The Submissive Spirit of the Lord’s Prayer
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The SUBMISSIVE Spirit of the Lord's Prayer.
"Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." Matthew 6:10
This remarkable petition in the Lord's Prayer admits of a twofold application. In its first and more limited view, it may be regarded as expressing the meek submission of the child of God under the trying discipline of his heavenly Father. In its second and more comprehensive view, it supplies a key to the preceding petition, with which it stands closely linked, and explains to us what is meant by the coming of God's kingdom--even His will done on earth as it is done in heaven. "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth even as it is done in heaven." I propose in the present chapter to present both of these views of the prayer.
Whose will is this? "Your will"--the will of God. The will in man is the determining faculty of the soul. All his thoughts, words, and actions--all that he resolves, undertakes, and executes--is a volition, or act of the will. There is no higher natural law of the man. In God this is infinitely and pre-eminently so. The Divine will is the supreme moving law of the universe. We speak, and properly so, of the 'laws of nature.' As Montesquieu in his masterly work on the Spirit of Laws has remarked, "All beings have their laws; the Deity His laws, the material world its laws, the intelligences superior to man their laws, the animals their laws, man his laws." But this idea of the universality and plurality of law resolves itself into the existence of one all-governing, all-commanding supreme law. What are the laws of nature but the law of God? Hooker has judiciously remarked, "Of law, no less can be said than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world; all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, the greatest as not exempted from her power; both angels and men and creatures, of what condition soever, though each in different spheres and manner, yet all with uniform consent admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy."
What does the teaching of this memorable passage resolve itself into but the sublime truth that law, which is the great bond of the universe, finds its origin in the bosom of God, in the existence and exercise of that one divine and supreme Will whose volitions go forth from their great center in every possible direction, like rays from the sun, embracing, harmonizing, and controlling every form and modification of being, whether intelligent or unintelligent. Even nations not favored with the light of revelation have maintained the doctrine of a Supreme Power, which, if forgotten in prosperity, they have ever sought to propitiate in the day of sorrow. A vague, indistinct, though not less real idea has penetrated the savage mind that a Deity is ever present regarding the virtuous as objects of favor, and the vicious as objects of displeasure.
But to the mind enlightened by the revelation of God's Word, conjecture gives place to certainty; and the believing heart is upheld and solaced with the thought that God is on the throne of the universe, ordering all things, all events, and all beings "after the counsel of His own will;" that, while His paternal eye superintends the minutest actions and events pertaining to ourselves, His all-ruling Will embraces the countless varieties of existence--"And fills, and bounds, connects and equals all!"
Let us look at God's will in two or three of its essential properties.
God's will is UNIVERSAL--in other words, it is supreme in its dominion. There can of necessity be but one all-ruling, all-controlling will in the universe. That will is God's. Be it His secret will--which is the rule of His own conduct; or, His revealed will--which is the rule of our conduct; be it His approving will--which we should ever consult; or His permitting will--to which we should ever bow, His will is the universal law of the universe, extending its sovereign scepter over all worlds, all beings, and all events.
How consolatory and assuring this truth to the Christian mind! To know that the world is under the government of law, that that law is the supreme Will of God, and that the mediatorial office of the Lord Jesus Christ clothes Him with "power over all flesh." In view of this truth, the believing mind can look calmly, confidently, even hopefully upon the conflict of thought and the agitation of feeling, the opposition of error and the threatening of persecution amid whose troubled waters the Ark of God is tossing. Satan may plot, error may boast, the heathen may rage, and the people imagine a vain thing; the kings of the earth may set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, let us break their bonds asunder; nevertheless He that sits in the heavens reigns supremely, and will make all potentates and all events subservient to the advancement and final triumph of His kingdom.
God's will is HOLY. The will of an essentially holy Being, it must of necessity be so. God can will nothing that is not in perfect harmony with His own nature. I need scarcely, therefore, remark that God cannot be the author of sin--if a conception so monstrous could even find a moment's lodgement in the reader's mind. God's will is holy in all its volitions, holy in all its rule, holy in all its results. Whatever God wills, must terminate in the display and vindication of His holiness. The righteousness of the Divine government is the brightest crown-jewel in the diadem of God. There must, necessarily, be events in His administration, the result either of His permitting or of His approving will, which, at the time, may seem to contradict the rectitude of His rule.
But the moment the believing mind can repose upon the truth of God's holiness, that moment its perplexities are at rest; and although all is enshrined in mystery, and the events terminate in results which seem adverse to his best interests and God's glory, he can exclaim, "But You are holy, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel." Beloved, the day may come when this view of the holiness of the Divine will shall rise before you with all the freshness of a newly revealed truth. The cup trembling in your hand--the knife raised to slay the beloved Isaac--a view of the perfect righteousness of the Divine will at that moment may be just the truth which will strengthen your heart and nerve your arm to drink the cup, and to make the sacrifice God bids you, in meek submission to His will.
The will of God is WISE. If the rectitude of God's government cannot be honestly impeached, equally unimpeachable is its wisdom. The apparent discrepancy, the alleged contradictions in the administration of God's providential government--the events in the history of the world and of the Church, and in our own individual life--which apparently contradict the notion of a directing Power of infinite forethought and knowledge, and which clash painfully with our idea of an All-wise Hand guiding the movements of the vast and complicated machine--touch not, in the slightest degree, the perfect wisdom which superintends it all.
Could we see an event as God sees it, from the end to the beginning, what to us seemed an entangled mass of thread would prove a perfect garment; and what appeared a strange mingling of colors would prove a beautiful mosaic; and what fell upon our ear as the most discordant sounds would swell into the most exquisite harmonies--so perfect are the ways of God with the children of men. Contemplate in this light your present position.
The event is mysterious and paralyzing, the calamity dark and crushing. You walk round and round it in search of some clue that will unravel the mystery, of some ray that will relieve the gloom, of one drop of sweet that will mitigate the bitter. But this is mere human reasoning. Now let grace step in and do its work. Let faith grapple with this providence, and its whole character is changed. Faith is a marvelously transforming principle. It presents every object through a different medium, and places it in a different light. It transmutes the basest metal into the purest gold, extracts the sweetest honey from the bitterest flower, finds food in the eater, pencils with silver light and fringes with golden rays the darkest cloud; impoverishes to enrich, and exhausts to replenish. Let faith have its perfect work, lacking nothing, in the present dealing of God with you.
You must now look, not at the providence, but at the promise of God. Nor must you deal exclusively with the promise of God, but with the God of the promise. The promises derive all their value and preciousness from the veracity, the immutability, and the power of God to make them good. Has God said it, and will He not perform? You have to do with God, with His all-sufficiency. The inquiry of unbelief is, "How shall Jacob arise, for he is small?" The answer of faith is, "He shall arise, because God is great."
We look too little at the immensity, the all-sufficiency, the infinity of God. The more faith deals with the power of God, the more powerful will faith become. It grows into the greatness of its Object. Dealing with the great God, itself becomes great, just as the intellectual faculty expands to the dimensions of the science it grasps, and as the taste becomes molded and elevated to the standard of art it studies. He that would attain to true greatness in any department must study the highest and the purest model. No individual will ever rise in science or in art, in poetry or eloquence, superior to the standard he has chosen.
But where is there a realm in which real greatness finds its fullest development and growth as the religion of Jesus? Religion expands the mind, refines the feelings, elevates the taste, cultivates the faculties and powers of the soul as nothing else does or can do. The reason is obvious. The subjects of thought and feeling are divine and holy, infinitely great and pure. The soul rises to the vastness of its theme. Never had Bacon or Newton reached the height of intellectual greatness and fame which they attained, had the one limited the range of his faculties to the study of philosophy, and the other to the study of science. The contemplation and study of religion molded their greatness and stamped their immortality.
