March 9, 1884.
MY BRETHREN:--When we look around and see the lives that many men and women live in the world, are we not tempted to ask of them, even as they sometimes ask themselves: Was it worth while coming into this world to live the lives they are living now? And, when we look back over our own days--especially some, [1/2] thank God! long past--may we not ask the same question: Was it worth while for me to be born to live such a life as that?
Does it not seem to us, as we look upon such lives, that the world would have been no worse had these men and women never come into it? Many a man feels it so. He feels that there is no purpose in his life. There is no sufficient motive to make him rise up to something higher and better than he is now. There is no object before him for which he should put forth all the energy of which he is capable. He has no end in view.
And what is the reason?
Do we want to know the purpose of something that is put into our hands to look at? We think of the maker, and try to enter into his mind, and see what was his intention in making it. So it must be with our life. If our life is to have any real purpose in it; if it is to have any true dignity and power, it can only have this in proportion as we rise up to the purpose for which we were made. Looking back at the purpose of Him by whose power we came into the world, the place He intended us to fill, the end after which He intends us to strive, we may, perhaps, by considering that purpose and that end, see what is wanting in the lives that are lived around us, and also know whether or not our own life, as we live it now, is worth living.
What, then, is our end? What is the true purpose for which we are here in this world? This, my brethren, I venture to think we shall find in the words I have read to you: "GOD CREATED MAN IN His OWN IMAGE." Here is the purpose for which man came into the world,--that he might he recognized in the world as the Image of God; that the whole world might look upon him and see God manifest in the midst of it; that he might exercise in this world of ours something of that which we find in God Himself. Unless we realize that,--man to be known as the Image of God; unless we take in something of what that means; unless we [2/3] try to rise up to the idea that comes before us when we think of man created in God's Image, I venture to say that our life will always be a failure. Therefore it is that I wish to speak to you to-night of the Image of God in man.
It is a very common thought,--we have been familiar with it from our earliest childhood, a thought found not only in the Christian religion, but in all the religions of the world,--that man, in some way or other, sets forth God.
The highest forms of religion in the olden times,--the most cultivated, as we say now,--fails to rise to any higher idea of God than to deify man. When, with all the skill of the sculptor and painter, the intellectual heathen strove to set forth the person of God, they could choose no higher form than that which they conceived to be the perfect form of man. The thought that runs through all the religions of the world confirms the truth which Christianity teaches, that man is made in the Image of God.
And yet, though this doctrine is so universal, we find it very little recognized in daily life. How many men and women are there to-day who fashion and form their life, from morning to night of one single day, in the power of that thought, I am here in the Image of God?
Let us, then, to-night see, first, what the doctrine is, and then what bearing it has, or should have, upon our human life.
What do we mean when we say man is created in the Image of God? When we put this question we are met by a two-fold answer. Sometimes we are told that man in this world sets forth something of the Image which God has borne from all eternity; that when God held counsel in the depths of the Divine Being, the three Persons of the Holy Trinity counseling together, and saying, "Let us make man in our Image," the utterance of the divine mind was that man should be created and setting forth in some way the Image of [3/4] God as He is in Himself. The other answer is this; that God was looking forward, as we say, to the time when He would come into this world, and take the world into union with himself, and created man in that image which He would then take. Let us consider these separately, though briefly.
1. Man created in the Image of God. We look back, and see God Himself living a Trinity in Unity. Bearing this in mind, and looking upon man, we see something that seems to shadow forth that great truth. Man lives in this world a trichotomy; that is to say, a three-fold being, body, soul, and spirit. This three-fold being is yet but one. Thus the very being of man seems to shadow forth the doctrine of the Trinity in the Godhead, to set forth the Image of God.
But we must, it seems to me, look still deeper than that "God is a spirit," and the Image of God must surely rather be sought in man's spiritual being.
