III. The Christian peace is the peace of being divinely forgiven.
“In every man,” said a philosopher, “there is something which, if we knew it, would make us despise him.” Let us turn the saying, and change it from a bitter cynicism into a wholesome truth.
In every one of us there is something which, if we realize it, makes us condemn ourselves as sinners, and hunger and thirst after righteousness, and long for forgiveness.
It is this deep consciousness of sin, of evil in our hearts and lives, that makes us restless and unhappy. The plasters and soothing lotions with which the easy-going philosophy of modern times covers it up, do not heal it; they only hide it. There is no cure for it, there is no rest for the sinful soul, except the divine forgiveness. There is no sure pledge of this except in the holy sacrifice and blessed promise of Christ, “Son, daughter, thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace.”
Understand, I do not mean that what we need and want is to have our sins ignored and overlooked. On the contrary, that is just what would fail to bring us true rest. For if God took no account of sins, required no repentance and reparation, He would not be holy, just, and faithful, a God whom we can adore and love and trust.
Nor do I mean that what we need is merely to have the punishment of sins remitted. That would not satisfy the heart. Is the child contented when the father says, “Well, I will not punish you. Go away”? No, what the child wants is to hear the father say, “I forgive you. Come to me.” It is to be welcomed back to the father’s home, to the father’s heart, that the child longs.
Peace means not to have the offense ignored, but to have it pardoned: not to the punishment omitted, but to have separation from God ended and done with. That is the peace of being divinely forgiven,—a peace which recognizes sin, and triumphs over it,—a peace which not merely saves us from death but welcomes us home to the divine love from which we have wandered.
That is the peace which Christ offers to each one of us in His Gospel. We need it in this modern world as much as men and women ever needed it in the old world. No New Era will ever change its meaning or do away with its necessity. Indeed, it seems to me that we need this old-fashioned religion to-day more than ever.
We need it for our own comfort and strength. We need it to deliver us from the vanity and hollowness, the fever and hysteria of the present age. We need it to make us better soldiers and workers for every good cause. Peace is coming to all the earth some day through Christ. And those who shall do most to help Him bring it are the men and women to whom He gives Peace in the Soul.
Peace on Earth Through Righteousness
And the work of righteousness shall be peace: and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence forever.