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we may not have the Spirit without measure, as in Christ, but up to the measure of our capacity we may be filled with the Spirit, and, however sniall that capacity may be, it will be enough to secure sympathy, appreciation, and delight, in Christ, and all that is His; and so the promise shall be fulfilled, " He shall take of Mine and show it unto you."
Thus it comes to pass that the two natural difficulties that stand in the way of our knowledge of God are met in God's revelation of Himself
, first in His Son, who in this relation is appropriately spoken of as "The Word”; and second, by the Holy Spirit.' The one is the needed revelation without, and the other the needed revelation within. The two are present in one view in that magnificent utterance of the apostle, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts (the revelation within] to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” [the revelation without.] The two together give us every facility for knowing our Fatherin Heaven which it is possible for us to have. Even at the best and fullest, our knowledge will remain partial and inadequate. It will be very far from absolute knowledge ; it will be wholly relative; but it will be trustworthy-trustworthy as the light, which of all material things about us comes nearest to the expression of the Divine nature ; and it will be blessed-blessed as love, which of all that is within us is most akin to God Himself. The light of the glory of God in the face of Christ without, and the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost within-these are what are needed to give us that knowledge which, however partial and inadequate at the best, is yet life eternal. And these, the light without and the love within, are all that are needed, for “God is light” and “God is love."
It remains to be noticed that the meeting point of all is in Christ. We have seen already that in the Incarnate Word the scattered rays of the glory of God, which had been revealed in a fragmentary way before, were gathered together, concentrated as the soul of man is in his face; and just as in your intercourse with a friend you keep looking into his face, while you do not quite lose sight of his form or even of his garment's hem, so in order to acquaintance with God we should keep looking unto Jesus, who is the face of God, while we do not lose sight of anything in the works of God that may help to set Him more fully before us.
But, besides this, the other need of which we have spoken is met in Christ. Not only does He reveal the Father to us, but He gives His Spirit that we may understand the revelation. He promises to give the Holy Spirit of God to all who come unto Him. So the whole knowledge of the Father is provided in Christ. We are complete in Him.” He says,
“All things are delivered unto Me of My Father : and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him. Come unto Me." And long after, the beloved disciple, having found it all true, expresses it thus: “We know that the Son of God is come [the revelation without], and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true," (the revelation within.]
From all this it follows that those who would know God must seek Him in Christ. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Need we then wonder that very many of the most learned and patient searchers after truth never find God? It is not that they are dishonest; it is that they will not look in the right direction. It is not by the use of those faculties which are the glory of the learned and great; it is not by any process of induction, or triumph of logic; no, it is simply by looking, by the lifting up of our souls to our loving Father, – the
eye, the ear, the heart of faith all open to see His face, to hear His voice, to welcome His love. If our learned people would only give up dealing with propositions and with questions and
with abstract truth, and would simply seek the Lord, they would soon find Him. If any one is minded to wrestle with questions, he can easily find a million of questions to wrestle with ; but, alas ! such wrestling will lead to no daybreak, and there will be no Peniel to keep it in memory. If, instead of wrestling with problems and questions, men would, like poor, weak Jacob, wrestle with God, then the day would dawn, their darkness would be dispelled, and the light of God would stream upon them. Then would they urderstand how it is that men in all ages who have walked with God, have learned to know Whom they have believed, however little they may have been able to expound fully, or justify wholly, what they have believed. "When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” It is all there, the philosophy of it, the simplicity of it. Look at it! First, it is not the absolute essence of Deity that we are to seek; it is His face, what of Him is turned to us, so that we can see and recognise Him. Then it is not elaborate searching, it is simple seeking: A wise man may search much and discover nothing ; but even the child that seeks shall surely find. For, finally, it is a matter not of the intellect so much as of the heart and will : “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.'
Perhaps a difficulty may occur to some one here who remembers that it is an Old Testament passage we are quoting, and that at that time God had not been revealed in Christ. But had He not? Let us not forget that in the beginning was the Word.” Let us not forget that it was the Son of God all through who revealed the Father. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." The incarnation is a great help to realise the personality of God; but it must never be forgotten that personality consists not in body, but in spirit. Even when The Word was in flesh, a spiritual manifestation was necessary (“Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven”). And that manifestation of spiritual presence was possible before the incarnation, just as it is still our privilege long after it. You remember how the question was put and answered when Christ was still on earth : “ How is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him."
The essential point is this, that we must seek personal acquaintance with God, we must seek His face; there should be an outgoing of our souls to our Father in heaven, as He has manifested Himself unto us. Even in Old Testament times it was always in this way that God became known. Hence the prominence given to the Name” of God. What was the name of God? It included all of God that had been then exposed to view. It was all of His face that they had then seen or could see. We can see more of it now. We have “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," who is "the image of the Invisible God," “ the express image of His person.” But our attitude must be the same as theirs. There must be the lifting up of the heart, the outgoing of the soul, the spiritual act of which this is the simplest expression, "When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”
The knowledge of God, as we have seen, begins by “looking unto Jesus." It grows by abiding in His presence, and keeping up communion with Him. As soon as we come to Him, we receive something of His Spirit, and are able to understand a little. As we stay with Him and walk with Him we receive more and more, and are able to understand more. For the two processes go on together, the revelation without, and the revelation within ; the light and the love; the shining in our hearts, and the vision of the glory on the face of Christ. The more we see of the Divine in Him, the more we receive of the Divine in ourselves; and the more we receive of the Divine in ourselves, the more we see of the Divine in Him. By equal steps we "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Or, as another apostle puts it, “We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
And a third apostle (the apostle of love, as the others are of faith and of hope) puts the climax on it all, draws the veil a little aside from the glorious consummation, thus: “When He shall be manifested"-(not the mere limited and partial manifestation which is all that is possible now, but the fuller manifestation to which we are taught to look forward in glorious hope at the second coming of the Lord)—"When He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
Oh, blessed knowledge of God, revealed in His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ! 0 Thou who art Light, shine in our hearts, to give us "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” O Thou who art Love, dwell in our hearts, and teach us to enter into the mystery of His cross and passion, and so begin "to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” And then shall we understand better what the great Revealer and Redeemer meant when He said, “This is life eternal, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." At the close of this address hymn No. 16 was sung:
" Praise God, ye seraphs bright,
Praise Him, ye sons of light.” Prayer was presented by the Rev. CLARMONT SKRINE, M.A., and the proceedings of the first morning concluded.
The Knowledge of God: Revealed in the Son: Imparted by the Holy Ghost.
MR. W. P. LOCKHART.
Rev. C. A. FOX, M.A.
Wednesday Evening, 25th June, 1884.
FTER silent prayer, S. A. BLACKWOOD, Esq., C.B., opened with prayer. Hymn No. 22 was sung :
“ Before Jehovah's awful throne,
Ye nations, bow with sacred joy.” Rev. A. M. W. CHRISTOPHER presented prayer.
S. A. BLACKWOOD, Esq., C.B., read 1 Cor. ii, and said :We are looking to-night, I trust, dear friends, to God the Holy Ghost to reveal to us these deep mysteries of the Kingdom of God. We have but touched the fringe of this vast subject, which is occupying us these days of Conference. Our brethren have set a little before us this morning, and we shall hear more to-night. But let our hearts be lifted up unto God that we may above all things—both speakers and hearers—be under the teaching of the Holy Ghost. Oh! for subject minds, ready hearts, and obedient wills to receive that Word with meekness, in order that we may obey the Word of God.
May He lift up the light of His countenance upon us this night, and give us a rich blessing as we wait upon Him. After the singing of hymn No. 18–
“ Ten thousand times ten thousand
Redeemed ones on high,”