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EXTRACTS FROM A SERMON:
Divine Decrees, an encouragement to the use of means, delivered at Granville, N. Y., June 25th, A. D. 1805, before the Evangelical Society, instituted for the purpose of aiding pious and needy young men in acquiring education for the work of the gospel ministry.
The whole of this discourse is able, and characterizes the author as possessing a strong mind and a pious heart:—if it be not equal in some things to his sermon on universal salvation, of which it is very justly remarked, "That sermon is one of the finest pieces of satire to be found in all the annals of pulpit eloquence," it is not inferior to it in sound doctrine and fervent piety.*
The discourse is founded on the 23d verse of the 11th chapter of Hebrews: "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment." His object is to show, that although pious people believe and confide in the unalterable purpose and providence of God to bring about events, yet they will diligently use such means as God requires, and that tend to their accomplishment. To confirm his assertion that the pious do believe and confide in God's absolute government, or jn his purpose and providence, he justly remarks:—
* This sentence, with the remarks preceding the extracts, were kindly famished by the Rev. Dr. Broadhead, of New-York.
"We find that it has always been the practice of the people of God to acknowledge him; therefore it is that they attend to the external duties of religion, such as the public worship of God, prayer, and praise, by which they express their belief and love of a superin. tending Providence. This was the object of the faith of those mentioned in my text. They had a firm belief in Divine purposes concerning Moses, so as to exclude all fear of the king's commandment. The righteous view and hold communion with God in his works, and repair to his absolute government in times of distress as their only hiding-place, Psal. xxvii. It was God's immutable promises and designs that supported Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and all God's people in all ages of the world. God has appointed the Lord Jesus Christ to be king on his holy hill of Zion, and has laid the government on his shoulders; the pious are his obedient subjects, and it is their duty to submit to him. They are to have the mind of Christ, as they would not forfeit their interest in him, Rom. viii., 9. Rejoicing in the absolute dominion and agency of God was an important trait in his character, Luke x., 21: 'In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.'"
In discussing that part of the subject which relates to the use of means by the people of God, as connected with those events which are brought about by the unchangeable purpose and providence of God, he says :—
"This idea is remarkably illustrated in the conduct of the parents of Moses, alluded to in the text; they hid him three months. Their care was excited by the full trust they had in God that he designed him for some important work. Their faith was so great as to ex • elude all doubt but what God would take care of the child, and fulfil his own purpose, in spite of all the designs of the enemy: 'They were not afraid of the king's commandment.'' They did not fear to exert themselves to the utmost for the preservation of the child, nor that their measures would not be successful. He was doubtless secreted, and removed from place to place, to elude the search of the enemy. An ark was invented for the security of the helpless infant; every seam carefully secured with slime and pitch, that the babe might have a dry and safe asylum. It is carried to the river-side, deposited among the flags—an unlikely place to be found. She chose a place where the swelling of the Nile would not be likely to carry it away. The ark was not committed to the foaming waters, to be exposed to the voracious monsters of the deep; but as much care was exercised as though the life of the child wholly depended on their vigilance. Miriam, the sister of Moses, must lie in ambush at a suitable distance, to watch every disaster, and often to run and sooth the cries of the solitary infant. But 'Moses was not safer when king in Jeshurun, encompassed with the thousands of Israel—was not safer in the mount with God—is not safer within the adamantine walls of the New Jerusalem, than in the flags."
"The same spirit of vigilance shone conspicuously among all the people of God in all ages of the world. God revealed unto Abraham his unalterable designs concerning him and his posterity; and yet how diligent was he in using such means as tended to bring the events to pass. By faith he went out; by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, &c. The conduct of Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and the prophets illustrates the same sentiment. Paul, in Acts xxvii., is a striking instance of the truth now under consideration. When it was revealed to him that God's purpose was to save all in the ship, yet his diligence in the use of such means as tended to their preservation exceeded all the mariners. He was evidently encouraged by the purpose of God revealed; yea, without means, he tells them plainly, they cannot be saved. No preacher ever * t»r. Hunter.
held up the decrees of God more clearly and more frequently than Paul, and none of the apostles were more laborious; he laboured more abundantly than they all, 1 Cor. xv., 10. We derive similar ideas from the doctrines and examples of Him who spake as never man spake. The purposes of God with respect to the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity stirred up the saints to prayer, Dan. ix., 2. The certainty of the incarnation of Christ excited Old-Testament saints to prayer for the accomplishment of it; and this is what God greatly approved. The parents of Moses have a place in the sacred canon, whose faith is highly applauded.
"Faith in Divine purposes will excite the people of God to the diligent use of means, as he has appointed them as instruments by which he will accomplish his designs, and has commanded them to be workers together with him; indeed, without the exertions of men, it is impossible that they should take place. God revealed to Abraham that his seed should go down into Egypt, and at such a time be delivered; but this supposed a series of second causes, all dependant on the first cause; without them the event could not take place. One was the edict of Pharaoh to destroy the male infants of the Hebrews; that Moses should be born, and hid three months; that he should be educated at the expense of the King of Egypt; that the Egyptians should be visited with ten plagues, &c. I might with propriety make the same remark with respect to the deliverance of Israel from the Babylonish captivity, and the birth and death of Christ. The people of God consider themselves as active instruments to bring about his holy designs; and are, in a good degree, cured of that unreasonable temper of mind that will deduce unnatural consequences from certain premises, in order to gratify a licentious conduct.
"The friends of God delight in expressing their obedience to him. The use of means affords them opportunity to glorify God and commend him to others. If love and obedience are delightful exercises to the saints, Ff
then to express them will be pleasing. As God cannot exhibit any true virtue or moral excellence without pursuing a plan, so neither can we, unless we regard his will and interest, and are workers together with him.
"The good man, indeed, will see enough to employ his head, his heart, his hands, and his temporal interest, in the service of God. The reason that so many can find but little to do for God is on account of a slothful and indolent heart, that refuses to labour."
The author concludes this valuable discourse in the following animated strains of fervent zeal in the cause of benevolence and salvation by Christ, through the means of the ministry of the gospel.
"The subject, so far illustrated, sets the design of the institution to which our attention is particularly called on the present occasion, in an important point of light. It is to aid pious and needy young men in acquiring education for the gospel ministry. A remarkable spirit of zeal and liberality in the cause of God has been excited in the minds of the pious in various parts of the Christian world. Missionaries have been sent out among the heathen, and to our new settlements; and their labours have been crowned with abundant success. People, while watering, have been watered themselves. The conversion of thousands, I believe, has been the effect of these benevolent exertions. The desert and the solitary wilderness have been made to blossom as the rose. Recent instances of the trophies of Divine grace in some parts of Africa have made glad the city of our God. The friends of Christ on both sides the Atlantic have united in this glorious cause; but much still remains to be done.
"People within our reach are perishing for lack of spintual food. The harvest is great, but the labourers are comparatively few. The number of those qualified to carry the bread of life to the dying is inadequate. Our missionary exertions must be greatly impeded, unless pious, ingenious, and learned men be