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its poison would probably have been fatal to him, and the whole course of European history must have been altered. It is true that if we look, as Protestants, at the disastrous consequences to the reformed faith in France, which in all probability flowed from the death of the constable De Bourbon, we may at first sight be apt to think that it would have been better for the world that the scorpion's bite had been fatal to the child. But, doubtless, such a conclusion would be a short-sighted one. Important results, in addition to those already developed, may yet spring from it.
In our ignorance of the tendencies of the present and the revelations of the future, we must wait the unfolding of His
purposes " whose glory it is to conceal a thing."
These incidents may surely prove that what reason and revelation teach as to the
of Divine Providence, is yet further confirmed by an appeal to fact. Events which seem most trivialare made to work out the inost momentous results, and what men blinded by unbelief term accidental chances, are the workings of that Providence “that shapes our ends rough hew them how we may." The following pages will tend still more fully, we trust, to illustrate this truth.
SIGNAL DELIVERANCES FROM IMMINENT PERILS ON MEN
WHO EVENTUALLY BECAME EMINENT FOR PIETY AND FOR USEFULNESS.
It is related of the Waldenses, that on one occasion when, escaping from the fury of their cruel persecutors, they had to continue their flight through the night, their path lay through the rugged and perilous defiles of the Alps. But the dangers amidst which they moved were veiled by the impenetrable darkness. At length the day broke, and under the light of the rising sun, they turned to survey the track along which they had trod. By a unanimous and irresistible impulse, they fell on their knees to thank God for their marvellous préservation from dangers which the darkness had at once concealed and increased ; here, they had walked on the very verge of a tremendous precipice, where a false step would have dashed them to atoms; there, they had skirted the banks of a
mountain lake, whose black waters seemed to indicate unfathomable depths ; and yonder hung the avalanche, with a balance so tremulous that a whisper might have brought it down, and buried them beneath its mountainous mass. This night-march of God's persecutedchildren affords an apt illustration of the experience of many of his servants. They have moved on reckless of the perils which surrounded, and unmindful of the arm which sustained them : till at length they “ who were sometime darkness, but are now light in the Lord," look back upon the path they have trod, and fall prostrate in wonder, gratitude, and adoring praise, at a review of the dangers they have escaped, and the unacknowledged deliverances they have enjoyed.
In the present chapter it will be our endeavour to collect a few examples of this kind. May the reader, as he peruses them, and traces, perhaps, in his own life, events of a similar character, be led to inquire whether they have produced in his mind similar impressions and results-gratitude to God for his forbearing mercy, repentance for sin, and surrender of the heart to Christ and to the Spirit, so that henceforth he may be safe, either in life or death.
The early life of Bunyan affords a striking illustration of the truth, to the exposition of which this chapter is devoted. We give the narrative in his own simple language :
“God did not leave me, but followed me still, not now with convictions but with judgments, yet such as were mixed with mercies. For once I fell into a creek of the sea, and hardly escaped drowning. Another time I fell out of a boat into the Bedford river, but mercy yet preserved me alive. Besides, another time, being in the field with one of my companions, it chanced that an adder passed over the highway; so I, having a stick in my hand, struck her over the back; and having stunned her, I forced open her mouth with my stick, and plucked her sting out with my fingers ; by which act, had not God been merciful unto me, I might by my desperateness have brought myself to mine end.
“ This, also, have I taken notice of with thanksgiving When I was a soldier, I, with others, was drawn out to go to such a place besiege it; but when I was just ready to go, one of the company
desired to go
my room ; to which, when I had consented, he took my place; and coming into the siege, as he stood
sentinel, he was shot in the head with a mušket ball and died.*
" Here, as I said, were judgments and mercy, but neither of themi did awaken my soul to righteousness ; wherefore I sinned still, and grew more and more rebellious against God, and careless of my own salvation.”
Had Bunyan been cut off in his sins, as on each of these occasions he was on the very point of being, what an irreparable loss would have been sustained by the world and the church ! Well might he, in recollecting such escapés aš these, speak of “Grace abounding to the chief of sinners;" and take as the motto to that wellknown work the words, “ Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” What fitter subject for profane mirth could be found than the Divine Omnipotence stooping to care for the poor illiterate tinker; yet how is the fact justified and explained by the result' !
The life of the rev. J. Newton has some striking points of resemblance with that of Bunyan, in the vices and perils of his earlier, and the signal usefulness of his closing days.
* This happened at the siege of Leicester; the spot is still traditionally pointed out.