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gulf of separation and leads the guilty conscience back into peace and harmony with God.
An age of doubt is a transient phase of a sinful world. Through such an age I think we have been passing, in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Of the intellectual causes which have led to this increase of doubt; of the qualities which characterize it,-qualities for the most part sympathetic and hopeful,its reverence for the questioned faith, its deep unrest and sorrow, its loyalty to ethical ideals; and of the gospel which it needs, the gospel of the personal Christ clearly revealing the reality and fatherhood of God, the liberty and responsibility of man, and the immortality of the soul,
-of these things I have written in the first part of this volume.
But such a presentation of the gospel, from the point of view of a particular age, and with the purpose of meeting certain intellectual needs, certain urgent questionings of the human spirit, could not be (and indeed it was not intended to be) complete and sufficient. Man has other needs than those of the intellect. After the question of the reality of God is answered, then remains the question of our personal relation to him.
The age of doubt is already passing, and we are entering, if the signs of the times fail not, upon a new era of faith.
There is a renaissance of religion. Spiritual instincts and cravings assert themselves and demand their rights. The loftier aspirations, the larger hopes of mankind, are leading the new generation forward into the twentieth century as men who advance to a noble conflict and a glorious triumph, under the captaincy of the Christ that was and is to be. The educated youth of to-day are turning with a mighty, world-wide movement towards the banner of a militant, expectant Christianity. The discoveries of science, once deemed hostile and threatening to religion, are in process of swift transformation into the materials of a new defence of the faith. The achievements of commerce and social organization have made new and broad highways around the world for the onward march of the believing host. Already we can discern the brightness of another great age of faith.
But an age of faith, when the mist of doubt is dissolved and driven away, is always the time when the gulf of sin is most clearly visible.
The souls that are most sure of the reality of God and the future life are always those that feel most deeply their separation from him and their guilt in his sight. The evil that is in their own hearts presses upon them more heavily, the more vividly they realize the actual existence of the spiritual realm and its eternal significance. The evil that is in the world does not disappear nor change through all the coming and going, the darkening and dissolving of human doubts in regard to its origin, nature, and meaning. It remains an unalterable fact in human experience. The interpretation which religious faith gives to it intensifies the necessity of a divine salvation from it.
Those who have accepted the gospel for an age of doubt are those who feel most keenly the need of the gospel for a world of sin.
There cannot be two gospels. I do not believe that there is any essential difference or contradiction between the message which Christianity has for one age and that which it has for another. It is always the good tidings of the personal Christ, the revealer of God and the Saviour of men. To those who are doubtful and confused, to those who have lost the sense of spiritual things, the divine voice says, "This is my beloved Son; hear him.” 1
1 St. Luke 9:85.
To those who are sinful and sorrowful, upon whom the sense of evil rests like an intolerable burden, the voice says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” 1
These two elements of the gospel are interwoven and inseparable. Christ could not take away the sin of the world unless he were the Son of God. Christ would not be the divine Saviour unless he took away the sin of the world.
In trying to set forth the personal Christ as God's answer to the doubts and questionings of this age, I could not help speaking of him as the deliverer from sin. Nor will it be possible to present his sacrifice on the cross as the world's redemption without confessing a constant faith in him as God manifest in the flesh.
Indeed, this second book is written chiefly because I feel the need of a fuller utterance to complete the message of the former book. I would have the two books stand together and interpret each other. They are but windows looking towards Christ from two different points of view.
The message of the first book was this: Christ saves us from doubt, because he is the incarnation of God.
1 St. John 1:29.
The message of the second book is this: Christ is the revelation of God, because he saves us from sin.
The gospel for a world of sin cannot be preached by any except those who need it for themselves. An angel could not deliver it aright. Its language is always in the first person plural, drawing the speaker and the hearers into a brotherhood of penitence and forgiveness.
“God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 1
Christ himself did not come to preach this gospel.
He came to live it.
It was when the Apostles Peter and Paul and John had seen him delivered for their offences and raised again for their justification that they began to understand and preach this gospel for a world of sin. Ever since it has had but one message.
“Through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." 2
“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." ; 1 Romans 5:8.
? Acts 10 : 43. .: 2 Cor. 2 : 19.