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''Shall HE not . . . freely give us all things?
All things ! Such, brethren, is the munificence of the believer's endowment Nor are the words to be restricted with much qualification. That qualification is, " Not all things which we wish, but all things which we want/* or which God in his wisdom sees to be needful or good for us. Now this is not a very great limitation. There is not such a great difference betwixt a saint's wishes and his wants as may at first thought appear ; for the wishes of his renewed heart are very much in accordance with his wants. I have been told of one who, at fifteen years of age, having a heart inflamed with worldly pride and ambition, proposed to himself for his grand aim a senator's seat in the council of the nation, to which he thought he might attain by eminence in the profession of a lawyer. In this state of mind, one Sabbath his attention was arrested by those words of the Psalm —
" Delight thyself in God ; Hell give Thine heart's desire to thee."
Here was the hope for him : the desire of his heart was
the honour and fame of a legislator in Parliament ; and the condition of his attaining to it was that he should delight himself in the Lord. To the qualifying of himself, therefore, with this state of mind he studiously addressed
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himself; and worldly and mercenary though the starting motive, yet through various discipline the qualification was at last acquired. He learned to delight himself in God. Was not the path, therefore, now open for him to Parliamentary honours ? On the contrary, it was shut for ever. With the new heart came new wishes. The missionary field was now the coveted arena for his ambition, and the Lord gave him the desire of his heart. It is thus that the wishes and wants of a saint generally
It is not to be denied, however, that even the most sanctified will sometimes wish for things which the Lord does not see it to be their want or good, or suitable for them, but the opposite. But in all these cases the wish is of a subordinate character. Of all his grander wishes the gratification is certain. These have for their object his spiritual and eternal salvation. This is as much his great wish as it is his great want. His other wishes, which relate to health, and wealth, and love, and fame, and power, and scientific pleasures, and accomplishments, occupy his heart not only moderately but hesitatingly. He is not sure if their gratification would be for his advantage. He therefore prays for them conditionally, and with a reserve, saying, " Answer me, O Lord, only if Thou seest that what I desire would profit me. It appears to me to be bread, but Thou mayest see it to be a stone ; and that which appears to me to be a wholesome fish may be a poisonous serpent ; in which case I rely on Thy mercy that Thou wilt not only withhold it, but save me from being aflTected by it." Well, he prayed for wealth, imagining how happy it would make him, and how much good he would do with it, but it has not come; so he says, " My Father has seen that it would prove a serpent,
and I will wait for his sending what He sees I need." Can that man, I appeal, be represented properly as not having gained his desire even by the rule of his own wishes ?
But whatever may be said of this, the rule is absolute, that as a believing saint he shall receive all things which the divine wisdom sees needful for him. Needful ! That is a weak way of expressing it. All that divine wisdom sees good for him. Yea, that is not yet an expression of sufficient strength. " All things which the divine wisdom sees best for him,'' that is the endowment ; and is it not a thousand times superior to the assurance that we should receive all things which we ourselves judge to be advantageous ? May we not well say that it is one of our
greatest mercies that the Lord frequently refuses us the gratification of our desires? We sometimes see that afterwards, even in this world ; but when we have reached home, and had all things explained to us, there will not be an instance in which we were disposed to be fretful, through disappointment, for which we shall not gratefully make the acknowledgment that it was a father's kindness which made the refusal to an ignorant child of that which his wisdom saw would be prejudicial. Do not let us delay the grateful acknowledgment till that day, but render thanksgiving even now in the confidence that nothing is refused but that which is evil or would tend to evil, and that all is granted which is truly good.
"Shall He not freely give us all things V The apostle's inference is large, but the premises fully sanction it ; the superstructure is magnificent, but the foundation will bear that all things be built on it. Yea, brethren, he might have drawn the conclusion from premises stated less forcibly, and built the superstructure on a foundation neither so deep nor so broad. And I call your special
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attention to this point. God's fatherly, uDpurchased, unsolicited, spontaneous love waits for opportunities to bless his children. Let that paternal love of Qod .be a first principle of our faith — waiting for opportunities to bless his children, that is, ourselves — all of us — each of us — you and me. Our sin and rebellion against his government closed the opportunity. It made it unfit for Him as a holy Governor to manifest his love ; but still his paternal mercy waited for the opportunity being re-opened.
