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discovered—and that with equal certainty--though | have been planned, the remainder is fortuitous ; the event be not anticipated—will all things but we glorify him for a world where the great work together for good to them that love God.' and the little are alike objects of his care ; where Nay, the scriptures cast their light even beyond he who counts the stars,' likewise numbers the this region of obscurity, and discover that even hairs of our heads ;' where he who raises up' those events that arise from the sins of men- Pharaoh, or hews down' Nebuchadnezzar, suffers. sins which God hates, which his law denounces, not even “a sparrow to fall to the ground withand which his justice will punish—sins of which out his knowledge and consent. God is not, and cannot be the author—are yet But the glory of the divine plan can never be under the control of his government, advance fully understood or appreciated, so long as it is his designs, fulfil his purposes, and illustrate his confined to the mere formation and government perfections, as much as those events that arose of the world. Its true character is not discovfrom obedience to his commands and devotedness ered till we view it as providing for the salvation to his glory. Thus Joseph informs his brethren of sinners. It is when we see how God bath who had sold him unto Egypt, · Be not grieved, abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me having made known to us the mystery of his will, hither ; for God did send me before you to pre- according to his good pleasure, which he hath serve life.' In which words, Joseph does not purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of mean to say, “Be not grieved nor angry with the fullness of times he might gather in one all yourselves for the sins of envy and covetousness, things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which induced you to sell me hither ; but be not which are on earth, even in him ; in whom we grieved nor angry for the mere act of selling me, have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated which event God has overruled to our common according to the purpose of him who worketh all preservation. Indeed, in an evil world, such as things after the counsel of his own will,'—it is this world confessedly is, if God were deprived then, and not till then, that we discover the glory of the means of over-ruling and directing those of a plan which originating in the depths of eterevents that originate from the sins of men ; if nity, is developed in the fullness of time, and while the wrath of man worketh not the right- which runs through eternity, displaying at once eousness of God, the wrath of man did not ac- the glory of God, and dispensing salvation and complish the plans of God; and if the wrath happiness to redeemed sinners. of man did not praise him;' and if the remain- This view of the divine plan, purposes, and der of the wrath he did not restrain,' little would government, is calculated to suggest many pracremain of this world as the field of God's man- cal considerations. agement ; and he would be virtually excluded 1. From how many unnecessary, useless, and as its moral and efficient governor.
tormenting personal fears, anxieties, and caresBut God is not, and cannot be excluded from should it set the believer free! Give no thought governing any department of his works, or from for your life,' said our Lord, “what ye shall eat, ol directing any class of events. His wisdom plans, what yo shall drink ; nor yet for your body, wha his power accomplishes all things.
shall put on.
Is not the life (which God stil How blind is man when he will not see this ! continues,) more than meat, and the body (which how perverse when he will not acknowledge it ! he still upholds) more than raiment ? Behok We praise an architect for the beauty, grandeur, the fowls of the air ; for they sow not, neither de stability, and convenience of a dwelling. We they reap, nor gather into barns; yet you praise a mechanist for the ingenuity of his inven- heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not mucl tion, and its perfect adaptation to effect his pur- better than they? And why take ye though poses; and if in the dwelling we perceive some for raiment ? Consider the lilies of the field apartments of which we cannot discover the in- how they grow; they toil not, neither do the tention, or in the machine some wheels or springs spin : and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon of which we cannot discover the use-surely we in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these do not conclude the apartment formed no part Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of th of the original plan, or that the wheel and the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast inte spring arose without and beyond the intention of the oven, shall he not much more clothe
you, the mechanist. And so, comparing earthly with ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought heavenly things--so is it with God. We glorify saying, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink him, not for a world totally without a design; or, wherewithal shall we be clothed ? For you not for a world in which, though some few parts heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need
all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom very pitiful. Yet that patience is as nought, of God, and his righteousness; and all these when compared to the patience of the Lord Jesus, things shall be added unto you.'
