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for evermore." Rather do we feel that we should degrade, not only the worlds, but also their builder and maker, were we to admit in our thought that they were godless things, moving at random, or by virtue of their own inherent blind material forces. A machine the material universe is, indeed; but how grand and glorious! How more than grand and glorious its great Creator!
Granted that the contemplation of things so vast and stupendous may make us keenly feel our comparative littleness, and tempt us, in the spirit of momentary doubt, to say, as the Psalmist once said, "Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?” But if we seek to remove that doubt by exalting man, so as to give him being and worth in himself, and apart from God, we do thus put God away from us. instead of bringing him near. We make man the center, and place God in the circumference yonder, instead of looking for him in the heart's core of our being. We do not realize that God is mindful of us, or that he visits us, so much from the fact that he dwells among the spheres, as from that other fact that the life, even of the worm that crawls in the dust and the insect that flits in the breeze, is derived from God, and all their activities are of him, so that without him the worm can no more crawl than the earth can move in its orbit. And as for man, his breath is in his nostrils, and without God he is nothing, and less than nothing, and vanity; but with him he is akin to the angels, and Jesus is his brother, and the Eternal Spirit is his Father. Thus, and thus only, can we feel that God careth for us. Not degrading is it to man to say of him. that he hath not life in himself, so that we say he is filled with the life of God. Only do we degrade him, and put God away from him, when we seek to invest him with a sufficiency that is of himself; for it was, and is, true that
"he that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Never before did. Paul stand on an eminence so high as when he renounced himself, and said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Never was man more truly exalted than he who said, "Lord, thou knowest that I am in thy hands as clay in the hand of the potter." Never was Jesus more truly great than when he said, "Of my own self I can do nothing." Better and more honorable it is to be a machine, instinct with the life of God, or a puppet in the hand of the loving Father, than to be a mere "barnacle upon a dead universe," or a being whose life is a vapor, yet claiming to be the center of his own life, and assigning to God a position in the remote circumference, with nothing more or better to do than look on and see what antics and fooleṛies the conceited ego can perform. In point of fact, man, so far as his physical organization is concerned, is a machine. What is our body but a curiously wrought and wonderful machine, wrought by the hand of the Divine Architect? What more is it than “a harp of a thousand strings?" And if we ask, What is man without God? we need but ask in turn, What was man ere God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life? And we shall have the answer: Dust he was; organized dust. A machine he was, fearfully and wonderfully made, indeed; but no more than a machine, dead as a coach wheel, and motionless as a marble statue. But when God breathed into him the breath of life, then motion came as the formula of his existence, and all his movements and activities are due to the life that came from God. That life is not his own, and it exists, not in himself, but in God. He is now, in his body, a living machine, whose movements are in part subjected to the will and the intelligence that God has communicated to him. We say
in part, because it is plain enough that by far the greatest and most important movements of the mechanism of the body are independent of, and beyond the control of our volition. The movements of the alimentary canal, the functions of the kidneys, the circulation of the blood, the act of respiration, all these are involuntary, and not under the control of the will; and yet on them the continuance of our physical organization depends. They flow spontaneously and irresistibly from the life that God has breathed into us. In fact, only a few of the movements of this curious machine are subjected to the will, or under the control of the mind. Our affections, whence come they? Why love we this, or hate we that? Why is the rose pleasant and agreeable, and the thistle repulsive? And our thoughts; come they of the powers that we have in ourselves, or of those that God has given us? Cast they are in our own minds; molded and conditioned they are in this mechanism of the body, and colored with its hues; and as such they bear our image and superscription, and are ours. But what are they? We can neither think, nor stop thinking, of ourselves. So that every motion of our powers of thought is a communicated motion, whose ultimate cause must be found in the fountain of all life and movement; for, indeed, what have we that we have not received? and what are we except what the Creator has made us? Wherein, then, does man differ from a machine? Answer: The machine is dead; man is alive. The forces that move a machine are external; those that move man are internal. The machine has no knowledge; man is gifted with intelligence. A machine has no consciousness; man is endued with conscious being. A machine has no choice or will; man has a thousand preferences, plans and purposes. In short, a machine is what man was before God breathed into his nostrils the breath
of life; man is what he became when God made him a living soul. And yet man has nothing which is not of God, and in God. His being, his knowledge, his powers of thought and motion, and all his movements and activities are not original, but derived; they are communicated, and not independent of themselves; for it is "God who giveth us life, and breath, and all things." The machinery of the body wears out, or is broken, and "the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God, who gave it." Where, then, is praise, and where is blame? Precisely in the mind of vain man, who imagines that he is something, when he is nothing; and who thinks himself qualified to sit in judgment upon himself and his fellow-men. It proceeds from our fancied knowledge of good and evil, and is not therefore even a normal condition of the human mind. It is the badge of the transgressor. It is gained by an attempt to project ourselves out of God, and to act on our own account without him and in spite of him, an effort in which we must always fail. God's attitude toward us is one, not of real praise or blame, but of everlasting love and kindness. The rule by which he walks toward us ever is, "Behold, I will do thee good, and not evil." He saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good, and if we could see as God sees, we should perceive that the sharpest pains we bear and the keenest sufferings that we endure are all good. In bitter forms they come. Baptized in tears they may be, but they are good. The Saviour, who knew no sin, condemned not even the guilty woman caught in the act of adultery, for well did he know that his was a mission of grace, and not of condemnation. Our first parents partook of the forbidden fruit, and then they saw that they were naked, and were ashamed and afraid. But they were naked before. The nakedness was no evil in itself, nor did they
see it so until their minds were darkened by transgression. And so of all evil. There is nothing evil in itself, for there is nothing that has existence in itself, except God, and he is good. Yea, the only good. "There is none good but one, that is God." Evil is so by relation only, not in essence, and it appears to us evil, only because we do not see it as it is; but only as it is related to us. But more of this at another time. At present we wish only to say of this matter of blame, that man has a moral sense, but it is blind in itself, and is always exercised under the guidance of the understanding. Now, it so happens that the understanding never takes cognizance of evil until it has been darkened by sin. The result is, that we err fuil as often in our moral judgments as in any other direction. Never did Paul think himself more worthy of praise than when he persecuted the church; and never was blame so freely bestowed as when he gave himself, with all his powers, to the promotion of the Gospel of peace. And so it is, more or less, with us all. Imagining that we have arrived to the condition of gods, knowing good and evil, and that we are able to sit in judgment, we often glory in our shame, and fancy that we have great merit, where we have none. We praise others, who merit nothing, and censure without stint or measure, where nothing but good was done or intended. And so the world's best benefactors have been most often crucified, and the great army of martyrs have died victims to the perverted moral judgments of men and their propensity to blame. On the other hand, villainy itself has been praised and canonized. And all this in the face of the warning, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," and "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?" But the Divine Being contemplates the sinner with an unchanging benignity that bends over him ever with the