The Strength of Christ's Might
WHETHER we can or cannot demonstrate metaphysically the antecedent possibility of miracles, whether we can or cannot prove historically the fact of the Resurrection, whether it be true or not that Christianity contains no new moral precept, this one fact remains---incontrovertible, and on any other hypothesis inexplicable---that Christianity has been and is a moral power, that it has changed and is changing the moral tone of the human race, and that, in spite of the apathy and inconsistency of many of those who bear the Christian name, it gives a new motive to the doing of our duty, and supplies the lacking energy to our weak and struggling souls. Maranatha
Eph. 6:10.---' Be strong in the Lord, and in the power [RV 'the strength'] of his might.'
Strength is the common want of every one of us; we want not the knowledge of our duty but the power to do it. We all know more or less the bitter struggle between impulse and conviction; we have all been tempted---we are tempted every day---to give up what we know to be right for what we feel to be pleasant; we struggle, some of us, to resist, and we find our struggles in vain; we set out in the morning with the full intention of doing what is right, and we find before the day is half over that we have preferred the interest of the moment to known and undoubted duty. We would be compelled fear God and keep His commandments, but we find it so hard as to be virtually impossible to disentangle ourselves from the intricate ties which bind us to common modes of action, or to resist the accumulating influences which lead us to accept current maxims of morality. But the remedy lies within our reach. The Apostle, writing as one who had felt all this as strongly as we can feel it, bids us 'be strong in the Lord.' It would have been a mockery to have said simply, 'Be strong.' It is the expression of the deepest thought and the most varied experience to say, 'Be strong in the Lord.' The strength by which we are to live must be not ours but Christ's: it will come to us not from the human nature which we inherit at our birth, but from the Divine nature which His Spirit breathes upon us.
What is this strength? It is the power to do right when we know it; to give up what will be of most immediate advantage for the sake of the inner voice which speaks to us of duty. It is the power to avoid tampering with evil suggestions; to be able to resist the ever-recurring tendency of the old Adam to angry, selfish, cowardly, indolent, uncharitable actions. it is the power to do all this in the faith and by the promised power of Him who lived and died and is present with us still---the highest type of human excellence and the highest source of moral power.
It is not merely strength on the grand scale, strength for some great act of moral heroism. That which we want, and that which our Master gives us, is strength for our common life---strength to do our ordinary duties---strength not only for the pitched battles which some of us have, now and again, to fight, but strength also, and most especially, for the daily conflicts with evil, the skirmishes, so to speak, between the advanced outposts of evil and good, where they meet so closely as to seem not so much enemies as friends.
The strength is that of a new motive, and it is given to us by One who is not only a perfect Example, but and ever-present Guide. For He who in those far-off ages trod the Judaean hills is with us still. He is with us not only as a memory of the past, but as a living influence. He who helped men in their common life long ago helps us still. The mere memory of Him would have done much for us. The bare record of His life, the story of His unflinching devotion to duty, of His boundless charity, of His unsullied purity, would of itself have suggested high and new motives. The fact that the ideal of humanity had been realized would of itself have been an encouragement and a support to us in our efforts to do better. But the strength which we have is something far higher. It is the strength of One who is ever present by His Spirit---who being very God is not far from every one of us, who being very Man can penetrate the deep recesses of our hearts and know at once their aspirations and their needs. It is the strength not of an imaginary picture of perfection, but of a Divine Redeemer. It is a strength, which, if once we make it our own, will grow with our growth, be sufficient for every need of life, and be a rod which will turn into dry land for us the dark river of death.
In Christ, timothy.
WHETHER we can or cannot demonstrate metaphysically the antecedent possibility of miracles, whether we can or cannot prove historically the fact of the Resurrection, whether it be true or not that Christianity contains no new moral precept, this one fact remains---incontrovertible, and on any other hypothesis inexplicable---that Christianity has been and is a moral power, that it has changed and is changing the moral tone of the human race, and that, in spite of the apathy and inconsistency of many of those who bear the Christian name, it gives a new motive to the doing of our duty, and supplies the lacking energy to our weak and struggling souls.