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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The White Stone (by George Macdonald)

Here are some thoughts penned by George MacDonald concerning the new name we will receive, based on the words of Jesus to the Church in Pergamum, recorded in Revelation 2:17b: “…I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” 

MacDonald writes:The giving of the white stone with the new name is the communication of what God thinks about the man to the man. It is the divine judgment, the solemn holy doom of the righteous man, the ‘Come, thou blessed’, spoken to the individual…The true name is the one which expresses the character, the nature, the meaning of the person who bears it. It is the man’s own symbol – his soul’s picture, in a word – the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is…It is only when the man has become his name that God gives him the stone with his name upon it, for then first can he understand what his name signifies. It is the blossom, the perfection, the completeness that determines the name: and God foresees that from the first because he made it so: but the tree of the soul, before its blossom comes, cannot understand what blossom it is to bear and could not know what the word meant…Such a name cannot be given until the man is the name. God’s name for the man must be the expression of His own idea of the man, that being whom He had in his thought when He began to make the child, and whom He kept in His thought through the long process of creation that went to realize the idea. To tell the name is to seal the success – to say ‘In thee also I am well pleased’.”

MacDonald continues this theme when he writes: “Not only then has each man his individual relation to God, but each man has his peculiar relation to God. He is to God a peculiar being, made after his own fashion, and that of no one else. Hence he can worship God as no man else can worship Him…For each, God has a different response. With every man He has a secret – the secret of a new name. In every man there is a loneliness, an inner chamber of peculiar life into which God only can enter…There is a chamber God Himself, into which none can enter but the one, the individual, the peculiar man – out of which chamber that man has to bring revelation and strength for his brethren. This is that for which he was made – to reveal the secret things of the Father.” (Emphasis added).

(All these readings can be found in C.S. Lewis’ book George MacDonald: An Anthology)

Extracts from the writings of George Macdonald: on nature...

“...the appearances of nature are the truths of nature, far deeper than any scientific discoveries in and concerning them. The show of things is that for which God cares most, for their show is the face of far deeper things than they…It is through their show, not their analysis, that we enter into their deepest truths. What they say to the childlike soul is the truest thing to be gathered of them. To know a primrose is a higher thing than to know all the botany of it – just as to know Christ is an infinitely higher thing than to know all theology, all that is said about His person, or babbled about His work…So Nature as well exists primarily for her face, her look, her appeals to the heart and the imagination, her simple service to human need, and not for the secrets to be discovered in her and turned to man’s farther use.”

“Human science is but the backward undoing of the tapestry-web of God’s science, works with its back to Him, and is always leaving Him – His intent, that is, His perfected work – behind it, always going farther and farther away from the point where His work culminates in revelation. “[Emphasis added]

“What notion should we have of the unchanging and unchangeable, without the solidity of matter?… How should we imagine what we may of God without the firmament over our heads, a visible sphere, yet a formless infinitude? What idea of God could we have without the sky?”

“The truth of a flower is, not the facts about it, be they correct as ideal science itself, but the shining, glowing, gladdening, patient thing throned on its stalk – the compeller of smile and tear…The idea of God is the flower: His idea is not the botany of the flower. Its botany is but a thing of ways and means – of canvas and colour and brush in relation to the picture in the painter’s brain.”

“The truth of a thing, then is the blossom of it, the thing it is made for, the topmost stone set on with rejoicing; truth in a man’s imagination is the power to recognize this truth of a thing.” [Second emphasis added]

(All these readings can be found in C.S. Lewis’ book George MacDonald: An Anthology)