« PoprzedniaDalej »
ishing effects by means which appear to us the most insignificant.
In the MORAL WORLD we also observe many ends accomplished by few and simple meansa single disposition of the mind producing various effects.
Let us take, for example, the natural inclination which prompts us to love our fellow creatures. From this we derive the solicitude of parents for their children; social union; the bond of friendship; patriotism; goodness in those who govern, and fidelity in those who obey. Thus a single propensity keeps each individual in the circle prescribed for him ; becomes the bond of civil society; and is the principle of virtuous affections, laudable enterprises, and innocent recreations. All this furnishes the most evident proof that the world is not made by accident, nor the materials which compose it put together by chance, without relation or connection between each other; but, on the contrary, that it forms a regular whole, which the Divine Power has ordered with infinite wisdom.
And in instances of another kind we see the hand of providence accomplishing the greatest effects by the most simple and unlikely means and instruments.
With a sling and a stone, the ruddy stripling
David conquered the giant Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, and, in so doing, vanquished the terror, and revived the hopes of all Israel.
The lofty and impregnable walls of Jericho fell down to the ground at the sound of rams' horns.
Gideon, by earthen pitchers and lighted lamps overcame the whole host of the Midianites.
Moses wrought wonders in the land of Egypt, divided the Red Sea, and brought rivers of water out of the flinty rock, by a rod in his hand.
If we carefully read the history of Joseph's advancement to be the Ruler of Egypt, we may number in that history twelve remarkable steps of Providence, by which he ascended to honour and authority; and some of them apparently the most unfitted to accomplish the purpose ; but if one of them had failed, in all likelihood the event would have done so too ; but every one fell in its order, exactly keeping its own time and place.
So in the deliverance of the Jews from the plot of Haman, we find no less than seven acts of Providence strangely concurring to produce it, as if they had all met by appointment and consent; one thing so aptly suiting another and making way for it, that every careful observer
must needs conclude this cannot be the effect of casualty, but the result of the wise workings of Providence.
The history of God's providence as connected with the government of his Church, affords matter both for admiration and thankfulness, and at the same time shows, that he can employ the most unlikely persons to bring about his purposes and fulfil his plans. We find, in many instances, that there certainly are strong combinations and predispositions of persons and things, to bring about some event for the benefit of his church, which the parties themselves never thought of. How is it that the most likely and powerful means, employed to destroy the people of God, are rendered ineffectual, and weak, unlikely means, employed for the defence are crowned with success ? This could not be, if things were wholly swayed by the course of nature. If we judge in this manner, we must conclude, that the more apt and powerful the means,
prosperous and successful they must needs be; and where they are weak and unfit, nothing can be expected from them. But in the course of Providence we often see just the reverse of all this.
“Who would have thought,” says Saurin, “that King Henry the VIII., the greatest enemy the Reformation ever had; he who refuted
those whom he could not persecute, and persecuted those whom he could not refute; who would have thought that this monarch should first clear the way for the reformation, and by shaking off the yoke of the Roman Pontiff, execute the plan of Providence, while he seemed to do nothing but satiate his voluptuousness and ambition ?"
“Who would have thought that the ambitious Pope Clement VII, to maintain some chimerical rights which the pride of his clergy had forged, and to which the cowardice of the people, and the effeminacy of their princes had granted; who would have believed that this ambitious Pope, by hurling the thunders of the Vatican against Henry VIII, would have lost all England, and this would have given the first stab to tyranny which he intended to confirm ?"
“Who would have thought that Luther could have surmounted the obstacles that opposed the success of his preaching in Germany; and that the proud Emperor Charles V, who reckoned among his captives pontiffs and kings, could not subdue one miserable monk ?”
“Who would have thought that the barbarous tribunal of the Inquisition, which had enslaved so many nations to superstition, should have been one of the principal causes of the Reformation in the United Provinces ?"
“ The monk Tetzel, went forth at the bidding of Pope Leo X, to raise money by any process the most productive the best
for finishing the Cathedral of St. Peter, at Rome. The wretched hireling sold indulgences and pardons for past, present, and future iniquities. His excesses roused the indignation of the good and the inquiries of the thinking. Undesignedly he stirred up the Reformation-he digs the foundations of a Protestant temple, instead of gathering funds for the superstructure of a popish one-his voice becomes the requiem of German Popery, and its progress its funeral march. The blasphemies of the monk Tetzel awakened the feelings of the monk Luther, and Pope Leo sending his emissary to collect money for superstitious ends, is connected with the Lord of glory commissioning Luther to prophesy again, and unfurl that glorious banner which has waved over so many and so noble lands; and thus Tetzel, the dealer in indulgences, is summoned from his infamous grave to attest that God is in history."
And to mention no more instances, have we not abundant evidence in the spread of the gospel over the world, that God by few and simple means, and those sometimes the most unlikely, can accomplish the greatest purposes. When the kingdom of the Redeemer was to