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THE INSPIRATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL..pdf

THE INSPIRATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL..pdf

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Published by glennpease

By Inge, William Ralph, 1860-1954



" Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the
Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"— 1 Cob. iii. 16.

By Inge, William Ralph, 1860-1954



" Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the
Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"— 1 Cob. iii. 16.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 14, 2013
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THE ISPIRATIO OF THE IDIVIDUAL. By Inge, William Ralph, 1860-1954" Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"— 1 Cob. iii. 16. REVELATIO is the enrichment and exaltation of the inner life of man, by whatever means it is effected. Eevelation is as wide as religion itself. There are not two kinds of religion, or two parts of religion, the natural and the revealed. All religion is revealed, and all religion is natural. The spirit of man is always praying for light, and revelation is the answer. " Thou hast made us for Thyself," said St. Augustine, "and our hearts are disquieted until they rest in Thee." Eevelation is probably never quite immediate, though some of the mystics have aspired to see God face to face, with no veil interposed. Such immediacy of vision belongs to another state, not to this life of ours. Ideas, it seems, must always be given through something. Eckhart was wrong when he said, " The eye with which I see God is the same as that with which He sees me." The human eye would be blinded by such a beholding. And yet there is a distinction between what God says to our own hearts, and what we accept because i62 FAITH AD KOWLEDGE He has said it to the hearts of others. There are
 
these two ways in which the will of God is made known to us. Mazzini, in his essay on "The Duties of Man," says that God has given us two wings — the consent of our fellow-men and our own conscience — on which we may raise ourselves to Him. " God lives in us ; and He lives also in all the men by whom this world is peopled." We may call these two avenues of revelation personal inspiration and authority. The former of these appeals to the higher reason, the latter to the understanding. What God says to us personally, we know and feel ; what He has said to others, we accept as reasonable and probable. It is not, or ought not to be true, that probability is the guide of life ; but authority is a necessary supple- ment to our imperfect apprehension of Divine truth. Part of God's revelation to mankind is still external to us ; that is not God's fault, but our misfortune — perhaps partly our fault. We must therefore accept much on authority ; but always with the hope and resolve to diminish, each year that we live, the pro- portion of truth which we have not yet made our own. We must not be content while anything in God's law remains external to us. We must " add to our faith knowledge " ; or, as Clement of Alexandria would say we must transform our faith, which is a " summary knowledge " — almost a makeshift for knowledge, into real Gnosis. This is not arrogant intellectualism : knowledge means what we have assimilated and incor- porated into the substance of our minds, not an THE ISPIRATIO OF THE IDIVIDUAL 163 assortment of other people's good things, warehoused in our memories. The subject of this paper is personal inspiration — the still small voice within us. And, in the first place, I ask you to consider a passage in that very unmystical
 
writer, St. James. He says that he who is a hearer of God's word, and not a doer, is like a man who, after beholding the face of his birth (to irpoaairov t?}? yevecreco<;) in a mirror, goes his way and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. The word of God, which St. James proceeds to call the perfect law, the law of liberty, is the mirror, into which when we look, it shows us, not God, but our own face ; the face of our birth, the man that God meant us to be. Eevelation comes to the individual mainly as an unveiling of himself. It shows us what we are, and what we ought to be. " Look on this picture, and on this," the voice says to us. And in showing us our- selves, it shows us our place and our work. Of all the innumerable meanings of life, there is one which I alone was intended to exemplify and fulfil. When the veil is lifted, I can see something of what this meaning, this purpose, was. The mirror shows us, I said, not God, but our- selves. But is it accurate, is it possible, to make this antithesis ? Can we say, " our true selves, and not God ? " I think not. Pascal seemed to hear God saying to him, " Thou couldest not seek Me, hadst thou not already found Me." Might he not have heard an even truer word, " Thou couldest not seek 164 FAITH AD KOWLEDGE Me, had not I already found thee ? " There are two lines of an old theologian which express the truth about personal inspiration — "ulla fides si non primum Deus ipse loquatur, ullaque verba Dei nisi quae in penetralibus audit Ipsa fides " ; and the same truth is taught in these two lines from

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