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To speak the soul's eternal want
Of Him, the inmost Friend.
One choked with sinner's tears;
And God one music hears.
Whilst thus I dream, the bells clash out
Upon the Sabbath air,—
A selfish form of prayer.
But in that heaven so near,
In God's atoning ear?"
The Triune God.
"The Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost."—Matt. xxviii. 19.
/CHRIST commanded the disciples to baptise ^ their converts in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He did so, because these three sacred names sum up all that is most fundamental in the Christian faith. They represent to us the whole of the divine operations, so far as we are concerned. God in Nature, God in Christ, God in our own hearts; God the Creator, God the Atoner, God the Sanctifier; this is the God in whom we, as Christians, profess to believe. Let us examine our belief in detail.
First of all, God is in Nature. Men may know that He exists, and may know something about Him, from a study of the external world alone. The order, regularity, and above all, the progressive development which modern science has brought to light, demand some explanation. He who can find it in blind atoms must have a mind that is easily satisfied. No profound thinker was ever an atheist. Nature does not, it is true, tell us what is the kind of connection between God and the world. Whether the forces of the material universe are parts of His own essential power, or something quite different from Himself; whether they were made by Him, or merely used, Nature does not say. But according to the teaching both of common-sense and of the highest criticism, she does declare that these forces are in some way controlled and governed by a Mind and Will. The results produced by their interaction are such as intelligence might be supposed to aim at; and contrariwise, it would be flying in the face of all experience to imagine that these results have been brought about by the fortuitous play of unintelligent atoms. Plain, unsophisticated men have always seen God in Nature, and so have the deepest and most original thinkers. But a little thought, just like a little learning, is a dangerous thing. Atheism is the product of careless and superficial thinking. In defence of the assertion that profound thinkers have always been theists, I might quote the opinions U of the ablest men in antiquity; but, lest any one should detract from the value of these quotations, by saying that their authors would have been wiser if they had lived in the nineteenth century, let me rather refer to two of the leaders of modern science—viz., to Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin, whom no one will accuse either of being behind the age or of being prejudiced in favour of theology. "The belief," says Herbert Spencer, "common to all religions, in the omnipresence of something which passes comprehension, is a belief which the most unsparing criticism leaves unquestioned, or rather makes even clearer. It has nothing to fear from the most inexorable logic; but, on the contrary, it is a belief which the most inexorable logic shows to be more profoundly true than any religion supposes." "No man," said Darwin, "can stand in the tropic forests without feeling that they are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of nature, and that there is more in man than the breath of his body."
Further, Nature suggests the fatherliness of
this omnipresent Power. I mentioned to you
before x that the old Aryans, before the dawn of
history, had a word in their language, Dyauspitar, which meant heaven-father. There was a survival of this idea among the Greeks and Romans, in the words " Zeupater " and "Jupiter." The same conception is found among the Semitic races, or at any rate in one of them. It is, as I said just now, an idea suggested by Nature. He who is perceived to be controlling and guiding things, is also perceived to be controlling and guiding them with a view to the wellbeing of sentient and intelligent creatures. The happiness of these creatures may be seen to be at least one of the ends for which Nature exists and works. This has been admitted by many who are popularly regarded as altogether hostile to religion. It was acknowledged even by John Stuart Mill, in spite of his constitutional tendency to Pessimism. "Endeavouring," he says, "to look at the question without partiality or prejudice, and without allowing wishes to have any influence over judgment, . . . there does appear to be a preponderance of evidence that the Creator desires the pleasure of His creatures. This is indicated by the fact that pleasure, of one description or another, is afforded by almost everything. The mere play of the faculties, physical and mental, is a never-ending source of pleasure. Even painful things may
1 See p. 183.