« PoprzedniaDalej »
ticular circumstance, and in every instant of time, are under the wisest and the best direction. The preceding arguments are founded on the perfections which the Deity is universally acknowledged to possess, and their truth must be admitted by every consistent theist: but if God have given to his intelligent offspring a revelation of his will ; if he have altered the course of nature in attestation of its truth; if to prove the divinity of the mission of the great personage whom he raised up to communicate it, he endowed him with the power of performing such stupendous works as no being unassisted by him could possibly accomplish ; if mankind were in want of a revelation ; if the revelation actually given be in every respect suited to supply it; if it be calculated to rectify their errors, to purify their hearts, to exalt their hopes, to dignify their pursuits, to promote their truest welfare here, and to prepare them for pure and everincreasing happiness hereafter : if all the circumstances of time, place and method were admirably adapted to give it effect, and to secure the most important objects it is designed to accomplish, then is the doctrine of providence established on a new basis. Every Christian must believe that the affairs of mankind are under the direction of the Deity; that he has not cut himself off from all interference with the
wants and happiness of his creatures; that he does interpose for their welfare as he sees occasion ; for the Christian system is one of the most illustrious and delightful instances of that interposition.
If from the fact itself of a divine revelation, we descend to the particular doctrines which it contains, we shall find the most decisive evidence of this truth. It is recognized in every page; it is affirmed on innumerable occasions, and in every variety of form. God is there represented as the Sovereign Arbiter of events; as the Great Being who sitteth on the circle of the earth, judging among the nations. It is he who causeth the sun to shine and the rain to descend; it is he who giveth healthful and fruitful seasons; it is he who rideth on the wings of the wind, and it is his voice which thunders in the storm. By him kings reign and princes decree justice: he exalteth one and abaseth another : he turneth round the mighty wheel of events, retaining every individual in the situation which he judges fit. “He hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth ; he hath determined their appointed times, and the place of their habitation.”
Our revered Master assures us, that not even a sparrow falleth to the ground, without the will of our heavenly Father; and that the very hairs of our head are all numbered ; meaning, it is evident, that our most trifling concerns are appointed by him. “Behold,” says he, “the fowls of the air : for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they And why are ye anxious about raiment Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin ; and yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which flourisheth to-day and to-morrow is cast into the furnace, will he not much more clothe you? Take not therefore anxious thought, saying, what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed 2 . For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” The argument which our Lord here employs is beautiful and affecting. Every one must have felt its force. When in a solitary ramble our eye has been struck with a little flower blooming in a secluded spot; when we have examined the perfection of all its parts; the richness, the variety, the exquisite beauty of its tints; when we have considered the care which has been taken of this humble plant, and the inimitable skill employed in the construction of it, which of us has not been deeply impressed with the truth which our divine instructor here teaches us? Which of us has not said to himself—Can so much skill have been lavished in forming, can so much care have been taken in preserving this little flower, and can I, humble and insignificant though I am, be overlooked by the Author of my being It is impossible. There must be a God: there must be a Providence; and I, and the myriads of creatures who in common with me enjoy the boon of existence, have reason to rejoice.
OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT IS
WHEN the Deity is represented as appointing and controlling every event, it may seem difficult to conceive how this can be reconciled with the agency and accountability of man. A little consideration, however, will shew that these truths are not incompatible with each other. Though the Sovereign Arbiter of events regulates and determines every thing, yet he carries on the administration of the world by the instrumentality of other beings. Seldom does he act directly ; seldom is he the immediate cause of any thing. He has left the developement of his vast plan to the operation of what are termed secondary causes; but these can act only so far and in such a manner as he has appointed. The material world is governed by certain general laws, which are never interrupted except on occasions of supreme importance, foreseen and provided for from the beginning. These laws, though thus steady and invariable in their operation, bring about in every instant of time, precisely that condition only of the material