Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

1

cometh into the world.” It affects more or less all his movements. In the domain of the intellect and of the moral feelings, ten thousand suggestions may be daily made, by which revolution may be wrought to meet revolution, without invading at all human liberty, and yet carrying forward individual destiny, just in proportion as that individual yields to those suggestions in good faith. Nor do these suggestions interfere at all with natural law; but they are given frequently that we may shun its force. But God is all in all. Here, too, in a high degree, is the field for the ministration of angels. They may have charge of the winds—they may not. But God holdeth all, guideth all, and saves. or destroys at his pleasure; but all in perfect rectitude, and in accordance with a just government for rational and moral beings.

Allowing the above elements to be embraced in Providential agency towards man, the question now occurs, Do they answer the conditions of natural law ?-of human experience ?-of the Scriptures? If they conform to these, the inference is, the truth of the theory. Let us recapitulate.

1. Natural law is an agent of Divine government; but one which God never leaves, and one which he can use at his pleasure.

2. Divine Providence is seen, in governing the world, by touching a spring in the spiritual world, but in accordance with natural law.

3. God governs and providentially interposes, by suggestions to the mind, anterior to natural law; and thus saves or destroys, builds up or plucks down an empire.

4. God providentially interposes by endowing his creatures, at times, with supernatural vigour.

5. God directly interrupts natural law.

6. Providence and direct interposition of God is seen in all his movements in the kingdom of grace. The principles may be stated in another form:

1. God is the Creator.
2. God is the Upholder.
3. By Him all things consist.

4. God is the sole Governor-not natural law; not man; not angels; not fate; not decree; not form of matter; not mind, save His ever eternal intelligence, which is always present—always active; for “ in God we live, and move, and have our being." Now, we ask, Do these views of Providence explain the connexion of that Providence with life ? --with natural law ?_with the Bible ?

1. Do they accord with natural law? They answer precisely to this. We see universal stability, as though the changeless God held the reins of all the orbs in the universe; as though He drove them

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

in their courses, as the careful driver does his steeds, with not the variation of an azimuth, save when moral purposes—the highest interest in his kingdom--demand it. Just as a king would bend every feature of his kingdom for justice or mercy.

2. Do they answer to the views of Providential agency held out in the Bible? We could express our views in its very language. We could not form words that would express these views so perfectly. We could do this by quoting whole chapters—the whole of the Psalms, of the Book of Job, and of the Prophets generally.

3. Do these views accord with the government of nations, and of the world, so as to explain the recorded facts of past history? They give a clear and consistent account of that government for six thou

sand years.

4. Do they harmonize with human experience? They not only do this, but human experience cannot be explained without admitting all the Providential agencies we have named. The experience of Abraham, of Lot, of Moses, of Samuel, of the whole kingdom of David, of Enoch, of Elijah, and of every other man, demands such an exposition. The history of life, of the whole world, demands these admissions. We take it, therefore, that they are true. They have upon them the seal of God—of history, of experience, of the Divine word.

5. But will these views of Divine Providence allow us to explain, or will they accord with some of the more difficult portions of Scripture? We have not had our eye upon this peculiar feature of Providence in this article ; yet the view accords with the darkest features of the Divine government, and, in some respects, will help to explain them. If we allow as the great basis of mental operation and Divine action, the perceptive faculties of the Divine mind, and allow the Godhead to see or perceive all that is or can be—all that could have been, but never will be; and to perceive or see all things as they are—a contingent event as a contingent event, a fixed event as fixed, an event that might be, but will not, as such, in a word, if we allow that God sees things as they are, in himself and out of himself, and at the same time allow him to be a FREE BEING, to do as he will, order as he will, difficulties lessen in our conceptions of the Divine government in a very high degree: and although mystery may remain, yet it is just such a mystery as is in harmony with the structure of the human mind.

There is another admission which throws light upon the whole subject, namely: That God not only had a right, but that it was consistent with, and even the dictate of, infinite goodness, to make intelligences free, with every necessary means to remain thus, and

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors]

be happy. Another cloud still is taken away, if we admit, that to make an intelligent and moral being happy, he must make him free. For ourselves we have come to this conclusion. It appears to us that no intelligent and moral being can be happy without a consciousness that he loves God. And the consciousness that he does not love loveliness itself, and that he cannot do this, would carry a pang to his heart, and be a source of endless disappointment to him. If his consciousness witnesses to him that he cannot love God, but that he must move as the mote is moved, he would deem himself degraded, and, of consequence, unhappy. Take away his consciousness of moral feeling, and you may make him a sheep or a mote, and he is at rest; but with that consciousness, he can only be happy in freedom.

