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Title: What and Where is God? - A Human Answer to the Deep Religious Cry of the Modern Soul
Author: Swain, Richard la Rue
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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WHAT AND WHERE IS GOD?

      *      *      *      *      *

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS
ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
TORONTO

      *      *      *      *      *


WHAT AND WHERE IS GOD?

A Human Answer to the Deep Religious Cry of the Modern Soul

by

RICHARD LARUE SWAIN, PH.D.



New York
The Macmillan Company
1920
All rights reserved

Copyright, 1920,
By the Macmillan Company

Set up and electrotyped. Published, October, 1920



  TO THE LOVED ONES
  OF MY FATHER'S FAMILY

  AND

  TO THE DEAR ONES
  OF MY OWN FAMILY

  SO TRULY A PART OF THESE PAGES
  I GRATEFULLY
  _DEDICATE THIS BOOK_



PREFACE


The foreground of this book has largely to do with the answering of
vital questions that have sprung from the suffering souls of men and
women with whom the author has been sympathetically associated.
Considerable attention has been given to the natural sequence of these
questions in order that the answers might form a more or less orderly
line of discussion. While the method of answering a particular set of
questions does not permit of a strictly logical treatment of the themes,
yet in the background there is a definite and concrete picture of God,
of the universe, and of man as he is enfolded in God's world.

The chapters on immortality contain a further discussion of God, man,
and the universe as they move on in endless time. To know "what and
where" God is, it is necessary to understand how man and the universe
exist in God, and what God purposes to achieve through them.

If we are to reach people's minds, their questions are of supreme
importance because they show where the mind is focused. The average
person can, as a rule, proceed no farther with a subject until his main
difficulty is removed. Therefore, we have preferred the question to the
natural division of the subject, believing that the reader would be able
to see the logic that is beneath it all.

The chapters on the Bible are not closely related to the rest of the
book, but as the Scriptures contain the "specifications" and
"blue-prints" from God, it seemed important to include a description of
how we must approach them if we are not to misread their spiritual
content.

Though the material of this volume has been given in extemporaneous
addresses, yet no part of it has been reduced to writing until now. Its
appearance in book form is in response to many requests. Especially
helpful has been the encouragement of Professor Douglas Clyde Macintosh
of Yale University who has kindly read the manuscript and made valuable
suggestions.

                                                              R. L. S.

  306 Golden Hill,
    Bridgeport, Conn.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I                                                         PAGE

  LOSING GOD, OR THE HONEST ATHEIST                                    1

    This chapter is a case study showing how false experiences
    of religion and erroneous conceptions of God may result in
    agnosticism or atheism.


  CHAPTER II

  HOW SCIENCE SAVES RELIGION, OR MODERN KNOWLEDGE AND RELIGION        39

  Introduction                                                        39
    1. What is God?                                                   43
    2. Who is God?                                                    48
    3. Where is God?                                                  53
    4. What does God do?                                              62
    5. If the Ancients made their gods, how do we know that
       we are not making our God?                                     71
    6. May we not be communing with a mere idea?                      73


  CHAPTER III

  DOES MAN HAVE A SOUL, AND WHAT IS HIS PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE?        75

    1. What is man?                                                   75
    2. Who is man?                                                    77
    3. Would the absence of man cripple God?                          84
    4. What could an infinite God care for such a little speck?       87
    5. Is not socialism the best religion there is?                   90


  CHAPTER IV

  DOES GOD HAVE A BODY, AND COULD HE BECOME A MAN?                   104

    1. Introductory statement                                        104
    2. The idea of the Trinity and how it came about                 106
    3. Was Jesus God or a good man only?                             113
    4. Can modern psychology any longer believe in the
       Deity of Jesus?                                               116
    5. Where does Jesus belong in the religious, social and
       thought worlds?                                               132
    6. Can God die?                                                  135


  CHAPTER V

  LOSING THE SENSE OF IMMORTALITY                                    142

  A general statement                                                142
    1. The contagion of doubt                                        144
    2. The inability to make a religious use of modern knowledge     146
    3. The loss of a satisfying conception of the future life        147
    4. The growing habit of classifying the future with things
       unknown and unknowable                                        148
    5. An inadequate conception of the kingdom of God                150
    6. We automatically lose the assurance of the future when we
       lose the reality of the present                               153


  CHAPTER VI

  FINDING THE SENSE OF IMMORTALITY                                   157

  How shall we find the assurance of immortality?                    157
    1. We automatically find the assurance of the future
       when we find the reality of the present                       157
          Some reasons why the quest for reality is not more
                frequently and earnestly undertaken.
            a. The moral failure of Christians                       158
            b. Because the average Christian cannot answer
               technical questions                                   159
            c. Antiquated forms irritating to sceptics               162
            d. The provincialism of sceptics                         164
    2. Equal striving for spiritual and material things is
       necessary                                                     166
    3. The final step in the effort to know God                      173
    4. Conscious of the existence of God, we become certain of
       immortality                                                   176


  CHAPTER VII

  WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHETHER WE BELIEVE IN IMMORTALITY
  IF WE LIVE AS WE SHOULD IN THIS LIFE?                              182

    1. How can one live as he should?                                182
    2. The difference in social service                              183
    3. The difference in personal preparation                        186


  CHAPTER VIII

  HOW SHALL WE CONCEIVE OF THE FUTURE LIFE?                          193

    1. Its relation to the present constitution of things            193
    2. Where is heaven?                                              196
    3. Will there be a Holy City?                                    198
    4. Will there be music?                                          201
    5. Shall we meet our loved ones?                                 201
    6. Shall we see God?                                             204
    7. Will there be burdens to bear in heaven?                      205


  CHAPTER IX

  LOSING THE BIBLE TO FIND IT                                        207

  If the Bible contains errors, how do we know that any of
        it is true?                                                207
  A general statement                                                207
  The Method of Finding God's Word
    1. The story of Creation                                         212
    2. The story of the Garden                                       220
    3. The Bible stories in general                                  223
    4. The laws of Israel--moral and ceremonial                      224
    5. The Book of Job                                               226


  CHAPTER X

  LOSING THE BIBLE TO FIND IT (Continued)                            232

  The method of finding God's Word (Continued)
    1. The Psalms                                                    232
    2. The prophets in general                                       235
    3. Jonah                                                         241
    4. The New Testament in general                                  247
    5. The Book of Revelation                                        250



WHAT AND WHERE IS GOD?



CHAPTER I

LOSING GOD, OR THE HONEST ATHEIST

    _Why does God leave His very existence in doubt by forever hiding
    Himself?_

    _If there were a God would He not make Himself known in such a way
    that no one could possibly doubt His existence?_

    _Why should we be expected to love and obey a God whose existence
    is still a subject of discussion?_

    _Could a righteous and loving Father leave any of His children in
    doubt of His existence?_


While I was dining one day with a young minister and his wife, the
latter disclosed to me her religious state of mind. Said she:

"I have no God! They have taken Him away and I do not know where to find
Him. My childhood conception of a Man-God on a throne in heaven is
gone--and I think rightly gone; but I have nothing to take its place. I
hear them speak of an immanent God; of a God who fills all nature. And I
have no objection to this except that it brings no relief. Nature is so
inexpressibly vast and complex that, to my mind, a God who fills all
nature is so infinitely big and spread out that I can neither know Him
nor love Him. He is altogether too attenuated for me; besides, this
makes Him so much everywhere that He seems to be nowhere. Here I am,
without a God, working myself nearly to death in a great Church; and my
heart is breaking for a Father to whom I can go, as I once did, with all
_my_ hopes and fears. Moreover, all my young women friends feel as I do.
We often speak of this among ourselves without knowing where to turn for
relief."

The distressing experience of this minister's wife is more common than
many think. With _her type_ of mind it was inevitable that she should
experience doubt while passing from the crude to the mature. Being
bright, consecrated, and sincere she had simply hastened the crisis.
That the Church is not always present to take care of its own passengers
when they arrive at these way-stations is the greater pity; because
representatives of various spiritual inns will be sure to meet every
incoming train. And if the Church is neglectful of its spiritual
pilgrims, it compels them to spend their night of doubt in the depot or
on a bench in the park exposed to the tender mercy of religious fakers.
Were the difficulties of this minister's wife met, it would be a great
blessing to her and to thousands of other troubled souls; and at the
same time it would immeasurably enrich our common Christian life.

Because of our newly acquired knowledge of the physical universe
multitudes, both without and within the Church, are asking _what_ God is
and _where_ He is that they may find Him.

The poverty of faith and confusion of ideas concerning God were recently
brought _to_ light by Professor Leuba in his questionnaire. Many seem to
think there is no place for God in their conception of the universe.
Having no longer a satisfying idea of God, the thought of Him is fading
from their minds. And while some rejoice in their scepticism, others
deeply regret a waning faith.

All this only proves that the world is over-ripe for a finer conception
of God and His universe; and that a better and more definite idea must
be obtained, or doubt will run into positive unbelief. Modern learning
is thought by many to be particularly hard on faith. Some of us,
however, have found the world of modern knowledge more congenial to
faith and much superior to the old unscientific world as a place in
which to live the simple Christian life. This better vision should be
given to the people with all possible speed. They should be taught to
see that as boulevards and steel bridges are superior to mud roads and
dangerous fords, so the new Christian highway is better than the old.
Nevertheless, new knowledge in certain directions does present grave
difficulties for those who retain crude conceptions of God and erroneous
views of His relation to the forces of nature that envelop us. Until we
do the work that our times demand of us, even Christians may not hope to
remain immune from the devastating influences of doubt. There is a deep
cry in the modern soul that must be met.

While our hope of knowing God rests on His immanence yet the idea of
immanence has not been sufficiently clarified to meet our practical
demands. If we continue to teach the beautiful doctrine that God is
everywhere, in the vague way that is now so prevalent, an ever
increasing number will surely come to believe that He is nowhere.

Lovingly and faithfully our mothers taught us that God was everywhere in
all majesty and power. But it was different. They believed that God had
a form, or nucleus, in heaven, and that His spirit radiated from this
form to the remotest particles of matter in the universe. They also
believed that when transported at death to His central abode they should
look with rapture upon His ineffable being. They expected to see the
glorious presence of the Father distinct from the glorified body of
Jesus. In their thought, the visible Jesus was literally on the right
hand of a visible Father. However, this conception of a visible and
localized God in heaven is either gone or going; and for the average
mind there remains a Deity, if any, as attenuated as stellar ether, and
scarcely more personal than the forces of nature. No one ever made a
more rational demand than the minister's wife when she asked for a
particular God to supplement a universal God.

We must get on common ground with our fellows, if we really wish to
help, and sow our seed in the soil of living minds. The supreme need of
the hour is for someone to help the masses to move out of the old
"shack" of an unscientific world into God's beautiful, expanding
palace. Though some new frames are needed for the old pictures, yet no
treasure should be left to perish in the old "shack"; because the ampler
world of modern knowledge will never be home until the pictures of our
childhood hang on the wall and the fire burns in the furnace. The larger
abode of a scientific universe is a veritable prison when we have cast
out the God of our fathers. But whether we would or not, we must learn
to do business in the new world; and sooner or later we shall learn that
we can not do business in one kind of a universe and foster religion in
another. Religion must thrive in the new world or perish. Neither is it
enough for a few scholars to see their way in the new order; they must
show others how to be religious without stultifying their intellects. In
other words, men must see before a religious appeal can reach their
conscience.

There are as many ways of becoming a sceptic as there are of becoming a
Christian. We must admit, however, that careless living has multiplied
the difficulties of faith for every one of us. And yet, a sincere effort
to make religion real in one's own personal experience often hastens
unbelief. Those who think that no one honestly doubts the existence of
God have a poor knowledge of the facts; because, in many minds, this is
the only serious doubt. If only they could make this point secure,
everything else would fall in line as a matter of course. To a singular
degree this has been true in my own case. The one word "God" is a creed
large enough to burst all little worlds, if the word stands for a fact
which has any worthy meaning. Some people, always wondering whether God
is good to them, or whether He really thinks of them at all, are greatly
shocked if some one else doubts God's existence. Whereas, to believe in
Christ's God and at the same time doubt His goodness is a flat
contradiction. For many of us this would be impossible.

Following the advice of friends--whose judgment I trust--I venture to
give a simple history of my own early religious life. This is for the
sake of finding a point of contact with those who have little or no
faith; and with the hope of stating some of the real problems. Some may
think this a dangerous thing to do. But unless we know the problems of
suffering souls, how are we to solve them? Besides, the knowledge of
another's difficulty with its solution, should enrich the faith of one
having no serious difficulties of his own; and certainly it would make
him more useful among people differently constituted from himself.

My father became a Protestant at twenty years of age to the great
distress of his Roman Catholic mother. At twenty-two he married Sarah
Elizabeth Carr of Great Dalby, England. They were married in the quaint
old church of the town by the Episcopal rector. Later, my father
preached in England for the Wesleyans. However, on coming to America in
1857 he identified himself with the United Brethren and remained with
them until his death. As he located in what was then the frontier of
this country, I can duplicate out of my own life much that is to be
found in "Black Rock" and "Sky Pilot." In the midst of much irreligion,
my parents put vital religion into the very marrow of my bones.

Going far and near to preach in little schoolhouses, my father left us
much alone in the old log cabin of one room; especially in the winter
season when he preached nearly every night. His home-coming about once a
month was a great event. In the summertime he would ride thirty miles on
Sunday, preach three times, and be back home Monday by one o'clock to
delve into every kind of rough work as a true frontiersman. I pity the
little boy who has never had the privilege of rifling a pair of
saddlebags on the return of his father. Sometimes my father was detained
on his way home by overflowing rivers that were too mad for the horse to
swim. And once he was detained by watching all night to prevent a rough
gang from hanging one of his dearest friends. The long, long Sundays
that I spent alone with my mother in the old cabin are indelibly stamped
on my memory. Sometimes I thought I should die with loneliness. At such
times my mother would try to comfort me with stories, or with letters
from her invalid mother across the sea; and then we both would cry. Once
when I refused to be comforted, and bitterly complained because my
father left us alone, my mother explained to me in a simple,
awe-inspiring manner the tragedy of the World's sin and sorrow together
with the suffering love of God. How my father was going forth in God's
compelling love to help Him save His children from the impending doom
of sin, she pictured so vividly that I felt glad to live and suffer in
such a cause. This was, probably, the most effective sermon to which I
ever listened. And then my mother gathered me into her arms and made me
conscious of the greatest thing in the world; a love that is infinitely
deeper than words; something so like God that we need look no farther
for a fitting symbol of Him.

As a child I was very susceptible to fear. I remember one bitter cold
night when the winds howled and the thieves prowled. Every nerve in me
ached with fear. That night my mother kneeling by her bed, with her
little children at her side, prayed in a low tremulous voice, and with a
sweet English accent, until God seemed nearer than the raging winds, and
more powerful than the evil forces that were abroad to do us harm. How
happy I was the next morning to find that the wind had subsided, and
that the horses were not stolen, and that no evil had befallen us! When
a little child, religion was as real to me as my parents, or the
atmosphere I breathed, or the food I ate.

I am not certain of ever having been in a church until I was almost
grown. But when I was probably five years old, I accompanied my mother
to a revival meeting in an old schoolhouse. This schoolhouse, even to
the lathing, was made of black walnut that was sawed at a local mill.
Which of the many denominations was conducting the services I do not
know. But one night there were probably ten people kneeling at what they
called the "mourner's bench." During the evening such a psychic wave
passed over those at the altar that the packed congregation, to see what
was happening, rose as one person. At this point, my mother lifted me
onto the desk before her which afforded me a plain view of all those who
were kneeling at the front. A young woman with head thrown back and hair
disheveled, was wringing her hands and crying in piercing tones, "O God,
save my poor soul from hell!" Just beyond, a man lay in a trance. And
then another woman, with perfectly rapturous face, throwing her head
back, clapped her hands and shouted "glory." Other seekers were groaning
and pleading with tremulous voices. The Christians who were assisting
the seekers alternated their groanings of intercession with "amens" and
shouts of praise. As it appeared to me the realms of the blessed and the
realms of the damned were mingling their voices in that tumultuous
scene. Heaven and hell seemed veritable realities before my eyes, and
the picture was burned into my soul.

The religion of my parents was simple, loving, and thoroughly ethical.
These meetings were not criticized by them except that my father
sometimes remarked at home that he liked the quiet meetings best.

Much of the time there were no meetings in the community. Yet betimes
services were conducted by all kinds of ministers, "descript and
non-descript." It was not uncommon to hear these ministers say that no
one ever got to heaven except by way of the "mourner's bench." One
minister remarked that there was not a converted person in the
Presbyterian Church except a few individuals who were converted outside
at such meetings as he was conducting. Never having seen any of them, I
took his word for it that the Presbyterians were an ungodly set.

Altogether it became a fixed thought in my mind that I should need to
get "old people's religion" or be lost. Indeed, that belief was very
common throughout America when I was a child. Even the Presbyterians
believed it, though they kept their mourner's bench out of sight.
Accordingly, when I was fifteen years old, and getting to be a big boy,
the crisis came; because temptations were coming in thick and fast.
Going to a revival one night in the schoolhouse and finding the seats
all full, I took a board from under the stove and placed it on the coal
pail for a seat. As I sat there the thought came to me, "When are you
going to get religion?" This was followed by another, "Wouldn't it be
strange if I went to the mourner's bench to-night?" "Not for five years
yet," my heart quickly responded. "Not until I am twenty years old."
Being a bashful boy I felt terrified at the mere thought of taking such
a step before that crowd of "rowdies" who were openly scoffing. "But,"
my mind said, "if you make a start in five years it will again be now."
It seemed plain to me that one "now" would be about as embarrassing as
another. "Wouldn't it be strange if I just went forward to-night without
any regard to my feelings?" was a question that kept asserting itself.
My mind swayed and tipped first one way and then the other until finally
it literally fell on the side of a decision. "It is to-night." To me
this seemed deeper than any other decision I had ever made,--than which
no firmer decision could be made. Being thoroughly aware of its ethical
significance, my heart involuntarily said, "You see, O God, what I have
done." Not to have regarded myself a bound person from that time forth
would have meant the perjuring of my deepest soul. It was an
awe-inspiring decision at a time when God was to get either a great deal
more or a great deal less of my life as the days went by. It would have
been an irreparable loss to me if this great decision had not been made
at that time. Even now, I thank God with a growing gratitude for helping
me to make that decision. So far, the experience was perfectly normal
for a Christian boy in the adolescent period,--though at that time I had
never known a Christian boy. This experience of an unconditional
surrender to the will of God should have brought me peace and strength;
but it did not, because I utterly discredited my previous religious life
as being no more than moral development. Real religion, in my thinking,
would not begin until I had experienced the miracle of regeneration at
the "mourner's bench."

The die had been cast. And now the great miracle must be achieved! So I
went forward. The knowledge that I was observed by mocking eyes hurt
like the thongs of a whip on a bare back. For a few moments I could
think of nothing else. Then I tried to feel sorry for my sins; and not
succeeding in that, I tried to feel sorry because I was not sorry. Those
kneeling with me asked whether I believed in God. No one could have
believed it more fully than I did. Then they asked me if I believed that
He sent His Son into the world to save sinners. This I believed without
question. Did I believe that He came to save me, and that He wanted to
save me now? This, too, I believed. "Do you feel that He saves you now?"
I did not know. "Well," they said, "you will know when He saves you,--so
you must make no mistake there." And thus we went the rounds, over and
over again. While I believed everything, yet I did not experience the
miracle. Things seemed to grow worse and more confused as time went by.
As they pleaded, first with God to save me, and then with me to
surrender all to God and believe, I became utterly bewildered and
hardened. There seemed to be no reality in anything. The groans and
sighs, the pressure of the hand, the pats on the back, the rhythmic
music, the loud and fervent prayers, became a meaningless jargon. I was
heartily glad when the hour was over so that I could be alone. Once
being alone, I did pray earnestly and continuously for God to save me,
and felt a great depression of spirits without further results. The next
night I repeated the experience of the previous evening with like sad
consequences. The next day I was greatly depressed, but made up my mind
that I would get religion or break a blood vessel in the attempt;--and I
nearly broke the blood vessel. In the afternoon while carrying a heavy
load of corn on my back, I stumbled over something which caused me to
say "Oh!" and as I added the word God, it sounded like profanity. But
it was not, for prayer had become automatic. This incident caused me to
smile,--the first time, I believe, in two days. As I continued to pray
without ceasing, there came to me after awhile a little suggestion of
gladness which caused me to exclaim, "Oh, I believe I am getting
religion!" Though the burden seemed to be lifting, yet it was some
minutes before another feeling of gladness came. During the supper hour
it seemed almost certain that I was getting religion. Nothing, however,
was said about it as I wanted to be perfectly sure.

After supper I started for the schoolhouse across the dark fields.
During that journey of over a mile, the psychic lights came on making
all things beautiful. At the same time I was made inexpressibly glad.
The great change appeared to be in the universe rather than in myself. I
laughed and cried for joy. Recalling the Psalm, "For ... by my God have
I leaped over a wall," that, I thought, would be an easy thing to do if
a wall were there. What with laughing, making speeches, and thanking
God, I soon completed the journey.

As the schoolhouse was seated to face the door, on arriving late, I
confronted the whole congregation. This arrangement of seats made it
unnecessary for the people to turn and strain their necks to see each
one who entered.

In pioneer days it was customary to take a candle with you to church. On
arriving at the schoolhouse you would take your penknife, push the small
blade through the candle, stick the protruding blade into the window
sash, and there you were, as nice as could be. Or else you would stand
the candle on the desk in some melted tallow.

Though the schoolhouse was but dimly lighted, and the people whom I
faced that night were an ordinary crowd, yet in my psychic state I saw
the people as angel figures under limelight. And as the only vacant
seats were in the "Amen corner," I sat facing the congregation during
the entire service. The sermon was wonderful to me beyond words to
express; and yet I seemed able to understand it and to see all around
it.

After the sermon an invitation was given to "mourners." As none went
forward, the minister then came to me to inquire of my condition. When
with great joy I told him that I was converted, I was asked to relate my
experience. This unexpected request shattered my beautiful world as
completely as a hammer stroke would have shattered a piece of crystal.
Such a stage fright seized me that I could neither move nor speak before
they were compelled to go on with the service. This embarrassing
experience sent me from the highest state of bliss to the deepest state
of gloom. Peter's denial seemed trivial in comparison with mine; he had
denied the Lord under trying circumstances, but I had denied Him while
sitting in glory.

A little later, when the minister rose and stated that they would "open
the doors of the Church" for any who desired to join, there ensued a
terrible struggle within me. During the few minutes of exhortation that
followed I seriously questioned my heart. I knew that candidates were
expected to answer the question, "Have you found God in the pardon of
your sins, and do you now have peace with God?" But being in a state of
torment, how could I claim peace with God? Though my conversion still
seemed like a miracle, yet never before had I been in such a humiliated
or distressed state of mind. Before ever I tried to "get religion," I
had plighted my soul and honor that I would follow God from that time
forward. Even now I knew that I should follow Him, but how could I say
that I had peace with God when my burden remained in spite of my earnest
prayer to be forgiven? Had I in that act of denial become a
"backslider," and was it necessary for me to be converted again? As a
large percentage of the Christians present had been converted two or
more times to my knowledge, a second conversion was not strange to me.
Never doubting that I had been converted, and knowing why I was in
despair, and believing that my suffering was wholly deserved, I
dismissed the thought of a second conversion. "How can a person know
beforehand," I reasoned, "that he will feel at peace with God at the
moment the question is asked?" By "now" do they not mean something more
general; to-night, for example? Deciding that there must be some
latitude to the word "now" and that God would understand my honesty of
purpose, I went forward and united with the Church. As I look back upon
it, it still seems a most wise decision.

Though fully expecting to be happy again after joining the Church, yet
my misery only increased. _This was inevitable._ I had identified
religion with an _abnormal psychic state_. And such a state would not
return without another terrific effort.

The next night, with an embarrassment that caused my cheeks to burn like
fire, I rose before the scoffers and told them that God had converted
me. Again I expected to feel happy. But, naturally, my sorrow only
deepened as the abnormal state did not return. For the next two weeks I
tried with all my original earnestness to get back my happiness; but
without success. One day while in a valley far from any human being,
where the woods covered the hill before me, I was looking up into the
sky and still pleading with God to restore my happy state of mind. Then
the thought occurred to me, "Where is God?" At that time I was so
ignorant of the universe that I thought the earth had a ceiling, and
that the ceiling of the earth was the floor of heaven. It seemed to be
about three rifle shots away. I thought that if one could get through
the ceiling of the earth he would be in heaven, and there would be God.
As I stood there gazing into the sky my mind said, "Why does God not
show Himself?" That He could part the clouds and show His face seemed
the most natural and reasonable thing in the world. Why, then, did He
not do so? Since He neither blesses me in answer to my prayers, nor
shows Himself, possibly He does not exist. My wonderful experience may
have been nothing but a highly wrought state of feelings.

I then recalled that ministers based their belief in the existence of
God on certain arguments. But suddenly this seemed the strangest
procedure imaginable. Why had God left us to argue and reason about His
existence? Should He not settle so great a question beyond all argument?
How strange it would be if my earthly father should stay away from us
until we did not know whether he was dead or alive! We had the
satisfaction of loving and obeying our father without ever a chance to
doubt his existence. If our Heavenly Father would make me equally
certain of His existence I should follow Him through flood and fire.
"Then why does God not show Himself?" "Isn't it strange that He has
hidden forever and forever!"

Here I remembered the Scripture which says, "No man can see God and
live." But my heart quickly responded, "It is one thing to come near
enough to kill us, and quite another to come near enough to convince us.
Oh, isn't it strange that He hides forever?"

Then I thought of Jesus. But my heart replied, "Maybe Jesus was
mistaken." If He had a rapturous feeling like mine, and was able to
sustain it, He would continue to believe in God even if He did not
exist. Nothing short of God's personal appearance, it seemed to me,
could settle the question. "Then why does God not show Himself? There is
no sense in hiding; and if no sense in it, then it is wrong; and if
wrong, then there is no God. Because God, if He exists, must be good and
sensible."

Therefore, when my reasoning led me to say, "There _can't_ be a God," I
found that unbelief had entered the marrow of my being. I felt that God
could not possibly do such a foolish and wicked thing as to hide from
His children.

Having reached this conclusion, I felt alarmed at my wicked thoughts.
They were not, however, to be driven away. From that day forward the sky
became more gray, and cold, and Godless. An awful crisis had come into
my life. It seemed an irreparable loss if there were no God. My life,
also, would go out in eternal night. If there was a God, and I gave up
faith, then I should go to an endless hell of inexpressible torment.
There was no comfort in either alternative. The problem was no longer
the problem of the Church; it was my personal problem. And the battle
had to be fought to a decisive issue. Being impaled on the two horns of
the dilemma, I found it increasingly difficult to reproduce the exalted
state of feeling on which I still relied for assurance.

Never having met a college graduate, of course I had not heard one
preach. It was in the college chapel, four years later, that I first
listened to a sermon by a college man. My impression was that he made
neither noise nor light. That he made but little noise I knew. But I am
now willing to admit that he may have shed more light than I saw.
Preaching often fails to make any connection with the fundamental ideas
and difficulties of doubting minds.

In my new state of doubt, the first impulse was to confide in my father
and Christian friends. But then I realized that I knew all the stock
phrases, and that none of them met my case. If confronted with the old
phrases would I not argue, and might I not confirm myself in a possible
error? Was it not safer to fight it out with God, if He existed, than to
argue with those who could not feel what I had felt? The insistence of
these questions caused me to keep my secret wholly to myself, and to go
on with the struggle. Twenty-two years later during the last visit with
my father, as we rode together over the hills, I told him this story.
With a look of tenderness I shall never forget, he replied, "I believe
the story because you tell me, but I am glad you did not tell me at the
time. I could not have helped you." Said he, "I do not recall ever in my
life doubting the inspiration of the Scriptures, or the existence of
God. I have often doubted my worthiness and acceptance, but nothing
more." Still believing that I did the wise thing under the
circumstances, I was glad to have his approval. If an honest doubter
asks for bread, he is not infrequently given a stone by well-meaning
Christians,--and neither can understand the other.

As this is a _case study_, it should be said that my first mistake was
in _discrediting_ my early religious experience. My second mistake was
in identifying religion with an _extreme psychic state_. And when my
psychic state failed me, then my _utterly false images_ of God and the
universe completed the destruction of my faith. If I could have
reproduced the psychic state readily, my false images of God and the
universe would not have troubled me for many years.

The ministers who created these false impressions in my mind were not
deserving of censure, because they did not understand the forces with
which they were dealing--and the community was in great need of
something. Even for me, it was best that I did what we thought was right
regardless of what followed.

Having entered upon the vigorous adolescent period, I greatly needed to
take my stand as an adult Christian. I needed to realize such a new
influence as a thorough commitment of myself would bring. This, however,
no one in the community understood.

We now know that one may be genuinely converted and hypnotized at the
same time. That is, he may enter God's service with the noblest spirit
of loyalty, and at the same time submit himself to a process that will
induce the hypnotic state. Likewise, it is possible for one to be
hypnotized under religious influences without being converted. This is
the case with those who wish religion only if it will give them more
pleasure than their sins. Though they may not deeply analyze it, yet
their conversion is an experiment to see which they like the better; and
when their hypnotic happiness leaves them, they return to their greater
pleasure in sin. Or, when the idea and method are rational, one may be
converted without being hypnotized. In this case a complete dedication
of self to the will of God is trusted to bring its own rich reward in
noble enthusiasm and fine appreciation.

Since I had always been a Christian, it was not conversion that I
needed, but a deeper commitment of myself to the will and work of God.
And as I have already explained, this I did before trying to "get
religion." The moral will is the spiritual spine. If it stands erect in
its duties toward God and men, the whole spiritual life will come into
normal feeling and action. My unconditional submission to the will of
God was normal, beautiful, and necessary. But the experience which came
two days later should be characterized as _a super-normal psychic
state_, _self-induced_. While the psychic state lasted my true religious
feelings coöperated vigorously; but when it subsided, as it was bound to
do, my true religious emotions likewise disappeared. For years, all
references to spirituality were understood by me to mean an exciting,
nervous thrill; such a thrill as I had once felt. This led me to study
the feelings, a few years later, to see if I could determine their
value. I found that I was able to hypnotize a man so that he thought he
saw God; and then I could cause him to fall down in adoration before his
imaginary deity. Or, by taking ether, I could reproduce the glory world
of my own so-called conversion. Feelings alone are not to be trusted,
for the objects which they often create do not exist. On the other hand,
real objects, valid and knowable, produce appropriate feelings when we
are rightly related to them. Never have I been in such a state of pain
or dejection but that I knew that I loved my children if my attention
was called to it. I still demand, therefore, an objective, knowable God
before I can love Him.

While greatly deploring such religious exercises as are calculated to
produce extreme psychic states, yet I bring an indictment against the
average Church of this generation because its religious feelings are
sub-normal. The latter condition is probably as dangerous as the former.
Even our physical temperature must be allowed to run neither too high
nor too low. If in everything but religion we feel warmth and
enthusiasm, we reveal a deplorable religious condition. For if one
intelligently and fully commits himself to the will and service of God,
appropriate feelings will come to him as surely as color comes to
ripening fruit.

When prayer availed me nothing in bringing back the spirit of God--as I
conceived of it--I first questioned my own heart. And when it no longer
condemned me, I then questioned God. As I understood it, to produce a
rapturous feeling was God's part. My part was to believe and obey. If
only the hand of faith could succeed in laying hold of God the spiritual
current would come on with a thrill. A great deal of this sensational
religion still exists. It is to be found in all our great cities as well
as in rural communities.

Let two errors like false experiences and false images of God unite and
they will bring forth a whole brood of errors. So far as I am able to
analyze, I always had a perfect sense of God's character. If He existed
at all, He was infinitely great and wise and good. But these
characteristics simply meant the _quality_ of God and not God Himself.
_Character without being was like a smile without a face._ It was this
God behind the character that I utterly misapprehended. My _false
picture_ of God's being, of the universe, and the relation between the
two was the cause of my religious vexation. If we add to these the
fickleness of a sensational experience--labeled, true spiritual
religion--we may begin to understand my religious undoing.

I dare say that the subject of extreme religious experience will not
trouble many of my readers, but half the population is vexed by false
images of God and the universe. These false images are so prevalent that
one trembles for the future of religion in a scientific age. As to
certain aspects of God's existence, the confusion is becoming greater
every day,--and there are good reasons for it. Since the masses are
coming to have a fairly accurate conception of the main outlines of the
universe, their false images of God's being are faring badly in this new
world. Many are casting out their unsatisfactory image of God without
anything to take its place. Some claim that we are much better off to
think of God's character without trying to form any conception of His
being. Generally, however, when His image goes God goes with it. Those
who have been steeped in religion from their youth, may continue to
worship God after He has almost disappeared; but succeeding generations
will have little interest in such an evasive God. They will wish to know
that God is before they attribute character to Him.

The various psychic cults are trying to find a more satisfying idea of
God; but they are simply making a bad matter worse. Over against this,
however, is the popular phrase of the day, "No one can possibly conceive
of what God is like! So do not advertise your ignorance by trying."
This, probably, is the saddest of all.

The religious dynamo is in the heart, or moral feelings, while the
circuit is in the head, or formal ideas. If the circuit is broken the
light goes out. As long as one's ideas are not discredited by himself,
he may get some light with a very poor circuit. But once let him
thoroughly discredit his own mental images, and the light will cease to
shine.

The dynamo may be run long after the circuit is broken, and the light
has gone out. I ran mine for many years. The minister's wife previously
referred to was doing the same thing. Many students reported to
Professor Leuba that they continued to pray, through habit or sentiment,
but that God had so faded from their minds that prayer no longer meant
anything to them. Many learned scientists revealed the "broken circuit"
of their thoughts by giving their crude conceptions or no conceptions of
God. These men have long since ceased to run their religious dynamo.

If the lights refuse to come on, after a while one grows tired of
stoking the furnace merely to keep the dynamo running. Therefore, in the
succeeding chapters my aim will be to show how I mended my circuit.

After continuing my fruitless struggle for two years I became desperate.
For one thing, I had no religious young people with whom to associate.
When not alone, I worked with vile men who never allowed much time to
elapse without indulging in obscene conversation. Living in a community
where we had never seen a railroad, or a piano, or an organ, I found
little to entertain or comfort me. And my religion added greatly to my
burden. There was just work and privations and fruitless prayers. So it
is not strange that at the end of two years I wished that I might die.
This feeling came to me with such force one day, when I was working in a
distant, lonely place, that I gave audible expression to the wish. Not
that I wanted to die on that particular day! I have never seen the time
when I wanted to die to-day. But hoping that I might die in ten years, I
resolved anew that I would just stiffen my neck, and grit my teeth, and
pray on until the end came--which I hoped would not be too distant.
During these two years I was very faithful to every known Christian
duty. Once I even tried to pray in prayer meeting, but broke down with
fright in the middle of the first sentence. I regularly bore testimony,
however, to my determination to go forward in the Christian life.

Soon after the time of my deep depression it was announced that a series
of revival meetings was to be held in the community. An uneducated old
minister, rather feeble in body, was to conduct the meetings. As there
were but few Christians to help him, it looked like a great undertaking.
This question rose in my mind, "Would it be wrong for me to take an
active part in persuading others to become Christians while I myself am
in doubt of God's existence?" I had not then heard of people doing
Church work to gain social standing. And if I had, it could not have
been a motive because socially I already belonged to the "four hundred."
Some men were reported to have joined the Church to beat a neighbor in a
horse trade or an ox trade--and this I knew to be very wicked. But as I
had neither horses nor oxen to trade there were but two motives that
compelled me to go forward. The first motive was the hope that in this
way I might find God. The second was that I might help someone else to
be religious,--since other people appeared to have more faith. I decided
that the proposed course was justifiable because if God did not exist it
could make but little difference, and if He did it was very important
that people should be brought to Him. Consequently, I selected a young
man of my own age. He was on his way to the schoolhouse with a band of
hilarious young people when I called him aside. We were very late in
reaching the services because out in the dark I labored long and hard
with my friend and used every art of persuasion that I could command
before I brought him to a decision. Finally, however, he promised to go
to the "mourner's bench" if I would go with him. Then we entered the
schoolhouse, and each one kept his promise. My friend became so
desperately wrought up at the altar that his parents, who were not
Christians, did not know what to do with him when the services were
over. They therefore asked me to take him home with me for the night. My
friend continued to weep all the way home, and frequently requested that
we stop to pray. That journey of a mile and a quarter across the fields
I shall never forget. But before we went to sleep, suddenly clasping my
hand, he exclaimed, "Oh, I am converted." Knowing how he felt I was very
glad for him, but at the same time my heart cried within me, "I do
wonder if there is anything in it! It is wonderful to him now, I know,
but how will he feel to-morrow, or next week, or in six months?"

