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all creeds, all churches, and all accepted modes of worship, the great masters in the Sacred having successfully demonstrated the grand realities which, being presented, get a response from the souls of men.
The idea of God is a creative idea, and, wherever earnestly cherished, tends to the production of character. The law of Worship impresses the attributes of its Object upon the worshiper, transforming him into the likeness of what he adores. In the dilation and elevation of spirit one feels in the contemplation of natural sublimity, is partially demonstrated the benefit of having before the mind a sublime Ideal, the loftiest possible to man being the idea of the Infinite One, whom all phenomena reveal, who is too great to be known by finite intellect, and is ever to exist in the reverence of man. This idea is the greatest we have, and for its development, the external universe, the human consciousness, and every page of inspiration, render a willing service.
I speak of the Unity of God as the great religious truth, because it is the perpetual source of all other real unity, because this truth is both the hope of the world and its illumination on all the greater problems of human interest. Its great prominence and centrality in the Bible, none who read that book can for a moment question. Its power in the exclusion and destruction of idolatry one may learn from the history of Moses and his institutions.—from the success of the Eastern Prophet, who permanently enlisted a fifth part of the human race under his banners,—and in the homage of the Zoroastrian Magi, who allowed no symbols to serve the Divine Idea except that of fire, as radiating from the sun and from lesser sources. The classical ages, amidst their polytheism, felt some necessity for an enthroned and independent Unity, and accordingly subjected all to One.
How is it possible for you or for me to believe in the certainty of any future good, either for ourselves or for mankind, if the unity of the One, "of whom are all things,” could by any possibility be broken ? The integrity of Providence, which is its power, rests in the integrity of God. Power always resides in unity. Beauty and harmony also dwell in it. If the Source of all unity could cease to be One, that event would be at once the undoing and the confusion of all things, the necessary cessation of a universe. The power, the beauty, and the general aim of Providence and Nature, for ever flow out of the eternal oneness, in which also resides the perfection, of God. The assertion that “God is One,” is the assertion of his every perfection; for, as God, unity to him would be impossible if the least deficiency existed. Imagine the absence of whatever element or attribute necessary to the perfection of Deity, that absence becomes the denial of unity. He is then fragmentary, even though sublimely thus ; and the full assurance of his omnipotence can never be realized except in the assurance of his unity. No being having a moral nature ever was or could be One, with a character opposite to its light and laws. Taking, therefore, the unity of God as the source and inspiration of all other unity, the foundation of faith and of hope, let us briefly trace the developments of the great truth through some of its various manifestations.
Previous to this, however, perhaps one should ask himself the question, How am I to arrive at the idea of the Divine Unity? How am I to assure myself on this cardinal point ? I answer, there are three ways open to the inquirer. 1. He may assure himself in the great moral annunciations of the sacred Scriptures, which for some thousands of years anticipated the inductions of science by the statement, “The Lord our God is one Lord.”* 2. He may follow the unity of his consciousness until it naturally and necessarily leads him to confide in the unity of God. 3. He may follow the path of nature, or of natural science, which is but a transcript of nature's facts and laws, until he satisfiedly rests in the unity of its Author and Source. The systematic study of the natural world belongs comparatively to modern time; and long must have been the ages of human history when man, lost amidst the varieties of natural phenomena, groped in vague and shadowy conceptions of nature, unfortified and unenlarged by the idea and feeling of a universe, of the subjection of the whole variety of creation to an all-pervading Unity. But wherever science has wrought, and on whatever side of the creation, it has detected unity, has classified phenomena, has discovered permanent laws. On this unity every science rests; and without it no science is possible, whether of mind, body or nature. It matters nothing where the student begins ; his path is one of unity; and he does not follow it to the end unless he rests in the unity of God, out of whom the sublime and boundless unity of nature constantly flows.
* Deut. vi. 4.
But let us not neglect the Variety of God; for it is only the unity that shews itself in variety that interests and inspires us. God is infinite. He is the Many-sided Being, out of whom proceed those great and wonderful diversities of nature and providence that awe us with the feeling of infinitude. Let us not seek monotony in the Highest. Let us cast it from ourselves. Let us take the unity and diversity of the material world as the perpetual symbol of the same attributes that are eternally united in God. In the statement of the infinite unity, we will accept the infinite diversity, knowing that from the former the latter ever evolves, and never extends so far as to violate in the least the glorious unity out of which it proceeds.
1. I have alluded to the unity of the material world. None in the present age will deny this position. The Solar System alone, with its several evident unities, is a beautiful demonstration of it. Even the most distant of the double stars, astronomers have found to obey the law of motion, to acknowledge in their movements a common centre of gravity, thereby proving that the same material law reigns there as here; that they, Mercury, Mars, and the falling apple, are loyal subjects of one law. As one member of the organism “may call the farthest,
brother,” to use the words of Herbert, so may the least and nearest world so call the greatest and farthest. Light and heat, however modified by atmospheres, must be substantially the same facts on Neptune as on Earth. So every quality necessarily implied in our conception of Matter must exist wherever Matter exists. I would affirm as much in regard to Mind. A world without extension, or relative differences of weight, without an above, below, and against, is as impossible in fact as it is in conception. So fraternal is the structure of the creation, that in the laws and facts of the part, one finds the analogies that connect it with the whole, as in one face one often reads the expression of a whole family and a whole
Is not order one fact, whether found in the untold millions of space distant, or on our own hearthstones ? When passing over the historical surfaces of this world, one sees the proofs of many legislative sources in the different laws and institutions he meets; in crossing the frontiers of nations, states and kingdoms, he meets them ; but had we the ability to take the widest range of the material universe, going farther than imagination itself can go, we could never, amidst the glorious varieties that demonstrate the world's wealth, be convicted of a contrariety of lawgivers or a clash of laws, or of anything less than the purest unity in their source. This unity, which reveals from the structure of the whole creation, has in it this wonderful advantage for the education of the moral world, wherever existing, that the lessons one learns in any definite locality, so far as they go, qualify for knowing the same creation in the distance ; so that moral beings, in whatever parts of the universe they may be born and educated, must on coming together have so much in common as to render acquaintance, conversation, mutual understanding and sympathy, possible. I hesitate not to say that without this alldiffusive unity in the material world, the beings educated in the various parts of it could never be capable of society on being brought together. So perfectly, so wonderfully, is the Divine Oneness thrown out into the whole creation, that the
education of mind under its phenomena must always tend to society, to the ability of the widest social bonds; and over the illimitable expanse of worlds all experience must, from the very structure of things, lead revering hearts to adore the Supreme Unity. How the rays of the sun diverge, as they go gently and swiftly forth in all directions from his unified form! but tracing them backward, each one, however far it has journeyed, leads to the golden Unit that glows in the firmament for ever. In this fact is seen the true character of the material world and its laws. The goings forth of the Divine Mind in creation diverge into all the variety of this marvellous world; but, true to the Source, everything traced back leads to the Eternal Unit, whose oneness pervades all, whose unity is the strong adhesive bond of the whole creation. To a religious philosophy, the unity of the creation, which every science demonstrates, is the unity of God, since nothing therein is self-derived. Creators, in whatever department they act, leave, because they cannot avoid it, their impress on the works produced ; and the material universe not being a contrivance or a difficultly elaborated product of design, but, like every action of high creativeness, a spontaneous emanation, a calling forth into being, it must of necessity contain the principles of the Creator's oneness. Why, then, is there unity in the creation ? Because there is unity in God. Why should we confide in the continuance of this unity? Why should we not fear the “crash of worlds,” or expect a clash in the laws that govern the numerous worlds ? Because the unity of God is complete and eternal, and its withdrawal from the creation is a highly improbable result. Look out on the forms, relations and laws of the material world,—so boundless, so incomprehensible, so marvellous ! Ask, whence cometh the order and the silent harmony in which the universe doth rest? Religion and Philosophy can give thee but one answer, which is, “Out of the Eternal Oneness of God they flow for ever and ever.” The whole creation is one cathedral of praise to the Divine Unity