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as the depositaries of his truth. It was unfolded to Abraham. God has condescended, by appropriate emblems, to represent some of the loveliest parts of his character! The encouraging language addressed to Abraham was, “ Fear not, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Probably the full force of this beautiful emblem was but little understood by him, till that momentous period had arrived, that memorable trial of his faith, when the Interposing goodness of the Lord was so peculiarly manifested; then were revealed to his astonished and enraptured mind, in the provided sacrifice, the glories of Redemption and the mysteries of Divine Providence. It was then “ Abraham rejoiced to see the day of the Son of God, he saw it and was glad." This glorious doctrine was more fully communicated to Jacob on that solitary night, when, with a trembling hand, he took the stones for his pillows, and with an anxious and foreboding heart lay down to sleep. It was then, when exposed to surrounding dangers and inward sorrows, Jehovah graciously revealed to his mental eye, the mystic ladder set up on earth and reaching to heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending upon it; a fit and beautiful emblem to represent the steps of Divine Providence, and the constant though invisible communication that exists between earth and hea
ven : thus proving to Jacob, that though a poor defenceless traveller, he had nothing to fear, for God was with him to guide and shield him from all the dangers to which he was exposed.
What a bright development of the especial Providence of God, does the delightful history of Joseph supply! How inimitable in simplicity! how touchingly descriptive are all the events recorded in it; and how gradual is the disclosure of God's special design of love and mercy to his highly favoured servant !
In the miraculous deliverance of the children of Israel by the hand of Moses, and in their subsequent preservation during their long abode in the wilderness, we have beautifully combined the especial love and providence of God towards a nation. We behold the Lord appearing for them, when “ their sigh and their cry by reason of their bondage, came up before him," bringing them out of Egypt with “ a high hand and with an out-stretched arm, dividing the Sea, and causing them to pass through, and making the waters to stand as an heap : leading them in the day time with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire ; cleaving the rock in the wilderness, and giving them drink as out of the great depths; bringing streams out of the rock and causing waters to run down like rivers ; raining down manna upon them to eat, and giving them the corn of Heaven : feeding them according to the integrity of his heart, and guiding them continually by the skilfulness of his hands.”
O that this doctrine, so full of the sweetest and richest consolation, may “ drop as the rain, may distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass, because it publishes the name of the Lord, and ascribes greatness unto our God !”
But it must be remembered, that though the especial Providence of God, like the blessings of Salvation, is held forth to the belief of all mankind, it is not the common property of all, but the peculiar portion of a peculiar people; a people whom the Lord hath loved with an everlasting love ; whom he leads, instructs, and keeps as the apple of his eye. This is a truth which cannot be concealed. “ The tender mercies of God are over all his works ;" but his especial and covenanted mercies can be appropriated by those only who have embraced him as “ all their salvation and all their desire.”
Let not any individual say, If the special Providence of God is vouchsafed only to a peculiar people, how therefore can I partake of its extensive benefits ? Is there really a desire to embrace the mercies of the Lord ? Are they indeed consi
dered as worth possessing? If so, the voice of mercy is calling unto you, the mighty Redeemer of the world is inviting you : “ Look unto me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” Those who embrace this mighty Saviour, receive the two-fold blessing from his hands—“the upper and the nether springs,”-all needful temporal blesssings, and a promise of an unlimited supply of the waters of life. “He that believeth on me shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Let us recollect, that we are not straitened in God, but in ourselves; that He is far more willing to bestow mercies, than we are to solicit them at his hands. The language addressed to all is, “ Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find.” · With “so great a cloud of witnesses,” declaring the loving-kindness of the Lord, and uniting their silent testimony to the truth of this doctrine, nothing needs be urged in the shape of argument, to convince any unprejudiced mind that the Lord has been in all ages, a protector, a guide, and a father, to all “who have made trial of his love ;" and that his gracious design in exhibiting so bright and glorious a display of his interposing goodness in all its variety and abundance, is to establish the hearts of all “ who have fled to him for refuge,” in the delightful and animating assurance that what he has been in times past to his numerous family, he ever will be; and that when they pass through the waters he will be with them; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow them, and that he “will never leave nor forsake them.”
But it may not be uninteresting to those who have as yet but partially examined this truly delightful and encouraging subject, to consider more particularly some of the leading and distinguishing illustrations which the Holy Scriptures supply of the especial Providence of God.
We may, therefore, direct our attention to the numerous instances which are recorded of the Interposition of Divine Providence, in seasons of great extremity and affliction. It is particularly deserving of our most careful observation, that the time selected by the Lord for the brightest manifestations of his interposing mercy, is invariably when the prospect is most dreary, when hopes are lowest, when there appears no way of escape from the threatening danger, when events are the most perplexing and discouraging, and when foreboding and anxious fears fill the mind with terror and dismay. Yet, even under such a combination of peculiarly