Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Richard Mant on "True Knowledge"

Richard Mant (1776 – 1848) wrote a commentary on the entire Bible and authored at least a couple dozen hymns, even translating some from the Latin for “modern” use. One particular Latin hymn ("Venantius Fortunatus," 569 AD) was paraphrased by Mant into the beautiful hymn, “See the Destined Day Arise:”

“See the destined day arise!
See a willing sacrifice!
Jesus, to redeem our loss,
Hangs upon the shameful cross.

Jesus, who but Thou had borne,
Lifted on that tree of scorn,
Every pang and bitter throe,
Finishing Thy life of woe?

Who but Thou had dared to drain,
Steeped in gall, the cup of pain,
And with tender body bear
Thorns, and nails, and piercing spear?

Thence the cleansing water flowed,
Mingled from Thy side with blood;
Sign to all attesting eyes
Of the finished sacrifice.

Holy Jesus, grant us peace
In that sacrifice to place
All our trust for life renewed,
Pardoned sin and promised good.

Grant us grace to sing to Thee,
In the Trinal Unity,
Ever with the sons of light,
Blessing, honor, glory, might.”

Mant also penned this poem:

“What is True Knowledge? Is it with keen eye
Of lucre's sons to thread the mazy way?
Is it of civic rights and royal sway
And wealth political the depths to try?
Is it to delve the earth or soar the sky?
To marshal nature's tribes in just array?
To mix and analyse and mete and weigh
Her elements and all her powers descry?
These things who will may know them if to know
Breed not vain glory But o er all to scan
God in his works and word shown forth below;
Creation's wonders and Redemption's plan;
Whence came we what to do and whither go:--
This is TKUE KNOWLEDGE and the whole of man.”

Mant has some particular thoughts concerning different two different kinds of knowledge: true knowledge, and by inference, untrue knowledge. “What is true knowledge?” He asks.

True knowledge is found in money or the acquisition of it.
True knowledge is not society be means of exercised rights or influence or politics.
True knowledge is not found by digging in the dirt or gazing into the heavens.
True knowledge is not found in harnessing nature, using natural resources, or making our own synthetics.

Mant points out that all these things are useful, but not for the purpose of making ourselves triumphant. We are to use our talents, abilities and resources to “scan God in his works and word shown forth below.” Creation’s wonders should drive us to search out what the specific wonder of the written word can only tell: God (who exists) is not satisfied to leave man dead in sin (redemption). Creation tells us only that we exist not of ourselves whereas the Bible tells our origin and destination. Saturating our minds around what God has revealed is true knowledge.

The implication is that if we become students of true knowledge, then we understand acquisition and stewardship, relationships and servanthood.

Not too long ago a friend of mine made a trip where, among other things, he wanted to see a very specific kind of art. He was going to attend an art show and see what he wanted to see; but, then he met somebody who introduced him to the person in charge of the show. He got to see the art in an entirely different way than if he simply attended the show.

We are able to enjoy more of creation itself as we dig and gaze because we know the creator.

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