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A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
Many are the ways in which God is seeking to make himself known to us and to
bring us into communion with him. Nature speaks to our senses without ceasing. The
open heart will be impressed with the love and glory of God as revealed through the
works of his hands. The listening ear can hear and understand the communications of
God through the things of nature. The green fields, the lofty trees, the buds and flowers,
the passing cloud, the falling rain, the babbling brook, the glories of the heavens, speak
to our hearts, and invite us to become acquainted with him who made them all.
Our Saviour bound up his precious lessons with the things of nature. The trees,
the birds, the flowers of the valley, the hills, the lake, and the beautiful heavens, as well
as the incidents and surroundings of daily life, were all linked with the words of truth,
that his lessons might thus be often recalled to mind, even amid the busy cares of man’s
life of toil.
God would have his children appreciate his works, and delight in the simple,
quiet beauty with which he has adorned our earthly home. He is a lover of the beautiful,
and above all that is outwardly attractive he loves beauty of character; he would have us
cultivate purity and simplicity, the quiet graces of the flowers.
If we will but listen, God’s created works will teach us precious lessons of
obedience and trust. From the stars that in their trackless course through space, follow
from age to age their appointed path, down to the minutest atom, the things of nature
obey the Creator’s will. And God cares for everything and sustains everything that he
has created. He who upholds the unnumbered worlds throughout immensity, at the same
time cares for the wants of the little brown sparrow that sings its humble song without a
fear. When men go forth to their daily toil, as when they engage in prayer; when they lie
down at night, and when they rise in the morning; when the rich man feasts in his
palace, or when the poor man gathers his children about the scanty board, each is
tenderly watched by the Heavenly Father. No tears are shed that God does not notice.
There is no smile that he does not mark.
If we would but fully believe this, all undue anxieties would be dismissed. Our
lives would not be so filled with disappointment as now; for everything, whether great
or small, would be left in the hands of God, who is not perplexed by the multiplicity of
cares, or overwhelmed by their weight. We should then enjoy a rest of soul to which
many have long been strangers.
As your senses delight in the attractive loveliness of the earth, think of the world
that is to come, that shall never know the blight of sin and death; where the face of
nature will no more wear the shadow of the curse. Let your imagination picture the
home of the saved, and remember that it will be more glorious than your brightest
imagination can portray. In the varied gifts of God in nature we see but the faintest
gleaming of his glory. It is written “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love
him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.
The poet and the naturalist have many things to say about nature, but it is the
Christian who enjoys the beauty of the earth with the highest appreciation, because he
recognizes his Father’s handiwork, and perceives his love in flower and shrub and tree.
No one can fully appreciate the significance of hill and vale, river and sea, who does not
look upon them as an expression of God’s love to man.
God speaks to us through his providential workings, and through the influence
of his Spirit upon the heart. In our circumstances and surroundings, in the changes daily
taking place around us, we may find precious lessons, if our hearts are but open to
discern them. The Psalmist, tracing the work of God’s providence, says, “The earth is
full of the goodness of the Lord.” “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even
they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.” Psalm 33:5; 107:43.
God speaks to us in his word. Here we have in clearer lines the revelation of his
character, of his dealings with men, and the great work of redemption. Here is open
before us the history of patriarchs and prophets and other holy men of old. They were
“men subject to like passions as we are.” James 5:17. We see how they struggled
through discouragements like our own, how they fell under temptation as we have done,
and yet took heart again and conquered through the grace of God: and beholding, we are
encouraged in our striving after righteousness. As we read of the precious experiences
granted them, of the light and love and blessing it was theirs to enjoy, and of the work
they wrought through the grace given them, the spirit that inspired them kindles a flame
of holy emulation in our hearts, and a desire to be like them in character,–like them to
walk with God.
Jesus said of the Old-Testament Scriptures, and how much more is it true of the
New – “They are they which testify of me,” John 5:39, the Redeemer, him in whom our
hopes of eternal life are centered. Yes, the whole Bible tells of Christ. From the first
record of creation – “for without him was not anything made that was made,” John
1:3, to the closing promise, “Behold, I come quickly,” Revelation 22:12, we are
reading of his works and listening to his voice. If you would become acquainted with
the Saviour, study the Holy Scriptures.
Fill the whole heart with the words of God. They are the living water, quenching
your burning thirst. They are the living bread from heaven. Jesus declares, “Except ye
eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” And he
explains himself by saying, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they
are life.” John 6:53, 63. Our bodies are built up from what we eat and drink; and as in
the natural economy, so in the spiritual economy: it is what we meditate upon that will
give tone and strength to our spiritual nature.
The theme of redemption is one that the angels desire to look into; it will be the
science and the song of the redeemed throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Is it not
worthy of careful thought and study now? The infinite mercy and love of Jesus, the
sacrifice made in our behalf, calls for the most serious and solemn reflection. We should
dwell upon the character of our dear Redeemer and Intercessor. We should meditate
upon the mission of him who came to save his people from their sins. As we thus
contemplate heavenly themes, our faith and love will grow stronger, and our prayers
will be more and more acceptable to God, because they will be more and more mixed
with faith and love. They will be intelligent and fervent. There will be more constant
confidence in Jesus, and a daily, living experience in his power to save to the uttermost
all that come unto God by him.
As we meditate upon the perfections of the Saviour, we shall desire to be wholly
transformed, and renewed in the image of his purity. There will be a hungering and
thirsting of soul to become like him whom we adore. The more our thoughts are upon
Christ, the more we shall speak of him to others, and represent him to the world.
The Bible was not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary, it was designed
for the common people. The great truths necessary for salvation are made as clear as
noonday; and none will mistake and lose their way except those who follow their own
judgment instead of the plainly revealed will of God.
We should not take the testimony of any man as to what the Scriptures teach, but
should study the words of God for ourselves. If we allow others to do our thinking, we
shall have crippled energies and contracted abilities. The noble powers of the mind may
be so dwarfed by lack of exercise on themes worthy of their concentration as to lose
their ability to grasp the deep meaning of the word of God. The mind will enlarge if it is
employed in tracing out the relation of the subjects of the Bible, comparing scripture
with scripture, and spiritual things with spiritual.
There is nothing more calculated to strengthen the intellect than the study of the
Scriptures. No other book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the
faculties, as the broad, ennobling truths of the Bible. If God’s word were studied as it
should be, men would have a breadth of mind, a nobility of character, and a stability of
purpose that is rarely seen in these times.
But there is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One
may read the whole Bible through, and yet fail to see its beauty or comprehend its deep
and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind, and
its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many
chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained. Keep your
Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even
while you are walking the streets, you may read a passage, and meditate upon it, thus
fixing it in the mind.
We cannot obtain wisdom without earnest attention and prayerful study. Some
portions of Scripture are indeed too plain to be misunderstood; but there are others
whose meaning does not lie on the surface, to be seen at a glance. Scripture must be
compared with scripture. There must be careful research and prayerful reflection. And
such study will be richly repaid. As the miner discovers veins of precious metal
concealed beneath the surface of the earth, so will he who perseveringly searches the
word of God as for hid treasure, find truths of the greatest value, which are concealed
from the view of the careless seeker. The words of inspiration, pondered in the heart,
will be as streams flowing from the fountain of life.
Never should the Bible be studied without prayer. Before opening its pages we
should ask for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and it will be given. When
Nathanael came to Jesus, the Saviour exclaimed, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom
is no guile.” Nathanael said, “Whence knowest thou me?” Jesus answered, “Before that
Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.” John 1:47, 48. And
Jesus will see us also in the secret places of prayer, if we will seek him for light, that we
may know what is truth. Angels from the world of light will be with those who in
humility of heart seek for divine guidance.
The Holy Spirit exalts and glorifies the Saviour. It is his office to present Christ,
the purity of his righteousness, and the great salvation that we have through him. Jesus
says, “He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” John 16:14. The Spirit of
truth is the only effectual teacher of divine truth. How must God esteem the human race,
since he gave his Son to die for them, and appoints his Spirit to be man’s teacher and
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