Dear Brother Beebe: – I have had some thoughts upon the way of God to bless His people in their temporal travel, a way hidden from carnal reason, but revealed unto strangers and pilgrims who are seeking a “city to come.”
The way of faith is a way of trial, a way wherein we are continually taught to look unto God, and to lean upon His strong arm. “They go from strength to strength; every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.”
In this travel we are continually taught the truth of Paul’s language to the Romans, “How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.” – Romans xi. 33. I have felt like offering some thoughts upon these words. The inspired apostle seems to be filled with holy rapture in contemplating the unfathomable “depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” I think that we often have a similar experience. When our eyes are opened to behold the wonder of His ways, the great mystery of salvation by His free and sovereign grace, the dark travel of faith, involuntarily we exclaim with Paul, “O the depth of the riches!” And from that unfathomable fountain, that eternal and boundless ocean, “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God,” flow those “unsearchable judgments,” those “ways past finding out,” through and over which the saints are led in their mortal travel, until faith gives way to endless sight, and hope dies in glad fruition.
“How unsearchable are His judgments.” “Thy judgments,” says the psalmist, “are a great deep, O Lord.” Who can fathom that which is unsearchable? And yet poor, blind and ignorant as we are, we are often found summoning all of our powers, and by the light of carnal reason endeavoring to look into the deep, inscrutable judgments, to search out the mysterious purposes of God. But at the rebuke of His power we shrink back in terror from the attempt, for these things are too deep indeed for finite worms to scan. Yet in that great, unfathomable depth everywhere abounds the wisdom and knowledge of Him who looks into the secret thoughts and intents of our hearts, takes cognizance of our every step, numbers the hairs of our heads, watches the falling sparrow, and controls the unnumbered events continually transpiring through time and space, doing “according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.”
In this knowledge with heavenly comfort we rest, knowing that the hand of the omnipotent God is over all, in all, and through all; “For of Him, and through, and to Him are all things,” though to us are “His ways past finding out.” His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways His ways. “For,” He declares, “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Yet in our folly and ignorance so often do we strenuously desire the accomplishment of our own selfish designs and purposes, and to be led after our thoughts and in our own ways, not knowing that the end thereof is destruction, and that they lead to the chambers of death. In these “ways of God” carnal reason is abased, the creature brought low, and God exalted as the Sovereign of His universe; the enemies of the truth are discomfited, the wrath of man is made to praise God, and the working of devils overruled to His glory and to the good of His people. The ways of God lead through distress, tribulation and trial, and from time to time upon the delectable mountains of the Christian’s mortal journey. They lead us where men shall separate us from their company for the truth’s sake, say all manner of evil against us falsely, persecute us with horrid tortures unto prison and unto death. But in this crucible of trial the Lord gives comfort, communes with His people sweetly by the way, gives them strength to rest in the words which He has spoken, confiding with sweet assurance in evidences of their acceptance in Him, of His paternal care over them, and in the promises treasured up in His Son, brought to view in the written word, and revealed in their experiences. And through the trials and persecutions of the way, they lead us on in holy triumph through the gates of the heavenly city to the crown of righteousness, which fadeth not away. When the Lord unfolds His mysterious purposes in our experience, and leads us to some knowledge of His dealings with His people in the past, we are led to exclaim with Job, “Lo, these are parts of His ways; but how little a portion is heard of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”
In the ways of God, places of severe trial become places of great joy, darkness gives way to light, and the desert is filled with refreshing streams of the water of life. The stones under the head of Jacob are set up for a pillar, and through the work of God he is made to exclaim, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” The captivity of Joseph is blessed to the good of Israel, the way of salvation to Israel becomes a way of death to Pharaoh; and from patriarchs to prophets, and from prophets to apostles, and from their day down to and in ours, wherever the people of God have been or are found under the broad canopy of heaven, they are living witnesses to the truth of these things. God is sovereign, purposed all things, directs all things, and brings to fulfillment His gracious design for His blessed children. And may this truth cheer us in our mortal travel to realms of unclouded bliss. O for a holy reliance upon God at all times, a calm and tranquil frame, a light to shine upon the way that leads to endless rest.
Yours in gospel fellowship,
William M. Smoot,
January 25, 1877.