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He has so guided your steps even amid adverse circumstances, as to impress them into your service, and compel them to subserve your spiritual interests; like a skilful pilot who, by judicious tacking, causes almost contrary winels to fill his vessel's sails, and waft her to her destined port.

What, then, are those visitations of health and sickness, of joy and sorrow, prosperity and adversity, but the handmaids of Providence, yea, the frowns and caresses of God, leading you on like a gentle mother to your destination? And thus the testimony of your experience and observation confirms the voice of Revelation, “To them that love God” (and adore His providence), “all things work together unto good.” 1

How sad and wretched is the life of the man who believes not in God's superintending providence ! Like Cain, he is a wanderer and an outcast on the face of the earth. There is no brightness above him, no sunshine on his path, no joy within his breast. Everywhere are chaos and desolation. The music of the spheres affords no melody to his soul. All is discord to him, because he is out of harmony with God and His works. He sees no beauty in the flower at his feet, no brightness in the stars, no glory in the firmament. “He hears only the sound of his own footsteps in God's resplendent crcation. To him it is no creation; to him, these fair creatures are hapless spectres : he knows not what to make

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1 Rom. VIII., 28.

of it. To him heaven and earth have lost their beauty." The past is to him a bad dream; the present, an oppressive weight; the future, a spectre of annihilation. He is without God in this world, and without the hope of Him in the next. O how dreary is such a life, because it is without a purpose! No wonder that so many unbelievers in a Providential God have, like Lucretius, put an end to their miserable lives; and that so many others, like the demons,2 find no satisfaction save that of infecting others with their horrible despair, and of communicating to them their gospel of hate and unbelief?

How blessed, on the contrary, is the man who is always conscious of the overshadowing influence of Divine Providence! He never feels lonely, because he is never alone. Like the infant nestling on his mother's breast, he has an abiding sense of security and confidence. He is ever basking in the sunlight of God's presence. Or if at times the face of God appears dark and lowering, he still recognizes it as the face of his Father. He knows that "whom the Lord loveth, He chastiseth, even as a father, the son in whom he delighteth." The world is not an enigma to him. It is a mirror reflecting his Father's face. It is an open Bible in which he reads God's dealings with His creatures.

No event disquiets or startles or alarms him, or shakes his faith, because he knows that everything that occurs from the fall of an empire to the flight

1 Emerson's Preacher. 2 Matt. XII, 43 et seq.

3 Prov. III., 12.

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of a bird, is controlled by the moral Governor of the world. With the Royal Prophet, he can therefore say: “The Lord is my Shepherd : and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture, He hath brought me up on the waters of refreshment, He hath converted my soul, He hath led me on the paths of justice for His own name's sake. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for Thou art with me.'

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i Ps. XXII.

CHAPTER VII.

POPULAR OBJECTIONS AGAINST DIVINE

PROVIDENCE.

This chapter will be chiefly devoted to the consideration and refutation of some of the most popular objections advanced against the providence of God.

1°. You will say: In the physical world, there are desert wastes, barren mountains, and poisonous plants; and in the animal world, there are many noxious reptiles and savage beasts which "go about seeking whom they may devour.” How can these blots on creation, these constant sources of danger in the physical and animal world, be reconciled with the wisdom, power, and goodness of a God who ought to exclude from His works all that is defective and hurtful to man for whom these things were created ?

I shall first give a general answer to this objection: There are no defects in the works of God. They exist only in your imagination. To form a correct judgment on this subject, you should be acquainted with all the purposes for which each object was created. But this knowledge you have

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not acquired. There are heights and depths in the plan' of creation which you can never reach nor fathom.

Nature has not yet revealed to us all her secrets, and probably she never will. Every fresh discovery hitherto made of nature's laws has afforded new evidence of the fact, that God creates nothing in vain. The more profoundly naturalists will study the secrets of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, the more clearly they will see revealed the marvellous wisdom and foresight of the Creator, and the usefulness of every creature that vegetates, moves, or. exists on the face of the earth.

The researches of science confirm the declaration made by God after the creation, that all things which were created “ were very good.” 1

There is not a leaf of the forest, nor a beast of the field, nor a creeping insect, that does not in some way manifest the creative power, the sublime wisdom, and the infinite goodness of God, and that does not contribute at least indirectly to man's use and benefit.

To descend to particulars. There are, indeed, desert wastes. But even deserts are made serviceable to man.

“But for the deserts of Asia," as Maury observes, “there would be no cultivation in India; for north-east trade winds would prevail all the

year. It is the dry season in India when the north-east trade winds (called there the north-east monsoons) blow. They come over the land, and

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1 Gen. I., 31.

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