The SUBMISSIVE Spirit
of the Lord's Prayer.
"Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
This remarkable petition in the Lord's Prayer admits of a
twofold application. In its first and more limited view, it may be regarded
as expressing the meek submission of the child of God under the trying
discipline of his heavenly Father. In its second and more comprehensive
view, it supplies a key to the preceding petition, with which it stands
closely linked, and explains to us what is meant by the coming of God's
kingdom--even His will done on earth as it is done in heaven. "Your kingdom
come, Your will be done on earth even as it is done in heaven." I propose in
the present chapter to present both of these views of the prayer.
Whose will is this? "Your will"--the will of God. The
will in man is the determining faculty of the soul. All his thoughts, words,
and actions--all that he resolves, undertakes, and executes--is a volition,
or act of the will. There is no higher natural law of the man. In God this
is infinitely and pre-eminently so. The Divine will is the supreme moving
law of the universe. We speak, and properly so, of the 'laws of nature.' As
Montesquieu in his masterly work on the Spirit of Laws has remarked, "All
beings have their laws; the Deity His laws, the material world its laws, the
intelligences superior to man their laws, the animals their laws, man his
laws." But this idea of the universality and plurality of law resolves
itself into the existence of one all-governing, all-commanding supreme law.
What are the laws of nature but the law of God? Hooker has judiciously
remarked, "Of law, no less can be said than that her seat is the bosom of
God, her voice the harmony of the world; all things in heaven and earth do
her homage, the very least as feeling her care, the greatest as not exempted
from her power; both angels and men and creatures, of what condition soever,
though each in different spheres and manner, yet all with uniform consent
admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy."
What does the teaching of this memorable passage resolve
itself into but the sublime truth that law, which is the great bond of the
universe, finds its origin in the bosom of God, in the existence and
exercise of that one divine and supreme Will whose volitions go forth from
their great center in every possible direction, like rays from the sun,
embracing, harmonizing, and controlling every form and modification of
being, whether intelligent or unintelligent. Even nations not favored with
the light of revelation have maintained the doctrine of a Supreme Power,
which, if forgotten in prosperity, they have ever sought to propitiate in
the day of sorrow. A vague, indistinct, though not less real idea has
penetrated the savage mind that a Deity is ever present regarding the
virtuous as objects of favor, and the vicious as objects of displeasure.
But to the mind enlightened by the revelation of God's
Word, conjecture gives place to certainty; and the believing heart is upheld
and solaced with the thought that God is on the throne of the universe,
ordering all things, all events, and all beings "after the counsel of His
own will;" that, while His paternal eye superintends the minutest actions
and events pertaining to ourselves, His all-ruling Will embraces the
countless varieties of existence--"And fills, and bounds, connects and
Let us look at God's will in two or three of its
God's will is UNIVERSAL--in other words, it is supreme in
its dominion. There can of necessity be but one all-ruling, all-controlling
will in the universe. That will is God's. Be it His secret will--which is
the rule of His own conduct; or, His revealed will--which is the rule of our
conduct; be it His approving will--which we should ever consult; or His
permitting will--to which we should ever bow, His will is the universal law
of the universe, extending its sovereign scepter over all worlds, all
beings, and all events.
How consolatory and assuring this truth to the Christian
mind! To know that the world is under the government of law, that that law
is the supreme Will of God, and that the mediatorial office of the Lord
Jesus Christ clothes Him with "power over all flesh." In view of this truth,
the believing mind can look calmly, confidently, even hopefully upon the
conflict of thought and the agitation of feeling, the opposition of error
and the threatening of persecution amid whose troubled waters the Ark of God
is tossing. Satan may plot, error may boast, the heathen may rage, and the
people imagine a vain thing; the kings of the earth may set themselves, and
the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed,
saying, let us break their bonds asunder; nevertheless He that sits in the
heavens reigns supremely, and will make all potentates and all events
subservient to the advancement and final triumph of His kingdom.
God's will is HOLY. The will of an essentially holy
Being, it must of necessity be so. God can will nothing that is not in
perfect harmony with His own nature. I need scarcely, therefore, remark that
God cannot be the author of sin--if a conception so monstrous could even
find a moment's lodgement in the reader's mind. God's will is holy in all
its volitions, holy in all its rule, holy in all its results. Whatever God
wills, must terminate in the display and vindication of His holiness. The
righteousness of the Divine government is the brightest crown-jewel in
the diadem of God. There must, necessarily, be events in His administration,
the result either of His permitting or of His approving will, which, at the
time, may seem to contradict the rectitude of His rule.
