Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

often to meet a tide of evils, too impetuous and over powo ering to be resisted, or escaped without harm. To be an inhabitant of our world, and experience nothing but pros. perity, is the lot of none. The order of events, establishe ed by infinite wisdom, often removes one pain only to give place to another. As the wheel of providence rolls round, where it presents, one cheering and delightful prospect, such as is pleasant and soothing to the human eye, it dis. closes many, that are sad and dispiriting. The pleasures of mankind lie at the mercy of a thousand unforeseea casualties. We have no power over our own destiny ; and if we dream of pleasure and peace, instead of being realized, they yield up their place to solicitude and sorrow, This is no fanciful, or imaginary, case ;: but accords with experience, with the known condition of mortal man. And has it no counterpart? Is there nothing to quiet the mind, and produce a placid reconciliation, or a cheerful submission, to the evil that transpires? Have we no consideration at hand, that will be of sovereign efficacy to repress inquietude, by turning the horrors of night into the brightness and sweet refulgence of day? Yes, my hearers ; the truths of our subject are suo-beams to dise pel all the glooms, which brood over a miserable and illa fated world, where changes are numerous, none of which bring lasting enjoyment to man. Because there is a God we have reason to rejoice ; and our joy which is built on him, no man taketh from us. Do we meet with adversity in ten thousand direful forms? what do faith and the truths of our subject, but strip them of their exterior garb and present to our view a visage of such exquisite comeliness, as must enrapture the soul and fill it with joy ? Do we behold huge floods of misery deluging the world, and happiness seemingly för ever expelled 'the abodes of men ? our subject still bids us rejoice, not that man is wretched ; ; but that the Judge of all the earth does right-..

Our subject traces all these calamitous events to a causeg, which, though its immediate effects are rigorous and paine fül, is ultimately benevolent, and will not work more evil than is necessary to good. It teaches us, that all these things are desirable, not in themselves, but in relation to the end, for which they are brought about, They are

e e

[ocr errors]

not the offspring of chance, nor the engines of fate ; but the result of his wisdom and goodness, who is Lord of heaven and earth, and the means, by which he so governs, as to entitle himself to the confidence of his rational creatures. Could we believe, that ever a disastrous event took place in the world, adventitiously, or contrary to the plan of divine providence ; could we ever sufficiently be wail the wretchedness of a world, whose well being is. subject to be murred in this manner? Nay, should we not lament, in hopeless sorrow, the ruin of a system, that could not be protected and guarded in a more perfect manner? If so much as one melancholy scene, that does not essentially belong to an infinitely benevolent plan of gove ernment, may take place ; who will say where security may be looked for? or will dare conclude, that all is not lost? If, therefore, the government of God is in every. thing, and nothing which does take place could have been dispensed with, or left out of the system, without injury to the ultimate object, which is the glory of God ; then, those which we term unfortunate, are, on the whole, very fortunate events. They may, indeed, be unfavourable to certain private and partial interests ; but, in regard to the best, most important, and most general interest in the universe, they are needful ; and to have suppressed them, would have been an injury, and not a benefit. And a man, who believes, that it is better things should be as God or. ders them, thao otherwise ; and that no event takes place. without a divine

purpose

and agency to produce it, cannot: but derive great support from his faith, under such dispensations of providence, or in such seasons as wear a soro. rowful and frowning aspect. In such circumstances, not: to believe that God means it all for goods is really to be in a most perplexed and uncomfortable state of mind, if any thoughts are indulged upon the subject. There is not a person of thought and sensibibity, but must be affected, in some sort, with the movement of things, upon the wide theatre of the world. As a part of the great body of man. kind, his sympathies must be excited

When clouds seem. to thicken over his head, wearing an angry, or portentous, aspect ; if he does not console himself with the thought, that they are the chariot in which Deity rides forth ca.

execute the counsels of his infinitely benevolent heart, his , apprehensions will be alarmed, and peace become a stran. ger to his breast. But he, who, iu the most tumultuous and distracting scenes, eyes an invisible hand, and per. ceives that it is the Lord, the Judge of all the earth, who : will do right, whose counsel shall stand, and who will do all his pleasure, may compose himself; and settle down : calmly upon the persuasion, that nothing is to be feared ; but that all shall come out well in the end.. But if

you reject the doctrine of the particular and immediate intera. ference of the divine hand, and do not perceive his soveereign will at the root of every event, however inauspicious : and afflictive, what have you to lean upon for comfort ? What can you have to take off the keen edge of terror and dismay? You see the world in a ferment; the wicked foaming out their own shame, and, like the troubled sea, casting up mire and dirt. What can be the reason of all this wild commotion ? this clashing of interests and ware ring of unruly passions? Is there no God to concern him. 'self with such things, who can bridle, the jaws of the : wicked, restrain their wrath, or turn their hearts whitherscever he will ? Or is the Almighty content with being an idle spectator of so much discord, confusion, and ruin, having no interest in the progress or final event of it? ; If it be so, wo be to the universe, that it ever came into » being !: But the believer turns from this gloomy, this des. perate, this .heart.rending, imagination ; and drinks a: sweet draught of peace from the thought, that an all powerful hand, by a mysterious, and unseen energy, and to compass a valuable end ; has brought forth this strange : convulsion, and will, in due time, so heal the malady, that greater health and soundness, shall pervade the sys. tem. Upon no principle can the sensible mind submit to, and be patient under, it, but that it is a part of that vast and wonderful combination of events, by which God has : determined to bring more good to pass, than could be produced in any other way. But for the good which will grow out of such adversity, a feeling and reflecting mind could hardly contain itself under the present grievousness of it. Since, however, the God, who is supreme, all. wise, and bencficient, has decreed it, as a necessary step

2

to that ultimate display of himself, which is to fill the universe with joy, the reasonable soul acquiesces and is satisfied. In any other view of the case, how could you, my hearers, maintain a comfortable share of tranquillity, and in patience possess your souls, while the unhappy disorders and confusion of the day are passing before your eyes ? Is there any solace for the mind, that revolts at such enormities, and longs to see a better temper prevailing among mankind ? yes: there is comfort even in circumstances so painful as these. When agitated and overwhelmed with grief at beholding such a picture of human depravity, and human wretchedaess, a thought enters the mind, which makes every thing calm and tranquil again. It is recollected, that all this is in the chain of divine providence ; that the hand of the Lord is in it to fulfil his own purposes, to establish his own title to sile premacy, by doing what will merit him the honour and confidence of all wise and upright beings.

Had we no. reason to believe, that the evils we every day see and feel, in our own perverseness, and that of our fellow. creatures, will eventually produce, under divine direction, some good effects, more than:we can foresee, how destitute of rational comfort must we be ? Amid so many conflicts, injuries, and clashing of interests and views, how can a man of dignified feelings, and upright intentions, compose himself to a patient resignation to his situation, only from the consideration, that all which he sees and feels is from the hand of God, and must, in the end, turn to good account ; must be productive of glory to him, who knows how to conduct his own cause with wisdom, and whose praise will not suffer, but get gain, from all that occurs in heaven; earth, and hell? For this consolatica, (and who, that has a tender heart, would exchange it for a world,) we are indebted to the truths of the present subject. 'Because God reigns, reigns every where, and in every thing, those, who love him, and confide in him, will carefully and joyfully resign themselves and theirs into his hands ; and, if troubled on every side, they will

not be cast down, believing, that if trials and afflictions: -await them, they will not come upseasonably, nor with Out occasion. The doctrine, that all things are of God,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and will redound to his praise, is a feast of soul to all real christians, even in the most calamitous times. With the prophet they can say, “ Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine ; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat s. the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be ho herd in the stalls ; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my

salvation." 4. Our subject teaches us the motive, by which all our conduct should be governed. We have found the motive, which sways and direct3, all the actions of Deity and

upon the principle, that we should be followers of God as dear children, arid workers together with him, we may safely conclude, that our motive should be the same. And since God has one final end in view, in all his purposes and operations, it is not consistent for creatures to shift and vary the object, to which they have respect in the works which they perform. As he aims at his own glory, in every thing, so we are, upon all occasions, to be moving

towards the same poiot ; to esteem ourselves happy and to have done our daty, so far as we have been excited and led by zeal for the honour of God. If, in any matter of practice, our motive be inferior to this, less disinterested and heavenly, it proves, that we are not led by the Spirit of God, and are, therefore, not the sons of God. To be the sons and daughters of the Lord almighty, we must mark the footsteps of our divine Redeemer, and follow him whithersoever he goeth. Though we cannot imie. tate the Holy One, in any thing, which is peculiar to the Godhead ; yet it is but natural for us, if we are partakers, of the divine nature, and have escaped the corruptions, which are in the world through lust, to exemplify a more. al likeness to him, in giving our hearts and desires to those : things, with which he has declared himself well-pleased, and for which he orders and directs the whole course of his providence. God does not prefer his own glory to every other object, merely because it is his own ; but bea cause it is an object infinitely more valuable and importe ant than any other, or than all others. And if it really is of this importance, there is the same reason that creatures. should seek it, as that the Creator himself shoulde.

« EdellinenJatka »