This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
John 14: 6. " No man cometh unto the Father but by me."
"Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth us," was the earnest and fervent appeal of one of Christ's disciples immediately after these words were uttered by the Master. Ah ! how often has the cry gone up out of the heart of humanity ! " Show us the Father ! " after whom through all our misery and weakness we reach, whose infinite love alone can satisfy us, show us the Father and it is enough. We want no more. Having found him we have found our All. But have we not seen the Father? Do we not know at least where to find him? "Show us the Father," said Philip : and yet how near the Father was to him. How strangely blind were Philip and his brethren. 1 ' Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip ? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." How then came Philip to ask the question ? Evidently it was not enough to see Christ with the bodily eye. To see the man Jesus, was not to see the Father, for of the multitudes who did see him in Galilee, how
few saw the Father! Ah, there was a knowing of Jesus which went beyond seeing Jiim. " If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also, and from henceforth ye know him and have seen him."
But Jesus says more than this to his disciples. Not (324)
only is it true that he who hath known Jesus, hath known the Father ; but, moreover, without knowing Jesus, we cannot know the Father. "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." No man findeth the Father save in the Son. Had Christ never come into the world, the race would have lost its Father, we should have been orphans for evermore.
This seems to you, perhaps, difficult of belief, at least of comprehension. It may seem to you, perhaps, that it is only a more forcible and emphatic way of saying that Christ has made it much easier to find the
Father, that in Christ much more of the Father is visible than elsewhere. It may seem to you that there is much outside of Christianity which tells us of the Father, much which points to him in nature ; much which reminds of him in Providence ; much which bears witness to him in the heart.
But let me ask you to think how much these evidences owe to the witness of Christ. You forget that Nature, Providence, Experience, the world without you, and the world within you, all stand revealed in the light which shines from the sun of righteousness.
Christianity fills the air. You see through it; you hear through it ; you feel through it. Infidelity itself has something of this unconscious Christianity in it. It is of a higher order than it would be otherwise. That which, but for the coming of Christ, would have been shadowy, confused, discordant, has through him become clear, intelligible, and harmonious. He interprets to you the mysterious hieroglyphics of nature, the dark enigmas of Providence, the vague yearnings of your own heart.
No ! these words of Jesus need no modification, no extenuation. No man comes to the Father, no man draws so near to God that he can say, ' ' I have found
326 LLEWEYLN IOAN EVANS.
the Father," but by Christ. In the darkness into which Christ has never shone, one may ask indeed, is there not a Father? One may hope that there is a Father; one may cast himself on the unknown God, trusting blindly that he may fall into a Father's arm, but it will be a leap in the dark ; no one has found the Father, no one embraces him with loving confidence, no one can know that the Highest to whom he clings is indeed a Father, who has not known Christ, and who is not in Christ, even as Christ is in the Father, and the Father in him.
For consider how many and how great are the difficulties in the way of our finding our Heavenly Father without the help of Christ.
Take first the idea of God as it seems to lie originally in the mind. Think of that mysterious being to whom the soul looks up with anxious questioning, as He is in Himself, or rather as our minds if left to themselves would be constrained to think of him. Reflect on his infinitude. Try to grasp the idea of a Being without limitations. You cannot. The mind is lost in attempting it. And still you are constrained to believe in this Infinitude. You are compelled to believe that there must be a being, to whose nature and life you can set no bounds, to whom there can be nothing beyond himself, nothing above himself, nothing without himself, who is beset by no imperfections, to whom not only nothing is impossible, but nothing is hard, obscure, remote, who sees all things, who understands all things, who can do all things, who holds all things within himself, who knows infinitely, who loves infinitely, who enjoys infinitely, who is without beginning and without end, from everlasting to everlasting. The longer you meditate on his nature, the more you struggle to grasp the secret of his personality, to comprehend the pleni-
tude of his perfection, the more hopeless does the endeavor become, the more awful, the more inaccessible, the more incomprehensible does he seem to you until the idea of him haunts you as an Infinite Spectre, or darkens it as the dread shadows of Eternity.
1 ' Behold the nations are as a drop of the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance, behold
he taketh up the isles as a very little thing
All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity." Compared with his greatness the universe is an infinitesimal ; compared with his .fulness of life and power, all life is infinitesimal and all power weakness ; compared with the infinitude of Being in him — nothing is: He is : his name — Jehovah — I am — who says : " Before the worlds were, I am," when heaven and earth have passed away, I am.
And now contrast yourself with this Being. See the limitations which hedge you in on all sides. How narrow the little round in which you move compared with the circles and cycles of his existence. How you shrink into nothingness in presence of his greatness ! Whichever way you go — how soon you find the end, the barrier which stops you, saying : thus far and no farther ! How many difficulties there are which you cannot surmount ! How many mysteries which you cannot penetrate ! But yesterday you were not — tomorrow where, what will you be? You live in but a moment of time, the Past is gone from you, the Future evades you. All around you spreads the shoreless ocean of existence, you but a drop in its surface. Beneath you are the unfathomable depths; above you tower the firmaments and heavens, immensity rising above immensity, as Alps on Alps arise, you but an atom drifting between. That frail organism which your personality inhabits becomes a little deranged, and you are a raving maniac.
328 LLEWELYN IOAN EVANS.
That brittle thread which holds soul and body together
snaps and for you the universe is changed; Eternity
swallows you up in itself.
Such is God — such are you ! He the Infinite, you
the finite. He the Eternal, you the ephemeral. He
the Omnipresent, you the atom. He the All-seeing
and All-knowing — dwelling in the light which no man
can approach — you
" An infant crying in the night And with no language but a cry."
He, the Supreme, the All-perfect, the All-victorious, whose will is Law, whose Decree is Destiny. You the blind, the erring, the sport of circumstances, the victim of events. He needing nothing, you needing every8
thing. Such is He ; such are you. Dare you say — He is my Father ! Is he not for you an incomprehensible Terror? Is he not rather one whose name, like those men of old, you dare not pronounce, a Being whom — you feel — to look on would be death, to touch would be annihilation?
But, you will say, God does not abandon us to the fancies and imaginations of unaided intellect. He has not left himself without witness. "The invisible things of him from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his Eternal power and God-head." And this revelation of himself in nature, you will say, has in it much to soften the sterner features of the image which the mind forms when left to itself, much to bring God and man together. Nature reveals to us the Goodness of God, the interest which he takes in his creatures, the care with which he watches over them, and thus you think, perhaps, we may be led to think of God as our Father.
You will not forget, however, that we see Nature in the light reflected on it from the revelation which is
through Christ. But how is it when you confine yourself strictly to the teachings of Nature ? Ask yourself what is the most obvious relation which God sustains to Nature? The answer will be that of Creator to the work which He himself has made. But is this relation one that suggests that of a Father? Is it not rather one which considered in itself alone, seems to exclude it? Take what is involved in the idea of a Creator. It involves in the act of Creation, a power unique in itself, a power which involves in itself all other power. It involves unlimited authority over that which has been created, and right to dispose of it as the Maker wills. It involves the infinite inferiority of the creature to the Creator ; for it is inconceivable that God should produce another Being like himself, or equal to himself. There is, perhaps, no power in the Deity which so far transcends human power, none which
so strikingly impresses on the mind the immeasurable superiority of God, as this power of creation, of absolute origination. With nothing but the light of nature to guide him, how can man claim such a power as his Father? Himself a creature, how can he claim Sonship to the Creator?
You will remember, however, that man is a creature in the image of God, and for this reason he is in a special sense, as no other creature is, the Child of God. But how do we know this? Whence have we derived that idea ? Take away that revelation of which Christ is at once the center and the crown, and what foundation have we for such a belief?
Let us admit that the consciousness seems to have been felt in a measure, when only the light of nature has prevailed ; that the heathen have spoken of a paternal character of their divinities ; that heathen poets, as Paul quotes one of them, speak of men as the offspring
330 LLEWELYN IOAN EVANS.
of God. But the paternal character which heathenism ascribes to its gods, has scarcely anything in it to remind us of Him whom Christ calls "My Father and your Father." The former is at most nothing more than the representation of the First Being in the order of existence, the expression of a certain dependence and subordination, like that of subjects on their rulers, or of tribes on their chiefs. The heathen Father — who was he ? Oftentimes it was the tyrant who sacrificed his subjects to his cruel caprices, the chieftain who sold his dependents like cattle. Heathenism knows nothing of that filial liberty, that affectionate trust, that intimate communion, that constant sense of an ever near, ever loving Father which the Christian experiences. To the great mass of heathendom, the name Father, as applied to God, is an empty name, a dead title. But you will say, it is not in nature alone that God is revealed. History or Providence, as we sometimes call it, is a manifestation of him. In the administration of the world's affairs he displays those moral attributes, and that personal interest in the affairs of men, which incline us to think of Him as our Father.