Think for moment of the eternal God. What are your thoughts of Him, and how may we see these thoughts realized in man? Think of God, and as your mind rises up to Him, are you not impressed with one thought--almightyness? God Almighty, that hears our prayers to Him, day after day; the greater part of these prayers beginning. I suppose, "Almighty God." God the Almighty One, the Omnipotent; and man shadows forth the omnipotence of God. He is here the master of the whole world, to replenish the world and subdue it--to hold the world down for God. There is his purpose. Look round about you, and see how man is doing it. In spite of all that we may think of the fall of man, in spite of all his failure to rise up to his ideal, does he not even now shadow forth something of the omnipotence of God? Is there any secret of nature that man has not grasped? Is there any power of nature that he does not tame and make do his bidding, the lower powers of nature, as well as the higher? He sends the very lightnings, that they may go and say, "Here we are."--(Job xxxviii, 35.)
The mountains bow before him, the rivers change their [4/5] courses at his bidding, the very air affords him a road, and the depths of the earth yield him their treasures. Surely man, in the control that he has learnt to exercise over all the powers of nature, bidding them to do his will, controlling not by physical strength, but by the power of his spirit, shadows forth something of the omnipotence of God.
Think of Almighty God! and as you do so, you are conscious of a knowledge that has come into your life; you feel that there is an eye that looks upon you, and reads the very depths of your soul; and perhaps you shrink under the thought; you fear, because you are in the presence of an omniscient Being. For man to be in the image of God, he must set forth this attribute also. And does he?
Look at him, rising up to heights and measuring distances that make the brain tremble when we try to grasp them, those of us who have not been accustomed to such methods of thought! Look at him, going down into the very dust of the earth, and telling us of what that dust is composed, impalpable as it is! See him stretching out his hand and weighing the sun, and declaring the very composition of the stars. Look at him, standing in the midst of the world, and unfolding the laws by which it is governed, with a growing knowledge of it, as if there were soon to be no secret hidden from him, and see a manifestation of the omniscience of God.
Look at man, also, standing in the midst of the world, even endowed with what seems to be the power of creation! You have within you a faculty by which you can bring into the world that which has had no existence. The painter puts before him a blank canvas; but as he gazes upon it he sees it peopled with forms of life. The sculptor places before him a shapeless block of marble; but as he gazes upon it he creates in his own mind the beautiful forms that are to be the admiration of ages long after be has passed away. We call this the power of imagination. But so Almighty God looked upon "things that were not, and saw [5/6] them as though they were." And this power of imagination shadows forth, dimly it may be, but yet truly, the creative power of God.
But there is another creative power possessed by man, for have we not received the power of reproducing ourselves? Have we not received the power, almost at our own will, to bring into this world beings like unto ourselves? God has given to man something of His own creative power.
Consider, too, man's moral nature; it is, perhaps, the highest thought. We think of God, and as we think of Him, we see Him to be the Holy One, the All Just, the All Perfect Good. Is there not in us something that answers to that? Why do we hate a lie? Why does your whole being rise up at the thought of some meanness? Why is it that purity, and truth, and justice, have such an attractive charm for us? Surely, it is because there is within us something that shadows forth the holiness, the justice, the purity of Almighty God.
Yet one other, and that, perhaps, the most important thought. Look upon all created nature, and it can tell you nothing of itself Speak to the animals, and they will tell you nothing. They have no power to declare themselves. Man stands alone, and is able to say, with the power of personal self-determination, possessed by none other of all created things, "I am, and I know I am." And God reveals to us His great Name, and it is the great I AM. In that power--the power of saying I am, I exist, and the power that goes a step beyond it, and says I will--man shadows forth the personality of God. Looking thus into the secrets of our own being, and considering the powers and gifts with which we are endowed, we see shadowed forth the Image of God as He has existed from all eternity.
2. Take now the other thought, briefly, that man was created in the form that God had determined, from the beginning, He would, Himself, take when He came into the world.
 What do I mean? Did God intend to come into the world from the beginning? My brethren, I think so. There are those who think otherwise. To some of you, no doubt, it is familiar that there are two teachings in the Church as to the reason of the Incarnation. We are accustomed to think, I suppose, most naturally, that the incarnation was the consequence of sin; that had man not fallen from the estate in which God made him, God would not have become incarnate in human flesh. That is the teaching that is most common among us,--the teaching which underlies that great poem which has led so many away from a true conception of the Christian faith. I say we commonly think that the incarnation followed simply upon sin. It may be so understood; but there is another teaching with regard to the coning of God into the world, and it seems to me the higher one.
