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universe with admiration. At present we can only see it by piecemeals ; we have got no gallery large enough to display it in ; and of that part where the weaving runs parallel with our own little line of life, we can only have the dim forecasting in imagination of what the glorious outline will be. Except for the known genius of the Artist, we cannot prophecy the result. We have, however, in divine prediction a sketch of the intended picture which we see progressing, and by careful study may make something out. And though the prophetic sketch in revelation reaches up to heaven, amidst the realities of eternity, while its gradual completion is yet upon earth, amidst many and diverse materials, yet, by careful comparison, and a constant application of the light of revelation to earthly things, we may make something out; we may at least see God's providence as through a glass darkly ; in all things that concern ourselves, if we will use our helps well, we may know the time of our own visitation, although it be not for us to know the times and seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
A second point is in the caution, that God's providence, any more than his word, is not to be reduced to a perfect artificial human system ; its own greatness and our ignorance alike forbid. In this we may apply what Lord Bacon (Advancement of Learning) happily says of systems of Di. vinity. “For he that will reduce a knowledge into an art, will make it round and uniform : but in divinity many things inust be left abrupt, and concluded with this; O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how.unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! So again the apostle saith, we know in part; and to have the form of a total, where there is matter but for a part, cannot be, without supplies by supposition and presumption.” Supposition and presumption are as easy systems of knowledge in the ways of God's providence, as conjectural emendation in the study of God's word. But we are warned against it. For while it is said, Thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth, it is also said, Thy judg. ments are as a great deep : and our blessed Lord did once take occasion to reprove those who would make an unauthorized and ill-natured interpretation of God's judgments. “ Suppose ye that those sinners, on whom the tower in Siloam fell, were
sinners above all them that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Interpreting the Divine providence in reference to human destiny, we are under restrictions ; in reference to the Divine glory, we are under none. To this last grand result all things tend harmoniously; all dispensations sweeping onward ; even the wrath of man shall praise God; the curses of his enemies shall glorify him. The rainbow of his divine attributes encircles the darkest storms of wickedness, and binds them for the reflection of his glory to the gaze of an admiring universe.
A third point, without any question, is this, that all human revolutions are connected with the cross of Christ. Sometimes we see that connection plainly, sometimes not. Sometimes, when the main current of a great series of events flows darkly, there are certain inferior included connections with God's purposes, which we seem to see very plainly. We are accustomed to look at things minutely, more than in the mass. The meanings of God are watched very indifferently any where ; our vision is circumscribed, and its habit microscopic rather than telescopic.. A comprehensive view is needed. If a mind like that which produced the History of Human Redemption should take Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and point out, as it went onward through that mighty tide of events, the moral and spiritual connexions of its course with the great designs of God; or if an angel should do this, what a divinely illuminated margin would surround every page!
Sometimes a design, unacknowledged in the event, becomes clear in the history. The providence of God, invisible for many years, shines out at length so brightly, as to compel the admiration of every beholder. It is said there are stars so distant, that though their light has been travelling towards us ever since creation, it has not yet reached us ; so there are meanings in God's dispensations, a light in events long past, which, through our imperfection of moral vision, or the thick medium through which we have to judge, may not yet have broken upon us, may not, indeed, till far in the bosom of eternity. The meaning of the brazen serpent in the wilderness was not seen till the Son of Man was lifted up upon the cross. The purpose of David's education as a shepherd was not read till the publication of the book of
Psalms. There was a meaning in that three years' drought and famine in the time of Elijah in the reign of Ahab in the land of Judea, not known even to the church of God, till the general epistle of James, after the crucifixion of our Saviour. An event like that of Bunyan's imprisonment for thirteen years had a meaning that could not be seen by that generation, indeed is but beginning to be known now, after the translation of the Pilgrim's Progress into more than twen. ty languages. An event in a still greater cycle of dispensations, like the banishment of the Puritans to America, had a meaning which we are now only beginning to comprehend. An event like that which threw the key of the Mediterranean into possession of a Protestant power, and did the same with that bridge between the oriental and occidental world, the Island of Malta, could not be understood, till those future events had begun to open, in preparation for which those previous steps of God's providence were taken. The establishment of the English East India Company, and the vast accession of power to the English nation over the continent of India, are events to be read in connection with that beneficent missionary effort now following, and which, sooner or later, must follow in the train of the advancement of a Protestant Christian nation's political empire.
The path of God's providence in reference to his own people is far more clear and intelligible than its meaning in regard to others; and the reason is very plain; for they are under his especial guidance, and are the channel of his benevolence to the world ; and all events in reference to themselves are to be interpreted by that rule of mercy, all things work together for good to them that love God; and in reference to others, and to the world at large in connection with themselves, by another probable rule, that in proportion to their fervent breathings after usefulness, all things shall work together for God's greatest glory through their instrumentality. The life of God's people in its windings through a dark generation and the wilderness of the world is like a silver streamlet shining to the sun ; it is like a line of fountains and of palm trees through the desert. Wherever any portion of God's church lives, there is God's light shining, there are the Divine purposes concentrating: and if the temper of the people of God were more sinple, childlike, and devout, the course of the Divine providence in them,
amidst the world of the ungodly, would be like a furrow of light ploughed into chaos. If it were not for the course of Redemption, and the existence of the church of Christ through the world's history, there could be no more interest in the movements of a fallen world than in a contest of gladiators. If any man could be pleased with the one spectacle, he might with the other; but the events on earth lose all meaning, as soon as they are dissevered from their connection with the progressive kingdom of Jesus. Nor can they ever be read in their true meaning till that connection is in some way made visible to the mind.
A fourth point of importance is the spirituality of view necessary for the comprehension of the meaning either of providence or prophecy. We should see God's providential glory in the world much more clearly were we more spiritual. A man accustomed to walk with God, and to see all things under the influences of his Spirit, possesses a power of observation, to which others are perfect strangers. A sort of spiritual intuition is attained in the movements and designs of God. As a seaman can detect a ship in the horizon where a landsman sees only the clear sky; can interpret the first moanings of a storm, when a landsman sees only fair weather ; so it is in spiritual things. A great deal depends on one's position in the spiritual world. To those that inhabit the mountain tops, the light breaks a great while earlier, and shines a great while longer, than to those that live in the valley. And so, if a man will but take pains to get above the world, he shall live a great part of his time in the clear light of God, and in the enjoyment of a vast prospect. One can never forget the spiritual lessons which he learns amidst the mountain scenery of Switzerland. Often, when the vales were filled with clouds, we were told by those who knew the weather that it was bright above, and a favorable day for our excursion : and sometimes, after toiling upwards for hours amidst a wet mist so thick that scarce the path before us was visible, we rose suddenly into the clear atmosphere, with an illimitable vast of creation disclosed as in a moment, with the tops of the snow-shining mountains around us, and that immense abyss of cloud beneath, as we ascended higher, a white extended sea in billows of smooth dove-like beauty to the morning sun. The summits of those gigantic mountains, bright like the day, and as
uned in the BE can detect 1
the clear si73 when a larta al things 19
calm as eternity, might offer no unworthy symbols of the
We are vet at the foundation of the scheme of human redemption, in the midst of the preparatory work for the
SECOND SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. I.
ible, we mus