« הקודםהמשך »
to the seen and the unseen.
which would have been required by man as a finite creature, has become yet more necessary for man as a sinful creature.
This conclusion is pressed upon us with pathetic force by the facts of common experience. We hold firmly to the belief that all being, all life, is when rightly understood, a manifestation of the counsel and nature of God. This is what we mean when we confess that He is the Creator and Preserver of the world. All Truth in other words which is the foundation of religion, that is all Truth, is Theology. The idea of GoD enters into it and supports it. God is the source, the agent, the end of all things (Rom. xi. 36). The conviction in its most general form is necessary for the inspiration and guidance of labour. By the recognition of this divine origin and destination of knowledge the idea of holiness consecrates beauty, truth and goodness, and invests what is in form transitory and limited with an eternal meaning
But while this is so, the phenomena which we see superficially and for a brief space present difficulties and apparent contradictions in the way of the belief which we retain. It has been nobly said by one well fitted to bear the witness : 'If I looked into a mirror and did not see my 'face, I should have the same sort of feeling
The need of a revelation 'which actually comes upon me when I look into 'this living busy world and see no reflection of its Creator.'
So it is that in the actual state of man, the revelation of God in the world without and in the soul within is partially obscured and partially defaced. This imperfection does not indeed alter the essential character of the whole order of things as fitted to make God known, or of the soul as formed to recognise Him, but it leads us to expect, as we believe in the government of GOD, that some new light will be given to make our
Man, in other words, conscious of disorder within him and in the presence of a disordered world, looks for some further revelation; a revelation through which he may be still enabled to fashion the Divine image in which he was made after the Divine likeness for which he was made: a revelation which can be apprehended according to the intellectual limitations of his nature, and which can find expression in the language of men: a revelation which takes account of other orders of being but only so far as they come within the moral scope of humanity; and yet more, a revelation which deals with man not as a stationary being but as advancing with a continuous growth.
from the condition of man. 289 If then we assume that God governs the world which He made, and continues to regard man whom He formed in His own image, it follows that it is not only natural to look for such a revelation but that such a revelation is in itself most truly natural. It is most properly an unveiling of that which lies within the range of man's powers and which he was so made as to see in due time. It corresponds with what we conceive as the right development of man, according to the idea of creation. This development has unhappily been interrupted by a premature effort on man's part after independence and knowledge; but the sin of man has not fatally hindered the fulfilment of the Divine counsel.
We go on therefore to ask, How can we conceive such a revelation to be made ? Briefly we reply it must come through life, interpreted by thought. It may be recorded in books after it has been realised in the vital processes of observation, reflection and action; but it passes from life into the record, and it is brought out of the record into life. It cannot be intellectual only. The first fact that it is the memorial of human experience is the pledge of the other, that it is available for man. Spiritual influences are transmitted normally from the whole person to the whole person. The truth which comes to man through natural human experience W. G. L.
The revelation through life.
can for that reason reach man fully (John v. 39 f.). This being so, we can see that if in the conduct of life we are enabled to see signs of the divine government and counsel made plain, we have a revelation which enlightens the dark places of the world and sustains and directs faith; and we can see that if we are allowed to contemplate and enter into the realisation of a perfect human life accepted by God, a life, that is, wrought out under the conditions of earth in all its parts and through death in perfect fellowship with God, that will be for us a perfect revelation, a revelation perfectly suited to our wants and to our faculties. And we can see further that such a perfect revelation could not have been given in the infancy of the race. It could only come naturally, that is in accordance with what we observe of the Divine working, at the close of a long preparatory discipline.
Such a revelation, made through life, gives us facts and not formulated opinions. Like observation in relation to the world of sense, it gives new data. These faith appropriates; and reason tests, coordinates, adjusts them; for reason is critical and formative and not creative. Man by himself cannot rise above himself: but he can use that which will raise him.
Faith uses the new materials.
In this way, as we believe, God has dealt
He has revealed Himself in life, and specially in the life of a chosen nation and in the Life of His Son. That which is of life reaches to life and the Truth which is embodied in Religion is not for speculation only or for contemplation only, but for life. It enlarges and harmonises knowledge, and it supplies a motion for effort. It appeals to head, heart, will; and it calls out understanding, feeling, action, in due proportion. So it is that it tends to bring perfect freedom (John viii. 32).
Knowledge, I have said, furnishes the materials which faith uses. The statement has a far-reaching application.
If we go back to the three fundamental conceptions, self, the world, GOD, we shall notice one feature that is common to them. In fashioning each we enter upon the future and the unseen, and act without hesitation on the conclusions which we have formed. We do not even pause to question the continuity of self, or of physical laws, or of character. We are so made as to draw from experience conclusions wholly beyond experience. Nothing in the observation of the past is in itself able to assure us as to what will be. The past can give no pledge that no new forces