“Or what is
Nature? Ha! Why do I not name thee God? Art not thou the ‘Garment of the Living
God’? O Heavens, is it, in very deed, He, then, that ever speaks through thee;
that lives and loves in thee, that lives and loves in me?”
Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Restartus (New York: Frederick A. Stokes,
1893), p. 130.
In “The Knowledge of God
the Creator” (Institutes
Calvin offers the following comment on Psalm 104:
prophet very aptly exclaims that he is "clad with light as with a
garment" [Ps. 104: 2 p.]. It is as if he said: Thereafter the Lord began to show himself in the visible splendor of
his apparel, ever since in the creation of the universe he brought forth
those insignia whereby he shows his glory to us, whenever and wherever we cast
Thanks to Thomas Hastings for these quotations (both taken from his excellent study on the twentieth-century Japanese evangelist and social reformer Kagawa Toyohiko—Pickwick, forthcoming). Here is Kagawa himself:
[S]omeone may ask this
question: Are God and the universe one? And are God and human beings one?
Pantheism takes that stand. But I am not a pantheist. I am an advocate of the
Holy Spirit. No, beyond that I am one who rejoices in the Spirit-filled life.
Is the child living in the
womb identical to the mother? Although conceived in the mother, the child is a
different person from the mother. The mother transcends the child. Still, the
child is living in the mother. And the child comes from the mother. In like
manner, the absolute God transcends human beings while embracing human beings,
and human beings are created by God.
We can think of
the relation of God and the universe in the same way. The material world is not
itself God. But God transcends it, dwells in it, and through it manifests
himself. I wonder if it is not most appropriate to think of the material world
as the garment of God.
Jews recite Psalm 104:2 each morning while putting on a prayer shawl. I find it to be a similarly beautiful and awe-inspiring image.
That is very interesting.