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scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not ?'
When we consider, then, that however severe may be our sufferings they proceed from love, and are designed in mercy to soften and purify our dispositions, to deaden our sensibilities to earth, and to make them more alive to heaven, we have a powerful motive to induce us to exercise the most contented and submissive frame of mind under the will of God. What reason have we to feel otherwise, when we are already assured, not only of the origin, but of the final issue of pain, and sorrow, and death? These are among the things that work together for good to them that love God. Their light affliction which is but for a moment worketh out for them a far more exceeding, even an eternal weight of glory.
There are three things which we shall find most helpful to us in the discharge of the great duty of submission to the will of God.
I. A heart full of love to God. We can bear much from a beloved object, which we could not endure from the same person had we viewed him with mere indifference, and still less had there been any hostile bias in our mind against him. On this principle, trials and bereavements irritate the feelings of the wicked, and awaken their complainings and murmurs against the wisdom and goodness of the providential government of God. They are fitly compared to a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. Judging from the apparent effects of their afflictions, we might ask, why
should ye be stricken any more, for ye will revolt more and more!
It is otherwise with those who love God. There is that affection in their hearts to their heavenly Father, which assures them that all his ways must be mercy and truth towards them; and that beyond the cloud which now throws its shadow around them, is the light of God's countenance, the eternal sunshine of his favour and presence. Loving, as they do, the Lord God, how easily can they trust in his wisdom and love, even when their sorrows abound, and confidently hope for deliverance, as well as for increasing conformity to the divine will and likeness.
II. A prudent anticipation of the evils which are incident to the present state. We know not all the evils which, in passing onwards to a better world, we shall be called to endure ; but we know that it is appointed for all men once to die. the way whence we shall not return. . Before we reach the termination of our earthly course, there may be before us trials of which we are now little aware, arising from bereavement of friends, from sufferings in our property, in our health, in our reputation. Would it not be well for us at all times to think of our liability to these, and many other evils? Would it not be wise in us to conceive ourselves visited with such afflictions? But, especially would it not become us to remember our latter end, and thus, as the Apostle expresses it, to die daily? In this case, when sickness and death actually arrived, we should not feel as if some strange
We must go
thing had happened unto us; but we should be able to welcome them as events for which we had long made preparation. Having been accustomed to contemplate them, we should be better able to say when called to encounter them,-Into thy hands, O my heavenly Father, I commit my spirit. I resign myself to thy guidance, to thy disposal, to thy boundless love and mercy in Christ Jesus.
III. Fervent prayer. This has been found in experience to be the most effectual means of communicating the peace of God which passeth all understanding. It calms the mind under sufferings, whether they arise from our fellow-creatures, or from the immediate visitation of God. It reminds us where we are to seek for comfort and support, to whom we are to look and to cry for deliverance, that God is our refuge and our strength, and a very present help in the time of trouble. The example has been left us by the faithful in every age, who when their hearts were overwhelmed within them, had recourse to the Rock that is higher than they, and every one of whom had always good reason to say, “ I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplications. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.” Above all, the example has been left us by our blessed Lord, who when in agony prayed frequently and still more earnestly to God.
In exercising unreserved submission to the divine will, then, we should remember, that it is the will of our sovereign Lord, who has an indisputable right to govern us, and an absolute power to dispose of us, and respecting whom we should ever say, “ It is the Lord, let him do to me as it seems good to him.” It is the will of our best Friend, who loves us far better than we love ourselves; “ who is concerned for our welfare as his own dearest interest; who by innumerable experiments hath demonstrated an excess of kindness to us; who in all his dealings with us purely doth aim at our good, never charging any duty on us, or dispensing any event to us, so much with intent to exercise his power over us, as to express his goodness towards us ; who never doth afflict or grieve us more against our will, than against his own desire,-never, indeed, but when goodness itself calleth for it, and even mercy doth urge thereto; to whom we are much obliged that he vouchsafeth to govern and guide us, our service being altogether unprofitable to him, his governance exceedingly beneficial to us.
Doth not such a will deserve regard ! May it not demand compliance from us? To neglect or infringe it, what is it? Is it not palpable folly? Is it not foul disingenuity? Is it not detestable ingratitude * ?"
* Barrow's Discourse on Submission to the Divine Will, v. iii. p. 35.
GOD ALONE TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED AND WORSHIPPED
The law requires, as we have seen, that supreme love to God should rule and regulate the affections and faculties of our nature. The first and natural expression of love is obedience to the will of God, in all the precepts which it enjoins, in all the doctrines which he reveals, and in all the dispensations which he appoints. In the exercise of love we are further led to make God alone the object of our adoration and worship; and to acknowledge him as our God, and give him the glory due unto him, to the entire exclusion of whatever might claim the place and the honour of Deity. The first commandment, accordingly, is, “ Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
This is, in fact, a modification of the great conimandment of the law, which requires us to love the Lord God with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. In commanding us to have no other gods before him, we are to understand the great Lord and Ruler of all as enjoining us to give to him the affection, and reverence, and service which are his due ; while we are never to dishonour him by substituting, however partially, any other object in his room. We are to acknowledge him as our only Lord God, by entertaining towards him suitable affections, and by that sincere, devoted, and universal obedience, which we are bound to render. We are to own him in the