itself?
When a trained dog fails to obey his master, does he sin? Is man alone capable of sinning?
THE DIFFERENT THEORIES REGARDING THE ORIGIN OF SIN.
Many and various have been the definitions of sin and the explanations of its origin. Most primitive peoples defined it as failure to perform certain ceremonial acts, or to bring tribute to the gods. Morality and religion were rarely combined. The Hebrew people were the first to define right and wrong in terms of personal life and service. Sin as represented in Genesis 3 was the result of individual choice. It was yielding to the common rather than the nobler impulses, to desire rather than to the sense of duty. The temptation came from within rather than from without, and the responsibility of not choosing the best rested with the individual. The explanation is as simple and as true to human experience to-day as in the childhood of the race.
The Persian religion, on the contrary, conceived of the world as controlled by two hostile gods, with their hosts of attendant angels. One god, Ormuzd, was the embodiment of light and goodness. The other, Ahriman, represented darkness and evil. They traced all sin to the direct influence of Ahriman and the evil spirits that attended him. During the Persian period a somewhat similar explanation of the origin of evil appeared in Jewish thought. Satan, who in the book of Job appears to be simply the prosecuting attorney of heaven, began to be thought of as the enemy of man, until in later times all sin was traced directly or indirectly to his influence. This was the conception prevalent among the Puritans. This view tended to relieve man of personal responsibility for he was regarded as the victim of assaults of hosts of malignant spirits. Does your knowledge of the heart of man confirm the insight of the prophet who speaks through the wonderful story of Genesis 3?