Providence

The very actions of men, the complicated transactions of our common lives, are overruled by God’s Providence; and, without restraint, are so controlled that they shall subserve to the ulterior purposes of His will, after a fashion which altogether defies analysis.

Beyond this inner circle of comprehensible causation, external to the immediate sphere of cause and effect which courts our daily scrutiny, there is an outer circle, which rounds our lives; and overrules all we do; fashioning, by virtue of a supreme fiat which is altogether beyond our comprehension.

John Burgon

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

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More from ‘God’s way of peace’

How reasonable, writes one, that we should just do that one small act which God requires of us, go and tell him the truth. I used to go and say, Lord, I am a sinner, do have
mercy on me; but as I did not feel all this, I began to see that I was taking a lie in my hand, trying to persuade the Almighty that I felt things which I did not feel. These prayers and confessions brought me no comfort, no answer, so at last I changed my tone, and began to tell the truth – Lord, I do not feel myself a sinner; I do not feel that I need mercy. Now, all was right; the sweetest reception, the most loving encouragements, the most refreshing answers, this confession of truth brought down from heaven. I did not get anything by declaring myself a sinner, for I felt it not; but I obtained everything by confessing that I did not see myself one.

More from ‘God’s way of peace.’

Now are you sure that the truth which, you say you know, is the very gospel of the grace of God? Or is it only something like it? And may not the reason of your getting no peace from that which you believe, just be, because it contains none? You have got hold of many of the good things, but you have missed, perhaps, the one thing which made it a joyful sound? You believe perhaps the whole gospel, save the one thing which makes it good news to a sinner? You see the cross as bringing salvation very near; but no so absolutely close as to be in actual contact with you as you are; not so entirely close but that there is a little space, just a hand breadth or a hairbreadth, to be made up by your own prayers, or efforts, or feelings?

Everything, you say, is complete; but then, that want of feeling in myself! Ah, there it is! There is the little unfinished bit of Christ’s work which you are trying to finish, or to persuade him by your prayers, to finish for you! That want of feeling is the little inch of distance which you have to get removed before the completeness of Christ’s work is available for you! The consciousness of insensibility, like the sense of guilt, ought to be one of your reasons for trusting him the more, whereas you make it a reason for not trusting him at all. Would a child treat a father or a mother thus? Would it make its bodily weakness a reason for distrusting parental love? Would it not feel that that weakness was thoroughly known to the parent, and was just the very thing that was drawing out more love and skill? A stronger child would need less care and tenderness. But the poor helpless palsied one would be of all others the likeliest to be pitied and watched over. Deal thus with Christ; and make that hardness of heart an additional reason for trusting him, and for prizing his finished work.

God’s way of peace (extracts) By Horatius Bonar.

Christ’s person is a revelation of God. Christ’s work is a revelation of God, Christ’s words are a revelation of God. He is in the Father, and the Father in him. His words and works are the words and works of the Father. In the manger he showed us God. In the synagogue of Nazareth he showed us God. At Jacob’s well he showed us God. At the tomb of Lazarus he showed us God. On Olivet, as he wept over Jerusalem, he showed us God. On the cross he showed us God. In the tomb he showed us God. In his resurrection he showed us God. If we say with Philip, “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;” he answers, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” This God whom Christ reveals as the God of righteous grace and gracious righteousness, is the God with whom we have to do.

To know his character as thus interpreted to us by Jesus and his cross, is to have peace. It is into this knowledge of the Father that the Holy Spirit leads the soul whom he is conducting, by his almighty power, from darkness to light. For everything that we know of God we owe to this divine Teacher, this Interpreter, this “One among a thousand.” But never let the sinner imagine that he is more willing to learn than the Spirit is to teach. Never let him say to himself, “I would fain know God, but I cannot of myself, and the Spirit will not teach me.” It is not enough for us to say to some dispirited one, “It is your unbelief that is keeping you wretched; only believe, and all is well.” This is true; but it is only general truth; which, in many cases, is of no use, because it does not show him how it applies to him. On this point he is often at fault; thinking that faith is some great work to be done, which he is to labor at with all his might, praying all the while to God to help him in doing this great work; and that unbelief is some evil principle, requiring to be uprooted before the gospel will be of any use to him. But what is the real meaning of this faith and this unbelief?

In all unbelief there are these two things, – a good opinion of one’s self, and a bad opinion of God. So long as these two things exist, it is impossible for an inquirer to find rest. His good opinion of himself makes him think it quite impossible to win God’s favor by his own religious performances; and his bad opinion of God makes him unwilling and afraid to put his case wholly into his hands. The object of the Holy Spirit’s work, in convincing of sin, is to alter the sinner’s opinion of himself, and so to reduce his estimate of his own character, that he shall think of himself as God does, and so cease to suppose it possible that he can be justified by any excellency of his own. Having altered the sinner’s good opinion of himself, the Spirit then alters his evil opinion of God, so as to make him see that the God with whom he has to do is really the God of all grace.