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much deeper meaning than is usually attached to them. How do I know that God exists? Because I stand in His presence, and hear those solemn words as they fall from His lips. Seeing and hearing, these are my testimonies. The eye and the ear are my witnesses ; I mean the eye and the ear of the soul. They bear consentient testimony to the Godhead. Their evidence none can dispute. Indeed more irrefragable testimony is not possible than that borne by the senses.
As of material so of spiritual realities the eye and the ear offer the best and most valid proofs. It is these two that help us to know and follow God in India to-day, not books. Our ideas of the Divinity are not abstract and intellectual, but are based upon direct and intuitive knowledge. Our faith in God is not so much a conception as a spiritual perception. We see Him as a present reality, a living Person, with the mind's eye, and therefore believe in Him. Nay, we not only see Him, but we likewise hear His voice, as He whispers in our inmost soul to the ear of conscience. He whom we adore is not a logical Divinity, but the Living God, who makes Himself visible and audible to the believer's soul India, you know, has always sought a visible Divinity, and for centuries knelt at the feet of millions of idols of her own creation. The vast and varied pantheon of the Hindu theology, which has degraded the nation and paralyzed its religious spirit, indicates only the countless ways in which the Hindu mind has always striven to satisfy its intense craving after a visible and tangible Deity. “Why so many idols ?"-I ask India. She replies she cannot do without a visible something to remind her of the Godhead. Such is the feeling among those who are given to the
grossest idolatry. The higher and more spirituallyminded classes of Hindus who abjure idol-worship, and think it is meant only for the illiterate masses, regard the highest knowledge of God as a kind of perception, whatever that may mean. The great question in which all Hindu devotees are anxiously-interested is whether the soul has seen the Lord. Have you perceived Him ; is what they ask each other. This is reckoned the highest devotion that the worshipper has seen his God in his own heart. Nothing short of this can satisfy the true believer. To gratify this national hankering after a visible Divinity, the Lord of Heaven has vouchsafed that subline message " I am," and revealed Himself as a Present Reality. In this message our country finds what it needs, and anxiously longs for ; in such a Divinity we recognise Him whom for ages our ancestors have sought. With this message in our hand we may go forth as missionaries, and all citadels of idolatrý will yield to its power. To all our countrymen, high and low, learned and illiterate, we shall say, “Come ye away from idols, and accept the true God. If your souls must have a Divinity who can be seen, here is He who will show Himself unto your eye of faith. You need have no idol of clay or stone, nor need you soar high into the regions of mystic reveries or pantheistic contemplation if you would realise the Adorable One. With simple faith ye shall behold the glory of the Self-manifested · I am. Our people will have nothing left to wish for, if they can behold the Eternal Spirit face to face. Evidently none would think of manufacturing a false Divinity visible to the outward eye, if the true God could be perceived directly and vividly by every belierer. What more do our countrymen need than the assurance that the Lord of
heaven and earth can be perceived when He directly reveals Himself, and asserts His own being in the words “ I am ?” Here we stand, and proclaim to all India this saving assurance, and announce that in our midst the worship of the Inconceivable yet Visible Spirit has been initiated. To see the Unseen is by no means a new idea to those in this country who remember the fact that the ancient Aryan Rishis and devotees retired from the world, and with closed eyes entered into deep communion with the Supreme Spirit. The subtle Hindu mind has always been distinguished for its spirituality. 16, penetrates the hard surface of dogmatic theology, and evolves and deals with the deeper realities of faith. It loves communion with the Spirit, and abhors matter as an unreality. Nearness to God is its heaven and salvation. In fact in all things it breaks open the outward form, and tries to seize the kernel of spirit within. The idea of perceiving the In-dwelling Spirit, far from being foreign, is eminently native to the primitive Hindu mind. Ye descendants of the Aryan race, have ye then forgotten the God of your forefathers ? Why shall ye bow before the later idolatry of the Puranas, and render homage to a material divinity ? Magnify the God of India, ye Indians. Accept the living gospel, “ I am," in which ancient India and modern Europe are one, in which Hindu Theism and pure Christianity are identified. It is the conscious realization of the Ever-Present Divinity that will achieve the salvation of India and all mankind.
Perception is only one part of the faith which has been revealed to us. The other part is hearing, . To see the light of the Lord's countenance and to hear His saving voice constitute the creed embodied in “ I am.” It is evident that mere
what is wrong
not enough. If I see God, I must hear Him also. I must not only feel His real presence, but be guided by the words of counsel that fall from Him, Can it be that the Merciful Father stands silent and speechless amid the sins and iniquities of the world, and says not a word to bring back those who have gone astray ? Will He make us depend upon the dead letter of books and upon earthly teachers who misguide us, and withhold from us that living voice which alone can silence doubts, proclaim the truth and cheer the believer ? This cannot be. A wicked world like ours needs a speaking God-One who will tell us what we ought to do and what we ought not, what is right and
we are, we need the word of God to enlighten and sanctify us. We cannot do without it. Is the word of God a book ? No. It is spoken, not written. It cannot be written. It is a verbal message addressed by words of mouth to the believer, and is not to be identified with dead scripture. All Divine injunctions and precepts begin with a “ Thus saith the Lord," and not “ So it is written.' God speaks to every one of us, and we hear His thrilling voice in the soul. But who ever saw Him write a tame message to instruct His children? True it is that diverse scriptures have been published for the world's benefit from time to time. These are known as the scriptures of God. But they were never written by His own hand, and are not, therefore, to be accepted as His direct inspiration. They are only instructive narratives of what the Lord said and did in the lives of prophets and saints. The inspired word of God comes to a devout believer, and when he inscribes that word upon paper, the world accepts it as divine scripture. But the original Word, the
true revelation, was spoken, not written. For saving knowledge and the truth that giveth eternal life, we must repair to the very Fountain-head of all inspiration, and not the channels through which it flows. To each man, saint or sinner, the Holy Spirit speaks directly as the In-dwelling Teacher. There is no light for us, in heaven or on earth, unless God becomes our Teacher and Guide. Can books or pulpits enlighten us ? Can the wisest and best of men sanctify us in the absence of God's voice ? Nay, who but the All-Merciful Saviour selects and commends proper books and men for our guidance ? It is a fatal mistake to suppose that books and men of our own choice are to be accepted first in order that they may lead us to God. It is not they that bring us to Him, it is He who brings us to them. None cometh to prophets and scriptures, but through the Holy Spirit. Into His hands we primarily resign ourselves, and to Him alone we look for all aids essential to our salvation. He then puts into our hands such books and introduces us to such men as may help our spiritual growth, constantly guiding us by His voice, and enabling us to distinguish between truth and error, and eschew evil ways. His revelation is not made once for all. It is not true that he spoke only once or twice in the world's history. He speaks always and unceasingly, for man needs a continued revelation. Surrounded as we are by doubts and difficulties, we need a Divinity that will constantly guide, admonish and cheer us. Yes, it is such a God, the living Sovereign of the universe, whom the soul can see and hear, that has revealed Himself to the Indian nation,and promised redemption to all who put their trust in Him. Let us sing the glory of the God of India, and give praise unto Him.