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after into perdition. Your hearts must be rent from pride, and you must be abased low in the depths of humility. Pride is highly offensive to God; he has said that he will resist the proud afar off, but will give grace to the humble. O restrain the pride of your hearts, and seek that meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is an ornament of great price. When the heart is glued to pride, the soul is ashamed to fly to Jesus for refuge; it lingers upon the plains of destruction, till ruin, irrecoverable ruin, overtakes it. O, fellow sinner, rend your heart to-day from every sinful object, from every endearing delight that would hold you back from Christ; make one mighty effort, and cast yourself at the feet of sovereign mercy; and there mourn, and weep, and pray, till in the strength and majesty of heaven, you are enabled to rise, clothed in your right mind, and filled with all the fulness of God. All heaven is waiting to be gracious, and the angels of God are ready to rejoice over every repenting sinner.
2. My brethren, let us to-day humble ourselves before our God, and see if he will not exalt us; let us rend our hearts from every sinful and from every forbidden object, and see if he will not restore unto us the joy of his salvation ; let us break off from the love and practice of every sin, and turn to the Lord our God with all our hearts, and see if he will not display his power and manifest his glory in our midst; let us try him and prove him to-day, and see if he will not open the windows of heaven, and pour us out a rich and lasting blessing. He has promised to come down upon his people like rain upon the mown grass, and like showers that water the earth—he has declared that the wilderness shall bud and blossom as the rose, and that springs of water shall break out in the dry and thirsty land—then his people shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before them into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn, shall come up the fir-tree; and instead of the briar, shall come up the myrtle-tree ; it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. Then shall our sons be as plants grown up in their youth, and our daughters will be as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace. Then the Lord will create in Zion a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night ; indeed, he will be a wall of fire round about us, and the glory in the midst of us.
God richly Provides for the Wants of all his Creatures.
“Thou openest thine hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."Ps. cxlv., 16.
Creation is full of God—wherever we turn our eyes, we see the clearest traces of his existence, his power, his wisdom, and his goodness. The heavens declare his glory, the firmament showeth forth his handiwork, and the earth is full of his goodness. The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. How much soever men may be in the dark respecting God, it is not for the want of evidence. He is not far from every one of us ; for in him we live, and move, and have our being.
The passage before us is truly and wonderfully sublime; it er. presses a great truth in the most simple and forcible language. It represents the Supreme Being as the Father of his creation, surrounded with an innumerable family, whose eyes all wait on him for daily food ; while he, with paternal goodness, opens his bounteous hand, and satisfies their various wants. How wonderful, how surprising, and how complicated is the machinery of Divine Providence-a providence extending to all events, and supplying the wants of every living creature-a providence ever watchful, and never forgetting or overlooking a single living thing-a providence acting with all the force and regularity of the laws of nature. It is to this bounty of providence, to which our attention is called in the text. In the discussion of the subject, I shall offer some remarks by way of explanation, notice the evidence on which it rests -and conclude by an improvement of the subject.
1. We proceed, then, in the first place, to make some remarks in explanation of the subject. Thou openest thy hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing. There is much discontent among men; they are seldom satisfied, but are often found murmuring and complaining against God. Objections to the equality and goodness of Divine Providence, are too generally entertained ; and there are but few persons who feel themselves duly impressed with the reality and the importance of the doctrine. In order, therefore, to obviate such objections, I would observe
1. The desires which God satisfies, are to be restricted to those of his own creating. Men have created many artificial and sinful desires. These God has nowhere engaged to satisfy; and if men take the bounties of providence to satisfy these self-created and sinful desires, they prostitute them to an unlawful purpose ; and
must, therefore, be ,reduced to a state of want and suffering, for which providence is not to be held responsible. The truth of this remark must be obvious to every strict observer of the state and condition of society. For instance, God has created no desire for ardent spirits; the burning thirst of the intemperate is self-created ; it is not a natural, but an artificial desire. The pain, the distress, the uneasiness, which is felt by the intemperate man, when he is deprived of his usual drams, are the result of a self-created, and not of any natural desire that God has implanted in the breast of man. If this doctrine be true, the conversion of bread-stuff into intoxicating drinks is the perversion of the bounty of providence. It is taking the staff of life, and converting it into the instrument of death. It will also follow, that all the money which is employed in the purchase of this article to be used as a drink, is likewise misapplied. It is taking so much money from the ordinary channels marked out by Divine Providence, and forcing it in an unnatural direction. This prostitution of the order of a bountiful providence, is productive of a two-fold evil : it is an evil to the man who drinks the poisonous draught, and to his innocent family, who are thus deprived of their proper and legitimate support. And what a terrible scourge this demon of intemperance has been to our country ! What ravages have marked its progress! What bitter lamentations and cries have been its constant attendants ! It has entered the peaceful abodes of the domestic circle, where nought but joy and happiness reigned, and converted them into the habitations of strife and contention, of wretchedness and misery! It has reduced thousands to poverty, and clothed them in rags ! It has peopled our alms-houses with inmates ! It has filled our jails and halls of jurisprudence with criminals! It has consigned a multitude of all classes and conditions of men to an untimely grave! But as great and as numerous as are the evils which arise from intemperance, Divine Providence is not to be held responsible for one of them. God has not made any intoxicating liquor ; it is one of the inventions of man. Neither has he created any natural desire for its use ; the desire of the intemperate man is self-formed, arising from the constant or frequent use of intoxicating drinks. The providence of God may then be still regarded as good and bounteous, notwithstanding, all the poverty and distress intemperance may have brought upon mankind.
