PROVIDENCE AND GRACE.

My Beloved Brethren: – Our God is the God of Providence, as he is the God of grace. His revealed word of truth in the Bible abundantly shows this, and it is also fully confirmed and clearly seen in his works of creation. For in all the universe of created existence and being infinite intelligence presides and omnipotent power controls, subjecting all to decreed orbits and limits, and directing all to ordained ends – the glory of the Creator. Were it not so, then God should be defeated, disappointed and frustrated in his infinite design and eternal purpose in his handiworks in the universe. But this cannot be. “The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” – Psalm xix. 1-4. God possessed this infinite knowledge from everlasting, before night unto night sheweth it, and his eternal power and Godhead are coequal with his unlimited knowledge and support it; so that he hath ordained the day and the night, fixed all revolving globes in their orbits, gave the sea its decree, appointed the seasons of the year, “set a tabernacle for the sun,” rules the stormy wind and tempest; “He directeth it [the noise of his voice] under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth;” “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he 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!” Let us read Elihu’s answer to. Job, and be instructed. “All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” All this divine truth shows the greatness and majesty, power and wisdom and glory of the God of providence, as the supreme Ruler of all worlds and creatures and things. It denies and excludes chance from the universe, and proves the universal control and dominion of the Almighty. With God there is neither accident nor chance. To say there is, denies his infinite foreknowledge and universal providence, and therefore limits him in both his wisdom and dominion. If chance obtains, providence ceases; both cannot exist. The primary definition of the noun providence in the Standard Dictionary is: “The care, control and guidance exercised by the supreme Being over the universe in all its parts and contents. In its widest sense providence includes (1) foreknowledge, (2) foreordination, and (3) efficacious administration, including preservation and continued government, the last element being all that in ordinary usage is thought of, as, ‘God’s providence in mine inheritance.’ Providence literally means foresight, and then a careful arrangement prepared beforehand for the accomplishment of predetermined ends.” In proof of this the Bible says, “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. * * * For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited; I am the Lord, and there is none else.” “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” This positively affirms the universal dominion of God’s providence, and shows that not anything can ever arise by blind chance, or exist beyond or outside of his unbounded providence.

In his Church History, pages (552-3), Elder Hassell says, “As for anything occurring ‘by chance,’ or without a cause, no human being can possibly believe such a thing, even if his very life depended upon it; for the human mind is so constituted by the Creator as to necessarily believe that every event has a cause; and the use of the expression by chance,’ simply means that the cause is unknown to the speaker or writer, and not at all that there is no cause. The belief in universal causation is a primitive and fundamental intuition of the human mind. All secondary causes point the thoughtful mind inevitably to the Great First Cause, Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, and to his eternal, sovereign will, either efficient or permissive, in accordance with which all events occur.” He then quotes from Elder J. K. Respess, who said, “There is one thing we all know, and that is, that nothing has happened or can happen by chance, and that smacks so much of decree that it shuts my mouth.” On page 655 he quotes from Elder W. M. Mitchell, who said, “Predestination enters into every rational act of every intelligent creature, and puts them to work to carry out their predestinating plans, and it enters into every act of God, the great Fountain of intelligence. It's works in nature, providence and grace, are but the development and manifestation of his predestination.” On page 652 are these true remarks: “Much of the language of the inspired writers was designed to comfort and sustain the spirit of God’s people in the midst of the greatest trials, by teaching them that all events are perfectly foreseen by God, and, in a sense, predetermined by him, and will be overruled for good to his afflicted ones. His absolute and universal dominion was constantly present to the minds of the children of God in ancient days. Its effect upon the mind was solemn and impressive, and never suggested the faintest presumption of injustice in God, even when the acts that were sinful in his creatures were traced in another sense to his holy and awful will. The Scripture, accordingly, never hesitates for a moment to ascribe absolute holiness to God, and all the guilt of every sinful act to the sinner.” And just as much is the same truth of the Scriptures “designed to comfort and sustain the spirit of God’s people in the midst of the greatest trials “now, as well as then, and they still need the same “strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” On page 651, Elder Hassell well says, “While God does not incite sinful thoughts in any heart, he is perfectly able to bend and control every sin to the furtherance of his own glory and his people’s good. His knowledge and purpose and power include all events, so that his children may, in one sense, see him in all things, and rejoice that he will make all things work together for their good.” This assurance is certainly a great stay and comfort to me now in the present trial of faith. The poets wrote truly when they declared that,

“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.”

“Great God of Providence! thy ways
Are hid from mortal sight;
Wrapt in impenetrable shades,
Or cloth’d with dazzling light.”

God is revealed and known in his grace, and his power and glory declared, even more majestically and blessedly than in his all-wise and almighty providence. For in the manifestation of his sovereign grace, God is shown to be “rich in mercy,” no less than omnipotent in power. The grace and mercy of God, who is blessed for evermore, make known his infinite goodness. His inspired oracles abundantly testify that “The Lord is good.” They also reveal that he is not only the “God of love and peace,” and that his love is great and everlasting, but that “God is love.” The love of God is perfect, then, and this his essence or nature is perfect or infinite holiness. So inherent and immaculate is the holiness of God that he is not only the “holy One,” the “most holy,” but “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” It is most irreverent and awful, then, when any unholy creature will presumptuously speak of the holy Lord God Almighty as “the author of sin” in any case, or if his controlling purpose and determinate counsel extends to and includes all events. The sinful man who thus presumes, thereby assumes to be more wise and more holy than “the only wise God,” who is immutably holy. God will maintain his own glorious holiness, and he needs no selfwise, sinful creature to sit in judgment against the conduct of his Maker, or lay down a line by which Jehovah should be governed in his providence and grace, neither does he need the apologies of vain and foolish man. His sentence is, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God!” “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” “Be still, and know that I am God.”

(Concluded in next number.)

D. BARTLEY

Signs Of The Times
Volume 68, No. 16.
AUGUST 15, 1900.