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of which, is of more consequence to the universe of intelligent creatures, than all the sparkling glories of the heavens. Having given a law to regulate their conduct, and direct their hopes of immunity and bliss, a departure from that law on his part could not fail to be disastrous. The least disrespect, on his part, of its precepts or provisions, would produce the most painful doubts and suspicions, and sap the very basis of all rational confidence in his character and government. High public considerations, yea obligations, therefore, affecting his glory as a divine moral governor, and that in a respect of far more consequence than his glory as the God of nature, forbid the annulment or violation of his law by himself, and, consequently, all connivance with man or countenance of its violations by him.
Besides, the Bible plainly teaches, that the God of nature is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been pleased to legislate for man, and to provide a Saviour for bim from the wrath to come. Now, if the laws of nature are not under the control of Him, who is the great moral governor of the universe, then is he not the God of nature, and there can be no. security, that his moral government will be either permanent or salutary. That the God of nature is the great moral governor of the universe, all men feel fully and almost instinctively persuaded. That they are not different Beings, but the same, there is proof abundant, not only in the revelations of the Bible, but in the conduct of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, when upon the earth. He rebuked the waves, and bid the tempest hush its angry roar. He gave eyes to the blind, and ears to the deaf, and life to the dead, and proved that all the elements of nature were at his command, and therefore, in every respect, is entitled to our confidence. Were it otherwise, all harmony would cease in his government. The jarring elements of nature might clash with his moral administration, and the impression be inevitably made on rational minds, that there is imperfection with God, that he is either unwise in his enactments, or weak and inefficient in their execution: and this done, there never could, in the nature of things, be confidence in his government. For the glory of the divine moral character, being vastly more important than that which attaches to him as the great Creator of the universe, it is of infinite moment, that no change be made in his laws affecting it. It would be a thousand-fold preferable, that the artist's
most beautiful sculpture, or the architect's choicest specimen of skill
, and taste, and sublimity, should perish, than that he should be found guilty of dishonesty and falsehood, or any other crime, which would tarnish his moral character, and consign him to infamy among men. And thus God must feel, that it would be infinitely better, that the heavens and the earth should
pass away, than that he should compromit his truth and justice, by violating his own law, or suffer its admirable precepts to be broken with impunity. II. Another consideration on this subject is suggested
BY THE FACT AND NATURE OF THE MIRACLES OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR Jesus Christ. They prove, from phenomena which have occurred in the history of this world, that the moral governor of men, and the God of nature, are the same.
We want no better proof than a miracle furnishes, that the laws of nature may be, and have actually been set aside. The reality of miracles is assumed in this argument, as very well established by the evidence of testimony. The skeptical objection against the truth of miracles, founded on the uniformity of causation and their contrariety to our experience, needs no further notice than to remark that the uniformity of causation, which is limited to each individual's experience and observation, is, and must of necessity be inferred from a very contracted view of the combination of causes, of which our consciousness of ignorance predisposes us most naturally and readily to receive the testimony of others, who, as veracious witnesses, report to us what they have seen, or heard, or ascertained, by their own senses, to be fact. The evidence of testimony is as strong and satisfactory as that of the senses; and mankind instinctively admit the one as readily as the other to be the means of knowledge, unless they have, by their sophistry and skepticism, bewildered their own minds. He that rejects the evidence of testimony, because it goes beyond the limits of his own experience, must, if he act consistently, doom himself to inevitable ignorance on a thousand subjects of science, which, to him, can in no other way become known.
The miracles of the Bible have been wrought always, and only, for the purpose of promoting and confirming the moral government of God. The miracles of Scripture are events cognizable by the senses of mankind, produced either in direct contradiction, or by suspension of some known and established law of nature, under circumstances of publicity which admit of
no question of the facts having been observed by credible witnesses. The plagues of Egypt, which were all miraculous, were designed to exalt the honor and claims of the God of heaven and earth, above the gods of Pharaoh ;-the destruction of fifty thousand Bethshemites, for withdrawing the lid of the ark of the covenant, and looking on the tablets of the law, engraven by the finger of God ;-the overthrow of the army of Sennacherib, and an endless number of others, recorded in the sacred Scriptures, while they have proved that the God of nature is the God of the Bible, have also subserved the most important moral purposes. By the death of the Bethshemites, the God of Israel meant to counteract and to destroy the idolatrous superstition of the people, and to teach the dreadful danger of rashly intruding into things which he had kept hidden, of treating with vain curiosity and idle familiarity the most sacred rites and ordinances of his religion, as well as of looking to the moral law without the intervention of a mercy-seat, or propitiatory. By the overthrow of the army of Sennacherib, which was miraculously effected in answer to the prayer of Hezekiah, God meant not only to preserve the rites and ordinances of true religion from idolatrous invasion, but also to counteract the demoralizing tendency of the raillery and blasphemy of that proud monarch's ambassadors, which had been presumptuously, wantonly, and insultingly indulged, in the presence of the people. And as to the miracles of Christ, and his apostles, they all bore the impress of benevolence; and while they authenticated their mission, illustrated the character of their author, and proved that the God of nature considered his moral government of more value than his physical. A law of nature might be suspended, but one jot or one tittle of the law must not be suffered to fail.
