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them: a sufficient reason is assignable in the neglect, indifference, and contempt with which they were treated. We can easily conceive why the seven churches of Asia lost their light and distinction; it was the accomplishment of his threatening, who declared that he would remove their candlestick; and at the same time specified their sins, because of which he would do this. But why Great Britain is distinguished as the ark of every thing that is dear to man in religion and in social life ; and some of the most beautiful islands of the sea are left as a prey to the vilest passions; while to others, yet more considerable, Christianity is almost wholly unknown; can be accounted for only on the principle of the-Sovereignty of God. Let it never be forgotten however, that that sovereignty is goodness, justice, compassion, integrity, purity; and that we may confide safely to it every mysterious dispensation ; assured that God will not fail to secure his own glory, and promote human happiness in all that he does, and in all that he permits.
THE OVERRULING OF EVIL FOR THE PROMOTION OF GOOD, is another mystery of providence.
We may frequently observe in human life, that what was intended for evil, and what we thought would produce it, is overruled for the
promotion of our welfare. God in his providence makes the counsels of men subservient to the very ends they design against him, and his people. The plans and policy of Pharaoh, for example, accomplished the very object against which they were directed. He was afraid lest the people of Israel should grow too mighty, and therefore he oppressed them to prevent their increase, which made them both stronger and more numerous. We have many examples in the Scriptures confirming the truth, that God in his providence often brings good out of evil, and overrules what was intended for our injury, to promote our highest good.
The sons of the patriarch Jacob were filled with malignant envy towards their younger brother Joseph. For a dream indicating his future dignity, he was doomed to feel the dire effects of their hatred. The heart of Reuben moved with tenderness, devised means to prevent the execution of his brethren's bloody designs upon the innocent and harmless lad. By the direction of Providence, the Ishmaelitish merchants appear in sight at the critical moment. They purchase the young Hebrew, and convey him, more precious than all their spicy treasures, to distant climes. The hope of the aged patriarch becomes a slave in the land of Egypt. For a short season his woes are alleviated, and the
gloomy aspect of bondage begins to wear a smile. But the prospect is illusive; new calamities befall the exile. He falls a prey, innocent as he was, an unpitied prey to the revenge of his wicked mistress. To the gloom of a dungeon Joseph is consigned, and is there detained for many long and tedious years. At length the mysterious web of providence was gradually unfolded, and wisdom and goodness shown resplendent through the whole texture. All circumstances conspired together to realize the dreams with which Joseph had been favoured so many years before. Hatred, bondage, calumny, and imprisonment do but prepare the way to honour. The scene is quickly changed at last. The gloomy dungeon is exchanged for a splendid throne. The young Hebrew, arrayed in all the dignity of regal splendour, is seated next to Pharaoh. He is honoured through all the land of Egypt, and lives to cherish his father, drooping under a weight of years and sorrows, and to pour into the patriarch’s bosom the tears of filial affection and transport. His brethren, (the sheaves of his dream), stand round him in amazement, and pay obeisance to his sheaf. Thus were the mysterious ways of Providence unfolded, in bringing good out of evil.
The infant Moses was hid three months by his fond parents. But when he could be hid no longer from the rage of a blood-thirsty tyrant, his tender mother exposed him, in an ark of bulrushes, on the brink of the river Nile. Of the dear babe she must take her leave. Behold her slowly receding from the borders of the river, and casting many a tearful glance, to see what would become of her darling child. But just at the critical moment, Pharaoh's daughter, under the guidance of Providence, comes down to the river, and to the very place where her interposition was necessary. She sees the strange deposit, and orders it to be brought, and turning aside the cover, beholds the lovely infant; and, that all her tenderness might be excited on the needful occasion, the babe wept. A nurse being required, the mother of Moses is called, and strange to tell, is paid by the princess for nursing her own child. This Moses, being instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, was ordained by Providence to be the deliverer of Israel, and and to humble the pride of Pharaoh.
Let us then never presume to censure the ways of Him who always directs his steady but mysterious course to the end he has in view; who, to bring his grand eventful counsels to full maturity, makes things opposite in their nature harmoniously combine together, that men may reverence and adore him in his incomprehensible dispensations. The threatening storm, under
his direction, shall but drive the well-freighted vessel, with the utmost safety, into the haven of repose. By his over-ruling hand, abasement itself shall exalt, disgrace shall ennoble, and adversity be productive of happiness.
But perhaps, there is nothing more mysterious in the dispensations of providence than the fact, that GOD EMPLOYS WICKED MEN TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSES—these men at the same time being free agents, and responsible for their conduct.
We may illustrate this remark by referring to the life and history of David. David was informed by his friend Jonathan, of Saul's determination to kill him. David is therefore compelled to flee for safety. The tabernacle being at a place called Nob, he goes thither, in his confusion and distress, both to take an affectionate leave of the house of God which he despaired of seeing again for a long time; and also to obtain succour.
He asks Ahimelech the priest whether he can give him any food for his hunger, or weapon for his defence. With regard to food, Abimelech told him that he had nothing under his hand but the sacred loaves. These, however, he gave to David. With regard to a weapon, Ahimelech told him that he had nothing but the sword of Goliah, which was wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. Now mark, that while the