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SATANIC AGENCY OVERRULED FOR GOOD.
“ For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the
thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God." --2 Cor. iv. 15. It is an interesting subject of inquiry, and Infinite in the Bible, but He never whether the chastening and the afflic. attempts to explain these attributes, tions which are allowed by God to befall and always uses finite and intelligible His children are to be considered as the language when He addresses, either in direct acts of God Himself, or the result warning or exhortation, His finite creaof satanic agency permitted and con- tures. He has revealed sufficient to trolled by Him. The latter opinion is the satisfy and guide His children of such one that I have arrived at, after prayerful limited capacity, and commanded all, consideration. It has proved a source whether within or beyond our capacity of much consolation to me, though at of understanding, to be received by first sight it might appear calculated faith. Blessed faith! gift of God! what to produce the opposite effect. It is one wretched and impotent creatures should of those points which is not directly we be without it, but what blessedness communicated to us in the Bible, and, and power do we gain by it! We know therefore, like all mere inferences, how- that “the secret things belong unto the ever strong the argument may appear to Lord our God: but those things which our minds upon which they rest, it are revealed belong unto us, and to our should be held the reverse of dogmati- children for ever, that we may do all cally: Certain portions of the Scripture the words of this law.” Everything which mention incidentally the satanic that is incomprehensible, and that has agency seemed to warrant a train of re- not been explained to our finite intelliflection upon the subject, which I have gences, must be classed among
the condensed in the following lines. May secret things,” into which we shall they be blessed, so far as they are in ac- dive in vain. Moses, the favoured man, cordance with the mind of the Spirit, to I was enabled to receive by faith a view some poor afflicted child of God, who of some of those “ secret things ”-of may not have been led to see the matter those thoughts which are not as our in this light before.
thoughts, and those ways which are not The existence of evil, its seeming as our ways; for we read that "He prosperity and almost universal sway, as made known His ways unto Moses, His part of the economy of God's govern- acts unto the children of Israel.” Paul ment in this earth, is a mystery that too was favoured with revelations untransends our human comprehension. utterable and blessed, and has left us We know that it does exist, and that His wonderful experience,“O the depth God's Word has said that it shall exist; of the riches both of the wisdom and but we cannot say how or why it exists. knowledge of God! how unsearchable We read, “ It shall bruise thy head, and are His judgments, and His ways past thou shalt bruise his heel,” but we can- finding out!" not
say how it was that “the prince of God has revealed Himself as a God of the power of the air” was thus allowed love, and the Author of all good to His to stand up and bruise His heel, in order creatures. His language is, “O that that His glory might be manifested in there were such an heart in them that crushing his head with the very heel they would fear me, and keep all my that seemed to have been injured. We commandments always, that it might be read, “Surely the wrath of man shall well with them for ever” (Deut. v. 29; praise thee; the remainder of wrath Psal. lxxxi. 13; Matt. xxiii. 37). All shalt thou restrain ;” but we cannot see suffering and evil on the other hand are why the wrath should have been allowed, the results of sin; and fallen man and or how such wrath can conduce to the the devil are the only authors of the praise of God. We simply believe that latter. The why and the wherefore of it must and does. God never shunned this state of things are among the to declare Himself both as the Absloute "secret things" of God. The fact that
they are so-patent to all-is part of that of bringing glory to God and good to which has been revealed and belongs to man. The fall of man has been overus and to our children. It is the latter ruled, in God's goodness and mercy, to fact that forms the basis of my argų- the carrying out and extension of this ment, from which I think it may fairly blessed purpose. We know that the be inferred, that all suffering consequent afflictions and trials that are necessary, upon sin, which falls justly and righte in God's sovereign wisdom, to prepare ously upon all transgressors, is inflicted each saint for glory subserve again the either by man upon man, by man upon same end. Do we not now see somehimself
, or, more generally, if not univer- thing of the “needs be,” not indeed sally, by Satan himself. For God can of the existence of evil, but of the not be the Author of ill—of chastise- presence and power of Satan? Does ment, whether it arise from bodily suf- not the supposition which makes him fering or mental disquietude. It is true the prompter of temptations and the that He is not only spoken of in Scrip- inflictor of chastisements, satisfactorily ture as a father who pitieth His chil- show that the arch-enemy himself condren, but as one who chastiseth every stitutes a part of the “all things” that son whom He receiveth; as in such pas- work together, and conduce to the glory sages as, “I will visit their offences with of God ? There lurks a wonderful truth a rod;" and again, “Whom the Lord in this mysterious arrangement which loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth discloses the exceeding and wonderevery son whom He receiveth.”. But working power of our God. Suffering we must remember that the Bible is a
