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PART SEVENTH.
UNION WITH GOD IN THE WORK OF MAN'S REDEMPTION.



CHAPTER XII.


ON THE RELATION OF THE CHARACTER OF MAN TO THE HAPPINESS OF GOD.


Holy beings constitute one of the elements of divine happiness. — God rejoices in his own nature; especially in the principle of holy love. — The joy thus arising is not so much by means of a reflex act, as by direct consciousness. — A second source of joy found in the contemplation of the happiness and holiness of his creatures. Remarks.

GOD is happy. Being infinite, he is infinitely happy. And it is interesting to know that holy beings, in whatever parts of the universe they exist, constitute one of the elements of the divine happiness. This being the case, there is such a thing (and it is certainly a most interesting and important consideration) as being united with God in the promotion of his own happiness. The humblest soul, when purified by divine grace, becomes a gem in the crown of the Infinite Father's bliss.

2. Undoubtedly the elements of the divine happiness are various. God, for instance, is happy in the knowledge of his own perfections; and especially is he happy in the consciousness that the central principle or life of his nature, that which brings the infinity of his natural attributes into action, is holy love. Most readily do we admit that he rejoices in his natural attributes also, in his inherent and universal knowledge, in his omnipresence and omnipotence; but more than all and above all does be rejoice in that living and life-giving principle, which saves his merely natural attributes from evil applications, and renders them available to the highest purposes.

3. And the exceeding happiness which God thus experiences is not the result exclusively, nor chiefly, of a
reflex act. Some writers seem to suppose (at least such would be the interpretation of their language if taken in its natural and obvious import) that God sits alone in an infinite solitude, and is happy chiefly by means of such an act; that is to say, by means of the mind turned back in acts of contemplation on its own inward nature. It seems to us better, and more in accordance with the divine nature, to say that God is happy, not so much by a series of reflective and deductive acts, as by direct consciousness.

Consciousness of happiness takes place when the happiness, flowing out naturally and necessarily from the existing states of the mind, pervades the mind and makes itself known without any care or effort on the part of the percipient subject. He, who loves with pure love, is happy; because happiness is a part of love's nature. Happiness, although there may be causes of affliction, which will diminish the amount of it at times, never was separated and never can be separated, from love. To speak figuratively in the matter, happiness is the smile of love, and it sits just as naturally and beautifully upon love's countenance, as the smile does upon the countenance of any pure and benevolent being. Or, to use another illustration, it is love's bright and eternal seal engraven upon it with letters of light. They are thus connected by an eternal relationship. And God can be no more unconscious of happiness in love, than he can be unconscious of love itself.

4. But, although what has been said is a great and interesting truth, it is not all. There is another view of the subject. God's nature, including all his acts and feelings, corresponds precisely to the truth and relations of things. If he is a perfect being, it cannot be otherwise. It is not possible for him, being what he is, to sunder himself from the things he has made, and from the relations they sustain to himself and each other; nor to act otherwise, and to be otherwise, than in perfect consistency with such things and relations.

5. Among other works which are to be attributed to him, God has formed moral agents. Of all his various works, this is, in some respects, the greatest. He has formed angels; he has formed men. The mere fact that he has made them, which involves the additional fact of the relationship of cause and effect, in other words, of father and child, constitutes an alliance, which is both an alliance of morality and an alliance of the affections In other words, he is allied to them by duty and allied to them by love.

If God is a good and holy being, it is not possible for him to create a being or beings susceptible of happiness, without making provision for their happiness, and without rejoicing in their happiness. To be indifferent to and not to rejoice in the happiness of his creatures, would be the characteristic of an evil and not of a good being. But no moral being which God has created can be truly and permanently happy without loving God and all other beings as God would have them love; in other words, without being holy. We come, then, to the conclusion, that another and very great source of God’s happiness is the contemplation of the holiness and happiness of his creatures. If they are holy, they cannot be otherwise than happy; and if they are happy, God must be happy in them.

6. The sources of God's happiness, therefore, are twofold; — first, that simple but ever-flowing consciousness of happiness which has already been mentioned; and, second, the contemplation of his perfections, as they are imaged forth and realized objectively, that is to say, in the hearts and lives of his creatures. The moral universe around him, when unpolluted by sin, is the bright mirror of himself. It is the beauty, therefore, of his own being, seen in the infinitude of holy beings whom he has created, — the light of true glory kindled up in all parts of the universe, and reflected back upon the central fountain of light,— which constitutes a large share of his ineffable bliss. Considered in relation to the beings he has made, God may properly be regarded as the great moral centre, as the sun in the vast system of holy love, rejoicing in the infinite number of stars which his own radiance has kindled up around him.

7. These views seem to us to justify the remark made at the commencement of the chapter, namely, that the holiness of the creatures of God is one of the great elements of his happiness. The doctrine that the happiness of God rests for its support, in part at least, upon the holiness of his creatures, is one of great interest to men. It furnishes a new motive to holy effort. Everything we do has its correspondent result in the divine mind. There is not a throb in our bosoms, beating in the direction of pure and universal love, which does not excite joy in the bosom of our heavenly Father. It is not more true that angels rejoice, than it is that God rejoices, over every return from sin and every advance in holiness.

It is hardly possible to conceive of a higher result in the destiny of man than that which thus contributes to the happiness of God. The thought, therefore, should animate us in all our efforts, namely, that God sees us; that he takes an interest in all our acts and feelings; and that when we are good our Father is happy. The light of our little star goes back to its parent sun. The small wave of our little fountain swells the broad billow of the mighty ocean. Can there be a higher motive to action than this?

Then let us labor on. God works. Let us work with him. Let us suffer; if needs be. Yea, let us rejoice in suffering; but neither in toil nor in suffering trusting to ourselves, but rather "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."