Bonar: The Humble Calvinist in the work of God
“If Jewish or Gentile unbelief, and alienation from God were things which could be reached by moral persuasion, and human warmth; if men’s souls were within our reach as completely as their bodies, then God’s definite purpose as to salvation would be of little moment [importance]. But if the estrangement of humanity from God be a thing quite beyond man, and man’s argument or eloquence; if the resistance of a human will be a thing of almost unconceivable potency, and if the subjugation of that will require the direct forth-putting of Omnipotence, such as that which created heaven and earth, then God’s purpose is the first and last thing to be considered in going forth to deal either with Jew or Gentile. Other considerations may light up a false fire and produce a fair seeming zeal; but only the knowledge of a divine purpose can bring a man into a right missionary position, fill him with missionary devotedness, and nerve him [give confidence] in the hour of disappointment or discomfort. ‘Even so Father for so it seemed good in thy sight,’ was the truth on which the Son of God rested in the day of Israel’s first rejection of His Word; and it is just on such a truth as this, — a truth that lifts the divine purpose into its true place, that each of us, whether minister or missionary, must lean, in the day of apparent failure. The Pauline, or, if you like, the Calvinistic scheme, which connects all work for God with a definite purpose, and not with an indefinite wish, is that which alone can make us either comfortable or successful. Armed with this divine purpose, we feel ourselves invincible; nay, we are assured of being victorious. Having ascertained God’s purpose, and adopted it as the basis of our operations, we feel that we are in sympathy with God while working for Him. And it is this sympathy, this oneness of mind with God, that cheers us and sustains. He ever wins who sides with God. We shall thus be better fitted for enduring hardness, for ‘spending and being spent;’ that is, for expending ourselves, till all that is in us is expended.”
– Horatius Bonar, The Christian Treasury (1871) in The Life and Works of Horatius Bonar (CD-Rom, Lux Publications) pp. 1334-1335.