It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.
If God were to conceal everything from our view, it would be impossible that any glory could result to Him from the sentiments and actions of His creatures. It is by a partial communication of Himself that He has, in the highest degree, consulted His honour and manifested His wisdom. A temperature of mingled light and obscurity, a combination of discovery and concealment, is calculated to produce the most suitable impressions of the Divine excellence on the minds of fallen creatures.
I. THE DIVINE BEING IS ACCUSTOMED TO CONCEAL MUCH. Specify some instances.
1. In relation to His own nature, and the manner of His existence. His essence is altogether hidden from the most profound investigation, the most laborious research, the most subtle penetration, of His creatures. We ascribe to Him attributes and virtues; but how He exists, in an essential and eternal nature of His own, no man can know. His perfections are impressed on the works of nature, but in such a manner that we learn them only by inference.
2. In relation to the structure and constitution of His works. The scenes of nature lie open to our view. But the mysteries of nature, with regard to the essences of things, and indeed to a multitude of subtle operations, are kept in a kind of sacred reserve, and elude the utmost efforts of philosophy to surprise them in their concealments, and bring them to light. Those that have devoted themselves to an investigation of the laws of nature perceive that the meanest work of God is inexhaustible; contains secrets which the wisdom of man will never be able to penetrate.
3. In the dispensations of His providence. By which is meant that series of actions which the Divine Being is continually carrying on in the government of the world which He has made. There exists such a decided connection between well-doing and happiness on the one hand, and between wickedness and misery on the other, as sufficiently to show, even independently of revelation, that the Divine Being is the patron of rectitude and the enemy of vice. But the natural course of things is frequently interrupted and suspended by incidental causes; so that particular exceptions are continually occurring to the ordinary rule. God conceals the design for which many events are permitted to take place. And He is accustomed to throw much obscurity over the future. The most important events of human life, on which our happiness greatly depends, are, for the most part, concealed from our view.
4. In the economy of grace and redemption. The revelation contained in the Scriptures extends only to facts, not to the theory of those facts, or their original causes. The most important truths are communicated in a dogmatic, not a theoretic, manner.
II. THE DIVINE BEING PROMOTES HIS GLORY, BY SUCH A TEMPERATURE OF LIGHT AND SHADE AS THAT WHICH DISTINGUISHES ALL HIS DISCOVERIES OF HIMSELF, AND HIS DISPENSATIONS TOWARDS HIS CREATURES.
1. The concealment of things tends to glorify Him, as it is, in part, the necessary consequence of His infinite superiority to all finite beings in wisdom and understanding. His purposes and designs cannot be adequately scanned by the wisdom of men.
2. It evinces His entire independence of the wisdom, counsel, or co-operation of any or all of His creatures. He may, with infinite safety and propriety, retire within Himself, into the secret recesses of His own essence.
3. Such a degree of obscurity as attends the partial manifestation of the Divine will, the progressive development of the Divine purposes, is eminently adapted to the state, exigency, and condition of men. The prophetic parts of Scripture are proverbially obscure. By not explaining His doings, God trains us to submission, and cultures humility and vigilance, while at the same time exciting to diligence and exertion. While there are many things which God conceals, and thereby advances His glory, He has made manifest all that it is essential for man to know. And among the things fully revealed is the placability of God, His readiness to receive the chief of sinners who repent of their sins and believe the gospel.
(Robert Hall, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.