"And ye shall know that . . . I am the Lord your God,"
—Joel ii. 27.
Is it not a great thing to be sure of God? Spectres of the intellect haunt me, and perplexities of the heart; and I begin to question His existence and His grace. James Renwick, the martyr of twenty-six, wandered for a while in the labyrinth. Once, " being in the Fields and looking to the Mountains, he was so strongly assaulted with Temptations of Atheism that he said, ' If these were all devouring Furnaces of burning Brimstone, I should be content to go through them, if thereby I could be assured that there is a God.'" I can sympathise with him. Often, with me too, the clouds conceal the Sun.
Is it not a greater thing to be certain that God and I are in closest union? To hear Hun say to me, I am the Lord your God, and to respond to Him, My Lord and my God : this is heaven begun on earth; this is rest of conscience, and quietude of mind, and coronation of character, and the life that is life indeed. He with whom the King of kings links Himself in an alliance never to be dissolved is, sick or healthy, slave or free, the most enviable of men.
And how shall I attain the happy certitude?
There is the highroad of enfranchisement. In the Book of Exodus I read God's promise to bring out the children of Israel from under the burdens of the Egyptians ; and He adds, Ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. No stronger evidence of His being and His mercy can I imagine than His redemption of me, shackled, incarcerated, downtrodden. If He slays my Egyptian taskmasters, if in Christ He sets me free, I cannot question that He is and that He is my Friend.
There is the highroad of obedience. Walk in My statutes, God says to the Jews through the prophet Ezekiel, and hallow My Sabbaths, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God. In proportion as I am willing to do His will, so far as it is understood by me, I learn the doctrine, and my difficulties disappear, and the dawn has risen on my mind and soul. I realise that His commandments are not grievous, and that He Himself is Light and is Love.
And there is the highroad of rejuvenation. In these verses of Joel, I have the great promises of God to His erring children. Let them return to Him in penitence, and He would return to them. in most liberal bounty, and would pour on them His Spirit, and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. Most winsome cure of doubt ! I have wandered. I have wounded Him since He redeemed me. But let me confess my sin ; and He will come so near that all the shadows will flee.
By one or other of these roads I can travel from my troubles to His tranquillities and joys. Thus the sick man gains health, the prisoner liberty, the mourner a song.