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Humanity, with all its fears,
Are all with thee, are all with thee!” Lord Shaftesbury, in his weighty speech in the House of Lords, stated that while he believed we were drifting to a republic, yet he felt that, in spite of a revolution, England will be England still. Be his sad anticipations fulfilled or not, I am persuaded that our country is destined to emerge from her hour of dark tribulation great and good—the ambassadress of heaven, the benefactress of the earth, the elect of God, and the noblest home of men.
“ All these things are against me” was the rash and mistaken voice of the patriarch (Gen. xlii. 36). The patriarch was like a lightning-struck oak prostrate on the earth. Hope and heart had failed and fled; despair brooded over him, and inspired the words to which he gave utterance. Yet there was not one syllable of truth in fact in what he said.
Joseph is not was the reverse of fact. wealthy, powerful, and waiting the proper time to help. “ Simeon is not.?? He lived a pledge soon to be restored. “Ye will take Benjamin away.” But this was not to the injury of Benjamin, but to the benefit of the patriarch and all his family. And all these things were not only not against the patriarch, but working together for the good of himself and family.
Many of God's people, in times of depression, have been tempted to express similar thoughts.
Thus David cried, “I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul.”
In Psalm lxxiii. he said, Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain,” that is, religion has failed, its promises are not true. But on entering into the sanctuary he found the solution he required.
Job, also, in his despondency, cried, “ Mine eye shall no more see good,” and he lived to discover the failure of his prophecy.
The reasons of our erroneous verdicts on the providential dealings of God arise from
The imperfection of our knowledge.
We see elements in action, but not the issues they will evolve. We see the spring in the bosom of the hill, but standing by we cannot determine in what direction it will run, what river it will join, what wheels it will turn, or what fleets it will bear upon its bosom. All we know is its waters come from the sky, and that all its eddies will be lost in the sea. Ruth deplored the loss of her husband and the poverty of her lot, but these conditions were necessary to her being the wife of Boaz and an ancestor of the Messiah.
Our sight is dim and our horizon is limited.
“We see but dimly thro' the mists and vapours,
Amid these earthly damps ;
May be heaven's distant lamps."
We see patches only of heaven's bright sunrise ; we see the black cloud, but not the benediction in its bosom ; we read only broken and fragmental paragraphs of God's great lesson-book. The imper
fection of our vision and the narrowness of its largest horizon should make us less willing to judge of the issues and designs of a plan which requires for its development the ages, and for its field boundless space. We
e are too hasty in our judgments. We draw inferences from few and feeble materials.
We see a few bricks laid, and we pronounce on the size and beauty of the edifice. We read the title-page of a book, and give a critical opinion on the merits of the work. Our ignorance of the materials of a sound judgment, and our precipitancy in rushing to conclusions from few and inadequate premises, often constitute the chief reason why we interpret what befalls us in the despondent language of the patriarch.
We judge too much after sense and sight. What we feel colours our belief and shapes our inferences.
We infer a painful issue from painful feeling ; we make the pain of an operation a prophecy of death, and the bitter taste of a medicine we construe as a premonition of injurious effects. These are alike contrary to Scripture, and inconsistent with our largest experience. The future is not created by such impressions as these.
The state of our health is very apt to tone our expectations of the future. It is indeed humbling, but true, that the health or illness of the body should be able to modify and disturb the action of the mind; yet nature receives her deepest colouring from the
spectator. To a sick inhabitant his own fireside is clothed with gloom. To the young all before is jubilant and bright with sunshine. To sickness or at 70 all before is pale and dreary, and the sunshine of earlier days deepens into the twilight of evening. As sailors allow for currents in their reckonings, so should we, in our judgments and expectations, deduct the influences of such conditions of health or disease.
Too frequently we leave out God in our anticipations.
Were there no God, or did He retire from the thick and complication of events, there would be no overruling and restraining force, and chaos would be the normal condition of the world. But God is nowhere and at no time absent. Invisible, His presence is ever imminent. He is in the arrangement of atoms—in the march of orbs—in the ripples of personal grief—in the eddies of private life--in the cataracts of revolution, and in the convulsions of Europe-in all that is microscopically minute, and in all that is magnificently great.
Were He absent we should cease to hope. Were He hostile we should despair.
But because our Father is at the helm we are sure ours is not an orphan race nor a forsaken world. But suppose all things seem to press against us, and that we feel the pressure very acutely, what are we to do? We are not to become monks, who, flee from duty to