God

Samuel Robert Calthrop

Berry Street Essay, 1886

 

Read before the Ministerial Conference

May, 1886

 

 

"The fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” –EPHESIANS i., 23.

 

    A magnificent, an overwhelming conception.  God filling all things up with Himself, so that there is no room for anything else!  God who is all in all; God, in whom all atoms, worlds, and beings live and move;  God, in whom all space, power, beauty, wisdom, justice, thought, love, and life exist for ever and ever;  God in whom man lives;  God, whose space and force surround, interpenetrate, and include the body of man, whose thought and wisdom enlighten the mind of man, whose justice gives law to the conscience of man, whose love rejoices the heart of man, and whose life surrounds, interpenetrates, and includes the life of man, -- god is the transcendent them of our mediation to-day.

    The theme being so vast, it will be wise for us to deal with it in detail, -- in fragments, so to speak.  Let us, then, take up one by one the attributes of God.  Seeing only one side of God at a time, as it were, we shall be sheltered, as Moses was, by cleft of rock and shadow of hand from the full blaze of the ineffable glory.

    Let us then say, first of all, that, since God is all in all,-- that is strictly infinite,- all the attributes of God are infinite.  Each attribute is coextensive with every other attribute.  Where any one attribute exists, there every other attribute coexists with it.  Where space exists, there power, thought, wisdom, beauty, truth, justice, love, exist; for all these are attributes of God, modes of the being of God.

 

I.      The space of God is infinite, and is coextensive with all the attributes of God.     Spinoza, the father of modern Scientific Philosophy, was, as Schleiermacher lovingly called him, "a God-intoxicated man.”  He saw all things in God.  And yet all that most men know, or rather misknow, about him, is that he granted just two attributes to God,--extension and thought.  Granted?  Why the man lived in God!  To him, God was all in all.  What he did say was this:  "God, being infinite, lives in infinite modes:  and two of these modes are extension an thought.”  Out of the infinite number of modes, he selected these two, simply because they are not only so closely related man’s own existence, experience, and thought, but also because on these tow modes, as foundation, he builds his scheme of the universe.

 The mind demands the origin of the visible universe; that is, demands something for that universe to rise out of.  But the mind also demands that that something shall itself be unoriginated, as otherwise thought would find no resting-place.   Two postulates will forever be essential to any system of thought:  1. Unoriginated Substances;
2. Unoriginated Space.  On these as basis, the whole universe can be constructed.  If, with Spinoza, we consider space an essential attribute of substance, then Unoriginated Infinite Substance is the one all-sufficient postulate, which being granted, the origin of the visible universe is only a question of detail.

    Our one postulate, then, is Unoriginated, Infinite Substance.  In other words, our one postulate is God.  This mighty postulate once granted, all things, beings, worlds, are modes of motion of his Spirit.  The material universe is fated or uniform motion: the spiritual universe is free or independent motion.  In God alone do all things find their true substance. 

    There are other good reasons why, in our analysis of the attributes of God, we should begin, as Spinoza did, with space.  Space is the first attribute of God of which the infant mind becomes conscious.  Indeed, we may say it is the one attribute of God of which all organisms are more or less conscious.  The reason why the commonest minds know something about space is that they have entered into their labors.  It is well, therefore, to begin where experience begins.

    There are, however, difficulties on the threshold of our examination, which could completely block the way, if they were not got rid of.  The first class is the besetment of ordinary minds.  There is an absurd notion floating about that space somehow exists of itself, independently of any being whatever.  God, therefore, I suppose, in the far past found space conveniently lying round, and wisely made use of it for creative purposes.  There must therefore be two independent existences,--  God and space;  for there would be no room for creation if space did not kindly lend itself to His design.  Or, perhaps, the two high contracting parties agreed on equal terms, one to create and the other to find room for creation.  

      The mere verbal statement of the logical outcome of these vague notions is enough to show their absurdity.

     The other class of difficulties besets more thoughtful minds. When a clever man has thought himself into a fog about space, he is apt to imagine himself quite a metaphysician, especially if he can repeat some perfectly unintelligible formula about space.  

     To quote a familiar unintelligibility , "Space is a form of thought.”  Now, thought is a mode of motion.  Human thought is a mode of motion of the human brain, corresponding to and accompanying motion of the human spirit.  But motion is not a thing: it is a state of a thing.  The motion of snowflake is not the snowflake:  it is a state of a snowflake.  Therefore, the expression, "Space is a form of thought,” is equivalent to this other, "Space is a state of the human brain.”  If, then, you really mean that Space is a state of the small human brain, whose space-filling cavity is only a few cubic inches, this not simply absurdity: it is delirium.

    If, however, you say, "Space is the form of thought,” – meaning by the form the mould in which all thought is, of necessity, cast, -- you have stated a great truth, no longer a piece of metaphysical moonshine.

    If, again, you say, "Space is a form of the thought of God,” this is no longer an absurdity:  it is only a confusing of two coexistent, infinite attributes of God, -- extension and thought.  God’s thought, being infinite, is coextensive with God’s space.

 

    So much for these two classes of difficulty. There are signs abroad that they are both steadily diminishing.  Ordinary minds are being educated into and awe-struck sense of the immensity of space;  and thoughtful minds are becoming weary of the endless treadmill of bad definition, mounted upon which a man can keep on walking upward forever, without rising a single inch.

   I had gone thus far, when I was summoned from my desk by a friendly visit from a book-agent.  Silver and gold had I none, but what I had I gave. I showed him a grand sun-spot in the telescope.  He was evidently deeply impressed, and suddenly burst forth with this:  "The one thing that overawes and overwhelms me is the infinity of space!  I can’t take it in!”  When a book- agent is overawed, it is note of advance all along the line.

    But to proceed.  Space is the necessary substratum upon which, as foundation, all things stand.  As all motion is performed in time, so all existence takes place in space.

    Here it is essential to sweep away at once the ten thousand illusions which beset thoughtful minds when they first begin to think about space.  We constantly hear such expressions as these:  "Thought requires no space, feelings have no space-relations.”  The act of thought or emotion, we are told, is purely spiritual meaning by spiritual something that has no space-relations at all.  Now, no entity exists that has no space-relations:  each and every part of every being is always and everywhere related to space. 

    Thought in the human body is a wave vibration; and a wave vibration must be of  something, and not nothing.  No matter whether of brain and nerve, or of something ineffably finer, which corresponds to an archangel’s thought as these do to man’s thought—always and everywhere, thought will be a particular state of a being who is wholly immersed in space –relations.

    Christianity has always believed in the spiritual body; that is, in the continuance of natural and intelligible space-relations in the life beyond death.  If, however, we take for granted the possibility of purely bodiless, finite spirit, that purely bodiless spirit will be as completely immersed in space as rock, plant, animal, or man, will have as perfect space-relations with the All and with each finite thing as if it were a ball of iron.  As an example of moonshiny thinking, I take an instance from really fine modern thinker.  "We might as well talk,” he says, "of pure spirit being white or black or green as speak of it being either here or there.”  This is simply idealism gone mad, and it is not too much to say that no scientific metaphysics will ever be possible to minds that have not got rid of these prescientific notions.

    In the deepest sense, then, we may say that Space is the All, including within itself all forms of being, all matter, all spirit, and all manifestations of both matter and spirit; and Space, to all alike, is that underlying reality without which none of them would be conceivable.

    To the archangel,--that is, to the fully developed man, - Space is the Presence of God, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all, in whose fullness are included all power, all beauty, all intelligence, all truth, all tenderness.

    This stupendous thought, the greatest that a finite mind can grasp, is just dawning on the mind of man.  He has begun to behold the rising light, who sees that there is no such thing as empty space.  From this, he can proceed to construct his universe.

    The child first learns that the earth is a sphere eight thousand miles thick.  The man, all his life long, is busied in filling up this conception, until, at last, each inch of that sphere is seen to be full f power and wonder and beauty.  Oceans and continents, mountains and valleys, tropic splendors and icy poles, forests of a thousand woods, flowers of myriad hues, marts and cities and homes o men, steamships ploughing the mighty deep, trains rushing across the continents, wires flashing their electric message, - all the inconceivable variety of human life, -all this he sees on its surface alone; while, beneath his feet, his thought penetrates below the roots of the mountains to that hidden ocean of living fire which eye of man shall never see.

            Just so the first lesson for man as a child to learn is that Space is infinite; that he can send his thought onward for ever and ever in every direction, and still find himself in the very centre of things. Developed man is to fill up this skeleton conception with all worlds and beings that are: with galaxy after galaxy filled with light and life; with destinies innumerable in trillions and trillions of planetary homes; with power, justice, wisdom, truth, and love vindicating themselves everywhere; while through all, above all, around all, and in all shine and light, life, and glory of the One Eternal, in whom are all things and by whom all things consist.

 

            II. The power of God is infinite, and is coextensive with space and with all the other attributes of God.

            All space is powerful space. There is no such thing as a power-vacuum. Empty space is an empty phrase. There is no cubic inch of empty space in the whole universe. Take a cubic inch of space midway between the sun and Sirius. Through the cubic inch, the light and heat of Sirius pass. Let us analyze the beam by the spectroscope, and see what this means. Commencing at the ultra-red end of the spectrum, let us start with the invisible heat-waves. The longest of these we may call 1 / 30,000 of an inch in length; that is, our cubic inch will contain 30,000 such waves. Omitting all delicate gradations of half-waves, quarter-waves, and so on, we will consider the next group to be those waves of which there are 30,001 to the inch, and the next 30,002, and so on. Each group of waves is present in the cubic inch at the self-same instant, and each passes through without the least interference from the other. When we arrive at 40,000 to the inch, we are well inside the visible red; and we must keep adding 40,001, 40,002, etc., to our series of waves. At 50,000 to the inch, we are in the centre of the visible spectrum, and keep on adding, remembering all the while that the yellow and green waves are wholly independent of the red. At 60,000 to the inch, we are in the violet, and keep on adding as before. At 70,000, 80,000, 90,000, 100,000, we obtain wave-lengths in the ultra-violet, invisible chemical waves, each group being completely present in the cubic inch, and each being absolutely independent of all the rest. At last, we have obtained a fair notion of the number of waves which are present in our cubic inch at the self-same instant from Sirius alone: that is, if we considered Sirius to be a simple tiny point of flame instead of being a mighty globe millions of miles in diameter, each square inch of whose surface sends forth a series of such waves. At the same instant there is present in the cubic inch a similar series of waves from every square inch of Arcturus, each wave of which does not interfere in the slightest degree with the waves of Sirius; also, from Vega, Canopus, Regulus, and the six thousand stars visible in a great telescope. Also, from the innumerable planets, whose faint light no telescope is fine enough to catch, a series equal in number to those of Sirius is present at the same instant in that same cubic inch. But how long is that instant? As light travels 190,000 miles in a second, this inconceivable series is changed into an entirely new series twelve billion times a second. Space is empty! But this is only one set of space-relations. Through that inch, the gravitating relations of Sirius with the whole universe in a straight line beyond that inch pass; and you must prolong that gravitating line to infinity for Siruis alone. The a similar line for Arcturus, Vega, and the twenty millions of suns in our galaxy, and the billion planets, and the uncounted nebulae, and the infinite number of atoms of stardust. Through that inch, all this passes simultaneously; and, at every instant, a different line is drawn, as each of these trillions of objects moves on its destined course. Each change in a star quintillions of miles away is instantly, without any time interval whatever, reported in that inch, so that the movement of the whole universe incessantly registers itself inside that inch. It an archangel, after millions of years of study, could thoroughly know what goes on in that inch, we might say that he knew the universe.

