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race.

God is always revealing himself, and
has always been revealing himself. He
has always been knocking at the door ; he
has always been standing at the window.
He has always been showing his charac-
ter. They who have seen it best and most
clearly, and had power to tell us what
they have seen, are the world's prophets.
What is distinctive in respect to Hebrew
law is not its universal applicability to the
human race — there is a great deal in the
Hebrew law to which we no longer pay
any attention ; it is the recognition of the
fact that God is the great lawgiver. What
is peculiar in the Hebrew history is not
its narration of great battles, great states-
men's endeavors and achievements ; it is
the history of the dealing of God with a
particular people. God is as truly with
the American race as he ever was with
the Hebrew race ; as truly with Abraham

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GOD IN NATURE

Lincoln as he was with Moses. The
difference between the Hebrew race and
the American race is the difference be-
tween the Old Testament Scriptures and
the modern newspaper. The modern
newspaper is enterprising, and it gathers
news, and gathers gossip that is not news,
from the four quarters of the globe ; but
it fails to see God in human history. The
Old Testament prophets did not show the
same enterprise, did not have the same
wideness of view ; but they did see God in
human history, and have helped us to see
him. That vision of God is equally char-
acteristic of the fiction of the Bible —
Ruth, Esther, Jonah, the parable of the
prodigal son (there are some people who
think it is irreverent to suggest that there
is any fiction in the Old Testament, but
quite right to find it in the words of Christ
in the New), and of the drama of the
Bible — the epic drama of Job, the love
drama of the Song of Songs. In these is
seen a manifestation, a revelation of good-
ness and truth and righteousness, and,
above all, of a personal God dealing with
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GOD IN NATURE

men. This is the characteristic of the
Hebrew poetry. We find more beautiful
phrasing in Wordsworth, or in Tennyson,
or in Longfellow, or in Whittier, but no-
where do you find in literature, ancient or
modern, such discoveries of God as in the
Hebrew Psalter. The " Eternal Good-
ness " may seem to you more beautiful
than the One Hundred and Third Psalm ;
but would Whittier have written " Eternal
Goodness " if he had not read the One
Hundred and Third Psalm ?

But if this be so, and the Bible be a
revelation and disclosure of God, why not
new revelations ? Why not new disclos-
ures ? Why not a new Bible ? If the
American continent was discovered by
Columbus, why does not some one dis-
cover a new continent ? Because we have
discovered all the continents there are.
What is it that this Bible tells us about
God, the Infinite and the Eternal Energy
from which all things proceed, the Power
not ourselves that makes for righteousness ?
Sum it all up, put it in the briefest state-
ment ; what does it tell us respecting God.f*

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GOD IN NATURE

God is love. Love is service. The
highest manifestation of service is self-
sacrifice. The highest self-sacrifice is the
laying down of one's life for the sake of
the wholly undeserving.

Is there anything to be added to that
message ? Can you conceive of any state-
ment respecting the Infinite and Eternal
Energy from which all things proceed, the
Power not ourselves that makes for right-
eousness, beyond these four declarations
— first, this Infinite and Eternal Energy is
love ; second, this love shows itself in un-
paid service ; third, this service runs be-
yond all self-glorification into self-sacrifice ;
and, last of all, this self-sacrifice shows it-
self in laying down life that the undeserving
may walk along the prostrate form up to
the eternal heights of glory ? If any one
has another revelation, let him bring it.

But there is opportunity, infinite op-
portunity, for added disclosure of God,
added revelation of God, in the unfolding
and application of this truth to the experi-
ences of the nation, the church, and the
individual. If it were not so, you and I

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GOD IN NATURE

could not go on preaching upon this Bible.
If there were not revelations in the Bible
that the Bible writers themselves did not
fully comprehend ; if there were not reve-
lations in the Bible that all the past has
not discovered ; if we were not continually-
finding new meanings in old texts; if God
was not continually rewriting his Bible in
our experience, and giving us a new mes-
sage to new generations, we might well
close our church doors and stop our
preaching. We preachers are not to stop
at the revelation which God has made of
himself to others; we are to take that
revelation that he may be revealed to us
and by us. The Bible is a guide to reve-
lation, not a substitute for it. Only as we
so use the Bible that we stop not at the
book, but go through the book to the
God who gave it forth, are we worthy to
be prophets and preachers in this nine-
teenth century.

