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bled before his superior power, “Fear not; as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it for good.” The same providence which miraculously rescued the patriarch Isaac from the arm that was raised to slay him on the altar, is represented as directing all the little incidents of his domestic life, and securing for him, with a beautiful simplicity and naturalness, the love and kind offices of his bosom companion. The same God, who led forth the children of Israel through the waters of the Red Sea, under the conduct of his servant Moses, protected the life of this Moses from early danger, and directed all those events which make up the affecting story of his infancy. It was he that led out the daughter of Pharaoh, by the river's side, to the very spot where the little ark, that enclosed the future hero, lay exposed among the flags, and touched her heart with compassion, as she opened it and saw the child, and behold the babe wept.
The prophecies of the Bible have often required, in their fulfilment, a divine control of the most natural and ordinary transactions. It was, long before the time, predicted that the birth of Messiah should be in Bethlehem of Judah ; but it was the levy of a general tax by a Roman governor, that brought the parents of Jesus, from a distant place, to their own city, Bethlehem, at the time the promised child was to be born. Jesus himself foretold the absolute destruction of Jerusalem ; but it was the obstinacy and rashness of its inhabitants, that provoked the besiegers to fulfil, to a letter, his prediction, and
raze the walls, till one stone was not left upon another that was not thrown down.
But the express declarations of the Bible are, moreover, strong and decided. We are directly told, that “in God we live and move and have our being." "The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings.” Every thing, however insignificant, is an object of divine regard. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father, but the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” " It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” “The heart of man deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps."
It is, therefore, no idle superstition that proclaimeth the constant, particular, and universal providence of God. It is plainly taught by reason, by the nat
. ural feelings of man, and by the express as well as the implicit language of the Bible. God is continually around us. " He kuoweth our downsitting and our uprising.” “In his hand our breath is, and his are all our ways. We cannot stand before hiin, but he upholdeth us. We cannot pronounce a word, but he giveth us utterance. We cannot even sin against him, but the power to do it is derived from him. When we distrust him most, he is even then sustaining our limbs and cherishing our life. It is only the misinterpretation of his providence that has ever exposed it to derision. It is only the pride and unbelief of the heart that refuses to confide in it. Away, then, with that infidelity which banishes God from the world which he has made, and leaves him but a distant, cold, bstract Being, regardless of the work of his hands. Away with that presumption that seizes on the gift and rejects the giver. Away with that weak-minded, cowardly, repining distrust, that fears to confide all to his care. Christian ! may you never despond. When you feel yourself in darkness and loneliness, still remember that your Father is there. When you are embarrassed and opposed, forget not that the hearts of all are in his hand.
When you are cast down, remember that you are not forsaken; still look up with cheerfulness, and behold your God, for he is nigh. “Cast all your care upon him;
; for he careth for you." "Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God.” "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”
PSALM CXIX. 96.
THY COMMANDMENT IS EXCEEDING BROAD.
This is the language of one who has long been conversant with the character and condition of mankind, and with the secret workings of his own heart. It is the language of observation and experience. The psalm which contains it was probably written by David, in his advanced age; and is the longest, and the most artificial in its structure, of any of his lyrical productions. It seems to be a calm, deliberate compilation of wise remarks and pious sentiments, which from time to time had occurred to the mind of its author, during a long course of varied and most trying events.
It was apparently desinged to refresh his recollections of the dispensations of Providence, to indulge his devout affections, to establish his faith in the wise and righteous government of God, to stamp the seal of worthlessness on all the follies and vanities of this world, and to impress more deeply on his own mind, as well as to inculcate on others, the paramount importance of the truths of religion.
The history of the psalmist was full of instruction to himself. No man had ever experienced a greater variety of fortune ; none had ever made a fairer experiment of the pleasures and powers of human life. From a retired, obscure shepherd boy, quietly leading his flocks along the hills and the valleys of Bethlehem, he had become the powerful and illustrious king of Israel, boldly conducting his armies, through incessant conflicts, to victory and renown. The shepherd's staff had become a sceptre in his hand. The shepherd's reed, which once solaced his lonely hours in the field, and threw away its faint music on the brooks and the trees, was exchanged for a harp that resounded through the nation, and sent out its sweet, stirring notes, in songs that still instruct and comfort and delight the pious in every land. But he had risen to this elevation, and sustained himself upon it, through a series of hardships and disasters. His own life was a striking exemplification of the fact, which the contemplative observer has often noticed, that those whom God designs to make eminently useful, he usually afflicts with uncommon severity. David had seen and felt that this world in all its fulness, as well as in narrow penury, is utterly inadequate to satisfy the immortal, all-grasping, aspiring mind of man. He had seen, also, in his intercourse with his fellow-men, and in the watchful care which he exercised over his own soul, that human nature itself, even in its best specimens, is a disordered, defective, unsatisfying thing. He