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PART I.

HIS ONENESS WITH GOD.

Communion between created and uncreated Mind.—Human side of the Doctrine.—Effort to conceive God.—Faith in His Nearness to us.—In His Love.—Sense of Dependence.—Veneration.—Trust.—God listening and responding to the Soul.—To Christ, God the greatest Reality.—Christ alone with God.—Original, habitual Union.—Walked with God.

COMMUNION between the uncreated and the created mind is a contested subject in the theological schools. We mingle not in the conflict, but venture to express the profound convict ion that, if God be the Father of minds, then the idea is very rational and very refreshing that he should mercifully regard his intelligent offspring, and be ready to converse with them; and, on the other hand, that they should seek to communicate with him. But it is a hard effort for the created mind even to conceive of God, much more to commune with him. A perfectly just conception of God is impossible. The Infinite can never be contained within the finite. The utmost possible to us is to strive to approach, for we can never even approach, however distantly, 196toward the idea of an infinite nature, infinite excellence, infinite duration; the idea of the uncreated, all-creating Mind, the eternal dwelling and source of life, truth, love, and power. And even this striving after a distant approach to the conception of God is more than we can long endure. We are overwhelmed by our own poor thoughts, and can only bow down in helpless wonder, before Him who is past finding out. “It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? It is deeper than Hades, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.”

To stretch toward the Infinite is the first effort the second is to connect the Infinite with our personal sphere, our movements, interests, and destinies. Nothing is more certain than that God is as cognizant of every human soul as if it alone existed in immensity. The changes in our outward condition, and all the passing shades of emotion and of volition within, must be instantly perceived by him. His awful presence is unutterably near to us, the open Infinite Eye gazes upon us every moment. When this faith is once reached, life becomes invested with wondrous sanctity; but it is not enough. Does the Great Being who is so mysteriously near, also love the creatures he hath made? Perhaps the open Infinite Eye is cold as it is luminous, and in conducting the vast interests of the universe, God is indifferent to what is passing in individual minds, 197and heeds not whether they suffer or rejoice, or how they appeal to his throne. The conviction is indispensable, that the nature of God, in its relation to our minds, is essentially parental. How this conviction is legitimately reached, on what basis it must rest in order to be permanent and safe, can not be shown in this place, but it must be reached. It must be believed that God is profoundly interested in the human soul; that the eternal Father stands in the tenderest relation to that soul, and that Divine sympathy and Divine love are not less but more real, than human sympathy and human love.

The mind of man in deep earnest stretching up toward the infinite God, believing in his mysterious nearness and in his love, presumes to utter itself before him. At such a moment, its first feeling is that of absolute dependence. It is in the very condition to trace back existence, preservation, and all good for the present or for the eternal life to the uncreated Source. Along with this sense of dependence, there is deep veneration, not simply love, but such love as finds its proper object only in God—love mingled with awe, love taking its very highest form, the form of reverence. There is superadded simple trust, trust in parental love commanding infinite resources, the confiding look and confiding heart of a child. The mind of man gazing up to the Infinite Nature with mingled dependence, reverence, 198and trust, opens and utters itself to Omniscience.

This is the human side of communion, but there is here, as yet, no interchange. There is outgoing from below, but no response from above. On earth the communion of one human mind with another is profoundly mysterious, and it is far more rare than we imagine. Intercourse by looks, words, and acts, is universal; but real mental fellowship, communion of intellect with intellect, conscience with conscience, heart with heart; communion of soul with soul is excessively rare. It is always and necessarily imperfect. The real and great differences between one soul and another, and the consequent proportional defect of sympathy between them, mental and moral incompetence and poverty on the one side or the other, or both in different respects, constitutional or acquired reserve, shame, pride, and fear, necessarily prevent the entireness and the freedom of communion. But such as it is, it is real, and there are palpable expressions and tokens of it, and a palpable medium through which it is conducted. There is no palpable medium of intercourse between the human soul and God, and on the side of God there are no palpable expressions and tokens of its reality. The region belongs to pure faith; we only believe that God is responding to us; that is literally all. But this faith is rational, and it is purifying and exalting. If one human 199soul welcomes and answers the utterances of an other, it is morally certain that the Eternal Father will meet the advances of his own child. God must perceive every movement of the soul toward him, self, and can we doubt, that he will greet the rising aspiration in his pity and love? The belief is in harmony with the highest reason, that the Uncreated responds to the created mind, pours illumination, breathes down peace, and sheds forth living and healing influences. Divine fellowship is the selectest and most solemn of all mysteries. It is a blessed moment in the earthly history of a soul, when it seeks an audience of God, and believes that God is mercifully listening and responding to it. This is heaven on earth, an earnest of the highest dignities and the noblest joys of the life to come. Communion with God is the most exalted spiritual privilege, and the habit of communion is the proof of the most matured spiritual excellence.