comes before glory, and faith must be practical revelation addressed to finite put into the crucible ere it is perfected. comprehensions, many of which are of The old serpent, the devil, might have the most limited capacity. The conse- been bound in chains of darkness when quences of sin would seem more certain first he rebelled. But, no, he is not and terrible when inflicted apparently to be bound till the commencement of by Him who was in reality only their the thousand years, till he has performed director and controller. A comparison the necessary part allotted to him in the of other portions of the Bible will lead purposes of God; and soon after they us to the conclusion that God is some are passed away," he must be loosed a times represented to us as the Author of little season.” How unsearchable are that of which He was but the sovereign His judgments, and His ways past fiudDirector and Authorizer. We read that ing out. Eliphaz said to Job, “ Behold, happy is And should the believer shrink in the man whom God correcteth; there- alarm at this idea of Satan's agency ? fore despise not thou the chastening of Should he not rather rejoice that the the Almighty But upon considering vague and uncertain notions of the Job i. 12, and . 6, 7, we must decide power and enmity of the evil one, so that God did not personally chastize likely to produce anxiety and dread, Job, but only allowed Satan to do so. are thus cleared away, and made to give So in the New Testament, it appears place to the feeling that he is “not ignoevident that those afflicted with devils rant of his devices,” whose power only were vexed directly by Satan; and our exists as long as it furthers the end of blessed Lord Himself said of one poor God's glory! Satan's power is limited woman whom He had healed, that she had and permitted. A clear apprehension of been bound of Satan for eighteen years. the fact that there is a devil, and what
In such reflections the execution of his exact position and power is, will . any sentence decreed by the infinite jus- enable us intelligently to resist him in tice of God is not seen to be at variance order that he may flee from us. with the display of His infinite love. His power is limited. In the case of Far from it; since, speaking after the Job he had no power to take his life. manner of men, they seen rather to Had he even such power formerly, he remove certain apparent difficulties to has it not now; for we read, “ Forasthe harmonious working of these Divine much then as the children were partakattributes. The creation of this earth ers of flesh and blood, He also Himself and of man was for the two-fold purpose I likewise took part of the same; that
through death He might destroy him that the power of Christ may rest upon that bad the power of death, that is the me. Therefore I take pleasure in infir: devil; and deliver them who through mities, in reproaches, in necessities, in fear of death were all their life-time sub- persecutions, in distresses for Christ's ject to bondage.” We know that “the sake : for when I am weak, then am I Son of God was manifested, that He strong" might destroy the works of the devil," Mark, reader, the wonderful process. and greater is He that is in you than The devil roars and tears, and the behe that is in the world.” What canse liever cries to God. He will be inquired What room is there for fear?
for all this by the house of Israel. He Again, his agency is permitted. Is loves to be sought by His people, and not this a sufficient cause for rejoicing? He loves to magnify His name in their Can anything be permitted to reach the salvation, and in answering their petii believer which is not for his good ? He tions. How many saints must confess has been left a legacy of joys and tribu with the psalmist, that before they were lations. In the world ye shall have afflicted they went astray, but that now tribulation," said our Saviour, “but be they have kept His word. Afflictions of good cheer, I have overcome the lead to Jesus, when sanctified by His world.” The child of God would not grace; and when they do this they are have one stroke, or one pang of afflic- but blessings in disguise-part of that tion less than that permitted by his refining process, which must be carried loving Father, for He knows that it will on till the Refiner can see His own face produce a double amount of joy. The clearly reflected in the shining silversecret of his peace and joy is that he is part of that meetening for heaven which, permitted to suffer the will of God. All whether there be grades of glory in that men suffer the will of God, but it is only blessed place or not, will form an abunthe believer who rejoices in the suffer- dant theme of thanksgiving to all etering, because it is His will, and in the nity. How much did Paul value this full conviction that though for the pre- process, is seen in his judging to deliver sent it may seem to be not joyous but one who had been guilty of an unworthy grievous, yet that afterwards it shall deed, and had not repented thereof, into yield" the peaceable fruit of righteous- the hands of Satan for the destruction ness unto them which are exercised of the flesh, that his spirit might be thereby." Oh for more faith to realize saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 that wonderful word, “Whom the Lord Cor. v.) loveth He chasteneth."