But here again what is the aspect under which we most naturally view God? It is that of Ruler, King, Judge. He sits on the throne: the Universe is his Kingdom. All creatures are his subjects. He is the Supreme Legislator ; he commands, it is the duty of all to obey. He is the Arbiter of Events; nothing takes place but by his ordinance or permission. He doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth and there is none that can stay his hand or say unto him : what doest thou ? He is the Supreme Judge who executes all the laws of his kingdom, the dispenser of all their rewards and penalties.
This is the voice of all History, the testimony of all experience concerning God in Providence. It proclaims God not as the Father, but as the Sovereign, the Arbiter, the Disposer, the Nemesis. We may say, indeed, that his government is a paternal government, that he rules as a Father, but what is our warrant for this?
The Ruler is not necessarily the Father. In human governments, at least, the two characters are not only separate and distinct, but they often come in conflict, and what do we find then ? What is the duty of the magistrate when the interests of the government demand one course of action, while the Father's affections prompt another? The latter must yield to the former. If the King, the Judge, yields to the Father, we accuse him of weakness, he is unfit to rule. On the other hand, in proportion as the Supreme Ruler of the world is invested with the more tender and approachable attributes of a Father, in the same proportion is he divested of the attributes of an absolute Sovereign. Thus it was with the Greeks, the most intellectual heathens whom the world has ever known. The more their supreme divinities were clothed with human feelings and passions, and brought into contact with human affairs, the less were they regarded as the real rulers of the world. The real god of the Greek was Fate. And so universally. To the mind which has received no light from the revelation of God in Christ the world is ruled by Fate : either by a Supreme Divinity which is no other than Fate personified, or by an impersonal Fate against which even the gods rebel in vain. No ! we find
no Father there. It may be, however, that distrusting the intentions and deductions of the intellect, you fall back on the instincts of the heart. You say, I believe, because I have felt —
33 2 LLEWELYN IOAN EVANS.
" I found Him not in world or sun, Or eagle's wing, or insect's eye, Nor through the questions men may try, The petty cobwebs we have spun : If e'er when faith had fallen asleep I heard a voice — ' Believe no more,' And heard an ever-breaking shore That tumbled in the Godless deep ; A warmth within the breast would melt The freezing reason's colder part, And like a man in wrath the heart Stood up and answered — 'I have felt.'"
Yes, you say these feelings, these yearnings, these cravings for a love such as only a Father can give must
find their justification in the reality toward which they reach forth. Far be it from me to undervalue these feelings, or to impair their testimony. Cherish it, prize it, rejoice in it to the utmost. And were that faith of the heart, that faith of instinct sufficient for every emergency that can overtake it, you might satisfy yourself with it; nothing more would be needed. But it is not so. There are times when it fails you, there are hours when those yearnings and hopes are overwhelmed beneath doubts and fears. Too much of life's pilgrimage lies through the valley of the shadow of death for a faith which is mere feeling. We live in a world where Light and Darkness, Joy and Pain, Life and Death hold divided empire. Nature secretes poison as well as honey. She nourishes the nightshade as well as the lily, the upas as well as the vine. The forked lightning shoots along the track of the sunbeam, blasting and withering. The vulture sweeps in the path of the dove; the wolf prowls in the footsteps of the lamb. Fierce engines of destruction are ever forging and launching forth : subtle elements of death are ever brewing and brooding. Tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, fire and flood ravage the earth with desolating fury. Armies of creatures born to prey are tor16
hiring and devouring their numberless hecatombs. If we could but hear it — one unbroken shriek of agony, one eternal wail of woe, is heard amidst the endless laughs and songs of nature. The earth is a charnelhouse: the rocks are the obituaries of untold generations that have been crushed into the dust of death.
The civilizer's spade grinds horribly
On dead men's bones, and can not turn up soil
That's otherwise than fetid, all success
Proves partial failure : all advance implies
What's left behind : all triumph, something crushed
At the chariot wheels : all government, some wrong :
And rich men make the poor who curse the rich,
Who agonize together : rich and poor
Under and over in the social spasm
And crisis of the ages.
