By George MacDonald
from UNSPOKEN SERMONS SERIES II
Used with the permission of Johannesen Printing & Publishing.
And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man,
it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy
Ghost, it shall not be forgiven.-Luke xi. 18.
Whatever belonging to the region of thought and feeling is uttered
in words, is of necessity uttered imperfectly. For thought and feeling
are infinite, and human speech, although far-reaching in scope, and marvellous
in delicacy, can embody them after all but approximately and suggestively.
Spirit and Truth are like the Lady Una and the Red Cross Knight; Speech
like the dwarf that lags behind with the lady's "bag of needments."
Our Lord had no design of constructing a system of truth in intellectual
forms. The truth of the moment in its relation to him, The Truth, was what
he spoke. He spoke out of a region of realities which he knew could only
be suggested-not represented-in the forms of intellect and speech. With
vivid flashes of life and truth his words invade our darkness, rousing
us with sharp stings of light to will our awaking, to arise from the dead
and cry for the light which he can give, not in the lightning of words
only, but in indwelling presence and power.
How, then, must the truth fare with those who, having neither glow nor
insight, will build intellectual systems upon the words of our Lord, or
of his disciples? A little child would better understand Plato than they
St Paul. The meaning in those great hearts who knew our Lord is too great
to enter theirs. The sense they find in the words must be a sense small
enough to pass through their narrow doors. And if mere words, without the
interpreting sympathy, may mean, as they may, almost anything the receiver
will or can attribute to them, how shall the man, bent at best on the salvation
of his own soul, understand, for instance, the meaning of that apostle
who was ready to encounter banishment itself from the presence of Christ,
that the beloved brethren of his nation might enter in? To men who are
not simple, simple words are the most inexplicable of riddles.
If we are bound to search after what our Lord means-and he speaks that
we may understand-we are at least equally bound to refuse any interpretation
which seems to us unlike him, unworthy of him. He himself says, "Why do
ye not of your own selves judge what is right?" In thus refusing, it may
happen that, from ignorance or misunderstanding, we refuse the verbal form
of its true interpretation, but we cannot thus refuse the spirit and the
truth of it, for those we could not have seen without being in the condition
to recognize them as the mind of Christ. Some misapprehension, I say, some
obliquity, or some slavish adherence to old prejudices, may thus cause
us to refuse the true interpretation, but we are none the less bound to
refuse and wait for more light. To accept that as the will of our Lord
which to us is inconsistent with what we have learned to worship in him
already, is to introduce discord into that harmony whose end is to unite
our hearts, and make them whole.
"Is it for us," says the objector who, by some sleight of will, believes
in the word apart from the meaning for which it stands, "to judge of the
character of our Lord?" I answer, "This very thing he requires of us."
He requires of us that we should do him no injustice. He would come and
dwell with us, if we would but open our chambers to receive him. How shall
we receive him if, avoiding judgment, we hold this or that daub of authority
or tradition hanging upon our walls to be the real likeness of our Lord?
Is it not possible at least that, judging unrighteous judgment by such
while we flatter ourselves that we are refusing to judge, we may close
our doors against the Master himself as an impostor, not finding him like
the picture that hangs in our oratory. And if we do not judge-humbly and
lovingly-who is to judge for us? Better to refuse even the truth for a
time, than, by accepting into our intellectual creed that which our heart
cannot receive, not seeing its real form, to introduce hesitation into
our prayers, a jar into our praises, and a misery into our love. If it
be the truth, we shall one day see it another thing than it appears now,
and love it because we see it lovely; for all truth is lovely. "Not to
the unregenerate mind." But at least, I answer, to the mind which can love
that Man, Christ Jesus; and that part of us which loves him let us follow,
and in its judgements let us trust; hoping, beyond all things else, for
its growth and enlightenment by the Lord, who is that Spirit. Better, I
say again, to refuse the right form, than, by accepting it in misapprehension
of what it really is, to refuse the spirit, the truth that dwells therein.
Which of these, I pray, is liker to the sin against the Holy Ghost? To
mistake the meaning of the Son of man may well fill a man with sadness.
But to care so little for him as to receive as his what the noblest part
of our nature rejects as low and poor, or selfish and wrong, that surely
is more like the sin against the Holy Ghost that can never be forgiven;
for it is a sin against the truth itself, not the embodiment of it in him.
