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Time to Nature, God, And the Soul.

Time to Nature, God, And the Soul.

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Published by glennpease
BY JAMES MARTINEAU, LL.D., D.D.,


Ps. Ixxxix. 47.

" Remember how short my time is : wherefore hast thou made all men
in vain ? "
BY JAMES MARTINEAU, LL.D., D.D.,


Ps. Ixxxix. 47.

" Remember how short my time is : wherefore hast thou made all men
in vain ? "

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 17, 2014
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Time to ature, God, and the Soul.BY JAMES MARTIEAU, LL.D., D.D., Ps. Ixxxix. 47. " Remember how short my time is : wherefore hast thou made all men in vain ? " WHETHER or not a man is made in vain depends however very little on his allowance of time. " Long life " may be needful to " satisfy him," to prevent disappointment of a natural instinct and give a certain completeness to his existence on the personal side ; but is far from necessary to God's purposes in creating him, or to the intensest and fullest action of his being on the sphere into which he is born. The divinest life that ever took the form of humanity, the life above all others least " in vain," hung upon the cross ere half our proverbial term was spent ; and with a few months of love and sorrow profusely' sowed the whole seed-field of human history. The cravings of ease and comfort may dictate the prayer for protracted freedom from disturbance : the passionate cry of 2O4 Time to ature, God, and the Soul. desolate affection may protest against the abrupt quenching of its familiar lights, brilliant and unex- hausted still: but, by the measures of the Spirit, moments may often suffice for years; and many a soul, though not outwardly stricken, yet inwardly weighed down by the cross of too great a life, is so far from desiring " length of days," as to have no lingerings but for others' sake, and to stand ever eager for the vioce, " Lift up your head, for your redemption draweth nigh " !
 
othing indeed is more wonderful to think of than the different values of Time to different orders of existence. To mere physical natures it is nothing, except the element that contains their successions ; the element that is always there, and always uni- form ; the empty receptacle of their changes ; producing nothing, destroying nothing ; the mere open door of all possibilities. The heavens and the earth are insensible, to their own vicissitudes, and have neither pride nor fear at their longevity. They measure time for others, but know nothing of it themselves : they move in order to render its march perceptible, but are blind and deaf to the rhythm which they beat. To the rising sun it is nought what day in the world's calendar it glorifies : the transit of the stars is calm alike, whether they look down on the young Paradise or on the trodden latitudes of guilt and sorrow: the clock in the sick chamber does not stop to listen to Time to ature, God, and the Soul. 205 the parting breath, but ticks on, whether to count the pulses of life, or to sharpen the silence of death. The particular objects in creation have indeed their period : -they pass through various stages of a career, all lying between a beginning and an end ; and if you come upon them to-morrow, they are not the same that you would find them to-day. The difference however is for you and not for them ; and is lost when you restore them to their place in the great organism of nature. The universe as a whole is always sure to be; and to its life, which has all space to roam in, it matters not whether the pulsation be due here or there. To the physical elements, history is nothing : the young ' oak, if its roots be only fed, is indifferent, whether its sap is from the juices of the new earth, or drawn from the falling foliage of ten thousand years; and
 
the full moon would as soon look down on a Geth- semane as on an Eden. In the fields of creation every hour is equally full, with neither more nor less than what is due : indeed it is this very evenness that makes and counts the hours and gives them equal length; and we set off its constancy against our contingent and passionate existence, because assured that we can rely on its relentless neutrality. ature, in short, as a phenomenon in time, serves only to mark it for higher beings ; and neither makes it nor minds it. Duration, already on the field, does but use the cycles of ature as its ministers and interpreters. 206 Time to ature, God, and the Soid. If ature is below any perception of time, God, at the other extremity of being, is above it. He is the great " I Am" : his verbs have no tenses: his expe- rience is never past ; his knowledge never future : with him nothing fades away and sets : nothing dawns and brings surprise. Whatever enters into his being is not phenomenal, but real ; not transient and finite, but permanent and infinite. Truth, the expression of what unchangeably if, ; beauty, the conception of a fixed ideal ; holiness, the love of voluntary perfection ; these, which meet in his personality, are not historical and incidental, but unsuccessive and spiritual, the ground-thought of the universe itself, the law and life that underlie the course and determine the drift of its development. He is the essence of all the eternities : before his eye the accidents of being fall away, and the inner significance alone is present to his view. Only that which is always true and fair and holy belongs to him ; not learned by him afterwards from the form of its manifestation, but known before- hand in itself ; not read off from the face of the world by his perceiving eye, but created into the transitory universe by his everlasting thought. His intellect

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