But the moment the believing mind can repose upon the
truth of God's holiness, that moment its perplexities are at rest; and
although all is enshrined in mystery, and the events terminate in results
which seem adverse to his best interests and God's glory, he can exclaim,
"But You are holy, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel." Beloved, the
day may come when this view of the holiness of the Divine will shall rise
before you with all the freshness of a newly revealed truth. The cup
trembling in your hand--the knife raised to slay the beloved Isaac--a view
of the perfect righteousness of the Divine will at that moment may be just
the truth which will strengthen your heart and nerve your arm to drink the
cup, and to make the sacrifice God bids you, in meek submission to His will.
The will of God is WISE. If the rectitude of God's
government cannot be honestly impeached, equally unimpeachable is its
wisdom. The apparent discrepancy, the alleged contradictions in the
administration of God's providential government--the events in the history
of the world and of the Church, and in our own individual life--which
apparently contradict the notion of a directing Power of infinite
forethought and knowledge, and which clash painfully with our idea of an
All-wise Hand guiding the movements of the vast and complicated
machine--touch not, in the slightest degree, the perfect wisdom which
superintends it all.
Could we see an event as God sees it, from the end to
the beginning, what to us seemed an entangled mass of thread would prove a
perfect garment; and what appeared a strange mingling of colors would prove
a beautiful mosaic; and what fell upon our ear as the most discordant sounds
would swell into the most exquisite harmonies--so perfect are the ways of
God with the children of men. Contemplate in this light your present
The event is mysterious and paralyzing, the calamity dark
and crushing. You walk round and round it in search of some clue that will
unravel the mystery, of some ray that will relieve the gloom, of one drop of
sweet that will mitigate the bitter. But this is mere human
reasoning. Now let grace step in and do its work. Let faith
grapple with this providence, and its whole character is changed. Faith is a
marvelously transforming principle. It presents every object through a
different medium, and places it in a different light. It transmutes the
basest metal into the purest gold, extracts the sweetest honey from the
bitterest flower, finds food in the eater, pencils with silver light and
fringes with golden rays the darkest cloud; impoverishes to enrich, and
exhausts to replenish. Let faith have its perfect work, lacking nothing, in
the present dealing of God with you.
You must now look, not at the providence, but at
the promise of God. Nor must you deal exclusively with the promise of
God, but with the God of the promise. The promises derive all their
value and preciousness from the veracity, the immutability, and the power of
God to make them good. Has God said it, and will He not perform? You have to
do with God, with His all-sufficiency. The inquiry of unbelief is, "How
shall Jacob arise, for he is small?" The answer of faith is, "He shall
arise, because God is great."
We look too little at the immensity, the all-sufficiency,
the infinity of God. The more faith deals with the power of God, the
more powerful will faith become. It grows into the greatness of its Object.
Dealing with the great God, itself becomes great, just as the intellectual
faculty expands to the dimensions of the science it grasps, and as the taste
becomes molded and elevated to the standard of art it studies. He that would
attain to true greatness in any department must study the highest and the
purest model. No individual will ever rise in science or in art, in poetry
or eloquence, superior to the standard he has chosen.
But where is there a realm in which real greatness finds
its fullest development and growth as the religion of Jesus? Religion
expands the mind, refines the feelings, elevates the taste, cultivates the
faculties and powers of the soul as nothing else does or can do. The reason
is obvious. The subjects of thought and feeling are divine and holy,
infinitely great and pure. The soul rises to the vastness of its theme.
Never had Bacon or Newton reached the height of intellectual greatness and
fame which they attained, had the one limited the range of his faculties to
the study of philosophy, and the other to the study of science. The
contemplation and study of religion molded their greatness and stamped their
Would we, then, be mighty in the principle, and great in
the achievements of faith, it must have direct, and even frequent,
transactions with God. In proportion to our acquaintance with God will be
the intimacy of our dealings with Him. The walk with God of many is so cold,
their confidence in Him so feeble, their fellowship with Him so unfilial,
their love to Him so superficial, because they know Him so slightly, are
acquainted with Him so imperfectly, and deal with Him so seldom in the minor
events, the little trials, needs and cares of every day life. "Acquaint now
yourself with Him, and be at peace."
