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Sermons on Important Subjects
By J. M. Pendleton

God the Guide of His People

      Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. - Psalm lxxiii:24.

      To the traveler who makes his way through regions of country with which he is unacquainted, how essential is a guide! And if at any time the wayfaring man deviates from the course he should pursue, becomes perplexed, and is overtaken by the darkness of night, how inestimable the services of one who can reclaim him from his wanderings, and conduct him in safety to the point of destination! In a spiritual sense, the world may be considered a wilderness, and all its citizens may be regarded as travelers on their journey to eternity. Yes, eternity is the place to which their destiny urges them. It should be remembered that there are in eternity two points at which earthly pilgrims end their journeyings. The one is heaven, the other hell. The way to heaven is narrow and difficult - the way to hell is broad and traveled with ease. How important, then, is a conductor in the way to heaven.

      I. Man Needs A Guide in his Spirutal Pilgrimage

Left to himself man gropes in darkness. Ever

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since the catastrophe of the fall he has been prone to deviate from the path in which he should go. Relying on his unaided power, he invariably wanders from the right way. Greek and Roman philosophers did this. "Professing themselves wise, they became fools." With all their wisdom they knew not God. They could not decide what was man's chief good. Their ignorance of God, and of their relations to him, precluded the adoption of a correct system of morals. Hence, the most absurd sentiments were held and advocated with a zeal worthy of the truth. Every page of Greek and Roman philosophy proves that man needs a spiritual guide.

      The French Revolution was an impious attempt to dethrone the Almighty and deify reason. The abettors of the experiment said, "There is no God, and death is an eternal sleep." They seem to have been left to themselves, and the "Reign of Terror" shows what may be expected when depravity reaches its climax. There is, perhaps, no page of the world's history darket than that on which the doings of the French Revolution are recorded.

      Modern heathenism is no better than ancient. "Darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people." A world without God is a world in darkness. He who does not know this, knows very little of the history of his race.

      Man abandoned to himself, even in gospel lands, always goes astray. Relying on his own reason and judgment, he ever comes to wrong

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conclusions. This is easily accounted for. The depraved affections of the heart vitiate the operations of the reason and the decisions of the judgment. Hence said Solomon, "Lean not to thy own understanding." David prayed, "Deliver me not over to the will of my enemies;" and we may well pray not to be delivered up to ourselves. Surely man needs a guide in his spiritual pilgrimage.

      II. God Offers Himself as a Guide, and Invites us to Submit Ourselves to Him.

      He says, "Wilt thou not cry unto me, my Father, thou art the guide of my youth?" The Bible assures us that "the meek he will guide in judgment." David said, with transport of soul, "This God is our God, and will be our guide even unto death." He who recorded the language of the text, conscious that he needed a guide, said, Thou, shalt guide me," etc. How infinitely well qualified is our God to guide to heaven! He knows the way. This is an important requisite in a guide. He has himself marked out the way. Indeed, his own Son has become the way. The plan of salvation is of God's devising. He knows how a sinner can get from earth to heaven. He has had adequate experience in the guidance of pilgrims to Zion. What multitudes, from the days of Abel till now, has he conducted thither! Myriads and myriads have gone from his footstool to his throne. He has wisdom to guide us aright, and he has power

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to conduct us safely, even through the midst of our enemies, to the kingdom of heaven. If we submit to his guidance, nothing can do us a real injury. All things will work together for our good. Adversity and affliction will expedite our steps and "chase us up to heaven." Those who submit to his guidance, God will accompany through the valley of the shadow of death, and conduct them to his throne.

      III. God's Word is his Instrument of Guidance.

      Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel. God's counsel is his Word. He gives counsel in his Word. The Bible is God's book. He has given the world but one book; in that, the counsels of infinite wisdom are treasured up. The Word of God is the supreme standard of faith and practice; no other standard will do. Now, to receive the Word of God as the instrument of guidance, is to believe most cordially what it says, and do most faithfully what it commands. God does not guide independently of his Word, but by means of his Word. We must submit to be guided by the counsel of the Lord till death; we must persevere to the end of the journey.

      IV. Those Who are Guided by God's Counsel are Ultimately Taken to Heaven.

      Thou shalt afterward receive me to glory. The term glory is of frequent occurrence in the Scriptures; it is often used to denote the bliss of heaven. Paul represents the justified as rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. The glory of God

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is a manifestation of the perfections of his character. The fuller the manifestation, the more resplendent the glory. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows the work of his hand; that is, the visible heavens exhibit the divine glory because they exhibit the divine wisdom and power. In the law of Moses, there is a brighter display of the glory of God than is to be seen in the works of creation. In the gospel, the divine glory is much more brilliantly manifested than in the law. Hence, we read of "beholding, with open or unvailed face, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord;" and, also, "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." It is through Christ crucified that our world has the richest display of the divine perfections, from which display results a glory such as earth had never before seen. In heaven there will be a fuller development of the divine attributes than on Calvary. In that development will be seen sublime, transcendent, ineffable glory. God calls his people to this eternal glory. "When they end their earthly pilgrimage, they enter into it; not only so, but according to the text, God receives them into it; he bids them welcome; he invites them to share in this glory, and to enjoy it for evermore. Ah! how imperfect are our brightest conceptions of the glory of heaven - the glory to be revealed - the crown of glory that fades not away! God grant that we may, ere long, know more about it from personal observation and personal experience.
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      1. How thankful should we be that God has not left us to ourselves!

      2. True wisdom consists in submitting to his guidance.

      3. Think often of the glory to which he guides.

      4. Those who do not submit to divine guidance will inevitably be lost.


[From J. M. Pendleton, Short Sermons on Important Subjects, 1859. This book is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Wake Forest, NC via ILL through Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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