Is God Otiose, or Active in Grace?

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One point yet remains of the general moral character of the system which I would bring under the notice of the reader. The principle which Mr. Ν. sets forth as excellent, and the basis of all practical religion, is the sympathy of God with individual man. "The Bible," he says (Phases, p. 188), "is pervaded by a sentiment which is implied everywhere; namely, the intimate sympathy of the pure and perfect God with the heart of each faithful worshipper." Be it so. But sinners with "an antagonist will" are not faithful worshippers. The same Bible declares "there is none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God"; and we all know that it is the case with a vast majority, and has been, if it be not yet, our own case. What is to become of these-in truth, of all? Mr. N.'s philosophical system leaves them to any possible desire which an antagonist will may have to approach. One from whom as such it desires to be free, and whose presence awakens an uneasy conscience which would desire anything rather than to be there. The mass of men-all really-are left in the hopeless condition of those who are not faithful worshippers and care not to become so.
God must reveal nothing-must sit in otiose indifference, till some one changes himself and comes: no word may He speak to engage him. It would be a revelation. Does Christianity leave sinners in this desolate state, and present a God who, if love be in His heart, is helpless to show it? It is just the contrary. There God is revealed as One who, in Christ, comes to seek and save that which was lost. The Good Shepherd at all cost to Himself seeks His sheep—gives His life for His sheep. Christianity does speak of more than "sympathy for the worshipper"-it speaks of communion. But it is first of all the activity of God's love towards them that were perishing by their own fault far from Him-a love exercised towards them though their will was antagonist. It reveals a God of love, who cared for-thought of-those who did not care for Him-who has compassion on sinners, that they may become thankful worshippers. Judaism did own faithful worshippers, though at the outset it had, as a figure, sought out an enslaved and suffering people. But in Christianity God is fully revealed, not helpless to show His love, but coming in goodness to the sinner where he is, that thus love may give assurance to the heart, and the work of redemption peace to the conscience; so that the sinner may have boldness to approach because God came to him in grace, when he dared not-could not-come to God.
It is this which is the answer of the Lord to the Pharisees, who reproached Him for receiving sinners and eating with them.
The shepherd sought his sheep from the earnest care of his own heart for it. The woman used all diligence to find her piece of money. The joy was the shepherd's, and the woman's And how is the sinner received when he turns to God? The returning prodigal had his father on his neck while in his rags, and the best robe to enter into the house. It was his father's joy to have him back there. Such is the God revealed in Christ. Where is Mr. N.'s? It is a philosophical god, to be found by philosophers. Trouble Himself to seek you! How should a God reveal Himself? It is an implausible thing. And if I have found Him, and found Him to be love-silence! to speak of Him would be a revelation; to listen, second-hand faith. Let others find Him if they care to do so; if not, nobody knows what will become of them. Nor does the philosopher mind this much more than the helpless careless god he professes to have found.
I leave to Mr. N. to say why he writes against a book in which is found the basis of all practical religion, which is pervaded by it, and which alone, as he admits, has preserved and produced it.