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because it needs none to hide it.-Such a SERMON character is both amiable and venerable. While it ennobles the magistrate and the judge, and adds honour and dignity to the most exalted stations, it commands respect in every rank of life. When the memory of artful and crooked policy speedily sinks, and is extinguished, this true wisdom shall long preserve an honourable memorial among men, and from God shall receive everlasting glory.
On the GOVERNMENT of HUMAN
PROVERBS, xvi. 9.
A man's heart deviseth his way; but the
MANY devices there are, and much exercise of thought and counsel ever going on among mankind. When we look abroad into the world, we behold a very busy and active scene; a great multitude always in motion, actuated by a variety of passions, and engaged in the prosecution of many different designs, where they commonly flatter themselves with the prospect of success. But, much of this
labour, we behold at the same time, falling SERMON to the ground. The race is far from being always to the swift, or the battle to the strong, or riches to men of understanding. It plainly appears, that the efforts of our activity, how great soever they may be, are subject to the control of a superiour invisible Power; to that Providence of Heaven, which works by secret and imperceptible, but irresistible means. Higher counsels than ours, are concerned in the issues of human conduct. Deeper and more extensive plans, of which nothing is known to us, are carried on above. The line is let out, to allow us to run a certain length; but by that line we are all the while invisibly held and are recalled and checked at the pleasure of Heaven.-Such being now the condition of man on earth, let us consider what instruction this state of things is fitted to afford us. I shall first illustrate a little farther the position in the text, that though a man's heart may devise his way, it is the Lord who directeth his steps; and then point out the practical improvement to be made of this doctrine.
AMONG all who admit the existence of a Deity, it has been a general belief that he exercises some government over human affairs. It appeared altogether contrary to reason, to suppose that after God had erected this stupendous fabrick of the universe, had beautified it with so much ornament, and peopled it with such a multitude of rational beings, he should then have thrown it out from his care, as a despised, neglected offspring, and allowed its affairs to float about at random. There was indeed one set of ancient philosophers who adopted this absurd opinion; but though they nominally allowed the existence of some beings whom they called gods, yet as they ascribed to them neither the creation nor the government of the world, they were held to be in reality Atheists.
In what manner, Providence interposes in human affairs; by what means it influences the thoughts and counsels of men, and notwithstanding the influence it exerts, leaves to them the freedom of will and choice, are subjects of dark and mysterious nature, and which have given occa
sion to many an intricate controversy. Let SERMON us remember, that the manner in which God influences the motion of all the heavenly bodies, the nature of that secret power by which he is ever directing the sun and the moon, the planets, stars, and comets, in their course through the Heavens, while they appear to move themselves in a free course, are matters no less inexplicable to us, than the manner in which he influences the counsels of men. But, though the mode of Divine operation remains unknown, the fact of an overruling influence is equally certain in the moral, as it is in the natural world. In cases where the fact is clearly authenticated, we are not at liberty to call its truth in question, merely because we understand not the manner in which it is brought about. Nothing can be more clear from the testimony of Scripture, than that God takes part in all that happens among mankind; directing and overruling the whole course of events so as to make every one of them answer the designs of his wise and righteous government. This is distinctly and explicitly asserted in the text, Throughout all the sacred writings, God