Every gift of God is plainly good, if it be sanctified. Great intellect may greatly serve God, if it first humble itself to obey Him. But pure intellect, unpenetrated by faith, is in more special antagonism to God, than even intellect imbruted in sensual sins. The sensual blind themselves ; they are bowed downto earth, that they cannot see God. The ambitious set up an idol in His stead, worship some shadow of His Greatness, and forget Himself, or are their own gods.
To the covetous, mammon is their god; to the gluttonous, "their belly" the Apostle says, "is their god." All these forget God ; their lives are one rebellion against God. But it is not the rebellion of direct defiance. Unsanctified intellect has this special evil, that it comes into direct conflict with the Mind of God Himself. Its field is the all-but-infinite; space, time, mind, being, the laws whereby the Invisible worketh, the mirrors wherein (as far as may be in the flesh) His Attributes are beheld, are its province and its home. It can, in thought, ascend beyond time and space, and can conceive of laws which would extend even into Infinity; it transcends and masters the knowledge of the finite, and so is brought into contact with the Infinite God. Its very track lies across the ways, the workings, the creative power of God, as He ordereth all things in number, weight and measure. It traces His laws and acknowledges the Law-giver ; it almost grasps the creation in its thought, and reverences the Creator ; it admires His Wisdom, and seems to be made a partaker of that Wisdom, by understanding some portion of it, and admiring it. It has stretched itself out tothe bounds of all created things, and searcheth out all perfection. It has traversed, as it thinks, creation after creation, and worlds beyond worlds. And now,having traced the regularity and harmony of all God's natural law, and found no hindrance to its understanding, will it own that there is a supernatural system, to which all its natural wisdom is not even a stepping-stone ; that all its natural knowledge cannot decypher the very alphabet of the supernatural; that all its acuteness, inventiveness, powers of combination, the electric dartings-forth of its thought, the lightning rapidity of its conceptions, its piercing penetrating keenness fail it here; that it has, not to discovr, but to receive ; not to criticise, but to obey; that it must exchange its keen activity for passive acquiescence, nature for Grace ; and that its first step towards the Throne of God, is to humble itself at His footstool and say, "Lord I am but dust and ashes, sinful and blind through inherited sinfulness and my Own. Enlighten Thou me that I may see; humble me that I may receive; enlarge me that I may comprehend what here on Earth may be known of Thee, the Incomprehensible; restrain me that I may not imagine aught of Thee, save what Thou art, and hast revealed?"
Yet this is the trial of intellect. In one of the many mansions of the house of the Great Father, it has its own reward, if sanctified. He who "hath made all things for Himself," must have prepared for those wonderful, transcending intellects, whose piercing thoughts are more like intuition than reflection, some separate lustre in that bright galaxy around His Throne. But only if tried, perfected, sanctified. All of man, passions, will, affections, imagination, intellect, have to be tempered, purified, perfected, through the fire of trial without, within by the fire of the Spirit. Intellect, penetrated by the Spirit of God, irradiated by His Light, kindled by the glow of Divine love, reflects to after-ages the light which it has caught, illumines mysteries, guards truth, unfolds our spiritual nature, orders the whole sum and relations and proportions of Divine and human know ledge. But intellect, unenlightened by Divine light intuitive as it may be in human things, is blind in Divine. It is not merely, as the acute mathematician may not understand moral or physical science. The knowledge which pure intellect lacks, is not outward but inward ; not natural but supernatural. Man may understand the things of man; God only unfolds the things of God; through God only can we understand the things of God. " No man," saith S. Paul "knoweth the things of God, save the Spirit of God," as no man knows the inward thought of " man, save the spirit of man which is in him."
This Spirit Apostles received, that through It they might know and declare the things of God ; through this Spirit Alone can we understand those same truths, spoken to us in words taught by that Same Spirit. For " the natural man," S. Paul goes on, "receiveth," or containeth, "not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." S. Paul, as S. James and S. Jude, knows but of those two classes, " natural men," and natural wisdom, i. e. men who have not the Spirit of God, and wisdom, which is earthly, not of God ; and spiritual men, and spiritual Wisdom ; men who have not their souls only, but have the Spirit of the Father and the Son dwelling in them, hallowing them, guiding them, teaching them, enlightening them ; and "Wisdom which is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights."