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forth above in quotations from the older Hindu
books ; secondly, through the inspired poetry of
devout emotions in the moment of prayer and con-
templation. Numerous instances of this can be given
from Oriental scriptures of several lands, Hebrew,
Persian, and Hindu. And thirdly, through the
unclouded vision of the sanctified conscience, charac-


terized in the Sermon on the Mount as "blessed are
the pure in heart, for they shall see God." It is
seldom given to any man to be in perpetual sight of
the Spirit of God : that would mean the everlasting
elevation of heart, intelligence, and will to the eternal
heights. We have, each one of us, to take our rise
and fall, our light and darkness, according to the
measure of our souls and the merits of our endeavour.
But every spiritually-minded man, if he at all believe
in the possibility of seeing God, can behold him
through one or other of these processes. The accom-
plished devotee, according to Hindu notions, has
three eyes to behold God with, the eye of pure
intelligence, of pure emotion, and of pure character.
With these he enjoys God-vision in three regions, in
the past, in the present, and in the future, above the
earth, on the earth, and underneath. In other words,
the spiritual man beholds the Spirit in infinite space
and in infinite time.


The vastness of India, the multitude of its people,
its great lordly rivers, some of them fifteen hundred
miles long, its mountains, forests, its natural pheno-
mena of violent storms, rending earthquakes, devour-


ing deluges, desolating famines, have always acted on
the imagination of our religious leaders. It has been
impossible for them to rest contented with small and
limited conceptions of God's nature and power. The
universal, the unconditioned, the everlasting, is sug-
gested by everything. The extreme climate, both hot
and cold ; the highly nervous temperament, the
over-strung emotions, of our thinkers, contradict the
mere mechanical relations of life. Of itself the mind
mystically goes in search of the unseen, the vast, the
immortal, and the eternal.

God contains, rules, and transcends these things.
Inner impulses thus favor outside suggestions, and
the Spirit of God magnifies himself as the uncondi-
tioned Absolute. Everything that pertains to time or
sense or space or intellect is carefully abstracted from
him. He exceeds all limits : he is beyond all, unlike
all, unbounded by law, or quality, or attribute, or
condition. Only he is: nothing more could be said
of liim. Faith is sublimated into agnosticism, but it
is a devout agnosticism. God becomes the Infinite
Abstract. He enters into all things. They are his
passing shadows. He alone is real : all else is delu-
sion. He is all in all : there is nothing but him. In
our vanity we imagine that we have some power or
some being. The devout mingle and disappear in


God, as a spark in the conflagration, or a bubble in
the sea. Faith thus dissolves into pantheism. And
thus fatal errors spring from good beginnings,
errors which, if we only knew how to avoid them,
would exalt the faith of all mankind.

The Hindu doctrine of God as the Universal Being
is familiar to all the world. The perception of the
world, the consciousness of self, melt like cloud-specks
in the sky when the Supreme Spirit overreaches and
embosoms us in rapturous communion. This is
intelligible to the man of spiritual experience. In
God we temporarily forget all else, even that we our-
selves exist. But, if the sentiment of devotional
ecstasy is beaten into the dogma that there is naught
else in existence, that the universe and the human self
are but modifications of the Deity, men feel a shock :
they feel that all personal religion and morality are
slipping away from their grasp. When the Bhagavad-
Gita teaches the indestructibility of the soul, saying
that it cannot be cut asunder or burned or dried up or
defiled, that it always lives, that it is inarticulate
before birth, inarticulate after death, articulate only
in the interval of life, that at the time of death it
leaves the flesh like a faded garment and takes
immediately a fresh form, we respond heartily. But
\vhen, as an inference from this, we are taught that


there is neither sin nor inhumanity in slaughtering
men, who are thus only hastened into the inevitable
condition of further existence, we feel as if the founda-
tion of right and wrong was being taken away from
under our feet. Indeed, there is a universal soul in
all lands, in all ages, in all men : otherwise, truth and
goodness would not find this world- wide acceptance.
There is a universal humanity above temporary, local,
and personal limitations ; and that humanity is
Divinity. But the individual and local is there also,
all the same. It shall be there always, and its
progress and perfection mean the necessity of religious

