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and spirit;" and to godliness, brotherly kindness," or tenderness and compassion for the miserable, friendly feelings and neighbourly conduct towards all; "and to
brotherly kindness, charity," or a forbearance from all that is harsh, malignant, or prejudiced, in thought, sentiment, opinion, or expression; and the exercise of all that is mild, liberal, and tolerant, in practice. "For if these things be in you and abound,' continues the Apostle, they stamp your faith with the impression of a saving one, by making you "neither barren nor un"fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord "Jesus Christ."
Subject. THE DOCTRINE OF GOD'S GENERAL AND SPECIAL PROVIDENCES.
THIS DOCTRINE REVEALED ONLY AND FULLY IN THE BIBLE. ILLUSTRATED IN THE HISTORY OF THE ISRAELITES AND OF JOSEPH. MORAL IN
GENESIS xlv. 8.
Now, therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life.
HE proofs of the general providence
of God, that he governs and regulates all the works which he has created; that all things depend upon, and are upholden by, him; that he administers the general affairs of mankind, and disposes of human events as it seemeth good unto his infinitely wise will; the proofs of this great
truth, I repeat, are so manifest in all which we see without and feel within us, that there has been no age of the world, nor any people among its civilized nations, which have not acknowledged the important fact.
It is true, indeed, that among the heathens of old times some visionary philosophers were found, who attributed the Creation to chance, and denied that the concerns of the world were under the superintendence of Divine Providence; but these were few and insignificant compared with the great body of ancient sages who confessed that there is a God, the author of universal being; and that the government of this great machine belongs exclusively to him.
But though the natural light of reason had directed mankind to the belief and confession of this general truth, yet for full and clear information on the interesting point we are entirely indebted to revelation. Human wisdom might discover that the visible world could not create itself; that, therefore, there must be a first cause of all things; and if so, that this same divine intelligence must exercise a directing and controlling power over them, in order to prevent the universal confusion and final ruin of creation, which would inevitably soon occur, without such a superintendence;
but having found out thus much, here its discoveries ended.
"The world by wisdom knew not God," says the Apostle it had no just idea of his nature, his attributes, or his counsels. His exceeding love of mankind, and the innumerable ways in which he manifests it, were hidden from its view; and, more especially, the comforting and supporting doctrine of his particular providence, of his being "about our paths, and about our "beds, and spying out all our ways;" of his watching over the creatures of his hands, and all their concerns, with "an eye that "neither slumbers nor sleeps;" was utterly unknown to the most enlightened nations of Pagan antiquity.
But, blessed be God, the HOLY BIBLE removes the veil of "clouds and thick dark
ness," which concealed this weighty doctrine from the knowledge of mankind; and not only is God's general providence fully and clearly revealed in every page of it, but his interference in, and direction of, the personal affairs of every individual, is so frequently and strikingly pointed out in the sacred volume, that we cannot for a moment doubt of the inspired writer's assertion, "though the lot be cast into the lap,
"the whole disposing thereof is of the "Lord."
With respect to his general providence, or his direction of the affairs of the world at large, God is represented in the scriptures as surrounded with these sublime circumstances of might, majesty, and dominion: "The Lord reigneth, and is clothed "with strength wherewith he hath girded "himself. He ruleth in the kingdom of "men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. "Wisdom and might are his: he changeth "the times and the seasons, He removeth
kings, and setteth up kings. He forms. "the light, and creates darkness. He "maketh peace, and creates evil. He
poureth contempt upon princes, and "weakeneth the strength of the mighty. "He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth "them; he enlargeth the nations, and strait"eneth them again." "He maketh wars "to cease in all the world: he knappeth "the spear in sunder, and burneth the
chariots in the fire." "He doeth what"soever pleaseth him." "He worketh "after the counsels of his own will;" and "his dominion is over all."
But the view which the Holy Bible gives of God's especial providence; of his concern and interest in the personal affairs of every