MANS DEVICES vs THE LORD’S COUNSEL
The devices of our heart are generally to find some easy, smooth, flowery path. Whatever benefits we have derived from affliction, whatever mercies we have experienced in tribulation, the flesh hates and shrinks from such a path with complete abhorrence.
And, therefore, there is always a secret devising in a man’s heart . . .
to escape the cross,
to avoid affliction, and
to walk in some flowery meadow,
away from the rough road which cuts
his feet, and wearies his limbs.
Another “device in a man’s heart” is, that he shall have worldly prosperity; that his children shall grow up around him, and when they grow up, he shall be able to provide for them in a way which shall be best suited to their station in life; that they shall enjoy health and strength and success; and that there shall not be any cutting affliction in his family, or fiery trial to pass through.
Now these devices the Lord frustrates. What grief, what affliction, what trouble, is the Lord continually bringing into some families! Their dearest objects of affection removed from them, at the very moment when they seemed clasped nearest around their hearts!
And those who are spared, perhaps, growing up in such a searedness of conscience and hardness of heart, and, perhaps, profligacy of life, that even their very presence is often a burden to their parents instead of a blessing; and the very children who should be their comfort, become thorns and briars in their sides!
Oh, how the Lord overturns and brings to nothing the “devices of a man’s heart” to make a paradise here upon earth.
When a man is brought to the right spot, and is in a right mind to trace out the Lord’s dealings with him from the first, he sees it was a kind hand which “blasted his gourds, and laid them low;” it was a kind hand that swept away his worldly prospects; which reduced him to natural as well as to spiritual poverty; which led him into exercises, trials, sorrows, griefs, and tribulations; because, in those trials he has found the Lord, more or less, experimentally precious.
“There are many devices in a man’s heart.” Now you have all your devices; that busy workshop is continually putting out some new pattern; some new fashion is continually starting forth from the depths of that ingenious manufactory which you carry about with you; and you are wanting this, and expecting that, and building up airy castles, and looking for that which shall never come to pass; for “there are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”
And so far as you are children of God, that counsel is a counsel of wisdom and mercy. The purposes of God’s heart are purposes of love and affection toward you, and therefore you may bless and praise God, that whatever be the devices of your hearts against God’s counsel, they shall be frustrated, that He may do His will and fulfill all His good pleasure.