In the Puranas, and in the Vaishnava scriptures
generally, there is a healthy dualism, always recog-
nizing the existence of the individual and Supreme
soul side by side in the devotee's nature, in simple
theistic relations, as between the Master and the
servant, the Beloved and the loving, the Father and
the son, the Helper and the helpless. In the Vishnu
Purana the great Vaishnava devotee Prahlada, thus
replies to .the threats of his persecuting father: "O
father, what is the occasion of any fear, when in the
heart one feels the presence of that eternal, reassuring
Spirit, the very remembrance of whom dispels every
fear of disease and death?" And then, later on, we


find the benediction, "Unto the Indweller of the
hearts of all living beings may your love and your
purpose tend night and day ! Thus shall you find
deliverance from all manner of sorrows."

The fact is that no species of doctrine about the
nature and immanence of the Spirit is unknown to
one or other of the various orders of Hinduism. The
very multitude of the doctrines perplexes the believer.
In trying to simplify them, one finds three forces of
the Divine nature have, according to Hindu wisdom,
entered into the formation of all things. The first is
the force whereby God holds his own being and gives
being to others ; the second is the force by which he
has intelligence and gives intelligence to others ; the
third is the force whereby he has love and joy and
confers love and joy upon others. The first is exist-
ence, the second is reason, the third is joy. The first
means the reality of being, or creation ; the second is
the reality of intelligence in all things made ; the third
is the reality of love or joy, which to Hindu thinkers
means one and the same thing. The three best
known names of God, familiar to all who know
anything of Hinduism, correspond to this spiritual
analysis. The first name is Brahman, the second is
Paramatman, and the third is Bhagavan. Brahman
means "He who is great and makes what is great" ;


Paramatman means the Supreme Spirit, from whom
all intelligent beings have sprung, and who dwells in
them ; the third is Bhagavan, which means "He to
whom belong all the resources, all the forces, all the
wealth of all the worlds, and who incarnates himself
in all great men." Now, no possible conception of
the Divine nature, ancient or modern, Eastern or
Western, is possible beyond this threefold principle.
The closest parallel between the Christian and Hindu
conceptions of the threefold nature of God is here
observable. The only difference is that in the Hindu
evolution the Spirit occupies the second and in the
Christian system it occupies the third place in the
self-revelation of God's nature. The Vedas deal with
that self-revelation as manifested in natural laws and
objects, the Upanishads deal with the soul and
intelligence of man, and the Puranas deal with
incarnation and the dealings of God with mankind.
We have not the remotest wish to compare the Hindu
and Christian scriptures ; but, generally speaking,
the Old Testament corresponds to the Vedas, the
Gospels to the Puranas, and the Epistles of Saint
Paul to the Upanishads. But Christianity in the
Old and New Testaments has mainly the dispensation
of the Father and the dispensation of the Son,
scarcely anything that can be called the dispensation


of the Spirit. When the last finds adequate record,
the analogy between the Hindu and Christian schemes
will become complete.


To see the immanent Spirit enveloping the universe
means that glorious omnipresence of which nature is
the fitting temple. It enlivens, inspires, intoxicates
the seer, and obliterates all sense of the meanness and
misery of life. The interpretation of God in nature
shall one day furnish a new world to religion and a
new wisdom of all things. The Isopanishad says :
"Whatever objects there are inside the universe are
infused with the Spirit of God." "Forsake all earthly
temptations, and enjoy him. Do not covet other
men's wealth." "On all four sides is the Eternal
spread out. On all four sides is the Infinite and what
seems to be the finite. He who is the Supporter of
the universe knows all : knowing the past and future
of all things, his Spirit moves in it." When the
intensity of spiritual immanence was realized thus,
the ancient Hindu could not but perceive that God
was in his heart also. Faith in the Indweller neces-
sarily follows the conscious presence of the Spirit in
all things. Nay, it is the Presence within that


