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



CHAPTER V.


ON THE UNION OF GOD AND MAN IN KNOWLEDGE.

Limitations of the general statement. — Union in knowledge involves three things, namely, union in the motive, the object, and the source of knowledge. — Results and encouragements attending the union of God and man in these respects.

THE result of Christ's coming into the world, and of the sanctifying power which is communicated through him, will be to restore man to harmony with God in all parts of his nature. In an important sense it will be found true that man and God, who have been greatly separated in this as well as in other respects, will at last be united again in knowledge.

It should be remarked, however, that, when we speak of the union of human with divine knowledge, we do not mean to say that our knowledge, under the most favorable circumstances, will be as extensive as the divine knowledge, which would be impossible; nor that we shall be likely in the present life, (certainly not in the present period of the world,) to see the facts and relations of things with a divine distinctness of vision. This would be inconsistent with that injured and imperfect instrumentality of perception which is found in our diseased and dying bodies. But being united with God in knowledge, we shall see and know
truly, though it may not be to a great extent. We shall know as God knows, and entirely in harmony with him, so far as he thinks it best for us to know. Our wisdom will have its basis in his, and will rest upon his, in such a way as to constitute true wisdom.

With these explanatory remarks in view, we proceed to say, that the union of God and man in knowledge involves three things: — first, an union of desire or motive in seeking knowledge; secondly, an unity or oneness in the object of knowledge, and, thirdly, an unity in the source of knowledge.

First, there must be an union of desire or
motive in seeking knowledge. The motive in which God condescends to unite, is a motive free from everything that is the opposite of God. It is a motive without private ends, without selfishness in any of its aims, a motive which harmonizes with God's character, with God' s purposes, with God's glory. It was a motive thus pure and elevated, which always influenced him who came into the world to be the leader and guide of men. "My judgment," says the Saviour, "is just, because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." John 6:30.

To seek the will of our heavenly Father, is to act, in all cases of action, without party prejudices, without private interests, without the violence of passion; but always with a sincere regard to the divine purposes. In this state of mind, which is most suitable for the constant presence and operations of the Holy Spirit, we may hope to be guided into the truth. It would be difficult to describe how easily and beautifully the light of true knowledge enters into the mind of one who is thus free from any influences except such as come from a regard to the will of God. We cannot then be easily separate from the truth, because we harmonize, in such an important respect, with a mind that lives in the truth.

2. In the second place, the union of God and man in knowledge implies the fact of an unity or oneness in the object of knowledge. That is to say, the object must be not one of our own choice, but of God's choice. And it may be added, here, that the object which God chooses and presents to the human mind for its consideration, is that object, whatever it may be, which entirely harmonizes with the existing state of things. The facts and relations of things are so ordered under the divine administration, that at each successive moment some things are more important to be known, and more appropriate to be known than anything else. God, as the true revealer of what now is and of what is to be hereafter, will help us to know only what he thinks ought to be known. He will not help us in the knowledge of those things which, considered as the objects of knowledge, may be regarded as inconsistent with the proprieties and wants of the present time and place, and of the existing situation of things. He will not help us in the knowledge of those things which, without a regard to the appropriateness of what now is, are sought merely to gratify a selfish curiosity. In all such inquiries, where we selfishly choose our own object instead of adopting and receiving the object which God presents, the human and divine mind are out of harmony.

On the contrary, when we seek to know only what God would have us know, which is always done when our minds perfectly harmonize with the intimations of Providence, then the object of knowledge becomes one and the same to him who imparts knowledge and to him who receives it; and God and man are in union.

3. And this view, it may be properly added, is the more interesting and the more practically important, because it so fully recognizes God as the judge of what is proper or not proper to be known. Sovereign here as in other things, he not only retains the right and the power of communicating knowledge, but of communicating what, in his own judgment, he sees to be best. It is obviously not possible for him to communicate all knowledge to a limited mind, that can receive it only in parts. Adjusting, therefore. what he imparts not only to the capacity of the recipient but to the attendant circumstances, he gives here a little and there a little: casting brightness around the skirts of the clouds which overhang us, mingling light with darkness and darkness with light, so that those who walk in some things in the day of open vision, may still be said in other things to walk in
"the night of faith."

4. Again, we may properly speak of the union of God and man in knowledge, when there is an unity in the
source of knowledge. There is and can be but one true source of knowledge. Man, who possesses only what is given him, is unable to originate knowledge from himself. He can have no true knowledge, no true wisdom, but that which comes from a divine source. The great Author of his powers, it is true, has given him instruments of perception, comparison, and reasoning, with which he can apply to the original fountain or ocean of truth, which exists in God himself. Through these instruments knowledge is conveyed from the source to the recipient. And it is not more true that the helpless infant derives its nourishment from the bosom of its mother, than that the soul, which is in full union with God, receives the nutriment of knowledge from God. All that such an one has to do, in securing this result, is to pray that God will direct the instruments he has made; — believing that he will do so in behalf of the souls who have given themselves fully to him, and who have faith. God will not do this for the soul which has not laid itself upon his altar. Give thyself to God, therefore, without reserve, and in the exercise of a childlike confidence, and he, who has promised to teach men, will not fail to impart true wisdom.

5. It is in this state of things,— the state in which man is united with God in wisdom,— that we find the truth of that interesting passage of Scripture, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenants." [Ps. 24:14] No longer a God afar off; he assumes a position of friendship and intimacy, and converses with them, as it were, face to face. By secret intimations, which are not the less true for being silent, he explains the doctrines of righteousness, and shows the signs of his coming.

6. And, we may properly add, it is in this state of things that we find one great ground of encouragement and hope. Knowledge is power even on human principles, and when it is infused more or less with human error. What, then, shall be the power of God's people, when it shall be said of them, in the language of the prophets and of the Saviour, "
And they shall all be taught of God" [John 6: 25.] "I will give you a mouth and wisdom," says the Saviour in another place, "which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist." [Luke 21: 15.] True it is that the voice of mere human wisdom, when assuming an adverse position, has but little power against the voice of God speaking from a holy heart. And when the heart of the church shall become holy, so that the voice of the church shall be synonymous with a declaration from the God of the church, then shall the deaf hear and the unbelieving be convinced.


OH, SEND ONE RAY INTO MY SIGHTLESS BALL.

Oh, send one ray into my sightless ball,
Transmit one beam into my darkened heart!
On thee, Almighty God, on thee I call,
Incline thy listening ear, thine aid impart!
In vain the natural sun his beams doth yield,
In vain the moon illumes the fields of air;
The eye-sight of my soul is quenched and sealed,
And what is other light if shades are there?
Beyond the sun and moon I lift my gaze,
Where round thy throne a purer light is spread,
Where seraphs fill their urns from that bright blaze,
And angels' souls with holy fires are fed.
Oh, send from that pure fount one quickening ray,
And change these inward shades to bright and glorious day!