Almighty God looked forward from all eternity, and determined to create a world richly endowed indeed, but which would still be a thing apart from Himself, and, therefore, without any abiding life. God could not see His creation thus remain imperfect. He could not allow that what came forth from the mind of God should be an imperfection, with no true abiding life in it; and so from all eternity He looked forward to the time when He would come and be incarnate, and take His creation into union with Himself, that then there might be one life filling all, flowing from God Himself; the source of all life, coming down through all the infinite forms of creation, and lifting up the whole creation into the blessedness of union with God.
For this God made man. He looked forward to the time when He would come; and as He looked upon all His creation, and saw no being fitted for His own habitation, He formed man out of the dust of the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life, that man might be fitted to be the habitation of God; that when God should come into this world He might find a form worthy of His indwelling,--"a body hast thou prepared Me."
 It seems to me that this second answer to the question raises man to the highest pinnacle of creation. It gives us a greater thought, too, of the love of God, looking forward and resting upon His creation from all eternity, and determining to lift up that creation into oneness with His own blessed life. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." It gives a higher idea of the vocation of man. God created man the last of all His works, and man stands forth the only being fit for the indwelling of God, his body, his soul, his spirit, all his powers and faculties, all given to him for this purpose, that he might he fit to set forth God in this world, that he might be the Image of God.
My brethren, whichever be true, whether man shadows forth simply that image which God bore from all eternity, as far as created being can set forth the glory of God, or whether he was destined from all eternity, and therefore created, that he might bear the form that God would take when He came into this world, the great fact remains, that man stood upon this earth by the will of God, "in His own image, after His own likeness."
We look round about, and say that man is fallen. Be it so. We look around, and say that man has not risen up to the dignity for which he was made. Bet it so. Yet this does not alter the fact that man was made in the Image of God; that we men and women gathered here to-night, and looking back to the purpose of our creation, to see whence we came, can say with all truth, "I am here by the will of God. I am here that I may set forth God in this world, I am created by the will of God, in His own image."
This is a great doctrine. What is to be the prover of it upon our life? What does it teach us? What hearing upon our life has this great fitct, that we are here by the will of God, in His own Image?
 I. When I look over creation, and see all its various forms linked together in a wonderful chain of life; when I see them all rising one after another in higher and yet higher scales of being; then, when I see man standing on the pinnacle, I am filled with wonder at the greatness of man. When I see the enormous gulf that there is between him and the next highest of all created beings, I am filled with wonder, and say, "What a marvelous being is man!" But when I rise a step higher, and see man, not simply standing the highest of all created beings, but the very next being to God Himself, made by God that he might shadow forth His own image, I tremble. Do not you? What is it that makes me tremble? I feel as one might feel who had risen up in the world until he had cone into some position of great authority, and who looks back at all the steps through which he has conic; who looks at all those round about him who are hanging upon his lightest word; who looks at all those who are under his power, to order here or there with the certainty of being obeyed, and looking thus, feels almost overwhelmed by the tremendous sense of responsibility.
Yes, the first thought that comes upon me, when I think of myself, a man created in the Image of God, is the sense of responsibility. I cannot be as if I were not thus created! I cannot shake oft my position and be here as if there was no purpose for my life, as if I had no end in view, and nothing to live for. I am here by the will of God. When He made me, He made me in His own Image; and the fact that I am thus made, brings upon me a great responsibility, a responsibility following from the fact of my existence, and bearing upon all the use of the life that I have received. This, surely, is our first thought, and for this responsibility we must give account.
2. But it seems to me there is another and perhaps a higher responsibility. It lies in that of which I spoke just [9/10] now, that man has been gifted with the power of reproducing life.
Think of it! We are here, men and women, created in the Image of God; "male and female created He them." And what follows? That God has given to man, male and female, the responsibility of life. That is to say, the power of bringing into this world men and women also begotten, to be recognized now, to live the life now of those made in the Image of God. Do you ever think of the power of life that God has given to you? How is it to be used? Think of the responsibility of it! We have received the power, subject to the will of God, of begetting men and women into this world to be in that Image! Fathers and mothers, have you ever thought of it, when you have sat by the cradle of the little one just born? Father, when they came to you, and they told you that a son was born unto you in this world, your own child, and when you heard these words and your heart throbbed with a new joy, the joy of fatherhood, did your heart rise with a yet higher throb; did you think for a moment, and as you thought, perchance tremble, "This little child that I have begotten into this world bears upon him the impress of the Image of God?" Mother, holding your first born to your bosons with a tender love that none but a mother can know, and feeling it your very own, your dearest possession, did you think that you beheld upon that little face the impress of the Image of God?
