« PreviousContinue »
and futility of all its former hopes. Now it sees how erroneous were its views of sin, and its conceptions of true religion. Now it sees that the representations which God had given in his word were true. The self-deceiver now can no longer doubt to what an end his former ways were leading, or whither they will come who follow the paths he trod. To indulge a wish for another period of probation, or even for the smallest mitigation of his misery, now were vain. Gladly would he go back for a moment to the world he has left, to warn his surviving friends, lest they also come into the same place of torment: but that cannot be admitted. The sacred volume is given them for their guide; and if they will follow their own delusions in preference to it, they must abide the consequences. Now despair and anguish seize hold upon him; and he is delivered up a prey to all those horrors, which once he ridiculed as idle tales.
Would we avoid this awful end, let us turn from the paths that lead to it. Let us remember, that the assertions of men, however confident, are of no value, any further than they are founded on the word of God. Let not their light thoughts of sin lead us to tamper with it, or to doubt its issue. Let not their excuses for rejecting Christ prevail on us to neglect his great salvation. Rather, let us embrace him, and glory in him, and cleave to him with full purpose of heart. Let not their standard of religion be ours : let us go “ unto the word and to the testimony:" let us see how Christ and his Apostles walked: and though we be ridiculed as precise and righteous over-much, let us persevere in following the path of duty. Let us“ stand," as the prophet speaks,“ and ask for the good old way, and walk therein." Let us seek instruction wherever we can find it: and let us remember, that the broad and frequented path is, according to our Lord's express declaration, a way that leadeth to destruction; but that the path to life is narrow, difficult, and unfrequented; for “ few there be that find it.” In short, let us look forward to the end of our journey. At that we shall soon arrive; and then it will be of no consequence whether we have been honoured for keeping the world in countenance, or despised for putting them to shame. The only thing that will then be of any consequence, will be, whether we be approved of our God. Let this end then be kept in view : let us regulate our ways in reference to it: and let us both by precept and example endeavour to undeceive the world around us. Then shall we be blessings to the generation in which we live, and shall attain that glory which ought to be the one object of our constant pursuit.
DCCXCV. GOD IS THE DISPOSER OF ALL EVENTS. Prov. xvi. 33. The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole dis
posing thereof is of the Lord. THOUGH we would not be unnecessarily fastidious in condemning the use of any particular term, where we knew that in its popular sense it was not very exceptionable, yet we cannot altogether approve the use of such terms as “luck,' and chance, and 'fortune :' for though we know, that the persons who adopt those kind of expressions do not intend to deny the doctrine of a superintending Divine Providence, yet we cannot but think that such language tends exceedingly to weaken a sense of God's Providence upon the soul, inasmuch as it excludes his agency from the affairs of men, and regards them as left to mere and absolute contingency. With the Scriptures in our hands, we are perfectly assured, that all things, however casual or contingent with respect to man, are under the controul of a Superintending Providence; or, as it is said in our text, that, “when a lot is cast into the lap, the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord.”
In confirmation of this truth, we shall shew, I. That God is the disposer of all events
Events, of whatever kind they be, are equally under the direction of Almighty God. He disposes of,
1. The things which are most dependent on human agency
[In the government of kingdoms all the powers of the human mind are called forth and concentrated: but the time for their commencement and continuance is altogether under the direction of a superior powera. The success of all human plans, whether relating to military enterprises, or commercial speculations, or agricultural pursuits", or matters of inferior moment and of daily occurrence e, depends entirely on him
--- It was he who directed to Ahab's heart the bow drawn at a venture, and to Goliath's forehead the stone out of David's sling. In a word, he “ worketh all things after the counsel of his own will?;” and “his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.”
