MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I.12. THE PEACE OF GOD.
Coronation of the Virgin (detail)
1434-35MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.
12. THE PEACE OF GOD.
I. The peace of God is a most profound tranquillity and repose, like the silence of untrodden mountain summits clothed with eternal snows ; or like the lowest depths of the ocean, where the fierce storms that rage on the surface are unfelt, and where the turbulent industry of men can never penetrate. Nothing can equal that peace. Within the God head there is its perfect unity without diversity, there is immutability untouched by any changes. The will of God is not disturbed by the need of striving after anything that has to be accomplished or possessed ; and nothing happens contrary to its determination. God is not like man, dis turbed by the weight of responsibility or the greatness of His operations ; nor by any incompetence, or weakness, or failure of His plans ; nor by hesitation and doubt as to the issue of events ; nor by the loss of the love and esteem which so many of mankind refuse Him ; nor even by the exercise of His avenging justice when this becomes neces sary. "But Thou, being master of power, dost judge with great tranquillity" (Wisd. xii. 18). In the human soul, as in heaven, God dwells not in an atmosphere of tumult, excite ment, passion. Those who are eminently the abode of God are marked always by a peaceful and peace-making spirit, by contentment and joy under all circumstances. May this " peace of God which surpasseth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. iv. 7).
II. The tranquillity of God is not inaction and stagna tion. On the contrary, it is the accompaniment of irresistible power always in activity, and never swerving from its pur poses, and never overcome. It is like the silence and quiet of the broad sunshine as it bathes land and sea in its glow. Nothing is more peaceful, yet its activity in a single instant is to be measured by millions of horse-power. It is the source of almost all the mechanical force and heat and motion on this earth. So, too, it is with God. Although He abides in an eternal Sabbath, yet Our Lord says, " My Father worketh until now, and I work" (John v. 17). When we hereafter enter into the repose of the Lord we shall not pass into a state of inactive enjoyment. Life and action are inseparable ; and a fuller life means that our faculties will be freed from their present bondage, our powers enlarged, and consequently our activity. God s whole universe will be open to us. Then will begin our true life of increasing mental activity, and, in some way, of usefulness also in a higher sphere of work.
III. Holy Scripture sometimes speaks of God as angry, or as repenting of what He had done. Such passages are not to be understood literally ; they are figures of speech, used to impress on us the evil of sin, and the consequences of withdrawing ourselves from the beneficent operation of the divine law. No ingratitude, insult, or wrong can really ruffle the immutable peace of God. Nothing of earth is able to penetrate into the inner sanctuary of the Divinity and diminish the essential joy and glory of God. We need a like equanimity if we are to be happy amidst the turmoil of this world. It can come only from God abiding in our souls. Forgetfulness of God induces an over-anxiety about earthly things, a feverish activity in the pursuit of them, an intemperate indulgence in pleasure, which rob us of the proper rewards of our activity, and destroy the capacity for enjoyment. Even for its temporal well-being human life requires a large infusion of the peace of God ; and activity needs to be tempered by grace in order that it may attain its full efficiency. Act always with vigour and upright in tention, but leave the result to God, and be contented with it. Let no wrongs endured, no disappointment, disturb your equanimity. Our Lord has said to His faithful : " My peace I give to you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid " (John xiv. 27).