1 Corinthians 2:10
But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
We walk in a daily wonder, ourselves the strangest of mysteries. Our knowledge is only the glimmer of light upon the surface of the ocean of existence. Beneath are the deep things of God. We need not go far to stand on the shore of the deep things of God. Our science has not gone to the root yet of a single blade of grass.
I. CONSIDER SOME OF THESE MYSTERIES.
1. To begin with the lowest, what do we know about the nature of matter? You can tell me as easily what the angels' wings are as tell me the ultimate constitution of a single particle of matter. Common oxygen and- hydrogen, and all elemental principles, belong by nature to the deep things of God. The very dust of the earth upon which we tread is in its real principle as unknown to us as the nature of God Himself.
2. But if the common earth is thus the wonder of science, much more is that dust a mystery when, by unknown forces, it is taken up and woven dexterously after a predetermined pattern and organised into. a thing of life. Sometimes investigators, pressing hard after the molecules of matter, have thought they had almost won the secret of life; but, just as our science seems about to put its finger upon that fugitive thing, life, it flies from its hand and we are no wiser than before. Life is one of the deep things of God, whose, origin no man can discover, and of whose future what we call death is only our ignorance. Perhaps to see the spring of life would be to see the living God Himself.
3. But if the life which colours the petal of the flower, and finds wings in the bird, and culminates in the form of man, is a mystery, what shall we say of that life when it has become conscious and is a thinking, willing mind? The human soul is one of the deepest of the deep things of God.
4. What then shall we say of all those further problems of life of which these things are, as it were, but the terms or elements? Our thoughts flutter over these deep things of God as the seabirds dip their wings in the ocean's waves. They only shake from their feathers the spray of the surface. Yet we cannot help thinking of the deep things of our soul's past, of the deeper things of its future. Whence came the evil that gives the good a bitter taste? How did death ever gain dominion over us? How did this hard, poisonous core of sin ever grow in the midst of this fair life? And who thus shall lift the veil for us from the future? We can see signs all around us of a great system of retribution. There is no doubt but that what a man sows that shall he also reap. The present retributive tendencies of things no sane man can deny. And they extend into the future; they work on and on. We can follow them out until they disappear in the unknown depths of futurity.
II. WE ARE READY NOW TO DRAW FROM SUCH REFLECTIONS SOME USEFUL AND PERTINENT CONCLUSIONS.
1. We may infer that —
(1) There are some people who know more than their Creator ever intended that they should know. There are some, e.g., who know that the Bible is false, and religion a superstition, because, in this cast-iron world, a miracle seems impossible, prayer folly. Before they can be sure of that, however, they should know vastly more of the structure of this material universe than any mortal eye has as yet ever seen. Possibly this may not be a "cast-iron" universe; possibly it may be something more than a mere museum-world of biological specimens; and yet, for all we know to the contrary, this material system may be as permeable to Divine influences as this earth, which seems a globe so solid, is supposed to be open as wicker-work to all movements of the ethereal waves. "There," said Lacordaire, as he overheard in a Paris restaurant St. Beuve saying, "I cannot believe in God, because I believe only in what I understand— "there is St. Beuve, who does not believe in God because he does not understand Him; nor does he understand why the same fire melts butter and hardens eggs, and yet he eats an omelet."(2) There are people who know there can be no such place as hell, because God is good. I could trust better their assurance if only they could prove that there never could be such a place as Sodom, because God is good. Surely it is the part of a wise man not to dogmatise, but so to live as not to pitch his tent toward any Sodom, either in this world or in the world to come.
(3) There are persons so wondrous wise as to know that God cannot exist as a Trinity, because three are not one. We, too, ever since we learned to count our fingers, have known that three are more than one; but there is a puzzle of arithmetic which we have not solved yet, and that is, how I can be at one and the same time the subject and the object of my own thinking — these three in one. When I cannot as yet hardly comprehend my own imperfection, I will, at least, allow God to exist in a perfection which passes my knowledge; and if revelation leads me to worship Him as a unity, complete in Himself, and not as a mere lonely, loveless unit, that needs something else to make it blessed, surely it is; a better wisdom to believe in, though we can but dimly comprehend, the unity of three eternal distinctions in the ineffable society of one blessed God.
2. But my main object is to remind you, by these questionings, of what our errand in this life really is.
(1) It is very evident that the deep things of God are intended for finite minds to search. God has given us great problems for our mental exercise, and we have found out a vast deal. Truth opens new vistas to us at every turn.
(2) But it is just as clear that to gain knowledge is not our chief errand here. This mortal stage is arranged for scenes of probation; it is fitted out for the formation of character. Our object is salvation. And so God follows through all man's history this supreme moral purpose, and to this end everything else in His providence seems to have been subordinated. This appears clearly enough from the reflections which we have just been pursuing; for God gratifies our love for knowledge only in so far as it seems to be for our moral good. How easy it would have been for Him to have granted us revelations of some of these mysteries! Let us remember. however, that while the shadows lie over many a field of knowledge, the light does fall directly over the narrow path of duty; and though we may not see far into the shadows of the forest on either side, yet, if we will, we can keep with resolute feet the narrow path of duty, and that is the path which leads up into the open day. Conclusion: Let us remember, then, that the great duties of life are the illuminated texts of Scripture: "Repent," "Believe," "Be converted," "Strive," "Pray," "Have the Spirit of Christ," "Set your affections on things above." These commandments of the Lord are "plain, enlightening the eyes" of whosoever wishes to see. There are many things which, as Jesus said, we shall know hereafter.
(Newman Smyth, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.