"The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the multitude of isles be glad thereof Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne."
"When overwhelmed with grief,
My heart within me dies,
Helpless, and far from all relief,
To heaven I lift mine eyes.
O! lead me to the Rock
That's high above my head;
And make the covert of thy wings,
My shelter and my shade."
Despairing as we must of finding substantial joys or lasting happiness on earth, it is consoling to those who know and love the Lord, when they can turn aside from the perplexing cares and distracting turmoil of earth, and in peaceful seclusion from noise and strife, by faith look up to him who has entered for us within the veil, and contemplate the eternal perfections of our Savior God, who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, whose dwelling is also in the humble and contrite hearts of those who fear his name. While strife and bitter hate marks and mars the character of men, the ruthless wars are drenching the earth with rivers of human gore, while brother in fratricidal strife seeks the life-blood of his brother, and while the general clammer of kindred and relatives tax all their energies to darken the dreadful scene around us; what would become of us, if there were no over-ruling hand to curb the deadly violence, and bid the maddening tempest cease to howl?
Often when sweet peace has smiled upon us, and all things have seemed to contribute to our comfort, have we looked forward to the grand and terrible scene, which will assuredly come, when the earth and skies shall pass away - when the sun in the heavens shall be put out and cease to shine, and when death and hell shall deliver up their dead - and in the contemplation, we have felt convinced that there is nothing short of the blessed assurance that the great and glorious God, at whose bidding the uprising nations of the dead shall come forth, who is our Father and our God, could possibly allay the terror of the contemplation.
Having hope in God, which is sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that which is within the veil; - a hope so full of immortality that we can contemplate with joy the corning of the great day, when our God shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know him not, and to be admired in all who love his appearing, can we not, by the same faith in God, meet the cheerless conflicts of this mortal state, and even amid the dread confusion of war, and the clash of arms, the booming of cannon, and the death-cry of the slaughtered victims of the battlefield, be still and know that Jehovah is God. There are times when the faith of God's people is severely tried, in regard to his supreme control of all events - when the turbulent passions of men seem unrestrained - when the wicked rise and spread themselves like the green bay tree; - when God's holy name is blasphemed, his law transgressed, his truth opposed and derided, his people persecuted, and when the ways of Zion mourn, and doubting, we enquire:
"Is there a God who hears and sees
The things below the skies?"
But with the Psalmist we are at length constrained to acknowledge. "This is my infirmity." Our infirmity and imperfections conceal from us his hand in turning and overturning, and causing the wrath of man to praise him, and in restraining their wrath to such limits as he has wisely appointed. Truly God is his own interpreter, and until he makes known to us his boundless wisdom and power, his ways are past finding out. But still, although our unbelief so often assaults our faith, there is a fixed conviction in our minds, that the Lord God omnipotent doth reign, and this conviction affords us consolation.
The Lord reigneth. Having all wisdom to direct and all power to accomplish, his government is absolute and sovereign, he worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. No higher law can possibly exist in heaven or earth than the will of God. It cannot be improved, for it is perfect and holy in all respects, and all the saints on earth and glorified spirits in heaven pray, "Thy will be done." Not because they doubt that it will be done, but because God's own spirit helpeth our infirmities, and knoweth what is the will of God, and therefore maketh intercession for us, according to his will, with groanings that we cannot utter. That will, though higher than the heavens, and broader than eternity, perfectly comprehends the smallest, as it does the greatest objects that exist. From the vaulted heavens to the deepest earth, and from the mightiest angels to the minutest insect, it directs the destiny of all. The sparrow in its flight - and the numbered hairs upon our heads are all secured in being and in destiny by the will of God. In the execution of his will, the Lord reigneth. Not as some impiously represent, that he attempts to reign, or wants to reign. But with irresistible power and might his purpose stands and he does all his pleasure. He speaks the word, and it stands fast; he commands, and it is done. He is of one mind and none can turn him.
"He looks and ten thousand of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word;
He speaks - and eternity filled with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of her Lord."
When we contemplate the infinite and eternal perfections of Jehovah, contrasted with the highest attributes or attainments of mortals, to bear the government; we have the greatest reason to reiterate the language of the inspired Psalmist, "Let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof." Let them rejoice that the absolute government of events are not left with finite beings. All their powers are limited, and under the providential government of God himself. His prescience can clearly foresee all the events that time can possibly develop, and his wisdom is sufficient to provide for all emergencies. He is capable of holding the end of all things with the beginning. No lapse of ages, or intervening contingencies can becloud his omniscient vision, or hide the smallest particle of creation, or the most trivial circumstance from his view. Possessing all knowledge, all wisdom, and all goodness, how important that he should govern and control all things.
"Chain'd to his throne a volume lies,
With all the fates of men;
With every angel's size and form,
Drawn by the eternal pen.
His Providence unfolds the Book,
And makes his counsel known;
Each opening leaf, and every stroke,
Fulfills some deep design."
We are filled with amazement while we trace his government in nature. The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament his handy work. The regularity in which each heavenly body moves is in obedience to his decrees. Seed time and harvest, winters and summers, days and nights, respond with the most exact precision to the orders of his throne. And can we doubt that in the history of mankind - their rise and fall - their present and future destiny - are bounded by his all-wise decree? We can no more doubt his providential supervision of all the affairs of men and angels, than we can doubt his very existence. And we know that he exists, because we exist; and we could have no existence if he did not exist. And it is equally clear that he reigns, as it is that he exists; for no power inferior to that which created the universe could possibly sustain it one moment, and in this also we have cause for joy and gratitude.
Early as the entrance of sin, and the fall of man, was a Savior promised - and how could a promise be made, requiring four thousand of years for its fulfillment, with any degree of certainty, if he who made the promise had not a full control of all the events which were necessary for its fulfillment? Or how could he "Declare the end from the beginning, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure," if he did not hold the reigns of universal government in his own almighty grasp?
But while we are constrained to confess the power and absolute government of God - we have also to acknowledge our utter inability to comprehend his universal government. His footsteps are in the mighty deep; and his ways are past finding out. High as the heavens are raised above the earth, so are God's ways and thoughts higher than the ways and thoughts of men - for
"Clouds and darkness are round about him."
Our vision is too weak and feeble to gaze upon the unveiled glory of the eternal God. Look we, which way we may, the impenetrable cloud conceals the dazzling splendor of his glory; or we should be consumed. He keepeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it. Before, behind, on his right hand and on his left, the intervening cloud conceals from human sight the insufferable splendor of his eternal throne. O, where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Yet, notwithstanding the impenetrable darkness which hides his person and his government from human scrutiny, the faith of the Son of God, implanted in his quickened saints, is permitted to view the bow which God has, by his spirit, disclosed upon that cloud. And the darker the cloud appears to our natural vision, the brighter does the bow present its living beauties to our faith, giving us the most joyful assurance that "Righteousness and Judgment are the habitation of his throne."
The depravity of our nature inclines us to question the righteousness of the divine government, because from our eyes the cloud conceals the wisdom, majesty and holiness of God. But while the infidelity of our fallen nature doubts and disputes the righteousness of divine government; and we murmur, complain, find fault, and rebel; the assurance is unmistakably given that righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. His throne signifies his power and dominion, and that power and dominion is founded in righteousness and judgment, and therefore can never depart from the immutable principles of righteousness, however dark and mysterious his government may seem to our reason. Sometimes we are subjected to trials which seem to us to bear no impress of the judgment, or decree of God, and we are perhaps. inclined to attribute them to chance, or to some cause over which the throne of God bears no control; but however wrongly we may judge, all that concerns us for time or eternity must be controlled by the righteousness and judgment in which the eternal throne of God is founded.
When smiling mercy bestrews our pathway with every desirable blessing, the throne from which our mercies proceed is to our eyes involved in darkness, and we enquire, "How can God bestow such mercies upon us consistently with his eternal perfections, when we are so very sinful, ungrateful, and undeserving? Again when he recalls these mercies, our gourds are blasted, our comforts dashed, our dearest treasures torn from our fond embrace, the darkness of his cloud hides from our view the gracious hand of our kind and covenant God, and again we cry out in amazement: Lord why is this
"Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his works in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain."
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N.Y, October 1, 1861.