Christ, the Prince of Peace
"His name shall be called . . . the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
We live in a morally revolted world. Spiritual rebellion, anarchy, and lawlessness run riot throughout its vast empire. It has cast off its allegiance to God, has dethroned Him its Sovereign, has armed itself in resistance of His authority, and acknowledges the reign and obeys the laws of another and a usurping king. Such is the inevitable consequence of the fall, such the natural and melancholy effect of sin- that sin of rebellion of which our first and yet unsinned parents were guilty, when the woman "took of the fruit (which God had strictly forbidden) and ate, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he also ate." From that fatal moment to the present the standard of insurrection against God has floated over this mutinous world, flinging its dark, deadly shadow upon every fair and sunlight spot of this vast province. What is true of the whole race, it needs no argument to show, is equally true of each individual. "The carnal mind is enmity against God: and it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, so then those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Thus we have the melancholy picture of the entire population of the earth, collectively and individually, traitors against God, living in opposition to His authority, trampling both His laws and their allegiance defiantly and ignobly beneath their feet.
But God will not thus be robbed of His glory. For that glory He made man- and man, redeemed, regenerated, restored, shall yet yield to every perfection of His nature, and to every enactment of His law, a revenue of glory and of obedience, worthy of His being, and lasting as eternity.
The expedient by which this glorious result is accomplished is of His conception. "Salvation is of the Lord." In the infinite depths of His own mind, in the eternal councils of the ever blessed Trinity, foreseeing man's apostasy and rebellion, Jehovah arranged the plan- the wondrous expedient- of overcoming man's rebellion, of dislodging his enmity, and of bringing back once more this sinful, disloyal world to its original and rightful fealty to Himself. And what was the expedient? It was nothing less than the descent of His only and beloved Son into this traitorous empire, clothed in the very nature of the rebel race He came to subdue, redeem, and save. "For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
The title belonging to our Lord Jesus we are now to consider is strikingly and impressively illustrative of His mission of love and reconciliation to our world. It was not on a mission of justly-deserved judgment that He came, but on an embassy of undeserved mercy. God would overcome man's evil with good. He might have blotted this apostate and rebellious world from the creation, assigning its place with the angels who kept not their estate, but are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. But, O everlasting love, and discriminating grace! He set His heart upon man, and resolved to become man- even the God-man Mediator; that He might save man. It is in the light of an embassy of peace that we are now to contemplate the Advent of the Son of God to our world. He came an Ambassador of peace, plucked an olive-branch from the paradise of heaven, and sweeping across the dark waters of man's curse, bore that curse to the hill of Calvary, and dipping it in blood- His own heart's blood- waved it before the eyes of a sinful and rebellious world, and proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will to men!"
The subject of these pages, at all times instructive and suitable, was never more so than now. The agitated condition of the nation, the disturbed atmosphere of the Church, and the physical throes and changes through which the earth seems passing, all would point to the present state of society, the Church, and the world as a period in which a study of the peaceful Advent of our Lord as the Messenger of love, unity, and concord, would seem the most appropriate and welcome. Not less appropriate is it to the Holy Festival of the Christian Church, upon the threshold of which we stand, the birth of earth's Great Visitant, the Savior of the race, an event the celebration of which is at all times, but never more singularly so than now, calculated to heal the divisions and hush the strifes between man and man, knitting and cementing divided families, alienated brethren, and dissevered communities into one household and brotherhood. How expressive and suggestive, then, the title we now consider- "And His name shall be called the Prince of Peace."
The interest and importance of this subject in its bearings upon the present spiritual and future condition of the soul cannot possibly be exaggerated. Nor does its interest or importance lessen, as we have remarked, when viewed in its relation to the present religious state of the world and the disturbed and divided state of the Christian Church. It would seem as if the divine exhortation, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem," was never more appropriate or urgent than now. The title of our Lord we have selected for our present meditation leads our thoughts directly to the true fountain of peace!– whether it be the peace of God in the soul of man, or whether it be the peace, unity, and concord of the Church, which the "Prince of Peace" purchased with His own blood. May the Holy Spirit, the glorifier of Jesus, open and unfold to us the deep, holy significance of this subject, and make His own truth quickening, comforting, and sanctifying to our souls.
