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Society brings to all men the knowledge of Good, and the Rule of it.
Man's nature yearns toward it, being good; but it finds itself unable-it is driven then, inwardly for aids-finds within, Conscience, Reason, the Heart, the Will, powers that aid us.-From these arise four philosophies, Socratic, Platonic, Epicurcan, Stoic.--These powers the sources of moral progress.—Yet moral pe:fection by nature unattainable.—Original Sin.--Answer to the question, “How man does evil although his nature is good ?” -Difference between Mental or Physical and Moral inability.---Original Sin is primarily in the incapacity of the moral or Governing Powers.
WE have in the previous chapters examined points the most important, and drawn conclusions which we believe are, to a system of Christian Science, fundamental. The reader will please remember them, they are these--first, that the nature of man is good; secondly, that all outward circumstances, which wait upon man in this world, are ministers to him of moral teaching.
The first assertion was, that “man’s nature is good of itself by nature.” This we asserted, with certain limitations.
But at once the question comes up, “Does not man do evil ?" and then, “ How is this consistent with the fact that his nature is good ?"
This is a question of deep importance we will say, and one which, upon this, our theme of Christian Science, has a most vital bearing.
In answer to it, we say then, that man is not as a beast, he is not as a devil, he is a man still, although he does evil; we call him not totally depraved, but fallen; we call not his state a state of total depravity, but of original sin. Let our reader remark this and ponder it well; the doctrine we teach in reference to man's state, by nature, declares him “fallen,”-that is to say, as far gone as, still being a man, he can go from "original righteousness,”—but not so far gone as to be a beast, or a fiend; it therefore applies not to him, the term “ totally depraved,” but the word “fallen.”
Now the very word “fallen,” this itself will aid us to comprehend this difficult question,-it implies the having lapsed from a higher condition ; it implies inability to come up to a standard ; it implies imperfection in natural qualities. A nation degenerated
into barbarism would be a "fallen" nation; a hero overthrown, a “ fallen” hero; a man of character, who had lost that character, a “fallen” man; but still they cease not to be a nation, a hero, a
So this word “fallen,” implies that Adam originally was created perfect, capable of reaching to and satisfying a certain standard, and in fact reaching to and satisfying it; that to that standard now, no man individually, nor yet the race collectively, can, or do reach—that standard being the Law of God and his Will.
Now if we look at the third chapter,* we find the subject discussed at some length; we find there that Adam's perfection consisted first in the completeness of his own nature; secondly, in the Presence of God with Adam as a natural rule of life and complete law of action; we shall find, too, that the nature of the fall consists in the withdrawal of that Gift first after Adam had sinned, and then in the Insubordination of our natural faculties thereon ensuing. And three means of examining, by example, the nature of man unfallen, we find in Holy Writ, Adam first, secondly Christ our Lord, and thirdly Man after the resurrection.
But our readers may say, if man be thus imperfect, incapable of his nature of reaching a certain standard, surely it is enough for him if he live up to his imperfection, seeing that he is imperfect.
Certainly if man were alone in this world—if his own nature were the only indication that he had of a supreme moral law, then that were enough. But let the objector look to our last chapter, there he shall see that, even supposing the man to be afar from the Church and afar from Christianity, still he is not left to himself, to his own nature, or to his own standard; but a higher standard is revealed to him by Society, telling him of Law, and through it of the loftiness of duty and the nearness of God; by Tradition or Opinion, which, through the voice of his fellows, brings him religious knowledge and religious conviction from the remotest ages and climes; and lastly, by Nature, which re-echoes and confirms all these.
Let no man then bring forward his imperfection as an excuse, for it is none; if only he will, in his imperfection, follow after that which is perfect, he will be led unto Christ.
Yes! such is the merciful benevolence of the Omniscient and
* Chapter 3, page 29.
Omnipotent, that, if from one born amidst the barbarism of Africa, amid the Fetish-worship and hideous cannibalism and horrible licentiousness of Central Africa, the desire should arise sincerely to follow the Law of God as it is revealed by Society even there; and the Tradition of religion, faint as it is there ; and the teachings of Nature internal and external; then circumstances shall form themselves to bless the design, and obstacles yield, and ways open through deserts that seemed trackless, and over mountains without passes, and the man shall, by ways he knew not, be led unto Christ and Christianity.*
This is the true answer to them who assert that they have had no opportunity. For the God of the whole earth is not unjust; but in Man's own nature, in the ordinances and arrangements of the outward world and all its circumstances, has he so arrayed the course of things, that "he that will come, may come," and that he who perishes, does so of his own accord, willingly and freely; and not upon the living God Omnipotent, but also AllMerciful and All-Just, but upon himself is the blame to rest.
And he, as I have said, that shall look upon the exposition of the Moral teaching of the External World in the preceding chapters, shall see that it is so.
