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reign in the realm of sin. The only cure of the enmity of man against man is the cure of the enmity of man against God. He who came to re-found the brotherhood which sin had shattered, saw the heart of the mischief. He began to draw men to each other, by drawing them to God in Himself.
He charged them with duties and ministries to each other, of which He had given them, not the pattern only, but the principle. He asked of them, for their brethren, the ministries which He had a right to claim of them for Himself, and which He had Himself freely offered unto them :-“ So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was set down again, He said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well ; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord ; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”—(John xiii. 12–17.) That love which He sought to win from them is sin's destroyer, sin being the destroyer of human love. The brotherhood of the Church was the brotherhood of men who believed that sin, the destroyer of human, was destroyed by Divine
love. They vowed themselves in love to Christ to struggle against sin, when they vowed themselves to each other. They were sure that when sin reared its hateful form in their fellowship, there would be a breach in their unity-a schism which, if the sin were tolerated, would grow wider, until it rent the community to fragments. And so they recognised this as their primal duty :" Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
This restoring of sinners is the primary duty of the members of the brotherhood of Christ. Is it not, too, the great problem of society. It lies as near to the heart of the welfare of homes, of kingdoms, as of Churches. Restore the sinners and
you save the State. It is the fundamental social question. It lies under all our most searching Reformations; it is hardly touched by our most radical Revolutions. It eludes the
of the statesman; it is but feebly handled by the priest. But so near to the heart of the welfare of empires does it lie, that he who can turn a sinner from the error of his ways, and restore a soul in the spirit of meekness, earns, more richly than statesmen or conquerors, the civic crown.
1. The man overtaken in a fault. It is literally the man
even caught in a sin.”
Putting the case most strongly, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one, despite the open scandal and shame. The sense of our translation, “ overtaken in a fault,” suggesting, I think, the idea of surprise by the sin as well as in the sin, though not the literal sense of the original, is, perhaps, spiritually not far from the truth
The word for “sin,” the word for “ restore,” and the allusion to temptation, seem all to point to the case of a man overtaken and snared by a sin. In a sense, this is the true history of sin: man in Eden was sought out by a tempter and snared. We have here the case of a Christian brother ; a man who believes in righteousness; a man who does not believe in his heart of hearts the devil's lie—who has a brightness within him against which the sin looms darkly, who has an uprightness there which a loving hand may restore. There are those, alas ! who overtake sins ; whose inmost soul searches, and is athirst for them, at least as far as the soul is awakened; there may be something deeper, some witness for God, latent even there, which one day will rise up, and lay, at any rate, the refuge of lies, the belief that sin is the good, that Satan is the God, in ruins in the dust. But they seem to catch sins as eagerly as the vapour of naptha catches fire. They spread an atmosphere around them which kindles the faintest spark into a devouring flame. I do not know how
you can restore such. If the bent of their souls is thus madly towards evil, I do not know that you can do much to help them. God can restore them, but after long miseries. Saved, so as by fire, charred, maimed, bare; but saved. God grant that none of you may challenge that discipline. It is a fearful thing for such an one to fall into the hands of the living God.
But there are those whom sin overtakes. It is out of the course of their most earnest purpose. It comes as a perversion. It twists, if it does not break, the unity of their lives. David's deadly sin was of this character. Take that man's whole life course and
will see how utterly adultery and murder were out of the true line of it. · They wrenched him aside from the high aim of his life. Such a man may yield himself to a temptation readily, as if his whole soul were in it, the more desperately because of the utter subversion of all his habits and principles which it involves—just as the strongest sluice when burst lets in the fullest tide—but it is sin to him. Paint it to him as Nathan painted it to David, and his soul will rise up in judgment against it. " As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die.” Listen to him in his calm moments; he moans and writhes. “ Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness : according unto the multitude
from it ;
of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions : and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”—(Psalm li. 1—4.) It may be worse with him than this. He may see no way
may say within himself, “I can never break the spell.” He feels himself afloat on a swift current, the oars of his resolution are powerless to stem it, but he knows full well that it is floating him to perdition. He has visions of a higher life which a man might live and be blest. Ask him what he longs for in his best moments in his heart of hearts, and he
« Free me from this: if this vile body is in fault, kill it; if this weak heart, 'purge it, no matter how fierce the fire ; but give me strength to live the life that seems to
so beautiful, so heavenly, on which thoughts fasten, while the song of the Siren
That man is no reprobate, though, as with David, reprobates might tremble at his sin. The fault has found him.
The flesh, the mind, in a careless hour, have sent forth their tentacles of lust, and have grasped a prize. But it oppresses him; he is restless, moody, wretched.
wiles me away.