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Lord and Giver of Life, in words which are not pantheism, but are the very deliverance from pantheism, because they tell us that that Spirit proceeds, not merely from a Deity, not merely from a Creator, but from a Father in heaven, and from a Son who is his likeness and his Word.
And from this ground Natural Theology must start, if it is ever to revive again, instead of remaining, as now, an extinct science. It must begin from the key-word of the text, “Your Father. As long as Natural Theology begins from nature, and not from God himself, it will inevitably drift into pantheism, as Pope drifted, in spite of himself, when he tried to look from nature up to nature's God. As long as men speculate on the dealings of a Deity or of a Creator, they will find out nothing, because they are searching under the wrong name, and therefore, as logicians will tell you, for the wrong thing.
But when they begin to seek under the right name—the name which our Lord revealed to the debased multitudes of Judæa, when he told them that not a sparrow fell to the ground without-not the Deity-not the Creator, but their Father; then, in God's good time, all may come clear once more.
This at least will come clear-a doubt which often presents itself to the mind of scientific men.
This earth-we know now that it is not the centre, not the chief body, of the universe, but a tiny planet, a speck, an atom among millions of bodies far vaster than itself.
It was credible enough in old times, when the earth was held to be all but the whole universe, that God should descend on earth, and take on him human nature, to save human beings. Is it credible now? This little corner of the systems and the galaxies? This paltry race which we call man? Are they worthy of the interposition, of the death, of Incarnate God of the maker of such a universe as Science has discovered ?
Yes. If we will keep in mind that one word 'Father.' Then we dare say Yes, in full assurance of Faith. For then we have taken
the question off the mere material ground of size, and of power; to put it once and for ever on that spiritual ground of justice and love, which is implied in the one word—Father.'
If God be a perfect father, then there must be a perpetual intercourse of some kind between him and his children; between him and that planet, however small, on which he has set his children, that they may be educated into his likeness. If God be perfect justice, the wrong, and consequent misery of the universe, however small, must be intolerable to him. If God be perfect love, there is no sacrifice-remember that great word—which he may not condescend to make, in order to right that wrong, and alleviate that misery. If God be the Father of our spirits, the spiritual welfare of his children may be more important to him than the fate of the whole brute matter of the universe. Think not to frighten us with the idols of size and height. God is a Spirit, before whom all material things are equally great, and equally small. Let us think of him as such, and not merely as a being of physical power and inven
tive craft. Let us believe in our Father in heaven. For then that higher intellect—that pure reason which dwells not in the heads, but in the hearts of men, will tell them that if they have a Father in heaven, he must be exercising a special providence over the minutest affairs of their lives, by which he is striving to educate them into his likeness; a special providence over the fate of every atom in the universe, by which his laws shall work together for the moral improvement of every creature capable thereof; that not a sparrow can fall to the ground without his knowledge; and that not a hair of their head can be touched, unless suffering is needed for the education of their souls.
LUKE VII. 16.
There came a fear on all : and they glorified God, saying,
That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.
VOU recollect to what the text refers? How
the Lord visited his people? By raising to life a widow's son at Nain. That was the result of our Lord's visit to the little town of Nain. It is worth our while to think of that text, and of that word 'visit, just now. For we are praying to God to remove the cholera from this land. We are calling it a visitation of God; and saying that God is visiting our sins on us thereby. And we are saying the exact truth. We are using the right and scriptural word.
We know that this cholera comes by no miracle, but by natural causes. We can more