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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody


Galatians iv.9.

It is very interesting to come so close to a great man as we do in this passage, for the Apostle seems to be discovered here, correcting himself. It is as if he had written one teaching to the Galatians, and then crossed it out and written another. |You know God,| he says, |or rather you are known of Him.| He is asking himself why the Galatians should in a given case do their duty, and he answers: |Because they know God; they are aware of His purposes and laws, and having this rational understanding of Him they know how to act as His servants.| |But no,| he goes on to say, |that is not the real impulse of their duty. What holds them to their best is rather the thought that God knows them, that He gives them their duty, and that they obey.| It is like the position of a soldier under his commander. The soldier does not expect to know {193} all about the plan of the campaign, but what keeps him to his best is the knowledge that some one knows about it; that the commander overlooks the field; that each little skirmish has its place in the great design. That is what makes the soldier go down again into the smoke and dust of his duty with his timidity converted into faith.

Knowing God, -- that is theology; being known of Him, -- that is religion. Both theology and religion have their influence on conduct. It is a great thing to know that one knows God. There is power in a rational creed. But, after all, the profoundest impulse for conduct is to know that beneath all your ignorance of God is His knowledge of you; that before you loved Him, He loved you, that antecedent to your response to Him was His invitation to you. Thus it is that a man looks out into each new day and asks: |What is to hold me to-day to my duty?| Well, first of all, everything I may learn ought to help me. It is all God's truth, and, as I get a grasp on truth and stand on its firm ground, my conduct is steadier and assured. But, after all, the deeper safety lies in this other confession, that I am known of God; that I {194} am not merely an explorer, searching for truth, but guided and controlled as ever under the great taskmaster's eye; known of Him, with my ignorance of Him held within His knowledge of me, until the time comes when at last I shall know even as also I am known.

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