The forgiveness of sins is, in my think-
ing of it, no longer an exceptional, epi-
sodical manifestation of a supernatural
grace ; it is the revelation and effect of the
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GOD IN NATURE

habit of mind of the Eternal Father toward
all his children. The laws of forgiveness
are a part of the laws of the Almighty and
the All-gracious. It is said that the vio-
lation of natural law is never forgiven. It
is said that if you put your finger in the
candle, it will burn, pray as you will,
and if you fall from your horse, you will
break a bone, however pious you may be ;
whether the bone breaks or not depends,
not upon your piety, but upon your age.
Is it indeed true that there is no forgive-
ness in natural law ? What a strange-
looking audience this would be if there
were none. The boy cuts his finger and
nature begins to heal it; he breaks his
arm — nature begins to knit the bone ;
he burns his finger — nature provides a
new skin. Nature, that is, God, implants
in man himself the help-giving powers
that remove disease ; and, in addition,
stores the world full of remedies also, so
that specifics may be found for almost
every disease to which flesh is heir. The
laws of healing are wrought into the phys-
ical realm ; they are a part of the divine

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GOD IN NATURE

economy ; and shall we think that He
who helps the man to a new skin and to
a new bone cares nothing for his moral
nature, and will not help him when he has
fallen into sin ?

Forgiveness of sin is not remission of
penalty. It may include that, or it may
not; but it is not that. Redemption is
not letting a man out of one place and
putting him into another ; it is not barring
the doors of hell and throwing open the
doors of heaven. The phrase used in the
Greek Testament for the forgiveness of
sins is two Greek words meaning sending
away of sin ; and I believe I am right,
though I make the statement with some
hesitation, that that Greek phrase, the
sending away of sin, is never used in clas-
sical Greek to signify forgiveness, and is
always used in the New Testament Greek
to signify forgiveness. Two men are ar-
rested and are brought before a New
York court ; one is sent to Elmira Re-
formatory, where he must stay until he is
cured ; one is sent to Sing Sing for ten
years. The one who is sent to Sing Sing

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GOD IN NATURE

has political influence and gets a pardon
after he has been there three months, and
comes out to plunge into thievery again ;
the other man stays ten years in Elmira
Reformatory, and comes out an honest
man, to live an honest life. Which of
these men is redeemed ? — the man who
escapes the penalty and continues in the
sin, or the man who is delivered from the
sin and bears the penalty ? Forgiveness
is not remission of penalty, though it may
include that. Forgiveness is remission
of the sin itself; and God is always lifting
off the sins of the world. " Though your
sins be as scarlet, they " — the sins them-
selves — " shall be white as snow." " This
is my blood of the new testament, which
is shed for many for the remission of" —
penalty ? No ! — " the remission of sin."
I no longer believe that Christ died that
he might bear the penalty which a just
God must inflict because law required it ;
I beUeve he died that he might give life
by his death — the remission, not of pen-
alty, but of the sin itself " Behold," says
John, " the Lamb of God which taketh
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GOD IN NATURE

away the sin of the world." Oh, how we
belittle Scripture ! I used to think that
text meant. Behold, the Lamb of God
which takes away some sins from some
men, in some parts of the world. No !
He is the Lamb of God, who is taking
away the sin from the world, and when his
work is done the end will be a sinless
world.

I no longer think of sacrifice as one act
done on man's behalf by the Son of God
to propitiate divine wrath or satisfy divine
law. I believe not less but more pro-
foundly in sacrifice since I have come to
think of it as the law of spiritual life, and
of Christ as the Lamb of God slain from
the foundation of the world. For the
phrase " suffering love " appears to me to
be tautology. Love must suffer so long
as the loved one sins or suffers. So long
as God is love and his children sin and
suffer, God suffers with and for them.
The sacrifice of Christ is the revelation of
a sacrifice which will not end till sin and
suffering shall be no more. From the
hour when Eve looked with puzzled an-
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GOD IN NATURE



