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PROVIDENCE OF GOD,
VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF
Just are the ways of God,
SOLD AT 66, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
Of late years,
The providence of God is one of the most promi. nent subjects of Holy Scripture, pervading almost every page of the sacred volume; and the manner in which it is there treated renders it a powerful restraint upon sin, an incentive to piety and virtue, and a source of encouragement to good men. years have passed away since a practical treatise on this subject, adapted to general use as a family book, has been published in England. indeed, several elaborate works have appeared, in which it is discussed as a question of natural theology, their argumentation being based upon philosophy rather than the written word of God.
The most remarkable work on this great subject, that has yet appeared in the English language, is the “Apology or Declaration of the Power and Provi. dence of God in the Government of the World. By George Hakewill, D.D., Archdeacon of Surrey." It is an ample folio volume, which was published in the early part of the seventeenth century, and passed through various editions during the author's lifetime. Its object is to disprove the opinion, which was then extensively prevalent, that all created nature is in a state of decay; so that the heavenly bodies are less brilliant, the earth less fruitful, vegetation less luxuriant, brute creatures less powerful, and mankind less vigorous both in body and mind, than they were in the early ages of the world. In the support of his views the learned author has accumulated a surprising mass of information, gathered from every quarter, both ancient and modern, and has displayed an amount of accurate reading which excites wonder in this age of restless activity, when the theological scholar is almost daily forced out of his study, to take part in the management of public charities, and in the stir of active life. Hakewill's days and nights must have been mostly spent in literary research. Like Elihu, he “fetched his knowledge from afar.”
Towards the close of the same century four good and useful works on the providence of God issued from the English press,—the productions of Flavel, T[homas] C[rane], Charnock, and Sherlock. Flavel's volume, which is tender and devout, and abounds with anecdote, has been often reprinted. That of Thomas Crane is entitled, "A Prospect of Providence.” It is homely as a literary composition, minute in its details, and pious in its tendency. An extract from it was inserted by Mr. Wesley in his “Christian Library,” a compilation containing what he regarded as "the choicest pieces of practical divinity in the English tongue.” Crane was associated with Mr. Richard Alleine, as a fellow-labourer in the Gospel, and was one of the ejected ministers. Charnock's “Discourse on Divine Providence” is a posthumous publication, but well sustains the high theological character of the author, who died comparatively young. Dr. Sherlock's “ Discourse on the same subject is more argumentative and less practical than the other three. It was intended to be an antidote to the scepticism and infidelity which had then infected the higher ranks of society in England. Since these volumes appeared, many sermons and essays on Divine providence have been published, exhibiting various degrees of merit and usefulness.
In the volume now before the reader the author has aimed at a simple display of the teaching of Holy Scripture on this momentous question. The sacred writers often speak of God's "testimony; and in this light it is apprehended the entire Bible is to be regarded. It is God's “testimony” as to His being and perfections, the creation of the universe, the angelic world, His providential care and government, the ruin of mankind by sin, their redemption by the death of His incarnate Son, the nature and method of salvation, the duty of mankind in all the relations of life, and a future state of rewards and punishments. His “testimonies" on these and other subjects are recommended to the belief and practical attention of mankind by such evidence as is every way sufficient and decisive,—the evidence, especially, of prophecy and of miracles; and if men refuse to believe what their Maker has “testified” and authenticated, they must answer for their incredulity before His judgment-seat, where the secret workings of every heart will be brought to light, and the causes of infidelity, as well as of every other evil, will be fully detected. “Revelation was written for our instruction; and are we too wise