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any of His creatures. But St. Paul's confu- . tation both of them and of the Stoics will be satisfactory to all who receive the Scriptures as the word of God. “God that made the world “ and all things therein, is Lord of heaven and « earth.
He giveth to all life and breath and as all things. In Him we live, and move, and “ have our being. He hath appointed a day, “ in the which He will judge the world in “ righteousness by that man whom He hath or“ dained, whereof He hath given assurance as unto all men in that He hath raised Him from “ the dead.” Scripture and true philosophy unite in ascribing to God the government of His own world.
We proceed to consider the universality of God's providence. It "ordereth all things both “ in heaven and in earth.” The greatest things, are not independent of its support and government; nor are the most minute and inconsiderable beneath its notice. The “angels that ex“cel in strength” are upheld and governed by Him who made them. The sun, the moon, and the stars, move in their orbits as they are moved by Him, not immediately indeed, but medi. ately, as they are acted on by second causes which primarily derived their agency from God. The raging tempest and the boiling deep receive law from His mouth. The rise, and fall of empires are effects of His power, all the subordinate parts of the great machine, both of the material and moral world, depending on Him as its main spring. On the other hand, the sparrow does not fall to the ground without our heavenly Father's observation and permission. The very hairs of our heads are all numbered. By Him the young ravens are fed; and the
young lions roaring after their prey do seek their meat from God. Sublime and beautiful was the language of adoration adopted by king Nebuchadnezzar after his conversion and restoration to his throne; “ His dominion is an “ everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is “ from generation to generation. And all the - inhabitants of the earth are reputed as no
thing: and He doth according to His will in “ the army of heaven, and among the inhabi, “ tants of the earth: And none can stay His “hand, or say unto Him, What dost thou?"
The providence of God is either ordinary or extraordinary. Seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, day and night, are the effects of His ordinary providence. The support of Elijah during his abode in the wilderness, the
preservation of Daniel in the lions' den, and of the three children in the burning fiery furnace, and other such like events, are instances of an extraordinary or miraculous providence.
But let us consider the providence of God as it is occupied about ourselves. We are the children of Divine providence in our creation, “preservation, and all the blessings of this life" which we receive. “Thou art He that took
me out of the womb; thou didst make me hope (or keptst me in safety *) when I was
upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon “thee from the womb: Thou art my God from “ my mother's belly.” In childhood, youth, and riper years, all the events of our lives have been ordered by God's “never-failing providence." This fixed the bounds of our habitation, and our external circumstances. "Our times” of health, and sickness, of prosperity and adversity, of life and death, “are in His hand.” And, in the more important concerns of our souls, we owe the place of our nativity, the means of grace, our connection with the Christian church, and all our other spiritual advantages, to the overruling providence of God.
* Marg, reading
The universality of Divine providence is plainly demonstrable from the petitions which have been offered by inspired persons, and which are recorded in Scripture, for particular blessings, personal and national, and from the acknowledgments made by them to the great. ruler of the world, when such petitions have been answered. For if the events of human life were left to accident, such petitions and praises would be enthusiastic, absurd, and impious. But the promises of God relative to our temporal concerns shew that they are not so. And it is not of much importance for us to determine how far the interpositions of Divine providence in our favour are common or extraordinary in any particular cases. It is enough for us to know that all is of God, to acknowledge His hand, and to give Him the glory. In the act of weighing an anchor, its removal from its station at the bottom of the ocean depends as much on the power of the lever attached to the capstan as the first circuitous motion of the
cylinder on the deck, though between it and the anchor ever so great a length of cable intervene.
The providence of God is, moreover, conversant about the actions of rational creatures. Both the good and evil actions of mankind are connected with it. In assigning the former to the influence of God's providence, there is no difficulty. But, respecting the latter, the
difficulty is great. For it may be asked, How is the universal providence of God consistent with the free agency and responsibility of rational creatures? How is it reconcileable with the existence of moral evil? This is indeed a profound, mysterious, and awful subject; these are deep waters, through which no finite understanding can wade. A confession of ignorance is therefore no disparagement to it. An attempt to solve what is insoluble, to discover what is not revealed, is an act of idiotism and presumption. It is however certain that Divine providence is not excluded from a connection with those actions which are sinful, though it is equally clear that it is never the cause of sin. To deny the former position is to contradict the Scriptures; and to assert the latter is blasphemy. (Gen. xlv. 8. Comp. 1. 20. Exod. vii. 3. 2 Sam. xvi. 10. 2 Chron. x. 15. 1 Kings xxii. 19, 20, 23. Isai. xix. 14. Ixii. 17. Rom. i. 26. 2 Thess. ii. 11. Acts ïi. 23. iii. 18. iv. 28.*) God is not the author of moral
* " Declare how God can have a hand in these things, and yet be free from sin.”-“He is a cunning workman, which with an ill toole can work cunningly. And as a most excellent apothecary maketh a medicine of the mixture of poyson in it, which is yet uot poysonous, but rather medicinall; so the Lord in guiding and managing the poyson of sin, draweth treacle from the sins of men, as it were poyson, in such sort as they turn to His glory and the good of His church : and cannot be charged with sin no more then the apothecary with poysoning, in so ordering the poyson, as it doth the contrary, by his skill, unto that which by nature it would doe. And as in painting, the black colour giveth grace to other beautiful colours, in making them shew better : so it is in this work of God, in which the sin and untruth of men (as by a black and dark colour) causeth the truth and righteousness of God (as the white) to bee more commended and to appeare better.” “But how are these actions of the wicked to be discerned from the work of God in them? First, by the cause from whence VOL. III.
evil; for “ He cannot be tempted with evil, “ neither tempteth He any man. But every man “ is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own - lust and enticed. Then when lust hath con* ceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is “perfected, bringeth forth death.” The doctrine of Scripture is equidistant from fatalism and chance. And as the line of truth on this deep subject seems to be “ a path which the vulture's eye hath not seen, it is our “wisdom to acquiesce, without seeking to be wise above what is written, in the declaration of our church, that “God's “ never failing providence ordereth all things “ both in heaven and earth;" devoutly exclaiming
the action cometh. For Joseph's brethren of envie sent him into Egypt; but God in mercy. Shımei cursed David of malice; but God of justice against David's murther, and adaltery. Rehoboam out of the unadvisednesse of his heart refused the request of his people; but God by his wise counsell did so dispose of it. The devil froin hate to Abab was a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets ; but God in Justice against his idolatry. Pilate of ambition and feere, the Jewes of malitious envy and ignorance, Judas of covetousnesse, but God of love, gave Christ, and Christ Himself in obedience to His Father : and therefore that action, as it was frorn God and Christ, was most just and righteous, as from the other most wretched and abominable.”
“ Secondly, by the end whither they tend. For Joseph's brethren sent him, to the end he should not come to the. bonour he foretold out of his dreame : but God sent him to provide for his church, and to fulfill that which was foretold. Shimei cursed, to drive David to despair : but God directed him for exercise of David's patience. The Devil lyed in the false prophets, to ruine Ahab: but God justly to punish him for his idolatry. Rehoboam, to satisfy the. desire of his young beardlesse counsellors : but God to performe the word that he had spoken by his prophet. Pilate. to please the people and to keep his credit with Cæsar; Judas for obtaining the money he desired; and the Jewes that our Saviour Christ should not reigne over them : but God and Christ to save His people," Archbishop Usher's Body of Divinity, 3d edit. p. 113.