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"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me." Job 10:8
The fact is correct, but the reasoning is false. It often happens so in reasoning under strong feeling. The argument ought to have proceeded in exactly the opposite way; then Job would have said with the Psalmist, "Thou wilt not forsake the work of thine own hands." There is a strong temptation to recognise Providence in parts and sections, but not to continue the thought throughout the whole line of human life and experience. Many persons will acknowledge: a Creator, who do not acknowledge the providential government which touches every detail of existence. Others, again, will acknowledge Providence. but deny the reality of Redemption.
Others, again, are devoted to the collection of facts, and yet, when they have brought all their facts into a focus, they seem to be unable to draw the right inferences from them. Man often perishes at the point of argument. Man ought often to let argument alone and simply rest upon facts. Where argument does arise in a case like this, it should take some such terms as the following: Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; therefore thou hast a living and loving interest in me, and although I cannot understand the discipline through which thou art now making me to pass, I am confident, from the excellence and minuteness of thy creation, that thy providence cannot fall short of what is there so vividly and graciously displayed. Jesus Christ always reasoned from the lower to the higher: If God takes care of oxen, will he not take care of you; if he clothe the grass of the field, etc; if he care for the fowls of the air, etc.; if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, etc. This is the Saviour's argument, always rising upwards towards the unseen, the eternal. By creating man, God does not set up any right to destroy him. Creation would be too narrowly viewed if it were regarded as simply an arbitrary act. Even in the region of manufactures, who is there that makes an article for the sake of destroying it, and, even though there may be the right of destroying such an article, yet who is not restrained by reason from perpetrating its destruction? In the case of man, however, the circumstances are wholly different: man is rational; man is responsible; man can hold companionship with God; man is capable of enduring the most excruciating agonies; under all these conditions of life the very act of creation implies the further act of care, patience, training, love, and redemption. We should reason that if God has given us the light of the sun he will not withhold needful illumination from the mind: if God has filled the earth with bread and other food for man, he has made some provision for the nurture and sustenance of the soul: if he has made us, he means to keep us, yea, though we sin against him, he will come out after us, that he ho has been our Creator may also be our Redeemer.
"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"I am full of confusion." Job 10:15
This is a fact, and ought to be regarded seriously. Providence is often such as to bewilder our merely intellectual faculties. Things do not happen in the sequence which we have determined. We seem, for the moment, at least, to sow one thing and reap another. All our calculations are upset as to the prosperity of virtue and the degradation of vice. We make bold to prophesy what will happen tomorrow in the order of God's providence; we say, The wicked man will return from his attempts worsted and ashamed, and yet he comes in successful and glorying in his abundant prosperity. Being full of confusion, we should ( a ) wait; ( b ) take an appointed course of inquiry; ( c ) not suppose that it lies within our power to comprehend the whole counsel of God. These broad and frank confessions of confusion or of ignorance are not at all harmful even in the Christian teacher; when he avows his inability to deal with certain questions he acquires for himself an additional measure of confidence in regard to those subjects which he does undertake to elucidate. The Bible itself does not propose to clear up every mystery, or drive away every cloud. There is a sense indeed in which the Bible is the greatest mystery of all. Even in the wildest mental confusion, there are often some points of certainty, some solid facts, histories, or experiences, upon which we can rest the mind. We should abide there until the storm abates a little, or the light so increases as to create a larger day. No man need be altogether in confusion if he be frank-minded, really earnest, and religious in spirit. Some little thing at least will be given to him, which he can seize and hold with a firm hand. Stand by the one thing which is clear and plain, and from that work onward and outward towards those truths which seem to hang on the distant horizon.
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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 10". Parker's The People's Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany