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may be resolved into the principle of association; yet how often are there trains that appear to us perfectly new, and which had 'no previous tracks in the imagination that we can discover; and how often too are known trains broken and interrupted by the incursion of ideas of which the memory has no recollection? All this is wonderful to us, yet certainly is not without his superintendance, who at once regulates the course of every particle of matter, and every motion in the intellectual world.
The thoughts of a young man, in deliberating upon a plan of life, may first run in a commercial line; this may be crossed by some other that shall turn his attention towards law, physic, or divinity; or some new track may present itself, that shall divert him into a project which never occurred to him beforé. And thus ideal trains, over which he has very little control, may conduct him to very different determinations respecting his future calling or employment in the world.
Take another illustration. When Cæsar, upon his breach with Pompey, had reached
the Rubicon, he is said to have made a halt at the bank of this river, and seriously to have debated with himself the business before him; his mind inclining now one way, and then another, as the danger of the enterprize, the calamities it might draw after it, the perverseness of his enemies, and the glory of victory, offered themselves by turns to his view. In this state of suspense, a single idea more or less might have produced a different resolution, and the world have taken another course. “ At last,” says Plutarch,“ borne on by an extraordinary impulse, he would reason no longer, but, committing himself to his fortune, plunged into the Rubicon, crying, The die is cast.” Who must not acknowledge, that the heart of Cæsar on this critical occasion, was in the hand of God as the rivers of water *.
After a man has formed his resolution, the execution of it may depend upon a thousand circumstances beyond his prudence or management. The winds or the nayes, or other contingencies of nature,
* Prov. xxi. 1.
which he can neither foresee nor control; or the dishonesty, the humour, or negligence of other men who are necessary to his purpose, may either suddenly dash, or gradually obstruct and defeat, his best-concerted projects. The weakness or treachery of a single individual, or one untoward incident, may baffle his ablest efforts, and teach him his dependance upon that Providence which has all nature at command, and which only can order the unruly wills and affections of men.
There is a beautiful instance in the story of Esther of this divine superintendance, in furnishing views and disposing circumstances, for the accomplishment of a great national deliverance. Haman, having conceived a violent resentment against Mordecai the Jew, to satiate his vengeance procured an edict for the destruction of all the Jews who were scattered through the Persian empire. On the very night when Haman meant to solicit an order for the execution of Mordecai, the king, to amuse his thoughts, (not being disposed to sleep) called for the public records; and that part being accidentally
read to him which recited his deliverance, by means of Mordecai, from a dangerous conspiracy, he inquired, what reward had been conferred on his deliverer for this service; at which critical moment, Haman appeared in the outer court, to speak to the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for the purpose. Upon his admittance, being asked, What shall be done to the man whom the king delighted to honour? and having answered according to his own ambitious wishes, he was commissioned to do all that honour to Mordecai which he imagined would have been done to himself; and when he had discharged this 'mortifying office, was hanged upon the gallows he had prepared for his adversary. The sanguinary edict he had obtained against the Jews at large, was counteracted by another; and in every province, this devoted nation had joy and gladness, and many of the people of the land became Jews, for the fear of the Jewe's fell upon them. That such an extraordinary coincidence of circumstances, as we have here stated, could have taken place without a particular direction of providence, no man can suppose whose judgment is governed by the established laws of probability.
We have a more agreeable and domestic instance of this particular direction in the story of Abraham's servant, when he went to seek a wife for his young master Isaac. Upon his arrival at the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia, we are told, “ He made his •camels to kneel down without the city, by a well of water, at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham : behold, I stand here by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: and let it come to pass that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: Let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac: and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness to my master. And it came to