If we thought of that, my brethren, do you think the power of life would be wasted by men and women as it is? Do you think that men, then, would dare to throw away the power of life for a simple gratification of passion? Do you think that men would dare to throw away that wonderful power for a few moments of self-indulgence; that the power of begetting a human being in the Image of God would be wasted for a few moments of carnal pleasure?
My brethren, we do not think enough of the responsibility of life; but God requires this gift of us, as He does [10/11] every other gift that He has given. Think of it when the moment of temptation to self-indulgence comes upon you; think of it when passion runs high, and the body asserts its power,--God has given me a power and responsibility, the responsibility of life, or bringing into this world a man or woman begotten to bear upon him and to be known in this world as the Image of God. Think of it, my brother, and it will be a mighty power of self-restraint, a mighty power of deliverance from temptation.
But the responsibility does not stop there; it is not simply the bringing into the world, but afterwards. "This little child that you bear in your arms, take it and nurse it for me," says Almighty God, "and I will give thee thy wages." Nurse it for Me. What does that mean? Educate it, bring it up, this little child which you have begotten bearing in it the Image of God. Educate it. What does that mean? Draw out its mental powers, its physical powers,all the powers of body, soul, and spirit, that lie hidden in that little form. More than that; this little child is to be brought up in the Image of God. We do not do it. There lies a blot upon the civilization of to-day,--a blot that, I fear, will never be taken away.
We may say what we will, we may talk about progress, we may talk and boast about liberty, and the advance of the age; but in one thing we have gone back. We have taken out if the education of our children the thought of God. Children are taught in our schools this world's knowledge, but how is it with regard to God? The child is taught how to use its gifts for this world, and God is blotted out. Why, the very heathen were better! Corrupt as their religion was, it had at least this in it, that they taught their children of their god. That one thing they knew. Their religion was imperfect, it was gross, it was carnal; but it entered into their life. And we Christians, as we call ourselves, are content that the name of God should be swept away from the education of our children. They are here bearing the Image of God, but [11/12] they shall never be told of it. They shall be held responsible because they are made in that Image, but they shall never be taught of the responsibility, never be taught to rise up to it. It is an undying shame, that we may all feel resting upon us, that the children of our nation are not taught in the schools the religion of God.
But we can do something in our home teaching to make up for this want. Is it done? What education does the child get at home from father and mother, and older brothers and sisters? You, who are fathers and mothers, what do you set before your children as the end of their life? What is it that you try to draw out of them, that they may be perfect men and woman here? Do you teach them to get on well in this world; how to follow the business of this world so as to make the greatest profit? Do you measure their lives by the progress they make in this world's knowledge, and in the acquisition of this world's wealth? Or do you keep before them day after day, in all their life, that they are the children of God; children begotten in the Image of God; children to he known and recognized in all their life the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty? Yes, my friends, look into your own life. What were you taught? Look into the lives of your children. What are you teaching them now? What are the words that you speak to them? What are the influences you are bringing to bear upon their life? Are they such as will lift them up, that, as they grow in years, they may grow also in the wisdom and knowledge of God, and be recognized in this world as children, men, and women setting forth the Image of the Lord God Almighty?
Think of the responsibility, then, of life; the responsibility of bringing children into this world, and the responsibility of educating them when they do come.
