The Speech of Elihu.
Elihu says many beautiful things. There is some difficulty in tracing the uniting line of his numerous remarks, but the remarks themselves often glitter with a really beautiful light. Many of the independent sayings are like single jewels. We need not always look for the thread upon which the pearls are strung: sometimes it is enough to see the separate pearls themselves, to admire, to value, and spiritually to appropriate all their helpful suggestion. Elihu"s speech is like many a sermon: we may not be able to follow it in its continuity, and indeed in some instances, continuity may not be a feature of the discourse; yet what riches are found in separate sentences, in asides, in allusions whose meaning is not at first patent, but which grows as we peruse the words and consider the argument. We may know nothing of the discourse as a whole, and yet we may remember short sentences, brief references, and take them away as lights that will bless us in many a dark hour, or as birds that may sing to us when all human voices are silent.
Elihu says beautiful things about God, as we have already seen. He loved God. Was he sometimes too eager to defend God? Is it not possible for us to excite ourselves much too hotly in defending the eternal Name and in protecting the everlasting sanctuary? Who has called us to all this controversy, to all this angry hostility even against the foe? What if it had been more profitable to all if we had prayed with him instead of arguing; yea, even prayed for him in his absence; yea, higher miracle still—prayed for him despite his sneering and bis mocking. Elihu may have been too vehement, too anxious to defend God, as if God needed him. And yet that can hardly have been his spirit, for one of the very first things to which we shall now call attention shows Elihu"s conception of God to be one of absolute independence of his creature"s. Let us see whether Elihu was right or wrong in this conception.
"If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?" ( Job 35:6-7).
This is true of God"s majesty, but it is not true of God"s fatherhood. God can do without any one of us, and yet his heart yearns if the very youngest of us be not at home, sitting at the table, and living on the bounty of his love. It is perfectly right to say what Elihu said: "If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him?" O thou puny transgressor, thou dost but bruise thine own hand when thou smitest against the rocks of eternity! "Or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?" Can thy sin tarnish his crown, or take away one jewel from his diadem, or abate the storm of heaven"s music that hails him eternal King? Consider, poor suffering patriarch: if thou be righteous even, on the other hand, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand? And yet that statement is imperfect: it creates a chasm between the Creator and the creature; it sets God away at a great distance upon an inaccessible mountain, and clothes him with glories which dazzle the vision that would look upon them. From one side of the thought, it is good, it is glorious, but from the other side of the thought it is incomplete. Elihu speaks of the dazzling sun, but does he not forget to speak of the tender light that kisses every pane even in a poor man"s window, and comes with God"s benediction upon every flower planted by a child"s hand, and watched by a child"s love? We must not make God too imperious. There is a conception of God which represents him as keeping men at the staff-end, allowing them to approach so far but not one step beyond. That conception could be vindicated up to a given point, but there is the larger conception which says: We have boldness of access now; we have not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire; we have come unto mount Sion, where with reverent familiarity we may look face to face upon God, and speak to him, as a man speaketh with his friend, mouth to mouth, and return to our daily employment with the fragrance of heaven in our very breath, and with the almightiness of God as the fountain of our strength. This is the larger view. In all cases the larger view is the right view. He who has but a geographical view of the earth knows but little concerning it; as we have often had occasion to point out, the astronomical view involves the whole, and rules by infinite energy all that is apparently unequal and discrepant into serenest peace, into completest order. It is possible for us to be afraid of God: hence many minds would banish the thought of the divine love, saying, It is too high for us: no man may think of that and live: enough for us to deal with minor things: inferior concerns may well task our finite powers: we dare not lift up our eyes unto heaven: God is great, and may not be looked for. There was a time when that view might be historically correct, but Jesus Christ has come to present another aspect of God, to reveal him as Father, to declare his nearness, to preach his solicitude for the children of men, to describe him as so loving the world as to die for it. Let us repeat: that is the larger view, and until we have received it, we know nothing of what riches may be gathered in the sanctuary, and what triumphs may be won by the spirit of the Cross.
