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ESSAYS.

1.-ON PROVIDENCE.

ence.

NONE but the senseless atheist or the hardened deist can deny the doctrine of Divine superintend

All things bear witness to it, whether inanimate, animate, or intellectual. Earth with its wondrous structure, from the dust of its surface to the gems of its mines, the various forms of vegetable life, each different kind of beast, bird, fish, insect, and zoophyte, in short all nature tells the goodness and the glory of its Creator and Preserver. If God thus cares for inert matter, for the creatures of mere vitality, and for sensitive beings, oh! how much more for man. Even the heathen learn this truth experimentally from rain and fruitful seasons, and the filling of their hearts with food and gladness. There breathes not a human being in the world who has not proved the gracious providence of God both in the ordinary

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occurrences of life, and in the particular circumstances of his personal history. All Scripture asserts or presupposes this general and particular providence. If we take up the Bible to look for this doctrine there, commencing with the Creation and ending with the consummated felicity of the saints, the evidence from Genesis to Revelation forms one mighty and perfect whole.

That dying men endowed with rational faculties, and with conscience can inhabit God's world, encompassed by his mercies, beholding, and often feeling his temporal judgments, without thinking seriously what shall be their portion in futurity, is a fact explainable only by that darkness of understanding and perversion of heart which are the effects of Adam's fall. The consideration of God's goodness in our creation and preservation, is surely suited to prepare our hearts to receive him as a Saviour. He, who so evidently consults the welfare of all his creatures, he who cares so tenderly for us as to number the very hairs of our heads, cannot desire our misery, is not willing that we should perish: no, by the voice of his Gospel he beseeches us to be reconciled, entreats us to be blessed. One thing which seems more especially to obstruct the beneficial workings of God's providence upon us is the prevalent habit of subjecting ourselves too entirely to the tyranny of opinion. Alas! for the final lot of those who are living to the world and not to God.

When Judas, under the horrors of remorse, brought again the thirty pieces of silver, and said to the chief priests and elders, “I have sinned.” They answered, “What is that to us ? see thou to that.” It is thus with our worldly associates. They will tempt us to sin, encourage us in sin, reward us for sin: but when an accusing conscience speaks within, when death and judgment are at hand, in act if not in word, they answer the reproaches of their wretched victim with, " What is that to us? see thou to that."

It is in regarding God's special providence over his church as related in Scripture, and in ecclesiastical records, it is in observing how all persons, things, and events are made subservient, how all circumstances concur to bring about his purposes of mercy that our notions of God's omniscience, and of his almighty power are stretched to the uttermost ;--it is in considering this care and kindness as exhibited towards each particular member of the church, and above all, in considering his own personal experience, that the Christian finds the most affecting tokens of a reconciled Father's love. He knows that earth is the school of immortality, that its employments, enjoyments and sufferings compose the discipline which is adapted by Infinite Wisdom to form in him a character which shall enable him to appreciate, and to share the happiness of angels. Every dispensation is adjusted for the developement of the buds, and flowers, and fruits, of that

immortal plant of righteousness which the Heavenly Husbandman has set within his heart. Life has its spring-times, its summer, its autumn, and its winter seasons, and while they revolve with their days of sunshine and of clouds, their skies of glowing azure and of impenetrable mists, their scorching heat and rigid frost, their warmth and freshness, storms and tempests, their splendour and their beauty, their desolation and their horror, the dews, the former and the latter rains, fail not to fall

upon the tender tree, while the river of God is still nourishing its roots. All things work together for the Christian's good. There is for him a transmutation of the mischievous into the beneficial, somewhat resembling that which is effected by the skilful engineer, who changes the desolating overflowings of water into the fertilizing irrigation of the soil.

Christians profess to believe all this, but it is too evident that very few among them feel it as they ought, or they would not generally be so slack and negligent in its improvement: multitudes who bear that sacred name have, it may be, never realized the notion, much less carried its effects into their conduct. Too many deem an occasional acknowledgment, extorted perhaps by the pressure of sickness, or sorrow, or the touch of unwonted gladness, of God's designing all things for their good, to be sufficient. There are indeed many dull hours and insignificant things in life which we

are all too prone to fancy God cares as little for as we do. But good sentiments, unless practically applied, are worse than useless; they lull the conscience, and harden the heart. Christians should be habitually influenced by them, and make of all events ascending steps towards heaven. Great and striking events seldom happen, but improvement may be found wherever it is sincerely and diligently sought. The sails of a ship, and of a windmill, the wheel which meets the friction of the mountain brook, and other, more elaborate , machinery which human ingenuity has adapted to solicit and profit by natural agencies, may suggest to Christians the duty of preparing the mind and heart to receive benefit from providential circumstances.

Self-knowledge is the first thing to be acquired by the Christian; and a just estimate of what he is will be greatly assisted by a review of what he has been. From every day's occurrences too he may learn much of himself and of God; and prove the necessity of maintaining an equable and serene temper amid all worldly fluctuations ; this also will aid him in appropriating the benefits derivable from the bitter trials of sickness, of poverty, and of affliction generally; and from the still more difficult ordeal of prosperity.

But it is not only from things which thus directly affect himself that he may seek for edification, every friend, associate, and acquaintance, in

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