XXXVIII. Christianity and the Survival of the Fittest.

MARK v. 25-27. “And a certain woman, which
had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things
of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was
nothing better, but rather grew worse, when she heard of Jesus,
came in the press behind, and touched His garment.”

WHAT I want to insist on is the compassion of Christ
even for those who are, humanly speaking, incurable. He
did not say to her, “Go away; lie down and wait for the
end, while others take your place.” So He taught us that
though our powers may have limits, our pity must have
none. But this while a supreme law of man’s nature is by
no means the law of nature otherwise. That law has been
expressed in the formula “the survival of the fittest.” That
is to say, nature allows those only to live who are able to
hold their own, and the rest she dooms to destruction. But
when we pass from nature into the province of man, we meet
with a law that breaks in upon this and controls it. We
have a law requiring the strong to help the weak, and even
the helplessly stricken are cast upon us as a peculiar care.
This law of moral nature finds a sublime expression for
itself of unique and touching beauty in the Cross. Not
survival of the fittest but redemption of the lost was the
law of life to Jesus. For our sickness this physician perished
in His glorious prime.
From these facts there are two conclusions, the one
theoretical and the other practical.
I. It seems clear that the natural law of a supreme struggle
for existence and survival of the fittest could never by any
process of development grow into the moral law of self-
sacrifice and supreme compassion for the weak and suffer-
II. As to the practical outcome, I would not insinuate
any charge against the thoughtful science of our age as if
it were opposed to the highest duties of humanity. Some
have hinted that hopeless suffering would be best put an
end to by making away with a useless life. But that was
a voice from the depths beneath, which, happily, met with
small response. But I claim for man an exceptional
position in God’s universe, that he may be led to do the
fitting work of an exceptional virtue. It is a great thing
to live under a higher law than that of the brute creatures,
but our guilt is only the greater if we live like the brute.
We are only Godlike, only worthy of Christ, as we walk in
His steps and obey His law; only Divine as far as we are
human, and cannot get mercy unless we show mercy.
Walter Chalmers Smith

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