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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XV FILLING LIFE FULL

Matthew v.17.

The Jews thought that Jesus had come to destroy their teaching and to abandon all their splendid history, though Jesus repeatedly told them that his purpose was not destructive; that he wanted to take all that great past and fill it full of the meaning it was meant to bear; to fulfill, as this famous verse says, their law and prophets. A great many people still think that Jesus comes to destroy. The religious life appears to them a life of giving up things. Renunciation seems the Christian motto. The religious person forsakes his passions, denies his tastes, mortifies his body, and then is holy. But Jesus always answers that he comes not to destroy, but to fill full; not to preach the renunciation of capacity, but the consecration of capacity.

Here is your body, with all its vigorous life. It is a part of your religion to fill out your body. It is the temple of God, to be kept {42} clean for his indwelling. Not the ascetic man, but the athletic man is the physical representative of the Christian life. Here is your mind, with all the intellectual pursuits which engross you here. Many people suppose that the scholar's life is in antagonism to the interests of religion, as though a university were somehow a bad place for a man's soul. But religion comes not to destroy the intellectual life. It wants not an empty mind but a full one. The perils of this age come not from scholars, but from smatterers; not from those who know much, but from those who think they |know it all.| When our forefathers desired to do something for the service of their God, one of the first things they regarded as their religious duty was, as you may read yonder on our gate, to found this college. And here, once more, are your passions, tempting you to sin. Are you to destroy them, fleeing from them like the hermits from the world? Oh, no! You are not to destroy them, but to direct them to a passionate interest in better things. The soul is not saved by having the force taken out of it. It is, as Chalmers said, the expulsive force of a new affection which redeems one from his {43} old sin. How small a thing we make of the religious life; hiding it in a corner of human nature, serving it in a fragment of the week; and here stands Jesus Christ at the centre of all our activities of body and mind and will, and calls for the consecration of the whole of life, for the all-round man, for the fulfilment of capacity. In him, says the scripture, is not emptiness, but fullness of life.

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