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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Luke xv.17.

When he came to himself he said: |I will arise and go to my father.| This is one of those gospel sentences which contains within itself a whole system of theology, a doctrine of man and of God and of the relation of the one to the other. He came to himself. It was not then himself that had gone away into a far country. It was an unreal, fictitious self. He had been insane, beside himself, and now, as his better life starts up in him, he comes to himself. As his father said of him, he had been dead and was alive again. The renewal of the good self in him was the resurrection of his true personality.

How deep that goes into one's doctrine of human nature! Never believe that the sinning self is the true self. Your real personality is the potential good in you. The moment that good springs into life you have a right to say: |Now I know what I was {147} made for. I have come to life. I have discovered myself.| And then there is the religious aspect of this same self-discovery. No sooner does this boy come to himself than he says, |I will arise and go to my father.| The religious need follows at once from the self-awakening. Nay, was not the religious need the source of the self-awakening? What was it that brought him to himself but just the homesickness of the child for his father's house? His self-discovery was but the answer of his soul to the continuous love of God. Before he ever came to himself the father was waiting for him. Antecedent to the ethical return was the religious quickening. That is the relation of religion to conduct. You make your resolutions, but it is God that prompts them. Your self-discovery is the drawing of the Father. Your true self is his son. How natural it all is, -- an infinite law of love at the heart of the universe -- that is the centre of theology; a world that permits moral alienation through the free will of man, -- that is the problem of philosophy; he came to himself, -- that is the heart of ethics; I will go to my Father, -- that is the soul of religion.

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