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THE great controversy between Job, and his friends respected le system of Providence. They maintained that God governed de world upon the principle of minute retribution, rendering to overy man in the present life according to his works. When merefore great calamities befell an individual, they concluded hat he was more wicked than other men. He, on the contrary, maintained that the system of Providence proceeded on no such principle, but on a large scale, full of inscrutable wisdom; and that good and evil came alike to men, whether they were righteous or wicked. In proof of this, he appeals to the following things : First: The success which often attends the worst of men, even in the worst of causes. The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure, into whose hand God bringeth abundantly. Secondly : The large proportion which wicked men possess of the earth and its productions: But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee;

or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the Vol. VIII. 20

MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS,

FROM THE MISSIONARY MAGAZINE,
1801—1812.

THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE.
Job. xii. 6—25.

The great controversy between Job, and his friends respected

the system of Providence. They maintained that God governed

the world upon the principle of minute retribution, rendering to

every man in the present life according to his works. When

therefore great calamities befell an individual, they concluded

that he was more wicked than other men. He, on the contrary,

maintained that the system of Providence proceeded on no such

principle, but on a large scale, full of inscrutable wisdom ; and that

good and evil came alike to men, whether they were righteous or

wicked.

In proof of this, he appeals to the following things:

First: The success which often attends the worst of men, even in the worst of causes. The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure, into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.

Secondly: The large proportion which wicked men possess of the earth and its productions: But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the

Vol. VIII. 20

sea shall declare unto thee. As if he should say, Ask them to whom they belong. Is it to good men only, or chiefly? Is it for the righteous few that the animals breed, or the productions of the earth vegetate? Is it not also, yea principally, the proud and the luxurious?

Thirdly: Adverse providences towards individuals and families, which are dispensed alike to good and bad, which there is no withstanding, and from which there is no escaping : Behold he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man. and there can be no opening.

Fourthly: Public calamities, which also come alike to all; such as drought, and consequent famine at one time; and desolating inundations at another : Behold, he wilhholdeth the waters and they dry up; also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.

Fifthly: The absolute nod supreme control of God over all the devices and intrigues of men. Instead of preserving the weak and punishing the mighty, according to the minute rules of retributive justice, he, in this world, lays his mighty hand on both, and causes each to subserve his infinitely wise purposes: With him is strength and wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are his.

Lastly: He appeals to those events which agitate the world, and involve the overthrow of nations; in which calamities come alike to all, without respect to character.

It is a very affecting picture which is here drawn, from the 17th verse to the end of the chapter, of the overthrow of a nation by invasion. It is described as follows:

The great advisers of public measures are driven from their seats, and the administrators of government are like men beside themselves, not knowing what measures to take: He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools.

The strong band of power, which kept all orders of the state in subjection, is dissolved, and the sovereign himself becomes bound with the cord of a captive: He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle.

Governors of provinces are led captive, and the commanders of armies defeated in battle: He leadeth the princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty.

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