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PART THIRD. ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, AND THE UNION OF GOD AND MAN IN KNOWLEDGE.



CHAPTER I.


ALL KNOWLEDGE NECESSARILY IN GOD.

General statements.— All knowledge first existed in God alone.­ — Proofs from the nature of knowledge.— Proofs from the instruments of knowledge. — Of the instincts of animals. — God the soul or guide of reason as well as of instinct. — Of man's moral responsibility.

HAVING ascertained some of the more general principles which are applicable to man's restoration, and to that intimate reunion with God which cannot fail sooner or later to become, more than any other, the absorbing topic of the moral world, we proceed now to the consideration of the subject in other important particulars,namely, union with God in knowledge, in love, in will, in providence, and in the great work of man's redemption.

2. God being the TRUTH and the ALL, all beings who are in the truth are developments from himself; — not merely being in harmony with him by agreement or convention, but flowing out from him as from their source of life. The tree that stands upright and blooming on the surface of the earth, derives its substance, its form, its beauty, from the earth where it grows; but not more truly than every moral being, who is in the truth and the right, derives whatever is true and right and good in him from God, who is the only good. The tree is not the same thing with the earth; — it bears a distinct name and flourishes in a distinct form; — but the moment its root is separated from the great and rich bosom of its parent, it falls and withers and dies. So man is not God; if he were so, he could not have been made in the image of God; but the moment he is sundered from the Infinite Parent, by separating the golden link of faith, he too falls and dies. There is then no strength, no soundness in him.

3. In endeavoring further to show how the true and holy man exists in all things in divine union, and that he has nothing, and that, from the nature of the case, he can have nothing, except what he has from God, we proceed now to the consideration of the knowledge of God, and the union of God and man in that respect.

And we begin with saying, that, in the first instance, all knowledge necessarily exists in God. It is true that knowledge can be predicated of man as well as of God; it can be predicated of angels, and, in a greater or less degree, of all percipient beings. Of all such beings it is a necessary attribute. They all, in being percipient, not only actually possess more or less of knowledge, but they have their appropriate sphere of knowledge; a field of inquiry suited to their position and faculties, often a very limited one, it is true, but always really and truly existing. This remark applies to knowledge in all its forms, instinctive, intuitive, and deductive.

4. But, in whatever degree or in whatever form it exists, it is certain that it must first have existed in God before it could have existed in the creature. The very idea of God implies that he has all knowledge; that nothing exists, and nothing can be conceived of, which is beyond the reach of his omniscience; and that he knew all that he now knows, or ever can know,
in the beginning.

5. The nature of knowledge, also, indicating the divinity of its origin, shows that it must first have existed in God. There can be no knowledge without an object of knowledge, without something known, without a thing or existence to which the knowledge corresponds. But everything which properly comes under the head of
creation, everything which exists, or can exist, is, and must be, from God. But if all things are from God, then the conception or idea of all things must have first been in him. All things which are created, were brought into existence in entire correspondence with the conceptions, or intellectual models, which are eternal in the Godhead. The forms of things can no more come by accident than the things themselves. Existences, in form as well as in fact, must be realizations of divine ideas. If, then, there can be no knowledge without objects of knowledge, and if all objects are formed in accordance with the knowledge of existence and form already existing in the Divine Mind, then all knowledge must have been in God in the beginning.

6. Again, all knowledge, which can now be regarded as existing in the creatures, and can be predicated of them, must first have existed in God, because he formed and sustains the instruments of their knowledge. The perceptive or cognitive powers, which they possess, are derived from him. He constituted them as the instruments of definite results; and, of course, must have known the results before he established the instrumentality. So that he not only made them for particular ends, knowing the ends for which he made them, but prescribed, also, in reference to those ends, the mode and the degree of their action. All knowledge, therefore, is in him, because there can be no subordinate instruments of knowledge which are not from him.

7. Well is the question put in the well-known language of a popular English poet:­ —

"Who taught the nations of the field and wood
To shun their poison, and to choose their food?
Prescient, the tides and tempests to withstand,
Build on the wave, or arch beneath the sand?
Who made the spider parallels design,
Sure as De Moivre, without rule or line?
Who bade the stork, Columbus-like, explore
Heavens not his own, and worlds unknown before?"

