« AnteriorContinua »
circumstances have a gracious origin and a beneficent design. It is the same kind providence, that permits the sparrow to fall, nay, that bears it to the ground, which sustained it on its flight, and guarded it in its nest. No one, I repeat, can doubt that the original design and the general operation of providence harmonize with the happiness of society and of the individual ; for enough is seen, both of the one and of the other, to satisfy all but those, who will not be convinced while there is a cloud in the sky.
That in every act the divine providence seeks the good of the creation, will not be a difficult doctrine for him to receive, who has studied the history of man, even within a narrow sphere of observation, and has noticed how apparent evil may finally display benevolence, how suffering may become the spring of blessing, and by what wonderful results God illustrates this law of his government-that by the temporary inconvenience of one a number shall obtain permanent benefit. If any one is disposed to go still farther, and contend that each event, however painful or mysterious, is particularly suited to advance the good of him who is immediately affected by it, I would not attempt to dissuade him from his faith. For I am much inclined to believe, that every circumstance of life is adapted to the peculiar condition of the individual, and constitutes, in itself and together with his other circumstances, the discipline which he most needs. Of this, however, we may be confident, that all things are meant to work together for good' to the child of God. Without such a belief we shall be sadly perplexed; with it we shall be at least patient.
• One adequate support
6. Finally, whatever be our faith, or our doubts respecting other questions involved in this subject, we may not forget that the effect of the divine providence will always be salutary, if we properly use it.
This is the last principle, which I bring into view, but it is the most important, for it is the most practical. God has given us this power over the events of life, that we may make them the occasions either of pain or pleasure, of felicity or of wretchedness. What we call misfortunes, we may convert into a source of endless good. By patient fortitude, by humble industry, by devout acqu)escence, we may draw from calamity the sweetest satisfaction. Here we find, if we cannot elsewhere, the solution of all that is mysterious in the providence of God. We may determine the influence, which circumstances shall have on our characters, and through this means, on our condition. Yes; on our condition, here and hereafter. What a privilege is this; what a responsibleness does it throw on us. Be faithful then, children of God, and turn disappointment into the spring of unfailing peace.
To the poor
Having commemorated the love, let us employ a ew moments in recollecting some of the instances wherein the gracious goodness, the dignified condecension of the Saviour, were eminently conspicuous. We behold him, then, at the outset of his ministry, going about all Gallilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And when his fame had gone throughout all Syria, we see him surrounded by multitudes of miserable objects, refusing to none the benefit of his healing powers—dismissing them healthful, grateful, and joyful. paralytic, the eagerness of whose friend, to lay him before Jesus, in the midst of a crowd, must have occasioned much inconvenience and confusion, he mildly said, 'Son, be of good cheer—thy sins are forgiven thee-arise, take up thy bed and go unto thine house. To the woman who had obtained a cure, by touching the hem of his garment, and trembled for the consequences of a discovery, he said, “ Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee wholego in peace. He had compassion on the multitude, who continued with him three days without food; and although he knew that they had attended him from improper motives, yet being far from their homes, and in danger of fainting by the way, he made that miraculous provision for the supply of their wants, which we never find him doing for his own. The lit
tle children whom their fond parents brought to him that he should lay his hands on them, and pray,
he took in his arms and blessed; rebuking, with great displeasure, his disciples who would have forbidden them. When the miserable leper addressed him with, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean,'—and in the humblest posture of a supplicant-Jesus, moved with compassion, instantly put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, ' I will; be thou clean.'
How powerfully was his sensibility excited, when he met at the gate of Nain, the mourning widow, conveying to the grave her last remaining comfort, the staff of her age, the relief of her poverty.
. When the Lord saw her, he waited not for intreaty, but had compassion on her, and said unto her, 'weep not.' With what divine authority did he pronounce the words, Young man, I say unto thee, arise ;' with what generous and benign complacency, deliver him to the embraces of his transported parent! When the poor woman, who had been for eighteen years so bound as to be unable to lift up herself, was waiting, probably in silent and humble expectation of being noticed by him, he called her to him, and said, 'Woman, (daughter of Abraham) thou art loosed from thine infirmity.' He wept with the mourners at the grave of Lazarus, although assured that the Father had heard his prayer for restoring to them their friend and broth
At the table of Simon, the Pharisee, which shall we most admire, the dignity and energy with which he rebuked the murmurs of the insidious host and his guests, or the condescending grace and mildness with which he dismissed the humble penitent, whose con
trite heart had so affectingly supplied the purposed omission of the attentions required by the rules of hospitality-Thy many sins are forgiven thee; thy faith hath saved thee ; go in peace.”?
Who can, unmoved, hear him bewail the doom of that guilty city, to which he had given repeated proofs of his affectionate regard, but which had set at nought all his counsel, and where he knew that at that very moment, plots were forming against his life ? Did ever humility appear so highly exalted, as when he, who knew that the Father had given all things into his hands, that he was come from God and went to God, washed the feet of his disciples, telling them that as he, their Lord and Master, had done unto them, so ought they to do to each other. When, before the tribunal of the high priest, he stood within hearing, while that disciple, who had declared that though all should forsake him yet would not he, denied him with oaths and curses, he rebuked him only with a look, but with a look that pierced him to the soul. With what gentleness and delicacy did he remind him of his fault, and in reminding, gave him renewed proofs of forgiveness and confidence.
Such were the words of him who spake as never man spake, and such the works of him who performed what no man ever did, and such the Master whom we have owned for ours. Shall we not glory in our pro-. fession? Shall we not strive to copy an example so illustrious ? It is not indeed in our power to confer benefits such as he did, but by closely contemplating the temper, the spirit and the manner which prompted and accompanied them, we may add a grace to, and