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That righteousness cannot come by the law would be oftener denied, did it not seem too remote from any immediate interest to be worth denying, because the law is thought of as ritual precepts no sensible person would disinter from the unreadable parts of the Old Testament, and righteousness as a theological notion which may well be left buried under the ashes of burned out controversies.

But it is true of all righteousness and all law: and the higher the righteousness the less it can come by any form of imperative. Universal commands of practical reason as inevitably fail as formulated decalogues, for the failure is due to the nature of law, and not merely to some defect in its form. Moreover, it is a matter of sorrowful practical moment, and no more an abstraction than an antiquity.

The first cause of the inadequacy of the moral law for righteousness is that it directs attention to the worth of our moral selves. Nor is there any kind of moral imperative which can deliver us from that dangerous moral attitude, because every moral law, whatsoever its form, is the law of our moral worth, and, the more it is strictly ethical, the more it disallows any motive save reverence for our moral worth. By extending the reverence to other persons and treating them 237 always as ends and never as means only to other ends, we might seem to find in the service of others an object in which we may forget ourselves. But, if we esteem others as persons because we first esteem ourselves as persons, reverencing them for what we ourselves ought to be, we are not truly forgetting ourselves; and inevitably we are brought back to the idea of our own worth and even of our own moral progress.

Yet, under no guise, is self-reverence the right moral motive or self-development the right moral end. Our task is to concern ourselves about doing good, and not about being good, and we must do good for the sake of the good itself and not for our own moral improvement. Here we have an insistent moral contradiction which is by no means confined to theory, for, what causes more practical distress than the way in which mere moral effort leaves us with our eyes directed towards ourselves that we may approve our own virtue, yet, at the same moment, stirs in us a conviction that our eye should be upon our duty, in utter forgetfulness of the whole question of our merit or our perfection?

And the worst of this conflicting moral state is that, for moral reasons, we must not so much as try to escape from it, because it is the only shadow to prevent a consciously moral person from sunning himself in his own righteousness. Yet the protection is as little secure as it is pleasant, for, being a cold shadow, we are always tempted to escape from it, and 238 the effort to hold ourselves to our place can itself be made a ground for self-satisfaction.

The other cause of the inadequacy of the law for righteousness is that law deals in negatives. Decalogues only say, "Thou shalt not"; abstract schemes of universal laws only mean, "Do nothing in this case not applicable to every similar case"; even conscience, like the daimon of Socrates, is active mainly in prohibitions. This further increases the danger of self-complacency, because merit exists only on a negative standard which does not go beyond prohibitions, which maintain self-righteousness by making us think only of the evil deeds we have not done. A merely moral attitude towards life can thus be put on as blinkers to make us walk in a narrow beaten path, with the whole vast horizon of life's possibilities hidden from our eyes. We are satisfied when we have not actively committed wrong, and we fail to recognise that the supreme sin is to be deaf to life's calls and blind to its opportunities, to recognise no suffering which does not cry in our ears, and see no duty which does not point along the accepted, formulated track.

A dull and prudent common-sense, so long as its bleared eyes see in us neither gross self-indulgence nor obvious sophistry, may approve, but, even to true moral insight emancipated from conventionality, the soul is lost which sees no visions and dreams no dreams of life's measureless possibilities. This leaves us in the impossible position of being moral only as we walk by rule, while yet we know--the 239 more certainly as our morality is really moral and not merely respectable--that no rule can show us the highest way.

