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who, with a deep sense of His united power and goodness, regulate their thoughts and determinations so as to obey him in their lives, are persons of “ a good understanding.”
The great and important truth to be drawn from this Psalm, for our present meditation, is, that God's providence extends over all human affairs, and interposes in them. Every one of his creatures indeed, -of those which possess life and of those which are without life,—is within the verge and care of that providence ;-much more every single individual of the human species, of whose conduct, whether good or bad, continual notice is taken, and whose condition in the world depends on God's special will, the interposition of which, either to bless or to cross him, there is no man who reflects at all, but must acknowledge. The instances of his goodness are subjects for our devout gratitude ; and the cases in which he visits us with sorrow and affliction, are calls to repentance and holy fear.
The doctrine of a divine and superintending providence was maintained not only by the Psalmist, but by all the Patriarchs and Prophets. It was not a tenet peculiar to men who were inspired or directly enlightened from heaven ; but it was a truth which convincingly pressed itself upon the minds of all who, in any part of the world, hearkened to the voice and suggestions of nature. It was taught by the best and wisest of the philosophers ;-and by Him who was greater than all the philosophers and prophets and
patriarchs. Our blessed Lord himself has assured his disciples, that they are under the immediate and particular protection of Providence: for he tells them that “the very hairs of their heads are all numbered” --that, “ without their heavenly Father, not even a sparrow can fall to the ground ;"? — and, therefore, that as “they are of more value than many sparrows, they ought not to doubt that God will, upon all proper occasions, interpose in their favour.
That God, by a wise and discerning providence, framed the whole world and all that is in it ;--that he was the original Author of light, and life, and thought ;-—and that he disposed every thing so as to work the proper end of its creation,-no one but an athiest can doubt. And, indeed, that horrid sort of monster called an athiest is scarcely to be met with once in an age, and is next to an impossibility. Even those, whose wanton lips are daring, and whose expressions seem to verge towards this gloomy point, are heard, or ought to be heard, with general indignation and abhorrence. We may depend upon it, that either then, or at some future time, the hearts even of athiests themselves will contradict their own wicked assertions ;--and if we observe them narrowly, we shall find them to be the most despicable members of our species, who carry their own punishment with them, and roam about the earth, like Cain, notorious objects of God's displeasure.
That the Almighty governs and superintends the universe which he has created,--and that he inter
poses, on particular occasions, both in the natural and in the moral world, none but men spoiled by vain philosophy can ever scruple to acknowledge:-and such men, indeed, only substitute words for things ;and they adhere to partial ideas for want of enlarging the mind, and of tracing a thought to a fixed and certain point. The mere assertion that such and such a thing is the law of nature, may, in the heat of argument, sometimes silence an adversary, but it never can satisfactorily decide a point in dispute. For what is nature, but the wisdom of divine providence, displayed in the works of the creation ?-and what do we mean by the laws of nature, but some general rules, which, by experience, are found to apply for the most part, and cause things to proceed in a regular and orderly manner ? But does God never stop or suspend these laws ?-and if he does not, what do we mean by a miracle? Can the Deity, on no occasion, work a miracle, without being supposed to derogate from his own glory and honour ? It must be allowed that he can.
We, as Christians, and as reasonable beings, acknowledge that God often exerts a particular providence over human affairs. The material and inanimate parts of the creation are by him made subservient to the rational and moral world ; and he governs them by an uncontrollable and irresistible power.
But he presides over man by a moral rule, in which justice and equity, wisdom and benevolence, are always implied ;-and not only these, but a careful eye also
upon good men, to protect, encourage, and bless them, and the same upon wicked men, to check, and discourage, and cross them. When, therefore, He makes the material creation his passive instruments to carry on the purposes of a moral and righteous government, does that detract from his honour, or lessen his great perfections ?-for, was man made to be under the unlimited control of the material elements ? or, rather, were not those material elements, as they are commonly called, of earth, water, fire, and air, made to be, for his useful purposes, under man's control ? Those, indeed, work necessarily, but man does not. Those are subject to laws which they must obey; but man is only subject to laws wbich he ought to obey. If, therefore, the moral government of the world requires an interposition of the supreme Providence, may not those lifeless and inferior parts of the creation be made subservient to such interposition; and, accordingly, be made to take that course which conduces most to the designs of God's superintending wisdom ?
Supposing, then, a community or body of men to be rebelling against Him, or disobedient to his laws. He will, in justice, punish them, and by such means as he shall best approve ;—perhaps by drought and famine. The wind, according to his will, will shift about. It blows, for a long time, from the same dry point,-parching the earth, and destroying its fruits. A famine, therefore, ensues, and brings misery in its train ; and thus God's judgments are abroad, “that
the inhabitants of the earth may learn righteousness.” They, who are convinced and conscious that such a visitation proceeds from his vengeance, reflect upon their sins, and repent of them. He, then, in mercy relents. The wind shifts to a genial quarter ;—the fertilizing rains descend ; and, soon after, the earth grows fresh, and plenty returns. Is there no particular providence discernible here? There is, to those who will search it out, and who love to trace the operations of the Almighty. For if we attend merely to the general laws of nature, or second causes acting progressively forward, on which all the arguments against a particular providence are founded, those changes can never be accounted for. The wind that blows for a time from a particular point, must blow for ever the same, unless a new direction is given to it by a superior power. At least it directly follows from that general law of nature which philosophy has laid down for a certain truth, that in order to give a new direction to lifeless things in motion, a new force must be impressed upon them ; otherwise they will move on eternally in the same direction that was given them at first. Whence, therefore, can the ingenuity of man account for the new impression, except from the presiding will of Providence ?
Such changes and variations in the material world, considering that all its parts are instruments in the hand of God, are not signs of caprice in Him, or of instability or imperfection in his works. They are requisite to the purposes and demands of his moral