when he bore the cross and despised the shame;' 2. What a strong excitement does this doctrine and which patience and endurance he has left afford to the religious education of children, and us as an example that we should follow his steps' what encouraging hope does it inspire for their And that pity which Job experienced is no less future progress and welfare ! The believer now than of old. · For as a father pitieth his knows · he is worse than an infidel, and one who children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him,' has denied the faith, who provides not for his for he knoweth our frame, he remembereth 1 hat own family.' But he sees in this provision for we are dust. Paul could say that for Jesus he children, as in provision for himself, not merely 'had suffered the loss of all things ;' he could say meat and drink and clothing, but the grace of believers took joyfully the spoiling of their God that bringeth salvation, and the righteous- goods; yet these trials came visibly from the hands ness of God that insures acceptance,' in the of wicked men. How much more then should Beloved. While therefore he "trains up his believers subunit with patience ; yea, count their child in the way he should go, relying upon the trials joy, when they can ascribe them directly promise that when he is old he will not depart to the purpose and the hand of God ! from it,' he is free from all undue care about things temporal, and his heart and his prayers are mainly directed to the salvation of their immortal souls. Their future progress to riches or
SIXTEENTH DAY.-MORNING. poverty, to honour or obscurity, he knows to be in the purposes of heaven ; and while he neglects
There are many devices in a man's heart; no means that may contribute to their success,
nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall he confides in no agency, and calculates upon no
stand,' Prov. xix. 21. results, beyond the wisdom, the mercy, the grace, Your ways are not my ways, nor your thoughts and the providence of God
my thoughts, saith the Lord. For as the heavens 3. What a remedy does this doctrine afford to are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher the believer in sickness and pain, what consola- than your ways, and my thoughts than your tion under bereavement of friends, or children, and thoughts.' And this word God addresses to every what support under worldly loss, disappoint- unconverted sinner for discovery and reproof of ments, and troubles ! “No affliction for the pre- his thoughts, while to every renewed and selfsent seemeth joyous, but grievous. Yet in examining heart, they come as a word of warning every affliction 'God speaketh to us as unto to watchfulness and prayer. But not only are children, saying, My son, despise not thou the God's thoughts higher than men's thoughts—that chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art is, higher in their holy origin, their holy nature, rebuked of him : for whom the Lord loveth he and their glorious object—but they are higher chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he still in the sufficiency of their means, and the cerreceiveth. When sickness, weakness, and pains tainty of their accomplishment. “For as the distress, and death threatens, the believer finds rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, his most reviving cordial in looking to Jesus;' and returneth not thither'--that is, without efand feeling that his affliction ariseth not from fecting the end for which they were sent—but the dust, nor his sorrows from the ground, and watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and in knowing that it is sent, either to correct some bud, that there may be seed to the sower, and error of heart or life, or to sow some good seed bread for the eater ; so shall my word be that proof truth, or ripen some fruit of experience, or af- ceeded out of my mouth; it shall not return to ford some example to others of the peace and me void ; but it shall accomplish that which I composure with which a Christian can die' please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto When bereaved of dearest relatives that were I sent it.' as the apple of the eye, or stripped naked, as was Let us then, in the light of God's revealing Job, by the losses of worldly possessions, the word, proceed to examine man's heart, and conbeliever is able to say, 'It is the Lord ; let him trast its manifold and abortivo devices with the do what seemeth him good' • The Lord giveth, abiding counsel of the Lord. and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name 1. When we examine the heart of man, we of the Lord ! “Ye have heard of the patience find it teeming with thoughts and devices. One of Job, and seen the end of the Lord, that he is chief thought and device generally ruling over all the rest, but surrounded by multitudes of in- dwell. “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye ferior thoughts, plans, and designs, of which there are of,' was addressed, by our Lord, to believers seems no end. Multitudinous as the waves of in the days of his flesh, and are certainly as truly the sea, man's thoughts are rolling on; and as applicable in the days of his absence in glory. wave succeeds wave with voice and motion unex- 4. The devices' of man's natural heart are, hausted, so thought succeeds thought not only when thoroughly examined, deliberate plans undiminished but increasing still.
