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JV 11 1893
Price $1.50 a year, or 5 cents single copy
GEORGE H. ELLIS, 141 FRANKLIN STREET
Entered at the Post-office, Boston, Mass., as second-class mail matter.
MR. SAVAGE'S BOOKS.
SERMONS AND ESSAYS.
1.00 Talks about Jesus. 161 pages.
1881 Belief in God. 176 pages. 1882
1.00 Beliefs about Man. 130 pages. 1882 Beliefs about the Bible. 206 pages. 1883
1.00 Signs of the Times.. 187 pages. 1889 Helps for Daily Living 150 pages. 1889
1.00 Life. 237 pages. 1890. Four Great Questions concerning God. 86 pp. 1891.
.25 The Evolution of Christianity. 178 pages. 1892 Is this a Good World? 60 pages. 1893. Paper
.25 Jesus and Modern Life. 230 pages.
1.00 1.00 1.00
1.25 1.50 1.50 .50
dings, and Funerals. Cloth
Book. Edited by M. J. Savage and Howard M.
THE MEANING OF THE WORLD:
"For thou hast made him but little lower than God (Elohim), and crownest him with glory and honor."- PSALM viii. 5.
THE series of sermons for last year, as you will remember, bore the general title "Jesus and Modern Life." Though broadly and largely practical in its applications, its method was predominantly critical and theoretical. I have tried always from year to year, after devoting myself to one class of themes, to turn sharply to something else strongly contrasted with them, so as to avoid, if possible, even the appearance of repetition and monotony. This year, therefore, I have selected a line of topics which will lead us in intensely. practical paths. I have called the series in its general title. "A Man." I propose to consider a man in the daily relations of his life; and, after trying to set before you what a man really is, consider with you what such a being ought to think, to feel, to do, to be, in his practical relations.
First, this morning, as to our ideals of a man. As we study the Old Scriptures, we find two lines of thought concerning human nature, one of them representing man as grand and noble, the other speaking of him in most depreciating terms. I suppose these two ways of representing human nature are determined by the points of view of the writers, by the experiences of those who have given utterance to their opinions, and also by the general theories which have been held concerning mau's origin and his place in the universe.. We find, for example, in the very first part of the Bible that God determines to create man, or the gods determine, I must say, to be strictly accurate; for the word "Elohim " translated
God in the first verse of Genesis is a plural word, and, literally translated, means “the strong ones.' These same beings are spoken of as creating the world; and, after the world is created and peopled with all the lower orders of life, they say one to another, Let us create man in our own image. So the first thought of human nature that we find in the Bible is a noble, a divine thought.
A little later, in the third chapter of Genesis, we find, after man has committed that sin which is supposed to constitute his fall, these same Elohim utter their opinion concerning him in words like these: Behold the man by partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil has become as one of us, and only lacks the gift of immortality to place him on a level with his Creators. Then in this verse which I have taken as my text from the Psalms the same strain is maintained. The writer of the Psalm, addressing God and speaking of man, says, Thou hast made him but little lower than the angels, as it is in the old rsion. In the new version it is God. In the margin it is Elohim, because that is the word which is to be found in the original, the same word that we find in Genesis as representing the world creator and the man creator.
But we have only to turn from Genesis and Psalms to the Book of Ecclesiastes, and we find here that man is represented as being on the level with the brute. It is declared in so many terms that there is no radical distinction between him and the brutes. The same soul that they have is in him; and, when he dies, he goes to the same place, - that is, he is returned into nothingness,
When we get to the New Testament, we find this same dual representation of human nature. We find Jesus speaking of men in the grandest terms, appealing to them as capable of right thinking, as capable of right doing - Why of your own selves judge ye not what is right? — and appealing to that which is deepest and highest in them, saying, Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect - assuming that they can be.
But, when we turn to the rest of the New Testament, we find the Epistles speak of man as a broken fragment, the ruin of his former self, as an abject creature, as one incapable of right thinking, right feeling, right doing, as under the curse of God. But, at the last, in the words of John, the dominant tone of the Bible comes out again; and he declares, Now, are we sons of God; and, with an outlook far ahead, he says, And it doth not yet appear what we shall be, it is not yet made manifest what we shall be,- but something finer and higher yet seems to be in his prophetic mind.
When we leave the New Testament and come into the region of theology, we find the minor strain concerning human nature dominant everywhere. Augustine set the keynote to the minor music that has dolefully set forth the weakness and the frailty of man. Augustine in his youth was a Manichæan; that is, he held that old Oriental idea which taught that matter in all its forms is essentially evil, and only evil, and so man as an embodied being was necessarily an evil being, and the only way for him to become anything else was to fight against nature, beat it down, trample it under foot, and die to escape and be free.
In the hymns of the religious world for the last five hundred years the thought of man has been as a worm of the dust, crawling painfully through this vale of tears. That has been the predominant thought. Very rarely have we heard of man as capable of anything more. The Protestant theology, following Calvin and Luther, has taught that man, without special miraculous aid from God, has been utterly incapable of thinking, of feeling, of doing, anything that is right and true.
And the theologians have not been alone. There is a certain class of scientists who, studying man almost exclusively from the physical side, have found him a poor creature indeed. Not a great many years ago I had some correspondence with Dr. Henry Maudsley, of London, one of the famous English writers from the point of view of materialism. We were touching on the question as to the possibility