However, I next persuaded his parents to go forward, and the minister
asked me to pray for them at the altar--which I did. They, too, were
converted, but no blessing came to me. During the two weeks, I led
eleven people to the altar, and was asked by the minister each night to
offer prayer for the seekers.

On the last night of the series, near the close, the minister said:

"Now there is a little business to be attended to, and will Brother
Richard Swain please withdraw from the room?" I was so surprised and
excited that I arose and went out into a temperature below zero without
either overcoat or hat. Leaving the reader to judge of my ethics and
manners, I will confess that I put my ear up to the wall and listened
with all my might. The minister said:

"Some of us have been considering the matter, and we are convinced that
Brother Richard Swain has a decided call to the ministry. We want you,
therefore, if you think it is wise, to recommend him to the conference
for license to preach."

This was such a shock to me that a little cry went up from my
heart,--"And I don't even know that there is a God!"

As there was no dissenting vote the minister said, "You may now call him
in." If only my coat and hat had been with me I should not have been
present when the door opened. However, with the temperature below zero,
and neither overcoat nor hat, even a young candidate for the ministry
could not refuse to enter. But it would have been more to his comfort if
the congregation had not been seated to face the door.

Through this vote of the Church I was compelled to grapple with a new
question of ethics. Would it be right for me under the circumstances to
appear for examination? I had not asked for license to preach. The
matter had been thrust upon me without my knowledge and consent. How
could I know but this was the road over which I was being led to the
light? Besides, eleven people had responded to my appeal. Would I care
to be a minister? It seemed to me that there was nothing in the world I
should so much like to be as a minister if only I could know there was a
God. This feeling decided me to accept the invitation and appear for
examination.

While my education had not gone beyond that of the common country
schools, and while I was but seventeen years of age, yet the average
minister of the community had even less education. Not until three years
after I was licensed to preach did I learn that there was such an
institution in the world as a Theological Seminary. However, in those
pioneer days all the ministers, missionaries, Irish pack-peddlers, and
horse thieves who passed through put up at my father's house for the
night without ever being charged a cent. They more than paid their way,
though, I can assure you, by having to talk religion and theology until
midnight with my father who was a born theologian. Though my father was
not an educated man, yet he had picked up an immense amount of knowledge
along certain lines, and always enjoyed a friendly debate more than a
good dinner. At such times, from early childhood, I had been allowed to
sit in the chimney corner and listen until the last word was said. It
was my motion-picture show. And no child ever had more pleasure than
came to me when I saw that my father had "wound up" his man in the
argument. Then, with the greatest cordiality, my father would show the
guest to bed. As there was but one great room, and beds none too many, I
usually slept with the guest. And according to the guest's report in the
morning, I had given him the completest kicking he ever had in his life.

With such training, and in such a community, it is not strange that my
biblical and doctrinal examination was pronounced entirely satisfactory.
After I had gone to school for ten years it, probably, would not have
been so satisfactory. Indeed, I was strongly advised not to go to
college, as it was likely to rob me of my spirituality; and besides,
many souls would be lost while I was getting an education.

Though I continued for a time on the farm or in the coal mines, yet I
was told to go out and preach somewhere on Sundays. Accordingly, I would
ride ten or twenty miles on Sunday to preach in different schoolhouses.
Putting the rein over the horn of the saddle, I would plead before the
cold gray sky for an unknown God to renew my happy feelings as a token
of His existence. But no happiness, or assurance, came to me. When the
time came to preach, I felt the importance of not throwing our lives
away in sinful living, and so was able to give them some very earnest
advice. Then on the return trip I would continue to pray to an
unsympathetic sky. Nothing, however, ever came of it except a deeper
depression of spirits. Though the dynamo was running at a terrific rate,
yet the circuit of my thoughts was broken beyond my ability to repair.
So I decided to go to college at any sacrifice.

Boarding a train for the first time, I went two hundred miles for my
preparatory course in connection with the college where I expected to
graduate. But no religious experience came to me until the middle of my
sophomore year. Then while studying Mark Hopkins' little book, "The Law
of Love, and Love as a Law," I got a new insight into the human soul. I
could see that if one would bring all his powers into harmony, and then
relate them to the beautiful enfolding universe, all things must work
together for his good,--if by his good one meant the perfect unfolding
of his life. Instantly there came a great joy in living. It took shape
in the thought, "All things work together for good to them that love
God." I felt that no proposition in geometry was more capable of proof.
A life with its powers united in the will of God must unfold to match
the harmony without, even as the rose unfolds to the light and warmth of
the sun. Besides, I now had entertainment and beautiful friends. Almost
any good thing seemed possible. "This," I said, "must be what
intelligent people mean by Christian experience." The only remaining
question was the old one, "Is there a God?" Is God "The Allness of
things about us?" This, however, seemed too pantheistic. And the
personal God still evaded me. So I decided that the question of God was
too much for me, and that I would just wait until I should meet the
"wise men" who knew. In the meantime I would assume that there was a
God; for the college president believed that there was, and prayed to
Him every day at chapel.

As the happy unfolding of my life continued I tried to commit all to God
whose will, if He existed, I very well knew. At any rate there was
something in the universe that matched my need. I would just call it God
until I met the "wise men" in further courses of study which by this
time I had fully resolved upon. So the last two and a half years of my
college course were very beautiful; they constantly increased my joy in
living. No small part of this better experience was due to the influence
of the Christian gentleman and fascinating preacher who became our new
college pastor.

Here it becomes necessary to relate something more delicate than
anything that has gone before. While I was in college my younger and
only brother passed through a great moral crisis. As I dearly loved him
he was much in my mind. During my senior year I dreamed night after
night that he was killed. In these dreams I was always with my two older
sisters hunting our brother in the woods. Feeling certain that we should
find him dead, we usually came upon him by an old log cabin where he lay
dead and mangled. I have no theories about the dreams, but the
impression made upon my mind was so deep that when I went home, after
graduating from college, I felt that I must do something to help him.
Accordingly it was planned that I should spend three or four days with
him in the harvest field where he was running a heading machine. There I
hoped we should have a pleasant time, and find an opportunity to shed
some light on the deeper meanings of life. Then some evening we would
have a quiet little talk when I might persuade him to be a Christian. As
I was going a long distance to a theological school, and did not expect
to see him again for three years, I hoped to accomplish my purpose
during the week at my disposal. For two and a half days we worked
together with many pleasant little chats. It then being Saturday noon,
my father wanted me to drive fourteen miles with him and preach for him
the next day. I could return Monday and be with my brother one or two
days before the long journey. But Saturday afternoon a great storm
arose, and at midnight my host awakened me saying, "Your brother is
killed by lightning."

Though we started home immediately, the mud was so deep and sticky that
it required till daylight to make the journey. There had been a
cloudburst, and such an electric storm as is seldom seen. From midnight
till dawn we dragged through the mud under an indescribable electrical
display. Forked lightning splitting the sky in every direction made the
whole heavens lurid with light, while the low thunder like distant
artillery scarcely ceased to roll. No pen can describe that journey.
Nature seemed omnipotent and awe-inspiring. At first my heart was dazed
and dumb. Then it cried, "Why did God kill my brother at this little
nick of time when I was hoping to bring him to Christ? Was there ever
anything like this? Why _did_ He take him?"

Then while I was fixedly watching the omnipotent display before me my
mind asked:

"Did God kill him or did the great and terrible machine, called the
world, kill him? What is the world, and what is God? When does God act,
and when does the universe act? Would they not be squarely in each
other's way much of the time? The world I know, and its activities I
behold, but where is God? Does He have an abode, or is He a sort of
spiritual ether that pervades the universe?" And my heart responded,
"Oh, you have never yet settled the question of whether there is a God!"
So once more God faded into a dream, or a guess, while the elements
continued to display their terrifying power.

At daylight I stood with a broken heart beside my dead brother,
believing either that there was no God, or else that my brother had gone
to endless torment. A few moments later I saw my father kneel by his
side, and heard him say, "Oh, my son, my son, would to God I had died
for thee!"

In a short time we were invited to breakfast, and my father being unable
to speak motioned to me to say grace. However I managed I do not know,
but out of a choking throat I said grace to as empty and Godless a world
as any human being ever faced.

Two weeks after my brother's death I entered the theological seminary.
The deep, vast, and unshakable verities from which I could not escape
were sorrow and love. All else was chaos. As a hungry man seeks for
food, so I sought for light. Much of the theology in the books which I
read irritated me so that I could scarcely eat my food at mealtimes. Yet
it was important that I should learn the history of human thought. All
of my professors I truly loved and respected, but the attitude of
theological schools more than thirty years ago was not wholly suited to
the needs of one on the border of a "new world-awakening" whose faith
had suffered so much and so long. The theological world was not quite
ready to give the help that it now gives to many suffering minds.

During my first year in the seminary I frequently dreamed of seeing my
brother in torment. Sometimes I would wake trembling, and even when I
could throw off the thought and go to sleep, I was liable to repeat the
dream in some new form.

Once when I was walking with one of the professors, as true a Christian
man as ever I knew, I told him of the circumstances of my brother's
death. He asked me if my parents were Christians. I told him that they
were very good Christians. Then he counseled me not to go off into any
heresies, but to feel comforted concerning my brother; for "The promises
were to the parents and to their children unto the third and fourth
generation."

While I listened to this in silence, yet the following thoughts went
through my mind:

"Then God would save my brother who had not improved his privileges,
while He would consign to endless torment our poor play-fellows who were
not blessed with the good influence of Christian parents."

My mind instinctively felt what I had discretion not to say: "I should
despise a God who had no more ethical sense than that. God should be
harder on my brother than on them."

Much of my philosophy and theology was worked out during my seminary
course; but there were gaps that I could not fill. So I next went to
Yale to study philosophy. In postgraduate work, through the guidance of
professors, I expected to find the "wise men" for whom I had waited so
long. However, these "wise men" are not readily understood in a few
weeks. They have a poor faculty for making connection with all the ideas
that still linger in the mind of callow youth. At any rate it soon
dawned upon me that there was no such God as I was looking for or else
these men were unable to give Him to me. When this conviction came to me
I went out from a recitation one night into the dark and once more
fought the old battle. Standing on the New Haven Green and looking up
into the pelting sleet I said:

"Now I have met the 'wise men,' and still I do not know whether there is
an inspired Bible, or a heaven, or a God." But I exclaimed, "O God, if
you are, and if I should ever meet you anywhere in eternity, I would run
to you as a little child runs to a father. I would tell you how weak and
sinful and ignorant I am, and I know you would love me." That night on
the old Green, while in the dark and pelted with sleet, I went out onto
the last crag where any human soul can go, and cried into the infinite
depths, "O God, if you are there, some day I shall know you and love
you." In that act I passed beyond all men and all institutions, and took
my stand with the final reality, whatever it might be, and at least I
was free and not afraid. Though thoroughly agnostic still, yet I could
quietly work and wait.

Returning to my studies and resolving to appropriate whatever I could
understand, I was surprised to find how much of the teaching ministered
to my needs. Before long I came to see that God did not have a central
nucleus, or ghost form in heaven; neither did He resemble a refined
substance like ether. Spirit was something quite different from what I
had supposed. My mind was hitting the trail. Then I understood that God
had not revealed Himself to the world according to my demand, because no
such God existed in heaven or earth. So one day in class I asked a
professor, who is now dead, if he thought we should see God in heaven as
we see men and trees here. At the same time I assured him that I did
not. His answer was, "I think your position would be a very dangerous
doctrine to teach." But my own conviction was that it was becoming a
very dangerous doctrine not to teach. Time has proved that I was right.
Millions of people are suffering to-day from false images of God or from
no image of God. Not long ago when I related this class incident to a
Yale man, he remarked, "Well, Professor ---- made great growth before he
died."

My categorical answers to the four questions at the head of this chapter
are: When we have rational ideas of God and the universe we shall see
that He is leaving nothing undone to reveal Himself. To an enlightened
understanding it does not seem possible that God could reveal Himself so
that no one could doubt His existence. Though the existence of God is a
question of doubt and discussion with many, yet we may achieve deep and
satisfying assurance if we go about it in the right way. I think it
would be morally wrong for God to leave His children in doubt of His
existence if He were able to reveal Himself.

This chapter is largely excavation. We have dug the hole deep so that we
may commence in the next chapter to lay the foundation on solid bottom.
And this was necessary if our proposed structure is to stand.

Allow me this closing word. When I began to get on my religious feet at
Yale, I unexpectedly received a call to a college pastorate. And though
the usual number of sceptics were found among the students, yet in many
respects they were the most savable men in college. Usually, if you
could hit the keys of their souls they would ring back and ring true.



CHAPTER II

HOW SCIENCE SAVES RELIGION, OR MODERN KNOWLEDGE AND RELIGION

    _What_ is God?

    _Who_ is God?

    _Where_ is God?

    What does God _do_?

    _If the ancients made their gods, how do we know that we
    are not making our God?_

    _May we not be communing with a mere idea?_


MODERN KNOWLEDGE AND RELIGION

Christian character, the Christian college, and Christian civilization
have been very important factors in the discovery and development of
modern learning.

Expecting to derive much benefit from the sciences, Christian people
with fine enthusiasm strove to promote them. Nevertheless, there came a
time when the allied sciences threatened to turn upon and destroy the
religion that had so carefully nurtured them. When the scientific
imagery of the Bible began to clash with the clearly ascertained facts
of science, many people concluded that science and religion were
contradictory; however, the crude conceptions of the material universe
found in the Bible are no integral part of religion.

That religion may discard its wornout clothes for new and better ones
has not been an easy lesson for believers, or unbelievers, to learn.
Thinking that religion must stand or fall with the scientific accuracy
of the Bible, some drew back from modern science preferring religion;
others clung to the new learning forsaking religion. For a time,
therefore, it was inevitable that religion and her foster daughter,
modern science, should not be on the best of terms; because the daughter
could not approve of the mother's dress, and the mother thought the
daughter utterly lacking in becoming reverence. However, with their
great need of each other, let us believe that they are now settling down
to a lasting friendship of mutual helpfulness.

Unfortunately, the opinion is gaining considerable credence that modern
Christians are believing less and less, and that finally they will cease
to believe in religion altogether.

But this is the very opposite of the truth, for they are still believing
the old religion, though in a vastly bigger and better way. For, at the
present time, where its help is welcome, modern learning is rendering a
beautiful service to Christian faith. And this is the grateful testimony
of thousands of intelligent, consecrated people. No well-informed
person, however, would deny that science has injured, and will
increasingly weaken, the faith of those who do not know how to make a
religious use of modern learning.

While religion and science have distinctive fields to cultivate, yet
neither may disregard the claims of the other with impunity.
Nevertheless, we do rejoice to see science tearing down the "old cabin"
of an unscientific world in which the Church has lived too long. But
when it proposes to shut God out of the _new mansion_ of a scientific
universe, those who know and love Him will seriously object,--especially
since the new knowledge makes God better understood, and more needed
than ever.

It is likewise pleasant to see religion standing for spiritual verities
and duties, but when it demands that the Christian shall live in a world
that is crude and half false, the modern man resents it. He simply
cannot do it. Yet, to-day and always, religion should be a simple story
that anyone may understand; but it should not be clothed in such crude
and antiquated forms as to antagonize the man of modern knowledge.

During these introductory statements, we may as well admit that the
average scientist appears to have as poor a knowledge of religion as the
average Christian has of science. Too often he is still resisting
religious conceptions that all intelligent Christians have long since
outgrown, or else he is adopting philosophical theories that are only
half thought through. This is amazingly true of some men who are superb
in their own chosen lines of research. No one is hit by this statement
unless he is standing in the line of the shot. Whether or not the reader
is hit, I beg of him to keep friendly with me until he has heard my
simple story of God in His world.

Could we but free the religion of Jesus from the crude psychology and
the antiquated science of other days, and see it at home in the fairer
world of to-day, it would shine with new luster; and at the same time
give a rich, new meaning to the world itself,--such as it can never have
apart from religion. Science, and not religion, was responsible for
crude science.--Religion will be responsible if it retains a science
that has become antiquated.

Taking our stand then in the midst of modern knowledge, I shall endeavor
to _picture_ religion both at home and happy in the new world. I shall
not have much to say directly about scientific subjects, but shall
constantly try to keep in mind the man with modern information. The
nearer I can make this book resemble a primer, the better satisfied I
shall be. If one could so write that the learned would approve, and the
ignorant understand, his joy should be full. To give a simple
_description_ of God in His world congenial to the scholar, while
comprehensible and acceptable to common busy people, would be the
highest possible service one could wish to render. In these days there
is great need of a clear presentation of God; a presentation that is
free from the entanglements of technical learning, and at the same time
consonant with the known facts of life. Practical men would like to see
"the mended circuit of our religious thoughts," since their circuits, in
many cases at least, seem broken beyond repair. They are asking for a
simple and satisfying gospel that is cognizant of the facts and forces
among which they live and toil. We shall begin, therefore, at the very
beginning.


1. What is God?

The discussion which immediately follows does not concern itself with
why we believe in God, but aims to give a definite idea of how we
conceive of Him. For those who have a natural sense of God, or a
religious nature, a satisfying conception of Him will be ample for their
spiritual needs. And, furthermore, those who doubt God's existence need
first of all a definite idea of what we mean by the term Deity.

It is a pleasure, therefore, to answer in the words of Jesus, "God is a
spirit."

This might very well be regarded as a final answer but for the fact that
spirit means all sorts of things to different minds. When I once asked a
company of intelligent people if I were a spirit, they promptly answered
"no," but supposed I should be when I died. They seemed to think of
spirit as a ghost, as something that might appear or disappear through
locked doors. The same idea apparently obtained universally in times
past, and that doubtless accounts for the fact that the Greek word,
meaning spirit, was translated "Ghost" in the Scriptures and Apostles'
Creed. But the idea of a _visible_ spirit should perish. Spirits are
neither evil ghosts nor Holy Ghosts. Even if there were a ghost, that
which appeared could be no more than the instrument of the spirit, and
not the spirit itself. However refined and ghostly the form, the spirit
would remain as invisible as when it had a gross human body.

As further evidence of confusion on this subject, a young man from one
of our good colleges seeking membership in my Church, informed me that
he had peculiar views. Spirit, whether applied to God or man, had no
meaning for him. He wanted to join the Church because in that way he
believed he could render a better social service. In his thought, God
was neither a person nor a spirit, but a force. Having no satisfactory
idea of spirits he had banished the thought of them entirely from his
mind.

All through my own period of doubt I conceived of God's spirit on earth
as something emanating from a glorious spiritual _form_ in heaven.
Thinking that this form in heaven was a spirit made it only the easier
to believe that God himself could appear to men if He cared to do so.
That He did not care to appear to His children and thereby settle the
question of His existence beyond all doubt seemed preposterous. And it
would still seem so to my moral sense, if I retained my former
conception of spirit. Of course He should not come near enough to
"consume us," but He might come near enough to convince us.

The "New Thought" people, struggling with the meaning of spirit, have
arrived at the conclusion that there is just "_One universal substance
called spirit_." So, God is not to them _a_ spirit, but simply spirit,
"a universal substance."

Two or three other cults believe that man's spirit is simply his
physical breath.

To say that God is a spirit, then, with any of these gross conceptions
in mind, is sadly to misconceive Him.

_Whether we say God is a Spirit, a Soul, or a Person, our meaning is the
same._ Of these three expressions, however, the word _Person_ is the
best because, being the scholar's term, it is clearly defined. So when
we have learned the signification of the word _Person_, we shall
attribute the same meaning to all three words, using them
interchangeably.

In speaking of God as a person the scholar never has in mind either form
or substance, however rarefied. He does not know even that there is
material substance, much less spiritual substance. He knows very well
what personality is as experience, but beyond that he knows nothing
about it. Personality, to him, means _a Will that knows itself_, and
then knows _Other Wills_. When we say that God is a Spirit, or Person,
we should mean that He is a _Loving Intelligent Will_. In speaking of
God as the Soul of the universe we should have in mind the same idea.

There is no harm in thinking of God as a force if the force is
intelligent, and knows itself; but a force that does not know that it is
a force, is not God. A progressive Jewish rabbi expressed the wish that
we could get rid of the word God altogether, and substitute some such
word as "Cosmos." When asked if the "Cosmos" knew that it was a cosmos,
or that we were talking about it, he replied that he did not think so.
"Then I would rather worship you," I said, "than your cosmos, for you
would at least know that I reverenced you."

An intelligent lawyer friend of mine once said to me, "Of course I do
not believe in a personal God." I asked him if he meant that he did not
believe in a God who has a _form_ in heaven. But he answered:

"Oh, no, no, I have been beyond that for twenty-five years! God, if He
means anything, means the infinite, while a person means the limited.
Now, who ever heard of such a childish thing as a limited infinite? No,
pig-iron, as much as anything, is God."

I replied, "With all your intelligence, you haven't the remotest idea of
what constitutes personality. You are not aware that by personality we
mean a certain type of experience, and not a substance. Personality is
realized only as the experience of self-knowledge is achieved. You are
not as yet much of a personality, you are hardly more than a candidate
for the office, but by making a good campaign you may get elected. You
are not very personal because you are not very self-knowing, and if you
should drop the plummet into the depths of your experience to sound
yourself, by that very act you would acquire new depth, and would need
to try again to fathom yourself. So at best, you are only becoming
personal. None but the Infinite Experience can know itself perfectly,
and therefore, God alone is completely personal."

My friend had no idea either of God's personality or his own, and his
philosophical conception of nature was only a little less crude.

It was a long step in the right direction when I came to realize that I
had never seen my mother, with whom I lived for so many happy years. Yet
there was one thing that I felt sure I knew--absolutely, as I knew
nothing else--and that was my mother. Not her face, not her voice, not
her attitudes nor her actions, though all these I knew too and loved.
But back of all these there was a real mother, of whom these were only
manifestations. And this real mother, that I knew as I knew nothing
else, was silent, and invisible. And then I found that I knew myself
too--hardly as well as I knew my mother, but in the same way, and I knew
myself also to be invisible and silent. My spirit, or personality, is as
invisible and silent as God. I have no more seen myself than I have seen
Him. Neither has my naked soul ever made a sound. All the words that my
soul desires expressed are produced by a sort of animated phonograph
which we call the mouth. At the wish of my invisible self the physical
organs of speech set the air vibrating, but my self-conscious Will is
eternally silent. There is much to be said about the relation of
Personalities to their instruments, but this must be left until a little
later. It will avoid confusion if we try to take but one step at a time.

Great scholars may think that such ideas as I have endeavored to
illustrate are too simple to require statement, nevertheless the
recognition of these simple facts concerning my mother and myself
unlocked my prison door. It revolutionized everything within me, and
without me. During the thirty years of my active ministry, it has been
the moulding thought of my life. Once realizing that God was a "Loving
Intelligent Will," I no longer thought of Him as sitting on a throne, or
showing His face through parted clouds. This conception of spirit gave
to everything new shape and color. It was the idea around which a new
heaven and a new earth took form. The rest of this book must further
explain what it then meant, and still means, to me. As the result of a
better conception of spirit, my world was relieved of intolerable
intellectual burdens. Simply to get the idea, however, is not enough;
one must follow it out logically to see where it will lead him.

To the question, "What is God?" I once more answer that He is a Loving
Intelligent Will. And, apart from His instruments, He is silent and
invisible, here and everywhere, now and always.


2. Who is God?

First, allow me to say that He is _not_ the Father of our bodies, though
He is the Creator of them. God created trees, but He is not the Father
of trees. Fatherhood, in addition to creation, implies likeness so close
that father and child classify as members of the same family. Our bodies
were not made in the image of God.

While passing through my Sunday school where a college woman was giving
some supplementary work, I heard her teaching the young people that we
were made in the image of God because we had two legs instead of four,
and stood on end. "Why in the name of conscience," I thought, "do we
permit anyone in our churches to retain such detrimental and absurd
ideas?" This woman was what the young men and women called a
"crackerjack" in her college line. So I was amazed at her crude
conceptions, until I realized that she had never heard an exposition of
the primitive story in Genesis. I also remembered that I had heard it
preached from a pulpit, that man was in the image of God because he had
a face, and walked upright instead of going on all fours. Those churches
that believe man has no spirit except his breath are necessarily
confined to this monstrous idea; while many in our regular churches are
in a maze of tangled thoughts.

According to Scriptures, _God is the Father of spirits_. The "Loving
Intelligent Will" is the Father of other loving intelligent wills. This
makes every created spirit a God-child, or a child of God. These terms
must be interchangeable, unless we are playing at "make-believe," when
we say that a spirit is a child of God. Were not all spirits members of
the God family, it would be useless to teach them about God; for, being
of a different order, they would not understand. It is impossible to
teach a horse the things of a man, because he has not the spirit of a
man. I believe in an anthropomorphic God, simply because I believe in a
Theomorphic man. God must be in man's image, because man is in God's
image. But it is not the animal man in whose image God is.

I should never believe in a religion that I was incapable of
experiencing. Neither could I experience a religion that was contrary to
my reason. Nevertheless, mine is not a private religion, because I am an
infinite debtor to the world's best thought, and to the world's best
experience. Without the help of the ages I never could have thought or
felt that which I cannot avoid thinking and feeling at the present time.
This is not an effort to prove anything, but simply an attempt to
picture what I see and feel, with the hope that someone else may see and
feel in the same way.

The great pity of it all is that so many people have never _known_ the
world's best religious thought and experience. There are those, a
thousand years behind their age, who are launching new religions or
fostering old ones, who are utterly oblivious to the strata upon strata
of human achievement above them.

Yes, God is the Father of _all spirits_, whether they reside on earth,
or in heaven, or in hell. When once the meaning of spirit, or
personality, is realized there is no dodging the issue. If a horse goes
down the street keeping company with himself after this manner, "Now I
am an old horse, and I ought to be a good old horse, and I wonder what
the end will be," then he too is a son of God and our brother, though he
has four, instead of two legs. I do not think a horse so keeps company
with himself, but if he does, then we must own him and hope for the time
when our brother will have something better than a quadruped for an
instrument.

I am often asked what angels are like. That is an easy question. An
angel is very much like my wife. For they both are spirits, and children
of God. My wife is a sister of all the angels, and if Milton's great,
classical devil exists, he also is our brother, and a child of God. All
spirits are children of God, whether good or bad, just because they are
spirits.

In speaking of sons, the Bible usually means the good children of God;
yet it clearly teaches that prodigals are likewise sons. Earthly parents
are our older brothers and sisters, honored and much beloved; but only
God is the Father of our spirits. No one need fear that natural sonship
to God makes it less imperative that we should become good sons. To be a
bad son of God is a most wretched and deplorable thing in itself, and
leads inevitably to all deserved punishment. A good Father will not be
slack in discipline. And furthermore, the rebellious sons of God are not
slow to make hell in this life, and that they will make no more hell
after death we may not dare to believe.

If the truth about the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all
spirits could enter the minds of the people with all that it involves,
it would break the heart of the Church, and, we may believe, the heart
of the world as well. As yet, however, this truth is but dimly realized.
I once had a dear old friend, a saint, whom I greatly appreciated. With
her white hair and charming accent she was beautiful. Her mind was
richly stored with beautiful poetry, and her apt quotations often
touched me deeply. Loving all the saints, she was equally loved by them.
But one day I learned that my dear old saint was a saint only in
spots--yet she was a saint. The discovery came about in this way; I
asked her if she knew of the family with four children across the way,
who had lately come to her neighborhood, suggesting that she might be
useful to them. Now, what do you think my dear old saint said? With a
spasmodic jerk of the elbow, and a toss of the head, she replied, "No! I
don't want to know such folks!" This was a case in which caution was
unnecessary, and where real service might have been rendered. For the
time being my friend had completely forgotten that her neighbors were
God's little ones and her own brothers and sisters. She had forgotten
that her Father was over there struggling and suffering to save His
children from sin and harm, and that He sorely needed His older daughter
over the way to help Him. My dear old saint would not go across the
street to help her Father whom she thought she loved so dearly. She did
not realize that God was the Father of all spirits, and that all they
were members of one family. My dear old friend has long since gone to
her home beyond, and has learned how sadly she failed to comprehend the
Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. This knowledge doubtless
gives her many a heartache, and drives her forward with new zeal to
learn the lesson that God is the Father of _all spirits_.

We may be proud of our family name and social standing; we may think
that we are different and apart, but we should remember that no one
ever had more disreputable children than God. All the bad people are His
sons and daughters. True, they have dishonored His name, and grieved His
heart, yet He does not disown them; rather He follows them into all the
dens and haunts of vice asking them to return home. And as fast as we
become good sons, we join the Father in His love quest for His prodigal
sons, who are our brothers.

Possibly I am a direct descendant of King Swain of Denmark who conquered
England in the tenth century. There is no evidence to that effect, but
he is the first Swain of whom I know in history. However this may be,
with every other self-conscious being I can lift my head and say with
justifiable pride and gladness of heart, "God, who makes the world, is
my Father." How wonderful you are, O God-child! and what a pity it would
be if anything should drag you down from your divine possibilities!


3. Where is God?

When I once asked a company of young people where my spirit was they
promptly answered,

"In your body." I inquired,

"In a part of my body, or in all of it? Am I to understand that my
spirit is just the shape and size of my body, and that when I am thin of
flesh my spirit is not as large as when I am fleshy?"

"No," said they, "we do not like that."

"Oh! your spirit is in your brain," remarked one young fellow.

"Now, then, I have it," said I, "my spirit is just the shape and size of
the cavity in my skull."

"No," he replied, "we don't know how it is." And they did not know,
because no one had explained it to them. This is what I told them:

"The spirit is not in the body as a hand is in a glove, for that is one
_thing_ inside another _thing_. Spirit has no dimensions. If any boy has
a rule in his pocket let him measure my 'conscious will,' and tell me
how long it is." They promptly replied that it could not be done. So I
continued:

"If my self-conscious will occupies no space, then I, the spirit, am
neither in my body nor out of my body. I am nowhere. 'Where' applies to
things and not to spirit. The book is in the room because it occupies a
definite space. When we say that our spirits are in our bodies we simply
mean that our wills are capable of commanding our bodies and making them
act. _While our spirits are nowhere, yet they do get expressed
somewhere._ For all practical purposes, spirits are where their
instruments express them in time and space."

At this point in my remarks, I turned aside, and poked sharply with my
forefinger a friend who stood near. In reply to his inquiring look I
said:

"I did not poke you. It was this finger." (Then to the boys) "Did I poke
him? My finger touched him because I wished it. My will got expressed
right at the end of the finger, and therefore that is where my spirit
seemed to be."

Again I punched my friend, but this time with a long stick, and when he
turned sharply about, I said:

"I did not jab you, it was the stick. But the stick," I explained, "had
become the instrument of my will; therefore my will got expressed at a
greater distance from my body. The stick was really the lengthening of
my finger."

I then told them of the man in Virginia who was talking by wireless
telephone. It is reported that when he spoke, one man in Paris, and
another in Honolulu, replied at the same time, as if he were in both
places:

"Hello, Jake, is that you?" Had there been a million receivers in the
encircling space with people listening, it would have seemed to every
one of them that he was present. Though expressed in a million remote
places at one time, he would not have been divided into a million
persons; neither would he have been spread out to reach all the places
occupied by his listeners. His instruments would have been spread out,
but not his soul. His soul would still have remained sharply
self-conscious. That concentrated, self-conscious will is what we mean
by the soul. The soul is always a definite, personal will, to itself and
to the one or the many with whom it is communicating, however short or
extended its instruments.

That the young people grasped this conception of spirit, was made
evident in a subsequent review.

So to the question, "Where is God?" we must answer that, as naked
spirit, He is not anywhere, but that His instruments may express Him
everywhere. Where His instruments end, or whether nature ends at all, no
scientist knows. The Divine Spirit is no larger than the human spirit,
for neither of them has any largeness at all. God is simply more
conscious, more loving, and more intelligent than we; and His
instruments are infinitely more vast than ours. Developing a soul is not
making it larger, but making it more loving, intelligent, and
purposeful. However, the development of the soul does require the
enlargement of its instruments. An undeveloped person may be very
conscious of his body and its wants and scarcely at all aware of his
soul and its needs. To be infinitely self-knowing, like God, is the most
concentrated and intensified reality conceivable. So the minister's wife
of whom we have spoken, was mistaken in thinking God a rarified
substance like ether, spread out to fill all nature. With her
materialistic conception of God, she thought Him so spacially big that
she could neither know Him nor love Him, whereas He is no more spread
out than the mathematical point that has no dimensions. To give complete
satisfaction to our friend, it will be necessary to show her the various
ways of approaching this Loving Will, the Father of her own invisible
self; but for this we are not yet ready.

Dr. Lyman Abbott tells of sitting at the table one day with his little
grandson when the latter said, "'Grandfather, how can God be in Cornwall
and in Newburgh at the same time?' I touched him on the forehead and
said, 'Are you there?' 'Yes.' I touched him on the shoulder, 'Are you
there?' 'Yes.' I touched him on the knee, 'Are you there?' 'Yes.' 'That
is the way,' I replied, 'God can be in Cornwall and in Newburgh at the
same time.' He considered a moment, and shyly smiled his assent."

I am well aware that we have not said enough about God to make Him
satisfyingly near and personal to our love; but it is a start, and we
still have the pleasure of traveling together over a beautiful road
until we shall stand face to face with Him whom our souls seek. We
should reach this desired goal in the fourth chapter. But if we become
impatient, we shall spoil the journey, for we are traveling as fast as
we can go without having a wreck.

Here, a little incident from actual experience may be helpful. My eldest
son, when a little child, would not say a prayer. This, beyond doubt,
was abnormal, because most little children are willing to pray. As my
own religious life had given me so much trouble, I concluded that he had
inherited my frailties, and not his mother's virtues. Being perplexed by
his attitude I would sometimes take him out to see the stars, when I
would speak of the greatness and goodness of God. Then, once in awhile,
though not often, I could get him to pray. We did not wish him to be
unduly serious, certainly not solemn, but it did puzzle us to know why
he would not say a prayer. So one day when he came into my study I
thought, "Now is my chance." Taking him up, I set him on the desk before
me, which permitted him to look out of the window upon the apple trees
that were a bower of beauty in their spring blossoms.

"Isn't this a beautiful world?" I said.

"Yes," was his reply.

"Who made it?"

"God."

"Well, wouldn't it be nice to pray a little?" I asked.

"Oh," with a tone of aversion, "I don't want to pray!"

"You don't like to talk to God?"

"Huh!" scornfully. "I can't _talk_ to God, He's up in heaven."

"No, God is in your heart." At that he rose to his knees and said, with
an incredulous look on his face:

"Well, I guess I can't jump into my mouth!" This made me feel that he
was born a little pagan, but at the same time it gave me one clue to the
difficulty. He made a difference between talking and praying. That he
liked to talk, I knew, but now it appeared that, to his mind, offering
prayers to some one so far away was quite a different thing. Then I
asked him if he thought I loved him.

"Yes, I know you love me," he said, putting his arms about my neck, and
giving me a squeeze.

"Well," I asked, "can you see my love?"

"Yes."

"Are you sure you can see it?"

"Why, of course."

"Well, then, put your hand on it."

"I can't _see_ your love, but,--I know you love me, though!"

"Yes, you do know that I love you, but you can't see my love, neither
can you see _me_."

"Yes, I can!"--and his hand literally flew to my cheek.

"Oh, no, that is not papa; that is flesh. You didn't think I was flesh,
did you? No, you can't see me because I am love, or spirit." Here I
carefully felt of his head, saying, "Now, that is a bone box, but I
don't talk to a bone box when I talk to you." Next, feeling of his ear,
I remarked, "Isn't that a funny little thing, a piece of gristle!--but I
don't talk to gristle when I speak to you." Bringing my hand down over
his face, I continued, "Here is some flesh with bones under it, but I
don't talk to flesh and bones when I talk to you. No, I can't _see_ you.
Yet, my love _knows_ your love, and your love knows my love. When my
love feels your love, then we say you are in my heart; and when our love
feels God's love, then He is in our hearts. Isn't it beautiful, that my
love knows and likes to talk to your love, and your love knows and likes
to talk to my love, and that we like to talk to God's love?" He didn't
wait for me to ask him to pray, but at once began in a loud whisper,
saying:

"O God, help me to be a good boy, and to love papa and mamma, and
everybody, and to do everything that is good." Then looking up with a
smile, he asked, "Do you know what I was doing?" I said:

"I think you were talking to the Lord." With evident satisfaction he
admitted that he was.

