PREDESTINATION By Silas Durand, 1901
There are dear brethren who have thought that when Paul said, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose," (Romans 8:28) He meant only "all good things." I have always thought that He meant what he said, that "all things" that are connected with their experience of grace, from first to last, bitter as well as sweet, evil as well as good, as we distinguish the different things in our life experiences, calling the afflicting sense of sin, "evil," and the pleasant emotions of love and hope, "good." I have thought He included "the sufferings of this present time," and the vanity to which the new creature was "made subject, not willingly," and "the bondage of corruption," under which we groan within ourselves, and the infirmities which cause our supplications unto God, the intercessions of the Spirit within us, to be "with groanings which cannot be uttered," as well as the pleasant things that are given us by the way.
But let any candid man undertake to draw a line between those events, works, exercises, emotions which he would name "good things," and those that he would call evil or wicked things. Then let him name things which are on the dark side of the line, which are wicked, and which therefore he regards as outside of the purpose and predestination of God, and those things which are on the bright side, being good things, which do work together for good to them that love God.
Well, does the division answer his mind? Look over the dark list: is there no good at all mixed up with the evil in any of those wicked works? Joseph's brethren showed some good traits. Are they and their works all put on the dark side? They were kind to their father and to Benjamin, and when Joseph spoke roughly to them they felt sorry for what they had done to their brother, who was supposedly dead, as they thought. Besides, the very things in which they meant evil against Joseph, God meant unto good. So which side will you put these works? Then, did not that wicked thing work for good, to "save much people alive." (Genesis 50:20).
Do you know how to divide up those things so as to place them right? All through the Old Testament we find some very evil and wrong doings, which resulted in the opening of the eyes of others to the truth, and in bringing the doer of them down into depths, where he experienced true repentance and godly sorrow. Then the wicked men who with wicked hands crucified the dear Savior, who was delivered unto them by "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God," (Acts 2:23) did "what God's hand and counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:28) Where, then, do you put these "wicked works," by "wicked hands"? on the bright or dark side? Where do you suppose God put them?
Those who have been made alive unto God hate and abhor wickedness in themselves and others. But would we dare to undertake to put this terribly wicked deed, and that of Joseph's brethren, and that of Cyrus, "the ravenous bird from the East," (Isaiah 46:10-11) with many others, on the side of the line where those things are supposed to be which God did not predestinate? But some things seem to have just a little spice of wickedness in them, which is mixed up with a good deal of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. We would hardly know how to take forth the good from the evil in them. Sometimes the two are so mixed up and interwoven together that we cannot tell how to divide them justly; we have to leave that to the Word.
But look on the good side of the line: have we got that all right and sure? You placed one of my works there, for you have been very kind to me, and so all the brethren have, far more so than I deserve. But if you knew how many evil thoughts I had when I was doing that "good" work that you have placed among the good things, you would change it, I am sure. That time I was enabled to preach so that your soul was refreshed and comforted, you did not know how much of vanity, unbelief, doubt, evil thoughts, there was in my heart. The work was good in itself and was a work of obedience and of faith. The sermon was the truth, and I believe it was by the Spirit of God that I was enabled to preach it. But what a tangle of briers and thorns in my own heart I had to encounter and go through while preaching that truth to which the carnal mind is enmity! But you have put these things, and the kind of act for that poor man, and the refraining from the utterance of the anger I felt once when reviled, all on the right side, and it really makes me tremble to see them there. You cannot sift the evil out of them, but I hope the blood of Jesus, that precious blood, washed them and me clean before God. I am afraid after all that you have placed a smaller proportion of your own works on the "good" side, among the good things, than you have of any of your brethren.
We cannot divide between soul and spirit, only as the Lord gives us that sharp, dividing Word in our souls. We cannot "take forth the precious from the vile," only as the Spirit makes us speak as God's mouth. Then we are always astonished to see so many things counted precious which we had thought were vile, and so many things which had appeared to us as pretty, sweet, and good, now shown to us to be vile. When the King's "reign in righteousness" is felt in our hearts, then we no more call the "vile person liberal," nor the "curl bountiful," but we see things as they are in the sight of God (Isaiah 32:1-7).
One thing we know, that all good is of God. He gives us every "good gift and perfect gift, and with Him is no variableness nor shadow of turning" (James 1:17). He works the "good pleasure of His goodness in us," if it is ever to be there. We know also that there would have been no evil or wicked thing in the world if God had purposed that there should not be. His purpose must have embraced whatever transpires. We believe and know, that in the end of all things His wisdom and power will have been justified, the highest good for His people will have been accomplished, and the most exalted glory of His name attained. Does any true Christian doubt this? - "FRAGMENTS."