The will of God is SUPREME. Be it His secret will, or be
it His revealed will, its supremacy is acknowledged. In heaven, in earth, in
hell, in all places, over all beings, and in all events, the scepter of the
Divine will stretches its illimitable and supreme sovereignty. It is the
paramount law of the universe. Every other will is subordinate to, and is
controlled by, the will of Jehovah. Let those think of this and tremble who,
erecting their little sovereignties, and setting up their puny wills in
defiance of, and in opposition to, the supreme sovereignty of the universe,
are seeking to be a law to themselves. The spectacle which you present to
the eye of sinless intelligence is as appalling as your sin is monstrous. It
was the opposition of man's will to God's which plunged the world in
rebellion, crime, and woe. The insane and unequal conflict has been raging
ever since, is raging now, keeping this world in a state of continued
treason and rebellion against the government of Jehovah, and will continue
so to keep it, until God's will is done on earth as it is done in heaven.
The position, then, in which this statement places the
unrenewed will is that of direct collision with God. This is in perfect
concurrence with God's Word, "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it
is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Similar to this
are the words of the same apostle--"You has He quickened, who were dead in
trespasses and sins; wherein in time past you walked according to the course
of this world . . . fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,"
(margin--the lusts of the flesh.) And what a solemn picture is that, "led
captive by Satan at his will!" Dreadful thought! Captive to Satan's will!
Here, then, are three wills which the unconverted obey--their own will, the
will of the flesh, and the will of Satan--bound by this threefold cord, they
are led captive.
But, on your part, let the personal conflict cease. Cease
to oppose God's will, speaking to you in His word, striving with you by His
Spirit, and dealing with you in His providence, lest, haply, you be found to
fight against Him to your total and eternal defeat. Seek, oh seek
importunately, the aid of the Spirit to bend the iron sinew of your will in
deep submission, patience, and love at His feet--made willing, in the day of
His power, to yield a loving obedience, an unreserved surrender to the Lord
to be His servant, His child forever. Oh, blissful moment when the conflict
ceases, when the truce is proclaimed, and peace transpires between God and
your soul! "O Lord, though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned
away, and You comfort me."
But, if the supremacy of God's will is a terror to those
who are living in rebellion against its rule, how replete with assurance and
comfort it is to those who have 'kissed the Son,' and are in a state of
peace with God through Him? Amid the upheavings of the State, and the
conflicts of the Church, how soothing to think that God sits upon the
throne, judging righteously! The believer can look calmly, confidently,
hopefully upon the stormy waters, with the firm persuasion that Christ
controls them, and that all shall be overruled to the best interests of His
people. While Christ reigns, let the earth tremble and the saints rejoice.
Infidelity may increase and blaspheme; the man of sin may speak proud
things, and vaunt itself; Christian love may wane, and Protestant zeal may
flag; foes within the Church may confederate with foes without; there may be
treachery in the camp, and treason in the invading hosts; nevertheless,
Jesus is ruling in the Church and over the world; the government of both is
upon His shoulder, and the keys of hell and of death are in His belt; He
that sits in the heavens will laugh, the Lord shall have in derision all the
abettors of infidelity and popery--Herod and Pilate made friends, and united
their forces to the overthrow of Jesus and His truth. It is a most
consolatory assurance to the saints of God that our Lord's mediatorial
supremacy includes "power over all flesh, that He might give eternal life to
as many as the Father has given Him."
There are three things contained in this petition that
God's will might be done. The disciple is taught thus to ask that the will
of God might be done on earth in the fulfillment of duty--in the
endurance of trial--and in the universal prevalence of holiness.
With regard to the fulfillment of duty, there can
be no real walking in God's precepts while the will is unreconciled to God
through Christ. Evangelical obedience is a willing obedience, the will
brought under the supernatural and loving constraint of the Spirit. If we
are not doing the will of God by holy walking in His precepts, there is a
fatal collision of our will with the Divine will. Enmity must be dislodged
from our will, thus disarming it of its hostility to God, before we can
either spiritually understand or become "doers of the word." How distinctly
our Lord puts this truth--"My teaching is not mine, but His that sent me. If
any man will DO His will, he shall know of the teaching whether it be of
God, or whether I speak of myself."
