Saturday, April 3, 2010

the freezing shadows of night...

The second part of Edmund Sears Good Friday sermon, "Calvary." 

"III. Again we look to the cross of Christ to get some just estimate of the worth and grandeur of human nature. We are very apt to fall into mere declamation on this head. The greatness of human nature implies a twofold capacity — susceptibilities for progress and enjoyment, and susceptibilities for degradation and suffering. The possible heights of its exaltation measure the possible depths of its downfall. Natures that are small and narrow and low down, have these susceptibilities in slight degree. They can neither rise nor sink very far. But all those provisions for human salvation which we call supernatural, are so many testimonies to the endless value of the human soul. You begin to see the worth of a thing when you see how much it costs to buy it or redeem it...So the cross preaches to us the love of God as a personal love; the depth-of ruin into which man is plunged by sin ; and the worth and grandeur of human nature in its unmeasured capacities for rising or falling, for bliss or for suffering.

IV. But there is another truth which comes home to us as preached by the cross of Christ. It clears away the mystery of death, for it shows death as the reverse side of resurrection. Death, as we learn it here, is not an isolated fact in human experience, and resurrection another isolated fact. Death is only the hither side of one great fact — the waning of our mortal being, that the immortal being may have freedom and enlargement This waxes as the other wanes...

Men pass in long processions, sometimes in agonized groups and companies, into the freezing shadows of night; and how many a heart to-day is broken and bleeding because its treasures have been snatched away by sudden havoc and ruin.1 The cross is the symbol which hangs aloft over all the wrecks of our slaughtered humanity ; the symbol of a love which drew all that havoc and agony up into its own experience, in order to show it the reverse side of resurrection and immortality. Our human mortality is the cloud which hangs between us and the glory just beyond; the cloud thick and heavy until the Christ turned it into white wreaths which only temper to our condition the ardent mercies of the Lord. Such is the fourfold meaning of the cross and such the light streaming from it to-day."


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