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The

Miller, the Christian geologist, dared to write of
Footprints of the Creator in the Old Red Sandstone."

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(2) Preservation.—What the Father has created he preserves in being Pervading all the universe with his energy he upholds “all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1 : 3). This bearing is not to be understood simply of the passive support of a burden. It rather expresses that bearing' which includes movement, progress toward an end." Like a river, a moving way, Christ carries and carries forward the weight of the world (1 Cor. 8 : 6).

(3) Providence.—Providence rules with constant what his power first made. There is “one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4 : 6). Even evil men and wicked forces are under his sovereign control every moment. We may be troubled to reconcile facts of sin and misery with the power and goodness and wisdom of God. It is evident that much of God is not yet made known to any man. But our distress and sense of mystery would be darker and deeper if we came to think that these tragic elements of life had broken away from his dominion.

Under the divine constitution and government of the world, they who choose lies and wickedness must reap the legitimate fruits of their own willfulness. Perversion, blind. ness of judgment, and pain are consequences of falsity and selfishness. This helps us in part to understand such strong expressions as this : · And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2 :11, 12). No man can reasonably complain to whom the Lord gives his own, paying what is due. God pays wages as they fall due, and “the wages of sin is death.

For us whatever's undergone,
Thou knowest, willest what is done ;

Grief

may be joy misunderstood; Only the good discerns the good; I trust thee while my days go on.

-Mrs. Browning. (4) Angels. —Among the creatures of God's power and providence are “angels" and "devils"—superhuman beings both good and bad. This world does not contain all the moral beings whom the Father has brought into life. The Epistles give us glimpses of the nature and actions of these unseen spirits. Good angels seem to be ranked in orders of dignity. Michael, “the archangel,” is mentioned (Jude y; cf. Daniel 12 :1; Rev. 12 :7; 1 Thess. 4:16). They are greater in might and power than men (2 Peter 2 : 11). They are not in all respects of the same nature as men (Heb. 2 : 16). They were, in some unrevealed way, messengers of revelations (Heb. 2 : 2; Gal. 3 : 19). They are subject to Jesus Christ and pay him divine worship (Heb. 1 : 6; 1 Peter 3 : 22). The gospel of our salvation is to them an object of eager interest, and they “desire to look into it” (1 Peter 1 : 12; cf. Eph. 3 : 10). They are actively engaged in carrying out the loving purposes of the Saviour, and are “sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation.'' This thought inspired the lines :

And is there care in heaven? And is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base,
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is : else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts : but oh, the exceeding grace
Of highest God! that loves his creatures so,
And all his works with mercy doth embrace,
That blessed angels he sends to and fro,
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe!

-Edmund Spenser.

Their innumerable hosts are part of the glorious company of Mount Zion, the holy city of the redeemed (Heb. 12 : 22). It is even said that Christians shall “judge angels”;

or

but we have no inspired commentary on the passage (1 Cor. 6 : 3). “Exactly how we shall judge them is not revealed to us." —Alford.

Bad spiritstheir origin. Angels which kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). “ For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2 : 4). Satan, 'the devil," seems marked out as a prince of devils. There are ranks and grades among the wicked spirits. These spirits of darkness are real beings with real powers. Satan "hinders'' the apostolic purpose (1 Thess. 2 : 18). He tempts Christians (1 Thess. 3 : 5). The “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5: 8). The devil has the power of death (Heb. 2 : 14). “Not as though he could inflict it at his pleasure ; but death is his realm.'' - Westcott.

But this malign activity is limited in range; it is not omnipotent nor omnipresent as God is. "To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3 : 8). Through his death Jesus brings the devil to nought (Heb. 2 : 14). He who is in Christ cannot be touched by the evil one (1 John 5 : 18). United with the victor we also vanquish all hidden foes. Satan acts as God's flail to separate the chaff from the wheat. Church discipline delivers the err and obstinate member "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). Fire can purify but cannot destroy gold. So John could confidently say : “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2 : 14). Many victories have already been gained on the very field Satan chose for battle. More complete triumph is to follow. Christ will finally do what he came to do—bring the devil and his works to nought by his word.

Meantime let us not fly in the clouds of vain specula

tions and vapory theories, but use the effective weapons

of truth, righteousness, faith, prayer, and the word of God (Eph. 6 : 10-20). Read how Bunyan's pilgrim went safely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death ; he put up his sword and betook himself to prayer.

SUMMARY.

God.—The Epistles belong to a series of revelations of God. The nature and character of God in whose holiness, love, life, power, are all perfections. The doctrine of the Trinity is implied in the forms of expression. The universe reveals a plan of the divine mind. Nature, spirit, history, angels, are encompassed by God's care and included in his plan.

CHAPTER III

THE TEACHING OF THE EPISTLES IN RESPECT TO MAN

Section 1. The nature and powers of man.

It follows from the doctrine of God and his relations to the world that every human being is immediately his creature and his child. We are all his offspring, although God has chosen to use natural forces and media to bring us into existence. In a secondary sense we are descendants of our human ancestors; but primarily we are children of God. We live only by his life (Col. 1:16; Eph. 4:6; Heb. 12 : 9). When any human being is called a "child of the devil" or “offspring of vipers," it is because the family likeness of evil disposition is before the mind, as in Matt. 3:7; John 8: 44; 1 John 3: 8. But this is unnatural, monstrous, and inhuman, not according to our true and original nature and humanity. The prodigal son is still a son and ought to be at home in the Father's house.

Remaining away is wicked, shameful, ungrateful conduct. Augustine said that the devil never created any being, and persons are called his sons only because they imitate him. Each human being, even in his lowest and worst estate, bears marks of his divine origin in body and soul. The marvelous structure of the body is proof of divine wisdom and benevolence; while the soul's powers of thought, affection, and will are evidences of the spiritual source of his existence. In conscience is a witness to the holiness of God, and in domestic and social sympathies tokens of the all-pervading Love. Thus James declares that even wicked men “are made after the likeness of God" (James 3:9). Even in the bloated and marred face of an unworthy son we may discover some family resemblance to parents of a noble line.

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