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Salvation by Joy

Salvation by Joy

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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SALVATIO BY JOYBY THE AUTHOR OF"PRO CHRISTO ET ECCLESIA"The highest theory that the world's rarest andbest piety had arrived at before Christ came wasthe idea of salvation by suffering. The end wasperfection; the way was pain. It is true that thevision of the mystic had given glimpses of a higherway, but this phase of insight was almost inarticu-late. The seers themselves could not assimilate itto the rest of their belief; it had given birth tono creed, either in philosophy or religion. "Asfar as the east is from the west so far hast thouremoved our transgressions from us" is the songof a soul under the influence of this rare vision;and in its light he hears the divine answer, "Asthe heavens are high above the earth, so are myways higher than your ways, saith the Lord."Man's way was the way of the moralist, thereforethe isolated rays of the mystic vision had to be putunder the horn lantern of a lower religious theory.Whatever the full meaning of the teaching of Jesus, it is certain that just so far as it was abovethe thought of his time, and so far as it was to bethe light of all future generations, just so far it76chap, viii SALVATIO BY JOY jjmust have been partially interpreted and darkenedby what seemed necessary to the world of his day.How far he taught that the salvation of theworld must come by suffering is a most vitalquestion, nor does it seem to be difficult to answer.The end he preached was perfection; but the waywas joy, not pain. If it be objected that joy aswe know it is but an incidental experience to himwho would attain perfection, it may be replied
that so is pain. Yet pain had been accepted as ameans, as a discipline; Jesus substituted thediscipline of joy. Further, for Jesus perfectionwas to be realised in a state of universal love. Itsexemplar was the God who poured forth goodupon just and unjust alike. Salvation was to beginand be accomplished in a kingdom of love; andlove, although the highest joy, involves costlyactivities in the person who loves. He gives with-out measure; he forgives without measure. Sofar as this means suffering, the salvation of theworld comes by suffering — the suffering of unrequited love. Suffering is incidental andtemporary, but joy is necessary to salvation andto our idea of perfection.Joy cannot be perfect till the whole world issaved out of its separatism into the great at-one-ment of the reign of universal love. There isonly one chance of winning the children of hate tothe side of the children of love — it is the vision of hate in its worst colours and love in its best. Thisvision is only open to the eyes of men when thevictim of ill-will suffers without resentment and inentire charity. St. Paul was probably prepared78 HIS THOUGHTS AD OURSfor his conversion by St. Stephen's martyrdom,not because St. Stephen died for his faith, butbecause in dying he manifested love and forgive-ness for his tormentors. Long afterward St.Paul, who must have seen many — not onlyChristians but Jews and pagans — die for theirfaith, wrote in a passage of great inspiration,"Though I give my body to be burned and havenot love it profiteth me nothing." othing !The kingdom of God gains nothing from any zealor any suffering which is not offered out of thedepths of love to God and man.The Christian must drink so deeply of thespirit of the Saviour that he will actually andtenderly love his brothers, his neighbours, and hisenemies. All men come under one of these heads ;
there is no relation of life that is not covered by oneof them. There is no salvation recognised in theGospels that is not manifested by this income andoutput of love. This love will be more or less re- jected, and the consequent neglect or ills, petty andgreat, that arise from the animus of persecutionare the only suffering which the Christian iscalled on to endure. eglect and contradictionare inevitable to all men who are saved by loving,and are saving the world by loving it; but loveremains the highest joy, whatever be its suffering.Thus we see that suffering is never to be courtedfor private ends. The individual can win hislife only by expending his love for the sakeof the corporate life, and whatever renunciationJesus called on a man to make was to be theinstrument of the world's salvation. "In yourchap, viii SALVATIO BY JOY 79patience ye shall possess your lives " follows closeupon "Ye shall be hated of all men for my sake."Whatever is done for the sake of the King, doneas the King would do it, is done to advance thekingdom. Whatever is demanded for the sake of the Saviour of the world is demanded for the sakeof saving the world. We need not regard it asa mysterious question whether suffering has aredemptive efficacy; it is a fact that what lovesuffers in its effort to save has a redemptiveefficacy, and there is no other suffering which theRedeemer regarded as the will of God. When

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