Obrazy na stronie

Nations rise and empires fall at God's command. The Lord is governor among the nations. He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them ; he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again. Where are now those extensive empires, those magnificent cities, which were once the glory of the Eastern world? Babylon, the great, with its gates of brass, its walls, its towers, its gardens, and its temples ? It has become a heap of desolation !—Where is Nineveh, the once populous city :-where is Athens, the ancient seat of learning, and of glory :-where are they? Alas! they only exist in the page of history. Jerusalem, the highly favoured city of the great king, with its far-famed temple, the resort of the chosen tribes:-where is it? Alas! Ichabod has long since been written upon it. These revolutions of nations and empires plainly teach us, that the agency of providence is uncontrollable.

THE BIRTH, CIRCUMSTANCES, AND DEATH OF ALL MANKIND, show in a striking manner, that the providence of God is uncontrollable.

The Birth of man, as regards the time and place, depends not upon himself, but upon providence. Dr. Dwight presents this subject in a forcible manner, and not less true than forcible. He says, “A child is born of a Bedouin Arab. His hand is against every man; and every man's hand is against him. Before he can walk, or speak, he is carried through pathless wastes, in search of food ; and roams in the arms of his mother, and on the back of a camel, from spring to spring, and from pasture to pasture, Hardened thus through his infancy and childhood both in body and mind, he becomes, under the example of his father, a robber from his youth; attacks every stranger, whom he is able to overcome: and plunders every valuable thing on which he can lay his hand.”

“Another child receives his birth in the palace of a British nobleman; and is welcomed to the world as the heir apparent of an ancient, honourable, and splendid family. As soon as he opens his eyes on the light; he is surrounded by all the enjoyments which opulence can furnish, ingenuity contrive, or fondness bestow. He is dandled on the knee of indulgence; encircled by attendants, who watch, and prevent, alike his necessities, and wishes; cradled on down; and charmed to sleep by the voice of tenderness and care. His person is shaped, and improved, by a succession of masters : his mind is opened, invigorated, and refined, by the assiduous superintendence of learning and wisdom. While a child, he is served by a host of menials, and flattered by successive trains of visitors. When a youth, he is regarded by a band of tenants with reverence and awe. His equals in age bow to his rank; and multitudes of superior years, acknowledge his distinction by continual testimonies of marked respect. When a man, he engages the regard of his sovereign; commands the esteem of the senate; and earns the love and applause of his country.”

“Another child, in the same kingdom, is begotten by a Beggar, and born under a hedge. From his birth, he is trained to suffering and hardihood. He is nursed, if he can be said to be nursed at all, on a coarse, scanty, and precarious pittance; contends from the first dawnings of intellect with insolence, cold, and nakedness; is originally taught to beg, and to steal; is driven from the doors of men by the porter, or the house-dog; and is regarded as an alien from the family of Adam. Like his kindred worms, he creeps through life in the dust; dies under the hedge where he was born ; and is then, perhaps, cast into a ditch, and covered with earth, by some stranger, who remembers, that, although a beggar, he still was a man."

“How many, and how great, are the differences in these several children! How plainly do they all, in ordinary circumstances, arise out of their birth. From their birth is derived, of course, the education which I have ascribed to them; and from this education springs in a great measure both their character, and their destiny. The place, the persons, and the cir. cumstances, are here evidently the great things, which in the ordinary course of providence appear, chiefly, to determine what the respective men shall be; and what shall be their allotment, which regularly follow their respective characters. As then, they are not at all concerned in contriving or accomplishing, either their birth, or their education ; it is certain, that in these most important particulars, the way of man is not in himself. God only can determine what child shall spring from parents, wise or foolish, virtuous or sinful, rich or poor, honourable or infamous, civilized or savage, christian or heathen."

“We wish it to be distinctly understood, and carefully remembered, that in the moral conduct of all these individuals no physical necessity operates. Every one of them is absolutely a free agent, as free, as any created agent can be. Whatever he does is the result of choice, absolutely unconstrained. And let me add, that not one of them is placed in a situation, in which, if he learns, and performs his duty to the utmost of his power, he will fail of being finally accepted."

The Circumstances in which men are placed, and the degree of success which attends their efforts, are often very different from what they have intended, and this shows the uncontrollableness of providence.

Human life is ordinarily little else than a collection of disappointments. Rarely is the life of man such, as he designs it shall be. Often do we fail of pursuing, at all, the business, originally in our view. The very place of settlement, and of residence through life, is often different, and distant, from that which was originally contemplated. Still more different is the success, which follows our efforts. Men may have the same powers, the same outward advantages, the same industry, and yet not prosper alike. One labours much and obtains little; another labours less and riches flow in upon him. Some men lay their projects deep, and have the greatest confidence in their accomplishment, and are disappointed by a strange and unforeseen accident. Other men obtain what they desire in a different way from what they expected, and contrary to the plans which they had formed.

John Flavel, in his own quaint style, says, “The providence of God is displayed very striking. ly, in settling you in such an employment and calling in the world, as possibly neither you nor your parents could ever expect you should ever arrive at. There are among us such persons as,

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