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It is important also to notice how by sin man loses sight of God. The act of sin is followed by shame and the consciousness of guilt, and this, when it does not lead the soul to immediate repentance, is sure to involve it in the effort to conceal the guilt. Adam and his wife hid themselves from God among the trees of the garden. The sinful soul does not like to retain God in its knowledge, and thus men are ever trying to shut out from their minds the idea of God, in order to escape the sense of fear, accountability, and remorse.

But the idea of God is not so easily disposed of. The first step is to deny or to question the dignity of God's law. "Thou shalt not surely die," said the tempter to Eve; and on the strength of this assurance she presumed to taste the forbidden fruit. And by the same assurance men are ever striving to quiet their consciences, while they indulge in sin. But thus to question the dignity of God's law, is virtually to deny his power, justice, and love; for it supposes either that God is unable to enforce his law by penalties, or that, having ordained a law for the good of his obedient children, disobedience to which must result in degradation and misery, he still is not just to enforce that law, or has not love to inflict the very penalties which love makes necessary to secure obedience and to save from the destructive consequences of sin. Thus the perfection of God's moral qualities is doubted.

So with his other attributes. For example, the power of God to discern the motives of the heart is virtually denied when the soul seeks to justify its wrong conduct or to evade the charge of guilt, as Adam did when he undertook to throw the blame of his transgression on Eve, and Eve again on the serpent, as men do every day when they undertake to throw false and honorable motives over wrong conduct, or to deceive themselves with the thought that God does not discern that selfishness or meanness in their motives which they can scarcely cover up from the world.

In short, whatever be man's own conceptions of moral character and conduct, if his heart be set toward evil, he is morally certain to impute the same to God; and as, step by step, he degrades himself, blunts his moral sense, and blinds his intel

lect to the truth, so, step by step, he degrades his idea of God until the moral perfections and even the spiritual nature of God are wholly lost sight of. The process is one of constant assimilation of the idea of God to man, instead of man to God; and as one by one the features of holiness are blotted from the soul by sensuality and passion, so the features of holiness fade out of man's idea of God, while human, or even less than human, weaknesses, desires, and passions are attributed to him. And now that God is conceived of in the image of man, he is represented in that image in material form, and as such is worshiped, until at last even his personal existence is forgotten and he is supplanted by an insensate idol.

Paul describes this process in the introduction to his Epistle to the Romans: "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image. made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things."

Thus idolatry is the natural result of moral deterioration and forgetfulness of God. And this idolatry will be polytheistic. So long as God is kept before the mind as the creator and upholder of all things, so long are the mysterious phenomena of nature referable to a rational first cause, although the interme diate agencies through which they are brought to pass be not discerned. But let there be no revelation of God, or let such revelation be forgotten, and the mind is at a loss in attempting to account for the simplest facts of nature. All things are necessarily referred to personal agency, but this agency, instead of being one, is manifold. The untaught mind does not discern the harmony and laws of nature, and the universe presents to it a scene of conflicting elements. Light and darkness, fire and water, tempest and calm, all the great forces and phenomena of nature are personified; and all those which at all affect human life, especially those which inspire fear, would naturally be propitiated by worship. Thus the sun would be worshiped for its light and heat, the earth for its pro

ductions, the river for irrigating the soil. So ferocious beasts, venomous serpents, stinging insects, and even noxious plants, would be regarded as having power over life, and would be worshiped accordingly. Then a tendency would arise to place over against these a catalogue of benign deities, domestic cattle for their services, esculent plants, or anything that might be regarded as counteractive of malignant influences. These all would be worshiped in their own form or under forms of idols; and there is no limit to the extravagance of such idolatry. The history and present condition of mankind, wherever the light of revelation has not reached, fully illustrate and confirm this point.

