Obrazy na stronie

But there is another view in which the objection should be considered, a view which strongly infers the providence of God and his interference in human affairs, from the very circumstance of tyrants being occasionally seated on thrones ; and this view is, that they may be purposely placed on them to accomplish the will of God to punish men and nations who have grossly and daringly set him and his laws at defiance. Suppose three great monarchs, who, as the representatives of God on earth, ought to set an example of mercy, justice, and piety to their subjects; and, as Henry the Fourth of France observed, in whose bosoms virtue and honour ought to reign, though banished from those of all other men : suppose these monarchs, instead of setting this example, should meet together for the sole and detestable purpose of dividing between them the dominions of a neighbouring monarch, who had given them no offence, and from whom they did not even pretend to have received any: suppose them actually to put this wicked design in execution, and, not having the fear of God in their hearts, to accomplish this execrable undertaking ; an enterprise, so flagitious in its nature, the commission of which was so


wantonly oppressive and unjustifiable; the perpetration of it was so extremely wicked, bloody, audacious, and daring ; so directly setting the will and commands of God, and all laws, human and divine, at defiance : if God, to punish this gross act of oppression and injustice, this shameful violation of his laws, and which, if generally practised in private life, under the sanction and example of these monarchs, would go to the length of destroying all confidence, good faith, and justice, between man and man: if the Almighty, to punish such nations, should raise up for that purpose an unfeeling, sanguinary tyrant, a reason sufficiently strong and satisfactory appears why such a tyrant should occupy the throne he does ; and the natural inference to be drawn from his doing so is in favour of God's superintendance of human concerns, and that the events of this life are by no means left to chance. From what we observe of the animal, vegetable, and solar systems of God, we can discern the utmost perfection in them; and we may be

very certain there is the same perfection in his moral and intellectual system, though the depth of its wisdom so infinitely exceeds the penetration of human sagacity, that we very often

cannot investigate it. But without being liable to the imputation of enthusiasm, superstition, or bigotry, we may affirm it to be conforinable to that perfection, that God should ostensibly punish men and nations so offending; “ Shall I not visit for these things, saith “ the Lord;" and it is in the highest degree agreeable to our reason, and to the idea we entertain of his justice, that he should do so. But God has by no means left the decision to human conjecture, whether the world is governed by chance, or whether tyrants are occasionally raised up to fulfil his decrees; for in the most unambiguous terms it is asserted in the following passages of Scripture, that he himself governs the world, and raises up men to accomplish his


according to his own will and pleasure.

“ God upholdeth and preserveth all things

by the word of his power. The counsel of “ the Lord that shall stand, and he will do all “ his pleasure. Fire and hail, snow and va

pour, wind and storm, fulfil his word. He “ turneth them round about by his counsels,

that they may do whatsoever he com“ mandeth them upon the face of the world, 66 in the earth. He causeth them to come, whe“ther for correction or mercy. He turneth a

[ocr errors]

pluck up,

“ fruitful land into barrenness, for the wicked6 ness of them that dwell therein. The Most

High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and

giveth it to whomsoever he will. He is " the Governor among the nations, and de“stroyeth them. He enlargeth the nations, “ and straiteneth them again. And at what “ instant he speaketh concerning a nation or a kingdom, to build and to plant it, or to

and pull down, and to destroy it, “ it shall be done. He removeth kings, and setteth up kings; to the intent that the living

may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whom

soever he will, and setteth up over it the 66 basest of men. God the Judge putteth “ down one, and setteth up another. The

preparations of the heart in man, and the “ answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. “ He giveth wisdom to the wise, and know.

ledge to them that know understanding: 6 and when it seemeth good in his sight, he “ hideth things from the wise and prudent, 66 and revealeth them unto babes. The Lord 6 maketh


and maketh rich; he bringeth - low, and lifteth up. Riches and honours

come of him, and in his hand it is to “ make great, and to give strength to all.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

“ He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and “ maketh the barren woman to be a joyful “ mother of children. The race is not al

ways to the swift, nor the battle to the

strong; neither yet bread to the wise, nor “ yet riches to men of understanding, nor

yet favour to men of skill; for who “ knoweth not in all these that the hand of “ the Lord hath wrought this? The horse is “ prepared against the day of battle, but

safety is of the Lord; for he delivereth and “ rescueth; he maketh wars to cease, and 66 restraineth the wrath of man. Promotion “ cometh neither from the east, nor from the “ west, nor from the south; but God is the

Judge; he putteth down one, and setteth

up another. The lot is cast into the lap, s but the whole disposing thereof is of the

Lord, in whose hand our breath is, and 66 whose are all our ways."

Agreeably likewise both to the letter and spirit of Scripture, we find tyrants are occasionally set on thrones to punish the crimes of men. Thus Saul is placed on the throne to punish the sins of the Amalekites; Jeroboam to punish the idolatry of Solomon; and Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to punish the Jews, and to destroy Jerusalem,

« PoprzedniaDalej »