“And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath.” —Luke 4:28
Human nature, how low fallen in misery and wretchedness! yet how high doth it rise in pride! Though the meek Lamb of God is the preacher of sovereign grace and distinguishing love, yet the wrath of man dares to exalt itself against his doctrine. Fury burst forth like fire, vengeance and resentment break the bounds of the law of God and man, and would have instantly put Jesus to death.
Pride is the firstborn of Lucifer: “Ye shall be as gods,” hath tainted our whole nature with the cursed leaven, and will be the last enemy that is destroyed in us. Out of the abundance of pride in the heart, the mouth is opened against God’s sovereign grace, discriminating love, and divine dispensations. “Be still, and know that I am God,” is a lesson the proud nature of man is averse to. “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” (Exodus 33:19); —though spoke from the mouth of the Lord, yet the hearts of sinners rise in wrath against it: they look with an evil eye upon the good pleasure of the Lord; and dare challenge and call in question his truths, and his dealings with the children of men.
Disciple, this day, a real likeness, a true picture of thy proud nature is presented to thy view. Behold thyself in thy proud brethren. See thy natural aversion to the sovereignty of God’s truths, and thy Saviour’s doctrines. All these worshipping Jews, priests as well as people, conceived wrath even in God’s against Jesus, a man who told them the truth. The histories of the Sareptan widow and Naaman the Assyrian, they were well acquainted with, but could not bear the doctrine of them. Good Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart (2 Chronicles 32:26); —do we not feel the stirrings of it also? O what cause, what daily cause for his practice. Stout words proceed from unhumbled hearts. When our voices are heard on high against God’s sovereign determinations, it is a sad proof that our hearts are not laid low with a sight and sense of being guilty before God. Those who challenge God’s purposes, have some plea founded upon their own imaginary goodness. “Be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
Shall man reply against the Lord,
And call his Maker’s ways unjust?
The thunder of his dreadful word
Can crush a thousand worlds to dust.
But, O my soul, if truth so bright
Should dazzle and confound thy sight,
Yet still his written will obey,
And wait the great decisive day.
William Mason (1719-1791)
A Spiritual Treasury for the Children of God