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The Secret and the Unrevealed Things
There are some things respecting which we ought to be agnostics. They are the secret things which belong to God. There are other things concerning which we ought not to be agnostics. They are the revealed things which belong to us and to our children.
I. The things which concern us, which touch our life, lie within the realm of our knowledge; the things which do not touch us, which do not concern our life, concerning which we may hold one theory or another theory, and our life still remain right, do not belong to us. We may discuss them, but they are not part of the vital truths of religion.
II. In a similar manner there is the known and the unknown in religion. And the difficulty about religious discussion has been that most of it has been fighting about the unknown. 'Nothing is more certain,' says Herbert Spencer, 'than that we are ever in the presence of an infinite and eternal Energy from which all things proceed.' Now what can we know about that infinite and eternal Energy? We say that He is omnipresent. But we do not know. All we know is that everywhere in the universe He is operative.
III. But whenever God comes in touch with us, we do know. We know that there is a natural order in the universe; we know that there is somewhere a rule; and we know that these rules are absolute, unchangeable, immutable. We do not know in what way God operates on the mind. But we do know Christ's relation to us; and that is enough for us to know. What God is in His essence we cannot know. What is His method of manifesting Himself to others we cannot know; but we can open our hearts to His sunshine and receive His life. What the Christ is in His relation to the eternal Father we cannot know; but to us He can be the model which we follow and the revelation of God whom we adore.
Lyman Abbott, Homiletic Review, 1904, vol. XLVIII. p. 291.
Knowledge: Revealed and Secret
I will first of all take the two terms of my text and then the declaration of the purpose lying behind the truth of the terms revealed things; secret things.
I. First, the revealed things. The Hebrew word very literally means things denuded, laid bare. I have said to you that a thing revealed cannot be perfect and complete; but it is a revealed thought. This hymn-book, for example, is a thing revealed to us by this imperfect manner of words. It is the same thing in the moral world. There are things revealed and things I know a flower, a storm, light and heat, and the mystery of pain, the great affirmations of Christian truth.
II. Take the next term of the text: secret things. As the first word means things denuded, the second means things clothed, things hidden by a covering. The covering demonstrates the presence of the thing beneath. The covering is revealed, the thing is hidden. It is the intangible, impenetrable, illusive mystery that lurks at the back of everything revealed. I take up this book again. There is as much mystery in that hymn-book as there is in God. When you can fathom the mystery of this book, you can fathom the mystery of the universe.
III. It is the great declaration of revealed religion that everything that baffles the human intellect and bewilders the human heart because of its mystery is not a mystery with God. He knows it thoroughly. Carry this idea into the second half of the declaration. Everything revealed is revealed for us and is united to the secret and hidden forces and expresses so much of them as is for us to know. The truth is that everything of which I am certain is but the apparition of a heavenly thing and teaches a spiritual truth. Take away the secret things and you will lose God. It is the secret of Divine government that demonstrates the fact of Divine government.
G. Campbell Morgan, Homiletic Review, 1904, vol. xlviii. p. 451.
References. XXIX. 29. J. O. Davies, Sermons by Welshmen, p. 59. J. Bunting, Sermons, vol. i. p. 346. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 193.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 29". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26