A righteousness, therefore, which is by the law, cannot escape from being self-righteous yet distressed, because, in a merely moral frame, the spirit cannot, in self-forgetfulness, respond, like a harp with many strings, to life's varied moods. Life is full of joy and sadness, tenderness and pathos, admiration and just anger. It can be ludicrous, and, to him who can see, it hardly ever fails to be sublime. But, with mere moral rules, string after string breaks, as interest after interest dies. From the saddest of all life's failures, which is to be left with one wailing note of peevish anxiety, any kind of moral purpose should save us; yet, if the only note which drowns it is from the hard chord of formal conscientiousness, it also is no divine music. If it has no hell in its experience, it also has no heaven ; if it has no agony of failure and despair, it also speaks to no heart of the beauty of goodness and the divine joy of living; and, if there is heard in it none of the pessimism of the disenchanted, neither is there any echo of the triumph of the redeemed. It lacks the child-like soul which, through much tribulation, enters the Kingdom, the soul for which the formulation of goodness is nothing and self-forgetfulness in pursuit of it everything. Upon no morality of imperatives can this spirit nourish itself. It needs a blessed, that is a religious morality, a morality of reconciliation to the 240 moral goal and not merely of rules about the moral road, a morality, in short, which is a joyful discovery of God's gracious will with us and all His children.

Neither direct resolution on our part, nor direct moulding of our wills on God's part, could remove contradiction from a morality which is based on reverence for our moral worth, yet which denies that the promotion of our moral worth is a right moral end; while, only as these opposites are at once recognised and harmonised, are we set free from the danger of self-righteousness, with our eye upon ourselves and the measure of our service in prohibitions.

But that is impossible either for a grace which works directly on us or a will which works directly in us; and is possible only for an indirect personal relation, which works on us by persuading the will which works in us. Then we best seek what we least pursue. This result we may thus formulate. As our moral worth is made secure in God's valuation of us, and our moral progress in being the end of all His dealing with us, God's will alone is the measure and the end of our duty, to the exclusion of all consideration of our moral worth or any task of our moral progress.

I. This delivers us from directing attention to ourselves.

By being thus enabled to commit our souls to God in well-doing, we are enabled to reverence ourselves as made in the image of His creative freedom, yet without self-approbation; and to realise its 241 measureless possibilities, yet without distressing concern about our moral state.

Reverence for ourselves without thinking highly of ourselves, and achievement of our moral worth without making our own goodness the end of our striving, which are impossible by ourselves, are possible through a God whose relation to us is gracious just because He sets absolute value on us as made in His image and directs all His dealings with us towards the end of perfecting it as He is perfect. Thus we have the liberty of His children, and it alone is His salvation. It is not a goodness which can be imposed upon us, but, like all that is of spiritual value, must be of our own insight, choice and purpose.

Only for this high end is God's mind good towards us; for it certainly is not as a mere benevolent desire to see His children happy. To deliver the soul from the sin which is its ruin and bestow on it the holiness which is its health and peace, is the end of all God's dealings with His children; and precisely because He cannot merely give, but must enable us to attain it ourselves, if we are really to have the liberty of His children, the way He must take is long and arduous. Thus the love of the Father, in our Lord's teaching, just because it means simply an infinite value set on the possible worth of every moral person, never for a moment means any sparing of the trials or tasks by which evil is undone or good achieved. Yet, knowing this austerity to be love, we can trust God to have a worthy purpose in the most 242 trivial events and a measured care in the most appalling calamities, so that, whether He count our hairs or crumble our states, He is alike gracious.

Similarly the Kingdom of God is perfect blessedness in the perfect rule of love, the very essence of it being that every soul is there as an end and not as a means merely to another end: yet, being the rule of love in freedom, we enter it only as we realise our own true kingdom in its rule. Into such a kingdom we cannot be driven by overriding even our evil wills; yet we are ever called to reflection by finding that any other rule is no light disaster.

The Kingdom of the Father, therefore, is a realm into which we enter only as we discern it to be our own right rule, so that, if anyone could be used for another end than his own moral worth, were that end the promotion of the Kingdom of God itself, there would not be, in Christ's sense, any Kingdom of God to enter. To enter the Kingdom, nevertheless, is to be concerned with God's rule, because our salvation being God's end, His will alone need be our end. We are to seek the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, leaving all the rest to be added: and because salvation, being the supreme good, is most surely added, it is no more a right object of anxiety than our raiment. The Apostle so little regarded his own salvation as the direct end of his own striving that he could desire to be anathema for his brethren's sake. Seeing we are saved as self loses its dominion and love rules, this disregard was the highest proof of 243 God's success, for God only succeeds as attention is withdrawn from ourselves, and not least from anxious feeling of our spiritual pulse and valetudinarian anxiety about our spiritual health.