Two days after this he came into my study while I was reading a book and
put his hand on my knee. Giving my knee a hard shove, he said:

"This isn't papa, is it? This is papa's _body_." My book went out of the
way in a hurry, I can assure you, and there was a dear little upturned
face smiling, which said, "We are spirits, aren't we, papa?" Never after
that did he refuse to pray.

Some years ago a successful minister, about forty-five years of age,
consecrated, eloquent, and revered by his people, asked me how I
conceived of God when I prayed. The conversation revealed the fact that
he was struggling with all the questions that troubled the little boy.
This unhappy condition was due to the fact that theology begins too far
down the stream, leaving unanswered and unconsidered the best questions
of all, the questions of children and fools.

Once, when a little child, I was told by my mother that God saw all my
naughty thoughts. Immediately, I asked, "Where is God?" She answered,
"Everywhere." "In the sky?" "Yes." "In this house?" "Yes." "In the logs
of the walls?" "Yes." "In the table leg?" "Yes." "If I were to saw the
table leg off, would I hurt God?" "Sh-h, be careful what you say about
God."

That last question was as legitimate as the previous ones, and was asked
with equal sincerity. It clearly revealed my materialistic conceptions
of God. My present opinion is that it would not give Him pain to saw off
the leg of a table, but that it would give Him pain to amputate a human
leg. God knows the thrill of a nerve better than we do, or else He has
much to learn.

A relative, visiting in my home, remarked that she was utterly confused
about God; and that she had been reading some of the new cults of the
day with the hope of finding something satisfying. Consequently, a
little conversation followed on how God was immanent in all nature. So,
when she put her little boy to bed that night, she told him that God was
not away off in heaven but near, and in everything that was good. To
this the little fellow replied, "Oh, gee! then He is in strawberry
shortcake, isn't He?" The poor mother was at the end of her wits, and
felt that the devotion which followed was not very successful. We teach
that God is in everything, without comprehending how He is in anything,
and herein lies the difficulty.

The question of how God is in nature was again before us. Some one
suggested, "If He is in strawberry shortcake, is He likewise in the
garbage can?" "Horrors!" exclaimed another. A third voice, "_Now_ where
are we!--do we believe, or do we not believe that God is in all nature?"

A garbage can may be most repulsive if allowed to breed life; yet
chemically and biologically viewed, its contents are more beautiful
than any fairyland ever described. The odor and sight are repugnant to
us, because the refuse is not wholesome food for human beings; but to
some other animals it is more delicate than a perfume bottle. The other
animals would probably think the perfume horrid stuff. The "Loving
Intelligent Will" is not in nature in the same way that strawberries are
in shortcake. After that manner God is neither in nor out of anything.
This, however, will be made more plain in the consideration of the next
question.

Whether or not the reader likes these illustrations, at least they are
out of the raw experience of life, and reveal the crude conceptions that
linger concerning God and His relations to the universe. A child can ask
many of the vital questions concerning religion and life before he can
count ten; and if his questions are answered, he will ask almost all the
religious questions before he has learned the multiplication table. This
is because nothing else is so near to him as life and religion. The
mathematical faculty is a later development.

I should never crowd a child in his acquisition of religious knowledge;
but when he wants to know, if we ourselves know the way, it is much
better to start him on the right track.


4. What does God do?

"What does God do all day?" asked a little boy of his mother.

We used to think that He made the universe in a week, and that ever
since He had been keeping Sunday. During this long Sabbath we believed
Him to be engaged in religious work; though He may have regulated the
universe a bit now and then. Now, however, we see that nothing is
finished. Even new worlds are being formed, and the old ones are
constantly being changed. It is deeper truth to recognize God as making
the universe all the time, to think of nature as God at work. For,
should God cease working there would be no world. We used to say, and
rightly, too, that the world is crammed so full of meaning and purpose
that it must have had a wise Creator; that there never could have been
such a world without a God. With equal propriety, we may now say that
there could no more be a God without a world than a world without a God;
because a God who was so indolent and purposeless as to think nothing,
and feel nothing, and project nothing, would not be worthy of a second
thought.

At last we have come to the point where we can see how science, in a
peculiar way, has saved religion. Men have always been pondering over
God's relation to the wonderful forces of nature that envelop us. They
could get along pretty well with either a God or a world, but found it
difficult to harmonize both thoughts. There appeared to be a spirit
world over against the great lump of a dirt world. The _bulk_ of things
often seemed such a hindrance that men dreamed of deliverance by
ultimately getting rid of the material universe altogether. Even God,
it was thought by some philosophers, did the best He could with the
stubborn clay at His disposal. When my brother was killed, I could not
decide whether God or the great machine world killed him. Just when the
world acted, or just when God acted, was to me a profound mystery. For,
in my thought, the world was a great automatic machine, that ran
entirely by itself, except when God occasionally interfered. Whether He
was a sort of spiritual ether penetrating all things, or what, I could
not at all decide. But like the Yale professor, I still believed that if
He existed, He must have a _visible_ nucleus all His own in heaven. God,
at the center, was a ghost, whom His ghost children would find only
after death. According to the common teaching, Jesus had left His Father
and happy home in heaven, having come to this sinful earth to be clothed
with a physical body. Of course, the Father's spirit was represented as
being with Jesus, but the Father Himself had remained in His far-away
home. So my confusion was worse confounded by thinking.

During many centuries, scholars were grappling with the thought of
spirit; and they did some good thinking in spite of their mistakes.
Spirit was being more and more clearly defined. It increasingly appeared
to be a self-conscious will, but how this Infinite Will was related to
the great lump of nature, was the supreme difficulty.

Finally the scientists took the lump into the laboratories, when behold!
it melted as quickly as a lump of sugar melts in the mouth of a boy.
They discovered that nature was no lump at all, but a bundle of
beautiful, complex energies. Nature as _substance_ scientists have
driven to the vanishing point; so much so that no great physicist would
dare to say that there is any substance. Yet nature was never so potent
in the lives of men as since it has been reduced to invisible energies.
The knowledge of these invisible forces and the power to manipulate them
make men almost like gods in their achievements.

The present situation, then, is a little like that of putting the tunnel
under the Hudson. One gang beginning on the Jersey side, and another on
the New York side, they bored down and onward, sometimes going far below
the water; but when the workers came together under the Hudson, they had
varied from each other only by the least fraction of an inch. Just so
the philosophers and theologians began on the spirit side, reducing
spirit to purposeful energy; while the scientists began on the nature
side reducing it to purposeful energy; and when the two sets of workers
broke through, they were apparently at the same point. The Christian
scholar looked up with joy and amazement, saying, "Why, this invisible,
purposeful energy of nature is simply what God is thinking, and feeling,
and willing. Whether there is any _substance_ we do not know, but
whether there is, or is not, _nature is Will in action_. God continually
purposes all these energies and they go forth. Light-energy, and all
other beautiful forces constituting nature, are the modes of God's
continuous will."

"What does God do all day?" Why, everything that is being done in the
universe, except that which other wills are doing. And the child will is
only combining his Father's energies and thinking his Father's thoughts.
The child never works apart from his Father's enfolding powers. If we
could comprehend all the dynamics of the universe, we should know what
God is doing on _that plane_ of His activities. Or, if we could know all
His loving thoughts and higher purposes concerning His children, who are
striving and building in the midst of these simple, enfolding energies,
we should know what God is doing in the _moral realm_. The wall of
partition is broken down, the veil is rent in twain; we live in the Holy
Presence, since there is no other place to live. With Browning, we feel
that the atmosphere "Is the clear, dear breath of God who loveth us."
The pavement on which we walk is the power of the Great Will bearing us
up. Likewise, the buildings along the street are more of His beneficent
energies, providing shelter and rest for His loved ones. Our bodies are
also His energies, highly sensitized, through which we become
beautifully aware of our surroundings. All the vitality in the quivering
beams of ships, and all the propelling force in their engines, is but
the power of a Will, and that Will is the Father of our spirits. Leaving
out of mind for the present the thought of the vast universe, measure,
if you can, the ocean in its breadth and depth, which in its ceaseless
rising and falling raises and lowers ship-cities as if they were
snowflakes; and then remember that, if rightly applied, there is power
enough in each cup full of water to destroy a ship, and that all the
energy of the boundless worlds is but the will of Him in whom we "live
and move and have our being." Having done this, if you are not something
less than a man, you will fall down and adore in wonder, love and
praise. To be brought face to face with God in the beauty and awfulness
of nature is the only cure for the irreverence of this generation.

But some one says, "This makes God too great. Have you looked, and
staggered before the limitless heavens?" Yes, but is it not claimed that
God is Infinite?--and we have not yet found the equal of infinity. With
all our insistence upon the infinitude of God, perhaps it offends some
to think of Him as being equal to His universe,--or even to the little
part of it that we can imagine. However, God must be greater than all
His works.

This is pantheism, says another. No, pantheism though containing many
beautiful truths is, nevertheless, a golden mist. Its advocates have
eliminated personality, they have broken the mast of their ship, and all
the riggings have fallen down with it. Being the perpetual cause of all
things, Self-conscious Will is the greatest fact in the universe. There
is a clear distinction between God and His deeds, even as there is a
distinction between myself and what I am now thinking and doing. This
Creative Will is what the intelligent Christian means by the term God.
He conceives of this Will of the universe as being the Father of all
other wills. We are not to think of God as making a dirt planet which He
has tossed off into space as something separate from His will. He never
put His children on such an isolated Earth as that would be, to roam
about and care for themselves as best they might. The world is the
complex energy of His will never-ceasing, with which He enfolds His
children. He carries them in His loving powers and will not let them go.
This is His cosmic relation to us; but it is by no means the only
relation which He sustains to His children. His more personal
relationship is equally beautiful and necessary.

Something like this twofold relationship exists between man and man. We
know that it is best for us to build railroads, though many are sure to
be killed by them however careful we may be. Yet we should be something
more than railroad operators; we should be personal friends and, if
occasion should arise, minister to the wants of those who are injured by
our railroads.

So God must either will a cosmos, or not will it. He cannot obliterate a
part of the world, every time one of His wilful or ignorant children
gets in the way. It is not even best for His children that He should do
so. It is far better to have a definite and orderly world, though it may
hurt many. Yet God never forsakes His injured children, but leads them
out of their injuries into something better, if they are willing.

Comforting as these thoughts are, we must yet travel a long way before
we come to a completely satisfying idea of God. However, this is not
discouraging, because we like to travel when the prospect grows more
pleasing at each stage of the journey.

Some think there must be a dirt world because they see it. In a way I
seem to see my wife when I look at her picture; yet I only see a bit of
paper irregularly faded. Likewise a shining light appears to be a
complete thing in itself, whereas the sun, doubtless, is as dark as
blackness. The light which the scientist studies is waves of energy,
traveling at the rate of one hundred and eighty-six thousand miles per
second, but that is not the sweet something that we experience as light.
The light coming from the sun is not shiny until our sensations are
added. And even then, it is our feelings that are brilliant because our
nerves were struck by these rapid waves of energy. When we think we see
a real face, it is only a shadow on the retina of the eye; which eye is
only another bundle of energies, and not the substance that it appears
to be.

We live in a picture world, produced by God's energies beating upon
other energies which He has intimately associated with our wills. We
thank God for these pictures because they are the visible language of
"loving intelligent wills," wills that in themselves are silent and
invisible. Yet these wills are known in consciousness as a bit of final
reality. They are like unto God who causes the vital energies that
result in the pictures of a living, rational experience. Experience,
therefore, with its inner consciousness and its outer symbol, or
picture, is all we know. So when they would take us out of personal
experience into a universal "substance" called spirit, they are offering
to take us out of the known into the unknown; for they do not know
whether there is any substance.

"Why, then," some may ask, "does God combine His energies to form a
poisonous rattlesnake?" God has expressed everything imaginable; the
beautiful and ugly, the safe and harmful, the pleasant and painful, the
gentle and terrible, and all these are but the alphabet of a soul. If He
had given us nothing but abstract definitions, we never should have
learned the meaning of anything; and scarcely more, if He had given us
only the beautiful and pleasant without their opposites. But He has made
us _feel_ the meaning, so that it may be real to us. From this marvelous
alphabet which He has provided, we learn to spell, then to read, and
finally to live. When we have learned the meaning of poison and its
opposite, we may kill the rattlesnake, or cause its energies to dissolve
and pass into something more beautiful and safe. Thus we become more and
more immune from all that is ugly and harmful, and more appreciatively
attached to all that is beautiful and good. The ugly and harmful were
desirable things to know in contrast with the beautiful and good, that
we might reject the one, and cleave to the other. The deeper meaning of
things thus learned will give significance to our beautiful world long
after we have passed beyond the evil which we have come to loathe. I am
entirely convinced that this so-called evil world with its epidemics,
earthquakes, and cyclones is the best conceivable place in which to
_begin_ a soul; not the best possible world as yet, for it is our
business to help make it better. Neither should we forget that the
terrible is often the overture to us of some mighty, beneficent energy
which we have not yet learned to use.

Again we affirm that God is doing everything that occurs in the
universe, except those things which are being done by His children.
Nothing ever occurs that is not directly or indirectly the act of some
will.


5. If the Ancients made their gods, how do we know that we are not
making our God?

Doubtless, the great fallacy in this question is the supposition that
the Ancients made their gods. No one ever made his God or his gods; for
all men have the same identical God, living and moving and having their
being in Him. They have Him regardless of whether they know either His
name or His character. Since there is no other God or thing to have, all
must have Him. Neither can they avoid being conscious of Him, nor escape
having opinions concerning Him. All religious opinions, however sane or
grotesque, are about the same God. The Ancients, being conscious of our
God and their God, were sometimes comforted by His presence, while at
other times they were greatly frightened. As they could not escape Him
they tried to explain Him; and in the act of explaining, they made a
theology and not a god. Whoever expresses a religious opinion is guilty
of starting a theology. Even the Ancients were moved by an objective
reality, and not by a mere idea. Though their idea often failed to
describe the reality with accuracy, yet if the reality had disappeared,
the idea would have perished from among them. It seemed to them that
there was a god of thunder and, according to our interpretation of the
universe, there was; for if our God had not been there thundering, they
never would have thought of a god of thunder. Neither were they mistaken
when they thought there was a god of harvest; because our God was there
making their harvests grow as He does ours, and was feeding them as He
feeds us. We all make worse mistakes than that. These crude men may be
excused for thinking that a crashing thunderstorm was a big enough task
for one god; or that the fructifying of all vegetation was ample
employment for another.

Those early men worshiped our God in divided form simply because they
could not think of a God great enough to carry on all the diverse
activities which they beheld. Another reason why these crude children
conceived of Him as many gods was that they could not understand how one
person could be so gentle and terrible at the same time. Nevertheless,
they would not have had gentle and terrible gods if our God had not been
both gentle and terrible. They, therefore, no more made their gods than
they made their stars. Their gods were our God, and their stars were our
stars. We call their theology mythology, and their astronomy astrology.
Yet mythology is crude theology, and astrology is unscientific
astronomy. Astrology arose because men were influenced by real stars,
and were impelled to offer such explanations as they were able. Without
astrology we never would have had astronomy. In like manner men were
disquieted by the same Infinite Power that disturbs us to-day, and were
moved by that Power to offer their best interpretation. But without
their mythology we never would have had our theology. The development of
astronomy will never cease while there are intelligent men for stars to
shine upon. Nor will the idea of God cease to expand while men are
enfolded in the vast purposeful energy called the universe.

Our early brothers were trying to comprehend and interpret our God who
was as present to them as He is to us. And here we are in the year
nineteen hundred and twenty, A. D., still trying to expound Him; because
the need is not less now than then. Those who know most about God best
realize the need of knowing more. When we no longer try to increase our
knowledge of God, we shall cease to love Him.


6. May we not be communing with a mere idea?

No, that is impossible. Because, whatever it is, it is at least an
objective reality. Its grip is that of the universe. We can not let it
go because it will not let us go. We are worshiping more than an idea;
we are worshiping what we live in; we call it God; we think it is
"Loving Intelligent Will." We believe that the power that enfolds us
knows itself and us. And that we are not mistaken in this, our assurance
deepens as our knowledge increases. We find that if we do not neglect or
stultify any portion of our nature, our insight grows. If we invest our
all on the conception of a spiritual universe we get astonishing results
to the individual and to society. Then follows more insight and the
incentive to invest again our talents that have doubled in the using of
them. Of this, however, we shall have more to say later. For the present
suffice it to say, the object of my worship is the great reality; all
the reality there is, except my will and the other wills whom I call
brothers. To state clearly what we mean, before trying to tell why we
believe it, is of the utmost importance. With an experimental knowledge
of God, and with ideas of the universe that harmonize therewith, our
heads and hearts are thoroughly anchored in Him. If our every line of
vision converges to this end, our insight gives us God as the great
enfolding reality. Our further task is to make the idea of God clear and
to show how the lines of vision converge. In this task, modern knowledge
is the Christian's best ally.



CHAPTER III

DOES MAN HAVE A SOUL, AND WHAT IS HIS PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE?

    _What is man?_

    _Who is man?_

    _Would the absence of man cripple God?_

    _What could an infinite God care for such a little speck?_

    _Is not socialism the best religion there is?_


1. What is man?

We do not fully know "what" and "where" God is until we know what man
is, and how God and man are working through each other. Our knowledge of
God grows with our knowledge of man. We can understand neither without
knowing both. At every stage of the discussion our subject is made
complex by the intertwining of the human and the Divine. Hence, this
chapter--while introducing man--takes us deeper into the life of God.

Man does not have a soul. Neither does the sun set. Though we know
better, yet for convenience, we continue to speak of the sun as setting.
For the same reason we still say that man has a soul when we mean that
he is a soul. Soul is person, body is instrument. The instrument does
not have the person, the person has the instrument. The soul is the
child of God. How strangely, therefore, it would sound to ask: Does a
man have a child of God? The reverse question, however, is perfectly
fitting: Does a child of God have a body?

Man is a spirit, a soul, or a person. All men are alike in that which
constitutes them personalities, or self-conscious wills. It is in their
individuality that men differ. In the first place, some are more
developed than others; and then they have different tastes, different
knowledge, different temperaments, and different occupations. This
diversity of individuality clearly distinguishes one man from another,
and at the same time greatly enriches society.

Like his Father, man is _a loving intelligent will_. Like Him, too, he
is always silent and invisible, save as his instruments express his
thought and wish in time and space. So far, Father and child should be
defined in the same terms; for however they may differ in other
respects, they are alike in being self-conscious. If either is below
self-conscious will, he is something less than a person. Though man, as
we find him, is not always so very loving, nor so very intelligent, yet
that is what he is in his best estate. So far as we can understand, the
sinless man soul lifted to the infinite power would be the same as God.
This spiritual definition does not imply that either God or man exists,
or could exist, without form and outward expression.


2. Who is man?

We think of Man, the soul, as a child of God, or a god-child. Therefore,
he is worthy of his brother's highest esteem, and his Father's tenderest
affection. He is a very son of the infinite God; and all created
spirits, being his brothers, are members of one family. Again we say, "O
god-child, how wonderful you are, and what a pity it would be if you
failed to recognize your divinity, or allowed anything to drag you down
from your divine possibilities!" Man must know himself if he would
attain unto the goal of life.

Though man _is_ a soul, yet without the body he cannot so much as come
to self-consciousness. Just how or when a soul begins, we do not know;
but it does not appear until some time after the body is born. A
new-born babe can neither see, feel, nor hear, with any intelligent
meaning of the words. It will stare into the most glaring light without
intelligence enough to shut its eyes. It does not recognize objects for
some time, and when it does, misses the object for which it reaches. The
infant is likewise slow in distinguishing sounds or names. If the soul
exists when the body is born, it is only a latent personality which has
not yet come to self-realization. Personality is self-conscious will,
and this the child has not yet achieved.

Let us here consider the relation of a new-born _body_ to God and the
universe. God begins His creative activities in what the scientists call
stellar ether, where His energies combine and recombine in a more and
more complex world, until the solar system appears with planets in the
condition of our earth. After more combinations and recombinations, out
on the surface of all things His activities blossom in the finest bit of
organism, the sensitized thing which we call the human body. This body,
the flower of all God's activities in nature, requires all nature for
its support. Furthermore, the chemical energies constituting the body
itself are what God is thinking, and feeling, and doing. Strictly
speaking, it is His body, the first instrument in the whole order of
development, the only body on earth capable of articulate speech and
loving deed. If God did not continually will the body and all the
supporting energies of the universe, the body would cease to be. Before
the man soul appears at all, we have God's world culminating in what we
call the human body. When a man soul awakes, it is in God's own bosom,
in His own body. Man awakens in God's enfolding energies, and not
outside them; for outside of God he could not exist.

It is amusing to hear a little boy speak of his father's automobile as
"my car"; but it isn't his, even though the father is pleased to see the
little fellow spread himself in it and claim ownership. Yet it is his
too, in the sense that the father gladly shares it with him. And some
day when the child is too big to be a little boy, and too little to be a
big boy, he may take his father's car and run it into the ditch. But
even the wreck is his father's wreck. In the same way, if we live at all
it is in our Father's enfolding instrument. His body is ours because He
gladly shares it with us. However, if we do not use it in harmony with
His will, we wreck it in the ditch.

God wakes His child to consciousness in His own body, by making all
kinds of impressions upon the sense organs. There are many rappings on
the door, and flashes of light through the windows until the soul wakes.
And when the soul becomes conscious, God may not cease beating upon the
instrument with myriad forces, lest His child fall asleep.

Some morning when a loved form bends over the infant body, the baby
smiles, and the soul begins to appear. That is a wonderful day when the
baby gives its first smile. Little by little the child becomes aware of
itself and of its mother. Should the baby be fortunate enough to have
two or three brothers and sisters, he will learn some day, when he is a
little older, that they all want the same thing at the same time. Then
he will be very conscious of _other wills_.

We know that other wills exist because they live in our enveloping
world, and constantly use it in a way that we approve or resent. If they
did not know and disturb our world, we should not be aware of them even
if they existed. We know that other wills exist because they sell us
coats that they have made, and cut down trees in our forests, and shape
them into things that have meaning for us and them. They modulate the
atmosphere in which we live, producing sounds that stand for objects
with which we are familiar. They learn our words and facial
expressions, and use them to make us feel happy or uncomfortable. Nature
is the common instrument of all wills.

As we cannot come to the consciousness of ourselves, nor of other wills,
except through the body and its environments, _neither can we develop
the soul without cultivating the physical instrument and that which
surrounds it_. There is always a corresponding development between soul
and body. As Browning says,

"We know not whether soul helps body more than body helps soul."

We simply know that soul and body develop together, and that if either
is injured the other is harmed. A physical change in our bodies takes
place with every thought. We cannot silently love without disturbing the
gray matter. We make paths through our nervous system with every thought
and deed. If we had a means of photographing all the muscular and
nervous conditions wrought in our bodies by our thoughts and actions,
they would correspond to every growth of spirit. The face becomes
beautiful with a beautiful soul, and the body becomes refined by every
improvement of the spirit.

I once shook hands with the great French organist, Guilmant. When I
clasped his hand I forgot everything else; the hand was so soft, and yet
so firm! All the inspiration and purpose of his soul had been registered
in his body. And what a hand it was! I shall never forget that touch. It
gave new meaning to Tennyson's beautiful line, "Oh for the touch of a
vanished hand!" Our looks, smiles, accents, and very gait become the
expression of the soul.

We once had a maid who came home in the dejected state following
intoxication. When I appeared she said:

"I has me faults the same as others, but me heart is all right." Now,
could her heart be right and her body wrong? Can we have a pure soul and
an unclean body? Can we have an honest heart and a pilfering hand?
Certainly not. For as the pure soul cleanses the body, so the degraded
body pollutes the soul. Soul and body must grow together,--and alike.
Sometimes we speak of a purely spiritual experience apart from all
physical excitability; but such a thing is impossible, because every
spiritual thought has its beautiful, physical accompaniment. The
physical may run riot, as with some musicians who are principally noise
and bluster; but the fact still remains that the most bilious and cold
philosopher enjoys his gentle nervous thrill.

All worthy education means the spiritualizing of the body. Both before
death, and after, the good man has a spiritual body. Not a spirit body,
but a spiritual, a refined and sensitive instrument of the spirit.
Throughout eternity man will be spiritualizing his body, or else
degrading it.

We soon outgrow our immediate bodies, and find it necessary to augment
them with all the forces of nature. These enlarged bodies must likewise
be spiritualized or they will pervert the soul,--as is proved by every
degraded form of institutional life.

The early man dimly realized that if he could get a larger hand, he
would be a greater man. So, augmenting his hand with a club, he achieved
a new growth in mind and character. Finding himself a greater man, he
tried once more to increase his hand. Next, finding a sharp stone with
which he could hack down small trees, he created a new mental and moral
demand for a still finer instrument of his spirit. Then, in turn, he
augmented his hand with bronze and iron until all great thundering mills
and all cunning tools appeared as the mighty hand of the human will.
This required an enormous soul growth in knowledge and character, and a
corresponding growth in social consciousness and self-consciousness. To
further our soul growth there is still a pressing demand for enlarged
instruments. So it must ever be an even race between soul growth and
hand growth.

In the same way, man developed soul and legs. It became necessary to
make swifter legs or suffer a dwarfing of his soul. Consequently, he
increased his speed with camels and horses; but even these became
inadequate for his soul's growth. Then ensued a race of soul and legs,
until to-day automobiles, steam cars, and every means of swift
locomotion are but the augmented legs of man. The growing man soul is
still in quest of swifter means of locomotion, and as these appear
society is changed to its very foundations. New trades, new mental
powers, new moral conditions confront him everywhere; and still he is
speeding up.

When man made for himself far-seeing eyes in the telescope, the heavens
opened; and what he saw in the heavens made for him a new earth. Then
making for himself a short-seeing eye in the microscope, he discovered
within and beneath things a new world, which in turn was a vast
commentary on the heavens above. Likewise it may be truthfully said that
soul and eyes have made an even race in their development. The same is
true of soul and ears. Said a great building contractor of Chicago
thirty-five years ago, "No man in the past ever dreamed of such a
business as we are conducting, for it would have been impossible without
the telephone." The telephone is but the enlargement of man's ears and
mouth. This contractor moved men and materials, at will, over a radius
of a hundred miles. Even the musical soul found a new incentive when the
mouth was enlarged by piano, pipe organ, and orchestra. Every
enlargement of the mouth calls for new musical skill in complex
technique, and in finer inspiration and fuller elaboration. In short,
every man soul is in quest of omnipresence. Living as he does in his
Father's enfolding energies, he can know himself, and grow himself, only
so far as he makes the instruments of his Father's will the instruments
of his own will. The man soul is in the process of taking on the whole
universe as his enlarged body. Two hundred pounds is quite large enough
for the little body which he ever carries, and cares for, but to be a
growing son of God he must progressively make the universe his augmented
body. At night he may lay off his big body and rest; but in the morning
he must put on his larger body, the universe, as he puts on his clothes
and his boots, and go forth to live and work with God, his Father.


3. Would the absence of man cripple God?


Yes, the absence of man would thoroughly cripple God. Without the
possibility of a family, God would just as well never have been. This is
not an unbecoming or irreverent remark, but a statement that is very
pleasing to God; it vindicates everything that is highest in His Holy
Nature. His wisdom, character, and love are all involved in His purpose
to have a family.

If we eliminate the thought of His family, what wisdom is there in
anything God has made? The production of coal is a wonderful display of
wisdom, love, and power; but apart from the thought of children who
would discover the coal and put it to all its marvelous uses, what
motive could there have been in such an act? God, as a solitary will in
the universe, never intended to mine coal, warm houses, cook food, or
fire engines. All the marvelous by-products of coal could have no value
or meaning apart from a complex society; but with a family in mind the
production of coal becomes a sacrament worthy of a God, and lays the
foundation of a kingdom, all glorious in wisdom, love, and power.

Iron, likewise, has a rational, moral, and social significance beyond
all power to express. Its uses, all the way from steel bridges and
engines to the hair springs of watches, suggest the imagination of a
mind infinite and loving. The human family never could have climbed to
glory except on an iron stair; but take away the family, and iron means
nothing.

The large part that wood has supplied in the development and happiness
of the race is beyond the imagination of any but an infinite mind. To
what infinite uses it has been and may yet be put, from the homeliest
utilities to organs and violins! Soft woods, hard woods, and precious
woods have entered into the very warp and woof of human life. Wood is a
miracle, robbed of its wonder because the gift is so lavish. Yet what
sense would there be in creating wood in all its varieties, with no one
to put it to any of its sacred uses? These same thoughts would equally
apply to all the precious metals.

Why should God create a chemical world unless He had chemists in mind?
What would it amount to if there were not those who could take nature
apart and recombine it to infinity for His glory and their happiness?
But there is no end to questions of this kind that might be asked
concerning God and His works. In short, a depopulated universe is robbed
of all its meaning and glory. Without a family, God would be reduced to
a child god playing with a toy world. And being alone, He could not so
much as complete His toy. At best the universe is but raw material until
His children have turned it into a finished product. When God and His
children begin turning nature into finished products the highest
creation is just begun. By transforming nature into a social
institution that reflects God's wisdom and love, common nature is
glorified. Without a family there is no sense in anything, and God
Himself would be without moral worth or meaning. To be sure, He could
get along without a few of us if we should utterly refuse to coöperate
with Him; but without a loving family, God would be completely defeated.
He "So loved the world," and with equal propriety it might be said He so
needed the world, "that He gave His only begotten Son."

Before God's family arrived He was simply getting ready to do the
supreme thing. But with His children about Him, loving and alert, the
meaning of all things from the beginning commences to appear, and the
glorious end is dimly discerned. No greater travesty on the nature of
God could be conceived than that which makes Him independent of His
children. And to think that God's desire for mere adoration is His chief
need of man is but slightly less a travesty. God yearns for the love and
adoration of His children, and with no less desire, He calls upon them
to help Him carry forward His work of creation. Love without work and
achievement is first insipid, and then stale. God can no more fulfill
Himself without children than men can fulfill themselves without Him. If
God's highest works fail Him, then God Himself has failed.

The permanent absence of children would stultify God's reason and
character by rendering useless all that He is and all that He has made.



4. What could an infinite God care for such a little speck?

It would be interesting to know who originated this question, for he
should wear the badge of his own ignorance. In his mind, the little
"speck" probably signified the human body. But as we have already seen,
that is not man; it is only his instrument. And besides, man may
progressively augment his little body, causing it to articulate with the
whole body of nature. Moreover, the human body is primarily God's, the
flower of all His works in the vast unfolding universe. Does God care
for these myriad blossoms of his universe? One might as well ask, "What
could a horticulturist care for the little blossoms on his apple trees?"
Let the insects sting them, or the frosts bite them, he has big _trees_
to absorb his attention!

Unless God's world could blossom into myriad, delicate forms, as homes
for man souls, the universe would be as useless as a barren apple tree.
The little flower is not something apart, its production taxes the
entire strength and purpose of the tree. Neither is the human body
something apart, its production taxes the entire strength and purpose of
the universe. As the flower is the tree's glory and promise of fruit, so
the human body is nature's glory and promise of souls.

If, however, the "speck" refers to the real man, the spirit, then the
question is equally foolish. An intelligent will is neither a "speck,"
nor something spread out like ether. Furthermore, that which can be so
deeply impressed by the vastness of the universe is not insignificant in
itself. A mastodon would not be overwhelmed by the vastness of the
universe. Neither is the great universe overwhelmed by a sense of its
own magnitude. In his sense of awe, the foolish man who asked the
question transcends the great universe itself. To be overwhelmed with
our inability to know the universe is partly knowing it, or else we
should not be so completely overwhelmed. That is not insignificant which
can measure the distance to the stars, and weigh the planets, and mark
out the shape and size of their orbits. That is not insignificant which
can discover the very elements of which the sun is composed. Man's
primary body may be relatively small, but it is so highly organized that
he can augment it until his instrument reaches the stars. Though the sun
is approximately ninety-three million miles from our earth, yet the
intelligent mind of man discovered helium in the sun before he
discovered it upon the earth. This feat of His child must have given the
Father keen delight.

Man's body is potentially as great as the universe because, being so
delicately organized, it can articulate with the world elements to the
farthest sun that twinkles in the blue.

The Luther Burbanks are revealing our supremacy over the vegetable
kingdom. The animal kingdom is known to be equally plastic under our
shaping hand; for juggling with animal life is one of man's pastimes.
By using pressure, he has taken a single cell life and divided it into
twins. He has taken two separate cells and formed them into a giant.
Taking off the head and tail of some lower forms of life, he has made
the head grow where the tail was, and vice versa.

No one mind can find time to learn of all the wonders achieved by the
human family in the realms of nature and of social well-being. A simple
statement of man's achievements in the twenty or thirty allied sciences
is more thrilling than all the romances ever written. Man's power for
good or evil is stupendous and overwhelming. It is in the realm of human
life that God Himself will be victorious, or else defeated. All creation
will fail if man fails. I here speak of man in the sense of God's
children, wherever they may be in the universe. The people on this earth
might fail without bringing universal disaster; but if God's children
throughout the universe should fail Him, then all is lost. If God did
not "care for" His children, it would be the same as not caring for
Himself, since all His aims and purposes culminate in His family. God
has crowned man with glory and honor, by putting all things under his
feet.

The world is as ignorant of man as it is of God; and the prevailing idea
of either is a caricature.

It is doubtful whether a self-conscious moral will could be awakened
outside of a body, or inside of one if it were less highly organized
than the human body. The higher animals share our sensations of pain and
pleasure, but it is extremely doubtful whether any of them share in our
self-conscious, moral purposes. Possibly a soul _must_ appear in any
such highly organized form of God's energies as a human body, and
_cannot_ appear where the organization of His energies falls short of
this high standard. If we believe the body to be the integration of
God's own energies it would not be strange if the body proved to be the
incipient soul. We have not yet sounded the depths of God's creative
wisdom either in the soul or the body; we only know that soul and body
are bound together, and that God's highest achievement and deepest
interest center in them. How infinitely precious in the sight of God are
His children, the crown and glory of all His wisdom, love, and power!


5. Is not socialism the best religion there is?

When socialism means the Kingdom of God, it is the best religion
conceivable. And it is a pity that either religion or socialism should
ever mean anything less than the Kingdom of God; for when they drop
below that standard, the one is spurious religion while the other is
counterfeit socialism; the former discarding society, and the latter
eliminating God, both alike become a menace.

Last summer in Madison Square, New York, I listened to a socialist who
was ridiculing the very idea of God. Exhorting his listeners to have a
little sense, he advised them to get rid of God, priests, ministers,
churches, and King Capital. He said:

"You have but one life to live, and it is short; if ever you get
anything, you must get it now."

This type of socialism is a scourge, a pest, a bubonic plague.
Nevertheless we would not minimize the crime of withholding from men
their rights in this life.

Another socialist speaking at a park in my own city said:

"In the past, the capitalist has taken it all, leaving the working man
only enough for the food necessary to do his work,--and not always that.
But we do not blame him, he had a right to take it because he could;--we
should have done the same if we had been in his place. That is what life
means; 'the race is to the swift, and the battle to the strong.' Only
the fittest have a right to live. But our turn is soon coming when we
shall be able to take it all,--and we will."

Now, whoever teaches a theory like that, or acts upon it, is a cancer in
the social body. It makes no difference whether or not he is a church
member, whether business man, or laborer; such a man is a malignant
growth in the body of humanity.

It is just because socialism means anything from the religion of Jesus
to this putrid stuff, that the average well-meaning person is cautious
about identifying himself with any movement bearing the name of
socialism. Yet any religion that stands aloof from social well-being is
doomed,--as it ought to be. No man can love God while hating his
brother; and whether he loves his brother is proved more by his actions
than by his words. To love our brother, as we shall see, is enlightened
selfishness as well as altruism.

"God in the soul" has been rather a popular definition of religion. To
many minds this definition conveys a rich and ample meaning. To others
it conveys gross error, for religious hysteria is often thought to be
God in the soul. A mere psychic state, a religious opiate, a mental
disease, may be so interpreted. It is a question whether any definition
of religion is safe. A description of religion is far preferable to a
definition, and has the advantage of being an easier task. When we
identify religion with the Kingdom of God, we have a perfectly clear
idea. _The Kingdom of God is a loving, intelligent family organised
around the Father's good-will, living in the universe as His home, using
the forces of nature as the instruments of His will, and making all
things vocal with His wisdom, love, and power._

This is true religion; this is a desirable socialism; this is right
life. For such an end God, man, and the enveloping powers of nature
exist. Any loss of this vision, any lack of warmth or enthusiasm for its
realization, spells degeneration. Such a state of mind means the
perversion of nature, the engendering of rebellion in the Kingdom of
God, and the making of prodigals. Religious experience does not mean
just any kind of comfortable, private feeling, but a conscious love for
the family of God, and conscious interest in the work that God and His
children are trying to accomplish _in the midst of nature's forces_.
Religious experience means an active desire to brighten the great world
home, and to gladden the great world family. The idea is so simple that
a child can understand it; and a child's heart may glow with happiness
while helping to brighten the world. To take one's place in the family
of God as a member, loving, and beloved, is something infinitely better
than cold ethics. Character that does not root itself in friendship is
poor character; it bears not the fruit of righteousness, love, and joy.
Our debt of friendship to all men is no less binding than our financial
obligations. Friendship is the great power for good in the world. "I
have called you friends, and such you are." And because they were
friends, Jesus revealed to His disciples all the secrets of His soul,
and threw over them the spell of His life. By interweaving their lives
in some great purpose, or by promoting a common enterprise, friends lift
each other into the finest vision. Simple, hearty, and unfeigned
friendship for God and men, is religion pure and undefiled. A wise man
does not defer friendship until he is perfect, but seeks friendship
first to learn what perfection is, that through friendship he may
receive strength to be perfect.

The new truths clearly manifest concerning God, man, and nature cause a
new heaven to dawn, and a new hell to yawn. Heaven is brighter, and hell
is hotter, than we had been thinking. The relation that exists between
God, man, and the universe makes it perfectly plain that God does not go
ahead of His children to make either heaven or hell. There _is_ no
heaven on either side the grave, except that which is made by the
coöperation of God and His children. Though there are plenty of heavenly
sites in the universe, yet the building of a Holy City is never begun
until some of God's children have arrived on the scene. They who
organize around the good will of God build a heaven in time and place;
out of God's energies in which they live, they make a beautiful home.
Heaven is doubtless a place as well as a state, for souls that are in a
right state will make a right place in which to live. More than likely
there are many heavens in the universe. In my city heaven may be on one
floor and hell on another, while the character of the third floor is
uncertain. Souls cannot live outside of God's enfolding energies, and
therefore they cannot avoid making either heaven or hell out of His
infinite powers. Citizens of the Kingdom, under the guiding wisdom of
God, make heaven. Those who refuse citizenship, preferring their own
way, make hell; but they make it out of the same mighty forces of which
heaven is made.

The idea that God, independent of His children, made a pretty place
called heaven, and an ugly place called hell, in order that He might put
good little people in the one, and push naughty little people off into
the other, is the idea of a fool's heaven and a fool's hell;--the facts
are much more glorious and awful. There will be just as good a heaven as
the Kingdom of God builds, and no better. Likewise there will be just as
bad a hell as God's disloyal sons make, and no worse. No dream can
picture the paradise that God may make in this universe with the help
of His good children. And the hell that His rebellious sons may create
is something appalling. Since heaven or hell is simply the shape we give
to God's enfolding energies, all of us are unavoidably engaged in
constructing the one or the other, and we have been so engaged every
moment since our conscious life began. No one dare think that all his
work is heaven-building. Altogether, through vice or greed, we have
managed to produce of late the hottest Gehenna ever witnessed on earth.
It has taken longer to make this sad condition than most of us realize;
and many who little suspect their responsibility and guilt have been
active agents in creating the fires of war and other fires in which
there has been of late so much writhing and gnashing of teeth. And at
the moment of the world's greatest anguish, there were those who were
trying to get rich out of the state of sorrow into which they had helped
to plunge humanity. I refer to all profiteers and crooked dealers,
whether they were laborers or capitalists; to those who were willing
that additional hundreds of thousands of our boys should go down into
the lake of fire, if only they could fill their coffers. These were the
devils who stood round the boiling caldron with their flesh hooks, to
tear the flesh of innocent boys if they rose to the surface of the
boiling liquid. Some of these flesh-hook devils, having refined manners,
posed as gentlemen. Others were lewd fellows of various sorts. But the
flames which they fed were not hot enough for them. They were getting
ready for a fire that will burn much deeper, and they will be sure to
find it.

During the war, many found their faith in God staggering before a
perdition created by human beings. But their faith should not have been
unsettled, because this war was as sure to follow the way the world was
living as the wheels of the cart are certain to follow the tread of the
ox. Some had the blindness and audacity to blame God for what we have
done. God gave us the raw material with which to build a heaven, and we
constructed a hell. Through His many prophets and seers God told us what
we were doing, but we would not believe Him. Thinking ourselves wise we
became fools, and turned His good gifts into instruments of torture. The
majority of the people, believing that they could get along without
giving much heed to God, took His limitless gifts and made a grand
holiday instead of a Holy Day, and then rode in automobiles and yachts
to their doom. When a world is bad enough to make war, it needs war.
Though I had three sons between my heart and Germany's steel, yet I
realized that America had to be hurt for her own salvation, for the
salvation of Germany, for the safety of the world, and for the utter
destruction of the German intriguers. If the people of the allied
nations, however, had been shaping the instruments of their spirits into
clean bodies, happy homes, honest business, and good governments, and
all of these into the Kingdom of God on earth, Prussia could not have
dreamed her dream of world dominance, nor would she have dared to throw
down the gauntlet before the world. But seeing our weakness, she scorned
our threats. Being under tutorship to the god of power, in spite of her
vices, which were equal to those of other nations, Prussia became
shrewder and stronger than the nations that were too largely feasting
under a bacchanalian god, or softly enjoying themselves under a Santa
Claus deity, or were piling up unrighteous gains under no god, or under
one that was capable of wicked favoritism. It was clear to the prophets
of the Most High that something was due,--and it came. Bad as war is,
that state of society which makes war possible is even worse. When
society grows its body into a monster, the corrective influence of hell,
in some form, is the last hope. This does not, however, exonerate
Germany from the crime of launching a ruthless war to gratify her lust
for world domination. God surely could not help it, since the human
family shaped its body as it did against light and conscience; but if
there were no retribution for sin and ignorance He would lose His family
utterly. Hell inevitably came when the tools were forged and the devils
were trained; but God neither forged the tools nor trained the devils.

I am advocating no moral prudery, nor religious bigotry. Neither do I
wish to imply that heaven has not been built up side by side with hell
during the last fifty years,--for it has. Those who have profited
intellectually and spiritually by the revelations of modern learning,
and by the new influx of power, and by the new social opportunities,
have made the last fifty years the grandest in human history. Of these
noble sons and daughters it should be said: their growth in the
knowledge of God, their success in the discovery of man, their
achievements in wresting from nature its deepest secrets, their grasp on
the meaning of God's Kingdom, their accomplishments in the practical
launching of everything pertaining to a new era and a finer world order
have made this the golden age for all who have seen the vision and
shared in the work. Yet over against this kingdom of light and love,
there has grown up a kingdom of darkness and hate. These two kingdoms
have grown up side by side in every civilized country. And finally the
kingdom of darkness embroiled all the nations in a deadly conflict.
Seeing all, and feeling all, God was the greatest sufferer in the awful
carnage of the contending armies. "In Him we live, and move, and have
our being;" and therefore armies live, and fight their battles in God.
They fight their battles with God's own powers, and make gaping wounds
in His own body. And yet, some will ask, "Where was God?" Not only was
He in the thick of the fight, but the thick of the fight was in His
beautiful, enfolding energies. We shall make heaven out of the selfsame
energies when we are done making hell out of them. And then, as now, God
will be in our midst; but He will be in our midst as a joyous, and not a
suffering God.

It would have been a pity if this war had ended before the nations
opened their eyes to the higher purposes of God for future civilization,
or before their consciences had been cleansed for the work of advancing
the Kingdom. God will come to our help with mighty power when we come to
His help with mighty obedience. General Sherman said, "War is hell."
This has generally been taken to mean that war is as terrible as hell;
but it is more than that, it is hell literally, _because hell is never
anything but war_. If there were no war of any kind there would be no
hell. This is equally true either side the grave. If there were no
individuals in the universe to oppose God's will and so misuse His
enfolding energies as to harm one another, hell would cease to be. The
beginning of hell is very pleasurable, and that is why men begin it. But
it always grows more and more terrible until it becomes a lake of fire.
It is worse than brimstone, because men have found hotter materials to
use. It is curtains of fire, poisonous gases, shrapnel, bombs, machine
guns, and mud mixed with blood.

War begins in selfish desire, and continues in the misuse of God's good
gifts. Intensified desire diverts to its own use that which does not
belong to it; and becoming powerful, arrogant, and oppressive, it brews
hell without knowing it. Thinking that it knows all, it refuses
instruction. To the perverted mind, imprisoned in a distorted body,
Jesus looks weak, while God seems a myth, or mere brute force. Finally
hell breaks loose in all its fury.

The most pathetic thing in this whole affair is that the good have to go
to hell with the bad,--at least in this life. But it was ever so. Jesus
truly "descended into hell," only it was before He died. The same is
true of God and all His good sons. There is no other way to save the
situation. Gehenna, as well as heaven, begins _here_ and _now_. It may
be that the rebellious sons of God have created a worse hell on the
other side of the grave, but if they have, it is exactly the same in
kind as that which they have made here. Every immoral and painful
condition in the universe is wrought in God. God was as closely related
to the recent war as a man is related to the abscess on his finger; and
He is so related to all hells, in all worlds. For hell is never anything
but a painful disturbance wrought in God's body by the sons whom He has
enfolded in His bosom. And since there are so many discordant and
vicious elements throughout all the world, it is to be hoped that the
nations are being purged by the awful fires through which they are
passing.

Has the earth had its last war? That is not at all likely. There is
plenty of discord in society even now that the main war is over. Many
wrongs must be righted and many problems solved or terror will break out
somewhere. Human society and human institutions have grown about as
large and complex as is possible, unless they can be dominated by a
larger ideal and a more Christlike spirit. While I sympathize with all
the hopes and aspirations of the noble men and women of our day for a
more peaceful earth, yet I do so only on the condition that men will
learn to know and obey the truth. Nothing should be left undone that
will hasten the day of righteousness and peace.

God has two hands with which He is trying to save the world. The one is
a crucified hand, and the other is a great steel hand. The crucified
hand, which is the pledge of forgiveness and good will, is both
logically and chronologically first. For nearly two thousand years God
has been extending this hand. Millions have accepted it and lived; but
many more have refused it, preferring the strife of the world. It is
perfectly plain that society will not be saved by this means alone.
Without minimizing the worth of the crucified hand, or withdrawing it,
God is at last employing a hand of steel, as vast as the machinery of
the world, and identical with it. God is placing His great steel fingers
around men and drawing them together. No longer may men live apart, for
under this new pressure nothing has value in isolation. Capital has no
value without labor, neither has labor any value without capital; and
these may no longer work successfully together without uplifting the
weak nations of the earth. The masses and classes can no longer escape
each other. Bound together by bands of steel, they may do one of two
things--kill each other or love one another. There is no third
alternative. I have faith that when men see themselves in the grip of
the steel hand, they will choose the better alternative and, by clasping
God's crucified hand, become brothers. As things have been going, scores
of peoples on our little earth have lived in darkness and under the
hand of awful oppression; they could have suffered and rotted for
millenniums without the prosperous nations knowing or caring. At last,
however, we know, and our own salvation now clearly rests on our caring.
The articulate body of humanity has become as great as the nations of
the earth, and that body is made up of the infinite energies of God. We
now have the privilege of making this mighty body express more fully
than ever before the thought and love of God, or else we shall be
compelled to shape it into the most gigantic monster that ever stalked
forth to do the foul deeds of hell. Were there a legion of leering and
jeering devils, plotting evil against our earth, the comprehending mind
could hear them say, "We wish for no more awful instruments of torture
than these energies of the Infinite with which His children clothe
themselves. Only let us lead them to fall out by the way, and they will
damn each other by smiting with the infinite powers of their God."
Men,--individuals and nations!--do we see it, do we know the simple
rudiments of life, is it not clearly manifest that we must strive for
the Christ life or socially commit suicide and murder?

Men have made such great mental and material growth that unlimited power
is placed at their disposal. That fact makes this the greatest day in
human history. I have already said that the man soul is in quest of
omnipresence by progressively making the universe the instrument of his
will. The hour has struck for his supreme effort in that direction;
though simply creeping in the past, he may now run if only he will obey
the divine law. However, if he will not obey, the hour for
disintegration has arrived; and once more nations and empires must burn
to the ground, and upon the ashes of the conflagration, the noble
"remnant" must again begin to rebuild slowly and painfully the temple of
God on earth.

If our old men are dreaming dreams, and our young men are seeing
visions, let them come forth in this crisis. But thank God, they are
coming! Millions are coming! We believe there will be enough to save the
day. And what a day it will be if, after all this dreadful upheaval, we
can reconstruct the world on such broad principles of righteousness and
love that the race shall start upon a new era of peace and good will! We
must not on account of ignorance or selfishness throw away this golden
opportunity.

Get ye up upon the mountains, O Israel, O Church of God, and look for
the day!



CHAPTER IV

DOES GOD HAVE A BODY, AND COULD HE BECOME A MAN?

    _Was Jesus God or a good man only?_

    _Can modern psychology any longer believe in the Deity of Jesus?_

    _Where does Jesus belong in the religious, social, and thought
    world?_


1. Introductory statement

Thus far our discussion of God has been largely in relation to physics.
At last, however, we are ready to consider Him on a higher plane.

Our knowledge of both God and man is incomplete until we see their
oneness in Jesus and in the kingdom which Jesus proclaimed. In the life
of Jesus, God and man are viewed from a higher spiritual level. The
world lies broken into fragments until these fragments become united in
the Christ type of life. Then the body, the human mind, God, and the
whole material universe coordinate to make one beautiful whole.

Starting with the Scriptural idea that all things proceed from Wisdom,
or God, then strictly speaking, God is the only person in the universe
who has a body of His own. All other spirits live in His bodies. This
is necessarily so if all the way from its simplest elements to its most
highly organized forms, nature is but the expression of the divine Will.
As we have already shown, the human body is but a part of universal
nature,--the finest part, the blossom. Therefore, what we call the human
organism is primarily God's. Not only is it the very finest bit of His
_workmanship_, but it is His to _use_, unless His child, the man soul,
robs Him of His own. In these highly specialized parts of nature God has
not merely one, but billions of bodies,--all the bodies there are. The
Infinite Mind would find one such body utterly inadequate. With but one
bodily form He would be incomparably worse off than an organist with but
one finger. If God could come to articulate speech and deed through but
one physical instrument, He and all His family might well despair. If as
the Scriptures teach, however, each and every physical body is His very
own, in which and through which He may live, then every condition is
provided for a God humanly personal and infinitely satisfying. He may be
as local and personal as our parents or neighbors. Though greater than
all, He is yet in all and through all,

  "Center and soul of every sphere,
  Yet to each loving heart how near!"

Not only is God lovingly present to every Christian heart, but at the
same time He is personally revealed by every human form through which He
is permitted to live and love and serve. The pity of it all is that we
so often prevent God from using His own body, in which we too live, by
causing it to express in word and deed that which is contrary to His
thought and love.

Before we take up the subject of the Incarnation, it may be well to
consider what is meant by the trinity.


2. The idea of the trinity and how it came about

When we say that God is a trinity we do not mean that there are three
Gods. There is just one God who, as we have repeatedly said, is a Loving
Intelligent Will.

The idea of the trinity came about in this way:

The early Christians were so deeply impressed by Jesus, and so warmly
attached to their Master, that they instinctively adored and worshiped
Him; for, somehow, He brought God to them even as He brought them to
God. Yet the Christians, like the Jews, strenuously opposed the worship
of more than one Divinity. Their stout opposition to Polytheism provoked
the retort from their heathen neighbors that Christians should not be so
particular about the number of Gods, because they worshiped at least
two, a Father God and a Son God,--and three, if they added a Holy Spirit
God. So it is not strange that the Christians, to justify their own
conduct, were driven to a profound study of Deity. And though they made
some grave mistakes, nevertheless they discovered some vital truths
concerning the nature of personality which greatly enlarged and enriched
their conception of God. It must be remembered that in the early
Christian centuries many thought of God as something very remote and
placid, like a sea of bliss; being infinitely happy and self-contained,
He was at perfect rest. Such a One would not contaminate Himself by
being identified with nature or man. To the Christian Gnostics and Jews,
the idea that God became incarnate and suffered death on the cross was
repugnant. Some believed that it was beneath God even to create a world
like ours. They, therefore, attributed creation to lesser divinities.
However, in the third century Origen stoutly maintained that God must
have created the world. Yet so eminent a man as Origen believed that He
created it for "tainted souls."

After much study, the Church Fathers arrived at the conclusion that God
was somehow Three in One, a sort of society within Himself,--and they
were right. For without something like a social experience in one's
self, it is impossible to be a person at all. This is equally true of
God or man. To be a person one must know himself, and this he could not
do if he were not able to keep company with himself. The pen with which
I am writing is not a person because it has no capacity for
self-communion. But because I hold _fellowship_ with myself I am a
person. Since every human being keeps company with himself more than he
does with all other persons put together, may God have mercy on him if
he is bad company, if he is not safe to be left alone with himself. A
tree may stand alone in infinite solitude, companionless; but for
better, for worse, a man must forever remain in his own company,
hearing praise or condemnation from his own heart. How is this possible,
unless there is something in a man's individual experience that
resembles society? In self-knowledge, as in all knowledge, there are the
_knower_ and the _known_. When we commune with ourselves we are, at the
same moment, the subject and the object of our own experience. The self
that sees may fittingly be called the father of our personality, and
with equal propriety the self that we see may be called the begotten of
our personality. Thus something resembling father and son is experienced
in our first step toward self-knowledge. Whether the capacity to be our
own subject and object amounts to much or little, it was this that the
Fathers saw and rightly attributed to God.

Furthermore, there is yet another step to be taken in the act of coming
to true self-knowledge. By what power does one determine that the person
with whom he communes is himself? There is something in our experience
resembling a third person, one who recognizes both subject and object
and bears witness that they are one. The reader may say, "I can see the
first and the second, but I cannot see the third." The self that sees
the first and the second is the third. This power by which we complete
the unity of our being is by no means trivial, as some may think. There
are abnormal personalities who successfully achieve the subjective and
objective in their experience and keep up an abnormal communion with
themselves from morning till night, who cannot witness true. So they
insist that they are "General Jacksons" or "Jesus Christs" or great
"railroad magnates." Their personalities have broken down, not because
they lack self-consciousness, but because they lack the power of coming
to unity. A perfectly sane person, therefore, is subject, object, and
witnesser all in one. If God were not this kind of trinity He would not
be a person at all.

To grasp so clearly the significance of personality was a great
spiritual achievement. The Church Fathers did more than they realized;
they described the elements inherent in all personalities. They saved
God to the intellect and to the affections by bringing Him out of remote
obscurity into the blazing light of moral and spiritual personality. God
is personal because He is triune; that is, because He is complex enough
to keep company with Himself and to know Himself. If the reader asks
"What does all this amount to for us?" my answer is, "It amounts to the
difference between a personal God and the deity who is an 'immobile
placid sea of bliss.' In the second place it shows the difference
between the God who is a Loving Intelligent Will and the materialist's
god who is no more than a blind Samson. It also discloses the essential
likeness between all personalities, however much they may differ in
development."

If I were asked to put my finger on the greatest weakness in present-day
thought I should unhesitatingly point out the subject of personality.
Men are falling down like ten-pins before the intellectual difficulties
of believing in a personal God; and many of them are even doubting the
spiritual personality of man. And this is largely due to the fact that
they are unable to form any mental picture of personality. One of the
beautiful surprises for this generation is that the Fathers in working
out the personality of God found the only conception of personality that
is true to universal experience. They did not realize that they were
analyzing the human spirit as well as God, because their thought was
wholly on Him. But they saw God through their own personalities, and if
they had not borne God's image they never could have analyzed the
personality of God. In this generation we turn their analysis of God
upon ourselves and find that it tallies perfectly with our experience.
We at last see that the triune, or personal, man soul is the child of
the triune, or personal, God Soul; and thus a deeper bond is established
between the Father and His child.

The use to which the Church Fathers put this analysis of God's
personality was both fortunate and unfortunate. It was fortunate because
it enabled them to continue their belief in the deity of Jesus and, at
the same time, their belief in the oneness of God. They were still able
to oppose polytheism, and yet come to Jesus as the fountain of divine
blessing. They worshiped God in the face of Jesus. In other words, they
believed in a genuine Incarnation. This was fortunate beyond all
calculation. Just how fortunate it was we shall have to illustrate to
the best of our ability when we come to the subject of Incarnation. Thus
far I have not discussed the Incarnation, neither have I had Jesus in
mind while considering the trinity. For in whatever sense God is a
trinity, He was such before Jesus was born.

Before discussing the divinity of Jesus we must briefly call attention
to the unfortunate use which the Fathers made of their analysis of the
personality of God. They thought they had solved the question of
Christ's divinity when they took this objective element in the
experience of God and clothed it with flesh. Though they denied that
these distinctions in God were properly named by the word person, yet
they admitted their inability to think of a better term. Then they so
wrenched God's personality apart as to send His objective self, which
was simply an element in His experience of self-consciousness, into the
world to be the Messiah. And though they stoutly maintained that these
three elements in God were indivisible, yet God's subjective self could
stay far away in heaven while His objective self could go to earth as a
man. At the same time each of the three elements in God's experience of
self-hood could perform all the functions of a full personality. This
was doing the worst possible violence to the personality of God; and it
has wrought confusion from that day to this. As we have already seen, it
takes these three elements in God's experience to make Him any person at
all. The common use made of the subjective, objective, and witnessing
elements in the personality of God is pure Tri-Theism, regardless of how
they are united. God does not have three personalities that can be
scattered about in the universe.

The idea that God's objective experience can go off on a journey, or
that it can return to heaven while His witnessing experience in turn
goes to earth, leaving the subjective and objective in heaven, is
religious illiteracy. Neither God nor any part of God ever goes or
comes. The triune, or personal God, is never far enough off to come
anywhere. There is no place in the universe where for a moment He is
not. He is always the Father, and Creator, and Intelligent Will in whom
all creation lives, and moves, and has its being. The _second element_
in God's own act of consciousness did not become incarnate in Jesus; the
conscious God Himself entered the life of man.

The baptismal formula, "In the name of God the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit," has no reference to the triple element in God's
self-consciousness. It beautifully represents the three ways that we are
to look at God, if we are to see Him in the fulness of His glory. First,
we think of God as He is in Himself, and as He must be to His own
infinite thought. Second, we think of Him as He has expressed Himself in
nature, in humanity and, best of all, as He has revealed Himself in His
obedient Son Jesus. Third, we think of God as the still small voice
within, the Soul of our souls, the One to whom we speak when we have
shut the door; the one to whom we whisper our deepest secrets, and ask
Him if He loves and forgives us. Beyond the fact that the trinity
constitutes God a person, it has nothing to do with the deity of Jesus.
How God became incarnate is another question; a question to which we
now gladly address ourselves.


3. Was Jesus God or a good man only?

At a meeting of city ministers, addressed by one of their own number,
the speaker took from Jesus the last shred of divinity. According to
this minister, Jesus was a prophet sent from God, and the best of men,
but nothing more. A progressive Jewish rabbi asked if this were not the
present attitude of all intelligent ministers, and whether they did not,
for the sake of expediency, leave the pew in ignorance of their real
belief. In the opinion of the rabbi, Jesus was one of the greatest of
Jewish reformers, but not the founder of Christian religion. His
contention was that Paul founded the Christian Church on a peculiar,
psychic experience which came to him on his way to Damascus.

"The Divinity of Jesus" was then assigned to me as a topic for the next
meeting. Naturally, I turned to the Scriptures to see what they had to
say concerning the relation of God to man. Though expecting to find on
this subject a marked degree of difference between the Old and New
Testaments, yet I was wholly unprepared for the facts as they appeared.
Before presenting my findings, I asked the rabbi to consider whether
Jesus was a "Jewish reformer," or a Jewish fulfiller,--it being my
conviction that He was the latter. I then stated that, having examined
the Old Testament on the relation existing between God and man, I
failed to find a single passage recognizing God within the human life;
and that no greater surprise than this had come to me in my recent study
of the Scriptures. In the Old Testament, the nearest approach to the
immanence of God in the soul was the following:

"I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh," and "Is not my dwelling with
the humble in heart?" But even here the divine Spirit was only _upon_
them or _with_ them. Never, so far as I could discover, did He dwell
_in_ them. In some twenty-four hundred verses, God was represented as
sustaining many beautiful and terrible relations to men. This
relationship was symbolized by birds, beasts, and natural elements, to
the very limit of the imagination. After the most solemn warnings and
attractive promises, God would depart from His people for a season and
then return with rewards and punishments according to their
faithfulness. He scrutinized their inmost thoughts; in fact, He did
everything except enter their lives.

On turning to the New Testament, however, I found a startling contrast.
God dwelt not only in the hearts but in the bodies of men. "For know ye
not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth
in you? Yea, ye are the temple of the living God." "Know ye not that
your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?" "Walk in the Spirit and ye
shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Jesus said, "He that hath
seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, show us the Father?
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" "The
Father abiding in me doeth His works." "In that day ye shall know that I
am in the Father and ye in me, and I in you." "If a man love me he will
keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him,
and make our abode with him."

As a prospector seeks for gold, I sought in the Old Testament for God in
the life of man and did not find Him; but no sooner had I reached the
New Testament than all was changed. Here was a new country. The
prospector was in the midst of that for which he sought. No mountain was
ever as rich in gold as the human heart, according to the New Testament,
was rich with the indwelling God.

The religion of Jesus in contrast with that of the prophets is like a
tree, which Luther Burbank has transformed into a new variety bearing
strange and luscious fruit. I wondered that I had overlooked for so long
a time the complete cleavage between the two parts of our Bible on this
subject. Jesus was truly a Jewish reformer, but to a much greater degree
He was a Jewish fulfiller. In revealing God's true oneness with man He
completed the prophet's imperfect religious vision, and best of all,
made the vision a fact in His own experience. At the same time He began
making it a reality in the experience of His disciples.

I told the friend who in a previous meeting had stripped Jesus of all
His divinity, that he had very successfully demolished some antiquated
psychology, but strange to say had completely overlooked the new
psychology which, in my opinion, fully restored Christ's divinity. As to
his statement that "Jesus was a good man only," I reminded him that
there is no such being. For, each one of us, in so far as he is "only,"
is a bad man. It requires the oneness of God and man to make a _good_
man. When a human soul is separated from God, he ceases to be a complete
person. God and the true self always come or go together; in order to be
a human soul, in any worthy sense, one must be both God and man in one.
A man severed from God is but the fragment of a man, a limb broken from
the tree, a lifeless branch. To touch the living branch of a tree is to
touch the tree. The fruit of the branch is likewise the fruit of the
tree. That any person can be a "good man only," is an idea contrary to
the New Testament and modern psychology.


4. Can modern psychology any longer believe in the Deity of Jesus?

The Scriptures certainly do not teach that Jesus was God only; neither
do they teach that He was man only. It is my own deepest conviction that
Jesus was very God and very man. Furthermore, I believe this to be the
teaching of the Scriptures, and the idea that best conforms to modern
psychology. To come to Jesus is to come to God; likewise to come to God
is to come to Jesus. He is at once God in man, and man in God. I
believe in the God of Jesus, and I believe in the Jesus of God. How
modern psychology can avoid believing in both the deity and humanity of
Jesus, I do not see. Some who believe in Christ's divinity do not
believe in His deity. They say, "Yes, He is divine, He is incomparable,
He is altogether lovely; but He is not Deity, because Deity is God
Himself." But my thesis is that Jesus was "very God and very man."

To picture this truth to our minds will be our next task. An old-time
friend, while reporting to me the installation of a minister whom I
knew, said:

"Would you believe it! Mr. G. told the council that he not only believed
in the divinity, but that he believed in the Deity of Jesus." Here my
friend threw his head back and laughed heartily, expecting me to laugh
with him. When he had finished laughing, I told him that I also believed
in the deity as well as in the humanity of Jesus; and that if I did not
believe in His deity I did not think I should believe in any religion at
all. This proved to be quite a surprise to my friend. So to his puzzled
look of inquiry I replied:

"And I could make you believe it." As his curiosity deepened at this
remark, I asked him,

"Do you know where I first met God--not an emanation from Him, but God;
the Will that formed the worlds,--all the God there is?" "No," was his
reply. "Fortunately," I answered, "I do. It was in my mother. When I was
a little boy the great God at times enfolded me in human arms, and
looked into my face through benignant, human eyes, and spoke tender
words with a sweet accent. My silent and invisible mother was often so
closely identified with God that they would be thinking and feeling the
same thing concerning me. At such times the human form expressed their
common thought and love; my heavenly Father, no less than my invisible
mother, enfolded me with His arms. If in these supreme moments God was
not in my mother, then it is useless to look for Him anywhere in the
Universe. My mother was different from the non-Christian mothers in our
rough frontier. Many times she so loved me _in_ God, and _with_ God,
that she became a channel through which God Himself had personal access
to me through all the human modes of approach."

I then told my friend of an experience with my mother at church in the
little frontier schoolhouse. I was lying on the seat with my head in her
lap, tickling my nose with her boa. When the time came for prayers, my
mother bowed her head to the desk in front of her. While her lips moved
in prayer, I observed that her dear face was troubled. As she was
unconscious of my gaze, I continued to look into her sorrowful face.
Though but a little child, I fully understood what she was doing, and
was able to mark the stages of her progress. My invisible mother was
talking with our invisible Father, and the face gradually changed until
finally I could tell that her will had merged completely with His will;
and then her face, which was primarily His face, became radiant with
spiritual beauty. I had seen the dear human face of God, and at the same
time it was the face of my mother.

I called my friend's attention to the fact that once upon a time the
invisible God said to the invisible Clara Barton:

"Clara, let us go out onto the battle-field where the poor soldier boys
languish and die;" and Clara responded to His thought and love. Then the
invisible God and the invisible Clara Barton went to the battle-field in
God's body, because Clara had no body exclusively her own. So, when that
form bending over the soldier boy wiped away the dust and blood and
pain, while whispering of home, of mother, and of God, it was the
Father, as much as it was Clara Barton, who was performing the deed; and
He, not less than she, was visibly and humanly present. The ministering
hand was as truly His instrument as it was hers; while the stronger will
and deeper love were the Father's. Before Clara Barton thought of it,
the Father, knowing all and feeling all, suggested to her the kindly
deed; nor did He stop loving the soldier boy when she began.

Again addressing my friend, I said:

"It is impossible for me to understand you. You have always believed God
to be immanent in all nature; you have seen Him in sticks and stones and
stars; but you now fail to recognize Him in His highest, His only
instrument through which He is capable of coming to articulate speech
and deed. How I pity your poor helpless God who is buried fathoms and
fathoms out of sight. He can neither see, nor hear, nor breathe; nor can
He walk or talk. But you see, _my_ God can get clear to the surface in
audible word, and visible deed. When my God finds a good, clean
Frenchman, He begins talking and writing French. If you doubt this,
either you are not familiar with French literature, or else you do not
know God. Under similar conditions God speaks all the languages. How
beautifully and abundantly He has spoken through the German and English
tongues! While in Greek and Hebrew, God has uttered mighty words of
wisdom, and has filled the earth with His glorious pæans. Human wisdom
alone could never have spoken thus. If we but have eyes to see and
hearts to feel we shall realize that all about us God is getting to the
surface through devoted Christians. When the true preacher lifts the
souls before him into the will of God, he sees a divine expression upon
their faces; and if he is spiritually wise, he will realize that for the
time being these are the dear human instruments of God, as truly as they
are the faces of human spirits; and when he has poured out his soul in
behalf of some great cause of God for which he would be willing to die,
he will find someone with outstretched hand ready to meet him and
willing to coöperate, if need be, even unto death, and then it is his
privilege to know that, while shaking hands with a brother spirit, he
was at the same time shaking hands with the infinite God. In these rare
experiences of ours, the invisible God no less than the invisible man
has come to outward expression, and this He would always do, if our
wills were not contrary to His will. Our feeble and infrequent
inspiration is but intermittent incarnation, while full incarnation is
permanent inspiration.

"Why," I asked, "should you hesitate to think of Jesus as God and man?
If the Father-Spirit and the child-spirit were thinking and willing the
same thing, which one came to expression through the words and acts of
the body? If A and B were lifting an object, would it be truthful to say
that A was lifting it? The visible form that lived and taught by the
shores of Galilee was as truly God as it was man, unless the
child-spirit did not know and do the Father-Spirit's will. Sometimes a
whole congregation of wills express themselves joyfully and forcefully
through one written resolution. God never speaks an audible word, except
through one of His bodies in which He has enfolded a child-spirit. When,
however, the child-spirit rebels against the Father, and causes the
instrument to speak or act vile things, the Father is dumb. His child
has robbed Him of His body. We have grown so accustomed to this form of
robbery that we naturally think of human spirits as having bodies all
their own, while we conceive of God as a vague, disembodied influence.
We speak of God as sending men, forgetting that He never sends a man
anywhere without sending him in His own body and accompanying him with
His own spiritual Presence. And that which the messenger says is not
worth hearing if it fails to express the Father's thought and will. The
God who, through beautiful chemical energies, makes the ear, hears; and
the God who makes the eye, sees; and He who makes the lips, speaks.
Either God knows the thrill of nerves, or else He has an infinite amount
to learn. Why then should we say that Jesus was only a good man, when
the body was God's very own, and the guiding will was that of the
Father? A man is all God except the invisible human spirit; and in the
case of Jesus, even the human spirit rendered such filial obedience that
the Father, for once in human history, got to the surface through His
own instrument in a steady flow of luminous words and loving deeds. If
the composite life of Jesus were named after its major elements, then
Jesus should be called God. However, as that would be both confusing and
false, we state the truth as it is, and say that Jesus was both God and
man, that is, a God-filled man, or a God-man."

"Oh well," said my friend, "if you mean it that way!"

"Did I not tell you," I replied, "that you would believe it? The trouble
with you is that you forget it. You should be proclaiming it from the
housetop that God has got clear to the surface in human form, and that
men have clasped His hand, and heard His voice, and seen His face."

In the life of Jesus, religion reached a new and distinct stage of
development. It was in Him that the essential _oneness_ of Deity and
humanity first became clearly manifest. To the friends of Jesus, God was
no longer a disembodied spirit. The Christian's God is clearly the God
of Israel, but He is the God of Israel become human and visible. The
world has been slow to grasp the meaning of Christ's life and teachings.
To maintain the uniqueness of Jesus, it has denied the universality of
the truth which He proclaimed: namely, the organic and moral oneness of
God and man. If the union of God and man as realized in Jesus was so
beautiful, a similar union between God and all men would be equally
beautiful. That God desires such a union with all His children there can
be no doubt; and that He is inspiring His disciples with the glorious
hope of its accomplishment is equally certain. Yet for the present, even
the most devoted followers have not nearly attained unto the fulness of
the stature of Jesus; but some glad day they shall be wholly like Him
whose image they already unmistakably bear. This is the Christian's
noblest hope.

