Henry Wood.

God's image in man : some intuitive perceptions of truth online

. (page 3 of 12)
Online LibraryHenry WoodGod's image in man : some intuitive perceptions of truth → online text (page 3 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

physical existences, the range of our sensuous
and intellectual consciousness is so limited,
that, according to Modern Science, whole uni-
verses of beings may dwell among us or be
passing through us, of whose presence we know
nothing. Their colors, forms, and properties
are so subtle, that only beings whose senses are
far more acute than ours, can be introduced
into their society. Weight, size, color, and
form are nothing more than human subjective
limitations. The discharge of a cannon makes
no noise if there are no ears within range. It
possesses a power to stimulate the listening
ear, but the noise has no existence except in
the hearing. There are forms of life below us
which have but one, two, or three senses.
Who can affirm that there are not other exist-
ences, invisible and unknown to us, who pos-
sess many more than five senses ? An eminent
scientist has recently made the startling sug-
gestion, that not only below us may exist molec-
ular universes, with orders, intelligences, and
even civilizations, but that above us, perhaps,



worlds may be but as molecules of grand uni-
verses, containing complex systems, organiza-
tions, and personalities. Such speculations in
the realm of physical science have no value,
unless, by the way of analogy, they may tend to
quicken our apprehension of the spiritual veri-
ties, of which the material universe is but the
letter upon the printed page. Oh, man, made
in God's image, and linked to and nourished
by Nature, what glorious opening vistas are be-
fore you in the eons of eternal progress !

Every atom and molecule, in all spaces and
combinations, has its own peculiar rhyth-
mical movement, and thus it joins in the
universal anthem of praise to its Maker. All
forms of life are registering their actions, and
printing their biographies in the imperishable
ether in which we dwell. The vibrations
which we set in motion, go forth in indestruc-
tible strains, but a minute fraction of which,
in passing, is momentarily caught by human
ears. The late Professor Babbage, of England,
in one of his treatises, compares the atmosphere
to "a vast library, on the pages of which are
registered unceasingly all that man has ever

52 god\s image in man.

said, or woman whispered." Another gifted
writer ^ concludes, " That there may be a world
of spiritual existences around us, — inhabiting
this same globe, enjoying the same nature, — of
which we have no perception; that, in fact, the
wonders of the New Jerusalem may be in our
midst, and the songs of the angelic hosts filling
the air with their celestial harmony, although
unheard and unseen by us." Truly, "there are
more things in heaven and earth than are
dreamt of in our philosophy."

"Hearken! Hearken!
If thou would' St know the mystic song
Chanted when tlie sphere was young.
Aloft, abroad, the psean swells;
O wise man ! hear'st thou half it tells ?
O wise man! hear'st thou the least part ?
'Tis the chronicle of art.
To the open ear it sings,
Sweet the genesis of things,
Of tendency through endless ages,
Of star-dust, and star-pilgrimages.
Of rounded worlds, of space and time,
Of the old flood's subsiding slime,
Of chemic matter, force, and form.
Of poles and powers, cold, wet, and warm:
The rushing metamorphosis
Dissolving all that fixture is,
Melts things that be to things that seem,
And solid nature to a dream."

1 Professor J. P. Cooke in " Religion and Chemistry."


Nature is God translated into vitalized color,
form, and beauty. The world is embellished
by Spirit, and its inaudible testimony is the
cadence of the gospel of love. Nature is a vast
kindergarten, whose easy object-lessons train
our childlike affections, so that they may gain
strength to mount above and beyond. Her
mountain-peaks of truth stand out sharp and
clear above the fogs and mists of error. To
view the Real, we must climb the mountain-
side, until our standpoint is above the leaden
gloom of the lowland outlook.

