Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

days, the present and future states were believed to differ, not in kind, but in degree; and that is probably the truth. It is in the description of heaven that the beautiful poetry and imagery of the East shines forth so conspicuously: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall

awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting
shame and contempt. And they that be wise shall shine
in the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn

many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. ...
Do men gather grapes of thorns and figs of thistles ? ....
I am the true vine and my Father is the husbandman.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down

and cast into the fire. ...
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an house-

holder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard,”

and each having done his duty according to his opportunities, the householder gives to all the same remuneration. “ The kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far

country, who called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods ... to every man according to his several abilities.”

To each of those who had put his money to the best uses he said:

“ Well done thou good and faithful servant . . . enter thou

into the joy of thy Lord ;"

but to the one who had secreted his money and failed to employ it usefully he said :

“ Thou wicked and slothful servant. ...
Cast

ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. .
And these” (the wicked) “shall go into everlasting punish-

ment, but the righteous into life eternal.”

Again, the kingdom of heaven is a condition of gradual growth; not as some believe, an ambrosial bath into which the foulest may plunge, and cleanse themselves in an instant from the effects of all their sins. It is:

“Like a grain of mustard seed, which when it is sown in the

earth is less than all the seeds that be in the earth, but when it is sown it groweth up and becometh greater than all the herbs.”

[ocr errors]

And it affords occupation for every kind of living soul ; for every accomplishment cultivated here below:

“In my Father's house are many mansions," where worldly distinctions cease, even the most intimate that appertains to the flesh : “ For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in

marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."

So, when we attempt to trace the conception of the Deity as He is portrayed in the teachings of the later prophets and of Jesus of Nazareth, and in the example of his pure and self-denying life, we find it far more exalted and truly divine than any we have met with in the utterances of the earlier sages; and His purely spiritual nature renders it impossible to regard Him as a corporeal being. We can no longer see God, for we are not "pure in heart”; but we may feel His presence and study His attributes. Let us, however, before passing to more recent, but less noble

conceptions of the Deity, seek to limn one faint outline of His heavenly Majesty:

He is the sole omnipotent Creator, the Lawgiver, the Judge, the universal King. Heaven is His throne; the earth His footstool. To Him alone is worship due; His very name is Holy. He is the God of Jew and Gentile, the Father of the human race; all human souls belong to Him, the proud and lowly, the rich and poor, captive and free alike:

66 And all creatures are his care,
Not a bird that cleaves the air
Falls unnoticed.”

Ever active do we find Him, ever blessing; but exacting for Man’s welfare a large return for all His gifts so lavishly bestowed. Vice is His great abhorrence, and indolence a curse; but when to those are added false appearance and hypocrisy; when selfish and ambitious men attempt to shroud themselves in mystery beneath a sacred garb, then are the vengeful warnings of Jehovah thundered forth once more with vehemence in human ears.

The penalty for blasphemy is increased manifold, and for a brief unhappiness on earth and then annihilation, is substituted the eternal torture of an ever-burning hell.

Still, as a rule, the Deity described by Jesus and the later prophets is benignant as we find Him just. Bearing long with sin and ever leaning to the side of mercy, He who through Christ enjoined forgiveness to our erring and repentant brethren, times without number, surely will extend His leniency to His children. But not alone the Deity it is who claims our adoration, not alone the Father

who attracts us to His feet; the heaven in which He dwells, whereof the gates stand open to His mortal children, now no longer mortal, this, too, presents a happy and alluring aspect. No sensuous abode as that of Mahomet, with carnal pleasures to beguile an indolent eternity; no grim Walhalla with its fierce mailed heroes, the kind of guardian angels whose tutelage our warriors of to-day appear to recognise and court; no hunting-grounds, the simple redskin's paradise ; not any one of these: It is a home “of many mansions,” with occupations for each liberated spirit in strict accordance with its powers and capabilities. No men nor women there, but souls with rising powers; no earthly cliques nor castes, but only heavenly distinctions and a joyful service of a perfect God.

V.

THE TRINITY.

“Jehovah, Father, Spirit, Son,
Mysterious Godhead! Three in One!....
Three Persons equally Divine,
We magnify and love."-CHURCH PSALTER AND HYMN BOOK.

“ All-seeing God I 'tis thine to know

The springs whence wrong opinions flow. . .
Who with another's eye can read,
Or worship by another's creed ?”–Rev. Thos. Scott.

In conformity with the intention already expressed, we will endeavour in our efforts to portray the Trinitarian view of the Deity, to avoid, as much as possible, entering into sectarian controversies, and with that object we shall eschew creeds, catechisms, and professions of faith, and will draw our materials from the sacred hymns of the people. Nor do we intend to confine ourselves to those of any particular Christian denomination, but excluding for the present the Roman Catholics, to whose conception of the Deity it is proposed to devote a separate chapter, we will avail ourselves of the hymns used by the Church of England, the Independents, the Baptists, and even in a few instances by the Unitarians.

Certain broad principles, however, in regard to the worship of the Trinity must be affirmed ; and one of those is that although in his confession of faith the Trinitarian

« НазадПродовжити »