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to the conscious ardor of a purified heart to rise ever upwards, in inward life and feeling, more and more towards God. Next to its power of drawing eternal things into full, overshadowing vision by the soul, and making the great invisibilities of eternity clear and palpable to the inward sight of faith, before which angels stand, eye to eye, gazing with undiminished wonder and joy forever, is its power of revealing God to the awakened and adoring heart of the believer, as present in the actual world around and within him,- present, indeed, as a Creator and Administrator of his universal affairs, but much more also, as a Father and a Friend, - executing great, ever-varied and ever-unfolding plans of love for his children in this world, and that as all preparatory to a grander display of his infinite affection towards them, beyond and above. Thus is the human mind beautifully constructed for the practice of virtue, in all its apparatus of sensibilities and of functional activities-as, in its luminousness of reason, its grasp of faith, its ardor of hope, its power of will, its airy freedom of imagination-and, when fully bent and strained to right action, all its accordant ministries of mutually dependent and harmonious graces. The true and only authorized use of the imagination, as of the reason, is religious; and they are both designed to be employed, when in their constant legitimate exercise, in generating and sustaining ever fresh and ever beautiful exercises of faith in the heart and life. So manifestly is the human mind correlated with God in all its many quick susceptibilities of influence from him, as also in its many qualifications for outward effort and co-operation with him. Man, each man, was made directly for his God, for his gratification, company, smile, and aid forever. All our powers were skilfully contrived by him to open into right action towards him, by our own conscious consent and purpose at first, and afterwards with a sweet spontaneity of their own, acquired by the long habit of right action; and with all the force of not only deep inward preparedness for his overflowing fulness of approach to us, but of ever growing consciousness, also, of its blessed necessity.
God is thus declared, in the mechanism of our being itself, to be its great necessary counterpart. The finite demands, by the very terms of its nature, the infinite for its completion. With unceasing consciousness of their absolute need of him who is "the Desire of all nations," our natures are ever groping, however weakly or blindly, and with whatever indistinct cognizance of the causes of our constant inward pain without him, yet groping really, and often sadly without effect, because with no true moral energy, for his manifestation of himself to the soul. “God alone is great"; and we are great only and so far as we draw near to him, and as we feel, in consequence, that he draws near to us; for, “ draw nigh,” he saith, “unto me, and I will draw nigh unto you." Thorough absorption in his work on earth; felt unity of aspiration, plan, and labor with him; the full, purposed, happy marriage of the heart with his — these are the simple but high terms of all true and grand human attainment. Without him no one can be his proper self, since we were not made for any independent existence from him, but only to be united in him, with all other finite beings, into one harmonious, eternal society, vital in every part with love, with ever new, accumulative demonstrations of interest on his part in us, and ever enlarging appreciation and improvement of them on our part to our good, and so to his glory.
Our capabilities for realizing great divine truths, and appropriating them to our own manly strength and moral growth, and diffusing them in their fulness of power and value among others, we cannot divine, until we come into complete and constant contact of heart, in all our modes of daily living and acting, with God : “committing our way unto him,” in all things, “ doing whatsoever we do, heartily, as unto the Lord,” and literally “casting every care and burden upon hiin." “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for those that love him; but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” The unconverted man, the declaration of this passage is, has no conception of
the festive fulness of feeling with which God dwells in the heart of him, here on earth, who says to his soul, as he stands at the door and knocks (Rev. iii. 20) for entrance : “ lift up your heads ye everlasting gates, that the King of Glory may come in."
True indeed is the maxim, rightly understood, which some of the mockers of evangelism would use in quite another sense: “pectus est quod theologum facit." "He that doeth the will of God," saith Christ, “shall know the doctrine, whether it be of God.” As is any one's idea of God, in himself and in all his plans and actions, such are life and death, time and eternity, duty and pleasure, to him; and such is he likewise to all who know him.