            The exactness of God is in that inch. Not a single one of these infinite number of results registered itself there wrongly, either as to quality or quantity.

            The economy of God is in that inch: not one vibration lost; not a single wave that does not produce its full effect; not an ounce of gravitation wasted.

            The beauty of God registers in that inch. Apply, in imagination, a microscope magnifying trillions of diameters to that inch. Imagine each light-wave illumined, each with its appropriate color; each mingling with every other, with infinite perfection of shape and curve; each running through each, without displacement, confusion, injury, or loss; and, if the watching of sunlight or moonlight in its play upon the countless waves of lake or ocean be indescribably beautiful, what would such a sight as this be? The beauty of God is infinite, and is coextensive with space.

            The love of God is in that inch. To whose eyes do these light-waves bring messages of cheer? To whose heart does day utter speech? To whose mind doth night show knowledge? Who inhabit the worlds that gravitation holds together? In a word, for whose sake is all this done? Out of the infinite number of acts of power that pass through that inch (and, in that inch, we may well say that the whole universe registers itself at each moment), not a single one can be detected which is for the benefit or advantage of God. All, without exception, are acts of bounty to His finite children. The love of God is infinite,  and is coextensive with space. The devout mediaeval man knelt in awe-struck ecstasy before the throne of God. Around the throne, the archangels stood, rank above rank. Around that throne wheeled the host of suns and stars. From thence, through the realms of space, flew thick and fast the arrows of His will. From thence, He ordered all things in heaven and earth; and yet not Saint Bernard himself, in highest rapture of devotion, could conceive, as sitting on that throne, as much power, wisdom, beauty, and benignity as dwells in one single inch of space.

 

            III. The exactness of God is infinite, and is coextensive with space and all the other attributes of God.

            The Archangel Mathesis forever stands at the right hand of the throne of God. She claims it, not simple as her right, but as her duty, to calculate all of His wondrous ways that are calculable. Reverently, with folded wings, but firmly, standing on her feet, and looking with undazzled eye into the very blaze of the everlasting glory, on tablets of steel, with pen of adamant, she forecasts the results of exactness of God. She claims as her own every motion, thrill, and throb of every atom of matter in the universe. She foretells the fated course of the stars. She predicts the result of every heave of the mighty forces imprisoned in the bosoms of all worlds. No quiver of a leaf, no sparkle of a wave, no gleam of color in the tiniest flower, no throb of sunlight, moonlight, starlight, escapes her. Every bone, muscle, nerve, blood corpuscle, every hair-tip, every invisible molecular change in every plant and animal, pays tribute to her. No blush of a maiden’s cheek, no thought in a sage’s brain, no thrill of inspiration in a prophet’s heart, no ecstasy of worship in the rapt saint’s inmost soul, can claim complete exemption from her all-pervading scrutiny. She calculates the power of every heart-beat, the exact amount of tissue used up in each single thought, and knows that no life-change, however sublime it be, can ever go on without her. The whole realm of fate is her province; and fate, she knows, is the adamantine base on which all finite freedom must be built. And to man she saith, "Thy wisdom is to know this: on this stone build the house of thy life; for, if it fall upon thee, it will grind thee to powder.”

 

            IV. The economy of God in infinite, and is coextensive with space and with all the other attributes of God.

            The science of the last hundred years is one long comment on this mighty text. The eighteenth century discovered that matter cannot be destroyed. The nineteenth century has discovered that force cannot be destroyed. The twentieth will discover that mind cannot be destroyed. No single atom of matter in all the starry spaces was ever lost; nay, no atom has ever lost a trillionth part of its potency. No unit of force was ever lost. Unbroken, undiminished, it keeps acting on the universe for ever and ever. In all the starry spaces, no mind was ever lost: it keeps living on in the midst of God for ever and ever. To-day we believe, to-morrow we shall know,

"That nothing walks with aimless feet;

That not one life shall be destroyed,

Or cast as rubbish to the void,

When God hath made the pile complete.”

 

     Emerson  said that "it must be possible to make such a statement of religion as would make all scepticism ridiculous.”  We are fast arriving at this.  Certainly, we are already able to make a statement concerning infinite space that makes all scepticism about infinite space ridiculous.  The proof that power is coextensive with space is becoming part of mathematics.  Very soon, we shall have statement of infinite beauty, justice, and love which will equally make all scepticism about them also ridiculous.

    In this mean time, never call a man an atheist who believes in and is greatened by one single attribute of God, who is awe-struck with the immensity of space or ravished with the perception of infinite beauty.  It is a great thing even to believe that power is, and is a rewards of those who diligently seek it.

 

     V. The justice of God is infinite, and is coextensive with space and all the other attributes of God.

    Michael, the archangel of justice, standing at the right hand of God, with the balances in his left hand and a drawn sword I his right, is the twin brother of Mathesis; for exactness in the material world corresponds to justice in the moral world.  That which a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He who sows to the flesh shall to the flesh reap corruption, and he who sows to the spirit shall to the spirit reap life everlasting.

    The justice of God is everywhere, and everywhere makes right might, makes wrong weak, makes selfishness stab itself with its own hands.

    Daily, the solar system travels through its millions of miles of space; yet no one ever saw one law either alter of grow weak.   For the eternal law is equally potent everywhere.

    But here comes a deeply needed caution.  We are artificially dividing god into attributes.

    If you take a red glass, you will see the whole view red.  Take a blue glass, and you will see the whole landscape just as well as before.  Every tree, hill, and house is in the same relative position: it is simply colored differently.  It was red:  it is now blue.  And so on of all the colors.

Now, a red glass is red, just because it lets the red rays through, and stops the others.  A blue glass is blue for the same reason. Only when you get a colorless glass – that is, one that lets all the rays through with equal facility-do you see the view as t really is in nature, with its thousand hues of green and blue and gold.

    In a precisely similar manner, we may behold the Divine Nature as through glasses of different hues.

    If we look at God through the red glass of justice, we shall see infinite space only under the color of justice.  Star and system, each vast, each tiny life, will be there, only seen through the monochromatic light of justice.  There will still be due proportion to everything, for God’s justice is equally present in everything.  All space will still be represented, for God’s justice is coextensive with God’s space.  Only, we must carefully bear in mind, that we are excluding from our sight the tender shades that are equally present everywhere.  We are deliberately making an artificial glare over everything.

    But some one may say, But red and yellow, green and blue, are different from each other.  Yes: but they are simply different movements of the same element.  The immense ocean of other, which is in all space, is one;  and red and green and blue are all waves of that one ocean, differing in breadth and height, - that is all.

   Just so we must think of power, justice, wisdom in God as so many modes or attributes of His one infinite being.

 

VI.       The wisdom of God is infinite, and is coextensive with space and all the other attributes of God.

If an archangel had been given the problem, --"Nothing but God completely filling all space with his presence.  From this to show how universes of matter and finite mind can be created,” – the archangel himself would have been baffled.

    How to make shore and boundary in the midst of the fathomless deep of God; how to build little local earth homes in the midst of limitless space; how to contrive that somewhere in the eaves of the temple of eternity the sparrow should find a house and the swallow a nest where she might lay her young; how to make material globes out of pure invisible space, --that was the problem; and that problem has been solved.

    Wisdom is that which conceives some mighty plan, in order to achieve some great object.  The wisdom is shown in the perfect adaptation of the plan to the fulfillment of the object.  Make no mistake here.  Be sure you are thinking all wrong, if ever you attribute to yourself a power that the great universe has not.  You yourself have some capacity to plan, have some power to adapt means to ends.  What a surprising little person you would be if the whole galaxy were to stand astonished at the new revelation you made to it: no such thing had ever been seen before!  It is true that God’s plan in creation has not been understood: and it is sadly true that most men seem to have lavished so much reverence on an unreal plan of creation that they seem to have none left for the real one.  The old idea was that God made stars, suns, earths, plants, animals, and men out of nothing, just as they are.  This thought has vanished to return no more, but only to give place to the thought of a plan immeasurably vaster, more inconceivably wonderful.  You have to conceive that, before ever the atoms were, the thought of God planned out the whole creation;  and that, out of His own being, He willed that the innumerable atoms which form the visible universe should proceed, and that each and all, in perfect proportions, should join together to build the mighty whole; and that everything thus planned and created was seen, from the very beginning, to be very good; and that from that infinitely remote instant, no single atom has ever changed in size or in velocity of interior motion; that the proportions of each, thought out beforehand, have been absolutely kept, and that the result of this inconceivable dance of matter has been, and will forever be, good; and that each combination is the best possible, in order to reach the result aimed at.  The thought of oxygen and hydrogen combining to form water is an absolutely perfect thought, and will forever produce good.  This is equally true of each one of the immense series.  Silicon, nitrogen, and carbon spring from a divinely perfect thought, - a thought that has resulted in divinely perfect action; while each one of their combinations with the other elements, and each of their relations to the perfect whole, are equally perfect.  Granted the atoms and their spin, granted the pressure of God’s presence everywhere, and you can predict the galaxy.  Grant free motion of finite spirit within infinite Spirit, and you have free souls peopling that galaxy.

    You are shut up, I say, to the conclusion that, before ever the worlds and atoms were, the thought of God measured size, shape, and velocity of spin of every atom, and also fitted each set of atoms to every other before He made them unless you are ready to maintain that from all eternity, in a given inch, ten thousand trillions of little, self existent, eternal oxygen gods found themselves, to their surprise, all exactly alike, and agreed, as it were, to act together; and then, still more to their surprise, became aware that there were in the self-same inch twenty thousand trillions of little, self-existent, eternal hydrogen gods, all exactly like each other, and all precisely fitted to join together with half  their number of oxygen gods or goddesses, as the case might be, and so on and so on, to the end of the ridiculous chapter.  If you back out and shelter yourself in mystery, and say that the mystery of self-existent atoms is no greater than the mystery of creation then I answer.  One tremendous mystery in one universe is immeasurably more probable than a series of little petty mysteries, whose number could not be put down if you filled the whole orbit of Neptune with figures so small that you would have to use a microscope to see them.

    Forever the atom sings its tiny song in the ears of God,- a song of perfect, infinite content; for it knows that it and its Maker are alike perfect.  To all eternity, it fulfils His will with absolutely unquestioning obedience.  Now floating in the sunlight, now imprisoned in the petal of a flower, now hidden for seeming eternal ages in the darkness of the mine or entombed in the awful splendor of the central fires; now throbbing with the sun’s inconceivable heat, now chilled by the bitter cold of interstellar space, - always and everywhere, with equal and unchanged joy, it fills its tiny but essential place in the unfathomable creation of God.  It cannot "serve him much”; but it can serve Him forever, and can " please Him perfectly.”

 

    "Would’st  thou the highest life know, the ‘atom’ can whisper its secret. 

   What that  is without will, that be thou, man, with a will.”

 

VII.           The love of God is infinite, and is coextensive with space and all the other attributes of God.

            "Tell me a man’s ruling love,” said Swedenborg, "and I will tell you what he is.”  Equally true is this, "Give me the sum total of man’s actions, and I will find out from them his ruling love.”  Let us then judge God by His acts.  Whose are the iron and the stone?  Whose are the cattle on a thousand hills?  For whom do waves sparkle, winds blow, leaves rustle? And for whom does earth pour forth her fruit?  Is it for the sake of God that the sun shines, that the moon lights up the night?  Has he built the stars for His habitation and do their light-waves carry messages to Him?  Does gravitation keep His house together over His bead?  What, then, is all this creation for?  Whose wants does it meet? Whose intellect does it stimulate?  Whose life does it create, protect, and glorify?  There is but one inevitable answer.  The whole galaxy is built, gravitation pulls, light shines, electricity thrills, and the atoms where to form the worlds, simply and solely for the benefit of God’s children.  The whole cosmos is one mighty token of His love.

