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so-called Christian lands, and are never taught
morality or Christianity except as they are mis-
represented by those who never go about doing
good, what will you say of them ?

And so questions press in from all sides, and
those who find it hard even to be just, to say
nothing of being generous, to those around
them, do not hesitate to talk positively of what
Divine justice requires and of what must be
in infinity and eternity. There is one place
where all these questions belong. It is enough
for us to know that all the heathen are in the
Father's hands ; all the little children of
drunkards are in the Father's hands ; all those
who are falsely led because to them is preached
a Christ of contention and not of love, are in
the Father's hands.

How will God judge ? Like a perfect father,



Interpret God by His Fatherhood. 37

who will not allow his family to suffer because
of the error of one, but who will not permit
anything to obstruct the path of His " mercy
which endureth for ever."

How long will God allow the processes of
retribution to go on ? This mystery, also, is in
the Father's hands. Instead of dogmatising as
one class of people do, and denouncing as
another class do, it is better to leave the whole
question with Him who, because He is Father
and God, will now and forevermore do what is
right. Of one thing, however, we may be sure,
unless freedom be destroyed the child can stay
away as long as he chooses, but the Father will
never cease to try to bring him home. When
the solemn questions of judgment and retribu-
tion force themselves upon our attention the
only refuge of a thinking man is to remember
Christ's teaching concerning God : interpret
Him by His fatherhood.

There are many facts in the universe that
seem to indicate that God has withdrawn Him-
self from all connection with it and has left the
worlds to roll on uncared for and unheeded.
The terrible experiences which lead toward
pessimism are neither few nor easily evaded.
Around most the shadows sometimes settle
until it seems as if the blackness can never be
broken. The burden of the world's sorrow all
bear. Processions are moving toward the grave
with no light on their pathway. These facts



38 Interpret God by His Fatherhood.

sometimes almost compel pessimism, but all
things are illuminated and glorified, individuals
are no more wreckage on a limitless ocean, but
immortal spirits; and purpose, improvement,
blessedness, prophecy of victory, shine from all
dark places when once we have entered into the
spirit of the teachings of Christ, and learned to
interpret God by His Fatherhood. " And this
is life eternal, that ye may know Him the only
true God." "There is but one God, the
Father."

When life is all worry and mystery — inter-
pret God by His fatherhood. When prayer
seems a mockery and worship an absurdity —
interpret God by His Fatherhood. When the
awful realities of judgment and retribution con-
fuse the thought and break the heart — interpret
God by His Fatherhood. In life, in death,
and at the great judgment-day — interpret God
by His Fatherhood.



III.
GODS AND GOD.



III.

GODS AjST) GOD.

"Produce your cause, saith the Lord."

Isaiah xli. 21.

The forty-first chapter of the prophecy of
Isaiah illustrates the difficulty which the ordin-
ary reader has in understanding the propheti-
cal books of the Old Testament. So much of it
has relation to current events, that it requires
study of contemporary history before its mean-
ing can be understood. The prophet was in a
high spiritual mood. He was thinking of the
deliverence from Babylonian captivity which
was to come to his people, and of the means by
which it was to be accomplished. Seeing that
it would be an act of providence rather than of
human power, he used that as an argument to
prove that the God of the Hebrews is the God
of the world. The chapter divides itself into
three parts : from the first to the seventh verse
the speaker appeals to " the islands " — meaning
the uttermost parts of the world — to tell who
had raised up the power that was growing in
the East by which deliverance was to be
secured; and then, in a kind of fine scorn,
represents them as trying to get information



42 Gods and God.

from their gods — idols which had been made
with their hands. As history this event has
"been verified. With the rise of the Persian
Cyrus and his dominion, Croesus, who was
called the richest man in the world, sent from
oracle to oracle and temple to temple to learn
whether the Persian commander could be suc-
cessfully resisted. Before the oracles he poured
out his treasures. It has been thought that the
Prophet had him in mind when, in substance,
he said : " All ye oracles, tell who has raised up
this conquering chief." The second division of
the chapter begins with the eighth verse and
extends to the twentieth, and is an inspiring
and glorious appeal to the Hebrew people to
trust in God, who is represented as saying, " I
am with thee ; I am thy God ; I will strengthen
thee ; yea, I will help thee ; yea, I will uphold
thee with the right hand of My righteousness."
In this part of the prophecy the Divine effici-
ency in opening the way before the returning
captives is beautifully expressed : " I will plant
in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia tree, and
the myrtle and the oil tree." Beginning with
the twenty-first verse, is another appeal to the
nations to show whether their gods could give
to them the power which Jehovah had given to
the speaker, namely, that of foretelling future
events — Can you tell what this great ruler,
Cyrus, will do ?

The whole chapter revolves around three



Gods and God. 43

thoughts. First, the Persian King is the instru-
ment of God, therefore earthly rulers are
Divine agents. Second, God watches over His
people and is near to them even when events
seem to be going against them. Third, one
proof of the superiority of Jehovah to the gods
of the nations is that His prophets can foretell
the future. Different ages treat religious pro-
blems from different standpoints. A great
argument in all ages, however, for the reality
of God has been found in the unity of history.
To this the Prophet appealed when he said,
You can see that Jehovah is God because Cyrus
is carrying out His purposes. Using the same
principle, we say, Providence is a reality because
a study of history shows that all events in all
ages have been moving toward the realisation
of righteousness in the life of humanity. The
argument from ability to predict is not now
regarded as of much importance. The essential
thought in the mind of the Prophet may be
phrased as follows : Gods and God.

Isaiah, using the means at his command,
offered evidence that the Jehovah of the
Hebrews was the world's God. We adopt his
method, but use different illustrations.

Why do we believe that our conception of
the Deity is true, and why should we try to
induce others to accept it? If the Christian
teaching concerning God is better than that of
other religions it will appear by comparison.



44 Gods and God.

Isaiah appealed to the ability to predict in
evidence of Jehovah's greatness ; a better plan in
our time is to compare the ethical value of
various ideas of the Divine Being. Let us con-
sider the teaching of three religions concerning
the Deity. That which is best in itself will
convince the most thoughtful inquirers. The
true conception of God is that which most fully
satisfies the reason, the conscience, and the
hearts of the common people. The argument
from prophecy or miracle may be ignored, but
the proof of teaching from its essential value is
resistless. As fairly and clearly as possible we
will examine the teachings of three religions
concerning the Divine Being, and then ask
which is most satisfying to the heart and moral
sense.

Max Miiller, in his famous lecture on Mis-
sions, delivered by invitation of Dean Stanley in
Westminster Abbey, said that there are but
three missionary religions — Mohammedanism,
Buddhism and Christianity.* All other faiths,
he declares, are slowly, but surely dying. Leav-
ing those faiths which are in a measure deca-
dent, let us endeavour to compare and contrast
the ideas of the Supreme Being as found in
" the missionary religions."

The God of the Buddhists. There are so
many phases of Buddhism that it is hardly fair
to take any one as representative of all, but it

# " On Missions," p. 35.



Gods and God. 45

will not be unfair to any sect of Buddhism to
say that, considered as a whole, it is practically
without a God. That fact accounts for the
sadness of many of its teachings. Buddhism
recognises no personality. It does not grasp
our ideas of personality even when applied to
men. Buddhistic peoples understand the
national and family relations, but have little
conception of individual personality. The
Buddhist Deity is law, an eternal process, order.
When you ask whether behind that law or pro-
cess is an intelligence, the priests tell you that
they do not know. They recognise the order of
the world, and that the breaking of that order
results in misery, and harmony with it in bless-
ing. Their religion is devoted chiefly to finding
ways by which they may conform to the order
of the universe. The largest of the sects in
Japan believes in a being who is himself a
product of an eternal process. It teaches that
nothing which men do has any effect on this
being. He devotes himself to men, but they
can neither please nor displease him. Their
well-doing or wrong-doing concerns themselves
alone. In Buddhistic catechisms there is no
teaching at all, that I have been able to find,
concerning the Being whom we call God.
There is much about their sacred books, about
the work of the human saviour, Buddha, but
little or nothing pertaining to the Supreme
Being. At the entrance to the Japanese park



