« PreviousContinue »
authority of God? It is unquestionably his peroga. tive; he has a right to do what he will with his own. “ I have made the earth, the man and the beast that “are upon the ground, by my great power and by
my out-stretched arm, and have given it unto whom " it seemeth meet unto me.”
Do we consider it in connection with the divine power? Nothing is too hard for the Lord; no difficulties lie in his way; he moves, and vallies rise and mountains become a plain ; “all nations before him “ are as nothing, and are counted to him less than “ nothing and vanity.” “ When he giveth quietness, " then who can make trouble ? and when he hideth « his face, then who can behold him? whether it be “ done against a nation or against a man only.”
Do we survey the relation it has to the righteousness of God ? He is the moral governor of the universe, “ who renders to every man according to their “ works.” Individuals can be rewarded or punished in another world; but communities are judged only in this. Here he deals with them in a way of retri. bution, and in none of his proceedings is he arbitrary; there is always a cause. “Righteousness exalteth “a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people.” “ O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this pot“ter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the
potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, 0 house of “ Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a “nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and “ to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation
against whom I have pronounced, TURN FROM “ THEIR evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought
Ꭰ Ꭰ d
“ to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak “ concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to “ build and to plant it; if IT DO Evil in my sight, “ that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them.”
Do we think of it in application to our own times ? We should remember that it has nothing in it peculiar or uncommon; that persons in former ages are to be viewed as fair specimens of human nature in general, and the dealings of divine Providence with them as holding forth the unchangeable nature and perfections of God; that “he is the governor among
the “nations” now, as much as in the days of Ezekiel ; and that were a history of modern events to be written by inspiration, we should find him “working all
things after the counsel of his own will,” and read: it recorded, that “ Out of him came forth the corner, “out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out u of him every oppressor together.”
And my brethren, this is precisely the view we should endeavour to take of these changes. A Christian should be wiser than other men, and where they can only find instțuments, he should recognise a divine agency; where they only see a creature, he should acknowledge a God, “ of whom, and through whom,
“and to whom are all things.” When we view this Jsovereign Cause of all events, the face of the universe
is changed; the earth instantly becomes a place of equity and order : the history of the world is the history of God, and is worth reading. Unless we fix upon this principle, we shall be in danger of debasing ourselves by joining in worldly parties and political
rage ; of feeling too much confidence in one class of men, and too much fear of another ; of prescribing the course of events, and suffering disappointment and mortification when our favorite measures are subverted. We have seen how strangely unanswerable to any human expectation various occurrences have proved; how little comparatively there is in the various modifications of civil policy deserving the anxiety of a Christian ; how much under all forms of government the passions of men remain the same.
A higher remedy is necessary, and it is to be found in the Gospel only; and by their favourable bearings on the diffusion of this blessing, it becomes us principally to estimate all public revolutions. This is the end God has ultimately in view, and he is able to accomplish it. He is “ wonderful in counsel, and excellent in work. . ing." He is doing all things, and he is “ doing all is things well.” Let us not make our ignorance the standard of his perfection. He will deduce order from confusion, and good from evil. “ He stilleth “the raging of the sea, and the tumult of the people.” • The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the " multitude of the isles be glad thereof.” Surely, O Lord, the wrath “of man shall praise thee, the re“ mainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” Which leads us to observe,
SERVE HIM BY DESIGN.
II. THAT MEN MAY SERVE GOD REALLY, WHEN
Nebuchad. rezzar and his army, says God, “wrought for me.” “ O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in “ their hand is mine indignation. I will send him
against an hypocritical nation, and against the peo. ple of my wrath will I give him a charge to take the
spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down “ like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he MEANETH " not so, neither doth his heart THINK SO; but it is in “ his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.” The men obeyed their commanders ; their command. ers obeyed Nebuchadrezzar; Nebuchadrezzar obeyed his pride, ambition, avarice, revenge; and his pride, ambition, avarice, and revenge obeyed the will of Heaven. He knew nothing of God; but God knew him, and “girded and guided him.” He had one end in view, and God another ; but in taking a wicked city, he was fulfilling the word of truth, and inflicting the judgments of heaven; therefore says God, “he wrought for me." And what do we learn from hence, but that great men, bad men, the worst of men, while pursuing their enterprises, are subject to a divine controul; are impelled in a prescribed direction; are directed to a destined mark? What a strange scene was here ; the king of Babylon and his hosts arming at the divine call, and marching forth to subdue countries, to plunder provinces, to demolish cities, and in all this doing God service! But God can turn things from their natural tendency into opposite channels; he can make men act necessarily, while they are acting voluntarily; he can bind them while they feel not their chains, but even boast of their liberty.
He has many designs to accomplish, and he suits his instruments to their work. Some of his purposes are dreadful, and he can make execution. ers of those who are unqualified to wait in his royal
Some of them are preparatory; and he may use in removing the rubbish, those who could not be employed in the erection of the fair edifice.
And thus Nebuchadrezzar is called the servant of God, as well as the apostle Paul ; but observe the difference between them, and as God will derive glory from all his creatures, inquire which of these characters you are resembling. The former serves God only from the influence of an overruling Providence ; the latter from the operation of divine Grace. “ hold he prayeth ;" his language is, ' “ Lord, what “ wilt thou have me to do ?” He catches the spirit of his Master ; enters cheerfully into all his views ; doth his will “ from the heart." And so it is with all his sincere followers. Whatever they once were, they are made willing in the day of his power ; their minds are enlightened, their dispositions are renewed; they glorify him from conviction and principle ; it is their aim ; the delight of their souls, and the business of their lives. “O Lord, other Lords beside thee liave “ had dominion over us ; henceforth by thee only « will we make mention of thy name. Speak, Lord, “ for thy servant heareth. I hold myself at thy dispo" sal ; prescribe the laws which are to govern nie ; “choose my inheritance for me.”
Such is their language ; and never will they have cause to repent of their engagements.
They have chosen that good part which shall not be taken from them : in life and in death ; in time and in eternity, they will have reason to say, “ Thou hast dealt well ļ with thy servant, O Lord,” For,