If God has ever united His personality with that of even one man, then
there is a way of doing it. And if there is a way, what finer goal is
possible, than that such a union between God and every man be
consummated? Really, that is what the Christian Religion is about. Not
only may God and every man be similarly united, but the sin of man alone
can prevent such a union from taking place. If there were no sin or
rebellion in a man's heart, he would instantly become a God-man on the
plane of his present human development; and as he "Advanced in wisdom
and stature, and in favor with God and men," he would be a God-man on a
higher level. If the human side of the Christ has continued thus to
grow for more than nineteen hundred years, on what altitudes of
knowledge He is a God-man by this time, we can but faintly surmise. And
with the possibility of a complete purging from sin, and the possibility
of an infinite growth in wisdom, we, too, may yet be God-men on what
would now seem to us dizzying heights; we shall ever be attaining "Unto
the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." No matter what
one's conception of the trinity in God's personality may be, God is
capable of uniting with every man in the same way that He united with
the man Jesus. If we prefer to believe that God had an Eternal Son who
came to clothe himself in a man, the problem of union would in nowise be
changed. A Son-God, if He existed either in the Father or out of the
Father, could not be less than a person, and the manner of uniting
Himself with a man would be the same. My interest in the metaphysics of
the trinity is that it gives us a firm grasp on the personality of God
and the personality of man. I rest on the fact that the Personal God
became incarnate and still seeks the souls of men for his
dwelling-place. I further believe that when we do not read a later
metaphysics into the Bible, the Scriptures wholly support the more
modern conception. In the beginning was the Logos, Word, or Wisdom.
Wisdom was with God from the beginning; that is, God was always Wisdom,
and not a material thing. All things were made by Wisdom, or God. Life
was in God, and God's life was the light of men; and though it was
shining into the darkness the darkness apprehended it not. The God who
is wisdom, and not matter, was in the world, and the world was made by
Him, but it knew Him not. Finally Wisdom, or God, became flesh, and
tabernacled among us, and we discerned His glory, a glory as of an
only-begotten with a father, full of grace and truth. The author seems
to me to believe that the Personal God became incarnate, and that the
one in whom He dwelt, in contrast with other men, looked like an only
son of a father.

Notwithstanding this glorious possibility, there is always a tendency
for religion to revert to a lower type; and this tendency is
particularly noticeable just now. Not being able to believe in the
divinity of Jesus according to the old metaphysics, multitudes are
ceasing to believe in Him as Emmanuel,--or "God with us." At a time like
this, when a forward movement is the only hope of saving our great
material structure from becoming another Tower of Babel, a retrograde
movement is lamentable. What we especially need is a new interpretation
of Jesus, followed by a finer devotion to Him, and a whole-hearted
commitment of ourselves to His ever-widening program. God is becoming
altogether too hazy and inarticulate, at a time when the consciousness
of His holy Presence is especially needed, if we are to shape and
sustain a civilization that is quadrupling itself in weight and extent
by reason of the growth and application of material knowledge. Any
quickening of God that is to be highly beneficial must result in His
further advent into human lives and human institutions after the pattern
of Jesus.

That a mere God of nature is insufficient was forcibly brought home to
me while I was watching a circus performer throw daggers and toss balls.
The performer, placing a man against a wide board, some ten feet
distant, hurled a bunch of daggers into the board on either side of the
man, each time missing him by only one or two inches. Then he began
tossing balls until the air seemed full of them, and not one ball fell
to the ground. Having witnessed with amazement his great dexterity,
these thoughts occurred to me:

"I wonder what he is like when he talks? If he is married what does his
wife think of him? If he has children how do they feel toward him? Or if
he is a single man, what would I think if he should wish to marry my
daughter?" I then realized that I knew absolutely nothing about him
except that he was a dexterous machine. Then falling into a homiletical
mood I thought of the great skill of God. "How wonderfully _He_ can toss
balls, and strew the milky way, and hurl Pleiades and Orion! Before such
infinite skill the performance which I have just witnessed is
ridiculous." Then the thought forced itself upon me, "What would God be
like if He were to talk? What kind of a person should we find Him to be
if He walked our streets, and engaged in business, and sat at the table
as one of the family circle?" I then realized that if God could only
toss balls and direct atoms we should really know nothing whatever of
His character. If He were no more than the uniform power of nature's
laws He would too closely resemble gravity, or electricity, to be
satisfying to His children. The human heart demands that, in addition to
all this, God be individual, and spontaneous, like other persons whom we
know, and with whom we hold fellowship. We enjoy seeing our friends run
machines, but what an awful life it would be if every person in the
world gave no heed to anyone or anything except the machine which he
uniformly and incessantly operated! What a monstrous and oppressive idea
it is to think of God, silent as a sphinx, spending an eternity with His
mind so riveted upon the operation of His machine-world that He has
neither time nor capacity for anything else. If such a God had time to
think of it, He surely would envy the little child who can prattle, and
laugh, and sing.

Fortunately this higher demand upon God is fully met in the religion of
Jesus. For while our Father is a wonder-worker and a world builder, at
the same time He has myriads of human bodies through which He can live a
thoroughly social life. He is the most social Being in the universe; His
desire and capacity for social relations are unlimited. He does not
willingly leave one individual outside the circle of His friends. All
His work in nature is for the purpose of providing instruments and
conditions for a family of free children, among whom He may live as the
free and adorable Father. It is no wonder that men cease to pray, when
in their thought God is divorced from everything individual and social.
When men conceive of God as the mere operator of the cosmos, their
highest concern is to keep out of the way of the machine. It never
occurs to such men that God is able to treat them as sons, after the
most personal and human manner. It is only in the laws of nature that
His actions are mechanically uniform. In social relations His moods and
actions change to suit the feelings and conduct of His sons and
daughters. In _nature_ God sends the rain and sunshine on the just and
the unjust alike, but in _human-nature_ He smiles or frowns according to
each individual's deserts. In Jesus, God might say, "Come unto me," or
He might make a whip of cords and drive the people out of the temple.
Prayer does not cause God to change His wise and loving purpose, but it
does determine _how_ He shall execute His holy will. If the conduct of a
child does not change the father's actions toward him, then the father
is both foolish and immoral. Men should learn that God is even greater
in humanity than He is in nature. For in the one, He is uniform power,
while in the other, He is Father, Redeemer, and Friend. In the world of
wills, God is individual and human. And His inner communion with us is
greatly intensified and clarified when there is added to it His audible
voice from without. The voice of God speaking to us through human lips
awakens the voice of God within us. How wonderfully clear was the Divine
Voice in men's hearts when God spoke to them through Jesus! Likewise
when the apostle Paul went to a new community, it seemed to receptive
minds that God had come to town; and they were wholly justified in
thinking so, for though God had been there all the time, powerfully
through nature's laws and feebly in their darkened hearts, yet for the
first time God was within their city in clear articulate speech, wooing
them to Himself. This not only made God seem real to them, but it made
it easy for them to believe and be baptized. Though able to rejoice for
a time, yet heaviness soon came upon them after Paul's departure,
because God too seemed to have departed from their midst. Neither were
they mistaken in this, for God had no instrument remaining through which
He could make Himself so humanly real to them, after His devoted and
tried servant had gone away. As a result of Paul's early departure there
would follow unbelief and conduct unworthy of Christians. To meet this
sad state of affairs in the mission churches, God would write them a
letter, or better still, make them another visit in Paul.

Once there was brought home to me in a very beautiful and unexpected
manner the Christian truth about God's essential oneness with humanity.
Weary from my afternoon calls, I had just returned home. Entering the
side hall that was already dark, I saw through the door slightly ajar my
little son and daughter at play. Philip, eight years old, was building
up blocks on the floor, while Esther, two years younger, was standing
under the electric light with both arms raised as high as she could
stretch them over her head. Seeing her dramatic position, and the
unusual look on her face, I remained silent in the hall knowing that
something was coming. With intense feeling she said:

"Oh, Philip! of course we would kiss God!" To which Philip replied:

"Oh, you couldn't kiss God. He is a spirit. Why, God is in you,--and in
me."

Still standing in her dramatic position with the light shining full on
her face, she began lowering her arms slowly, and as her expression of
comprehension deepened she said:

"Oh well then, Philip, if God is in you and in me, if we were to kiss
each other we would kiss God."

"Yes, that is right, you would," was his response. Then said she:

"Let us kiss God." He arose promptly, and the children, throwing their
arms tightly around each other, kissed God.

If ever there was a glad father I was one. Standing there in the dark
hall I thought:

"God bless the dear children, they have the evangel. That is the very
essence of the Christian religion, 'Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least
of these ye did it unto me.'"

Of course we all realize that there are certain proprieties which adults
must observe, but what could be more beautiful than for a little brother
and sister so to recognize God in each other as to be able to kiss Him?
The idea here involved, if carried out in every relation of life, would
be the Kingdom of God realized. Furthermore, there is no other way of
making the Kingdom of God a reality, either on earth or in the life
beyond. Doubtless God never will be seen outside the bodies which He
provides for Himself and His children to use in common. However, we
shall have more to say about that later.

A Christian woman has beautifully related an incident which brought to
her Christ's idea and experience of religion. Said she:

"It was my custom to retire each day to my own room for devotion. On one
occasion when my heart was deeply oppressed my prayers seemed all in
vain. Nevertheless, I continued to plead, 'O Lord Jesus, reveal thyself
to me.' After awhile there came a rap at my door. It was the maid
seeking comfort. She had broken a choice piece of china. But I drove her
away rather harshly, saying, 'You know you are not to bother me at this
hour.' Then I continued, 'O Lord Jesus, reveal thyself.' After more
fruitless prayer, my little girl came sobbing for comfort as she had
broken her first doll. I even drove _her_ away saying, 'My child, you
must not disturb your mother now.' After resuming what seemed to be a
useless petition, there came to me a suggestion as distinct and forceful
as if spoken. 'Inasmuch as ye did it not unto the least of these ye did
it not unto me.' I arose from my knees, unlocked the door, and went out.
In the kitchen I found the maid sullen and angry, to whom I spoke
comforting words. Seeing the light come to her face, I went on to find
my little daughter. From under the grapevine where she had already cried
herself to sleep, I picked her up; and after kissing her and wiping the
tear stains from her cheeks, I told her that I would get her another
dollie,--one ever so much nicer than the first. Having comforted others
for His sake, and for their own sake, my soul was filled with
inexpressible peace! And once more something spoke to my innermost
being, 'Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these ye did it unto
me.'"

Let no one draw the conclusion that her habit of devotion was worthless,
for it is not very likely that all this peace and revelation would have
come to her if she had been less inclined to pray. The intense desire of
her prayer, coupled with the unpleasant incidents of the day, brought to
her the fuller truth.

Though a minister may not neglect his sermons, yet there have been times
when I have grown so desperate in my effort to prepare a vital message
that I have thrown down my insipid and stupid manuscript to go out and
find some needy, suffering person whom I could bless in His name.
Whenever I have done this I have found God and my soul and a sermon.


5. Where does Jesus belong in the religious, social and thought worlds?

When the God Soul and the man soul unite, they so lift nature's forces
up into personal life that the universe no longer lies in broken and
confused fragments. Jesus is at the center of all things because all
things center in pure personal life. In Him, the Father-spirit, the
child-spirit, and nature's forces were so correlated as to be newly
manifest; the child was completing himself in the Father, and the Father
was fulfilling Himself in the child, while nature was serving as the
common instrument of both. Separate the God Soul, the man soul, and
nature's forces, and no one of them is revealed. Unite them as they were
in Jesus and the meaning of all three appears. Christ's type of life
brings all reality into accord because it combines everything into a
composite, personal life.

If you wish to know God in the most perfect way, go to Jesus; if you
care to know man as he should be, go to Jesus; if you would look upon
God, man, and nature's forces in one radiant, wooing personality, go to
Jesus. If it is the purpose of religionists, sociologists, and
philosophers to trace reality to its highest form of expression, let
them go to Jesus. Yes, let all men go to Jesus with their wealth of
technical knowledge which they have gained in the wide fields of
research; and in His presence, their treasures, like precious gems, will
scintillate with a divine light. This conjunction in Jesus of all
streams of reality makes Him the light of the world. In the same way,
and for the same reason, every person would be the light of the world if
the child-spirit rendered an obedience to the Father equally loving and
intelligent. But this is the tragedy,--who has rendered such obedience!
It is the belief of many of us that Jesus was never disobedient, even as
a little child. Though it were admitted that this could not be proved,
still it would remain a fact that as Jesus "Increased in wisdom and
stature, and in favor with God and man," His filial obedience identified
Him with the Father. The oneness of Deity and humanity was so certainly
achieved in Jesus that no one can rob him of His glory nor of His place
as the Messiah. He was the first to open wide the door to God; yea more,
He was the door. In Jesus, we come face to face with the personal God
and with our Elder Brother who lived in God. In Him, the perfect God was
living in man, and the perfect man was living in God, while unitedly
they were living among men as a visible member of society.

Taking the world as it is, the presence of God in humanity could but
bring both peace and trouble; it brought joy to the pure in heart, and
bitter hatred and strife to those who loved darkness rather than light
because their deeds were evil. The weary and the noble were attracted to
Jesus, while the vicious and the self-willed hurled themselves against
Him with mad fury; but it was ever so, from the beginning of human
history until the present hour. Whenever God has made His approach in
human life, the evil-in-heart have opposed Him; they have killed the
prophets, and stoned God when He came unto them. In our own day, many
who speak beautifully of God in nature, are fiercely angry with Him when
He appears among them in a good man; they are willing to believe that
God is in that part of nature which soothes their senses, but they are
not willing to believe that He is in the man who irritates them by
opposing their wicked ways, or by hindering them in their pursuit of
ill-gotten gains and illicit pleasures. Therefore, when God in Jesus so
fully and perfectly entered society, it is not strange that they put Him
to death. However, in killing Jesus they unwittingly exalted Him; in
this act they brought to light the heinousness of sin, the inexpressible
love of God, and the compassion of the child Jesus for his sinful
brothers. It is before the cross, if anywhere, that men are led to
repentance; it is there, if anywhere, that the heart is both broken and
healed. Before such wondrous love the world may well pause and sing:

  "In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o'er the wrecks of time,
  All the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime."


6. Can God die?

_Yes, God can die._ Three years ago after the Sunday morning service I
received a telegram saying, "Mother died this morning at six-thirty.
Come!" Now, what did my sisters mean by this information; did they
intend to convey the idea that our mother had become extinct? Not at
all, they only meant that she had lost the dear old instrument that we
had known for so many years in this earthly home. Death never signifies
more than this to the Christian. Though we said she was dead, we
believed our mother to be more alive than ever. If death is simply the
loss of our instrument, the body, then God too can die, for He may lose
His body. God died on the cross with His child, because the
Father-spirit, no less than the child-spirit, lost His beautiful
instrument in which He had walked by the shores of Galilee, teaching and
comforting the people. If Jesus would not forsake the Father in the
agony of the Garden, we may be sure that the Father did not forsake His
child on the cross. As they were united in life they were undivided in
death. To think that Jesus any more than the Father was conscious of the
pain, is to make Jesus greater than God. The God who creates the body,
moment by moment, must know the thrill of every nerve, since they are
His own nerves which He shares with His child. Yet it is not the pain
nor the indignity heaped upon the Father and His Holy Child that we are
here emphasizing, but the fact that He lost the instrument by means of
which He had been a living person among men. The disciples scattered in
sorrow and bewilderment, when God and His Child Jesus died on the cross.
The Father had no form left on earth through which He could continue to
speak _unerring_ words of wisdom and love. One year before my mother
died she enfolded me once more in her arms and blessed me, saying, "My
son, I shall never see you again on earth." Hastening home at the
summons of my sisters I looked again on the dear old instrument, but the
hand of welcome was not extended, and the lips did not speak. In like
manner when the limp body of Jesus was taken from the cross, the lips
no longer said, "I and the Father are one, He that hath seen me hath
seen the Father." Those lifeless hands were no longer outstretched, and
pleading, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will
give you rest." Yes, God can die; He can lose His human instruments on
earth. He can likewise die to society by being _robbed_ of His highest
instruments. If no man, woman, or child in my city would let God come to
articulate speech or deed through his body, God would be stone dead in
Bridgeport; He would be as dead as the spirits whose bodies lie in our
cemeteries. As already indicated, I do not mean, even in that sad event,
that God would not still be in Bridgeport as the power of the
all-pervading atmosphere, or as the mighty force of the waves that lash
our shores. His energy would still be scintillating in the lamps of the
white way, and shedding a soft light in the smaller lamps that brighten
our homes; His would still be the energy propelling all the thundering
mills of industry, and the power sustaining the nerves and muscles that
operate the machinery; He would still be present in the blazing sun by
day and in the twinkling stars by night; He would still wrap us round,
and enfolding us in His great universe He would watch over us by day and
brood over us by night; and yet for all this, if we entirely robbed Him
of all His human bodies He, as a member of society, would be completely
dead in Bridgeport. If in his own life every one killed God, men would
then devour one another. As it is, God is partly dead and partly alive
in my city, as in all cities; and hence we are sometimes a blessing and
sometimes a curse to one another. God may be manifestly alive in one
person, and nearly dead in the same man's nearest neighbor; and He is
more or less dead and alive in the best of us. When God can no longer
get to the surface through men's souls, and bodies, and institutions, He
is dead in that locality. And when God is dead through the loss of men,
society is spiritually dead through the loss of God. The _living_ God is
not one who is driven out of His kingdom and reduced to a mere operator
of the cosmos. The living God is not one who is persecuted by His
children and driven from home while His business is going to rack and
ruin. A living God must be active in His universe from center to
circumference. Until our bodies are God's obedient instruments there is
no kingdom of God. There is not the slightest reason for thinking there
is a kingdom of God anywhere in the universe unless God has children
somewhere who are permitting Him to live through the instruments with
which He enfolds them. Until God is permitted to live in His own bodies,
He is dead and His children are languishing.

If the Christian religion were understood and believed and practiced,
what a transformation it would work! For instance, if every man, woman,
and child in my city rendered perfect obedience to God, then every human
body in Bridgeport would become His very own to use, and God Himself
would throng our streets. We should meet Him face to face in
individuals and crowds. It would be Emmanuel, or "God-with-us"
everywhere. All faces would be bright with the wisdom and goodness of
God. Every individual would be our Infinite Father and our brother in
one. What a rapid human growth would ensue! Every living person would be
a window through which the light of God would shine. There would be
young minds like the child Jesus in the temple, just waking to the mind
of God, and ripe saints and sages flooding the community with God's
vaster wisdom and profounder love. Not only would our immediate bodies
be cleansed and transformed, but our augmented bodies would be brought
into harmony with the divine Will. Our city would become a heavenly
abode, and our industries would become the instruments of love and
righteousness. We should tap a thousand sources of power that now remain
idle, and finding unlimited resources within ourselves and our
environments, we would work wonders. While making God's energies our
enlarged and purified bodies, we should at the same time turn them into
instruments of God's love. If God were permitted to come to the surface
perfectly in all our lives, and in all with which we have to do, three
years would not pass until people would be making pilgrimages from the
ends of the earth to see the city "where _God_ lives."

In a previous chapter I said that God, as a solitary person in the
universe, would not mine coal, and run steam engines; but now allow me
to say that if there is anything God wants to do it is to get into the
railroad business; and if He does not, it will be because men vote Him
out. But in shutting God out of railroad corporations, what are we
doing? Though not fully aware of it, yet we are really saying, "O God,
you may be the energy in the steel rails, you may be the power in the
wheels, you may be the expansive force of the steam, you may manage the
chemical combinations of the wheat or other cargo, you may furnish us
with our bodies, you may do everything but dictate terms of business.
If, however, you want to sit at the desk as the senior partner then our
answer is, 'Get down and out, O God.' We are glad to have you as our
slave and lackey, we are delighted to use you and exploit you, but woe
to the man or men who plead your cause in connection with our private
business."

Such is the enormity of our sin, and the denseness of our ignorance when
we shut God out of our business affairs. If God may not be in our daily
enterprises He will not deign to be in our prayer meetings. This is the
message of Jesus to all men, to employers and employees alike; this is
the will of God, that _in_ and _through_ His children He may make all
things vocal with His wisdom, and beautiful with His love. Scholars may
look into nerves and brain, but the spirit is fully revealed _before_
the face and not back of it. So the infinite God and Father of our
spirits is fully revealed, if at all, in benignant eyes, friendly hands,
willing feet, and gracious words. It is the way we grow our bodies, and
shape our institutions, and manipulate all the forces of nature that we
reveal what manner of spirits we are. If our spirits are evil, then God
is denied bodily expression. There is no use saying Lord, Lord, if we do
not the things which He tells us.



CHAPTER V

LOSING THE SENSE OF IMMORTALITY


A general statement

The "what" and "where" of God is still incomplete so long as we confine
our thought to the mere fragment of time measured by this earth life.
Though we have found the unity of all parts in the Christ life, yet that
unity is and can be but imperfectly realized by society on earth. A
longer time and a wider sphere must be considered if we are really to
know what God and man is. Therefore, God, man, and the universe must be
viewed in the light of endless time.

If in certain respects this generation is conspicuous for its lack of
faith, in other respects it is notable for its abundance of faith. The
new knowledge acquired along many lines instead of destroying our belief
in immortality is going to enrich it immeasurably when we have
thoroughly digested the facts. In the meantime some minds are bound to
be disquieted.

It is most fortunate that the majority of people seem able to accept the
fact of a future life as something altogether natural and inevitable.
Those who are not able to do so, however, appear to be increasing in
number. Yet we may rest assured that whatever will save the faith of
the doubting ones will enrich the faith of those who find it easy to
believe. And if those who doubt are not as numerous as sometimes
appears, so much the better. Whatever the real situation may be, it is
our privilege and duty to deepen and enrich our faith to the extent of
our ability. That so many express doubts on the subject of immortality
is something to be deplored and, if possible, remedied.

An old man, highly esteemed, despondingly said to me after the funeral
of his friend:

"We hope there is something beyond, but we do not know."

In response to my word of assurance, he grew even more pensive and
added, "No one has ever returned."

To say the least this life-long member of the Church saw nothing in
future prospects to cheer his declining years. As I gave his feeble hand
a warm clasp, I painfully realized that the light was fading from his
soul as well as from his eyes.

On my first visit after the funeral of a senior deacon, his widow
plaintively repeated the words of the old man:

"We hope there is something beyond, but we do not know."

My prompt response was immediately checked by a languid wave of the
hand, and an emphatic, "_No one_ can know."

This uncertain state of mind is in striking contrast with that of the
saints and martyrs; it cannot say, "To me, to live is Christ and to die
is gain."

Some highly honorable people tell me that they have no desire to live
again, and express wonder that anyone has such a desire. The good
influence we may leave behind us, they think, is immortality enough.

A general loss of faith in immortality, I am confident, would work
irreparable harm to society. It would completely destroy religion. The
Church, therefore, should do its utmost to keep alive a rational and
heartfelt assurance of immortality. This, I am sure, can be done
without, in any way, stultifying the intellect. In fact, the intellect
must be made our ally if we are to succeed.

At this point the remark of a woman ninety years old is very significant
and reassuring. After reading a popular book of the day on immortality,
she said:

"I did not like it. I do not want anyone to try to prove immortality by
science, because he cannot do it. I grasp the reality of a future life
with my whole being."

_Why are so many people losing their assurance of immortality?_


1. The contagion of doubt

There is a contagion of doubt as well as a contagion of faith. With
facts still favorable to a victory, an army may lose morale. When the
general and all his officers keep hopeful, their confidence works its
way down to the enlisted men. If the hopeful word is on many lips the
morale is saved, and the whole army is confident of victory. Witnessing
to any belief has a tremendous psychic influence for good or evil. The
facts concerning any great subject are never deeply analyzed by the
masses; yet the people possess a rare power for sensing the spirit of
their times.

In the fight for Eternal Life the morale of the Church is too low. The
confidence at the top is not always as rugged and commanding as it might
be. Too many college men are confused in a jumble of ideas, and some of
them, unfortunately, give their testimony on the side of doubt.

No one should give an insincere testimony for the sake of helping out a
weak cause. Yet many college men are greatly remiss in not giving more
careful consideration to a theme that vitally affects all human
interests.

At all events, the masses hear many expressions of doubt, and are not
slow to pass them on. A large number of people who stand aloof from the
Churches hear a dozen denials to one affirmation of belief in
immortality. Many radical socialists carry on a determined propaganda
against belief in immortality for political and economic reasons. They
say to the restless crowds:

"The Church is fooling you with the hope that the wrongs of this life
will be righted in another; but there is no other. If ever you get your
share of good things you must get it soon, for your life is short.
Therefore, down with the Church and king capital!"

I am not fearful for the grounds on which the assurance of this great
Christian belief rests, but I am disturbed over the prevalent ignorance
and indifference manifested.


2. The inability to make a religious use of modern knowledge

The Christian view of life in its relation to the whole body of modern
information has not been adequately given to the people. And they are
seriously affected in consequence of this neglect. That irreligion does
not tend toward assurance of immortality I regard as an incontrovertible
position. Yet to say that all doubt is due to a lack of Christian
devotion is not true. Many good Christians are confused, and seek help
to regain the comforting belief that death does not end all. All clearly
ascertained truth about the universe should prove a help to faith, but
until people know what to do with so many new facts, they prove a
decided hindrance.

Take for example just one popular subject of the day, physiological
psychology: When taught by men who have never grasped the Christian
philosophy of life, it affords the shortest possible road to atheism and
the denial of the human soul. This modern branch of learning, though the
finest of servants, is the meanest of masters. It has slain its
thousands. Physiological psychology has its own field of investigation,
but it is never safe when it parts company with sound philosophy.


3. The loss of a satisfying conception of the future life

In sharp contrast with former times, this generation has no satisfying
conception of the future life. And naturally an indefinite and hazy
future makes but slight appeal. Many instinctively turn from such a
future to save their peace of mind. They prefer something that is
definite and interesting. It is a matter of common experience that the
heart will not glow if there is no picture on the canvas. Unless we can
so adjust the lens of our minds as to project something more than
confused colors, we shall never bring back the former interest in a
future life. Unfortunately, there has not been much striving on the part
of the Church to construct a future that will harmonize with the newly
discovered constitution of the universe. And without this end in view
all striving would be in vain; nothing will avail that does not relate
the future to the divine framework of God's present Universe.

The common conception of heaven has been of something quite apart from
the existing world as we know it. Among all with whom I have conversed,
I have not found one who expects to have a physical body in the future
life. They have erroneously interpreted a "spiritual body" to mean a
spirit body. This crude idea of a spirit body is a fair sample of a
hundred other fancies and misconceptions.

When the commonly accepted idea of heaven became as distasteful to the
minister as it was to many of his congregation, he stopped preaching
about it. The laity may no longer be seen enjoying a rapturous
contemplation of future bliss. Instead, they accuse persons so inclined
of other-worldliness, and point out to them that they are not as good as
they might be here and now. So, for one reason or another we seldom give
more than a furtive glance at that which lies beyond the grave. In
proportion as the vision has gone from the mind, the sense has faded
from the soul. The old picture of heaven has become altogether
inadequate, and no other has been put in its place. Considering the
sudden transition through which the world has been passing, possibly
this stage of affairs was inevitable.


4. The growing habit of classifying the future with things unknown and
unknowable

At last there has arisen in the Church a considerable class that strives
to discourage any effort to inquire into the future life. "One world at
a time" is their motto. The future is classed among things unknown and
unknowable. This type of mind is trying to arouse interest in the
present by drawing attention from the future.

Said a woman professor to a student:

"If ministers would talk less of things about which they can know
nothing and do more to help those about them, they would show more sense
and accomplish a great deal more good."

I think I know some ministers who might do more for their environments,
but I happen to know of none who talk much about the future. This
teacher so enthusiastic over a fragment of the truth has never suspected
how meager and one-sided her education is. She has not grasped the
thought of our age which recognizes, above everything else, the unity
and solidarity of things. So she protests against any _rounded-out_
conception of life. It is not strange, therefore, that immortality is to
her a disagreeable theme that she would like to see tabooed.

A professional man once said to me:

"When you came on the train the other day our mutual friend, Mr. A.
said, 'There is the Parson,' and then nudging me remarked, 'Say, he
knows no more about the other world than we do, does he?'"

"So that is what you were talking about," I replied. "Well, I am
surprised. I thought you were modern men, and knew that there is no
other world. Science, philosophy, religion, and common sense, teach us
that there is but one world, a uni-verse. We now live in all the world
there is. But since we have not penetrated it very deeply, if your
friend had remarked that the minister was no more developed than you, or
that he had gone no deeper into the meaning of the universe than you, he
would at least have been on debatable ground. When, however, two men of
your opportunities could sit there and talk about another world, I am
ashamed of you. The universe is as much one as my watch is one. Every
particle of it enfolds us continually and never ceases to pour its
energies through us. Every part of the universe is beating upon us to
waken us, if possible, to its meaning. If I live for an eternity, I
shall be in the same world as now, and what I truthfully know about it
now will still be true after my body has decayed. God's one-world is the
only world."

No wonder that people become confused and mixed up with their plural
worlds, and broken fragments of worlds.


5. An inadequate conception of the Kingdom of God

More than a generation ago it came to us like a new discovery that while
Jesus rarely spoke of heaven, the expression, "Kingdom of Heaven," was
continually on His lips. This discovery turned the whole tide. And since
then, "The Kingdom of God on Earth" has been the theme of the Church.

While heartily agreeing with this discovery, and sympathizing with the
new aim, I still seriously doubt whether we have seen the kingdom of
heaven in any such full-orbed sense as Jesus intended we should. Too
often we unwittingly preach a kingdom of _earth_ on earth; we leave
something out. That which Jesus preached was somehow more religious.
Surely it is an inadequate kingdom of God when it, as so often happens,
degenerates into a _mere_ scientific cooking-school, or a _mere_
scientific system of sanitation, or a _mere_ several other things
lacking in God motive and God consciousness. The Kingdom of God is more
than a program of social service; it is a God-filled and God-ruled
society. A genuine Kingdom of God on earth will be pervaded by a
heavenly atmosphere. Even a social religion may become so unsocial as to
eliminate the Head of society; it may consign Him to the oblivion of
forgetfulness.

No woman, whose duty it is to be a cook, can be a perfect Christian
while she is careless about the preparation of food for her family. Yet
one may be a scientific cook without being a Christian. It requires more
than beautiful, material conditions to make the kingdom of God on earth.

I know families with beautiful mahogany dining rooms and all that goes
with them, whose good food is so well cooked that it almost melts in
their mouths, and yet they give God no thanks. Indeed, there are those
thus situated who think nothing about God.

This is not meant to imply that the conditions of poverty and ignorance
are any more favorable to a Christian life.

Coming one day from a poor family's home across the street, my little
son said:

"Papa, does Mr. R. love the Lord?" When I told him that I did not know,
"Well," he replied, "I don't believe he does, because he sat down at the
table to-day with his coat off and never thanked the Lord for his food.
He just looked around and said, 'Pass the taters,' and that is all he
said."

From what I knew of this poor man, he was probably neither more nor less
a pagan than the man with a mahogany dining room. The doctrine of the
kingdom of God on earth, with but little consciousness of God, is
surely increasing among rich and poor, both in the Church and out of the
Church. And as personal acquaintance with God goes, the assurance of
immortality invariably fades.

Many women, of varying degrees of intelligence and social standing, are
doing commendable social work for the love of humanity with but dim
consciousness of God. It has come to pass that fine women may whisk
about in silks and limousines visiting day-nurseries and the like
without bending the knee to the Father or remembering that the babies
are God's little ones. Yet no right-minded person wishes to diminish the
social service of this day by whomsoever rendered. On the contrary, he
feels that the Church which overlooks the poor babies should have a
millstone hanged about its neck and be cast into the sea. Nevertheless,
a kingdom without the consciousness of God in the hearts of its subjects
will never succeed in saving the assurance of immortality. The old
religion could not succeed without a bottom, and the new religion will
not succeed without a top. This topless kingdom, spreading far beyond
the Church, is making many feel that they are better off without the
Church. Some of these are sincere and substantial men and women, while
others of them are extremely superficial.

Many of the latter class will tell you with real self-appreciation that
they look after poor stray kitties, and feed the birdies in cold
weather, and in fact befriend all the animals. Really, they are too busy
with good works among animals and needy people to go to church and, as
one of them told me, they are not among the narrow-minded people anyway
"Who believe in hell."

This generation needs to learn the necessity, and the sane psychology,
of Christian experience. To put it plainly, it should be converted to
God. With God in our thoughts and affections we can hardly be too
careful about the material side of His kingdom; for the religion of
Jesus means the spiritualizing of the material, all the way from our
bodies to the end of the material forces that are at our command. Though
ever so many cups of cold water be given, if they are not given in His
name or with a consciousness of His share in the gift, the kindly deed
will not impart to us Christ's assurance of life eternal.


6. We automatically lose the assurance of the future when we lose the
reality of the present

Because he _has_ nothing in his ice-bound world, the Eskimo hopes for
nothing. There is nothing within his present grasp that suggests great
things to come. Whereas, the civilized man hopes for a glorious future
not yet attained because he sees that the present warrants such a hope.
No one can reasonably hope for that which the present does not justify.
Only let him be sure that he knows the present. Men who miscalculate the
future usually do so because they fail to apprehend the present facts.
We cannot judge what the fruit will be unless we know the particular
variety of tree. The future history of the universe depends upon whether
there is a God _now_. Either there is or there is not a God. If there
is, the one not knowing Him has a very superficial knowledge of the
world that now is. A God-projected and a God-filled world will have a
very different future from a world of mindless ether and mindless
electrons. The discovery of electricity and some knowledge of its
behavior were necessary before men could dream of electric cars and
electric lights. When electricity and some of the laws were known,
however, the dream was unavoidable, and like many another rational
prediction it has come true. When the thought of God fades, Christian
hope dies. If one is only _agnostic_ with reference to the existence of
God, he is simply agnostic on the subject of immortality. In exact
proportion as we lose connection with the deeper realities of the
present, we forfeit insight into the future. As one who is entirely
ignorant of chemistry has no criteria by which to judge the future of
chemistry, so the one having no personal consciousness of God, nor clear
vision of the deeper meanings of life, has no data for a rational
prediction of the future. Paul said that the rulers of his day did not
know spiritual things, or they "Would not have crucified the Lord of
glory." Not knowing God, naturally they did not recognize His purpose
when they met it in the character and teachings of Jesus; so they
ignorantly put Jesus to death. Things which their eyes saw not and their
ears heard not, were recognized by those who knew God. "For who among
men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in
him? Even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But
we received the spirit which is from God; that we might know."

Our expectations for the future always rise spontaneously out of our
vision of the present. Whether it will rain within the next forty-eight
hours I can but imperfectly predict because I recognize but a few vague
weather conditions. The weather bureau, however, with many more present
facts at its command may predict with far greater certainty.

The man who knows nothing but a material universe cannot believe in
immortality. Any effort to convince him is but a waste of breath. If he
is right in thinking that the universe has no soul, then he is right in
believing that there is no future life.

The Soul--granting that it has a Soul--is the best part of the universe.
To have lost God, therefore, is to have lost the best part of reality.
And the loss does not end here, for, in the best sense, we have lost the
world also. Though its chemistry and physics remain the same, its higher
meaning and finer uses no longer exist, for us, when God is eliminated.
To comprehend the universe we must know it philosophically, poetically,
and religiously, as well as scientifically. Some unwisely think that to
know it scientifically and poetically is enough. If the forces of nature
are energies proceeding from an Infinite Mind, and if we might so use
these forces as to express His wisdom and love in all human relations,
then the universe is fundamentally different from the atheist's world.
The one who does not recognize an infinite Mind of love and
righteousness, must prostitute the world to uses lower than the highest.
And as soon as he does this he has not only lost the Soul of the
universe, but in the very finest sense he has lost the body of the
universe as well. On such a poor foundation, his common sense saves him
from the folly of trying to build a temple that pierces the skies. He
may still remain a gentleman, and have a most kindly and unselfish
disposition within certain limits, but at a thousand points he will find
his will at right angles with the one who lives in a different
world,--in a world that warrants the long look. I have experienced the
world from both points of view. And though my common conduct did not
vary greatly, yet when I was deeply conscious of God, and saw the
universe all vibrant with His thought and love, my life in its inner
meaning and quality was different from center to circumference.

Here, then, is the crux of the whole matter. In so far as we have lost
the assurance of a future life, it is because we have lost so much of
the present that what remains of it is not sufficient to arouse a lively
anticipation of immortality. True, our sense of reality is oppressively
intense in the physical realm; we clutch, with death-like grip, that
from which the Soul has escaped. But the husk will not support spiritual
life nor give assurance of the life to come.



CHAPTER VI

FINDING THE SENSE OF IMMORTALITY

How shall we find the assurance of immortality?


1. We automatically find the assurance of the future when we find the
reality of the present.

Naturally, assurance will be found, if at all, where it was lost. We
shall automatically find the assurance of the future when we find the
reality of the present.

