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some rational and enlightened views of his providence. Instead, therefore, of being deterred, by an apprehension of meeting with difficulties, from going into the subject of God's govern nent, or the particular consid eration of that dominion, which he exercises over sinful creatures, we should be the more active in pursuit of all the light which is attainable. It is not pretended, that man is capable of fathoming the Deity, or his works. Shall we, therefore, feel it a duty to reject all the information, which God has communicated in his word respecting himself? Let an eternal silence be imposed upon all those human reasonings, not grounded upon the scriptures, or not conformable to them, which aim at discovering the perfections and ways of God; but let not the express declarations of his word be encountered by any cavils or surmises, which an objecting mind can raise up against them. Had not God; who is the fountain of wisdom and knowl edge, condescended to teach us upon this. point; truly our way had been full of darkness, and our conclusions, of consequence, must have been subject to error. But if truth comes down to us from the Father of lights, in direct unequivocal, and plain terms, shall we hesitate, or be shy about receiving it, front an imagination, that it does not look, in all respects, consistent, or does not corres... pond with our views of things? These ob..
ations, however they may be taken on
accounts, I hope will be of use to dis.
pose us calmly, dispassionately, and impar tially to investigate the subject before us, and rest in that view of things only, which is agreeable to the oracles of truth. "Let God
be true, and every man a liar," is a muchbetter maxim, than one, which would do violence to plain scripture, rather than dis.. credit the arrogant pretensions of man to wisdom. If the idea be scriptural, that God uses mankind, even the most depraved and licentious, to further and accomplish his own purposes; that they are, therefore, the instruments of his moral reign, it is not enough to invalidate and set aside the doctrine, that to us it may seem to invole consequences of an unfavourable aspect. And whether such an idea does actually rest upon scripture. ground, our text, methinks, will decide. It is the word of God to Babylon, a people, who had become wealthy and potent in arms,, whose pride and over-grown ambition rendered them the common enemy of mankind, and who, by their numbers and warlike skill, were enabled to subdue, and cruelly to oppress all other nations. That all nations did, actually, bend under the burden of the Babylonian yoke, is a fact established by all the records of antiquity. The power and extent of that great monarchy is acknowledged by Daniel in his words to Belshazzar. thou king, the most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And, for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations,
and languages trembled and feared before him: whom he would,he slew,and whom he would, he kept alive, and whom he would, he set up, and whom he would, he put down.” The rage for conquest and domination, exercis ed by this haughty power, rendered it a scourge to all the surrounding nations. The wars they waged were productive of awful devastation and ruin to every people that were of sufficient importance to attract their attention, or excite their jealousy. Pride and ambition were the moving principles of these cruel and ruinous wars, principles which would not dispense with any thing short of the intire humiliation of the vanquished.. Every trace of supremacy and independence: must be annihilated from every other nation. The success of the Chaldean arms, in effect ing this entire subjugation of all other na tions, is predicted in the words of our text.. God had determined, that this power should triumph over every other.. "And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Neb uchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my ser vant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Baby
lon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and, with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand." The anger of God, it seems, was excited against all nations; and the Babylonian power was to be made use of in the execution of that vengeance, which was decreed against them. "Thou art my battleaxe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations; and with thee will I destroy kingdoms," &c. The plain import of it is, that God would make use of the barbarous and impious Chaldeans as instruments to fulfil the righteous determinations of his providence. And if that ungodly nation were made to subserve the kingdom of God, is it absurd to hold the same to be true of all wicked men? If God could consistently and gloriously work by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and his numerous host of idolaters; he may, with equal consistency and propriety, make all wicked men instrumental of the accomplishment of the great designs of his providence. Thus is the general instrumentality of the wicked, in the affairs of divine government, established beyond contradiction. That this sentiment may appear in a convincing point of light, I shall deem it expedient to adduce a number of plain, and, as I think, conclusive arguments in support of the doctrine, that sinners are God's instruments in the great work of government; and then brief ly suggest how God gets glory to himself by
such means. In each of these particulars our only appeal is to the oracles of God.
We are first to cite arguments in proof of the doctrine, that much of divine govern ment is administered by means of wicked men. When God is about the work of chastizement, (and this is far from being unnec essary in so depraved a world as ours,) he has occasion for such instrumentality, as is consonant with the tempers of the ungodly. Upon such occasions it is, that God selects from a race of sinful creatures such as are meet to become the executioners of his will, and by them carries into effect the wise and salutary discipline of his providence. When he watches over his creatures to do them good and not evil, we find that instruments of a different description are employed. But afflictions, notwithstanding the character of the instruments concerned in producing them, are as really the work of God, as the more agreeable articles of experience, which fall to the lot of creatures. This leads me to alledge for the
1st. Argument, in support of the doctrine advanced, that the effects, which are produc ed by the agency of wicked men, are often ascribed to God, as the appointment and fruit of his infinitely wise providence. The bible and the history of common experience are full of such instances. We shall collect a few, enough for an example to illustrate and confirm the sentiment, which we now Ivocate. We will begin at a period as