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is born of God, and knoweth God." That tells us the connection between the love of God and the knowledge of God.
And then in verses 13 and 16 we find that we must have God's Spirit for the knowledge of God: “Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.”
" And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
And then in the fifth chapter we read, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” We know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true ; that is, we know the veritable One, the real One, the One who is no sham, about whom there is no uncertainty or doubting. And we are in Him that is in the real veritable One, rõ álnbirū : “This is the real God, and to know Him is eternal life.”
If, then, we stand in the liberty of Christ, and seek not the beggarly elements, if we keep the commandments of God, if we love the brethren, if the Spirit of His Son is in our lives, if we are standing on the immutable, unchangeable revelation, upon the rock which nothing can move, our souls are in a condition to receive the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. As we pass on through life it will be with this truth, “We know Him;" and yet there shall be perpetual increase of knowing, growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, ever increasing in the knowledge of Him, for finality never comes on earth in anything. Nor can we really expect it in Heaven ; for the finite can never fully attain to or grasp the infinite.
So God calls us in this definite way: born of God, we are in Christ, and Christ in us : we have the Holy Ghost dwelling in us; we are one with God, and God with us, And thus we have started on the glorious journey of attaining the knowledge of the infinite; and towards this attainment we have the wonderful privilege of the Mildmay Conference, with its three days' consecutive unfolding of this subject. Surely all this privilege will lead to a life such as we have never seen on earth since the Holy Ghost first fell upon the Church, a life in
which three thousand saints of God would go out into the world with this blessed vocation, to know God and to make Him known.
I pray God we may remember that Christ's coming was for very definite purposes. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” So may we be able to say with the apostle, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith : that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.”
Realise these things: and then we may be sure that the world that takes knowledge of us will be compelled to say that we have been with Christ, and learned of Him; and in face of all opposition and trial we shall be able boldly to say, “I know whom I have believed, and I am not ashamed.” Brethren, in God's name be not ashamed of the God who accepts you, of the Christ who redeemed you, or the Spirit who is filling you into the all-fulness of God through the knowledge of Christ (Eph. iii. 18, 19). When men look upon us, then one thing they ought to be compelled to say of us all : “God is in them of a truth.” This is the knowledge of God which we must convey to the world.
Only as men born of the Spirit, lifted to the heavenlies, sanctified in God's presence, are we enabled to yield spirit, soul, and body unto God as those who are alive from the dead through Jesus Christ our Lord; then only can we carry weight with that world which, alas ! lies in the wicked one, and "give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
Prayer was presented by Mr. J. DENHAM SMITH, after which a variety of requests were read by Mr. JAMES E. MATHIESON, amongst these being one for General Gordon's deliverance, and another on behalf of Dr. Barnardo's and George Müller's Homes, in both of which disease had been permitted to enter.
These were laid before the Lord by the Rev. D. B. HANKIN and Lord RADSTOCK
The following address was given by the
Rev. J. MONRO GIBSON, D.D. It is quite understood, as our leader has already said in opening this subject, and fully admitted, that there can be no absolute knowledge of God. So far our Agnostic friends are right. But, though this is true, it is not new. In one of the oldest books in the Bible we have it quite forcibly expressed, “Canst thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?” (Job. xi. 7, 8).
That is manifestly true as regards God; but is not the same thing true on a small scale in regard to our fellow-man, as has been beautifully suggested by Mr. Webb-Peploe? What one of us knows his most intimate friend right through and through ? This is true, even though our friend may be below us in attainments; and it will be even more true of friends who are above us. Our knowledge of one another is in every case limited by two things: capability of expression on the one hand, and power of comprehension on the other. There may be much in the soul of my friend that is never expressed; never expressed in look, or tone, or word, or deed. There may be much in him that cannot be expressed ; there may be much he would not express if he could, much he could not express if he would. And then, on the other hand, there may be very much of what is expressed that I cannot understand or catch.
