Spiritual Expansion

I find it good, ever and again, to survey the vast canopy overhead on a night when the sky is clear and the stars shining in brilliance, so that the vision, instead of being contracted by the limits of four walls, or even by those of the narrow horizon, may be enlarged by objects which are millions of miles distant. The effect is most expansive to the mind. That which is minute and discernible under the microscope, may, no doubt, be very instructive; but as the telescope sweeps through space, and carries the eye to the infinite, endless, illimitable, the result is an immense enlargement of mind. The immensity of what is called space gives an idea of God in the greatness of His handiwork; and to acquire a sense of that greatness is (for one thing) exceedingly valuable. Our minds are prone to narrowness, to become circumscribed by our surroundings, and thus to lose touch with that which is outside ourselves.

The remedy for this very common disease is clearly a truer conception of God, as made known, first in creation and then in redemption. The knowledge of God is beneficial in every way. It is, without doubt, the most wholesome and pleasant of all knowledge. It is life eternal.

We need not delay to answer the question of the agnostic, whether God can be known. He can! He is known, and loved, and obeyed by vast numbers of His creatures; He should be known and obeyed by all; and this so certainly, that the day approaches when judgment will fall on “them who know not God”. Let that fact be remembered.

Creation leaves us “without excuse”. It is a witness to His power and divinity—a universal witness, and one that appeals to all nations, even though, alas, its witness may be refused by human wisdom and philosophy to the confusion and shame of the opposers.

Redemption is additional, and presents a God of love and grace which meets the need of guilty man, in a way that mere creation—a thing external to him—never could.

The Gospel unfolds the charming scheme of redemption, and places the believer in the happy consciousness of a known relationship with God as Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. Yonder far-distant star, how brilliant soever it may be, is eclipsed by the self-sacrifice of the Son of God on Calvary. This is love infinite and everlasting; that is power and wisdom; both are of God.

And what does the knowledge of God produce in the soul that receives it? Well, it sets everything right within. How could it be otherwise? The adjustment is divine and perfect. Forgiveness of sins! Surely. Peace with God, reconciliation, sonship, and glory ere long; all this, and joint heirship with Christ, the members of whose body we are! It produces love to man, and a life of practical righteousness and holiness—a morally beautiful life. The sphere of this life is boundless. Telescope and microscope may be employed in its innumerable and benign activities. It is a life of charity and truest altruism.

No wonder that Paul, whose whole being was spent in the knowledge of God and in the service of Christ, should have pressed the spread of it on all hands.

For instance, he charges the saints at Corinth to “abound in the work of the Lord”, for such “labour” can never be in vain in Him—never! He charges them, as his beloved brethren, to be “steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in that work”. “His brethren”! Yes, his “beloved brethren”, the very brethren who had caused him such deep sorrow, and whom he had to rebuke and correct so unsparingly. He styles them his beloved brethren, and urges them, in the hope, no doubt, of their recovery, that they should, notwithstanding their past failures and sins, devote themselves to the only work that is of permanent value—“the work of the Lord”.

That exhortation (in 1 Cor. 15:58) shines like a star of the first magnitude through a rift in the cloudy sky as it hung over Corinth.

The wise Apostle knew that the best antidote to the wretched philosophy, carnality, going to law with one another, and other deplorable abuses that had disgraced that Assembly, lay in a heart devotion to “the work of the Lord”. There was a magnanimity in such counsel that proclaimed a soul that lived in no narrow self-interest, but that dwelt in the wide expanse of the kingdom of God.