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Jork. Responsibility, in the fullest sense which that word will bear, is the broadest, strongest, most insoluble fact in the spiritual history of our
“God made man upright, but he has sought out many inventions," and nothing can deliver man from the consciousness that the “I” which has sought them out represents something which, whatever it may be, distinctly is not God.
Behind all the solutions which Paganism offers of the mystery of life, there is the one haunting consciousness that man's sinful personality is a selfdetermining power which, whatever it may be, whencesoever it may come, is not God, and is not necessarily the manifestation of God. I shall have more to say upon the point when I come to speak of the penitent's creed," I have sinned; I have perverted that which is right, and it profited me not,” -for the present I simply say, that I believe the universal human experience upholds this creed as the absolute truth. Of course it is easy to make broad and bold assertions about universals. A man is prone to find in universal history the theory which he brings to it; but nothing seems to me more broadly marked on the Theism, and even on the Pantheism of Paganism, than the conviction, whether it be in full health or half-strangled, that by sin, man discovered in himself a self-determining
power--a power capable of originating acts and states, in itself not divine, and which is able to set up in this universe something which is not of God, which is not according to the mind of God, and which, if He is to hold the rule, He must transmute or destroy. It is the deepest witness of consciousness, this “I” which is not God. It is in sin that this individuality, this lonely and responsible “I” starts forth with such dread distinctness. Man knows what the “I” means, and then only fully, when he sees that he has become the parent of that which is hateful to God, the genesis of which he cannot charge on God, which exposes him righteously to the judgment of God, and which God lives to trouble and destroy.
This is the consciousness of sin in the human spirit; and this agonizing consciousness neither intellectual subtleties nor devilish falsehoods can charm out of the conscience of mankind. A man, a class, a race, may shake itself free from it for a time, but man never. “Father, I have sinned,” is the only confession which reaches the depths of the human consciousness; and the Gospel which demands the confession, and begins its ministry by deepening the conviction of sin, alone seems to him to be able to undertake the cure. As matter of history it is palpably true, that the convincing of sin, the inspiring a horror of sin—a horror which
took many grotesque and ghastly forms in the early Christian centuries—was the first work of that Gospel which was God's message to all mankind.
The history of conscience, then, I hold to be conclusive—the profound, universal, unalterable conviction of the moral consciousness in man, that his sin springs out of an “I” which is not God; that his sin is his own, his creature, for which he is as responsible as God is for the order of the world. “ Conscience,” I think I hear some Rationalist sneering, “Conscience, yes! its fright has been real enough, and sad enough, in all ages; but what is conscience but a puppet whose wires are pulled by the priest. If the priest would be quiet, conscience would soon be at rest.”
Brethren, the priest is the creature of the conscience, not the conscience of the priest. It is the dread reality behind, which endows the priest with all his power; his yoke had been cast off and ground to fragments long ago, for none has pressed so heavily, but for the great mystery of sin, with which the priest has the art to play. It is the awful sense of the burden which the sinner takes on himself by sin, of the taint which has infected the self with a poison which no force that he is master of will expel, which lends to the men who proffer their aid in man's dire extremity such
“Adam, well may we labour still to dress
Looking the subject calmly in the face, do you feel satisfied that this was the life which was meant for man? Exquisitely beautiful, lovely as a dream, as our memory of childhood's gladdest, sunniest hours, is this vision of Paradise. But still the question presses sternly, as manhood presses on childhood, was it for this that man was made on such a scale of godlike proportion, and endowed with the most awful gift with which God even can endow a son ? To wander pleasantly along the soft glades of a luxuriant garden, to bask on the grassy slopes in the noontide glow, lulled by the hum of joyous life that floats on the languid summer air, plucking