Would we, then, be mighty in the principle, and great in the achievements of faith, it must have direct, and even frequent, transactions with God. In proportion to our acquaintance with God will be the intimacy of our dealings with Him. The walk with God of many is so cold, their confidence in Him so feeble, their fellowship with Him so unfilial, their love to Him so superficial, because they know Him so slightly, are acquainted with Him so imperfectly, and deal with Him so seldom in the minor events, the little trials, needs and cares of every day life. "Acquaint now yourself with Him, and be at peace."
The will of God is SUPREME. Be it His secret will, or be it His revealed will, its supremacy is acknowledged. In heaven, in earth, in hell, in all places, over all beings, and in all events, the scepter of the Divine will stretches its illimitable and supreme sovereignty. It is the paramount law of the universe. Every other will is subordinate to, and is controlled by, the will of Jehovah. Let those think of this and tremble who, erecting their little sovereignties, and setting up their puny wills in defiance of, and in opposition to, the supreme sovereignty of the universe, are seeking to be a law to themselves. The spectacle which you present to the eye of sinless intelligence is as appalling as your sin is monstrous. It was the opposition of man's will to God's which plunged the world in rebellion, crime, and woe. The insane and unequal conflict has been raging ever since, is raging now, keeping this world in a state of continued treason and rebellion against the government of Jehovah, and will continue so to keep it, until God's will is done on earth as it is done in heaven.
The position, then, in which this statement places the unrenewed will is that of direct collision with God. This is in perfect concurrence with God's Word, "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Similar to this are the words of the same apostle--"You has He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world . . . fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind," (margin--the lusts of the flesh.) And what a solemn picture is that, "led captive by Satan at his will!" Dreadful thought! Captive to Satan's will! Here, then, are three wills which the unconverted obey--their own will, the will of the flesh, and the will of Satan--bound by this threefold cord, they are led captive.
But, on your part, let the personal conflict cease. Cease to oppose God's will, speaking to you in His word, striving with you by His Spirit, and dealing with you in His providence, lest, haply, you be found to fight against Him to your total and eternal defeat. Seek, oh seek importunately, the aid of the Spirit to bend the iron sinew of your will in deep submission, patience, and love at His feet--made willing, in the day of His power, to yield a loving obedience, an unreserved surrender to the Lord to be His servant, His child forever. Oh, blissful moment when the conflict ceases, when the truce is proclaimed, and peace transpires between God and your soul! "O Lord, though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me."
But, if the supremacy of God's will is a terror to those who are living in rebellion against its rule, how replete with assurance and comfort it is to those who have 'kissed the Son,' and are in a state of peace with God through Him? Amid the upheavings of the State, and the conflicts of the Church, how soothing to think that God sits upon the throne, judging righteously! The believer can look calmly, confidently, hopefully upon the stormy waters, with the firm persuasion that Christ controls them, and that all shall be overruled to the best interests of His people. While Christ reigns, let the earth tremble and the saints rejoice. Infidelity may increase and blaspheme; the man of sin may speak proud things, and vaunt itself; Christian love may wane, and Protestant zeal may flag; foes within the Church may confederate with foes without; there may be treachery in the camp, and treason in the invading hosts; nevertheless, Jesus is ruling in the Church and over the world; the government of both is upon His shoulder, and the keys of hell and of death are in His belt; He that sits in the heavens will laugh, the Lord shall have in derision all the abettors of infidelity and popery--Herod and Pilate made friends, and united their forces to the overthrow of Jesus and His truth. It is a most consolatory assurance to the saints of God that our Lord's mediatorial supremacy includes "power over all flesh, that He might give eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him."
There are three things contained in this petition that God's will might be done. The disciple is taught thus to ask that the will of God might be done on earth in the fulfillment of duty--in the endurance of trial--and in the universal prevalence of holiness.
With regard to the fulfillment of duty, there can be no real walking in God's precepts while the will is unreconciled to God through Christ. Evangelical obedience is a willing obedience, the will brought under the supernatural and loving constraint of the Spirit. If we are not doing the will of God by holy walking in His precepts, there is a fatal collision of our will with the Divine will. Enmity must be dislodged from our will, thus disarming it of its hostility to God, before we can either spiritually understand or become "doers of the word." How distinctly our Lord puts this truth--"My teaching is not mine, but His that sent me. If any man will DO His will, he shall know of the teaching whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
Harmony, therefore, of will is essential to spiritual light. We are in the true position to understand revealed truth when we are walking in holy obedience to God. Just as we see more perfectly the properties and beauties of natural objects standing in the sunlight, so the truth, the harmony, and the beauty of the gospel of Christ are only distinctly discerned as the heart is right with God. Sin beclouds the understanding, holiness enlightens it; sin warps the affections, holiness expands them; sin deadens the conscience, holiness quickens it. A man of mere speculative, rational knowledge, who theoretically receives, but practically denies, the holiness of the truth; who is not a humble, sincere believer in the Lord Jesus Christ--to believe fully in whom is the will of God--cannot know, experimentally and spiritually, whether God's word is divine. But he who does God's will, who leans not to his own understanding, but is taught of the Holy Spirit, he shall know, by the truth effectually working in him, whether it is of God or of man.
Let all who are in search of divine truth examine themselves, and ascertain whether they are doing God's will; whether they have believed the record God has given concerning His Son; whether they have accepted Christ as God's unspeakable gift of love; whether they have "submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." So long as the Lord Jesus is not received, loved, and honored, even as the Father, the mind is not in a position to know of the teaching, or to pursue the inquiry, "What is truth?" The truth is Christ--"I am the truth,"--and he who has got hold of Christ holds in his hand the golden key at whose touch the whole arcade of truth will fly open. Thus, he who lives upon Christ as his sanctification, stands complete in all the will of God.
God's will is likewise done on earth--in the believer's patient endurance of trial. Submission to God is the spirit inculcated by the Lord's Prayer. In the Christian life there is as much the enduring, as the doing, of God's will; the passive, as the active obedience of the believing mind to the will of God. Perhaps, more of the Lord's people are schooled in the discipline of the will to the passive than to the active part of the Christian life--in suffering than in doing. In ACTIVE SERVICE for the Lord there may be a greater indulgence of our will than we have any suspicion of. The sphere may be pleasant, the work agreeable, the success cheering, the applause flattering, and so our own imperfectly sanctified will is gratified.
But the PASSIVE school of God places the believer in a different position, and brings his will under a different discipline. Suffering is not desirable, nor affliction pleasant, nor sorrow welcome; so that when God is pleased to send either, there is necessarily a more direct and powerful subjugation of the will of the believer to the will of God. This may, perhaps, explain the reason why more Christians graduate for heaven in the school of adversity than any other.
This, also, invests with light that apparently dark and inexplicable part in our Lord's personal history--His learning in suffering. Was He not perfect, apart from sorrow? Was He not complete, irrespective of suffering? The apostle shall reply. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." "It became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering." Link, then, two truths in Christ's personal experience--suffering, and the learning the lesson of obedience--and He is presented to your study in two of the most consolatory and instructive points of His history. He was a pupil in the school of suffering. There was not a moment in His career which was not a moment of graduated suffering, since, from the moment He touched earth's horizon commenced His work of suretyship. If it was in the school of affliction He was to learn, then His learning commenced at the manger of Bethlehem. He was to work out the profoundest problem in the moral government of the universe--the harmony of God's attributes in the pardon of man's sin. It was the problem of His life. All was new to Him. The difficulties of redemption, the evil of sin, the bitterness of the cross, the lesson of obedience, the tremendousness of suffering, the discipline of will, were the parts of His mediatorial work in which He was to be perfected, and perfected only in the path of suffering. I speak of His humanity now. And if the humanity of the Son of God were, in the strictest sense, our own humanity, in all but its sinfulness, then we must believe that, like ours, it was progressive--as progressive in its intellectual and moral, as in its corporeal powers. To this law it was inevitably and unquestionably subjected. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."
As God, He was essentially holy, and there could not be any addition to His holiness. But as man--unless we suppose that His humanity was dissimilar to our own, which would be to loosen the great foundation-stone of our faith, and overthrow His Atonement--He grew in holiness; that is, His holiness, perfect in itself, developed and increased with His years, investing His life with a deepening sanctity and a growing luster, until it culminated at the cross.
Jesus, then, was a learner. "He learned obedience." And the great lesson He learned, daily, hourly learned, was the doing and the enduring of His Father's will. As His sufferings advanced, the magnitude of the task expanded before His view. With the darkening of the storm, the lesson grew more difficult. Just as the faggots, piled around the Christian martyr, become more and more ignited, and the devouring flames leap higher and higher, and enfold closer and closer the suffering victim--the lesson of endurance, fortitude, and meek submission becomes more difficult, more painful--so was it with our blessed Lord. While suffering taught Him how much He was to endure, it also taught Him how difficult it was to endure. And it was not until He had passed through the severest ordeal that He completely learned the lesson of submission to the will of God. Bethlehem prepared Him for Gethsemane, and Gethsemane prepared Him for Calvary. It was in the garden that the most fearful struggle was endured, the agonizing conflict was passed, and the victory was achieved. "Your will be done," uttered in sobs of grief, swelled into the paean of triumph shouted from the cross, "It is finished!"
In this same school of suffering our will is chastened and sanctified. All His saints are thus taught of God. Of Aaron it is said, "And Aaron held his peace." Listen to Eli--"It is the Lord; let Him do what seems Him good." Listen to Job--"Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and not evil?" "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." And in this school God is, perhaps, now disciplining yours. In no other could the holy lesson be learned; in no other position could the surrender be made.
"He who knew what human hearts would prove,
How slow to learn the dictates of His love;
Called for a cloud to darken all their years,
And said, Go spend them in the valley of tears."
But this lesson of surrendered will to God, is not learned in one or two trials. As it is the holiest, so it is the hardest lesson in our heavenly education. The child, in process of weaning, is not more fretful and resistant than the believer often in process of divorce from himself. To surrender the dearest, to relinquish the sweetest, to forego the pleasantest for God, is a heavenly ascent of the soul--steep, rugged, and painful. But, weary and footsore, the panting pilgrim at length reaches the summit, bathed in the divinest sunlight, and falling prostrate at the feet of His Heavenly Father, exclaims, "Not as I will, but as You will."
Be not discouraged, child of God, if your progress is slow in reaching this high Christian attainment of submission. Your blessed Lord Himself did not fully attain to it until He had thrice prayed. We often overlook the plurality of trial in God's chastening of our will. A single affliction seldom accomplishes its mission. The arrival of one is frequently the herald of another yet more heavy and sad. But this is our comfort that, "all things work together for good to those who love God;" and your present plurality of trial is among the all things of God's everlasting covenant of grace. Do not think that He will forsake you. It is the discipline of a Father's love. Will He not "stay His rough wind in the day of His east wind?" "Happy is the man whom God corrects--therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty; for He makes sore and binds up. He wounds, and His hands make whole. He shall deliver you in six troubles; yes, in seven there shall no evil touch you."
May you not, then, be happy? If God is for you--and you are pavilioned within His perfections--who or what can hurt you? Though a host of foes or of trials should encamp against you, yet in this may your faith repose, that, the Triune Jehovah, Israel's God, encircles you as a wall of fire. Oh, what a God is He with whom the believer has to do! You have to do with the God of the Bible, the God of Christ, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--the God of redemption, the covenant God of a chosen, loved, and redeemed people.
How faintly we deal with God as He really is! We rob Him of His infinity, and think of Him as finite. We divest Him of His divine perfections, and clothe Him with mere human attributes. We think Him such an one as ourselves. Oh to rise to the greatness of God--the greatness of His power, the vastness of His love, the infinitude of His resources! We limit the Holy One of Israel, we doubt the ability, the willingness, the grace of Christ to save us; we think the Spirit of the Lord confined; and thus, bringing Jehovah down to our poor size instead of rising to His immeasurable greatness, we are dwarfs where we should be giants in grace; we cleave to the dust when we should soar to the sun; we carry our own burdens and nurse our own sorrows, when we should transfer them all in faith to Him who loves us. Uplift, then, your song, though it rises from the valley and echoes through a strange land.
