J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 2.)
The government of God, however imperfectly manifested outwardly, is yet exercised at any rate as to His children, and is in result with the world. It is exercised according to His judgment of what is right and what is wrong. He makes good His righteousness in government though all be not yet apparent; and so Job and Elihu reasoned, but not with adequate present witness, of which we can judge, and what modifies it apparently, with all patience and long-suffering it is not "speedily executed." Through this, when His saints err from Him, they must go; He maintains His true character. Hence they are difficultly saved. God must, after His patience, bring the trial which expresses what He is and proves what man is. And when it comes, it sweeps on to its results dragging on men with its stream. How are the righteous to get through this? This is the point, in Peter, of the difficulty - as Lot and Sodom, the just and the ungodly and the sinner in Peter.
But then while the government of God maintains its own principles and respects not persons, and meets His children in an erring path and overthrows them, it maintains His way and overthrows them if they cross it. But then with the saint He goes through this - much deeper into the soul. He does not merely correct the way, but lets His mind in as to the spirit that led to it. The will is broken - we find what we are - the soul, which had gone its own way, finds itself again with God, though sorrowfully, and God is known - the state of the soul is changed, it is not the free exercise of will, but the siftings and subduedness of a soul that has to say to God, and the happiness that accompanies it, though this last way be regained through trial. If there be any motive which has led astray, or any evil, and not merely levity and estrangement of heart from God, any false confidence in the soul, it is judged, of course.
But further. The walk becomes more thoroughly a following of Jesus under the effect of the Cross. This is ever true and simple, deeper and more experimental. We get a striking example of this in Peter. The original starting point of the disciples, as it must be, "Follow me," the one only right path in a world that was wrong, and that the perfection of Jesus. But there was confidence in self, and Peter must go through the dreadfully humbling process of his fall, yet Christ praying for him and watching over him. Self-confidence is broken down and will - he did not go where he would, but bound and led by another. Thus he could serve, as emptied of self-confidence, what was dearest to Jesus - His sheep and lambs, a care He now confides to him - and suffer with Him, just what he could not do before. And now Jesus says again "Follow me." In the measure in which self was judged, experimentally known and judged, he could. The full study of this is a most instructive lesson, and from Jesus' first care, praying for him, full of grace.