46 Gods akd God.



at Kamakura, in which is the great image of
Buddha, an inscription speaks of Buddhism as
the eternal Order, as Law, but it contains no
recognition of personality. It is correct, there-
fore, to say, that that form of religion which
Max Muller would probably place next to
Christianity as a missionary faith, which is
surely manifesting remarkable vitality, and
which is accepted by as many as any other in
the world, if not by more than any, is without
any clear teaching concerning the Supreme
Being. It knows law, but not personality ; it
knows love, but love as the result of a process,
and not as indwelling in a person. I confess
that it is impossible for me to grasp the thought
of an order and a law without directing force
behind them. Such a doctrine leaves no place
for sympathy, and suggests no help for those
who are toiling in the midst of the sorrows and
pains of earth. It finds its logical develop-
ment in the sadness which characterises the
literature of all Buddhistic peoples.

What does Mohammedanism teach concern-
ing the Deity ? It agrees with Christianity in
affirming the unity and spirituality of God.
In origin it is much later than Christianity, and
has confessedly adopted many Jewish and
Christian ideas. Mohammedans teach the
unity, spirituality, and holiness of God, as
intensely and constantly as Christians, but
they believe in a Being who is practically Fate



Gods and God. 47

rather than an intelligent Providence. They
exaggerate and magnify the niediseval doctrine
of the Sovereignty of God. They believe that
He is pleased with a loyalty to Himself which
is utter disloyalty to humanity. They worship
a Being one and spiritual, but whose spiritu-
ality is so harsh and cruel that He can be
delighted with the massacre of Greeks, Bul-
garians, and Armenians ; and be satisfied with
compulsory devotion on the part of those whose
hearts are far from Him. The whole story is
told in the fact that converts can be made to
the Deity of the Mohammedans by the sword.
Such an One may be great but He cannot be
good.

These are the two missionary religions other
than Christian which Max Miiller believes are
competing with Christianity for supremacy
among the nations. Oftener than we think,
persons in Christian lands ask : Why should we
believe in the Christian teaching concerning
God rather than that of the Buddhists or the
Hindus, the Parsees or the Mohammedans ?
The teaching of the Parsees is essentially that
of the Hebrews, and Hinduism, so far as it has
any vitality, has been merged in Buddhism.
When any one comes with that earnest and
searching question it is entitled to a frank and
candid answer. The time has passed for
attempted evasion of difficulties. The thought
of the world is focussed on every thinking



48 Gods and God.



mind. Children are reading and studying the
faiths of the different nations as they study
their histories. They cannot read about Japan
and India without coming face to face with
Buddhism; about Turkey and Arabia without
meeting the story of Mohammed. Is there not
as much reason to believe that Christians are
mistaken in their ideas of God as to think that
the Buddhists and Mohammedans are mis-
taken? The question should have an intelli-
gent reply. The only authority which any
intelligent persons recognise now is that of
truth, and the only way any have of determin-
ing absolute truth is by its correspondence with
the deepest human need. "What God best
satisfies a human soul in its life-long struggles ?
Every religion must be judged by its teaching
concerning God. That is the centre of every-
thing. All men are what they believe con-
cerning God. If they think that they can
never pass beyond His power or sight; that
He is perfectly holy ; that everything wrong
is hateful to Him, and everything good pleas-
ing ; if they believe in Him as really as in
themselves, it will be the effort of their lives
to please Him. But if they believe that He is
simply an order or a process, and that happiness
can result only from harmony with that order,
they will still seek to realise happiness by obe-
dience ; but failing in that will anticipate only
misery, because the inevitable thought will be :



Gods axd God. 49

" I have put myself outside of the moral order,
and now there is no one to put me back." If
we believe in a Being who has determined
everything so that there is no place for indi-
vidual choice ; that we shall die when our time
comes, and must suffer what is decreed, then
we shall follow our own impulses and satisfy
ourselves with the thought that all things are
determined and it makes no difference what we
choose. Therefore the most important ques-
tion ever asked is, What do we believe con-
cerning God ?