against God. Why do the heathen rage, and 2. But the thoughts of man's heart are char- the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of acterized by Solomon as "devices,' when con- the earth set themselves, and the rulers take trasted with the counsel' of the Lord. Now a counsel together, against the Lord, and against his device is either some plan by which inventive in- Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asungenuity supplies a deficiency, overcomes an ob- der, and cast their cords from us. Yea, though struction, or accomplishes an unexpected end; or they be the 'cords of love,' tender and attractive, it implies some subterfuge in which cunning, though they be the “bands of a man,' rational in hypocrisy, or dishonesty, secretly meditate or evidence, and binding in conscience, yet hand attempt what openly they dare not avow. And, joins in hand,' with combined and borrowed in this last sense it is, that the heart of man-of might, to break them violently asunder, and cast man unrenewed in the spirit of his mind—is them contemptuously away. charged with many devices.' How many are In these devices' against God, however, not the devices by which profession labours to pass for God, but man, generally appears the object of principle! How many the devices' by which antipathy. Of this fact, Balak and Balaam are hypocrisy labours to deceive others, and often two of the most notable examples. So far from succeeds, for a time, in deceiving itself! How professing to devise any thing against him, Balak many the devices' by which infidelity seeks to sought his object, professedly, by worshipping evade the evidence of God's word and the warn- God. Balaam was God's professed prophet ings of conscience! How many the devices' by and priest ; and both Balak and Balaam acwhich worldliness excuses its love of forbidden knowledged God's power and, in their own perpleasure, and covetousness its love of unhallowed verted senses, both sought his favour and blessgain! How many the ‘devices' of lukewarm hearts ing. But while the ostensible object of their which have forgotten their first love,' to account devices' was the ruin of Israel, the real object for, or excuse, or rest satisfied with, their spirit of each was the frustration or reversal of an acual declensions! How many the devices' of the knowledged counsel' of God.
· to the congregation, to evade that · fellowship’ with be observed, that while God himself, so far from God, and that acquaintance with their own being the declared object of opposition, may be hearts, which prayer absolutely requires! And the object of professed respect, still the opposihow many the devices' of dying and accountable tion is really against himself, because it is against beings, to banish the thoughts of that death which his law, or ordinances. Thus a human legislais at the door, and of that “wrath to come' in the ture repeals, in part at least, the law of the sabjudgment that follows! And yet, these are but bath—a partial repeal that includes, in principle, a few of the most coinmon and superficial of the the repeal of the whole; and not a few professed devices' of man's heart. Beyond all these, followers of the Lamb do all in their power to there is an endless, a nameless, and undistinguish- repeal, by their neglect, the ordinance of the able multitude of “vexing thoughts,' or vain ima- Lord's supper, though enforced by the highest ginations, or forms of deep deceitfulness, or of all authorities, and the most touching of all errors,' which the heart they inhabit cannot appeals, the dying request and injunction of the fully understand, and of secret faults' from Redeemer. which even the believer requires daily to be 5. The last characteristic we shall notice in “cleansed! Our Father who art in heaven, give the devices' of man is, their invariable disapus this day our daily bread, and forgive us our pointment. Man's "devices,' like his righteoustrespasses,' is alike the language of self-know-ness, are as the morning cloud and the early ledge, experience, humility, and faith.
