To the intent that now to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,…
I. THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD IS PUT FORTH IN THE REDEMPTION OF THE WORLD. God is the great Thinker. All our philosophy is the attempt of man to spell out some of the ideas of God. What wisdom was requisite for the creation of the world and the ordering of all things, from the movements of a star down to the life of a cell! What wisdom is involved in the government of the world, maintaining life and gladness, developing the latent resources of the universe, making all things work together for good, ruling great kingdoms and individual lives in justice and mercy! But a higher wisdom is required for redemption. It is more difficult to regenerate than to create, to regain Paradise than to form it at the first.
1. Not only are the power and goodness of God needed for this work, but also his wisdom. Preaching may be foolish, but the gospel preached is the wisdom of God. The highest intellectuality has been exercised in working out the world's redemption.
2. St. Paul sees this especially in the breadth of the results - in the inclusion of Gentile with Jew. High wisdom is broad, and liberal charity requires much intelligence. Comprehensiveness should not be a matter of vague sentiment. To be effective it must be fortified by ripe wisdom.
3. This wisdom is manifold. God has many interests to consider, many conflicting forces to deal with, and many issues to provide for. Therefore
(1) different men may have different views, and yet all be in the right.
(2) Many purposes may be aimed at in redemption beyond what we can see, and thus many processes which to us look meaningless find their end. The water is not taken over the mill-wheel simply that it may find its nearest course to the river; nor is the Christian led over a broken path because that is the nearest way to heaven.
II. THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD IS MADE KNOWN THROUGH THE CHURCH TO THE HIGHEST INTELLIGENCES. The Church is the manifestation of a wisdom that was hidden before Christianity appeared. Truth is explained by illustration, and the Church is a concrete illustration of Divine wisdom. It is not in the thinking and teaching of Divine wisdom by Christians, but in their very existence as such, that the wisdom of God is revealed. To be a redeemed soul is to be a proof of that wisdom, just as for one who had been incurably sick to be a healthy man was to be a living proof of the healing power of Christ. This revelation was made to other worlds and higher intelligences.
1. God cares for other worlds than our own; elsewhere processes of education are being carried on with creatures in whom God takes interest.
2. We are called to minister instruction to other worlds. The service is mutual; angels are ministering spirits to men, men are instructive witnesses of redemptive wisdom to angels. Thus the lowest can help the highest. An angel can learn lessons from a man, as a man can find instruction in an insect. Our lives, then, are linked to other worlds. What happens to us has bearings elsewhere. This thought may help us to face some mystery of life. As in the case of Job, what is humanly unintelligible may be explained when it is seen that the beings of another sphere are being instructed through our experience.
3. If the highest intelligences "desire to look into these things, and see the manifold wisdom of God in them, surely we men should treat the works of redemption with profound reverence, and regard the study of them as worthy of our highest thought. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,