The solution of this apparent contradiction is found in the essential nature of the righteousness of the Kingdom of God, which is to be altogether a righteousness of God.

But what are we to understand by a righteousness of God, if both a forensic righteousness--a righteousness into which, on certain revealed conditions, God admits us, and a sacramental righteousness--a righteousness which, by certain appointed means, God imports into us, have been set aside as impersonal operations of power, arbitrary and not ethical in their working? In what other way can God confer His righteousness? And if a righteousness of God is not a righteousness God confers, can it be more than a righteousness He demands? But, would not a righteousness God demands simply exact more from us than our own consciences? And if our own righteousness is already a great deal more than we can fulfil, what gain could accrue from finding one still larger?

Understood in that external way, neither a righteousness God demands nor a righteousness He confers could deliver us from self-righteousness. On the contrary, nothing deludes us into self-approval more than spacious ideals, the contemplation of which seems to suffice without the weary and discouraging 244 task of seeking to realise them, except it be our skill in appropriating righteousness which does not belong to us. There is nothing great or good in the world with which we can in any way associate ourselves but we seek to reflect upon ourselves some of its glory, and the greatest of all moral illusions would be to transfer thus externally to ourselves the righteousness of God.

Yet a righteousness of God is both a righteousness He demands and a righteousness He confers. God's righteousness is, in the first place, a righteousness He demands. It is a righteousness beyond that of the Scribes, beyond the austerest human prescription, a righteousness, not finite at all, but infinite. And in the second place, it is also a righteousness He confers. In a new world where love both bears and forbears, all our worth is of God and not of ourselves.

But there would be no deliverance in either, were it not also a righteousness God looks after. We can face larger demands and find them freedom and not slavery, we can feel the terrors of a guilty conscience disappear from our lives and find the result not license but obligation, because we are dealing with a righteousness which every duty God requires and every discipline He appoints are designed to forward, so that our whole life, in its most casual relationships as well as in the friendships which have struck their roots into the depths of our being, in its most trivial happenings as well as in its brightest glories and its darkest catastrophes, in its pain of broken endeavour 245 as well as in its triumph of successful enterprise, is one, infinitely varied, uninterrupted means of grace.

In that case, all ways of salvation by personally appointed discipline and, still more, by publicly arranged rule, by contract with ourselves or with others, or by any way which turns our attention to ourselves, spring from lack of faith to commit our salvation to Him who alone can know either what our full salvation is or the right means for its advancement.

Even when we make use of what we specially call the means of grace, it should not be with the direct object of forwarding our salvation. They are special means only for enlightening us regarding the true means of grace, which is life, and for enabling us to make a diviner use of life in humbler service. The public use of such means of interpreting and rightly using life, above all, may not be neglected, because no one can understand God's meaning in life in isolation, but only in the fellowship of the saints: yet no use of them is in itself religion, however vitally necessary for religion their right use may be.

If God alone can look after our righteousness, no room is left for us to act upon the idea of ourselves at all, not even upon the idea of ourselves as examples. However frequently that motive is urged in the name of religion, it is no more a right religious motive than the idea of commending ourselves to God by our visible observances. We may not cause our brother to offend, but whatsoever this may require should be 246 because it is our own immediate task of loving service, which it would not be anything other than right for us to do on its own account, and not as a work of consciously shining example. Action for the mere purpose of example is both morally futile and morally dangerous. It is futile because, were its motive recognised, no one would be influenced, at least for good, and this is readily betrayed by the externality and formality of the action; and it is dangerous because, the figure we shall make in it being our object, we cannot help sunning ourselves in our own approval, which the more certainly involves us in self-righteousness that we seem to be doing more than the requirement of our own duty.

All real faith in God ought to teach us that no one can look after our righteousness except God. As it is God's righteousness for us, it must be too far above our knowing to be our own direct aim, and too wide-reaching in its application to be our own self-imposed task. Therefore, it must be God's aim, not ours, the object of God's care, and not of ours.

The one object of our care is the will of God, because, if it is the will of God for our salvation, our salvation ceases to be an object for our own wills, and God's will, which, by caring for our salvation, proves itself the will of love, becomes our sole right object. Because our highest good is utterly secure in it, we can forget ourselves altogether and set before ourselves, as our one end, what God will have us do. Then, and then only, the insistent problem of 247 self-love and self-forgetfulness is solved for us, and our moral selves are saved, in the only way they can be saved, by being delivered from self-regard.

II. It delivers us from a morality of negative precepts.

This deliverance we have by finding in God's will the purpose of a salvation which is of a quality and in a measure far beyond any purpose we can set before ourselves or which it has entered into our hearts to conceive, and not merely by committing to Him the highest salvation which, by our best insight, we think we require.

Progress in religion is largely in more spiritual conceptions of salvation, and, with that, in a fuller assurance that God's mind in the matter is far beyond our own. Even in the Old Testament there are crude, material ideas of it. The prayer, "Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation," was originally only against mortal enemies, who were to be as chaff before the wind, the angel of the Lord driving them on. The long history of revelation is mainly the history of the fellowship which, by the slow training of God's ordinary dealings, illumined by conspicuous manifestations of His will, taught us to put a deeper meaning into this prayer. Yet a time of great individual, and still more of national material stress, is apt to show that the lesson has, even now, been very imperfectly learned. Seeking first material deliverance, men set their own negative goodness against the enormities committed against them: and the effect is a self-righteousness which, 248 however much we may trust in it ourselves, we never approve in others.

It is not as though even material deliverance did not concern us, or as though, did it mean the well-being of our souls, in time or eternity, we could be content to save ourselves as best we might, without seeking God's salvation. But to be anxious about God saving us in that material way assumes an individual, or, at most, a national God, from whom we seek special favours such as a true ruler of the world cannot grant, and, on arbitrary conditions, such as a really moral governor can never have laid down, and this fosters a very negative and self-righteous kind of self-regard.

There is only one right way of escaping this negative and anxious way of being saved, and that is by seeing, not only that it is God's concern, and not ours, but that it must be according to His mind not ours. Then we commit it to Him by committing ourselves wholly to His will of love: and then only can we discern the large demands which at once teach us humility and exalt our hopes.

God's will of love is, as love must always be, love to others. To say that God is love, and to say that He cannot be served except through His children, is to say the same thing. In respect of our relation to God, as well as to man, "He that loveth his brother abideth in light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him." To love our brother is to discern, amid all mental perplexities, the real meaning and 249 purpose of life for all that concerns our faith in God, and to find, amid all practical difficulties, the right guidance of God's will, so that we shall neither lead ourselves astray nor fail anyone whom God has made our neighbour. In this reverence for man as man we have a discernment of the measureless positive requirement of God's will of love beyond what any might of reasoning or any force of practical ability could provide, before which we realise the vanity of trust in our own righteousness and enlarge our conception of God's salvation.

Only as we come to it thus round about through the love for whose sake we would be ever worthier, the love which brings out of us our best and, without whose succour, our best would never be known to exist, can we discern the nature of our true worth and reverence it in humility and not self-esteem. Such a love must make our salvation its first concern, but it must itself be the measure of what it seeks for us: and it can only be concerned with what, in our inmost souls, we really are, for love seeks in us its own worth, and cares nothing for doings apart from the spirit in which they are done, and cannot regard any fruit as really good which is not from a good tree. God, therefore, cannot be satisfied with anything done by us, unless it is both of our own purposing and performing, or deem anything less to be for our salvation: and this it seeks as love and not self-interest, even at its wisest.

