In the divine “upholding” and human “following” there is no contradiction. All is of God, for, as von Hugel teaches, God is always previous. In practice, however, (that is, where God’s previous working meets man’s present response) man must pursue God. Or, on our part there must be positive reciprocation if this secret drawing of God is to eventuate in identifiable experience of the Divine. In the warm language of personal feeling this is stated in the Forty-second Psalm: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come. and appear before God?” This is deep calling unto deep, and the longing heart will understand it.
The doctrine of justification by faith — a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort — has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be “received” without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is “saved,” but he is not hungry or thirsty after God. In fact, he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.