We have thus traced the natural progress of moral deterioration induced by sin until the soul is lost in the degradation of idolatry. From first to last this progress is but the logical carrying out of the ruling purpose of the soul to seek its happiness in sin. We discern in it no recuperative influences, but rather the breaking down of all obstacles that prevent the gratification of man's depraved desires. As the standard of moral character is depressed, those who are born and educated under it can never rise above it. Whatever be the object of worship, whether God, or a beast, or an idol to which worse than beastly passions are ascribed, the character of the worshiper will be assimilated to it. "Think of Buddah," say his priests, "and you will be transformed into Buddah. If men pray to Buddah and do not become Buddah, it is because the mouth prays, and not the mind," and we have only to reflect on the revolting and unnatural vices attributed to heathen deities, to appreciate the corrupting influence of their worship upon their devotees. The testimony of heathen writers upon this point is unequivocal, abounding in touching confessions of the hopeless debasement and debasing influences of their systems of religion.

This, then, is the condition of mankind without knowledge of the true God. The earth is filled with corruption, violence, and lust. The only leverage that remains for good is man's

* Quoted in the Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation, p. 43.

acknowledgment of the superhuman or divine, which idolatry itself attests.

The nature of the problem is, therefore, to restore the soul of man to God's likeness by first bringing him to the knowl edge of the personal existence and character of the true God, and then by bringing motives or influences to bear upon the soul to lead it to right conduct, affections, and ideas.

CONDITIONS OF THE PROBLEM OF SALVATION.

1. The provision for man's salvation must come from God. This is evident on the following grounds:

First, the human soul is by its own determination turned away from God. When evil as an object of desire competes with good, the soul invariably choses the former. Left to it self, it will surround itself more and more with evil influences perpetually, until every incentive to good will be shut out, and the probabilities will be as much against holiness as they would be against sin in heaven. Hence from the soul itself there is no hope of restoration. Godlikeness is diametrically opposite in its direction to the end which man has set before him. The moral attributes and even the personal existence of God are out of sight, and cannot be discerned except as they are revealed. The most that man can do is to grope blindly after God. The utmost that heathen philosophy ever did was to feel its lost condition, confess its inability to devise a way of salvation, and call on the gods for a Saviour.

Secondly, the salvation of the soul involves action on the part of God, which is, of course, beyond the power of man to determine. The essence of sin consists in this, that it is a vio lation of the law of God. Hence the sinner must either be punished or forgiven. The law is designed for the good of man and is necessary to his education and happiness. But to be operative at all it must be enforced by penalties. This is the only way in which authority can be exercised over moral beings. The law of God is just like parental or civil law in this respect; only, as the law of God is more perfect in its adaptation to the nature and wants of man, and more fitted to secure his highest happiness, there is all the more reason why it should be thoroughly enforced. Such a law cannot be

broken with.impunity. Its claims cannot be lightly thrown aside. Were its influence confined to the society of this our earth, no wanton disregard of it could be permitted without making the government of God a farce. Much more then, when we reflect that the administration of God's government over man affords a spectacle and an analogy to myriads of moral beings, angels and archangels, will it be evident that no plan of salvation can be complete which does not involve some provision whereby the guilty soul may be made to stand with regard to the penalty of God's law as though he had not sinned. But such provision cannot be made by man. Man cannot forgive himself. Forgiveness must come from God. There must be willingness on his part to restore man to the position and privileges which he has lost; and whatever provision justice may demand to satisfy the claims of law must be made by God himself. Thus the love and mercy of God are the sole ground of man's salvation, and, unless man can know authoritatively that the plan of salvation is of God, it will be of no value to him.

2. The freedom of the soul must not be violated.

The possibility of this is not denied, since the fact of the soul being what it is by the will of God demands the possibility that by the will of God it might be otherwise constituted. But the soul being what it is, that is, in the image and likeness of God, cannot be forced in its determination. The very idea of forced or necessitated action, shuts out at once the distinctive feature of the soul as a moral being, degrades it below the rank of animal existence, destroys the very foundation of moral conduct and character, and renders likeness to God not merely morally, but naturally impossible.

But the problem, as stated, is to restore the soul to moral godlikeness. The very statement, therefore, forbids any unnatural influence on the freedom of the will.

It should, moreover, be remembered that God's glory would not be secured by any forced and mechanical conformity of the soul to him. The heavens declare the glory of God. The infinite harmonies of nature proclaim to the discerning mind his wisdom and power. But these inanimate objects them

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