Similar remarks may also be extented to the common use of tobacco. The love of tobacco is not a natural, but wholly a self-created desire. In any, and in all the forms in which it is used, it is exceedingly repulsive to the natural taste of man. It requires a long and severe course of discipline to render it at all palatable. Nature, at first, sickens at its taste, and even at its smell ; and the conflict is long and severe before this natural repugnance can be overcome, and an agreeable habit in the use of tobacco formed. But when the habit is once formed, it becomes obstinate and invete
rate, and is attended with a needless and useless expense-an expense which is often painful and burdensome, because it trenches upon the very necessaries of life, and becomes the occasion, in other respects, of want and suffering. I know of individuals who purchase their pipes by the dozen, and their tobacco by the pound, and, at the same time, they represent themselves as in a suffering condition for the necessaries of life. But is providence to be held responsible for their sufferings and distress ? Certainly not. They misapply the bounties of providence, and deprive themselves and families of food and raiment convenient for them. No man ought to complain of poverty or distress, as long as he takes the bounties of providence to supply self-created desires ; for he is the author of his own poverty and distress, and the correction of the evil properly and necessarily devolves upon himself.
But there are other desires, which, in some respects, differ from those we have mentioned, and which, at the same time, are proper exceptions to the rule under consideration. I allude to all sinful desires, of every kind and description. These desires, instead of being gratified, should be chastened, subdued, and rooted out of the heart. Among these may be reckoned a desire for riches, for splendid equipage, for sumptuous living, for elegant houses and furniture, and for costly apparel. A desire for these things springs up from the pride and ambition of the human heart; and the more they are gratified and indulged, the stronger they become, and the more difficult it is to subdue and eradicate them. To supply such desires, for the most part, would be to build mankind up in pride and wickedness. They are wholly inconsistent with those graces which constitute the essence of the Christian temper. They are unnecessary to either the comfort or enjoyment of life; and Christians are expressly forbidden to covet these things, in the gospel, as inconsistent with their calling and profession: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
2. Though God satisfies the desires of every living thing, yet not all in the same way; but of every creature according to its nature and circumstances. There is a wonderful diversity in the works of God; vet everything is under the direction and government of regular laws—nothing is left to chance. Many of the creatures, like the lily, neither toil nor spin ; but receive the bounties of providence ready prepared to their hands. This, however, is not the case with all. Every living creature must procure its food by its own exertions. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the beasts of the forest, must all necessarily exert themselves, to supply the craving appetite of hunger. But it is especially the doom of man to labor for all he acquires. It is a part of the load laid
upon him, that, by the sweat of the brow, he shall eat his bread. And this is a most wise and salutary provision of Divine Providence. Idleness is a soil which produces a luxuriance of evil; and, considering what man is, it is well that he is compelled to labor. It is generally amongst the rich, who have nothing to do, and the very poor, who will do but little, that wickedness is most prevalent. The laborious and the industrious are exposed to the fewest temptations, and are consequently the most virtuous and happy. The prayer of Agur is no less the_fruit of wisdom, than the result of experience: Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die : remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed me with food convenient for me ; lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
3. We are to understand the language of the text in a general sense : what the Lord does ordinarily, not universally, or in all cases. Although the operations of Divine Providence are, for the most part, regular and uniform, yet there are occasional instances when this rule is not observed. There are times of famine, when God, as it were, shuts his hand, on account of the sins of men. And when he does this, the heavens become brass, and the earth iron; and multitudes perish for the want of bread. Famine is one of those terrible scourges, by which God chastises the wickedness of nations. He often sent this terrible calamity upon his ancient people, and sorely punished them for their transgressions. But there is still a sorer evil than that of famine, arising from a disordered state of society. Great numbers of mankind labor under the hardships of poverty, pine away, and are stricken through, for want of the fruits of the field. This evil especially abounds in those countries that are thickly populated, and where the iron hand of despotism reigns. And this is one of those evils under which the world groans, owing to the sin of man. If there were no idleness, no luxury, no waste, or intemperance, amongst one part of mankind, there would be a sufficiency for the rest. Then the earth would abound in plenty, and the native wants of all would be richly supplied. Every man then could appeal to God, and say: Thou openest thine hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing.
II. We shall now proceed, in the second place, to state a few of the evidences, by which this important truth is supported. It is difficult to prove some subjects, not from a scarcity, but from a profusion of evidence. And this is the case with the subject before us: the difficulty lies in the selection. On this occasion, I shall merely call your attention to three considerations, in confirmation of the truth of the doctrine advanced.
1. The supplies we constantly receive cannot be ascribed to our own labor, as their procuring cause. The ultimate of human labor is merely a kind of manufacture of the materials, with which the bountiful Creator is pleased to furnish us. We create nothing; we