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WHILE a greater war is being fought than was ever recorded in history, and no doubt more wanton butchery of human beings than ever existed at one time since men learned to write history of the doings of nations, I am led to think more seriously than ever of the great Sovereign of the skies, seas and all deep places. I ask myself, Is God, the Father of the Lord Jesus, at the helm? If he is there, and, as it were, directing every bomb-shell, is it by his permissive decree or otherwise? As men view the power behind men and nations in their wicked acts, they call the power the permission of God. Even taking this view of God’s power, shall we say that God has a permissive will as well as a will of decree? In the light of Scripture how dare we say that God has two wills? It seems that some men attempt to make apology for the Lord in allowing the wicked to act out the villainy that exists in their hearts. God is of one mind, and none can turn him; he is the same yesterday, to-day and forever. Why will men persist in saying that God has two wills? It is certainly inconsistent with Scripture teaching for men to view the supreme Ruler through darkness. If we believe that he declared the end from the beginning, and that he declared from ancient times the things not yet done, saying that his counsel shall stand, and that he will do all his pleasure, why will we say that war, one of the great scourges of the human race, is only by God’s permission, as though the time of its occurrence and its appointment were not before known by him? How can any great event like war, or any small event like the killing of a gnat, escape the power or the decree of the supreme Ruler of all worlds? If there be the slightest possibility of one solitary event which fills the measure of all things being overlooked or neglected by Jehovah, then he would cease to possess eternal wisdom. That the true God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, possesses eternal wisdom, we must admit, or be unbelievers in the Son of God. If some brethren use the word “absolute” in connection with God’s predestination to make their views more emphatic, positive and far-reaching, must we tell those brethren that their choice of the Word “absolute” is offensive, and that it leads brethren to charge God with folly? In giving our views of Scripture we ought to be free to make choice of such words that best convey our thoughts. Solomon, to whom God gave wisdom lavishly, studied out words that would best express that wisdom. In our efforts to simplify the teaching of the Scriptures it is presumable that we must use modern words to best express our thoughts about certain passages of Scripture, or certain points of doctrine established by the reading of many portions of the word of inspiration. With or without the use of the word “absolute” we do not change the very simple language of the Wise man in Proverbs xvi. 4: “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” This is not an interrogation, as though the wise man was in doubt, but is a positive declaration. Criticise this saying as we may, we cannot destroy its meaning. Point out the main thing expressed in it and we magnify the great power of God. The force of this verse seems to be the last part of it, for after saying that the Lord hath made all things for himself, the colon preceding the last clause of the sentence seems to point out the important knowledge which to men is hard to be understood: “Yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” To the minds of men that are supposed to be trained to all acts of kindness, and possessing a forgiving spirit towards their enemies, the literal meaning of this Scripture is obnoxious. On the ground of human reason they cannot receive the word of inspiration that God hath made the wicked for the day of evil. To-day, this year, the lesson stands before all civilized nations of the earth. Is not this the day of evil! When human blood flows as streams in the wilderness, is not that day the day of evil? That men infused with the spirit of Satan work out the purpose of God, cannot be overthrown by any arguments that can be produced, for the wrath of man shall praise God, the remainder of wrath he will restrain. Just so much wrath shall be produced by the power of men as is needed, and no more. Man’s wrath is limited. We may question God’s right in controlling men as we do about many other things, but it is plainly evident that what God does is right, because God does it. No sovereign unlike Jehovah can ever satisfy a poor, helpless sinner; his helplessness appeals to the mercy of a God who does as he pleases, and who is fully able to do as he pleases. He knows the destiny of all men, so that no decree shall ever fail. All the ways that men take have bulwarks of hedges on either side, and none can pass over the bounds which Jehovah has set. To many people a God of so much power is a tyrant, and bitter hatred swells their hearts against a God of all power. He is offensive to their tastes, through their fear in trusting a God of power; they cannot be reconciled with the hope of mercy through a God of all power. Those opposers of truth would much rather claim that man has more power than God in the saving of sinners. This is evidenced wherever antichrist is set up. A stereotyped saying has gone the rounds for years to my certain knowledge: “The Lord will save you now if you will just let him.” Their view of God is that man has power over God to let him do certain things. How horrible the thought to every quickened sinner!

I inclose a money order to pay on my subscription to the SIGNS. I desire that the circulation of the SIGNS might be extended among the old order of Baptists, but it does not seem that there is any prospect of getting permanent readers in this part of the State. I have hundreds, maybe thousands, of old copies of the SIGNS; most of them are well preserved, and I have been thinking about disposing of a great many of them, so that they will be useful, instructive and comforting to many of the Lord’s people who are isolated from places where the name of the Savior of sinners is preached. These saints of God whose minds are “cast down” no doubt are the same as those the prophet spoke about in Zeph. iii. 12: “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.” To get some of these old copies into the hands of these dear saints it will require but a small amount in postage, and perhaps introduce the SIGNS into neighborhoods where it is known only through hearsay, and that kind of a report is often misrepresentative. I now have in my mind a precious sister who cordially indorses the strong and comforting doctrine advocated through the SIGNS, but who never read the paper, and maybe never has seen a copy. My mind was called to something like this last October while attending an association of Old School Predestinarian Baptists in eastern Texas. At the close of the first day’s meeting. Elder V. R. Harris, of Fordyce, Ark., called the attention of the congregation to the fact that he had in his hands ready for free distribution a number of old copies of the SIGNS, at the same time stating that he thought it to be the oldest and best paper found among Primitive Baptists, and urging all the brethren who were able, to be subscribers. He also consistently stated that where he had stowed away many copies the mice were destroying them, and it occurred to him that he would take them to associations and meetings and distribute them among brethren who are not subscribers. As the old copies are always “new,” because they set forth the truth as it is in Jesus, they supply the tables of the saints in the wilderness with feasts of fat things, the best wine, for it is wine on the lees, and that well refined. Old wine comes off the “lees,” or settlings, which is the very best wine, such as Jesus made at the feast. Modern reformers lately said: Shame, that Jesus would make the vile stuff at the feast in Cana!

In hope of immortality,

Signs of the Times
Volume 83, No. 2
January 15, 1915