    It is strange to hear a man like Tyndall speak of what seems the "appalling indifference” of nature to the woes of man, as if nature were one thing and man another, and they existed in tow different universes, made by two different beings, for two different purposes, the truth being that this seeming indifference is the crowning triumph of the love divine.  It means that in matter God has subjected Himself to man, that in matter God takes upon Himself the form of a servant, that in matter God is absolutely obedient to the dictates of His creatures.  Keep the laws of matter, and you can shape it to what moulds you please.  Meekly it will undergo all the blows wherewith you fashion it.  With fire-beat and hammer-beat, you weld it to your will.  In every mighty workshop of the modern day there is many a Jacob who will suddenly awake from his dream and say, "God was in this place, and I knew it not.”  In matter, man is the master, and God the servant; man proposes, and disposes also.  In matter, God abdicates realm after realm of His kingdom, in order that His children may have a kingdom, too.  But it is more than this.  God has only His own substance out of which to make this kingdom.  In matter, God, by a divine act of transubstantiation, forever saith, "Take, eat: this is my body which is given for you!”

    But you say, "Now, you yourself are limiting the power of God.”  Nay: it is God Himself who is limiting His own power.

    We do not understand in the least the perfection of God’s self-surrender until we know that it is absolute.

    God has given His worlds away, and cannot take them back again. He has given to us, His children, real eminent domain over the things He has made.

    God has reserved to Himself absolutely nothing of the galaxy. All is now the absolute property of His children. He has only reserved to Himself the right to protect, to guide, to ransom, to rescue, to forgive, the right in all their affliction to be afflicted, the right to comfort and cheer and strengthen, and the right to protect the weak against the strong and to visit the one who wrongs his neighbor.

    Jesus did not invent self-sacrifice. He discovered it, -- discovered that self-sacrifice is the great central law of the universe, that this is the heart of God. He obeyed it, loved it, lived it, and gave himself for it.

      God is love. This is the gospel, the good tidings which proclaim liberty to all captives and comfort all that mourn. It is the good news to all, to the weak as well as to the strong. God is love.

      Here is a poor, lonely, forlorn old woman, living all by herself in some crazy attic in a tenement house. Husband, children, friends, are all dead and gone. It is night. The weary toil of the day, too much for the feeble frame, is over at last; and now the one romance of her desolate life begins.

      By the light of her one tallow candle, she opens her well-thumbed Bible at the passage which tells of that rest which remaineth for the people of God, of that better, that heavenly country, where her dead are alive to God. Unconsciously, she is trying a great experiment. In this miserable room is there anything besides rickety floor, falling plaster, crazy stove, and single chair and table and empty space around?

     Yes: there is. She reads on, and the loved faces seem to smile once more upon her, and the loneliness departs; for the love eternal which surrounds her makes her sleep once more in safety.

     She dies; and the beloved ones meet her, and lead her toward the great company of "loyal hearts and true,” that she may hear the life-song of the redeemed. It fills her soul with joy at first. But very timidly, after a time, she asks if ever she may be possibly allowed just to catch a far-off glimpse of that third heaven she has read of, where God Himself is moon and sun. Oh, yes! they will take her at once. Swiftly, they carry her to that blest place. But where is she? Why, she is standing in the old rickety attic. This is the very stove, these the tumble-down walls. Here is each common thing that her past life wearied of so often. But, lo! Wall and stove, chair and table, begin to shine, to grow transparent, to become part and parcel of the Love Divine, all love excelling. She has seen God, seen the fullness of Him that filleth all things.

    One day, it shall be thus with us all:--

 

"Soon the whole,

Like a parted scroll,

Shall before my amazed sight uproll,

And then be seen,

In unclouded sheen,

The Presence wherein I have ever been.”