A just estimate of trials and afflictions This permitted agency of Satan should in this world, will enable us truly to be rejoiced in, since it tends to magnify rejoice in tribulation, and to "reckon the operations of God's grace. St. Paul that the sufferings of this present time has left the fact on record that a thorn are not worthy to be compared with the in the flesh was given to him, the messer- glory which shall be revealed to us;" ger of Satan to buffet him ; lest he and to understand how “
our light afilica should have been exalted above measure. tion, which is but for a moment, worketh He besought the Lord thrice that it for us a far more exceeding and eternal might depart from him. And He said weight of glory; while we look not at unto him, “My grace is sufficient for the things which are seen, but
the for my strength is made perfect things which are not seen : for the in weakness. Thus do the very attacks things which are seen are temporal, but of Satan call forth exhibitions of grace the things which are not seen are eterfrom our sympathizing High Priest, nal” (Rom. viii. 18; 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18). who has Himself been made perfect Well may we triumph and rejoice when through suffering, that He might be able we know that ere long Satan will be to suceour them that are tempted. All bruised under our feet, and that a crown the heirs of glory are likewise partakers of victory is laid up for us, who in all in the tribulations, that they might be these things “are more than conquerors, realizers of the same grace, and each through Him that loved us” (Rom. viii
. exclaim with Paul, “ Most gladly there. | 37). fore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
T. B. L.
A PAGE FROM CHISP.
To the Editor of the Gospel Magazine. MR. EDITOR, --- The following extract , believer's apprehension of it, or the apfrom the
pen of that master in Israel, plication of the grace of God. There Tobias Crisp, needs no apology for its are two distinct acts--there is God's introduction into the
of the Gos- laying sin upon Christ, and Christ's pel Magazine. The divinity of the day application of the act to us. Our appreclouds the point he touches upon so hension doth but introduce the knowluminously; and through fradulent or lege of that which the Lord hath done ignorant teachers, the hearts of the before, and so we come to have the righteous are made sad, while Pharisees comfort. and letter religionists are built up in a The truth is, there is not possibly any notional faith, that will expire with the person can truly believe his iniquities blast of God's mouth.
are laid upon Christ, except there be a There are very few standard-bearers previous foregoing act of the Lord's in our day who are qualified to distin- laying the sin upon Christ. I say the guish between gospel facts and Chris Lord's act of laying must go before tian experience, and, while showing up our applying. He hath a grant from the great truths of revealed religion, the Lord; that is the very being of His declare plainly that these truths are faith, that is a stirring up of His matters of divine revelation to the soul. believing. The Lord must make His grant Herein lies the true exaltation of the to me; and finding this grant, I have work of the Spirit ; not splitting hairs ground to believe. Now we can find no about the nature of the Trinity, or grant, but as the Lord reveals the same multiplying Scripture quotations upon in the Word of His grace; and that the office of the Spirit, but giving Him revelation, through the Word of grace, the glory due unto His work, in reveal- becomes the foundation of my faith, ing to the elect the truth of God in the and the act of God, as made to me, is Person of Christ, and their personal applied to myself. It is not the faith of interest in His great salvation. believers that gives being to this act or
Yours truly in Him, grant that our iniquities should be laid
being to it, and the Lord's act. So,
true it is, that iniquity was not laid “There is one caution I shall recom- upon Christ till the Lord's act did lay mend to your consideration as very it; but it follows not that our iniquity necessary for the avoiding of confusion, was not laid upon Christ till our act of which is this, that you carefully distin- believing goes along with it, because guish between the Lord's sole and only our believing doth not give being to it, act of laying iniquity upon Christ, and but is only a manifestation of that which the act of application of this grace to had a being before. This then is carethe believer.' 'I find, beloved, that too fully distinguished ; namely, the differmany poor wretches, out of ignorance, ence between the Lord's act of laying not understanding distinctly the course iniquity upon Christ, and the act of a of God's proceedings with men, are apt believer in apprehending the grace of to confound God's sole act of laying, and iniquity being laid. Concerning the the act of applying, together, as if they latter, it is present to some, and future were both one, as if our sins were laid to others, as men are enabled to put out upon Christ only when we believe; the act of faith ; but the act of laying but it is certain you shall find it cvident iniquity upon Christ is the sole act of that there is a distinct act of the Lord's the Lord, and was done before, and not laying iniquity upon Christ, and the now to be done."
