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leave no ground for reposing any trust SERMON under its protection. For the majority of human affairs would then be allowed to fluctuate in a fortuitous course, without moving in any regular direction, and without tending to any one scope. The uniform doctrine of the sacred writings is, that throughout the universe nothing happens without God; that his hand is ever active, and his decree or permission intervenes in all; that nothing is too great or unwieldy for his management, and nothing so minute and inconsiderable as to be below his inspection and care. While he is guiding the sun and the moon in their course through the heavens ; while in this inferiour world he is ruling among empires, stilling the ragings of the waters and the tumults of the people, he is at the same time watching over the humble good man, who, in the obscurity of his cottage, is serving and worshipping Him. In order to express this vigilance of Providence in the strongest terms, our Saviour himself has said, that the very hairs of our head are all numbered by God; and that while two sparrows are sold for a farthing, not one of
SERMON them falls to the ground wiihout his plea
The consolation which this affords, he applies to his disciples in what follows : Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value tkan iany sparrows*. It is on this doctrine of a special and particular Providence he grounds that exhortation against worldly solicitude and anxiety, which accords so fully with the argument we have been pursuing; your heavenly Feiber knowoth what things ye bave need of; take therefore no thought for the morrow ; but seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you t.
Thus it has been shown on what grounds our assured belief rests of the declaration in the text, that all things are made to work for the good of the righteous. It is not a promise which admits of ambiguity, and which we might be afraid to interpret to its full extent. It is on every side confirmed by the most sober reasonings we can form from the divine perfections ; by the whole tenour of the dispensation of redemp
* Matth. X. 31.
+ Matth. vi. 32, 33.
tion; by many repeated assurances given SERMON us in the sacred writings.
THE great objection, I am aware, that will be started by many against the whole of what has been advanced in this discourse, is founded on the seeming prevalence of evil and disorder in the world. This, it will be said, is so conspicuous as to be inconsistent with the representation that has been given of a Supreme Being, who attends, in every instance, to the welfare of évery good man. The
present state of the world may be suspected to carry more the áppearance of a conflict between two opposite principles of good and evil, which divide the empire of the world, and of course create a mixture of some good things with more that are evil. How often, it will be said, are the best men insensible of any such gradual improvement, or any such tendency in the general course of things, as has been represented, to promote their interest; but on the contrary, left comfortless and forlorn, in the midst of surrounding prosperous vice, to mourn over disappointed hopes and bitter sorrows, without receiving the
SERMON least mark of favourable intentions from
Heaven? Hence the exclamations they have often uttered; “ Where is the Lord, “ and where the sceptre of righteousness " and truth? Doth God indeed see, and is " there knowledge in the Most High? Or " hath He forgotten to be gracious, and in anger
up his tender mercies ?" Now, in answer to such objections, let us consider how much reason there is for ascribing those dark and doubtful appearances, to the narrow and confined views which our state allows us to take. The designs of the Almighty are enlarged and vast. They comprehend not only the whole of our present existence, but they include worlds unknown, and stretch forwards into eternity. Hence much darkness and mystery must of course rest at present on the administration of God; and we, who see only so small a portion of a great and complicated system, must be very inadequate judges, both of the tendency of each part, and of the issue of the whole. We behold no more than the outside of things. Our views glide over the surface; and even along that surface, they 5
extend but a short way. But under the sur- SERMON face there lie hidden springs, that are set in motion by a superiour hand, and are bringing forwards revolutions unforeseen by us. There are wheels moving within wheels, as the prophet Ezekiel beheld in mysterious vision *
.We, measuring all things by the shortness of our own duration, are constantly accelerating our designs to their period. We are eager in advancing rapidly towards the completion of our wishes. But it is not so with God. In his sight, a thousand years are as one day : and while his infinitely wise plans are continually advancing with sure progress, that progress to our impatience appears slow. Let us have patience for a while, and these plans shall in due time be developed, and will explain themselves. His language to us is, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know. bereafter t.
Let us attend to the analogy of Nature, We shall find it to hold very generally, both in the moral and natural world, that nothing arises suddenly to the perfection of its state ; that all improvement is carried
. Ezek. X. 10.
t John, xii. 7.