Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

of the Corsican and multiply his successes, as the slavish fear of him which has seized the minds of men, growing out of an admiration of his boldness in enterprise on some occasions, and his hair-breadth escapes on others, which have raised in the many an opinion that he possesses such abilities, both in council and in the field, as render him an overmatch for all the statesmen and all the warriors of Europe, insomuch that nothing can stand before him ; whereas, in truth, it were easy to find causes of his extraordinary success in the political principles of the times in which he first arose, independent of any uncommon talents of his own, principally in the revolutionary frenzy, the spirit of treason and revolt, which prevailed in the countries that were the first prey of his unprincipled ambition. But, were this not the case, yet were it impious to ascribe such a man's successes to himself. It has been the will of God to set up over the kingdom“ the basest of men,” in order to chastise the profaneness, the irreligion, the lukewarmness, the profligacy, the turbulent seditious spirit of the times; and when this purpose is effected, and the wrath of God appeased, “wherein is this man to be accounted of, whose breath is in his nostrils ? "

It is a gross perversion of the doctrine of Providence, when any argument is drawn from it for the indifference of all human actions in the sight of God, and the insignificance of all human efforts. Since every thing is settled by Providence according to God's own will, to what avail, it is said, is the interference of man? At the commencement of the disordered state which still subsists in Europe, when apprehensions were expressed by many (apprehensions which are still entertained by those who first expressed them) that the great Antichrist is likely to arise out of the French Revolution, it was argued by them who were friends to the cause of France, -"To what purpose is it, then, upon your own principles, to resist the French ? Antichrist is to arise, – he is to prevail,

he is to prevail, — he is to exercise a wide dominion ; and what human opposition can set aside the fixed designs of Providence ?" Strange to tell, this argument took with many who were no friends to the French cause, so far at least as to make them averse to the war with France. The fallacy of the argument lies in this, that it considers Providence by halves; it considers Providence as ordaining an end and effecting it without the use or the appointment at least of means : whereas the true notion of Providence is, that God ordains the means with the end ; and the means which he employs are, for the most part, natural causes; and among them he makes men, acting without any knowledge of his secret will, from their own views as free agents, the instruments of his purpose. In the case of Antichrist, in particular, prophecy is explicit. So clearly as it is foretold that he shall rise, so clearly is it foretold that he shall fall : so clearly as it is foretold that he shall raise himself to power by successful war, so clearly it is foretold that war, - fierce and furious war, waged upon him by the faithful, - shall be in part the means of his downfall. So false is all the despicable cant of puritans about the unlawfulness of war. And with respect to the present crisis, if the will of God should be, that for the punishment of our sins the enemy should prevail against us, we must humble ourselves under the dreadful visitation : but if, as we hope and trust, it is the will of God that the vile Corsican shall never set his foot upon our shores, the loyalty and

.

valour of the country are, we trust, the appointed means of his exclusion. “Be of good courage, then, and play the men for your people ; and the Lord do that which seemeth him good.”

It is particularly necessary at this season that I should warn you against another gross and dangerous perversion of the doctrine of Providence; which is misconceived and abused when we impute any successes with which we may be blessed, to any merit of our own engaging on our side that will of God by which the universe is governed. If we are successful in our contest with a tyrant who has surpassed in crime all former examples of depravity in an exalted station, we owe it not to ourselves, but to God's unmerited mercy.

Nor are we to ascribe it to any pre-eminent righteousness of this nation, in comparison with others, if we have suffered less and prospered more than others engaged in the same quarrel. This country, since the beginning of Europe's troubles to the present day, has certainly been favoured beyond other nations; and at this very crisis, — at the moment when the armies of our continental ally were flying before those of the common enemy, — in that very moment the combined fleets of France and Spain, which were to have lowered the British flag, to have wrested from us our ancient sovereignty of the ocean, and to have extinguished our commerce in all its branches, — this pround naval armament, encountered by a far inferior force of British ships, a force inferior in every thing but the intrepidity of our seamen and the skill of their leaders, — was dashed to pieces, at the mouth of its own harbour, by the cannon of that great commander whose grave is strewed with laurels and bedewed with his country's tears. But let not this inspire the vain thought, that, because we are righteous above all the nations of Europe, our lot has therefore been happier than theirs. It has been ruled by the highest authority, that they are not always the greatest sinners on whom the greatest evils fall : the converse follows most undeniably, that those nations are not always the most righteous who in peace are the most flourishing and in war the most successful. Let us give, therefore, the whole glory to God. In the hour of defeat let us say, “Why should man complain? man, for the punishment of his sins ? ' In the hour of victory, “Let us not be high-minded, but fear.”

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come

to his temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in : behold He shall come, saith

the Lord of Hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming ? and who

shall stand when he appeareth ?

For the general meaning of this passage, all expositors, both Jewish and Christian, agree, and must indeed agree, in one interpretation ; for the words are too perspicuous to need elucidation or to admit dispute. The event announced is the appearance of that Great Deliverer who had for many ages been the hope of Israel, and was to be a blessing to all families of the earth. Concerning this Desire of Nations, this seed of the woman who was to crush the serpent's head, Malachi in the text delivers no new prediction ; but, by an earnest asseveration, uttered in the name, and, as it were, in the person, of the Deity, he means to confirm that general expectation which his predecessors in the prophetical office had excited. « Behold He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.Saith the Lord of Hosts. This was a solemn form of words with all the Jewish prophets ;

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »