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XIII

THE SIMPLIFICATION OF LIFE

“Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”—Matt. xix. 14.

SIMPLICITY is one of the great characteristics of the supreme life as taught and revealed by Jesus Christ our Lord. He was always seeking to lead people back from the impoverished life in which the currents are sluggish, and the arteries are hardened, and all the movements are stiff and formal. He would constrain us back into the realm of vital freedom where life is liquid and musical, and where intercourse is natural and unconventional. “Except ye turn, and become as little children!” That was a tone of warning, as that indeed is the line of promise. If our life is to be wholesome and progressive we must repeatedly turn from the age of stone, which comes with the years, to the plastic and unexhausted susceptibility of a little child.

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Lord Morley has somewhere said that simplification is the keynote of the Reformation. It pierced behind the artificial and conventional to the natural man and natural life. But this is surely true of every healthy revolution: its movement is from the complicated to the single, from the technical to the vital, from the merely traditional to the original springs. Its tendency is from palsied age to the little child.

Crises continually arise which compel us to get rid of exhausting encumbrances. We have become overburdened with the multiplication of harness. It is not always the ordinary load of life which crushes us; it is the increasingly heavy and complicated means which we have devised to draw it. Our yoke is more galling than our burden; the harness is more harassing than the load. The complications increase with the years. Society becomes a steel network of hard artificial bonds, instead of remaining a sweet, elastic and lovely fellowship. Prayer becomes fossilised. Theology grows arid and technical. Public worship becomes mere church-going, as tedious as the making of conventional social calls. “She has God on 57her visiting list!” Think of the formality and artificiality which hide behind that vivid phrase! Everything grows hard and unelastic in the conventional drip, drip of a petrifying formality.

And so there is imperative need of crises and revolutions which will compel us to seek a simplification of life and thought and feeling, and which will make us turn again and become as a little child. And may not this be one of the deep secrets of the time through which we are passing, and may not this divine simplification be one of its glorious issues? Things were becoming fearfully stiff and conventional. Now we are going to become more natural, which will mean more fraternal, more genially accessible to one another, more reverently hospitable to our Lord. We are going to learn of Him, and in meekness and lowliness we shall find that our yoke is easy and our burden is light.

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