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THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.

The grand fact of the absolute sovereignty of the eternal God is no mere theory to be reasoned about, but a blessed truth to be bowed to and rested upon. It is a truth that always provokes the rebellious will of fallen man, while it is the stay and unfailing support of those who are taught of God. In like manner it must be the terror of fallen angels, while those countless multitudes of holy angels who delight to do the will of God rejoice in the fact that His will is supreme. He Himself hath declared, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. xlvi. 10), and the answer of the believer to every taunt of the infidel is, or should be, “Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” (Psalm cxv. 3.)

The great monarch of the Gentile world, to whom God gave the kingdom which Israel had forfeited, was taught by severe discipline what all creatures must learn sooner or later, even that God “doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth : and none can stay His hand or say unto Him, What doest Thou?" (Dan. iv. 35.)

The first expression of God's sovereignty in His dealings with man in grace, was given in that solemn moment when man, having by disobedience forfeited the measure of sovereignty which God had committed to him, stood in the presence of his Maker as a sinner under just sentence of death. What could man do in that terrible moment ? What could God Himself have done for man had He not been most absolute in His sovereignty? There was no provision in creation for man as a sinner; and there seemed no prospect save for the solemn sentence to take its course without remedy. What could the creature—the mightiest, wisest creature—have proposed or looked for in that hour? What but the immediate execution of the dread sentence --judgment without mercy? But God was there, God, who had reserves in Himself that no creature could have dreamt of, and who had fully provided for what He had perfectly foreseen. His first utterance therefore in man's altered circumstances was an intimation of what He would bring to pass, the bestowal of unspeakable blessedness to man through the eternal victory which the Seed of the woman should, through suffering, gain over the serpent. He gives expression to the deep purpose of his heart, a purpose that was before creation and above creation, and yet needed creation as the platform on which alone it could be carried out; and the very fall of man only led to its accomplishment. Not that God brought about the fall of man, for the author of sin He never can be; but it is His prerogative to leave the creature to pursue his course, and yet make all that course subservient to the fulfilment of His own high purposes.

As the first word of grace spoken in the hearing of the guilty pair displays the actings of one who can be limited by nothing but His own perfections, so in the carrying out of the threat to the serpent, that the Seed of the woman should bruise his head, we see the working of the same mighty hand. Christ the Son of God was taken, and by wicked hands was crucified and slain. Under no constraint but that of their own natural enmity, and the guidance of Satan, whose willing slaves they became, Jews delivered up

and Gentiles crucified the Lord of Glory; yet did He die by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and upon that wondrous death the fulfilment of all Gol's purposes depended, and His glory in the new creation hung It was thus that the gracious design of God was carried out,“ that as sin reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. v. 21.) This is indeed sovereign grace-grace triumphing over every obstacle, breaking down every barrier, to reach in the way of righteousness those upon whom God had set His love. But

grace

could not have reigned had it not been the grace of Him who ever reigns, and whose will in the highest sense can never be crossed by creature or by circumstances; as Job said, “I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought of Thine can be hindered.” (Job xlii. 2, marg.)

And it is good for us to remember that what was displayed on the grandest scale at Calvary is ever true. God can leave rebellious creatures to do their will and yet accomplish His own. Take an illustration from the history of Joseph as stated in Psalm cv. 17, “He sent a man before them: Joseph was sold for a servant.” One clause states the act of God in foresight and mercy; the other, the act of Joseph's brethren in their wickedness. They sold him with the avowed object of making void his dreams, and yet, as Joseph himself put it, “ It was not you that sent me hither, but God;” and again, “ Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.” (Gen. xlv. 8;

It is the grand truth of the sovereignty of God that above all things men are arraying themselves against, and Christians are ignoring. But if we are to maintain our ground against the evil tide of these days it must have a more prominent place in our thoughts. The greater the opposition to God and His truth, the more need is there for the heart of the believer to be stayed upon Himself in all His majesty and grace. How beautifully is this set forth in Psalm xciii., which begins with the blessed statement, “Jehovah reigneth,” and then declares His majesty and

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the stability of His throne. If He is “ clothed with strength,” He owes not that strength to another, for “He hath girded Himself” with it. The Psalmist sets us the example of looking to heaven before he looks to earth: “Thy throne is established of old : Thou art from everlasting.” Then he can look to earth without fear or dismay; he can behold the surging mass of those who rise in opposition to God—the floods lifting up their voice and their waves, and he takes refuge in the truth, “Jehovah on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty (or breaking] waves of the sea.” “The calming of the storm on the lake of Galilee," it has been truly said, “was not only a parabolic representation of the history of the kingdom of God, but also typical of the final consummation of all things: a summary of the past, a prophecy of the future, a type of the end. And what applies to the Church as a whole, holds equally true of individual believers. Our greatest dangers are only breaking waves ; waves which break at His feet.

“He sitteth o'er the waterfloods,

And He is strong to save ;
He sitteth o'er the waterfloods,

And guides each drifting wave.
Though loud around the vessel's prow

The waves may toss and break;
Yet at His word they sink to rest,

As on a tranquil lake,”

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The tendency of the present day is to subject everything to the reason of fallen man, as though man, with his "understanding darkened” (Eph. iv. 18), was capable of comprehending the ways and works of God; and it is to be feared that much of what is called Christian teaching is a mere pandering to human reason. “Canst thou by searching find out God ?” No. But if “ thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding ; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God; for the Lord giveth wisdom : out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." (Prov. ii. 2-6.)

To man, the needy sinner, God reveals Himself as the God of salvation, and he who submits himself to God, and obeys the call to be reconciled to Him, will indeed discover depths of wisdom and heights of glory that human reason never thought of, and will see in ages to come, what already by faith we know, that God's ways are all worthy of Himself, and that the eternal happiness of both unfallen and redeemed creatures is secured by the unconditioned sovereignty of the glorious Creator, of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things : to whom be glory for Amen.

W. H. B.

ever.

THE GIRDLE.

This word frequently occurs in Scripture, and conveys instruction that is much needed in these days. Although oftener found in the Old Testament, it is also frequently referred to in the New.

In eastern countries, where loose, flowing robes are worn, the girdle forms a necessary accompaniment. The Jews wore two, an inner and an outer girdle; the latter made of leather, or more frequently of curiously-wrought worsted, and one end served as a purse. (Mat. x. 9.) Turkish secretaries are said to carry their ink-horn suspended to their girdles, a custom that is alluded to in Ezek. ix. 2.

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