11. ON THE DIVINE
At the creation, amid the darkness of chaos, Jehovah said, "Let there be
light, and there was light." When veiled in human flesh, he commanded the
raging wind and waves, saying, "Peace, be still: and immediately there was a
great calm." To his tempest-tossed people he now speaks these composing
words: "Be still, and know that I am God"—and they find rest unto their
souls. In violent public commotions, God can "still the madness of the
people;" and in inward mental agonies, he can calm the agitated spirit.
"When he gives quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hides his
face, who then can behold him—whether it be done against a nation, or
against a man only?" (Job 34:29).
When we read the history of past ages, and consider the ever-changing scene
before us; when we study man, and perceive though but a small portion of the
passions and contending interests, which shake the fabric of society; how
delightful, how composing to the mind, is this all-gracious declaration, "Be
still, and know that I am God!"
The political world, like the air and sea which surround us, is ever in
motion; but the happy believer finds his rest in God. In the present day,
the human mind seems to be acted upon in a most remarkable manner. Knowledge
is diffusing its light in every direction; and the intellectual powers are
acquiring an expansion, which their ancient boundaries can neither limit nor
control. The Christian world is all awake to the spiritual and moral
degradation of mankind, and is laboring to disseminate the sacred truths of
revelation, which alone can raise our fallen race.
The enemies of the Gospel and of social order are alike awake to their deeds
of darkness. There is, therefore, at the present eventful period, an evident
struggle between light and darkness. The struggle may be violent, but the
believer hears the cheering voice from heaven, which dissipates every rising
fear: "Be still, and know that I am God."
Oh my soul, rejoice that the Lord reigns. He can calm the rough surges of
the mind. He can bid the inward tempest cease. He can pour an enlivening ray
upon the drooping heart; and cause a sweet serenity and peace to reign
within. Trust in the Lord at all times. Be still, and know that he is God.
There is something peculiarly soothing to the heart of a pious Christian, to
know that he who rules over all worlds, in whose hands are the destinies of
nations, and who guides the minutest concerns of families and individuals,
is his Father and his friend. The more we know of God, of his power, wisdom,
love, faithfulness, and truth; the more we shall bow before his throne in
humble adoration, and filial confidence and love.
To know God in Christ; to know him as a covenant God; to know him as our
God; is to possess all the sources and secrets of true peace, in the midst
of surrounding storms and tempests. This knowledge will raise us above the
agitated elements of the world, and place us in that pure region where the
soul can breathe more freely, and expand her powers more fully. Faith views
with admiration the perfections of Jehovah. Hope rests the fulfillment of
her expectations on these perfections. Love delights in them, and gradually
assimilates the soul to them. While patience calmly waits, under every
changing dispensation, for that abundant harvest of rich blessings, which
the God of truth has promised, and which his faithfulness will perform.
Come, then, Oh, my soul, and learn, from this view of your privileges, the
blessedness of trusting in God. "He changes not, nor knows the shadow of a
turn." All his promises are yes and amen. All his ways are righteous and
true. Cast your care upon him who cares for you; and, under every trying
event, be still, and know that he is God.
It is truly animating to reflect, that, while every thing seems given to
change, the Almighty has declared, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do
all my pleasure." "I change not." The purposes of God are moving steadily
and directly towards their fulfillment. Many things, according to our
short-sightedness, appear to thwart his designs. Persecutors arise, and cut
off his most zealous servants. Death seizes eminent laborers in his
vineyard. Unforeseen circumstances spring up, and appear to check the
progress of the Gospel. Hence we are ready to exclaim with David, "Lord, let
no man have the upper hand." But is not this the language of despondency;
the language of a soul looking through a dark and gloomy medium? Man never
had, and never shall have, the upper hand. David was in a right frame when
he sang, "The Lord reigns." This is the triumphant song of the redeemed
above. "Alleluia—the Lord God omnipotent reigns."
Nothing can happen without the divine will and permission. The Almighty sees
the end from the beginning. Unto him are known all his works, and all events
from eternal ages. He has firmly laid his eternal plans of goodness,
justice, and mercy. All things serve him. He has made even the wicked for
the day of evil. (Prov. 16:4).
Can any thing, then, unforeseen, strike across his purposes, or derange his
plans? Can any man who is crushed before the moth, the creature of a day,
turn aside the grand machine of providence, whose constant wheels revolve
their everlasting rounds? Ah! no! As every thing respecting the eternal
purposes of Jehovah springs from his own will, so every thing shall
terminate in his own glory. Higher and farther than this, we cannot go. "He
is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; the first and the last."
Clouds and darkness may surround the throne of the Eternal, and veil his
bright designs: but faith can pierce the veil, and view, beyond this
darkening scene, the rising glories of Emanuel's kingdom.
How great, then, is the blessedness of true religion! How highly privileged
is the child of God! As nothing can happen without the divine permission, so
everything shall work together for good to those who love God; to those who
are the called according to his purpose.
Satan may rage, the world may frown, the flesh may rebel, and providence may
seem to cross the humble believer; but yet, notwithstanding all this
tempest, his soul is safe, being hid with Christ in God. He may groan, being
burdened; yet still he can rejoice. He looks through the curtain of time,
which hangs over the glories of eternity: and, in joyful expectation of soon
entering within the veil, he endures, with much patience, the trials of this
Not so the worldling. He knows no joys but those of sense, or those perhaps
of a more refined nature, flowing from intellectual pursuits. But in respect
of heavenly pleasures, arising from communion with his Savior, and a
delightful foretaste of future bliss, he is an utter stranger. To him, "the
future is a dark unknown." His views are indistinct and dim, when he reads
or hears of joys forever flowing from those sources which are now the
objects of his unvarying dislike.
What happiness can arise from the contemplation of being eternally with
Jesus, when prayer and meditation are now irksome and insipid to him? What
happiness, from the idea of being made like Jesus, when holiness is
offensive to him? or from the consideration of beholding his glory, when the
splendors of this world have far more powerful attractions to him?
It is true, he prefers heaven to hell, as a choice of two evils; but he
secretly disbelieves the word of revelation, and therefore hopes that hell
has no existence, and that death is an eternal sleep. If he is not be thus
far advanced in infidelity, yet he flatters himself that God will be more
lenient and merciful than his own word declares him to be. Thus he ventures
upon the dreadful step of putting the truth of God to its most awful test,
and passes through death to learn by tremendous experience the madness of
Happy, thrice happy, is the man who receives with childlike simplicity the
word of God, and acts upon it. He sees God in everything, and can feed upon
the hidden manna. He finds the promises to be full of truth and comfort. On
them, as on a rock, he rests in safety. With wonder he beholds the raging
tempest, which, sweeping over the nations of the earth, clears away
deep-rooted prejudices, and prepares a smoother path for the chariot of the
He knows that glorious days are hastening on, and therefore is not
discouraged, though they be preceded by a stormy night. He hears the voice
of his Almighty Father, speaking in gracious accents to allay his fears: "Be
still, and know that I am God;" and is kept in perfect peace.
Come, then, Oh my soul! and take courage. Fear not the face, nor the frown,
of man. The Lord reigns, be the earth ever so unquiet. Sing with David—unite
with Luther, and say, "God is our refuge and strength; a present help in
trouble." Do not be dismayed at the troubles of the earth. Tremble not at
the convulsions of empires. Only, fear God; only believe in his promises;
only love and serve him; and all things shall work together for your good,
as they assuredly will for his glory.
Life is hastening quickly away. Eternity is at the door. Live, then, for
eternity, and leave with God the concerns of time. Leave in his hands the
safety of his church, and the security of his cause. Cleave to him with
childlike simplicity. Seek his glory. Aim at perfection. Look high, and look
forward; and soon you shall be removed out of the reach of evil, and be
placed securely in the paradise above!
In times which are gloomy and sad,
When nations are trembling with fears,
The Christian, in confidence clad,
Serene amid dangers appears.
He knows that the black lowering sky,
Whose bosom destruction contain;
In a moment will vanish and fly,
When God his dread vengeance restrains.
In him, whom archangels adore,
In him, whom the cherubs obey,
While thunders tremendously roar,
He trusts without fear and dismay.
It is Jesus who reigns in his heart,
While Satan is raging around;
It is faith quenches every dart,
As pointless they fall to the ground.
The peace he enjoys in his breast,
Descends from a reconciled God:
While sinners, those strangers to rest,
Groan under the stroke of his rod.
When troubles invade and oppress,
When death rips his comforts away
He still, in the midst of distress,
Has God for his comfort and stay.
Thrice blessed, you saint of the Lord;
In Jesus your refuge is found;
Oh! trust to his promise and word,
And joys shall increase and abound.
Yes! joy shall increase like a stream;
Your peace, like the waves of the sea;
Your grace into glory shall beam;
And Jesus your portion shall be.