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MAN’S RELATION TO GOD
‘O God, Thou art my God.’
Wherever man is found he builds two things—he builds a hearth, the centre of his social and individual life, and he builds an altar, the symbol of that tendency in him which directs his thoughts and his heart towards God. Wherever you touch the history of mankind in any age you find that man is social and he is religious. He has a home and he has a temple. He advanced much in the cultivation of his social life; in the cultivation of his spiritual and moral life, he advanced but little until Jesus Christ came. Until God gave a revelation to the world more than half the world was enslaved, and hopelessly enslaved, and the ultimate appeal was always either to pure force or to pure passion. But in his spiritual things, in religion, he could get no further than this—the altar he builds must be dedicated ‘to the Unknown God.’ And with the Unknown God how many pretended known ones? He must worship, and he must find an object of worship, and yet he feels in his quest he is never satisfied, because he has never reached the truth.
I. There is one religion that stands alone in the world.—There is one religion that differs from every system that has come from man, and it claims for the cause of that difference that it is not from man at all—that its origin is with God. And this religion, that differs from all other religions, pronounces as the first thing the foundation upon which all else must rest—that God is the Creator of all that is not God, and that His creation is separate from Himself. There is only one creed in the world; all the religions that ever have been you can sum up in one term—they are all alike in essence, they are the same, of the same origin, they are what is called Pantheism. They are idolatrous; the man who worships money, the man who worships himself (a vast portion of the whole race have no other worship than that), they are all pantheistic—that is, they make a creature of some sort into God. Now here, at the very first page of our religion and our religious book, in the very first utterance of that religious body which has lasted now 2000 years, and has, with all that can be said against it, blessed the world as it was never blessed before, the first utterance of our creed is this—God is on one side, and all else is at the other; and the relation between the two is this—He brought out of nothingness all else that is. Now apply that to yourself. I am God’s creature. He found a prompting which bade Him call to the abyss of nothingness, and He produced me. I was called out of nothingness by God. That means that I belong to Him in a sense in which nothing can ever belong to me.
II. If God has called me out of nothingness into being, He also sustains me from passing altogether into the nothingness from which he called me.—This creative act of God, if I may so express it, is continuous. He sustains us. ‘In Him,’ says St. Paul, ‘we live, and move, and have our being.’ Now what He does He does for a purpose. He called me into being and gave me liberty; He gave me this head of mine and this heart of mine in order that I might do three things—that I might know Him, love Him, and fulfil His Will; and I am sinning against the primary truth that is written in my nature when at any time in my life I give myself up to other things than those for which I was created—to know Him, to love Him, and to do His Will. And then I know this from experience in two ways—I know that other things do not satisfy me; and I know when I see a man or woman who is spending his or her life in learning to know God better, I see a saint—a man or woman who is really performing the end for which they were designed. I know that all else disappoints; I know it must end in confusion.
III. God shows us His truth in order that it may bless us.—You have an infinite capacity of blessedness in your own bosom. You can have the very happiness of God and none can take it from you. You can possess it for ever. It is that you recognise Him as your Creator Who has called you out of nothingness, Who in His love sustains you, and in His love (for He is love, and never can be anything but love) endowed you with your freedom in order that you might merit it by learning to know, to love, and to serve Him in this life.
—Rev. W. Black.
‘ “When I saw his hands wandering over the counterpane, and he picked at the threads, and his features were drawn as sharp as a needle, I knew there was only one way for him; and then he cried out suddenly: ‘God! God! God!’ Now I, to comfort the gentleman, told him I hoped there was no need to think of God just then; and so he died.”
Probably many of you recognise these words. They are put into the mouth of a bad woman by Shakespeare—a bad woman who saw a bad man die. Mistress Quickly describes the death of Falstaff. I suppose what gives Shakespeare his place in the estimation of men is this—that outside the pages of the Bible, which is truer to man than any other book, probably he comes next. His characters are undying. Why? Because they are true to nature. He has taken in this particular instance the most unlikely man of all the men that he has drawn, and he has shown us that there is something in that man. He refers—we should not expect it—to God; and we feel it is true. We get at this—that to man, to every man, to every member of the human race who can think, God is the inevitable, God is the ultimate thought.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 63". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30