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The Perversion of the Right

The Perversion of the Right

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Published by glennpease


" Behold, this only have I found, that God made man upright ;
but they have sought out many inventions." EOCLESIASTES
vii. 29.


" Behold, this only have I found, that God made man upright ;
but they have sought out many inventions." EOCLESIASTES
vii. 29.

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Published by: glennpease on Jun 04, 2014
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THE PERVERSIO OF THE RIGHT BY THE REV. J. R. P. SCLATER " Behold, this only have I found, that God made man upright ; but they have sought out many inventions." EOCLESIASTES vii. 29. THIS is a vigorous and biting epigram. It suggests an unexpected contrast between uprightness and inventions. Inventions is thus a new word for sin, and not at all a bad one at that. For it indi cates sin as a kind of device or trick, and suggests the labour that is involved in its doing. When we take practical instances, we see how happy the phrase is. For example, God made the juice of the grape. Man proceeded to invent drunkenness. God gave us the power of taking risks. Man in vented the proceeding of putting sixpence on a horse which he had never seen, or of venturing at a roulette table with the odd chance in favour of the bank. God gave us the faculty of noble anger. Man invented the pitiful little spites that disfigure social life. God created the power of work. Man invented the great social game of beggar my neighbour . I hope that we are proud of our in ventions. (53) 54 THE PEBVEESIO OF THE EIGHT ow, it is important that we should emphasize to ourselves that God has made man upright. To be upright in this connexion means to be complete. The Divine purpose in human creation is the de velopment of a being possessed of an all-round
sanity in moral and social relations : a being who is neither angular nor cranky, but stands four square. From that ideal, man has, with an ingenu ity which might have been employed to better purpose, twisted himself away. Thus, the phrase suggests to us what we may call the silliness of sin. Man is represented as taking a something constructed for a noble end, and putting it to a use for which it is not adapted. It is as if some great master constructed a violin that, in the hands of one skilled in its control, should sound out, to those who heard, the thoughts which they could not put in words. But it fell into the hands of some one who thought himself an inventive genius. And he said to himself, "here is a construction made of wood. It has a handle which can, with fair con venience, be grasped. I will use it to hammer tacks. Or, if the day be cold, I will break it up and use it for firewood." These are quite possible uses for a violin. They are " inventions " of a sort. But they are not quite so admirable as that for which the instrument was originally intended. After some such manner does man put a fool s cap on God s purpose for him. God made him to THE PEEVEESIO OF THE EIGHT 55 be an instrument, in His own great hands, to sing forth His praise. But, with that splendid destiny clear before us, we give our minds to the petty and the base and our hands to be instruments of unrighteousness. May God give us a right con tempt for our mis-handling of our own lives. "If thou sayest, behold, we knew it not; doth not he that
pondereth the heart consider it?" PBOVEBBS xxiv. 12. WE are all, probably by much practice, good at the ingenious art of making excuses. The favourite opening is to plead ignorance. We never knew, therefore how could we ? We acknowledge a connexion between knowledge and duty. Thou knewest, therefore, thou oughtest ; so say the Scriptures reasonably, as we allow. But if we, being ignorant, do evil, why, surely, we may reflect that the times of ignorance God winked at. Indeed, if ignorance be an excuse, we have no lack of it. We are those . . . O er whom the unbeholden Hangs in a night with which we cannot cope. God is far off, a God that hideth Himself. The good is so hard to apply in detail. The results of the interaction of living beings is so incalculable. Even ourselves are hidden from ourselves. Know ledge, when it comes, comes often too late. If (56) THE EXCUSE OF IGOKACE 57 youth had but the knowledge ; if age had but the power. If we only knew and could together ! But that is such a rare conjunction. Wherefore, let us most justly advance our ignorance as a plea. Yet, despite the apparent sweet reasonableness of that proceeding, we must recognize that it is a dangerous game to play. At the best, it will lead to futility ; at the worst, to disaster. We do not

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