3. And, then, there is another thought that forces itself upon us, and that is the sanctity of life. Do we think of this,--the sanctity of life? We are very familiar in our days [12/13] with the thought of death. It has become so common among us that it scarcely awakens a tremor. There was a time when human life was of far more value than it is now; at least, it seemed so. I do not say that it is altogether our own fault; that is to say, not the fault of any particular individual. Times change, and circumstances change. We take up the daily paper, and we read in its columns of forty or fifty people hurled into eternity by a railroad accident, by shipwreck; and we give it a passing thought, and say, "How sad! "Then it is gone, and we never speak of it again. Human life has ceased to have the value that it once had. Machinery we must have; but machinery costs lives. Well! Locomotion we must have; we must go here and there at a speed that our forefathers never dreamt of in the wildest daydreams. But this costs life. Yes, we know that; but we cannot help it. The few must suffer for the good of the many; they mast go down. We cannot help it. The age must go on, even if it crushes multitudes under its wheels. I say we have learned to place a lower estimate on the value of human life. Do you ever, as you read of the mangled crowd crushed down, swept away, by some carelessness of a fellow-man, perhaps by some neglect of proper precaution, on railroads or on steamboats--do you think of the value of all those lives, in that they were men and women made in the Image of God?
Again, we take up our newspapers, and, as I have often seen, we read of ten or fifteen murders recorded in one sheet. Some of us, perhaps, lay the paper down with a shudder; but to most of us it specks of nothing, it awakens no response. We read the news of a murder as we might have read the news of a birth.
But worse than not regarding these things is the fact that we have learned to regard them lightly. Sometimes, when I take up a paper, and see the murder spoken of, tremble when I see the words in which the mention is nude. Think of a man sent out of this world suddenly,--a man, [13/14] mind you, made in the Image of God, to shadow forth God in this world,--that man sent out of this world in a moment's passion by a fellow-man; sent into tile other world, body and soul rent asunder by violence; no thought of whether he was prepared; no thought whether he had fulfilled the purposes for which he was made, no thought whether it was according to the will of God; simply because I choose it, and I draw- the trigger, and he goes, and we smile at the tale. Again and again it is told in trifling words; they do not call it murder now in the papers--"a singular ease of shooting,"--that is all. As if man had been practicing at a target, and had done something extraordinary to provoke a smile when he did destroy the life of a man in the Image of God.
["LIVELY COWBOYS." [EXCHANGING COMPLIMENTS FROM REVOLVER-BARRELS.--THE BOYS WORSTED.
["HUNNEWELL, Kan., September 28, 1881.--Three cowboys, named Mills, Carter and Chartain, rode through the main street here yesterday afternoon, shooting at people and into houses. Mayor Hughes opened on them with a shotgun, striking Chartain in the face, wounding Mills in the back, and killing Mills' horse. Chartain killed a Miss Calder, who was passing, took Mills on his horse, and fled to the prairie. A posse of citizens pursued and captured Chartain and Carter, and they are in jail. Mills will die,"
Thus does a leading paper in the city, that claims to be the most cultured in the country, pleasantly jest of one of the foulest murders of our times. One's heart yearns over the poor woman thus wantonly slain. God rest her soul!]
A man has died, perhaps he has been racked by sickness for a long term of years, and has been preparing himself step by step for his great change; he has tried to face it like a man, for he has known something of what there is beyond, and he has wanted to go; and so, in the faith of a Christian, and fortified by all the consolations of our holy religion, he has gone forth. His neighbor says, "So and so has gone dead." That is all. As if it were something to point a joke with. We do not value human life as we did; we not think of the sanctity of life. We forget that when God renewed the world after the flood, and laid upon the [14/15] world that tremendous charge, that, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed," He gave as the reason for it, "for in the Image of God made He man," and that it is that which makes human life so sacred.
And this is true of murder in whatever form it comes. I have spoken of murder just now under that form in which it is perhaps most easily recognized as such. But that is not the only form of murder that is common, too fearfully common among us. There is another that people do not like to hear of; that is to say, they do not like to hear of it under the name of murder; they pass it over under other names. Sometimes they call it abortion. Or they call it by some scientific name to hide its foulness. They say murder is an ugly word that men do not like to hear, a word not pleasant to use in the presence of women. Yet, in the sight of God, it is murder to take away a human life, whether it he in the first moment of conception, or whether it be in the full-grown man. There is no difference in the sight of God; for in the Image of God made He man, and the Image of God is stamped upon our being from the first moment of conception. There is no Image of God given afterwards, by some after-thought, by some after-process; begotten in the Image of God; that Image to be honored, to be reverenced, to be cherished from the very first moment of conception. We do not think so any more. We have learned to deny it; and we are learning, alas! alas! to live in these our days as if God had never said, "THOU SHALT DO NO MURDER."
