« AnteriorContinuar »
character. That can be investigated neither by microscope nor telescope, neither by scales nor chemical tests, and yet it can be known. Just as some theologians have been one-sided in refusing to accept the ascertained facts of science as the very truth of God, so many modern scientists are one-sided in over-estimating the power and scope of the physical methods of research. It is a pity that they should make this mistake; but still it is not altogether surprising. “Let him among you that is without sin,”—who is quite sure that all his faculties are developed in due proportion,—"cast the first stone."
Still, though I am not desirous of condemning those who have failed to see the vision of God, I am anxious to point out to you that this vision really exists, and that it has been seen by many in all its mysterious grandeur. It is useless to say that those who see it, or think they see it, are mere visionary fanatics, whom too much or too little learning has made mad. For it has been seen by such men (to take only three examples) as Goethe, Carlyle, and Tennyson. You may remember the Earth-spirit in ‘Faust' says
“ Thus at the roaring loom of time I ply,
And weave for God the garment thou seest Him by.” That is Goethe's idea of Nature. It is “the garment of God.” Again, Carlyle says in ‘Sartor Resartus,' “ This fair universe, even in the meanest province, is in very deed the star-domed city of God. Through every star, through every grassblade, the glory of a present God stills beams.” And Tennyson, in yet more eloquent language, says
“ The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills, and the
plains, Are not these, O soul, the vision of Him who reigns ? Earth, these solid stars, this weight of body and limb, Are they not sign and symbol of thy division from Him ? Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can
meet. Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.”'
Well, then, this vision, since others have seen it, may be seen by you and me. Let us look for God in the future more earnestly than we have done in the past,— look for Him in vineyards and orchards and harvest-fields,—in the bright plumage of birds, and the delicate bloom of fruit, and the sweet gracefulness of flowers,—in the dense foliage of the forest, and the sparse heather of the moor,-in the rich luxuriance of fertile valleys, and the rugged grandeur of the everlasting hills,—in the merry dance of the rivulet, and the majestic tides of the ocean,-in the gay
colours of the rainbow, and the quiet splendour of the starry heavens, in the gentle radiance of the moon, and the gorgeous light of setting suns,
-in the clear azure sky, and the weird pageantry of clouds, in the snow-mantled wintry landscape, and the brilliant effulgence of a summer's noon,
—in the virgin loveliness of spring, and in the pensive fading beauty of autumn ;—let us look for Him with an earnest, eager, and unwearied gaze, till we see Him to be a God of wisdom as well as power, of love as well as sovereignty, of beauty as well as glory,
The Divine Fatherhood.
“TF there were no God,” said Voltaire, “it
I would be necessary to create one." By this, I suppose, he meant that men must have some object of worship; that they cannot avoid forming a conception of the Being, or Cause, or Force—however they may please to term itwhich they regard as the one great fact of the universe. The impossibility of dispensing altogether with religion was strikingly illustrated by Comte, the author of the Positive Philosophy. He rejected what he considered the fiction of a god, but supplied its place by the abstract idea of humanity, which he called the Grand Être. The cultus which he instituted in honour of this conception involved a doctrine of immortality, the practice of prayer, as well as other religious observances, and, above all, it included the tyranny of a despotic priesthood, who were to determine not only what common people should believe, but also the subjects with which thinkers and scientific investigators should be occupied. The religion of Comte has been well described by Professor Huxley as “ a sort of Roman Catholicism minus Christianity.”
The human heart, at any rate in its quieter and more sober moments, when it is resting from the rush of life, craves and demands a God. The universality of this yearning has been forcibly described by Max Müller in his lectures on the Science of Religion. “There was in the heart of man from the very first a feeling of incompleteness, of weakness, of dependence, of whatever we like to call it in our abstract language. We can explain it as little as we can explain why a newborn child feels the cravings of hunger or of thirst; but it was so from the first, and is even so now. Man knows not whence he comes, and whither he goes; he looks for a guide, a friend; he wearies for some one on whom he can rest; he wanis something like a father in heaven. In addition to all the impressions he receives from the outer world, there is a stronger impulse from within ; a yearning for something that should not come and go like everything else ;