As God alone knows our full salvation and how it 250 is to be wrought out, it is no part of our task to set up our own ideal of our saved selves, or to fashion our hearts into the likeness of it. Our true salvation we realise and work out only as we follow all the positive behests of God's love to serve Him by loving our brethren as our brethren in Christ. By therein discovering what is vital and ridding ourselves of what is accidental and extraneous, we arrive at a positive, though never a final, knowledge of what God would have in His children and in ourselves in particular, in such a way that we are set free from all merely negative fears of defilement, and lay ourselves open to the infinite demands of love, which at once humble us in respect of our own efforts and, for the very same reason, exalt us in respect of God's mind with us.

To love our brother, in this moral sense, is not sentiment, which is mostly a substitute for real feeling, not even emotion which must ever vary towards different persons, but esteem for every individual according to his value to himself and his Heavenly Father. Because he is our brother, we must never look upon him as one of the masses, and never wish him to be wise only with our wisdom, or to be ruled only by our conscience; but we must ever realise how he stands alone in his own kingdom, for the sublime reason that he can be conscious of God's own reality, feel in his heart God's own ideal, and, above all, have in his keeping a choice of good or evil of eternal import. To love man as our brother, and for no other reason, is to reverence him simply because 251 consciousness of truth, conscience of right and consecration of will are the true objects of esteem, though no robe of office adorn their possessor, no station set him on a pedestal, no wealth give him power, no learning add to his merit.

Apart from reverence for man as man, religion becomes an appanage of the leisured, guarded by scholars, directed by ecclesiastics, providing comfort mainly for the well-to-do. Thereupon it degenerates into a convention to hide reality from us and shelter us from its rude attacks, a convention, moreover, capable of little more than prohibitions. But, with this reverence, we discover the religion, without which the richest are poor, and with which the poorest are rich, which saves the soul, by showing us through our brethren the love of the Father, the religion which is not merely another wrapping to hide from us the strange, disturbing, far-reaching fact that we stand alone in the world, solitary, naked, exposed, but which truly unites us to God and man, by consciousness of truth, conscience of right and choice of good, the only truly personal ties.

Till we have discovered that this union greatly matters and that, in the last resort, nothing else does, we reach at best Phariseeism and never the religion of Jesus Christ. It may prophesy in His name, or even in His name do many wonderful works, yet nothing can be more certain about His ministry than His repudiation of a religion which only the learned could understand, only its professional representatives 252 maintain, and only the leisured practise, and His demand from the fisher-folk and the day-labourers of a better righteousness.

Nor is it enough to say that the day-labourer can succeed where the scribe and the priest fail, because the better righteousness is moral and not ritual. The deeper reason is that it is positive and not negative. As Stevenson tersely puts it, in the Gospels no one is damned for what he does, but for what he does not do. The highest is to love much because we have been forgiven much, and the nearest to God's perfection is ourselves to forgive. We have already seen how we are approved as we discern Christ in our brethren, serving them under all conditions. And it does not stop with esteem for good men in indifference to their trappings. Truly to love Christ is to be enabled to reverence man as man, man as God yearns over him and has hope of him in his worst estate.

The result is necessarily a positive righteousness, because a love which turns us away from all kinds of self-regard, even regard to our own salvation, lays us open to every appeal of need. Then we have a salvation God's care is ever enlarging as well as safeguarding, because, when we never lack a heart to feel or a hand to help, we shall never soften life's discipline to what we cannot evade or limit life's duties to the avoidance of transgression. Otherwise the most blessed trials cannot touch us and the holiest duties never rise above our horizon, till we may come at length to live unscathed except by individual loss, 253 and undirected except by external prohibitions. But prudence and prohibitions concern neither the truly moral nor the truly religious. They regard merely what is respectable, and can issue in salvation only from the discreditable, with self-approval for all else.

With the growing and ever more positive claims of love upon our sympathy and our service, our moral imperatives lose all limits. As love calls us, we reach out to infinity and discern that we never can come to an end of what it appoints for us. But, as we also discern that it is love which demands, and that we love only because God first loved us, we find therein also the measurelessness of our own Divine possibilities, and are no more tempted to wish to come to an end. On the contrary, we learn how small a mistake every other failure may be, compared with shutting our ears, in self-satisfaction with our own poor negative rulings, to the only voice which, by calling us to the true service of life, can at once save us from missing its divinest uses and deliver us from mere moral stress into the joy of the Lord, which is strength as well as peace.