It is not claimed that all professing Christians have a firm grasp on
reality; for when religion is no more than a superficial formality, its
credulous devotees experience neither truth nor doubt; they are
religious automatons. But if we do not allow such Christians to attract
us to heaven, neither should we permit them to drive us to perdition.

If one succeeds in finding God, if he learns to grasp the religious
significance of the universe, and if he achieves a personal experience
of the kingdom of God, assurance of the future will come unbidden and
unsought. These great and present realities are the gateway to life and
the guarantee of good things to come. _Only let one find, assimilate,
and build upon this three-fold present, and the soul will blossom into
hope._


Some reasons why the quest for reality is not more frequently and
earnestly undertaken.


a. The moral failure of Christians

Some refrain from any effort to make religious attainments because of
the moral failures among professing Christians. But there are many
failures in business, education, citizenship, and every other line of
human endeavor that is worth while. On that basis a person would refuse
to live at all. We all know there are some religious sceptics who are
much more upright than some believers. From a Christian civilization
they have inherited strong wills, a deep moral sense, and physical
bodies with no marked weakness. Many of them have kindly dispositions
and charming graces. Among their most helpful friends and favorite
authors they count many of the best religious people. They themselves
are one of the best by-products of Christianity. If they did not live in
a Christian civilization they would not be what they are. Many such are
doubters simply because they have not found their religious teachers.
They have probably encountered that which, for their type of mind, was a
very unfortunate religious environment. It would have been better for
some people if they had had different parents, or a different Church, or
both. However, it is a simple matter of observation that a large
percentage of humanity is weak whether believing or sceptical, whether
it goes to Church or does not go to Church. A man who has a real saint
in him may at the same time have seven devils in himself to fight. With
no patriotic ideals or emotions some men can keep morally straight,
while some noble self-sacrificing patriot may, if he is not very
careful, fall into the ditch. It is fortunate that some doubters are so
good, and a pity that some Christians are so bad; but regardless of just
how good or bad any of us is, if this universe has a Soul it is of the
greatest importance that we make His personal acquaintance and learn His
plans; and if in anything we have deviated from His plans we should
humbly repent and get in line with the Power that must ultimately break
us if it cannot make us. If one is strong enough to perform ordinary
duties without the conscious help of God, that is no reason why he
should run away from his Father and treat Him with silent contempt. The
Father desires the company of His son, and in a thousand ways great and
small needs His son's help.


b. Because the average Christian cannot answer technical questions

Others regard the religious verities lightly because the average
Christian cannot answer technical questions pertaining to his faith. Yet
there is not one cultivated person in a thousand that can answer
technical questions concerning the material universe in which we all
live. The most highly civilized and prosperous community succeeds simply
because it relies on the technical knowledge of the few. Most of us
know electricity neither practically nor theoretically. Even among
practical electricians, how many could answer more than the simplest
questions? It requires no profound knowledge of the subject to wire a
house and give its occupants light and comfort. Yet the practical
electrician knows as well as the expert that he is dealing with a real
force, and may be able to wire the house better than the theoretical
electrician himself could do. How many good cooks are there who could
chemically analyze the food which they have prepared for their families?
It is absurd to expect the average Christian to go into all the
psychology and philosophy of his religion; as it is absurd to deny the
reality of his experience because a full analysis is not forthcoming.
The large majority of people have neither time nor qualifications to go
into an exhaustive and technical examination of the philosophy and
science of religion, any more than they have to go into the philosophy
and science of the material world. Fortunately, a more practical way
stands wide open to them. Because men are men, they may possess the
great realities before they can adequately explain them. They know the
stars before they are astronomers. They have an implicit knowledge of
God which under right conditions becomes explicit. They have intuitions
and common sense, the foundation of all knowledge. It is their
privilege, likewise, to put things to the severe test of use. In the
material world men risk their lives and fortunes on the truth of
sciences of which, at first hand, they are totally ignorant. But by so
doing they find themselves the richer and the wiser. Likewise, the
Christian multitudes who take the spiritual world practically, find
themselves the recipients of untold blessings. Their knowledge, to be
sure, is only practical, but it is their knowledge, and they would be
willing to die for it if necessary. One may have the reality without the
analysis, or he may have the analysis without the reality, or,
unfortunately, he may have neither. The happiest possible situation is
where he has both. A man may be justified in giving money and labor for
the support and extension of religion without himself being a
psychologist or a theologian. Just as the men who have given the most
money for the advancement of the sciences do not know enough about these
sciences to teach them. Yet we do not call them fools; we highly esteem
them as philanthropists and benefactors. They are often as intellectual
in the practical world as the scholars are in the scientific world. The
practical and theoretical everywhere supplement each other.

There should be experts, by all means, who know religion technically as
well as practically. And to these many inquiring troubled minds should
go for help, just as the business man goes to the experts for knowledge
that lies beyond him. Some sceptics take special delight in perplexing
common Christians with the deepest philosophical aspects of their faith.
Why do they not go to the experts? Many religious doubters never go to
any one with their problems; while others of a more superficial
character go to the religious quacks, and thenceforward help to swell
the ranks of some ridiculous or fanatical religion.

It is doubtless true that almost every one could find his religious
teacher if only he would look for him; one who could interpret religion
in such a way as to satisfy his reason and meet his deepest need. If
there is any possible way of bringing honest doubters and religious
experts together it should be done for their mutual benefit. But here is
one of the gravest practical difficulties that we have to face.


c. Antiquated forms irritating to sceptics

Crude ideas still cling to the popular statements of religion as
barnacles cling to a ship. This unfortunate and unnecessary fact drives
away from the Church many conscientious minds. Though not many of us are
scientists, yet we all live in a fairly well reconstructed material
universe. Without knowing any mathematical astronomy our general notion
of the heavens is fairly correct. Ignorant as we are of physics and
chemistry, yet we have in our minds a moderately fair picture of a world
that is compounded from the gases. The old picture of the material world
has given place to the new, even among the uneducated masses. But, sad
to say, the simple, complete picture of the reconstructed religious
world has never been given to the masses. Sometimes we lug in a little
of the dry and technical science that lies back of the new picture, but
rarely do we give the picture concrete and whole, unburdened and
untrammeled by the technical substratum. As a result only a handful of
Christians have the simple, modern conception of religion in anything
like complete form. Yet no task should be easier or more delightful than
just this work of giving the people a complete picture of the religious
world in which we live. Recently I met a man who is a good worker in one
of the most prominent churches in America, and I was surprised to find
that his ideas of religion compare with those of his renowned minister
as the Ptolemaic astronomy compares with the Copernican,--and yet he has
no realization of the discrepancy. His capable minister should draw the
picture for him. A great many sincere and genuine churches greatly
irritate the sceptical mind because of the forms in which their
religious ideas are clothed. Like a grapevine that is never trimmed,
their faith is free and easy and of luxurious growth. To the critical
doubter the suffocating atmosphere of the Church seems unreasoning and
unreasonable. It is not that he wants something learned, but something
that does not rough his mind into a state of irritation. The mischief
done is great.

It is the imperative duty of some people to go to another Church; and in
some cases to another denomination. Though the fault is on both sides,
yet they will never be able to make a harmonious adjustment.

Instead of finding a church, or some specialist, that could teach him,
unfortunately and untruthfully the sceptic usually decides that it is
impossible for him to be a Christian. So he resolves to be what he
regards as an upright man and lets it go at that. But he does not find
the great realities, except in a most vague and attenuated form.


d. The provincialism of sceptics

The most hopeless situation of all is where sceptics consort almost
wholly with sceptics. They can soon kill the last remnant of religion
that lingers in their hearts. The provincialism of doubt may be even
greater than the provincialism of a bigoted faith. In their hearts,
sceptics often try and condemn intelligent Christians with but slight
knowledge of what the Christians believe and with even less knowledge of
why they believe it. Many doubting minds take it for granted that all
Christians conceive of religion as they themselves did when they were
children in Sunday school, or boys and girls in a Junior Endeavor
society. They think that a little scientific knowledge of the material
universe makes anything more than agnosticism impossible. If their
knowledge of religion and their philosophical knowledge of the universe
were all that is known, they would be right. By learning a little more
of religion, and by acquiring a better philosophical as well as
scientific knowledge of the material universe many have regained their
grasp on God. For such as have come to see God as the center and Soul of
all things, natural science, instead of being a hindrance to, has become
one illuminating phase of theology. As a Christian believer, I find
myself continually going to expert scientists to ascertain their latest
findings. And I can truthfully say that, from a religious point of view,
their verifiable report is always interesting. It is good news. It lifts
me to higher levels of thought, to nobler planes of social conduct, and
to loftier heights of fellowship with God and men. God's blessings on
any man that discovers anything new in God's world and reports it
correctly!

A friend once said to me:

"I do not know whether there is a God or not, and I am not going to
bother my head about it; I am just going to wait and see."

If, however, he finds himself alive after the death of his body, I
venture to assert that the old problem of finding God will still
confront him. We may rest assured that there is no ghost-God to be seen
after death. This man has utterly misconceived of God and of the method
of finding Him. Death will not be a substitute for spiritual
development. If ever he finds God it will be as a Loving Intelligent
Will, and not as a glorious ghost on which his physical eyes may look.
"God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit
and in truth." If we would know God we must seek Him as He is, and not
as something which He is not.

Let the sceptic consider well this statement: So far as we can _see_,
everything would necessarily appear just as it does if there were a God.
I have never interrogated any one who could suggest anything to the
contrary. If God actually exists, we shall never know Him as we know
man with local form and articulate speech, unless we come to recognize
Him in man. I dare say we shall _never_ become acquainted with God save
as we learn to know Him in our own souls, in other people, and in
nature. So if we ever expect to know Him we would as well put forth the
effort to know Him now. If it could be proved that there is a God we
should still need to find Him. But if we find him we have no need of
further proof. Our problem then is not one of proving, but of finding.


2. Equal striving for spiritual and material things is necessary

All normal people have senses which give them physical objects. Without
these, we could not commence to live a rational life. But we must
acquire some sense to make our senses of value. Most of our seeing, in
the physical as well as in the spiritual, is with our sense and not
alone with our senses. To achieve insight in any line requires effort.
The man who has senses only, lacks the insight of the man who has both
sense and senses. Therefore we must earn not only our bread by the sweat
of our brow, but everything else which has priceless worth.

How covetous we all are for the material side of things! That we may
truthfully know and really possess the material side of the universe, we
put forth prolonged and painful effort. Our striving, however, to know
and to possess the _Soul_ of the universe is pitifully meager. If we
strove no harder for the former than we do for the latter we should be
ignorant and poor beyond recognition. Having long neglected the Soul of
the universe we look up, occasionally, and demand proof that the world
has a Soul. However, it is not _proof_ that we need, but religious
insight. If I ask proof that classical music is beautiful, I must either
take other people's word for it or else acquire musical sense by living
with classical music and classical musicians. The senses of the average
man pronounce classical music very ugly. Mathematical or business
ability will not suffice; it will more likely hinder, because as a rule
it has been acquired at the expense of musical development. There are
those who actually make fun of classical music without any realization
of their personal defect which they are advertising. Charles Darwin was
probably never surpassed in the amount of data gathered for scientific
observations. And yet, there are persons in every civilized village in
the world who are better judges of music; and Paul, to say nothing of
Jesus, was so far ahead of him in religious insight that the contrast is
painful. In every realm of knowledge known to man, so-called proof is
but seeing and understanding and appreciating. Logic does not prove
anything. If for our major premise we say all normal men are rational,
we rest our belief on observation. If for our minor premise we affirm
that here is a normal man, we do so on the ground of observation. If
both observations are correct, then we need no proof that the man of the
minor premise is rational because it is self-evident. Logic is often a
convenient method of seeing, but it is never a proof. Even in
mathematics we do not prove, we see. Not a single proposition in
mathematics is proved; its truth is only perceived. The so-called proof
is but a method of separating the elements of a condensed proposition so
that these elements, one by one, may be recognized. The certainty began
with one or more axioms, and proceeded with rules built upon
observation, and the certainty at every step to the finish rested on
something self-evident. A prominent man assured me that he could prove
that two and two were four. However, the first thing I learned in
Geometry was that an axiom was too self-evident to be capable of proof.
The highly complex methods which we have devised for reducing intricate
mathematical statements of their axiomatic verities we call proof, but
the term proof can only be used in this accommodated sense, for
fundamentally we have proved nothing; we have simply increased our
intelligence by using a speedy and ingenious method of looking. When it
is said that one does not know how to prove a proposition, it only means
that he does not know how to separate and arrange the elements in such a
manner that the mind can see them. Fundamentally, _nothing in the world
is proved_. When we clearly see, doubt flees and certainty comes. If in
anything a person insists that he can not see, all we can do is to ask
him to look again; or perhaps we may try holding the truth at different
angles, or we may present its elements in some new order. If, however,
nothing enables him to see, then in respect to that particular thing he
is damned. I had a very intelligent friend who was dismissed from an
important position because he was color-blind.

While some have much stronger religious intuitions than others, yet I
think there is no normal person who may not, if he goes about it in the
right way, achieve religious insight. It takes a great deal of
maneuvering to get some people to see mathematics. And the average
sceptic has not put forth the effort to see religious truth that the
average pupil has to see mathematical truth. But I know sceptics who
_have_ put forth such effort, and they have succeeded. When a sceptic
wins a faith, in the nature of the case it is vital. Saving faith in
religion, as in everything else, is the feeling of certainty that
follows clear insight. And clear insight into any subject depends upon
intelligent study and faithful practice. While there are many things
that we positively know, and many more that we may come to know, yet it
is through rational experience, and not so-called proof, that we come to
know them.

As hungry cannibals feed upon the body of a civilized man with never a
thought that his trained mind would be worth more to them than his body,
so multitudes feed upon the body of the universe with no thought of what
its animating Will might be to them. To all who sustain such an attitude
toward the universe, its body looms large while its Soul fades. As the
cannibal missed the wealth and civilization which the larger mind of his
victim could have brought, so the mere world-consumers miss that which
the Soul of the universe could abundantly give. If it were divinely
conceived of and divinely used, the physical universe and the social
relations therein would be infinitely enriched. But when the Soul of the
universe is lost, and the body of the universe is narrowed down to the
temporal uses of the materialistic mind, we have lost the best part of
reality.

But if we know what God and the world are to-day, we have a solid basis
for knowing what they will be to-morrow. The future is not a new life
and a new universe and a new God, but the present life and the present
universe and the present God to-morrow. The remedy for a hazy future is
a luminous present. Since God carries all men, good and bad, in His
bosom, what a pity it is that we allow sloth and selfishness to deprive
us of His acquaintance and fellowship. A little play-fellow once refused
to speak to me in the presence of his newly arrived cousin. Finally he
said to his cousin with a sneer, "Dick spoke to me three times, and I
never let on that I heard him." This cut me deeply. But I now confess
with sorrow and shame that the God who carries me in His own life has
spoken a thousand times to me when I never let on that I heard Him. I
have often tried to forget Him that I might enjoy pleasures of which He
could not approve. All souls are in touch with God, and in that sense
know Him, even when they do not recognize who or what it is that touches
them; they are like the fishes that know the water but can not find the
sea.

At last it has come to this: I have simply learned to see the universe
that enfolds me, as the present energy of an intelligent Will. I see
that Will coming to human expression in me, in my Christian friends, and
in a social kingdom of infinite possibilities. That which I see _works_,
and _coördinates_ with all that I know, making me more glad and more
strong as the years go by. God seems to live in me and about me and
through me. That in which I live and from which I cannot escape for a
single moment of my existence, I do not try to prove. My task is to see
it more intelligently and to adjust myself to it more perfectly. I can
testify that the more I learn and _the better I live_ the more clearly
do I see that that in which I live has sense as well as chemical
energies; and that its deeper meaning and purpose may get to the surface
through my life. I no longer live in a dirt world, but in a mind world.
I believe neither in a muck world, nor in a ghost-God who is somewhere
in hiding. My universe has come to be a Will in action, a Will that
enfolds me with its energies and does not let me go. When the universe
is otherwise conceived I do not like it. My intellect and instincts
rebel against a universe materially conceived and materially explained.
It is too twisted and dwarfed for all the facts. I am rationally
convinced that I see a larger and better world.

To me, worship is the deeper penetration into that Will in whose
enfolding energies I live and move and have my being. My world has
become an oratorio with both peaceful and dramatic passages. I get nerve
thrills from its music; and more, since its text is written in plain
English, and not in an unknown tongue, I see the majestic pageant of a
well-ordered creation. I understand what the music is about, and
experience a joy infinitely beyond what I should if the music were
without words. And though I meet some severe hardships, yet I am
convinced that this is the best conceivable world in which to _begin_ a
life that is to live forever. History helps me, science helps me; and I
feel myself borne along by a union of forces toward a glorious goal. God
becomes more and more articulate in me and in all men and in all nature
as we learn to will His will and to use nature's forces as the
instruments of our enlightened and purified spirits. I also find that
this vision will not leave me unless I live beneath my best. If,
therefore, my best life and best vision go together, it would be folly
to do anything that would break the harmony.

Some may say, "this is nothing but the way _you_ see things, why not
give us something more?" No one has anything to give beyond what he
sees, unless he gives what some one else has seen; and that is entirely
uncalled for if he can not tell it better than the other man has done.
The only justification for the appearance of another book is that the
author thinks his vision is sufficiently like what others see, and at
the same time enough different to make it useful. "But I can't see it
your way," some reader may retort. Well, I am sorry. Obviously, if we
are sincere, it is for us to go on living and preaching the gospel with
the hope that some day he may come to see. The Master Himself was shut
up within the same circumscribed method. However, my contention is that
if we have "pure hearts," and are not unnecessarily confused in
thought, or possessed of erroneous thoughts, we know God here and now.
This is the luminous present that clarifies the hazy future. Not all men
know God, but in my opinion all may know Him if they go about it in the
right way. Every human being, consciously or unconsciously, must submit
to having his life moulded by a world with a God or by a world without a
God, and the finished life will be as different as the two worlds.


3. The final step in the effort to know God

To know God and to win the hope of immortality one must do more than
formulate a set of correct ideas. Correct ideas will greatly aid, yet
alone they are utterly inadequate. When the scientist gets his idea, he
proceeds to experiment with it. If he does not at first get the
hoped-for results, when the idea is clear and impelling, he performs his
experiments over and over again in the most painstaking manner. In
religion, however, many will never go beyond the idea. They wish to have
the idea fully established without experiment or application. The reason
for this difference is that, in religion, the experiment can not be made
on carbon and zinc, but it must be made on the man's own soul. The
experiment cuts right into his moral, emotional, and sentimental nature.
How often a man will admit, "I can see no flaw in your idea, but I am
not convinced that you are right." When the scientist gets his idea,
whether it is true or not, he acts as if it were true until he has
tried his experiments, and does not always abandon the idea when his
tests fail; he realizes that the fault may have been in the experiment.
Many of the greatest facts in science have long been baffled by faulty
experiments. Like consequences occur in religion. If instead of going on
to the experiment and application one keeps repeating forever the
question, "I wonder if the idea is true," he will never get anywhere
except into a deeper state of doubt. A wise person while putting his
best idea to the test will say, "I am hopeful that it will turn out
favorably because it is such an attractive, promising idea." Religious
ideas must be planted in the soul as seeds are put into the ground, and
allowed to remain undisturbed long enough to germinate. It is most
fortunate when children, through experimental knowledge, have been
taught to love good types of religion and music; and this while they are
receptive, and before they are ensnared by a thousand other influences.
Yet no one, at any age, dare neglect his religious duties and privileges
if he wishes religion to be an impelling power in his soul. In my youth,
mathematics was a great inspiration to me, but through neglect my
mathematical lamp burns low. To keep mathematics interesting and alive
one must work problems applied to constructive business.

For an example of a man who attained unto great religious certainty,
take Paul. He experienced a radical revision of his religious ideas, but
his improved ideas were not enough. To test their validity he hurled
himself upon the Christian verities with all the force of his being;
and in consequence, found a life of intimate friendship with God.
Thenceforward Paul had great things to tell and magnificent things to
achieve. "I can do all things in Him that strengthened me." He felt that
nothing could break this new bond. "For I am persuaded, that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor
things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other
creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord." His friendship with God gave him a new
conception of, as well as a new interest in, society. "So we, who are
many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another." God
the Father "Is over all, and through all, and in all." Paul's insight
broke all former bounds; it elevated him to a boundless and timeless
world; his insight gave him a deep sense of God and became the evidence
of many things not yet achieved. Here was personal assurance of God and
immortality deep, strong, and jubilant. Whence came it? Such assurance
is inherent in a life spiritually nourished and divinely employed. Hope
simply comes to such a soul, like color to the ripening apple.

This generation, though engaged in many noble charities, shows marked
signs of under-nourishment; its mind is active in the acquisition of
material knowledge, and its body is overworked in the effort to
accumulate wealth, yet its soul languishes. And there is a near likeness
between a starved soul and a starved body.

Without hope or courage, a little girl sits staring out of great
innocent eyes because she is under-nourished. This poor fading flower is
in striking contrast with the little apple-cheeked girl in bloomers who
believeth all things and hopeth all things and (as her brother knows)
can do pretty much all things. This startling difference requires no
lengthy explanation; nourishment and exercise tell the whole story.

So in our day many languid souls ask, "Where is thy God, and who knows
whether there is a life beyond?"

For an instructive contrast, place beside such a life the life of Jesus.
Living in the bosom of the Father, doing the Father's will day by day,
seeing life in the light of divine love, and witnessing the effect upon
those whom he won to a life of love and service, made it impossible for
Jesus to lose faith in immortality. While enduring the pain of the cross
He could say to the malefactor, "To-day shalt thou be with me in
Paradise."

The abundant, buoyant life nourished in the life of God and exercised in
the service of God and man, is the source of hope for the life that is
yet to be.


4. Conscious of the existence of God, we become certain of immortality

It is clear as daylight that God Himself will be defeated if He _loses
His family_. Attention has already been called to the fact that, with
the loss of His family, God would be reduced to a child-god playing with
a toy world; and that without the coöperation of other wills He could
not finish His toy. He would be in the position of having a world full
of raw material, material capable of infinite, spiritual and social
uses, only He would be destitute of any such help as would enable Him to
turn the universe to any account whatsoever. If He were left solitary in
the world, all God's labors in creation would lead directly to shameful
defeat. Without other inhabitants than Himself, the universe would
become one colossal piece of junk. Yes, it would be worse than that;
even junk has value where there are people. Without intelligent souls to
inhabit the universe, an appalling night would settle over all creation.
Love, truth, wisdom, righteousness, and the last semblance of a kingdom
would be gone; and God Himself would as well die with His children; He
would be destitute of character, and incapable of completing that which
He began on such a magnificent scale. Having a universe like the present
on His hands, with no one to use it, nor to inhabit it, God would be an
object worthy of ridicule. The idea that God could murder His children,
or carelessly allow them to perish, and then spend an eternity in an
unfinished and depopulated world shatters reason itself; such a thought
is too appalling and abhorrent to be entertained for a moment. Just as
sure as there is a God, we shall continue to live. Anyone who believes
in God and does not believe in immortality surely never gave two
consecutive logical thoughts to the subject. (1) _Ultimately God will
have no children at all_, (2) _or He will have an endless succession of
short-lived children_, (3) _or He will have children that survive all
changes_.

The first obnoxious idea we regard as impossible and unthinkable. A
being that could live in perpetual and absolute solitude, with no more
reason and character than such a position would warrant, is not a person
that we should call God anyway.

The second thought of God having an endless succession of short-lived
children is in some respects worse.

In the autumn of nineteen hundred and fourteen, a friend said to me:

"What _is_ there, I should like to know, in Christianity? Here we've had
the Christian religion for more than nineteen hundred years--and now
this war. Oh, there is nothing in it!"

"No," I answered, "we have had Christianity about thirty-three years;
that is, a few people have had it."

When asked what I meant by such a statement, I told her that the earth
was inhabited only by children; that the average age of all living
people was only about thirty-three years; and that they would scarcely
get beyond the spanking period until their places would be taken by
another set of babies; and that these new babies would scratch and bite,
and be tempted to lie and steal just as all the babies before them had
done; and that these in turn would soon give way to another set of
babies. I told her that all the knowledge and character on earth would,
in a few days, need to be transferred to the minds of babies not yet
born, or it would entirely disappear from the earth. "Moreover," I
said, "how do you know what Christianity has accomplished? You have
never been where the Christians have gone? What do you suppose the
Apostles and all the Christians who are nineteen hundred years old have
been doing; and the multitudes who are eighteen hundred years old, and
so on down through all the centuries? You have seen only a succession of
kindergarten classes."

Though progress on earth rests exclusively upon successive groups of
children, yet we gladly recognize the social achievements that have been
made during human history. We keenly realize also the sin we all share
in not having produced better social conditions than now exist.
Nevertheless, I am absolutely certain that no succession of infants will
ever be able to put this universe to its highest possible uses. God will
never get far with His great cosmic enterprise if He employs only
ignorant little children; and that is clearly what He is doing if death
ends all. What a pity and shame it would be to throw away such a
universe; a universe of infinite intellectual, spiritual, and social
possibilities. And what a crime it would be to destroy the intelligent
beings who could turn the universe to full account if only they were
allowed ample time. That God will not do anything so foolish and wicked
we may safely rest assured.

At the close of one of my services a man came forward and spoke to me,
saying:

"If everybody were good, your job would be done."

"Now I must scrap with you," I said. "If all were good, I should have a
larger and a better job. The good people, and not the bad people, have
the greatest desire for Church. Why is the engine put on the track at
all unless it is to go somewhere? For what purpose does anyone become a
Christian, except to learn more about God and His plans in order that he
may embody them in a kingdom of love and righteousness? I am too young
and ignorant to preach you a very good sermon now, but if you will come
around where I am a thousand years from now, I will preach you a sermon
that will make you sit up and take notice." Something must be left out
of the mental structure of one who can make such a statement as this man
made to me. In the face of such conceptions of life one wonders that
religion commands the respect that it does.

There is no doubt concerning the unlimited possibilities of the
universe, nor of the limitless possibilities of the human spirit if it
is given a chance. Standing as many of us do on the threshold of these
greater possibilities, who but a devil could shut the door in our faces?
If God wanted us when we were ignorant and sinful, He wants us even more
now that we are a little wiser and a little better. If He intended to
crush us before we were fairly started why did He ever raise us to such
hope by allowing us to see the infinite possibilities?

As to our ability to survive the shock of physical death, if God made
us live in the first place, He can make us live on through all changes.
If, however, God alone survives He will be quite worse off than His
dead children; they will simply be extinct, while He will go to
the gloomiest sort of hell. Who could wish to be a mad god living
alone through eternity in a graveyard? With everybody dead, and
all kingdoms gone, and all work at an end, the universe would be one
vast--desolate--hell; such as a bad God would deserve. How _can_ any one
believe in God and not believe in immortality?



CHAPTER VII

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHETHER WE BELIEVE IN IMMORTALITY IF WE
LIVE AS WE SHOULD IN THIS LIFE?


1. How can one live as he should?

Some say, "What difference does it make whether we believe in
immortality, if we live as we should in this life?"

We also would ask a question. How can one live as he should if he
eliminates God and His plans? God planned a "whole" or He planned
nothing.

We willingly admit that some honest doubters have a larger share in
God's life than they realize. They have heard the message of truth and
love, and though confused as to its origin, they accept much of it as
binding upon their lives. In many things they conscientiously do God's
will without recognizing it as such. No one is so bad but that he
sometimes obeys God. The meanest man thinks some of God's thoughts after
Him, and makes some voluntary sacrifices. It may never occur to him,
however, that God has any part in the matter. Yet no one lives as he
should until he lives the highest type of life of which he is capable.
It is easily possible to be doing good in one direction while exerting
a baneful influence in another direction; and easier still to be
overlooking something of grave importance. Many well-meaning persons
pursue courses of action that work great harm to themselves and to
others in the long run. No one should flatter himself with the thought
that he has lived as well as he should, until he has lived as well as he
could. No man on the outside of a business can do what he would if he
were on the inside. A really good man must try to know God and the plans
of His kingdom from within; he must take daily orders; he should be
strictly honest toward God; he should feel the joy and enthusiasm that
come from partnership with God in a great enterprise. But this type of
good man will most likely feel sure of immortality. A lack of assurance
is a practical proof that something has gone wrong in the life; it may
be confusion or indifference, but more likely it is both.


2. The difference in social service

Unless we know what the superstructure is to be, it is impossible to lay
the right kind of a foundation. A good foundation for a bungalow would
not answer for a fifty-story skyscraper. And to put a skyscraper
foundation under a bungalow would be the most foolish waste of time and
money. Paul gave up everything that the average good citizen holds dear,
and spent his entire life in laying the nobler foundation. He believed
that the superstructure would be stupendous, and of eternal duration.
No sane person would live the life Paul lived unless he believed in
immortality. The same is true of Jesus. Here is a clear-cut and
portentous cleavage between good people who are Christians and good
people who are not Christians. I do not mean to intimate that a
patriotic agnostic would be any more reluctant than a believer to die
for his country. It is largely a question of what he considers is worth
while. A good sceptic is willing to help educate and civilize in a
general way, but he will put forth no effort to evangelize. He does not
realize the impossibility of civilizing a non-religious world. He would
permit the whole race to be non-religious like himself. He would send
all the billions yet to be born into the future life without any
knowledge of God or any spiritual achievement. His attitude would so
over-populate the future country with dwarfed and degraded people that
our missionary work in a future state, if we are permitted to undertake
it, would stagger a St. Paul. When we see the number and quality of our
neighbors over there we shall realize the enormity of our mistake. And
still they will come, the uncivilized and unchristianized descendants of
ancestors whom we neglected. Almost every civilized community in the
Christian world had its foundations laid by missionary effort; and it
has been kept civilized by a work very similar to that of missions. The
firmest ground of hope for the civilization of the race is in the
combined educational and religious work of missions. Darkness cannot
come to the light, but light may go to the darkness. The longer
missionary work is neglected the more of it will there be to do; and
that which we leave undone here will be accumulating for us over there.
With what amazement non-missionary Christians will face their
accumulated missionary tasks in the future life! It is my impression
that fifty per cent of the Church members do not believe in missions;
that is to say, they do not believe in extending the religion of Jesus
if it involves any work or expense for them. They themselves will first
need to be saved, if they are to be like their Master and share any of
His vision and compassion. Then there is probably another twenty-five
per cent of professing Christians who believe but little in the
extension of the gospel. So between the agnostics and the
half-Christians, we are not doing a very good piece of social work
throughout the world. And this is true whether we have in mind the
future history of society on earth, or of society as it shall migrate to
our future home. Whether or not we have Christian assurance of God and
the future life makes a tremendous social difference both for this life
and for the life to come. Unless we are active and aggressive in the
work of extending the kingdom, every form of vice will thrive and
multiply in our most cultivated and civilized communities. What hope
then is there for benighted peoples where there is neither salt nor
leaven? My experience of thirty years in the ministry convinces me that
those who have their eyes on the whole earth, do several times as much
work for their home communities as do those who believe exclusively in
home missions. It is astonishing what narrow service so-called
broad-minded people can render, and what wide achievements can be
accomplished by so-called narrow-minded people. Observation will show
that it makes a vast difference in the kind and extent of social service
rendered if one believes in God and immortality.


3. The difference in personal preparation

We tell our young people entering high school that they should decide at
the outset whether they are going to college; and if possible which
college, as the entrance requirements of colleges differ. What should we
think of one who would ask, "Why need I bother my mind about a possible
college course in the future if I keep busy and learn something well?
What difference can it make?" Yet we grow weary with hearing the
question, "What difference does it make whether there is a future
existence if we live as we should in this life?" Do they suppose that it
is easier to make the freshman class in heaven than it is to make the
freshman class in college? I dare say the requirements are different,
but if heaven is worth going to the requirements can hardly be less
specific or exacting. Many people who never went to college are far
advanced in things pertaining to God and His kingdom, while some college
people do not know the a, b, c of religion. Their standing in a future
life cannot possibly be the same.

Like many others, I was brought up to be honest and hard-working from
the beginning. According to ordinary standards, I was living as I
should. Yet when I heard of college, and had hopes of going to one, a
subtle change came over my whole life. While the old duties were
performed in the old way, at the same time a complete revolution was
taking place within me. The imagination and will readjusted everything
to the new and larger sphere for which I hoped. Since no one thus far
had gone to college from our frontier community, some of the neighbors
thought me to be a foolish dreamer. What good would it do me anyway, was
what they wanted to know, since I was already good in "figgers"? When I
was probably fourteen years old, a young man told me of some one in
another township who was going to study Algebra. "What is that?" I
asked. "Well," he said, "it is something like Arithmetic, only they use
letters instead of figures." "Now that," I promptly told him, "sounds
foolish. Why aren't figures good enough?" "Ah," said the young man's
father, "Algebra is a mighty fine study! You have noticed that merchants
mark the price of their goods with letters. Now if you know Algebra they
can't cheat you." So I made up my mind then and there that I would study
Algebra.

My first experience with college catalogues, which came a little later,
was both interesting and amusing. I had often wondered what there could
possibly be to study beyond history, geography, and the three "R's." But
at last with a college catalogue in my hands here it was: De Amicitia,
De Corona, Trigonometry, etc. After reading pages of unheard-of and
unpronounceable words, I scarcely knew whether it was about something to
eat or something to wear. Theological terms seemed plain English by
comparison. In those primitive days it took one more year of preparation
to enter the classical course than it did the scientific. For that
reason alone I promptly decided to take the classical. Although I knew
nothing of what either course was really about or what it was good for,
yet I did not want to bear the stigma of any short cut. I wanted to
learn it "all."

Though it did not take long to learn what the college course was about,
yet it did take some good faithful application to prepare for entrance
examinations.

Many people take their religion as some lazy boys--found in every high
school--take their education. These boys have a very light regard for
college requirements. John is certain that he is as good a student as
Charles or a half dozen other fellows. He emphasizes the fact that a
"grind" like James is the most unpopular fellow in school. All
suggestions of future trouble fall on deaf ears. Every year train loads
of these fellows go to take their entrance "exams." Yes, they arrive at
heaven, or college, and may chance to see the lord of the institution.
But some one calls them in to test their Latin eyesight, and another to
determine their mathematical vision, and if their power of penetration
is not sufficient for college subjects, back they go. This is a tragic
experience for the lads, to be sure, yet they must learn that promotion
means fitness. I have known of young men entering the academy of the
college town because they were ashamed to go back home. They were good
fellows, but they lacked college fitness. Think of a good sensible
fellow who has never studied arithmetic going to college! And then think
of a good sort of person going to heaven who has never acquired the
spiritual insight to know God! A man in college who is mathematically
blind, and a man in heaven who is God blind! If one thinks of God as a
visible Ghost in heaven, he will overlook many of the essentials until
the pitiful disillusionment comes. And if he thinks of the future home
as a doll's heaven, he will make no thorough preparation for entrance.
When a young girl was once lured to a very superstitious church, a
friend said to me:

"Well, what difference does it make--we are all going to the same
place." But when I asked her if she would be willing to send her
daughter to a poor day school or to some wretched music teacher, she had
never thought but what that was different. Everything but religion must
be properly taught; how that is taught does not matter, "because we all
are going to the same place." On that basis, if all were going to live
in New York City, I suppose it would make no difference what kind of
superstition they were taught. The expectation of joining a higher and
holier society after this life cuts as deeply into my present life plans
and purposes as did the expectation of going to college when I was a
frontier lad. No matter how upright and industrious one is in the
ordinary affairs of life, take away the hope of college or the hope of
a future life, and it makes a difference at a thousand vital points.

I once intercepted a stone mason who was building a wall where the
specifications called for a window. He was not at all inclined to be
convinced of his error. After reading the specifications again he said,
"I am right." "But," I replied, "you are confused as to directions."
Then he appealed to a weather vane on a near-by steeple. When I informed
him that the church had been moved and that the points of the compass
were entirely wrong, he pulled down the wall that he had so perfectly
built. He did not ask what difference it made so long as he was doing a
good piece of masonry. He was glad to get the wall down before the
superintendent saw it.

If, now, we go on the assumption that God has no plans in what He is
building, then we must conclude that He is the most ridiculous person
that ever went into the construction business. The shock of
disillusionment when it comes, as it is bound to do, will be tremendous.

