We are taught in these verses the lawfulness of using means to provide for our own personal safety. The language of our Lord Jesus Christ on the subject is clear and unmistakable--"Let those who be in Judea FLEE to the mountains--let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house--let him that is in the field not turn back again--pray you that your flight be not in the winter." Not a word is said to make us suppose that flight from danger, in certain circumstances, is unworthy of a Christian. As to the time prophesied of in the passage before us, men may differ widely. But as to the lawfulness of taking measures to avoid peril, the teaching of the passage is plain. The lesson is one of wide application, and of much usefulness. A Christian is not to neglect the use of means, because he is a Christian, in the things of this life, any more than in the things of the life to come. A believer is not to suppose that God will take care of him, and provide for his needs, if he does not make use of means and the common sense which God has given him, as well as other people. Beyond doubt he may expect the special help of his Father in heaven, in every time of need. But he must expect it in the diligent use of lawful means. To profess to trust God, while we idly sit still and do nothing, is nothing better than fanaticism, and brings religion into contempt. The word of God contains several instructive examples on this subject, to which we shall do well to take heed. The conduct of Jacob, when he went to meet his brother Esau, is a striking case in point. He first prays a most touching prayer, and then sends his brother a carefully arranged present. (Gen. 32:9-13.) The conduct of Hezekiah, when Sennacherib came against Jerusalem, is another case. "With us," he tells the people, "is the Lord our God, to fight our battles." And yet, at the same time, he built up the walls of the city, and made darts and shields. (2 Chron. 32:5.) The conduct of Paul is another case. Frequently we read of his fleeing from one place to another, to preserve life. Once we see him let down from the walls of Damascus by a basket. Once we hear him telling the soldiers on board the Alexandrian ship, "Except the shipmen abide in the ship, you cannot be saved." (Acts 27:31.) We know the great apostle's faith and confidence. We know his courage and reliance on his Master. And yet we see that even he never despised the use of means. Let us not be ashamed to do likewise. One thing only let us bear in mind. Let us not rest upon means while we use them. Let us look far beyond them to the blessing of God. It is a great sin to be like Asa, and seek not to the Lord but to the physicians. To use all means diligently, and then leave the whole event in the hand of God, is the mark at which a true believer ought to aim. We are taught, for another thing, in these verses, the great privileges of God's elect. Twice in the passage our Lord uses a remarkable expression about them. He says of the great tribulation, "Except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He has chosen, He has shortened the days." He says again of the false Christs and false prophets, that they "shall show signs and wonders, to deceive, if it were possible, the elect." It is plain from this, and other passages in the Bible, that God has an elect people in the world. They are those, according to the seventeenth article of our church, whom "He has decreed by His counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation; those whom He has chosen in Christ out of mankind, and decreed to bring by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honor." To them, and them only, belong the great privileges of justification, sanctification, and final glory. They, and they only, are "called by the Spirit in due season." They, and they only, "obey the calling. They are made sons of God by adoption. They are made like the image of God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. They walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, attain to everlasting felicity." To them belong the precious promises of the Gospel. They are the bride, the Lamb's wife. They are the body of Christ. They are those whom God especially cares for in the world. Kings, princes, noblemen, rich men, are all nothing in God's eyes, compared to His elect. These things are plainly revealed in Scripture. The pride of man may not like them. But they cannot be gainsaid. The subject of election is, no doubt, deep and mysterious. Unquestionably it has been often sadly perverted and abused. But the misuse of truths must not prevent us from using them. Rightly used, and fenced with proper cautions, election is a doctrine "full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort." Before we leave the subject, let us see what these cautions are. For one thing, we must never forget that God's election does not destroy man's responsibility and accountableness for his own soul. The same Bible which speaks of election, always addresses men as free agents, and calls on them to repent, to believe, to seek, to pray, to strive, to labor. "In our doings," most wisely says the seventeenth article, "that will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God." For another thing, let us never forget that the great thing we have to do, is to repent and believe the Gospel. We have no right to take any comfort from God's election, unless we can show plain evidence of repentance and faith. We are not to stand still, troubling ourselves with anxious speculations whether we are elect or not, when God commands us plainly to repent and believe. (Acts 17:30. 1 John 3:23.) Let us cease to do evil. Let us learn to do well. Let us break off from sin. Let us lay hold on Christ. Let us draw near to God in prayer. So doing, we shall soon know and feel whether we are God's elect. To use the words of an old divine, we must begin at the grammar school of repentance and faith before we go to the university of election. It was when Paul remembered the faith, and hope, and love of the Thessalonians, that he said, "I know your election of God." (1 Thess. 1:4.)
Be the first to react on this!