And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power…
I. HE REIGNETH THROUGH THE EXERCISE OF HIS PROVIDENCE. When we speak of the providence of God, we speak of the exercise of His perfections, of His power and wisdom and goodness, co-operating for the direction of the universe. We say that He is everywhere present, and superintends whatever happens here below; that all things are the result, not of unmeaning chance or relentless fate, but of the purpose and pleasure of God. We say that all dispensations, whether great or small, prosperous or adverse, are entirely to be explained on the supposition of the present as an arrangement of things of which we are enjoined to confide in the equity of the end, though neither our diligence nor sagacity can always discover the fairness of the means. We say theft He exercises a moral government over His rational creation; that angels and archangels fulfil His pleasure; that the spirits of darkness are under His control, and that we ourselves arc, in an especial manner, the subjects of His administration; that by Him our very thoughts are observed; the circumstances of our condition arranged, and watched, as it were, with the vigilance of individual attention. We say, in short, that the world, instead of being a kingdom deprived of its head, abandoned to be the victim of the lawless passions of its inhabitants, and to suffer all the vicissitudes of degradation and advancement, is under the direction of Him to whom not merely its interests are known, but by whom they are also secured. It is interesting to trace the workings of a pious character that has taken much of its form, and that is advancing towards its maturity, under the strong operation of this consolatory truth. Even in the ordinary course of events, when others see things going on only as they did since the beginning of the world, he discerns an Intelligent Reality, silently, but successfully, supporting an infinite charge of dependent beings, and not the less everywhere present, hidden though His glory be beneath the curtains of the material world. Amid the uncertainty of surrounding events, amid the fluctuation of his hopes and fears, he feels that he need not be afraid; for this Providence, as the Providence of One incomprehensibly excellent in all perfection, has in it every quality which can recommend and endear it — every quality which can brighten even the darkest appearances — everything which tends not only to secure the submission, but also to engage the affections of the heart. He can look upon the present and enjoy the plenitude of the passing moment, because he knows by whom every moment, and all the events of every moment, are dealt out to him; and upon the faith which he reposes on this Providence is he willing to make the great experiment of futurity — ready to go wherever He will transmit him, satisfied that everywhere, in height and depth, in time and eternity, He will be his portion for ever.
II. HE REIGNETH THROUGH THE MEDIATION OF HIS SON. In appointing the Son to act as mediator between Himself and us, God did ordain certain offices for Him to execute and certain characters for Him to assume ere the purposes of His mediation could be accomplished. He commissioned Him as a teacher to instruct us in the knowledge, and to reveal to us the will of God — to republish that law of nature which the fall had obscured — to dispel those apprehensions of futurity which our ignorance and guilt had engendered. He gave Him up as a sacrifice to make atonement for our guilt as well as to dispel our ignorance. He has established Him as a lawgiver to subdue our stubborn wills, and to bring them into His holy captivity; to make them obedient in word and deed; to fashion our lives after the rules He lays down; and to mould our hearts to the sway which it is given Him to exercise. He has revealed Him as an advocate, as our ever successful intercessor within the veil, pleading for the pardon of our sins, for the supply of our wants, for the strengthening of our faith. And, finally, He has exhibited Him as a model for us to admire, a character for us to resemble, a pattern which we are called upon industriously to copy, that upon the table of our hearts we may inscribe those graces and those affections and those virtues which animated and which distinguished His; and that, striving to walk even as He did walk, we may, by the zeal with which we seek to imitate Him, and the prayers we put forth that we may imitate Him with success, endeavour to be in all our conversation and in all our practice the images and the representatives of what He was during all the days of His earthly manifestation. And from this view of the mediation of Jesus Christ, slight and superficial though it be, it must be evident that the government which the Divine Being doth maintain by means of it, is a government which is adapted to all the varieties of its subjects. What are all the means of grace which we receive — what are they but just so many ways in which this government takes effect? What is the removal of our ignorance — what is the forgiveness of our sins — what is the subjection of our rebellious wills, and the improvement of our own characters in excellence and perfection — what are those spiritual changes when they are effected and brought about upon us, but each a separate field in which its influence has been displayed?
III. HE REIGNETH THROUGH THE MEANS OF GRACE AND THE ORDINANCES OF HIS APPOINTMENT. It is true, indeed, that God might reveal all the essential truths of the gospel by a direct and immediate process to any man — that inward devotion might be excited and expressed without the agency of outward acts — that did it but seem good in His sight He could produce the change which is necessary to be produced upon our hearts and affections without the intervention of means. But though this might be the case, and sometimes is the case, we have no warrant for expecting that it ever will be the case. Such a mode o: procedure forms no part of His ordinary providence. We have no ground for anticipating that His saving impressions will descend upon us, except in the use and through the channels of the appointed means of grace. Now if we reflect on the object which those ordinances have directly in view, on the preparation which is necessary for their right observance, and upon that spiritual good which they actually do produce, in respect both of the instruction they communicate and the impression which they make in the case of all who sincerely observe them, we may have some conception of that reign or influence which, through these means, the Almighty doth exercise.
IV. HE REIGNETH THROUGH THE AGENCY OF AFFLICTION.
Parallel VersesKJV: And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: