Let us consider that it is far better to suffer than to be disgraced; that it is better to strive against evil than to succumb to it effetely; that loyalty and unity of heart are virtues for which no transient prosperity could make up to us if haply they were lost; that when the soul of a people moves as it does, thank God today with one strong impulse toward that which is just and right, that our soul is growing every hour to true nobility and to the worthiness of its mission.
The following excerpts were selected from a sermon preached by Morgan Dix just a few days after the beginning of the Civil War in April 1861. Considering the turmoil presently found in our stormy social and political climate, both here and abroad, it seems fitting that these words might likewise find some resonance in our day. — Editor.
The Way of God in the Storm
“The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet,” saith the prophet (Nahum 1:3). And the way of the Lord, whether it be in the whirlwind or in the summer’s breeze, in the storm or in the fair weather, is a way of justice, of mercy, and of truth. If a storm arises and blows, be it lighter or heavier, we need not fear if we know that the way of the Lord is there. Even in the whirlwind and in the storm “let the people praise Thee, O God, yea, let all the people praise Thee” (Psalm 67:5).
Storms are not the worst and greatest evils. Ask the sailor which he will choose, a mere storm or the dead calm of windless waters; and do not doubt his reply. Ask the wretched inhabitant of some pestilential climate, on which the stillness of the curse lies heavy day after day, what he would give for a storm from the cool, healthy north to blow upon the fever swamps and drive the destroyer from before it.
Yes, brethren, the words of the prophet are true, and the way of the Lord is in the storm. The storm is His minister of mercy and benefit, though in a rough, fierce way of its own. The storm does us good service in keeping the equilibrium among the elements, and it ministers beneficial discipline in its time — just as God appoints. This is the mission of the stormy wind and tempest in the firmament above: angry of face, but full of benefit and good; stern and sharp, but profitable also.
And that which is true in the firmament is just as true beneath it. Here, upon the way of this life, rises storm after storm. Here, also, the winds blow and beat upon the earthly house of this tabernacle. Here are blast and tempest along the way of each man, and of each community, and of all the nations upon earth. But the way of God is in them here below as well as up there over our heads.
Here, likewise, the clouds of strife and struggle are the “dust of His feet.” Here, also, have storm and tempest found their needful place and their healthful mission. It is so with them all. All are but God’s means of castigation which we need, and of advancement of which we have when we have been deemed worthy. This is true of the storms of life, whether they eddy in a narrow radius around one man, or around each one of us in his turn; or whether they gather into notable volume around some whole community; or whether, lastly, they expand to the compass of the round cyclone, and getting leverage below, through the strong arms of the earthquake, where it might shake the mighty nation and the ancient and honorable people to its center.
Finding the Virtue in the Storm
It is not the part of men to fly from the storm every time it falls upon them, but to look it full in the face; to search amid its folds and its rising fury for the mysterious way of the Lord which is surely therein. And, by doing so, to draw from it the virtue and the strength which are lodged there; thus rising, with added security from the temporary shock, to be taught by the event and gain a reverence and fear of the Lord.
Brethren, there is a deep and divine philosophy, crystallized into visible shape in nature, illustrated in all the inner history of man, and assented to by the convictions of the heart wherever that heart beats. It is a teaching, one and the same for every place, every age and every time. This philosophy runs thus: that all things are purified by trial. “Every one,” saith our Lord, “shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt” (Mark 9:49, KJV).
The whirlwind and the storm must come; and men must meet them. There is no exemption from this law; and the philosophy of which we speak is probably the simplest and the most universal that ever was taught. Advancement and honor come by the pathway of trial.