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THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
There is a' Providence. To say: There is a God, is to say: There is a Providential God; for, we cannot conceive a Creator, who would be indifferent to the works of His hands.
The world with all that it contains, which was created by Divine Power, is also governed by Divine Wisdom. God is mindful of all His creatures. He never wearies watching over them. He controls all beings by laws adapted to their nature, and directs them to their respective destinies.
God's Providence extends not only to every creature that exists, but to every event that happens in the world. He holds in His hands not only the destiny of nations, but also that of individuals. He numbers not only the stars of heaven, but the very hairs of your head. He guides not only every planet that courses through space, but every bird that cleaves the air: 6 Not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father." He sustains the worm that crawls on the earth, as
well as the glowing seraph that adores in heaven. His omnipotent wisdom and providence are displayed in the one, as well as in the other. In a word, there is no creature, how vile soever; there is no event or circumstance how insignificant soever, which is beyond the domain of God's providence.
Nothing is beneath His personal supervision. If the creation of the smallest insect does not detract from His Majesty, surely His superintending providence over it, does not conrpromise His dignity. The whole world is to be accounted as nothing in comparison with God. If, therefore, the care of little things would be unworthy of God, so also would be the care of the universe itself.
But if God governs the brute creation and all animal life and even inanimate nature, He rules mankind by a special providence; and it is with God's government of man that we are chiefly concerned. How can we doubt this special providence when we reflect that our Creator has made us to His own image and likeness, that He has given us an immortal soul, that He has endowed us with the Godlike faculties of intelligence and free-will, that He has made us the lords of His earthly creation, and that He has destined us for imperishable bliss in the life to come! Man is the only earthly creature who is made partaker of these sublime gifts.
Yes, God has not only created us, but He created us for a definite purpose, a certain end. His relations toward us began indeed actually with our creation, but did not end there. His wisdom and
goodness required that He should perfect the work He had begun, by leading us onward to our destination; and as this destiny will be attained only in the life to come, and as this life will be eternal, it follows that God's providence will accompany us throughout the present life, and extend even beyond it.
Every moment of our life implies, as it were, a new and supplementary act of creation. As none but a Divine Power could give us life, so none but a Divine Providence can sustain and perpetuate it. Every breath we breathe, every pulsation of our heart, is a fresh manifestation of divine energy
a and clemency. He is more necessary for our existence than the air we breathe, or the sun that enlightens us.
If I want to set - before you a pattern of tender affection and provident care, I naturally select a good father in his relations toward his child, as the embodiment of these virtues. A kind father instinctively loves his child. From the moment
. of birth, the infant is the object of parental solicitude. To clothe and feed and shelter it, is a labor of love. What is it that stimulates the father's zeal in his daily avocations? What is it that enables him to endure heat and cold, fatigue and privation, with patience and fortitude? It is his love for his child and the desire to provide for its future wants. So closely is he identified with his offspring, that he accounts himself happy or miserable just in proportion as his child succeeds or fails in life. And so strictly in accordance with man's
nature is this parental affection, that its exercise occasions no surprise, while the absence of it would brand the father as a moral monster. But why do I speak of man alone? Are not the instincts of parental love so deeply rooted even in the brute creation, that the fierce tigress will protect her offspring at the risk of her own life?
Now, what is the earthly parent but the representative of our Heavenly Father, “of whom all
“ paternity in heaven and earth is named ?”1 God is the type and model of all earthly parents. The more devoted a father is to the true interests of his offspring, the more closely he resembles the Divine Pattern.
Can we, therefore, expect to discover in an earthly parent any benevolent characteristics not found in the Almighty Father of all? Shall the poor copy possess virtues not existing in the great Original ? Can you imagine that God gave you life without intending to provide all that is necessary to sustain it? Is He like a cruel tyrant who punishes his subjects through mere caprice? Or shall we compare Him to those unnatural monsters said to devour their own offspring as soon as they are born? Or shall we compare our Heavenly Father to the god of the African Fetich-worshippers, who is hidden beyond the clouds, and who takes no interest in them? This is not the God in whom we believe. If there is any love, any provident care, any tender devo
1 Ephes. III., 15.
tion in an earthly father, they are but the faint ray of the sunshine that beams upon us from the heart of our heavenly Father.
It is too well known that many parents fail to make wise and suitable provision for their offspring on account of their inexperience and limited knowledge of parental duty, or on account of circumscribed means, or owing to indifference or misplaced affection. But our Heavenly Father does not labor under any of these defects. He cannot be charged with ignorance, since our life, past, present, and future, is clearly seen by Him. He cannot be suspected of inability to provide for us, as nothing is impossible to Him. Nor can He be charged with indifference toward us, since He is essentially good and benevolent. A God of infinite knowledge, He is acquainted with all our wants : a God of omnipotent power, He is abundantly able to supply them: a Father of tender compassion, He yearns to make us happy.
He knows our wants in fact, infinitely better than we know them ourselves. How often have we longed for something with sleepless anxiety; and God, knowing full well that if we had succeeded in obtaining it, it would prove to us a curse instead of a blessing, mercifully withheld from us the object of our desires. He dealt with us like a prudent father who refuses to give his child a dangerous toy which might prove injurious to it.
Nay, besides a father's care, God has more than a mother's undying love for us.
66 Can a woman,”