Well, suppose it had been some other one who had provided for us the ransom, so that the legal obstacle was removed, his paternal love would have hastened to take advantage of the opportunity to lavish its affections on his children; and' even in that case the apostle could have argued, since matters are adjusted in respect of the government, we may well calculate on all requisite
blessings being freely bestowed by fatherly affection and beneficence. How much stronger is the argument as he has placed and enforced it ! He refers to the ransom, by which the government was vindicated in bestowing pardon on the rebel, as being of the Father's providing, and then appeals if, after that, we can doubt his willingness to bestow anything that is good.
There are especially two principles involved in this appeal. The first is, that God having shown his love by giving us the greatest possible gift, we would act most unreasonably in suspecting that He might grudge the bestowment of any other. Beliold then, brethren, that gift. It was his own Son, in whom from eternity He delighted as the brightness of his glory — in whom He beheld the image of Himself — with whom He held communion when there was as yet no created intelligence
— without whom the universe would have been a solitude for his Godhead. " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God." It was this Son whom God spared not when our exigency of misery needed the gift and there was no other help — ^spared Him not, but gave Him forth from his bosom, and down from his throne, into this world, encompassed with the conditions of our wretched humanity in its most wretched form of indigence and sorrow — spared Him not, but delivered Him up to that death of agony and shame, that through his sacrifice for sin the sinful might be saved. That cross of the Son of God ! What affliction is there of which you may not well say, " It must be a mercy since it comes from the same hand which gave me that cross " ? What benefit is there which you need of which you can say that it is greater than the cross, and that therefore the bounty is possibly not so generous as to bestow it ? Rather let the argument with thy doubting heart be, *' Everything is little compared with the cross ; and, having received the greater gift, I cannot question the willingness to confer on me the smaller. That cross I shall make my master demonstration to suppress the rising doubts occasioned by
all unfavourable appearances, and to strengthen my heart in confidence that all things good for me shall be fi-eely vouchsafed."
Such is the first principle involved in the apostle's appeal — arguing that the bounty which gave the greater gift must be willing to give the smaller. But the other principle involved is, perhaps, still stronger and more persuasive. It is the principle of the divine consistency. God gave the gift of his Son, just that He might have the opportunity of bestowing other gifts. So long as our rebellion was inexpiated, good government forbade that
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we should be treated with tenderness. The gift of Christ
was designed to remove the obstacle, so that the paternal bounty of God might have free egress in flowing forth as at first on his children ; and he who doubts the outflowing of that paternal loving-kindness virtually imputes to the Lord the great inconsistency of having, at unspeakable cost, humanly speaking, yea, divinely speaking — ^the Scripture contains the "spared not " — ^imputes, I say, unto the Lord the great inconsistency of having, at unspeakable cost, opened up for Himself a way by which He might come forth with the bestowment of his bounty, and yet taking no advantage of it, so as to make the death of his Son a vain expenditure of humiliation and sufiering. Brethren, when the apostle accuses a certain party, who endeavour to gain salvation by their own works, as guilty of representing Chiist as having died in vain, let us beware lest we fall into the same condemnation, though in a different way, namely, by refusing to draw consolation and hope from that death. Self-confidence, when Christ is presented of his Father, as the only confidence, is bad ; but there is worse— despair of mercy. Despair of mercy ! doubting of God's fatherly lovingkindness when that Cross is so closely pressed upon thine eye to assure thee of his love !
Having thus illustrated the doctrine of our text, it is unnecessary to enter into a minute account of cases to
which it may be applied. Let each one make such an application of it as his circumstances require. Nevertheless, it is proper that I tender some aid to the meditation.
Observe, then, that, according to a distinction formerly made, these " all things,** on the bestowment of which we may calculate, yea, on which it is our duty to calculate, as we would avoid doing injury to the glory of God, are
of two classes. The first consists of spiritual and eternal blessings, comprehending especially the pardon of sins, the moral rectification, protection, and cherishing of our souls, and the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom. Apply to each of these the apostle's argument in its twofold power.
