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Hence it cannot be that the blessed God, who makes the wants of a disloyal world his care, has not the wisdom to find them employment in his house. Thus his known character gives us assurance, that he will not give breath and bread and raiment to beings for whom he has no service in his kingdom, and whose existence and agency in that case would but cumber and curse his creation.
Let us look at facts, and let them speak in behalf of God. They were doubtless ungodly men who built the ark in which Noah and all his were saved from the miseries of the deluge. Joseph's ungodly brethren raised him to that seat of honor and power which he filled in Egypt. The impious Pharaoh fed the Church of God during a long protracted famine. The blood-thirsty Haman elevated Mordecai in the court of Persia. The princes of Babylon procured Daniel his great advancement in that monarchy. So the Canaanites lived and prospered, till they had cultivated their land, and made it fertile and beautiful for the comfort of Israel. They built cities, and planted vineyards and olive yards, and Israel eat the fruit of their labors. Cyrus sent back the Jewish captives to their land, and Darius contributed from his own purse to build the house of God, and supply the daily sacrifice. Judas marked out the Lamb, and the impious Sanhedrim, and the Roman soldiery put forth the decree, and built the altar, and slew the sacrifice, that atoned for sins, and procured the redemption of a world. The proud Cæsar reduced the world to one empire, that the way might be prepared to promulgate the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Columbus suffered every thing but death, that he might search out a place for the pilgrims, just at the juncture when they must flee or suffer.
I know that the wicked have sometimes persecuted the people of God even unto death. But this is still the same service, as faith views it. When believers are matured for heaven, their death is precious in the eyes of the Lord. While men have forged their chains, and built their dungeons, and lighted their fagots, they have performed a service as necessary to the accomplishment of the grand plan of redeeming mercy, as when they have housed, and fed, and cherished, and comforted them.
Yes, from the time of Cain till this very day, wicked men have served and blessed the Church of God. And the increase and the joy of his kingdom admits now a foreign agency, as readily as when Jerusalem was rebuilt, and the second temple set up. Men pursue their own inclinations, and do what they please, while God directs all their energies into the same channel, and renders them
subservient to the interests of that blessed kingdom which he has established in this world. Not a muscle, a nerve, a passion, or a thought exists for any other purpose; or worm or sparrow perishes but with this design.
Many a foe of Zion, many who finally will have no interest in a Savior's love, are employed in accumulating wealth, clearing forests, cultivating farms, and building habitations to accommodate the friends of God, in that day when the knowledge of him shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Hence we read, "the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just." And we read again, "Though the sinner may heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; he may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.
Every storm that blows has its commission to bless the Church, and every passion that raves has the same charge. The revolutions that have been so frequent in our day, so disastrous to kingdoms, ruinous to individual fortune, and torturing to the heart of sensibility, though managed, as they evidently have been, almost exclusively by ungodly men, and usually with the basest design, have helped to prepare the way for the heralds of salvation to carry glad tidings of great joy to all people.
That scourge of nations, and contemner of human life and human happiness, who lately died in solitude on one of the isles of the sea, though long the curse of Europe, and remembered with horrid interest by the millions whom his ambition bereaved, and immortalized by the rivers of blood that every where flowed at his feet, still wrought for the Church of God. He gave popery a deadly wound, crushed the inquisition, avenged no doubt much of the blood of the martyrs, and though himself a tyrant, was the means of enkindling a spirit of freedom, which will, not long first, result in the downfall of every despot in Europe, and through the world.
The tract system, that mighty engine by which God is now promulgating the honors of his name, was the invention of infidelity, and was first used in corrupting the world with error.
The wise and discerning can see evidence in the events of every day, that wicked men are employed in serving God's people. When their treatment is unkind, it renders believers humble, watchful, prayerful, and heavenly-minded. Thus the promise, "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;" and another promise more ample yet, "All things are yours; whether
Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or lif, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." We do not say that Christians could not be sanctified in a world where they should be treated only with kindness; but we apprehend that in such a world they would ripen for heaven more slowly. They would be too well satisfied, and wish no other or better home.
Even the buffetings of the adversary have been made a blessing. Job was thus made a humbler and a better man. And Peter, when Satan had sifted him as wheat, was a more useful apostle. When John, in his vision, was questioned respecting some who appeared to be approaching heaven from this world, "Who are these arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" the question being referred, was answered, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." The idea distinctly conveyed is, that tribulation made them illustrious spirits. And we have all noticed in our walk through life, instances of believers, who evidently were making great advances in the divine life, in the most adverse circumstances that can be well conceived of. When they have not dared to pray, nor attend a place of worship, nor enter into covenant with God, it has seemed as if every lash of adversity pressed them on toward their home in the heavens. We have admired the straight-forwardness of their course, when they have wet every foot of their way with tears.