Elihu presents the same thought in another aspect; he says that man may do many things against God, and yet not injure him. That is not true. Here is opened to us a wild field of practical reflection. We cannot injure God without injuring ourselves. If we transgress against him, what does it amount to? Some may say, Who can blacken God"s whole universe by any sin he may commit? What can Iscariot himself do when he attempts to stain the infinite snow of the divine purity? There is also a sense in which that is true. God is not dependent upon us: our prayers do not make him what he is; our sacrifices do not constitute his heaven: he could do without every one of us; he could pay no heed to any action committed by any hand. But this is not the God of the Bible. Such a God is possible to the licentious imagination, but not possible to any one who has been trained in the Christian school, or who accepts Christian standards for the regulation of his thought, for the determination of his theology. We cannot omit a duty without grieving God; we cannot think an evil thought without troubling his heavens. He is concerned for us. Whilst we say we live, and move, and have our being in God, there is an obvious sense in which he may reply—I live, and move, and have my being in man. He watches for us, longs for us, sends messages to us, seems to spend his eternity in thinking about us, and planning our whole life, and enriching us in all the regions and departments of our existence and nature. That is the Christian view. Never let the idea get into your mind that God cannot be interested in the individual man. Once let that conviction seize the mind, and despair quickly follows: you have not adopted a sentiment; you have given it the key of your heart; the enemy has seized it, and he says, Let that thought work a long while—namely, that God does not care for the individual, that his universe is too large for him to pay any attention to details,—and when that thought has well saturated the mind, I will go in and work all the mystery of damnation. We shall keep the enemy at bay, we shall affright him, in proportion as we are found standing hand in hand with God, saying loudly and sweetly, He is my God, and will not forsake me: he loves me as if I were an only child; he has been pleased to make me essential to the completeness of his joy. Words must fail when attempting to depict such a thought, but they help us, as a hint may help a man who is in difficulty. Beyond this we must not force words. If they bring us to feel that God numbers the hairs of our head, watches the falling sparrow, takes note of everything, is interested in our pulse that throbs within us, it is helpful, restful; meanwhile it is sufficient: preparation has been made for larger gifts, for fuller disclosures of divine decree and purpose.
Elihu has not been altogether poetical in his speech to Job: but we incidentally come upon an expression which proves that Elihu even could be poet as well as critic and accuser; he says—
"But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?" ( Job 35:10.)
Whatever may be the exact critical definition of the phrase, who can fail to receive it as throwing an explanatory lustre upon many a human experience? Consider the words in their relation to one another. First look at them separately—"songs"; then look at the next word, "night"; now connect them, "songs in the night,"—apparently songs out of place, songs out of season, songs that have gone astray, angels that have lost their foothold in heaven and have fallen down into wildernesses and valleys of darkness. Such is not the case. "Song" and "night" are words which seem to have no reciprocal relation: but human experience is larger than human definitions, and it is true to the experience of mankind that whilst there has been a night the night has been made alive with music. Who will deny this? No man who has had experience of life; only he will deny it who has seen life in one aspect, and who has seen so little of life as really to have seen none of it. Life is not a flash, a transient phase, a cloud that comes and goes without leaving any impression behind it: life is a tragedy; life is a long, complicated, changeful experience,—now joyous to ecstasy, now sad to despair; now a great harvest-field rich with the gold of wheat, and now a great sandy desert in which no flower can be found. Taking life through and through, in all its relations and inter-relations, how many men can testify that in the night they have heard sweeter music than they ever heard in the day! Do not the surroundings sometimes help the music? Some music is out of place at midday; we must wait for the quiet wood, for the heart of the deep plantation, for the top of the silent hill, for the place where there is no city: some music must come to the heart in solitude—a weird, mystic, tender thing, frightful sometimes as a ghost, yet familiar oftentimes as a friend. Who has not seen more of God at the graveside than he ever saw elsewhere? Who has not had Scripture interpreted to him in the house of death which was never interpreted to him by eloquent Apollos or by reasoning Paul? and who has not had occasion to go back upon his life, and say, It was good for me that I was afflicted: now that I have had time to reflect, I see that all the while God was working for me, secretly, beneficently, and the result is morning, beauty, promise, early summer, almost heaven! But here we must interpose a word of wise caution. Do not let us expect songs in the night if we had not duty and sacrifice in the daytime. God does not throw songs away. God does not expend upon us what we ourselves have not been prepared to receive by industry, by patient suffering, by all-hopeful endurance: never does God withhold the song in the night time when the day has been devoted to him. The darkness and the light are both alike to him. If we sow tares in one part of the day, we shall reap them in the other part. Sometimes the relation is reversed: one great, sweet, solemn voice has said, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning": there we seem to have the words set in right sequence—weeping and night; joy and morning. What a balance of expression! How exquisite in criticism and appropriateness! and yet Elihu will have it the other way:—difficulty in the daytime, songs in the night; a day of long labour and sore travail, but at night every star a gospel, and the whole arch of heaven a protection and a security. This may be poetry to some, it is solemn fact to others. Poetry is the fact. Poetry is truth blossoming,—fact budding into broader and more generous life.
Then Elihu presents another feature of the divine character, which is full of delightful suggestion—
"Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom" ( Job 36:5).
Consider here the relation of terms: mighty, yet not contemptuous. This gives us the right interpretation of the very first passage which we quoted. God is mighty, yet condescending; God could crush us, yet he spares our life: because he is supremely mighty he is compassionate. Half-power is dangerous, almost mighty tempts the half-developed giant to tyrannous uses of his strength: but whole power, almightiness, omnipotence, by its very perfectness, can speak, can compassionate, can fall into the words of pity and solicitude and love. Thus justice becomes mercy; thus righteousness and peace have kissed each other; thought to be strangers, they have hailed one another as friends and brethren. Then the very omnipotence of God may be regarded as a gospel feature and as a gospel support. If he were less powerful he would be less pitiful. It is because he knows all that strength can do that he knows how little it can do Strength will never convert the world, omnipotence will never subdue creation, in the sense of exciting that creation to trust and worship, honour and love. What will overcome the universe of sin? Divine condescension, divine compassion,—the cross of Christ. When are men ruled? When they are persuaded. When are men made loyal subjects? When they are fascinated by the king"s beauty, and delighted with the king"s compassion, clemency, and grace. For what king will man die? For the king who rules by righteousness and who is the subject of his own people. Thus God will not drive us into his kingdom. God spreads the feast and gives us welcome; he declares gospels, he offers hospitality: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely;" and again, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in." So says he who by a breath could obliterate the universe. He will rule by love; he will take up his abode where he is welcomed by the broken heart and the contrite spirit.
A sweet word Elihu uses again; he speaks of "the bright light which is in the clouds" ( Job 37:21). This is a sentence we have to stand side by side with "songs in the night." Astronomical meanings there may be, literal criticism may take out of expressions of this kind all that is nourishing to the soul and all that is comforting to the troubled spirit; yet there the juice of the divine grace remains, the sap of the holy virtue is found, and may be received and appropriated by hearts that are in a fit condition. Astronomy shall not have all the grandeur and all the suggestion; the heart will have some of it. The heart says, The universe was made for Prayer of Manasseh, not man for the universe, and man has a right to take his sickle into every field, and reap the bread which he finds growing there, for wherever there is bread it was meant for the satisfaction of hunger. "Men see not the bright light which is in the clouds,"—the silver lining, the edge of glory. We ought to reckon up our mercies as well as talk of our judgments: "My song shall be of mercy and judgment"—a complete Song of Solomon, a psalm wanting in no feature of sublimity and tenderness Suppose we sometimes reverse the usual process, and instead of writing down the name of the cloud and its size and density, we should take our pen and with a glad swift eagerness write down the lines we have seen, the sudden gleamings, the bright visions, the angel-forms, the messages of love, the compensations, the advantages of life. That would be but grateful; that would be but just. Is there any life that has not some brightness in it? How true it is that though in some cases the light is all gone, yet, even amongst little outcast children, see what laughter there Isaiah, what sunniness, what glee! Who has not seen this on the city streets? Looking at the little wayfarers we should say, There can be no happiness in such lives; such little ones can never know what it is to laugh; and lo, whilst we are musing and moralising, how they lilt and sing and show signs of inextinguishable gladness. This is the mystery of life. It always has with it some touch of heaven, some throb of immortality, some sign of all-conquering force. Here it is that the gospel will get its hold upon men. Begin with the joys they have, carry them forward with due amplification, and purify them until they turn into a reasonable and religious gladness. Seize the facts of life, and reason from them up into pious generalisations, rational religious conclusions, and force men by the very strenuousness of your argument to see that they have had seeds enough, but have never planted them; otherwise even their lives would have been blooming, blossoming, fruitful as the garden of God.
The Unknowable God
God—Unknown, Unknowable; even Song of Solomon, yet not the less the one Reality, and the one Energy of the universe. What it is possible to know it must be possible to explain, to put into an equal number of words, which, being all set together, sum themselves into the exact measure of the thing that is known. What can be known can of course be contained by the faculty which knows it. The vessel is of necessity larger than its contents. It, then, any faculty of mine knows God, that faculty contains God, and is in that sense larger than God, which is impossible and absurd. Whatever I can know Isaiah, by the very fact that I can know it, less than I am; bigger, it may be, as to mere size in length and breadth, a huge disc that glares with light, or a globe flying fast, yet with speed that can be set down in so many ciphers or lines of ciphers on a child"s slate, so clearly that we can say: It is so much an hour the great wings fly, and not one mile more. What is that but mere bigness, an appeal to our easily excited wonder, a Size that shakes our pride and bids us mind our ways, or a weight may fall upon us from the sky? It is nothing but infinitised mud, nothing but an ascertainable quantity and intensity of fire—a wide and high stair leading to nothing!
Unknown—Unknowable. Thanks. I am tired of the Known and the Knowable, tired of saying this star is fifty millions of miles in circumference, that star is ninety millions of miles farther off than the moon, and yonder planet is five million times larger than the earth. It is mere gossip in polysyllables, getting importance by hugeness, something that would never be named in inches, and that owes its fame to the word millions. It is so that men want to make a mouthful of God! A great mouthful, no doubt, say even to the extent of super-millions squared and cubed into a whole slateful of ciphers, but pronounceable in words! Failing this, they suppose they have destroyed him by saying he is Unknowable and Unknown. It makes me glad to think he is! That any One or any Thing should be unknowable and should yet invite and stimulate inquiry is educationally most hopeful. O soul of mine, there are grand times in store for thee! I cannot rattle my staff against the world"s boundary wall, and say, The End!—Poor staff! It thrusts itself into a cloud; it goes over the edge; it is like to be pulled out of my hand by gravitation from another centre stronger than the earth"s core, a gravitation that pulls even the earth itself and keeps it from reeling and falling. Yes, prying staff, thou canst touch nothing but a most ghostly emptiness. Soul of Prayer of Manasseh, if thou wouldst truly see—see the Boundless, see the Possible, see God—go into the dark when and where the darkness is thickest That is the mighty and solemn sanctuary of vision. The light is vulgar in some uses. It shows the mean and vexing detail of space and life with too gross a palpable-ness, and frets the sensitiveness of the eyes. I must find the healing darkness that has never been measured off into millions and paraded as a nameable quantity of surprise and mystery. Dens absconditus. God hideth himself, oftenest in the light; he touches the soul in the gloom and vastness of night, and the soul, being true in its intent and wish, answers the touch without a shudder or a blush. It is even so that God comes to me. He does not come through man"s high argument, a flash of human wit, a sudden and audacious answer to an infinite enigma, or a toilsome reply to some high mental challenge. His path is through the pathless darkness—without a footprint to show where he stepped; through the forest of the night he comes; and when he comes the brightness is all within! My God—unknown and unknowable—cannot be chained as a Prisoner of logic, or delivered into the custody of a theological proposition, or figured into literal art. Shame be the portion of those who have given him a setting within the points of the compass, who have robed him in cloth of their own weaving, and surnamed him at the bidding of their cold and narrow fancy! For myself, I know that I cannot know him, that I have a joy wider than knowledge, a conception that domes itself above my best thinking, as the sky domes itself in infinite pomp and lustre above the earth whose beauty it creates. God! God! God! best defined when undefined; a Fire that may not be touched; a Life too great for shape or image; a Love for which there is no equal name. Who is he? God. What is he? God. Of whom begotten? God. He is at once the question and the answer, the self-balance, the All.
We have tried to build our way up to him by using many words with some cunning and skill. We have thought to tempt him into our cognition by the free use of flattering adjectives. Surely, said we, he will pour his heart"s wine into the golden goblets which we hold to catch the sacred stream. We have called him Creator, Sovereign, Father; then Infinite Creator, Eternal Sovereign, Gracious Father, as if we could build up our word-bricks to heaven and surprise the Unknown and the Unknowable in his solitude, and look upon him face to face. We have come near to blasphemy herein. What wonder had we been thrust through with a dart! We have thought our Yesterday roomy enough to hold God"s Eternity, and have offered him with every show of abounding sufficiency the hospitality of our ever-changing words as a medium of revelation. Our words! Words that come and go like unstable fashions. Words that die of very age; words that cannot be accepted unanimously in all their suggestions and relations even by two men. Into these words we have invited God, and because he cannot come into them but as a devouring fire, we have stood back in offence and unbelief. God! God! God! ever hidden, ever present, ever distant, ever near; a Ghost, a Breath, making the knees knock in terror, ripping open a grave at the very feet of our pleasure, a mocking laugh at the feast, filling all space like the light, yet leaving room for all his creatures; a Terror, a Hope—Undefinable, Unknow able, Irresistible, Immeasurable. God is a Spirit!
Undefinable, Unknown, Unknowable, Invisible, Incomprehensible, grim negatives, emptinesses that deceive us by their vast hollowness, and nothing more, are these surly words. The wrong word is to blame for the wrong conclusion. We have chosen the very worst word in our haste, and have needlessly humbled ourselves in doing so. We have made a wall of the word when we might have made it into six wings, twain to cover the face, twain to cover the feet, and twain with which to fly. Instead of Unknowable, Invisible, Incomprehensible, say Super-knowable, Supervisible, Supercomprehensible, and at once the right point of view is reached and the mystery is made luminous. From the Unknowable I turn away humiliated and discouraged; from the Superknowable I return humbled, yet inspired. The Unknowable says: Fool, why bruise thy knuckles in knocking at the final granite as if it were a door that could be opened? The Superknowable says: There is something larger than thy intelligence; a Secret, a Force, a Beginning, a God! Evermore is the difficulty in the lame word and not in the solemn truth. We make no progress in religion whilst we keep to our crippled feet; in its higher aspects and questionings it is not a road to walk upon, it is an open firmament to fly in. Alas for his progress who mistakes crutches for wings! Yet this absurdity has so recommended itself to our coldness as to win the name of prudence, sobriety, and self-suppression. We have lost the broad and mighty pinions that found their way to heaven"s gate, and the eye of burning love that looked steadfastly into the sacred cloud. We have now taken to walking, and our lame feet pick their uncertain way over such stones as Unknown, Unknowable, Invisible, Incomprehensible, and we finish our toilsome journey exactly where we began it. Enthusiasm sees God. Love sees God. Fire sees God. But we have escaped the revealing, because sympathetic, fire, and have built our prudent religion upon the sand. On the sand! Think of it! So we go to it, and walk around it, and measure it, and break it up into propositions, and placard it on church walls, and fight about it with infinite clamour and some spitefulness. My soul, amid all Unknowableness, Incomprehensibleness, and other vain and pompous nothings, hold fast to the faith that thou canst know God, and yet know nothing merely about him; know him by love and pureness, and not know about him by intellectual art or theological craft.
Invisible! This is what the Bible itself says. The invisible-ness of God is not a scientific discovery; it is a Biblical revelation; it is a part of the Bible. "No man hath seen God at any time"—"No man can see God and live." This is the difficulty of all life, and the higher the life the higher the difficulty. No man can see himself and live! He can see his incarnation, but his very self—the pulse that makes him a man—he has never seen, he can never see! Anatomy says it has never found the soul, and adds, "Therefore there is no soul." The reasoning o"erleaps itself and takes away its own life by rude violence. Has anatomy found Genius? Has the surgical knife opened the chamber in which Music sings and seen the Singer? Or has anatomy laid its finger upon Imagination and held it up, saying, "Behold, the mighty wizard"? But if there is no soul, simply because anatomy has never found one, then there is no genius, no music, no imagination, no chivalry, no honour, no sympathy, because the surgeon"s knife has failed to come upon them in wounding and hacking the human frame! Anatomise the dead poet and the dead ass, and you will find as much genius in the ore as in the other; therefore there is no genius! Who that valued his life would set his foot on such a bridge as that rickety "therefore"? But some men will venture upon any bridge that seems to lead away from God; a very simple anatomy will find the reason; it is because "they do not like to retain God in their hearts"—it is not because of intellectual superiority, but because of moral distaste. An internal cancer accounts for this invincible aversion.