dew. Like Jonah's gourd they expand in a 3. The devices' of man's heart are generally, night, bloom in the morning, and promise a perfor a time at least, secret from the world; and, manent shade through the day; but the worm of as we have discovered by the word of God, are sin is knawing at the root unseen, and when he sometimes hidden from the heart where they most needs a “hiding place from the wind,' and
* a shadow in the heat,' man's head is left defence- sume into smoke; they shall consume away. less—and disappointed in his hopes, dissatisfied But the steps of the good man—the man made with himself, disgusted with the world, if grace good by the renewing of the Holy Ghost—the prevent not, he is found loudly murmuring and steps of the good man are ordered by the Lord. rainly contending against his Maker.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast But God's ways are not man's ways.' His down; for the Lord upholdeth him in his hand. *counsels' embracing empires and churches, and The law of his God is in his heart'-written there descending to families and individuals, survey- by the love of the Lord Jesus'and none of his ing the whole circle of birth, and life, and death, steps shall slide! ruling in all the variations of joys and sorrows, of gains and losses, successes or disappointments; in all these his counsels' shall stand. They cannot fail of their accomplishment, for they are
SIXTEENTH Day.--EVENING. planned in unerring wisdom; they cannot fail of a blessing to them that love the Lord Jesus, for
• We know that all things work together for they are based on eternal love. Neither is he a
good to them that love God, to them who are the man that he should change, nor the Son of man
called according to his purpose.' Rom. viii. 28. that he should repent, but while all other things Among the marks of a true believer, knowledge are uncertain and unstable, the counsel of the holds a conspicuous place. A believer in Jesus Lord that shall stand:
knows what no other knows. 'No man knoweth But let not the believer be impatient, or dis- the Son but the Father, and none knoweth the appointed, if the devices' of man appear for a time Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son too wise or too strong for the counsel' of the will reveal him.' The believer knows that Lord. Hear, O humble believer, hear thou the his Redeemer liveth.' The believer knows word of the Lord. “Fret not thyself because of evil that if the earthly house of this tabernacle were doers, neither be thou envious against the workers dissolved, he has a building of God, an house of iniquity. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.' for him ; fret not thyself because of him who And, amidst all the darkness, difficulties, and prospereth in his way; because of the man that contradictions of a “present evil world he knows bringeth wicked devices to pass. For they shall that all things work together for good.' soon be cut down as the grass, and wither as 1. The wisdom and knowledge of God work the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; together with our ignorance and folly for good. so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom shalt be fed. Delight thyself in God, and he sball and knowledge of God! To the wisdom of give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy God we are indebted for the whole plan of way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he redemption. The wisdom of God devised the shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth means for rendering the plan effectual. The thy righteousness as the light'-even the righte-wisdom of God has counteracted the malice, ousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ the cunning, and the power of all enemies. The unto all and upon all them that do believe—and wisdom of God has • destroyed the wisdom of the thy judgment as the noon day'-even the judg- wise, and brought to nothing the understanding ment of grace, Well done, thou good and faithful of the prudent. Hath not God made foolish the servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. wisdom of this world ? For after that, in the
And whilst sentence against an evil work is wisdom of God, the world by wisdom'—its own not speedily executed,' neither let the wicked favourite but vain philosophy—“knew not God, presume, nor the believer doubt. The counsel' it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching,' of the Lord must be an emanation of his nature, rather by the preaching of foolishness—to save and pattern of his character; and as God is them that believe.' ‘long -suffering' his judgment must wait upon 2. The Almighty power of God works tomercy. “But yet a little while, and the wicked gether with our weakness, the weakness of God shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider is stronger than men.' His power sustains us in his place, and it shall not be. But the meek weakness, and upholds our goings, so that our shall inherit the earth, and shall delight them- footsteps do not slide. His power subdues our selves in the abundance of peace. But the wills, brings our every thought into the captivity wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the of Jesus ; works in us mightily both to will and Lord shall be as the fat of lambs, they shall con- I to do of his good pleasure, so that we who of ourselves are unable to do any thing, can up on high, and received gifts for men, the proeffectually do all things through Christ strength- mise of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, was the ening us.
endowment of his church ; and the promise of 3. The judgments and chastisements of the his own coming, is still the manna upon which Lord work together with mercy for good. “Be- she feeds, and the rock at which she drinks. hold the goodness and severity of God,' how Now behold how effectually the promises work harmoniously they combine to awake us from the in company with our doubts and fears. I sleep of death,' then to show us the path of life remembered,' saith the Psalmist, I remembered and of joy; how violently they detach us from God and was troubled; I complained and sin, and how tenderly they draw us to the Lord! my spirit was overwhelmed. I communed with Like the unsparing plough, the one breaks up mine own heart, and my spirit made diligent our fallow ground ;' like the gentle dew from search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? And heaven, the other descends upon the seed of the will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy word. God's judgments, in the forms of per- clean gone? Doth his promises fail for eversonal and family afflictions, were Job's real friends. more? Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? They led him at once to a clearer sight of God, Hath he in ánger shut up his tender mercies ? and a deeper knowledge of himself. They led And I said, this is mine infirmity ; but I will him from the giddy and destructive precipice of remember the years of the right hand of the most self-justification to the depths of humiliation High. I will remember the works of the Lord ; from which he cried to God, 'I have heard of surely I will remember thy wonders of old. Thus thee with the hearing of the ear; but now mine doubts and fears, conducting to deeper examinaeye seeth thee ; wherefore I abhor myself, and tion, do but clear the foundations of faith, and repent in dust and ashes. • Before I was af- consolidate the building of God which they only flicted,' saith the Psalmist, 'I went astray ; but seemed calculated to demolish. now I have kept thy law. It is good for me 5. The strivings of the Spirit and the temptathat I have been afflicted, that I might learn tion of Satan, yea, the power of holiness and the thy statutes. I know, Lord, that thy judgments guilt of sin, all work together for good. The are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast af- temptations of Satan afforded to our Lord his flicted me.' And Paul, who had the deepest ex- first recorded opportunity of testing, as it were, perience of the heaviest trials, yet pronounces the efficacy of scripture. The assaults of infidelity these all to be light afflictions,' commissioned to have served both to draw and to sharpen the work out for us a far more exceeding, even an “sword of the Spirit. Satan's subtilest temptaeternal weight of glory. And so they do work, tion but discovers to the believer more and not as effecting an atonement for our sins—for more of the deceitfulness of his heart; and • the blood of Jesus Christ' alone cleanseth us compels him to pray more fervently for the from all sins,'—but by effecting, through the daily renewing of the Holy Ghost. It is the Spirit, the mortification of our sins. By work- pain of disease that makes us prize the physician ing through the Spirit' new graces in our souls It was when the law came,' that “ sin revived -and more especially the grace of patience, by and Paul • died.' It was then he discovered ht which we are in measure assimilated to the Lord was a wretched man;' it was then he cried Jesus Christ, and prepared for the enjoyment of Who shall deliver me?' and it was then he wa his kingdom. But God, in the midst of judg- filled with thankfulness for deliverance throug! ment, remembers mercy, and “sets the one over Jesus Christ his Lord.' against the other' not as antagonists in pro- But do all these things work together for goor vidence and grace, counteracting one another, to all ? No. There are those to whom th but as fellow-labourers in the same field, where glorious gospel of the blessed God' is “the savou the weed that is plucked by the hand of judg- of death unto death. Two marks distinguish ment gives room for the growth of the seed that those for whom all things work together for is sown by the hand of mercy,
good;' they love God, they are the called accord 4. The promises of God work together with ing to his purpose. our doubts and fears for good. Since the begin- What, then, are the distinguishing marks o ning of the world God has made himself known those who love God? to his people in a promise. The seed of the 1. They are drawn to God by a grateful sense woman' was promised to 'bruise the head of of sins pardoned, graces conferred, and glory the serpent. The seed of Abraham' was pro- promised and secured. • We love him because mised to bless all nations. When Jesus ascended he first loved us.'