Jesus Christ possessed this privilege in a higher degree than it was ever possessed by man, and he exhibited this excellence in a maturity which was never beheld on earth before or since. On reading his life, the impression is irresistible that his soul was full of God. The selection of a few great occasions could not convey to us an adequate conception of the constancy Sand closeness of his union with the Invisible Father. His labors were incessant he was in the midst of the ignorant, who 200needed to be instructed, the suffering, who needed to be relieved, and the mourners; who needed to be comforted. The demands made on his sympathy, his wisdom, and his power, were perpetual, and he delighted to meet them all. It was not often that he could rob his public work of the hours which might have contributed to his solitary personal joy, but he was never separated from God in thought or in heart. The word oftenest on his lips was this, “the Father,”—“the Father”—“God!” Spontaneously, naturally, constantly, the idea rose, because it was a fixed reality, the greatest of all realities in his mind. No being was so present to him as God; not merely in the hours of peculiar and prolonged communion, but always and every where God was every thing to him. Habitually he brought the Invisible and Uncreated into the sphere of the visible and the created; in his mind the two were one. Even amid multitudes, who had no sympathy with the movements of his inner nature, he knew how to be alone with God, and could convert the crowded city into a religious solitude.

But the deep yearnings of Jesus’ soul, the Divine force within, often drove him into literal solitude, that he might give unrestrained and full expression to his spiritual emotions. In every one of the eventful crises of his life, he gave affecting testimony to the reality of his oneness with God. “He went into a desert place, and there prayed.” 201“He went up into a mountain to pray.” We find that he spent days and nights also, in solitary prayer and communion with God. After his baptism, and before entering on his public course, he went into the wilderness and spent weeks alone with God. On one occasion, after a succession of public labors, we are told that “rising up a great while before day, he departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” When the people sought to take him by force, in order to crown him, he withdrew to pray. On the night of his betrayal, thinking more of the sorrows of his disciples than of his own, “he lifted up his eyes to heaven and prayed” for them. In the garden of Gethsemane, overwhelmed with agony, he prayed, saying, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” His agony deepening, “he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”8989   See Matt. xiv. 23, and xxvi. 36; Mark. i. 35, and vi. 46; Luke, v. 16, and vi. 12, and ix. 28; John, xvii. 1. But that oneness with God, of whose depth many such testimonies were given, was not occasional, but habitual. It was not cherished from a sense of duty, but it governed him irresistibly as an original law of his being. The spontaneous tendencies of his nature, and not the mere conviction or duty, or the force of outward circumstances, drew Jesus to God.

Christ’s attendance in the temple or the synagogue, 202his sacrifices and offerings, and his regard to places, rites, and days—things which in that age were thought to enter into the very essence of religion—are little noticed in the Gospels. But in the habits of his mind, in his words, and in his uniform example, he revealed that which alone gave worth to outward services and sanctity to the synagogue and the temple. He revealed the soul and God, and the reality of intercourse between them. Standing erect in his heavenward tendencies and in his purity, he laid open the spiritual world, its occupations, its eternity, its glory—like a majestic column, round whose base there lies an atmosphere of pollution and darkness, but on whose summit there streams perpetual sunshine. Jesus walked on the earth, but his soul was in the skies with God, and in the light of that upper sphere he ever viewed the world below, and conducted all his ministrations among men.

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