guish into the unresponsive face of Abel,
marble-like in the mystery of death, and
then went out in the unutterable long-
ings of a mother's heart after the fugitive
brother, down to this hour, love has suf-
fered for the stricken and for the sinful,
and through anguished and broken hearts
has poured itself out in sacrifice to save.
Vicarious sacrifice is the law of life ; that
is, it is the law of God's own nature.
The divinest thing man ever does is to
suffer for another ; and the divinest form of
sacrifice is that suflFered for the unworthy;
and its greatest triumph is won when,
through sacrifice, the unworthy becomes
worthy. The long history of love's sac-
rifices seems to me the history of God's
love dwelling in human hearts and in-
spiring human lives to their highest and
divinest service ; and the sacrifice of Christ
seems to me the climacteric expression of
that love, the supreme revelation of God's
life, the supreme gift of God's life. The
sacrifice is offered not by nor on behalf
of man to God, but by God for the life
of man ; it is not the condition on which
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GOD IN NATURE

God grants forgiveness, but the method
by which he forgives — that is, deHvers
his children from the death of sin by im-
parting to them the life of holiness. As
the truth of God is revealed in all the
teachings of prophets, as the benevolence
of God is revealed in all the philanthro-
pies of the humane, so the deeper love of
God is revealed in all the sacrificial love
of earth's vicarious sufferers. And as
Christ is the consummation of the revela-
tion of the truth of God by his teaching,
and of the benevolence of God by his ser-
vice, so is he the consummation of the
deeper love of God by his suffering and
sacrifice.

Incarnation: what is that? God was
in Christ. Why ? Christ said of himself,
" I am the door." A door is not to be
simply looked at; you push it open and
go in. Why was God in Christ ? Why
was Christ a door ? In order that through
Christ God might enter into the human
race and the human race might enter into
Christ.

In my friend's house on the Hudson
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GOD IN NATURE



River is a window framed in as though it
were a picture ; one opening the door and
coming into that room and looking, sees,
as though hanging on the wall, a picture,
including the mountains, the valley, the
river, the distant city. I imagine two
persons coming in and looking at that
picture ; one saying, " This is an image
of the landscape hand-painted; *' the other,
" No, that is the real mountain, the real
valley, the real river, seen through a glass."
The one no less than the other thinks the
real is represented. That seems to me
fairly to represent the difference between
the liberal Congregationalist and the ortho-
dox Unitarian. The orthodox Unitarian
looks at the picture on the wall, and says,
" That is not the image of God, but it
looks exactly like him." Now, I am
orthodox; I believe that through the
window I see God himself in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the image of God, the re-
flection of God, God manifest in the flesh ;
that is, such a manifestation of God as is
possible in a human life. I never say, I
never should say, Jesus Christ is God,
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GOD IN NATURE

because what I said a few moments ago,
and you then agreed with me, I repeat
now, when some of you will not agree
with me : God is more than the sum

OF ALL HIS manifestations. JeSUS

Christ is one of the manifestations of
God, but God is more than the sum of
all his manifestations/ You hear a great
preacher like Phillips Brooks, and you
say, " I have heard Phillips Brooks." I
beg your pardon — you have heard one
little bit of Phillips Brooks. He is a
great deal more than any sermon he ever
preached ; and if you gather all his ser-
mons together and read them all, still there
are in him resources that you have not
seen. When I look at the one transcend-
ent historical manifestation of God in
Jesus Christ tabernacling in the flesh,

* The question of the tri-personallty of God, — the
Trinity of Person as distinguished from the Trinity of
manifestation, — including the question of the conscious
preexistence of the Logos, it did not come within the
province of this address to discuss. Personally, I accept
the Trinitarian view of tri-personality ; that is, that the
Trinity of manifestation apparent to us has a basis in a
Trinity of Person necessarily hidden from us.

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GOD IN NATURE

there is no praise I would give to the
Father that I will not give to him, no
prayer I will direct to the Father that I
will not direct to him, no reverence I will
show to the Father that I will not show
to him ; and yet, when I am asked of my
philosophy. Is Jesus Christ God? I re-
ply, God is more than the sum of all his
manifestations, and, therefore, God is more
than Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God
manifest in the flesh, and God entering
into that flesh in order that he may enter
into the whole of humanity — God in
man.

