MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I. 2. THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
St Bruno at Prayer
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE
2. THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
I. God exists. This is the first truth of all truths ; it is eternally true, before all ages, without beginning ; it is a necessary truth, for the opposite is inconceivable ; it is the most important of all truths, for all things affirm it, and all depend upon it ; and it is for ever unchangeable. This truth is the foundation of that most universal, most constant of all phenomena, Religion. Around this all civilizations have grown up ; because this alone furnishes a rational ground for virtue, for that suppression of natural savagery and selfishness which is necessary for social life. The recognition of this truth makes all the difference between high and noble lives, and noxious, degraded, animal lives. To all those who aspire to higher things, even though conscious of sin and depressed by their weakness, the existence of God is a source of strength and hope and joy. It gives them an ideal that is higher than mere matter, a hope that raises them above this world and enables them to bear its dis appointments, courage to repent, and assurance of pardon. How miserable the lot of those who have deprived them selves of all this, who possess nothing and believe in nothing but themselves and possessions and pleasures ! Thank God for having revealed so clearly this most glorious truth. Keep it always before your eyes and in your right hand, by continual remembrance of God, and by doing all your works for His glory.
II. The existence of God is not only revealed, it is also a truth of the natural order, enforced on our recognition by the material world around us. " For by the greatness of the beauty and of the creature, the Creator of them may be seen so as to be known thereby " (Wisd. xiii. 5). The world proclaims the existence of a first principle, greater than itself, from which all things proceeded. The immensity, the splendour, the order of the universe, the perfection of GOD. the most insignificant but countless details, make known a great Being of infinite power and wisdom and goodness. So distinct is this teaching that the lowest barbarians, unable for the rest to rise above material things, yet hold firmly, with greater or less distinctness, this transcendent truth. Some individuals, no doubt, have rejected this doctrine ; but we need not be surprised that humanity, like every other class of beings, has its aborted or atavic forms. " The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us; Thou hast given gladness in my heart " (Ps. iv. 7). Look with reverence on this world which God has made. It is a revelation of God to us, and is not made superfluous by the higher and supernatural revelation ; each illustrates the other. Search for God in each and you will find Him.
III. How shall we conceive to ourselves this supreme existence? Pagans have thought of God under human, unworthy, even degraded attributes. There are whole classes of Christians who transform the Deity into their own likeness, instead of modelling themselves upon Him. They attribute to God their own points of view ; or they judge of His works as if they knew His motives, and as if His works were those of man. Watch for this tendency in yourself and suppress it. St. John represents the Divinity as universal light and life filling all things, and dazzling the comprehension of the world. We may think of Him as one supreme, boundless, formless, changeless spirit, the tranquil source of all the exuberant life and energy of the universe ; as manifested to us in the mysterious Trinity, and visibly in that Divine Person who became Jesus Christ. St. Augustine tells us that if we would approach to the idea of God we must think of Him as Supreme Love. See into what a sublime region we rise at once when we turn to God ! How far above the sordid cares and pleasures of the world ! Live always in this region. Let this great truth, like the sun, shine ever before your eyes and illumine your life.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.