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tell us some of His purposes and plans; but He does not reveal the whole. Many are kept in reserve; these lie in the depths of the Infinite Mind, like pearls in fathomless parts of the ocean, like gems in unknown recesses of the earth. “Secret things belong,” &c. “ Clouds and darkness," &c. Nor should we be surprised at this. It comports with the dignity of God, and is essential to moral government. A parent does not reveal all his thoughts to his children; a master does not declare all his plans to his servants; a statesman does not make known all his designs to his adherents ; a monarch does not proclaim all his intentions to his subjects. Thus it is with the Supreme Ruler. He does not unfold all His councils to human beings. In love to our souls, He sheds a little light upon us, and intercepts the full blaze thereof, that we may “trust Him where we cannot trace Him." A cloud often comes between us and the sun ; its edges are fringed with silver brightness, its central mass is intensely dark; above the cloud perfect glory shines, but we behold it not: for we cannot pierce the vapors, and black shades fall around us. “God is light, and with him is no darkness at all;" but He hides the light from us with the shadow of a cloud, whose border reflects cheering rays, and whose body covers us with mysterious gloom. The reasons of many things past finding out, and of wonders without number, are hidden from us. The prosperity of the wicked is only one of numerous mysteries, concerning which Jehovah giveth no account. The origin of evil and its consistency with the goodness of God; the harmony between the foreknowledge of God and the free-will of man ; the mystery of godliness God manifested in the flesh; the nature and identity of our bodies at the resurrection ; these and other problems we would fain have solved; but God refrains from explaining them. With so little light, and so much darkness around us, we cannot reason conclusively respecting the deep things of God. The ignorance that is in us leads us to wrong results. In order rightly to understand the government of God, we want more light. While God sees fit to withhold the light,
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we must walk by faith. A revelation from God would clear away the mystery from all that perplexes our intellect. Such revelation we cannot obtain on earth : it becomes us, therefore, to bow submissively to the will of God, acknowledge our incompetency to fathom the arrangements of Providence, and find consolation in the promise, that " what we know not now we shall know hereafter.”
II. THAT THE WAY OF DUTY IS THE WAY OF SAFETY. "Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end."
First : We receive instruction. It matters little whether the phrase, “the sanctuary of God,” refers to the temple at Jerusalem, or a synagogue, or a room for public worship, or a place of retirement for reading, meditation, and prayer. Wherever we commune with God, meditating on the word of God, and praying, “Open thou mine eyes, that” &c., we are in “the sanctuary of God," and are taught of the Lord. Receiving light from holy scripture, and from the Holy Spirit, our incorrect judgment respecting the prosperity of the wicked is rectified, and we see sufficient to convince us that the Judge of all the earth does right. (1) We see that rich sinners are insecure. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places." (2) We see that rich sinners are suddenly cast down. “How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment.” (3) We see that rich sinners are the objects of God's displeasure. “As a dream when one awaketh so, O Lord," &c. These things instruct us to judge nothing before the time. He who sees the end from the beginning gives us glimpses of the perils to which prosperous sinners are exposed, and the evils that often overtake them, even in the present life. Thus we are taught not to form hasty conclusions respecting Divine Providence, but remembering that “he that believeth shall not make haste," patiently wait till events transpire that shed light on mysterious arrangements, and show that just and true are the ways of God.
Secondly : We grow in faith. The performance of our duty to God, by studying the Bible and giving ourselves to prayer, either in the great congregation, or in the fellowship of saints, or in private devotion, necessarily promotes our spiritual safety ;—for it brings heavenly illumination and gracious influence to our minds in a degree which greatly strengthens our faith in the wisdom, equity, and kindness of our heavenly Father. The light and comfort we obtain encourage us to believe, with a firmer faith than before, that God is doing all things well ; and that when the broader revelation and fuller joy of eternity burst upon us, we shall understand and magnify His wonderful government of human affairs. Two things especially nurture our faith. (1) A conviction of our own ignorance and insufficiency. “So foolish was I and ignorant,” &c. (2) A consciousness that God is near to us and sustains us. “Nevertheless I am continually with thee,” &c. Hence, “we endure as seeing him who is invisible,” and become “strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Our confidence in the Lord increases until it no longer trembles like a feeble sapling, but is steadfast as a vigorous oak. Instead of cherishing envy, showing discontent, and muttering complaints, at the arrangements of Providence, we regard them with quiet complacency; believing that, though as yet we do not fully see it, they are perfectly equitable, and working together for the good of mankind.
Thirdly : We rejoice in hope. The end is not yet. Nor will it appear in the present life. Our time on the earth is only the commencement of our being. Eternity is before us. In eternity every man will be rewarded or punished, according to his works. After death, the inequalities that now exist will cease, and the circumstances of individuals will be adjusted to the character they sustain. Hence, the language of Abraham to Dives ; “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime," &c. In the path of duty this is clearly seen by us, as we look and move towards a future state. While engaged in public worship, or religious communion, or secret prayer, the darkness that overhangs earthly things clears away ;-for we see the wicked no longer in prosperity, but suffering the torments of hell; and the righteous no longer in adversity, but enjoying the pleasures of heaven. We cry out, therefore, with joyous hope, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” The knowledge that “there remains a rest,” &c. ; and that
our light affliction," &c., reconciles us to the unequal allotments of earth. A view of the destinies of men in a future state rectifies our errors respecting the government of God. Looked at in the light of eternity, "the ungodly who prosper in the world” are like individuals whose bright and pleasant morning changes into a dark and woful day; while the righteous, who suffer here, are like persons whose gloomy and troublous morning issues in a brilliant and delightsome day. The splendor that glitters around the bad deepens into everlasting darkness and misery; but the gloom that rests on the good brightens into everlasting glory and happiness. Knowing these things, we put away envious thoughts and complaining words, thankfully looking for, and joyfully hastening unto, the glories and joys of immortality.
Brother, “What shall it profit?" &c. Then subordinate temporal things to spiritual things. Riches take wings and fly away; but virtue abideth for ever. Thou canst not serve God for nought. “Verily, there is a reward for the right
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Cultivate personal piety and set thy affections on things above; so wilt thou enjoy peace of mind on earth, and when the grandeur of the wicked departs like a gorgeous cloud, thou wilt inherit unfading honor and satisfying bliss in heaven.
P. J. WRIGHT.
SUBJECT :-Paul's View of the Christian's actual Life.
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”—Acts xx. 24.
Jnalysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Third.
No man was ever more violently opposed to Christianity than Saul the Pharisee. Never was the strength of a disciple's attachment more severely tested than that of Paul the Apostle. The past of his Christian experience was made up of "hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, fastings, watchings, stripes, and imprisonments," &c. And of the future one thing only he knew. “The Holy Ghost witnesseth that in every city bonds and afflictions await me.” Jesus did verily show him “How great things he must suffer for his name's sake.” How did the sight affect his conduot? Hear him ye cowards, who are diverted from your purpose to serve Christ by the sneer of a companion, or the fear of a little difficulty or sacrifice. “ None of these things move me.” Here is true heroism worthy the imitation of young men; here is a picture of Christian life all may study to profit. Notice :
I. THE TRUE CHARACTER OF THE CHRISTIAN'S LIFE.
My course—the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus.
First: My course. This expression suggests, (1) That the Christian does not start into being by a fortuitous concurrence of atoms. This is equally true of the natural and the spiritual birth. The age, the country, and the ancestry, not less than the faculties and powers of the individual, are all under the control of, and subject to, the will of Omnipotent, Omniscient, Infinite, Love. “ Thou hast fashioned me,” &c. There is no less truth than poetry in the words: