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Others there are who doubt of a Providence, for those very reasons which ought more fully to convince them of it. They see the world filled with rapine and violence, and therefore conclude there is no superintending Providence to direct the actions of men. But they should consider, that these things, which proceed from the abuse of natural liberty, only become disorders as they contradict an established order ; and that order is nothing but the law of Providence, which stamps a mark of infamy upon every deviation from its bounds. Thus treachery. and perfidiousness are universally abhorred: and why? Because a love of integrity and upright dealing is implanted in us by a Providence. Thus theft and rapine will always be hated and disgraced, because there is a Providence, which has established a rule of right and wrong, and inspired into the breast of every man a natural sense of probity and honour, and which will not suffer its dictates to bę violated, without the stings of remorse, shame, and confusion, And thus every irregularity in the moral world, as contradicting an established law, implanted in the breasts of all men, plainly supposes and implies the existence of a Providence, by which that law was first implanted,
Such then is the folly of those who renounce the belief of a Providence, through a spirit of infidelity! Let us, in the next place, see whether they are viser who do indeed profess to believe a Providence, but, through a spirit of corruption, reject its authority, and have not God in all their thoughts.
It is an undeniable truth, which serves to give us an exalted idea of the Deity, that God would be no God to us, if we could enjoy any solid happiness without him. This, therefore, is a convincing proof that he is our ultimate end and chief good, and that we make ourselves miserable the moment we forsake him. And this, in fact, we every day see verified in those who throw off their dependence upon God, and follow their own corrupt imaginations.
: Paint to your imaginations a ship in the midst. of the wide ocean, buffeted by the winds and waves, without compass to guide, or pilot to steer its course : such is the man who, in the great voyage of the world, is without God as the rule of his conduct, and the support of his weakness. For when he has once renounced the protection of Providence, upon what can he depend, or whither shall he fly? Will he depend upon himself for support? Alas! there he will
find but small comfort. Let 'him first well weigh, on the one hand, the snares with which he is beset, the dangers with which he is surrounded, and the enemies with which he is assaulted; and, on the other, the treachery of his own heart, and the general infirmity of nature, by turns overwhelmed with fear, de pressed with sorrow, inflamed with revenge, devoured with pride, transported with lust, embittered by disappointment; let him well weigh these melancholy concomitants of human life, and he will find little reason to fly to himself for succour. The solitary traveller, exposed to the dangers of a pathless wilderness, amidst the horrors of midnight, without any guide to direct his wandering steps ;-the captive exile, expiring under the complicated miseries of darkness, famine, and disease, without hope of relief, and without one friend to cheer his fainting soul;-afford but a faint picture of the wretchedness of man left to himself with God and his Providence.
Should he, therefore, conscious of his own weakness, fly for help to others, let him learn, from the mouth of wisdom itself, what he is to expect from that quarter: “For cursed is the
man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh “ his arm, and whose heart departeth from the
- Lord.” And saith not every day's experience the same? For what can be a greater curse than trust for our support in man?
Or what can be a greater wretchedness than a servile dependence on the favour of the great and opulent? To stand, like Tantalus *, with burning lips, amidst streams which we are forbidden to taste ;—to grasp, with extended hands, at pleasures which we can never reach ;-to sacrifice our understanding to the man we despise; -to watch the nod of folly, or court the smiles of ignorance ;--to echo back the aphorisms of dullness, or reflect the grin of conceit;-to hear the insults of pride with awe, and the injuries of oppression with tameness ;-and, after all, perhaps, to be capriciously deprived of our hopes, without just cause or pretence :--these are miseries which would extort from meekness itself the feeling apostrophe of the poet, “ Turn thy complexion thence, Patience, thou young
and rose-lip'd cherubim.” Should
you doubt of this, ask those who have put their trust in the arm of flesh, and they will readily own that their condition is truly miserable and horrid. This is the best of their condition, even when fortune smiles upon them,
and they meet with no obstacles to their success. But when, after all their worldly policy and wisdom, some cross accident intervenes, to baffle their designs, and confound their devices; when they see themselves forgotten, despised, and neglected by those in whom they trusted; -when they look back with shame upon their own base compliances and unmanly servilities; --then do they truly feel the bitterness of that curse which the prophet denounces against those that put their trust in man, and depart from the living God; then would they willingly change their plan, and fly for protection to that Providence, which was not before in all their thoughts. But, unhappy men ! 'as they insulted over God in their prosperity, so will he refuse to hear them in the day of their distress. They would not own him as a Father, they will, therefore, now feel him as a Judge; he will justly ask them, in the language of scripture,
" Where “ now are their gods, their rock in whom they " trusted? Let them rise
up and help you, and “ be your protection.” These were the gods of your prosperous days, in whom ye trusted, neglecting my power and fatherly care; apply, therefore to them in your adversity, and, if they are able, let them save you and deliver you out of