Page:Ruskin - The Seven Lamps of Architecture.djvu/38

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While in its second branch, that which is especially concerned with the arts, the justice of the feeling is still more doubtful; it depends on our answer to the broad question, can the Deity be indeed honoured by the presentation to Him of any material objects of value, or by any direction of zeal or wisdom which is not immediately beneficial to men?

For, observe, it is not now the question whether the fairness and majesty of a building may or may not answer any moral purpose; it is not the result of labour in any sort of which we are speaking, but the bare and mere costliness—the substance and labour and time themselves: are these, we ask, independently of their result, acceptable offerings to God, and considered by Him as doing Him honour? So long as we refer this question to the decision of feeling, or of conscience, or of reason merely, it will be contradictorily or imperfectly answered; it admits of entire answer only when we have met another and a far different question, whether the Bible be indeed one book or two, and whether the character of God revealed in the Old Testament be other than His character revealed in the New.

IV. Now, it is a most secure truth, that, although the particular ordinances divinely appointed for special purposes at any given period of man's history may be by the same divine authority abrogated at another, it is impossible that any character of God, appealed to or described in any ordinance past or present, can ever be changed, or understood as changed, by the abrogation of that ordinance. God is one and the same, and is pleased or displeased by the same things for ever, although one part of His pleasure may be expressed at one time rather than another, and although the mode in which His pleasure is to be consulted may be by Him graciously modified to the circumstances of men. Thus, for instance, it was necessary that, in order to the understanding by man of the