William S. Plumer, 1865


I. Let not the wicked infer that a change will never come.
Among some of the ancients, the emblem of justice was an old man, strong but lame, with a sharp sword, proceeding slowly to his work. "May the Lord bring their flattery to an end and silence their proud tongues. They say, "We will lie to our hearts' content. Our lips are our own—who can stop us?" The Lord replies, "I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do." Psalm 12:3-5. The Lord will not always chide his people, neither will he always let the wicked go unpunished. He sees that their day is coming. The wonder is that they do not see it also.

II. Let us not judge the Lord at all, but let us judge this—that we are very ignorant and foolish, and that if we would be wise, we must listen, and study, and learn our lessons from the infallible Teacher. If we will not be candid and diligent students of God's word and providence, we must live and die without wisdom. Oh that every man knew that he himself is a fool—and that Jehovah alone is God. We are indeed poor judges of what is best. We cannot see afar off. Not a single event of Providence is completed. We know but in part. How can we competently decide upon the whole by the little fragments we possess? An axe by itself, and the saw by itself, are alike useless to the woodman; but properly unite them, and the monarch of the forest soon bows his majestic head before him who wields this little instrument. Man's glory is not the ultimate end of any of the divine proceedings. All things are made for the pleasure and the glory of him who has called us into being, and governs us with his almighty hand.

III. Let us possess our souls in patience. Were we required to govern the world with our present darkness of mind, we might well despair. But as our duty is not to rule but to submit. What we need is a quiet mind to stand and adoringly view the majesty and government of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will. Promises do you need? Here they are—

"As your days, so shall your strength be."

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed."

"Delight yourself also in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart."

"Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass."

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him."

"I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine."

"I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her."

"I will be as the dew unto Israel."

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."

Lean on these promises—and hope to the end.

IV. Let us rejoice in hope of God's glory. It is coming. It is surely coming. All the combinations of the wicked cannot hinder it. We shall see it, only let us believe. We may shout the victor's song, even here. God shall be glorified, and we shall see him honored. If we are truly his, we shall be honored with him. Come, O long-expected Deliverer, come to be admired in all your saints. Pious soul, do you need encouragement to hope? You have it, "Fear not those things, which you shall suffer." "He who endures to the end—shall be saved." "Father, I will that they whom you have given me, be with me that they may behold my glory." O pilgrim of the narrow way! Rejoice, for your redemption draws near.

V. Let us never arrogantly claim to understand the counsels of the Most High God. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways higher than our ways, and God's thoughts than our thoughts." "The secret things belong to the Lord our God." Clearly the finite can never comprehend the infinite. Yet,

VI. Let us study and observe the ways of the Almighty. "Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them." Hosea 14:9. Though we cannot grasp the heavens, yet we may look up to them, and see some of the wonders they reveal, and learn at least our own nothingness. "The fainter our light is, the more intent we should be in looking; the knottier the subject, the more earnest should be our study on it." Yet as a jury, in a criminal cause, may receive impressions in the progress of the trial—but should feel bound to suspend judgment until the whole facts of the case are submitted; so nothing can warrant us in pronouncing upon the ways of God until we either see them finished, or understand their import by a revelation from himself.

VII. Let us be very careful to guard both against presumption and despair; against presumption, in venturing to make our calculations on things not revealed; against despair, into which we may be led by supposing that we already see the end from the beginning. The darkest hour is just before day.

VIII. Meditation on God's providence "should prevent our taking offence, or being discontented at any events rising up before us; for to be displeased at that, which a superior wisdom, unsearchable to us, does order—is to be displeased at we know not what, or why—which is childish weakness. To fret and wail at that which, for all we can see, proceeded from good intention, and tends to a good outcome, is pitiful frowardness."

IX. Let us embrace that mystery of mysteries—the Cross of Christ. He that will reject all mysteries must reject salvation. Let us not cavil—but believe. Wisely did Sir Humphrey Davy say, "If I would choose what would be most delightful, and I believe most useful to me—I would prefer a firm Christian belief to every other blessing." And the great Teacher, who shall also be our final judge, said, "Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall never enter therein." Will you humbly believe the Gospel? Will you renounce your self-will, your self-sufficiency and your self-righteousness? Well does Mr. Locke say, "Pride of opinion, and arrogance of spirit, are entirely opposed to the humility of true science." Surely then they are opposed to true religion, which has for its basis the sublimest of all knowledge. Will you bow down your haughty spirit and be saved from wrath—by the blood and righteousness of the humblest, meekest and most mysterious sufferer the world ever saw? Oh that you would now be wise! You have but one lifetime, and that will soon be gone. Time flies—Heaven invites—Jesus calls—the Spirit strives—conscience warns—angels wait for your conversion—devils seek your ruin—hell threatens—death approaches—eternity is at the door—the judgment is coming. O humble yourself and believe the Gospel. Believe it Now, Now, NOW.

"A point of time, a moment's space,
Removes you to yon heavenly place,
Or shuts you up in hell."

He who rejects the mystery of providence must ever be in perplexity. But he, who rejects the mystery of the cross—must lie down in eternal sorrow.