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


CHAPTER VI.


SUMMARY OF SOME OF THE LEADING PRINCIPLES COMING UNDER EXAMINATION IN THE PRESENT WORK.


WE propose here to give briefly a summary of some of the leading principles involved in the preceding chapters, and which, in connection with others flowing out of them, and perhaps equally important, will be illustrated in various ways in the chapters which follow.

I.
God has life in himself. He has it, but, because he is eternal, he did not and could not originate it. It is not life by creation, but life by
nature. And as there is but one eternal and uncreated life, all other life is, and must be, derived from the life which is in God.

II.
As man's life, at his first creation, was not original and uncreated, it must have come from God. And the life which comes from God is the true life; and all life which does not come from this divine source, is false. So that, when man ceased to live in God, he ceased to possess any principle of life which was true. From that time onward, except so far as he is restored by the gift and infusion of a new life, he has only the semblance of vitality, but not the true vitality; the form of life, but the reality of death. The true life, the life of God, is not in him.

III.
Those who have fallen from the true life, and have become, in the language of Scripture, "dead in trespasses and sins," cannot restore themselves. Death, or the false life of sin, cannot originate the true life of holiness. Those, however, who are in this state may be made to understand the misery of their situation. Their power seems to be, not to restore themselves, but merely to perceive their misery, and to utter the supplication of their anguish and necessity.

IV.
When those who are fallen lift up their cry to God, he hears them. It is not in the divine nature to do otherwise. Unable to help himself, but able nevertheless to utter the cry of his helplessness and anguish, the unregenerate sinner finds help in God. As the true life is God's life, diffused from himself into all those who are born into his image, the restoration of the divine life in the soul is necessarily the work of the Infinite and not of the finite, the work of God and not of the creature.

V.
All true life is from God; — both the original life before man fell, and the life of the "new birth," when he is restored from his fall. But when we speak of the restoration of fallen man as the gift of God, we ought always to add that it is a gift
through Jesus Christ. And it is in consequence of this that the work is sometimes ascribed directly to Christ, as well as to God. "In HIM," says the evangelist John, when speaking of Christ, "was life, and the life was the light of men."

VI.
In all cases, whatever may be the channel of communication, God is the original Giver. One of his great gifts to man, — a gift which was imparted at his first creation, and has never been withdrawn, — is MORAL FREEDOM. Our heavenly Father has seen fit to leave it to our own option, — a thing to be decided by ourselves, — whether we will or will not accept himself as
the great and only Giver. That is to say, the choice, and the only choice, which is allowed to man, or to other moral beings, is the choice of life from God or of life without him; — the choice of living with God present and operative in the soul, or of living with God excluded from it. It was not possible, so far as we are able to perceive, that any other choice should be given.

VII.
If, accordingly, in the exercise of moral freedom, and in the spirit of entire consecration, we renounce the life of the creature, and accept the life of God, by opening our hearts to the free and full entrance of his grace, then he will become the true operator in the soul, and will give origin to all spiritual good. It is then that God works in the soul; and, so far as this is the case, it can be said of such an one, in the language which the Saviour applied to himself: — "The words that I speak unto you I speak
not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."

VIII.
The great truth of man's moral agency, without which he could not be man, but must be something lower than man, is thus recognized and established by his own voluntary acquiescence in, and acceptance of, the divine operation.

IX.
Man's moral agency, when he exists in full union with God, either in his original creation or in his restoration to God through Christ, is felt, not so much in guiding himself as in harmonizing with God's guidance; — not so much in originating knowledge and holy affections, as in rejecting all confidence in himself and accepting God as his teacher: — in a word, not so much in willing or purposing to do whatever he may be called to do by an
independent action, as in ceasing from everything which is not God, and in desiring and willing to Iet God work in him.

X.
At the same time it is true, that God, in thus taking possession of the mind and becoming its inspiration, harmonizes with the mind, not less really than the mind harmonizes with himself; namely, by originating thought, feeling, and purpose, through the medium of their appropriate mental susceptibilities and laws. That is to say, if it is true that God acts, and thereby constitutes a vital principle, it is also true that God acts in the moral and responsible
man; and not only acts in the man, as the locality and the subject of action, but also by means of the man, as the voluntary and concurrent instrument of action.

XI.
It is thus that God, acting upon the basis of man' s free consent, becomes the life of the soul; and as such he establishes the principle of faith, inspires true knowledge, gives guidance to the will, and harmonizes the inward dispositions with the facts of outward providence. In a word, God becomes the Giver, and man the happy recipient. God guides, and man has no desire or love but to follow him.

From that important moment, which may well be called the crisis of his destiny, man, without ceasing to be morally responsible, harmonizes with his Maker. If he thinks, and feels, and acts, by means of thought, feeling, and action which he has from another source, it is because he adopts that other source of knowledge, feeling, and action as his own. The two principles of life, the human and divine, are thenceforth united. The prayer of the Saviour is answered: —
"As thou, Father; art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us. "

XII.
Those who are thus in union with God are necessarily in union with all that God desires and purposes to do. Especially are they in union with that great plan of redemption which the Bible unfolds. They can say with the Saviour: —
"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."

It would be a great error to suppose that they are inactive, because they have their thought, feeling, and action from God. On the contrary, having those dispositions from God, which keep them in harmony with himself, they necessarily stand in the attitude of the most harmonious and perfect obedience; ready to do and to suffer whatever their heavenly Father requires of them.

XIII.
In particular, the doctrines of DIVINE UNION agree with and sustain the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, as it is laid down in the Scriptures. Not only patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and other good men, were taught and guided by the inbreathings and teachings of a higher Power, but also the Son of God himself; on whom the Holy Ghost descended visibly, and of whom it is repeatedly said, he was "led by the Spirit." The Evangelist Luke, alluding in the Acts of the Apostles to the visible ascent of the Saviour, says, " He was taken up, after that he, THROUGH THE HOLY GHOST, had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen." And this remarkable declaration accords entirely with what we are frequently taught in relation to him, that all his words and judgments and acts were first wrought inwardly by the indwelling power of the Father, before they were wrought outwardly by the manifestations of the Son.

XIV.
In accordance with what has been said, the first work of man will be to restore himself, or rather to cease from any reliance on himself, and to look to God, in order that a power greater than himself may do the work which has failed in his own hands. The renovation of himself, which naturally comes first in order, will not fail to be followed by the restoration of humanity in all its forms, particularly by the restoration of the family, and then by the pacification and perfection of society in general. The man, who has his life from God, will endeavor to restore and to perfect everything in its order; — operating in connection with the instrumentalities and arrangements which his heavenly Father has established, such as the Sabbath, the Bible, and the Ministry, and always humbly relying on the suggestions and aids of the Holy Spirit.

XV.
It is thus that men are truly united with God. But it is important to remember that the union, though based upon the consent of the party which is brought into union, is something more than a mere conventional arrangement. It is not enough to say that we belong to God's party, unless we can add, that we belong to his household. Those who are "born again," — at least, in that higher sense in which we use the expressions, are not born into the capacity or condition of mere cooperators, or servants,— no matter how faithful their services may be, — but into the vastly higher condition of sons and daughters. God is the Father. They are the children. And they are united to God not only by the consent of the will, but by a filial nature, which is gradually originated in the soul by a divine power, just as really and truly as earthly children are united by a filial nature to their earthly parents. (See Part V., Ch. 8.)