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THE TRANSFER OF THE RELIGIOUS UNIT.pdf

THE TRANSFER OF THE RELIGIOUS UNIT.pdf

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Published by glennpease
BY SAMUEL COX



** I will take you one of a city, and two of a clan, and I will bring-
you to Zion."— Jeremiah iii. 14.

" Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it,
they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness,
saith the Lord God."— Ezekiel xiv. 14.

" Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one accord-
ing to his ways, saith the Lord God." — Ezekiel xviii. 30.
BY SAMUEL COX



** I will take you one of a city, and two of a clan, and I will bring-
you to Zion."— Jeremiah iii. 14.

" Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it,
they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness,
saith the Lord God."— Ezekiel xiv. 14.

" Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one accord-
ing to his ways, saith the Lord God." — Ezekiel xviii. 30.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 10, 2013
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THE TRANSFER OF THE RELIGIOUS UNITBY SAMUEL COX** I will take you one of a city, and two of a clan, and I will bring-you to Zion."— Jeremiah iii. 14." Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it,they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness,saith the Lord God."— Ezekiel xiv. 14." Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one accord-ing to his ways, saith the Lord God." — Ezekiel xviii. 30.There was little individualism, among the primitiveraces, in the earlier stages of human life. The com-munity was everything ; the man almost nothing, saveas a member of the community. As the descendants of any remarkable man, any independent and ruling spirit,multiplied — however numerous they grew, they still hungtogether, held themselves to be members of one family,and had all things common. They were friends andkinsmen ; as many as were of a different strain were" enemies," or " strangers " who might easily become ene-mies. The tribe, in short, was the political unit, not theindividual man. Their property belonged to the tribe,not to its individual members. Whatever any of themacquired, whether by toil, plunder, or war, was thrown22 THE TRANSFER OF THE RELIGIOUS UNIT.into the common stock. Whatever crime any one of them committed, whether against property or life, thewhole tribe was responsible for it : they might deal with
 
the offender as they thought well — punish, exonerate, orreward him as they pleased ; but they had to pay thefull penalty of his crime, or take the consequences of refusing to pay it. Their very ruler was the head of the family, the chief of the clan, rather than an officialgovernor, a kinsman rather than a magistrate. If, becausehe devoted his time and energies to their service in peaceand war, they tilled his fields for him, erected or adornedhis rude palace, enriched him with their offerings, anyone of them, on the other hand, might eat at his table,or depend on his bounty in sickness, in penury, in want : — ^just as little more than a century ago many a proudbut poor Highland clansman "sorned " on his chief; justas to-day in many rude tribes — the Malays, for example —the starving peasant or fisherman hangs about the" compound " of his " sultan " and claims a seat at hisboard.This tribal unity and responsibility obtained not onlyin the East, but also in the West. It was a recognizedform of social and political life among our own Englishforefathers : and among the Celts, at least in Scotlandand Ireland, it lingered so long, until so recently, as toleave behind it many disastrous effects with which wehave to struggle to-day. When the chiefs of the clansbecame feudal lords, and when lands which once be-longed to the whole tribe were appropriated to the soleuse of the lord, the impoverished and dispossessed clans-THE TRANSFER OF THE RELIGIOUS UNIT. 3men were angered, if not ruined ; and we still hear someechoes of the wrong inflicted upon them in the Crofterand Deerforest agitations of Scotland and in the Irishrefusals to pay rent.It was only as men multiplied until "a little one becamea thousand, and a small one a strong nation ; " it was only
 
where family so commingled with family and race withrace that their several clan ties were ruptured, that thepolitical unit was transferred from the tribe to the indi-vidual man. Individual freedom and individual responsi-bility grew up precisely where men were most numerous,where they were so numerous and so blended that theold narrow tribal relation had to give place to the largerunity of the nation or the race. For as the relations of any community of men grow larger, they of necessitygrow looser, A whole nation, a whole race, can hardlybe held responsible for all the acts of every one of itsmembers, for in a community so large it cannot pretendto watch and control every act ; and thus room wasmade for that personal liberty on which we pride our-selves, and that personal accountability which in somemeasure checks and restrains it.Now this transfer of the political unit was accompanied — or, rather, as I believe, was preceded and in largemeasure effected — by a corresponding transfer of the re-ligious unit. No one will deny the immense stress whichthe Gospel of Christ places on man's personal responsi-bility, his individual accountability to God. Its mainand constant appeal is to the individual conscience. Itssalvation is a salvation of the individual soul. Its warn-4 THE TRANSFER OF THE RELIGIOUS UNIT.ing is, " Every man must give account of himself untoGod." And as the great change in the framework of human society has taken place in the Christian worldand is for the most part confined to the races which haveaccepted the Christian faith, or the civilization which ispenetrated and saturated with that Faith, it is onlyreasonable to infer that it is the religious idea of per-sonal responsibility to which mainly we must attributethe political change.

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