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33. What very Strange Beings wo aro.
Yes! What very strange beings we are! Wc, who are sinners, expect to be treated with more deference than the innocent and holy. Their will is not done; nor do they desire it should be. We, who are of earth, expect privileges, as we in our ignorance account them, which they of heaven never think of claiming--the privilege, if not of holding the reins of government, yet of directing how they should be held; and of having things move on according to our inclinations.
But should men,
who are “ of yesterday, and know nothing," rule, when angels, of an intellectual growth of thousands of years, cast their crowns at Jehovah's feet, and decline every thing but the most entire subjection?
But this is not all. We, who are the sons of God but by adoption, expect to be treated better than even God's only-begotten Son. Did not he suffer? And is it a mystery that we should ? Was he “ acquainted with grief,” and shall we deem it strange and in. explicable that we should have experience of the same? Why should we marvel that the cup we deprecate does not pass from our lips, when a far more bitter cup did not pass from him ? Shall we conclude that God is not a hearer of prayer, because a prayer of ours is not answered in kind, when he whom the Father always hears, prayed “ let this cup pass from me," and it was not done ? Ah, you say, what a dark and mysterious Providence this is! But that was darker and more mysterious, which left the Son of God to be betrayed and crucified by his enemies. And what if his sufferings were to accomplish an immensely important object; how few, it may be supposed, of the intelligent mind that looked on, were aware of that? Besides, may not your sufferings be intended to accomplish an important object? Are they not certainly so meant ? Do we not read of chastening, that "it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness, unto them who are exercised thereby;" and of affliction, that it “worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory?" Doubtless our sufferings are in their place as indispensable as were those of Christ.
Again, how reasonable and fit it is that the followers of a suffering Savior should themselves sufferthat they should drink of the cup of which he drank, and be baptized with the baptism wherewith he was baptized ! How could we be like him without suffering! The Master was made " perfect through sufferings." How suitable that the disciples should not be made perfect, until after they " have suffered awhile!" He went through suffering to his dominion and glory. Why should we expect to reign with him, except we also suffer with him ? Have we not always known that the cross is the condition of the crown? " If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” Jesus was never known to smile on earth. But we reckon it strange and quite unaccountable, if we may not smile perpetually. He wept, while we regard each tear we shed as a mystery. What bereavement have any of God's adopted children ever suffered, tlie sense of which was so keen as that under which the only begotten Son cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
We wonder that God does not hear every prayer we offer to him for every sort of thing, for health, for success in worldly maitors, for exemption from bereavement, &c. never reflecting that if he did so, he would cease to be the governor of the world, except in name. He would be but our agent. He would reign in subordination to us. We should rule all things by the sway of our prayers. And where would be the difference between being on the throne our. selves, and directing him who occupies it? Who would care to hold the reins of government, if he might by the expression of his desire control the being in whose hands they are? What a world this would soon become, if every prayer, every expres. sion of desire offered to God even by his own children," were answered according to the term of it! The voices of them in heaven who say, “ Alleluia : for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth," would be hushcd at once. O, shall God be infinitely wise and intel. ligent, and not employ his boundless wisdom and knowledge in managing the affairs of his creatures ?
Shall his omniscience of all things in all periods exert no influence on his determinations ? Shall he, to gratify us, hear'a prayer which we would never offer if we saw what he sees, or what we ourselves may discover in the progress of a few short years! What strange beings we are to expect or desire such a thing!
Are we the only persons whose happiness is to be regarded by God in his dispensations ? What if an event affect us with sorrow? The same event may affect others with joy, and God may be receiving their praises, while he hears our complaints. Are we alone to be considered, and not they? We grieve, perhaps, because one very dear to us has been taken from carth to heaven. We prayed importunately that it might be otherwise, but we were not heard. We know not what to make of it, and are on the point of murmuring. But was not thy friend's happiness to be taken into the account, as well as thine ? Is the event so very mournful a one in the aspect of it which he contemplates? Does he grieve that he has made the exchange? If thy loss were equivalent to his gain, it would be unkind to complain of the dispensation. But what is the loss to thee in comparison with the gain to him ? Is not thy friend satisfied with what God has done? And shall you indulge discontent? If you cannot but grieve, yet you should be willing to shed many tears for the sake of having all his wiped away. Can a soul too soon cease from
sin and sorrow? Can heaven be entered prematurely? Do you not read, and believe that it is better, far better, to depart and be with Christ? How
very inconsistent we are! If God, wearied with our discontent and complainings, should say,
Well, since you desire it, be it according to your mind," is there one Christian who would not instantly respond, “ Nay, rather be it according to thiné ?” Who would exercise the fearful privilege of ordering a single event which is to affect him ? And shall we contend for a privilege which we would not exercise if we had it? Shall we claim to choose in a case in which, if the right of choice were given us, we should immediately give it back into the hands of God?
34. Should it be according to thy Mind :
This question Elihu asked of Job. Things were not according to the mind of Job; and he complained, and was unhappy that they were not. He wanted them to be according to his mind. Perhaps it is so with you. But should it be according to thy mind, when there is another mind in the universe which is exercised and employed about the affairs of mortals: and that mind infinite, while yours is finite