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or white, if only the Gospel be preached ?" which leads us to ask that if it makes no difference whether a priest's robes be black or white, what difference does it make whether the priest wears a robe or not? Force, consecrated force, ever and always leaps the fence of form. Vital Christianity knows no barrier. Symbols pass, creeds crumble, but religion lives. There is in Christianity a reviving force, a renewing element, a hidden source of resurrection power, which come to the surface in every hour of darkness and danger. The history of Christianity is the story of a succession of revivals. That hidden element of power has expanded creeds, moulded organizations and created new symbols. Every century gives to the world a new expression of Christian truth.
Religion, in its evolution, will always reflect the varieties of human temperament. No two blades of grass on the rolling prairie are exactly alike. Emerson says,
“God enters by a private door into the soul of every individual.” Salvation comes straight from the mind of God to the soul of inan. Wherever you find an aggressive Christianity, there you will find variety. God loves variety. Nature loves colour.
. Gaze on the green of the grass, the purple of the grape, the yellow of the orange, the whiteness of the snow, the blue of the sky, the blackness of the storm cloud, the red of the sunrise, the crimson of the sunset and the golden glory of midday. These are but a faint suggestion of spiritual variety, in moods and minds, as the divine light steals in through the cathedral windows of the soul.
We are not afraid of new religions or rather new phases of religious thought. These ever-recurring manifestations are a sign of spiritual vitality. We welcome the disciples of New Thought, the prophets of a Millennial Dawn, the eccentric professors of strange types of Holiness and Perfection, Dowie and his descendants, Mrs. Eddy and her admirers, Swedenborgians and their visions of the New Jerusalem, and the prophets of Socialism with their dreams of universal happiness. Welcome all ! Quakers clad in silence and Salvationists clad in thunder - Welcome all ! The child of God need never worry about "new religions." The fit will survive, the unfit expire. Says Joseph Parker : "In thirty-three years I have seen enough dead theories and discarded hypotheses to fill a good-sized cemetery.” Men need never worry about a new religion : if it be of man it will come to naught; if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it.
We apply two tests to every religion new and old, ancient and modern. First, is it true to the divine instincts of the soul—those universal elements expressed in such words as God, Spirit, Eternity and Immortality ? Second, is it real, vital, substantial, leaving its impress on the life in the crystallization of a character, strong, broad, and virile? Jesus Christ wrote over the doorway of His kingdom an invitation of universal application : "Whosoever Will May Come !" And yet He marks four exceptions to the rule: (1) Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. (2) Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (3) Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish. (4) Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. All these exceptions aim at the exclusion of insincerity and hypocrisy and the enthronement of the vital—the real—the substantial.
“Scribes and Pharisees." Aye, there were many classes then, just as there are many classes now. The Herodians were the politicians of that day, the scribes were the scholars, the Sadducees were the higher critics, the Samaritans were the low-born and, socially, “the unwashed”—“Thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil,"—the Galileans were “the provincials," the vast and unlettered multitude-"Are not these men Galileans ? "—the publican was the social outcast, the representative of the underworld. In the social world, in the days of Jesus, there was nothing lower than a publican. He struck the thin ice of the social zero and fell through. “Gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner ”—a publican. (Enough said !) The Pharisee was the orthodox believer—the saint–the holy man. He was correct but cruel, flawless but bloodless, right but ridged, strict in his habits and exclusive in his associations : “I thank God that I am not as other men are-or even as this publican.” The spirit of the Pharisee was the spirit of exclusiveness, the spirit of selfishness, the spirit of caste,—the spirit of antichrist. Jesus charged the Pharisee with being an actor, a hypocrite.
He professed to be what he was not. He acted a part. Hypocrisy is the incarnation of a lie.
The world has a contempt for the hypocrite-the crook in trade, the quack in medicine, the fake in society and the Uriah Heep in the realm of human relationships. The crowning virtue is Sincerity. The crowning vice is Hypocrisy. You can love a weak man, a sinful man, a reckless man, a prodigal, a sensualist—but no person can, knowingly, love a hypocrite. The world pardons the eccentricities of an enthusiast, but it never forgives a hypocrite. And, as Thomas Carlyle remarks, "the crowning hypocrisy is a false priest.” The best thing about a
' preacher is not the sermon he preaches, the visits he makes, the prayers he offers, the truth he affirms, the instruction he affords, the inspiration he generates, but the life he lives. The Earl of Shaftesbury said concerning Charles H. Spurgeon: “Whatever he was in the pulpit he was in private, and whatever he was in private, he was in the pulpit.” Magnificent compliment !
But Jesus came in contact with—aye, in conflict with-an insincere pulpit, ministry and priesthood, and therefore uttered that cutting, stinging, scorching, blistering word—“Hypocrite !” There is no greater disappointment than when humanity finds the spirit of hypocrisy enthroned in the temple of truth. Constantinople, at a distance, is a picture of wondrous beauty-domes, spires, cathedrals, mosques, and palaces; but the modern traveller, on a nearer approach, exclaims, “Dogs, dust and dirt !” Luther approaching Rome, the Eternal City, exclaimed: “Hail, Holy Rome"; but on a closer inspection he muttered : “ If ever a city was built over hell, Rome is that city.”
In this chapter we desire to study the character of the modern saint; to discover, if possible, if his righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees; and to learn if his religion, no matter what the type, form or order may be, is real, vital and substantial. The modern saint is of all sorts and conditions and almost too numerous to mention. There is the orthodox saint, he can tell you what to believe; the institutional saint, he can tell you what to do; the smiling saint, he can tell you how he feels; the praying saint, he can tell you the secret of spiritual power; the criticizing saint, he can tell you when you are going wrong; and the conservative saint, he can always tell you "what not to do."
" " Time would fail me to tell of the esthetic saint, the spasmodic saint, the evangelistic saint, the new thought saint, the up-to-date saint,--all good saints. The saint with the downward look-material. The saint with the upward look—spiritual. The saint with the inward look-mystical. The saint with the sideward look-careless. The saint with the wandering look-wayward. The saint with the forward look -aggressive.
The title of a chapter in a book by Arthur Chambers, an Anglican divine, reads thus : “How Shall We Get On With Uncongenial Saints In Heaven ?” But there is a more serious problem, namely: "How