We try to conform Nature to our notional
concept of what she should be, instead of
attending her school- like willing pupils. We
aim to shape her into correspondence with our
selfish wills, instead of yielding our hardness
to her graceful mould. Let us put our hand
in hers, and thus hasten to gain her wholesome

In Jesus, the Christ, was the supreme
demonstration of the identity, in man, of the
natural and spiritual type. His teaching was
spontaneous and unconventional, and His edu-
cation was not shaped by the formulas of the

54 god's image in man.

schools. In Him, that which had been buried
in philosophies and hidden in institutions was
brought to light, and interpreted to man upon
his own plane. For the only time Humanity
became perfectly transparent, so that the divine
light and purity shone through it, unsullied
and unperverted. He was the natural, the
ideal, and the archetypal man. In Him the
divine pattern of humanity was filled to the full.
As Nature is a continuous divine manifesta-
tion, so Christianity is not limited to any age
or dispensation. The historic Jesus was a
temporary and material manifestation of the
spiritual and eternal Christ. "That was the
true Light which lighteth every man that
Cometh into the world." The typical man is
spiritual and eternal because he is made in the
Father's image. The essential Saviour is that
manifestation of the love of God toward man,
which is both natural and eternal. Sonship
is neither fleshly nor limited. Christ as the
ideal man was a prophecy, a first fruit. " The
last Adam was made a quickening Spirit."
The human embodiment of the Word was a
manifested love without perversion, and was
Nature's ultimate prototype.




We are living in a mortal dream. Our
material environment appears to be substantial,
but at intervals we are jostled and partially
awakened from our sensuous vision. Our eyes
are closed to the Real until something startles
us, which, from its intensity, penetrates our
consciousness, and discloses other relations and
environments than those to which we have
yielded our allegiance. Every man possesses a
spiritual equipment; but if it has been Mdden
beneath the opaque shadows of material sense,
so that its rightful owner is unaware of his
glorious possession, to him it is as though it
were not. Divine revelation signifies subject-
ive spiritual unfoldment. It has been said
that God is nearer to us than we are to our-
selves ; but if we are unconscious of the Pres-
ence, it has no meaning.

o6 god's image in man.

The method of spiritual revelation to the
human consciousness is not so much by gradual
development as by glimpses and flashes. The
influx of truth comes by means of new stand-
points suddenly reached, quick turns made,
and grand summits gained, which open up
glorious and unexpected vistas. Step by step
we make a long and toilsome ascent up a steep
mountain-^pass, and when at length the summit
is gained, as if by enchantment our eyes be-
hold a vast expanse of sea or landscape, which
before was all unrevealed. How quickly the
weariness of the ascent fades out amidst the
glory of the final achievement! When the
morning sun gradually approaches the horizon,
the forms, colors, and relations of things are
disclosed by imperceptible degrees; but the
intuitive perception of truth, through our
deeper nature, comes more like lightning in
the midst of murky darkness. New relations
and realities are photographed upon our spirit-
ual consciousness so sharply that their impress
is lasting.

" Just as we leave our mortal moorings
On the upward path,
Just so do we receive inpourings
Of immortal faith."


The law of revelation presupposes gradual
preparatory development, after which spiritual
transitions are made in bounds. The experi-
ences of Paul and Luther are good examples of
the intensity of spiritual illumination when
the conditions have become ripened. We do
not grow into a consciousness of the divine
communication, but we awaken to the Presence
already within.

Divine truth is ever seeking to reveal and
express itself. Upon this point Dr. Phillips
Brooks, in one of his Yale lectures^ says, " Oh,
the souls which have been made sceptical by
the mere clamoring of new truth to add itself
to that which they have been taught to think
finished and final." Truth is eternal; there-
fore any change in our relations with it must
take place in our own consciousness. Its posi-
tive presence awaits our receptivity. If the
soul be exposed to celestial rays, they will
photograph their beautiful and divine features
upon the sensitive higher nature. If we
intently look up, in order to catch a glimpse
of Truth's harmonious outlines, they will stand
out in high relief to our wistful gaze.

58 god's image in man.

As God is waiting to reveal Himself to man,
there is no bar to reconciliation and unison
but man's unreadiness. Humanity is unquali-
fied for such Deiiic intimacy because of igno-
rance and blindness. The sun is not limited
nor partial with his rays ; and so God is wait-
ing to fill every vacancy in the soul which we
will make for Him. He will not force Him-
self into the human consciousness, but wait to
be made welcome, because man's spiritual free-
dom is sacred. A coerced development would
not be growth, for all growth must be voluntary
and from within.

