25. Discipline and Government

Your question is a very interesting and important one. “Is any one, now by God's grace a believer, when suffering the bitter consequences entailed by past sin, entitled to take the comfort of those passages in the Word which speak of trial and chastening as being sent in love from a Father's hand?” Doubtless, in such a case, the Father may use the necessary consequences of past sin as a present discipline for the soul of His child; but we are disposed to view this and such like cases as illustrative of that great and solemn governmental rule, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:77Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7).) You may see men suffering, all their lifetime, the natural consequences of past folly and excess. True it is that God, in His grace and mercy, overrules, and turns their very consequences to account, by using them for holy discipline; but all the while they are the fruit of past sin.
It is very needful to be able to distinguish aright between the actings of grace and the actings of government. They are often confounded. It. is most solemn to think of the government of God. No exercise of His grace can ever interfere with the principles of His government. Grace pardons and restores; but government takes its course. If you sow tares, you cannot reap wheat. Grace can pardon your folly in sowing tares, but it will not change the crop. Moreover, as you walk through the field of tares, you may praise the grace that has pardoned your folly, while you weep over the folly that sowed the tares. The Bible abounds in illustrations of these things, and so does the history of the Church of God in all ages. We consider the question to be a thoroughly practical one. It has been briefly handled in one of our earlier volumes. See an article entitled, “Grace and Government.”