I. There is the epicurean or pleasure theory: " Let us eat and drink, for tommorrow we die." Let us see how this creed narrows down our life to a very point, stripping it of all that is distinctive and elevating, both in range and duration, and shutting us up within the miserable limits of time and sense. (1) It takes all soul out of life. For the soul is its enemy, and a regard for its interests would be the very death of such a life, (2) It takes all heart out of life. The sensual man is of necessity selfish. He is the enemy of society, the propagator, and patron, and pattern of evil. If all were to follow his example and live as he lives, the world would soon be such that even he could not live in it. (3) It takes also the intellect out of our life. For its own sake at least, there is no recognition of it. It is the minister of sense, the convenient purveyor for its appetites, the demon in a herd of swine, impelling us down the steep of ignomimious concession into the foul sea of sensuality and indulgence. (4) It takes all the future out of our life. There is nothing of a pilgrimage here; the man is at home. There is nothing of a warfare here; it is all concession together, all drifting down with the stream.
II. The ascetic theory. As the former theory robs life of its future, this one robs it of its present. The one makes the body everything; the other makes it nothing. That the ascetic view of life is an entirely false view I need scarcely wait to demonstrate. (1) It is not prescribed. The God that made us does not require it. (2) It spings from self-righteousness, and is deeply rooted in spiritual pride. (3) It proceeds on a totally mistaken idea of what sin really is, and of what the Divine Being really intended in making us what we are. (4) It fails to accomplish its professed design.
III. The pantheistic theory. (1) It destroys all individual responsibilty in man. (2) It tends to cancel all duty.
IV. The perfectionist theory, or that which teaches the ultimate recovery of all creatures to the perfection of their nature and the highest happiness of which they are capable, and all this, too, it must be remembered, as a matter of necessity, not as dependent on the will of man, but as a certain result of the constitution of the universe. There is no limit to the all things that are to work together for good to the proper persons; but there is a limit to the persons, and that limit is formed by the very nature of God, which binds Him over by an absolute necessity to put a mighty difference between the good and the evil, between him that serveth Him and him that serveth Him not.
V. The theory that ascribes too much importance to circumstances. (1) It tends to make God the Author of sin. (2) It confounds temptation with coercion.
Thought this was interesting food for thought. What other theories do we have in our present generation? God bless you all. Thanks for being patient with me. It has been a while since I have posted anything.
Much love to you all.