Historical Reprints Religion Heavenly Father

Heavenly Father

Heavenly Father
Catalog # SKU1308
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Ernest Naville


The Heavenly Father

Ernest Naville

The hearty kindness with which my fellow-countrymen received my words has been to me both a delight and an encouragement. The expressions of sympathy which have reached me from abroad allow me to hope that these pages, notwithstanding the deficiencies and imperfections of which I am keenly sensible, reflect some few of the rays of the truth which God has deposited on the earth, thereby to unite in the same faith and hope men of every tongue and every nation.


Some five-and-twenty or thirty years ago, a German writer published a piece of verse which began in this way: "Our hearts are oppressed with the emotions of a pious sadness, at the thought of the ancient Jehovah who is preparing to die."

The verses were a dirge upon the death of the living God; and the author, like a well educated son of the nineteenth century, bestowed a few poetic tears upon the obsequies of the Eternal. I was young when these strange words met my eyes, and they produced in me a kind of painful bewilderment, which has, I think, for ever engraven them in my memory.

Since then, I have had occasion to learn by many tokens that this fact was not at all an exceptional one, but that men of influence, famous schools, important tendencies of the modern mind, are agreed in proclaiming that the time of religion is over, of religion in all its forms, of religion in the largest sense of the word. Beneath the social disturbances of the day, beneath the discussions of science, beneath the anxiety of some and the sadness of others, beneath the ironical and more or less insulting joy of a few, we read at the foundation of many intellectual manifestations of our time these gloomy words:

"Henceforth no more God for humanity!" What may well send a shudder of fright through society-more than threatening war, more than possible revolution, more than the plots which may be hatching in the dark against the security of persons or of property-is, the number, the importance, and the extent of the efforts which are making in our days to extinguish in men's souls their faith in the living God.

This fear, Gentlemen, I should wish to communicate to you, but I should wish also to confine it within its just limits. Religion (I take this term in its most general acceptation) is not, as many say that it is, either dead or dying. I want no other proof of this than the pains which so many people are taking to kill it. It is often those who say that it is dead, or falling rapidly into dissolution, who apply themselves to this work. They are too generous, no doubt, to make a violent attack upon a corpse; and it is easy to understand, judging by the intensity of their exertions, that in their own opinion they have something else to do than to give a finishing stroke to the dying.

Present circumstances are serious, not for religion itself, which cannot be imperilled, but for minds which run the risk of losing their balance and their support. Let it be observed, however, that when it is said that we are living in extraordinary times, that we are passing through an unequalled crisis, that the like of what we see was never seen before, and so on, we must always regard conclusions of this nature with distrust.

Our personal interest in the circumstances which immediately surround us produces on them for us the magnifying effect of a microscope: and our principal reason for thinking that our epoch is more extraordinary than others, is for the most part that we are living in our own epoch, and have not lived in others. A mind attentive to this fact, and so placed upon its guard against all tendency to exaggeration, will easily perceive that religious thought has in former times passed through shocks as profound and as dangerous as those of which we are witnesses. Still the crisis is a real one. Taking into account its extent in our days, we may say that it is new for the generation to which we belong; and it is worthy of close consideration. To-day, as an introduction to this grave subject, I should wish first to determine as precisely as possible what is our idea of God; to inquire next from what sources we derive it; and lastly to point out, as clearly as I may, the limits and the nature of the discussion to which I invite you.

In asking what sense we must give to the word "God," I am not going to propose to you a metaphysical definition, or any system of my own: I am inquiring what is in fact the idea of God in the bosom of modern society, in the souls which live by this idea, in the hearts of which it constitutes the joy, in the consciences of which it is the support. When our thoughts rise above nature and humanity to that invisible Being whom we speak of as God, what is it which passes in our souls?

They fear, they hope, they pray, they offer thanksgiving. If a man finds himself in one of those desperate positions in which all human help fails, he turns towards Heaven, and says, My God! If we are witnesses of one of those instances of revolting injustice which stir the conscience in its profoundest depths, and which could not on earth meet with adequate punishment, we think within ourselves,-There is a Judge on high! If we are reproved by our own conscience, the voice of that conscience, which disturbs and sometimes torments us, reminds us that though we may be shut out from all human view, there is no less an Eye which sees us, and a just award awaiting us. Thus it is (I am seeking to establish facts) that the thought of God operates, so to speak, in the souls of those who believe in Him. If you look for the meaning common to all these manifestations of man's heart, what do you find? Fear, hope, thanksgiving, prayer. To whom is all this addressed? To a Power intelligent and free, which knows us, and is able to act upon our destinies. This is the idea which is found at the basis of all religions; not only of the religion of the only God, but of the most degraded forms of idolatrous worship.

400+ pages - 8 x 5 inches SoftCover


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