« PreviousContinue »
sured him, that in this case he should be delivered bound into the hands of the Gentiles. On this prediction, the disciples befought him with tears, that he would relinquish his design. But when they found that he persisted in it, they “ ceased;
saying, The will of the Lord be done." They perceived by his firmness, as connected with the prophetical warning of Agabus, that his mind was under a superior influence. Above all, it affords consolation to the Christian; that this irresistible will is that of a Father, who can do him no injury, who will assuredly make all things work together for his good. Thus, when we pray that his “ will may be done,” we are commanded to view him as “ our Father."
This doctrine gives us an affecting view of our own meanness in the light of God. We see the Supreme Agent, in his sovereign dispensation, treating men as “ dust and ashes.”' Good reason have we therefore to abase ourselves at his footftool, to entertain the most humiliating thoughts of all that we are and possess, and to join in the confession of Nebuchadnezzar: “ All the inhabi“tants of the earth are reputed as nothing." Whence proceeded this language, so different from what he once held ? Merely from a view of divine sovereignty as wonderfully exemplified on himself. We also learn the necessity of humble adora.
“ With God is terrible majesty :” and it Vol. II.
eminently & Acts xxi. 10.-14.
eminently appears in this, that “ he giveth not account of
of his matters.” In fine, we might safely conclude, that the fovereignty of God could not but fignally appear in the work of our redemption, even although it were less expressly revealed. We perceive this character indelibly impressed on the works of nature. It is the turning hinge of the whole work of Providence. What is this, but a continued execution of the fovereign and immutable will of JEHOVAH? Is not the whole history of mankind a commentary on this perfection? Can we suppose, then, that there is a thick veil thrown over it, in the greatest of all the works of God? The kingdoms of this world have only been monumental pillars for recording its glory. Many of them lie in ruins. But the legend is perfectly diftinct. As it was written in their elevation, it is equally written in their fall. This divine cha-, racter eminently appears in the typical kingdom of Israel ; in its formation, and in its administration. And is it lost in the antitype ? Is that kingdom which shall never have an end, and which shall break down every thing that opposes it, the only one in which this unalienable attribute of its Sovereign is not discernible? Those who entertain this idea, have a very different view of matters from that illustrious minister of this kingdom, the apostle Paul : “ It is not of “ him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but " of God that sheweth mercy.” Their ideas of this kingdom run directly counter to those of the
glorious Sovereign, who thus addresses the Father : “ Thou hast hid these things from the wise “ and prudent, and haft revealed them to babes. “Even fo, Father; for so it seemed good in tby “ fight.”
Of Divine Providence.-General Observations.
A Particular Providence proved, from the Means employed by God ;- from the Concatenation of Circumstances ;-the Season of Operation ;-the Discovery of Secret Sin ;-the Resemblance between Sin and Punishment ;-the Choice of Instruments for punishing Iniquity ;-the Circumstances of Punishment ;-Events of a Contingent Nature.
We have already seen, that the sacred volume contains an history of Providence. This includes fo great a variety of particulars, that, in so short a sketch as that designed in this work, I can scarcely enter on it. But as the subject is of the greatest importance, it may not be improper to take notice of a few things with respect to the doctrine of Providence in general; and also briefly ' fhew, that this providential operation is of a most particular nature. R2
I shall, first, make a few observations with respect to Providence in general.
1. The Providence of God is merely the execution of his eternal and unalterable purpose, as to all those creatures which he hath brought into being. As the God of Providence, “ his kingdom “ ruleth over all.— The eyes of all things wait
upon him.” Whether his operation respect men or angels, individuals or kingdoms; whatsoever he doth, it is for the completion of his eternal and immutable will of purpose. “ He doth according “ to his will in the army of heaven; and among "a the inhabitants of the earth h.”-He“ worketh “ all things after the counsel of his own will i." When the ten tribes had withdrawn from their allegiance to the house of David, and the men of Judah and Benjamin were allembled to fight against them, “ to bring the kingdom again to “ Rehoboam,” they received this warning from God; “ Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your “ brethren the children of Israel : return every
man to his house, for the thing is from me k.”
2. The inspired history of providential operation discovers the true cause of human profperity. Men greatly err on this subject. If, either as individuals, or in a collective capacity, they enjoy the siniles of prosperity; they generally consider these as the fruit of their own exertions. They say, “ Mine own arm hath gotten me all “ this wealth.” They arrogate the honour of that Babylon they have built, to “ the might of "their power;" although as its name is, it often eventually proves their confufon. Where a natural man would have discerned no other cause but human prudence in complying with a favourable proposal, the pious steward of Abraham's house perceived and acknowledged the hand of God. “ The Lord,” said he,“ hath profpered my way.” We may remark, indeed, that those are most likely to observe the divine operation consequentially, who are sincerely concerned to acknowledge God in all their ways, and previously to seek a display of his hand. Such was the conduct of this excellent servant. He was eager to know " whether “ the Lord had made his journey prosperous or
h Dan. iv. 35.
i Eph. i. si.
k Kings xii. 21.-24.
not." He accordingly remarked the various steps of Providence; his being led in the right way to the house of his master's brethren, the appearance of Rebekah, the exact correspondence between her language and conduct, and what had previously been the matter of his prayer : and on all these accounts he blessed the LORD God of his master Abraham k. This is truly a most beautiful,' interesting and instructive history. It contains a striking picture of the character, and a practical demonstration of the worth, of a faithful messenger; who, while he zealously served man, had his eye principally directed to God.
We learn whence Joseph “ was a prosperous “ man.”
This is the reason afligned ; “ LORD was with him!." The hand of God is sometimes so very evident in this respect, that it
k Gen. axiv. 42.-48.56.
I Gen, xxxix. 2.