The fundamental law of trinity or tri-unity
is seen in the zones of man's nature. He has
three worlds at his disposal, even in the pres-
ent material form of existence. Though all
are related, their distinct boundary lines run
through the nature of every human being.
The higher domain we denominate the spirit-
ual, the next the intellectual, and the third
and lower, the animal or material. The spir-
itual world has solid proportions, here and
now. When luistakenly located in the life to
come, the human ego is content, for the pres-


ent, to make its abode in the lower realms of
its nature. Thus the- normal order is inverted,
and by constant habitation in the basement of
its being, it clothes that part with a delusive
and abnormal realism. Man's animal nature is
of the earth earthy ; and when his consciousness
constantly dwells face to face with materiality,
it takes on the quality of its sensuous environ-
ment. The sensualist dwells in a self-made
world of his own color, because to him every-
thing has a sensual hue. The human ego must
turn away from sentient materialism and fit up
its domicile in the nobler apartments of its
nature, else it will gather its inspiration from
the delusive realism of the lower plane, and
come into correspondence with surrounding
sliminess and debasement. Even in the intel-
lectual realm, he who rarely, or never, mounts
into the grander domain above, is "cabin'd,
cribb'd, confin'd." Education, as generally
defined, accompanied with all the present broad
scale of material comforts and luxuries, when
unassociated with spiritual development, only
adds intensity to human unrest and abnormity.
* God makes His dwelling-place in the higher

60 god's image in man.

zone of man's complex nature, and the human
ego may there cultivate divine intimacy. This
is the common meeting-ground between the
Father and His children, face to face. Here is
the serene refuge from the tempests which con-
tinually surge over the murky depths below.
As man rapidly grows into correspondence with
his mental environment, a homelike abode in
the supreme zone of his being transmutes him
into God-likeness and thus brings into mani-
festation the divine human type.

Formulated theology with all its accompani-
ments, including a literalized Bible and an
authoritative sectarian standard of belief, has
largely concealed the divine audience-chamber
which exists in every "image of God." Cur-
rent theology has put the Father far away, and
usurped the place and authority of the Spirit,
which is the agency that is able to " lead you
into all truth." A myriad of scriptural texts
which plainly teach the positive indwelling of
the Spirit, are practically ignored in scholastic
systems which have their foundation in external
and strained interpretations, not in harmony
with the great truth of the Divine Presence in


the soul of man. Dogmatic teaching has made
it appear that the Spirit was a gracious influ-
ence sent occasionally from a distant God, in
answer to earnest importunity, but has failed
to recognize its ever-present companionship,
and also that it is a "Teacher." Is not such
a non-recognition "the sin against the Holy
Ghost"? "That He may abide with you for-
ever," are the words used by Jesus, but such a
basal principle finds scanty recognition in con-
ventional systems.

God is Spirit; and God is everywhere. "If
I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I
make my bed in hell, behold thou art there ; if
I take the wings of the morning and dwell in
the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall
thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall
hold me." How shall we know that we are
taught and led by the Divine Mind? The evi-
dence will be conclusive whenever we surrender
the mind of self, and trustfully turn to the Infi-
nite Will for guidance. In his letter to the
Ephesians, Paul told them that they had the
Holy Spirit, and therefore did not need any
human teacher. Has the Church lost confi-

62 god's image in man.

dence in the ability of God to lead humanity,
so that it must put up fences and bars to turn
men into prescribed paths of its own?

All truth is divine. The Spirit leads men
not only into religious and sacred truth, but
into "all truth." Because all truth is divine,
it is mighty. Overcoming all obstacles, it is
constantly pressing its way toward the front
for manifestation. Its self-attesting quality
fortifies it with positive evidence. It is seen
to be so inseparable from God, that it clothes
itself with Deific authority. Pure truth is but
a synonyme for the Divine Mind. From the
standpoint of the Real it is all there is.

If one calls our attention to a new material
invention, theory in physics, form of govern-
ment, or proposed legislation, we bring our
intellectual forces to test it; but when there
comes a new influx of love, faith, or spirtual
aspiration from the Infinite Mind, it is sealed
with the divine signet. Our deeper intuition
sees at a glance the transcendent perfection of
eternal principles, and feels no uncertainty
regarding their acceptance. When spiritual
truth flashes its pure and gentle light into the


chambers of the soul, there is no mistaking its
quality. Its features and vestments sparkle
with original and eternal transparency.

When that which assumes to be truth is
received at second-hand, cast into the fixed
forms of human language, it lacks that original
lustre and self-attesting quality with which it
shines when poured fresh from the Father's
heart into the affectionate souls of his chil-
dren. From whatever outward source it may
come, in the last analysis before its assimila-
tion, it must receive the approval of the divine
tribunal which is set up in the recesses of the
immaterial man.

It does not follow that one is unstable in
his principles, or that he yields to every new
"wind of doctrine," because he keeps himself
plastic to the Spirit-breathings, and responsive
to its gentle leading. That which comes from
within is sanctified by the divine indorsement,
while from without is heard an uncertain and
discordant chorus of voices.

Turning to the Fatherly communion; what
inspiring influences! what delightful glimpses
and surprises ! what a current of paternal love !

64 god's image in man.

what fresh breezes ! what a health-giving balm,
and what a "well of pure water springing up
into everlasting life " !

" Yet high above the limits of my seeing,
And folded far within the inmost heart,
And deep below the deeps of conscious being,
Thy splendor shineth: there, O God ! thou art.''

Truth is not a code of moral legislation,
handed down to us on tablets and parchments,
nor is it a formulated consensus of ecclesiasti-
cal wisdom; but it is a disclosing of God's
features and methods within the human con-

He is a dull learner who believes that Divine
revealment is in any manner limited to the
Bible, or that the writers of the Sacred Word
received divine truth in any different manner,
or through any more exclusive channel, than
other devout and transparent souls. They were
mountain-peaks among a wilderness of foot-
hills. In degree they were pre-eminent, but
their indwelling wisdom came from the same
primal Source from which all. other receptive
ones gather their inspiration. The theory that
the Bible is "the only divine rule of faith and


practice," as dogmatically set forth in creeds
and confessions, is not only dishonoring to the
ever-present "Teacher," but is out of accord
with the Scriptures themselves. They nowhere
make such an unfounded claim, which, in
itself, must be accounted a grave abuse of their
beautiful and sacred office. Things may be
revealed to babes which remain hid to trained
intellects, who measure all truth by textual
statement or legal definition.

Systematic theology has missed much of the
divine overflowing in the soul of man, because
of its rigid mechanical theories, which practi-
cally bury all revelation in the Bible, taking
it for granted that the scriptural channel is the
only one. Thus the Book has been seriously
misinterpreted by its zealous but injudicious
defenders. It lays no claim to a self-limited
inspiration, but proclaims its office as the Word
which quickeneth ; as the great auxiliary influ-
ence to guide the world to. direct inspiration.
It points out the road to divine munificence,
but makes no claim to a monopoly of its pos-
session. It leads to the living Christ, who is
the unfolding revealment of the Father, and in

66 god's image in mak.

whom are hid treasures of Wisdom and Knowl-

There is much concern at present in some
branches of the Church because of heresy,
which is defined as being a divergence from
formulated confessions ; but the great and real
'heresy of the present age is the non-recogni-
tion of the "Comforter." Such an offence is
directly against the indwelling Spirit. The
rejection of the Holy Spirit makes forgiveness
impossible while such an attitude continues,
because the question is one of condition, and
not of punishment from without. Forgiveness
is not a remission of penalty, but a change of
character; a substitution of the Christ Mind
for the mind of the flesh. Real forgiveness has
none of the aspects of a debit and credit trans-
action, and does not merely signify an escape
from natural consequences. By the vital oper-
ation of a new life, which we call regeneration,
salvation — which is forgiveness — comes as an
invariable result. The overcoming power of
the divine influx frees from the power of sin,
and the resultant forgiveness consists in that
very fact, so there is nothing supernatural in
the process.