III. THERE ARE ABUNDANT FACTS WHICH PROVE THAT GOD HOLDS THE ENTIRE ECONOMY OF NATURE SUBORDINATE TO HIS MORAL GOVERNMENT. These facts may be classed under two heads : 1st, Those which have occurred in the dispensations of his retributive providence; and 2dly, Those which grow out of the very constitution of man and the structure of human society.
Examples of the first class are very numerous. They are strung along the history of our race. They appear on the records of the past. Man was driven from his happy abode in Paradise, and the waters of the deluge rolled their desolating surges over all that was beautiful and glorious in this world.
The fountains of the great deep were broken up, and myriads of guilty creatures were swept with the besom of destruction ;and why? Why did the earth’s huge pillars break, and all its massive bars give way? Why did God consign this beautiful world to destruction, mingle all the elements together, and make every law of nature work for the general ruin ? Because man had sinned. He had rashly dared to violate the law, and God was determined, that not one jot or tittle of it should fail. Already has he given proof, that he holds the economy of nature subordinate to his moral government;—that he would sooner the earth should be destroyed, than countenance the crimes of men. The very structure of the earth, replete with the memorials of that mighty wave of ruin that swept around our globe, proclaims to the eye of men this solemn truth. Sooner than sacrifice, or dishonor his law, God sacrificed the race of man, and drowned the place of his abode.
Geologists and philosophers may write and speculate as they please, about the physical causes of the deluge; but whatever those causes may have been, they were all under the control of the great first cause, the directing hand of God. The real cause was, the crimes of men. God made an example of his determination to maintain his law. More than one hundred
before, he made known his purpose; but the scoffers of the age laughed Noah to scorn, who revealed the will of God, and called upon them to repent of their crimes. Their unbelief, however, did not make void the faith of God.” The destruction of millions of the race, of the entire globe, was nothing, compared with the violation of the Almighty's pledge, or of the moral constitution he had ordained for the government of man. Some philosophic spirits of a former age, doubted whence water could be obtained to drown the world. Later infidels have wondered why such an event has not more frequently occurred. But God has pledged his word, that the waters shall not again submerge the globe, and that summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, shall not fail, till the consummation of its destiny. And herein is the world's security. The moral governor of the universe is the God of nature. He is at the helm of creation, and guides and governs all natural causes to subserve the moral purposes of his lofty sway.
The destruction of the cities of the plain, and the preservation of Lot, afford another striking example. It has been supposed, and that with some reason, that volcanic fires produced the over
throw of Sodom and Gomorrah; and that the asphaltic lakes or Dead Sea, where once those cities stood, are but the crater of an immense volcano which undermined their foundations. Others again, have thought that an earthquake rent the surface, and made the earth and subterranean waters change their places. But let the natural causes be what they may, they were all directed and controlled by that God, who is jealous of his law, and holds his word to be immutable, like himself. He had promised that Lot should escape from the general ruin, and therefore the hidden fires slumber, the earth delays its mighty heavings till he is out of the reach of their fury. “Haste thee, escape thither, to Zoar," said God to him, “ for I cannot do
any thing till thou be come thither.” Lot trod with safety over the opening abyss,-the mighty agents at work in the natural world, were kept in check by the still mightier power of God, who had said that he should be saved. The moral constitution here triumphed over the physical. Whatever philosophic men may have thought and written about the physical necessity for the destruction of Sodom, Christ makes no account of it. The physical causes would have all stayed their destructive work ; the volcanic fires would bave found another vent, or slumbered to the present hour, had it not been for the crimes of the guilty inhabitants of the cities of the plain. These were the immediate causes of their destruction.
Had they repented of their crimes, at the warning voice of Lot, or had the mighty moral works, which were done in Capernaum, been done in them, they would have remained to this day. The pledge of God's word, the protection of his moral sway, is infinitely better than all the security we may propose to ourselves, from what we suppose to be the necessary action of physical causes.
The dispensations of God's providence towards the Jews, and other nations of antiquity, afford illustrations of the same truth. There can be no security, however confident men may be in their individual, social, or national resources, when they seek it in the way of iniquity. Therefore, said God to them (and how many nations and individuals have verified the same to be the invariable law of his providence): “ Therefore have I also, saith God, made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in my law.” The least deviation from his law he will not tolerate. If he has sacrificed almost all the race, and once destroyed the globe that we inhabit, and hurled nation after na