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good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created: and thou renewést the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.” Psalms xxxvi. 6; civ. 27-31.
Could the doctrine for which I plead be exhibited with more explicitness of statement, or greater beauty of illustration? To Him who created the earth and its inhabitants, the inspired writers ascribe the continuance of the course of nature; the preservation of the life and energies of man; the renewal of the face of the earth, by the return of the productive season; the supply of food requisite for the support of the animal tribés; the commencement and the cessation of animated existence. These are represented as the works of God; these, as the works in which Jehovah delights. Is it possible then, without resisting the force of evidence the most conclusive, to withhold assent to the truth, that the omnipotent and omnipresent agency of God pervades the immeasurable regions of universal nature, sústaining all its energies and controlling all its operations?
2. To the providence of God we are to ascribe the regulation of all occurrences and events.
There are two classes of events obviously distinguishable :
To the first we may refer those in which the agency of man is not apparent.
If to secure an important event, the laws of nature are suspended, the interposition is termed miraculous; but interpositions most efficient, most gracious, and most beneficial there may be, without a deviation from established laws. As examples are often the most concise as well as the most impressive illustrations, let me adduce an instance specified, with an appropriate comment, in one of Cowper's letters. When sailing on the ocean in a dark tempestuous night, "a flash of lightning discovered to Captain Cook a vessel which glanced along close by his side, of which, but for the lightning, he must have run foul. How improbable, it might have been thought, that two ships should dash against each other in the midst of the vast Pacific Ocean; and that steering contrary courses, from parts of the world so immensely distant from each other, they should yet move so exactly in a line, as to clash, fill, and go to the bottom, in a sea where all the ships in the world might be so dispersed as that none should see another! Yet this must have happened, but for the interference of a particular providence!”
To a second class of events we may refer those in which the agency of man is distinctly apparent.
“ The king's heart” (and the assertion is equally applicable to all) “ is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth
it whithersoever he will.” Prov. xxi. l. An instructive verification of this is presented by the history of an arrogant Assyrian despot, “I will send him," saith the Almighty, “against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like mire of the streets. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. For he saith, By the strength of my hand, I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift
up as if it
t were no wood.” Isa. x. 6, 7, 13, 15. This was an instance of wrath : more numerous, in the records of inspiration, are the instances of mercy. Of these, how admirable a specimen is presented in the history of Joseph! It exhibits a concatenation of circumstances and occurrences, apparently contingent, depending on the inclination, the caprice, the memory, the passions of individuals, widely separated from each other in country and in station, yet all unconsciously concurring to accomplish the purposes of mercy, in the elevation of Joseph, and the preservation of the
family of Israel and the nation of Egypt, from the horrors of a destructive famine. The end was to be accomplished, and was actually accomplished by that presiding Providence, which overruled for good the recital of significant dreams, the envy of resentful brothers, their cruel transaction with a caravan of Ishmaelitish merchants then passing within view, the scenes of Potiphar's house, and the eventful and contrasted histories of two Egyptian prisoners! Was there ever witnessed upon earth a development of providential mysteries, exciting deeper interest, or conveying more instruction, than that which burst upon the astonished sons of Jacob, when he who was second only to Pharaoh, thus addressed them: “I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life.
For these two years hath the famine been in the land ; and yet there are five years in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God; and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." Gen. xlv. 448.
Such being the nature and extent of the operations of providence, let us direct our thoughts,
SECONDLY, To the pleasures which the doctrine of Divine providence is designed and calculated to impart.
It delights the heart that is “right with God,"
1. By the assurance that all events shall be ultimately conducive to the Divine glory.
“ The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice, let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” Psa. xcvii. 1, 2. If the manifestation of these glorious attributes excites emotions of joy upon earth, what must be the delight thence arising to the glorified spirits of heaven! “I heard," said the disciple who was favoured with visions of paradise, “I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty: just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.". Rev. xix. 1, 2, 5, 6; XV. 3. Does the fervour of this elevated praise surprise us? Is the language of the song moré rapturous and impassioned than the