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Published by glennpease

I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. — Matt. v. 17.

I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. — Matt. v. 17.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 14, 2013
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OT DESTRUCTIO BUT FULFILMET. BY PHILIP STAFFORD MOXOM Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll ! Leave thy low-vaulted past ! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea ! Oliver Wendell Holmes. OT DESTRUCTIO BUT FULFILMET. I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. — Matt. v. 17. TV /FY purpose at present is to elucidate the prin- -^^¦^ ciple that underHes these words, rather than to show their historic fulfilment in the action and teaching of Jesus both during his public min- istry and during the centuries that have elapsed since his ascension. Jesus did destroy very much, but destruction was not the end at which he aimed. His purpose was to plant, to quicken, to upbuild. However much he took away, he put more and better in its place. If he destroyed men's trust in legal ob- servances, he drew them to a rational and effica- cious trust in God. If he destroyed traditions, he gave vital truths. If he destroyed institutions, he gave power to construct other and better institutions. He was not a mere iconoclast, but a builder.
His spirit is the most powerful constructive force in history. He whom the Pharisees both hated and feared as the destroyer of religion, re-created religion and gave it a place and power in the world beyond the prevision of all prophetic dreams. 262 TJie Religion of^ope. In this particular of planting and developing, Jesus is the supreme exemplar, as he is in so many other ways. We need to study this aspect of his character and work to-day, when the ten- dency to destroy is so powerful, when there is such impatience with the old and the over-worn. On every side, in the Church and in the State, there is a growing discontent with that which has long exercised the authority of custom. The social order is challenged and questioned, and here and there its overthrow is both urged and attempted. The dogmas and forms of the Church are subjected to close and ever severer criticism, and criticism is steadily pouring itself into action. " The old order changeth, yielding place to new. And God fulfils himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world." The present time is marked by a powerful movement for reform that invades all fields, — political, religious, and social. Those who lead in this rising enterprise are mainly the young; not merely the young in years, but the young in mind and spirit. I would not say one word, if I could, to check the movement. It is a sign and product of life, and God is in it. The world is still inchoate and undeveloped. Humanity is yet in its spiritual childhood. There is more truth than men have yet taken into consciousness.
There is a better social order than we have yet ot Destruction but Fulfilment. 263 attained. There is a holier Church than has yet appeared. History is but the slow unfolding of God's purpose, and every advance is a fuller revela- tion in terms of thought or organic civilization of God in his world. But the time is one of danger and temptation ; and I would, if I could, speak a word of counsel, especially to the young. The tendency to destroy is deep laid in our nature. Man is both conserva- tive and destructive. He is usually destructive in his youth and conservative in old age. It has been wisely remarked that the conservative is only the radical gone to seed. The history of religious thought strikingly illustrates the truth that the conservatism of to-day was radicalism yesterday ;  just as the radicalism of to-day will be conserva- tism to-morrow. The transition from the one to the other which time and growth effect is be- coming more rapid. What strides have been made in twenty years ! Twenty years ago the doctrine of evolution was heresy in nearly every pulpit and theological seminary; to-day it is almost, if not quite, the main formative principle of philosophical theology, and has its advocates and expounders in innumerable pulpits and in half the theological schools in the land. Indeed the phrase- ology of evolutionary thought is unconsciously employed by many who are not aware that they have moved forward with the moving planet into fuller light.

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