There was a time when this thing of which I speak was confined to but few in our country, and those few, women who were branded with the mark of shame. It is not so now. It is not so now that the number of those who thus take away human life can be counted in a community on one's fingers. They fill the homes of our land. They fill our land from one end to the other. When we are told, as we are told repeatedly, that in New England, for instance, the proportion of deaths to births among the American [15/16] population is to be counted greater by thousands, what explanation is given? That the women of to-day do not bear children. What is the explanation of that?
The explanation is to be gathered for the most part, I do not say altogether, but (arid, if you will ask them, physicians will tell you the truth of what I say) for the most part in the crime of the secret destruction of human life, and in other crimes akin to this. They tell us that if it were not for the immigration or foreigners, and the children born to these foreigners, New England would be depopulated in a few years. What does this mean? The answer is to be found in that title-word of six letters that we do not like to hear, that little word MURDER.
Fair is our country; richly endowed and favored by Almighty God, we love to boast of it. Growing in power daily, and growing mightily in population, yes, my friends, but not growing in population by the virtuous lives and pure marriages of American men and women.
"Murder most foul and most unnatural."
I am not afraid to speak freely of these things; for this thing is not done in a corner. There was a day when the Apostle lifted up his voice and said: "Let marriage be honorable in all, and the bed undefiled." Were he living now among men and women professing to be Christians, he would raise his voice again, and utter those words in tones louder than he ever did when he walked this earth before, and this because there is greater need. It was shameful when such things were done among the heathen; it is ten thousand times more shameful when men and women professing to believe in God, husbands and wives, perhaps united in the bonds of the Church, at least united according to the laws of the State in which they live, connive together to defile the marriage bed with sins that cannot be named; connive together to stain their souls with murder. Yes, [16/17] every day, from end to end of our land, and we know it ourselves; we hide it, we excuse it.
[A physician of long standing, in Oneida County, New York, writes: "My practice has been mainly among a rural population, and during nearly fifty years I have attended at the birth of very nearly four thousand children at lull time, and have had, perhaps, one-third as many cases of abortion (!), these last mostly during the last twenty years. And I am fully satisfied that not more than one-third as many children are horn now among the native or Yankee population, as there were forty or fifty years ago, in proportion to the population. Then women would have from live to fifteen children, and they were hale, hearty, and robust. Now, many of what are called our first families have none: some of them have one or two. . . Unless by some means a change is wrought in this particular, the Irish, Germans, and their descendants will occupy the land."
[Another physician says: "Crimes are committed by American women which would have shocked the dissolute women of pagan Rome."
[Not long since a paragraph went the rounds of the papers stating that a practitioner in Chicago acknowledged, on his deathbed, that he had assisted in not less than fifteen hundred abortions!]
Now and then a man is bold to speak out. Now and then some great physician utters his voice. But why do not the clergy speak of it? It is a thing that fills our land, and fills our homes, and is wrecking the lives of our women, making them a poor, weak, nervous set, instead of a healthy body of women made in the Image of God. Why do not the clergy speak of it, and tell the people this is a sin? I have had this asked of me again and again by physicians of good repute; and here I answer, and do that they asked of me. And I tell you in the house of God, and speaking in the name of God, that, by whatever name you may call it, or by whatever excuse you may justify it, this crime of destroying human life, whether it be of the full-grown mall, or whether it be in the first moment of conception, or at any time between, is MURDER.
Fathers and mothers of to-day, it is your duty to see that your children are taught these things. Father, it is your duty, when your son is about taking to himself the wife he loves, to tell him of the responsibility of the married state, and to warn him as to what be is entering upon; that he is to honor that woman because she bears upon her the image of God; that he is to accept the responsibilities of [17/18] that state he enters; that no pleas of poverty or such-like can justify him in degrading the wife of his love, or in conniving at the sin of murder. Mother, it is your duty to tell your daughter, when she goes forward to meet the temptations of society round about her,--aye, in her very home, and perhaps you know it not,--to warn her against that which she cannot touch without a stain, to bid her rise up in the name of God, and he a good, pure, and honorable woman; to bid her have respect to the Image of God in which she is made; and to be, if it be the will of God, the mother of children who shall set forth that image after her.