It is one of my greatest sorrows that so many of my friends are building
solid masonry in their lives where God's specifications call for
windows; and windows where there should be solid masonry. The windows in
the life of Jesus all looked out on the side of love and eternity. The
light of a heavenly kingdom was always streaming into His soul.

We make the same mistake in building our cities and social institutions.
They but vaguely represent the human temple called for in God's
specifications. And the farther we depart from the plan the more
difficult it will be to return to it. Paul told some of the people of
his day that they might escape with their lives as from a burning
building, but that what they had built contrary to the divine pattern
would be reduced to ashes.

I once knew a merchant who had twenty acres of new land broken and
planted with onion sets. A temporary house was built to care for a dozen
or more workmen. The ground was pulverized to ashes, the onions were
planted, and the weeds were kept down so that none ever appeared from
the road. It was a fine piece of work. The men toiled, the onions grew
and finally blossomed, and the field presented an attractive sight. But
alas! the merchant had purchased winter-onion sets, and in all that
field there was not one bulb to reward him for his pains. What
difference did it make--he and his men surely did some good work?

Many there are who flourish like that field during the days of their
strength; but when they ripen there is no bulb, nothing to garner. One
of these men with the meaning of life exhausted at sixty remarked to me
that one was too old when he had passed forty.

A short time before his death Washington Gladden was a guest in my home.
As he sat in an easy chair after dinner speaking of other days, and
especially as he spoke of his sainted wife, I noticed how old he had
grown. Though his body had about run its course, yet the light of his
soul had not been dimmed. In my heart I said, "What a dear old man you
are, Dr. Gladden. You are nearly all soul!" He had kept the faith. And
it had made a difference; for him, for me, and for all the world. While
the old man sat there and conversed with the family, the light of his
soul sent a shining ray

"Far down the future's broadening way."



CHAPTER VIII

HOW SHALL WE CONCEIVE OF THE FUTURE LIFE?


1. Its relation to the present constitution of things

Granting that there is a future existence, are we not wholly in the dark
as to what it is like? Is it possible to form any conception of heaven
that is not offensive to the intelligent mind? Professor Leuba says:

"As soon as, no longer satisfied with a general assurance of unruffled
peace and unalloyed enjoyment, we demand specifications, we find
ourselves in the presence of ideas and pictures, either absurd or
repulsive, or void of real attractiveness. The best gifted religious
seers succeed in this descriptive task no better than the cleverest
mediums."

Have we, then, no facts on which to build a rational conception of the
future state?

I believe that a satisfying view is a possible achievement, because we
have some very important and fundamental facts from which to construct a
picture. The minor details, of course, are unknown to us, but the main
outline, which principally matters, may be very clearly conceived. As we
have previously shown, the future does not have to do with a new God and
a new universe and a new soul; but with the present God, the present
universe, and the present soul to-morrow. The future is not some new
thing; it is the old realities a little later, and a little more fully
developed. That God will remain a stable factor in the equation, we may
rest assured. And we can read nature well enough in this scientific age
to understand that it is no sudden and fickle movement void of law and
order. Neither are we entirely ignorant of our own rational souls that
organize themselves into civilized communities by combining and giving
shape to the forces of nature in which we live. We have plainly seen
that neither God, nature, nor man has any worth or significance when
separated from each other. In the future life, therefore, there is but
one factor that is different from those found in the present
constitution of things, and that is the loss of the present human body.
And even this difference between the present and the future will be
largely rectified, according to the Scriptures, by our receiving new
bodies. For too long we have foolishly tried to show that the soul could
live without a body; and this in the face of the Scriptural teaching,
that God will give us new bodies. In our effort to show that the soul is
able to live independent of a body, we have likewise run counter to
experimental psychology and philosophy. Scriptures say we shall have new
bodies. Psychology shows that the souls with which we are acquainted are
dependent upon the body for consciousness and every intellectual
achievement. Philosophy likewise teaches that man can not exist outside
of God. Therefore when these bodies with which God now enfolds us die,
He must again enfold us or we shall perish. There is no reason for
thinking that a soul can live if disconnected from God, and the universe
of God, in which it lives. If God again enfolds a soul, that new
enfoldment will be its new body. And it will not be a spirit body
because that is a contradiction of terms. As the Scriptures teach, it
will be a _spiritual_ body; that is, it will be a highly refined and
delicate instrument of the spirit--yet a real body. This new body, as
was the case with the old, must be our first point of contact with the
universe of God. And in the future life, as here, the whole universe
will be our augmented body as we progressively become articulated with
it.

So all the old conditions of the present life will be restored on a
higher plane. Whether the new and refined body will closely resemble the
old, is a matter of speculation. However, it must be the instrument of
the spirit; and therefore it will have functions similar to the higher
intellectual and spiritual uses of our present body. We shall be
conscious in it and think with it, and through it we shall manipulate
the forces of the universe. If we can keep well, and work without
friction, and all pull together I see no reason why we should not
accomplish marvelous things in this universe, and at the same time
derive a very dignified satisfaction from it all.

However much advanced the new life may be, we shall still be the same
persons living in the same God and in the same universe as now. We shall
still be living for the same social and righteous ideals as now, and
our motive will be the same old motive of love and good will. God is not
a naked spirit hiding behind nature. He is a Loving Intelligent Will
revealing Himself by His outgoing energies which we call nature. In the
future life, the same as here, God will be trying to come to the surface
through the bodies which he provides for Himself and His children. And
He will be striving, likewise, for a full expression of Himself through
all the institutions that His children will be organizing out of His
beautiful and boundless energies.

Nature is not the gross, crude thing that ignorant people take it to be.
Neither is it something apart from God. With the little intelligence
that a few have acquired on this kindergarten earth, we begin to see
what a divine thing nature is. When it is better known and more wisely
and lovingly used by God's children, all nature will be vocal with God's
wisdom and love.


2. Where is heaven?

Heaven is some place, or many places, in our present universe. God will
never leave His beautiful universe that is so infinite in its
complexness, so vast in its dimensions, and so rich in its millenniums
of development, and go off into nothingness to build some sort of
mystical and ethereal heaven. Heaven will be as much a part of the
universe as is this earth. And this earth is infinitely closer in its
relation to the whole than we are now able to comprehend. Almost daily,
scientists are discovering new bonds between the earth and the rest of
the universe. The inhabitants of heaven will not be less closely
connected, but much more vitally and intelligently related to nature
than are we.

There are doubtless many spheres in this universe that would make good
sites for a heaven. And it would be interesting to know how many of them
are already so utilized. "In my Father's house are many mansions." When
we speak of mansions in the skies it would be well to remember that the
earth is a pretty good mansion in the skies. The trouble is, being such
poor Christians, we have not built upon it a very good heaven. While we
have not been wholly recreant in building a heaven on earth, yet we have
often cursed this mansion by constructing many hells of smaller or
larger proportions.

Another reason for believing that God does not plan for a heaven outside
the objective universe, is the deep desire of man to make his richest
ideals tangible and objective in a book, a piece of art, a musical
composition, a noble building, or some splendid institution. Life
without expression and achievement, as we know it, is both
unsatisfactory and dangerous. The same must be true in relation to God,
as evidenced by His vast and beautiful works that have come forth
unfolding out of the infinite past and now promise to expand and
differentiate into the infinite future. Even in the sphere of human
lives He has impelled men to express His wisdom, beauty, and purpose
according to human modes of expression.

It evidently is not God's design to abandon His works of nature and draw
back into His own thoughts and spend eternity in self-contemplation. He
rather intends to utilize the unlimited capacity of nature, and the
unbounded ability of His children, to give the fullest possible
expression both of His children and of Himself in a kingdom which has
form as well as soul.

In Chapter III I gave a description of the kingdom of God on earth. I
shall now repeat that statement as an equally good description of the
kingdom of God in heaven:

"The kingdom of God is a loving intelligent family, organized around the
Father's good will, living in the universe as His home, using the forces
of nature as the instruments of His will, and making all things vocal
with His wisdom, love, and power."

So little has the kingdom of God been realized on earth that it is like
a kingdom on paper in comparison with what has doubtless been realized
elsewhere in the universe.


3. Will there be a Holy City?

There will doubtless be many holy cities and plenty of country too. The
Holy City described in the book of Revelation was, in the thought of the
writer, to be located on earth. While it should be our aim to build an
ideal city on earth, yet like most of our aims it will probably fall
short. If in some respects the City of Revelation does not appear to be
the most desirable kind of place in which to live, nevertheless, as a
thing of symmetry and beauty it is a marvelous picture. A perfect city
is a wonderfully attractive thought; and none the less so because one
enjoys a vacation in the country. If there is no ideal city in this
universe, there should be. New York, London, and Paris, in spite of the
ugliness, squalor, crime, and disease which they contain, are very
fascinating. They bring together so much knowledge, wealth, and power
that one feels the mighty impact of it all upon his soul. If one lives
under the most favorable conditions in a great city, his consciousness
so blends with the whole that the city seems to be but his larger self.
This is simply the fuller experience of that law of consciousness which
makes a man feel larger when he puts on a fur coat, or taller when he
wears a silk hat, and causes a woman to feel like her silks and plumes
and fluffy garments. A city without crime, disease, poverty, or
ugliness; a Holy City filled with art, music, knowledge, love, and every
kind of fascinating employment; such a city would lift one into a sense
of joy and greatness beyond words to express.

From our present meager knowledge of the universe, what kind of a city
would be possible if all the laws and resources of nature were fully
utilized? Considering, then, the millions of people who have grown rich
in wisdom and character through millenniums of experience in the
congenial company of their fellow citizens of a heavenly kingdom, what
is it reasonable to suppose they have done in the way of realizing these
possibilities? Even with our limited knowledge of nature's resources,
we know they could have built a city that would make the one pictured in
Revelation look like a beautiful Christmas toy. And if the departed are
living in our universe and not in a vacuum, what could have prevented
them from achieving such a glorious result?

  "For thee, O dear, dear country,
  Mine eyes their vigil keep."

Every one is justified in viewing his life in the light of this larger
perspective. For by so doing he not only prepares himself for better
citizenship in the life beyond, but at the same time accomplishes a
larger and better piece of work on earth. When we break our lives and
the universe up into fragments, as so many do, we are like children
playing with broken pieces of china. For each of us there is one life,
in one universe, under one leader. Beginning in weakness, life grows
into strength; beginning in ignorance, it develops into wisdom;
beginning in selfishness, life expands into a kingdom of love and
righteousness. At first we are submerged in the material; but finally we
discover that the material is of spiritual origin, and that it can be
turned to spiritual ends. Like true artists, we no longer scorn the
material forces, but see in them all the latent image of the divine.
Whether the image that finally appears shall be a devil or a God will
depend upon the hands that shape the material.


4. Will there be music?

Though we may laugh at Mark Twain's caricature of the saint with his
golden harp, yet music is not to be laughed out of this universe. There
will be music, of course; though heaven will not run all to music, yet
there will be plenty of it and it will be of the right quality.

We know perfectly well that this vibrant universe has unlimited musical
possibilities, and that we have scarcely begun to utilize these
possibilities either in the way of music or instruments. With the
instruments improved a thousand fold and multiplied a million fold, they
would call for such noble music as has never yet been written. With the
technique possible to more highly refined bodies, with time to outgrow
all amateur execution, with the leadership of all the musical geniuses
of the ages, and with an unlimited number of voices and performers to
select from, the music of a heavenly city should surpass our wildest
dreams. And there is no sensible reason for thinking that there would be
music without sound or that there would be musicians without
instruments. We have no right to think well of God, and at the same time
think ill of His forces with which He enfolds us.


5. Shall we meet our loved ones?

I see no difficulty in the way of meeting our loved ones in a future
state. Of course, I could not abide permanently with my parents, and
they with theirs, and so on clear back to Adam. The great population
would, of necessity, be scattered over a wide area. After reaching
maturity we do not, as a rule, live with our parents here on earth. The
connection is kept up by the different modes of communication and by an
occasional visit. And though the distances there would, doubtless, be
much greater than here, yet the means of communication and of travel
would much more than rectify the difference in distance. In heaven, as
here, we should probably have some friends near by and others remote
from us. However, we have already overcome space to a marvelous degree
on earth; and have scarcely commenced to use the resources of which we
are aware. We not only have the omnipresent mail system, the telegraph,
and the telephone, but we have made some use of the electrical pen, and
are rapidly developing the wireless telephone. Scientifically it would
be possible, even now, so to develop the wireless telephone that a
speaker could be heard by every one in the United States at the same
time. If we could project the images of those speaking, as we are hoping
to do, we should have a very good hint of the possibilities of
communication in a future state. With finer bodies, and finer
instruments, and a better knowledge of nature's forces, it seems
credible that we could see and hear our friends with but little regard
to distance. There is no reason for putting limitations on the
possibilities of nature, even here on earth; and much less reason for
doing so in connection with the future state of existence. All the
suggestions are in the opposite direction. The X-Ray enables us to see
through solid bodies. Radium, which has no appearance of light, will
affect a photographic plate through a foot of iron. Actinium, one of the
radioactive substances, is said to have a chemical activity which is
about a thousand million times swifter than that of radium. And the
discovery of new rays is getting to be a common occurrence. Everywhere,
nature is suggesting heretofore unheard of possibilities; it is
apparently vindicating what we have been saying, that nature is of God,
and that we are enfolded in His energies for the purpose of using them.
Nature, that proceeds from God, is doubtless as exhaustless as God
Himself. There are no indications that it will ever fail His children as
they move on and out into largeness of life and richness of experience.

We little children on earth, as previously illustrated, are in quest of
omnipresence; and we are slowly achieving it by progressively taking on
the universe as our augmented bodies. Then how much more rapidly may we
realize this process of enlargement under the new conditions to which we
are going? Not only shall we have finer bodies, but we shall be in
company with those who for thousands of years have been learning the
secrets of God and His universe. Our increased knowledge of the world in
which we live does not raise new barriers between citizens of heaven,
but suggests a thousand rational modes of contact inconceivable a
hundred years ago. Every day I am more amazed at the way the natural
sciences assist Christian faith. Yet this is as it should be if all
things come from God.


6. Shall we see God?

Certainly not as a ghost; but we shall see Him in the face of Jesus. We
shall likewise see Him in our loved ones. Since all bodies are primarily
God's, we shall see Him in every face, when the purified souls of His
children permit Him to come into possession of His own.

One glorious evening in the springtime, I sat in the gloaming with my
father by the roadside. From an exceedingly hard day's work we were
"dead tired." Yet for our healing, the air was filled with the scent of
newly turned turf and the fragrance of blossoms. A large drove of swine
was crunching the corn which we had just provided them. The woods,
beginning at the other side of the road from which we sat, extended into
the deep valley. From the dark shadow of the woods rose the incessant
din of the whippoorwills. As we sat there, feeling a thousand influences
from the sweet mystery of it all, my father turned to me and said:

"I know you are very tired; we have really worked too hard, but the
debts must be paid. I want you to know that I appreciate what you are
doing. You have been a good boy, and I have confidence in you. It will
not be long until I am gone. But what a satisfaction it is to feel that
you will be a good Christian man accomplishing in the world, when I am
gone, things which I have not been able to do." As the golden glow of a
late evening sky fell across his face, it mingled with the light from
his soul and clearly revealed the Eternal. God had looked into my soul
through that face, and I had looked into the heart of God no less than
into the heart of my father. Yes, he has been gone many years, and I am
here fighting the good fight, but oh my heart, what shall I see when
next I look upon his face!

We may depend upon it, the invisible soul of God and the invisible souls
of His children shall become visible through their bodies, through their
activities, and through their institutions which are in common. Their
spirits shall likewise become audible through music and speech. Our
Father in heaven differs from our God on earth only in this: On earth
there is so little to express Him, while in heaven there is so much. God
truly has a throne in heaven, but the great white throne is the pure and
loyal hearts of His children.


7. Will there be burdens to bear in heaven?

Heaven will not be too "soft" for our good. There is much bad work to be
righted, and unfinished work to be completed. We shall have glorious
tasks to perform, and splendid problems with which to grapple. Sharing
God's purposes as well as His joys, we shall still be discovering the
mind of God, and getting a firmer grasp upon His laws and forces; we
shall still be organizing nature and society into a more glorious
kingdom of love, beauty and power. We shall be making the ideal real,
and the unseen visible. We shall accept God's will in our souls. We
shall accept His will in the forces of nature, and make His instruments
more vocal and more radiant as time rolls on in eternity.



CHAPTER IX

LOSING THE BIBLE TO FIND IT

If the Bible contains errors, how do we know that any of it is true?


A GENERAL STATEMENT

As this volume is designed to be a simple guide in the deeper and more
perplexing problems of religion, it would be incomplete without a brief
consideration of how God has revealed Himself through the Scriptures. In
the selection of material and in the method pursued, the author has been
guided solely by what he considers the safest approach to the Scriptures
and the best "first aid" for wounded Christians.

"In my opinion, the Bible is just about one-half true."

This was the quiet and serious remark of a young woman who had recently
taken a Bible course in college. Like many others, she was judging the
Bible simply as a work of history, literature, and science. Its
progressive revelation of religion she had largely overlooked. The Bible
is not properly appreciated, even as literature, without taking into
account its main purpose; namely, to teach religion, and not to write
infallible history nor infallible science. The biblical writers
undertook to set forth, in a perfectly human way, the religious ideas
and sentiments that God awakened in their souls. Through succeeding
centuries these truths grew clearer and more comprehensive until they
culminated in the life and teachings of Jesus. The most elevated
religious ideas and ideals found in the Scriptures constitute, in my
opinion, the absolute and universal religion. Ideas and ideals superior
to these are not known to man. That anything _could_ surpass them, I
cannot conceive. To convey these inspired truths to the world, the
writers wisely made use of poetry, fiction, tradition, history, and
physical phenomena; they conveyed the divine treasure to us in earthen
vessels; and though the vessels are beautiful, yet they bear the marks
of human imperfection. We all know that an illustration may clearly
illustrate without its own truth being verified.

Our young college friend had lost the Bible of her childhood but,
unfortunately, had not found the larger and better Bible easily within
her reach if only she had known.

As already intimated, even the religion of the Bible was not fully
revealed at once. Certain crude ideas lingered until they were pushed
aside by a fuller revelation.

To be able to follow the inspired truths from their beginnings in the
Scriptures until they appear full-orbed in Jesus is of very great value.
Their full worth first appears when we know all the vicissitudes through
which they passed while struggling for a place in the sinful, stupid
lives of men. The history of a truth is just as important as the history
of a man; and fortunately the Bible furnishes a fair human history of
every great religious truth. As the streaks of morning light grow
brighter and brighter unto the rising of the sun, so the rays of God's
light shine through the Scriptures more and more until the Christ
appears.

As a progressive, trustworthy, and indispensable revelation of religion,
the Old and New Testaments cannot be too highly appraised; but as books
of science and history, they are sometimes overestimated. To believe
that its religious value is destroyed if the Bible contains errors in
history and science, is a position as dangerous as it is false. We
theorize about the Scriptures more than we study them. Even in
ministers' meetings, I have listened without profit to many heated
discussions on the subject of inspiration. The discussions were
worthless because they had nothing to do with the facts of the Bible. We
might as well claim that the casket is a jewel because it contains a
jewel, as to claim that the literary forms of the Bible are a revelation
because they contain a revelation. It would be as sensible to affirm
that the whole mountain is gold, as to declare that the human element of
the Bible is infallible. Yet no one turns away from a rich goldmine
because the whole mountain is not gold; neither does he fear that the
precious metal may not be distinguishable from the rocks,--else it would
be of no more value than the rocks. If God had made one mountain of pure
gold, it would have saved much trouble in mining; but He did not give
us gold in that way. He mixed the precious metal with common elements,
and He mingled His truth with human thoughts and human institutions. All
things considered, both religious truth and gold are more valuable for
having been given in the manner they were. To deny the facts, or to
quarrel with them, does no good. The sensible thing for us to do is to
seek the gold and the truth with all our might; for if we seek we shall
find. If one is careless, he may mistake "fools' gold" for the real.
But, fortunately, there are ample means for testing both gold and
religion.

How shall we find the treasure that is in the Bible? In the same way
that we find the treasure in the mountain; by using our intelligence and
strength in company with those who know most about it. Our prospects for
finding God's word are good; because His word will find us if we are
entirely sincere. If a person studies his Bible with the help of
competent teachers, and at the same time keeps his heart wide open
toward God, the great verities of the Scriptures will surely find him;
and they will find him deeply; they will find him so deeply that he will
be thrown into the dust of humility and, at the same time, lifted to the
sky of hope. Yet who pretends to have found all the truth there is in
the Bible? We can only find that which finds us. If we wish the Word of
God to find us more deeply we must give it a better chance.

"Then the Bible is only for the learned," someone will say. No, the
least educated mind can readily grasp the most essential facts of
religion as set forth in the Scriptures, and as expounded by a
consecrated ministry. He can likewise hold to these facts with deep
feeling and true devotion. If one is ignorant of science he is not
troubled by unscientific statements. Whereas, the educated man is
greatly distressed if told that he must either believe statements which
he knows are not true, or else throw all religion overboard. If the
Church tries to carry all the ignorance and all the trumpery of the ages
as a part of her precious message she will break down under the load.
Multitudes will turn from her with scorn. It is a sin against God and
the human soul to make claims for the Bible that are manifestly not
true. The Bible is so good that we do not need to lie for it; the light
that shines through the Scriptures is able to make "wise unto
salvation." Having found the great pearl that is in the Scriptures, one
will experience the joy of being rich; and when he is once rich, he will
not readily part with his wealth. Besides, other rich souls will bear
testimony to the intrinsic value of his treasure; and best of all, God
will bear witness with his spirit that he is not deceived.

The reader may ask, "Is it possible to find in the Bible that which
nothing could induce us to relinquish,--something more precious than
life itself?"

It is my testimony that we can. The religious truth of the Bible, having
completely conquered my reason, commands my conscience. Its supreme
message fits my soul as a glove fits a hand. The best that the
Scriptures teach, I find myself thinking. And I cannot avoid thinking
the same without being a traitor to my own soul. Though I cannot believe
every statement in the Bible, yet I think I should be committing mental
and moral suicide if I did not believe and practice the essential
teachings of the Scriptures; especially the matchless teachings of
Jesus. Moreover, if one believes and practices the best there is in the
Bible he will be a Christian whom the Master delights to own.

Important as our discussion thus far may be, it is not the main thing;
it is simply our attitude toward the Scriptures, and not the truth which
they proclaim. It is one more appeal for a rational religion without
stating what the rational religion is. This generation has had
altogether too much of that kind of exhortation. If we would but tell
the good Christian people what the rational religion is, possibly we
should not need to exhort them to accept it.

How may one find the Word of God, contained in the Scriptures? The
method illustrated


1. The story of Creation

What message of permanent religious value is there in the story of
creation?

In the story of creation, one thing stands out clear and distinct. _The
universe is God's loving wish. Creation is God's will going forth._ God
simply said, Let it be, and it was. So far as Christian scholarship has
yet advanced, it does not realize how a thought more fundamental,
spiritual, and moulding could enter the mind of man. That a loving God
wills the universe, is the great diapason note in the hymn of creation.
And the next great note is that of Divine appreciation,--"God saw that
it was good." Then follows the note of blessing. And, finally, the child
bearing God's image is made lord over all. These four epoch-making
truths constitute the imperishable word of God.

These four truths represent the sum and substance of all I have been
trying to elucidate throughout this book. Slowly, but surely, modern
philosophy and science are helping us to understand this superb
affirmation of Genesis, uttered thousands of years ago. Not that
physical science knows anything about God, but that the discoveries of
science make it easier for the intelligent Christian to believe that God
willed, and continues to will, the universe. This idea of one good God
causing and sustaining the universe by the mere fiat of His will, did
for religion what the Copernican theory did for astronomy. As the
Copernican theory made modern astronomy inevitable, so this view of God
and His universe led unerringly to the Christian religion. And the
Kingdom of God, in its vast sweep through eternity, will rest upon these
fundamental facts so beautifully expressed in the first chapter of
Genesis. That they were uttered so long ago, in a world of polytheism
and low morals, fills the mind with wonder and praise.

The writer of this story, however, did not have a scientific knowledge
of the universe which, religiously and philosophically, he so perfectly
related to God. But the religious value of the story is not injured in
the least by the author's manifestly crude knowledge of astronomy and
geology. In spite of all our advancement in science, since Bible times,
our knowledge of the universe is still very crude. To learn _all_ about
nature scientifically will require eternity. It was the poetical,
philosophical, and religious significance of the universe that the
inspired writer discovered; science could abide its time. The writer of
Genesis, like his contemporaries, regarded the earth as the center and
main bulk of the universe. His universe was the child's universe, the
universe of the unaided senses. On a very large scale the world, in his
thought, was something like the old-fashioned cheese dish with a glass
hemisphere over it. This huge covered dish floated in a universal sea.
The glass cover, or firmament, kept the upper sea out except when its
windows were opened to let the sea through in the form of rain. The
dish, or earth, kept the lower sea out except in time of great floods
when, as they supposed, the sea worked its way up through crevices in
the earth. The sun, moon, and stars were supposed to be inside the
vault.

This ancient conception of the universe pervades the Scriptures. In the
twenty-fourth Psalm we read, "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness
thereof: for Thou hast founded it upon the seas and established it upon
the floods." Religiously this is superb, but scientifically it is
incorrect; the earth does not rest on a sea. "The earth is the Lord's
and the fulness thereof:" for Thou hast hurled it into space and
lovingly marked out the way that it should go.

The Babylonian bible, which is many centuries older than the Old
Testament, says that Apsu and Tiamit first created the gods of order, or
light. This corresponds to the first day in Genesis. But our author
discards all these gods and goddesses when he tells us that "God said,
Let there be light, and there was light." Whether light was the first
act of creation or not, the best modern philosophy would confirm the
statement that light was the result of God's wish. Light energy is a
mode of the divine Will.

The Babylonian bible tells us that after Marduk had slain Tiamit in a
great battle, he took his sword and cleaved her in two as you would a
fish. With one half of her he made the firmament and fastened it to keep
out the upper sea. This corresponds to the second day in Genesis. While
the biblical writer does not change the Babylonian day, yet he has no
use for the monstrous idea that the firmament was made out of one half
of a goddess. According to our Bible, "God said, Let there be a
firmament, and it was so." Our author, as the narrative shows, in
keeping with the crude science of his times, thought that the firmament
separated the sea that was above the firmament from the sea that was
below the firmament; and that the sea under the firmament covered all
the earth until God gathered the waters under the firmament unto one
place and caused the dry land to appear. But if we know anything at all,
we know that there is no firmament. God could not have made a firmament,
for there is none. He could not have made space on the second day
because space is nothing. And according to the story itself, He made the
sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day,--the day after He had made grass
and fruit trees. When, as a child, I thought that the apparent ceiling
of the earth was the floor of heaven, my scientific ideas were no more
crude than those of the writer who thought God made a firmament. But if
there had been a firmament, as it appeared to the untrained senses, then
it would have been made exactly as our inspired writer affirmed; and not
after the ridiculous manner of the Babylonian bible. Our author's
philosophy and religion in this case were perfect, but his science was
wrong. So what is the use of trying to make out that the Bible always
harmonizes with science, when it is absolutely certain that it does not?

When in college I asked my professor in geology how the earth could
exist and grow grass and fruit trees bearing fruit before the sun was
made. He replied that the sun, of course, was made previously, but that
it did not appear until the fourth day when the vapor had settled by
virtue of the earth's cooling. However, that would leave no creation for
the fourth day; and besides, the second chapter of Genesis tells us that
there was no vegetation yet because the Lord God had not caused it to
rain. According to my professor's explanation it was too wet to see the
sun, and according to the second chapter of Genesis it was too dry to
grow grass. The biblical writers were not inspired to write science, but
religion. And it is just as certain that they did not know much science
as it is certain that they did know much religion. In this story of
creation the writer took his crude, yet beautiful, little world and
lifted it up into such perfect relation to the Infinite Creative Will
that no one has ever been able to improve upon it; and the more we
learn, the more certain it appears that we never shall be able to revise
his statement of how the world is related to the Divine Will. Besides,
the thought is so precious and so fruitful that we have no desire to
change it.

A message may be perfectly true while the material used to convey the
message may be mixed with error. For instance, I once used an
illustration in electricity to make plain a deep spiritual truth, and
the evidences were unmistakable that my purpose was realized. However,
on the way home my little son said, "Oh, papa, I was awfully ashamed of
you to-day, you made a mistake in your electricity." Convinced that I
was wrong I said, "It is too bad." Then he tried to comfort me by
saying, "Oh, well, I don't suppose that more than two-thirds of the
people knew the difference." Nothing could have been more true than the
religious idea I was trying to elucidate. Those who did not notice my
error in my electricity, in addition to getting the idea, thought the
illustration a good one. And while those who did recognize the mistake
may have inwardly smiled, yet they too grasped my meaning equally well.
Every one present knew that I was not trying to teach electricity, but
religion. In like manner, while recognizing the crude science in the
story of creation, we may adore the matchless revelation of God in His
relation to the universe.

It is as if I had made something beautiful and ingenious for the people
of darkest Africa. At first, they would be afraid of it. Not until they
were persuaded that it was made in love would they come forward and
cautiously lay their hands upon it. Then as their fear subsided and
their appreciation increased they would exclaim, "And devils didn't make
it, and it won't hurt us, and you made it for our good!" But after their
first curiosity had been sufficiently satisfied, I would touch a spring
and awaken new wonder by showing the invention to be different from what
they had thought, and ten times more wonderful. And thus, at every new
revelation of the gift, their mistaken views would be corrected, and
their admiration and love for me would be increased. So, in the story of
creation, God presented the world to His children by first telling them
that devils did not make it, and that vicious gods do not infest it; but
that it all proceeded from His will as a loving gift to them. Though
they still thought the universe like that which their unaided senses
reported to them, yet the thing of supreme importance was that the
loving gift came from a good God who rules over all. Than this
revelation, nothing could be truer, nor more calculated to put their
hearts at rest from fear. It marked a complete transition from a
polytheistic and immoral conception of the universe to a theistic and
ethical conception. Through all the centuries that have followed, this
new revelation of God in His relation to the universe has been arousing
the noble ambition and commanding the loving obedience of men. As men
have studied their good gift from God, a growing scientific knowledge
has enabled them from time to time to unlock the mysteries of nature;
and behold, their good gift was not a snug little world floating in a
sea, as they had thought, but a magnificent solar system flying through
space, and pulsating in an infinite sea of ether; and the supposed
firmament was but a light effect on particles of dust in the atmosphere,
caused by the light as it makes its journey of ninety-three million
miles from the sun. And once more devout men exclaimed with awe, "Is
this what the good God made for us by the mere fiat of His will?" That
God said, "Let there be light: and there was light," was the affirmation
of an inspired man who little realized that light travels the distance
of eight times around the earth in one second, and yet requires more
than four years at that speed to come from the nearest star. Thus
science may forever change our conception of the world, and our sense of
the Creator's majesty.

Someone may say, "Is not this upsetting our old Bible?" I think it is.
But when a friend expostulated, "Pat, don't you know that your stone
wall will upset if you build it on that swampy ground?" Pat's reply was,
"Faith, it is two feet high and three feet wide, and if it upsets it
will be a foot higher than it was before." It is but truth to say that
our old Bible is two or three times higher than it was before modern
learning upset it; and may scholars keep on upsetting it as long as they
can make God's word stand out clear and strong above all human learning
and bigotry and superstition.


2. The story of the garden

When I was a boy, nearly every one grew gourds on his picket fence. And
at almost every well there hung a gourd dipper. How many cool and
refreshing draughts of water I have taken from gourd dippers I dare not
say; but the memory is precious, and I should be delighted to repeat the
experience now. No one, however, was ever foolish enough to tell us that
after drinking the water we must eat the gourd. Now, the Bible is just
full of gourd dippers from one end to the other,--and for this I am
pleased.

Let me present one of these gourd dippers. It is the story of the
Garden. Here is refreshing and life-sustaining water. It is not in a
well, but in a spring that bubbles clear up to the surface. You need
neither rope nor bucket,--nothing but the gourd; and a child may help
himself. This story is a bit of inspired genius, if ever there was any.
My library contains great fat books on ethics, yet I never knew half a
dozen men or women in my parishes who had the grit or grace to read one
of them through. The mental discipline in reading them is good for
ministers, though the conclusions arrived at in these books are
identical with the teachings in this simple story. If the methods of
these writers on ethics had been adopted by the biblical writers, very
few people would be any the wiser for the Bible. But, from the dear old
gourd a child may drink with ease and satisfaction.

This beautiful allegory was true to fact when it put Adam and Eve in a
garden. Human beings can live only in a garden; they must have a base of
supply in the products of the soil. But what about the forbidden fruit?
As a child, I did think it too bad that the Lord put the forbidden fruit
in the garden when He must have known that it would cause no end of
trouble. However, when I became a man I realized that even God could not
make a garden that was fit to live in, without its having forbidden
fruit in it. The grave is the only place where there is no forbidden
fruit. Recently I spent ten days in our Capital City. And it _is_ a
beautiful garden, with many things "good for food" and "pleasant to the
eyes." During the ten days, Washington was my garden; and the other
occupants there made me feel that I was very welcome. But did not they
and I know that there were at least a dozen kinds of forbidden fruit
that I might not partake of without running the risk of being tarred and
feathered? Forbidden fruit is not bad fruit, it is fruit that belongs to
some one else, or to us at some future time. It is all ours now, in a
way; the wealth, the beauty, and the people are ours within certain
limits; and it is this that makes our lives worth living. When,
however, we begin to break up families, or to take anything that belongs
exclusively to others, we have eaten the forbidden fruit,--and the curse
is upon us. "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." This
is the infallible word of God, spoken to our first parents, to us, and
to all mankind. Instead of haggling over the question of swallowing the
gourd, we should preach this truth about forbidden fruit until offenders
feel their hearts filled with holy fear and wholesome disgust.

Though the story of the forbidden fruit is truly wonderful, yet it is no
more wonderful than that which makes the serpent the symbol of
temptation. The serpent does not chase its prey like some bellowing
hound, but silently awaits the victim's coming. As the serpent lies
coiled in the midst of your flowers, so temptation lurks in the heart of
some pleasant situation. You may be looking with legitimate pleasure
upon some beautiful thing that belongs to your neighbor, and, before you
are aware of it, the serpent of covetousness has struck its fangs into
you. If, however, the temptation is seen before you are bitten by it,
like a serpent, it makes strange circuitous routes as if it were coming
and going from every side. It stops to parley. And if it succeeds in
entwining itself about you, it crushes you with every part of its
sinuous length. In countries that are infested with serpents, the
reptiles go everywhere; they even hang from the rafters of dwellings.
Just so, temptation may appear anywhere to surprise or to charm you. If
you are as good as the Master, temptations will assail you. If like
Lincoln you should climb from a hut to the White House, even there you
will be confronted by serpents of monstrous size striving in every
possible way to beguile you. He who advocates a walking and a talking
snake, does so to the great detriment of God's word. We are in no danger
from talking serpents; but we all are in great danger from serpent-like
temptations.

This parable and fable of the garden is meant for our edification and
safety. As an analysis of temptation, sin, and punishment, for all
people and for all times, nothing can surpass this story of the garden.
Seeing that it contains such vital thrilling truth, it is a great pity
that it has fallen into almost universal neglect. The story has been
killed by the credulity of its friends.


3. The Bible stories in general

I now call your attention to the interesting _stories_ scattered all
through the Bible. The story of the Flood is an example. In a very
simple form these stories were told long before they appeared in the
Scriptures. And, doubtless, there was a nucleus of truth in them or they
never would have been started on their rounds. As they were repeated
about the campfires to children and illiterate slaves for generation
after generation, everything that failed to interest, naturally, was
forgotten. This made them the most tried and interesting of stories. In
nothing did the inspired writers show greater wisdom than in making
wings of these interesting tales to bear their spiritual messages afar.
If the modern Church could learn the spiritual utility of a folk-story,
the Bible would start on a new mission of service; and much of the Bible
now neglected could be used with new power. The _value_ of the lessons
thus heralded in no wise rests upon the historic accuracy of the
stories. It is perfectly evident that the story of the Flood involves
the same crude conception of the earth as that which we have already
described as the ancient and unscientific conception. If we contend for
the literalness of this story we shall make its invaluable lessons of no
effect for many people. The Tower of Babel is a like case. As a parable,
it is a most accurate description of the folly this generation is in
great danger of committing. Germany really built her Tower of Babel, and
is to-day suffering from a confusion of tongues.