Harmony, therefore, of will is essential to spiritual
light. We are in the true position to understand revealed truth when we are
walking in holy obedience to God. Just as we see more perfectly the
properties and beauties of natural objects standing in the sunlight, so the
truth, the harmony, and the beauty of the gospel of Christ are only
distinctly discerned as the heart is right with God. Sin beclouds the
understanding, holiness enlightens it; sin warps the affections, holiness
expands them; sin deadens the conscience, holiness quickens it. A man of
mere speculative, rational knowledge, who theoretically receives, but
practically denies, the holiness of the truth; who is not a humble, sincere
believer in the Lord Jesus Christ--to believe fully in whom is the will of
God--cannot know, experimentally and spiritually, whether God's word is
divine. But he who does God's will, who leans not to his own understanding,
but is taught of the Holy Spirit, he shall know, by the truth effectually
working in him, whether it is of God or of man.
Let all who are in search of divine truth examine
themselves, and ascertain whether they are doing God's will; whether they
have believed the record God has given concerning His Son; whether they have
accepted Christ as God's unspeakable gift of love; whether they have
"submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." So long as the Lord
Jesus is not received, loved, and honored, even as the Father, the mind is
not in a position to know of the teaching, or to pursue the inquiry, "What
is truth?" The truth is Christ--"I am the truth,"--and he who has got hold
of Christ holds in his hand the golden key at whose touch the whole arcade
of truth will fly open. Thus, he who lives upon Christ as his
sanctification, stands complete in all the will of God.
God's will is likewise done on earth--in the believer's
patient endurance of trial. Submission to God is the spirit
inculcated by the Lord's Prayer. In the Christian life there is as much the
enduring, as the doing, of God's will; the passive, as the active obedience
of the believing mind to the will of God. Perhaps, more of the Lord's people
are schooled in the discipline of the will to the passive than to the active
part of the Christian life--in suffering than in doing. In ACTIVE SERVICE
for the Lord there may be a greater indulgence of our will than we have any
suspicion of. The sphere may be pleasant, the work agreeable, the success
cheering, the applause flattering, and so our own imperfectly sanctified
will is gratified.
But the PASSIVE school of God places the believer in a
different position, and brings his will under a different discipline.
Suffering is not desirable, nor affliction pleasant, nor sorrow welcome; so
that when God is pleased to send either, there is necessarily a more direct
and powerful subjugation of the will of the believer to the will of God.
This may, perhaps, explain the reason why more Christians graduate for
heaven in the school of adversity than any other.
This, also, invests with light that apparently dark and
inexplicable part in our Lord's personal history--His learning in suffering.
Was He not perfect, apart from sorrow? Was He not complete, irrespective of
suffering? The apostle shall reply. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He
obedience by the things which He suffered." "It became Him for whom are all
things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to
make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering." Link, then,
two truths in Christ's personal experience--suffering, and the learning the
lesson of obedience--and He is presented to your study in two of the most
consolatory and instructive points of His history. He was a pupil in the
school of suffering. There was not a moment in His career which was not a
moment of graduated suffering, since, from the moment He touched earth's
horizon commenced His work of suretyship. If it was in the school of
affliction He was to learn, then His learning commenced at the manger of
Bethlehem. He was to work out the profoundest problem in the moral
government of the universe--the harmony of God's attributes in the pardon
of man's sin. It was the problem of His life. All was new to Him. The
difficulties of redemption, the evil of sin, the bitterness of the cross,
the lesson of obedience, the tremendousness of suffering, the discipline of
will, were the parts of His mediatorial work in which He was to be
perfected, and perfected only in the path of suffering. I speak of His
humanity now. And if the humanity of the Son of God were, in the
strictest sense, our own humanity, in all but its sinfulness, then we must
believe that, like ours, it was progressive--as progressive in its
intellectual and moral, as in its corporeal powers. To this law it was
inevitably and unquestionably subjected. "And Jesus increased in
wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."
As God, He was essentially holy, and there could not be
any addition to His holiness. But as man--unless we suppose that His
humanity was dissimilar to our own, which would be to loosen the great
foundation-stone of our faith, and overthrow His Atonement--He grew in
holiness; that is, His holiness, perfect in itself, developed and increased
with His years, investing His life with a deepening sanctity and a growing
luster, until it culminated at the cross.
Jesus, then, was a learner. "He learned obedience." And
the great lesson He learned, daily, hourly learned, was the doing and the
enduring of His Father's will. As His sufferings advanced, the magnitude of
the task expanded before His view. With the darkening of the storm, the
lesson grew more difficult. Just as the faggots, piled around the Christian
martyr, become more and more ignited, and the devouring flames leap higher
and higher, and enfold closer and closer the suffering victim--the lesson of
endurance, fortitude, and meek submission becomes more difficult, more
painful--so was it with our blessed Lord. While suffering taught Him how
much He was to endure, it also taught Him how difficult it was to endure.
And it was not until He had passed through the severest ordeal that He
completely learned the lesson of submission to the will of God. Bethlehem
prepared Him for Gethsemane, and Gethsemane prepared Him for Calvary. It was
in the garden that the most fearful struggle was endured, the agonizing
conflict was passed, and the victory was achieved. "Your will be done,"
uttered in sobs of grief, swelled into the paean of triumph shouted from the
cross, "It is finished!"
In this same school of suffering our will is chastened
and sanctified. All His saints are thus taught of God. Of Aaron it is said,
"And Aaron held his peace." Listen to Eli--"It is the Lord; let Him do what
seems Him good." Listen to Job--"Shall we receive good at the hand of the
Lord, and not evil?" "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be
the name of the Lord." And in this school God is, perhaps, now disciplining
yours. In no other could the holy lesson be learned; in no other position
could the surrender be made.
"He who knew what human hearts would prove,
How slow to learn the dictates of His love;
Called for a cloud to darken all their years,
And said, Go spend them in the valley of tears."
But this lesson of surrendered will to God, is not
learned in one or two trials. As it is the holiest, so it is the hardest
lesson in our heavenly education. The child, in process of weaning, is not
more fretful and resistant than the believer often in process of divorce
from himself. To surrender the dearest, to relinquish the sweetest, to
forego the pleasantest for God, is a heavenly ascent of the soul--steep,
rugged, and painful. But, weary and footsore, the panting pilgrim at length
reaches the summit, bathed in the divinest sunlight, and falling prostrate
at the feet of His Heavenly Father, exclaims, "Not as I will, but as You
Be not discouraged, child of God, if your progress is
slow in reaching this high Christian attainment of submission. Your
blessed Lord Himself did not fully attain to it until He had thrice prayed.
We often overlook the plurality of trial in God's chastening of our
will. A single affliction seldom accomplishes its mission. The arrival of
one is frequently the herald of another yet more heavy and sad. But this is
our comfort that, "all things work together for good to those who love God;"
and your present plurality of trial is among the all things of God's
everlasting covenant of grace. Do not think that He will forsake you. It is
the discipline of a Father's love. Will He not "stay His rough wind in the
day of His east wind?" "Happy is the man whom God corrects--therefore
despise not the chastening of the Almighty; for He makes sore and binds up.
He wounds, and His hands make whole. He shall deliver you in six troubles;
yes, in seven there shall no evil touch you."
May you not, then, be happy? If God is for you--and you
are pavilioned within His perfections--who or what can hurt you? Though a
host of foes or of trials should encamp against you, yet in this may your
faith repose, that, the Triune Jehovah, Israel's God, encircles you as a
wall of fire. Oh, what a God is He with whom the believer has to do! You
have to do with the God of the Bible, the God of Christ, the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob--the God of redemption, the covenant God of a chosen,
loved, and redeemed people.
How faintly we deal with God as He really is! We rob Him
of His infinity, and think of Him as finite. We divest Him of His divine
perfections, and clothe Him with mere human attributes. We think Him such an
one as ourselves. Oh to rise to the greatness of God--the greatness of His
power, the vastness of His love, the infinitude of His resources! We limit
the Holy One of Israel, we doubt the ability, the willingness, the grace of
Christ to save us; we think the Spirit of the Lord confined; and thus,
bringing Jehovah down to our poor size instead of rising to His immeasurable
greatness, we are dwarfs where we should be giants in grace; we cleave to
the dust when we should soar to the sun; we carry our own burdens and nurse
our own sorrows, when we should transfer them all in faith to Him who loves
us. Uplift, then, your song, though it rises from the valley and echoes
through a strange land.
