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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

The Living God

The Living God.

For my own part, I venerate not less than others the birth-hour of Christianity, and the creative origin of worlds. But I do not believe that God lived then and there alone; or that if we could be transplanted to those times, we should find any such difference as would melt down the coldness of our hearts, or leave us more without excuse than we are now. There is no chronology page 21 in the evidence, any more than in the presence of the Deity. Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning—or rather the unbeginning—of creation. The universe, open to the eye to-day, looks as it did a thousand years ago; and the morning hymn of Milton does but tell the beauty with which our own familiar sun dressed the earliest fields and gardens of the world. We see what all our fathers saw. And if we cannot find God in your house and mine, upon the road-side or the margin of the sea; in the bursting seed or opening flower; in the day-duty and the night-musing; in the genial laugh and the sacred grief; in the procession of life ever entering afresh, and solemnly passing by and dropping off; I do not think we should discern him any more on the grass of Eden, or beneath the moonlight of Gethsemane. Depend upon it, it is not the want of greater miracles, but of the soul to perceive such as are allowed us still, that makes us push all the sanctities into the far spaces we cannot reach. The devout feel that wherever God's hand is, there is miracle : and it is simply an indevoutness which imagines that only where miracle is, can there be the real hand of God. The customs of heaven ought surely to be more sacred in our eyes than its anomalies; the dear old ways, of which the Most High is never tired, than the strange things which he does not love well enough ever to repeat. And he who will but discern beneath the sun, as he rises any morning, the supporting finger of the Almighty, may recover the sweet and reverend surprise with which Adam gazed on the first dawn in Paradise. It is no outward change, no shifting in time or place; but only the loving meditation of the pure in heart, that can re-awaken the Eternal from the sleep within our souls; that can render him a reality again, and re-assert for him once more his ancient name of "The Living God."—James Martineau.