When the heart and spirit are offered up to God, it may be a savoury duty, though attended with ansavoury imperfections.
The Family Recorder.
“ GRACE BE WITH ALL THEM WHO LOVE OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IN SINCERITY."
THE SICK-BED AND ITS LESSONS. me about that I cannot get out; He To A. C.
hath made my chains heavy.” PrisonMY DEAR FRIEND IN JESUS,-) was
bound souls must wait God's time for sorry to hear of your illness, but I sup
deliverance, and in the set time it will pose death, to you, is a matter neither of arrive; nor will impatience hurry God. surprise or sorrow. Still, the adam True the Word says, “ He waits to be nature clings to earth, and, like the gracious;" but the waiting there, is not raven, finds plenty to feed upon here to set forth God as subservient to the to the last sigh. It is the new man in creature, but as waiting His own set Christ that longs to be with the Head; time for the accomplishment of His own to see the Lamb in the midst of the plans, which not all the powers of earth or throne ; to join the ransomed throng hell can hurry or hinder. The best spot a above, and to leave behind a body of child of God can be in, is satisfaction sin and death, which can never be im- with His will, and a waiting, filial spirit proved. Sickness is often a favoured while His will is unrevealed. I believe, time, when, as it were, God puts His in this sense, the Church of God, in children to bed, that He may vet them every day, needs the words of the apostle, and nurse them-whisper words of which have been so often twisted to love, and nourishes them by His secret
purposes, “ Be ye reconciled consolations. But I know by sorrowful to God.” This is the character of the experience this is not always the case. gospel messenger, both in doctrine, God has a variety of lessons to teach leadings, and experience; and this is His elect family; sometimes the things the work of God, to reconcile us to His concerning Himself, and anon things will
, whether in purpose or performpertaining to themselves. Hence, while ance.
The heart of the wise teacheth sometimes we can trace back to a sick his mouth," says the Word, and we have bed sweet lessons of love and illumina- only to look within, to see how contion, peace, quietness, and assurance ; tinually we need God's power to recon
can also retrace gloomy days and cile us to all His righteous will concernrebellious nights, when the sick bed has ing us. been to us only as a pole to stir up all the
A poet of our own day says,hidden evils of our heart, and set the tadpoles, which before lay quietly at the “ My thoughts still cling to the mouldering bottom, frisking about upon the surface
past, in every direction.
And the hopes of youth fall thick and fast,
For the days are dark and dreary." God has only to slacken the hand that suppresses our evils, and then we see Now at such 'times, common to the ourselves as we are ; and what with the Church of God, how blessed it is for the solitude of a sick chamber, wakeful soul, when Jesus comes with a Divine niglits, painful remedies, and the burden manifestation of His love, His grace, we must be to those around us at such His power, and takes hold of the poor times, if the Lord did not send out His sinner's heart, closes the door upon
all light and His truth-if He did not give earthly things, and holds sweet comout of His divine treasury an extra munion with the soul; breathes the supply to meet this increased demand — spirit of
spirit of prayer and supplication;
melts you and I well know we should disgrace the will into oneness with the Divine our profession. But a wise God knows will, while the secret pass-word is exbest the spots to put His children in changed between them, “ All that I have from time to time. Said poor Jeremiah, is thine.” Oh, how soon the cloud is then “ He hath set me in dark places, as they removed, and the rainy day is exchanged that be dead of old : He bath hedged for the sweet shining of the Sun of