not seem so strange that Edison should have hundreds of
True, it has generally been declared that this God is an infinite God, and an infinite God is a God without any bounds or limitations; and a God without bounds or limitations is an impersonal God; and an impersonal God is Atheism. But may not this be the incoherency of prophecy which precedes the successful mastering of an idea? May we not think of this illusory expression as having arisen from inability to see the whereabouts of a certain vast but tangible Person as to whose existence men were nevertheless clear? If they felt that it existed, and yet could not say where, nor wherein it was to be laid hands on, they would be very likely to get out of the difficulty by saying that it existed as an infinite Spirit, partly from a desire to magnify what they felt must be so vast and powerful, and partly because they had as yet only a vague conception of what they were aiming at, and must, therefore, best express it vaguely.
We must not be surprised that when an idea is still inchoate its expression should be inconsistent and imperfect-ideas will almost always during the earlier history of a thought be put together experimentally so as to see whether or no they will cohere. Partly out of indolence, partly out of the desire of those who brought the ideas together to be declared right, and partly out of joy that the truth should be supposed found, incoherent ideas will be kept together longer than they should be; nevertheless they will in the end detach themselves and go, if others present themselves which fit into their place better. There is no consistency which has not once been inconsistent, nor coherency that has not been incoherent. The incoherency of our ideas concerning God is due to the fact that we have not yet truly found him, but it does not argue that he does not exist and cannot be found anywhere after more diligent search; on the contrary, the persistence of the main idea, in spite of the incoherency of its details, points strongly in the direction of believing that it rests upon a foundation in fact.
But it must be remembered there can be no God who is not personal and material: and if personal, then, though inconceivably vast in comparison with man, still limited in space and time, and capable of making mistakes concerning his own interests, though as a general rule right in his estimates concerning them. Where, then, is this Being? He must be on earth, or what folly can be greater than speaking of him as a person? What are persons on any other earth to us, or we to them? He must have existed and be going to exist through all time, and he must have a tangible body. Where, then, is the body of this God? And what is the mystery of his Incarnation?
It will be my business to show this in the following chapter.
Atheism denies knowledge of a God of any kind. Pantheism and Theism alike profess to give us a God, but they alike fail to perform what they have promised. We can know nothing of the God they offer us, for not even do they themselves profess that any of our senses can be cognisant [sic] of him. They tell us that he is a personal God, but that he has no material person. This is disguised Atheism. What we want is a Personal God, the glory of whose Presence can be made in part evident to our senses, though what we can realise [sic] is less than nothing in comparison with what we must leave for ever unimagined.
And truly such a God is not far from every one of us; for if we survey the broader and deeper currents of men's thoughts during the last three thousand years, we may observe two great and steady sets as having carried away with them the more eligible races of mankind. The one is a tendency from Polytheism to Monotheism; the other from Polytypism to Monotypism of the earliest forms of life-all animal and vegetable forms having at length come to be regarded as differentiations of a single substance-to wit, protoplasm.
No man does well so to kick against the pricks as to set himself against tendencies of such depth, strength, and permanence as this. If he is to be in harmony with the dominant opinion of his own and of many past ages, he will see a single God-impregnate substance as having been the parent from which all living forms have sprung. One spirit, and one form capable of such modification as its directing spirit shall think fit; one soul and one body, one God and one Life.
For the time has come when the two unities so painfully arrived at must be joined together as body and soul, and be seen not as two, but one. There is no living organism untenanted by the Spirit of God, nor any Spirit of God perceivable by man apart from organism embodying and expressing it. God and the Life of the World are like a mountain, which will present different aspects as we look at it from different sides, but which, when we have gone all round it, proves to be one only. God is the animal and vegetable world, and the animal and vegetable world is God.