Unknown; Unknowable; truly, yet not on that account unusable and unprofitable. That is a vital distinction. The master of science humbly avows that he has not a theory of magnetism; does he therefore ignore it, or decline to inquire into its uses? Does he reverently write its name with a big M, and run away from it shaken and whitened by a great fear? Verily he is no such fool. He actually uses what he does not understand. I will accept his example and bring it to bear upon the religious life. I do not scientifically know God; the solemn term does not come within the analysis which is available to me; God is great, and I know him not: yet the term has its practical uses in life, and into those broad and obvious uses all men may inquire. What part does the God of the Bible play in the life of the man who accepts him and obeys him with all the inspiration and diligence of love? Any creed that does not come down easily into the daily life to purify and direct it is by so much imperfect and useless. I cannot read the Bible without seeing that God (as there revealed) has ever moved his believers in the direction of courage and sacrifice. These two terms are multitudinous, involving others of kindred quality, and spreading themselves over the whole space of the upper life. In the direction of courage, not mere animal courage, for then the argument might be matched by gods many, yet still gods, though their names be spelt without capitals; but moral courage, noble heroism, fierce rebuke of personal and national corruption, sublime and pathetic judgment of all good and all evil. The God-idea made mean men valiant soldier-prophets; it broadened the piping voice of the timid inquirer into the thunder of the national teacher and leader; for brass it brought gold, and for iron silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron; instead of the thorn it brought up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier the myrtle-tree, and it made the bush burn with fire. Wherever the God-idea took complete possession of the mind every faculty was lifted up to a new capacity, and borne on to heroic attempts and conquests. The saints who received it subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions; quenched the violence of fire, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Any idea that so inspired in man life and hope is to be examined with reverent care. The quality of the courage determines its value, and the value of the idea which excited and sustained it. What is true of the courage is true also of the sacrifice which has ever followed the acceptance of the God-idea. Not the showy and fanatical sacrifice of mere blood-letting; many a Juggernaut, great and small, drinks the blood of his devotees; but spiritual discipline, self-renunciation, the esteeming of others better than one"s self, such a suppression of the self-thought as to amount to an obliteration of every motive and purpose that can be measured by any single personality, such are the practical uses of the God-idea. It is not a barren sentiment It is not a coloured vapour or a scented incense, lulling the brain into partial stupor or agitating it with mocking dreams: it arouses courage; it necessitates self sacrifice; it touches the imagination as with fire; it gives a wide and solemn outlook to the whole nature; it gives a deeper tone to every thought; it sanctifies the universe; it makes heaven possible. Unknown—Unknowable. Yes, but not therefore unusable or unprofitable.
Say this God was dreamed by human genius. Be it so. Make him a creature of fancy. What then? The man who made, or dreamed, or otherwise projected such a God must be the author of some other work of equal or approximate importance. Produce it! That is the sensible reply to so bold a blasphemy. Singular if man has made a Jehovah and then has taken to the drudgery of making oil paintings, and ink poems, and huts to live in. Where is the congruity? A man says he kindled the sun, and when asked for his proof he strikes a match which the wind blows out! Is the evidence sufficient? Or a man says that he has covered the earth with all the green and gold of summer, and, when challenged to prove it, he produces a wax flower which melts in his hands! Is the proof convincing? The God of the Bible calls for the production of other gods—gods wooden, gods stony, gods ill-bred, gods well-shaped, and done up skilfully for market uses; from his heavens he laughs at them, and from his high throne he holds them in derision. He is not afraid of competitive gods. They try to climb to his sublimity, and only get high enough to break their necks in a sharp fall. Again and again I demand that the second effort of human genius bear some obvious relation to the first. The sculptor accepts the challenge, so does the painter, so does the musician; why should the Jehovah-dreamer be an exception to the common rule of confirmation and proof? We wait for the evidence. We insist upon having it; and, that we may not waste our time in idle expectancy, we will meanwhile call upon God, saying, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven!"
O thou who didst never begin and who canst never end, All in all, more than heart can dream or tongue can tell, we are now about to speak of thee, and to tell the nothing that we know. Thou canst make our hearts burn within us; that burning shall be the purification of our souls and the chief comfort of our lives. Come to us, not in terror, but in love, not in the wrath which shakes the universe, but in the pity which saves the world. We have heard the crashing of thy thunder and would never hear it any more; henceforward do thou mercifully be unto us as the silent dew or the quiet light, and our souls shall live in thy forbearance. Jesus, save us! Jesus, cleanse us! Blood of the Lamb, take our sins away! God of gods and Lord of lords, by the showing of thyself make the universe look small and make our life a throb of thine own eternity. Deliver us from mistaken notions concerning thyself, and let us see all thy love in Christ Jesus thy dear Son. Surely thou art our heart"s perplexity by reason of thy mystery, and our heart"s supreme delight by reason of thy continual grace. We know that we have wronged thee by our mistaken views of thy character, yet dost thou gently correct us by many revelations of power and grace. Continue thy holy ministry in our hearts until all dross is burnt away and there is left only the fine gold of true wisdom. O Christ, cleanse us! Holy Spirit, make us like unto God himself! Amen.
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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 36". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany