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Selfish Religion.

Selfish Religion.

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Hebrews yi. 12.
" That ye he not slothful, hut followers of them

Hebrews yi. 12.
" That ye he not slothful, hut followers of them

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


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SELFISH RELIGIO.REV. JOSEPH WELLAD, B.A.,Hebrews yi. 12." That ye he not slothful, hut followers of them who throughfaith and patience inherit the promises. ^^When the first terrors of the awakened soul are past,and he has leisure to look calmly with all his new-created spiritual perceptions on the character of Christ,what a wonderful beauty he perceives there ! In thepresence of that perfect holiness penetrated in every partwith the most real and tenderest human feeling, howdoes all we once regarded as glorious pale and becomeworthless ! All the great names of history, which usedto kindle our ardour or quickien our ambition, seem nolonger worthy of mention ; and what we esteem andlove in those nearest and dearest to us, seems common-place and poor and defective. The strength and gentle-ness, the truth and sympathy, the humility and dignityand the earnest all-conquering love, startling in itstremendous vehemence, all holy through complete conse-cration to God — ^these we gaze on with rapture which36 SELFISH RELIGIO.no other contemplation can generate : for all this is ourown, this is the man, pure and perfect as God wouldhave him to be. All others were but broken men,fragments, now painfully seen to be only fragments :the best and dearest utterly imperfect. The highestflights of genius, the utmost reach of human glory, thenoblest instances of moral virtue — can you place thembeside the character of Jesus ? Can you conceive itpossible to say, " those I will have ; but Him I will notbe like?" much less, then, we can compare with Hisexcellency the gifts of science. Far as we extend oursurvey we find nothing greater than ourselves — nothing to envy — ^no living thing has science revealedgreater than man, and the smallest living thing isnobler than all the whole glory of inanimate creation."What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole
world — or universe of worlds — and lose his ownsoul ! '* We come back from the contemplation of all creation, like Adam, unsatisfied, and we gaze onChrist because He is man. In Him we see what manis — what God created him for — intends him to be. Itis we ourselves that we behold, the ideal of ourselves,once so vague, so hopeless, but here realized, and at handand promised. If we love the commonest objects whichbelong to us, simply because they are our own, howmuch more that which is our very nature, that whichbelongs to our individual destiny, which contains theSELFISH RELIGIO. 37secret of all our future — this is Christ — gaze, gaze, gaze,upon Him, exult in His human virtues, in His purity,His splendid self-control, His love, His complete com-munion with God in all things; exult, for it is all yours.He is the Man ; the secret of everyone is revealed in Him.But now remember that this Man Christ Jesus wasthus given you, among other reasons, for this most cer-tainly, that you should now and here be like Him ;not for comfort only, but for strength ; not as a promiseonly, but a present power.Oh, remember that however excellent and blessed athing comfort may be, we want something more thanthat; or rather let us remember the older meaning of comfort, which combined with our modern more selfishm eaning, the thought also of strength. Let us rememberthat the " consolation " and "comfort" of the ew Testa-ment mean, besides ease, real assistance and intelligentlyappreciated help. Let us remember that God hascalled us to the highest and best things, and that tobe satisfied with less through any indolence or unbelief is not only woefully to forfeit our own highest happiness,but also grievously to sin against the love and the good-ness of God. We have need to remind ourselves of these things, for what in fact happens ? It happensvery, very often, that after the first excitement of religious emotion is over, we rapidly accomodate ourstandard of life to our own convenience, and while we
S8 SELFISH RELIGIO.still acknowledge that sometliiiig mucli better ought toto be, we are practically satisfied with that which is.Instead of pressing forward with all the whole energyof our being towards the realization of the Christ- life,we fix our attention upon our own feelings, and measurealmost all our religion by them. How to maintainreligious emotion, a comfortable frame of mind at agiven point, how to secure peace of conscience amid ourappointed duties, becomes too much the ruling principleof our religious life ; and we are hardly moved to anyspiritual exertion except by absolute uneasiness. Iteven seems as if we should in our apathy suffer thereligious life to expire within us, if it were not thatGod chastised our indolence by innumerable vexationsthat compel us to prayer. And then what do we desire POh, to be comforted, to be at peace, to be free to enjoylife ; and our prayers and our hymns and our study of God's Word are all supposed to be effectual in exact pro-portion as we have enjoyed them. Is all this very likethat character of Christ which seems so lovely in oureyes? Was this the secret of all His love and goodnessand holiness — the effort to maintain a comfortable feel-ing in His own heart ? or was not His life one of self-sacrifice ? Was He not wholly absorbed in another — sotrustful and satisfied with His God that His heart was" at leisure from itself to soothe and sympathize?'* Andwhat is the result of this selfish life of ours ? It worksSELFISH RELIGIO. 39its own punislimeiit ; anxieties about self abound. Asense of our own individual safety, nay, often hardly somuch — the mere absence of fears for one's own future — having been made our highest good, everything seemsto threaten this. We are continually losing it andstruggling back to it, continually doubting and dis-couraged, falling into long periods of lukewarmnessand deadness, dismayed by every terror, anxiousand uneasy, and doubtful under every new assaultupon our faith; we live, as the hymn almost bitterlyexpresses it, " at a dying rate.'* We are like Israelin the wilderness, of whom it is said, "the people

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