« PrécédentContinuer »
And here we may catch a glimpse of the reason why evil was permitted. In the heart of God was a fund of mercy and tenderness, which, by the very perfection of His Nature, He longed to expend, but could find no scope for the exercise of it, except by the admission of evil into His universe. To be bounteous to creatures still retaining their integrity,-oh! this is a very inadequate effect of God's goodness. He can be bounteous, fatherly, infinitely loving, even to the unthankful and the evil,--to the vile, the degraded, the abominable ; this is the great glory of His character, which the Gospel has unveiled and exposed to the gaze of poor fallen
But mercy never could have poured itself forth, had there not been vessels of mercy to receive it. And vessels of mercy could never have existed, had there been no transgression-for righteous creatures need no mercy. We may certainly, therefore, recognize between God and man a natural reciprocity, which makes man necessary to God in something of the same sense, as an object of charity is necessary to a liberal and largehearted donor, deeply touched with the distresses of his fellow-men. Such an one cannot sit at home and lap himself in luxury; there is a sentiment of compassion in his heart, which drives him into the courts and alleys to seek out objects of relief. In like manner, God's fulness of compassion and bounty drives Him to the supply of man's necessities. He is the only Being who can satisfy those deep wants of the soul. And from His intrinsic goodness He longs to satisfy them.
My readers, have you been ever brought, by reflection upon your own experience, to the conclusion that your immortal spirit cannot be satisfied by any contentment which earth has to offer ? Then, when God is announced to you as Light and Love, you cannot but see a suitability in the message, which commends it to your reason ; your heart cannot but give back an echo, when this view of God first dawns on your apprehension, as the chords of Memnon's statue gave forth a musical sound, when it was smitten with the early sunbeam. It was no doubt an experience of this kind which many of the people went through, when Our Lord uttered in their hearing that sublime invitation ; "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” They were conscious of a thirst in the depths of their spirit; and He who offered thus solemnly to quench it must be God's Ambassador, charged with a message for them,-must be the Prophet and the Christ indeed. -But an ambassador only! Surely He claims a prerogative beyond this. Let us hear Him again. “If any man thirst, let Him come" (not unto My Father, but) “unto Me, and drink.” He Himself it is, who undertakes to quench the soul's deep thirst for Light and Love. Can He be less than the Infinite ? If we could suppose Him for a moment to be less, would not His words be an arrogant blasphemy? Most clear it is that He who speaks thus is God over all, blessed for
And if you will come to Him, my reader, laying aside utterly all self-righteousness and all self-will, you
shall know by experiment that the large pretensions which He here makes are no vain boasts. He shall give you the water whereof whosoever drinketh shall never thirst; and it shall be in
a well of water, “springing up into everlasting life.”
OF THE FILIAL RELATION OF MAN TO GOD, UPON WHICH
THE LOVE OF GOD IS FOUNDED.
“God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likes
ness.”-GEN. i. 26.
was man's prerogative, alone of all the creatures,
to be made “in God's image, after God's likeness.” This image and likeness man possesses in virtue of his being a son of God—a name which is never given to the lower creatures. There is always a likeness (either in feature, or in mind, or in both) between parents and children, which is the result of the child's being drawn out of the parents, and, being, in fact, a part of them. And what is the cause of the likeness of all men one to another--their likeness in the leading sentiments and affections of their nature, which the wise man touches upon, when he says, “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man”? Is it not this, that we had all “one father" originally;
“ are all drawn out of Adam by natural generation ? Hence it is that heart beats responsive to heart in every clime, and that such poets as Shakspere and Burns, who pourtray human passions in the fresh, simple colours of Nature, are appreciated not only in this country, but wherever their language is understood. The likeness follows in the train of a brotherhood, or, which is the same thing, of a common fatherhood.
We traced in our last Chapter the correspondence between God and man, in regard of man's cravings after the Infinite Truth and the Infinite Good, and God's fulness. We saw that God, being both Light and Love, is the only object suited to man's needs and desires. We now trace an affinity of a different character subsisting between these two parties, in regard of man's special likeness to God, which is the result of his filial relation. It is because man is a son of God, although a lost and a prodigal son, that he is capable of loying Him, and is exhorted to do so. Let us notice the resemblances to God which still linger in fallen Human Nature, and prove this sonship.
Man, then, resembles God in the constitution of his nature and in his natural powers.
1. In the constitution of his nature.-It is well known that the word us in the fiat for the creation of man, (“Let us make man in our image, after likeness,") refers to the plurality of Persons in the Godhead. Man is to be made, therefore, according to the words of this fiat, in the Image of the Trinity in Unity. If you
look into the constitution of his nature, you may expect to find there a three in one, and a one in