The first feature of this title which arrests our attention is THE REGAL CHARACTER OF CHRIST. He is described as "The Prince of Peace." We have already in the consideration of preceding titles brought before the reader both the Prophetical and Priestly offices of Christ. The present one serves to complete the series by directing our attention to His Kingly office. His name shall be called "the Prince
Me Prince of Peace." This is not the only passage in which this royal title is applied to Christ. Thus in Ezekiel, "And the Lord will be their God, and my servant David (Christ) a Prince among them: and the Lord has spoken it." And in the next chapter, "My servant David (Christ) shall be their Prince forever." Yet more striking the prophecy in Daniel 9, "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks." Turning to the teaching of the New Testament, we find the same regal title assigned to Him. Thus in Acts 5 we read, "Him has God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." And in Rev. 1, "Jesus Christ, who is the faithful Witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." We need not multiply these Scripture proofs of our Lord's regal character. And yet it is of great importance, and closely concerns our obedience to Christ, that we fully believe in His Kingship, that we possess clear views of His sovereignty, and that by close, earnest study of His laws and commandments, we are found loyal to the dignity of His person, to the interests of His truth, and to the supremacy of His government and reign in the earth. This is a time in which the territory of Christ is insolently invaded by foreign foes, and His crown rights haughtily denied, and His very crown itself plucked daringly from His kingly brow. Surely this is the time when all who are His true subjects, all who wear His uniform, who follow His standard, and receive their pay at His hands, should be found loyal to His crown, and by "earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints," prove themselves "good soldiers of Jesus Christ," valiant for His truth upon the earth. Let us proceed to consider IN WHAT SENSE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS WORTHY THE TITLE HE BEARS AS THE "PRINCE OF PEACE."
The subject, as previously remarked, is especially suitable to the sacred festival we are about to celebrate- the Holy nativity of the Son of God, His gracious and blessed advent to our world to set up a kingdom of peace. It was an Advent of love, an embassage of peace. He came to reconcile God to man, man to God, and man to his fellow-man. There was anarchy, discord, and disorder in the universe. Sin had disturbed its harmony. By dislodging man from his center, it had thrown confusion and turmoil throughout our entire humanity. Severing man from God, it severed man from himself, and man from his fellow-man. Oh, what imagination can conceive, or language describe, or pencil portray the disorder- physical, intellectual, and moral- which reigns throughout this fallen world consequent upon the Fall? Sin has convulsed the universe as by an earthquake, has smitten our humanity as with paralysis, has "set on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell." The whole matter resolves itself into a wide and terrible alienation between God and man. Man's distance from God is defined by his sinfulness. God's distance from man is defined by His holiness. If these two extremes of being- a holy God and an unholy man- could possibly meet without the intervention of an Atonement, then the Advent to our world of the Prince of Peace were a needless and wasteful expedient on the part of God. But there was not, and there could not possibly be, a reconciliation of these two contending and widely-seceded parties, God and the sinner, but as God Himself devised an expedient that would render it just and honorable to Himself. If reconciliation were to be effected, and peace made, and harmony restored, the first step must be on the part of Jehovah Himself. The plan must originate with Him, and by Him it must be effected. Thus we are introduced more immediately to the subject of these pages- the peace which God has accomplished through Christ between Himself and fallen man.
As the "Prince of Peace," our Lord Jesus PROCURES PEACE BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. The problem of effecting reconciliation could only be solved by the Prince of Peace. It had baffled the ingenuity of a synod of angels, composed of every celestial being in heaven. The thought of reconciling God and man, in a way that would uphold the rectitude and honor of the Divine government, would never have crossed a finite being's mind. It was the conception of one mind alone- the mind of the Eternal Lord God- and was lodged, eternally lodged, in that Mind myriads of ages before an angel was created. There are no second, no after-thoughts, of the Divine mind. If, then, God is eternal, never having had a beginning, then the thought of saving man by the Incarnation of Deity was as eternal as the Mind that conceived it. Thus, our Lord Jesus was the Peace-procurer of His Church. He was the true Levi of whom Jehovah said, "My covenant was with Him of life and peace." None but He could have effected it. There was disruption and separation, dissension and discord, a terrible schism between the Creator and His creatures. The Prince of Peace alone had dignity, authority, and power to effect peace. As none but the express Image of God could restore the divine image to man's destroyed soul; as none but Essential Life could breathe life into man's dead soul; as none but perfect Holiness could restore the reign of holiness in man's sinful soul; as none but the Son of God could make us sons of God, and none but the Beloved of God could make us beloved to God, so none but the "Prince of Peace" could bring us into a covenant of peace with Jehovah. Thus the Lord Jesus became our Peace-procurer.
