The Survival of the Fittest and a Higher Law
Mark 5:24-34
And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.…

Jesus did not say to this woman, "Go away; you are too weak and broken to hold your own in the world; best for you to be down and wait for the end, while others take your place she can do your work." That would have been a sorrowful word, not to her only, but to us also; for it would have set a limit, not to Christ's power merely, but to His very compassion, and therein also to ours. That, however, is not the law which human hearts acknowledge. Our power may easily have limits, but our pity must have none; and as we can help not a little even when we cannot heal, it is bound upon our conscience never to be inhuman. The bruised reed He would not break. But this, while it is the supreme law of man's nature, is by no means the law of nature elsewhere. Nature throws away her broken vessels with no compunction or pity whatever. Everywhere the weak and sickly among the lower animals are ruthlessly killed off, and only those remain which are able to do for themselves. The fit survive — the feeble perish. It is hardly necessary to lead any proof of this. The stricken deer turns aside to die, while the fat herd sweeps on indifferent to its fate. The park of lean wolves know of no surgery for a fainting comrade, except to fall on him and rend him in pieces. The frail bird that cannot fly with the rest of the brood is tumbled from the nest and left to its fate. Nature has, indeed, a great healing power for the strong and healthy in case of accident, so that wounds and broken bones soon come together again. But among wild animals sickness, disease, feebleness, and age meet with no compassion. In their warfare it is still Vae victis, for they cannot cumber themselves with the wounded. The halt and the blind get no chance at all. The weak and sickly are left to their fate, and the sooner it comes the better, for their kindred turn from them, and their friends will not know them. Unfit for the struggle of existence which is their supreme business, they perish without ruth or remorse. Thus everywhere on sea and land, and in the lightsome air, among all creatures that swim, or fly, or creep, or run, we find this law working, and doubtless working for the general good of the whole, yielding a benevolent harvest of health and comfort to the unthinking creatures of God. But now, when we pass from them into the province of man, we meet at once with a law which breaks in upon this, and controls it. The struggle for existence goes on there too, but it is no longer supreme and all in all. Everywhere it is modified by ideas that are confessedly of greater moment and higher authority. Sometimes it is set aside altogether, for we are not always bound to exist if we can, but we are always bound to do right. Thus the moral rises above the natural, and even flatly contradicts it. The struggle for existence is subordinated to the struggle for a higher perfection. Instead of the survival of the fittest, we have a law requiring the strung to help the weak, the healthy to improve their health for the sake of the diseased, and even those who are hopelessly stricken, and forever invalided from the battle of life, are cast on us as a peculiar care, to neglect which were to outrage the noblest instincts of humanity. The natural law, everywhere else in full swing, that the weak and sickly, the halt and blind, must be left to their fate, or even hurried out of the way, not only does not hold among us, but the very reverse of it holds. And the moral principle which thus asserts its supremacy vindicates its claim by many fruitful results. For often times the poor cripple whom natural law would have cast away, has grown up to bless the world with wise and noble counsel, and blind men, all unfit for the mere struggle of animal life, have yet done brave and good service in the higher warfare of humanity; and even the utterly broken, the helplessly disabled, who can "only stand and wait," have yet, by their meek patience under affliction, shown us an example which made our hearts gentler, humbler, better, and was well worth all the care we bestowed on them. So it is, at any rate, that no sooner do we pass from the mere natural life of animals to the moral life of man, than we find another law breaking in upon the law of survival of the fittest — controlling, suspending, even utterly reversing it, with an authority which cannot be gainsaid, without forfeiting all that is most nobly and distinctively human.

(Walter C. Smith, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

WEB: He went with him, and a great multitude followed him, and they pressed upon him on all sides.

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