The Unity of Civilization eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about The Unity of Civilization.
reaction on home discipline and school-life.  It is very difficult to maintain the right balance, and the danger of morbidity through emphasis on sin is undeniable.  Yet it seems to me that the worst errors of Calvinism and Evangelicalism in this regard have lain in a tendency to theological formalism and a failure to keep in touch with real life.  In consequence, those who most deplore our waning sense of sin try us by a perverted or antiquated standard, and fasten often on changes of sentiment and habit which are by no means necessarily or largely sinful.  They are least conscious of the want of a sense of sin, in modern society, where that want is most serious.  But I do not doubt that our often old-fashioned friends are right on the main issue.  I do not believe that we shall see the progress we desire, unless we recover a heightened sense of sin.  I hold with Lord Acton that our internal conflicts are due to indifference to sin and not to a religious idea.  We judge ourselves and our race too lightly.  We quench our hope of progress by a leniency and indulgence towards our failings which involve an underestimate of our powers and responsibilities.  The present crisis will not issue in a hopeful reaction through regret but only through repentance.

The sense of sin which Christianity has brought to the West is not, I think, to be found elsewhere.  It only appears where men feel they have an assured knowledge of God’s will.  It is intense only where men are conscious of God’s presence.  The vision of the Holiest reveals to Isaiah that he is a man of unclean lips.  Such a conviction of sin seems to me inexplicable apart from contact with the living God.  Two things are required to bring home to men a true estimate of their moral failure, first a right standard of judgement, and, second, a conviction of the reality of God.  Is it too much to say that we are not likely to reach either, apart from Jesus of Nazareth?  ’It is through Jesus and not from Adam that we know sin.’  It is through Him that men discover their moral ideal and learn not simply to believe that there is a God, but to say, O God, Thou art my God even for ever and ever.

Surely there is something providential in the resolute endeavour of the last century to get back to Christ.  The whole movement has succeeded in disentangling the authority of Christ from that either of Moses or of Paul.  We are almost where the disciples were when they saw no man save Jesus only.  Some things in the traditions remain obscure and baffling.  But we see enough to measure afresh our distance from Him.  And when the peoples of Europe are thoroughly weary of the work of destruction, it may be they will turn to Him again for the secret of rest, and find that He alone can guide their feet into the way of peace.

BOOKS FOR REFERENCE

Sabatier, L’Orientation religieuse de la France actuelle.  Armand Colin:  Paris.

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Project Gutenberg
The Unity of Civilization from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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