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THE DOMINION OF PROVIDENCE OVER THE

PASSIONS OF MEN..

SERMON 44.

Preached at Princeton, on the 17th of May, 1776, being the

General Fast appointed by the Congress through the United Colonies. Dedicated to the Hon. John Hancock, Esq. President of the Congress of the United States of America. To which is added, an Address to the natives of Scotland residing in America,

Psalm lxxvi. 10.

Surely the Wrath of Man shall praise thee; the remainder

of Wrath shalt thou restrain.

TH

HERE is not a greater evidence either of the reality

or the power of religion, than a firm belief of God's universal presence, and a constant attention to the influence and operation of his providence. It is by this means that the Christian may be said, in the emphatical scripture language, “to walk with God, and to endure as seeing “ him who is invisible."

The doctrine of divine providence is very full and complete in the sacred oracles. It extends not only to things which we may think of great moment, and therefore wor. Vol. III.

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thy of notice, but to things the most indifferent and inconsderable ; " Are not two sparrows fold for a farthing,” says our Lord, " and one of them falleth not to the ground " without your heavenly Father;" nay," the very bairs of

your head are all numbered. It extends not only 10 things beneficial and falutary, or to the direction and afsistance of those who are the servants of the living God; but to things seemingly most hurtful and destructive, and to persons the most refractory and disobedient. He overrules all his creatures, and all their actions. Thus we are told, that “ fire, hail, snow, vapour, and stormy wind, “ fulfil his word,” in the course of nature; and even so the most impetuous and disorderly passions of men, that are under no restraint from themselves, are yet perfectly 'fubject to the dominion of Jehovah.' They carry his coin. million, they obey his orders, they are limited and restrained by his authority, and they conspire with every thing else in promoting his glory.

There is the greater need to take notice of this, that men are not generally fufficiently aware of the distinction between the law of God and his purpose; they are apt to suppose, that as the temper of the finner is contrary to the one, so the outrages of the finner are able to defeat the other; than which nothing can be more false. The truth is plainly asserted, and nobly expressed by the psalmist in the text, “ Surely the " wrath of man fhall praise thee; the remainder of wrath “ shalt thou restrain.”

This psalm was evidently composed as a song of praise for fome signal victory obtained, which was at the same time a remarkable deliverance from threatening danger. The author' was one or other of the later prophets, and the occasion probably the unsuccessful aflault of Jerufalem, by the army of Sennacherib king of Assyria, in the days of Hezekiah. Great was the infolence and boasting of his generals and servants against the city of the living God, as may be seen in the thirty-sixth chapter of lsaiah. Yet it plealed God to deliroy their enemies, and, by his own immediate interpofition, to grant them deliverance. Therefore the l'amist says in the fifth and sixth verses of this psalm, " The fout-hearted are spoiled, they have

slept their sleep. None of the men of might have found: " their hands. At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob! both the * chariot and the horse are cast into a deep sleep.” After a few more remarks to the same purpose, he draws the inference, or makes the reflection in the text, “ Surely the " wrath of man thall praise thee; the remainder of wrath “ Malt thou restrain : which may be paraphrased thus, The fury and injustice of oppressors shall bring in a tribute of praise to thee; the influence of thy righteous providence Niall be clearly discerned; the countenance and fupport thou wilt give to thine own people shall be gloriously illustrated thou shalt set the bounds which the bold: eit cannot pass.

Fam sensible, my brethren, that the time and occasion of this psalm, may seem to be in one respect ill suited to the interelling circumstances of this country at present. It was composed after thie victory was obtained; whereas we are now but putting on the harness and entering upon an important contest, the length of which it is impossible to forelee, and the issue of which it will perhaps be thought presumption to foretell. But as the truth, witlr respect to God's moral government, is the same and unchangeable ; às the issue, in the case of Sennacherib's invasion, did but lead the prophet to acknowledge it, our duty and interest conspire in calling upon us to improve it. And I have cholen to infilt upon it on this day of folemn humiliation, as it will probably help us to a clear and explicit view of wliat should be the chief subject of our prayers and endeavors, as well as the great object of our hope and trust, in dur prelent situation.

The truth, then, asserted in this text, which I propose io illustrate and improve, is, That all the disorderly paflions of men, whether exposing the innocent to pri. vate injury, or whether they are the arrows of divine juigiment in public calamity, Chall

, in the end, be to the praise of God: Or, to apply it inore particularly to the present state of the American Colonies, and the plague of war,—The ambition of mistaken princes, the cunning and cruelty of oppressive and corrupt ministers, and

even the inhumanity of brutal soldiers, however dread. ful, shall finally promote the glory of God, and in the mean time, while the storm continues, his mercy and kindness shall appear in prescribing bounds to their rage and fury.

In discoursing on this subject, it is my intention, through the affistance of divine grace,

I. To point out to you in some particulars, how the wrath of man praises God.

II. To apply these principles to our present fituation, by inferences of truth for your instruction and comfort, and by suitable exhortations to duty in the important crisis.

In the first place, I am to point out to you in fome particulars, how the wrath of man praises God. I say in some instances, because it is far from being in my power, either to mention or explain the whole. There is an unfearchable depth in the divine counsels, which it is impoffible for us to penetrate. It is the duty of every good man to place the most unlimited confidence in divine wisdom, and to believe that those measures of providence that are most unintelligible to him, are yet planned with the same skill, and directed to the same great purposes as others, the reason and tendency of which he can explain in the clear: est manner. But where revelation and experience enables us to discover the wisdom, equity, or mercy of divine providence, nothing can be more delightful or profitable to a serious mind, and therefore I beg your attention to the following remarks.

In the first place, the wrath of man praises God, as it is an example and illustration of divine truth, and clearly points out the corruption of our nature, which is the foun. dation stone of the doctrine of redemption. Nothing can be more absolutely necefsary to true religion, than a clear and full conviction of the finfulness of our nature and state. Without this there can be neither repentance in the finner, nor humility in the believer. Without this all that is said in scripture of the wisdom and mercy of God in providing a Saviour, is without force and without meaning. Juftly does our Saviour say, “ The whole

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