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strained to own their dependence on the
thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem : for then had we plenty of victuals, an dwere well, and saw no evil.” And if the gods, which have not made these heav. ens and this earth, have, by their stupid worshippers, been adored as bountiful, as ministering good to men ; how readily will the christian, enlightened and affected by the gospel, confess, that “ every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning ?" Such, in the use of other words of inspiration, will say, “ All our springs are in thee.” That men are the charge of Deity, and that it is his province to do them good, is a thought which very naturally enters into the mind of man. It will, therefore, be found under all degrees of improvement in religious knowledge. But though it be a clear case, that all benefactions are ultimately from God, and, as our Saviour has expressed it, that - none is good, save one, that is God;" yet the subject may require a still further division, that we may see what particular modes of doing good to creatures are peculiar to the Godhead. And
1. Providing them with food and rai. ment, is a divine prerogative, a work, which eminently belongs to the Deity. The Apostle mentions, as a witness for God among nations, those administrations of Providence, which throw plenty of worldly substance into the hands of men for their subsistence. “ Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons ; filling our hearts with food and gladness.” An argument against confiding in heathen deities, or allowing them to have any participation in the Godhead, and in favor of trusting in Jehovah alone as being sole proprietor and controler of the universe, is the total inability of idols to supply rain and its consequent blessings to such as wait upon them. “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain ?' or can the heavens give showers? Art not thou he, O Lord our God? therefore we will wait upon thee; for thou hast made all these things.” In providing sustenance and bodily comforts for man, it is the divine prerogative to impart understanding to the tiller of the ground, to give a due temperature to the soil and the atmosphere, and regularity to the season, and, by an immediate energy, to direct all the combined causes, until the effect is produced. Accordingly we read- in Isaiah xxviii. 24, 26. " Doth the plow-man plow all day to sow? Doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face
thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat, and the appointed barley, and the rye in their place ? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.” Another branch of Providence, in relation to the same end, is described in the following words; “ Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it :-thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it."
2. It is the prerogative of Deity to strengthen men in their enterprizes and pursuits, and to endow them with courage and ability to surmount obstacles, so as to win the point aim.
“ Blessed be the Lord my strength,” says the Psalmist,“ which teacheth my hands to war and my fmgers to fight.” And to Cyrus the word of the Lord is, “
I girded thee-whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him," &c. That the heathen do trust in their gods to strengthen and support them in scenes of danger, and when engaged in an arduous conflict, appears from 1 Kings, xx. 23.
66 And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills, therefore they were stronger than we ; but let us fight against them
in the plain, and surely we shall be stonger than they.” When Jehovah tri . umphed over the gods of Egypt, it was by destroying the people who had relied on them for help. “ Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them."
3. It is a divine prerogative to do good to men by putting favorable inclinations into the hearts of those with whom they have to do. Jacob acknowledges this, when he sends his sons into Egypt, the second time, with the following intercession for them. “And God Almighty, give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin.” The same sentiment comes to view in God's promise to his people concerning the treatment they should receive from the king of Babylon.
5 And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mer. cy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.” This gracious promise was fulfilled, when God put it in the heart of Cyrus, to decree the return of the Jews, and the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem ; which answers to those words in the context; "I make peace.” When Israel was on the point of departing out of Egypt, it is said that the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians ; so that they lent every man his neighbour jewels of silver, &c. This implies that God inclined them to be thus indulgent and liberal. Aside from this method of doing good to men, that is, by raising up to them benefactors from among their fellow-men, we can see but little room for enjoying divine favor, without a recourse to miracles. Most of our enjoyments come to us from God through the hands of men.
4. It is a divine prerogative to deliver men from evil, or a state of adversity. Nothing