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"Bid the tempestuous rage of sin,
XLVIII. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
"My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."Isa. xlvi. 10.
NOTHING is so composing to the Christian pilgrim, as the assurance of divine guidance in every, even the minutest circumstances which befall him. Without this perception of his heavenly Father's care, a thousand intricacies must beset his path. He must be staggered at almost every step. But when he beholds, by faith, the unerring hand of infinite wisdom, wielding the stupendous machine of human events, and causing every thing to promote the spiritual good of his people; then he quiets himself as a little child, and can say with cheerful resignation: "Father,......not my will, but thine be done." Like the cabin-boy during the storm, he is kept in peace, while all is terror around him; and if asked why? his reply is that of the artless boy: "Because my father is at the helm.
In such a world of change and trial, how inestimable is a calm reliance on the wisdom, power, and love of God. It fully compensates for the want of temporal ease and wealth. While destitute of this holy frame, riches is poverty, and honour an empty sound. That man is poor indeed, though surrounded with affluence, whose heart is a stranger to the blessings of true religion.
Lord be pleased to impart unto me, thy unworthy servant, this spirit of confidence in thee. May I see
*Luke xxii. 42.
thy hand in all the events of life; ordering the bounds of my habitation, and the duration of my earthly pilgrimage. May I recognise thy hand in the less as well as in the greater movements of thy Providence. This watching and waiting for the manifestations of thy guardian care, will fill me with thankfulness for all my mercies, and make me patient under all my trials. O for more faith, humility, and hope. Pour out of thy fulness these heavenly blessings, that my soul may daily ripen for the enjoyment of the Paradise above.
If, without our heavenly Father not a sparrow falls; if the very hairs of our head are all numbered,* how composed should we be. We have nothing to fear but sin. While acting faith While acting faith upon the promises, we have every thing to hope for; yea, every thing to enjoy. The reins of universal nature are in the hands of Infinite Love. The vast complex machine is guided by Infinite Wisdom and Power. The Almighty Ruler of the sky cannot be taken by surprise. Nothing unforeseen can happen to cross his purposes or thwart his designs. All worlds are open to his view. All hearts lie naked before him. All the busy thoughts of men, with all their multiplied perplexities, ever in restless motion, are to him distinctly known. He knows every motive, the germ of every action. Thoughts deeply buried in the heart, are clearly recognised by his all-searching eye. By him actions are weighed. He trieth the spirits. He searcheth the reins and the heart, that, as the RIGHTEOUS JUDGE of all, he may render unto every man according to his work. Nothing is too great for his power, nothing too secret for his omniscience. Hence he could declare, that "Every imagination of the thoughts," remarkable expression; every outline, or sketch, or first formation of the thoughts, is "only evil continually." And again: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can * Matt. x. 29, 30.; Luke xii. 6, 7.
+ Gen. vi. 5.
know it? I the Lord search the heart. I try the reins."*
If this Great and Glorious Being be our Father and our Friend, through his own sovereign grace, enabling us to believe in his beloved Son; then our privilege is to rejoice at all times, and in every thing to give thanks.
Are we tried? We may be sure that there is a needs-be for it, that it is sent in love, and that the whole process of affliction is under the direction of a loving Father. This assurance, if truly felt in the heart, will cause the soul to fall with childlike acquiescence, into the hand of God. This David felt when he said, under a perplexing choice, "Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, (for his mercies are great,) and let me not fall into the hand of man."+ It will still the rising murmurs of impatient nature, and mould our will into a conformity to the will of God. O! blessed Lord, how much, how very much, do I need this simple, humble, submission of the heart to Thee.
While journeying heavenward, we are called to the exercise of faith and patience. The children of Israel had much of this lesson to learn in the wilderness. Their history is indeed instructive.
"At the commandment of the Lord they journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle, they rested in their tents....... Whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed."+
Thus, it is evident that the Israelites were not to exercise their own will. They were to wait for, and to follow the will of God, as manifested to them by the resting and moving of the cloud. This subjugation of our will to the will of God is contrary to our natural independence and hastiness of spirit. +2 Sam. xxiv. 14.; 1 Chron. xxi. 13. Numb. ix. 18-23.
Jer. xvii. 9, 10.
We want to be moving, when God would have us rest; and we wish to remain, when he bids us to depart. Truly our heavenly Father has to bear with wayward children.
Though we have not, like the Israelites, a visible token of the divine will respecting our earthly movements; yet we must watch the movements of his Providence, and pray to be directed by his Sovereign Will. How many precious promises are scattered throughout his word to encourage our faith and hope, our patience and reliance, on the divine guidance and
"I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." "This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death."+ "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee." Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."S "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."||
"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,"** were the words of Christ to his Apostles, before he ascended to the throne of his glory. How consoling and encouraging is the assurance that the blessed Redeemer of my soul is the Great Sovereign of the Universe. Without his permission nothing can happen in the vast dominion over which he sways his sceptre. To his will every creature must bow, either in willing obedience or in just and endless punishment.
When I survey the earth on which I live, and contemplate the millions of human beings which cover its surface, what an imposing scene presents itself before me.
Each, amongst these millions, is occupied with his own individual concerns, whilst the Lord of the creation watches over the concerns of all his creatures.
*Psa. xxxii. 8.
+ Psa. xlviii. 14.
Psa. lv. 22.
**Matt. xxviii. 18.
Each is planning schemes of future happiness, whilst the Lord may be preparing events for future trials.
Each is losing the present opportunity in the future prospect; building for to-morrow, and depriving himself of the benefit of to-day, when the sentence may have gone forth: "Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”*
Felix thus put off the favoured period for seeking repentance; trembling under the terrors of a judgment to come, he said to his intrepid prisoner: "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."+ This convenient season never returned, —a season for breaking off his sins by repentance.
It is dangerous to resist the motions of the Spirit. What we feel to-day, if slighted, may never revisit us more. My Spirit shall not always strive with man." "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone."S "Because I have called, and ye refused,......I will mock when your fear cometh." The Sovereign Jehovah speaks as a sovereign: "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."** He "worketh all things after the counsel of his own WILL."++
Among the busy tribes of men, a thousand arts are employed to gain their purpose, either for ambition, gain, or pleasure. Hence all the corrupt affections and passions of the depraved heart are brought into continual exercise; spreading misery and confusion, bloodshed and distress, over every part of the habitable globe.
In the midst of all these schemes for aggrandisement, or pleasure, the Almighty Sovereign is forgotten; his will is neglected, his laws are broken, his threatenings are slighted, his mercy is despised,
*Luke xii. 20.
§ Hosea iv. 17.
Acts xxiv. 25. || Prov. i. 24-26. ++ Eph. i. 11.
Gen. vi. 3.
** Rom. ix. 15.