Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Love After God’s Own Heart Essay

What is the foundation of Christianity? If the question being discussed is whether something is ideally Christian, then the motivation behind Christianity must be understood. The basic outline of Christianity is simple. Man exists in a fallen and depraved state. Christ died on the cross to conquer death and atone for all humanity. Those who acknowledge their need for a Savior and place their faith in this gift, shall have eternal life. That leads to the logical question of why. Why should Christ sacrifice himself for such undeserving people? Therein is found that basis, that motivation behind Christianity. Love. The Bible says, â€Å"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.† (NASB Jn. 3.16). Love is the heart of Christianity. God sent his Son to pay the ultimate cost for sinners because He loves them so much. Indeed, all truly Christian actions are committed out of out of love. Christ said while he was on the earth, â€Å"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.† (NASB Jn. 13.35) Christianity starts and ends with love. Love is the root of Christianity and it is also the outward manifestation of Christ in a life. God is love. Therefore, though Silas Marner is at first estranged from both God and man, the Christ-mirroring love he bestows upon Eppie is a clear reflection of God’s own nature and is ideally Christian. George Eliot’s Silas Marner details the life of a solitary linen weaver. Silas Marner lives a life of seclusion in the town of Raveloe for 15 years while dealing with deeply inflicted emotional wounds. He loses his faith in God and his fellow man. Marner’s lone refuge is the coins he earns. He treasures them not for their monetary value, but for their companionship. Meanwhile, there is an alternate storyline of Godfrey and Dunsey Cass; sons of a wealthy landowner. The latter is a slobbering drunk while the other is well thought of. However, the former has a secret wife and child, and the knowledge of this allows the drunk to blackmail his elder brother. One day the drunk chances upon the empty house of the linen weaver. He discovers the coins and steals them. When Silas Marner discovers his loss, he elicits the help of the villagers. They search extensively for the coins, but to no avail. No one knows who has taken the coins, but Godfrey is delighted by Dunsey’s absence. On New Year’s Eve, the Cass family throws a large party and Godfrey attempts to woo the respected Nancy Lammeter. Meanwhile, Godfrey’s wife tries to bring their child to the Cass home and proclaim Godfrey’s secret to the world. However, being under the influence of opium, she falls asleep on the snowy ground. The child wanders into the nearby house of Silas Marner. When Marner finds the child and eventually the mother, he rushes to the Cass house for the doctor. The woman is found to be dead and as no father comes forth for the child, Marner claims it as his own. He names the child Eppie and does his best to raise her. He is often given motherly advice by his friend Mrs. Winthrop. Sixteen years go by and Eppie is now 18. Godfrey is married to Nancy. Godfrey regrets not claiming Eppie and decides it is time for her to come live with them. He tells Silas and Eppie the truth and asks Eppie if she wants to come live with him and his wife. Eppie declines, saying Silas is the only father she has known. Later, while a pit is being drained near Silas’ house, the body of Dunsey is discovered and with it Silas’ money, which is returned to him. Silas uses the money to return to his old home for closure on his past wounds, but the entire place is gone. When Silas returns, Eppie gets married to Mrs. Winthrop’s son and the story concludes with Eppie and her husband living happily with Silas. The child Eppie does not have a father, so Silas Marner adopts her as his own. Eppie quite literally wanders into Silas’ life and though she should not have to be his responsibility, he takes it upon himself to be her father. â€Å"Till anybody shows they’ve a right to take her away from me,† said Marner. â€Å"The mother’s dead and I reckon it’s got no father: it’s a lone thing- and I’m a lone thing† (Eliot 679). Though he shows it in his own peculiar way, Silas takes great compassion on this homeless, parentless girl. This is the first way Silas Marner shows God’s love to Eppie. God is obviously not a â€Å"lone thing,† having existed for eternity past in perfect harmony with the Trinity. However, he does take compassion on poor, lost people. God is the Father to all who place their faith in Jesus Christ. â€Å"For you have not received a Spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Abba! Father! The Spirit himself testifies with our Spirit that we are children of God† (NASB Ro. 8. 