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On our present IGNORANCE of the Ways of God.
John, xiii. 7.
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do, thou
knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
THESE words of our Lord were occasioned by a
circumstance in his behaviour which appeared mysterious to his disciples. When about to celebrate his last passover, he meant to give them an instructive lesson of condescension and humility. The mode which he chose for delivering this instruction, was the emblematical action of washing their feet. When Simon Peter saw his Master addressing himself to the performance of so menial an office, he exclaims with the greatest surprise, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Our Lord replies in the words of the text, What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. “ My behaviour, in this instance, may seem “ unaccountable to you at present;
but rs afterwards receive a satisfactory explanation of the • intent of that symbol which I now employ."
The expressions of a Divine Person on this occasion, can very naturally and properly be applied to
various instances, where the conduct of Providence, in the administration of human affairs, remains dark and mysterious to us. What I do thou knowest not
We must for a while be kept in ignorance of the designs of Heaven. But this ignorance, though necessary at present, is not always to continue. A time shall come when a commentary shall be afforded on all that is now obscure; when the veil of mystery shall be removed; and full satisfaction be given to every rational mind. Thou shalt know hereafter. This is the doctrine which I propose to illustrate in the following discourse.
I. Our Saviour's words lead us to observe, that many things in the conduct of Providence are at present mysterious and unintelligible. The truth of this observation will not be called in question. It is indeed very readily admitted by all; and ever since the beginning of the world has been the foundation of many a complaint, and of much scepticism concerning the government of Heaven. - That human affairs are not left to roll on according to mere chance, and that Providence interposes in them to a certain degree, is made evident by various tokens to every candid mind. But the perplexity and trouble of the thoughtful enquirer arises from observing that Providence appears not to pursue any regular or consistent plan. An unaccountable mixture of light and darkness presents itself to us, when we attempt to trace the affairs of the world up to any wise and righteous administration. We see justice and order begun; but on many occasions they seem to be deserted. The ray of light which we had traced for a while suddenly forsakes us; and, where we had looked for