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We are now drawing this series of considerations on Life to a close, although the subject is so much greater than we could ever compass. For, as we have said, it compasses the whole Bible, from first to last; and the Bible is the history of God's relationship with man, and man's relationship to God. Our final emphasis here is upon one fact of fundamental and immense significance; a fact into which all that we have said about Life has to be gathered. When we have said all about the reality, the nature, the forms, the laws, and the criteria of Life, this one basic fact projects itself, demanding and challenging recognition. It is that
Life Only Comes From Life
In the natural world this conclusion was only established after a long and fierce battle. As I write I have beside me the ponderous biography of Lord Lister. Nearly seven hundred pages (written by Sir Rickman Godlee) comprise this volume, and the reading of it leaves one in amazement and shock that what is now universally accepted without the slightest question - and to question which would now lead to the very fiercest upheaval - did involve the whole scientific world of the time in the most vehement controversy. The establishment of the present comprehensive and meticulous system of antiseptics, hygiene, sterilization, etc., in medicine and surgery and public health, was only reached by way of years of the most exhausting and exacting research and experimentation, debate and controversy. The issue involved in all this was just one question: does life spontaneously generate, or does it proceed from already living organisms? In the biography referred to the writer says of Lister that 'he finally settled the point that putrefaction does not occur independently of the agency of micro-organisms'. Referring to the great Louis Pasteur (founder of the world-renowned Pasteur Institute) he quotes Pasteur as saying to the most important audience that had ever come together (in Paris) to hear him:
'And, gentlemen, I could point to that liquid and say to you, I have taken my drop of water from the immensity of creation, and I have taken it full of the elements appropriate to the development of inferior things. And I wait, I watch, I question it, begging it to recommence for me the beautiful spectacle of the first creation. But it is dumb, dumb, since these experiments were begun years ago; it is dumb because I have kept it from the only thing that man cannot produce, from the germs which float in the air, from Life, for Life is a germ, and a germ is life. Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment.'
Another scientist of the same era has placed the following on record:
'For two hundred years the scientific world has been rent with discussions on the Origin of Life.
'Two great schools have defended exactly opposite views. One that matter can spontaneously generate life; the other that life can only come from pre-existing life...
'A decided and authoritative conclusion has now taken place in science. So far as science can settle anything, this question is settled. The attempt to get the living out of the dead has failed. Spontaneous generation has had to be given up. And it is now recognized on every hand that Life can only come from the touch of Life.'
It will now be seen where we have arrived in our chapters on Life. If our great premise is right, that God has constituted the natural creation upon spiritual principles, then in this matter science has really corroborated Scripture. The scientist above mentioned said that this corroboration means the removal of the most serious enemy Christianity has had to deal with. 'Of the multitudes who confess Christianity at this hour, how many have clear in their minds the cardinal distinction established by its Founder between "born of the flesh" and "born of the Spirit"?'
This is one of the truly 'cardinal' facts that Jesus came to demonstrate. That is why He chose to do so many of His works (called by John 'signs') just at the point where every natural resource and hope were at an end. They were 'miracles' just for that reason. He never touched a situation unless it was hopeless. Indeed, He deliberately kept to the hopeless. If He turned water into wine it was when there was no wine available. If He raised Lazarus, He deliberately allowed him to reach the point of decay before He intervened - that is, the natural point. Jesus was not corroborating science. He was demonstrating what science has arrived at through vast research and numerous experiments; that Life cannot come from death, but only from Life, and in the spiritual realm the only possible hope of Life is that it comes from the Living One.
"In him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4).
"This is the testimony, that God has given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life" (1 John 5:11-12).