Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

that the providence of God is universal. In how many instances does he interpose, so as to compel the most careless to acknowledge his presence

and

agency? How often does he display his providence by the means which he employs to produce effects ? Sometimes making use of the smallest things to produce the greatest consequences; sometimes of instruments naturally calculated to produce the contrary effects to what they actually accomplish; sometimes making the greatest consequences to hang upon events which are casual with regard to us, though determined by him. How often do we behold his providence causing the most marked distinction in the Sprcess of persons of the same powers of mind, the Side external advantages, the same industry? How often, to prove his superintendence, does he bestow upon men what they desired in a different way, and sometimes in an opposite method to what they had projected ? How many thousand instances in which the passions of men have been restrained ; or sudden changes made upon their spirits for the preservation of others; or the counsels of the wise infatuated, and made subservient to the very ends to which they were opposed ? He must be little acquainted with the history of the world, and have been a most inobservant spectator of the events that have occurred during his life, who has not remarked ten thousand such circumstances, that can rationally be explained only by the acknowledgment of Divine Providence.

4. In the holy volume, there is scarcely a page in which we are not expressly taught the providence of God. Indeed it is the great intent of revelation to give the history of his providence, and show the manner and rules of his dealings with the children of

The prophecies particularly show his super

men.

intendence of the concerns of earth, and his direction of all events. The Old and the New Testament concur in teaching us that “ The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed : the Lord killeth and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich; he bringeth low, and lifteth up." (1 Sam. ii. 6, &c.) “ Riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all, and in thine hand is

power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.” (1 Chr. xxix. 11, 12.) “God doeth great things and unsearchable ; marvellous things without number: he giveth rain upon

the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields; he setteth upon high those that be low; he disappointeth the devices of the crafty; but he saveth the poor from the sword, from the mouth and from the hand of the mighty.” (Job. v. 8, &c.) « Promotion cometh not from the east nor the west; but God is the Judge; he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Psa. Ixxxv. 6, 7.) “ He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven.” “ He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens when they cry.” “ A man's heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps." These are but a few of the numberless passages which teach us that God's providence extends to the most minute, as well as to the most important concerns; to the death of a sparrow, and the number of our hairs, as well as to the rise of empires, or the fall of states. Do

you ask, if it is consistent with the majesty and dignity of God to attend to such minute events? Yes! it is not unworthy of him to govern what it is not unworthy of him to create. The continued and universal exercise of wisdom and goodness cannot be inconsistent with majesty. The sun, the

brightest natural emblem of its Creator, loses none of its excellence, because it not only enlightens powerful emperors, but also permits insects to sport in its beams. Those who would represent the providence of God as extending only to the great whole, without regarding the minute parts, have not only never attended to the great chain of nature, in which the most minute and most important events are so inseparably linked together, that one cannot be neglected, without neglecting the other; they have bebesides, never formed a proper conception of the glory of God. How great does he appear, when at once encircling in the arms of his providence, the highest angel, and the lowest worm; viewing the whole chain which connects a past and a future eternity from the first to the last, and holding it steadily in his hand; observing and directing every cir-, cumstance with all its consequences, throughout his vast dominion! How great does he appear, when, without effort or exertion, he directs the planets in their orb, marks out to the comet its course, upholds the numberless worlds which are scattered through the immensity of space; and at the same moment condescending, regulates my lot with as much care as though I were the only happy creature in the universe under his dominion, regards the necessities of a suffering Lazarus, provides for the feeble insect, hears the song of the nightingale, and listens to the sigh of the prisoner! At the contemplation of such a God I tremble: but it is with reverence, with love, with gratitude, and joy.

1. It is of unspeakable importance to keep the remembrance of God's providence fresh upon the mind; the forgetfulness of it is often mentioned in scripture as an occasion of sin. The wicked are represented as violating the divine laws, because they suppose “ God hath forgotten; he hideth his face; he will never see it: This is also one great ground of our coldness in our religious exercises. Would our worship be so languid, our prayers so unfrequent, our praises so heartless, our trust so feeble, if we had a proper sense of the universality, the watchfulness, the tenderness of God's providence? If then, we would grow in holiness, let us often recall to ourselves that wherever we are, and whatever we do, the Lord is with us; and let us exercise those affections, and perform those acts which this remembrance is calculated to produce.

2. This subject excites deep melancholy, when we reflect how many oppose the providence of God, and sin against it; such are those who, desirous of continuing in that sin which they love, wish that this doctrine may be false; and trembling at the inspection and government of God, endeavour to lull themselves to a fatal security, while they cry with those guilty men in the prophet, “ The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.” (Zeph. i. 12.) Such are those who disregard the checks of Providence, and like Pharaoh, still proceed in their evil course, though God has thus manifested his displeasure: such are those who live in the habitual omission of prayer. The Psalmist gives it as one proof that fools deny God's government of the world, that “ they call not upon the Lord.” If we really believed his watchful providence over us, and his sufficiency to help us, we should not so negleet to pour out our prayers to him, and look to every thing for assistance rather than to him. If we were more persuaded of the care of our Father, we should more readily flee to his bosom in our distress. Such are those whose

means.

chief trust for telicity is in other things than God; in the power of their friends, in their wisdom or prudence, in the wealth they have accumulated; this is practically to deny the providence of the Lord. Such are those who, on the reception of mercies never raise their hearts in gratitude to God, but confine their thanks to the instruments he has employed: who attribute their prosperity only to their friends, their health to their own care, or the skill of the physician, their learning to their own industry. This is a base requital for the providential care of Him, without whom all second causes would be ineffectual. Such are those who seek wealth or honour by unlawful

This is to reject the providence of God, and to seek relief of hell; to imitate Saul, who, when the Lord did not answer according to his wishes, fled to Satan. Such are those who envy their brother the temporal blessings, or the spiritual gifts which God has bestowed upon him. What is this but to reflect upon

the Author of these gists, and treat his providential distribution of them unjust or unwise ? Such are those who are impatient under afflictions; quarrelling with the providential will of God, and charging him with severity and want of goodness. Such are those who blame Providence for the sins they have committed, and thus reproach the Most Holy. All these classes of persons sin against Divine Providence, Alas, how many of us have then been guilty before God!

3. This subject is full of consolation to all the pious. Innumerable fears and anxieties must seize upon every considerate mind, if the government of the world were left to accident, to fate, or to mere human conduct and direction; but these fears and anxieties vanish, and the troubled heart is at rest, when we

« PreviousContinue »