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PROVIDENCE AND GRACE.

( Concluded from page 483.)

The holy oracles connect grace with God, and call him “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” Peter then says, “I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.” Paul calls it, “The grace of God that bringeth salvation.” Salvation embraces lost sinners, and they are saved from their sins. The angel said of Jesus, “he shall save his people from their sins.” This is absolute: “He shall save.” In what way? “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Grace is united to the reigning Christ, then, and he to the God of grace and providence. This is the glory of grace, therefore, and thus it is saving grace, and glorious grace, for the God of salvation and glory is its Author and Source, and by his all-conquering and righteous Son grace reigns. So there is neither weakness nor failure in the grace of God. “By grace are ye saved.”

Having seen that this royal princess that reigns unto eternal life is the free gift of the Holy God, unmerited and unbought, and that the King who reigns in righteousness supports grace by his victory over sin and death and the devil, and by his power over all flesh, we may join with Paul in his full ‘assurance of faith and say, “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” And so not only does grace reign through righteousness unto and over all her favored subjects, but they shall also through the abundance of grace and righteousness reign in life eternal, by her and their Lord of glory. For although sin abounded in and over the people of grace, even unto death, and this monster had shut them up in his boasting prison-house, yet so invincible and mighty is grace that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Yea, so much more that grace saves her people from sin and death and the grave, unto righteousness and life and immortality. This is grace, and this her power and success and glory. Grace, then, is synonomous with salvation and holiness and eternal life. Yea, grace is in everlasting union with God and Jesus and heaven. We do not wonder, therefore, that the inspired ministers of grace uniformly addressed their brethren in grace with the benediction: “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Neither do we feel any amazement that the victorious Christ, by whom grace reigns, assured and comforted his persecuted and buffeted servant with, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Nor are we surprised that Paul, who, as a faithful servant of Christ, said, “By the grace of God I am what I am,” when writing to all the saints and faithful in Christ, and speaking of the holy purpose of God, in the blessing and choice and predestination of his people, “according to the good pleasure of his will,” should proclaim that all this salvation unto holiness is that the saved should be “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” That we should be thus in all the way of salvation, from its beginning in us to its consummation in eternal glory. Hence, says Paul, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Then it shall be perfectly performed, and the saved by grace shall “be holy and without blame before God in love.” In all this good work and way of full salvation much more abounding grace reigns, and reigns through righteousness. This is ordered and sure, for the Lord hath spoken it. This is our great need, but more we do not need, and cannot receive. All the divine record concerning the salvation of sinners is summed up, therefore, in the one confession, “Salvation is of the Lord.” And the way of it is, “The grace of God bringeth salvation.” “For by grace are ye saved.” This salvation is being manifested now, hero in time, and it is the Lord’s begun good work in us, by his much more abounding and reigning grace, but its fullness shall be on heaven’s side of the grave, when all the saved by grace shall joyfully say, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “And he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace, unto it.” “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Now, forasmuch as the God of reigning grace supremely rules in providence, so that all worlds are subject to his almighty power and control, his providence and his grace are harmonious and concurrent in the accomplishment of his counsel, “according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” Therefore to his people he says, “Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; oven every one that is called by ray name; for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. * * * Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; which bringeth forth the chariot and the horse, the army and the power; They shall lie down together, they shall not rise; they are extinct, they are quenched as tow. * * * I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honor me, and dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.” Thus does the Lord declare his wondrous providence in ruling the nations, his power over the whole earth, and the conquests of his irresistible grace, in gathering together his people in Christ, and saving them out of all countries. “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; that frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; that confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof.” Providence supreme controlled in all those wonderful and mighty events; and so it does in God’s limitless universe; and parallel with his providence runs the mercy of God to all the ends of the earth, so that his providence is made subservient to his grace in all times and places, and unto all the peoples of the earth, whom he hath from the beginning chosen unto salvation. So the Lord’s arm of supreme power rules for him in providence, as in grace. Knowing this, Paul wrote these wonderful words of faith: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He knew this by revelation of the truth in the oracles of God, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” and who “doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” So true is this, the Son of God said of the little birds of the air, “Not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father.” This is the providence of God. Providence is universal then, and there is nothing outside of it, for God is omnipresent, is everywhere, and he is the God of providence in all places. Providence does not oppose grace, therefore, but goes hand in hand with it, and both grace and providence work together in the salvation of his people and for their good. If it were not so, then many things in providence, or rather beyond the control of providence, might perchance arise to hinder or obstruct or defeat the purpose of God in his grace, so that there might be disappointment or frustration or woeful failure in the reign of grace, and in the counsel and purpose and will and wish of the God of grace and salvation. But we rejoice that there is no such thing as frustration or defeat or want with the God of providence and grace, who speaks, and it is done, commands, and its stands fast, and who says, “I will do all my pleasure.”

