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PART EIGHTH.
OF THE PEACE OR REST OF A SOUL IN A STATE OF UNION.



CHAPTER VI.


THE SOUL IN UNION RESTS FROM CONFLICTS WITH PROVIDENCE.


The sinful man at war with Providence. — The holy man in harmony with Providence. — Of the extent of God's providence.— It extends to natural things, to events, to feelings. — In all these things, and in others, the holy man is in harmony with Providence and at peace.

THE sinful man has no true peace, among other sources of disquiet, because his position is at variance with Providence. One view to be taken of sin, is, that it is war. It is not only war against God's character, but against his commands; not only war against his commands, but against his providential arrangements. God has one way and plan of arrangement; the sinful man, who is in a state of rebellion against God, has another plan. The centre of God's arrangements is benevolence or the love of all; the centre of the sinful man's arrangements is the inordinate love of himself. Radiating from such different centres, the plans which are formed continually come in conflict. Under such circumstances it is impossible that the sinner should have rest. Finding himself face to face in opposition to what God has determined, and thus in conflicting lines of movement, he is continually met and counteracted, continually smitten and driven back. His life is a warfare commenced and carried on under the most hopeless circumstances; a warfare attended everywhere and unceasingly with discomfiture and suffering.

2. On the contrary, the man who is united with God in the possession of a common central feeling, is necessarily united with him in all the movements and arrangements which he makes. In other words, he rests from the perplexities and uncertainties of making his own choice, by accepting, under all circumstances, the choice which his heavenly Father has made for him. With the exception of sin, God's choice never varies, and never can vary, from the facts and incidents of that state of things which now exists. And it is this choice, however painful it may be in some of its personal relations, which the godly man takes and sanctions as his own. So that his choice being already made by the unvarying adoption of that which is from God, he may be said not to have any preference of his own, but to rest from his own choice, that he may repose in God's choice. And God' s choice is only another name for his providence. There is, therefore, no conflict; there never can be any.

3. God's providence extends both to things and events. Inanimate nature, even in the lowest forms, is under the divine care. Not a rock is placed without a hand that placed it. Not a tree grows without a divine vitality, which is the inspiration of its growth. Not a wave of the ocean rolls without the power of God's presence to propel it. The storms and the earthquakes are the Lord’s.

God is thus the life of nature. And the man who is in harmony with God, has no controversy with him in any of these things. On the contrary, he accepts all, is at peace with all.

4 God is also the life of events, including in that term human actions. There is no good action which is not from God. The wisdom of the Supreme mind is the good man’s inspiration. And, on the other hand, there is no evil action which God does not notice, and over which he has not some degree of control. The essence of evil actions, it is well understood, is the
evil motive from which they proceed, — a motive which is not and cannot be from God; but still, God will not allow the action, which proceeds from the motive, to take effect, except in the manner and the degree which pleases him. In other words, God has the prerogative, which can pertain only to an infinite being, of overruling evil, and of bringing good out of it. So that there is a providence of evil as well as a providence of good. And hence, the good man can be in peace even when the evil man triumphs, because he knows that the "triumphing of the wicked is short."

5. Again, God's providence is
internal as well as external. He is the inspirer of the feelings of the heart as well as the director and controller of outward events. Our thoughts and feelings are from God, so far as they are right thoughts and right feelings. Accordingly, the man who is fully united with God, rests from all anxiety in relation to the particular form or mode of his inward experience. Among the various thoughts and feelings which are right and good, he has no choice. For instance, he does not desire inward joys, nor great illuminations of mind, nor freedom and gifts of utterance; but desires and accepts only that degree of light and joy, whether more or less, which God sees fit to send. It is true we are directed to covet "the best gifts," [1 Cor. 12:31.] but it is equally true that those gifts are the best which God selects and gives. In everything, in gifts and the exercise of gifts, for time and for eternity, the wise man chooses for himself what God chooses for him: which is the same as to say that he rests from choice, or that he is without choice. God's providence is his guide.

6. Rest, or pacification in God's providences, implies and secures the fact of rest or peace in other things, which have an indirect relation to his providences. For instance, he who is at peace with Providence, has rest
from vain and meandering imaginations. He is unlike other persons in this respect, who constantly recur in their imaginations to other scenes and other situations. and people them with a felicity which is the creation of their own minds. If his imagination ever goes beyond the sphere which Providence has assigned him, it does so under a divine guidance, and not at the instigation of unholy discontent.

7. Again, he who is at peace with Providence experiences, as one of the incidental results of his position in this respect, a peace or rest
from feelings of envy. The occasion of envy is the existence, or supposed existence, of superiority in others. It is impossible, therefore, for him to envy others, because, viewing all things as he does in the light of God, he does not and cannot believe that the situation of others is better than his own. Accordingly, he is at rest from the agitations of this baneful passion.

8. He has rest also
from easily offended and vengeful feelings. If he has been injured by another, he knows that his heavenly Father, without originating the unholy impulse, has seen fit, for wise reasons, to direct its application against himself. He receives the blow with a quiet spirit, as one which is calculated to strengthen his own piety, while he has pity for him who inflicts it. Considered in relation to himself, he accepts all, approves all, rejoices in all. In the remarkable language of the apostle Paul, which precisely describes his situation, he "suffers long and is kind; he envies not; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1st Corinthians, ch. 13.