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parties were having this intercourse, a man named Doeg happened to be there "detained before the Lord.” This wretch, instead of minding his devotions, observed them, and resolved to inform king Saul of what had taken place, and obtain his master's favour. And so it fell out. “Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw David the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Abimelech the priest. And he enquired of the Lord for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliah the Philistine." “And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father's house." There was something venerable in the character aud office of a priest, and as Ahimelech and his brethren stood dressed in their sacred robes, Saul's footmen shrunk back from slaying them. “And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day four-score and five persons that did wear a linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.'
“Behold on what little occurrences,” says Jay, “surprising events and consequences often depend! The word of the Lord had previously denounced the house of Eli for their wickedness; but the threatening could not be fulfilled without the destruction of these priests, for they were of the house of Eli : but these priests would not have been destroyed but for the malice of Saul; Saul's malice would not have been excited but for the deceit and infamy of Doeg; and Doeg would not have informed against the priest Ahimelech had he not been detained at the tabernacle on the day when David entered it. All this seemed accidental; but it was not. All parties acted freely, yet necessarily too. What was unrighteous in Doeg, was righteous in God. He knew how to accomplish his word by the aid of human falsehood and cruelty, and yet he was of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.”
“ And so it was in reference to the death of Christ. Nothing was more certain as well as important. And he was delivered according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; yet by wicked hands the Jews crucified him. Ask me not for a solution. I only know the fact. I see the two ends of the chain, but the middle part is under water, so that I cannot see it; yet the connection is as real as it is invisible. By-and-by, the middle of the chain will be drawn up. In the mean while, we must walk by faith, and not by sight. Judge nothing
before the time. We know that Messiah cometh which is called Christ; when he is come, he will tell us all things.”
Addison, in one of his inimitable essays, alluding to the mystery of providence, truly says, “In our present condition, which is a middle state, our minds are as it were checkered with truth and falsehood : and as our faculties are narrow, and our views imperfect, it is impossible but our curiosity must meet with many repulses. The business of mankind in this life being rather to act than to know, their portion of knowledge is dealt to them accordingly. From hence it is, that the reason of the inquisitive has so long been exercised with difficulties, in accounting for the promiscuous distribution of good and evil to the virtuous and the wicked in this world. From hence come all those pathetic complaints of so many tragical events which happen to the wise and the good; and of such surprising prosperity, which is often the lot of the guilty and the foolish; that reason is sometimes puzzled, and at a loss what to pronounce upon so mysterious a dispensation."
“But what I chiefly insist on here is, that we are not at present in a proper situation to judge of the councils by which Providence acts, since but little arrives at our knowledge, and even that little we discern imperfectly; or, according to that elegant figure in holy writ, “We see but in part, and as in a glass darkly.” It is to be considered that Providence in its arrangement regards the whole system of time and things together, so that we cannot discover the beautiful connexion between incidents which lie widely separate in time; and by losing so many links in the chain, our reasonings become broken and imperfect. Thus those parts of the moral world which have not an absolute, may yet have a relative beauty, in respect of some other parts concealed from us, but open
before whom "past,” "present,” and “to come,” are set together in one point of view; and those events the permission of which seems now to accuse his goodness, may in the consummation of things both magnify his goodness and exalt his wisdom. And this is enough to check our presumption, since it is in vain to apply our measures of regularity to matters of which we know neither the antecedents nor the consequents, the beginning nor the end."
“I shall relieve my readers from this abstracted thought, by relating here a Jewish tradition concerning Moses, which seems to be a kind of parable, illustrating what I have last mentioned. That great prophet, it is said, was called up by a voice from heaven to the top of a mountain; where, in a conference with the Supreme Being, he was permitted to propose to him some questions concerning his administration of the universe. In the midst of this divine colloquy he was commanded to look down on the plain below. At the foot of the mountain there issued out a clear spring of water, at which a soldier alighted from his horse to drink. He was no sooner gone than a little boy came to the same place, and finding a purse of gold which the soldier had dropped, took it up and went away with it. Immediately after this came an infirm old man, weary with age and travelling, and having quenched his thirst, sat down to rest himself by the side of the spring. The soldier missing his purse returns to search for it, and demands it of the old man, who affirms that he had not seen it, and appeals to Heaven in witness of his innocence. The soldier, not believing his protestations, kills him. Moses fell on his face with horror and amazement, when the Divine voice thus prevented his expostulation : “Be not surprised, Moses, nor ask why the Judge of the whole earth has suffered the thing to come to pass. The child is the occasion that the blood of the old man is spilt; but know that the old man whom thou sawest was the murderer of that child's father.”