In the manifestation and application of God’s providence in grace, and grace in providence, many instructive and remarkable instances are given in the Bible, a few of which let us notice. First, follow Abraham and his sons Isaac and Jacob and his family, in all their history, from Ur to Canaan, from Canaan to Egypt, and from Egypt up into Canaan again. Note all the mighty events in all this history, the righteous judgments of God upon the Egyptians, the nations of the wilderness, and the seven nations of Canaan; the consequent calamitous wars, until the youthful David, “a man after God’s own heart,” reigned upon the throne of Israel; then behold the wonderful wisdom and power, mercy and grace and love of God through it all, to the people whom he had formed for himself, that they should show forth his praise and glorify the God of their salvation, and with silent awe we must say, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Next, single out the persecuted little Joseph, the loved of his father, and trace him from his father’s bosom, on and on, till the son again wept in the father’s arms down in Egypt; then recount all the overflowing goodness and surpassing compassion of God as the outcome of all the long trial and afflictions of blessed Joseph, and, with David, we shall feelingly say, “The wrath of man shall praise thee, O Lord; and the remainder of wrath thou shalt restrain.” Again, from the son Joseph follow on to the Son Jesus, who was born in the city of David, where Jacob buried Rachel, the beloved mother of Prince Joseph, near where a multitude of the heavenly host sang praises to God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men;” and consider all the intervening providence of God in his dealings with the Hebrew nation and the nations about them, from Joseph to Jesus, and from the birth of Jesus to his death ou the cross, and from his resurrection to his ascension from Olivet to the right hand of his Father in glory; mark the mighty events which were inseparably connected in the providence of God through many centuries with all this most glorious redemption and salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, then you will not say that the grace of God that bringeth salvation is not interwoven with his providence, neither that the providence of God does not embrace and control all events in the universe. You will not unless you dispute the Bible history, and object to the boundless dominion of the supreme Being, “who is God over all and blessed for evermore.”

The people of God’s grace are everywhere, in all nations, tongues, peoples, kindreds and families; for he said to Abraham that in him and his seed should all the families of the earth be blessed, therefore some of the Lord’s people are either directly or indirectly connected with all the events of time, and affected by all that transpires in the world; but wherever they are, there God is, and his hand of providence is over them. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being,” and his chosen are kept by his power. Behold the uniting lines of providence and grace in the Lord sending Jonah to Nineveh, and sparing that great city; also, in the sifting and conversion of Peter; also, in the Lord sending him to the house of the Gentile Cornelius; also, in his sending Philip away to the south, just at the moment to meet the returning Ethiopian, to whom he preached Jesus. For the Lord had said that Ethiopia also should stretch out her hands to him. The history of God’s people in the Bible abounds with such memorial cases, plainly showing the shaping and controlling of their lives by many combining events in his wonderful providence, which providential links unite with his grace in its glorious reign in their salvation, and in forming his people for his praise. Thus the Lord’s dominion and power is manifest in both his providence and grace in his glorious work of their salvation.

Turn now to your own lives, dear brethren, and you can but set up all along the way, here and there, an Ebenezer of praise to the God of your being, because his mercy and grace have been so richly bestowed upon you in his guiding and protecting providence through which he has held you up in your pilgrimage, so that you have not perished in your afflictions, but his mercy has held you up and his grace has been sufficient for you. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” O why should we want to limit the holy and blessed God, or deny his dominion and omnipotent control and infinitely wise purpose, either in his limitless providence or reigning grace? Do we fear that he will blunder and make mistakes if we ascribe to him universal and absolute sovereignty? Are we wiser and holier than the Holy Father Almighty? Reverend and holy is his name. Let us reverence and adore him.

D. BARTLEY.
Crawfordsville, Ind.

Signs Of The Times
Volume 68, No. 17
SEPTEMBER 1, 1900.