But when He remains silent, who can condemn Him? When He hides His face, who can see Him? Yet He watches over both man and nation,
I. PEACE IS A BLESSING OF THE HIGHEST VALUE. There is a quietness of death; the defeated are stilled; lethargy and inertness are quiet. And there is no blessedness in these things. True peace is alive, watchful, full of power and faculty, yet calm. The peace which our souls crave is inward restfulness. This may be found with much external activity, with much life and thought within also, but without confusion or tumult. The activity is harmonious. It is possible for peace to coexist with many sorrows. Peace is deeper than pain. When it dwells within it gives a strength as well as a sense of satisfaction, so that suffering which otherwise would seem intolerable becomes quite bearable, though it can never cease to be distressful. The deepest desire is not for joy; it is (or satisfaction of some hunger of the soul- There is an unrest that torments. Even appetite craves peace - not so much the enjoyment that accompanies its satisfaction, as that satisfaction itself, i.e. the ultimate peace.
II. MAN FAILS TO FIND PEACE. Two opposite methods have been tried.
1. The satisfaction of desire. This is the way of the voluptuary; but it brings weariness and disgust, not peace. Many desires cannot be satisfied, and the vain effort to give them their ends is a cause of inward tumult. Even when one desire is satisfied, another springs up clamorous in its place. The capacity for desire is immeasurable, but the facilities for satisfaction are very limited. Hence an inevitable disappointment.
2. The suppression of desire. This is the ascetic method. It is less disappointing in some respects, but it is only possible for strong natures. Indeed, in its completeness it is not possible for any. Desires will arise unsought. But if all desires could be crushed, the result would be torpor, death. For we live by hope. Therefore the peace of mere suppression is but the peace of death, and no true peace.
III. GOD GIVES PEACE. The quietness of a strong and happy life is from him and from him alone. Yet it is not given as a direct boon irrespective of our condition. God gives peace through confidence. Christ said, "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me." Therefore we must trust in order to be at rest. Nevertheless, the peace is a Divine gift; it is more than the natural consequence of trusting. Something must be done to quell turbulent passions and to harmonize conflicting desires, and this is done by the influence of God's Spirit in the heart of man,
IV. THE PEACE OF GOD IS SECURE. "Who then can make trouble?" This is a solid peace.
1. Resting on a good foundation. Earthly peace is like an unstable equilibrium. It looks fair and inviting, yet it is overturned by the first touch of opposition. But the peace of God is stable; we can learn to put it to the test. It is not a mere mood of the soul; it is of a strong and vital character.
2. Protected from serious assaults When quietness of soul is given by God, it is also guarded by him. He shelters his haven of refuge. By providential watchfulness he keeps off what will destroy peace; by inward grace he fortifies the soul against disturbing influences. All this is experienced so long as the soul is trusting God, and therefore living in communion with him. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." - W.F.A.
I. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE QUIETNESS HERE SPOKEN OF? When God enables a man to rest peacefully, tranquilly, without let or hindrance, without anything to molest, or harm, or disturb, or terrify him, "who can make trouble?"
When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?
I. THIS QUIETNESS. It is not a freedom from outward afflictions. We often notice, that so far are Christians from being exempted from sufferings, that it is just the most advanced Christians who are the most deeply tried. It is not a callous indifference to our own sufferings or the sufferings of others. It is not hardness or selfishness. By purifying the heart, and destroying its natural and miserable selfishness, Christianity renders the affections far more strong and enduring. Nor is this quietness a freedom from conflict. Indeed, only the true Christian knows what this conflict between the flesh and the spirit is. Everyone who reaches heaven in safety is, and must be, a conqueror. Yet there is a quietness of spirit which the Christian enjoys. A calmness of spirit which arises from faith and confidence in Jesus Christ, in His perfect atonement, His finished work, His precious blood, His living person. This quietness is something unworldly, something that comes from above, and so it is a state of mind which endures. Notice whence and how it comes. "When He giveth quietness." It is a gift — a free gift of God. The channel is Jesus Christ. Real peace, real quietness of spirit, can only come to sinners as we are through a mediator. We lack quietness of spirit when we do not depend fully and simply upon Christ. But it is not always at the commencement of the Christian course that God gives "quietness." Sometimes it is bestowed nearer its close. It is the result of a holy walk with God, with increasing acquaintance with Him.