The following synopsis presents the leading points of this Article :
I. The fact of God's providence among men.
V. Its great generic forms of manifestation.
The sentiment of this great, delightful truth is the very aroma of every page of the Bible. No other doctrine exhales its sweetness so unfailingly, from every part of it, to the glad. dened sense of him who is “ the friend of God.” Deeply did the Hebrew prophets feel its power; and in their clear, responsive, joyous appreciation of its truth lay no small part of their inward anointing from on high for the prophetical office. In their many and specific foretokenings of wrath from Heaven upon the cities of the old world, in such terrific succession, when at the height of their power, the key is furnished us to the otherwise strange overthrow of so many of the great kingdoms of antiquity. It was God, they teach us, that toppled down their towers of pride, and opened their two-leaved gates of brass to his appointed ministers of wrath. The pages of prophecy were thus but pages in
advance, from the hand of God himself, of the volume of ancient history; given for the purpose of teaching all nations that “he puts down one and sets up another, as seemeth to him good.” This great truth is presented in the scriptures in every variety of form, general and particular, didactic and anecdotical, in proverbs and in psalms, in threatenings and in promises, in history and in prophecy.
But there is strong positive testimony from human experience, as well as from revelation, to the reality of God's providence among men. The stunning sense of absolute, all-ordering Fate, and the wide-spread fear of an avenging Nemesis, ever on the watch to chastise evil doers, which pervaded the minds of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as the idea of fate broods now so darkly everywhere over the thoughts of the heathen and Mohammedan world, are striking proofs of the universality of this conviction, in all ages and countries, that a higher hand than man's strikes, as it wills, the chords of human weal and wo. No theological doctrine receives, so uniformly, in Christendom such abounding consent to its truth, as that of God's supreme, all-disposing sovereignty. Men will become theological martyrs quicker for this one idea than for any other; and so welcome is it to the hearts of mankind generally, that the tendency to overstatement, and to false and injurious conceptions of the real scope of this doctrine, so grand and delightful when understood in its actual relations, is exceedingly strong. How successfully has God thus impressed the human race, in all countries and ages, with the actuality of his busy, determinative agency in all their affairs !
Christianity is also, now, as the full-volumed expression of God's providence over the race, for its spiritual good and growth, - an impressive Historical Manifestation, in all its features, of the Divine heart and hand. How complete is the testimony furnished, in its ever-during and ever-advancing strength and beauty, to the divine origination and management of the present order of things for the promotion of human virtue and of human happiness! The lessons
of history, which are endlessly repeated, are ever the same, although so slowly learned, and resolve themselves, in their nioral aspects, into this one great and precious maxim of all true state policy: “Blessed is that people whose God is the Lord.” A scale of the nations, arranged according to their manifest regard for God's word and their observance of his sabbaths, would be, in equal degrees, a scale of their relative order in national advancement.
When looking at God's providence, at any one angle of observation, in whatever age or country, we see it, at best, in but an incomplete and partially self-interpreting condition; but that providence, like everything else of his ordering, contains within itself its own determinate elements and processes of progressive development. It has, in different parts of its course, its swellings and subsidences of tidal energy, and its times and modes of collecting as well as of expending its strength, as well as its varied beginnings, crises, periods, and issues; and when “the fulness of times " shall have come, everything dark in it will be enlightened, everything crooked made straight; and every voice in the universe will unite, either with spontaneous gladness or with necessitated obedience to the irresistible demands of an intensely vitalized conscience, in declaring of him who is King of kings and Lord of lords: “Righteous art thou altogether, O Lord God of hosts!" His providence, rightly viewed, includes in it these threefold subjects of reflection, in one broad, united expanse of moral beauty, - his modes and forms of action, at any time, in man's behalf; his system of direct personal treatment of him; and his modes of personal self
manifestation to him on earth. We often speak, justly, of “the ways of God's providence.” There are too many disturbing influences in every man's own bosom, as well as in the world around him, that the current of any one's experience should not be full of changes and surprises, and crises. Although it be not at all true that “ the course of true love never runs smoothi,” it is altogether so that the course of manly duty and of godly action never long runs so upon earth.