Story type: Essay
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said . . . . Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.”–Job xxxviii. 1, 4.
Since men have lived on earth their feeble intellects have struggled to realize the majesty of God.
Succeeding nations and civilizations have expressed through laws or religions their puny conceptions of the power that controls the universe.
As mental and moral standards have improved, there has been constant improvement in the conception of God.
The Greeks and Romans imagined a variety of gods, and attributed to these the vices and weaknesses of men.
The Fijians worshipped a god who devoured the souls of the dead, inflicting torture in the eating, but mercifully releasing souls from pain when the meal was ended.
The ancient Mexicans went to war “because their gods demanded something to eat.” Their armies fought “only endeavoring to take prisoners, that they might have men to feed those gods.” —-
Even with the birth of the one great idea–THE UNITY OF GOD–the personality of the universal Creator was but a reflection of His worshippers.
He was a “jealous” God, a “man of war.” “God Himself is with us for our captain.”– Chron. xiii., 12.
God dwelt in a city made of nothing cheaper than gold and precious stones. For His own glory, He maintained a court Oriental in form, with strange beasts to sing His praises, and He tortured forever and ever creatures that He had made.
The present conception of an omnipotent God has changed greatly since the old days, when cruelty was the rule and was admired. There is to-day insistence on God’s LOVE, on His JUSTICE, on His MERCY that “endureth forever”–there is practically no teaching of the old belief that a creature, born of circumstances, and good or bad as circumstances may determine, is to suffer endless torment under never-changing conditions of horror. —-
The writing of this editorial is based upon frequent reading of the book of Job. In that ancient and wonderful book, as in no other writing, the Jewish forces of poetry and of prophecy are exhausted in the effort to portray God’s majesty.
All of the old prophet’s knowledge of the world, all of his mystic notions of sidereal government, are used in the effort to glorify his Creator.
“Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days?
“Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?
“Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow?
“Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks?
“Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?
“Will he make many supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft words unto thee?
“Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?”
Thus through chapters of greatest beauty the primitive mind seeks to portray for the benefit of other primitive minds the omnipotence of the world’s Ruler. —-
What hope has man of conceiving, even approximately, the great law-giving Force that rules the universe? Shall we ever do more than attribute to Him those qualities which our own pygmy minds admire? Shall we forever conceive Him as a glorified “individual”?
We believe that in the Book of Job there is suggested the method of studying God that alone can aid us to a better, higher conception.
The study of God must be prosecuted through the study of astronomy, and this the old prophet foreshadows clearly:
“Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
“Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?”
Long years ago children were taught to admire a god who created a leviathan, a unicorn, and “Behemoth.”
Children of the future will be told:
You live on a globe twenty-five thousand miles round. It travels ceaselessly through space at a speed of eighteen miles a second. Compared to the huge sun that lights and gives us life, our earth is but a pinhead, and the sun itself is but one tiny dot in the ocean of space. Through that space the sun rushes on an errand unknown, carrying us with it.
Everything moves, revolves, rushes ceaselessly, yet a balance registering the one-thousandth part of a grain is not adjusted as nicely as these huge behemoths of limitless space. Laplace shows positive proof that the earth, travelling eighteen miles per second, has not changed the period of its rotation by the hundredth part of a second in two thousand years.
The mind of the future, imbued with respect for the Force that controls, conducts and makes the laws for the universe, will attain more nearly to a conception of God. But a study of God will remain man’s chief and constant effort while he lives here. That study is never-ending.
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