II. THE SEASONS WHEN GOD GIVETH QUIETNESS. We need not speak of seasons of outward prosperity. Then it is, and only then, that the world enjoys its worldly quietness. But that quietness, what an empty thing it is! The quietness which God gives, He bestows in largest measure in seasons of trouble. It is just when outward comforts fail, when the world looks very dark, it is then that inward consolations abound, and the believer's cup runs over..."Who then can make trouble?" It is a bold challenge! Bold, whether addressed to Satan, the world, or our own hearts, all of which are so mighty to make trouble. The true Christian can meet even death with quietness of spirit.
I. BY PACIFYING THE CONSCIENCE. Conscious innocence makes the best pillow. Blessed are all those who know some. thing of the quietness that God gives when He pacifies the conscience!
II. BY WORKING IN THE HEART A CONTENTED DISPOSITION. Discontent is one of the greatest enemies to our peace of mind. It is the murderer of men's happiness. We stretch forth empty hands from the attained to the unattained. It is the old story: the apprentice longs to be a journeyman, and the journeyman pants to be a foreman, and the foreman groans to be a master, and the master pines till he is able to build a snug villa and retire from business. But God gives quietness, and then we drop anchor, never to voyage any more upon the sea of unsatisfied desire. Who now can make trouble?
III. BY DELIVERING US FROM ALL ANXIETY ABOUT THE FUTURE. It is not everyone who can contemplate the future with composure. To many it is a shapeless terror. Who will venture to open its seven-sealed book, who brave enough to read its contents? The future! No man can look fearlessly upon it, except the Christian. Come what will, he is prepared for all that shall befall him between this hour and the grave.
IV. BY IMPARTING A SENSE OF SECURITY IN VIEW OF THE FINAL CHANGE.
(S. L. Wilson, M. A.)
1. External quietness, as when God interposes in the defence of His people. Here is the Christian's comfort, that no harm can happen to him without God's permission. He is safe beyond the reach of danger. But we cannot be certain at any time that it is God's pleasure wholly to deliver us. He may let the evil come. He may keep us in suspense.
2. There is another way. God may supply us with inward peace — such peace as shall set us free from anxious fears as to trials that may be coming upon us, or shall hear us up, and sustain us, in the midst of trials which have come. Often the trials which we dread do not come; and often, when they do come, they prove less than we had imagined. God gives quietness in such cases by enabling us to look up to Him as our Father, our reconciled Father, in Christ Jesus, and so to feel assured that we are the objects of His fatherly care.
II. THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLESSED PEACE — GOD. We are perfectly secure from all molestation, and all danger, because He that keepeth us is the eternal, unchangeable, almighty, ever-present God.
III. IN WHAT WAY IS THIS QUIETNESS TO BE ATTAINED?
1. The first step towards it is to make sure that we are in a state of reconciliation with God; and this is to be attained by earnestly and heartily returning to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The second step is to live closely to God — to walk before Him in all holy obedience, serving Him faithfully, unreservedly, diligently. We may rest assured that real, solid, well-grounded peace is to be enjoyed by none but those who do thus serve Him.
3. We must learn to cast all our care on God in the full assurance that He careth for us. We must look off from ourselves. We must walk by faith, not by sight.
4. We should acquire the habit of carrying our cares, and anxieties, and sorrows to God, and spreading them before Him in prayer. It is true that He knows them all without our telling Him; but He would have us tell Him notwithstanding. Prayer is His own appointed ordinance.
(C. A. Heurtley, B. D.)
I. PEACE HAS NO NECESSARY RESIDENCE ANYWHERE BUT IN THE BOSOM OF JEHOVAH. He is called, "the God of peace." Then —
1. Peace must be universally the gift of God. Finite being has no peace to confer on another; it must emanate ceaselessly from the bosom of Deity.
2. Peace is likewise the purchase of Deity. One who is God must bear the consequences of our sins, or His peace can never reach us.
3. It is the gift and creation of the Divine Spirit. Learn, then, to estimate the value of true religion.
II. WHY, THEN, DOES GOD HIDE HIS FACE FROM HIS CHILD?
1. To lead man into intimate acquaintance with Himself.
2. To humble His family.
3. To teach them to prize communion with Himself above everything.
4. That He may try if anything can make them happy in His absence.
5. To chastise His children for their transgression.
(W. Howel.)I. THE DOCTRINE ON THE SUBJECT. God is the supreme and only disposer of all human affairs. This doctrine is not laid down formally, but taken for granted. It forms the ground of Elihu's appeal. Many will not admit that God interferes in the affairs of this or that particular person. But this objection to the doctrine of particular providence proceeds, not from doubt about the doctrine, but from dislike to it. In the government of the world, God not only rules, but overrules. God, in the government of the world, feels toward it, not merely the interest of a creator and contriver of means to an end, but the far more tender and compassionate regard of a Redeemer.
II. THE DUTIES WHICH AROSE OUT OF THE DOCTRINE.
1. The Christian duty of faithful dependence on God.
2. The Christian duty of reverential fear of Him.
(F. C. Clark, B. A.)1. Because all things are in subjection to His disposing. As, for example, men's purposes and counsels, they are all guided by Him.
2. When God will give quietness, none shall be able to make trouble, because that trouble which is at any time made, it is in reference to God Himself, and for the avenging of His quarrel upon people. The second reference of this verse is as they respect, not a kingdom, but a particular person. When God will give a man quietness, none can trouble him; when God will hide His face from him, none can uphold him. When God gives inward peace, a man shall suffer no great inconvenience from outward trouble. Trouble is not so much from the condition, as the affection; it is not so much from the state, as from the mind. Where a man has peace and quietness of conscience, he is so far forth provided against all trouble and disturbance whatsoever. He which has peace and atonement with God, has that within him which swallows all outward sadness and trouble whatsoever. He which has peace with God, there is nothing which is able to trouble him, because that which is the main ground, and occasion, and foundation of trouble is removed, and taken away from him. Where God gives this quietness and peace, there is also an intimation and assurance of all those evils and outward calamities, as working and making for our good. Where there is peace with God, there is also an intimation of safeguard and protection for time to come. There is also the sweet and comfortable expectation of a blessed and happy condition, which a man shall partake of in another world.
(T. Horton, D. D.)I. THE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF THE BLESSING HERE SPOKEN OF. It is quietness, calmness, repose, and may consist of —
1. External peace. This is when God interposes on behalf of His people. "He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." Still, We cannot reckon on this kind of peace.
2. Internal peace. This is of a different nature to external peace, and every Christian can and ought to enjoy it. It is independent of all the vicissitudes of life, of all the trials of time.
II. THE METHOD OF ITS ATTAINMENT. The quietness of our text is one of the growths of Christian character. There are two particulars which bring it about: —
1. Reconciliation with God. There can be no peace where there are alienation and enmity.
2. Holiness of conversation. There can be no peace where there is indulged sin.
3. Assurance of confidence. "Casting all your cares on Him, for He careth for you."
(J. J. S. Bird.)i.e., be not anxious and disquieted, suffer not your mind to be distracted, drawn different ways, by cares as to this want and that; learn to trust, to serve God with a quiet mind. How can we obtain and secure this spirit? If we are really serving the Lord, how can we do it as here asked for, with a quiet mind? The ever-restless, ever-changing sea is but too true an image of the heart. In order to be real, lasting, and effectual, there must be the true basis for it, the pardon and cleansing away of sin; there must be the purging of the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. True service must be based upon the sense of pardon and reconciliation. In no other way can the motive be supplied which alone can produce the result. In addition to the pardon which God offers, and as a result of its being received by us, and assured to us, there is the peace, that we may serve Him with a quiet mind. There must be the true basis, but there must also be this result aimed at, and carried out. It is, indeed, a consequence of pardon, but it must not be taken for granted that it is enjoyed, that the service is necessarily yielded, and the quietness of mind maintained. This privilege is provided by God, but the degree in which it is used is found to vary greatly in the case of different Christians. There are so many causes of trouble and unrest — doubts and difficulties in connection with God's word; personal and family trials — in the discharge of the duties to which God's providence calls us, and in employing for Him the talents He has given, we may at times be perplexed. There may seem a clashing of duties, and this may disquiet us in our service; but He does not require of us more than we can do. How often the fears which have disturbed the quietness of God's children have been groundless.
(J. H. Holford, M. A.)I. First, then, the eye of faith beholds the all-sufficiency of Jehovah, and our entire dependence upon Him, as she marks His EFFECTUAL WORKING. "When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? This unanswerable question may be illustrated by the Lord's works in nature. The world was once a tumultuous chaos: fire and wind and vapour strove with one another. Who was there that could bring that heaving, foaming, boiling, raging mass into quietude and order? Only let the great Preserver of men relax the command of quiet, and there are fierce forces in the interior of the earth sufficient to bring it back to its primeval chaos in an hour; but while His fiat is for peace, we fear no crash of matter and no wreck of worlds. Seed time and harvest, summer and winter, cold and heat, do not cease. Passing on to the age of man, we see the Lord in the day of His wrath pulling up the sluices of the great deep, and at the same moment bidding the clouds of heaven discharge themselves, so that the whole world became once again a colossal ruin. The covenant bow was seen in the cloud, the token that the Lord had given quietness to the earth, and that none again should be able to disturb her. Further down in history the Red Sea asks of us the same question, "When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" Glancing far on in history, and passing by a thousand cases which are all to the point, we only mention one more, namely, that of Sennacherib and his host. God put a hook into the enemy's nose, and thrust a bridle between his jaws, and sent him back with shame to the place from whence he came. "When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?"
1. We shall reflect upon this truth as it applies, first, to God's people. If your gracious Lord shall give you quietness of mind, who then can cause you trouble? We have found it sweet to be afflicted when we have enjoyed the presence of God in it, so that we have counted it all joy when we have fallen into divers temptations; because, in our hour of extremity and peril, the Saviour has been unspeakably the more precious. When the Lord giveth quietness, slander cannot give us trouble. Ay, and at such times you may add to outward troubles and to the slanders of the wicked man, all the temptations of the devil; but if the Lord giveth quietness, though there were as many devils to attack us as there are stones in the pavement of the streets of London, we would walk over all their heads in unabated confidence. Even inbred sin, which is the worst of ills, will cause the Christian no trouble when the light of Jehovah's countenance is clearly seen.
2. I thank God that my text is equally true of the seeking sinner. If the Lord shall be pleased to give thee, poor troubled heart, quietness this day in Christ, none can make trouble in thy soul. What a mercy it is for you that God can give you peace and quietness! "Ah," say you, "but there is His law, that dreadful law of ten commands; I have broken that a thousand times." But if the Saviour lead thee to the cross, He will show thee that He fulfilled the law on thy behalf; that thou art not thyself under the law any longer, but under grace. "Yes, yes," say you, "well, I thank God for that, but my conscience, my conscience will never let me be in quietness." Oh! but my Master knows how to talk with thy conscience. He can say to it, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins." And let me say, dear friend, if the Lord gives you quietness while the law and conscience will be at peace with you, so will that Book of God be. Some of you, whenever you turn the Bible over, can find nothing but threatenings in it. Oh! but if you can only come to Jesus and rest in Him, then the page shall glisten with blessings, and glow with benedictions.
3. Now this text, which thus belongs to the saint and to the seeking sinner, I think is equally true, on the larger scale, to the Christian Church. I, shall leave this first point when I have briefly drawn three lessons from it. "When the Lord giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" The first lesson is, those who have peace should this morning adore and bless God for it. Secondly, be hopeful, ye who are seeking peace, whether for others or for yourselves. Lastly, give up all other peace but that which the Lord giveth to every believer. If you have a quietness which God has not created, implore the Lord to break it.
II. The all-sufficiency of God is seen, secondly, IN HIS SOVEREIGN WITHDRAWALS. God does sometimes hide His face from His people, and then, as His saints well know, nothing can enable them to behold Him or to be happy.
III. THIS IS TRUE OF A NATION as well as of any one Church and of any one man.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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