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tuted, and the best studied and skilled in the tempers and interests of men; the most pragmatical, and cunning to insinuate themselves into the intrigues of courts and great families; and who, by long experience, and an univerfal intelligence, and communicated obfervations, have reduced human affairs, at lealt as they think, to a certain art and method, and to the most it ady rules that luch contingent things are capable of. I believe you all guels beforehand whom I mean, even the honest Jesuits. And yet these men of so much art and skill have met with as many checks and disappointments, as any sort of men ever did : they have been discountenanced by almost all princes and states, and, one time or other, banished out of most of the courts and countries of Europe. And it is no fmall argument of the divine providence, that fo much cunning hath met with fo little countenance and fuccess; and hath been so often so grossly infatuated, and their counsels turned inio foolishness.
But' I promised only to mention these, and to insist upon the second instance in the text, 1 returned, and saw under the sun, that the battle is not to the strong; to the gibborim, the giants, for so the Hebrew word signifies. In which Solomon might possibly have respect to the history of the Israelites subduing the Canaanites, a people of great strength and stature, among whom were the gi.. ants, the Sons of Anak; or, more probably, to the famous encounter of his father David with the great Goliah. But, however that be, the scripture is full of examples to this purpose, that, when the providence of God is pleased to interpose in favour of any side, it becomes victorious ; according to the saying of King Afa in his prayer to God, 2 Chron. xiv. II. It is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with those that have no power.
Sometimes God hath defeated great armies by plain and apparent miracles. Such was the drowning of Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea; and the stars fighting in their courses against Sifera: by which poetical exprelfion I suppose is meant, Sisera's being remarkably defeated by a visible hand from heaven. And such was the destruction of the proud King of Assyria's army by an VOL. II. Cc
angel, who New an hundred and fourscore and five thoufand of them in one night.
Sometimes God does this by more human ways, by striking mighty armies with a panick and unaccountable fear; and sometimes by putting extraordinary spirits and courage into the weaker side, so that an hundred hall chase a thousand, and a thousand shall put ten thoufand to flight.
This made David so frequently to acknowledge the providence of God, especially in the affairs of war : Psal. xxxiii. 16. There is no king saved by the multitude of an hoft, neither is a mighty man delivered by much strength; and again, Psal. xliv. 6. I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. And Solomon confirms the same observation : There is no wisdom, (says he), nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord. The horse is prepared against the day of battle; but Safety (or, as some translations render it, victory) is of the Lord, Prov. xxi. 30. 31. Gideon, by a very odd stratagem, of lamps and pitchers, defeated a very numerous army, only with three hundred men, Jonathan and his armour-bearer, by climbing up a rock, and coming suddenly on the back of the Philistines camp, struck them with such a terror as put their whole army to flight. King Afa, with a much inferior number, defeated that huge Ethiopian army, which consisted of a million. And how was Xerxes's mighty army overthrown almost by a handful of Grecians? And, to come nearer to our selves, how was that formidable fleet of the Spaniards, which they presumptuously called invincible, shattered and broken in pieces, chiefly by the winds and the sea ? So many accidents are there, especially in war, whereby the divine providence doth sometimes interpose, and give victory to the weaker lide.
And this hath been so apparent in all ages, that even the Heathen did always acknowledge, in the affairs of war, a special interposition of fortune; by which the wiser among them did understand the divine providence. Plutarch, speaking of the Romans, fays, that time and fortune, the very same with Solomon's time and chance here in the text, did lay the foundation of their greatefs; by which he ascribes their success to a remarkable
providence of God concurring with several happy opportunities.
And Livy, their great historian, hath this remarkableobservation, That « in all human affairs, especially in “ matters of war, fortune hath a mighty stroke.” And again, “ No where (says he) is the event less answera“ ble to expectation than in war; and thercfore nothing is “ fo fight and inconsiderable, which may not turn the “ scales in a great matter." And Cæfar himself, who was perhaps the most skilful and prosperous warrior that ever was, makes the same acknowledgment : “As in all “ other things, (says he), so particularly in war, for66 tune hath a huge sway." And Plutarch observes, that there was no temple at Rome dedicated to Wisdom or Valour, but a most magnificent and stately one to Fortune ; fignifying hereby, that they did ascribe their success infinitely more to the providence of God, than to their own courage and conduct. I proceed now, in the
II. Second place, to give some reason and account of this, why the providence of God doth sometimes thus interpose to hinder and defeat the most probable designs of men ; to bring men to an acknowledgment of his providence, and of their dependence upon him, and fubordination to him ; and that he is the great governor of the world, and rules. in the kingdoms of men ; and that all the inhabitants of the earth are as nothing to him, and the power of second causes inconsiderable; that be doth according to his will, in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth ; and none may stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou?
