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who, when they had seen the earth swallowing up Corah and his company, and the fire from the Lord consuming the men that offered incense, yet presently after charged Moses and Aaron with having “slain the people of the Lord;" or such as those in the Gospel, who through Christ “had “ done so many miracles before them, yet they be« lieved not."
Wonder not, therefore, after this, if many do not discern the hand of God, when it is not lifted up so high, or extended so far, in miraculous acts; when, as in what we call the ordinary course of things, so many different plans are carrying on, so many instruments are employed; so many and so various ends are to be answered; so intricate must be the complication and entanglement of events in a series of them reaching from the beginning to the end of the world; and so many of those events cannot be cleared up, and made to appear in their proper and full light, till that end shall come. On all these accounts, the special providence of God is seldom so evident, as that, without great attention and consideration, we can perceive and trace it. It may have been also judged expedient, that many occurrences should be puzzling to us, to quash our presumption, to exercise our faith, to quicken our industry, and to find us employment. Our understanding was not given us to be idle upon such occasions, and it is our true wisdom so to use it; which was the
Second point to be proved; “ they wisely con“ sider his doings.”
He is not a man of sense who denies either the being or the providence of God; there is no wisdom in atheism; it is “ the fool," who “says in his “ heart, There is no God.” And surely, to imagine that he who made the world should take no care of the world which he hath made, but, as it were, forgetting that he had made it, should deliver it
up to chance and fate, is an opinion equally foolish with the other. There are some who well know, that if there be a God, and if he observes and takes cognizance of human affairs, he must one day punish them for their villanies and their blas-, phemies. Therefore they endeavour to persuade themselves there is neither a providence nor a God. Through the corruptions of their hearts, and being given over to a reprobate mind, they are so unfortunate as to succeed in their endeavours; and by such as they can seduce to a like degree of desperate wickedness, they may be accounted wise men. But he who dwelleth in heaven beholds their devices, and laughs them to
He knows a day is coming, when his vengeance will cause them to feel the truths which no evidence would induce them to believe. The greatest and best persons of all ages have believed in “ a God who governed the world;" and wherein can the wisdom of man consist, but in observing and studying the works and dispensations of that God, from the beginning to this day? For grandeur, pleasure, and advantage, what subject can compare with this ? and how senseless is the man who passes his life without attending to them ! By his mercies and by his judgments doth our God continually speak to us, and signify his mind,
and show forth the glories of his kingdom, for which we are evermore bound to praise him. But how can we praise him as we ought; or, indeed, at all, if we know not what those mercies, and those judgments, and those glories are ?—“ The “ works of the Lord are great, sought out”studied and traced—“ by all them that have plea
sure within.” “Whoso is wise, and will observe “ these things, they shall understand the loving “ kindness of the Lord. Let him who glorieth
glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth
me; that I am the Lord, who exercise loving “ kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the “ earth. A brutish man knoweth not, neither doth
fool understand-But whoso is wise, shall un“ derstand these things; prudent, and he shall “ know them;" “ such will know, that he whose
name is Jehovah, is the Most High over all the “ world ; they will say, Verily there is a reward “ for the righteous, doubtless there is a God that judgeth the earth.”
Diligently to mark, and carefully to treasure up in our minds, the special providences of the Almighty, is the way to preserve and nourish our faith and hope in him ; it furnishes the grounds of our thankfulness and praise; it stirs up our finest feelings and very best affections towards him, holy joy, humble reverence, and hearty love; it supports us under all our sufferings, and affords us comfort in all our sorrows. . When adversity presses hard upon a man ; when he is stripped of his possessions, and threatened with torture; when enemies persecuté, and friends betray or forsake;
or when pain and sickness harass him upon his bed, and sleep departs from his eye-lids--gracious Lord, what shall become of him, if, at such an hour, a writer shall inform him there is no help for him in his God; that there is neither Redeemer nor Creator ; that the universe is the sport of contending dæmons, a scene of ravage and desolation; and, instead of being “full of the loving kindness “ of the Lord,” is peopled only with fiends and furies ? What sort of a being must the writer be who could give such a representation of things : and what does he deserve at the hands of man. kind ?-Before guilt of this infernal dye, that of cheating and thieving, of perjury, robbery, and murder, melts away, and vanishes into nothing.
On the other hand, and by way of contrast, look into that collection of divine hymns, which have been recited in the church, to the unspeakable instruction and consolation of the faithful, from age
I mean, as you well know, the book of Psalms. See there how the people of God, whenever any calamity befel them, either as a nation or as individuals, sustained, comforted, and cheered themselves and each other, by recollecting and meditating upon the works of the Lord which he had wrought in old times for their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the children of Israel, his servants; the miracles in Egypt, the wonders in the field of Zoan ; the division of the waters at the Red Sea, and again at the river Jordan; the fall of Jericho, the discomfiture of Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon, and the overthrow of all the idolatrous kingdoms of Canaan. While they were
employed in chanting forth the praises of God for the special providences formerly vouchsafed them, their minds were comforted, their spirits were raised, their hearts were warmed, their faith was revived and invigorated; it grew strong and mighty; and they no longer supposed it possible, whatever their present sufferings might be, that he who had so often made bare his holy arm in their cause, could “ever leave them or forsake them.”
The use which they made of the mercies vouchsafed to them in old time, should we make of the special providences vouchsafed to us, in the deliverance and preservation of our own church and nation from the various schemes concerted for the destruction of both. Among the first of these may be justly reckoned the deliverance this day commemorated, as will sufficiently appear, if we consider,
III. The marks and tokens visibly impressed upon it; how strange and how important it was.
The Scriptures relate many events of a strange kind; that is, strange compared with the ordinary course of things, or the natural influence of causes, when the means are disproportionate, unsuitable, nay, seem even contrary to the effect. Such events speak God to be their cause, by his invisible power supplying apparent defects in the means. In the Scripture histories we are, as it were, admitted behind the scenes, and informed that the hand of God was more immediately concerned. Thus the stars in their courses fought against Sisera : the Lord thundered upon the Philistines, and discomfited them : he made the host of Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and horses, and a great host : he made