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We have seen that man, by the constitution of his nature, is capable of fellowship with his Maker; that our body is fed by His providence, our intellect exercised only on His operations ; and that our power of action can only find remunerative employment when used after His pattern.
But we have found more in man than these outward sides of his natureinstincts which draw him to his Maker and his fellow-man, which are the regal side of himself, and which consciously need regulation and adjustment, that he may live a satisfactory life to himself, and that he may fit in with his fellows in the complex whole of human society. Hence the need of some means of communion with his Maker, on whom, by necessity of nature, he depends, and from whom alone he can obtain the moral counsel and support necessary to a full life. We have seen that this is not only necessary in the disasters and crises of life, but also in its common experiences, so that constant disposition and power to do right may be possessed. Hence constant Divine fellowship is necessary, and has been necessary from the beginning, but is more evidently so now that the inherent weakness of the nature has been manifested, and that it has acquired a tendency to deteriorate so fearfully, as all history shows. That man is dear to his Maker has been shown by his endowments, by his directly Divine origin, and by the abundant provision for all his need, prepared and stored through long prior ages. We have therefore inferred that such help as a father gives his son would be given to him by God. And we have seen that the revelation which he requires must come by unquestionable certification from Him who made, upholds, and rules all things, of which his senses will be able to testify; that every view which it presents of the Divine nature must be in harmony with that nature as elsewhere revealed, and that it must accord with our relations to Himself and to one another ; and that any professed revelation lacking either of these sources of certainty could not have authority with us.
The former grounds of assurance must be expected in all those outward communications which are intended for all, and which, by Divine authority, are binding upon all. But we have seen also that man is capable of a spiritual life which has been attested in all ages, which commences by a direct Divine operation in the soul, and is sustained by continuous conscious communion with God. This inward operation, although distinct from the outward revelation, yet is always in harmony with it, and employs it as the means and authority of its own increase. This, however, can only be known to the individual soul, and is not an authority to others, except in its fruits. In the spiritual life, therefore, we not only found the necessity of a direct Divine revelation, but we saw it in actual operation in each case.
This led us to look for some pattern of the mode and measure of this most direct intercommunion between God and man, which we found in the incarnate Son of God, who had been promised from the beginning. In Him we found human dependence and feebleness united with unlimited sufficiency and supremacy in one person, attested by the observation of all who knew Him, and by the mighty effects which His life produced on the world. We also saw that He bore a peculiar relation to man, by which He became the means and the pledge of a similar indwelling to man.
From this we concluded that this wonderful condescension of God to man could not have been an abrupt and isolated act; and further, that all preparatory Divine condescension must have sprung from this, and been in harmony with it.
Accordingly, we found that from the time of Adam there had been outward revelation at irregular intervals and of incomplete character, of the same class, and pointing to this perfect manifestation of God in the flesh. At the same time the inward operation was sufficient to produce god-like men, who were not only patterns for their own ages of perversity and failure, but for all time.
We saw that the relation in which the incarnate God stood was not to a part of the race but to the whole, we therefore concluded that we ought to find His inward operation among all nations. Accordingly, we saw men under a Divine impulse, from time to time calling their fellows back to a natural life, thus
establishing the universality of this quickening power in men, and so by every successive step showing more fully the necessity and the certainty of a Divine revelation. We then endeavoured to ascertain the true relation in which the incarnate God stands to our race, and found it to be an integral and fundamental one, as shown by the need of a Divine indwelling, and by the original breadth of our nature, capable of furnishing a Ruler to the universe. Here is most conspicuously seen the reality and the necessity of a plenary union with God. We saw all through, that this met the need of individual and social man, that without this he could not be pure and good, but was fallen and falling. When we came to consider the consummated Incarnation, everything was in harmony with our previous conclusions. Men expected Him, heaven heralded, and God attested Him, while His full operation recovered the nations; and after His gospel had been perverted and buried, He gave it back again to the world in all its pristine power to work among men, as at the present day, a glorious reformation.
In such a discussion as this, we must start with the fact that man has a religious nature.