15-16). Silas Marner adopts Eppie and becomes her father who she can always rely on. God adopts sinners who come to him and becomes their Everlasting Father in whom they can rely. The clear correlation between the two is the first way Silas Marner reflects God’s nature and ultimately Christian ideals. As Silas has this Christ-like love for Eppie, he naturally wants to protect her and help her grow. This gives Silas a completely new outlook on his surroundings and his normal everyday life. â€Å"As some man who has a precious plant to which he would give a nurturing home†¦and asks industriously for all knowledge that will help him to satisfy the wants of the searching roots, or to guard leaf and bud from invading harm† (689). Silas’ new role is to do all he can to keep Eppie safe. Eppie is young and inexperienced and vulnerable. Silas watches out for her and keeps her away from trouble because he knows better. Jesus Christ does the same thing for believers. He protects Christians from the Devil’s schemes as well as from their own folly. The Bible often describes this relationship with the analogy of a shepherd and his flock. â€Å"Like a shepherd He will tend his flock, In his arm he will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead t he nursing ewes† (NASB Is. 40.11). Silas is gently leading his nursing ewe, Eppie. Silas, in protecting and shepherding Eppie, is portraying distinctly Christian ideals. Eppie does not do anything to gain Silas’ love and likewise she can do nothing to lose it. Before she does any of the things that Silas later comes to love, Silas loved Eppie. Silas loves her from the first night she toddled into his home. She does not earn his love, it is based on Silas’ goodness and not Eppie’s merit. That is why she cannot lose it. It does not depend on her performance. â€Å"Here was a clear case of aberration in a christened child which demanded severe treatment; but Silas, overcome with compulsive joy†¦could do nothing but snatch her up and cover her with half sobbing kisses† (687). This is such a beautiful picture of what Christ does for the believer. Eppie runs off and disobeys Silas. He tirelessly pursues her until he finally catches her. Christians likewise stray from the fold of God, but Christ pursues them and is overjoyed to find them and bring them back. â€Å"If any man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the 99 on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over 99 which have not gone astray† (NASB Mt. 18.12-13). This is how Silas feels for Eppie. Silas mirrors God with his unmerited and unconditional love for his daughter. Silas loves Eppie so much he is willing to sacrifice his happiness for her betterment.   Silas on the other hand, was again stricken in conscience and alarmed lest Godfrey’s accusation should be true- lest he should be raising his own will as an obstacle to Eppie’s good. For many movements he was mute, struggling for the self-conquest necessary to the uttering of the difficult words. They came out tremulously. â€Å"I’ll say no more. Let it be as you will. Speak to the child. I’ll hinder nothing. (714) Godfrey has now come and is asking Eppie to come live with him and his wife. Eppie is the absolute joy of Silas’ life. Even so, with those words, Silas is letting her go. He is relinquishing his daughter and his happiness that she might have a higher station in life. This is a truly sacrificial love. This again is in keeping with the Christian model Silas has been following all along. â€Å"But he was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon him and by his scourging we are healed† (NASB Is. 53.5). The greatest sacrifice of all is Jesus’ death on the cross. Obviously Silas Marner is not crucified for Eppie, but he is willing to sacrifice his entire happiness for her betterment. Silas’ small sacrifice is a shadow of the Lord’s great sacrificial love for his people and clearly Christian. Sometimes this story is thought to have too many coincidences or be too much like a fairy tale to have realistic Christian ideals, but the Bible clearly disproves this. God is in control and He has a plan for everything. There are no coincidences in His eyes. It is not a coincidence that Eppie comes to Silas’s door. Silas then honors God with love he shows Eppie and God rewards him with happiness and fulfillment. It is a lie of the Devil that happy endings are only for fairy tales. Christians know Jesus wins in the end over evil. That is the happiest ending of all. â€Å"For I know the plans that I have for you,† declares the Lord, â€Å"plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope† (NASB Jer. 29.11). When the Christian is trusting in God’s plan and honoring Him, he can see that Silas Marner is a great story about a man who honored God with his love. Silas Marner’s love for Eppie is adoptive, protective, unconditional, and sacrificial. This clearly reflects the Lord’s love for his own children and thus the ideals in this novel are Christian. Works Cited Eliot, George. â€Å"Silas Marner.† Adventures in Appreciation. Laurence Perrine. Ed. et al. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1973. 390-472. Print. NASB. Anaheim: Foundation Publications Inc., 1996. Print. Taylor

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