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and organizing an empire, was never yet conceived to be a so much more arduous task, than the proper administration of government in it, as that, after the former was accomplished, the latter might be safely committed to feebler hands. If the Godhead be alone competent to institute a world and give it form ; then may we suppose it wisely reg. ulated and put to use, only when it is under the supreme management of him who made it. Though, in cases among ourselves, the making of laws and the execution of them should be confided to different hands, the latter would, no doubt, be found as diffi: cult and perplexing a service as the former. We as naturally look up to a divine disposer to keep our affairs in a desirable train, as ori. ginally to put us in possession of interests that are worth preserving.
Creation is bust a nuisance, or a mere nullity, if it continue not under the management of wisdom, power, and goodness, equal, at least, to those that were concerned in giving it being. If the making of a world is God's work, then is the government of it also. How much this will be supposed to comprehend, the following particulars will serve to show..
1. It is a divine prerogative, not only to prolong the existence of creatures, but also to provide effectually for their safety, and well being. At the same time that men have pretty universally conceded to some celese tial power the honour of having called them into being; they have felt. themselves cons
strained to own their dependence on the same, or a similar, power, for their prosperity and happiness. Ancient pagans, whatev. er names, or other absurd offices, they might assign to their gods, yet considered them as particularly attentive to the welfare of their own worshippers. Upon this principle, Darius, though he had no faith in Daniel's God, as the only being possessed of real divinity, endeavoured to comfort the prophet, when thrown into the den of lions, by animating his hopes of surviving the dangers of that condition. “Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God, whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee." not to construe these words of the king as meaning, that there was no god but the God of Daniel ; but that he would, as far as he was able, interpose in favour of so faithful a servant, and so devout a worshipper. That he might still, possibly not be able to accom. plish the salvation of his votary, seems to have been a thought that continued to lurk in the bosom of the king. Therefore, in the morning, when he came to the den to inquire the fate of Daniel, “ he spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions ?”! Even idolaters have not been backward to trace their happiness to the influence of the gods they serve. A proof of this we have in the people's answer to Jeremiah in the following words : “ As for the word that
thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem : for then had we plenty of victuals, an dwere will, and saw no evil." And if. the gods, which have not made these heavens and this earth, have, by their stupid worshippers, been adored as bountiful, as ministering good to men ; how readily will the christian, enlightened and affected by the gospel, confess, that “ every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning ?” Such, in the use of other words of inspiration, will say, “ All our springs are in thee.”
' That men are the charge of Deity, and that it is his province to do them good, is a thought which very naturally enters into the mind of man. It will, therefore, be found under all degrees of improvement in reli. gious knowledge. But though it be a clear case, that all benefactions are ultimately from God, and, as our Saviour has expressed it, that “none is good, save one, that is God;' yet the subject may require a still further di. vision, that we may see what particular modes of doing good to creatures are pecu. liar to the Godhead. And
1. Providing them with food and raiment, is a divine prerogative, a work, which eminently belongs to the Deity. The Apostle mentions, as a witness for God among all nations, those administrations of Providence, which throw plenty of worldly substance into the hands of men for their subsistence. “Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons; filling our hearts with food and gladness.” ment against confiding in heathen deities, or allowing them to have any participation in the Godhead, and in favor of trusting in Jehovah alone as being sole proprietor and controler of the universe, is the total inability of idols to supply rain and its consequent blessings to such as wait upon them. “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain ? or can the heavens give showers ? Art not thou he, O Lord our God? therefore we will wait upon thee; for thou hast made all these things.” In providing
. sustenance and bodily comforts for man, it is the divine prerogative to impart understanding to the tiller of the ground, to give a due temperature to the soil and the atmosphere, and regularity to the season, and, by an immediate energy, to direct all the combined causes, until the effect is produced. Accordingly we read in Isaiah xxviii. 24, 26. “ Doth the plow-man plow all day to sow ? Doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face
thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat, and the appointed barley, and the rye in their place ? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him." Another branch of Providence, in relation to the same end, is described in the following words; “ Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it :--thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.”
2. It is the prerogative of Deity to strengthen men in their enterprizes and pursuits, and to endow them with courage and ability to surmount obstacles, so as to win the point aimed at. " Blessed be the Lord my strength,' says the Psalmist," which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight.”
And te Cyrus the word of the Lord is, “I girded thee whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him," &c. That the heathen do trust in their gods to strengthen and support them in scenes of danger, and when engaged in an arduous conflict, appears from 1 Kings, XX. 23.
66 And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills, therefore they were stronger than we ; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stonger than they.” When Jehovah triumphed over the gods of Egypt, it was by destroying the people who had relied on thein for help.“ Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing where. in they dealt proudly he was above them.”