‘But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.’ Job 23:13
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 4:23–31
It is a wonderful thing how God effects his purpose while still the creature is free. They who think that predestination and the fulfilment of the divine purpose is contrary to the free-agency of man, know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. It would be no miracle for God to effect his own purpose, if he were dealing with stocks and stones, with granite and with trees; but this is the miracle of miracles, that the creatures are free, absolutely free, and yet the divine purpose stands. Herein is wisdom. This is a deep unsearchable. Man walks without a fetter, yet treads in the very steps which God ordained him to tread in, as certainly as though manacles had bound him to the spot. Man chooses his own seat, selects his own position, guided by his will he chooses sin, or guided by divine grace he chooses the right, and yet in his choice, God sits as sovereign on the throne; not disturbing, but still over-ruling, and proving himself to be able to deal as well with free creatures as with creatures without freedom, as well able to effect his purpose when he has endowed men with thought, and reason, and judgment, as when he had only to deal with the solid rocks and the imbedded sea. O Christians, you shall never be able to fathom this, but you may wonder at it. I know there is an easy way of getting out of this great deep, either by denying predestination altogether or by denying free-agency altogether; but you can hold the two, if you can say, ‘Yes, my consciousness teaches me that man does as he wills, but my faith teaches me that God does as he wills, and these two are not contrary to each other; and yet I cannot tell how it is; I cannot tell how God effects his end; I can only wonder and admire.’
For meditation: Consider Romans 11:33. God searches into all our ways and knows all the answers (Psalm 139:1–5); his ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9)—too high for us to search out and understand. But we can still view them with wonder and praise (Psalm 139:6,14).
Sermon no. 406
25 August (1861)