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escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler, the snare is broken, and we are escaped.” 1 Samuel xxiii. 24-29.
When Abraham, the father of the faithful, had obeyed the command of God in every particular in the offering up of his only son, Providence held his uplifted arm from plunging the knife into the innocent victim. " Abraham ! Abraham! Lay not thy hand upon the lad, for now I know thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” “And Abraham lifted
and looked and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns ; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son." Abraham called the name of the place, with the greatest propriety Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord will provide : as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. That is, in the moment of danger and extremity, it shall be seen that he will provide deliverance. Genesis xxii. 9-14.
There are some circumstances in the life of Oliver Heywood, a persecuted minister of the 17th century, residing at Northowram, near Halifax, in the county of York, which give us pleasing ideas of the providential care of God over his people, and of his affording them timely supplies. The following anecdote, says his biographer, is authentic. It is said that his little stock of money was quite exhausted, the family provisions were entirely consumed, and Martha, a maid servant who had lived in his family several years, and who often assisted them, could now lend no more assistance from the little savings of former days. Mr. Heywood still trusted that God would provide, when he had nothing but the Divine promise to live upon. He said,
When cruise and barrel both are dry,
When the children began to be impatient for want of food, Mr. Heywood called his servant, and said to her, “Martha, take a basket, and go to Halifax ; call upon Mr. N-, the shopkeeper in North-gate, and tell him, I desire him to lend me five shillings; if he will be kind enough to do it, buy us some cheese, some bread, and such other little things as you know we most want: be as expeditious as you can in returning, for the poor children begin to be fretful for want of something to eat. Put on your
hat and cloak, and the Lord give you good speed : in the mean time we will offer up our requests to him who feedeth the young ravens when they cry, and who knows what we have need of before we ask him." Martha observed her master's directions ; but when she came near the house where she was ordered to beg for the loan of five shillings, through timidity and bashfulness her heart failed her. She passed by the door again and again, without having courage to go in and tell her errand. At length Mr. N standing at his shop door, and seeing Martha in the street, called her to him, and said, are you not Mr. Heywood's servant ?" When she had with an anxious heart answered in the affirmative, he added, "I am glad I have this opportunity of seeing you: some friends at M— have remitted to me five guineas for your master, and I was just thinking how I could contrive to send it.” Martha burst into tears and for some time could not utter a syllable. The necessities of the family, their trust in Providence, the seasonableness of the supply, and a variety of other ideas breaking in upon her mind at once, quite overpowered ber. At length she told Mr. N upon what errand she came, but that she had not courage to ask him to lend her poor master money. The tradesman could not but be affected with the story, and told Martha to come to him when the like necessity should press upon them at any future time. She made haste to procure the necessary supply of provisions, and with a heart lightened of its burden, ran home to tell the success of her journey. Though she had not been long absent, the hungry family had often looked wishfully out of the window for her arrival. When she knocked at her master's door, which now must be kept locked and barred for fear of constables and bailiffs, it was presently opened; and the joy to see her was as great as when a fleet of ships arrive, laden with provisions, for the relief of a starving town, closely besieged by an enemy. The children danced round the maid, eager to look into the basket of eatables; the patient mother wiped her eyes ; the father smiled, and said “The Lord hath not forgotten to be gracious; his word is true from the beginning; the young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." Martha related every circumstance of her little expedition, as soon as tears of joy would permit her; and all partook of the homely fare, with a sweeter relish than the fastidious Roman nobles ever knew, when thousands of pounds were expended to furnish one repast.
The seasonableness of providential supplies are sometimes very remarkable indeed. The promise of God to his people is “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” Isaiah xli. 17. And so has the performance often been. Sometimes in an extraordinary way does God appear for their supply: so we find in 1 Kings xvii. 9-14. The widow's cruise and barrel fail not. A well of water is discovered to Hagar just when she had left the child, not being able to see its death. Gen. xxi. 16-19. But if things fall out by chance how is it they observe time so very exactly?
Mr. Clarke, in the life of Mr. John Fox, records a memorable instance of Providence. Towards the end of the reign of Henry VIII., Mr. Fox went to London, where he quickly spent the little which his friends had given him, or he had acquired by his own diligence, and began to be in great want. As one day he sat in St. Paul's Church, almost spent with long fasting, his countenance thin, and his eyes hollow, after the manner of dying men, every one shunning him as a spectacle of horror, there came one to him whom he had never seen before, and put a sum of money into his hand, bidding him be of good cheer, and accept that small gift in good part from his countryman; and that he should make much of himself, for that within a few days new hopes were at hand, and a more certain means of obtaining a livelihood. Three days after, the Duchess of Richmond sent for him to live in her house, and to be tutor to the