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have continued to allure each other onward, (first one of us taking the lead, and then another, refreshing our spirits, and feeding our immortal hopes, amid a thousand glorious appearances, till the new Jerusalein itself has burst upon our eyes, even that city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, Heb. xi. 10; whose inhabitants are the spirits of just men made perfect,' Heb. xii. 23; and from whose holy walls we heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps.”
Such pleasures, my beloved friends, may you attain; 'such Sabbaths may you enjoy; such scenes of pure and hallowed delight may you realize! May your “ Sabbath suns go down with a glorious radiance, gilding even the gloomiest object within your view, and giving you the promise of an everlasting day!”
THE PLEASURES ARISING FROM THE DOCTRINE OF DIVINE
OFTEN are we summoned, by the voice of inspiration, to fix an attentive and admiring eye on the productions of creative power, that we may elevate our conceptions of Him who “spake, and it was done; who commanded, and it stood fast." Psa. xxxiii. 9. But
still oftener are we invited to contemplate another series of Divine operations; in their nature not less amazing; in their magnitude not less stupendous, and in their result
presenting to our regard many glorious developments of the character and of the purposes of God, which the works of creation alone could ! never have unfolded to our view. In the act of governing, as well as in the act of forming the world, the works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.”. Psa. cxxi. 2. 66 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.” Psa. cvii. 43. It is to this instructive, this pleasurable employment of the mind and heart, that I now invite your attention. Contemplate,
First, The nature and extent of the operations of Divine Providence.
i. To the Providence of God we are to ascribe the continuance of the course of nature.
It is the opinion of some philosophers, and of some professing to pay hoinage to revelation, that when God created the world, he established certain laws which he imposed upon all the complicated parts of the system of nature, so as to secure the harmony of its elements, and the regularity of its processes, and the continuance of its productions, without the necessity of sustaining all its energies and directing all its operations by his own perpetual agency. To my mind this supposition appears as irreconcilable with the prin
ciples of sound philosophy, as it is inconsistent with the representations of the oracles of God. What are we to understand by the laws of nature, but simply the fixed and established modes of Divine operation, securing a uniform succession of causes and effects; a certairi and invariable order of antecedents and consequents? Can we then suppose for a single moment, that the laws of nature supersede the necessity of the sustaining agency of the God of nature; or would not the supposition be altogether at variance with the only correct and intelligible sense in which we can speak of the operation of such laws? By a law of nature, we have a regular succession of seasons. “Summer and winter, seed-time and harvest,” return in an order on which we may confidently calculate.' This is the result of other laws, which regulate the motions and the orbits of the whole planetary system. Now can we conceive, that bodies of magnitude so vast, and of velocities so astonishing, should, age
maintain the most uns deviating regularity, and the most perfect harmony of movement, without the sustaining and controlling agency of Him by whose hand they were produced, and by whose power they were originally propelled? It is one of the laws of nature that every seed committed to the ground should produce its own peculiar fruit. This is the result of other laws, affecting the qualities of the soil, and the whole combination of influences produced by the atmosphere, the sun, the rain, and the
dew. Can we then conceive a grain of wheat, buried below the surface of the ground, to expand, to germinate, to spring up, to grow to maturity, without any agency on the part of the Author of nature ? Is the process sufficiently explained and accounted for, by a specification of some of the laws which govern the vegetable creation? Is it possible that productive energies should reside in inert and inanimate matter, except by the ever operating agency of Him, “who worketh all in all?" 1 Cor. xii. 6. . It is one of the laws of nature, that animals of every species should be guided by certain instincts. But can you imagine these to be the result of laws which require not the sustaining and perpetual agency of God? Can you imagine, for example, that the bee collects the honey, and constructs the cell, by the mere operation of a law imposed on particles of matter nearly six thousand years ago? Can you refer to the power of such a law, as to an adequate and sufficient cause, the curious structure and organization of the bee; and having done this, do you feel no difficulty in ascribing to such organization alone, the astonishing instinct displayed in every hive? Or is it not, beyond comparison, more rational and philosophical to ascribe to a Divine agency, never suspended for a single moment, yet operating according to established laws, every instance of organized form, and animal life, and animal instinct ? Every new vegetable and every new animal I cannot but regard as a new production of Almighty
power. That power did not cease to operate at the creation; it operates still in every part of the world, and at every instant of time. It does not perpetually operate in the formation of matter which did not exist before; and therefore we do not call it a work of creation: but it operates in a thousand modes, every one of which requires the exertion of Omnipotence; it operates every moment in the production of new life, in myriads of wondrous gradations; and, in my view, the production of life, with all its energies and susceptibilities, is, in every instance, a work of Omnipotence, not less worthy of our admiration, than even the original creation of matter itself.
These views of the Divine agency, which appear most accordant with the principles and with the spirit of sound philosophy, are supported and inculcated by the express assertions of the word of God. Of Jehovah, even of the Son of God, it is affirmed, that he upholdeth “ all things by the word of his power;" and that by him all things consist.” Heb. i.-3; Col. i. 17. Of him who made the world, and established the laws of nature, it is declared, that he is not far from every one of us,” for that “in him we live, and move, and have our being." Acts xvii. 27,28. In an ascription of praise to the God of heaven and earth, it is said, “Thou preservest man and beast. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thy hand, they are filled with