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Do not stop to perplex yourself with questions about the Trinity. If God be like Jesus, if Jesus can pledge God, humanity has nothing more to fear. If Jesus had died cursing and raving against the faith He had preached; if He had died protesting that the Father had failed Him; if He had died calling down imprecations upon His murderers, I should have had no Gospel to preach. But it was not so; He died saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Into Thy hands I commend My spirit."
Jesus is the Soul of the universe. He is the Self of our selves, and the Life of our lives. There may be a universe of universes beyond with which we have nothing to do, but in the universe with which we have to do the ultimate is Jesus. Jesus came suffering. If He had come in great glory, I would have had no Gospel to preach to-day. He was born in a stable, cradled in a manger, lived a suffering life, and died a shameful death.
• O God, O kinsman loved, but not enough !
Whose lips drawn human breath !” The Cross of Calvary is the key to creation. We see God plainest in the pathos of life; everything noble rises there. Here we come near to the heart of things; here can experience rest and be satisfied; and we may say with the Quaker poet of America:
“A marvel seems the universe,
A miracle our life and death,
Around, above, beneath.
And longs for light whereby to see,
O, Father, unto Thee.”
WHAT IS MAN ?
What is man, that thou art mindful of him ?
-Psalm viii. 4-5. R. V.
-Rom. iii. 23.
TE have seen that the first of all questions is
What is God? When once a man has settled
this question for himself he is in possession of a philosophy of life and an imperative of conduct. The question, you observe, it not whether God is; that is beyond discussion. I have tried to show that every man believes in God even when he says he does not; but all men do not believe in the same view of the nature of God. Hence it is that upon a man's doctrine of God depends his view of himself and of the destiny of humanity as a whole. If he thinks meanly of the one, he thinks meanly of the other; if he thinks nobly of the one, he thinks nobly of the other; and when once he has come to affirm the Christian view of the nature of God—that He is Father, Saviour, Redeemer, Friend —then, and not till then, are we in a position to consider hopefully the question, What is man?
To that question many answers of a conflicting nature have been given, and are being given in the world of thought and action. Suppose I put the question to some medical student, “Can you, sir, tell me what is man?” and it is possible he may answer thus, “Man is a highly developed vertebrate, a more or less clever and successful ape, who has worsted his competitors in the struggle for existence, and stands as conqueror at the head of things.” I may put the question to yonder pessimistic philosopher, whose pity for humanity lacks nothing of our own, but whose confidence in the destiny of humanity is the accompaniment of his answer to this question, What is man? “I ask you, sir, what have you to say in answer to the Psalmist?” Listen to him. “Man is a vapour, a breath that passeth away; man is as a bubble upon the wave of causation, here to-day, gone to-morrow, gone for ever. Man is but one of nature's many experiments, and is to make way by-and-bye for another and perhaps a greater. Man has no destiny beyond that which he pictures to himself in his own fancy. In the words of that immortal pessimist, Omar Khayyam:
“The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Like Snow upon the Desert's dusty face,
Lighting a little hour or two--is gone.” I will put the question to this busy City man,“What have you to say in answer to the Psalmist's question; what would you say of yourself?” The answer might be, “I do not know; it takes me all my time to live; my horizon is narrow and contracted, and when I think I get no nearer to the solution of the great mystery."
“Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Funeral marches to the grave.”
Now, over against those answers set the words of the Psalmist, and with these ringing in our ears let us address ourselves anew to the statement of our position in the great order of the universe.
“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
There, on that statement of experience, I pin my faith. When we have answered the question What is God ? there is no room for pessimism in the statement of the question What is man? I therefore ask you to consider this answer of the Psalmist under the three following divisions: (1) Man is that part of the great scheme of things which is the best explanation of the whole. (2) He has some power of self-direction and self-control, and therefore of moral responsibility. He is a universe within a universe. (3) The destiny of humanity is bound up with that of Jesus Christ.
I. Man is that expression, that part of the great scheme of things which is the best explanation of the whole. As we have said before, I see no objection to the declaration that from one point of view God and Law and the Universe are one. Even to the Christian, God, self-limited, is the Universe. When we are trying to get to the secret of the Universe we are really striving after the explanation of the nature of God. Those two questions are one and the same. So, my friend, the medical student, when you go back to your laboratory, no matter what you may call the work in which you are engaged, it is nothing more nor less than this; In trying to find out the secret of phenomena, you are trying to discover the nature of God. Now, where can we look for that? I answer, in the microcosm of the great macrocosm of existence. You must read man to find out what God is. I am not afraid of anthropomorphism, provided you keep your hand firmly upon it. A French writer once sarcastically said, “In the beginning God created man in His own image, and ever since then man has been returning the compliment by making God in his." What else are we to do? You must read God by the highest of that whole which God has produced-humanity; and by that I do not mean to say you must read God by what you are, but by what you have been made capable of seeingand that is another thing. So, in spite of the evil, woe, sin, and imperfection of humanity, the great witness in the world for the nature of God is that which humanity has been made capable of seeing and being.
Once in the field of history our eyes have seen and our hands have handled the word of life. Humanity has not been kept in the dark as to what it is intended to be. We have looked once, and seen, and to-day all men, in this country, at any rate, whether they are Christian or Pagan, declare that in Jesus Christ we have seen that attainment of human nature which is worthy to be God, whether it is or not.
" Truth is within ourselves ;
It takes no rise from outward things,
Here I will hazard a proposition—that no man ever yet reasoned out his position in regard to truth, and especially theological truth. You never yet attained