Peace, it will be allowed, is an inestimable jewel. No man that has been at all acquainted with the calamities of war, the distresses of domestic confusion, or the horrors of a guilty conscience, can dissent from this proposition. Under such circumstances, how often has the heart yielded a sigh on the desirableness of the blessing of peace! But if peace, in the general, be so desirable, what must be said of the peace of God, which passeth all understanding! Peace among men is very desirable: it is healing to the human heart—it is transporting to the human breast—to see the bloody sword sheathed in its scabbard. It is pleasing to see amity and concord prevail, and old friends meet that have been separated, perhaps by jealousy and misunderstanding; but all this is only between man and man. The peace of God exceeds every thing of this sort as much as God’s ways are above our ways, and his thoughts above our thoughts. As much as the heavens are above the earth, so much is peace with him greater than peace with each other. It is on this subject that we shall now discourse.
Could the apostle have pointed to a blessing of greater value than this: “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.”
In discoursing on this subject, we shall, First, Ask in what this peace consists—Secondly, Endeavour to justify the apostle’s encomium on it—Thirdly, Consider its great use in the Christian life—Lastly, Inquire by what means it is to be attained.
I. Let us try to ascertain what it is—What is this invaluable jewel? What is this peace of God? Depend upon it, it is something valuable, or rather something invaluable, or our Lord Jesus Christ would not have singled it out as his last bequest, at the time he was about to leave his disconsolate disciples, and when his heart was overflowing with tenderness for them. He left them one great blessing. What was it? Not crowns—not kingdoms—No. It was something far superior to these: “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your hearts be troubled.”
The word which is here rendered “the peace of God” signifies oneness—union—being gathered into one—reconciliation. It is the blessedness of being in a state of reconciliation with God. I should suppose it may include the following ideas:—
1. That sweet tranquillity of soul which arises from a well-grounded persuasion of being accepted by God. This is what the apostle means when he says, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”—Being accepted through the righteousness of the Redeemer, we have peace with God. I need not inform you that, in our native state, we are all at war with God, and God with us. Sin is the great enemy. It has separated great friends God and man, you know, were once great friends; but sin separated those chief friends, and drew a veil of separation between them. Man became an enemy to God, and God to man. God in the character of a righteous Governor was required—his own rectitude required him—to be an enemy to man. For he hateth all the workers of iniquity: but, through the mediation of the Son of God, atonement is made—the blood of the cross heals the breach, and opens the way of communion. God declares himself well pleased with his dear Son; and every poor sinner who sues for mercy in his name finds relief. The past is forgiven—is forgotten; the soul is justified through the redemption of Jesus Christ.—The effect of all this is sweet peace.
Who can estimate the sweetness of that enjoyment which arises from a well-grounded persuasion that God is my Father? To be permitted to say, I am an heir of blessing: I am no longer under the law, but under grace: I am no longer an alien, but a son or daughter: the blessings of the gospel are to be made my own.—Where such are the persuasions, there is the peace of God.
2. The peace of God, I should think, includes that sweet satisfaction which possesses the mind from a view of God sitting at the helm of the universe, and having the management of all our concerns. We are like people who are sailing on the ocean in a storm. This troubled ocean casts up mire and dirt, and we are continually subject to tempests; and were it not for the consideration that we have a pilot at the helm—a God who has the turbulent ocean under his control—were it not for the consideration that the cares of the world were under his direction, what peace could we enjoy? Let me ask you, thinking Christians, when you consider the temper of the world—when you see man hating his fellow man, and see them combining against one another by thousands—when you see the enmity of the heart to be such that there is hardly any rational hope of peace under the sun, what would quiet your heart but the consideration that God reigns, and “that the inhabitants of the earth are but as grasshoppers”—that he “maketh the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder thereof he doth restrain?” The thought that Jesus Christ is Head over all things to his church, and that all shall contribute to the spread of the gospel, begets that peace in the mind that enabled the psalmist to sing, in the midst of tumult and confusion, “Though the mountains be cast into the depths of the sea, there is a river the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.” There is a source of consolation to the children of God to which others are strangers. God will help his people, and that right early.
3. It is necessary that we should feel some degree of peace in our own consciences. We cannot experience the peace of God, and joy in the Holy Ghost, unless we have the testimony of our own consciences that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have had our conversation in the world. Enoch had the peace of God, when he had this testimony—that he pleased God. By the history which we have of him, which is very short, it appears that he pleased very few people. He was a thundering preacher in his day—the object of the ill-will of his hearers; but he had the testimony that he had pleased his God.
That Christian, or that minister, who enjoys a solid, well-grounded persuasion that he possesses the favour of Jesus Christ, whose confidence is in him who sits at the helm of the universe, who walks with God and has the testimony of a good conscience, possesses the peace of God.
Excerpt from “The Peace of God,” a sermon preaching at Devonshire Square, London on June 26, 1796.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 362–363). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.