Once more : If you allow the Divine Being the foresight named; and, at the same time, allow of special interposition from the spiritual world, and from natural law; and allow, what the Scriptures plainly declare, that God leads his people by his Spirit, all else that is necessary to clear some of the Scriptures of the clouds upon them, is, for the Divine Being to select his time and place for any given action of himself. Thus: “God sent Joseph into Egypt, to preserve life;" but wicked hands were in the affair. Now, if God foresaw all things as they are, it was only necessary in this case, (although we believe his hand was in it in a more extensive sense, and which we will presently explain,) for the Divine Being to select the time and place of Divine action, and at that moment, to lead Joseph out to his brethren. All else could be done without his agency, save perhaps in restraining the brethren of Joseph from greater cruelties. This would carry him to Egypt. The same principles would occur in his subsequent history. On the same general views God could send his son to die for the world's sacrifice. But instead of allowing him to expire in the garden-where doubtless he would have expired, unless he had been strengthened by the providential interposition of an angel,—the Divine Being allowed his Son, nay, sent him on a route where he knew he would be mocked, spit upon, crucified, and pierced. He sent him upon such a route, at such a time, at such a place, rather than in any other route, considering all the circumstances of the case. The sinner was here: the sinner was to be blessed; the Divine glory was to be seen in its fulness of love_its long-suffering. Here it was displayed, as it could be nowhere else; as it need be nowhere else-as it need not have been in this case, but for sin. The appointment and foreknowledge of God delivered Christ; then he was taken, and by wicked hands crucified. And all this, to show

[ocr errors]

ness.

to man his own wickedness, and exhibit the Divine benignity in contrast. But all was free in this transaction-all unconstrained. God saw the route aforehand; predicted it; drew a map of every part of the scene. He told of all the actors--what part He would act-what part should man. One item of the perspective was," that two agencies were in the event-God and man.

But it may be said by an objector, that thus far we have only explained how God, in his providence, governs the good man. We reply that he doubtless governs the wicked on the same general principles; that is, he may restrain them in their wildness-hold them back, or turn their fancy into another channel. If we allow God to be a free Being, he can always act according to circumstances. He may use the wicked as his sword,” and by his infinite wisdom and justice mete out to each individual his just desert, and at the same time accomplish his purpose on those against whom he is using the wicked as his sword. Let us illustrate. We set out with the proposition, that in all events we see the agency of God direct or by permission. A sparrow does not fall “without God.” The text does not say, without his notice; but without God. We take it in this sense. God may unchain the lion from his lair, or he may lead a wicked man to him to be devoured for his wicked

He may, when he has restrained them till hope is gone, unchain the Roman Senate, or Papal power, to discover to the world their terrible wickedness, and suffer them to pounce upon his dearest children, (whom he rewards in heaven for that suffering,) and allow them to tear them in pieces, as does the lion the kid. And in all this, exact justice may be meted out to all, and all made responsible as free, intelligent, and moral creatures.

We think we see also the following feature in the Divine government :-It is crime for one man to kill another. But the hangman is innocent, because the act is not his, except as executioner. If he did not obey the voice of the state, he would sin, by neglecting his duty. The state would be innocent, because justice required it. The state would have sinned, if it had neglected thus to demand " blood for blood.” The general of an army may have a different motive in leading his men into the field of battle, than is that which inspires his men: and two accounts are to be settled with justice the account of the general

, and the account of the men whom he led to slaughter. These two accounts are to be settled by their motives of action-and the law. When the iniquities of the inhabitants of Palestine had reached up to heaven, by their abominable idolatries, so that the land was ready to spew them out,” God led the Israelites to destroy them by the sword. We see no real diffi

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

culty here. We allow the direct agency of Providence. God held the men accountable for the fidelity with which they executed his justice. God was the state the people, in this case, his execution

We see no difficulty in the admission-nor in allowing His direct agency in moving Cyrus towards Babylon. But the length of our article obliges us to stop, rather abruptly.

ers.

ART. IX.-REV. JOSEPH ENTWISLE.

Memoir of the Rev. Joseph Entwisle, fifty-four years a Wesleyan Minister ; with

copious extracts from his Journals and Correspondence. By his Son. 12mo., pp. 576. London: John Mason.

JOSEPH ENTWISLE was one of the generation of ministers contemporary with Mr. Wesley, and called into the work by him. That race of noble men has nearly passed away. Every memorial of their holy lives, their simple Christianity, and their earnest devotion to the work of God, is precious to the Church. Among them all

, few names are held in more fragrant remembrance among our brethren in England than that of the subject of the Memoir before us; who, for more than half a century, discharged the duties of a Wesleyan minister without a stain upon his character as a preacher or as a

man.

The biography before us is simple and unpretending in its character. It aims to make Mr. Entwisle as far as possible his own biographer, by presenting copious extracts from his diary and letters, with sufficient narrative to give connexion and coherency to the whole. Interspersed throughout the volume, however, will be found a number of useful and interesting notices of contemporary events connected with the history of English Methodism. The history of so long a public life could not be treated with any degree of fulness in a small compass; yet, we think a little more compression would have made the biography a better one. A man must be a great man, indeed, to make it worth one's while to read everything that can be said about him. Nevertheless, even the minutest details here given generally illustrate some Christian principle, and may thus not be without their use in promoting practical and experimental religion—the main purpose for which the book has been written.

Joseph Entwisle was born in Manchester, on the 15th of April, 1767. His parents attended a Presbyterian chapel, but had no

[ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »