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The Responsibility of the Church.

The Responsibility of the Church.

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Published by glennpease

RoMAnS 14 : 22. — Happy is be that coademneth not himself in that thing
which he alloweth.

RoMAnS 14 : 22. — Happy is be that coademneth not himself in that thing
which he alloweth.

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 29, 2013
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THE RESPOSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH.BY REV. OCTAVIUS PERICHIEFRoMAnS 14 : 22. — Happy is be that coademneth not himself in that thingwhich he alloweth.In this Epistle to the Romans the great Apostle hasdwelt long and forcibly upon the doctrine of justifica-tion by faith. In these later chapters he comes to mat-ters of an every-day, practical nature, and these he en-deavors to enforce with an equal emphasis.Religion, like everything else God hath ordained, hasits two sides— the inward principle and the outwardmanifestation — the abstract and the concrete — the the-ory and the practice — ^the life and the application of life. In us, e. g., as individuals, there are laws of nat-ural life, many of which are known and many unknown.To many of us they are nearly all unknown ; but they actno better in those who know them, than in those who donot know them — sometimes not so well, i. e., they areindependent of what we know, absolute and universalin their nature, made of God. There is great advan-tage, however, in the knowledge of them, provided itbe true knowledge and not mere speculation. In ourcommon physical life, by means of these laws, there isa part voluntary and a part involuntary. The bloodcirculates in us whether we know anything of the lawsTHE RESPOSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH. 189of circulation or not. It circulates for him who knowsits laws no better than for him who knows nothing aboutit — sometimes not so well ; the ignorant man in stout,robust health, is better off than the wise man whosehealth is impaired. For the various duties and exigen-cies of life, the strong, ignorant man, would be morevaluable than the weak invalid. In the emergency of saving a house on fire, or a man from drowning, betweenthe value of the two there would be no comparison.Health is the object contemplated in the circulation of 
the blood — it circulates that we might be healthy andfitted for the duties of life. That is first, and if therebe knowledge afterwards, it is only that the aggregatehealth be greater. If there be schools of science, it isthat the race be better off. That school of science bywhich the race is not better off, is a curse rather than ablessing — a wrecker's light, not a true beacon.So religion has its voluntary and its involuntary sides;its laws of being which give life, and the uses we make of those laws ; its workings independent of our knowledge,and its workings in combination with our knowledge.The doctrines of atonement and justification — rather, thelaws of atonement and justification — are great univer-sal laws; eternal laws, too, made in the beginning. Theywork in all men just as in all men the pulse beats.They envelop the human race like the atmosphere, andman breathes their blessing though he thinks nothing of his breathing. Some men know nothing about them.o man knows much. Even Paul himself saw themthrough a glass darkly ; he proved his humanity in thathe labored to explain them. We have proved ourweakness in that we have neglected all other religiousthings for them — drawn theories out of them, instead of 190 SERMOS.spiritual life. Christ said very little about them, andwhat He did say was more to suggest them than to ex-plain them. There were matters to Him weightier thanthese. His atonement would avail whether we knewanything about it or not. Its benefits would not beaccording to the degrees of our ignorance of it. I sayour ignorance of it, because we cannot say our knowl-edge of it, for we know very little about it. He diedfor the sins of the whole world. By that death Godhath mercy upon all, and all men have the blessingsthey have because God's mercy is universal. He whosees enough of God to walk after Him — ^and God hathnowhere left Himself without witness — ^is justified inthe faith that walks; in a certain sense, by the faiththat walks. The walking is the very object for whichGod ordained atonement and justification. ot thatthey are not to be understood by us, if we can under-stand them, but that the understanding of them is not
the prime work of our probation. Into them the angelsdesire to look. They yet have to endeavor to under-stand them. The work of man is to attain to righteous-ness, to practice holiness, by the strength derived fromatonement and justification, whether he knows anythingof them or not, to become like God — to have of the at-tributes of God— T-to be filled with virtue — ^holy as Heis holy, perfect as He is perfect. That wiU bring peace,rest, all life to this dying world. That is what Godwants us to have. The religious knowledge which con-duces not to that, is worse than none. He who has, orclaims to have, the knowledge of divine things, and yetis without the virtues and graces that are in God, andwhich are revealed to us by Christ in making the atone-ment, is al§o a wrecker's light and not a beacon — heTHE RESPOSIBILITY OP THE CHURCH. 191condemneth himself in the thing he alloweth, the thinghe claims, the thing he has chosen to represent.It has been conceived by some that there is an in-consistency in St. Paul. Sometimes he tells us it isfaith that saves us and then he denounces works. Andthen again he points out works for us to walk in, as if our whole salvation depended on them, bidding us indeedto work out our salvation ; and another Apostle says :"You see how that by works a man is justified andnot by faith only." But there is no inconsistency hereto anybody that is wise. We have not considered whatworks they are Paul denounces, and what works he com-mends. In every instance the works he denounces, orrather declares void of any saving efl&cacy, are so-calledreligious works ; works that men do to make religion — not works God hath ordained into which we are to putreligion. In every case the works he commends arethose of justice, truth and love, demanded in the com-mon every-day life of man ; demanded by this provi-dence of God. The one thing Paul had to resist, in histime, outside of absolute wickedness, was Judaism.That had made religion consist in washings, ordinances,religious observances, just as in our time, to many per-sons, reUgion consists in baptism, joining the church,going to church, observing day^, and seasons, andhuman doctrines. All that, then, since and now, so far

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