Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

known, either in precept, authority, or sanction. We have here a threefold Divine revelation, involved in our nature, requiring such a rule. The law itself reveals the righteousness of the Ruler; the instruction, His deep interest in the creature, for whose benefit it is given; and the maintenance of the law, His continual operation in the nature over which it rules.

If we consider all that is implied in the spiritual life of man, we shall see that a distinct knowledge of the relations borne by God to us must exist before the development of suitable emotions is possible. But as the human intellect is incapable of demonstrating the Divine existence, so, à fortiori, it cannot give us any instruction concerning the many phases of His nature, and of His relations to us. Thus, not only is an outward and direct revelation of Himself necessary, but by that necessity it is guaranteed, because not only is suitable emotion and action required as the first duty of a creature toward his Creator, but it is only by such subordination and obedience that the final purpose of the scheme of which he is the head can be attained. And this is all the more certain, as man by necessity of nature is under the dominion of law, which we have seen

requires a knowledge of command and obligation, neither of which can exist without the knowledge of the lawgiver.

But

The above conclusions have enhanced value, from the fact that the emotions and actions, both in the subject and object, are essentially personal, and therefore require a knowledge of the person towards whom they are exercised. I can only reverence, obey, love, and trust a person, and neither of these acts can be performed to one of whom I know nothing, whose very existence I am unable to prove. reverence, submission, trust, and love to God are at the foundation of every high and noble human character. For these principles and samples of highest human excellence there must be a sufficient reason: the greatest results cannot be without a cause; and in this case the primary element of the cause is the knowledge of a person whose nature and whose relations to me require every duty I can render Him. Inasmuch, therefore, as my nature requires this knowledge, and as my intellect cannot furnish it, there must be some side of my nature capable of receiving it, and which, therefore, the Creator has supplied.

As the intellectual life of man is awakened

and developed by the operation of the Creator and Upholder in the visible universe, so the spiritual life is awakened and developed by the direct operation of the Divine Spirit in and around its subjects. As the superiority of the intellectual over the animal life is seen, in that it employs and rules it, so the superiority of the spiritual over the intellectual is shown in the same manner. The evidence in proof of an intellectual life in man is the science, the philosophy, and learning at present existing, and the records of intellectual vigour in past times embalmed in books and other monuments of its power. In like manner we can turn to myriads, all through past time, who have been conscious of the spiritual life, who have declared its origin and nurture to have been as above described, and who have acknowledged it to be the cause of all the virtue which has improved and adorned themselves, and which made them the means of similar life and virtue in others. This is a series of facts of the highest historic authority, for not only have such cases been found in all ages, but they have been most numerous and most conspicuous where and when intelligence has been highest. The examples have been men of the

purest veracity, and have frequently occupied so prominent a place in the world that selfdeception has also been impossible. So that, if we accept the science of the ancients, we must much more accept their spiritual life; because. it is more numerously attested, and is seen to have had a wider and more effectual rule over the nature.

The subjects of this life, from Enoch to Noah, and from Zoroaster to Wesley, have been the reformers of the race. There is not one man who through the past centuries stands higher than the rest as a benefactor and saviour, who has not avowedly been the fruit of this spiritual life. It is important to remember this, especially as it is commonly passed by, and, either by accident or intention, is all but universally ignored. Nor should we forget that this is not the resurrection of a primeval fossil, but that the succession continues, and that we are able to trace the heroic self-sacrifice, labour, and suffering, which are the cause of all the moral and social improvement of our own times, to this life. So that not only is it a reality in nature, origin, and nurture, but it is also truly human, and the only perfecter of humanity.

It also follows

from the above that the giving of this life to man, and the consequent appointment of the means by which it is fostered and matured, must have been the ultimate purpose of the Creator in the whole design of production and maintenance, it being that to which all tended and in which all is realized. Every Divine revelation, then, whatever the form, must find its terminal operation in this life.

The spiritual life, according to all authentic history, follows the same order as all lower kinds, being the result of a former life. Here no more than elsewhere is there spontaneous generation. Adam at the first possessed it, and when by his sin he became spiritually dead, another human father of it was found, to whom the great Father of all 'gave to have life in Himself, like as the Father hath life in Himself.' He is the incorruptible seed, by which we are born again,—' The bread of God, who came down from heaven to give life to the world.' Here, therefore, we have the most direct and the most intimate revelation as an individual human necessity, which history confirms both as to its nature and operation.

The Apostle Paul speaks of the commencement of this life in himself as 'God revealing

« ÎnapoiContinuă »