"Is God for me? I fear not, though all against me rise;
When I call on Christ my Savior, the host of evil flies;
My Friend, the Lord Almighty, and He who loves me, God,
What enemy shall harm me, though coming as a flood?
I know it, I believe it, I say it fearlessly,
That God, the highest, mightiest, forever loves me;
At all times, in all places, He stands at my side,
He rules the battle fury, the tempest, and the tide.
"A Rock that stands forever, is Christ my righteousness,
And there I stand unfearing, in everlasting bliss;
No earthly thing is needful, to this my life from heaven,
And nothing of love is worthy, save that which Christ has given;
Christ, all my praise and glory, my light most sweet and fair,
The ship wherein He saileth, is sinkless everywhere.
In Him I dare be joyful, as a hero in the war;
The judgment of the sinner, affrighteth me no more.
"There is no condemnation, there is no hell for me,
The torment and the fire, my eye shall never see;
For me there is no sentence, for me death has no sting,
Because the Lord, who loves me, shall shield me with His wing.
Above my soul's dark waters, His Spirit hovers still,
He guards me from all sorrows, from terror, and from ill;
In me He works and blesses, the life-seed He has sown,
From Him I learn the 'Abba,' that prayer of faith alone.
"And if in lonely places, a fearful child I shrink,
He prays the prayers within me, I cannot ask or think--
The deep unspoken language, known only to that love,
Who fathoms the heart's mystery, from the throne of light above.
His Spirit to my spirit, sweet words of comfort saith,
How God the weak one strengthens, who leans on Him in faith,
How He has built a city--of love, and light, and song,
Where the eye at last beholdeth, what the heart has loved so long.
"And there is my inheritance, my kingly palace, home;
The leaf may fall and perish, not less the spring will come;
Like wind and rain of winter, our earthly sighs and tears,
Until the golden summer dawneth, of the endless year of years.
The world may pass and perish, You, God, will not remove,
No hatred of all devils, can part me from Your love;
No hungering nor thirsting, no poverty nor care,
No wrath of mighty princes, can reach my shelter there.
"No angel and no heaven--no throne, nor power, nor might;
No love, no tribulation--no danger, fear, nor fight;
No height, no depth, no creature--that has been or can be,
Can drive me from Your bosom, can sever me from Thee.
My heart in joy upleapeth, grief cannot linger there,
She sings high in glory, amid the sunshine fair:
The sun that shines upon me, is Jesus and His love,
The fountain of my singing, is deep in heaven above."
One experience of this remarkable petition yet remains to be considered. "Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." The question arises, "How is God's will done in heaven?" We briefly reply--God's will is done in heaven HARMONIOUSLY. There lives not a being in heaven whose will is not in the sweetest accord with the will of God. The will of God is done in heaven by all celestial intelligences, because it is His will. This is the loftiest motive that can sway a created mind--no motive lower than this should sway ours. The conviction that we are doing or suffering God's will should be enough to annihilate every objection and silence every murmur.
The will of God is done in heaven CHEERFULLY. "Bless the Lord, you His angels that excel in strength, hearkening to the voice of His word." They hearken that they might do. Such should be our obedience--a cordial, cheerful doing and enduring; as the apostle expresses it, "Doing the will of God from the heart." How touchingly did our Lord illustrate this cheerful obedience to God! "I delight to do Your will, O my God." And, in another place, "I seek not mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me." So let our submission to God be--a cheerful, happy submission.
God's will is done in heaven PROMPTLY. There is not a moment's pause of sullen hesitation or questioning delay. Every angel poised upon his white pinion, every seraph with his hand upon his golden harp, every glorified spirit with the well-prepared anthem upon the lip, stands ready to obey God's command. So let His will be done by us--without reasoning or demur, without attempting to penetrate the mystery or define the outcome. It may demand the costliest sacrifice, impose the heaviest cross, involve the severest self-denial--nevertheless, would we imitate on earth the will of God as done in heaven? then let us not ask the reason why, but promptly and cheerfully obey, satisfied that it is the holy, wise, and righteous will of our heavenly Father.
