The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Practical Atheism of Our Age

It is the rejection of the doctrine of providence, considered as entering into particulars, which constitutes one of the great evils, the practical atheism, perhaps we may call it, of the age in which we live. It is true, undoubtedly, that men, with but few exceptions, admit the existence of a God; but they do not admit, except in a very mitigated and imperfect sense, his presence and supervision. They allow him a being, but they practically strike off its infinity, by assigning him a distant and strictly bounded locality. They allow him the privilege of casting a look down upon the world's affairs; but cannot bear the thought that the world does not and cannot go on without him. Here, then, is one of the great evils of the day, one of the secrets of our misery; the acknowledgment of God's existence, with the excision of his practical omnipresence; the recognition of God in general, but the rejection of him as God in particular.

One would be almost inclined to think that heathen nations are less faulty in this particular than those which bear the name of Christians. The untutored savage

“Sees God in clouds, and hears him in the wind."

Because an advanced knowledge in the sciences has explained many physical laws, men have fallen into the habit of ascribing to law what belongs to agency. And by thus attributing almost everything to what they denominate the laws of Nature, they forget the God of Nature. The mind of the savage, on the contrary, contemplating the result without understanding the law by which it is brought about, sees God in all the objects around him. It is God, dwelling in the cave of its fountain waters, who pours down the mighty rivers. It is the Great Spirit that sends the storm and the lightning from the mountain tops. It is God that shines in the sun, and walks in the clouds, and dwells even in four-footed beasts and creeping things. Here is a great truth, founded in the nature of God, although it is perverted and darkened in its development by the imperfection of fallen hearts. It is a truth, therefore, which ought to be respected. And the question may be put in all sincerity: — Who would not rather be the superstitious savage than the unbelieving philosopher?

It is certainly necessary that science, bewildered in its own wanderings, should return at last, and baptize itself in the truth of the Scriptures: those Scriptures which constantly associate God with all his works. The beautiful Psalms, unequaled in poetry as they are in devotion, may be said to be built upon this great idea, which is equally philosophical and religious. Speaking of God, the Psalmist says, “He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. He watered the hills from his chambers. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man. He hath planted the cedars of Lebanon, where the birds build their nests. He appointeth the moon for seasons and the sun knoweth his going down, Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.” [Psalm 104: 10, 20.]

This is the spirit which pervades these divine poems They everywhere represent the union of God with his works by an ever-present supervision and love. It is not a system of second causes, it is not nature, but God, who does all. It is God "who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry." [Psalm 147: 8, 9]

The same spirit, the same devout disposition to recognize God in everything, pervades all parts of the Scriptures.

A Treatise on Divine Union Part 6, Chapter 1.

1 comment:

  1. I need to be honest and acknowledge that this is the point where I start getting uncomfortable with Upham's teachings. Yes, I certainly affirm "particular providence." And, I am trying to learn from Upham's perspective. But, I am one who very much believes in secondary causes — and I am not quick to attribute everything that happens to the direct agency of God. So, it seems to me his view is extreme. Or is it?