In the comparison of reason with instinct, we would not say with this ingenious writer:

"In this 'tis God directs; — in that 'tis man;"

but rather, in accordance with sound philosophy, as well as religion. ascribe both to God.

8. It is delightful to contemplate the instincts of animals. If there is not a Power controlling and guiding these instincts, separate from and above the animal where they reside, then the animal occupies a place in the scale of being far higher than is generally estimated. Without hesitation would we subscribe to a sentiment to be found in the writings of the judicious mental philosopher, Dr. Reid. He is speaking of the wonderful skill and mathematical accuracy of the bee, in forming the cells of a honey-comb. "Shall we ask here," he remarks, "who taught the bee the properties of solids, and to resolve problems of MAXIMA and MINIMA? We need not say that bees know none of these things. They work most geometrically, without any knowledge of geometry; somewhat like a child, who, by turning the handle of an organ, makes good music without any knowledge of music. The art is not in the child, but in him who made the organ. In like manner, when a bee makes its comb so geometrically, the geometry is not in the bee, but in that great
Geometrician who made the bee, and made all things in number weight and measure."

9. So we may add in regard to man's reason. Man's reason, in its true and unperverted state, does not so much exist in man, as in that great
Architect of reason who made man. God, and God alone, gave it its powers of perception and comparison; he established its laws of action; he adjusted the relation of its capacity and its results; and it is by his presence and guidance that it is sustained in all its just movements.

It is true there is a reason of which this cannot be said; — that reason which is
undirected, the reason of the fallen and the guilty. But of the reason of truly humble and holy men, the reason of angels and all holy beings, it can always be said with truth; it is God's reason, — God is its life.

10. We are not ignorant that this view, like some others which have been and will be presented, involves the question of man's power and responsibility. It will be said, perhaps, that man was made independent, that his reason is his own, and that he alone is responsible for its exercise. We readily admit that there is an important sense in which these expressions are true. But is there any better exercise of man's independence, than by acknowledging him who gave it? Does he alienate his responsibility by accepting aid from God? The fact of his moral responsibility is fully secured by leaving it to his choice whether he will live and act with God or without God. In making and acting upon that choice, — a choice which is constantly placed before him,— he fully sustains the rights of his moral position. But it should be remembered that the very fact of choice implies, where things are thus placed in opposition to each other, that, if one choice is wise, the other will be unwise; if one choice is right, the other will be wrong.

God made man, in order that, in the exercise of a free will, he might live in and
from his Maker. This is the great truth of God and humanity. Accordingly, while man's free will gives him all that independence which is implied in the exercise of choice, it does not necessarily give or imply the least alienation from God. Undoubtedly he may undertake the management of his powers of perception and reasoning, if he chooses to do it, independently of God. But would it be a wise choice? — would it be a right choice? — would it be a successful choice? Does it follow, because God has said to man, — be independent if you choose to be so, — that he will make a choice so utterly unwise, so utterly destructive and wrong?

11. There is a difference between liberty and license. License is liberty
licentious; that is to say, wrong, perverted. But liberty, in the true sense of the term, faithful to its divine instincts, always respects right and obligation. Accordingly, it claims, it asks, it receives, no exemption from God. It is very true that man, in the perverted exercise of his freedom, may choose to live without God. But will he, or can he, live a divine life when thus separated from him? Can he, in this state of alienation, possess what he ought always to possess, an angelic nature, the spirit and life of Christ in his own soul? In taking his powers of knowledge out of God's control, he no longer has divine knowledge, and cannot have. If it be true that moral freedom, considered abstractly and with reference merely to possibilities of action, will allow us to take this course, it is equally certain that morality, the doing what is right and best to be done, will not allow it. On the contrary, what morality always requires us as moral agents to do in this matter, is, to place our powers of knowledge in the divine keeping. It is there that they are both rightly and safely placed. It is impossible, in the nature of things, that any being but God should entirely keep human reason from error, and direct it aright. Man, without God to aid him, is sure to injure its powers, or to prevent its right application. So that God is, and of right ought to be, the God of all true and right reason.

12. We will only add, that any other view would place man below the brutes. If they have not moral freedom, it can at least be said of them that they do not violate God's order. God feeds them; and they are willing to be under his care. God guides them, and they fulfill the ends of their being. A brute, under God' s protection and guidance, is in a far better condition than a man left to himself.