A salvation which God thus immeasurably enlarges for us, as we realise ever more fully the measureless positive claim of the service of love, will ever humble us by the sense that we have not yet laid hold of that for which the love of God has laid hold of us, yet will always sustain us by the sense of the high end toward which it directs and upholds our going. By forgetting ourselves in service, we shall thus find ourselves again 254 in the love that requires it, and humbly yet joyfully know that love values nothing we do except as it springs from what we are.

That is the experience which makes all casuistries a crime both against our moral personality and God's grace, a crime against God and His children, or we might say against love, as the moral esteem which comprehends both. In the same spirit in which they have sought to enclose the Divine mind within dogmas to be imposed from without on the human mind, worldly men, using religion to exalt the visible institution of the Church in which they exercise dominion, have sought to formulate the Divine will in systems of casuistry to be imposed as external rules of conduct. In both cases they turn into finite rule what ought to be a growing vision of infinity, but the moral danger of the confessional is the greater because it can do no other than work with a system of negations, turn pardon into political condonation, and sap the insight as well as the courage by which we could learn to forget men and regard God alone, and so to be free with the liberty of His children.

But the danger does not end with the confessional. All churches are in danger of measuring by a standard of visible respectability, which may be even clumsier and less penetrating, and which has not even the poor excuse of being an attempt to guide the erring. How worthless this negative and parasitic morality is we see when the conditions which sustain it are changed and the external judgment which guides it is removed. 255 Possibly the chief Divine end of great upheavals, overthrowing all conventional standards and accepted beliefs, may be to demand of us what we, of our own insight, know to be true, and, of our own conscience, discern to be right. At all events, in morals and in doctrine alike, the more we are intent on reality and disregard mere appearance, the more we look out on what has not entered into the heart of man otherwise to conceive, and the more we are confident that they are the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.

The practical effect of reconciliation to God is thus to find ourselves in an order of love which is our succour, so far beyond our own contriving and for ends so far above our own conceiving, that we have no concern except to serve in it. Practically, as well as theoretically, we, thereby, attain such a perfect unity of morality and religion that we can only be absolutely dependent upon God as we are absolutely independent in our own souls, and only absolutely independent in our souls as we are absolutely dependent on God. A saved soul, in other words, is a soul true to itself because, with its mind on God's will of love and not on itself, it stands in God's world unbribable and undismayed, having freedom as it has piety and piety as it is free.

Instead of being hostile to our trust in God, as at first appeared, our independence is the last proof of our utter dependence, being complete only when we 256 have a faith in God which would so deliver us from self-regard, which is the mother of all base compliances, that we can stand alone against the world. Only as we do what we veritably see to be right, do we prove that we believe what we veritably see to be true; and without both, nothing has either religious or moral value. By the mere fact that an action is what Kant calls heteronymous--the verdict of other people's consciences--it is made morally worthless, however much it may be visibly moral, even as what is not of our own insight into a reality worthy of our trust is thereby made religiously worthless, however much it may be, in mere statement, sound doctrine.

We serve God only as we are true to our own souls, and we are true to our own souls only as we serve God. Neither is possible without the other: for what are our own consciousness of truth, our own moral ideals, our own personal resolve and consecration save in a world the ultimate reality of which corresponds to them; and how shall we know that we live in such a world except as it gives us freedom and independence in standing for them?

If to be saved is to be wholly in accord with God's will of love, to be saved in spite of ourselves is as impossible as to be saved by ourselves, for except by our own truth, our own ideal and our own intent, there is no accord. Yet, towards that end we are in no way forwarded by aiming at our own well-being, either for time or for eternity, even while no other end than truth and righteousness is our true well-being. Nor is 257 there any solution except we find in grace the will of love which has a right to ask us to deny the self that opposes its service, because it is a true fellowship of persons which maintains both the separateness and the intimateness of a moral self-surrender, as opposed to a mere subjection, which allows no separateness and no response.

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