projects itself upon all matters of perception. There
is nothing truly profound observed without that did
not at first arise within. When faith in the revelation
of God does not embody itself in beholding his Spirit
permeate all time and all space, and when his self-
revelation does not open unsuspected depths in man's-
own soul, well may we doubt whether the revelation
is genuine revelation at all. The Upanishads are full
of this profound insight : "In the great, golden recess
of the soul the immaculate essence of Brahma abides.
He is the white light, the light of all lights."
"That glorious sinless One dwells inside the body,
inside the mind. The man of communion, when he
has purged himself from sin, beholds him." "He
abides in the soul, but the soul knows him not, he of
whom the soul is like unto a body, who rules the soul,
he is the Immortal, the great Person." This is not
far from "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall
see God." See God where? Not "Lo ! here," "Lo !
there," but within thyself. Nay, only too often and
too repeatedly is the sentiment harped upon that the
presence of God is to be realized in the heart only ;
that insight, wisdom, communion, and ascetic self-
discipline are the means of purifying the inner
perception ; that passion, sin, and mental obscurity
inevitably obscure the medium of vision. The weak-


ness of man to effect this internal purification is once
or twice confessed in accents of Pauline tenderness.
Every Hindu quotes the well-known verse from the
Vishnu Dharmottara : "I know what is righteousness,
but I have not the readiness to perform it. I know
what is unrighteousness, but have not the power
to abstain from it. O Rhishikesa, thou art in my
heart. Dispose of me as thou wouldst, and I would
act accordingly." The ring of the apostle's cry
faintly echoes in the ear : "The good that I would
I do not, but the evil that I would not that I do."

In the future dispensation of the ways of the Spirit
the Hindu religion will surely play a prominent part,
, because at every step profound responses meet the
seeker of God in all his lofty aspirations amidst the
world of Hindu spiritualities. Their helpfulness and
truthfulness are without end, though, indeed, care
and discretion be needed in their study. Some day,
when the one great Spirit-God is worshipped all the
world over, the unbroken continuity of the race of
spiritual men, wherever born, shall be established.
But all great accomplishment of ideal, while it
re-explains the past and inspires profound impulses in
the present, must be a hope and a promise, and rest
with the future for its final effect. Does not this mean
ceaseless prayer, ceaseless faith, and ceaseless work on


our part ? The Dispensation of the Spirit is a daily
unfolding, a daily light and progress for the individual
and for the race. When in this blessed, though
difficult process, no personal experiences, even of the
meanest of God's apostles, can be set aside, who dare
think that the spiritual history of one of the most
contemplative races of the world is to be ignored ?
But, to be included among the children of light, we
must claim no more than is our due ; we must be
always conscious of our want, one-sidedness, and
ignorance, always hail the Spirit's guidance and self-
revelation from whithersoever it may come, give honor
to all ages and the dealings of God with his people


THE doctrine of the Spirit of God as the Source
of things, as the Presence, the Pervader, and
the Witness, and the Indweller, is indeed old and
universal ; but the Christian doctrine is so charac-
teristically personal that it is unique. Like the Hindu
Paramatma, it is not a metaphysical substance, a sort
of spirit-protoplasm of which the universe is spun out,
a circumambient essence diffused through nature,
implicit in all things, an intellectual abstract, a
totalized consciousness of the race, an undercurrent
of influence ; nay, not even the mere Muni, the
inactive witness and knower, who indwells the wrong-
doer's heart and keeps record of what is done or
thought. Whether all this be true or not, the
Christian doctrine on the subject is very different. It
is a tremendous personality, inalienable, concrete,
living, permanently abiding in us. Its voice is stern,
aggressive, commanding, sometimes still and tender
also ; but at other times the Spirit speaketh trumpet
tongued to the churches, "striveth with man,'*


"lifteth up the standard against the enemy," con-
ferreth the fierce gift of prophetic fire, and "poureth
himself like the floods." The relation of the Spirit to
man is an austere moral relation, the relation of
responsibility, of obedience, of voluntary self-subjec-
tion. God and man are two, not one. Awful
anathemas are hurled against those who heed not the
Spirit's deliverance. "Whoever speaketh a word,"
Jesus himself said, "against the Son, it shall be
forgiven him ; but whoever speaketh a word against
the Holy Spirit, it shall never be forgiven him,
neither in this world nor in the next."

The dignity of this personal spirit, however, is not
solely the dignity of sternness and power, but his
relations are also most affectionate and kind. The
Spirit is the most constant of friends. He is the
All-holy God in individual relations with every man.
The work of the Spirit is to shed the joy of the love
of God in the heart. He comforteth ; he testifieth to
our hopes, helpeth our infirmities ; he teacheth,
revealeth, guideth ; he compassionately intercedeth
for man with unutterable supplications ; he is the
ready Consoler ever present with us.

In the history of the Christian Church believers
have often accorded to the personality of Christ


absolute Godhead, and thus tried to find satisfaction
for every spiritual instinct. But this was never
without some kind or other of protest : it was not
natural ; and the leading minds of early Christendom
were forced, after a few centuries, to determine in
public council what place should be assigned to the
Spirit in the economy of Christian theology. How
far the decision then made has answered the exigencies
of spiritual development we would not say, though
perhaps, theologically, it has quieted some people.


Indeed, the Master at the time of his departure,
even before, left the whole development of his work
in the hands of the Spirit. The very conception of
Christ by Mary was of the Spirit. "The Holy Ghost
came upon her, and the power of the Highest over-
shadowed her," showing that in Christ's time no
theological difference between the Father and the
Spirit was observed. The child Jesus "waxed strong
in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God."
At his baptism the Spirit descended upon him in the
form of a dove. "The spirit-dove forsook the ark of
Noah," says a Christian writer, "and lighted on the
Church of Christ." He earnestly taught his disciples


to pray, "for the Father gave the Holy Spirit to them
that ask." "Behold my servant, whom I have
chosen ; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall show
judgment to the Gentiles." And when, during his
lifetime, Jesus sent his first apostles, "like sheep in
the midst of wolves," he exhorted them to take no
thought as to what or how they should speak ; "for
it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of the Father
which speaketh in you." He declares in Samaria,
"The hour cometh, and now is, when ye shall, neither
in this mountain nor yet in Jerusalem, worship the
Father ; but the true worshippers shall worship the
Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeketh
such to worship him. God is a Spirit ; and they that
worship him must worship in the spirit and in truth."
Once for all, this should settle the question what
and whom we are to worship. When was Christ ever
slow to derive the authority of his teachings from
God, the Spirit, or acknowledge the deepest relations
to him as long as he was alive? But at the time of
his death was the relation expressed in most touching
words. Though his words and example were there,
amounting almost to his continued presence with the
disciples, they were trusted to the keeping of no
earthly successor, to no mortal protection, to no


mutual counsel and consultation, no mere vague
dependence even upon the Father but upon the
ministry of the Spirit alone. Now, this was but the
necessary consequence, the natural result, of Christ's
whole life and teaching : this was the only consolation
in his fearful death, which was an overwhelming
crisis to the infant Church. "It is expedient for you
that I go away ; for, if I go not away, the Holy
Spirit will not come unto you." Could there be a
greater adversity than Christ's disappearance from
the earth ? Yet such an adversity was preferable to
delay in the Spirit's coming. "I go to my Father, and
ye see me no more." "But the Spirit is coming to
dwell with you for ever." Thus Christ's life and death
served as an introduction to the advent of the Spirit.


Is this Spirit, then, a theological fiction? The
revelations which Christ made in his own person often
fell upon unfruitful ground : hearing, the disciples did
not understand. Man's understanding in want of the
Spirit must often be at fault. With the gift of the
Spirit, his understanding grasps the most difficult
problems that try him. What was lost when the
Master went away, who should restore? What was


not given because there was no fitness to receive, who
should have the power to give ? Three short years
were not enough to explain the infinite complication
of the approaching centuries. The fulness of the
revelation must come with the fulness of time. Who
will reveal it ? Through what medium is it to come ?
"The Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my
name, he shall teach you all things." "I have many
things yet to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them.
Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will
guide you unto all truth." The personality of the
Holy Spirit is thus endlessly testified to. He was the
abiding Presence, the constant Indweller, the all-
sufficing Comforter, the supreme Interpreter, the
Source of all inspiration, to whom Christ led up by all
that he said and did, against whom whoever committed
any sin was beyond the grace of forgiveness. Christ's
divinity is, at best, an objective fact, and may or may
not be perceived. It has not been perceived by
millions upon millions of men. When not perceived,
how can it be acknowledged ? Even when acknow-
ledged, as in the case of many lands and races, it has
failed to form spiritual character. Much of modern
civilization witnesses that ; the military armaments
witness that ; unrighteous laws, cruel institutions, the
organized selfishness of the classes, of the trades, and


of the professions witness that. The Holy Spirit is
within a man's own self, the heart of his heart, the
soul of his soul, bound to be felt and recognized in the
innermost recesses where all is quiet. He alone can
enlighten, exalt, reform, purify, through great suffer-
ing. The Spirit is the God who is ever a man's own
God, who silences doubt, forces conviction, compels
conduct. The Father is far above, the Son is far
away : the Spirit abides with you always ; and in the
Spirit both the Father and the Son abide. Christ was
perpetually conscious of the Spirit's presence with
him. Whatever he said or did in his life's work was
at the Spirit's dictate. He subjects his whole nature,
bodily and mental, to the Spirit's guidance. In no
detail and in no principle of his ministry did he exalt
his own self. He was spiritualized entirely : he was
the Spirit made flesh. The glory of his transfigura-
tion was spiritual glory. The glory of his crucifixion
was spiritual glory : the material surroundings were
mean and miserable. The glory of his resurrection
was spiritual glory : it was no flesh and blood, but the
spirit ascended into the kingdom above. We mate-
rialized him because we have so little of the Spirit.
We know nothing higher than flesh and blood : we
naturally turn his resurrection into flesh and blood.
The Spirit of God glorified himself in the Son. By


the light of the testimony of the indwelling Spirit
alone have I recognized and loved and assimilated
Christ, till he is my daily meat and drink. It is the
Father who has led me to the Son ; and, knowing the
Son, I have known the Father all the more fully.
Blessed, indeed, were those men who beheld in person
the Son of God ; and blessed are those who gave their
witness as to what they saw and heard. We cannot
see what they saw : we can hear what they heard.
Then in the dim twilight of our faith, amidst the
shadows and evil possessions of the time, while there
is so little to help, so much to hinder spiritual percep-
tions, what can we lay hold of or look up to except the
all-powerful Indweller to rescue us from the besetting
perils, and give us the needed help ?


But adoration, love, worship, have been offered
to the Son without stint or scruple. Behold, the
Spirit has no altar erected to him in all Christendom.
We doubt not that the doctrine of the Divine Man has
made the Christian Church the queen of nations and
the mother of the humanities. But the personality of
the Spirit to whom Christ habitually looked up, the
prophets declared with "thus saith the L,ord," a


sublime, fierce cry, whom the apostles recognised as
their supremest impulse, the patriarchs bowed to, that
personal Holy Spirit is scarcely anything more than
ecclesiastic dogma. Marble and canvas, monastery
and cathedral, drama, poetry, relics, traditions, and
the boundless resources of Christendom have given
what permanence is possible to the divinity of Jesus,
nay, even to the Madonna, the "Queen of Heaven."
We grudge not to give every honor to the Son : it has
produced immense moral results, but why has the
truth about the blessed Holy Spirit been practically
exiled from the Christian's sanctuary, his home, and
his heart? Except in formal responses and mechani-
cal benedictions, or at festivals few and far between,
who ever feels that the Holy Spirit is to be invoked
with devotion and prayer, who ever dreams that our
relation to his nature forms the source of the pro-
foundest and most perennial revelation ? The first
descent of the Spirit on the infant Church is described
with heart-stirring faith, and graphic minuteness ; but
what Christian devotee is now ever heard to say that

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Online LibraryP. C. (Protap Chunder) MozoomdarThe spirit of God → online text (page 3 of 16)