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DISCOURSE XXIV.

ON THE PROVIDENCÉ OF GOD WITH RESPECT

TO NATIONS.

*

MATTHEW, vi. 26.

Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow

not, neither do they reap, nor yet ga" ther into barns ; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?.

When we were last met, my brethren, I took occasion, from these words, to submit to you some leading views on the interesting subject of a Divine Providence. I endeavoured to point out, both in the general aspect of human affairs, and in the laws by which the conduct of individuals is regulated, and on which their success and happiness depends, the traces of a superior wisdom and goodness; and, as the result of the inquiry, I suggested to you, in the words of our Saviour, those sentiments of trust and confidence in the protection of Heaven, which ought ever to accompany us in all our innocent and virtuous efforts, whatever clouds of danger or misfortune may darken our prospect.

* Preached on March 21, 1811, the day of a General Fast.

It is with such sentiments, I trust, that we are this day assembled in the house of our heavenly Father. We are now met, not as individuals merely, but as citizens. We are met amidst the perplexities of the country which is dear to us, and have thrown ourselves, with one

accord, before the throne of Omnipotent wisdom, and have sought its inspiration to teach

us,

what are the grounds of confidence

upon

which we may repose, and what are the duties which remain for us to perform. In the midst of our fears and our sorrows, we have again heard the simple words of Divine instruction, and have been desired to look no farther than to “ the fowls of the air,” for the foundation of our assurance, that the interests neither of individuals, nor of nations, will be neglected in the Providence of Heaven.

When I formerly addressed you, I remarked that the hand of God is much more distinctly traced in the general course of human affairs, than in the history of particular men. Men, as individuals, are very much left to their own direction, and their success in this life, and their happiness in another, depend principally upon their own conduct. When we look, however, to nations or communities, it is not difficult to discern an higher wisdom at work than that of the human actors. We there perceive the separate and jarring interests of individuals combining, without their intention, to the general good of the whole ;-we see frequently the deepest designs of human policy ending in folly,--and in the silent course of events, improvements produced on the structure of governments, and on the general aspect of nations, which can seldom be effected by the bold hand of innovation. In all these, and innumerable other

particulars, we may trace, in the formation and guidance of nations, a wisdom superior to that of man, and amidst all their hazards and perplexities, it becomes them, therefore, to look up with confidence and serenity to that mighty Power

power

which watches over them. It is not the dictate of Superstition,—it is the wisdom of Religion, to believe that their stability rests upon firmer foundations than human purposes and designs; and it is weakness to lose confidence in the ful arm which upholds them, although they may be assailed by storms from without, or may even betray symptoms of infirmity within.

This is the feeling, my brethren, which men, in a private station, especially, who are not themselves employed in the guidance of public affairs, ought to cherish amidst the dangers of their times. As members of a community, we approach nearer in resemblance to the “ fowls 66 of the air,” which owe their support and protection more to Divine benevolence than to their own exertion—than when we

are regarded as individuals merely. Our country is the great tree

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