« PoprzedniaDalej »
whether he fully understood it or not, because of that colloquy in the garden. And if that sufficed for him, the Providence of God is justified. Historic sin is fairly matched, and overmatched, by historic redemption.
But the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, suggests a far sublimer theodicy. We are taken back behind the human ages, behind all time, into awful infinite depths, into the very bosom of the triune God. Theological science recognizes two trinities, which it calls economic and essential. The former began with historic redemption, and kept pace with it. Father, Son, and Spirit stood for law, redemption, and regeneration. It was economic trinity that suggested essential trinity. But for the historic process, the question might not have seemed worth asking, whether God is one only, or three also, and the three in one. The Hebrew mind, as represented by Philo, was only just beginning to be trinitarian, when Christ's life in the flesh compelled the Hebrew mind, as represented by Peter, Paul, and John, to a new theology. After Pentecost, bald Unitarianism was anachronous. Christian experience logically required three divine persons, of one and the same divine essence. Economic trinity required essential trinity.
Essential trinity is anything but an arbitrary conception of God. Wyclif taught it at Oxford as a necessary doctrine of reason. Trinity is another name for the self-consciousness, and self-communion, of God. Father, Son, and Spirit are vastly more than the revelation of God to man; they are the revelation of God.to Himself, and the intercourse of God with Himself. They suggest infinite fulness and richness of being. Our scientific definitions of God do not amount to much. At best, they formulate only very inadequate conceptions of Him. It is assumed that these scientific definitions of God take us farther than the Biblical descriptions of God. We had better not feel too sure of that. Attributes in action may impart a better knowledge than attributes abstractedly defined. Pictures for children may be better than creeds and catechisms. What we need is to see God in the life both of nature, and of man. This the Hebrew prophets enable us to do by their anthropomorphic and anthropopathic pictures of God. If you say the pictures are childish, then I must say that we are children, all of us, and had better be children. It is no real scandal to science to be told, that “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good”; that “the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry''; that the Lord “smelled a sweet savor” from Noah's altar; while wicked men are consumed by “the breath of his nostrils”; that “the voice of the Lord
breaketh the cedars of Lebanon”; and He "walketh upon the wings of the wind”; and that at last, in the Messianic time, “the Lord will make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations.” God is not a mere aggregate of attributes. He has a personality as distinct and positive as yours and mine. But the personality is infinite in all its outgoings. God's being is a vast abyss which no plummet has ever sounded. Imagine all you can of boundless power, constantly at work; of boundless intelligence, constantly at work; of boundless passion, constantly at work: God is all that, and immeasurably more than that. What right has any one to say that God is passionless ? God Himself has never said it. He is not passionless. Like the sun, He is all aflame; He rejoices in the truth; He hates a lie. He is pleased with what is right, and displeased with what is wrong. Good men are the apple of His eye; bad men His abomination and His scom. Rendered literally, “God is a righteous Judge, and a God who is angry every day.
But God is love. So says John in that famous passage, over which the theologians are still disputing, whether the meaning be that love is only one of the divine attributes, or is that very essence of God, into which every other attribute may be resolved. Some of the profoundest thinkers of our day accept these three words of John, “God is love,” as
the final definition of God. Sunshine striking a teardrop may give us the seven colors of the rainbow; but the seven colors are all one blessed light. God creates, governs, judges, punishes, pities, redeems, and saves; but love is the root of all. It was love that created this wonderous universe, to which science can set no bounds. It was love that created angels, tho some of them rebelled, and were “delivered into chains of darkness.” It was love that created this human brotherhood, all of whom have rebelled and gone astray. This rebellion was permitted; but was rebellion all the same. God feels it; and has always felt it. Absalom has broken his father's heart; and we are Absalom. The grand old King goes up over Olivet weeping, with his head covered, and his feet bare; and that King is God. Only He is the King Eternal, and His agony over sin is also eternal. This agony of God over human sin is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. God Himself atones, to Himself atones; and so atonement is both eternal and divine.
In that matchless epitome of the gospelthat parable of the Prodigal Son, reported only by Luke-not a word is said, not a glimpse is given, of the father of the prodigal during all that interval between the departure and return. A veil is drawn over all those bitter, weary years. So has God yearned and suffered in the silent depths of His own eternity, waiting and watching for the repentant prodigal. This yearning, grieved, and suffering God is the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; Son of God, Son of Mary. This sinless Child should have had no griefs of His own. His sorrows could have been only those old eternal shadows of permitted sin. The cross on which He died, flinging out its arms as if to embrace the world, lifted up its head toward the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Our hearts now go back to Calvary; and from Calvary they go
up to God.
One word more. This stupendous idea of eternal atonement carries with it the idea of universal atonement. Whatever it was, and is, must needs have been infinite. No magnitude of sin, no multitude of sinners, can bankrupt its treasury of grace. “God so loved the world,” is its everlasting refrain. “He that will, let him take of the water of life freely." “Take” is the word, my hearers.
Let us remember this. There is something for us to do. God Himself can not pardon an impenitent offender. If pardon were offered, it could not be accepted. It is a law of our own being, that we must repent. O Lamb of God, slain so long ago, save us at last, when Thou comest in the clouds; and save us here to-day.
It is one of the revelations of Scripture that we are to judge the angels, sitting above them on the shining heights. It may well