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who in humble silence endure the oppressor's wrong, and all the whips and scorns of time, borne up by the hopes that christianity inspires. Many servants under hard masters, many among the labouring poor who are disabled by age or sickness, or perishing for want of employment, many in garrets or in cellars, unheeded and unknown, have found the art of possessing their souls in patience, by an access to resources with which few among the great and opulent, or even among the wise and learned, have the happiness to be acquainted. They have been taught to pray to their Father in secret, and to cast all their care upon him who careth for them, while neglected or despised by their fellow-creatures. Compared with these, the heroes and sages of the world, in a moral individual estimate, are vain and insignificant.
When a good man is led to contemplate the politics of the world, it is with this conviction, that all the consultations of states and princes are under a divine superintendance. He is satisfied that there is no risa dom, nor understanding, nor counsel, against
the Lord * ; that the deceived and the deceiver are his t ; that he taketh arway the heart of the chiefs of a people, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way I. Thus when he mingled a spirit of giddiness in their public deliberations, the princes of Zoan became fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh became brutish, they seduced Egypt, and caused her to err in all her works, as a drunkard staggereth in his vomit .
He is equally persuaded, that in the execution of their purposes, the princes and powers of the earth are under the same powerful direction. When the haughty Sennacherib boasted of the strength of his hand and of his wisdom, the prophet thus addressed him: Shall the are boast itself against him that heveth therewith; or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it || ? Which shows that this proud Assyrian, in all the career of his successful ambition, was an instrument in the hands of the universal Sovereign, to do what his counsel deternined before to be done. Accordingly, when beyond the line marked out by this counsel, he had resolved upon the conquest of Judea and its capital, and vaunted as if he had already accomplished his purpose; his army was suddenly destroyed, and himself slain upon his return to his own land. Because thy rage against me, says God by his prophet, is come up into mine ears, I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.—He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there; by the way that he came, by the same shall he return, for I will defend this city to save it for my own sake, and for my servant David's sake *. And the pious christian, who views the dispensations of Providence in the light of scripture, will acknowledge the same over-ruling hand in every conquest and defeat, in every national change and revolution, that has happened since the world began.
* Prov. xxi. 30. + Job. xii. 16. Ib. xii. 24. § Isaiah xix. 13, 14, (Bp. Lowth's Translation.)
Isaiah X. 15.
ever calamitous they may be, can never take place without wise and just reasons in the divine mind. He knows that when the Canaanites were exterminated, it was because their land was defiled, and the measure of their iniquities full*; that when destruction fell upon Tyre, that crowning city, whose merchants were princes, whose traffickers were the honourable of the earth; it was to stain the pride of all glory t; that when vengeance was threatened against Ninevah, it was for its wickedness which had ascended to heaven 1. From these and other innumerable instances he will collect, that public as well as private calamities have respect to moral evil, and that it is never wantonly, or out of mere dominion, that God afflicts or grieves the children of men.
The same divine records will help him to trace the conduct of Providence in the temporary triumph of wicked nations, by presenting them to his view as scourges for the punishment of other nations that are still
* Gen. xv. 16. and Lev. xviii. 24, 25.
more wicked; and doomed, after the service is performed, to be cast away or destroyed themselves. A few passages in proof and illustration of this point, which the reader may peruse when he is disposed and at leisure, I dismiss to the note below*;
* The Almighty is thus introduced speaking of Sennacherib above-named: “ O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so, but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks." Isa. x. 5-12. A similar declaration is made respecting Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon: “ Thus saith the Lord of hosts, because ye have not heard my words, behold I will send and take all the fainilies of the north, and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against all the nations round about, and will utterly destroy them.And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.” Jer. xxv. 8-12.
In another prophecy, a reason is assigned for Ne