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The Greatest Questions of the Bible and of Life
What If He Gain the World and Lose His Soul? (3 of 18)
Clarence E. Macartney
In what a competent judge has said is the greatest
passage in French prose, Pascal wrote:
Man is but a reed, the feeblest thing in nature. But
he is a reed that thinks. It needs not that the
universe arise to crush him. An exhalation, a drop of
water suffices to destroy him; but were the universe
to crush man, man is yet nobler than the universe, for
he knows that he dies, and the universe, even in
prevailing against him, knows not its power.
It is about that thing in man which is greater than
the universe in which man lives that we shall
consider. There are three things that I shall say on
this subject. First, that man has or is a living and
immortal soul; second, that the soul has suffered
injury and damage; and third, that Christ discovers,
redeems, and restores the soul of man.
Man Is a Living Soul
What do we mean by the soul? I shall not draw fine-
spun definitions or darken words without knowledge,
but I shall take the plain biblical thought of the
soul as man's moral, spiritual, and never-dying part.
There is no doubt that is what Christ meant when He
used the word "soul." In Mark the question of Christ
reads: "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain
the whole world, and lose his own soul?" In Matthew it
runs: "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the
whole world, and lose his own soul?" But in Luke it
reads: "For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the
whole world, and lose himself?" The soul is thyself,
myself. It is that in man which loves, hopes, prays,
believes, aspires, is tempted, sins, repents, and can
be eternally saved.
Subjected to every test, the soul is the supreme thing
in man. There is the test of subtraction. That is,
take a man's soul from him and add the world to him
and what have you left? Nothing but an animal, nothing
but a clod. But with a soul-"What a piece of work is a
man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In
form and moving how express and admirable! In action
how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god!"
Another test of the soul's greatness is the purpose of
life. Why are we here? What is the meaning of
existence? When the first runner, Ahimaaz, came out of
the wood where the battle had been fought and where
Absalom had fallen, but he himself did not know what
had happened, and the anxious King David, waiting at
the tower, said to him, "Is the young man Absalom
safe?" all the runner could say was, "I saw a great
tumult, but I knew not what it was." Is that all there
is to life? Just a great and meaningless tumult in the
thicket of existence? Just a noise, full of sound and
fury, signifying nothing? If life is for knowledge,
for fame, for pleasure, for glory, then it is a grim,
sardonic joke. But if life is a trial, a probation, if
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