Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/225

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189
OUR 'MASSES' AND THE BIBLE

that makes for righteousness,' then we can know and feel the truth of what we say when we declare: Eternal, thou hast been our refuge from one generation to another! For in all the history of man we can verify it. Righteousness has been salvation; and to verify the God of Israel in man's long history is the most animating, the most exalting and the most pure of delights. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Eternal![1] is a text, indeed, of which the world offers to us the most inexhaustible and the most marvellous illustration.

Nor is the change here proposed, in itself, any difficult or startling change in our habits of religious thought, but a very simple one. Nevertheless, simple as may be this change which is to be made high up and at the outset, it undeniably governs everything farther down. Jesus is the Son of God; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth that proceeds from God. What God? 'A Great Personal First Cause, who thinks and loves, the moral and intelligent Governor of the Universe?'—to whom Jesus and the Holy Spirit are related in the way described in the Athanasian Creed, so that the operations of the three together produce what the Westminster divines call 'the Contract passed in the Council of the Trinity,' and what we, for plainness, describe as the fairy tale of the three supernatural men? This is all in the air, but in the air it all hangs together. There stand the Bible words! how you construe them depends entirely on what definition of God you start with. If Jesus is the Son of 'a Great Personal First Cause,' then the words of the Bible, literally taken, may well enough lend themselves to a story like that of the three supernatural men. The story can never be verified; but it may nevertheless be what the Bible has to say, if the Bible have started, as theology starts, with the 'Great Personal First Cause.' And the story may, when it

  1. Ps. xxxiii, 12.