"Is God for me? I fear not, though all against me rise;
When I call on Christ my Savior, the host of evil flies;
My Friend, the Lord Almighty, and He who loves me, God,
What enemy shall harm me, though coming as a flood?
I know it, I believe it, I say it fearlessly,
That God, the highest, mightiest, forever loves me;
At all times, in all places, He stands at my side,
He rules the battle fury, the tempest, and the tide.
"A Rock that stands forever, is Christ my righteousness,
And there I stand unfearing, in everlasting bliss;
No earthly thing is needful, to this my life from heaven,
And nothing of love is worthy, save that which Christ has given;
Christ, all my praise and glory, my light most sweet and fair,
The ship wherein He saileth, is sinkless everywhere.
In Him I dare be joyful, as a hero in the war;
The judgment of the sinner, affrighteth me no more.
"There is no condemnation, there is no hell for me,
The torment and the fire, my eye shall never see;
For me there is no sentence, for me death has no sting,
Because the Lord, who loves me, shall shield me with His wing.
Above my soul's dark waters, His Spirit hovers still,
He guards me from all sorrows, from terror, and from ill;
In me He works and blesses, the life-seed He has sown,
From Him I learn the 'Abba,' that prayer of faith alone.
"And if in lonely places, a fearful child I shrink,
He prays the prayers within me, I cannot ask or think--
The deep unspoken language, known only to that love,
Who fathoms the heart's mystery, from the throne of light above.
His Spirit to my spirit, sweet words of comfort saith,
How God the weak one strengthens, who leans on Him in faith,
How He has built a city--of love, and light, and song,
Where the eye at last beholdeth, what the heart has loved so long.
"And there is my inheritance, my kingly palace, home;
The leaf may fall and perish, not less the spring will come;
Like wind and rain of winter, our earthly sighs and tears,
Until the golden summer dawneth, of the endless year of years.
The world may pass and perish, You, God, will not remove,
No hatred of all devils, can part me from Your love;
No hungering nor thirsting, no poverty nor care,
No wrath of mighty princes, can reach my shelter there.
"No angel and no heaven--no throne, nor power, nor might;
No love, no tribulation--no danger, fear, nor fight;
No height, no depth, no creature--that has been or can be,
Can drive me from Your bosom, can sever me from Thee.
My heart in joy upleapeth, grief cannot linger there,
She sings high in glory, amid the sunshine fair:
The sun that shines upon me, is Jesus and His love,
The fountain of my singing, is deep in heaven above."
One experience of this remarkable petition yet remains to
be considered. "Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
The question arises, "How is God's will done in heaven?" We briefly
reply--God's will is done in heaven HARMONIOUSLY. There lives not a being in
heaven whose will is not in the sweetest accord with the will of God. The
will of God is done in heaven by all celestial intelligences, because it is
His will. This is the loftiest motive that can sway a created mind--no
motive lower than this should sway ours. The conviction that we are doing
or suffering God's will should be enough to annihilate every
objection and silence every murmur.
The will of God is done in heaven CHEERFULLY. "Bless the
Lord, you His angels that excel in strength, hearkening to the voice of His
word." They hearken that they might do. Such should be our obedience--a
cordial, cheerful doing and enduring; as the apostle expresses it, "Doing
the will of God from the heart." How touchingly did our Lord
illustrate this cheerful obedience to God! "I delight to do Your will, O my
God." And, in another place, "I seek not mine own will, but the will of Him
that sent me." So let our submission to God be--a cheerful, happy
God's will is done in heaven PROMPTLY. There is not a
moment's pause of sullen hesitation or questioning delay. Every angel poised
upon his white pinion, every seraph with his hand upon his golden harp,
every glorified spirit with the well-prepared anthem upon the lip, stands
ready to obey God's command. So let His will be done by us--without
reasoning or demur, without attempting to penetrate the mystery or define
the outcome. It may demand the costliest sacrifice, impose the heaviest
cross, involve the severest self-denial--nevertheless, would we imitate on
earth the will of God as done in heaven? then let us not ask the reason why,
but promptly and cheerfully obey, satisfied that it is the holy, wise, and
righteous will of our heavenly Father.
The blessings that flow from PERFECT acquiescence with
the will of God are innumerable. It secures our happiness. The great
secret of all quietness and contentedness of mind under all circumstances,
is in the resignation of our own will to God's will. The moment there
arises in the breast the least hostility to what God does, or enjoins, there
is unhappiness. The harp is unstrung, and harshness and discord is the
There is safety, also, in resignation to God's
will. Never is the child of God so safe as when doing and suffering the will
of God. Danger and destruction lie in the path of self-will. As much
should we deprecate self-will's rule and shrink from asserting its
pre-eminence, as we would be insane standing upon the brink of an Alpine
precipice, with the ice and the snow melting and crumbling beneath our feet.
But, oh, the perfect safety in doing and enduring God's will! mysterious,
painful, humbling though it be.
There is heavenly blessing, also, in the soul that
does God's will. In proportion to our assimilation to the perfection of
God's will as done in heaven, is our approach to the happiness of heaven
itself. We sit as in the heavenlies while harmony exists between God's mind
and ours. No position of the soul brings us into such close and holy
relation to God as when our will sweetly dissolves into His. The soul, with
all its present and eternal interests, is now confidently and cheerfully
surrendered to Him. No dread of rocks, and of shoals, in the homeward
voyage. Our Father pilots the barque, and perfect confidence garrisons the
soul. With a divine hand upon the helm, love expanding the sails, and
hope sitting serenely upon the prow, the heaven-bound vessel careers her
pathway through sunlight and through storm; and so He brings us to our
One word shall sum up all that we would further say upon
this part of the subject--the cheerful doing and the patient suffering of
our Father's will resolves itself into perfect satisfaction with all that
He does. It is the daily lesson of life, the secret of our growth in
grace, the essence of our personal holiness. "This is the will of God, even
your sanctification." "And be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that
you may prove what is that good and acceptable will of God."
"May Your will be done!" This is the most solemn prayer
it is possible for man to breathe. Unconverted reader, are you aware what
this petition involves? Are you prepared for the answer? God's will is that
you should be holy--are you ready to give up your pride, your
avarice, your lusts, your worldliness, your secret sins? God's will is
that uprightness and integrity should mark all our doings--are
you willing to have your ledger examined, your accounts scrutinized, your
bills taxed, and your commercial transactions placed in the light of day?
God's will is that we should love Him with a simple, single, and
supreme affection--are you willing that He should enter the garden of your
soul, and gather this lily, and pluck that rose, and mow down that daisy,
and break the stem of that beautiful and stately plant, that henceforth He
might possess your heart? God's will is that you should believe in
and accept His beloved Son as your only Savior, your righteousness,
redemption, and hope--are you willing to cast overboard your
self-righteousness, to part with your religion of duties, and rites, and
forms, and receive Christ as a poor, empty sinner, trusting only in His
blood and righteousness?
No! perhaps you are not prepared for any part of this
sacrifice! And yet, morning and evening, you pray, "may Your will be done!"
Oh, it is the most solemn, fearful prayer lips ever uttered! When next you
breathe it, add yet another--"Lord, renew me by Your Spirit, strengthen,
sanctify me by Your grace, that in doing and in suffering I may stand
complete in all Your holy will."
The UNIVERSALITY of God's will done on earth, will be the
universality of the reign of holiness. The millennial age of the
world, which is to be ushered in by the Coming of the Lord in person, and
with great glory, will be the dawn of an era of righteousness, peace, and
happiness, such as creation has not witnessed since its primeval state. In
that day, when "the Lord's feet shall stand upon the mount of Olives which
is before Jerusalem," when "the Lord shall be King over all the earth . . .
and His name one," "in that day shall there be upon the bells of the
horses--holiness unto the Lord; and the pots in the Lord's house
shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and in
Judah shall be--holiness unto the Lord of hosts--and all those who
sacrifice shall come and take of them, and cook in them--and in that day
there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of
hosts." Then will the prayer--for centuries the burden of the Church--be
fulfilled, and in the new earth and the new heaven, in which righteousness
supremely reigns, God's will shall be done. O my Father, God!
"Let Your will, not mine, be done;
Let my will and Yours be one."