With morals in this accepted American sense righteousness has little to do. The two are different in origin. Morals imply the compulsion of men, and are never more binding than the customs of men rendering them. They are thus imposed from without, while righteousness springs from within. The essence of righteousness lies in the turning of the individual toward God.

I think it’s safe to say that righteousness is expressed more accurately in attitude than in conduct. It is expressed in conduct, of course; but conduct may fail while the attitude can remain constant. It is worthy of remark that some of the great examples of righteousness cited in the Bible were conspicuously sinners. That is to say, they were men of strong human impulses against which they were not always sufficiently on guard, but who turned towards God in spite of everything. In the long line, spanning the centuries between Noah and Abraham and Peter and Paul—from the almost prehistoric out into the light of day—not one is put before us except in his weakness as well as in his strength. Some of them commit gross sins; but apparently even gross sins do not debar them from their privileges in God’s love. This principle was expressed in the words of Samuel: “Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness; yet turn not aside from following the Lord…. For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake.” That the Universal who has all the blessings of creation to bestow should deprive me of anything just because in my folly or weakness I have committed sins is not consistent with “his great name’s sake.” It would not be causing His sun to rise on the wicked as well as on the good nor sending rain on those who do right and those who do wrong. I am too small for His immensity to crush with its punishments, but not too small to be the object of His entire love.


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