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Unnaturalness of Moral Surrender

Unnaturalness of Moral Surrender

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Moreover, thou shalf say unto them, Thus sdlth the Lord;
Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not
return f — Jer. viii. 4.
Moreover, thou shalf say unto them, Thus sdlth the Lord;
Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not
return f — Jer. viii. 4.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Moreover, thou shalf say unto them, Thus sdlth the Lord;Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and notreturn f — Jer. viii. 4.THAT the difficulties of return to a better lifeare real and formidable must be franklyowned. In losing ground spiritually andmorally we place ourselves at a great disadvantage;what is easily lost is recovered painfully. Difficultieswhich arise both within and without are to be reckonedwith.Difficulties arise within the backsliding soul itself which are not easily overcome. As Drummond pointsout, "The penalty of backsliding is not somethingvague and arbitrary, but the consequences are alreadymarked within the structure of the soul. The punish-ment of degeneration is the atrophy of the spiritualnature. It is well known that the recovery of the back-slider is one of the hardest problems in spiritual work.To reinvigorate an old organ seems more difficult andhopeless than to develop a new one; and the back-slider's terrible lot is to have to retrace with enfeebledfeet each step of the way along which he strayed."70MORAL SURREDER UATURAL 71 jWe must be careful how we press the analogy betweenphysiological and spiritual degeneration, for serious
physical degeneration never takes place in the lifetimeof an individual, but only in a considerable series of generations ; yet it is alarming to contemplate the swiftdegeneration of a soul, to mark how soon it loses vision,strength, sensibility, aspiration, and hope. The injurythat the moral nature sustains through a lapse is to itsimmense prejudice; to climb steep and slippery slopesis ever sufficiently arduous, but to attempt those slopeswith injured sight and shattered limbs is an exag-gerated and disheartening task. The process of physi-cal recovery is usually trying, and frequently peculiarlypainful. Ordinary convalescence is full of uneasiness,the sense of weakness and suffering being most acuteas the returning forces of life slowly seize successivepoints of the citadel so nearly lost. The restoration of those who narrowly escape drowning is accompaniedby intense agony. Physical weariness and tortureare repeated yet more vividly in the sorrow of fallensouls fighting towards life. "And having cried out,and torn him much, he came out : and the child becameas one dead ; insomuch that the more part said, he isdead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and raisedhim up; and he arose." Thus bitter is the ejection of demons. The most pathetic and tremendous tragediesare witnessed in secret places where penitent soulswrestle in tears and blood with the evil passions andhabits which have fastened upon them.Difficulties are created without, as well as within,by backsliding. Society makes it easy for a man tosink and very painful for him to return. And if 72 MORAL SURREDER UATURALsociety puts no stumbling-block in the way of therepentant sinner, his own conduct has created forhimself miserable entanglements which require theutmost resolution to shake off. In the biography of 
Louis Agassiz occurs a striking account of his descentinto the heart of a glacier. He was lowered by hisassistants to a great depth in the ice, each foot of thedescent being attended by peril ; if, however, thedescent was dangerous, the ascent was even more so,for the well was filled with large icicles, which pointingdownward presented no obstacle in his descent, butnow as the adventurer looked up the one hundred andtwenty-five feet of blue ice, the sharp and dangerouspoints of hundreds of these javelins threatened to cutthe rope or fall upon him. The ascent of the soul tothe coign of vantage lost is usually similarly discourageaging. The difficulty of the position is only under-stood when return is contemplated. Yes, it isever a serious thing to fall away from faith andrighteousness.Yet let the great truth be laid to heart by the un-happy backslider that such recovery is possible.There is in nature what physicists call a power of repair, an inherent power in an injured part to restoreitself. Sir James Paget writes : "The power of repairis not confined to living things. Broken crystals canrepair themselves as well as, e.g., broken bones. Wher-ever we find evidence of an end or design to be ful-filled in the attainment or maintenance of a definiteform, there also we may find evidence of some powerto repair the injuries which that form may sustainfrom forces external to itself." Does not the text seemMORAL SURREDER UATURAL 73to point to this law of recovery active in the very con-stitution of things? "Shall they fall, and not arise?shall he turn away, and not return?" It is natural toseek to repair any injury that we suffer; it is unnat-ural to surrender ourselves to the forces of disinte-

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