In love and mercy He undertook what He alone could undertake. Oh, it was a great, a marvellous work, the work of restoring unity and friendship between God and man! Hence the twofold nature of our Lord. Mediating between the two extremes of being, the Infinite and the finite, the Divine and the human, He must partake of the nature of both. Effecting peace on the part of God, He must be God; effecting reconciliation on the part of man, He must be man. Hence the glorious fact, which at this season of Advent we celebrate- "God manifest in the flesh." Let your faith, my readers, embrace this truth afresh. It will strengthen your confidence in the reality of the peace the Prince of Peace has secured for you. It was no mere resemblance of peace He procured, no unauthorized compact into which He entered; no reconciliation which either party in the agreement could not honorably accept- Oh, no! Because He was God, He was essentially fitted to mediate for God; and because He was Man, He was in all respects fitted to negotiate for man; and thus God has accepted His mediation, and so "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself."
But our Lord Jesus was also our Peacemaker. He not only originated the scheme, but He personally embarked in its accomplishment. He not merely procured, but He effected it. Sin is the great bar between God and man. Nothing separates them but this. And if sin is not removed, it must remain forever an inseparable, impassible, eternal barrier between God and man, heaven and hell. But Christ, the Prince of Peace, undertook its removal. He girded Himself to the work of breaking down this middle wall of partition- sin. The covenant of peace was made between Him and God, made and signed, sealed and ratified. He undertook the office of Mediator; for "there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." Thus, He is emphatically called "Our Peace." See how beautifully the apostle reasons out this precious truth! Addressing the converted Gentiles, He puts them in remembrance of their past unconverted state by nature, and then of their present state of reconciliation by grace "But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ; for He is our peace."
And now the question rises, HOW did the Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace, accomplish His great work? He could only accomplish it in one way- by Himself becoming the responsible party in the great controversy between God and man. On the part of God, He undertook to render a complete obedience to the law, to give a full satisfaction to justice, to harmonize all the Divine perfections, and not only to uphold in its perfect integrity the honor of the moral government of God, but to invest that Government with a luster in the eyes of all celestial intelligences, before unknown. And how was this done? By the Lawgiver becoming- O surpassing love! O wondrous grace! hear it, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth!- by the lawgiver be coming the law-fulfiller! And what did He on the part of man? He paid the great debt, the ten thousand talents, when man had nothing to pay. He stood in the breach. He placed one hand, the hand of His Deity, on God; and He placed the other hand, the hand of His Humanity, on man- "so making peace."
But this was not all. He must die. It is by blood we are brought near to God, even "by the blood of Christ." Before He could become to us the Prince of Peace, He must be the Captain of our salvation, and He must gird on the armor for the great battle with sin, Satan, and the world. He must endure the wrath of God. He must drink the cup of woe. He must, in a word, sacrifice Himself. Oh, what arithmetic can compute the price of our peace with God? Who can ever estimate what it cost Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to heal the breach, to terminate the controversy, to make peace by the blood of His cross, between God and man? Never was reconciliation effected on such terms; never was peace purchased at such a price- even the incarnation and obedience, the death and resurrection of the Son of God, the Prince of Peace. And now God, through Christ, is reconciled, the way to His forgiving love opened through the pierced heart of Jesus, the Peace-maker. It is now honorable, on the part of God, to negotiate with the rebel man an eternal armistice; yes, to hold out His reconciling hand- yes, to make the first overture- yes, to take the very first step in advance in the way of reconciliation. How clearly the apostle states this truth- "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, and path committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
Pause and consider what is your present position, my Christian reader, as one between whom and God perfect peace is restored. How dimly many of the Lord's dear people see this truth! How few fully realize it! The consequence is, they are, if we may thus speak, so shy of God, cultivate such distant transactions with Him, and love, and trust, and obey Him so imperfectly as a Father, all whose thoughts towards them are "thoughts of peace," and all whose feelings and dealings are love. But even this invalidates not the reality, and disturbs not the continuance of their peace with God through Christ, the perfect agreement which, through Christ, subsists between God and the weakest, obscurest saint.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, by the putting away our sins, by the exhaustion of our curse by the full equivalent made, by the harmony created in the perfections of God, has made up the quarrel, has effected a reconciliation, has procured, effected, and ratified an "everlasting covenant of peace" between God and His Church; and it is utterly impossible now for God to conceive one thought of anger, or to cherish one feeling of alienation, or indulge one act of judgment towards the reconciled people of His love. Oh rise, beloved, to this purer, truer relation to God! Proclaim this as your present spiritual standing before Him. All is peace, secret peace, perfect peace, received peace, between God and your soul. There is not, on your part, the shadow of a shade of sin, nor, on God's part, the shadow of a shade of unpropitiated anger interposing itself between God and your soul. Jesus is our peace; His preceptive obedience has hushed the law's loud thunder. His sacrificial death has appeased the incensed anger of justice; His atoning blood has extinguished every spark of hell; and now every believing sinner is in reconciliation with God- is, through Christ's death, at-onement with the Triune Jehovah, and can walk with God in holy and perfect agreement.