The Spirit never goes or comes except to
human consciousness. "He shall abide with
you forever:" but without our co-operation
there is no fruitful vitality. Unrecognized,
there is a sense in which He is absent. Christ
told His disciples that He must go away, in
order that the Comforter might come. The
Incarnation so covered the field of their sensu-
ous vision, that they were unable to behold the
greater spiritual Presence while the outward
embodiment remained before them. The Christ
Himself recognized this tendency as a real limi-
tation belonging to His material expression, and
His plain statement of this fact is deeply sig-
nificant. " It is expedient for you that I go
away." The Incarnate saw the strong inclina-
tion of the human mind to fasten itself to
material forms, instead of looking beyond such
expressions, and grasping the grander unex-
pressed Presence. : The eyes of the world have
been focused upon the historic Jesus, rather
than upon the indwelling immaterial Christ
who is God (Spirit) with us. While Jesus was
present His disciples gained no spiritual self-
reliance: they forsook Him in the hour of

68 god's image IK MAN,

danger; tliey often failed in their attempts at
healing; and they depended upon kingly and
material power, because their eyes were holden
to the essential Saviour. Even the naturally
brave and impetuous Peter denied his present
Lord ; and when ecclesiastical bitterness ripened
into persecution and arrest, His disciples de-
serted him in the most cowardly manner.
After the Resurrection they rapidly caught the
spiritual import of His mission. When bodily
limitations were removed they became boldly
conscious of the unlimited spiritual Presence.
They who had been weak, cowardly, vacillat-
ing, became teachers, leaders, and heroes. No
disease was too deadly for them to heal; no
danger too great for them to face; no perse-
cution daunted them; and no obstacle was
insurmountable. -^ Paul, in referring to past
material limitations, expressed this vital prin-
ciple : " Therefore henceforth know we no man
after the flesh: yea, though we have known
Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know
we Him no more." The world and the theol-
ogies are still strongly inclined to know Christ
after the flesh. The cross and the death receive


that emphasis which belongs to the imparted
life.j^ Jesus was not the Christ, except as He
was His embodiment. It is the living Christ
of to-day which the world needs, rather than
His material expression of eighteen centuries
ago. )This great substitution in the world-
consciousness has been a sad mistake; and it
presents the most notable example of resting
in the letter and form, and missing the Spirit
and Reality. The great Spiritual Vision is
intended for all races and generations as much
as for the immediate disciples. " These works
shall follow them that believe," and them that
believe are not limited by time nor condition.
Healing was one of the "works," but it has not
"followed" since the times of the primitive
Church. The "greater things than I have
done " which Christ promised, have been sig-
nally lacking in their realization. There can
be no valid reason given why all the "works"
ought not to abound in the church of to-day.
The decadence of spirituality, and the mate-
rialism and scholasticism which made religion
more of a system than an inner life, account
for the loss of the healing power. When

70 god's image in man.

worldliness and ecclesiastical pomp and author-
ity crept into the church, her practical vitality
faded out.

Spiritual harmony should find outward dem-
onstration and expression in physical and
mental wholeness. "Ye therefore shall be
perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."
(Revised version.) The "fall" from a spirit-
ual to a ruling material consciousness imposes
upon us the limitations and disorders of the
unspiritual realm. In proportion as we yield
controlling allegiance to the material body and
its environment, we build our own prison walls
and pass into a condition of servitude.

There is One Spirit, but it has a variety of
manifestations. The world is gradually mak-
ing the discovery that pure and unselfish love
is the essence of vital religion. It has taken
almost nineteen hundred years for it to find
out the depth of Jesus' declaration, that the
whole law is fulfilled in Love ; and the lesson
is not yet fully learned.

The day of Pentecost was a period of won-
derful divine revelations, not because of any
unusual willingness on the God-ward side, but


on account of a greatly ripened receptivity.
The disciples had thought deeply upon the
spiritual meaning of Christ's mission since
the human embodiment was withdrawn; and
with many predictions fresh in mind, they were
in a condition of intense expectancy. The
oneness of their burning desire brought them
together without any plan or appointment.
They were inspired with that joyous harmony
which binds Divinity and Humanity together,
and with " one accord " they gave expression,
in various forms, to the spiritual illumination
which filled them to overflowing. They were
aflame with the "Consuming Fire" of Love,
and this bound them more closely together
than the ties of any outward organization could

1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryHenry WoodGod's image in man : some intuitive perceptions of truth → online text (page 3 of 12)