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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XIV LEARNING AND LIFE

Romans xii.1.

The letters of Paul, varied as they are in their purpose, have one curious likeness. Each goes its way through a tangled argument of doctrinal discussion, and then in almost every case each issues, as it were, into more open ground, with a series of practical maxims for the conduct of life. If you are looking for profound Biblical philosophy, you turn to the first part of Paul's epistles. If you are looking for rules of moral conduct, you turn to the last part. And between these two sections there is, as a rule, one connecting word. It is the word |therefore.| The maxims, that is to say, are the consequences of the philosophy. The theology of Paul is to him an immediate cause of the better conduct of life. |I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,| -- he says to the Ephesians. |If, therefore, there is any comfort in Christ,| he says to the Philippians, {39} |I beseech you, therefore, by the mercy of God,| he says to the Romans.

We hear much in these days of the practical perils of the intellectual life; the spiritual risks of education, the infidelity of scholars, as though one who dealt much in the speculations of philosophy would lose the impulse to the devout and generous life; and certainly there are scholars enough whose learning has shrivelled up their souls. But the attitude of Paul toward the general question of the relation of learning to life is this, -- that the better philosopher a man is, so much the better Christian he is likely to be; that hard thinking opens naturally into strong doing; that while not all religion is for scholars, there is a scholar's religion, and while not all sin comes from ignorance, much foolish conduct comes of superficial philosophy. Let us take courage to-day in this natural association of philosophy and life. The world needs piety, but it needs in our time a new accession of rational piety, or what the apostle calls |reasonable service.| The world needs enthusiasm, but it still more urgently needs intelligently directed enthusiasm. Remember that the same man who laid {40} the foundation for the whole history of Christian theology and philosophy was at the same time the most practical of counsellors concerning Christian duty and love. He explores with a free mind the speculative mysteries of religious philosophy, and then, perceiving the bearing of these researches on the conduct of life he proceeds as from a cause to an effect, and writes: |Therefore, my brethren, I beseech you, present yourselves a living sacrifice.|

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