If it were possible to adopt the dramatic f orm
which characterises almost all the Old Testa-
ment prophets, we would summon before us
three teachers and ask them to give us their
ideas of God. Buddha appears absorbed in
thought on the mysteries of existence and the
causes of sorrow. We approach him and ask :
Buddha, what do you believe and teach concern-
ing whom men in these days call God ? It is
not difficult for any to understand his answer.
He says : " From long meditation upon human
soitows and the nothingness of things, I have
come to the conclusion that what men call God
is simply an eternal order or process. Beyond
that I know nothing whatever. But of this I
am sure — no one can escape from that order,
and no one can hope for happiness in this world
or in any world who does not live in harmony
with it."



50 Gods and God.



The next is a far different man ; he is eager,
aggressive, intense, dogmatic, with something
of the spirit of a warrior. It is Mohammed.
Let us ask him : Mohammed, what do you teach
concerning God ? Would he not say : " God is
one ; He is a spirit ; He is absolutely Holy ; He
demands the loyalty of all human beings. Those
who will not yield loyalty by choice must be
compelled to do so by force. He prefers the
choice, but he will be satisfied with submission
to force, and whatever force is necessary is
justifiable."

Last, the One whom Christians call " Master "
joins the group. How I could like to see those
three men standing side by side while they
speak about this exhaustless theme. Of course
we are more or less prejudiced, and it is not
possible entirely to put away our training and
our experience ; but for the moment we will try
to step outside that prejudice, and listen to
Jesus as He takes His place — a young and very
human man — beside Buddha and Mohammed.
Does He not speak something as follows ? —
" Yes, there is order in the world, and that
order is eternal, and no one can escape from it ;
but I go farther than Buddha, and say with
Mohammed that that order proceeds from a
directing Intelligence answering to what men
call a person ; that that Person is a spirit and
holy. But I cannot agree with Mohammed
when he says that God can be pleased with the



Gods and G-od. 51

enforced loyalty of any, for He is not simply
our Sovereign ; He is our Father, and nothing
can please Him except the voluntary affection
of His children."

That voice grows soft and musical as it con-
tinues : " I will interpret my thought concern-
ing God by your own selves. When you ask
what God is remember what earthly parents are.
What would be a perfect human father or
mother? Combine the two ; multiply the result
by the difference between the earth and the
heaven, and you have my teaching concerning
God. All nations and all individuals are in the
hands of the Father of all. He has a plan and
a purpose, and all are in the interests of love,
and He can use no method which will be at
enmity with love."

The Speaker becomes quiet for a moment and
then resumes : " You want to know what I teach
concerning God. I have tried to put it all into
a life ; I have tried to show by what I was on
the earth what God is in eternity. He feels
toward evil as I felt when I drove the money-
changers from the Temple; He feels toward
little children as I felt when I took them in my
arms ; He feels toward sickness as I felt when I
touched the leper and made him whole; He
feels toward the poor as I felt when I preached
glad tidings unto them; He feels toward all
who violate His law as I did when, after having
been pierced by nails, I was still able to pray,



52 Gods and God.



' Forgive them.' All law and all order in the
universe are expressions of the Father's will ;
not one human being ever gets beyond His love ;
no sin can prevent Him from loving, and no
darkness hide from His eye; His purpose is
blessing for all the race, and some time and
some way that plan of grace will be realised."

Those three great teachers of the world,
those men who have influenced thought more
than any others who have ever lived, now stand
before us, and we have listened to their words.
They are profoundly earnest, and no one has
contradicted the other ; but has not one gone
far in advance of the others ? The inquiry again
recurs, What shall we believe concerning God ?
If the Buddhist teaching is best and enough, by
all means accept that ; let missionaries arise
from beyond the sea, fill our cities, and preach a
new and better gospel. If Mohammed is right
and Christians are wrong, let Mohammedanism,
even at the edge of the sword, compel every one
to accept the teaching of its Prophet. But can
any believe that an impersonal process, eternal in-
flexible, heartless, is more rational or better than
the " Father " taught by our Lord Jesus Christ ?
Would such a faith satisfy the reason or the
heart ? Would it make nobler men ? Can any
believe that a Deity who would be pleased with
cruelty and bloodshed is large enough and holy
enough for the God of the nations, the ages,
the universe ? Did you ever know anyone who



Gods and God. 53

wished to have more in his God than he finds in
the teachings and life of Jesus Christ ? I speak
not of the dogmas of His followers, but the
teachings of the Master. Job cried, " Oh, that I
knew where I might find Him ! " That terribly
bitter cry which rings down the ages is not
unanswered. Jesus Christ has taught all that
any need to know ; all that any in their moments
of deepest longing care to know concerning
God ; therefore the conclusion is inevitable that
He has uttered truth. Because He brings
us into the presence of One who forgives sins ;
because He shows that the order of love is
mightier and more lasting than the order of
force ; because He declares that a man giving
himself to redeem men is a true representation
of Him in whom we live and move and have our
being ; because He teaches that all men, all ages,
all worlds, even the eternities and infinities, are
in the hands which were pierced ; because He
makes it plain that all law is love, and all love
law, and that love can be defeated neither in
time nor in eternity, we bow before Him, and
accept His Father as our Father, and the God
whom He reveals as our God.



IV.
THE ETERNAL EVANGEL.



IV.
THE ETEKNAL EVANGEL.

" How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that
bringeth good tidings." — Isaiah lii. 7.

Evangel means " good news/' and in this case
eternal means " without end." The good news
which can never fade from the minds and
hearts of men is our high theme. The prophet,
in a rapt and exalted moment, has ceased to
condemn his people, and calls them to awake,
put on their beautiful garments, and move
toward the Jerusalem which shall be when the
days of captivity are ended. The figure can
hardly be appreciated by occidentals. Before
there were telegraphs, or swifter means of com-
munication than running men, the one who
hurried over the mountains with good news was
a beautiful sight. Here is a people cast down,
discouraged, surrounded by enemies threatening
their lives. "Will rescue ever come ? There is a
man running across the hills, waving his hands,
his long hair flying on the wind, crying that
relief is at hand. How beautiful are his feet in
the sunlight, every step speaking of deliver-
ance ! That is the figure of the prophet. He is
in Babylon, in the midst of heat, and the long



58 The Eteenal Evangel.

and dreary monotony of lowland life ; but in
his ecstacy lie seems to catch a glimpse of a mes-
senger speeding over the mountains of Zion,
and crying : " Awake ! awake ! deliverance is
at hand ! " That messenger was a real evangel.
The text describes a section of universal history.
We have selected it because of its symbolism.
That messenger — a herald of gladness and joy
— is a type of the Eternal Evangel.

People in all lands and times are essentially
the same. They differ as to their skin and hair,
their clothing and language, but language,
clothing, hair and skin are externals. Human-
ity is one, and in all ages its experiences have
been essentially the same.

An evangel has always and everywhere been
desired. It was said of Christ that He was " the
Desire of all nations. " The significance of that
universal desire cannot be exaggerated. If
there were a mountain high enough for one to
overlook all who now live and all who ever have
lived, at some time he would find every face
turned in the same direction. All would be found
looking up into the great wide sky, and asking
whether there is any way out of sin, sorrow and
death. These are eternal problems.

Men have always believed that they ought to
do right and ought not to do wrong, and have
heard voices condemning when they have been
disobedient to what they have believed to be
right. This is a part of the universal experi-



The Eternal Evangel. 59

ence. Every altar on every mountain top in
India and Japan, every temple in Egypt and
Assyria, have borne witness to this truth.
This is one of the world's significant facts.
Why do men feel guilt ? It is the most real and
terrible fact in the universe. Ideas concerning
its treatment have been degraded and false, but
those who have been untrue to themselves have
always found themselves bound with fetters
and chains. Echoing down the ages rings the
exceeding bitter wail of those who have been
false, who feel that there must be some way of
escape ; who know not what it is, but whose
longing was never better expressed than in the
words of Job : " 0, that I knew where I might
find Him ! "

The longing for escape from guilt is only one
form of this experience. Sorrow also is one of
the eternal mysteries. The oldest books are
occupied with this endless enigma. The first
poets tried to solve it, and the first philosophers
pondered it. If it were possible to go back to
the time when as yet there had been only joy,


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