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peneth to them all”--that is, unexpected events; contrary to the usual course of things, frustrate the exertions of the swift, the strong, the wise, the men of understanding, the men of skill, and give their glory to others. “ The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Things do not always issue according to the general laws by which God governs the world. Unexpected events frustrate the regular and usual means of obtaining success. This is the truth contained in the text, and it is a truth, the consideration of which is peculiarly suited to the present circumstances in which we are placed. Let us illustrate it by a brief survey of human life, and then let us deduce from it doctrinal and practical reflections.

Behold this truth verified in the public events of the world, and in the private life of individuals.

Behold it verified in the public events of the world.

Governments have vanished, which, reared and supported by power and wealth, promised, according to all human calculation, to defy the ravages of time and the blasts of adverse fortune. The tide on which they had been borne to grandeur and renown suddenly turned, and they floated rapidly back into the gulf of oblivion. Mighty kingdoms have disappeared; neither the talents of the statesman, nor the efforts of the patriot, could save them; and to the places of grandeur and opulence from which they had fallen, nations have been advanced, whom they once proudly ranked among the meanest of their vassals. Legislators have framed consti

tutions, calculated, as they hoped, to perpetuate to the latest generations the freedom and prosperity, which were thus consecrated by all the efforts of genius, of talents, and of knowledge. And yet the fairest fabrics of human polity have not lasted even till the mouldering hand of time had gradually loosened their foundations. Suddenly demolished by the violence of popular phrenzy, or the attacks of despotic power, they have crushed beneath their ruins that freedom which human wisdom had destined to be perpetual. Who does not see in these events, so contrary to the ordinary operation human causes, and therefore so contrary to human calculation, the declaration verified--that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all ?”

In those conflicts where the fate of nations is decided by the sword, we see the same truth exemplified. Armies, formidable for their numbers, and more formidable for their discipline, have sometimes been discomfited by inferior forces, and lost the fame of past victories in present disgrace and defeat. The declarations of the word of God have been verified" an hundred has chased a thousand, and a thousand has put ten thousand to flight.” “ There is no king saved by the multitude of an host; neither is a mighty man delivered by much strength.”+ “The horse is prepared against the day of battle; but safety is of the Lord.” I “ The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Behold this truth also exemplified in the issue of

"*

Lev. xxvi. 8.

† Psalm xxxiii. 16.

$ Prov. xxi. 31.

those measures which are not only wisely planned, but which have in view some public meritorious object. These, in the ordinary course of God's righteous providence, we should expect would be successful, but even these are not exempt from those unforeseen and unexpected issues which frustrate the wisest plans and the most meritorious designs. Your cause may be that of truth, of justice, and of honour; the means by which you seek to advance it may be formed by wisdom and sanctioned by virtue ; you may employ these means with courage, with resolution, with zeal, and with perseverance; and yet all these, though they deserve, may not procure success; knavery, impudence, cunning, and perhaps even folly, may debar you from victory. For in the mysterious course of God's providence," the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

But, my brethren, there are examples of the uncertain issue of all human plans and means, which fall more directly within the observation of each one of us, and come more immediately home to our own bosoms.

Look at those objects which are generally considered the sources of human happiness, and see whether the regular means of obtaining them are always successful.

The usual means of obtaining wealth, are industry and frugality, enterprise, prudence, zeal, and perseverance, and, as a general rule, they are successful; but still bread is not always to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding; One

man, from an early period of his life, has turned · all his thoughts and studies to the acquisition of wealth; custom has fixed him in those habits favourable to its acquisition ;' he rises up early and sits up late, and eats the bread of carefulness; his enterprises are judiciously formed; they are pursued with industry, with zeal, and with perseverançe; nor does prodigality curtail his means, or dissipate the fruit of his labours; and yet sometimes we see men of this description fail in the object of their pursuit; while some more fortunate individual, with less judgment and less exertion, finds her pouring her treasures upon him from every quarter. So frequent are such instances, that they have established the common remark, that some men succeed in all their enterprises, while others succeed in none.

Look at fame and reputation-by talents, learning, and merit, fame and reputation are usually acquired. Often, however, we see them attend boastful pretensions, obtrusive confidence, ostentatious display. The bold, the meddling, the forward, often, without real talents, push themselves into consequence; while real merit, too retiring to be ostentatious, and too modest to be bold and presuming, either languishes in obscurity, or only imperfectly obtains the estimation and fame which is its due. So true is it, that “favour is not always to men of skill.”

Turn to those scenes where the liveliest feelings of the heart are awakened, and whence arise their purest joys—the scenes of domestic life. You behold these scenes sometimes furnished with overy essential constituent of happiness; you behold religion consecrating, by her celestial presence, the VOL. III.

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circle of domestic enjoyment; and yet events, which wisdom could not foresee, nor prudence avert, nor piety ward off, suddenly cloud this blissful scene. Misfortune, sickness, or death, ravages it, and leaves no traces of felicity behind. Alas! I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Events, not according to the ordinary operation of the established laws of nature, and therefore styled accidents, and ascribed, in common language, to time and chance, frustrate the best concerted plans, disappoint the strength and wisdom of man, and impress on him his weakness and his ignorance, his dependence on a power over which he has no control.

This is the first lesson of instruction which we deduce from the doctrine contained in the text.

The varying and uncertain issue of human affairs should lead us to acknowledge and adore the providence of God.

He who doth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; whose hand none can stay, and unto whom none can say, What doest thou ?-He who has laid and sustains the foundations of the earth, and is Governor among the nations—He who, sitting in the heavens, extends his power over the universe, regards and regulates also the most minute events; for he “ commandeth the ravens,”* he.“ feedeth the fouls of the air,” “ without him not even a

* 1 Kings xvii. 4.

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