Now, when we assert this fact of a “fall” from an original type; when we assert that it is in two ways exemplified, in inability to come up to the standard, and, at the same time, in an urgent desire and feeling towards that very standard, manifestly we do a great deal towards settling the moral position of the man and the race.
For first must there be in man, individually and as a race, an inability or a deficiency that is without example in all other animals,--an inability to fulfil functions which we feel we ought to fulfil, and, at the same time, an external moral stimulus urging us to strive and struggle in that direction.
That such is the fact, as we know by all experience with regard to man. Because he is not evil essentially, or “totally depraved,” his natural feeling is towards good. He seeks nothing but as good. The Law as manifested in the outward world and the Tradition show him a perfect good that is to be done. And his nature yearns towards it, and he feels that he ought to do it, and that originally there is in him the power to do it. And yet, every struggle he makes, he is thrown back unable and incompetent. Is he not then a wonder and a terror to himself?
* See the Sixth Book, Chapter Second, on the import and meaning of what we call " Circumstance." † Omne quod petit, petit ut bonum.-SCHOLASTIC Maxim.
But it is manifested in more ways than this. The man cannot cease the moral struggle, for, as I have said, the Law is around him, and the Tradition urges him on, and External Nature works with and confirms these two. And this, his vain strife, then forces him to seek back into himself and his inward being, to see whether in that Internal Nature there are moral elements by which he may be able to penetrate and conquer those others of his lower nature that give the opportunity to evil.
He at once sees that there are such; the Conscience he beholds, or feeling of right and wrong. Could he only live according to this exactly, he were absolutely and entirely right, and his nature urges him to struggle toward it. The Will, the power of Self-guidance and Self-determination, could he only guide himself by this; could lie only, by a stern effort, shape out his course, and with firmly set and unrelenting Will pursue it, and hew through all obstacles, all difficulties; if there be no moral power in this, at least half the the moral weakness, half the misery of life is lost, and the stern thought of an unyielding and self-determined course holds out to him, if not happiness, at least strength and consistency. Or the man sees the value of Reason, of ruling himself in all cases according to the dictates of Reason, of that which is eternally and immortally right, according to the nature and being of the whole world. Or else he makes of the Affections his standard, seeing plainly that if he could follow nature as far as her teachings speak through man's Heart, then he would be happy.
Now let my readers look at man as he is by nature, and they will see how naturally these philosophies arise, and what they
In the first class, they will see the Socratic philosophers, those who apprehended the power of Conscience as a guide, a true philosophy, yet inadequate. In the second, the Stoics, with their stern subjection of self, their attempted annihilation of the passions, their ruling of the whole nature by the force of an iron will ---a true philosophy, and a grand and noble one, yet as the other, inadequate. Again, in the third class, they find the Platonists of old with their Universal Reason and obedience to it, and this obedi. ence, good and meritorious, still inadequate. And last of all, the moral philosophy that makes the Affections all in all, a theory most liable to be corrupted, but still in men who have advocated and practiced upon it, with a pure mind, the loveliest of all.
Now with reference to these four faculties, is it not plainly manifest that they are to man the avenues and elements of moral progress that exist in his nature, these and none else, for who can seek a beginning of moral progress, or an element of moral improvement in the “appetites," the “passions,” the “ desires," while he finds none in Conscience, Will, Reason, the Affections ? And yet by them as little can he climb to moral perfection, or to that height his nature requires, as by the baser parts of his being.
And therefore it is, that, in one sense, a philosophy of life is impossible; therefore it is that Christianity has so abhorred this blind Philosophizing; for the very enigma of our nature is this, that while nature indicates these as moral elements, they, by themselves, only serve to blind and delude. A moral philosophy founded upon the moral elements of our nature only, or upon them apart from revelation, is a delusion.
For the moral yearning is attended with moral inability, and the feeling towards moral perfection is partly a natural reminiscence of a past state in the history of our race, partly the yearning after a post-resurrection state of existence. This desire, and longing, and feeling is the germ in us that requires fertilizing elements, that are not in us nor of us, to bring it to perfection. And only this doctrine of Revelation, which I have just expounded,* can explain the enigma, or prevent us launching forth into hopes, desires and speculations in search of moral happiness and moral perfection, that end only in delusion and disappointment.
Now, to the Christian, baptized in Christ, I say this, as a result of this examination : “Beware of philosophizing; act according to Conscience, to Will, to Reason, to the Affections, but beware philosophizing, forming theories apart from religion, and notions ; for the moment you do so, you run many risks of wandering to and fro for years, of dreaming and deluding yourselves and others. For this advice, you can see abundant reason in the position and nature of man, as above specified. The vision and feeling of a
* The doctrine and fact of Original Sin.