4. The laws of Israel--moral and ceremonial

If we now turn to the laws of Israel, we shall find the same blending of
the crude with the sublime. The ten commandments are the noblest
possible prohibitions; and they are still needed for many people in the
old prohibitive form. Yet Jesus takes even these and transforms them
into spiritual affirmations. He shows righteousness to be an inner
principle,--a state of heart. "On love hangs all the law and the
prophets;" motive is the soul of conduct.

By carefully comparing the Old with the New Testament we see that the
law, moral and ceremonial, was a strong movement in the direction of
Christ; but that, from the morals of Abraham and Moses to the morals of
Jesus, the way was long and steep. We also see that the journey often
deviates from a straight line, and that the road at times is almost
obliterated by the drifting sands. It is, therefore, evident that one
cannot select just any verse of the Bible and say behold! the perfect
word of God. When Jacob reports to his wives that he has been able to
cheat the father out of his flocks because the God of his father has
been with him, neither Jesus nor the Christian conscience of to-day
believes it. In the Old Testament times God was giving His chosen people
as much of His law as they could understand. Sometimes the divine truth
flashed out with great brightness; at other times, it was much beclouded
by ignorance and passion. However, all the light that shines so brightly
in the life of Jesus, began shining, with varying degrees of luster,
through the prophets and teachers of Israel. It is just because the
Scriptures enable us to see the _growth_ and the _vicissitudes_ of God's
advancing light in the souls of men that they are so valuable to us. For
this reason we should study all the Scriptures more faithfully, and more
intelligently.

The ceremonial law of Israel was their method of teaching reverence and
purity. Though it strongly resembled the ceremonial law of their Semitic
neighbors, yet it was a more useful method of worship for Israel, at
that time, than if it had been farther removed from the customary
worship of the day. When the Israelites fell into idolatry, they
worshiped the other gods in much the same way that they worshiped
Jehovah; and not essentially different from the manner in which the
Canaanites worshiped their gods. But for enlightened peoples, this has
long since ceased to be a useful method of worship. Slowly we are
learning better methods; but we still have much to learn in the divine
art of lifting men's souls to God.


5. The book of Job

Passing by a number of historical books we shall next make a brief study
of Job.

I once had an interesting conversation with a middle-aged minister who,
though uneducated, was a perfect gentleman. His mind was filled with an
elaborate and ingenious scheme of religion falsely drawn from Job,
Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation. Tons of brain power had been consumed
by those who developed the system. Yet a moderate amount of general
information would have caused the entire system to fall in ashes.
Ministers and Bible workers of this type still abound in astonishing
numbers.

In the conversation just referred to, the minister was wildly quoting
from Job. At one point I remarked, "But what you are now quoting is not
true." "What," said he, "don't you believe the Bible?" "Yes," I replied,
"but I do not believe that because, at the end of the book, God Himself
says it is not true. Your motive is good, but it is a mistake to think
that you can dive into the Scriptures at random like that, and find
God's word."

We must remember that the book of Job is a dramatic poem, cast in the
form of a dialogue. Whether or no suffering is a proof of guilt is the
bone of contention between Job and his friends; and both positions
cannot be true.

The author staged this dialogue on the Ash-Mound, outside the village.
After the loss of property and children, Job, all covered with boils,
takes a potsherd with which to scrape himself and sits down upon the
Ash-Mound. When the news of his misfortune reaches his three friends,
they proceed forthwith to visit him. As these old sheiks approach Job,
and find him changed beyond recognition, they lift up their voices and
weep. They also tear off their mantles and sprinkle dust upon their
heads. Seeing that Job is in deep distress, they seat themselves near
him and remain there seven solid days and nights without ever speaking a
word. Finally, Job opens his mouth and curses the day of his birth, in
one of the most pessimistic poems ever recited. Even the comforters can
scarcely believe their ears, so shocked are they at Job's blasphemy.
Still, they retain a measure of sympathy, for Eliphaz asks with great
delicacy:

  "If one assays to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved?
  But who can withhold himself from speaking?"

You remember, Job, how you instructed others when they were weak and
afflicted. "Recall, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent?" Now
be a man, take your own medicine, repent of your sins, and God will
return your prosperity. But Job only pours out his grief in fresh
torrents. This causes Bildad to respond with alacrity:

  "How long wilt thou speak these things?
  And how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a mighty wind?"

Nevertheless, in spite of Bildad's lengthy rebuke, Job continues to pour
out his complaint until Zophar can stand it no longer.

"Should not the multitude of words be answered? You are too full of talk
for a righteous man. Your boasting will not silence us. For your mockery
we shall make you ashamed." And when Zophar had finished his vehement
reproach, Job _was_ mad.

  "No doubt but ye are the people,
  And wisdom shall die with you."

Thus the argument went back and forth with criminations and
recriminations, until Job and his friends were exhausted.

While the discussion was raging, there came along a young theologian
who, being attracted by the discussion, remained to hear it through. It
turned out that the speeches of both Job and his friends were to him
equally disgusting. So he decided to wait and set them all right by his
superior wisdom. Though this young man was filled with wrath at what he
heard, yet he respectfully waited until the old men had finished. Then
he reminded them that it was his respect for age that had kept him still
until now. Having expressed his surprise at not finding wisdom
associated with years, he takes thirty-three lines to tell them how
smart he is; and assures them that they shall hear something worth while
when he gets to speaking. Some years ago while reading this with my
wife, I could scarcely wait until young Elihu got through boasting; I
was thrilled with a desire to hear his new position. At last he began
his argument. But, to my great surprise, I could see no difference
between his position and that of Job's opponents; and as my wife could
see no difference, I was convinced that there was none. Like Job's
antagonists, he argued at great length and with much beauty that
misfortune is a proof of guilt. Finally, however, he did add a
suggestion. Misfortune is a warning not to sin more, lest you suffer
more. Of course none of the older men deigned to answer this young
upstart by so much as a word.

The argument from all sources now being in, it was time for the artist
to prepare a fitting scene for the approach of the Almighty.
Consequently, the storm clouds gather and begin to drop rain. The
lightning suddenly flashes to the ends of the earth. The quick crash of
thunder makes the heart quake. It is such a time as when old leviathan
churns the deep into white foam. And at last out of the awful whirlwind
God speaks: "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without
knowledge?"

Stand up, Job, and I will speak with you. Where were you when I laid the
foundations of the earth? Have you walked in the recesses of the deep,
have you seen the gates of death, does the morning come at your bidding,
do you know the way of the lightning, do you cause the east wind to
scatter over the earth? With all your wisdom, surely, you can answer.
Job, "Canst thou bind the cluster of Pleiades, or loose the bands of
Orion?" Can you thunder, Job? Can you send forth the lightning, can you
draw out old leviathan with a fish hook? Gird up your loins like a man
and answer me.

Very meekly Job replies, "Lord, I have heard of you before with the
hearing of the ears, but now that I see you with my eyes, I abhor myself
in dust and ashes." He frankly admits that he has spoken concerning
things too wonderful for him. That Job has talked like a fool, God
concedes. Yet He assures Job that in his main contention, he is right.
Suffering is not a proof of guilt. Then turning to Job's miserable
comforters, God informs them that He is angry because of all the
falsehoods they have spoken. Go, therefore, and take seven bullocks and
seven rams and offer a sacrifice, and my servant Job shall pray for you.
And look sharp, "that I deal not with you after your folly; for ye have
not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath."

After all this, how pitiful it was to see my old friend, the minister,
building up a weird religion on hit-or-miss passages from Job.

We all know that the wicked must suffer sooner or later, but the lesson
of Job is that the innocent may suffer also. From this beautiful
dramatic poem we learn that when the cause of suffering lies too deep
for our knowledge, we should trust the goodness of Him who is All-wise.
The false belief, argued so vehemently by Job's comforters, still
persisted in the days of Jesus; because they asked Him, "Who did sin,
this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" And Jesus vindicated
the position of Job by saying, "Neither did this man nor his parents
sin." The greater pity is, that this false belief still persists to
crush the hearts of many innocent sufferers. A saintly parishioner of
mine once said to me while wringing her hands:

"Oh, what awful thing can I have done, that God has brought this
affliction upon me?" I told her that she had done nothing, that she was
a Dorcas among us, and that God loved her as we all did. And thus I
comforted her from the teachings of Job, and from the words of Jesus.
For three months, until she went home, she lay on a bed of pain in peace
and trust.



CHAPTER X

LOSING THE BIBLE TO FIND IT (_continued_)

The method of finding God's Word in the Scriptures illustrated.


1. The Psalms

For richness of spiritual content, for loftiness of expression, and for
intimacy of communion with God, no other book in the world equals the
Psalms. All devout souls have found the fullest expression of their
inmost being in these inspired hymns. Like all true poetry the Psalms
deal with the timeless. Eternal truths and deathless passions flow
through these beautiful, rhythmic lines like a majestic river. The world
is infinitely richer for the Psalms. And though they often reveal
mistaken ideas in astronomy, yet religiously and poetically the Psalms
contain the finest possible conceptions of the material universe. Even
the imprecatory utterances are not wholly immoral, nor altogether
contrary to the teachings of Jesus; for when they were deserved, He said
things dreadfully severe. But when a Psalmist goes so far as to say of
his enemy, "Neither let there be any to have pity on his fatherless
children," or "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little
ones against the rock," he clearly manifests an evil spirit; a spirit
that is at once contrary to his own religion, and utterly condemned by
Jesus. However, when we consider the ruthless exploitation to which
Israel was so long exposed, it is most remarkable that the Psalms
contain so little of this evil note. Whoever approaches the Psalms in
the spirit of the Master will find them fat with spiritual meat.

Notwithstanding all, it is an indisputable fact that the best Christian
hymns are superior to the poorest Hebrew Psalms. Take for example Dr.
Gladden's hymn:

  "O Master, let me walk with Thee
  In lowly paths of service free;
  Tell me Thy secret, help me bear
  The strain of toil, the fret of care.

  "Help me the slow of heart to move
  By some clear, winning word of love;
  Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
  And guide them in the homeward way.

  "Teach me Thy patience; still with Thee
  In closer, dearer company,
  In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
  In trust that triumphs over wrong,

  "In hope that sends a shining ray
  Far down the future's broadening way,
  In peace that only Thou canst give,
  With Thee, O Master, let me live."

Now, if any one should say that this hymn is inferior to the poorest
Psalm, he would simply reveal a biased mind. And yet, a hundred Dr.
Gladdens could not have produced the book of Psalms. The Psalms were not
made to order but, like his hymn, grew out of peculiar experiences. The
Hebrew Psalms were lived out, and suffered out, through the life of a
people that had looked with straining eyes from many a Mount Pisgah, and
had lifted a pitiful cry from many a valley of Hinnom. Such experiences
get to the heart of things; they offer the great prophetic opportunity
for the noble souls through whom God determines the destiny of a people.

What oratorical genius could _invent_ a Gettysburg speech? The necessary
conditions for such a pronouncement were four years of national anguish,
a soil watered by the blood of her noblest sons, and a president bowed
down with grief. Then, and only then, could a Mr. Lincoln rise in the
midst of our hallowed dead and, all unconsciously, speak words immortal.

In the long ago, our western prairies lifted by mighty volcanic forces
were shattered, and twisted, and left with great frowning peaks and deep
yawning chasms. As a result, great pockets of gold were deposited in
their bosom for the enrichment of the world. In like manner, Israel
passed through great national upheavals that resulted in many a precious
deposit. And among these deposits were the Psalms that have never ceased
to enrich human experience.

What the earth's crust is to the student of nature's forces, that the
Scriptures are to the student of spiritual forces.


2. The Prophets in general

If we now turn to the books of the prophets, we shall find a new type of
Scripture. These spiritual giants were preëminently men of their own
times, with a message for all times.

Before the first of the prophets now under consideration appeared,
Israel had already passed through many centuries of deep and varied
experience. First the Northern and then the Southern Kingdom became
grossly idolatrous and wretchedly corrupt. Their ideals had degenerated
into a mere cult, and their social institutions into a rigid system of
oppression. Through dishonesty, oppression, and irreligion, the national
life had so weakened that its destruction was imminent from inward decay
and outward attack. Israel was clearly missing her destiny by forsaking
God, oppressing the poor, and by trampling underfoot her most sacred
ideals. She was inviting the judgments of God by truly meriting them.

Out of this deepening gloom, the lightning of God's wrath and the
thunder of His purpose awakened certain sensitive souls to be prophets
and seers in Israel. The realization of the nation's crime and danger
transformed these prophets into the most fearless reformers the world
had ever seen. As couriers with an important message from God, they went
in hot haste to a rebellious and foolish people. Because of the real and
immediate danger these preachers were exceedingly intense. To save the
day, they strove valiantly. If they were to be successful in their
mission, both vision and oratorical gift were necessary qualifications.
Their keen knowledge of Israel's _present_ made her future inevitable
unless she repented of her sins. The prophets were not sent to proclaim
any new religious truths in particular, but to be preachers and
reformers of the highest order.

Now, how different all this is from what I used to think.

I once supposed that a prophecy was a pure miracle, a case in which God
told the prophet, without any insight on the prophet's part, just what
the future would be. It did not occur to me that the prophet had the
slightest means of knowing the future which he predicted, except as God
miraculously informed him. I also thought that God told the prophets
what should be, so that, when it came to pass, it would prove the
existence of God and the truth of revealed religion. To my
understanding, prophecy was divine fortune-telling, designed to convince
religious sceptics of a later day, rather than preaching, designed to
save the sinners of that day. I did not realize that the predictions
were concerning events inevitable, for the most part, to any one not
blinded by sin or ignorance. Nor did I realize that most of their
thrilling prophecies were made with the hope of bringing the people to
repentance,--in which happy event the predictions would not come true.

A Hebrew prophet rarely used an if. That was understood. He always hoped
that his predictions of evil would not come true, because of the
_emphatic_ manner in which he declared they would. All orientals
understood this, and it would greatly enhance the worth of Scriptures
if we understood it equally well.

Too often, however, the evil prophecies did come to pass, because sinful
Israel refused to hear. And for the same reason predictions of good
often failed. Like true preachers and reformers, the prophets dealt
largely in warnings and encouragements; hoping, thereby, to lead the
people back to Him who loved them with an ever-lasting love.

"Do you think this war is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy?" Yes, this
war and every other war is a fulfillment of Bible prophecies. Any
prophecy that is true to fundamental principles, and true to human
nature, goes right on being fulfilled over and over again. The dark
prophecies recorded in the Scriptures will never cease being fulfilled
until men no longer sin against God and one another. And when men cease
sinning against God and their neighbors, the Bible prophecies of _good_
will be repeatedly fulfilled throughout all the expanding growth of
society. But the fanatical uses made of Bible prophecy in our day, by
some well-meaning people, are enough to make angels weep.

The great prophets had their hearts wide open toward the God they
adored, toward the nation they loved, and toward the times they feared.
They were tremendously inspired of God, and regarded their lives of no
account if only they could bring Israel back to God and save her from
her enemies without, and her foes within. They were statesmen, seers,
and lovers of God and men. Their souls burned with an unquenchable
fire. They were the greatest preachers that the world has ever seen. To
learn the historical setting is to enhance the value of their sermons
many fold. And to study the prophet's method of impressing truth upon
the oriental mind is a marvelous lesson in the art of persuasion. In
their effort to save Israel, the prophets partly succeeded and partly
failed. But their messages will live forever, and in this they succeeded
beyond all precedent. They were firebrands to punish sin, and torches to
enlighten the world.

Their messages were simple:

God is infinitely great and good. He loves you with a boundless passion,
and pities you with an infinite compassion. But you have trampled on His
mercies, you have spurned His approaches, you have jilted Him as a
lover, and you show only contempt for His word. You tread down His poor,
you rob widows and orphans, you take bribes, you pervert justice, you
wallow in vice, you pamper yourselves with stolen delicacies, you mingle
freely with the heathen, you copy their vices, you worship their vile
gods, and make the land a stench. As a result, Israel languisheth: her
poor cry for bread, her young men fall into the vices of their fathers,
law and order are forgotten, and a loathsome decay is eating the very
heart out of the nation.

Your enemies are quick to see your nakedness and your weakness. Already,
they are planning to move against you. And Jehovah is so weary and
discouraged with you that He has about decided to use your mighty
enemies as a scourge. He loves you so much that He must save you, at
least a remnant of you, even if He has to use your cruel enemies to
bring you back to your senses. Anyone who looks can see what is about to
happen. If he listens he can hear the tramping of horses' feet and the
rumbling of chariot wheels.

In true oriental imagery, these majestic prophets appealed to Israel's
fear and pride and honor. There was no human passion overlooked, and no
fundamental fact forgotten. They scolded, and wooed. They promised
abundant good, or abundant evil. Their fund of _illustrations_ was
inexhaustible and, for the most part, exceedingly effective with the
people of their day; and many of their illustrations are still
unsurpassed for beauty and power. Nevertheless, they sometimes allowed
their imagination to run riot while devising, or adapting imagery that
would attract the attention, and arouse the hopes and the fears of their
hearers. A notable instance is that of the captive Ezekiel, when he
tries to portray the glory and majesty of Jehovah by means of a
monstrous flying machine.

While Ezekiel's motive was good, his method was crude. He pictured a
great cloud flashing fire as it rolled out of the north with a stormy
wind. In the fiery cloud were living creatures, and each one had four
faces and four wings. They also had calves' feet that sparkled like
brass. Besides having human hands under their wings these strange
objects had a man's face, a lion's face, an eagle's face, and the face
of an ox. Their general appearance was that of burning coals and flaming
torches. Connected, somehow, with the cloud and these monstrous
creatures were wheels resembling precious stones, and wheels within
wheels. And the rims of the wheels were covered with eyes. The movement
of this startling apparition was direct, and very terrible; the noise of
its wings was like great waters and the voice of the Almighty. Above
this flying wonder was a canopy, and above the canopy a throne, from
whence there proceeded a voice. Then he saw, as it were, glowing metal
and the appearance of a rainbow. This appalling chariot of Jehovah, and
the awful majesty of God, threw Ezekiel upon his face. Then Jehovah said
unto Ezekiel, "Son of man, stand upon thy feet and I will speak with
thee."

Now, we may be sure that the majesty of Jehovah is not less, but
infinitely greater than this flying wonder. His glory, however, is
decidedly different from this vision. Reverence and awe for the Almighty
are sorely needed in every generation, and the effort to inspire them is
a most worthy aim. There is no denying but this illustration is an awful
picture; one that would thoroughly stupefy a child. But what should we
think of a minister to-day who began his sermon with a similar
description of the majesty and glory of God? However useful such imagery
may have been to exiles in Babylonia more than two thousand years ago,
it would be positively harmful to a modern congregation.

Though this vision of Ezekiel is crude and very extreme, even for an
ancient prophet of Israel, yet we have people to-day who invest these
wheels, and eyes, and heads with symbolic meanings to bolster up a
monstrous religion that is contrary to pretty much everything that Jesus
taught. Out of the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, some well
meaning but untaught souls can invent fifty-seven varieties of religion.
But they can learn neither the lesson nor the danger of an undisciplined
imagination.


3. Jonah

As I am simply giving a bird's-eye view of the Scriptures, and the
method of approaching them, possibly a few words should be said
concerning Jonah.

As a great missionary book for a people who were very unmissionary in
spirit, Jonah is unique. It breathes the spirit of Christian missions in
this twentieth century.

The friends of the Bible have unwittingly made this great book a jest
and a byword by their wretched interpretation of it. Even as a little
boy, I used to feel ashamed of certain portions of Jonah when read at
family prayers. For, as I understood it, there was something about the
story uncanny and unreal. I knew that some people scoffed at the fish
story. But that did not trouble me because I believed in miracles, and
was much pleased that God did not let poor Jonah drown. It was the
unnaturalness of Jonah himself that troubled me. And when it came to his
experience with the gourd, I almost lost faith. When Jonah felt so angry
and sorry that he wanted to die because a worm bit the gourd, my common
sense revolted completely. I meditated over this incident a long time,
and finally concluded that no little boy was ever such a fool as that. I
had felt faint in the hot sun many times myself and had seen chinch bugs
eat up whole fields of wheat, and yet I did not want to die. That a big
man, and prophet of God, could give way to such hysterical feelings over
a withering gourd was more than I could believe. This incident was a
much greater shock to my faith than the fish story. Though I felt very
wicked for doubting the Bible, yet I was heartily glad that a certain
sceptical neighbor was not present to hear it, for I knew he would make
fun of such a story. What a pity it is that a little boy should be
compelled to experience such feelings about the Bible at family prayers,
when a little rational explanation would make this book charming to him
beyond expression.

Though the book of Jonah is written in a curious oriental style that no
man of to-day would wish to imitate, yet its spirit, purpose, and
subject matter would be very difficult to surpass. As a parable, it is
true to the general history of Israel and to the spirit of Christian
missions. It contains the vision of a missionary statesman, and was
meant to sting Israel to the quick for her bigotry and hardness of
heart.

Very briefly stated, it is something like this:

The whining and almost contemptible prophet Jonah is Israel itself.
Jonah is a caricature of Israel, and that is what made him seem unreal
to me. Israel wanted the heathen killed, and not converted. And though
she did not dare to disobey God outright, yet she gave God the slip at
the first corner and embarked on the sea of politics. For a long time
Israel had been as anxious to get into politics and form international
relations as she had been determined not to be a missionary nation to
her despised neighbors. So in this parable, Israel had not been long on
the sea of politics when a great storm arose,--it is ever so. And, as
usual in politics, someone is thrown overboard. The great fish that
swallowed Jonah was Assyria. Therefore it is not strange that Israel
offered a long and beautiful prayer in that kind of a fish's belly.
Proud Israel, God's darling, in exile for her rebellion against Jehovah,
could do no otherwise than offer up a prayer.

  "Out of the belly of Sheol cried I,
  And thou heardest my voice.
  For thou didst cast me into the depth, in the heart of the seas,
  And the flood was round about me;
  All thy waves and thy billows passed over me.
  And I said I am cast out before thine eyes;
  Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
  The waters compassed me about, even to the soul;
  The weeds were wrapped about my head.

"And Jehovah spake unto the fish, (Assyria) and it vomited out Jonah
upon the dry land." And Israel returned from captivity. Israel still
showed an aversion for missionary work after her exile, but when God
said "Go" a second time, Israel went. That is, she went in the parable.
It is clear, from the sarcasm of the story, that Jonah enjoyed his
message when he began crying, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be
overthrown." The parable reveals the faith of the author. He wished to
convey the idea that the wicked heathen would repent more quickly than
Israel if they had a herald to proclaim God's truth. Of course, a
prophecy of destruction would not come true if the heathen repented. So
God decided not to do what He said He would.

"But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry." When Jonah, the
typical Israelite, saw that his preaching had converted the heathen he
was so mad that he wanted to die. I knew how kind-hearted you were
toward repentant sinners, and that is the reason I tried to run off the
first time. Now, God, just kill me; "for it is better for me to die than
to live." Is this history? Yes, it is history in stinging sarcasm. How
the Israelites must have writhed under such a portrayal of their
faithless and godless hearts. But the author knew that it would take
more than this to break their stubborn wills. So he proceeds with a few
more sledge-hammer blows.

"And Jehovah said, Doest thou well to be angry?" Now this gave Jonah a
little hope that God might kill his despised neighbors even if they had
bitterly repented and turned to the Lord for forgiveness. Accordingly,
Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side where he could see
and gloat over the destruction of his converts, in case the Lord did
intend to destroy them after all. In the meantime, Jonah made himself
just as comfortable as possible by constructing a booth where he could
sit in the shade. And our satirist causes God to add a little touch of
comfort by causing a gourd "to come up over" His darling, "Jonah, that
it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his evil case."

Now, the contemptible Jonah had no business being there in the sun; he
should have been at home helping his wife, if he had nothing else to do.
But better still, he should have been in Nineveh rejoicing with the
converts who had been redeemed from destruction by his preaching.

Note the fine sarcasm of our author, "So Jonah was exceedingly glad of
the gourd."

However, when the gourd was smitten by a worm, and the sultry wind blew,
and the sun shone hot upon his head, our mean little Jonah again asked
God to kill him. Now Jonah, "Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?"
"Yes, I do well to be angry even unto death." Were ever such words of
irony spoken! O Israel, you are smitten with grief because of your poor
little gourds, but don't you think you might have a little pity for all
those innocent people who were so untaught morally that they did not
know their right hand from their left?

It would be well for us to remember that we, as well as ancient Israel,
fret and fume over a lot of little nothings. Little griefs and little
deprivations vex us sorely. But while our brothers and sisters over much
of the earth go naked and starved and diseased, we feel no pity. We are
very tender-hearted over little things, we are deeply moved over some
fictitious story; but for the appalling tragedies of dark continents and
exploited peoples, our hearts are flint.

Obviously, Israel understood only too well the biting sarcasm and bitter
irony of Jonah's ringing satire. If the author of this parable could
know that a generation has since risen, with so little historical and
literary acumen as to believe that Jonah is literal history, I think his
body would turn over in its grave. If he knew that he had set people to
wrangling over the question of whether a fish could swallow a man,
instead of sending them out as missionaries to all the Ninevehs of the
earth, he would feel sorry that he ever wrote the book.

When intelligently understood, there is no other literature extant that
makes such a strong moral and religious appeal for social justice and
political righteousness as the prophets. The writings of the great
prophets of Israel constitute a practical _sociology_, founded on the
Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; a sociology so enriched by
a wealth of historical materials as to make it a treasure-house for all
workers in social betterment.

To save the ordinary Bible reader from confusion, I have purposely
avoided all questions of origin and composite character, along with many
other interesting and useful facts concerning the Scriptures. This
simple approach to the Scriptures is for the purpose of helping the
average person to find the soul of the Bible. For it is the soul of the
Bible, and not its incidental features, that enriches the soul of the
reader.


4. The New Testament in general

In the New, as well as in the Old Testament, the letter kills while the
spirit makes alive.

As the historical and literary methods of study have imparted a new
beauty and a new significance to the messages of the Old Testament, the
same methods will, in like manner, affect the messages of the New
Testament.

The personal Christ is the _soul_ of the New Testament. In Jesus,
righteousness is more than a decalogue or a catalogue to be followed; it
is a character to be possessed. In Jesus, God is more than a Divinity to
be obeyed; the Infinite Will is an indwelling Spirit,--the soul of man's
soul. While the Old Testament never recognizes God as dwelling in man,
the New Testament takes the God of Israel and the righteousness of
Israel and places them in human life; not as a theory, but as personal
experience. This is the old righteousness and the old religion made new.

When we say that Jesus is the soul of the New Testament, we have no
reference to perplexing questions about how He came or how He went. We
mean that the God-filled Jesus is the soul of all the New Testament
teachings. The pure, strong Son of God is the lodestone of the Gospels
and the Epistles. It is He that draws honest souls into divine
fellowship with the Father and His family. To see the character of Jesus
in its most lovely aspects, and to feel His love that heals and
transforms, is to receive the very best that the New Testament has to
give.

The perplexing questions of psychology, of tradition, of manuscripts,
and of miracles are interesting enough for those who are equipped to
study them; but all these are much less than the one essential thing. To
know Him, and to feel the power that He can exercise over all that are
attached to Him in love and service, is life eternal. Granting that the
miracles are true, yet it is infinitely more difficult to be certain of
the truth of a miracle than it is to be certain of the truth of the
Christian religion. The Christian religion may be tested at first hand.
We can taste and see that the Lord is good. By keeping company with
Jesus, and walking in His foot-steps, we are able to decide for
ourselves whether we care for Him and His way of living. Though one were
in utter doubt concerning everything else, if he saw in Jesus something
so much to be desired that he was willing to forsake all and follow Him,
he would find himself in loving fellowship with the Father. "Whosoever
will, let him come." And, "Whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise
cast out." Though in doubt about every question of scholarship, the one
who personally tests the life and teachings of Jesus from day to day is
able to answer, "One thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see." To
find one's self sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right
mind, after living among the tombs as one mad for wealth or pleasure or
popularity, is the last word in religion.

Having thus blazed the straight path to God, let me urge it upon my
readers that they take up the broader and deeper study of the New
Testament literature as they have opportunity. For, in so doing they
will broaden and deepen their lives, and better fit themselves to live
in society as those who helpfully and intelligently serve.

But some may say, "How are we to know that our religion is true unless
we have some ancient, miraculous proof!"

My answer is that in nothing does God so much delight, as in making
Himself known to those who intelligently receive Him in pure hearts.
When God is _here_, even if it were possible, we do not need to prove
His existence; we simply need to get acquainted with Him. Miracles may
have been necessary in times past; if so, they served their purpose when
they were needed. Since it is harder to verify an ancient miracle than
it is to verify the presence of God in our own hearts, we cling to the
greater certainty without being too dogmatic concerning the wonders
reported in a primitive age. If one believes in miracles, no one can
prove that he is wrong. If he is so constituted that he cannot believe
in them, God will not turn him away if he follows the Master with his
whole heart. If any one desires a richer assurance of God and His
forgiveness, let him be a more intelligent and a better Christian; let
him make a larger investment of himself in the service of God. I have
nothing to say against miracles; but I should like to testify that it
has been possible to lead many to Christ by getting them to become His
disciples first, and then letting them have plenty of time to settle the
question of miracles as best they were able.

Though I bring an indictment against myself, I must say, what we most
need is a ministry with Apostolic faith and fervor. We need St. Pauls
and St. Johns. We need leaders who can make God real and sin hateful.


5. The book of Revelation

Seeing that so many good Christians are perplexed by the apocalypses, we
shall close this chapter with a brief study of the book of Revelation.

The mystery that once shrouded the book of Revelation is gone. As
Professor Porter says, "The historical method has, it is not too much to
say, broken the seals. To the historical student these apocalypses have
become, in their general character and chief messages, among the best
instead of quite the least understood books of the canon. And their
importance has grown with their understanding."

The book of Revelation throws more light on the past than on the future.
It has to do largely with a crisis in the early Christian Church, and
not with the end of the world and the "constitution of the unseen
universe."

The probable date of the book is about ninety-three A. D. The great
Christian leaders were gone, the heathen elements were entering the
Church with their traditions and rites, and the Roman government was
setting up emperor worship to strengthen the loyalty of diverse
populations. The mandate that all should enter the temples of the
emperor and worship him as divine was particularly hard on Jews and
Christians who refused to worship any but the one true God. The
persecutions that followed a refusal to worship the emperor, with all
the other devitalizing influences mentioned, threatened the very
existence of the Christian Church.

It was to meet this crisis that the book of Revelation was written. And
this accounts for the poetical and visionary style adopted by the
author. Strong language was needed; something that would quicken the
imagination and revive the fainting hearts of those who were growing
cold and indifferent. Dynamite was needed. No gentle utterance would
suffice. The writer realizes the awful conflict that is about to ensue
between the gentle Lamb and His humble followers on the one side, and
the great dragon, Rome, and his vile cohorts on the other. Somehow, the
Christians must be convinced that the Lamb will finally triumph over the
beast, or all is lost. After the sweet, simple letters of admonition and
praise to the Churches, in which he pictures Christ among the
candlesticks, the task of reassuring the persecuted followers of Jesus
must somehow be achieved. So he goes to his task as a fireman goes to
the work of saving a building that is on fire. Ordinary means will
utterly fail. He first looks to the heavens, and then to the most
striking imagery of the Old Testament, and never refuses a striking
figure from any source that promises to serve his purpose. He gathers
from far and near anything that will startle and encourage. As the winds
drive the clouds until their blackness terrifies, so he gives free rein
to his own imagination while marshaling his material. He commands the
heavenly trumpeters, and brings forth appalling horsemen riding in the
heavens. He sees one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, smitten after
the blast of a heavenly trumpet. He sees an angel open a pit from which
belches forth smoke that darkens the whole heavens. Out of the smoke
come forth locusts that look like horses prepared for war. They have
golden crowns on their heads, and men's faces, and women's hair, and
lion's teeth, and breastplates of iron. Their wings sound like chariots
and many horses rushing to war. And they have scorpions' tails with
stings, to sting the men that have not the seal of God on their
foreheads. He assures the poor sufferers that sealed mysteries, and
distresses, and woes await them; but that Christ shall be able to solve
all mysteries, and that he will command all powers in heaven and earth
to fight on their side until the old dragon, whose earthly embodiment is
Rome, shall be cast into the sulphurous pit and sealed. Finally, in the
most beautiful and poetical fashion he declares that the battle shall be
won, the clash of arms and the blare of trumpets shall cease, heaven and
earth shall be cleared of their fierce combatants, and in that happy and
peaceful hour the reward of the faithful shall appear. Heaven shall
descend on a new earth that is redeemed. The Lamb and His bride, the
faithful Church, shall again be united. And this new heaven on earth
shall be inexpressibly beautiful; the architecture shall be symmetrical,
and richly adorned. The gates of the city shall be pearls, and the
streets gold. The city shall not, as the old Jerusalem, be built of
common stone; even the foundations shall be adorned with jasper, and
sapphire, and chalcedony, and emerald, and sardonyx, and sardius, and
chrysolite, and beryl, and topaz, and chrysoprase, the jacinth, and
amethyst. There shall be a river, and trees bearing fruit for food and
leaves for healing. All these things the writer assures them shall soon
come to pass. In the great day of victory throngs of people shall be
there, arrayed in white; all, both the living and the dead, who have
washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, shall
be present. They shall be invited to the marriage of the Lamb, and to
the wonderful feast that will follow.

We are justified in believing that this poetical and highly imaginative
portrayal of the conflict was very effective with the humble,
illiterate, and sorely persecuted people who constituted the Christian
Church at that time. They revived from their coldness, they turned their
backs upon the insidious temptations and allurements of the heathen
world, and went in armies to the martyr's death. Rome was conquered, but
not in the way the author expected. Rome was conquered by being made
Christian, at least nominally and politically. The histories that
record the conflict between the Christians and Rome are not less
blood-curdling than the book of Revelation. The conflict was frightful,
only it was in terms of blood, and fire, and dungeon. If the ingenious
and infernal methods of torture, invented by Rome, present a picture
difficult to read, what must the reality have been to bear? We should
never cease to thank God that these humble Christians were nerved for
the conflict. The modern world owes these martyrs a debt of gratitude as
high as the heavens and as deep as the seas. When we consider the
people, the times, and the crisis, the book of Revelation was a means
well suited to a noble end. Who can look upon such a scene, and witness
such heroism, and read such desperate utterances rising out of the
conflict as are recorded by the author of Revelation without wishing to
be a better man, and a more loyal follower of the one who still stands
among the candlesticks,--His Churches. Sabatier has wisely said,
"Apocalypses do not reveal to us the secrets of the divine providence,
but do reveal the optimistic believing nature of the soul."

During the recent war, many portions of our country were burnt over with
the fanaticism that has sprung from a false and unhistorical
interpretation of Revelation and other apocalyptic writings.

The following extract from Professor Porter's book, "Daniel and
Revelation," is of special interest:

"The more theoretical or theological messages of the apocalypses it is
evidently impossible for us to accept in any literal way as a message
for our day. That which they claimed to do, namely, to unveil the
heavenly world and the future age, they really did not do. We cannot
accept their descriptions of heaven, of God's throne, or of the angels,
their names and functions, as a revelation of hidden realities. They are
at most figurative and imaginative representations or symbols of faith
in God and a spiritual realm. We are interested in these things only, on
the one side, for the imperishable faith and hope behind them, and on
the other for their place in the history of human speculation and
fancy.... Although we cannot receive their theoretical message, yet
their practical message for their own time is a true message for all
like times, and in a measure for all times alike. Religious faith in
times of a dominating, aggressive, or insinuating worldliness needs to
maintain itself by the assurance of the real dominion of the unseen
world over the world of sense, and by the hope of some approaching
manifestation of God, some open demonstration of the rule of justice and
goodness. The apocalyptical temper is needed when religion is assailed
and in danger; and in all times the religious life needs to maintain its
purity and strength by some sort of protest against the world, some
defiance of ruling ideals and customs, some faith in realities above
those of sense, and in truths contrary to appearances. The greater
apocalypses were inspired by a living faith in the ideal and an eager
expectation of its coming into reality; and faith in ideals which the
world contradicts is too rare and precious a thing to be despised
because its form is strange."





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