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LETTERS to be addressed to the Editor, Rov. FREDERICK 8. WILLIAMS, Congregationa
of the circulation of the Christian's Penny Magazine. He will be happy to communicate with
Communications regarding Advertisements to be addressed to the Publishers.
ASTHMA, CHRONIC BRONCHITIS, COUGH, &c.
“I am anxious that my Case should be published for the encouragement
Mr. CHARLES SYKES, of Skirbeck, near Boston,
“You will remember (he continues) that I called at your residence in a state of great
“I feel bound to tell you my doctor pronounced me in a consumption, and my case a bad
N.B.—This patient (a farmer in Lincolnshire) was recommended to me by a Baptist Minister
our Chapel. Congregational Psalmody. Elders.
11. CHURCH NEWS OF THE MONTH.
CONTRIBUTORS :-RevsDr. MELLOR, Dr. FERGUSON, AVELING,
Ashton, CLEMANCE, CLARKSON, GOLDIE, GOODALL, MILLER, OLLARD,
HE DISPOSAL OF THE OT.
THOUGHTS FOR A NEW YEAR.
By Rev. CLEMENT CLEMANCE, B.A. ANCIENT as is the custom of casting lots, and though we find it
practised among the Hebrews as well as among Pagan nations, yet we do not certainly know what were the precise methods adopted in order to decide by lot. The mode which gave rise to the words of Solomon -“ The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord”.
—was evidently the throwing of paper, or pebbles, or dice, and then deciding a question according to rules beforehand agreed upon.
The chief point, however, which the wise man's words bring before us is this—there is no chance. God is over all. What is contingency with us is certainty with Him. There is nothing out of the range of the law, and no law out of the reach of God. Throw dice or pebbles at random ; at every throw they move or turn up in most exact obedience to law, and according to the direction in which and the force with which they were thrown. Both direction and force were given by the arm that threw them. That arm was moved by will. That will was moved by motive. That motive was supplied by the objects to be secured, combined with a mental judgment as to the best means of securing them. Thus back and back we go, and find law over law, force at the back of force, wheel within wheel; nor can we stop until we reach the hand that set agoing the first wheel, even the hand of God. Thus our theme opens up before
It is the providence of God. According to its etymology the word providence means a seeing beforehand, and connected with the notion of seeing is that of arranging in accordance with the seeing, so that the event of to-morrow is anticipated in the work of to day. The providence of God is absolutely universal. Yet, wide as it is in extending over all, its action is suited to each
Providence can be gentle as the sunbeam which falls on an infant's eyelid, still as the dewdrop on the blade, or mighty to smite down an army at a blow. This providence of God is holy in its action; it smiles on righteousness and frowns on sin ; it is so powerful that it keeps evil itself in harness, so far-seeing that it can
order the work and life of to-day with a view to meet the need of millions on millions of years to come. There is nothing so high as to be above Divine providence, nothing so low as to be beneath it ; nothing so vast as to overtax it, and nothing so minute as to be overlooked by it; nothing so ample and extensive as that it cannot be limited by it; nothing so free as to second causes but it is necessarily determined by it; nothing so natural and necessary but its operation may be suspended by it, and nothing so evil but that Divine providence can bring good out of it.* Man
may plan, and in coming events it may seem to him there is as much uncertainty as in casting a lot into the lap ; but over and beyond all there is God, and the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord.
This is a glorious faith to hold ! and proof thereof is not awanting. We might argue that the doctrine of the universal providence of God is one which fits in most exactly with the doctrine of true science as to the perfect law and order which we meet with everywhere.
“ If there be order," asks an old philosopher, “ in things that have no understanding, must not the ordering of them come from an understanding infinitely wise?” Is it easier to give particles of matter credit for having mutual sympathies and antipathies, than to give an Infinite Mind the glory of creating the laws of attraction and repulsion? In our view, the difficulties on the side of unbelief in providence are enormous compared with those on the side of faith. Nothing but a belief in a Divine Being, ever present, ever acting, can give us a satisfactory account of the law and order which meet us everywhere, as if intelligence governed all.
This view, moreover, accords with what we know to exist of will, purpose,' and plan among men. We are not more certain of our own existence than we are of the existence of man's foresight, will, and arrangement in the conduct of his own affairs. And shall we stultify ourselves by supposing that the greater affairs to which we are hoplessly unequal are carried on by blind force, or that which is less than reason, rather than by an Infinite Reason ?
Besides, our own sense of dependence on another points in the same direction.
We are consciously dependent. And what are we? Men and women surrounded by those we love, for whcm it is our joy to live. We, whose life-joy it is to care for our dearest ones, are dependent. But on what, on whom? Are we dependent on a Being
*See Gale's “ Court of the Gentiles," Vol. IV. p. 453.
who knows not, or knowing does not care, or caring cannot aid, and must let the individual take his chance with the mass ? Our whole nature rebels against any other supposition than this—that the Being on whom we may depend is one of whom e'en a little child may joyously sing
“God Almighty cares for me!” Still it is the word of God which clears up all doubt. Such passages as these assure and sustain us- -Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” If God so clothe the
grass of the field, which to-day is and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” It is, however, from the standpoint of the Gospel that we get clearest light on Divine providence. “ He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, How SHALL HE NOT with him also freely give us all things ? " “ He cannot deny Himself, He cannot put forth such a royal expenditure of bounty to bless and save, and then let His saved ones be neglected in the little things of life. I can trust the entire disposal of my lot in the hands of Him who loved me, and gave Himself for me!”
It is not to be wondered at, indeed, that such a doctrine should bring its own difficulties with it. These may be put down either to the limitation of our understanding, or to the weakness of our faith, or to both. Says one, “ It is not at a general providence that I stagger, but at a special one. I see, clearly enough, that we cannot consistently deny a general providence without denying also the being of a God; but a special providence concerning itself about the small as the great, there is my difficulty.” Just so. There is the difficulty.
It assumes four forms. The first is that of "perpetual interference.” This is the form in which Tyndall and others put it. However they may mean it, it has a touch of irreverence about it that is repulsive. For no action of God on any part of His universe at any moment can properly be called “interference.” We ought to hear the great Householder say—“Have I not a right to do what I will with mine own?” The second form of the difficulty is this-It seems too much to expect for the Most High to be concerned with the trivialities of events. But it may be replied that, even in human affairs, the nobler the intellect the greater is the mastery of detail in every affair that is undertaken. Ask any architect, or sculptor, or ainter, “ What is the truest sign of a master mind ? ” and the reply