We think that religion or a relationship with God is mysterious; but it is not mysterious. I can give you an analogue that will show you precisely only the truth are far greater, far richer, and far more glorious, than the illustration.
Take a person of some degree of sensibility, a young women, for instance who has been living in a vicious circle of people. Her father and mother are deceased, She came from a good family and had strong moral instincts; but she was a vagrant child and was soon swept into the swirl of poverty and vice. Although too young to become herself vicious, yet she learned to lie and steal and swear with a certain inward compunction until by and by some kind person brought her out of the street, and placed her in a home for runaway girls. And then, suddenly, some childless Christian woman, wanting to adopt a child, sees her, and likes her face and sees something special in her and brings her home to her house. This is almost the first time she has had any direct contact with truth and real refinement; and at first she has an impulse of gratitude, and admiration, and wonder; and in the beginning she is inspired by a sense of gladness and thankfulness to her benefactress. But as she lives from day to day, she does not get over all her bad tendencies. She has come to live with and to be the daughter of these women, but she does not get over the love of lying, and tricks, and dirtiness, meanness and littleness. The evil does not die in an instant from her nature. Yet there is the beginning of that in her which will by and by overcome it. There is in her a vague, uninterrupted sense of something higher and better than she has known before. And it is all embodied in her benefactress. She hears her sing, and hears her talk, and sees what kindnesses she does to others and how she denies herself. And this child, that has never been taught to do anything except from a selfish motive, that has lived where men were like so many animals, clawing and pawing for themselves, sees that there is such a thing as kindness on principle and kindness that is done at the expense of one’s own wishes. The inference of these things works more and more on the better part of her nature; and she begins to take hold of herself, and to wrestle with her own bad tendencies. And if she be, as I have supposed her to be, a child of strong original moral nature, she will, in the course of a year, be almost free from the taint of corruption; almost free form deceits; almost free from vices. And it will be the expulsive power of new love in her soul that will have driven out all this vermin brood of passion. As long as she is in the presence of this benefactress, she will feel streaming in upon her nature those influences which wake up her higher faculties and give them power over her lower faculties.
When we are brought into the Christian life, and begin to come into communion with God, the higher part of our nature receives such a stimulus that it has power to dominate the lower part-to control pride; to hold in restraint deceits; to make us gentle, and mild, sweet, forgiving, noble and honorable. The direct influence, which the spirit of God has upon the human soul, is to develop the good and expel the evil tendencies that are in it.
There will, then follow from this beginning of a divine life in the soul, the suppression of many deeds; that modification of bad habits; the restraint of inclinations respecting the relations and interest and uses of different parts of the mind. There are too many of them to mention now. They are innumerable.
There will be a change in our outward conformities to society to institutions to new duties. There will be the acceptance of standards of morality which before we have not accepted. There will be the laying aside of this and that sin which were before recognized as sins, but were yet permitted.
But as important as these things are, they are but auxiliaries. There
Is this one work which the new life begins to accomplish – namely, the readjustment of the soul. It changes the emphasis. It changes the point of power. It determines whether the soul shall, with all its forces, work downward toward the selfish and sensuous, or whether by the force that there is in the lower nature, it shall work upward toward the spiritual and the love element-toward purity and duty.
From the entrance of God’s Spirit into the soul, the regenerating process, as it is called, the beginning of a new life, does not destroy nor eradicate any constitutional element. When the doctor says, “ You have been all run down, but I will take you in had and restore you; I will renovate you and make you just as good as new; you will be a new person when you have gone through the course that I shall prescribe for you, “ he dose not mean that you will have any other legs and hand or any other organs. He simply means that they will be so repaired and regulated that it will be as if they were new. And when it is said that a man shall be a new creature, it is not meant that literally there will be any added faculties in you, or that there will be any old faculties taken out of you. You were made right to begin with. The mischief is not in our creation, but in the use, which we put ourselves to. We use ourselves badly. And when we enter upon a Christian life, it is a life, which teaches us to use every faculty in ourselves as God meant that it should be used. There will be no change of any constituent element in us. Characters will change. The power will be transferred from the bottom to the top. All the passions of our animal and secular nature will be brought into the service of love, purity and truth.