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God's Doings in the Time of Old
What God has been to us men we know from history. We know then from history what He will be to us. Now to apply this there are three departments of human life in which this recurrence to the past is of great religious value.
I. First there is the family, resting on God's own ordinance, springing out of the most intimate and sacred ties that can unite human beings. Every family has its traditions of the past has its encouragements and its warnings, its splendid memories of devotion and virtue, and too often its skeletons in the cupboard, and all this is part of the providential teaching intended for each member of the family.
II. And then there is our country. And here we have to remember what we too often forget, that God shapes the destinies of every nation just as truly as he did that of Judah and Israel. The Hebrews felt God's presence in their history much more vividly than we do. They saw and adored His power, where we fix our gaze exclusively on the history and material agencies which He employs. Nevertheless, history is not less in England than in Palestine a revelation of the ways of God; there have been times in our English history when this has been felt, in the agony of hope or of fear which a great national danger will produce. Such a time was the threatened invasion of the Spanish Armada. Such, again, was the crisis of the struggle with the first Napoleon which preceded Trafalgar. We who live in these quiet times can scarcely understand how our forefathers were then thrown back in very deed upon the protecting arm of God how they felt that, if any was to save them, He must, and how this belief in His presence and aid nerved them at the crisis of the struggle against faintheartedness and indecision and bound their hearts together with a sacred strength in love to their country and to Him, their God. It should be part of every young Englishman's education to trace God's hand in the annals of his country to see, amid its dangers and its triumphs, in its temporary failures, in its consistent advance, in the gradual development of its institutions, and the extensions of equal rights and advantages to all classes of people, without the revolutionary shocks which have desolated other lands, His hand who of old led His people through the wilderness like a flock, and brought them out safely that they should not fear, and overwhelmed their enemies at sea.
III. And then there is the great and sacred home of souls the Church of Jesus Christ. Church history is a vast treasure-house of sacred experience, well fitted to encourage the desponding, to determine the wavering, to put down with a firm hand the suggestions of selfish doubt, to kindle up in many a soul great enthusiasms for truth and goodness. They lose much who know little or nothing of it who know not what it is to stand in spirit at the side of martyrs like Ignatius and Polycarp to follow the mental anguish of Augustine which preceded his conversion, to do justice to the sanctified intellect, to the dauntless courage, of Athanasius when he is struggling with an apostatizing world. We catch from these great souls something of their devotion to our adorable Master something of their fervour, of their grace, as we exclaim, with deep reverence, 'O God, we have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us, what thou hast done in the time of old'.
H. P. Liddon, The Penny Pulpit, vol. XIII. p. 189.
References. XLIV. 1. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No. 263. H. M. Butler, Harrow School Sermon (2nd Series), p. 157. Parker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii. p. 216. J. W. Burgon, Ninety-one Short Sermons, No. 90. XLIV. 3. S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit (3rd Series), No. 13. XLIV. 21. R. C. Trench, Sermons in Westminster Abbey, p. 261. XLIV. International Critical Commentary, vol. i. p. 374. XLV. 5. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 173. S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit (4th Series), No. 12. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 80.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 44". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany