« PreviousContinue »
saine effect may be, and in fact frequently is, produced by the crimes or vices of mortals themselves. Prov. x. 27. 'the fear of Jehovah prolongeth days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.' Exod. xx. 12. honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land,' &c. See also numerous passages to the same purpose, during the time of the law. Psal. lv. 23, bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days, that is, they shall not live to the end of that term, to which by the constitution of their bodies they might otherwise have arrived ; in which class are to be placed all those who lay violent hands on themselves, or who accelerate death by intemperate living.
The providence of God is either ordinary or extraordinary.*
His ordinary providence is that whereby he upholds and preserves the immutable order of causes appointed by him in the beginning. This is commonly, and indeed too frequently, described by the name of nature ; for nature cannot possibly mean anything but the mysterious power and efficacy of that divine voice which went forth in the beginning, and to which, as to a perpetual command, all things have since paid obedience. Job xxxvïi. 12. hast thou commanded the morning since thy days?' v. 33. • knowest thou the ordinances of heaven ?' Psal. cxlviii. 8. · fire and hail, snow and vapours, stormy wind fulfilling
*«Qualitas providentiæ in duobus præcipue spectatur. 1. Quod alia sit ordinaria, alia vero extraordinaria ... Providentia ordinaria est, qua Deus in hominum regimine ordinem a se ab initio institutum observat, et omnia convenienter naturæ, quam ipsis indidit, gubernat.' Cur. cell. Institutio, III. 12. 10.
his word.' Isai. xlv. 12. I have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.' Jer. xxxi. 36. if those ordinances depart from before me.' xxxiii. 20. (my covenant of the day and my covenant of the night.'
The extraordinary providence of God is that whereby God produces some effect out of the usual order of nature, or gives the power of producing the same effect to whomsoever he may appoint. This is what we call a miracle. Hence God alone is the primary author of miracles, as he only is able to invert that order of things which he has himself appointed. Psal. lxxii. 18. who only doeth wondrous things.' John X. 21. can a devil open the eyes of the blind ?" 2 Thess. ii. 9. whose coming is after the power of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.?
The use of miracles is to manifest the divine power, and confirm our faith. Exod. vi. 6, 7. I will redeem you .... with great judgements .... and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God.' viii. 22. • I will sever in that day the land of Goshen .... to the end thou mayest know that I am Jehovah.' 1 Kings xvii. 24. now by this I know that thou art a man of God.' Mark xvi. 20. the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Heb. ii. 4. · God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will."
Miracles are also designed to increase the condemnation of unbelievers, by taking away all excuse for unbelief. Matt. xi. 21. • woe unto thee, Chorazin . . . for if the mighty works which were done in you bad been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago.' John xv. 24. if I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin : but now they have no cloak for their sin.'
OF THE SPECIAL GOVERNMENT OF ANGELS.
The general government of Providence has been hitherto the subject of consideration. The special governnent is that which embraces with peculiar regard angels and men, as beings far superior to the rest of the creation.
Angels are either good or evil, Luke ix. 26. viii. 2. for it appears that many of them revolted from God of their own accord before the fall of man. John viii. 44. •he abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him : when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it.' 2 Pet. ii. 4. •God spared not the angels that sinned.' Jude 6. the angels which kept not their first estate.' 1 John ïïi. 8. the devil sinneth from the beginnin Psal. cvi. 37. they sacrificed unto devils.'
Some are of opinion that the good angels are now upheld, not so much by their own strength, as by the grace of God. 1 Tim. v. 21. the elect angels, that is, who have not revolted.* Eph. i. 10. that
* Milton employs the word elect in opposition to the apostate angels, in the description of the first battle in heaven:
........... but those elect
be might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.' Job iv. 18. his angels he charged with folly.' See also xv. 15. Hence arises, in their opinion, the delighted interest which the angels take in the mystery of man's salvation ;* 1 Pet. i. 12. 'which things the angels desire to look into. Eph. iii. 10. " that now unto the principalities and powers, in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.' Luke ï. 13, 14. 'a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,' namely, on account of the birth of Christ. xv. 10. there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.' They assign the same reason for their worshipping Christ. Heb. i. 6. let all the angels of God worship him.' Matt. iv. 11. 'angels came and ministered unto him.' Philipp. ii. 10. “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven-,' 2 Thess. i. 7. the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.' 1 Pet. ii. 22. “angels being made subject unto him.' Rev. v. 11, 12, "worthy is the Lamb that was slain.' It seems, however, more agreeable to reason, to suppose that the good angels are upheld by their own strength no less than man himself was before his fall ;-that they are called elect, in the sense of beloved or excellent ;—that it is not from any interest of their own, but from their love to mankind, that they desire to look into the mystery of our salvation ;—that they
* Nor less think we in heav'n of thee on earth
Than of our fellow servant, and enquire
Paradise Lost, VIII. 224.