accept a gift from defiled hands, and still less from a sinful heart. Not only man's deeds but
his words also and his very thoughts are defiled with sin. How is it possible for us, who have not
even performed our own duty to God and to our neighbour, to acquire, by doing more than our duty,
such an amount of merit as will avail as a satisfaction for our sins? This, of course, is
impossible. If we could fancy the existence of a man who, during his whole life, had never
transgressed God's commandments, then such a person would thereby have done nothing more than his
duty (Luke xvii. 10). Even such a man could not claim to have laid up a store of merit for himself
or for other men.
The Holy Scriptures teach us that God's Law requires of us such perfect devotion (Matt. xxii.
36-40) that man cannot, when he has fallen short of it, recover what he has lost. There are some men
who proudly and ignorantly assert that they have performed more worship and service than God demands
of them. Yet the folly of such statements is manifest. In spite of their boasting, such men can
never by any means assure themselves that they are justified in God's sight. They often in their
hearts feel most painful doubts about their state after death. They often live in fear of death and
die in great mental agony. As an instance of this we quote what Ibn Khallikan says of Abu 'Imran
Ibrahim ibn Yazid. He was "one of the famous Imams and a Tabi'i". "When death came
upon him, he feared with a violent fear . . . Accordingly he said, 'What danger is greater than
that in which I am? I am awaiting a messenger who will come upon me from my Lord, either with
Paradise or with Hell fire.'" He then swore that he would far rather that his soul should
flutter in his throat1 until the resurrection-day than
that he should die. This was because of his dread of what was to happen to him after death.
Nor will repentance itself suffice to blot out our transgressions. It is most befitting that we
should truly repent of our sins; but we cannot by repentance alone undo the evil which we have done.
Hence repentance is not enough to save us. The transgression of merely human laws cannot be atoned
for in this way. If a thief or a murderer tells the judge that he has repented, will the judge be
acting justly in setting him free? That would be contrary to our innate idea of justice. But this
conception of justice is part of the Moral Law which God has written in our hearts, therefore it
must be right. And often men are so hardhearted that they cannot repent, even if they would.
Thus we have seen there is no possibility of our saving ourselves, by our works, either from the
punishment of our sins or from their other consequences. Still less can we save ourselves from the
love and the power of sin and obtain reconciliation with God Most High through any merits of our
own. Hence, if there is no Saviour who can atone for our sins, we must for ever remain alienated
from God, and can never attain that eternal happiness, the desire for which God has implanted in
It has been shown that, if there be a Saviour who can make Atonement and can render sinners free
from sin and pure in the sight of the just and holy God, that Saviour cannot be merely a man,
born like other men, inheriting Adam's corrupt nature, and himself a sinner. No sinner can save
sinners. As all men who are merely men are sinners, none of them can atone for the rest. In the
Zabur we are told that "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a
ransom for him" (Ps. xlix. 7), even to save him from the death of the body. How much more true
is it therefore that none of us can redeem another from eternal death!
Yet if there be a Saviour, He must be a man, for