The Universal Fatherhood

The prophet Malachi (2: 10) asks. "Have we not all one Father?" If he employed this language in a restricted sense, confining it to the Jews, Christianity enlarges it. In the Lord's Prayer, above, all are under perpetual obligations to call God by the dear name that describes as no other word can, his kindly purpose towards all men, his children. Jesus declares: "One is your Father:" Matt 23: 9. Paul affirms, "There is one God and Father of all. Eph. 4: 6, and he adds that his punishments are all administered to correct and reform those who, by sinning, deserve them.

We have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected as and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of Spirits and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us, after their own pleasure but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Heb. 12: 9, 10.

He illustrates his paternal love not only in sending the sunshine and the rain on the evil and the good, who are alike his children, but he punishes because he loves and for the purpose of redemption. Sin does not destroy this relation. It continues when man forgets or disregards it.

A certain man had two sons; and the younger or them said to his father, father, give me the portion or goods that falls to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in the land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his field to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him: and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found. Luke 15: 11-24.

God continues to be the father of the lost, remaining always the same to sinners.

A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel, for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten their God. Return you backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding. Jer. 3: 21, 22.

We are to judge God's feelings towards his children by our own feelings towards our offspring.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matt. 7: 9-11.

Make the heart of the best earthly parent the unit to be multiplied as far as the mind can go, and the quotient - differing in degree, but the same in kind, indicates Our Father. The earthly parent will do all he can for his children, but God not only will do so much, but he can do all he will. Let any earthly parent look into his own heart, and in the drop of love there he will see reflected the great heart of God, planning, devising, executing, in time and in eternity, the best possible for every child. The fact of God's paternity infinitely wise and powerful, is a guaranty of universal salvation. God created, governs, punishes, does all things as a Father. He will not permit final woe to befall any one of his vast family. He will accomplish the ultimate welfare of each and all, this we know, as truly as we know that he is "Our Father."

How the Scriptures dwell on this great fact.

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you that you may be the children of your father which is in heaven for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matt 5: 44, 45.

That is, being the children of God, we ought to imitate him in character. God's paternal love resembles that of the good earthly parent for his children, only it is infinitely greater, and far more enduring.

Or what man is there of you whom, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matt. 7: 9-11. But Zion said, the Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget you. Isa. 49: 14, 15.

A parent would not cast off his child forever. Will God, whose love is infinite? The wicked are still God's children, and are punished that they may be made better.

And you have forgotten the exhortation which spoke unto you as unto children. My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him, for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he "whom the father chastens not? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh that corrected us and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby. Heb. 12: 5-11.

We act like illegitimate children until punishment reforms us, but we are not such, for what would God be, if we were really illegitimate?

God is father in three senses:

1. By creation in his image.

You have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with honor and glory. Gen. 1, Ps. 8.

2. By faith in Christ and love of God.

For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father. Rom. 8: 15.

3. By being raised in his perfect likeness at the final resurrection, as all souls will be.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, the children of this world marry, and are given in marriage, but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection of the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage, neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Luke 20: 34-36.

If the sinner forget his relation as a child of God, the Father remembers it, and though man cannot say, "Abba, Father. God says," My son give me your heart. Prov. 23: 26.

THE GOOD SAMARITAN

What else than this is taught in that immortal parable, the Good Samaritan?

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he look out two pence and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him, and whatsoever you spend more, when I come again I will repay you. Which now of these three, think you, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, go and do you likewise. Luke 10: 30-37.

Here a man is given as an example to all time, of a divine and god like spirit, because he was merciful and compassionate to an enemy, ministered to his necessities, and relieved his wants. Would the God who gave to man this sublime ideal, violate it in his treatment of his enemies? Is not the parable of the Good Samaritan a demonstration that the Father of men will employ all his infinite attributes in the most blessed work that men or angels, or the great God himself, can ever perform - the hallowed work of restoring and saving? Is not this story a guaranty of universal redemption?

THE GOSPEL LEAVEN

The power of leaven is irresistible. However small the quantity placed in meal it overcomes by its fermentation, all opposition, and assimilates the entire mass to its own likeness. Jesus makes this beautiful figure illustrative of the irresistible influence of his Gospel in the human heart, in the moral world.

Another parable spoke he unto them: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Matt. 13: 33. And again he said, whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Luke 13: 20, 21.

The Gospel leaven must prevail universally; it will ferment until "the whole is leavened."

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