Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Friday, June 01, 2007

Boreham on 'The Whisper of God'

“Lo, these are the outskirts of His ways; and how small a whisper do we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” Job 26:14 (R.V.)

THESE words were written when the world was young. Yet they contain a scientific statement which the long file of centuries has not rendered obsolete: “Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways.” They voice a sentiment which expresses one of the most intense problems which are throbbing in the minds of thoughtful men to-day: “How small a whisper do we hear of Him!” And they contain a shout of triumph in which the saints of all ages may participate: “The thunder of His power who can understand?” We have here:

A TREMENDOUS TRUTH.-“Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways ! "

It obtains in the natural world.-I do not know how much you have seen of God's work. It may be that you have deeply and exhaustively explored it. You may have taken the telescope with Galileo, and Newton, and Kepler, and Herschel, and Ball, and scanned the heavens so thoroughly that the courses of the planets are your familiar paths, and the stars your most intimate friends. You may have descended into the earth with Logan, and Smith, and Dawson, and Carpenter, and Murchison, and Miller, until all the secrets of the rocks and the sands, the stones and the strata, have whispered themselves into your mind. With Ray, and Brown, and Bantam, and Lindley, and Hooker, you may have examined the ferns and the flowers, the mosses and the mammoth trees, until there is not a broken leaf or a crushed petal that does not unfold a revelation to your soul. The mysteries of all the arts ;in all the sciences may be mere commonplaces to you. But though you have all the -osophies and -ologies at your fingers' ends; though air, and earth, and sea, and sky have been unable to withhold any of their mysteries from you, yet of this I am certain—that you have but seen the shell and not the kernel, you have seen the part and not the whole. For, “Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways.” And though, over and above this, you have followed the acts of God in the history of the ages; though you have sat side by side with Herodotus and Xenophon and Caesar, with Gibbon and Hume and Prescott, with Macaulay and Carlyle and Froude; though you have gone from event to event, from reign to reign and from battle to battle, saying to yourself: “This is the finger of God,” yet have you only seen the outskirts of His ways. You must still stand like the great philosopher and say: “I am but as a little child, picking up shells on the shores of Eternity”; or, like a great English writer, you must confess: “I have but kissed the hem of the garments of God!” I am not surprised that the words that were considered most appropriate to be carved over the archway leading into our splendid museum at Christchurch were the words of our text.

The best of man's work is to be seen on the surface. He, to use an expressive colloquialism, puts all his best goods in the window. The more deeply you probe and search into his manufactures, the more you see of their imperfections, and the less you see of their beauty. Take a microscope to them, and the loveliest work of art is a daub; the finest production of the sculptor is but a, rough-hewn block; the greatest masterpiece is full of flaws. Not so is it with the work of God. The superficial observer admires the stars that bespangle the heavens at night—the “forget-me-not of the angels”, as Longfellow called them; but the superficial observer cannot admire them with one hall the rapture with which the astronomer almost worships them. A little child can admire a lily; but only the botanist can fully appreciate it. A landscape painter may be delighted with a piece of mountain scenery; but the geologist sees in it a greater grandeur still. With the work of man familiarity breeds contempt, and distance lends enchantment to the view. With the work of God the very opposite is the case. He who gazes upon the external loveliness of Nature may say: “How beautiful!” but it may always be added: “These are but the outskirts of His ways.”

This is an excerpt from one of F W Boreham’s earliest published sermons, ‘The Whisper of God’, from the volume of the same name.

Image: “I am but as a little child, picking up shells on the shores of Eternity.”