But Christ, as the "Prince of Peace," is not only the Procurer, He is also the GIVER of peace. Before He ascended into heaven, He bequeathed to His Church this sacred legacy of peace. How precious and significant the terms of this bequest! "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you." And when He would forearm by forewarning His disciples of the trials and privations they should find in the world, with what exquisite tenderness and love He seeks to smooth and prepare their minds for the tribulations that awaited them: "These things have I spoken, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
And truly the saints of God do experience the world to be the scene of varied and great tribulations. It is the battle-field of the Church, the scene of many a hard-fought conflict with the ungodliness and the ungodly of this ungodly world. Beloved, bear in mind that your dear Lord has lovingly forewarned you that tribulation is your pathway through the world home to Himself. Do not be, therefore, surprised at the trials, and the conflicts, and the woundings of the way. "In the world you shall have tribulation." It was the path your Lord and Leader traveled. And would you tread a smoother path than His? Do you desire an easier, nearer, shorter road to glory than that imprinted with His blessed feet, bedewed with His tears, and empurpled with His blood? Oh, no! But, behold your true peace- "In Me you shall have peace." In and from the world there is no peace. The world and the Christian are in deadly hate and antagonism. "Love not the world," is the apostolic command; and, "If the world hate you," is the Lord's warning.
The world, its enjoyments and pleasures, its riches and honors, can give no peace to the soul. It is itself "like the troubled sea, which casts up mire and dirt." With all its fleshly enjoyments, attractions of rank and affluence, of pomp and power, the worldling is an utter stranger to real, substantial, satisfying peace. "There is no peace, says any God, to the wicked." Poor worldling, think of this. How long will you seek this priceless, precious pearl, down in the dark mine of this fallen, rebellious, sin-tainted, and curse-blighted world? All is turmoil and change; all is sickening disappointment here. And when you have traversed every continent, and have sipped every spring, and have plucked every flower, and have eaten of every fruit, and have heard every claim of fame, of earth's good, your cry still is, "Who will show me any good?"
But, if the first Adam has bequeathed to his posterity a legacy of tribulation, the Second Adam has bequeathed to His Church a legacy of peace. "In the world you shall have tribulation; in Me you have peace." How instructive and emphatic the words, "In Me." Not in ourselves, not in our pious duties; not in our active doings; not in our religious forms and spiritual feelings, but in Christ. Blessed teaching, precious truth! We have not far to travel, nor impossibilities to accomplish. It is near to us, and without a doing of our own- it is in Jesus, all in Jesus. He is our peace, and in Him alone.
His Gospel is the gospel of peace. What is the literal signification of the word- "Glad tidings." And why is the Gospel glad tidings to poor sinners? Because it is a proclamation of peace with God in and through Christ. It is the Gospel of reconciliation, and our ministry is the "ministry of reconciliation." "All things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation." Oh yes, the Gospel publishes Peace to the troubled conscience, to the broken heart, and the contrite spirit. Peace to the rebel willing to ground his weapons and be reconciled to God. Peace- sweet, holy, assured peace- to the soul tossed with many a doubt, agitated with many a fear, and almost ready to despair. O glorious Gospel! The Gospel that proclaims a full and free reconciliation with God to every humble penitent. A Gospel breathing not one repelling word, uttering not one harsh sound, in the ear of a poor, humble sinner. It is, in a word, the music of the grace of God, the sweetest refrain of which is, "that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation." What a noble office is the Christian minister's, and how charming His message! Not only is His voice music, but His feet are
beautiful. For thus says the evangelical Isaiah, "How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of him who brings good tidings, that publish peace." Oh, that our preaching were a more full and clear unfolding of the ministry of peace!- peace, present and assured peace, through the applied blood of Jesus. Ambassador of Christ! let this be the staple of our ministrations. Thousands of our hearers are kept in bondage and fear for the lack of a more full and simpler statement of the message of peace. 'We do not sufficiently and simply direct their eyes to Jesus, the Prince of Peace. We clog the message of salvation with such legal conditions; we append to the proclamation of Peace such slavish terms, and we preach the doctrine of the Atonement with such cold reserve, as to foster in the minds of many of the Lord's people slavish dread rather than filial love; thus forging and riveting chains upon those whose peace Christ had purchased with His blood, and whose souls the truth has made free.