Words for their full meaning depend upon their source, the person who
speaks them. An utterance may even seem commonplace, till you are told
that thus spoke one whom you know to be always thinking, always feeling,
always acting. Recognizing the mind whence the words proceed, you know
the scale by which they are to be understood. So the words of God cannot
mean just the same as the words of man. "Can we not, then, understand them?"
Yes, we can understand them-we can understand them more than the words
of men. Whatever a good word means, as used by a good man, it means just
infinitely more as used by God. And the feeling or thought expressed by
that word takes higher and higher forms in us as we become capable of understanding
him,-that is, as we become like him.
I am far less anxious to show what the sin against the Holy Ghost means,
than to show what the nonforgiveness means; though I think we may arrive
at some understanding of both. I cannot admit for a moment that there is
anything in the Bible too mysterious to be looked into; for the Bible is
a revelation, an unveiling. True, into many things uttered there I can
see only a little way. But that little way is the way of life; for the
depth of their mystery is God. And even setting aside the duty of the matter,
and seeking for justification as if the duty were doubtful, it is reason
enough for inquiring into such passages as this before me, that they are
often torture to human minds, chiefly those of holy women and children.
I knew a child who believed she had committed the sin against the Holy
Ghost, because she had, in her toilette, made an improper use of a pin.
Dare not to rebuke me for adducing the diseased fancy of a child in a weighty
matter of theology. "Despise not one of these little ones." Would the theologians
were as near the truth in such matters as the children. Diseased fancy!
The child knew, and was conscious that she knew, that she was doing wrong
because she had been forbidden. There was rational ground for her fear.
How would Jesus have received the confession of the darling? He would not
have told her she was silly, and "never to mind." Child as she was, might
he not have said to her, "I do not condemn thee: go and sin no more"?
To reach the first position necessary for the final attainment of our
end, I will inquire what the divine forgiveness means. And in order to
arrive at this naturally, I will begin by asking what the human forgiveness
means; for, if there be any meaning in the Incarnation, it is through the
Human that we must climb up to the Divine.
I do not know that it is of much use to go back to the Greek or the
English word for any primary idea of the act-the one meaning a sending
away, the other, a giving away. It will be enough if we look at the feelings
associated with the exercise of what is called forgiveness.
A man will say: "I forgive, but I cannot forget. Let the fellow never
come in my sight again." To what does such a forgiveness reach? To the
remission or sending away of the penalties which the wronged believes he
can claim from the wrong-doer.
But there is no sending away of the wrong itself from between them.
Again, a man will say: "He has done a very mean action, but he has the
worst of it himself in that he is capable of doing so. I despise him too
much to desire revenge. I will take no notice of it. I forgive him. I don't
Here, again, there is no sending away of the wrong from between them-no
remission of the sin.
A third will say: "I suppose I must forgive him; for if I do not forgive
him, God will not forgive me."
This man is a little nearer the truth, inasmuch as a ground of sympathy,
though only that of common sin, is recognized as between the offender and
One more will say: "He has wronged me grievously. It is a dreadful thing
to me, and more dreadful still to him, that he should have done it. He
has hurt me, but he has nearly killed himself. He shall have no more injury
from it that I can save him. I cannot feel the same towards him yet; but
I will try to make him acknowledge the wrong he has done me, and so put
it away from him. Then, perhaps, I shall be able to feel towards him as
I used to feel. For this end I will show him all the kindness I can, not
forcing it upon him, but seizing every fit opportunity; not, I hope, from
a wish to make myself great through bounty to him, but because I love him
so much that I want to love him more in reconciling him to his true self.
I would destroy this evil deed that has come between us. I send it away.
And I would have him destroy it from between us too, by abjuring it utterly."
Which comes nearest to the divine idea of forgiveness? nearest, though
with the gulf between, wherewith the heavens are higher than the earth?
For the Divine creates the Human, has the creative power in excess of
the Human. It is the Divine forgiveness that, originating itself, creates
our forgiveness, and therefore can do so much more. It can take up all
our wrongs, small and great, with their righteous attendance of griefs
and sorrows, and carry them away from between our God and us.
Christ is God's Forgiveness.
Before we approach a little nearer to this great sight, let us consider
the human forgiveness in a more definite embodiment-as between a father
and a son. For although God is so much more to us, and comes so much nearer
to us than a father can be or come, yet the fatherhood is the last height
of the human stair whence our understandings can see him afar off, and
where our hearts can first know that he is nigh, even in them.
