Religious Items

In a recent editorial we made an observation, to which we did not suppose that any objection could be raised, that the Divine Revelation which God has been pleased to make to man is necessarily imperfect, since it is impossible for anything more than a partial revelation of the eternal things of God to be communicated to a finite and temporal creature like man. This is only to say what St. Paul said long ago, that "Now we know in part," and we might have added, with the same expectation of general agreement, that in such a revelation something must necessarily be parabolic and pictorial. The Creed itself is full of pictorial phrases, which can be at best only suggestions or adumbrations of the eternal verties which they affirm. The three greatest words of the Christian Faith—Father, Son, and Spirit—are pictorial and parabolic words, the best, truly, that human speech affords, and sufficient to convey so much of truth concerning God as it is needful for man to know, but all too feeble to define the ineffable things of God which it is not possible for man even to conceive.

Let it be granted that God cares to make Himself known to His poor human children in this world, and it must needs follow that His revelations of Himself must be in broken syllables, so to speak, and in picture words suggesting higher and still higher thoughts, age after age, as the mind of man advances from its rude state of barbaric ignorance to loftier planes of knowledge. That is what the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews intimates when he talks of the "divers portions" and the "divers manners" in which God spake through the prophets to those earlier generations. But did the writer of that majestic epistle so bind himself to the form and fashion of the earlier revelations, or to the form and manner in which they were understood and interpreted in those former generations, as to exclude, or reject, or in any way belittle or circumscribe, the last and highest revelation which had just been made by the Son of God? He did nothing of the sort. He interpreted the earlier by the later, not the later and more perfect by the earlier and less perfect. That example is valid, and it will remain valid for all time. The larger knowledge, of whatever kind it be, must always be applied to the enlargement and illumination of earlier ignorance and obscurer thought.

The Church Standard.

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February 12, 1903

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