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Wisdom Of The Desert James O. Hannay

Wisdom Of The Desert

James O. Hannay

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a selection from the INTRODUCTION: EVERY kind of effort after good has found sympathy and help in Christianity. Nothing is more wonderful and nothing more suggestive of His divinity than the way in which the words and example of the Master have beenMorea selection from the INTRODUCTION: EVERY kind of effort after good has found sympathy and help in Christianity. Nothing is more wonderful and nothing more suggestive of His divinity than the way in which the words and example of the Master have been found adaptable to the ideals which have possessed the souls of men in different ages and under various circumstances. There was a time when men were impelled to search for and express truth, the eternal truth of the nature and property of the Deity Himself. At that time the life of Christ presented itself primarily as a revelation. He set forth, under the conditions of time and space, the mysterious God whose seat is amid clouds and darkness, and yet who baffles human inquiry chiefly by the garment of impenetrable light in which He has decked Himself. In another age the religious spirit took a lower flight and allowed its activities to be dominated by a political conception. Whole generations spent themselves in the effort to realize upon earth a veritable kingdom of God. To these men Christ appeared as a monarch, whose will it was their ambition to realize perfectly. The people crowded below the altar steps, and the priests from above proclaimed, pointing the Lord to them, Behold your King. He was, indeed, conceived of as very different from any earthly king. His crown was of thorns, His throne was a cross, His glory was humiliation. Yet it was essentially as a King that they conceived of Him. He was the Ruler of a visible kingdom, the Head of a hierarchy of governors, the promulgator of a polity and laws. For men of yet another generation religion found itself in the aspiration after personal liberty. Fear and ignorance had tyrannised over the earth -- fear, the daughter of superstition- ignorance, superstitions handmaid. Minds which dared to question and doubt lived under a perpetual menace. Above all, the great tyrant was sin. Its fetters grew heavier on mens limbs, and checked the effort after progress. Then men came to think of Christ as a great liberator- their souls responded to the call, Christ shall make you free. Since then the central point of religion has shifted again. In our time men no longer look to Christ to teach them truth. We have lost sight hopelessly of the cloud-capped towers and gorgeous palaces of the city of God upon earth. The naked individualism of the reformation period offers an inadequate view of life. We are inclined to doubt about the very existence of such a thing as liberty. We have discovered in Christianity a great incentive to philanthropy. Christ is for us, perhaps the man, perhaps the God, at least the One who fed men and healed them and taught them as none other ever did. Blindly sometimes, perplexedly always, we hurry to the hovels of the hungry and the bedsides of those who suffer even loathsomely- we build libraries and schools, being sure at least of this, that in doing these things we follow Him.To all these various ideals Christ has been found entirely responsive. Each has found in Him a starting-point from which to escape the bondage of materialism. It has never, of course, been true that one great purpose has possessed the followers of Christ to the exclusion of every other. The conception of the gospel liberty lay quite consciously behind the enthusiasm for pure truth. The most faithful statesmen of the mediaeval Kingdom of God washed the sores of lepers and cast their cloaks over the shoulders of beggars on the wayside. The dominating conception of religion has always been permeated, leavened, tempered with conceptions of the Masters meaning which were strange to it. There has always been, besides, one great conception of religion which has existed along with each of the others in its turn. Christianity has always involved a hunger and thirst after righteousness. Always and everywhere....