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"this is mine and may be appropriated to my own ends." The faculty' is God's own gift; say rather, God's own power working through the human will; the affection' is a divine incentive meant to reveal the God of love, and must not be made a rival to Him who gave the power to love and the object to be loved; while on every one of his treasures' he has learned to write, "Holiness unto the Lord," "bought with a price." In one word, self is subdued to Him, and human will is lost in God's.
I am not overstating this subject, for the illustration of the Apostle is taken from a fact of supreme and sublime uniqueness. Life unto God can find no lower type than the life of the God-Man, in whom the will of God was done; and it is not the earthly life of Jesus to which Paul refers, but his resurrectionlife, to which he points as the great analogy of the divine life of the Christian. The image is not a casual flight of rhetoric, it runs through the entire New Testament. "If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God." We are "crucified," "buried," "risen with Him" through the mighty energies of the new life.
It may be objected that if this is what is meant by living unto God," or being "alive unto God," there is not even the smallest chance of ever realizing it. The affairs of this life, the passions of the flesh, the temptations of the devil, the fallen nature of which we are conscious, all put insuperable obstacles in our
way. It may be said, 'None but he who escapes from the world, who renounces the ties of home and business, and disdains the pursuit of earthly pleasure, can ever feel thus about the eternal God; we must die to know the faintest breathings of this higher life. The sacrifice is too great to expect or dream of. It may be the lot of the great heroes of the faith, but it is impracticable and impossible for us.' If the effort to devote our life, our nature, our powers, our treasures, our all, to God, seem to us an awful wrench, and is a task of huge difficulty; if it present itself to our minds in such a form, then indeed we are not "alive unto God." For observe
(3) If a man is alive unto God, he will not only realize the divine presence, and feel the claim made by the divine Being upon every faculty of his nature, but he will find his highest desires gratified. "In Thy presence is fulness of joy." If we are alive unto God, we shall find that we are following the bent of our true nature. We shall fear an inward contradiction and antagonism of our nature to God, far more than the crucifixion of our passions. He that drinketh of the water given him by Christ, shall never thirst after those draughts of carnal pleasure to be found in the broken cisterns of human invention, and it shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.
The soul of him who is alive to God will dwell at ease. He will rejoice evermore. He has found the source of all blessedness, and is in the joyous
company of those who are pressing ever nearer, ever up to God.
Some will ask, 'Is not finding joy in God the very opposite of finding it in anything else? Must we not be cut off from all creaturely love, and have crucified all our earthly human feelings before it is possible?' My reply is one which cuts at the root of spiritual pride and morbid asceticism. It is this; the more spiritual we become, so much the more shall we see God in all things. If we can find the manifestation of God in all things, we shall transform even earthly duties and affections into communion with Him. The glories of nature to the spiritual man who is "alive unto God" are revelations not of beauty nor of nature, but of God Himself. The blessedness of human love is the drawing near not of an earthly love merely, but of the Father's heart. The pursuits of life may be so ordered that whatever we do, we may do all to the glory of God. There must be a mode of commerce with outward things possible, which is altogether pure and hallowed and divine. God who is a spirit, the purest and most absolute of spirits, is that spirit, nevertheless, which stands in closest relation to matter. All things live, and move, and have their being as the expression of His will. God triumphs in the works of His hands, He looked on all and called them very good. The creature itself has been subjected to the vanity of human worship, but not willingly; and it also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Our flesh
is capable of becoming not an obstacle to divine communication with us, but the medium of that communication. Even we shall look into one another's eyes ere long and know that they shall never grow dim in death. We are body and soul as well as spirit, to be brought into far closer relation to the universe than we can enjoy in this transitory and perishable body; and the great hope which we thus have purifies us even as Christ is pure, and shews us that it is in the flesh and in the world, and through human affections and duties and work, that we may, that we shall, see God. By two arguments then, the one derived from the most fundamental idea we have of God, and the other from the ground-truth of the Christian revelation, that is, from the spirituality of God and the resurrection of man, we see it must and will be possible to find God in all His works; so that as we become more holy, more like God Himself, we shall have more freedom in the conduct of our daily life, we shall see God in it, and gain from it an idea of the kind of fellowship we shall enjoy throughout eternity with God.
Idolatry calls some of the blessings of God, some of the works of His hands, some of the perfections of His ineffable Being, by His holy and reverent name, and thus takes that name in vain. It stops short with the medium or channel of mercy and goodness, and having called that, God, has lost the real meaning of the mercy, and raised up barriers between the soul and God.
Pantheism confers on evil as well as good the same grand name, and is reduced to the dilemma of either losing its God altogether or losing the individuality of man.
It has been left for Christianity to penetrate and look through all things; to see them equally dependent upon the will of God, equally insufficient to meet the wants of the human spirit; to find their beauty and blessedness in the everlasting nature and eternal being of the blessed God Himself; to separate the evil from the good, the evil spirit from the holy spirit; to bring evil down from the throne where false speculation had placed it; to repudiate the position that its seat is in the nature which God pro nounced very good, or in the flesh which can be transfigured or taken up into the Godhead, or in man, as man, who is made in the image of God; to prophesy the final extinction of all sin, the fall of the devil from his seat of power, and the complete glorification of the whole man, and the whole of man's universe; and to see, in anticipation of this sublime consummation, God in all things, and all things in God; to be "alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
The contrast of these two lives, "life in sin" and the "life unto God," finds in Christianity its highest explanation. In a subsequent discourse we shall endeavour to shew how "life in sin" is indeed a "life of sin," and how being "alive unto God" is indeed the "life of God" in the soul; and how the "life of