« AnteriorContinuar »
assurance, that the Supreme Ruler of the world does, in those degrees and on those occasions which are suitable to His high wisdom, dispense or withhold the blessings of life, according to the petitions of His servants.
But, under the further knowledge of those peculiar doctrines which are unfolded to us in the Christian dispensation, we derive still stronger assurances of the particular providence of God over all His rational creatures. We learn, in the records of Gospel truth, that the Holy Spirit of God is ever ready at hand to comfort, to assist, and to strengthen all faithful Christians. This blessed Spirit worketh in us both to will and to do. He furthers us in our good purposes; He prevents us in our evil ones. He" helpeth our infirmities”; He guides us unto all truth; He animates our faith; He quickens our endeavours; He gives effect to our better resolutions. In short, it is only through His heavenly influence that we are able to perform our duties in a manner acceptable to God. Thus then are the power and agency of God mixed up with the affections and desires, with the thoughts and motives of action, of every devout Christian: and thus, through His special control and pervading influence, are the souls of individuals nourished and strengthened in the faith of Jesus Christ, and trained in the path of everlasting salvation.
The opinion then that the Supreme Being does manifest Himself in the character of a moral governor of the world,--that He not only sees, but, seeing, governs and directs, with a view to particular designs,--that He does so superintend the operations and the effects of those general laws which He has established, as to turn them to the fulfilment of schemes and purposes, planned in the dark recesses of His inscrutable wisdom—this opinion, formed on the best conclusions of reason, and the express declarations of Revelation, is pressed by convincing proofs on our serious belief. Let speculative philosophy or presumptuous impiety fondly form conjectures of a Supreme Being, raised to an unspeakable height above all worldly matters; sitting aloof in distant unconcern; too dignified to extend His regard to events placed so far below the grasp and stretch of an Eternal Mind. Be it for us to admire, in humility and in silence, the amazing range of that comprehensive wisdom, which, while it takes in the grandest objects of created nature, neglects not the most minute. Be it for us to recollect, that no prouder manifestation of the Divine perfections can be pressed upon our notice, than by the consideration that He, who wheels the planets in their heavenly paths, who regulates the movements of unnumbered systems of worlds
scattered through the vast fields of immensity, is at the same time able to notice individually the most minute occurrences; that He “numbereth even the hairs of men,” and guides with present and immediate influences the whole course of worldly affairs.
A just view and apprehension of the continual providence of God, and of His moral
government of the world, such as it has been my endeavour to establish in this discourse, may be termed the foundation and the ground-work of all religious feeling in the heart of man. To believe that a God exists, and not to believe that He fills all things with His pervading essence, and governs all things by His presiding intelligence and power, is to be left in a state of practical atheism. The person, whose belief extends no further, may be said to live without God in the world : he is destitute of all the present hopes and consolations of religion: he sees in the events of things which take place around him nothing but the issues of undirected chance. On the other hand, when the belief is once established, that the great God, who made the world and all things therein, is no indifferent spectator of the events which take place in it, but observes, controls, and over-rules them, so that nothing takes place without His permission,when this belief is firmly established, how alter
PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
ed is the view of things to every reflecting mind! We then associate awful apprehensions of Infinite intelligence, power, and goodness with all that we behold, and all that we experience. We look up to the Supreme Disposer for the good which we expect: we accept evil with humility, as dispensed to us by His sovereign will. We feel the duty and the necessity of turning our hearts to Him with prayer and thanksgiving. We learn to trust in His wisdom and goodness under all the changes and chances of this mortal life. We know that there must be wise design in every dispensation, although we may be wholly unable to trace it. We know that, where much is apparently wrong, every thing must be really right. We learn to say with Eli, in full sincerity of soul, whatever be the portion assigned to ourselves or to others, “ It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth Him good.""
n 1 Sam. iii. 18.
ON THE PARTICULAR PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
MATTHEW X. 30.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
former discourse on these words, I endeavoured to set forth the important and serious truth, that the Almighty God ruleth in all the kingdoms of the earth; that His power and providence are over all the world ; that the fortunes of individuals, and the events of things are entirely at His disposal, and that nothing can ever befall us, either for good, or for evil, without His special knowledge and express permission.
But while this doctrine is, in its right apprehension, most wholesome and most consolatory, productive of true religious feeling, tending to quicken our hopes, to invigorate our faith, to nourish our piety, and to dispose us to resignation under all the vicissitudes of life; it has sometimes been so misunderstood, as to lead to