And so the dark tragedy goes on, the strong crushing the weak, wrong often triumphant, tyranny supreme, fraud successful, bodies preyed on by disease, smitten with the pestilence, wasting with hunger, minds dwarfed in idiocy or wrecked in insanity, souls crushed beneath burdens too heavy to be borne, hearts bleeding, hopes withered, noble enterprises dashed to dust, the innocent bearing the curse of the guilty, lives of beautiful promise blighted in the bud, tears of sorrow, and sorrows too deep for tears, prayers for a blessing that never comes, and prayers for death that comes too late, blessings that turn to curses, doubt that turns to despair. Ah ! not easy is it for the heart to lift itself out of the shadow which these dark problems of existence cast upon it. The mere feeling that God is our Father, will avail but little against these other feelings,
these doubts and fears that are rolled upon the mind by the dread mysteries which are all about and within you. There is still another voice than that of the heart coming up from within to which you must give heed. It is the voice of conscience. And what does
334 LLEWELYN IOAN EVANS.
it say ? It tells you that whatever the relations at first existing between God and you might have been, these relations are altogether changed. It is not now as it was in the beginning. You are not now as when you first came from God. You have done all in your power to break the tie which bound you to God. What if it be broken forever f You have repudiated God's paternal authority over you, you have slighted his paternal interest in you, you have spurned his Father's love for you, your course tells you that you have deserved to be eternally disowned — why should not a just Father treat you as you deserve ? You have become as unlike to your Father as darkness is unlike light, as sin is unlike holiness ; how can a holy God delight in you as his
child? You left your Father's house and became a child of shame. Your course tells you that you have no longer any right to his hospitalities, that to cross the pure threshold and to enter the sacred precincts where he dwells, would be sacrilege. You have dishonored your Father's name, you have traduced his glory.
Your course tells you that to call yourself his child would be blasphemy. It interprets against you all the portents of nature, and all the terrible facts of life. It bids you see in the lightning the bolt of his vengeance, and in the pestilence the scourge of his wrath. It makes you tremble when his judgements are abroad in the earth, and ever and anon whispers to your shuddering soul — ' ' Thy God is a consuming fire. " What then ? Must you yield to despair? This belief in a Divine Father, is it no other than an illusion ? This hope that you may be the child of an Infinite Love, is it but a mockery ? Must you walk in doubt and darkness all your days, groping for a hand you never feel, seeking for a heart you never find ? No ! no ! no ! One there
is whom to see is to see the Father, whom to find is to find the Father.
Behold him ! hear him ! He teaches you to call God your Father in Heaven. He proclaims his Fatherhood to the world. He brings everything into connection with his Fatherhood. The earth and all its creatures are the Father's. All the events of life are the Father's dispensations. Seeing, as we all see, these dark enigmas of existence, these ills and miseries which abound, yea, looking deeper into their awful mysteries than it is possible for us to look, he still announces not only with confidence, but with joy, that God is our Father. And he is a Teacher, the like of whom the world has never seen. He speaks as man never spoke. He speaks with an authority which all acknowledge.
But this is not all. You doubt, perchance, whether the testimony of the wisest of teachers is sufficient of itself on a matter of so great importance. The wisest may err. The purest may be under a delusion. His very purity and spirituality may perchance cause him
to be more susceptible to the power of dreams and ideal conceptions, beautiful in themselves, but with no foundation in reality. Here again, you receive a new assurance from the testimony of Jesus that he has come immediately from the Father to tell the world of Him who sent him. He speaks as the special messenger of the Most High, divinely commissioned to tell us what we most need to know of God. He speaks the words which he received of God. . He tells us what he has seen with God. All his utterances and all his actions are such as the Father has taught him, that he may teach us. He claims all this, and you feel that his claims must be true, for otherwise Jesus himself is a self-contradiction. His life is a falsehood, his mission a delusion. This it is which gives significance to
336 LLEWELYN IOAN EVANS.
his life, which seals his words with authority. He is from the Father to speak of the Father to men. If this be not true, nothing more is left us to believe in. History is an impossibility; character is an ignis fatuus ;
the best in human life, the deepest in human consciousness, the grandest in human aspiration is vanity of vanities. If anything is true, this must be true, that when he speaks, it is God's word that we hear, when he tells us of God, it is God telling us of himself. When he assures us that God is our Father, it is God assuring us, " I am your Father."
