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savannah
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Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 2010


 Errors Respecting the Providence of God






Luke 13:1-5

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.…

It is probably in part the cause, and partly the effect, of the idea of gloom and sadness that we are far too apt to associate with religion, that we regard God so much as if He were only the sender of evil and not of good, as if He indeed sent the dark cloud that occasionally casts its shadow across our path, but had no concern with the bright and gladsome sunshine that habitually enlivens it. Judge for yourselves. Suppose that some being that knew nothing of God were to become an inmate of one of our dwellings, and were to derive all his knowledge of Him from our conversation, is not the probability that he would first and oftenest hear His name mentioned in connection with some calamity, and that he would form the idea that we regarded Him as some mysterious power who had to do only with sickness, and death, and funerals? Now, it is doubtless well that we should recognize the hand of God in the evils that befal us; and a most blessed thing it is that we can resort to Him in the day of sore distress, when our hearts are ready to sink within us, and we feel that all others than He are miserable comforters; but surely it is not well that we should shut Him out from our thoughts when all goes well with us. We treat God very much as an unkind husband treats his wife, giving her the blame of all that goes amiss in the domestic affairs, forgetting that it is to her prudence and good management that he is indebted for innumerable and often unthought of comforts. Another misconception into which we habitually fall respecting the Divine Providence is to think of it as only having to do with the great and striking events of our lives, and not with the daily and hourly occurrences, which are individually small and scarcely thought of, but which, in the aggregate, make up very nearly the whole of our lives. It may have happened to some of us to be delivered from great and imminent danger, in circumstances in which it was almost impossible to avoid recognizing the finger of God; and it is well if we have felt due gratitude for such a deliverance. But if we viewed the matter aright, ought we Hot constantly to be filled with gratitude to Him for keeping us from falling into danger? Is the continuance of health not as great and as special a blessing as the recovery from sickness? When some harrowing calamity occurs in our neighbourhood, we feel that those who have been in the midst of it, and who have escaped unscathed, have a laud call addressed to them for thankfulness and praise; but does it ever occur to us, that if there be any difference, the call is still louder to us for gratitude, because we have been kept out of the danger itself? Depend upon it, that for one great event in our lives in which we see the hand of God's providence visibly at work, there are ten thousand small events in which it is not less really, though less manifestly, at work. It was a received maxim amongst a particular sect of the old heathen philosophers, that Jupiter had no leisure to attend to small affairs; but it is our blessed privilege to know regarding Jehovah, that, whilst He counts the number of the stars, and calls them all by their names, He superintends the fall of every raindrop, and directs the course of every sun-ray, and clothes the lilies of the field with glory, and feeds the young ravens when they cry to Him; that, whilst He rules over the destinies of states and empires, He watches over the flight of every sparrow, and numbers the very hairs on the heads of His people.

T. Smith

 2017/9/10 7:02Profile
savannah
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Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 2010


 Re: Teachings from Tragedies




Teachings from Tragedies

Luke 13:1-5

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.…

We shall miss the very point of Christ's teaching if we suppose that he meant to lessen our sense of the inseparable connection between sin and punishment. What, then, did He mean? He meant this: That every personal visitation, whether by violence or by accident, is not to be regarded as a retribution for a personal sin; that we are too short-sighted to judge, and that we are too sin-stricken ourselves to overlook, in our condemnation of others, our own need of repentance. The main purpose of such startling events is to arouse individuals and society at large to a recognition and to a repentance of their own sins. He appears to me to have opposed on the one hand the levity of those who ignore the connection between natural and moral evil: and, on the other hand, He rebuked the narrowness of those who connected individual sorrows befalling others with individual sins. In all ages and in all lands this hydro-headed fallacy has asserted its power. The ordeal in mediaeval times was based on it (the noble having the ordeal of fire and the bondman the ordeal of water), and the "wage of battle" has not yet lost its hold on the nations, and even Christians regard war as a decisive appeal to the Lord of hosts, to show on which side right lies, though history abundantly shows that often might has won and right has lost. This is the principle on which people have constantly based their judgments, and do so still, though in different form. If you clamber the hills at the back of Penmaenmaur you will see the stones which are said by the people to be quiet players, who were petrified by the judgment of God for playing the game on Sunday. You smile at that; but there are multitudes now who, hearing of a disaster on the railway, will call it a judgment if it happens on Sunday, an accident if it happens on Monday.

I. THINK OF THE FOLLY OF THIS SHORT-SIGHTED JUDGMENT.

1. It presupposes that this is the world of punishment, whereas Scripture and experience alike testify that it is the world of probation.

2. The folly of these hasty judgments of ours also appears from their constant contradiction by unmistakable facts. It was of the wicked, not of the righteous, that the Psalmist said: "They are not plagued as other men." Indeed, we should lose faith in a righteous God altogether if this world were the only stage on which His purposes are worked out. There is a good story told of John Milton which will illustrate this point, though-I do not vouch for its accuracy. It is said that when the great poet was living in Bunhill-fields, forsaken and blind, old and poor, one of the despicable sons of Charles I. paid him a visit, and said: "Do you not see, Mr. Milton, that your blindness is a judgment of God for the part you took against my father, King Charles." "Nay," said the poet of the Commonwealth, "If I have lost my sight through God's judgment, what can you say of your father, who lost his head?" Well, that is a fair example of the confusions and contradictions which arise from endeavours to interpret, by our short-sighted notions, the far-reaching purposes of God.

3. And what will be the result if men are taught to look for Divine decisions now, before the appointed revelation of the righteous judgment of God? Why this. that wicked men will be emboldened in wickedness so long as they seem to escape all rebuke and disaster — and they often do. They are profligate, but not punished: prayerless, yet crowned with blessings; dishonest, yet succeed all the better in their ventures; cruel and hard, yet make money faster because they are so; and soon they will call darkness light and light darkness; and will go on recklessly, amid the sunshine of prosperity, to a hell they do not believe in! Well might our Lord rebuke the hasty judgments of men on account of their folly.

II. But, apart from its folly, THERE IS SIN IN THIS HABIT TOO OFTEN, IF NOT ALWAYS.

1. It leads even religious people to a kind of untruthfulness which the King of truth always and everywhere condemns. They cannot help seeing the contradictions and anomalies I have alluded to, and they naturally shut their eyes to those which do not fit in with their theory. If, for example, helpless people are crushed in a theatre, it is a "judgment," but if in a church, it is an "accident." If an evil happens to themselves, it is a "trial"; but if it comes to another, it is a "warning." But all this is untrue and unreal, and, therefore, it is abhorrent to our Lord. Yes, and it is detected by a sharp-eyed world, which adduces it as a proof of the unreality and unfairness of religious people, and so our testimony for the King of truth is weakened. Jesus meant what He said when He uttered those memorable words: "He that is of the truth heareth My words."

2. Besides, there is often harshness in those judgments of ours on other people. We think and say that they are sinners above all others because they suffer such things. This hard condemnation of others was one of the chief sins of the Pharisees, and it called forth some of the sternest words our Lord ever uttered.

3. I am not sure but what the thought of other people's sins is comforting and pleasant to us; presenting a contrast by which we may throw up into relief our own virtues. And such self-complacency was a third sin Jesus saw in His hearers.

A. Rowland

 2017/9/10 7:12Profile





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