Forgive me if I seem to speak too strongly upon this matter. I am speaking to Americans in an American congregation; and I love this country, to which, according to the will of God, it seems my life is to be given. In other countries I have heard this thing spoken against you as a reproach. Some of you know that last winter I spent several months in the provinces of Canada. I went there on mission work. You know something of what mission work is. You know that a mission priest has to wrestle with every kind of sin; and wherever I went, in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward's Island, I met this hateful sin. But mark you! When, shivering with horror at some fearful tale, I asked, "° Where learnt you this vile thing?" I always got one of two answers. The answer was either, "I knew nothing about this until I went on a visit to the States--they all learn it there; "or else it was, "I knew nothing about this until an American woman came here and taught me." I never heard any other but these two answers. I know that the city where I live, which is but a short day's journey from the provinces I have referred to, is looked upon as a refuge for those who desire to perpetrate this crime; and when people in the provinces dare not do it there, they seek the shelter of our country for the purpose. They know that in this country of ours, alas! alas! the sin is so little regarded, that they are to sure to find multitudes of men and women [18/19] who will not only connive at the deed, but will help them in it. It is time for us to speak; it is time for us to think of this thing upon our knees before God; it is time for us Christian men and women to try and rise up, if it be not too late, and shake off the reproach of wholesale murder.
4. There is yet another thought that I wish to bring before you. I have spoken of the responsibility of life. I have spoken of the sanctity of life; and now I wish to add a few words on the dignity of life. Think of it. Think of what it is to be in the Image of God. Think of what it is to he placed here to shadow forth God in the world.
What is your estimate of life? What do you measure your life by? Are you proud because of the family in which you were born; that is to say, because of the blood that flows in your veins? Do you look back through all your ancestry and see a pure stream of noble blood coming down to yourself? True dignity does not come from birth, except as birth is a link to God. Carry back your pedigree to your father and grandfather, and further; you never get beyond this: "which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God." There is a dignity in your birth, in that through your parents it links you to God. The image stamped on the first parent is handed on to you. The dignity of human birth pales, unless we look at it in the light of the dignity of man as the child of God.
Men sometimes think that the dignity of life is to be measured by the things of the world which they possess. They say, "Give me riches, give me what the world holds dear, then I shall be honored and respected." It is not so. It is not true that we are honored and respected because we have this world's goods. Take them away, and then see. Look at one man who possesses riches, and even scatters his money broadcast wherever he goes. Do you respect him really? Very well, watch him. Presently, by some reverse of fortune, the failure of some bank or the fraudulent conduct of some one he has trusted, he loses his money, and he is respected no [19/20] longer. Nine times out of ten he drops out of sight. The money that he had did not give him any true dignity to stand before men. Look at another man. He, too, has this world's goods and amassed a fortune. If he loses his money, every man pities him, and watches him with interest, to see what he will do now. Every man is ready to speak an encouraging word, in the hope that he may be able to raise himself and recover something of the position he has lost.
What is the difference between the two? It was not the money. For one man was not ennobled by his money. Take his money away, and no man cares for him. The other man is noble without any money, for when he loses it every man still respects him. You recognize, therefore, that there is something higher than money; and it is this, that in the one man people recognized the Image of God.
By what do you estimate your life? By what people say of you? Because all men speak well of you, are you therefore good? The applause of the world, surely, is not a criterion by which to judge a man's life. If you want to rise to the true dignity of your life, it does not conic through any accident of human birth. It does not come through the possession of any worldly riches. It does not come from the praise of men. It comes from one thing, and one thing only. I rise up to the dignity of my life just in proportion as I rise up to that for which I was created, just in proportion as I fulfill that purpose of my life, just in proportion as I keep that end in view,--a man made in the Image of God.
I could say much on this subject, but time will not permit. Let us gather up a few thoughts and take them with us, that they may help us in our life,--thoughts that are not inappropriate to the season of Lent.
Set a right estimate upon your life. Remember that you are made in the Image of God, and that you are to bear this Image with you in all your work in this world. In every walk of life, the question should constantly be put: "What is my standard of judgment?" Our standard of judgment should be, not the maxims of the world, not what the world says, not what everybody does, not what society requires of us, not what is required of us in that we enshrine the Image of God.
When you come face to face with sin, how will you look upon it? Think of it in the one light only in which it must be considered, the light of the presence of God. Take no lower standard than that. Look at sin with reference to the Image of God. The first admission of sin is an insult to Almighty God. More than that, it is an outrage, a bitter outrage, against the Image of God in yourself.
Likewise with temptation. In the moment of temptation, when it is pressing hard upon you, whatever form it may assume, think of this: "I stand here to be proved, as truly as Adam in that first moment of creation." You say that you would not have fallen as he did had you been placed as he was; that you would have risen up and kept the commandment. Be a man now! You are being proved as truly as he was. Show now whether or not you can be true to the Image of God within you. Is it some meanness, some trick of the trade, some petty dishonesty? It is not worth the while of a man made in the Image of God. Is it some untruthfulness, some misrepresentation? It is not worth the while of a man in the Image of God. Is it some bodily temptation that almost overwhelms you? It is not worth the while of a man made in the Image of God. Pray to the God who formed you in his own Image, Who has called you to set Him forth in this world, that He may never suffer you to dishonor Him. Pray to Him that you may so [21/22] live in this world that you may fully show forth the Image of God that is in you.
Young men, you are just going forth with life opening before you, and temptations gathering around. What is to be the end of your life? What are you setting before yourselves? Not worldly prosperity, not a worldly name only, but set it before you to live worthy of the Image of God.
Young women, what is to be the end of your life? Are you looking forward to the joys of a domestic life with the man of your choice? Thank God for the thought, if it be in you. But who is that man you are going to marry? What is his standard? Do you merely require of him the power of amusing, and no more? I beseech you, before you give him yourself, and that which is most precious, your honor, require of him that he shall be a man living true to the Image of the God who made him.
We hear of sad homes and unhappy marriages. We hear of that of which I might have spoken as strongly as I have spoken of anything,--the crying sin of divorce. This crime fills our land as much as the other of which I have spoken. And what is the secret of it? It is this, that men and women, before they come together, do not look into each other's lives to see whether either is able to rise up to that responsibility which is laid upon him; whether the man or the woman, either or both, are living up to the Image of God. My brother, strive for it; young woman, require it of him whom you desire to love; men and women, banded together in the holy bonds of matrimony in the sight of God, live up to that life to which God called you when He created you in His own Image.
My brethren, whatever may be your lot in life, whatever may be the work that God has given you to do, set nothing less than this before you,--the Image of God. Go forth and keep your Lent in penitence. Strive against your own sin, and be penitent also for the sins of your country. Keep [22/23] ever before you as the standard of your life, "I will live up to the Image of God."
As you go forth, strive after self-denial, self-control; reach out after God, strive to rise up to the dignity of that to which He has called you. Do not say, "I cannot; it is too late." We are a fallen race, it is true, but the image of God remains upon us still. You have been regenerated in the waters of baptism, and thus is given back to you again the power of rising to the life of God that once was lost through Adam's sin. You can rise as truly now in the regenerating power which you have from God to a life worthy of that image which God originally destined that you should manifest in yourself: You have the power within you, and there stands One ready to help. He conies into your thoughts in Lent. You think of Him again and again,--Jesus CHRIST. He stands before you at the entrance of Lent. He goes before you into the wilderness, poor, despised, there to resist temptation, standing true to God,--the perfect man setting forth the perfect Image of God,--and He calls you to follow Him.
In all that I have said to you to-night, I have not openly mentioned Him; but I have been leading you up to Him who is our Pattern. He is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express Image of his Person. He has come down to dwell in this world of ours. He has taken our nature into union with Himself, that He may raise us up to that from whence we have fallen, and enable us to show forth that in which we were made,--the Image of God.
Oh, in the moment of sin, in the moment of temptation, and the shame for sin, or for the thought of sin that you came so near committing, at the feet of Jesus Christ humble yourself for it; and in the power that He gives you, the power of His indwelling, strive, oh strive, and rise up even now, and follow Christ Jesus to that for which God made you; in the power of Jesus Christ, strive, and rise up even now to live worthy of the Image of God.