The Government of the Father.

"And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear." (1 Peter 1:17.) This passage introduces us to the government of the Father, which, it may be observed, is not exactly the same thing as the government of God. The latter has more direct reference to the earth and the world - that economy of things from which we are morally delivered by the death and resurrection of Christ, that scene in which God's throne has been usurped by Satan, and where the "rights of man" have displaced the rights of God. But if men of the world refuse Him His place of government as God, ought not we as saints with ready hearts so much the more to make space for the government of the Father?

In the fourteenth verse we get the beautiful term the Spirit of God uses in speaking of those who answer to His word; viz., "children of obedience." All such will be found calling on the Father. He, in short, who has the Spirit of adoption, cries, "Abba, Father." Well, the Father holds in His hand the sovereign administration of the affairs of His family, and grace and government go along together. It is ever so; for God is sovereign, and He must be. Because through grace God's grace is so precious to us, we are in danger of losing sight of His governmental dealings - this government of the Father.

In the present day, the decay of filial piety and of reverence for parents has told upon us seriously, and those marks of the last days which Paul describes to Timothy - "disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection" - are becoming more and more pronounced; so that, even in the natural relationship, children rarely render, and parents as rarely expect, the honour and reverence which are not only morally becoming, but which God accounts to be due from one to the other. In result parental government is relaxed, and often the merest semblance of it prevails even in the families of believers.

Accordingly in divine things the government of the Father is little recognized or understood. The thought of the Father has carried with it, and rightly so, the blessedness of a known relationship of the highest character, which blessedness has been enjoyed according to the degree in which the Spirit has been ungrieved and the affections divinely engaged; but yet in connection with this how little place has been given to the direct government of the Father in that peculiar sphere which is constituted by the saints in their relationship of children. To many such the very thought of government would savour of legality, and possibly be refused as anomalous. But it is an ever-abiding principle, that "the righteous Lord loveth righteousness;" and though grace be regnant now it is true, yet is it still further true that "grace reigns through righteousness." While therefore our souls hold fast to the blessedness of this relationship in respect to the renewed affections, we must no less recognize that it demands of us a wholly surrendered will. If it be true that "mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have embraced each other," then what God hath joined together may not be put asunder, grace and government may not be severed. When the loving heart and the broken will keep company together, the Father will assuredly find His delight in each. But He is no respecter of persons; all man's pretensions must give way; He respecteth no man's person, but judgeth according to every man's work. "His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The Lord trieth the righteous." (Ps. 11:4-5.) What then? Then falls upon the opened ear the weighty exhortation, "Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear."

What a mighty motive have we had before us He who has called us has called us to the relationship of children; the Holy Ghost seeks to fashion us as "obedient children;" the children call upon the Father, who respects not our persons, but governs according to our works and ways within His family circle, administering there His own blessed will, that we may give no place to ours. What an appeal this makes to us to walk softly, retiringly, meekly, with guarded footsteps, giving no place to the will of the flesh! In God's government of the earth He is met by Satan's power as god of this world, and by the men of the world carried along in the strong current of utter godlessness. But the Father in His governmental dealings with His children is - alas, how often! - met with the flesh in us - unjudged, uncurbed flesh - the allowance of which is seen in the working of the natural will, which is totally unfruitful toward God, and can only chafe under His government. What marvel if, when this is allowed, the Father has to lay His chastening hand upon His child! Whom He loves He chastens, that He may not condemn with the world. And when the exercised heart has been fittingly broken down before Him, how graciously, in forgiveness of His child, does He remove His afflictive hand, and nothing remains but to reap in lasting result "the peaceable fruit of righteousness." (Note the word.)

But in the words, "Forasmuch as ye know," we have coupled with this exhortation of Peter the divine basis of the ways of the Father with His children; viz., that we are redeemed with the precious blood of God's immaculate Lamb - the One who from before the foundation of the world was fore-ordained for this bloodshedding, but now is risen and glorified! Blessed ground upon which the Father claims from us the allegiance of beloved children, that He has redeemed us at the mighty cost of the blood of that spotless Lamb, who from all eternity was the Son of His love!

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." (v. 22.) Their souls were purified in obeying the truth; this was light, divine light, illuminating their souls; their hearts were purified by faith; and now the apostle exhorts to love, that other thing which in Scripture God Himself is said to be. Their souls were purified, they obeyed the truth, and had genuine love to the brethren, but he urged them to it afresh with purity and with fervency. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God;" it is of His nature, and comes from Him. Thus, when it flows forth from our hearts, it should have for its special objects those who are the special objects of His own love; and when in purity and in fervency, it is only the more like His. For we are born of God by the incorruptible seed of His own word, which liveth and abideth for ever; while, on the contrary, all flesh is before God as transitory as the grass, and all its glory as fading and as fugitive as the flowers of the field!

"But Thy compassions, Lord, to endless years endure,

And all Thy people ever find Thy word of promise sure." W. Rickards. (Derby).

Sin existing in the world, to exalt oneself is ministering to it. It is being far from God morally.