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some foretaste of their future happiness, so the wicked have here the beginning of sorrows. As godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come, so sin has the curse of this world as well as of another.
It may however, be necessary to observe, that this is not always the case. The misery of the wicked is principally reserved for a future world, and the happiness of the righteous also is chiefly reserved for the same state of being. But God would confirm our faith in his adorable providence. If all sin were punished here, we should look no further; if no sin were punished here, we should not easily believe in the power,
holiness, and truth of God. He therefore sometimes signally interposes; and will be known by the judgments which he executeth: So that a man shall say, verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth ; verily there is a reward for the righteous.
THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE.
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform,
And rides upon the storm.
Of never-failing skill,
The ways of providence are sometimes mysterious. Events and circumstances are permitted to occur which cannot be understood or explained by man, and cannot be altogether reconciled with the character we have formed of the Divine Being. Who can understand all the ways of God ? He makes the clouds his chariot. He walks upon the wings of the wind. His providential movements are too rapid for our understanding, and beyond our comprehension. Clouds and darkness are round about him. Thy way, O God, is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.
THE UNEQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF WORLDLY GOOD is one of the mysteries of providence. Providence permits some of the meanest and basest of mankind to prosper in the world, and to accumulate large stores of worldly good, while some of the most intelligent and upright of men are among the poor and destitute. Dives, an enemy of God, is clothed in purple and fine linen, and fares sumptuously every day; while Lazarus, a friend of God, lies at the rich man's gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table.
If there be a righteous providence, how is it that good men are treated as if they were the enemies of God, and the wicked as if they were the most affectionate friends ? Does not virtue languish away in obscurity, while wickedness struts about in the world? What is the reason that virtue is so frequently oppressed by injustice, and vice triumphs in prosperity ? Considerations like these have led many persons to deny that there is any control of providence in the affairs of men. Even Jeremiah the prophet, although fully believing the righteousness of the Almighty, says, Righteous art thou, O Lord, yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments, wherefore doth the wicked prosper, wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root, they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit. And Habakkuk exclaims, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, wherefore holdest thou thy tongue, when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he ? This state of things may be permitted by God to teach us not to pay so much regard to worldly things, and to show us that His esteem and favour are not always manifested by the bestowment of earthly treasures. We are prone to set our affections on temporal things, and to think highly of a man in proportion to the amount of wealth which he
possesses -honouring those that have much, and despising those that have little. It is evident however that God does not judge after this manner. It is impossible for us to determine the love or anger of God from external circumstances.
We should also remember that God is Sovereign of the world. The earth is his and the fulness thereof, and
he not do what he will with his own ? Who shall take upon him to control the Lord, and prescribe how he is to deal with his creatures ? He is wise and just and knows how to distribute good and evil. If we question his providence we question his wisdom. Is it fit for us who are but of yesterday, and know nothing, to say to Infinite Wisdom what doest thou ? May there not be some sins of the righteous which he will visit upon their children, some virtues which he will reward even in their wicked posterity ?
And is it not necessary that there should be inequalities in providence ? The world is God's family. It is in the government of the world, as it is in a family. All cannot have the same place and influence, but they are divided according to their capabilities and necessities. Providence would not be so striking and beautiful were all men alike in station and condition. Where would the beauty of the body be, if all the members had one office ? Man would cease to be man, if every one had not some distinct work, and if there were not a universal agreement for the benefit of the whole. All mankind are but one great body constituted of several members, which have distinct offices, but all ordered for the good of the whole.
And upon due consideration, the inequalities of providence are not so great as they appear to be. If the wants of one, and the enjoyments of another were weighed in the balance, it might not appear so uneven; we see such a man's wealth, but do we understand his cares ? Distress may lie under a purple robe. Health, the salt of blessings, as one calls it, is bestowed upon