« הקודםהמשך »
need the Father's calming presence, the Father's reassuring word; for not a little of the excited anxiety about salvation, which we are told is so urgent an affair, is not trust in God, is not faith at all, but restless doubt, nervous selfishness, and pitiable fear. The great cry of the hour is “win salvation;" but the gospel we need is win thyself,—win God.” If we loved God more, and trusted Him, we should leave more to Him, and should never never think that His pity, or help, or saving love, depended on any thoughts, or feelings, or any poor opinions of ours.
There is one other time when this call of the Unseen Presence will come home nearer to us than ever ;—when the end draws nigh. We shall need all our strength, all our self-possession then. The poor weak trembling world has made that ending seem life's crowning catastrophe, but it really is life's final victory. O let me alone when I try that great experiment; let everything be calm and strong; let nothing be done to break the charm of this heavenly word, “So the Lord alone did lead him.”
THOU ART MY GOD.
T is a great thing to believe in God at all, -in any God,
whether far off or near, powerful or weak, merciful or terrible: for, in time, the poorest faith may grow from more to more: and the belief that only began in abject fear may end in unspeakable joy. It is a greater thing to believe in a God who is “not far from every one of us,” who is connected with all the forms of life we see around us—with all the phenomena of the outward world,--who can be seen in every one of these laws that govern us in Nature,
“Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky:"The God of the meadows, and the hills, and the streams, and the trees, and the fruits,—this is a greater thing, for in this faith a man may “walk with God” and hold fellowship with the Eternal King. But it is a greater thing still, to connect Him with the human mind, to see Him, not only as the mighty God afar off, not only as the Living God nigh at hand in Nature, but as the God of man, "in whom we also live, and move, and have our being.” It is this that brings Him very near to us; for it is this that connects Him with our conscious life, and makes Him indeed a God “near at hand and not afar off.” But even this faith is not perfect till it regards Him as actually interested in our welfare, who not only made us but who is “mindful” of us: so that we can trace Him in the history of the world, in the life of nations, and in the mind of man:-a God who not only thunders in the Heavens but who bends down to whisper to His poor struggling children on the earth,-a God who not only renews the forces of Nature, and makes the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice, but who renews our strength, and offers to lead us on, even to the end.
And yet, even beyond this, there is a faith, which is in truth the flower of all trust, -a faith which is not content with merely believing in a God; which cannot rest in the thought of Him as active in the outward world; which is not even satisfied with the thought of Him as the God of humanity, the leader of men ; which needs, for its full and complete expression, the cry of an intense personal trust, —the joyous, strong, confiding, ardent cry of the Hebrew poet, -"Thou art my God." It is very
instructive to observe that this cry was never more vivid, more realizing, more passionately personal than with the ancient Hebrews. Indeed, it was the very life and soul of their religion. The Psalms, though extremely varied in their character and worth, are full of it, and for this reason they will never grow old, but will ever be as fresh, as charming, as exhilarating, as full of religious power, as they are now. The writers seem to know no limit to their ardent confidence in a present God who is indeed all their own; and even in the time of trouble they shout for joy, as men who in their time of need see the face of the deliverer nigh at hand.
Indeed, this is the life of all true religion, and is the glory of all bright and cheerful trust. It is the root of all piety, the life of all worship, the beauty of all praise, the depth and strength of all trust, and the beginning and the end of all devotion either of the heart or the life. Let a man only come to this, and be able to say out of a full heart “Thou art my God,” and he needs no more. has all he needs, in himself. He can rejoice with the rest in the worship of the congregation, and the fellowships of the place of prayer, but he is not dependent upon them; he is not banished from God when he is deprived of these; for he carries his music in his heart, and has his priest, his altar, and his sacraments in the soul:a precious truth, a truth that is the very life and soul of any religion that is to be more than a thing of words and forms; and yet a truth which the Christian world is in danger of losing; a truth which the Christian world has already half lost; a truth which it is one of the great duties of all witnesses for God to try to save.
Here is the very heart of the testimony of those who, in these days, combine the spiritual power of living religious trust in God and the intellectual power of free and honest search for truth : and here we may see how their testimony, even in its negations, marks an advance and not a lapse in true religious life. We are told that there is a vast, an unspeakable, a vital difference between the present and the past so far as regards the relationship of God to His children. We are told that 1,800 years ago, or 2,000, or 3,000 years ago, God came so nigh to men that He could speak to them,—that He did speak to
them, so as to tell them the truth about the highest things, and give them an infallible word for all the ages. We are told that men then were indeed led by God: but that, ever since, silence has reigned where the voice once echoed, and that now God speaks to His children no
If it were true, it would be terrible: if it were true, who of us could hope to find Him ? if it were true, what man of us could dare look up to Heaven and cry, — “Thy art my God”?
But consider it, whether it is true. How did God speak to man 1,800, or 2,000, or 3,000 years ago ? Surely he did so, by suggesting to them wise, or beautiful, or hopeful thoughts,—by answering their cry for light, and by shining on their hearts and minds as they were able to receive the heavenly rays. How did he speak to David, to Isaiah, to Hosea, to Jesus, to John, to Paul? Jesus himself tells us ;-he says,
" the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself.” From whom then did he speak them? From God, he said, from “ The Father that dwelleth in me.” And why should we suppose that the generous Being to whom Christ taught us all to pray,
Our Father in heaven,” has withdrawn Himself from us, and that He has ceased to speak to His children as He once did, when they sought Him in the days of old ? If it was God who taught wise and good men thousands of years ago, who is it that is teaching them now? 'If it was God who put great thoughts into men's minds, and noble words into men's mouths in ancient times, who brings such thoughts and words to us to-day? If it was the Father in heaven who spoke to His children then, who is