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but there is one promise which ought to check the unthankful in all their murmurings—while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease. Genesis viii. 22. God is able not only to control the appointed operations of nature, so as to accomplish his wise purposes, but if necessary he can invert the order of nature; he watered the garden of Eden at one time by a mist which went up from the earth; he supported the widow at Zarephath by a barrel of meal and a cruse of oil, till he sent rain upon the earth—1 Kings xvii. 14, 16-he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz-2 Kings xx. 10-he caused ravens to feed the Prophet Elijah in the wilderness, and they brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening-1 Kings xvii. 6-and when he determined to deliver the Amorites into the hands of the people of Israel, he by his resistless power caused the sun to stand still upon Gibeon; and the valley of Ajalon. Joshua x. 12, 14. These are but a few of the many proofs which the Holy Scriptures supply, of the power and majesty of the Lord of Hosts; but they are sufficient to shew us, that what he pleases he can and will perform-that when he purposes none can disannul
it, and that when his hand is stretched out none can turn it back. Is. xiv. 27. They ought also to convince us of the nothingness of man, of the sin of murmuring at events permitted or appointed by the Almighty, and also of the wisdom of cheerfully submitting to his governance. Having made those few preliminary observations I shall now endeavour to shew you from the words of the text:
First. What we are to understand by "the work of God."
The impossibility of altering,
or of defeating his purposes.
Thirdly. The duty incumbent on man; to be satisfied with his lot.
And lastly, the necessity and advantage of consideration. May our heavenly Father in his rich mercy, make this subject profitable to all here present; that as the times in which we live are marked by the occurrence of extraordinary events of a temporal nature, they may also be marked, as far as we are concerned, by one still more important, even by a change in all our hearts; that being begotten again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, we may rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. 1 Peter. i. 3, 8.
First. The work of God, is an expression often used in the Scriptures, and has different
significations. In one place it refers to the two tables of stone, containing the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God and given to Moses. In another to the reception of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. John vi. 29, 30. In a third to the progress of the Gospel, and to the influence of the Holy Spirit in the heart, by which a radical change is effected and holy tempers produced. Rom. xiv. 20. In the text, it is evidently used to point out to us the infinitely wise arrangement of all the situations and circumstances of the sons of men: that the bounds of their habitation are marked out by him, to whom all things in earth and heaven owe their existence. Our views are very circumscribed; we can see but a part of an infinite whole; we form our estimate of God's plans and works, from a supposition of what our's would be, if times and circumstances were at our disposal; we naturally live by sight, and therefore, are unable to calculate upon things which we either do not or cannot
And is this to be wondered at, when we take into account our liability to err in the plainest path that can be set before us, and to misunderstand the most self-evident truths? David in the 111th Psalm, after having stated the greatness of the works of the Lord, says, that they are sought out of (by) all them that have
pleasure therein-evidently implying, that it is their delight to investigate them, and that they cannot hope to understand them without due inquiry. A conviction of the wisdom which devised those works, and of the harmony which reigns through them all, is not the result of superficial observation, but of researches made with humility and diligence, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, whose influence is as necessary to enable us to glorify God for the wonders of his providence as of his grace.
For want of this illuminating spirit, man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain-his foolishness perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord, Prov. xix. 3—and because he suffers present inconvenience, he thinks that he is hardly dealt with. Whereas, did he consider the work of God, he would see what abundant reason he had for thankfulness in being circumstanced exactly as he is. The wheel in the middle of a wheel, 1, 16-described by the Prophet Ezekiel is exactly descriptive of God's providential dispensations; some are very plain, they meet the eye at once; we are ready to cry out, the hand of the Lord hath done this. Others are but faintly seen at first, or perhaps altogether hidden from our view; but when the wheels.
revolve a little more, they become discernible, and excite at the same time our gratitude and admiration. How often have we anticipated evil which has never befallen us, and received blessings which we never calculated upon ? Again, how often when waiting with an anxious mind for a trial of one description, have we been forced to grapple with another, as severe as it was unexpected? All these things unite in shewing, that the work of the Lord as it refers to whatever befals us, is a subject exceedingly profitable in itself, and deserves the attention of persons in every rank of life.
This leads me secondly, to shew the impossibility of altering or defeating the purposes of God. To prove this, might I not refer to the experience and observation of all people? When disease attacks the human frame, although it may be gentle in its first approach, and gradual in its future progress; yet, if it be commissioned by the great Arbiter of life and death to separate body and soul; how soon does the frail fabric crumble into dust, notwithstanding all the exertions of kindness and skill. On the other hand, the most acute pain and the most virulent contagion are alike harmless in their final results, if the Lord determine, as in the case of Heze