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constantly inculcates. Many are the precepts enjoining this, and many the examples by which it is enforced. Not to multiply texts, on a point so abundantly taught, and so self-evident, I will only observe, that our Saviour directed his disciples, before they petitioned for daily bread, to pray that the will of God might be done. And that, when he himself was in the bitterest agony, and prayed most earnestly for relief, yet he was all resignation. "Father," says he, "if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." Let us bear in remembrance this spirit of our suffering Saviour; and may the same mind be in us, which was in Him, AMEN,
ON THE ALL-GOVERNING PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
ISAIAH XLV. 7.
I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things.
WE are apt to be forgetful of our entire
dependance upon God, and not to have a proper sense of the operation of his hand, either in the good things we enjoy, or in the evils we suffer. In the day of prosperity we rejoice; but are not often duly thankful to the great Author of all our blessings. In the day of adversity we are grieved, but seldom consider, as we ought, that the calamities which have befal. len us are frowns of heaven. The best, need frequently to be reminded of these things; though they know them, and are well established in the truth of them.
But I have something further in view at present, than merely stirring up your minds by way of remembrance. It is difficult to know what ought to be believed concerning the divine agency, in many things that are done and suffered under the sun. There may be danger of erring on either hand: of ascribing to the holy Governor of the universe what would be a dishonorable imputation; as well as of
not giving him, the glory which is indeed due to his name, as the Creator and Lord of all.
"Whence comes evil?" is a question which has exceedingly puzzled wise men, in former ages of the world. That a being of perfect holiness, should be the author of sin; or that a being of infinite goodness should be the original introducer of misery, seems absurd to suppose. And yet, that any thing should come into existence, without an uncreated first cause, appears equally impossible.
From this dilemma, some of the ancient philosophers, who had only the light of nature, were led to believe that there must be two eternal beings, of equal power, and of directly opposite dispositions : One the author of all good; the other the author of all evil. Had they attended more fully to the matter, they might have seen, one would think, that the hypothesis of two necessarily existent, uncontrolable, contending beings, was as great an absurdity as any which it could be invented to avoid.
But, whatever might have been discovered by mere human reason, this, certainly, is a supposition which revelation utterly rejects. The God of the Bible is One, who alone inhabiteth eternity. The blessed and only Potentate-whose hand none can staywhose counsel shall stand-who doeth, in heaven and earth, and in all deep places, whatsoever He pleaseth. This glory is often given him by inspired holy men; and this he claims to himself in many places of scripture, and very emphatically in the words chosen for our present subject.
These words are part of a prophecy concerning the great conqueror of the Assyrian empire, and deliverer of Israel out of captivity in Babylon; addressed to him by name, two hundred years before he was born. See ver. 1, of this chapter: "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him." And from ver. 4th to the text. "For Jacob my
servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me : I girded thee, though thou hast not known me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me: I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light,”
For the illustration of this text, I shall endeavor to show.
I. What the things are in their proper extent, of which God here claims to be, in some sense, the author, or cause. And,
II. How it is to be understood, that He forms, creates, makes, and does, all these things.
By light and darkness, peace and evil, must be here meant, I conceive, whatsoever comes to pass.
The word light, literally taken, signifies that medium by which material objects are seen with our bodily eyes and darkness, in the literal sense, is the want of this light. But, as light is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing, for the eyes to behold the sun; and as darkness is uncomfortable, and many ways disadvantageous to us; so, these terms are frequently made use of to express joy and sorrow, happiness and misery, of any kind. See Psal. xcvii. 11, " Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." Psal. cxii. 4, Unto the upright, there ariseth light in the darkness." And Lam. iii. 1, 2, "I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath: He hath led me and brought me into darkness, but not into light." Nothing is more common than this metaphorical use of the words light and darkness; meaning by them comfort and trouble, prosperity and adversity.
By these expressions are likewise frequently meant, moral good and evil; holiness and sin. So the first is used in Matt. v. 16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works." And the last, Eph. v. 11, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." And both together, in 1 John i. 5, 6, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth."
It appears, then, that whatever is either calamitous or sinful, is expressed in scripture by darkness; and that all kinds of good, are signified by the word light.
Peace, is also an expression of very extensive import. Taken in every view of it, external and internal, it comprehends almost every thing that is desirable. Our Saviour expresses the whole legacy he willed to his disciples, by this one word. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you." And evil, you are sensible, is one of the most common words, for both sin and misery.
Nor is there any thing in our text, or in the context, to limit the meaning of these very universal terms. On the contrary, the words light and darkness, peace and evil, are plainly here used in their most unrestrained signification. It is the evident design of this whole passage to set forth, in the most forcible manner, that all the circumstances and actions of men, are subject to the providential ordering and direction of God.
Nor is this the only passage where such a doctrine is taught. It is said, Prov. xvi. 33, "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord. Rom. xi. 34, " For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things." And Eph. i. 11"Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."