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DEPENDENCE ON GOD FOR LIFE.
DECEMBER 31, 1826.
AND the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou
not glorified. — DANIEL, V. 23.
The prophet Daniel was carried to Babylon early in life, and lived there during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar. He interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and instructed him in the true knowledge of the true God, which his son Belshazzar must have once known, but did not choose to remember. His father Nebuchadnezzar had publicly professed, in the most explicit and solemn language, his firm belief in the only living and true God. 66 Now I Nebuchad. nezzar praise, and extol, and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those who walk in pride he is able to abase.” Though Belshazzar had heard this solemn declaration of his father's faith in the being, perfections and government of the true God, yet he disregarded it, and stupidly bowed down to dumb idols, which could afford him no relief in a day of danger and distress. While he was feasting, and carousing, and worshipping his golden gods, in contempt of his Creator and Preserver, he saw the fingers of a man's hand, writing his fearful doom on the wall of his palace, which filled him with consternation and horror. He called for the astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers, to read and explain the writing; but they could not read it, nor make known to the king the interpretation of it.
This enhanced his anxiety and distress. But his queen soon relieved his mind, by advising him to send for Daniel, who had inter
preted his father's dream. He complied with her advice, and
I. Show that God is the preserver of their lives; and,
I. I am briefly to consider, that God is the preserver of the lives of men. He is certainly the giver, and of consequence the preserver of life. We cannot conceive that God can give mankind independent life, any more than independent exist ence. Life is sustained and preserved by secondary causes; and all the secondary causes of the preservation of life are under the entire control of God, who can make them the means of destroying, as well as of preserving life. All the elements, the air, the earth, the water, and the fire, which serve to preserve life, may be and often are employed by God to destroy it
. It appears from the whole course of providence, that God constantly carries the lives of all men in his hand. And this truth is plainly and abundantly taught in scripture. God is called “the fountain of life.” Job calls him the preserver of man." David says, he is the preserver of man and beast. Daniel tells Belshazzar, “the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glori
: fied.” And Paul declares, that God that made the world
, and all things therein, giveth to all, life, and breath, and all things.” The Bible every where confirms the declaration, that “in "Him we live, and move, and have our being;" which implies that all mankind are constantly and entirely dependent upon God the giver and preserver of life. The preservation of life amounts to a constant creation, and is the effect of the unremitting power and goodness of God. I now proceed to show,
II. That men ought to maintain a realizing sense of this important truth. For,
1. They are all capable of realizing it. The horse and the mule, the crane and the swallow, and all the animal creation, are dependent upon God for life, and breath, and all things; but these mere animals are entirely destitute of capacity to know that God is their creator and
This exempts them from all obligations to know and realize their entire and constant dependence upon their creator and preserver.
But men are made wiser than the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven, and the inspiration of the Almighty has given them understanding, to trace their own existence, and the existence of all created natures up to the first and supreme cause.
And though this first and supreme cause is invisible to their bodily eye, yet to the eye of their mind, "the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” So that they are without excuse, if they do not realize his being and supremacy, and their own absolute dependence upon him. Indeed, this is so easy, that children very early are capable of being made to know that God is the constant preserver of their lives. Those who have had the least instruction and lived in the greatest stupidity, can very easily realize their dependence upon God for the preservation of life in the hour of danger. The sailor, the soldier, the infidel, will instantaneously cry to God to preserve their lives, when death or imminent danger appears near.
Persons of all ages and characters are daily manifesting by their conduct that they are very capable of knowing and realizing their absolute dependence upon God for the preservation of life. And this capacity creates an obligation. If they know God, they ought to treat him as God. This was the duty of Belshazzar, a heathen, and much more the duty of all who live under the full blaze of gospel light.
2. God requires all men to live under an habitual sense of their constant dependence upon him, as the preserver and dis
He has informed them in his word, that he has determined the number of their months and days, and fixed the bounds of life, over which they cannot pass.
He has told them, “ There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain it in the day of death." And upon this ground, he has admonished them to live under a practical sense that it depends entirely upon his will every day, whether they shall live or die.
6 Go to now, ye that say, to-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain; whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.
poser of life.
For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will we shall live, and do this, or that.” Agreeably to this, we find another solemn admonition against presuming upon the preservation of life. “ Boast not thyself of to-morrow: for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” These declarations of God's supremacy and man's dependence lay every one under indispensable obligation to realize that God is the preserver and disposer of life. God requires every one to live and act every day as though it might be his last, for this plain and obvious reason, that it may be his last. Every man therefore ought to begin and end the day with God, or “to be in the fear of the Lord all the day long."
The word of God concurs with his providence, and calls upon all men to live from day to day, under a realizing sense that their Maker is their preserver.
3. Good men do realize their constant and absolute dependence upon God for the preservation of life. This is the language of some of the best of men whose views and feelings are recorded in the Bible. Job speaks very freely and fully upon this subject. He says unto God, “ Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay, and wilt thou bring me into dust again? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” David says, “ As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me. Thy vows are upon me, O God; I will render praises unto thee; for thou hast delivered my soul from death : wilt thou not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living? For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living." Ezra and Nehemiah frequently acknowledged the power and goodness of God in the preservation of their lives. Paul used to make his promises under a sense of his dependence upon the preserving power and goodness of God. He promised the Corinthians, " I will come unto you shortly, if the Lord will ;” and he desires the prayers of the christians at Rome, that “he may come to them by the will of God.” Indeed, all real christians have an habitual sense that God is the preserver of life. This they have been effectually taught, by being in the hand of God, and shaken over death and the pit. They have experienced their own weakness and dependence, and realized that God could wound or heal, destroy or save, and that none could deliver out of his hand. Unreserved submission to God always flows from a sense of absolute dependence upon him. And while christians feel and act agreeably to their peculiar character, they live and act under a realizing sense that in God they live, and move, and have their being, and that without him they can do nothing. But if this be the genuine feeling of christians, it ought to be the feeling of all mankind; for they are all equally and constantly dependent on God,“ in whose hand their breath is, and whose are all their ways.” Their stupidity does not destroy their obligation to live as seeing him who is invisible, though it prevents their doing their duty.
4. Men ought to maintain a realizing sense of their constant dependence upon God for the preservation of life, in order to form all their temporal and spiritual designs with wisdom and propriety. If God be the preserver and disposer of life, then he is the disposer of all things which are connected with and dependent on life. If the lives of all men are in the sovereign hand of God, then the world and the things of the world are in the sovereign hand of God; and while men view their own lives and the lives of all other men, and the world in which they all live, as in the hands of God, the world and all things in it appear very different from what they do, when God the preserver and disposer of all is out of sight and out of mind. This is evident from general observation and experience. We see that when those who have been living without God in the world, come to realize that he is the preserver of life and disposer of all things, they feel and speak and act very differently from what they did before. Their views, opinions and conduct are greatly altered. And the reason is obvious. When they realize their own dependence, and the dependence of all men and of all things upon God, it fills their minds with a realizing sense of his universal presence and providence. This cuts off all dependence upon themselves, and upon others, which sinks them and the world into their proper vanity and insignificance. Now, if such be the natural consequence of men's realizing that God is the preserver and disposer of all things, then it is a matter of high importance that they should realize this great and practical truth. They cannot possibly judge, feel and act wisely, until they do realize their own true situation, and the true situation of all men and of all things around them. They must have false views, false hopes, and false fears, so long as they overlook the hand of God in preserving and governing all things. It therefore deeply concerns them to realize a truth which will rectify their mistakes, and naturally lead them to feel and act as dependent creatures. There is no