MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I.13. THE INCOMPREHENSIBILITY OF GOD.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA
13. THE INCOMPREHENSIBILITY OF GOD.
I. God is known to us with perfect certitude ; at the same time we cannot now, and never shall fully understand Him. The infinite heights and the infinite depths of His nature, and the multitudinous aspects which His perfections present to us cannot be grasped and sounded by any less perfect than Himself. " The things that are of God no one knoweth but the Spirit of God " (1 Cor. ii. 11). God is in comprehensible. Man possesses the light of nature for the investigation of truth. His natural faculties, exercised upon the world around him, discover to him the existence of God and some of His attributes, His greatness, wisdom, goodness, and others. " The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, His eternal power also and divinity " (Rom. i. 20). But our science, while penetrating boldly into the secrets of the universe, is checked at the threshold of God s sanctuary. It is unable to analyse and catalogue the divine mysteries ; it requires to be refined and elevated first by supernatural grace. God, to our natural faculties, is like a great fire beyond the horizon. We have evidence of its existence and know something of what it must be by the volumes of smoke ; but we do not know of its details, and still less do we profit by its light and heat and varied power. Take care not to trust too much to natural faculties and mental cultivation in the things of God. As towards God natural science is profoundest ignorance.
II. To satisfy our desires for the unattainable, God gives us a second light, that of faith and revelation. This is of the supernatural order. By this we are able to receive and assimilate knowledge about the Trinity, the Incarnation, the future life, the moral law, the Church ; knowledge which is most positive and certain, and yet cannot be gained by natural investigations, nor proved by natural tests. One ray of this light does more for our intelligence, in spiritual matters, than years of study and all the instruments of the laboratory. We may compare this higher light to those marvellous rays which penetrate through solid substance and convey to us a picture of metals or bones enclosed within. Unless we have the secret, no accumulation of ordinary light in its greatest intensity is of any avail. At present even the supernatural light reveals God only as "through a glass in an obscure manner" (1 Cor. xiii. 12). Yet it gives us a knowledge such as worldly wisdom never acquires : a knowledge that is primarily spiritual, but enables us to understand many of the secrets of life, of the practical sciences, of history. Be grateful for the gift of revelation and faith, but do not expect that it will dispel all clouds and explain all difficulties.
III. When we shall have been proved faithful and admitted to the presence of God we shall become capable of a higher manifestation of God by the light of glory. Our eyes will be opened, our intellect perfected, and God will be disclosed to our sight. Then we shall know things, which here below eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart conceived. We shall receive a special influx from God, or a light, which will enable us to apprehend the Beatific Vision. Yet even then the angels and the blessed will find God still unfathomable. For eternity they will go on, progressing in mental illumination and in ever new delights, and yet will never arrive at the end. God will remain for ever beyond all human capacity, however enlarged ; for He will always be infinite, and we shall always have a finite receptivity. How miserable then will be the lot of those who have been content with the light of nature, have refused to receive or acknowledge the light of faith, and have there by excluded themselves from the light of glory ! They will remain in the darkness of ignorance for ever. Take care so to profit by faith here as to merit the fulness of illumination hereafter.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.