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IN THE MAINTENANCE OF NATURE. 119
12. "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way," cries Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs,
"before his works of old When he prepared the
heavens, I was there; when he set a compass upon the face of the depth; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundation of the earth: then / was by him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him:" ch. viii, 22—30. IV. As the original creation of all things is ever ascribed in the Scriptures to Jehovah, so do we learn from them that by him alone all nature is maintained in its appointed order, and in its wonderful course of perpetual reproduction. "He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which ran among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.... He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthened man's
heart O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in
wisdom hast thou made them all! the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather; thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. Thou
120 HIS SOVEREIGNTY.
sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works:" Ps. civ, 10—31; comp. cxlvii, 15—20, &c. Infinite and unsearchable as is our Heavenly Father, every minute part of his creation is the object of his unfailing care. He clothes with radiance and beauty the " lilies of the field "—the grass which "to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven:" Matt. vi, 29, 30. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?" said Jesus to his disciples, "and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father:" Matt. x, 29.
V. Closely connected with the divine attribute of omnipotence, is the unqualified and irresistible sovereignty which God exercises over all other beings. Paul has sublimely described the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," as "the blessed and only potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords ; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see —to whom be honour and power everlasting:" I Tim. vi, 15,16. "The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all:" Ps. ciii, 19. "I beheld," says Daniel, when relating his visions, "till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him!" vii, 9, 10. "O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation for the
HIS PROVIDENCE. 121
Lord is a great God, and a great King above all Gods:" Ps. xcv, 1—3. "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice:" Ps. xcvii, 1. "Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold he taketh up the isles as a very little thing:" Isa. xl, 15. "O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven, and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand, is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?" II Chron. xx, 6.
Nor is the wisdom of the Almighty to be discovered only in the works of creation; for although his counsels are often incomprehensible to our limited understanding, we are assured in the Scriptures that this divine attribute is the sure regulator of the course of events—of the order of providence. "Blessed be the name of God, for ever and ever; for wisdom and might are his; and he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: he revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him:" Dan. ii, 20—22; comp. Job xxxvi, 4—7. In the dispensation of Christianity, more especially, the wisdom of our Almighty Governor is conspicuously displayed. (Paul describes him as the "only wise God aur Saviour," and speaks of "the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence:" Eph. i, 7—8. "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him,
122 GOD IS A SPIRIT,
and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever:" Rom. xi, 33—36.
VI. The Creator and Ruler of the universe is a spiritual and invisible Being. "God is a Spirit:" John iv, 24. He is "the King eternal, immortal, invisible:" I Tim. i, 17. "No man hath seen God at any time:" John i, 18. "Behold," said Job, "I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:" ch. xxiii, 8, 9. But spiritual as he is in his nature, and imperceptible to mortal vision, God is every where. "Am 1 a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I Jill heaven and earth, saith the Lord? Jer. xxiii, 23, 24. "O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me, thou knowest my down sitting, and mine up rising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path, and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways: for there is not a word in my tongue, but lo! O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness
OMNIPOTENT AND OMNISCIENT. 123
shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee:" Ps. cxxxix, 1 —12.
VII. We may observe, that in this sublime effusion of piety and truth, the Psalmist sets before us the omnipresence of the Deity, in immediate connection with his omniscience. It is indeed a doctrine clearly declared, and very frequently adverted to in Scripture, that God "knoweth all things," I John iii, 20—that "known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world," Acts xv, 18—that "his understanding is infinite," Ps. cxlvii, 5—that" secret things belong unto the Lord our God," Deut. xxix, 29—that theup is no creature which "is not manifest in his sight," but that " all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do," Heb. iv, 13—that " the Lord weigheth the spirits," Prov. xvi, 2, "and knoweth and trieth the hearts and reins," Luke xvi, 15; Ps. vii, 9 — that the future, as well as the past and the present, is ever open to his view: Is. xlv, 20, 21. God " discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death:" Job xii, 22. "He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection:" Job xxviii, 3. "God Is Light, and in him is no darkness at all!" I John i, 5.
Having thus briefly noticed the unity, the eternity, the omnipotence, the wisdom, the spirituality, the omnipresence, and the omniscience, of God, we may proceed to examine some of the declarations of Holy Writ, on another branch of our subject, viz. the moral attributes of the Deity.
1. When Jehovah condescended to display his glo