Let us, then, remember that we never preach the gospel of Christ unless we proclaim, broadly and boldly, the reconciliation the Prince of Peace has effected with God. It is the greatest, the most momentous and joyous announcement that can possibly be made, that peace is effected between heaven and earth; that, God is reconciled to sinners through Christ; that, "there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ, Jesus." And never shall we succeed in fully emancipating the saints of God from their legal fetters, and so promoting a healthy, vigorous Christianity, an evangelical, unreserved obedience, until we lead believers more entirely out of themselves, to see what their high and holy liberty, their Christian freedom, is in Christ Jesus. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
The kingdom of Christ is A PEACEFUL KINGDOM. He is the Prince of Peace. Zion's King is a peaceable King. He came to erect a sovereignty of peace in the very heart of a world of rebellion against God, and of war with itself. And wherever His kingdom of peace extends, civilization follows barbarism, hatred is supplanted by love, the feuds, and divisions, and wars of nations cease, and peace and good-will among men spread their loving influence; diffusing unity, harmony, and love. Oh, what a world will that be when the dominion of the Prince of Peace shall be universal. "In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance peace, so long as the moon endures. He shall have dominion, also, from sea to sea, and front the river unto the ends of the earth." Oh, aid the coming of this peaceful reign of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, by your personal efforts, by your consecrated wealth, but, above all, by your believing prayers. If ever there was a time when the Lord's people should be up and doing, it is the present. With trumpet voice the crisis summons us to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The Lord has a controversy with the land. A great struggle is passing between truth and error in the nation. We are well assured of the result- that, His truth must and will eventually and triumphantly prevail; but this circumstance releases us not from the obligation, no, the privilege, of doing all we can, and even of suffering all we may, in defense of His truth, in furtherance of His kingdom, and in vindicating the honor and glory of His great Name. And when, at this season, in adoring faith and love, we worship at the shrine of Bethlehem, let us afresh dedicate our ransomed and renewed being to the service and kingdom of the Prince of Peace, seeking a deeper baptism of the Spirit of holiness, that we may be vessels of honor, sanctified and meet for the Master's use.
But an interesting and important question presents itself at this stage of our subject- How is it that all the Lord's true people, possessing, as they do, this precious grace of peace, yet know so little of its personal experience and power! We do not hesitate to trace the cause mainly to a failure in the
application of the blood of Christ to the conscience. The blood of Christ is called the "blood of sprinkling." It is also emphatically denominated "peace-speaking blood." Both of these terms imply a personal application. Now, where there is no personal application of the blood of Christ to the conscience, there can be no assured peace; an unapplied Atonement is, in a sense, an unblest Atonement. It was the sprinkling of the blood on the dwellings of the Israelites that gave them perfect peace while the angel of destruction swept by, bent on his work of death. In other words, it was the applied blood of the slain lamb that spoke peace and safety to the dwellers in that house. For this we plead- the blood of Christ sprinkled upon the conscience, speaking peace.
The conscience has been well termed God's deputy. Now, if we are, through Christ, at peace with God, conscience, God's deputy, must also be at peace, and can cause within us no enmity or dread. It is a precious truth, that the same blood that sprinkles the Mercy-seat in heaven, sprinkles the believer's conscience on earth. And as the blood speaks peace "within the veil," so it speaks peace to all believers who follow Christ "outside the camp." Let no sin-distressed saint doubt the sovereign efficacy, the peace-speaking power of the blood, as brought into personal contact with the conscience. Surely, if the blood of Christ has power to satisfy God, it should satisfy us. Where Infinite Holiness can raise no objection, the sin-distressed conscience need not. If the holy Lord God has accepted the blood as a full atonement, need we demur accepting it in faith, as the earnest of our pardon, and the ground of our hope? Truly, nothing will satisfy an enlightened, quickened conscience, but that which satisfies a holy God; and whatever satisfies God, may well satisfy us. If God is reconciled, surely we may be. This is the true foundation of peace, God at peace with us. It may not always be enjoyed- clouds may veil it, it may be bathed in no sunshine; still it is there, living and shining, like that sun, in its concealed grandeur, and, like that sun, will again burst through every veiling cloud, more effulgently and gloriously than ever.
