« ZurückWeiter »
debted for our preservation and our mercies? Unquestionably to the constant care of God. The objection made against the exercise of such a care on his part militates more against the perfections of his nature, than the objectors seem to be aware. If he does not exercise this care over all the works of his hands in their simple and combined state, how do they continue in existence? Not surely by their own power; for if so, they must be independent in themselves, and thus are not made. If, by his power, the question arises, does he exert this directly through means, or has he established general laws, which, without his interference, operate to produce all that he wills? If the latter, two conclusions cannot be avoided; the one is that these laws are clothed with the attributes of Jehovah ; and the other is, that Jehovah himself, as it respects the exercise of his own intelligent, perfect nature, is a mere spectator of the works of his hand. These conclusions it is impossible for us to avoid, if the particular providence of God is rejected. Both afford the strongest evidence for a particular providence to all who believe in the existence of God; for both favour atheism,
since they both take from God the constant exercise of his perfections, which is essential to his nature. These perfections he cannot exercise if he be a mere spectator of his works, or if he has put these works under the government of general laws, so that his interposition is not necessary. · Besides, this doctrine of a general providence contravenes the directions of the written word. Why should we pray to God, if he has invested these laws with authority to produce certain effects? Of what benefit are the means of grace to any, since these laws are invariable, and uniform in their operation? The worship of God in all its parts, the business of this day takes it for granted that he superintends and directs all events. His acknowledged perfections demand such a providence; for why is he every where present, if not every where employed? Why is he infinitely powerful, if he does not constantly exert his power? Wherefore is he infinitely wise, if he does not steadily and always exercise his wisdom? Of what benefit to us are his goodness and justice, if they are not displayed in corresponding actions? .. .
If they who support this doctrine speak with understanding, they must be convinced that these laws are nothing but God himself managing and governing his works according to a particular manner; or which is the same thing, according to a wise, regular, and established mode, in which he conducts his operations. It is impossible for us, aceording to the philosophy of the human mind, and the information of the Scriptures, to conceive of an active intelligent being, such as God is, who does not always exert his activity and intelligence; but this he does not, if he has imparted to his own works certain laws at their creation, by which they manage themselves, and keep themselves in existence. If these laws are under his control, and subject to his alteration, as he sees fit, we would not object to the position ; for then God himself would be directly acknowledged as the supreme disposer of every event. This is the principle for which we contend, and, in opposition to this, the doctrine of a general providence can only be supported upon the grounds already mentioned, that the laws which God has given to his works prevent his direct interpo
e spolu sition in the control of these works: and Dipred this I do not hesitate to brand with the epii himal thet, atheistic. actions Proofs in support of the particular provich ist dence of God, exercised over individuals, perala are abundant in Scripture. - Time will not anday permit me to adduce them. The subject, ha however, requires that some proofs should be 2 X offered of his special providence over nations. to mo The history of the Jewish nation affords a g, s multitude of these; so that he must be more iert be than blind who denies that such a providence le die was exercised over them. If this be grantT ed, we ask, why is it not exercised over th the other nations ? I know that a reason may hva be given, arising from the peculiarity of their
e relation to God; but it is unquestionable, par le pay that if the same providence in kind be not
exercised over other nations, which was ex- ercised over the Jews, there is an uncertainme ty in the dispensations of that providence, of utterly inconsistent with the lessons of God's dit word on the subject. If no such providence
be exercised over them, they cannot be responsible, as nations; but we know that they are responsible. Again and again, it is said that God is governor of the nations. In the VOL. II.
most explicit manner we are assured that Christ is Prince of the kings of the earth. If so, are not kings and nations responsible to God and his Christ? If responsible, they must be in their official and national capacity the subjects of his care and his government. In the prophecies of Daniel, not to quote the other prophets, the rise, the conduct, and the termination of the four great empires of the world, the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman, are exhibited to us as originating in and directed by the special providence of God. He is expressly said to remove kings, and to set up kings. He destroys nations, and is the author of the means of their destruction. Indeed all his promises to the Jews, all the threatenings to the nations introduced in prophecy, prove the existence of this providence. If this providence does not exist, the predictions of his word concerning nations, lose their authority, because they sink to the level of sage conjectures, and no more..
2. Nations sinning against God are punished in this life.'
They exist as nations only in this life. The judgment to come relates to men per