Many are now asking what can be learnt from the referendum campaign in Scotland and its result. Political pundits have more than a few opinions. They refuse adamantly in the midst of this to consider the role of God’s Providence in these matters.
What we have witnessed so clearly is that men may make their plans and boast confidently of the future, but the event is in the hand of Providence. It is in fact a noteworthy providence that the ultimate result of 55% for No was the very figure being confidently projected by the Yes leaders for themselves not more than a week or two ago. Men may assert what they believe they may be able to create by their own power and wisdom. Nothing comes to pass without the Lord of Hosts, however, and He may very often bring the lofty thoughts of men low. “The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: He maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:10-11).
The lessons that should be learnt, rather than those that merely can be learnt, are moral.
We have witnessed inordinate pride, not merely in the sense of hubris, but also overweening presumptuous arrogance. Men have been glorying in themselves.
“Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom” (Jer. 9:23). Many arguments have been advanced and debate has been plentiful. Both sides have trusted in the means and methods of persuasion, enlisting the latest techniques of political campaign planning and psychological influence. Writers, historians, academics and economists lined up to give their assessment, and pit their wisdom against each other. Yet, for all that, there has been much intemperate bullying in the debate, foul and violent language, personal attacks and slander, besides the frequent outfacing and overbearing the truth. The poison of discord and animosity has been leaking forth freely.
“[N]either let the mighty man glory in his might.” Strength of numbers in polls, support, activists and so forth have been the arm of flesh upon which the campaigns have often rested. Might has been sought from the assistance of leaders and influential figures. There has also been a sinister use of might in the intimidation of individuals, businesses and organisations.
“Let not the rich man glory in his riches.” A great deal of money has been spent, but riches do not buy certainty in these matters. Those riches cannot be gloried in. Voters have been promised more money in their pockets, playing upon their personal greed so that they might “trust in uncertain riches”.
These are the lessons to learn. There is one more lesson that the passage in Jeremiah 9 teaches. What can we glory in? “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jer. 9:24).
We are a man-centred nation: the campaign has evidenced this all too clearly. Hundreds of pages have been given to the ideas and institutions of men. Nothing has been advanced concerning the Church of Christ, the truth of God’s Word, the Kingship of Christ over the nation, our national duty to God, and our Protestant constitution and heritage. We care for the things that delight ourselves, but not those that delight the Lord. The Lord loves righteousness and therefore “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
How can this divided nation be truly united? A true spirit of repentance and humility before the God against whom, as a people, we have sinned so deeply – that would bring us to the same place, and enable us to seek the blessing of the Lord that alone “maketh rich and He addeth no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22).
Matthew A Vogan