Edward Payson Archive

Selected Thoughts

Duty of Submission to the Will of God

Suppose that the members of our bodies, instead of being controlled by the will of the head, had each a separate, independent will of its own: would they not, in this case, become useless and even mischievous? Something like this, you are sensible, occasionally takes place. In certain diseases, the members seem to escape from the control of the will, and act as if they were governed by a separate will of their own. When this is the case, terrible consequences often ensue. The teeth shut suddenly and violently, and lacerate the tongue; the elevated hands beat the face and other parts of the body; the feet refuse to support it, and it rolls in the dust a melancholy and frightful spectacle. Such effects we call convulsions. There are convulsions in the moral as well as in the natural world, and they take place when the will of man refuses to be controlled by the will of God. Did all men submit cordially to his will, they would live together in love and harmony, and, like the members of a healthy body, would all promote each other’s welfare, and that of the whole system. But they have refused to obey his will, and have set up their own wills in opposition to it; and what has been the consequence? Convulsions, most terrible convulsions, which have, in ten thousand thousand instances, led one member of this great body to injure another; and not only disturbed but almost destroyed the peace of society. What are wars, insurrections, revolutions? What are robberies, piracies, murders, but convulsions in the moral world? convulsions which would never have occurred, had not the will of man refused to submit to the will of God. And never will these convulsions cease, never will universal love, and peace and happiness prevail, until the rebellious will of man shall again submit to the controlling Will of God, and his will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.

If all mankind could be persuaded to say, Not as I will, but as thou wilt, as sincerely as Christ said it, sin would that moment cease to exist in the world, God and men would be perfectly reconciled, and his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Yes, let every human being only say to God, with his whole heart, Not my will but thine be done, and holiness and happiness would instantly fill the world; men would be embodied angels, and earth would become a sublunary heaven.

I look up to heaven, and there see the blessed and only Potentate, the Creator and Upholder of all things, the infinite and eternal Sovereign of the universe, governing his vast kingdom with uncontrollable power, in a manner perfectly wise, and holy, and just, and good. In this Being I see my Creator, my Preserver, my unwearied Benefactor, to whom I am indebted for everything which I possess. And what does this being see, what has he seen, in me? He sees a frail worm of the dust, who is of yesterday, and knows nothing, who cannot take a single step without making mistakes, who is wholly incompetent to guide himself, and who, by his own folly, is self-destroyed. He has seen this frail, blind, erring worm, presumptuously daring to criticize and censure his proceedings, to interfere in his government of the universe, and to set up his own perverse will against the will of his Creator, his Sovereign, and his God; his own ignorance against divine omniscience, and his own folly against infinite wisdom. This he has seen in me, and this he has seen in you; and who, that believes God has seen this in him, can avoid feeling overwhelmed with sorrow, and shame, and remorse? We may say what we please of the difficulty of repenting; but it would seem to be a thousand fold more difficult to refrain from repenting, after having been guilty of conduct like this. O, then, come and perform this easy, this most reasonable duty. Come, and repent, before God, of your disobedience and opposition to his will, receive through Christ a free and gracious pardon, and then learn of him who was meek and lowly in heart, to say, Father, not my will, belt throe, be done.

Should an angel who knew nothing of our characters, but who had heard of the blessings which God has bestowed on us, visit this world, would he not expect to find every part of it resounding with the praises of God and his love? Would he not expect to hear old and young, parents and children, all blessing God for the glad tidings of the gospel, and crying; Hosanna to the son of David? How, then, would he be grieved and disappointed! How astonished to find that Being whom he had ever heard praised in the most rapturous strains by all the bright armies of heaven, slighted, disobeyed, and dishonored, by his creatures on earth! Would you not be ashamed, would you not blush to look such a visitor in the face? to tell him how little you have done for God, tell him that you are not one of his servants? O, then, let us strive to wipe away this foul stain, this disgrace to our race and our world. Let not this world be the only place, except hell, where God is not praised. Let us not be the only creatures, except devils, who refuse to praise him.

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