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Thus dream they, and contrive to save a God
The objection has also been made, that the doctrine of the universal providence of God, requires the attention of the Deity to such a multiplicity of affairs, and many of them so minute and trifling, as are beneath his dignity to notice. In answer to such objection, we reply, that we ought not to conceive of the great Jehovah as if he were like unto ourselves. We are often perplexed in a multiplicity of affairs ; with men an attention to little things prevents an attention to great things ; and an attention to great things prevents an attention to little things. But it is otherwise with God. The heaven of heavens cannot contain him; but he condescends to dwell with man upon the earth. He gives wings to an angel, and he teaches the spider to weave his web.
“We call certain things little," says Dr. Cumming, “because they seem so to us, we judge after the sight. But nothing is little, because nothing exists alone and divided from other things. A spark of fire is little in itself, but falling amid the summer grass it sets forests on fire, or sends the destroying flame along the streets of a great metropolis. What is apparently so insignificant as an acorn, and if laid aside on the shelf, and left alone, it moulders and corrupts, but cast into the earth it germinates and grows up into the mighty oak, the monarch of the woods, and in due time it is the strength of the gallant ship that rides the sea-billow, and connects distant continents, and carries the word and the messengers of salvation to them that are in darkness ? So too is God in little things to guide, direct, restrain, or arrest them. There is in the heart of man a disposition to limit the presence of God, to say to his attributes, *Hitherto and no further;' to admit his presence and agency in certain places and things, and to exclude it in others. The attempt is as foolish as it is weak. There can be no space around us without air, and there can be none without God. God is, and He everywhere is.”
Both the dictates of reason and the sentiments
of religion teach us to believe in a God, whose providence extends to every creature in particular,and to every part of which that creature is composed. Let it not be imagined that it is beneath God to regard individuals. And what can we call little or contemptible in his sight? If we take the meanest plant, or the least insect, we shall discover, even in its least particulars, the same wisdom which is displayed in the structure of the whole. If then, God has not disdained to form these creatures which appear so trifling, why should it be considered beneath him to
What it was no degradation for God to create, it can be no degradation in God to preserve.
We should bear in mind however, that though God's providence is universal, the use of means is required on the part of man. He must exercise the powers of his mind and body, in the promotion of his own welfare.
An individual might say, why should I strive, if the tide of general affairs is to bear down, and bear away, my interests. But the doctrine of a universal providence, by shewing that the whole is formed out of the several parts, requires every man to put his shoulder to the wheel ; gives to every man a share in the grand concerns of life, and commands his co-operation. Nor have we a right to expect the end without
employing the means. God causes the wheat to grow; his showers water, his air feeds, his sun warms it ;-but he requires us to sow, to watch, and to labour, before we can reap.
It is the will of Providence that seed-time and harvest shall not cease; but if the husbandman, under a pretence of trusting in providence, should expect to gather in a plentiful crop without the necessary culture of his grounds, he would find himself disappointed; and every one would censure his confidence and conduct as ridiculous, inconsistent, and absurd.
The certainty of King Hezekiah's recovery from sickness, did not render the use of the medicine appointed for that purpose unnecessary; neither did the assurance given him, of living fifteen years longer, imply that he had no need to take any care about the preservation of his health.
We should however remember, that notwithstanding the employment of means, we are still dependent upon God. The poet Cowper, in writing to one of his friends, makes a few remarks, which shew us how we should regard the various means we employ to promote our wellfare. He observes, “Why was I preserved, afflicted for my good, received as I trust into the favour of God, and blessed with the greatest happiness I can ever know, or hope for, in this
many others have been overtaken by the great arrest, unawakened, unrepenting, and every way unprepared for it? His infinite wisdom to whose infinite mercy I owe it all, can solve these questions, and no one beside him. If a free-thinker, as many a man miscalls himself, could be brought to give a serious answer to them, he would perhaps say, “Without doubt, sir, you was in great danger, you had a narrow escape, a most fortunate one indeed.” How excessively foolish, as well as shocking! As if life depended upon luck, and all that we are, or can be, all that we have, or hope for, could possibly be referred to accident. Yet to this freedom of thought it is owing, that he, who, as our Saviour tells us, is thoroughly apprized of the death of the meanest of his creatures, is supposed to leave those, whom he has made in his own image, to the mercy of chance, and to this therefore it is owing, that the correction which our Heavenly Father bestows upon us, that we may be fitted to receive his blessing, is so often disappointed of its benevolent intentions, and that men despise the chastening of the Almighty. Fevers and all diseases are accidents; and long life, recovery at least from sickness is the gift of the physician. No man can be a greater friend to the use of means upon these occasions than myself, for it were presumption and enthusiasm