Page images
PDF
EPUB

to San Francisco ? Do you remember the multitude of Tuli Islands that produce such marvellous crops of celery and potatoes? That fertility comes from the gathering of the flotsam and the jetsam in the reeds of the tuli plants. Who would have thought that worthless trash could serve such mighty purpose ?

Once the lightning and thunder-bolts were but the playthings of cruel gods, according to man's imagination. But in the twinkling light of the great cities, in the whirr of machinery, and in the rapid transit of vast multitudes, is evidenced the long unsuspected purpose of the lightning, as it is to bring a thousand blessings to man under the guise of electricity. In that terrible wreck of the North Atlantic last year, how wonderfully the unsuspected purpose of God was evidenced in the mysterious using of the very currents of air for the transmission of messages over the far distance! Thus do countless forces and phases of the material universe testify how the things of earth are thrilling with the unthought-of things of heaven.

2. Not less are the unsuspected purposes of God interwoven with the records of human history.

All industrial life, all social organizations, all political systems, ethical movements, all intellectual achievements are pulsing witnesses to the struggle of mankind to the one far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves. Time and again trivial events, lone men turn the destiny of nations, the movements of society. The deeply pondering

men have seen in these events the guiding hand of God. That was the daring conception of the old Hebrew prophet in the time of Israel's exile. Seeing the all-powerful Cyrus establish a new kingdom, he saw in him the unwitting instrument of God in restoring his people to their native land. So a little later might the same prophet tongue have greeted the conquering Alexander as the chosen of God, decreeing that not oriental despotism and sluggishness, but western individualism and alertness, should settle the destiny of Europe.

Again and again the same principle illustrates itself in the unrolling of the centuries. At critical moments in unsuspected manner is God seen girding the affairs of men. We cannot wonder that Charles Kingsley said, when contemplating the remarkable movement of the wild tribes of Europe against Rome, “ And now, gentlemen, was this vast campaign fought without a general? If Trafalgar could not be won without the mind of a Nelson, or Waterloo without the mind of a Wellington, was there no one to lead these invisible armies on whose success depended the future of the whole human race? Did no one marshal them in that impregnable convex form from the Euxine to the North Sea ? No one guide them to the great strategic centres of the Black Forest and Trieste? No one cause them—blind barbarians without maps or science—to follow those rules of war without which victory in protracted struggle is impossible; and by the pressure of the Huns behind, force on

their flagging myriads, which their simplicity once fancied beyond the power of mortal man? Believe it who will, I cannot.

“But while I believe that not a stone nor a handful of mud gravitates to its place without the will of God; that it was ordained ages since, into what particular spot each grain of gold should be washed down from an Australian quartz reef, that a certain man might find it at a certain moment and crisis of his life-if I be superstitious enough (as I thank God I am) to hold to that creed, shall I not believe that though this great war had no general upon earth, it may have had a general in heaven, and that in spite of all their sins, the hosts of our forefathers were the hosts of God.”

The capture of Constantinople in 1453 by the Turks seemed the death-knell of Europe, but rather was it its new birth; for the scholars fleeing thence, carried seeds of culture that soon made all Italy and France and Spain and England alive with the Renaissance and the Reformation. For his own gratification and love of power Henry VIII defied the Pope, but he was none the less an agent in freeing England from Romish dictation. The fathers came to Plymouth Rock for their own way of worship, and to Jamestown for opportunity of better living; both were inseparably bound up with the forming of a new nation, but they knew it not. A generation ago a great war was fought for the preservation of the union, incidentally, under God, it was the means of freeing millions of human

beings from slavery. A boxer uprising in China, in 1900, as an ignorant protest against western civilization, becomes the means of witnessing the Christian devotedness even unto death of thousands of Chinamen, and of bringing China into such vital contact with western powers that within a single decade she makes more innovations than in the previous millennium.

Fifty years ago Darwin gave to the world his thesis of Evolution. His immediate theory may not be accepted today, but the great principle of development has been universally accepted. For a long time theologians stood aghast, thinking that the very undermining of religion was here assured. But all unexpectedly the new science of recognizing development in all spheres of matter and spirit in the universe, has revealed a God infinitely more majestic than ever was conceived of before, and the teaching of the Divine Saviour appears more sublime and compelling than ever. So the historical study of the Bible is being girded of. God for the taking of His revelation into the very hearts

of men.

In the terrific storm of this hour of world war, can be seen the rainbow. Hell has been turned loose. But God stands “ In the shadow, keeping watch above His own." With despotism overthrown in Russia, with half a world ready to die for liberty, who can fail to sense the new spirit of democracy? The hour has struck. God says, “ I'm tired of kings.” The common man counts for more

than ever before. The nations are dedicating themselves for international brotherhood. They engage in the most frightful war of history that war shall be no more.

“He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him.”

3. At every angle of our human lives appears the silken strand of God's unsuspecting girding.

There is something mysteriously sublime about the regular appearance of Halley's comet. Titanic gathering of spheroidal dust, nascent form of yet unborn planets, like some wandering searchlight of unearthly proportions, the expanse of the huge beam of light now and again through long ages, had cut through our earthly heavens, casting terror to the hearts of our ancestors long ago, then as suddenly disappearing. Tradition says that some of earth's greatest have appeared coincidentally with this translucent sun. Cæsar, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror-each was ushered in by this majestic light. Appearing in the heavens for a while, the far visitor steals far away. The new-born babe passes through childhood, youth, maturity, and now with the whitened hair and tottering steps is not long for earth, when lo, after an absence of five and seventy years, the same faint far light appears on the horizon, growing ever brighter and steadier, as if once more it would usher the babe of yesterday into a birthday yet more splendid! As this comet appears so regularly and yet so unexpectedly to the unsuspecting, so the light of God's unsuspected purpose seems to bind us every way about in our human

« PreviousContinue »