Your affectionate Brother.
Submission to the Will of God; Dependence upon Him for Temporal Things, and Contentment under all Circumstances.
“Having food and raiment,
let us be therewith content.”—1 TIM.
MY DEAR SISTER,
The secret of all true happiness lies in a cordial acquiescence in the will of God in all things. It is
“Sweet to lie passive in his hand,
And know no will but his.”
The great doctrine that God exercises a particular providence over every event, is most precious to the heart of every Christian. It enables him to see the hand of God, in directing all his affairs. Hence, the exceeding sinfulness of a repining, discontented, and unhappy temper. Indeed, it is difficult to reconcile the habitual indulgence of such a disposition with the existence of grace in the heart. The very first emotion of the new-born soul is submission to the will of God. Many people lose sight of the hand of God in those little difficulties and perplexities, which are of every day occurrence, and look only at second causes. And so they often do in more important matters. When they are injured or insulted by others, they murmur and complain, and give vent to their indignation against the immediate causes of their distress; forgetting that these are only the instruments which God employs for the trial of their faith or the punishment of their sins. Thus, God permitted Satan to try the faith of Job. Thus, he permitted Shimei to curse David. But the answer of this godly man is worthy of being imitated by all Christians under similar circumstances. “Let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, curse David.” Thus, also, the Lord employed the envy of Joseph’s brethren, to save the lives of all his father’s family. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” The principal reason why the histories of the Bible are so much more instructive than other histories is, that the motives of men and the secret agency of divine Providence are brought to light. Hence, also, the reason why the events recorded in Scripture appear so marvellous. If we could see how the hand of God is concerned in all things that occur within our observation, they would appear no less wonderful.
In this doctrine, we have the strongest possible motive for a hearty and cheerful resignation to all the crosses and difficulties, trials and afflictions, which come upon us in this life, whatever may be their immediate cause. We know that they are directed by our heavenly Father, whose “tender mercies are over all his works;” and who “doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” And, whether we are Christians or not, the duty of submission remains the same. When we consider the relation which man sustains to God, as a guilty rebel against his government, we must see that, whatever may be our earthly afflictions, so long as we are out of hell, we are the living monuments of his mercy. “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins.”