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PART FIRST.
OF GOD, AND THE RELATIONS HE SUSTAINS TO HIS CREATURES.



CHAPTER IV.


ON THE GREATNESS AND SUPREMACY OF GOD.

Greatness predicated of God alone. — The greatness of God original, self-sus­tained, eternal. — Of the supremacy of God. — Relation of these views to man.

IT is a principal object, in this part of our work, to obtain some correct and impressive views of the nature of the Divine Existence, in order to learn how man has separated himself from a state of union with God, and also to learn, in the methods and results of his departure, the necessity, the methods, and the results, of his return. The remarks which we shall have occasion to make, although it may not be entirely obvious at first, will be found, in the issue, to have an intimate relation with the great subject before us. Accordingly, we proceed from the consideration of the Eternity and Omnipresence of God, to a few remarks on his Supremacy.

2. "GOD ONLY IS GREAT." Such were the concise but triumphant expressions with which Massillon, the distinguished religious orator, commenced his funeral discourse, on the occasion of the death of Louis XIV.

Never was a more correct sentiment uttered by human lips. And never was there a more appropriate occasion of its utterance. Who would dare to appropriate the epithet GREAT to himself, when he, who had received it from a nation's voice for half a century, had fallen at the slightest touch of Providence! — the crown removed from his temples, the scepter wrested from his hands, and his form changed to dust and ashes. That certainly was a suitable time for a minister of God, whose business it is to measure the human by the divine, and to adjust the temporary to the eternal, to detach an epithet, which has so often been wrongly placed, from its human application, and to append it to God alone.

Massillon, in the utterance of this important sentiment, stands approved by philosophy, as well as by theology, by the decisions of human reason, as well as by inspiration. It is a sentiment which commends itself, not only deductively, but almost to man's intuitive perceptions, that there is, and can be, but one
absolute greatness. All other greatness, if it be possible that there can be any other greatness, is greatness only by comparison. It is the greatness of the finite estimated by the finite; of the destructible weighed in the balance of the destructible; the greatness of angel measured by angel, of man measured by man; but it is not, and cannot be. the greatness of God. The greatness of God differs from all other greatness, in that it is greatness absolute, and not greatness by comparison.

3. Absolute greatness, in distinction from every other thing to which the epithet great can be applied, is a greatness which is original. It cannot be said of that which is absolute, that it begins. It has its origin and its life in itself. Its name, like that of God himself, is, I AM; that which exists, not that which
begins to exist; that which lives, not that which begins and which is made to live. No being can say of it, that it is a gift. No being can claim homage for it, as the giver. As there is nothing from which it comes, we can only say of it, that IT IS. Self-existence is its first attribute.

4. Absolute greatness, as it is self-originated, so it is
self-sustained. It stands, self-centered, without the aid of exterior supports. If it depended upon things exterior to itself; if it rested upon a pedestal which other hands had placed beneath it, it would be subject to contingency. More or less of uncertainty would surround it every moment. As it asks no one's consent that it may live, so it fears no one's opposition. The power which protects it, is inherent in its own nature.

5. Absolute greatness is
eternal. As there was no reason why it began, so there is no reason why it should end. The eternity of the past has its counterpart in the eternity of the future. And it lives in all time to come, because it has lived in all time past. To say that there is some element of decay in God's greatness, would be the same thing as to say that there is some element of decay in God himself.

6. In all these particulars, all other greatness fails. That which is called human greatness begins in time, and is terminated when it has hardly begun to exist. Monuments are erected to its memory, but monuments, as well as that of which they are the memorial, pass away. In the true sense of the terms, therefore, God only is great. And he is so, because in him greatness has neither beginning nor end, but having the true life in itself, it is imperishable. It needs no pyramid to perpetuate the name, when the substance is gone. It is itself its own monument, its own inscription. Absolute greatness belongs to God alone.

7. It is hardly necessary to add, that the greatness of God, in being absolute, is also supreme; and that God is truly
God over all. If it is a greatness self-originated, if it is a greatness self-sustained and eternal, if it is a greatness which does not exist by comparison, nor admit of comparison, but exists out of comparison, and above comparison, it is, of course, supreme. It stands not more alone in its origin and its perpetuity, than it does in its supremacy.

8. And if God alone is great, if God only is supreme, then those only of all his creatures can truly be called great, even in the mitigated and subordinate sense of the term, who repeat in their own existence the true reflection, on a limited scale, of that original and unlimited greatness, which has its source and perfection in him alone. Never could there be a greater error than that committed by man, when he dissociated himself from the I AM. Every man, in the sphere which is allotted him, be it more or less, if he scatters light and not darkness, if he is a renovated and true man, and not a fallen and wicked man, must be what he is because he is IN and OF GOD. Hence it is a truth. which cannot be too often repeated, that we are great only as we are great in him from whom we came.

9. Oh that men knew what God is! With such views as have now been expressed, we are in a way to arrive at, and to solve, one of the important problems of existence, namely, to annihilate the idol and the superscription of false greatness, and to seek and to rest in the greatness which is true. Happy is the man who is enabled, by divine assistance, to adjust himself to the truth. He feels himself to be in the truth only when he feels himself to be, not the source of things, but the recipient; — standing with his face towards the Infinite, that its divine rays may fall upon him, and clothe him with its celestial beauty. Such an one, realizing that all which he has, whatever may be its appearance in the eyes of men, is from God, and from God alone, sympathizes with the devout language of the Psalmist: — " Thou art great, O Lord God, for there is none like thee, neither is there any God besides thee." [2 Sam. chap. 7: 22.]