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SERMON CIV.

PARTICULAR PROVIDENCE OF GOD.

Mat. x. 29, 30.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall to the ground without your

Father : but the very hairs of your

hairs of your head are all numbered.

The Creator of all things is our Father: he has not only formed us what we are, but through his power and goodness we are upheld in being. In the constitution of the world he has established general laws for the continuance of every species of plant and animal; he has appointed numberless means for our preservation and support; he has wisely connected all parts of the universe together; and, the Infinite Monarch, his dominion extends over all the worlds which are known or unknown to us.

The conviction of these important truths is precious to the children of men; but the belief of them alone, is not sufficient for our felicity. I would also desire to know, whether this exalted Creator attends to the works of his hand; whether he observes and directs all changes in the material and spiritual world; whether his providence extends, not only over the great whole, but also over every particular part of his creation, however minute ; whether he wisely regulates the lot of all his unintelligent and intelligent creatures; whether I myself, so inconsiderable an atom in the universe, may yet confidently believe that the least events and changes in my life are under the directing providence of my God; and that, consequently, nothing can occur which he hath not ordained or permitted for good. Much, very much of my happiness, depends upon the answer to these questions: more than half my consolation and my hopes must be crushed, if I have a God, who, because he is so great, will not regard me, nor attend to my wants; if, of consequence, my happiness is entirely dependent upon my own wisdom or imprudence, upon the passions of other men, upon a blind chance, or an unintelligent necessity, and not upon the paternal providence and direction of the Lord. Does he not, or will he not, know where my habitation is appointed? what is my character and conduct ; whether I am surrounded by the enjoyments of earth, or pining in poverty, and weighed down by affliction; whether I have friends who love and cherish me, or enemies who hate and persecute me? Is he ignorant or indifferent, whether I become the victim of slander or of fraud; whether the object of any tenderest affections be torn from my embraces and sunk into the tomb; whether that child, whose opening virtues I have watched with transport, become the prey of death; whether disease or pestilence shall cut me off in the midst of my days? Ah! if all such circumstances are not under the government of God, and wisely directed by his providence, what ground of consolation have I in my afflictions; what motive for the effusions of gratitude to God in my joy; what se

curity for future happiness in this world, or the next? I should then be forsaken, like a child who, though he had a father, was early abandoned to strangers for his instruction or support; or like a poor orphan, early deprived of his parents, and left without guide or friend! Nay, I am worse than this orphan child; for he may find among strangers some benevolent heart that will exercise to him the love of a father, the tenderness of a mother; but I! where can I find another God who will direct my steps, regulate my lot, listen to my prayers, over-rule my afflictions for my greatest good; if my Creator and my Lord is regardless of the work of his hands, and is satisfied, when according to his established laws I have been born a man, with leaving me to be carried forward with the current of mortal things without his inspection, superintendence, and care? Where, where can I find another father, who will be what God is to me, if there be a Providence; who will watch over me amidst the thousand dangers which daily encompass me; who will reach forth his hand to sustain me when I totter, and raise me when I fall; who can guard my temporal happiness, and conduct me to the high felicity enjoyed by the redeemed?

It is then of unspeakable consequence to be collvinced of the particular providence of God; to be able to look up to him, and rejoice in him, in every moment and in every circumstance of our lives, aş our Father and our friend, constantly present with us. And, blessed be his name, he has not left himself without witness, but has given us the fullest proofs of this precious truth!

It would be useless formally to prove to you that God has a right to exercise this particular providence over his own works; and that he is qualified to exercise it by his perfections, his infinite power, and wisdom, and love.

That he does actually exercise it, is proved by his attributes and relations to us, by the powerful impressions of nature, by the observation of the world, by the declarations of his holy word.

1. In viewing the attributes of God and his relations to us, there are two questions to be considered: Has God the gracious will, the benevolent inclination, to observe and direct the works of creation ? and has he sufficient power to discern all his creatures, and to regulate every thing respecting them according to his will ?

Has God the gracious will? O, my soul! canst thou for a moment, entertain a doubt of it? He who made thee in mercy, (for what but goodness could induce him to give thee life?) he who has displayed so many traces of his goodness in heaven and upon earth; he who has given life and feeling to the smallest insect, and so admirably provided for its nourishment and support; canst thou question whether this benevolent Parent wants the will to watch over his works? Shall he, after having so wondrously formed his work, throw it without care from his hand ? Shall he, after having placed the first intelligent creature in the world and provided for the continuance of the race, no longer be attentive to him or his descendants? See the affectionate mother, how willingly she remains continually near her child! how solicitously she averts from it the dangers which threaten it! how carefully she relieves its distresses, supplies its wants, and promotes its happiness! And God, who implanted these feelings in the heart of the mother; God, whose tenderness as far exceeds that of mortals, as he is elevated above them by nature; God can be utterly careless and indifferent with regard to his children? Reject the thought with indignation! My soul, thou reproachest God, if for an instant, thou doubtest his gracious will !

But can God exercise this particular providence ? Has he sufficient power to observe all his creatures, and to regulate the smallest, as well as the most important events throughout the universe ? I need not pause to prove to you that he has this power; you cannot deny it without denying his existence: he who created all, çan govern all; he who is omnipotent and omnipresent, can, without exertion, preside over every change of the universe!

But if he has thus the will and the power, he must exercise this providence.

2. What is thus taught us from the consideration of God, is confirmed by an attention to our own feelings. A persuasion of the superintending providence of God is so incorporated with our very nature, so interwoven with the very principles of our being, that no nation has ever existed that has been able to eradicate the impressions of it. Hence in every country, savage or civilized, altars have been reared, temples erected, prayers offered, to the God who was supposed to be present, able to assist, and ready to hear. Can so universal a sentiment be explained, on a supposition of its falsity? It is true, a few men have been found who have denied it, and have endeavoured to believe irreligious systems which rejected it ; but when these same men have been visited by unexpected affliction, and alarmed by some great impending calamity, nature, or rather the voice of God has spoken within them; their systems have been forgotten, while they have almost involuntarily implored the protection of the Lord. 3. An attention to the history of the world shows us

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VOL. III.

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