There are various kinds and degrees of wrongdoing, which need varying
kinds and degrees of forgiveness. An outburst of anger in a child, for
instance, scarcely wants forgiveness. The wrong in it may be so small,
that the parent has only to influence the child for self-restraint, and
the rousing of the will against the wrong. The father will not feel that
such a fault has built up any wall between him and his child. But suppose
that he discovered in him a habit of sly cruelty towards his younger brothers,
or the animals of the house, how differently would he feel! Could his forgiveness
be the same as in the former case? Would not the different evil require
a different form of forgiveness? I mean, would not the forgiveness have
to take the form of that kind of punishment fittest for restraining, in
the hope of finally rooting out, the wickedness? Could there be true love
in any other kind of forgiveness than this? A passing-by of the offence
might spring from a poor human kindness, but never from divine love. It
would not be remission. Forgiveness can never be indifference. Forgiveness
is love towards the unlovely.
Let us look a little closer at the way a father might feel, and express
his feelings. One child, the moment the fault was committed, the father
would clasp to his bosom, knowing that very love in its own natural manifestation
would destroy the fault in him, and that, the next moment, he would be
weeping. The father's hatred of the sin would burst forth in his pitiful
tenderness towards the child who was so wretched as to have done the sin,
and so destroy it. The fault of such a child would then cause no interruption
of the interchange of sweet affections. The child is forgiven at once.
But the treatment of another upon the same principle would be altogether
different. If he had been guilty of baseness, meanness, selfishness, deceit,
self-gratulation in the evil brought upon others, the father might say
to himself: "I cannot forgive him. This is beyond forgiveness." He might
say so, and keep saying so, while all the time he was striving to let forgiveness
find its way that it might lift him from the gulf into which he had fallen.
His love might grow yet greater because of the wandering and loss of his
son. For love is divine, and then most divine when it loves according to
needs and not according to merits. But the forgiveness would be but in
the process of making, as it were, or of drawing nigh to the sinner. Not
till his opening heart received the divine flood of destroying affection,
and his own affection burst forth to meet it and sweep the evil away, could
it be said to be finished, to have arrived, could the son be said to be
God is forgiving us every day-sending from between him and us our sins
and their fogs and darkness. Witness the shining of his sun and the falling
of his rain, the filling of their hearts with food and gladness, that he
loves them that love him not. When some sin that we have committed has
clouded all our horizon, and hidden him from our eyes, he, forgiving us,
ere we are, and that we may be, forgiven, sweeps away a path for this his
forgiveness to reach our hearts, that it may by causing our repentance
destroy the wrong, and make us able even to forgive ourselves. For some
are too proud to forgive themselves, till the forgiveness of God has had
its way with them, has drowned their pride in the tears of repentance,
and made their heart come again like the heart of a little child.
But, looking upon forgiveness, then, as the perfecting of a work ever
going on, as the contact of God's heart and ours, in spite and in destruction
of the intervening wrong, we may say that God's love is ever in front of
his forgiveness. God's love is the prime mover, ever seeking to perfect
his forgiveness, which latter needs the human condition for its consummation.
The love is perfect, working out the forgiveness. God loves where he cannot
yet forgive-where forgiveness in the full sense is as yet simply impossible,
because no contact of hearts is possible, because that which lies between
has not even begun to yield to the besom of his holy destruction.
Some things, then, between the Father and his children, as between a
father and his child, may comparatively, and in a sense, be made light
of-I do not mean made light of in themselves: away they must go-inasmuch
as, evils or sins though they be, they yet leave room for the dwelling
of God's Spirit in the heart, forgiving and cleansing away the evil. When
a man's evil is thus fading out of him, and he is growing better and better,
that is the forgiveness coming into him more and more. Perfect in God's
will, it is having its perfect work in the mind of the man. When the man
hath, with his whole nature, cast away his sin, there is no room for forgiveness
any more, for God dwells in him, and he in God. With the voice of Nathan,
"Thou art the man," the forgiveness of God laid hold of David, the heart
of the king was humbled to the dust; and when he thus awoke from the moral
lethargy that had fallen upon him, he found that he was still with God.
"When I awake," he said, "I am still with thee."
But there are two sins, not of individual deed, but of spiritual condition,
which cannot be forgiven; that is, as it seems to me, which cannot be excused,
passed by, made little of by the tenderness even of God, inasmuch as they
will allow no forgiveness to come into the soul, they will permit no good
influence to go on working alongside of them; they shut God out altogether.
Therefore the man guilty of these can never receive into himself the holy
renewing saving influences of God's forgiveness. God is outside of him
in every sense, save that which springs from his creating relation to him,
by which, thanks be to God, he yet keeps a hold of him, although against
the will of the man who will not be forgiven. The one of these sins is
against man; the other against God.
The former is unforgivingness to our neighbour; the shutting of him
out from our mercies, from our love-so from the universe, as far as we
are a portion of it-the murdering therefore of our neighbour. It may be
an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him.
The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart's
choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling
that excludes, that, in our microcosm, kills the image, the idea of the
hated. We listen to the voice of our own hurt pride or hurt affection (only
the latter without the suggestion of the former, thinketh no evil) to the
injury of the evil-doer. In as far as we can, we quench the relations of
life between us; we close up the passages of possible return. This is to
shut out God, the Life, the One. For how are we to receive the forgiving
presence while we shut out our brother from our portion of the universal
forgiveness, the final restoration, thus refusing to let God be All in
all? If God appeared to us, how could he say, "I forgive you," while we
remained unforgiving to our neighbour? Suppose it possible that he should
say so, his forgiveness would be no good to us while we were uncured of
our unforgivingness. It would not touch us. It would not come near us.
Nay, it would hurt us, for we should think ourselves safe and well, while
the horror of disease was eating the heart out of us. Tenfold the forgiveness
lies in the words, "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will
your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." Those words are kindness
indeed. God holds the unforgiving man with his hand, but turns his face
away from him. If, in his desire to see the face of his Father, he turns
his own towards his brother, then the face of God turns round and seeks
his, for then the man may look upon God and not die. With our forgiveness
to our neighbour, in flows the consciousness of God's forgiveness to us;
or even with the effort, we become capable of believing that God can forgive
us. No man who will not forgive his neighbour, can believe that God is
willing, yea, wanting to forgive him, can believe that the dove of God's
peace is hovering over a chaotic heart, fain to alight, but finding no
rest for the sole of its foot. For God to say to such a man, "I cannot
forgive you," is love as well as necessity. If God said, "I forgive you,"
to a man who hated his brother, and if (as is impossible) that voice of
forgiveness should reach the man, what would it mean to him? How would
the man interpret it? Would it not mean to him, "You may go on hating.
I do not mind it. You have had great provocation, and are justified in
your hate"? No doubt God takes what wrong there is, and what provocation
there is, into the account; but the more provocation, the more excuse that
can be urged for the hate, the more reason, if possible, that the hater
should be delivered from the hell of his hate, that God's child should
be made the loving child that he meant him to be. The man would think,
not that God loved the sinner, but that he forgave the sin, which God never
does. Every sin meets with its due fate-inexorable expulsion from the paradise
of God's Humanity. He loves the sinner so much that he cannot forgive him
in any other way than by banishing from his bosom the demon that possesses
him, by lifting him out of that mire of his iniquity.
No one, however, supposes for a moment that a man who has once refused
to forgive his brother, shall therefore be condemned to endless unforgiveness
and unforgivingness. What is meant is, that while a man continues in such
a mood, God cannot be with him as his friend; not that he will not be his
friend, but the friendship being all on one side-that of God-must take
forms such as the man will not be able to recognize as friendship. Forgiveness,
as I have said, is not love merely, but love conveyed as love to the erring,
so establishing peace towards God, and forgiveness towards our neighbour.
To return then to our immediate text: Is the refusal of forgiveness
contained in it a condemnation to irrecoverable impenitence? Strange righteousness
would be the decree, that because a man has done wrong-let us say has done
wrong so often and so much that he is wrong-he shall for ever remain wrong!
Do not tell me the condemnation is only negative-a leaving of the man to
the consequences of his own will, or at most a withdrawing from him of
the Spirit which he has despised. God will not take shelter behind such
a jugglery of logic or metaphysics. He is neither schoolman nor theologian,
but our Father in heaven. He knows that that in him would be the same unforgivingness
for which he refuses to forgive man. The only tenable ground for supporting
such a doctrine is, that God cannot do more; that Satan has overcome; and
that Jesus, amongst his own brothers and sisters in the image of God, has
been less strong than the adversary, the destroyer. What then shall I say
of such a doctrine of devils as that, even if a man did repent, God would
not or could not forgive him?
Let us look at "the unpardonable sin," as this mystery is commonly called,
and see what we can find to understand about it.
All sin is unpardonable. There is no compromise to be made with it.
We shall not come out except clean, except having paid the uttermost farthing.
But the special unpardonableness of those sins, the one of which I have
spoken and that which we are now considering, lies in their shutting out
God from his genial, his especially spiritual, influences upon the man.
Possibly in the case of the former sin, I may have said this too strongly;
possibly the love of God may have some part even in the man who will not
forgive his brother, although, if he continues unforgiving, that part must
decrease and die away; possibly resentment against our brother, might yet
for a time leave room for some divine influences by its side, although
either the one or the other must speedily yield; but the man who denies
truth, who consciously resists duty, who says there is no truth, or that
the truth he sees is not true, who says that which is good is of Satan,
or that which is bad is of God, supposing him to know that it is good or
is bad, denies the Spirit, shuts out the Spirit, and therefore cannot be
forgiven. For without the Spirit no forgiveness can enter the man to cast
out the satan. Without the Spirit to witness with his spirit, no man could
know himself forgiven, even if God appeared to him and said so. The full
forgiveness is, as I have said, when a man feels that God is forgiving
him; and this cannot be while he opposes himself to the very essence of
As far as we can see, the men of whom this was spoken were men who resisted
the truth with some amount of perception that it was the truth; men neither
led astray by passion, nor altogether blinded by their abounding prejudice;
men who were not excited to condemn one form of truth by the love which
they bore to another form of it; but men so set, from selfishness and love
of influence, against one whom they saw to be a good man, that they denied
the goodness of what they knew to be good, in order to put down the man
whom they knew to be good, because He had spoken against them, and was
ruining their influence and authority with the people by declaring them
to be no better than they knew themselves to be. Is not this to be Satan?
to be in hell? to be corruption? to be that which is damned? Was not this
their condition unpardonable? How, through all this mass of falsehood,
could the pardon of God reach the essential humanity within it? Crying
as it was for God's forgiveness, these men had almost separated their humanity
from themselves, had taken their part with the powers of darkness. Forgiveness
while they were such was an impossibility. No. Out of that they must come,
else there was no word of God for them. But the very word that told them
of the unpardonable state in which they were, was just the one form the
voice of mercy could take in calling on them to repent. They must hear
and be afraid. I dare not, cannot think that they refused the truth, knowing
all that it was; but I think they refused the truth, knowing that it was
true-not carried away, as I have said, by wild passion, but by cold self-love,
and envy, and avarice, and ambition; not merely doing wrong knowingly,
but setting their whole natures knowingly against the light. Of this nature
must the sin against the Holy Ghost surely be. "This is the condemnation,"
(not the sins that men have committed, but the condition of mind in which
they choose to remain,) "that light is come into the world, and men loved
darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." In this sin
against the Holy Ghost, I see no single act alone, although it must find
expression in many acts, but a wilful condition of mind,
As far removed from God and light of heaven,
As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.
For this there could be no such excuse made as that even a little light
might work beside it; for there light could find no entrance and no room;
light was just what such a mind was set against, almost because it was
what it was. The condition was utterly bad.
But can a man really fall into such a condition of spiritual depravity?
That is my chief difficulty. But I think it may be. And wiser people
than I, have thought so. I have difficulty in believing it, I say; yet
I think it must be so. But I do not believe that it is a fixed, a final
condition. I do not see why it should be such any more than that of the
man who does not forgive his neighbour. If you say it is a worse offence,
I say, Is it too bad for the forgiveness of God?
But is God able to do anything more with the man? Or how is the man
ever to get out of this condition? If the Spirit of God is shut out from
his heart, how is he to become better?
The Spirit of God is the Spirit whose influence is known by its witnessing
with our spirit. But may there not be other powers and means of the Spirit
preparatory to this its highest office with man? God who has made us can
never be far from any man who draws the breath of life-nay, must be in
him; not necessarily in his heart, as we say, but still in him. May not
then one day some terrible convulsion from the centre of his being, some
fearful earthquake from the hidden gulfs of his nature, shake such a man
so that through all the deafness of his death, the voice of the Spirit
may be faintly heard, the still small voice that comes after the tempest
and the earthquake? May there not be a fire that even such can feel? Who
shall set bounds to the consuming of the fire of our God, and the purifying
that dwells therein?
The only argument that I can think of, which would with me have weight
against this conclusion, is, that the revulsion of feeling in any one who
had thus sinned against the truth, when once brought to acknowledge his
sin, would be so terrible that life would never more be endurable, and
the kindest thing God could do would be to put such a man out of being,
because it had been a better thing for him never to have been born. But
he who could make such a man repent, could make him so sorrowful and lowly,
and so glad that he had repented, that he would wish to live ever that
he might ever repent and ever worship the glory he now beheld. When a man
gives up self, his past sins will no longer oppress him. It is enough for
the good of life that God lives, that the All-perfect exists, and that
we can behold him.
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," said the Divine,
making excuse for his murderers, not after it was all over, but at the
very moment when he was dying by their hands. Then Jesus had forgiven them
already. His prayer the Father must have heard, for he and the Son are
one. When the Father succeeded in answering his prayer, then his forgiveness
in the hearts of the murderers broke out in sorrow, repentance, and faith.
Here was a sin dreadful enough surely-but easy for our Lord to forgive.
All that excuse for the misled populace! Lord Christ be thanked for that!
That was like thee! But must we believe that Judas, who repented even to
agony, who repented so that his high-prized life, self, soul, became worthless
in his eyes and met with no mercy at his own hand,-must we believe that
he could find no mercy in such a God? I think, when Judas fled from his
hanged and fallen body, he fled to the tender help of Jesus, and found
it-I say not how. He was in a more hopeful condition now than during any
moment of his past life, for he had never repented before. But I believe
that Jesus loved Judas even when he was kissing him with the traitor's
kiss; and I believe that he was his Saviour still. And if any man remind
me of his words, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born,"
I had not forgotten them, though I know that I now offer nothing beyond
a conjectural explanation of them when I say: Judas had got none of the
good of the world into which he had been born. He had not inherited the
earth. He had lived an evil life, out of harmony with the world and its
God. Its love had been lost upon him. He had been brought to the very Son
of God, and had lived with him as his own familiar friend; and he had not
loved him more, but less than himself. Therefore it had been all useless.
"It had been good for that man if he had not been born;" for it was all
to try over again, in some other way-inferior perhaps, in some other world,
in a lower school. He had to be sent down the scale of creation which is
ever ascending towards its Maker. But I will not, cannot believe, O my
Lord, that thou wouldst not forgive thy enemy, even when he repented, and
did thee right. Nor will I believe that thy holy death was powerless to
save thy foe-that it could not reach to Judas. Have we not heard of those,
thine own, taught of thee, who could easily forgive their betrayers in
thy name? And if thou forgivest, will not thy forgiveness find its way
at last in redemption and purification?
Look for a moment at the clause preceding my text: "He that denieth
me before men shall be denied before the angels of God." What does it mean?
Does it mean-"Ah! you are mine, but not of my sort. You denied me. Away
to the outer darkness"? Not so. "It shall be forgiven to him that speaketh
against the Son of man;" for He may be but the truth revealed without him.
Only he must have shame before the universe of the loving God, and may
need the fire that burneth and consumeth not.
But for him that speaketh against the Spirit of Truth, against the Son
of God revealed within him, he is beyond the teaching of that Spirit now.
For how shall he be forgiven? The forgiveness would touch him no more than
a wall of stone. Let him know what it is to be without the God he hath
denied. Away with him to the Outer Darkness! Perhaps that will make him
My friends, I offer this as only a contribution towards the understanding
of our Lord's words. But if we ask him, he will lead us into all truth.
And let us not be afraid to think, for he will not take it ill.
But what I have said must be at least a part of the truth.
No amount of discovery in his words can tell us more than we have discovered,
more than we have seen and known to be true. For all the help the best
of his disciples can give us is only to discover, to see for ourselves.
And beyond all our discoveries in his words and being, there lie depths
within depths of truth that we cannot understand, and yet shall be ever
going on to understand. Yea, even now sometimes we seem to have dim glimpses
into regions from which we receive no word to bring away.
The fact that some things have become to us so much more simple than
they were, and that great truths have come out of what once looked common,
is ground enough for hope that such will go on to be our experience through
the ages to come. Our advance from our former ignorance can measure but
a small portion of the distance that lies, and must ever lie, between our
childishness and his manhood, between our love and his love, between our
dimness and his mighty vision.
To him ere long may we all come, all children, still children, more
children than ever, to receive from his hand the white stone, and in the
stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth