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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
J. Du Pre
From The Baptist Pulpit of the United States, 1860
Trust in God is inconsistent with a departure from any known or obvious duty. He has nowhere promised protection, deliverance, support in trouble, or any blessing whatever, to those who wilfully depart from the path of duty; or use, when involved in difficulty of any kind, unlawful means to extricate themselves.
Had not Daniel been in the path of duty, when he was arrested and thrown into the den of lions, he could not have expected the Divine interposition in his behalf. It would have been presumption to have done so. There is on record no promise to meet our exigencies if we go beyond the limit of duty, or pursue a course contrary to the plainly revealed will of God.
Trust in God is equally inconsistent with a careless and inconsiderate course. The language of the Saviour, (Matt. 6:25-30) has been greatly perverted to this purpose. The meaning attached by some to these words, is that they authorize the utmost indifference to our future temporal condition and welfare. But this is not the meaning of the Divine teacher. The expression "take no thought" means literally "be not over anxious"—indulge no such painful anxiety about your future safety, as will paralyze your efforts, and induce a distrust of the promised protection and care of God.
But the counsel of Christ in this passage is capable of a practical test. Let an individual interpret it literally, and actually "take no thought" for his life, and see what his condition will be; see whether he will have food to eat, and raiment to put on; see whether he will be miraculously delivered from dangers and difficulties, which common prudence would have enabled him to avoid.
We should be exceedingly careful how we misapply and torture Scripture. We are encouraged to trust in God, yet it is only in the use of the means of his own appointment. In other words, having made every necessary effort to procure the means of support, or to shield ourselves from evils to which we may be exposed, then, and not till then, are we warranted to cast our care upon the Lord; and then too, and not before, will he care for us. (I Pet. 5:7)
Trust in God is inconsistent with all apprehension of future evil. Both these states of mind cannot exist at the same time, in the same bosom—the one is destructive of the other. If we truly confide in an Almighty arm for protection and safety, we shall feel as secure in his keeping, as if we were effectually removed from all evil. We have a remarkable illustration of this remark in the case of the apostle Paul.
Though assured that "bonds and afflictions" awaited him, wherever he went as the minister of Christ, yet what were his emotions in this gloomy prospect? Was he deterred from the course of duty? Was his attachment for Christ and his cause lessened? By no means. But hear his own composed and cheerful language: "None of these things move me; neither count I my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy." (Acts 20:24)
This is the language of strong confidence in God, and under its sustaining influence, he felt persuaded of his ultimate, perfect security. Such a state of mind, argues the present attainment of an elevated standard of piety, but one, however; which all Christians may reach.