The Wise Conclusion
"We must obey God — rather than men!" Acts 5:29
Jehovah, as our glorious Creator and benevolent Preserver — has a right to command whatever He pleases, and to require of us obedience to His commands. But such is the wisdom, holiness, and benevolence of His nature — that He cannot command anything trifling, impure, or unkind! Wisdom, holiness, and kindness, are stamped upon all His requirements; and all of His commands are plainly revealed in His Word.
Whatever mysteries there may be in the doctrines of the gospel — there is no ambiguity about the commands — they are plain, positive, and universally binding. They are sometimes misunderstood, because man is prejudiced; or he is so proud, that he imagines that the Most High God is such a one as himself — and must therefore command just what puny man would.
If we search the Scriptures in a simple childlike spirit,
and pray earnestly for divine teaching — we shall not make many mistakes
in reference to the preceptive will of God. But man is so
presumptuous sometimes, that he would set aside God's laws; he sets
himself to distinguish between . . .
what is essential and what is non-essential,
what he may omit without fear, and
what must be observed.
Yes, he sometimes sets himself above God, and requires his children, or others — to obey him in opposition to God. Thus the High Priest and Jewish council acted; but the Apostles resisted their impious demand, and said, "We ought to obey God rather than men!"
Authority, whether it is the authority of a parent, an employer, or magistrate — is rarely to be resisted. But if any require us to sin against God — then they must be resisted, or we peril our own souls. But in such cases — we must be sure that God has commanded, and must be able to refer to some plain portion of His holy Word, as the rule of our conduct.
If we were forbidden to attend the means of grace, or read our Bibles, or honor the Lord by observing His own ordinances — we may justly persevere in the path of duty; yes, it would be sin to draw back.
If God commands — then I must obey;
if men oppose — then I must take up my cross;
if harm is likely to follow — then I must commit the keeping of myself unto God, as unto a faithful Creator.
Man has no right to require obedience — in opposition to God, or before God; and if man requires — then we ought not to obey.
The believer's duty is plain — "to obey God." He is not to consult custom, or friends, or feelings; he is not to dwell too much upon possible consequences; but he is to ascertain the will of God, and having ascertained it, he is to do it from the heart, braving the displeasure of men!
Men will sometimes oppose God's will, for they are proud and ignorant; they will forbid their families from following out the convictions of their consciences, for they have no fear of God before their eyes. They will at least gravely advise against leaving the beaten tract, or incurring the displeasure or sneers of others — but they are not to be our counselors, any more than our lords.
The path of duty — is the path of safety. The way of obedience to God — is the only happy and honorable way. If we suffer because we are Christians, or because as Christians we will obey God — then let us, "glorify God on this behalf." "If you are reproached for the name of Christ — then happy are you; for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."
Man's judgment may be against us — but the judgment of God will correct that of His creatures. Therefore let every one of us commend himself to God in well doing; and the day will soon arrive, when we shall be commended before angels and men; and our God will say unto us, "Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your Lord!"