To illustrate this still further—for it seems to me of great importance in reference to the knowledge of God—let us consider what means we have of gaining a knowledge of such an one as Michael Angelo. There are fragments of revelation of the spirit of Michael Angelo scattered far and wide throughout the galleries of Europe, first in originals, then in casts or copies, so that everybody has an opportunity of knowing something about him. Then there are poems of his which give a further revelation of the man to those who have an opportunity of reading them. These are all expressions of the spirit of the man, and it would not be an abuse of language to put them together and call them the Word of Michael Angelo. But it is quite evident that my knowledge of him
will depend not only on my opportunity of seeing and studying these works, but also and still further on the degree in which my spirit is kindred with his, the degree in which I can understand that which is expressed in his works.
Suppose now that from such a study of his works we have learned something of the reality that lurks behind the great name of Michael Angelo, and we wish to learn still more about him, what do we do? We take up his life and read it. How much more knowledge have we now of the great artist ? That will depend on what his biographer has been able to catch and set down of that which was expressed in his life, and also on what I am able to take in and understand of what is so set down. So in the same way if I look at his portrait, what I learn from it will depend first on what the painter has been able to set down on canvas ; and second, on what I am able to see in that which is set down. Still further, the case would not be altered in principle even if we had lived in his time, and lived with him, and had the opportunity of seeing him every day. We should thus have had a far better opportunity of knowing him. But even then our knowledge of him would be subject to the same twofold limitation. First, it would depend on how much of the spirit within him ever uttered itself in his face or gesture, or word or deed; and, second, on our ability to comprehend and catch that which was thus uttered. And the point of view we have now reached is a favourable one for seeing of what immeasurable importance this second condition is; for is it not manifest that it would be quite possible for the artist's valet de chambre, if he had one, to know less of the true Michael Angelo than some kindred soul who had never seen him, never even read his life, and had paid but one visit to the Sistine Chapel ?
From all this it is evident that our knowledge of our fellowman even under the most favourable circumstances, must be partial and inadequate. Why then should we expect a full and adequate knowledge of God? But then even the imperfect knowledge we can have of each other is sufficient for the purposes of life; and why may not our knowledge of God, however imperfect and inadequate in an absolute sense, be not only real knowledge so far as it goes, but amply sufficient for all purposes of life? It all depends on whether God has expressed himself at all, and whether our spirits are kindred enough with His to catch that which He has expressed. Thus
the subject opens out into two great questions : first, Has God revealed Himself ? second, Can we enter into the revelation so as to make out what is revealed of Him? The Scriptural answer to the first question is the Word; the Scriptural answer to the second question is the Spirit.
The Word is the whole utterance of God in nature, in providence, and in grace. “In the beginning was the Word.” God uttered Himself in creation; just as the artist utters himself in His works. He has uttered Himself in the whole history of the world. He has spoken to the fathers by the prophets. These are different utterances of the Word, but they are scattered and fragmentary, like the scattered works of a great artist. And the question still comes, Is there no possibility of getting nearer to Himself? Is there no personal revelation ? Has no one looked upon a face with the very light of God upon it ? Has no one listened to a voice that thrilled with the very love of God Himself? Is there no way of pressing in from the outer circle of His works, which are but the hem of His garment, to His very life, and soul, and heart? Yes, there is : “ The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." having of old time spoken .... by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son." There is the central point of the revelation of God: “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.” The rest are scattered rays of the Divine glory. Here is the central Sun. Here in the face of Jesus Christ is “the knowledge of the glory of God.”
So much for the Word, the utterance, the expression of God: but that is not enough, as we have seen. There must also be a soul to comprehend it. We have seen that it is quite possible for a man to look at Michael Angelo's works, and even to live in the house with him from day to day, and know nothing but the mere shell of him; have no such knowledge of him as be any better for having looked at him. What is wanted in such a case? The spirit of the artist, not in all its vastness necessarily, but some of it-enough to secure sympathy, appreciation, delight in the artist and his work. And so here. It is necessary not only that God should utter Himself before us, but that God should give us of His Spirit, in order that we may understand what He has spoken. True,