2. The things that are most independent of human agency,
[Nothing has less dependence on human skill or foresight than a lot. As far as respects the determining of that, an idiot is on a par with the wisest man in the universe. But it is entirely at God's disposal; as all who acknowledge the existence of a Deity have confessed, by resorting to it on emergencies which nothing else could determine. Saul, and all the people of Israel, resorted to it, in order to learn from God who it was that had displeased him; and again, to determine the same matter between Saul and Jonathan his son". In like manner the Apostles had recourse to it, in order to know whom God willed to be the successor of Judas in the Apostolic office i Even the heathens themselves had a persuasion, that, when matters were solemnly referred to Him in a way of lot, he would make known to them the point which they wished to ascertaink. But as in these instances the event, though supposed to have been directed of God, might have been casual, since the chances against it were not very great, we will adduce one, which marks beyond all possibility of doubt the Divine interposition; since, in the language of chances, it was above a million to one that the lot did not fall on the person to whom God infallibly directed it? Here is a striking illustration of that passage, “ Evil shall hunt the wicked man to overthrow himm” The hounds see not their prey in the first instance, but trace it by its scent, and follow it with certainty in all its turnings, till at last they come in sight of it, and overtake it,
and destroy it. So it was in regard to this pursuit of the man who had troubled the camp of Israel: the lot fell on the right tribe, then on the right family of that tribe, then on the right household, and lastly on the right individual in that household :—and to every human being it speaks in this awful language, “ Be sure your sin will find you out."]
That we may see how important a truth this is in a practical view, we shall proceed to shew, II. That in this character he is constantly to be re
garded by usHis hand and his will we should trace, 1. In every thing that is past,
[Have we been loaded with benefits? they must be received as from Him, “ from whom cometh every good and perfect gift.” It matters nothing whether our blessings came to us by inheritance, or were the fruit of our own industry: to God, and to God alone, must they be referred, as their proper source". Have we, on the other hand, been visited with afflictions? We should know, that “they did not spring out of the ground,” but proceeded from his gracious hand; since “there is no evil in the city, but the Lord himself hath done it.” Thus Job viewed all his diversified trials: he overlooked the second causes, and fixed his eyes on God alone : “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.”
Now in all this we see the great importance of tracing every thing to the Lord; for by our blessings we are inflamed to gratitude, and by our troubles are softened to submission.] 2. In every thing that is future
[If nothing can occur without his special appointment, how safely may we commit to him our every concern; and how confidently may we expect a happy issue of every occurrence ! Can we do better than leave ourselves at his disposal ? Were it possible that he should err, or that, having devised any thing, he should be unable to accomplish it; or that, having begun to accomplish it, he should, through versatility, change his purpose, and alter his dispensations; we might then not feel so well satisfied with having every thing subject to his disposal: but when infinite wisdom and goodness concur to direct all our concerns, and infinite power also engages to overrule every thing for our good, we may well dismiss every fear, saying with the Apostle, “I know whom I have believed, and that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him.” We may be as composed as Hezekiah was when surrounded by Senna
0 1 Chron. xxix. 14.
cherib's army', or as Elisha, when surrounded by the army of the king of Syriap. “Having God for us," we may rest assured, that "none can effectually be against us."] Let us see from hence, 1. The excellency of faith
[This is the principle which, far beyond any other, honours and glorifies God. By faith we are prepared to receive every thing as from him, and to say, “ It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.” Mere reason, though it may acknowledge these truths, can never enable us to realize them: but “by faith we see Him that is invisible;" and learn to acknowledge him, as much " in the falling of a sparrow," as in the ruin of an empire. Seek then this blessed principle; yea, seek it in its highest and noblest exercises, that “ being strong in faith, you may give glory to God.”] 2. The blessedness of the true Believer
[Whatever confederacies may be against you, it is your privilege to know, that “no weapon that has been formed against you can prosper." God has said, that “all things shall work together for your good :" and they shall do so, however much you may be at a loss to conceive in what way the good shall be elicited. Only take care that “ Christ is yours;" and then you may be sure that all things else are yours 9. If Christ is yours, all the perfections of God are so far yours, that they shall all be exercised for your good. Having - Christ for your sanctuary," you shall be inaccessible to the fiery darts of Satan: and having “ your life hid with Christ in God, you shall, at his second coming, assuredly appear with him in glory"."]
• 2 Chron. xxxii. 7, 8. P. 2 Kings vi. 16, 17.
Col. iii. 3, 4.
DCCXCVI. THE NAME OF THE LORD A STRONG TOWER. Prov. xviii. 10. The name of the Lord is a strong tower : the
righteous runneth into it, and is safe. IN the Proverbs of Solomon we must not expect to find long and accurate statements of Divine truth, nor elevated strains of devotion founded upon it: the scope of the book is rather by brief sentences to fix upon the mind truths already acknowledged, and to shew the excellency of them in their effects. The passage before us is very instructive in this view, namely, as illustrating the blessedness attendant on