The blessings that flow from PERFECT acquiescence with the will of God are innumerable. It secures our happiness. The great secret of all quietness and contentedness of mind under all circumstances, is in the resignation of our own will to God's will. The moment there arises in the breast the least hostility to what God does, or enjoins, there is unhappiness. The harp is unstrung, and harshness and discord is the result.
There is safety, also, in resignation to God's will. Never is the child of God so safe as when doing and suffering the will of God. Danger and destruction lie in the path of self-will. As much should we deprecate self-will's rule and shrink from asserting its pre-eminence, as we would be insane standing upon the brink of an Alpine precipice, with the ice and the snow melting and crumbling beneath our feet. But, oh, the perfect safety in doing and enduring God's will! mysterious, painful, humbling though it be.
There is heavenly blessing, also, in the soul that does God's will. In proportion to our assimilation to the perfection of God's will as done in heaven, is our approach to the happiness of heaven itself. We sit as in the heavenlies while harmony exists between God's mind and ours. No position of the soul brings us into such close and holy relation to God as when our will sweetly dissolves into His. The soul, with all its present and eternal interests, is now confidently and cheerfully surrendered to Him. No dread of rocks, and of shoals, in the homeward voyage. Our Father pilots the barque, and perfect confidence garrisons the soul. With a divine hand upon the helm, love expanding the sails, and hope sitting serenely upon the prow, the heaven-bound vessel careers her pathway through sunlight and through storm; and so He brings us to our desired heaven.
One word shall sum up all that we would further say upon this part of the subject--the cheerful doing and the patient suffering of our Father's will resolves itself into perfect satisfaction with all that He does. It is the daily lesson of life, the secret of our growth in grace, the essence of our personal holiness. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." "And be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable will of God."
"May Your will be done!" This is the most solemn prayer it is possible for man to breathe. Unconverted reader, are you aware what this petition involves? Are you prepared for the answer? God's will is that you should be holy--are you ready to give up your pride, your avarice, your lusts, your worldliness, your secret sins? God's will is that uprightness andintegrity should mark all our doings--are you willing to have your ledger examined, your accounts scrutinized, your bills taxed, and your commercial transactions placed in the light of day? God's will is that we should love Him with a simple, single, and supreme affection--are you willing that He should enter the garden of your soul, and gather this lily, and pluck that rose, and mow down that daisy, and break the stem of that beautiful and stately plant, that henceforth He might possess your heart? God's will is that you should believe in and accept His beloved Son as your only Savior, your righteousness, redemption, and hope--are you willing to cast overboard your self-righteousness, to part with your religion of duties, and rites, and forms, and receive Christ as a poor, empty sinner, trusting only in His blood and righteousness?
No! perhaps you are not prepared for any part of this sacrifice! And yet, morning and evening, you pray, "may Your will be done!" Oh, it is the most solemn, fearful prayer lips ever uttered! When next you breathe it, add yet another--"Lord, renew me by Your Spirit, strengthen, sanctify me by Your grace, that in doing and in suffering I may stand complete in all Your holy will."
The UNIVERSALITY of God's will done on earth, will be the universality of the reign of holiness. The millennial age of the world, which is to be ushered in by the Coming of the Lord in person, and with great glory, will be the dawn of an era of righteousness, peace, and happiness, such as creation has not witnessed since its primeval state. In that day, when "the Lord's feet shall stand upon the mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem," when "the Lord shall be King over all the earth . . . and His name one," "in that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses--holiness unto the Lord; and the pots in the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be--holiness unto the Lord of hosts--and all those who sacrifice shall come and take of them, and cook in them--and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts." Then will the prayer--for centuries the burden of the Church--be fulfilled, and in the new earth and the new heaven, in which righteousness supremely reigns, God's will shall be done. O my Father, God!
"Let Your will, not mine, be done;
Let my will and Yours be one."
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