« PreviousContinue »
the Providence of God must be of great importance to the stability and comfort of all true believers.
There is nothing that grieves the Christian more sensibly than the introduction and progress of error in religion. Against this he ought to contend earnestly at every risk. He ought not to be ashamed of any part of the divine testimony with the knowledge of which God has honoured him, nor to seek the praise of men by concealing or modifying God's truth. But in doing this he will be greatly supported, if he considers that it is the will of God that heresies shall enter and pervert many. When he has nailed his colours to the mast, and sinks with his ship, he can have the satisfaction of knowing that his commander will ultimately have the victory; and that even the partial damage which the enemy has been enabled to inflict was a part of the purpose of his Sovereign Lord and Master. Without this view of Divine Providence, I cannot see any consolation for the Christian on considering the ravages of error. Philosophy combines with fanaticism, superstition with idolatry, to oppose the Lord's Anointed. One only comfort is, that the Omnipotent Lord reigneth, and even by opposers does his pleasure. “ He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:
the Lord shall have them in derision." He will be honoured even in the wrath of his enemies.
Nothing has a greater effect in leading Christians into error than its success. Men in general judge of a cause by its success; and Christians, though they do not recognise it as evidence, yet are often greatly influenced by it. Opinions spread by infection, rather than by a thorough investigation of the evidence. An accurate acquaintance with the ways of Providence, as manifested in Scripture, is calculated to deliver from this prejudice. In the Bible we see that God has often granted much success to his enemies. By this they are hardened in their rebellion. Mere success is no proof of truth; and the want of it is no proof of error.
A proper acquaintance with the doctrine of Providence would also be of importance to guard us from having recourse to artifice and craft in the propagation of truth. The apostle Paul, with all his zeal for the gospel, disclaims all worldly wisdom in his attempts to advance its progress. He commended the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Let us use the means which God has appointed. But if Christianity was in danger of being banished from the earth, let us not attempt to assist it by fraud, craft, or means that are dishonourable. Let us fight the battles of the Lord with the weapons which he has put into our hands, but let us never support truth with sophistry. Leave the event of success to the general. All the ingenuity of all the wise men of the world could not extend the gospel one inch beyond the limits assigned by God.
It is often afflicting to the Christian to consider the signs of the times in which he lives. Hitherto the affairs of this world have been under the dominion of the prince of darkness. But in the subject of Providence we have consolation. We know that the very opposition made to the kingdom of Christ is a part of the plan of divine wisdom; and will be overruled for the glory of God and of our Immanuel. God has given the world into the dominion of Satan, but not in such a sense as to exclude himself from the government. The wrath of Satan, as well as the wrath of man, will be obliged to praise God; and any device of it, which has not this tendency, Jehovah will restrain, and not suffer to be manifested.