Wednesday, February 16, 2011
thro' a glass darkly...
"Paul's famous saying "Now we see thro' a glass darkly but then, face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known" is commonly quoted as a saying about religious things, — of how we see such great realities as God and eternity only as through a glass darkly. And it is deeply true that way, but that was not what Paul was speaking of. He was speaking of Man and how Man is only darkly seen — and of the hidden good in man. The whole chapter is about "charity." "Love" the revised version renders it; and love is the commonest translation of Paul's word, and yet I like "charity" better here for it is that large impersonal kind of love, which Paul is speaking of — and " charity " seems to express that better — that which " hopeth all things " and "believeth all things" — not just of those we love. And this is his closing thought about such "charity " — that if we will have faith for it here, if we will keep on loving our fellow-creatures even when we cannot see much in them worth loving — our faith shall there be justified; for here we only see each other through a glass darkly, but there face to face — and there — looking "face to face," "knowing even as we are known" we shall find not less good than we thought, but more good than earthly charity ever hoped.
What a searching thought of the Hereafter — that seeing " face to face " — and yet he seems to have felt it a large hopeful thought too. And Paul was no easy-going optimist. He saw with terrible clearness the sinful side of human nature...and yet even Paul with his clear sight of it, is not dismayed. Over it all, he sees the Love of God, and through it all he sees something better in man, and so he puts it that there, where all is known, there where we shall judge not with these poor childlike judgments of earth — there will be more to love than to hate."
Posted by slt at 11:15 AM