THE CELEBRATED PRAYER of the great German astronomer, Kepler, has been a benediction to many: "O God, I thank Thee that Thou hast permitted me to think Thy thoughts after Thee."
This prayer is theologically sound because it acknowledges the priority of God in the universe. "In the beginning God" is undoubtedly the most important sentence in the Bible. It is in God that all things begin, and all thoughts as well. In the words of Augustine, "But Thou, O Lord, who ever livest, and in whom nothing dies, since before the world was, and, indeed, before all that can be called `before,' Thou existest, and art the God and Lord of all creatures; and with Thee fixedly abide the causes of all unstable things and the changing sources of all things changeable, and the eternal reasons of all things reasoning and temporal."
Whatever new thing anyone discovers is already old, for it is 1-tt the present expression of a previous thought of God. The idea of the thing precedes the thing itself; and when things raise thoughts in the thinker's mind these are the ancient thoughts of God, however imperfectly understood.
When a true thought enters any man's mind, be he saint or sinner, it must of necessity be God's thought, for God is the origin of all true thoughts and things. That is why many real truths are spoken and written by persons other than Christians. Should an atheist, for instance, state that two times two equals four, he would be stating a truth and thinking God's thought after Him, even though he might deny that God exists at all.
In their search for facts men have confused truths with truth. The words of Christ, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," have been wrenched from their context and used to stir people to the pursuit of knowledge of many kinds with the expectation of being made "free" by knowledge. Certainly this is not what Christ had in mind when He uttered the words.
Such truths as men discover in the earth beneath and in the astronomic heavens above are properly not truths but facts. We call them truths, as I do here, but they are no more than parts of the jigsaw puzzle of the universe, and when correctly fitted together they provide at least a hint of what the vaster picture is like. But I repeat, they are not truth, and more important, they are not the truth. Were every missing piece discovered and laid in place we would still not have the truth, for the truth is not a composite of thoughts and things. The truth should be spelled with a capital T, for it is nothing less than the Son of God, the Second Person of the blessed Godhead.
The human mind requires an answer to the question concerning the origin and nature of things. The world as we find it must be accounted for in some way. Philosophers and scientists have sought to account for it, the one by speculation, the other by observation, and in their labors they have come upon many useful and inspiring facts. But they have not found the final Truth. That comes by revelation and illumination.
They who believe the Christian revelation know that the universe is a creation. It is not eternal, since it had a beginning, and it is not the result of a succession of happy coincidences whereby an all but infinite number of matching parts accidentally found each other, fell into place and began to hum. So to believe would require a degree of credulity few persons possess. "I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoram," said Bacon, "than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because His ordinary works convince it."
Those who have faith are not thrown back upon speculation for the secret of the universe. Faith is an organ of knowledge. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." The voice of Eternal Wisdom declares, "In the beginning God created" and "In the beginning was the Word .... All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
All things came out of the Word, which in the New Testament means the thought and will of God in active expression and is identified with our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Son who is the Truth that makes men free.
Not facts, not scientific knowledge, but eternal Truth delivers men, and that eternal Truth became flesh to dwell among us. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
Not only the origin of things is revealed, but the nature of things as well. Because the origin of all things is spirit, all things are at bottom spiritual also. This is a moral universe; it is governed by moral laws and will be judged by moral laws at last. Man above all creatures possesses moral perception and is answerable to the spiritual laws that pervade and sustain the world. Pure materialism-that is, the doctrine that matter is the primordial constituent of the universe is not natural to the human mind. It requires a chronic violation of our basic instincts to accept it as an explanation of the nature of things. And Paul tells us in the first two chapters of his Epistle to the Romans how men get into a state of mind to accept such falsehood.
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