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The Tree of Life:


No Evil Is Excusable

Chapter 1. "The burden of Nineveh." Another cross! The prophecy of Jonah concerns the salvation through enlightenment and repentance of those who excuse evil practices in ignorance. The prophecy of Nahum concerns the separation and rejection of well recognized excuses of evildoing from the mind. That is a heavy cross: Israel is in captivity. As children we quickly learn how to defend ourselves when we have broken the rules laid down for our behavior. Practice makes perfection. In course of time we become experts in clearing the conscience of many serious faults and follies. Specious reasonings are worked up into a regular system, behind which we entrench ourselves secure from the attacks of the world. That is the walled city Nineveh doomed to be destroyed. It is a day of terror and darkness. "The Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries. . . . Who can stand before his indignation? . . . He knoweth them that trust in Him. . . . but darkness shall pursue His enemies. . . . The wicked shall no more pass through thee (Nineveh); he is utterly cut off." A welcome prophecy! Every attempt to justify evil within shall be frustrated.

2. "He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face." The separation of honest self-justifications from idle excuses is the Lord’s work. "For the Lord bringeth again the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel." The prophet visualizes the capture and spoiling of the city, and expresses the belief that its downfall will be complete and permanent. It is often difficult to separate good from bad reasons forever varying ways of feeling or conduct. Character is not free from blame so long as the defense of any evil remains intact. Nor is it free from suffering.

3. "Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery!" The abuse of reason to conceal secret evils needs to be exposed. "Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; . . . and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. . . . And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? Whence shall I seek comforters for thee?" Nahum bears the name of a "Comforter," and the comfort in the prophecy rests in its assurance that no peace of mind is possible, so long as any evil for which we are responsible is justified, and held to be untouchable. The evil influence exerted by the powerful empire of Assyria must be destroyed. "There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee," that is, the report of thy downfall, "shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" The sooner we are disillusioned as to our being above criticism or correction, the quicker we shall advance in the light that leads from slavery to freedom.


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