But Job answered and said,
The mutual relations of physical science and religious faith.
If it were possible for a solitary man to become the absolute master of all the provinces of physical science, he would be acquainted with only one realm of the Divine activity. Revelation has to do with departments of truth of which physical science can tell us nothing. Physical science is the ally, not the rival, of the Christian faith.
I. Physical science is a discovery of the working out of God's thoughts where God's will is absolute. Revelation discloses the principles on which God governs a race every individual of which is invested with the mysterious and awful power of resisting God's authority. If physical science had reached the farthest limits of her true province, her glorious discoveries would include only "parts" of God's ways; and after all she could tell us, we should still say, "How little a portion is heard of Him!"
II. The discoveries of astronomy and geology have effected a revolution in our estimate of man's position in the universe. We know now that our own world is insignificant in size and subordinate in position compared with thousands of those shining orbs which fill the abysses of space with their glory. It is therefore felt to be improbable, almost incredible, that man should have attracted the special regard of the infinite Creator of all things; his position is too obscure to render that at all likely. But what has the human soul to do with the magnitude of the material universe, and with the long procession of ages which preceded the appearance of our race in this world? Whatever you may tell me about the mere physical magnitude of other worlds, I reply that I am conscious of a relationship to the God who created them which makes me sure that I am dearer to His heart than all the splendours of the material universe.
III. Again, constant familiarity with the perfect order of God's physical creation originates a tendency to ignore the real character and significance of human sin. There is a natural inclination to regard sin as a necessary element in the development of the human race. This is another false bias derived from the predominance of the scientific spirit. It is false, because it does not recognise the essential difference between those provinces of thought in which it originates and all speculations concerning the moral life and destiny of mankind. In every region of the material universe, "whatever is is right;" but in the moral universe, if we may trust our own consciences and the universal judgment of the race, very many things are miserably wrong.
IV. With regard to miracles, physical science has no right to give the mind any bias whatever until it is determined whether or no we have in the New Testament the genuine and honest testimony of the friends of Christ; up to that point the whole investigation belongs to the province of historical criticism. But if it be proved, as I deliberately think it has been, that impregnable evidence sustains the good faith of the Christian records, physical science may be, and should be, appealed to to determine whether under any conceivable conditions natural phenomena could have happened which would account for men of ordinary intelligence supposing that Christ wrought supernatural wonders of the kind ascribed to Him in the four Gospels.
V. I have no fear that the splendours of physical science will make the crown of the Christian faith pale and wax dim. Let them stand before the world side by side, and let them both tell all they have to communicate concerning the nature of man and the achievements of God.
R. W. Dale, Discourses on Special Occasions, p. 285.
References: Job 26—S. Cox, Commentary on Job, p. 326. Job 27:5.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. viii., p. 351. Job 27:8-10.—Ibid., vol. xii., p. 9. Job 27:10.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Genesis to Proverbs, p. 133. Job 27—S. Cox, Commentary on Job, pp. 336, 342.
How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?
How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?
To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?
Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.
Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.
He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.
He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.
He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.
The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.
He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.
By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.
Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?