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ments, by sometimes giving them joy, and at others, sorrow of heart, by letting them know the difference between seasons of plenty and of want ; then we see the utility of the most common things in creation, as in. struments of government in the hand of God. There is, perhaps, never an instance, in which : they are not employed to a greater or less degree. The enjoyments and sufferings of the present life are by means of the things, with which life is affected. God takes them to prove men with.
On this account, they are sometimes abased, and sometimes they abound ; at one time they are full, and at another they are hungry; now they are at: ease, but, by and by, they are seized with: pain. Concerning the day of prosperity and adversity the wise man has said that “God hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.” By such dispensations God teaches men wisdom. His character is manifested by the manner of his dealing with them, in various situations. And to give a lustre to his own character, is the only reason why he has made, and why he any how regards, or uses, the things which are. Upon this principle nothing is or can beneglected. Upon some occasion or other, it must come into use. It is not, therefore, in one way only, that God does good to men, or lays a scourge upon them. The instruments, by which he acts in affairs of this kind, are every where. None can compute the number or diversity
of them. If kindness, and mercy are called for, health and happiness will pour
in from every fountain.
Every breeze will prove a salutary and refreshing gale, and every creature of God a minister of good. If the case be different, and stern rebuke be needful; heaven itself will lower and grow dim with frowns : pestilence, the sword, and noisome beasts will step forth and make progress in the work of desolation ; being guided in it by the hand that made them. When. Israel was obedient to God, even their enemies were at peace with them, and every blessing rolled in spontaneously upon them; but when they murmured against God, and forsook his ordirances,every creature seemed to stand ready to vindicate the dishonoured charac ter and law. of God. Serpents, diseases, and the wide yawning pit took part against them, to shew that God was righteous and good, while their way was. froward and perverse before him.. But if venomous serpents made war upon rebellious Israel, in consequence of which much people died ;- yet Paul could be attacked by such an animal and suffer no harm. When God commands, serpents bite; lions devour, and even the monsters of the deep greedily swallow down an offending prophet. But the same hand again inter. poses, and they are restrained. The ravens provide food for Elijah, the fish disgorges Jonah upon the land, and Daniel rests secure in the lion's den. But it is not in a way of miracles only, that God gives power and apt:
ness to creatures to subserve the great interests of his kingdom. In their ordinary state, they have this effect ; though not in so obvious and striking a manner. The food we eat, and the rainment we put on, go to magnify and illustrate the goodness of God; and are, consequently, some of the means, by which God displays the perfections of his nature, To the righteous they are given in fulfilment of a gracious promise ; and to the wicked they are matter of increased obligation to God, which may serve to prepare them for a final state of retribution, from which God will get eternal glory to himself. It is by the use they make of God's creatures that men form their own characters. For this reason we have so many scripture cautions and instructions relative to matters of a temporal nature, such, for instance, as meat and drink. " Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.. And make unto yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness. It remaineth, that they who have wives should be as though they had none, and they that buy as though they possessed not, and they that use this. world as not abusing it ; for the fashion of this world passeth away. Let him that stole, steal no more ; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. He that giveth a cup of
cold water to a disciple, shall not lose his reward.” Such texts go to prove, that in one way or another, God may and will be glorified by every thing ; and that nothing is too trilling to be instrumental in the work of universal government.
It would be easy here to enlarge, by showing how the im. mense multitude of creation, in their enda less variety, mark the footsteps of a God, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: to show how one creature may have influence upon another, throughout the vast chain of being, and the end of the whole not be found, until God is seen to be all in all. “ Therefore let no man glory in men : for all things are yours ; Whether Paul, or Apollos; or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come ; all are yours; And ye are Christ's;
and Christ is God's." If God has made inferior, creatures for the use of man; man is made for God, in Christ ; so that it may be said
: in the words of the apostle, " Ye. are not your own, for ye are bought with a price ; therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." Wherever we find creatures, we find an owner, or a proprietor,of thein only in the supreme Being: They are adapted to good and answer their end, no farther than they are beneficial in the kingdom of God, to declare the wisdom and beneficence of the being, from whose hand they have originated. Balaam's ass, though he knew nothing of God, nor of the impier
ty and perverseness of his rider, was, nevertheless, a fit instrument for reproving the madness of the prophet. At the same time that he was Balaam's instrument in yielding compliance with Balack's requisitions against the most High, he was an instrument, in the divine hand, of promoting a good, greater than the evil which had been intended. But it is not by being enabled to go beyond the faculties and powers of their nature, only, that creatures become instrumental in the execution of God's purposes, whether of justice or mercy. There was nothing extraordinary in the use of Ahab's chariot, by which he was exposed to the arrows of the enemy ; nor in the use of those weapons of war, by which his death was executed ; and yet a great event was accomplished by them to the glory of God, in the fulfilment of his word against that ungodly king. There was nothing very unusual in such use of money, as that, by which the thirty pieces of silver from the chief priests procured the death of the Son of God ; and yet what vast conse-quences, to the glory of God, are the result ? How simple are the means, by which the most signal and astonishing events are continually taking place in our world ? an evi. dence that God governs by the instrumentality of creatures, even those without understanding and without life; and that nothing is too insignificant, or trivial, to be use ful in carrying into effect the sovereign counsels of his will. What part is borne, in this