‘There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.’
The text plainly implies a great disconformity—a want of coalescence between the designs of man and God; an estranged spirit of design on the part of man. And the case actually is so in the world. Many of the designs in men’s hearts are formed independently of God; many in contrariety to Him.
I. Independently of Him.—In what proportion of men’s internal devisings may we conjecture that there is any real acknowledgment of God? One in ten? One in twenty? In beginning to entertain the design, there is no question made, Will this be approved by Him? The whole devising and prosecution are in a spirit just as if there were no such thing as Providence to aid or defeat.
II. But even this is not the worst: man’s heart entertains many devices in contrariety to God.—It can cherish ‘devices’ which must sometimes involve a rebellious emotion of displeasure, almost resentment, that there is a Sovereign Lord, Whose counsel shall stand.
III. The counsel of the Lord is sometimes not to prevent the design taking effect in the first instance.—He shows that He can let men bring their iniquitous purposes into effect, and then seize that very effect—reverse its principle of agency and make it produce immense unintended good.
IV. How important is it that all the designs of the heart should, in principle, be conformed to the spirit of God’s unalterable counsel; that in all our projects we should be conscientiously and solicitously aiming at a general conformity to His will.