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that as men became observant of the vast and diversified operations of the surrounding universe, they endowed it with divinity, and in the sun and moon, in stars and clouds, and lightning, in thunder, storm, and hail, they worshipped God. How this belief was supplanted by another in a personal Divinity resembling man, has not been philosophically shown. It may have been, figuratively speaking, by God's own voice appealing to the consciences of men. It" may be, that as man's young intellect expanded, the wisest of our race were followed in imagination after deathxuntil the world of spirits became peopled with angelic beings. Then would succeed the belief in God as one who ruled the spirit world as well as the material universe. This is a legitimate subject of study and research for scientific theologians, and the solution of the problem may some day serve as a further stepping-stone to the comprehension of His true nature.*
Be that as it may, a belief in a personal Deity did arise in the earliest times, first as a human being of a higher order, accompanied by a faith in many inferior gods, and in evil spirits in rebellion against the Highest.
Later on, it would appear, that as the capacity of man's mind enlarged, he found it possible to believe in a personal God, who was yet spiritual, and whom the heaven of heavens could not contain; and as this contemplation of His infinite Majesty would naturally have a tendency to withdraw men's thoughts from that nearer Providence which watches over earth and earthly things, and to rivet
* The reader is recommended to read the fourth, fifth, and sixth Chapters of Sir John Lubbock’s ‘Origin of Civilisation and Primitive Condition of Man' (Longmans), as bearing closely on this subject.
them upon the distant heavens, so it would be necessary that they should be reminded once more of His intimate relations with our race.
This we have seen was brought about by Christ and his immediate predecessors, who divested God of all mate rial attributes, proclaimed the Spiritual Father, to be worshipped, imitated, and beloved with all our soul, and served with all our strength. They, too, taught of man's immortality, and of the kingdom of heaven on earth, preparatory to the heavenly state hereafter, open to all alike, to Jew and Gentile, bond and free.
Subsequent pictures of Him, those which exist in our time, show that the human mind has once more deified the men whom He has honoured as the missionaries of his truth. Some, on the other hand, called materialists, seek to invest the universe itself with reasoning faculties, as we shall find when Nature forms the subject of our study, for the revelation of the Deity. Probably the agency which will correct these aberrations of religious vision, the beacon which will once more guide men to a clearer view of God, will be that dreaded “Science,” the knowledge of His natural phenomena and laws, the contemplation of creative and sustaining force, wielded by His own hand, guided by His own Will, which we now invite our readers reverently to explore.
SCIENTIFIC TEACHINGS CONCERNING THE
But it is a mission which has to be re-fulfilled again and again as human thought changes and human science develops, for if in any age or country the God who seems to be revealed by Nature, seems different from the God who is revealed by the then popular religion, then that God and the religion which tells of that God will gradually cease to be believed in. For the demands of Reason must be, and ought to be satisfied.
But that the religious temper of England for the last two or three generations has been unfavourable to a sound and scientific development of natural theology there can be no doubt. We have only, if we need proof, to look at the hymns-many of them very pure, pious, and beautiful—which are used at this day in churches and chapels by persons of every shade of opinion. There lingers about them a savour of the old monastic theory, that this earth is the devil's planet, fallen, accursed, goblin-haunted, needing to be exorcised at every turn before it is useful or even safe for man,-CANON KINGSLEY.
1. THE CONFLICT BETWEEN SCIENCE AND
ORTHODOXY. 2. AUTHORITIES.
The difficulties in the way of an exposition of the Divine nature derived from the observation of his works are far greater than they would seem to those who have not studied the subject for themselves, inasmuch as there are grave moral as well as intellectual obstacles to be surmounted. A great many orthodox believers will tell us that it is impossible to demonstrate the existence of the Deity in the universe, whilst others again maintain that the evidences of design are so overwhelming as to preclude any doubt on the subject. Strangely enough, both of these parties exact proofs from the scientific observer, which they would never think of requiring at the hands of those who base their faith on revelation; and both treat with ridicule and contempt any scientific hypothesis or theory which is not irrefutably proved by facts, whilst with the utmost complacency they will expect the scientific observer to give credence to recorded natural events totally at variance with all human experience, when they are required as the foundation or in support of some theological doctrine. The natural theologist, then, must explain everything, and must therefore be well read in physical science; but the course of study and observation requisite for the attainment of even a superficial knowledge of the laws and phenomena of the universe has a tendency to withdraw the thoughts from