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Religion - Culture - Ritual.

Religion - Culture - Ritual.

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JOHN, vi. 63. " It is the Spirit that quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth
nothing : the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and
they are life."

JOHN, vi. 63. " It is the Spirit that quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth
nothing : the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and
they are life."

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 21, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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RELIGIO - CULTURE - RITUAL. BY JOH TULLOCH, D.D. JOH, vi. 63. " It is the Spirit that quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth nothing : the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." THERE are few words used more vaguely than religion : and there are good reasons why the word should not be restricted to any narrow use ; for there are few things of broader meaning, or which cover wider spaces of human life and his- tory. Eeligion is not only personal, but social and national. It not only touches man in his divinest moments, but it touches human nature in all the higher phases of its activity takes ex- pression in great doctrines and great institutions, and re-creates itself continually in many beautiful forms of art and worship. It is the most per- vading element of all civilisation ; and even those who disbelieve or contemn it in its ancient Religion Culture Ritual. 189 idea, bring it in again in some new and altered sense. So long as human life and society retain any sacredness or worth, we may be sure that they will never dispense with religion. Yet it is well for us also to get behind the more general meaning of the word, and to ask ourselves what is the distinctive character and essence of religion 1 what it is to be religious, and how we can become religious ? How may
the Divine be brought home to us, and made a living power within us, so that we shall not cheat ourselves or others with the shadow, but enjoy the substance, and be quickened unto eternal life 1 The words of our Lord, more frequently than any other words, let us into this secret open, as it were, for us the very door of heaven, and bring us close to the Divine. They take us away from all the accidents of religion to its essence, and from all its shadows to its substance and reality, so that we can never have any doubt as to wherein it consists, and what is the true source of its life and power. The words before us are full of meaning in this respect; and this meaning will be more apparent when we consider them in their connection, and in the light which they gather from the circumstances in which they were spoken. 1 90 Religion Culture Ritiial. Our Lord had just performed one of His great- est miracles. The effect of his miracle-work- ing upon the Galilean multitude was sudden and decisive. They saw in Him the long-promised Messiah. They said, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world."' Plainly this was not the result of any spiritual vision in them, or of any aspiration after the diviner gifts of Christ; but their imagination had been kindled by the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Their sense of power was excited, and of what they could do, with Jesus at their head. And so they desired to " take Him by force and make Him a King." But our Lord was grieved by their dull-heartedness and car- nality. He had wished to awaken their higher
longings, and to lead from the " meat which per- isheth " to the " meat which endureth unto ever- lasting life."t Their minds clung to the loaves and fishes, of which they did eat "and were filled." They had no higher thoughts, and did not care for any. And so our Lord left them, saddened; and on the following day He was found at Capernaum, having crossed over the Lake of Galilee during the night. Thither the people came seeking Him, but still with no * John, vi. 14. f Ibid. vi. 27. Religion Culture Ritital. 191 higher aims than before inspired not by the spiritual power of His teaching, nor even by the Divine aspect of the miracle which they had seen, but only because they had been fed in a wonderful manner. Our Lord, moved by their dulness, enters into a long explanation of His mission; of His relation to the Father and to them ; of His character as the true bread, " which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." * He tried to make them realise the great fact of Divine revelation in Himself, as having come not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him ; and to quicken within them that gift of faith which sees 'for itself the beauty of the Divine, so that, seeing the Son and believing on Him, they might have everlasting life, t But they understood Him not they murmured when He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know \ how is it then that He saith, I came down from heaven V'\ Obviously our Lord's higher teaching was of

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