The question is sometimes asked —
it was asked, I remember, a few years
ago of a young theological student in the
State of Maine — " Do you think the
divinity of Jesus Christ differs in kind or
differs in degree from the divinity of man?"
He replied, "In degree." For that he was
sharply called to account by the " Ad-
vance," and we asked in the " Outlook,"
"Will the 'Advance' tell us how the
divinity in man differs in kind from the
divinity in God ? " and never got an

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GOD IN NATURE

answer. There are not two kinds of di-
vinity. If there are, then there are two
kinds of God. That is polytheism. There
is only one divine patience, righteousness,
one divine justice, one divine love, one
divine mercy. The divinity in man is the
same in kind as the divinity in Christ,
because it is the same in kind as the di-
vinity in God. We are made in God's
image. That means that we are in kind
like God. It is sin, and only sin, which
makes us unlike him. We are children
of God. That means that our natures
are themselves begotten of him, flow forth
from him. A sinless man would be the
image of the Eternal Father, because the
child of the Eternal Father, begotten of
God. God has come into Christ and filled
that one life full of himself, so that when
you look at it you look through the glass
and see the Father ; and this he has done
in order that he may come into your life
and my life ; in order that he may dwell
in us and fill us full of himself.

If one objects to the statement that God
is incarnating himself in the human race I

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GOD IN NATURE

Will not use the phraseology, because I will
not shock people's minds needlessly ; but
I believe that God came into Christ and
filled Christ full of himself in order that
he might come unto us and fill us full of
himself. And so 1 dare to try to go where
he leads ; and when he climbs those moun-
tain heights, stands so far above me, and
still beckons and calls down to me, and
says, " Lyman Abbott, follow me," I be-
lieve I can, or he would not call me ; he
would not tell me to go if he would not
give me the power to go. And so I dare
to pray, though as with bated breath, the
prayer which Paul has taught us : " That
Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ;
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length, and depth,
and height; and to know the love of Christ,
which passeth knowledge, that ye might be
filled with all the fulness of God."

It seems to me, then, that the relation

of nature and the supernatural to Christian

thought has undergone a great change in

the last half century ; and that it is a

[86]



GOD IN NATURE

change which promotes Christian life, be-
cause it brings God nearer to us in our
Christian thought, and makes religion
seem more natural and more real. In
the thought of to-day God is not apart
from nature and life, but in nature and
life ; creation is continuous ; all events
are providential ; revelation is progres-
sive ; forgiveness is through law, not in
violation of it ; sacrifice is the divine
method of life-giving; incarnation is not
consummated until God dwells in all hu-
manity and Jesus Christ is seen to be the
first-born among many brethren. Then,
when God's work is done, and he is
everywhere, — as he is now everywhere
but in the hearts of those who will not
have him, — when he is in human hearts
and lives, as he has been in all nature and
in all history, then will come the end, and
God will be all and in all.



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Ill

GOD IN HUMANITY



Ill

GOD IN HUMANITY^

MANY converging tendencies have
operated to bring about a time
peculiarly adapted for great spiritual work
in and through the Christian Church. We
have already entered upon an epoch, in-
tellectual, social, spiritual, which we can
make an epoch of the greatest spiritual
movement the world has ever seen.

When Christianity passed over into
Europe, it found Europe dominated by
a great imperialistic system. Caesar was
the supreme authority. His edicts were
absolute law — ecclesiastical, civil, political
law — throughout the empire. He was
represented by a host of subordinates,
who were simply the instruments to in-
terpret and execute these laws. He was
absolutely inaccessible to the great multi-
tude of the citizens of the Roman Em-

1 Copyright, 1905, by Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.

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GOD IN HUMANITY

pire ; they could come to him only through
his subordinates, who were mediators be-
tween the people and the Emperor. Chris-
tianity, entering into Europe and pervading
it, adopted, naturally, as its ecclesiastical
machinery, this framework of government.
The pagan Roman Empire was trans-
formed, as Mr. Bryce has well shown us,
into the Holy Roman Empire. Caesar
became the Pope ; the prefects and sub-
prefects became bishops and archbishops
and rectors and curates ; but the essential
principle of the ecclesiastical system re-
mained what the essential principle of the
political system had been — absolute im-
perialism. The Pope was the vicar and
representative of Almighty God — the
supreme and absolute authority. The
decrees of the Vatican were the laws of
God. The bishops and archbishops and
curates and rectors were the representatives
of this Caesar. They were the mediators
between him and the people.

