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The Tree of Life:


A New Horror of Evil

Chapter 1. The stronger our hopes and aspirations, the more trying the depressions through which we have to pass. The fall of Jerusalem is in sight: the Babylonians are on the war path. Judah will be punished for her sins. "I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord." It is a day of the Lord’s sacrifice, to punish princes, and merchants, and those who are at ease, and wholly indifferent to their responsibilities in life. It is a day of desolation. Dies illa dies irae! A day of wrath! It is all on the inside. For years we have been conscious that self-interest determined our actions unduly to the hurt of others, and have reached the point of despair in our efforts to alter it. That is our punishment, and that the sacrifice we are called upon to make.

2. The Philistines, the Moabites and Ammonites, the Ethiopians and the Assyrians are also involved in this judgment closing in upon Jerusalem. They stand in the way. We place too much emphasis on a mere confession of faith; we spurn real spirituality, the life of religion; we are not even interested in thinking through the meaning of the Scriptures for a better understanding of our greatest needs, and we are prone to find a reason to excuse ourselves. We can make good our faith only in a life of charity, which should be our chief interest. Progress in the good life depends upon a deepening knowledge of the Word, and a continual rejection of every thought in defense of our negligence, or culpability.

3. Lastly, the judgment falls upon the corrupt rulers in Jerusalem. "Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice, she received not correction; she trusted not in the Lord; she drew not near to her God." Her princes, her judges, her prophets and her priests! They represent those who have high principles—in theory—those skilled in weighing evidence to good purpose; those who know "the law," and those who possess great possibilities of loving their fellowmen. They have miserably abused their gifts, and must suffer a correspondingly heavy judgment (Luke 12:47, 48). "Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord." "The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies: neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. . . . At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you; for I will make you a name and a praise among all the people of the earth when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord."


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