If Christianity were simply a code of principles, the conduct of its adherents wouldn't make so very much difference. People would look at the principles and say they were all right anyhow. But Christianity appeals to the world as a power. It talks about conversion—which makes men over. If, then, men are not made clean and right, the natural conclusion is that the process alleged to make a change was a fiction—no power in it. This realization ought to bring to a sharp turn a host of men who drift along conscious of being a long way below the Christian ideal, but comforting themselves that nobody can be perfect anyhow, and, after all, a man's faults are nobody's affair but his own. Here's where such carelessness grows serious. The man himself knows—when he stops honestly to look himself over—that his moral standing is subnormal because he does not keep close to Jesus Christ. He knows there would be power enough available to conquer the faults in him if he really sought divine assistance. But the mischief is that the world with no religious experience at all does not know this. The world's explanation of the Christian's failures is that there is no power in Jesus. So the careless Christian is held to be a witness that Christ is impotent. God is good and may perhaps be indulgent, but even God cannot change the fact that when a man consents to be less good than the best he knows, he is breaking down the right in his own life and hindering it in the lives of others.

July 16, 1910

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