"cient times that I have formed it? Now have I "brought it to pass, that thou shouldst be to lay "waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps*." The Assyrian desolater in the utmost exorbitances of his ambition was the unconscious servant of an unseen power; the instrument of the wisdom which rules the world.

This, to the serious religionist, is a doctrine of the greatest moment to his rational satisfaction. It gives to him the assurance of knowing that the system, in which his place and being are cast, is in the hands of God, not only as foreknowing that which it is to be, but as administering the plan and executing the ends of his Providential Government, (wise and right that government must be) in the midst of all the tumult of the seeming disorders, the vicissitudes, and wayward course of the world. To know this, to have his mind set at rest upon it, is a first desideratum of his feelings and knowledge. And how was that satisfaction to be obtained? Reason, indeed, must ever lean to the persuasion that the Creator of the world is its controuling Governor; and in the natural world is fully reflected the order of his Government. But in the world of man, where are the signs of his presence? They are not so obvious to the sight. For there God's 66 way is in the sea, and his path in the great waters, "and his footsteps are not known." And who

* Isaiah xxxvii. 26.

could say, whether, in the freedom of man, and the precarious effects of that freedom, the controul from above was not for a time suspended or excluded?

Hence the perplexed and interminable speculations which have arisen concerning Providence and Fate, Providence and Fortune; speculations these, which grew out of the sense of nature, and only put into form the anxious questions of every thoughtful mind.

Revelation in prophecy speaks to the point, and solves the inquiry. And this is the disclosure which it makes, that in the present dispensation of God, as it respects man, there are two causes in action, the Divine Will, and the responsible power of will given to man. Of the latter, our own consciousness had been partly a witness; but the Scripture is infinitely the more decisive and eloquent witness of it, by the universal tenour of its laws and promises, directed to men in an accountable capacity, upon motives and reasons which presuppose, and can only act upon, some moral liberty of will and exercise of judgment. But of the former, the present direction of an over-ruling Providence, it should seem that we could have no sure knowledge of its existence, nor any competent knowledge of its extent, except by a revelation asserting and exemplifying it. For it is a power which veils its interference, and moves so as not to shock the tenour of man's responsible action in his

course of trial and duty. What we see in the world is man's agency; and often he seems only to have too much power there. The other greater mysterious power is out of sight. Scripture then has ascertained that which we wanted to know, which we might surmise and hope for, but could never determine with a practical certainty but by an information better than our own. And perhaps they who have pursued the question the furthest on the grounds of natural reason, will be the first to acknowledge, that revelation interposes in season, in the crisis of their inquiry, to give them possession of a truth, which they could neither quite entertain nor quite reject, The present providence of God in the government of the world.

The sense of Conscience which teaches with some effect the expectation of a judgment to come, that is, some state of retribution under the Divine Government, has nothing to say to the world in its order, as it now is. Conscience, and the present constitution of things, are not corresponding terms. The one is not the object of perception to the other. It is conscience, and the issue of things, which go together. And Experience, which is a more competent judge in the case, is too often disconcerted and wearied in her observations. Revelation gives the whole truth, the appointed retribution, and the immediate Providence; and Prophecy especially is employed in asserting this last essential branch of the Divine Economy.

As to the difficulty which there may be, of which I shall have to speak hereafter, in reconciling in one scheme of thought the agency of man with the foreknowledge, and the positive appointments, of Providence, it is what it is; though per| haps not greater than exists in other instances which we pass over without scruple. But the practical embarrassment, the serious evil of the subject, is done away; for both those principles are established; and we are taught by the one to understand our own obligations of duty, by the other to confess the sovereign attributes of God.

Let me pause for a moment, to observe what a basis, by this doctrine, is laid of peace and tranquillity, to every thoughtful and most feeling mind; and how different the aspect of the world becomes, when we have reason to know that all things in it, and every combination of them, whether in the fortunes of kingdoms, or in the more private state, are under the controul of an Intelligent and gracious Ruler. Were we in the chains of fate, how gloomy would our case be. Were we in the hands of men, too often how fearful, how humiliating, and afflicting. But the impression of the scene is changed, when we admit into it the direction of an all-wise and perfect Being, in whose rectitude and goodness we may acquiesce through the whole course of his providential dispensation.-Will it be said, after all, this is the value of the doctrine, if true;


but how shall we know its truth? Definitively, by miracles and prophecy. Miracles prove that the order of physical nature is not Fate, nor a mere material constitution of things, but the subject of a free, omnipotent Master. Prophecy fulfilled, proves that neither Fate, nor Man are masters of the world. These are final tests of all such questions; and so the evidences of Revealed put an end to some of the main questions and difficulties of Natural religion.

II. The other doctrine to which I referred is that of the efficacy of Repentance. This doctrine, stated with great energy and precision in the prophetic writings, is one than which in practical religion none can be named of greater importance. It involves the last alternative in the judgment which man makes of his condition before his Maker. What has Natural Religion to promise, or declare, upon it? Natural Religion stands in suspense, fearful and ignorant. And yet he, who has sinned, is concerned to know whether there be hope for him in reserve: and who is there that has not his part in that concern? He who has the justest sense of his demerit in his failure of duty, has the keenest concern to know it. And he who experiences no solicitude of apprehension, no trouble of mind in the case, seems only the more depraved in his insensibility. Now had the Prophets of Israel preached no other doctrine than

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