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THE CHILDHOOD OF GOD.

THE CHILDHOOD OF GOD.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE



BY STOPFORD BROOKE


"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom :
and the grace of God was upon him." — Luke ii., 40.



BY STOPFORD BROOKE


"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom :
and the grace of God was upon him." — Luke ii., 40.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Sep 27, 2013
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THE CHILDHOOD OF GOD.BY STOPFORD BROOKE"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom :and the grace of God was upon him." — Luke ii., 40.The way in "which we naturally represent God to our-selves is as a man with the power and wisdom andgoodness of a perfect man. It was inevitable that thisshould be the case in early times among men not capableof abstract thought. We see the same thing working inour children, even in ourselves. In prayer, in thanks-giving, in the going forth of feeling to him, however much our purer reason denies God's visible personality,we represent him to ourselves in human form.It is a tendency which, indulged in too far, has pro-duced great evils and awakened the strongest opposi-tion. In the present day, scientific study of all kinds,as well as j^hilosophy, have set themselves against anyanthropomorphic representation of God. If there be aGod, they say, conceive him through nature. I have noobjection. In fact, the immense increase of knowledgeforces us to reform our intellectual conception of God ;and he would be a fool indeed who did not use all meanswhatever of enlarging and ennobling that conception.Moreover, if we believe in God, all the new knowledge46 FAITH AND FREEDOM.comes from him, cand is intended to reveal more of himto us ; and, when we receive it, w^e take it not only for its own sake, but that we may lead all the ideas wereceive from it hack to their source, and find them com-pleted and harmonized in our idea of him. All sciencesend in theology. Therefore, it is with joy and the kind-ling hope of reaching higher truths about the Divinethat we listen to all that men of science tell us. We
 
know, if they do not, that Nature is the body of God,and that it reveals him as our body ; and its organs andtheir functions reveal our thought. In its myriad-mindedwork, it discloses the myriad-minded God. "The invisi-ble things of him from the creation of tbe world areclearly seen, being understood by the things that aremade, exen his eternal power and godhead." "VVe arebound, then, if Ave would have a worthy theology, to l)o,if not students of science, at least students of the resultsof science. And it is just the same with that part of art whichaddresses the sense of beauty and its pleasure in Nature. Art, in reiu-esentation of natural beauty of landscapeand of form, has more than doubled the range of itswork, both in painting and poetry. Ahnost the wholenatural world has been laid imder contribution by artwith an intensity and a universality unknown before;and if we are wise, and know our time and our needs,we ought to be able to take all the ideas i>ertaining tobeauty and form which we receive through art concern-ing Nature, and lead them upwards also to ennoble andenlarge our idea of God. ^ All, then, that we knew previousl}^ of infinite order, of harmony within diversity, of thought as Lord and KingTHE CHILDHOOD OF GOD. 47of matter, of beauty as its soul, of infinite evolution, of infinite love brooding in the "world of Nature, of ever new "weaving and reweaving, forming and reforming, hasbeen indefinitely increased through the new "work of science and of art. What is the result, Avhat should bethe result, for us who believe in God? We should saywith great gratitude, " Our intellectual and imaginativeconception of God as pure Thought and 2wre Beauty hasalso been indefinitely increased, our whole theology iswidened." And this is what science and art have donefor us : only in their doing of it we have got rid of thehumanity of God, of the conception of his personality.
 
Is this all we need to know of God ? Are we satisfiedwith a God who contents our intellect and our sense of beauty, — with God conceived as pure Thought throughknowledge, or j^ure Beauty through art? We have cer-tainly got rid of anthropomorphism and of ^^ei'sonality ;but are we much the better for getting rid of them?Does it give us all we want ; or, indeed, is it the highestconception we can form of God to say he is the universeof Nature conceived as Matter, or the universe of Natureconceived as Thought, or the mind of Nature conceivedas Harmony and Beauty and impersonal Love ?It seems to me that as many evils follow on the exclu-sive representation of God as impersonal Thought or Beauty or Love as follow from the exclusive representa-tion of him as having a human personality. What are Ave to do? This: let us take all the ideas we Avin fromthe Avorld of Nature and form out of them part of our conception of God. But the world of Humanity is moreimportant than the Avorld of Nature, and we ought toconceive God also through it : Ave ought to add to the48 FAITH AND FEEEDOM.thoughts we have won of him from Nature others whichwe gain through Man, and the first and most naturalway of thinking of him is as perfect Manhood. It wasthat idea that Christ gave to us in a way fitted for the conscience and the spirit. God was our Father inheaven, who was absohitely good, and who loved usutterly and wished us to be as good and as loving ashimself, and worked with us for that purpose. God wasl^laced in a human relation to us ; and we conceived him,not only as Tliought and Beauty, but as a righteous Per-son and a divine Fatlier, whose Spirit was the source of truth and love and \nty and justice. lie was made 2)er-sonal, and put into personal, moral, and spiritual rela-tions to us. It was the higliest anthropomorphism. Add, then, to the conception of God we have received

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