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carried thern captives. So in the text it is said, He suffered no man to do them wrong.
If we look on some particular instances of divine conduct, the wonderful love of God to his church may be seen. He plagued the Egyptians, and brought his people out of Egypt. He preserved them when passing through the sea, but Pharaoh, and his host sunk as lead in the mighty waters. He preserved them in their journey through the wilderness, and gave them Canaan, the land he had promised to give them.
From the time the Hebrews were delivered from their bondage in Egypt, to their peaceable settlement in the promised land, which was between forty and fifty years, the sacred history records a series of remarkable providences, and many real miracles, by all which the God of Israel gave evidences of the great love he had for his people.
The history of the church, under the government of the judges, in Israel, and the reign of their kings, is filled with astonishing events in favor of God's people. They were, it is true, in the power of their enemies, sometimes, and those who hated them bare rule over them. But then, God, in his boly providence, would deliver them from the power of their enemies, and set them at liberty from those who hated them.
It was a long and dark night with the church, during the seventy years captivity in Babylon; but the time of its deliverance was fixed by the purpose of God, and when that set time was come, his captives are liberated by Cyrus, and returned to Zion with songs of joy. When we see such stupendous works of God in behalf of his people we may well say, Behold horo he loved them.
But there is one divine work, at which we may all marvel, which is a greater evidence of God's love for his church, than all his other works. All are eclipsed, are as nothing if compared with this. I have reference to the redemption of the church by the blood of the Lord Jesus. The Apostle says, christ loved the church, and gave himeslf for it. Again it is written, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. In the judgment of an inspired writer, this is the greatest manifestation of divine love for the church that ever was made. His words are,
God commended his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Thus we see that God not only says he loves his church, but, has, also given praetical evidence, that he loves it, by what he has done for it.
Other instances. might be specified, in whieh God manifests his wonderful love of his church : such as sending the Holy Spirit to apply the fruits of Christ's atonement to the elect;-giving a revelation ;-preserving the church from age to age, and making exeeeding great and precious promises to it. But these particulars must be passed over by mentioning, only; because, to dwell on them at large, would occupy too much time.
III. God always exercises a speeial providence over his church, and all its concerns, and so takes care of it.
The church, in a cloudy and dark day, was almost ready to sink under a pressure of affliction, thinking she was forsaken of her God. Isaiah, 49. 14. But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten. But what saith the answer of God to the desponding church? Verses 15, 16. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
That the moral Governor of the world always exercises a particular providence over the church, and all its concerns, may be seen in divine promises, and declarations
by attending to some particular events, and by declarations, and acknowledgments made by the church.
In the first place let us look at some divine declarations, and promises. This is one promise, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. This another, I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. That God will take a particular care of his people, in times of the greatest danger, and distress, he gives them assurance in this promise. Isai. xliii, 2. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and when through the rivers, they shall not overflow the : when thou walkest through
the fire thou shalt not be burnt ; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. The enemies of God's people may attempt their destruction, but they cannot effect it; the church sees its safety in this promise made by the King of the church, the Lord Jesus. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And in this, No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.
These are some of the promises God has made to his church, in which he has given assurance of its protection. Let us now attend to some instances of divine conduct, in which may be seen the special providence exercised over the church, and whatever concerns its affairs.
Here we may notice in the first place, what the Psalmist observes respecting Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with whom, and their seed God made a covenant. Psal. cv. 12-15. When they were few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it-(the land of Canaan ;) when they went from one nation to another ; from one kingdom to another people : he suffered no man to do them wrong; yea, he reproved kings for their sakes ; suying, touchi not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. Of Jacob, and his family, at a certain time it is said, The terror of God was upon the cities, that
were found about them, and they did not pursue after themi. s When Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob's sons, had barbarously
murdered the Shechemites, it is strange the neighboring nations, did not rise and destroy Jacob, and his defenceless family. But they were restrained by some unaccountable fear of Jacob, and his children. The Lord kept them back from pursuing them. Under the divine pretection, they journey safely, and none dare touch them, no one dare do them harm.
From this time, until the tribes of the Lord were settled in the land of Canaan, their history fills many pages of the sacred volume, in which are recorded many stupendous works of the Almighty; surprising turns in divine providence; remarkable occurrences, and miracle after miracle is wrought in their favor. The God of Israel, for the benefit of his people, is, in all places, times, and circumstances, making displays of his infinite power, wisdom and goodness.
At one time God sent a famine among the nations; and ne doubt, Jacob, and his family would have perished, if God
had not sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a serant. In this instance God made use of the grea: wickedness of Joseph's brethren to save the church from perishing by famine.
The barbarous policy of Pharaoh, ordering all the male children of the Hebrews to be thrown into the river, would have destroyed the whole race, in a few years ; had not God interposed, and by his miraculous power brought them out of Egypt.
When the chosen tribes came to the Red Sea, they were hemmed in on every side ; there was no way by which they could escape but upward ; and thence their deliverance came. They march through the sea in safety; which the Egyptians essaying to do were drowned.
If we follow the camp of Israel through the wilderness follow Joshua in his conquest of Canaan-follow the history of the churcb recorded in the book of Judges, we see-Oh how many wonderful works of the ALMIGHTY, do we see! And all these wonderful works for what? One design is to preserve the churh. They teach us that God exercises a special providence about his church, and all its concerns.
The history of the Israelites under the reign of their kings, is also, filled with remarkable interpositions of Divine providence in their favor. Two instances, only, will be now brought to your recollection. One is under the reign of Asa, king of Judah. 'Zerah, the Ethiopian, invaded the country ef Judah with an army of a thousand thousand. Asa had an army of, only, two hundred and eighty thousand; yet the Lord delivered this immense army into the hands of Asa ; his little army, obtained a complete victory over an army of a thousand thousand, and three hundred Chariots. The Lord smote the Ethiopians, before Asa, and Judah. So the historian remarks. ii. Cron. 14.
The other instance, to be noted, is under the reign of Hezekiah. In the fourteenth year of bis reign, his kingdom was invaded by Sennacherib king of Assyria. He took all the fenced cities of Juduh. Hezekiah, full of fear and perplexity, applies to his God, by prayer. The prophet Isaiah, is sent by God, to comfort the king. He tells him, among oth
er things, that Sennacherib, shall not come before Jerusalem, nor shoot an arrow against it. So it came to pass ; for that night the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and eighty-five thousuna. On this piece of history the sacred historian has this remark. Thus the Lord preserved Hezekiah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, from the hand of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guarded them on every side.
Thus by the agency of God, in disposing events, we see, that he has a particular regard to the church, and all its concerns. What is said of David, particularly, may be said of the church generally. The Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.
Let us now hear the declarations, and acknowledgments of the church, in reference to the special providences of God, about, and over all its concerns.
In the following declaration the church acknowledges her preservation to be wholly from the Lord. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say: If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against ust. Again, My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Again, The Lord is thy keeper. Once more; The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in, from this time forth, and forevermore.
We have now seen what God has said respecting his partioular care of the church-what he has done in taking care of it, and that the church acknowledges her safety to be, entirely, owing to the special providence of God, which is conversant about all its concerns.
If it be so, it may then be asked, how shall we account for the calamities which the church has suffered, and probably, has yet to suffer? An answer to such a question, will, naturally fall under the next proposition; to which we now pass.
IV. The judgments which God sends on the world, and on the church, are for the sake of the church. He reproved kings for their sakes.
The Apostle tells the church at Corinth, All things are for your sakes. To the same church he says, all things are