First : thy sin is great ; but would the pardon of it be a greater gift than the gift of Christ ? Yea, has not the gift of Christ been designed for the very end of affording an opportunity for bestowing on thee this pardon? What inconsistency, then, do not thy doubts of forgiveness impute to the Lord ? You are troubled, you say, about that sin against the Holy Ghost which will never be forgiven. I'll tell you what it is, — it is the sin of a heart which imagines its own guilt to be so great that the sacrifice of Christ is too small for its expiation.
In like manner, for the sanctification of the soul: when you feel the pleadings of corruptions within, and temptations without, to be so strong that you are ready to despair of being able to preserve your integrity, let this be your argument, "Has God given me his Son, and will He refuse me his Spirit? Yea, is not the gift of his Son designed, as one of its greatest ends, to open up the way for the bestowment of his Spirit ? In that Spirit's might, therefore, will I confide for strength to resist aU my foes." Once more : when the vision is displayed to your mind of the glory of the heavenly kingdom, and when, under a sense of your own unworthiness, you are ready to despair of ever attaining to the enjoyment of its felicity, let this again be your argument, " What is heaven, with all its splendours, compared with Christ ; and if God has bestowed Him upon
me may I not expect it ; yea, has not He been bestowed to make room for its bestowment ? I will therefore dismiss my fears, and hope with an exultant and assured heart."
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Such are the principal of those spiritual and eternal blessings which form the first class of the "all things" which constitute the saint's endowment, and which we should pray for and expect absolutely — or, as the older divines expressed it, peremptorily — ^not saying, " If it be Thy will, God!*' as if it were possible that it might not be his will, but without a condition, saying, " Give me it, O God !" The second class, for which we are to pray only conditionally, consists of temporal and worldly blessings. Among these I distinguish, first, those which are directly
personal, and the argument thus runs, "Has God given me his Son in poverty, and will He refuse me my daily bread ? Has He given me his Son in death, and will He refuse me health and prolongation of life, provided He see these things to be good for me ? Far be it from me to impute such inconsistency to the Lord." I distinguish, again, relative blessings, where the argument runs thus, " Has God given me the cross of his own Son, and will He refuse to bless the cradle of my child ? Has He given me that Son in all his glory to be a brother to me, and will He refuse me the life of my husband, or of that loved one, on union with whom my heart is set, if He in his better wisdom see that it will be truly for my advantage ?"
And similarly, for blessings on your church, blessings on your country, blessings which you desire for the whole earth. Ecce Signum! See the Pledge Sign! Behold the Cross ! Mak^ that your plea with your heart, that it will obtain the gratification of all its wise and holy desires. No other plea will sufiice, but this is all prevalent ; " And ye are Christ's ; and Christ is God's " (1 Cor. iii. 23).
But, though I have thus exhausted the argument of the apostle as contained in the text, I have not exhausted the gospel, or what this same apostle elsewhere frequently
and earnestly insists on. I have hitherto remonstrated with doubts and apprehensions of mercy on this ground. Will that hand which gave Christ, in dealing with us be niggard in the bestowment of subsequent and necessary blessings ? But is that a correct representation of the scheme of our salvation ? Is not the government by his Father's delegation in the hand of Christ? The full strength of the argument, therefore, is, " Shall that hand which gave itself to be nailed to the tree on thy behalf, now that it is a royal hand of power, grudge any exertion for thy blessing ; yea, shall that heart which gave itself to be pierced by the spear, be cold and indifferent to any of thy interests?"
In conclusion, first : let us be ashamed of ourselves, that professing a religion which abounds with such consolations, we should frequently act a part so inconsistent as is exhibited in our frettings, impatience and joylessness. Let us study and practise more that first great duty — cheerfulness towards God and his Son. Second : let us look at God and Christ in all our comforts, so that they be the more sweetened to us as evidences of their present love, and earnests of greater blessings yet to be enjoyed. Third: let us be patient in tribulation, through the reflection that the hand which strikes the blow was once wounded in mercy for us, and that that blow must therefore be mercy too.
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