At the same time Christianity was modi-
fied in its thinking, or rather was trans-
formed in its thinking, by this imperialistic
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. ^



GOD IN HUMANITY

system. The Hebrews were not philoso-
phers. The Old Testament contains no
philosophy ; the New Testament contains
very little, except such as is to be found in
Paul's Epistles, and not a great deal even
there. But when Christianity passed over
into Europe it took on a philosophic form,
and in Rome the Roman and therefore
the imperialistic form. God was con-
ceived of as a celestial Caesar, sitting in the
centre of the universe and ruling it. The
Church was the representative of this divine
Caesar. The laws of God were edicts issued
from him and handed down to men. This
God was inaccessible to the great majority
of men : they had no ears to hear him, no
capacity to reach him ; they must reach
him through mediators. First was Christ,
the divine Mediator. But Christ was too
holy and too remote. Next there was the
Mother of God, as the mediator through
whom to come to the Christ ; but she was
too holy and too remote. Then there were
saints to come to the Mother of God, and
priests to come to the saints. And so the
individual came to the priest, and the priest

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GOD IN HUMANITY

to the saints, and the saints to the Mother
of God, and the Mother of God to Christ,
and Christ to the Eternal. The Eternal
was an absentee God, dwelling in a far-off
world. Law issued from him ; sin was
disobedience to that law ; forgiveness was
remission of the penalty for violating that
law ; access to him was only through a
throng of mediators.

The Reformation broke down the ec-
clesiastical system for the Reformers and
the children of the Reformers. The Prot-
estant world said, " The Pope is not the
vicar of God ; the Church is not the su-
preme and final authority." The Church
had held to the sacredness of the Bible,
but to the Bible as the constitution of
the Church. It was not for the common
people ; it was for the Church ; and the
Church was to interpret it and to declare
its meaning. The Protestant Reformers
went back of the Church, of the priest-
hood, of the human mediators, to the
Bible. They said, " Any man may take
this constitution ; any man may interpret
it." But still Protestantism accepted and

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GOD IN HUMANITY

adopted — unconsciously, perhaps — the
notion of an absentee God. Still God
was conceived of as enthroned in the
centre of the universe, as the Moral Gov-
ernor ; and laws as edicts issued from him ;
and sin as disobedience to those laws ; and
forgiveness as remission of a future pen-
alty ; and the Bible as the book of his
laws, and an authoritative statement of
certain conditions precedent to obtaining
that forgiveness.

But presently there began to come an-
other set of influences weakening the belief
that the Bible is an ultimate and supreme
authority. First came geology, with its
message that the world was not made in
six days. The Church replied, " Six days
does not mean six days ; it means six long
periods/' Then came anthropology, with
its message that man was not created six
thousand years ago ; that he has been on
the earth at least ten or fifteen or twenty
thousand years. The Church replied, "The
Bible is not authority on matters of chro-
nology." Then came evolutionary science,
with its message that man was not made per-

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GOD IN HUMANITY

feet ; he has been developed gradually, like
all other animals, from a germ. And then
the Church replied — nothing. Then fol-
lowed literary criticism. It analyzed this
Bible, and compared it with other litera-
tures, and announced its conclusions :
These laws of Moses were not handed
down complete, once for all ; they are
composed of various elements which can
be distinguished ; this code of laws was
gradually produced, and the progress of
their gradual development can be traced.
Then came the study of comparative re-
ligions, with its message : We can find the
Hebraic legends of creation and fall and
deluge in the older religions of Egypt, of
Phoenicia, and of Assyria. Little by little
the Protestant faith that the Bible is the
supreme and final authority was weakened,
and for some destroyed. Whether we like
it or not, that lessening of the authority of
the Book as a book must be recognized.
We have only to compare the sermons of
the great orthodox preachers of the past
and the present to see the difference of
appeal.

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GOD IN HUMANITY

While this process was going on within
the churches, there was going on a process
without, subtle, powerful, irresistible. Sci-


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