Thus since the revolt in heaven, and the fall in paradise, devils, and those whom they have led captive at their will, have had employ in the service of God's people. Directly and intentionally, or otherwise, they have served the people of the saints of the most high God, and will continue in the service, while the earth shall remain, and there shall be on it a believer ripening for heaven. And God is so sovereign in managing the affairs of his people, that he asks not the consent of the ungodly to be thus employed. They pursue their own plan, and he his; but whether they love or hate, are kind or hostile, their highest love, and their bitterest rebukes, achieve for the people of God the same object, and push them on toward their house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
3. They mean not so. It is very far from being the intention of wicked men to serve the people of God. So much may be asserted on the authority of facts, and what is more yet, on the authority of God. Sinners have one purpose which they intend to accom
plish in every enterprise of theirs, and God another in the decree that assigned them that service. "Ye intended evil against me," said the injured Joseph, "but the Lord meant it for good, to save much people alive." Haman intended the ruin of Mordecai, but God purposed his high exaltation. The princes of Babylon meant the ruin of Daniel, but God would advance him to the highest renown. The infidels of France, while they spilt the blood of the priests, and confiscated their funds, purposed the overthrow of religion, but God meant a deadly blow at Antichrist. Voltaire con. trived the tract system, to proscribe the Scriptures, but God designed the dissemination of the gospel truth. And when the wicked intention is less or more manifest, still the case does not widely differ.
It does not as we conceive prejudice at all the position we maintain, to allow, that there are individuals among the ungodly, who wish well to those who love God, and are daily employed in doing them kindnesses. The questions to be asked in that case are, do they esteem God's people any the more because of their piety, or less? or do good to them the more cordially, or the less so, because they love God? Is the zeal to do them favors increased or diminished because they are partially sanctified? Men may continue kind to them notwithstanding their religion, and still be the farthest possible from intending to bless them as the friends of God. The most selfish motives may induce them to act as the Christian may be the wife, or the husband, or the brother, or the child, of the unregenerate benefactor, and the instinctive affections do all we see done. And even then it is doubtful, whether there is ever a wish in the unrenewed to do them spiritual good, to advance them on toward heaven. I know of no authority, either from Scripture or fact, to warrant the supposition, that any believer ever had an unregenerate friend, who wished him to progress in putting on the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. What! wish a wider and still wider separation, and finally an eternal remove from them we love! urge them to depart from us, be more unlike us, and have less fellowship with us? and this because we love them! There would be something strange in all this.
Nor will it be any argument against the position, they mean not so, that men are not conscious of this operation of their hearts. The same heart that is desperately wicked, is deceitful above all things. Very few are conscious of hating the character of God, or his law, or his government. You may go to the careless, stupid, prayerless multitude, and only one in a thousand will confess
that he hates God, and he rather because of his orthodox education, than his consciousness, and the residue will most of them be angry, that you should presume to charge them with a crime so monstrous. You may accuse them in the very language that God uses, of having evil hearts of unbelief, of being carnally minded, or of being dead in trespasses and sins, and if you make them understand that all this implies, that they do not love their Maker, and his people, they will resist the imputation in the very face of this inspired testimony. If no charge may be brought against the unregenerate, but such as they are ordinarily conscious is true, we must either find them in a state of conviction, or may press home upon them no guilt of any shape or hue.
If then the doctrine may stand, it is but what every believer in divine revelation expects, that God will employ his power, to convert to the use of his people, what is or is not done with this view. He would not leave them in a world where, our doctrine true, there are so few to design their good, without some sure promise that he will defend them, and will by all events, promote their present sanctification, and their ultimate blessedness. Hence the broad fields of promise. "The wrath of man shall praise thee." "He made a pit and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealings come down upon his own pate." What a keenness is there in that divine challenge in the second Psalm; "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision." The address of God to the tempter soon after the fall, contains the very sentiment we enforce, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed." And said our Lord to his disciples, "I came not to send peace sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." From language like this, with which the Bible is filled, we should seem to be justified in supporting the position, they mean not so. It is not the design of unregenerate men to bless, directly or indirectly, the people of God. I proceed to say,
4. While God employs wicked men in serving his people, he holds them under close restraint. Look at the fulfilment of the pre