Another cause of the little enjoyment of this peace, in the experience of many of the children of God, may be traced to their looking too exclusively within and at themselves, rather than looking simply at Jesus. Turning the eye within ourselves, we see nothing but darkness and confusion- every beast of prey, and every unclean bird. In a word, everything to depress, weaken, and discourage us. God can alone read His own superscription, and recognize; His own image in the renewed soul. Indwelling sin, and the heart's deep sorrow, often veils its features, and hides it from our view. What peace, then, do we find peering down into this deep, dark abyss of our own hearts? But, ascending from their depths, coming to the surface, and gazing upward upon the glorious Sun of Righteousness, the beauteous flower of peace will bloom and blossom in your heart, filling your whole soul with its heavenly sweetness.
Another cause for the interrupted peace of some may be traced to wilful disobedience of a known command. "Great peace have they who love My law, and nothing shall offend them." It was God's lament over His distressed people- "Oh that you had hearkened to my commandments! then had your peace would have been as a river, and your righteousness as the sands of the sea." To how many disobedient children of God will this lament apply! They see a positive command of Christ, but, because it imposes a cross, or prescribes some self-denial, there is a sinful reserve in their obedience, and a consequent check in the flow of their peace. But if we would eat of the good of the land, we must be willing and obedient. Oh, let us, then, walk with Jesus as obedient children! How great will then be our peace! It will flow into our souls like a river, and our righteousness will be as the waves of the sea.
Nor must we forget how soon and how sensibly the peace of God in the soul may be affected by indulged sin and conformity to the world. No two things exert a more injurious influence upon this holy peace of the Spirit than these. "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," are all opposed to that holy peace of mind which it is the privilege of the believer always to experience. We cannot allow sin, nor sinfully conformity to the world, nor indulge in anything forbidden by the Word of God, and inconsistent with the religion of Jesus and our Christian profession, without seriously, fatally compromising the peace of God in our soul.
At peace with God through Christ, aspire to the benediction of the peace-maker. Imitate your blessed Master, the Prince of Peace, and be a mediator between those whom infirmity or misunderstanding have sundered. If yourself at variance with a brother or a sister, rest not until you are reconciled. Let the petition rise to God from a true and honest heart- "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against its." Be a peace-maker in your family, in your church, in your circle, in your neighborhood. Be a promoter of peace, cost you what it may. "Overcome evil with good." Wait not for your offending or offended brother's coming to you, but, like your Lord and Savior, take the first step towards him. Go, in the meekness and gentleness of Christ, and tell him his fault, and honestly acknowledge your own, and you shall be a threefold conqueror- you shall conquer your brother, and shall conquer Satan, and shall conquer yourself.
"A peace is of the nature of a conquest;
For then both parties nobly are subdued,
And neither party loser."
"Blessed are the peace-makers; for they shall be called the children of God."
"The hand of peace is frank and warm,
And soft as ringdove's wing;
And he who quells an angry thought,
Is greater than a king."
Let us beware of a false peace. That such may be our fatal snare is clear from the solemn charge of God- "For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace." Such is the peace of the unregenerate, such the peace of the religious formalist, such the peace of the self-deceived hypocrite, and such the peace of the false professor. They cry, "Peace, peace," when God has not spoken peace. It is the peace, the still, unconscious, unbroken peace of death! Be well assured,
then, that your peace has been preceded by a spiritual arousing of the conscience, by a divine awakening of your soul, to a sight and examination of the plague of your own heart, your condemnation under the law, and your deep need of Christ. See that there has been the wounding before the healing, the storm before the calm, the conviction that you are a sinner lost by nature, before you cherish the hope of the sinner saved by grace. Ask the Holy Spirit to open up to you the deep, precious meaning of the apostle's words, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Looking in faith only to Jesus for your acceptance with God, building alone on this divine and most sure foundation which God Himself has laid, bathing in the blood and clothing with the righteousness of the Prince of Peace, you need not question the genuineness of the peace which flows like a river in your soul.
"Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always, by all means. The Lord be with you all."