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by surprise. To speak of chance as a producing cause, or agent, is purè absurdity, and only affords an instance of the often noted fact, that we are constantly imposed upon and deceived by the words we use. It is neither more nor less than making our ignorance the controlling or producing cause of the events which happen. In the strict sense of the words, there can be no such thing as chance in the universe, since everything must spring from some cause, and come into existence according to some law, hidden from us, perhaps, yet not the less real and efficacious. Whilst reasoh and experience thus confute the idea of chance as an agency in the affairs of men, religion points us to God as the hidden cause, and his will as the secret law.
But difficulties in the way of providential interposition of the very opposite character are felt by some minds. It is maintained that the affairs of the world are regulated by hard, inflexible, material laws, which cause and control all events, and which do not and cannot bend to meet any emergency ; that man has been provided with faculties which fit him to investigate these laws, and with prudence and foresight which enable him to apply his knowledge
of them to practice; that if in the exercise of this practical wisdom he acts in accordance with these laws, he will escape all disasters and perils; but that if he neglect or violate them, they will work on with crushing and resistless force for his destruction. If this be so, there is no room for providential interposition, no answers to prayer, nothing but the execution of natural and inevitable laws. These views have been enforced with much show of logical argumentation and philosophical profundity, in some of the popular treatises of the day. It would be an easy task to expose their fallacies and sophisms in detail; to do so, however, would оссиру far more space than our pages can afford. It will be sufficient to point out the three following insuperable difficulties by which such a theory is beset.
1st. The word of God distinctly, emphatically, and repeatedly asserts the fact of a special providence, and declares that God does continue to watch over and care for the creatures he has formed. Whilst it condemns the presumptuous neglect of means, it teaches us that second causes are but instruments in the hands of God, and that the laws of nature are but the manifestations of his Divine will. It adduces
numberless instances in which his servants, who have been brought into circumstances of danger, have been delivered by his special and direct intervention, sometimes by the temporary suspension of natural laws, sometimes by the interposition of other secondary causes and instrumentalities, yet always by the agency of Him for whose power nothing is too vast, nothing too minute. These theorists, then, who deny the fact of a special providence, must be prepared to prove the Scriptures a cunningly devised fable-must confute and overthrow the overwhelming amount of evidence which attests their Divine origin, before they can prove the truth of their speculations.
2nd. The universal instincts of mankind testify to the reality of Divine providence. The belief of some supreme Being presiding over the affairs of men, hearing their prayers, supplying their wants, and guarding their lives, has been universal. The most polished and refined nations have not risen above this conviction—the most barbarous and degraded have not sunk below it. For three thousand years atheism in its various forms has endeavoured to uproot it, but in vain. Beyond the narrow limits of a superficial school, this cold and
cheerless negation has been unable to propagate itself ; and men have clung with firm tenacity to the belief that "there is a God that judgeth in the earth.” Even the scoffers at providence have commonly been heard to pray when in sorrow or danger. The laws of nature are felt to be too numerous, intricate, and vast for our feeble powers to explore and grasp ; man sinks down appalled at the mighty, mysterious forces at work all around hiin, and he flies by a necessity of his being to some supreme Power who cares for his frail erring creatures. In all ages and nations men have endeavoured to avert calamity and to secure prosperity by prayer. The universality of this tendency points to some fundamental law of our moral being, equally universal with itself. But this is a fact which needs to be accounted for, Whence sprang this universal conviction? How can its existence be explained, save on the supposition of the reality of the fact which it asserts ?
3rd. Experience establishes the doctrine of Divine providence on the sure, solid foundation of fact. There are innumerable events an. conjunctures in the history of the world which the supposition of blind chance or of blind law
are powerless to explain; in which we are compelled to admit the action of some overruling and designing agency, controlling and directing the affairs of men. This is peculiarly observable in tracing back to their first small beginnings the great movements which hav affected the destinies of humanity, or in studying the biography of those individuals who have originated or guided those movements. We discern that circumstances altogether beyond their control, and of the design and influence of which they were not aware, have turned them from one course or impelled them into another, checked them, directed them, and "led them by a way that they knew not.” A careful examination of these seeming accidents will discover in them such minute and exact adaptations, such evident tokens of design, and results so unexpected, yet so momentous, that every candid mind must admit that there was in them something more than the action of accident or of law, and will confess with the Egyptian magicians, “ This is the finger of God."
Let us look, for instance, at the career of Luther. Among the many incidents in his eventful life which illustrate this truth, we will