God hath so ordered things, in the administration of the affairs of the world, as to encourage the use of means, and yet so as to keep men in a continual dependence upon him for the efficacy and success of them. To encourage industry and prudence, God generally permits things to their natural course, and to fall out according to the power and probability of second
causes, a But then, lest men should cast off religion, and deny
the God that is above; left they fhould trust in their sword and their bow, and fay, The Lord hath not done this:
left men should look upon themselves as the creators and framers of their own fortune ; and, when they do but a little outstrip others in wisdom or power, in the ikill and conduct of human affairs, they should grow proud and presumptuous: God is pleased sometimes nore remarkably to interpose, to hide pride from man, as the expreslion is in Job ; to check the haughtiness and insolence of inens spirits, and to keep them within the bounds of inodesty and humility; to make us to know that we are but men, and that the reins of the world are not in our hands, but that there is one above who fways and governs all things here below.
And indeed if we should suppose, in the first frame of things, which we call nature, an immutable order to be fixed, and all things to go on in a constant course, according to the power and force of second causes, without any interposition of providence to stop or alter that course, upon any occasion; in this case, the foundation of a great part of religion, but especially of prayer to God, would be quite taken away. Upon this fuppofition, it would be the vainest thing in the world, to pray to God for the good success of our undertakings, or to acknowledge bim as the author of it: for if God do onJy look on, and permit all things to proceed in a fettled and etablished course, then, instead of praying to God, we ought to ply the means, and to make the best provifion and preparation we can for the effecting of what we desire; and to rely upon that, without taking God at all into our counsel and consideration. For all application to God by prayer doth evidently suppose, that the providence of God does frequently interpose to over-rule events besides and beyond the natural and ordinary course of things, and to steer them to a quite different point from that to which in human probability they seemed to tend.
So that it is every whit as necessary to religion, to believe the providence of God, and that he governs the world, and does, when he pleafes, interpose in the affairs of it, as that he made it at first. I come now, in the
TII. Third and last place, to make some inferences suitable to the occasion of this day, from what hath
been said upon this argument. And they shall be these.
1. From hence we may learn, not to account religie on, and time spent in the service of God, and in prayer to him for his blessing upon our endeavours, to be any hinderance to our affairs : for, after we have done all we can, the event is still in God's hand, and rests upon the disposal of his providence.
And did men firmly believe this, they would not neglect the duty of prayer, and behave themselves so carelessly, and unconcernedly, and irreverently in it, as we fee too many do ; they would not look upon every hour that is spent in devotion, as lost from their business.
If men would but take a view of what hath happened to them in the course of a long life, I believe most of uswould see reason to acknowledge, that our prosperity and success in any kind hath depended more upon happy opportunities, upon undesigned and unexpected occurrences, than upon our own prudent forecast and conduct.
And if this were well considered by us, we should not methinks be so apt to leave God out of our counsels and undertakings, as if he were a mere name and cypher in the world. It is, I am sure, the advice of one that was much wiser, and more experienced, than any of us will pretend to be, I mean Solomon, Prov. iii. 5.6.7. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own underflanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes : fear the Lord, and depart from evil. There is no principle that ought more firmly to be believed by us than this, that to live under a constant sense and awe of almighty God, to depend upon his providence, and to seek his favour and blessing upon all our defigns; being fearful to offend him, and careful to please him, is a much nearer and surer way to success, than our own best prudence and preparations.
And therefore, at such a time, more especially, when we are going to war, or engaged in it, we should break off our fins, by repentance; and the sincere resolution of a better course; we should earnestly implore the blessing of God upon our undertakings; and not only take great care that our cause be just, but likewise that there be no Cc 3