Do you need anything more than this ? Do you demand an assurance from the inner depths of the Divine Nature ? Do you fear that the interval between God and anyone less than himself is so immense that you cannot trust the deliverances of any inferior being? Behold then in Christ one who is not only sent forth by God, but who has come forth out of God. Yea ! he is the Son of God : — not as a creature, for he was with God in the beginning, before the world was : — but the Son of God as a Divine Being — the only begotten, the Eternal Son of God. He calls God Father in a peculiar sense, He teaches us to say — "Our Father," he says "My Father." — "I am the Son of God," he says. "I and my Father are one." And if you thoughtfully consider his words and his life, you are constrained to believe in these declarations. He speaks of God as no other than
the only and well beloved son of God could speak. He speaks to God as no other would dare to speak ; he claims, he enjoys, he exhibits, he manifests, a oneness with God to which it would be blasphemy in any other to make any pretension. He, the Lowly in Heart, demands for himself what belongs only to God. The heart of God throbs in the life of Christ, and everywhere it is a Father's heart. He it is who comes to you
and says — God is your Father. He knows that God is the Father. From Eternity he was in the bosom of that Father, he lived in the love of that Father. He knows it ; he has tasted it in all its sweetness ; he has enjoyed it in all its fulness. He knows that the name Father when applied to God is no figure of speech, no empty title.
Is not this enough? Do you still doubt whether after all the Father of Christ can be your Father? Behold in Christ again your brother; bone of your bone
and flesh of your flesh. The Son of God, he is at the same time the Son of Man. "The brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person," he is yet one of our family. He is crowned with infinite perfection, radiant with a majesty before which heaven veils its eyes ; and yet we see his brow wet with bloody sweat, and his eyes with human tears. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and yet he is not ashamed to call us brethren. He is my Lord and my God, and yet he is my brother. He it is who says: "Go to my brethren and say unto them: I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." The same God, the same Father, — the same Father's love to trust in, and to bless you unto the end.
Do you still hesitate, do you still tremble as you approach this God ? Ah ! I know the reason why. You remember the sin which has alienated you from him. You feel the guilt which rises between you and him. But look again to Christ. Does he repel sinners? He calls them to him. Does he shun the guilty ? He says "Come to me, and I will give you rest!" Does he give up the lost? " He came to seek and to save the lost." Do you point to your sin? His blood cleanseth
from all sin. Your guilt ? His cross takes all your guilt away. Divine Justice? Nowhere does it shine more
338 LLEWELYN IOAN EVANS.
brightly than in the sacrifice made on Calvary — The Law ? Nowhere is it so fully magnified and made honorable as in the obedience, the sufferings, and the death of the Crucified One. God — He is your Father, he stands with open arms to receive you ; he beseeches you to return and be reconciled to himself; the door is open, the feast is prepared, the table is spread, the welcome, the ring, the robe — all is ready. You have but to throw yourself down at his feet, crying ' ' Father, I have sinned and am no more worthy to be called thy son," — and that is the last you hear of your sins. They are forgotten : naught remains for you henceforth, but the smiles, the embraces, the entertainments, the companionship, the love of a Father who is yours forever.
And how have you found hirn ? Ah ! need I say ? Does not your heart now respond to this declaration —
"No man cometh unto the Father but by me." Yes, it is in Christ that you find your Father, it is in Christ that the Father finds his lost child. Your Elder Brother brings you to the Father — he brings the Father to you.
You are accepted in Him. The Father receives you for his sake, and loves you in Him — " He is our Peace." "If a man loves me," says Jesus, and let each one listen to his words — "he will keep my words — and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." "The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me." " O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me, and I have declared unto them thy name" — Father! — "and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."
Oh ! who can comprehend the blessedness of the Sons of God? Language fails, imagination fails, Eternity alone can unfold it. "Now are we the Sons of
God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him " — Sons of God now ; like the First-begotten hereafter. — The lost image restored, the lost Sonship regained.
Brother, — forget not the way, there is but one; "I am the way: no man cometh to the Father but by me." As many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God. Receive Christ; and you find your Father. — Reject Christ and you lose your Father — you yourself are lost : you are a wanderer, an outcast, an orphan through all Eternity.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITINGS
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.