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BY REV. JACOB ABBOTT,

NEW YORK.

SUBMISSION TO THE DIVINE WILL.

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he my exalt you in due time. Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you —1 Pet, v. 6,7.

God enjoins upon men a spirit of submission to his will on their account, not on his own. In this respect he differs from human monarchs. They condemn insubordination on the part of their subjects, because it endangers their own power. The spirit of discontent and sedition among a people, perplexes cabinets, demands increased expenditures for troops and munitions of war, and results sometimes in a rebellion which drives the monarch from his throne. But no murmurs of discontent, no repinings, no fruitless struggles against God can perplex his government or disturb his repose. No resistance can impede the execution of his decrees, and no rebellion ever shake the firm foundations of his throne. So that God enjoins upon us submission to his will for our sakes, not for his own. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

How useless, for a creature to attempt to resist his Creator-a poor captive insanely beating his head against the stone walls or iron grating of the confinement which his condition requires, or as our Savior expressed it in his remonstrance with Saul, an impatient ox who kicks against the commands of his master, and strikes only the points of the goad. Hopeless however as this resistance is, the unsubdued spirit of man, twists and turns under the mighty hand that is upon him, in the vain attempt to diminish its pressure or escape from its control. All the restless repining, all the uneasy fears, all the unavailing and useless complaints, and regrets at what is past or inevitable, are only so many struggles of a spirit in bondage, which has not learned to submit to the condition which its almighty master has thought it best for a time to impose.

Some persons confound submissiveness with tameness and inefficiency of spirit; but the truth is, on the other hand, that the true beauty and glory of submission cannot be seen in their greatest perfection except in connexion with character and conduct of the highest native energy. The Apostle Paul, who braved eve,

danger, who shrunk from no toil, whose action was in all cases most prompt and decisive, who traversed the whole known world under impulses as strong as ever moved a human soul, was, in the presence of God, a very child. Always self possessed and calm, he preserved a humble and docile equanimity under all circumstances of danger or of pain. In shipwreck at sea, he was quiet and unmoved while all around him was consternation; he did not seek to penetrate by eager and anxious glances the veil which concealed futurity from him. When going into extreme personal danger, in one case, he says, “and now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing what shall befal me there.” The meaning is that he did not wish to know. And harsh imprisonment, which, more than anything else, irritates and chafes common minds, and reveals their restlessness and impatience of control, was to him only a release from the obligations of duty. His mind dismisses at once all anxiety and care. He is in God's hands,—he has nothing to do, and his feelings of calm and happy submission to the divine will express themselves spontaneously in songs of praise. The spirit, so lofty and energetic in its capacities and aims, that no dangers could daunt it and no obstacles discourage, stood subdued and quiet before God, like a lion changing to a lamb when it comes into the presence of its master. Thus the spirit of submissiveness to the divine will takes its highest form when it stands in connexion with a character of the greatest energy, perseverance and decision.

The conversion of the soul is the first subduing of it to submission. Before this it rebels, secretly or openly, against God's law. It turas away from God and lives in a state of insubordination to him. When we are told this from the pulpit, in theological language, we doubt or disbelieve it. We cannot think, we say, that there is any enmity between us and our heavenly Father, and we invest the language of the Scriptures which so plainly asserts this, with some vague and metaphorical meaning. And yet after all, though we deny it in words, there is something in our secret consciousness which tells us it is true. In our sad and sorrowful hours when we want some refuge to go to, we cannot find such a refuge in God. The soul, desolate and wretched, finding a blank in every earthly direction in which it looks, sees something worse than a blank in the direction of heaven. It instinctively paints to itself the face of God darkened by a frown. While every thing looks comfortless below, it finds only a dark and gloomy dread of retribution when it attempts to look above. In a word, the unchanged soul of man has always a feeling which no reasoning can remove, that there is a vast and eternal power riding sublimely above it, under whose mighty hand it has never yet been humbled. There are times in the experience of every reflecting mind, when the world seems to shrink into insignificant dimensions and withdraw from the view. Its colors fade. Its promises of happiness disappear. Its sorrows and woes darken the whole horizon. Its brief period of duration seems just at an end, and the heart longs to fly away in search of something to rest upon-but is repulsed by the still gloomier aspect of every thing beyond the grave, where reigns supreme a power to which it has never yet been willing to bow. Weary at length of this wretched isolation, and touched by a sense of the divine kindness and compassion which seeks to draw us from it, we come and submit. We humble ourselves under the mighty hand which we feel it to be vain and wicked to resist any longer.

But he who thus conforms his will to that of God, in respect to the great question of his salvation, will often afterwards find the spirit of insubmission lingering still in his heart, and showing itself in his daily experience of the dificulties and trials of life. But we ought to submit as cheerfully and as fully to the providence of God as to his law. Instead of this, however, even the christian finds that the little losses and disappointments of life vex him—the misconduct of others irritates him. If he is in circumstances of real or imaginary danger, his mind is filled with restless and anxious solicitude, which he sometimes openly expresses and sometimes he has the good sense to conceal, but which, expressed or concealed, is wholly inconsistent with the aspiration—Thy will be done.' Now the precept of our text covers the whole ground. It commands us to yield ourselves, wholly, and always, to the disposal of God; to give ourselves to him, to cast all our care upon him, to leave him to assume all responsibility for our protection, our welfare and our happiness,-in small things as well as great, and in great things as well as small: in sickness, in sorrow, in danger, in distress, in hope and in fear, by day and by night, at sea and on the land, always, everywhere, and under alt circumstances,—with a spirit of peaceful submission which never is anxious and never disturbed.

Such is the general intent and meaning of the text.
We draw from this subject the following practical lessons :

1. We must all, at once, if we have not already done it, submit to God's law. He requires of us a life of penitence and faith in His Son. If we have not commenced such a life, we are engaged in that most insane and hopeless of all struggles, an attempt to resist the will of the Suprenie. We stand obnoxious to a law which holds its sword of vengeance over us, and delays to strike only in hope of our submission. This law stands around us on every side, rising against us like a wall, immutable and eternal.

We cannot evade it. We cannot resist it. We cannot escape its penalties. We can bow spontaneously before it now, and it will then become our protection,-or we can go on in our resistance. It is just as we please. But we cannot close our eyes to what must inevitably be the result of such a contest. If we cannot find it in our hearts to yield to its requirements, we must at last be overwhelmed with its awful retributions.

on.

2. We must submit to God's instructions. We must be willing to receive what he declares to us in his word, without making captious objections to it. And, what is harder still perhaps, we must be satisfied with the imperfect light which he has thought fit to bestow. We learn from the word of God far less than our curiosity calls for, in respect to our origin, our destiny, the reasons for the proceedures of the divine government which we witness, the nature of the future world, and of the scenes and circumstances into which we shall there be ushered. We speak sometimes of the full blaze of the gospel, and it is true that the light which shines upon the path of present duty is clear. But the thousand topics relating to our spiritual condition and prospects, into which human curiosity and wonder strongly desire to look, receive from it a very dim and uncertain illumination. Every reflecting mind which seeks to know its future way, finds itself surrounded and enveloped with mystery which even the light of revelation refuses to dispel. The great facts of a resurrection and a judgment to come, are clearly revealed,—but the circumstances, the modes and even the possibilities of them, are shrouded in inscrutable darkness, which the mind wearies and distresses itself in vain to penetrate. The gospel is not a sun shedding a broad illumination over all it shines up

It is a light upon a dark and dangerous coast, which shines afar, over the stormy ocean, only penetrating a darkness which it never was intended to dispel. The mariner can see it clearly. It guides him. It cheers him. It shows him where his port lies. But it is a mere star, after all, shining alone, showing nothing but itself, not even its own reflection in the waters. But it is enough. It is all that the pilot needs to guide him. It tells him that there is a haven there, but it leaves him who watches it and follows it, all uninformed about everything but his own course of present duty. The cities, the towns, the green fields, the thousand happy homes which spread along the shore to which it invites him, it does not reveal. All is as blank and dark in that direction as in the opposite one where rages the stormy expanse over which his ship has come. Just so with the gospel. It is a light, shining on the dark shore of eternity, just simply guiding us there. It reveals to us almost nothing of heaven, but the way to reach it. For what reason God has thus withheld from us all but the most general information respecting his designs and our future condition, we do not know. But we must submit to it. We must be willing to go on in darkness till the light shall come. We must be willing not to know what he has thought best not to declare, as well as to receive implicitly what he has vouchsafed to reveal.

3. We must submit to God's Providence.

We little realize how few of the circumstances of life on which our welfare and happiness depend are within our control. Man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps. We must be willing now to submit to this direction. Be active, energetic, patient, persevering and circumspect in all your plans and efforts. Leave nothing undone which it is in your power to do, to ensure success. But when you have done all, calmly and quietly leave the event in his hands who most certainly will decide, whether you have the heart to acquiesce in his decision or not. Allow yourself to feel no solicitude and no anxiety. In circumstances of danger, or where you imagine there is danger, remember that restlessness and anxious concern are insubmission.

You are upon the water in a dark and stormy night,—and you harass yourself and those around you by the indulgence and expression of your fears. You watch the skies, you make ceaseless and utterly useless enquiries,-you listen to the moaning of the wind, and wish you had not embarked,-and in a word you allow your soul to work itself into a commotion which forms, within, the image and counterpart of the sea of surges which is roaring without, around you. Is this the spirit of submission? Is this a readiness to acquiesce in the divine will concerning you? Can a Christian who has given himself to the Lord, to be disposed of soul and body, for time and for eternity by him, can a Christian thus allow his heart to rebel against the mighty hand that is over him, and call himself a Christian still ?

Whenever anything occurs in the dealings of divine Providence, whether it be losses, dangers, or difficulties, we must say to the rising feeling within, Hush, be still. We must calm the anxiety, dismiss the care, and throw the whole soul into an attitude of quiet repose, by bringing home fully to our minds the reflection that the pressure which we feel is the pressure of the mighty. hand from above, against which it is most vain as well as wicked to struggle.

So in case of any impending calamity or danger, the hand may exert itself to avert it, but the heart must be still. A reverse of fortune is involving you in difficulties and embarrassments which hedge you up, day by day, more and more closely, and from which there is every day less and less hope of extrication. Or Jeath is coming to sunder some of the dearest ties which entwine your heart: all efforts to relieve and save are vain, and you see the sufferer, whom you love, pining slowly away and sinking gradually and hopelessly towards the grave.

In either of these cases you are not indeed to relax your exertions. What little lays in your power, you must faithfully do. But the activity of your movement without must not have a counterpart in restlessness and inquietness of spirit within. Here all must be calm, peaceful, resigned. We must feel that such questions are to be decided by a different voice from ours. This willingness to leave the responsibility where it properly belongs, will take off from your soul one half its burden, and make the other half easily borne.

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