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SERMON may be at hand to be formed, or old
ones just about to be dissolved; perhaps, we may have little more to do with this world, or with any of its connections; we may be standing on the verge of time and life, and on the point of passing into a new region of existence. In short the prospect before us is full of awful uncertainty. Life and death, prosperity and adversity, health and sickness, joy and trouble, lie in one undistinguishable mass, where our eye can descry nothing through the obscurity that wraps them up.
While it is thus certain that our times are not at our own disposal, we are taught by the text, that they are in the This may be considered
band of God.
of God, as a
Our times are in the hand supreme Disposer of events, They are in the hand of God, as a Guar dian and a Father.
Our times, I say, are in the band of God as a supreme irresistible Ruler. All that is to happen to us in this and the succeeding years of our life,-if any succeeding
ceeding years we shall be allowed to see, SERMON has been foreknown and arranged by God. The first view under which human affairs present themselves to us, is that of confused and irregular succession. The events of the world seem thrown together by chance, like the billows of the sea, tumbling and tossing over each other, without rule or order. All that is apparent to us, is the fluctuation of human caprice, and the operation of human passions. We see the strife of ambition, and the efforts of stratagem, labouring to accomplish their several purposes among the societies of men.
it is no more than the surface, the out-
SERMON sure he thinks fit, the remainder of wrath *. He brings forth in their course all the generations of men. When the time is come for their entering into light, they appear on the stage; and when the time fixed for their dismission arrives, he changes their countenance, and sends them away. The time of our appearing is now come, after our ancestors had left their place, and gone down to the dust. are at present permitted to act our part freely and without constraint. No violence is done to our inclination or choice. But assuredly there is not a day of our life, nor an event in that day, but was foreseen by God. That succession of occurrences, which to us is full of obscurity and darkness is all light and order in his view. He sees, from the beginning to the end; and brings forward every thing that happens in its due time and place.
Cur times are altogether in his hand. Let us take notice, that they are not in the hands either of our enemies, or of our friends. It is not in the power of
Pfalm lxxvi. 10.
man to shorten or to prolong our life, SERMON more or less than God has decreed. Enemies may employ craft or violence in their attacks ; friends may employ skill and vigilance for the preservation of our health and safety;
both the one and the other can have effect only as far as God permits. They work in subserviency to his purpose. By him they are held in invisible bonds. To the exertions of all human agents he says, Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther.
that our times
only as an
WE are to observe next, are in the hand of God, not almighty Disposer, but as a merciful Guardian and Father. We are by no means to imagine, that from race to race and from year to year, God sports with the lives of succeeding generations of men, or in the mere wantonness of arbitrary power, brings them forth, and sends them away. No; if we have any confidence in what either the light of Nature suggests to all men, or what the revelation of the Gospel has confirmed to
SERMON Christians, we have full ground to believe that the administration of human affairs is conducted with infinite wisdom and goodness. The counsels of the Almighty are indeed too deep for our limited understandings to trace. His path may often, as to us, be in the sea, and his footsteps in the mighty waters; while, nevertheless all his paths are mercy and truth. He who, from the benignity of his nature, erected this world for the abode of men; He who furnished it so richly for our accommodation, and stored it with so much beauty for our entertainment; He who, since first we entered into life, hath followed us with such a variety of mercies, surely can have no pleasure in our disappointment and distress. He knows our frame; He remembers we are dust; and looks to frail man, we are assured, with such pity as a father beareth to his children *. To him we may safely commit ourselves, and all our concerns, as to one who is best qualified, both to direct the incidents proper to
Pfalm ciii. 13, 14.