"Brief life is here our portion,
Brief sorrow, short-lived care:
The life that knows no ending,
The tearless life, is there.
There, glory yet unheard of
Shall shed abroad its ray,
Resolving all enigmas—
An endless Sabbath-day."—Bernard
"Now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to
face." —1 Cor. 13:12.
What an extension in the domain of knowledge on
that blessed morning when "the day shall break," and earth's twilight
shadows shall "flee away forever." The mysteries in Providence, the "deep
things" in Scripture, the apparent discrepancies in God's moral government,
all unfolded, vindicated, explained. "In your light," O God, we shall "see
light," (Ps. 36:9.)
How this new illumination will be effected we cannot say.
We can only venture a few dim conjectures on a great problem which the
future itself alone can solve.
Much of our curtailed and partial knowledge here, is
owing to the limited range of our present faculties. It is quite possible to
conceive in a future world a vast and indefinite extension and amplification
of our present mental and bodily powers; such an amplification as the man
born blind experiences when his eyes are opened for the first time, on a
world of whole glories he has only been previously cognizant by hearing
about them. We can quite well imagine some faculty which either we do
not now possess, or which hitherto, like the sight of the blind man we have
supposed, has been lying sealed and dormant, all at once imparted—"eyes of
our understanding" opened, which are now closed—new powers, shall we say, of
thought and reasoning, taking in knowledge by intuition, which now requires
years of laborious thought.
Even in the case of the lower animals, we see powers and
instincts which we do not possess, but which, if we did possess them, would
add incalculably to our capacities. Instance, as familiar examples, the
flight of the migratory birds, or that of the bee winging its way to a vast
distance from its hive; yet, notwithstanding its tortuous aerial journey,
finding, with unerring precision, its way back to the hidden nook where it
The present limited range alike of our physical and moral
powers of observation may have been, as an able writer surmises, the reason
why Paul, when he was caught up into the third heavens, tells us he saw
things which it is not "possible for a man to utter." Why not
possible? Simply because he was not gifted with earthly powers or
faculties or language capable of giving expression to what he saw. The
phenomena of heavenly glory (if I might so call them) were alike, in kind
and degree, so diverse from all he had been conversant with here, that he
would have needed another dialect and vocabulary to unfold his meaning.
"But THEN shall I know!" All enigma and difficulty
will then vanish—all will be made plain to ennobled, refined, and
purified powers. Here on earth, a passing breath from a carnal world
dims my glass, and obscures my spiritual vision. There in heaven,
there will be no taint of sin to mar or blight my lofty contemplations.
Here, amid the twilight shadows of an imperfect state there is much to
cause doubt, and, alas! disagreement among God's children. There, all
shall see "eye to eye;" they will only wonder that trifles should have been
allowed so sadly to divide and estrange. Here, we are in the gloomy
crypt, walking amid the humiliating wrecks of sin and death, reading the
mysterious records of mortality. There, it will be in the "cathedral
aisles" of light and love, harmony and peace—the noon-day splendor of
eternity. Glorious prospect! all made bright before that Sapphire Throne.
That mysterious PROVIDENCE, that desolating bereavement
which, like a sweeping avalanche, tore up by the roots the fibers of
affection, then I shall know, and see, and acknowledge it to have
been all for good. Then I shall understand, (what my aching heart cannot
now,) that the child I wept over—the parent I laid prematurely in the
grave—the friend, early severed from my side—were all thereby taken from
much evil to come, and invested with an earlier bliss. I shall wonder how I
could ever have sorrowed on their behalf.
Meanwhile let me bow submissive to my Righteous Father's
will, however dark and startling sometimes it may be. In infancy, the child
takes much on trust; in after life, he gets his difficulties explained. Let
this be my position regarding the "deep things" of providence and grace.
Wait patiently the explanation of my Father in heaven. I shall see in the
completed plan that all events had their end and mission—the Lord bringing
glory to Himself from all. At present I behold only one or a few links,
while He has the whole chain in His hands. Then, in retracing that
long line of unbroken kindness, I shall feel satisfied that not only all was
for the best, but really the best. The whole bypast
wilderness, as seen from the hills of glory, will appear carpeted with love.
Like a traveler after a dark night, I shall look back along the region I
have traversed; and noting the perils which by His gracious guidance I had
escaped, wonder at the way by which God has led me.
Above all, I shall grow in the knowledge of HIMSELF; and
have amazing views—such as I have never had here—of His glory as the
great end of life and being. Our present knowledge of God, even revealed
knowledge, is but like the prattling of infancy, a mere attempt
at a spoken language, most of which is still unintelligible. But then
I shall be "filled with all the fullness of God." Not by any means that my
knowledge of Him can be perfect. There will always be depths in that
ocean-fullness, beyond the fathoming of any finite mind. No, further, the
more I know, the more I shall feel that I have to know. When I know most, my
befitting exclamation will be, "Oh the depth!" "It PASSES knowledge!"
"This is eternal life—to know You." God, by His
varied discipline, is meanwhile training me in this knowledge. And, as a
sainted writer has well said, "we must wait until we get entirely home to
have lesson-books put by forever. But what ever are the gradations in our
books, or in whatever shape the lesson comes to us, this is the one grand
blessed object aimed at by our wondrous Teacher in all, Acquaint yourself
now with HIM, and be at peace." (Miss Plumptre.)
"No disappointments shroud
The angel-bowers of joy;
Our knowledge has no cloud,
Our pleasures no alloy.
"The fearful word, to part,
Is never breathed above;
Heaven has no broken heart
Throughout her realms of love."