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only were errors multiplied out of all proportion to the truth, but important truths were so overlaid with error as to be practically lost. And judging from what has taken place when important religious truth has been lost by any people, it can only be recovered by the testimony of other men, or by the disinterment of their own buried records. So far as we know, there has been no repetition of Divine revelation. And this seems to arise from the fact that in all the foundations and means of individual fellowship, men have not been treated as isolated units, but as one great family or race. Although in many cases the revelation came to one or a few, yet it was understood that it was of no individual, private, or temporary application, but that it was a showing by the unchangeable God of His mode and reason of acting, who in a similar case would repeat the action. Thus it became a rule of life to His creatures, who are as much bound to conform their actions to His in the spiritual and moral sphere as in the physical, and can no more escape the moral and spiritual consequences of ‘rushing on the thick bosses of His buckler,' than they can escape the force of gravitation if they throw themselves from a mountain precipice.
In the great
The operation of this family or race union, however, is not confined to our relations to God, and to our moral and spiritual interests, but it runs through the whole complexity of our secular life. By it we are families, cities, nations; by it all guilds and fellowships of manufactures, trade, politics, learning, and science are produced. Nor are these associations adventitious inventions which have no integral connection with our life, but they enter into its essence, so that the merchant cannot exist without his customers, nor the manufacturer without his workmen. associations of learning and science, every one, in his own particular line, has to contribute to the common stock. These associations not only exhibit a community of action, but a community of enjoyment and suffering, so that when the family is dishonoured every member suffers shame, and when the nation is weakened every man in it has diminished strength. Not only are these unquestionable facts, but they exhibit an order of life from which all our individual and social improvement has come.
It is further evident that nations can only attain to full liberty and abundant wealth as they draw towards each other in commercial and friendly intercourse, each one contributing to the other's good, and receiving back againas, in the nature of things, must be—an accumulated benefit. When such union becomes universal, the earth will yield her full increase, and God, even our own God, will bless us, because all obstruction to His beneficial action will be removed, and His purpose in bringing a race of brothers into existence will be accomplished. But we are unable to conceive of improvement, except on the most limited scale, from the only alternative to this order of life, -. a state of isolation.
In isolation, each individual would be separated from the past, could not influence the future, nor gather instruction and strength from his contemporaries, but, like the brutes, must pass on from generation to generation without improvement, and perish without memorial. In such a state there must be the entire absence of the elevating influence of the variety in the unity, which is so fruitful a source of beauty and strength now.
While, therefore, the race relation is the bond and glory of humanity in everything secular, we must expect that in the spiritual life, which is the crown of man, that same relation will be conspicuous, and that by it the new Lifegiver will bear His relations to the whole family. It is from this reciprocal inter-relation of the whole race, and from its connection with Him as the head, that the power has come by which, after apostasy and the consequent loss of the moral influence of the Divine presence in the consciousness, He has called forth a mighty restoring power, from the remaining germs of truth concerning God and our relations to Him, by means of individual instruction and quickening. Sometimes this has been done with nothing but those germs, and in other cases with the concurrence of special operations of supreme rule in His own people and in the material sphere around them.
An example of the latter class is the case of Daniel's three friends, who were strengthened to heroic fidelity, and then experienced the most conspicuous display of Divine favour and fellowship, which compelled the impious king, who had assembled the wealth and power of his empire to witness his own assumption of Divine honour and prerogatives, to 'speak and say, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach,
, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and have changed the king's word and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god except their own God.' Here, before the most august assembly which at that time could have been gathered in the whole world, was not only an acknowledgment of the deliverance of these men, but also of a previous Divine strength given them to disobey the king's word; and this was uttered with such a conviction of the overpowering reality and importance of the entire transaction, that instead of anger at the frustration of his purpose, he blesses God that he had been thwarted, and that his purpose was altogether changed. But we must look at the influence of this Divine intervention not merely on the mind of the king, but on the whole empire there represented. They received the decree which proclaimed the supremacy of the God of the Jews, and required universal respect to Him, instead of the new god the assembly was called to inaugurate. But from their immediate rulers and leaders, the people would further learn, that these Jews knew the Creator and Ruler of the world as their God; that in the confidence of this knowledge they had dared, notwithstanding the penalty, to refuse worship to the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar