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The Goodness of God a Refuge

The Goodness of God a Refuge

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Published by glennpease

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Published by: glennpease on May 08, 2013
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THE GOODESS OF GOD A REFUGEBY JAMES W. ALEXADER, D. DI every age, perhaps we miglit even say in everyChristian experience, there are junctures in whichit is difficult to reconcile the dispensations of provi-dence with the goodness of God. The controversybegan in the patriarchal days, and is the grand argu-ment of the book of Job. "Wherefore do thewicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power ?"Job 21 : Y. The seventy-third psalm is occupiedwith the clearing of the same paradox. Jeremiah,pre-eminently a sorrowful man, breaks forth thus :" Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee,yet let me reason the case with thee of thy judg-ments: Wherefore doth the way of the wickedprosper?" Jer. 12 : 1, marg. The worst men aresometimes apparently happy, and the consequenceis, that the believer is envious at the foolish. Ene-mies of God appear to him to succeed in everyundertaking. Wealth flows in on them; theyarrogate to themselves an exemption from all re-verses, and feel insured even against providence;they fill the public eye, they build and decorate,they gather about them the gay and the revelling,they leave wealth to their children.112 . COSOLATIO.In the very same view, pious men are thouglitto be unhappy, and beyond a doubt are afflicted.othing is more true of them, as a class, than thatthey suffer. If we look at all the retinue of believ-ers, following Christ up the steep ascent, we beholdthem bearing the cross, while the rugged path is mark-ed by the blood of their feet, and their eyes are wetwith weeping. They come out of great tribulation.Under the perplexities of this contemplation,what is left for the believer in his anguish, but toseek the resort which we have been pointing out,and to search among God's awful attributes for someone which may be a solace ? The name of the Lord
is a strong tower. But no gate of that fortress isunbarred for our entrance, until we approach underthe banner of Christ. We compass the lofty, for-bidding wall, but find no crevice open for sin. Yetthese characters of God are all we have. For look heavenward, and consider : — If He were ignorant orunwise, we might suffer without his knowledge, orsink in waters which he could not explore : we mightbe lost in mazes where his eye could not follow us,or be carried away in whirlwinds which he knew nothow to quell. If he were limited in power, we mightgroan under the very burden which he could notlift off. If he were afar, in some pavilion beyondour system, he could not be reached by our cry of anguish when the deep waters went over our soul ;and were he not here this moment, it would bemockery to pray. If he were not good, our happi-ness? would be nothing to him, and we might have^ GOD^S GOODESS. 113hellish pain for ever and ever. If he were not mer-ciful, he could not care how wretched we are ; andif he were not gracious, we should sink in despair,being sinners. But because he is Almighty, All- wise,All-seeing, Every-where-present, boundless, everlast-ing, and unchangeable, in goodness, mercy, and com-passion — we have in him a refuge and stronghold, towhich we may continually resort. The perfectionsof God afford a refuge : and in time of trouble, faithresorts to this refuge.The perfections of God afford a refuge. Raise youreyes towards the loftiness of our stronghold. But takeoff the shoes from off your feet, for the place is holyground. As sinners, you will first be arrested by atrait of Divinity. God is just. The Judge of all theearth will do right. The reverse is inconceivable.When we think of a being who can do wrong, we nolonger think of God. othing which he does can beunjust, arbitrary, or hard. He smites down the ven-erable and beloved shepherd, in the very momentwhen his dearest earthly stays have been purposelyremoved. Or he overwhelms in the tide of suddendeath, a mingled throng of youth and age, loveliness
and crime. Shall not the Judge of all the earth doright ? Hush thy insane murmurs, O worm ! " Besilent, O all flesh, before Jehovah ; for he is raisedup out of the habitation of his holiness !" Zech. 2 : 13.We cannot imagine a motive which an InfiniteBeing could have to do an act of injustice. All theearth and all heaven unite in praising Jehovah asrighteous. But O reader, can we cHmb up to oui8114 COSOLATIO.refage by this frowning battlement ! ay, it is im*pregnable. If indeed we were so far freed from per-sonal regards as to be governed in our tliougbts and judgments by a sense of general equity, and respectto tlie honour of God, it is conceivable that we mightacquiesce fully in decisions of the Most High, whichshould contravene our own happiness. We shouldthen submit to naked Justice. Some urge this asthe first step in a sinner's return; but the Bibleknows no such refinement of abstract submission : itwould, if possible, be the last and not the first stepof sanctification : the mighty effort of the giant, notthe infant motion of the new-born soul. Let me notfor a moment be misunderstood. Submission toGod's will, and that in the most absolute sense, isthe duty of every intelligent creature, and is a stateof mind to which the influences of the regeneratingand sanctifying Spirit infallibly lead. But there isan order in the dispensation of gracious affections ;and agreeably to that order it is not the first de-mand on an unreconciled heart that it should yielda legal submission to infinite justice, so as to be will-ing to endure everlasting condemnation, howeverrighteous. Such a submission to naked justice is notto be looked for in our present state, and this fortwo reasons. First, because God made man a beingdesirous of happiness. It is a radical principle. Itis God's own work. It is not one of those desires

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