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The Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) online

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the withholding any power in every instance in which it was about
to be abused, would entirely change the constitution of things — make


men mere puppets, and often I'rustrate the purposes of God both in
delivering the righteous and punishing the wicked in this world. That
God does uccasionally thus withhold his blessings and interfere with
men in many ways, is certain. But this we will consider under the
head of government, as it is quite a different branch of the subject,
and entirely distinct from that constant and uninterrupted agency by
which the natural constitution of things is r.ustained and perpetuated.

This agency is not less certain, because it is insensibly and silently
exerted. The motions of the earth and of the heavenly bodies are
constant, but imperceptible. The grateful dews of heaven descend
invisibly, and are perhaps noticed only in the bloom they leave upon
the meadows. Thus the invisible agency of the Divine Being is per-
ceived and demonstrated in its effects; as the human spirit, though
unseen, is known by the actions which it performs; and the Creator
thus sustains the universe, as the human heart supplies life to the
frame by its unwearied action by night and by day, when we are
awake or asleep, in motion, or at rest, though we may be wholly
unconscious and insensible of its beating.

That the power of God is exerted in sustaining and preserving the
world equally as in its creation, is expressly asserted by the apostle
Peter. "By the w'ord of God," says he, "the heavens were of old, and
the earth subsisting from the water and by water, by which the world
that then was, being deluged with water, perished. But the present
heavens and the earth, by the same icord are treasured up, being kept
for fire to a day of judgment, and destruction of ungodly men." The
same phraseology is here used to express the Divine agency in pre-
serving the world as in creating it. The worlds were made by the
"word of God" — they are "treasured up" and "kept" by "the same word."

It is, too, upon the preserving care of God and his goodness in
supplying the wants of his creatures that the ancient saints have
delighted to dwell. "By terrible things in righteousness," says David,
"wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence
of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the
sea: which by his strength setteth fast the mountains; being girded
with power: which stilleth the noise of the sea, the noise of their waves
and the tumult of the people. They also that dwell in the uttermost
parts are afraid of thy tokens; thou niakest the outgoings of the
morning and evening to rejoice. Thou visitest the earth, and waterest
it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of
water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.
Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly; thou settest the furrows
thereof: thou makest it soft with showers; thou blessest the springing
thereof: thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths
drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness; and


the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with
flocks: the valleys also are covered over with corn: they shout for
joy, they also sing." And again in the 104th Psalm: — "Bless the Lord,
my soul. Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed
with honor and majesty: who coverest thyself with light as with a
garment; who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; who layeth
the beams of his chambers in the waters; who maketh the clouds his
chariot; who walketh upon the wings of the wind; who maketh his
angels spirits; his ministers a flaming flre; who laid the foundations
of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. Thou coveredst
it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the moun-
tains. At thy rebuke they fled: at the voice of thy thunder they hasted
away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys
unto the place which thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a
bound that they may not pass over, that they turn not again to cover
the earth. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses
quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of heaven have their
habitation, which sing among the branches. He watereth the hills
from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, the herb for the service
of man, that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that
maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and
bread which strengtheneth man's heart. The trees of the Lord are
full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon which he hath planted; where the
birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir-trees are her house.
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats, and the rocks for the
conies. He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his
going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the
beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their
prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather
themselves together, and lay down in their dens. Man goeth forth
unto his work, and to his labor, until the evening. Lord, how mani-
fold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou jnade them all: the earth
is full of thy riches; so is this great and wide sea, wherein are things
creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the
ships; there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in
due season. That thou givest them, they gather: thou openest thine
hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are
troubled; thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to
their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and thou
renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure
forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works."


The same doctrine, as we have already shown, is taught under the
New Institution. How striking and beautilul are the sayings of our
Lord in his sermon on the mounti "I charge you, be not anxious
about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; nor about
your body, what you shall wear. Is not life a greater gift than food,
and the body than raiment? Observe the fowls of heaven. They
neither sow nor reap. Thoy have no storehouse; but your heavenly
Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Besides, which of you can by his anxiety prolong his life one hour?
And why are you anxious about raiment? Mark the lilies of the field.
How do they grow? They toil not: they spin not. Yet I affirm that
even Solomon in all his glory was not equally adorned with one of
these. If, then, God so array the herbage, which to-day is in the field,
and to-morrow will be cast into the oven, will he not much more
array you, O you distrustful I Therefore say not anxiously (as the
heathens do). What shall we eat; or what shall we drink; or with
what shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knows that
you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and
the righteousness required by him; and all these things shall be
superadded to you." It was he also who taught his disciples
to address to the Father the petition, "Give us this day our daily

It were much to be desired that Christians manifested in our day
that confidence in the superintending care of God which so well becomes
their profession. It must be very evident to the most casual observer,
that in this, as well as in almost everything else, they have sadly
apostatized from ancient Christianity. Nothing is more certain indeed
than that in this respect they are now far excelled — (I am ashamed
to write it) — even by the ignorant Turks! These indeed have a strong
dependence upon Providence. We are told that while Burchardt was
on the road to Mecca, where provisions are often scarce, he contrived
very dexterously to put some bread which had been left into his
sleeve. Upon this a Turk said to him, "Now I have discovered you!
You are a Christian dog, and because you did not trust Providence for
a single day, you have stolen the bread."

There is nothing more conducive to the happiness as well as the
safety of the Christian, than to encourage himself in a constant
dependence upon God, "who giveth us all things richly to enjoy;" and
nothing more honorable to him or consonant. with his profession than
to abound in thanksgivings to Cod "at all times for all things." Nor
is there on the other hand anything more incompatible or inconsistent
with his character than unthankfulness and ingratitude. We can not,
however, better close our reflections upon this subject than by the



"Surely man is the most unreasonable of all God's creatures. Feed
the birds of the air, or the beasts of the field, and they will be sat-
isfied; but the more that is given to man, the more he requires."

"If he have riches, he will hug his bags of gold, and carry out his
plans to increase them. If he have estates, he will join house to
house, field to field, and vineyard to vineyard: give him a country,
or a kingdom, and he will crave for more.

"When we rise in the morning, we expect to pass through the day
prosperously. If we lie down to rest at night, we expect to enjoy
refreshing slumber. If we propose a journey, we expect to perform
it unmolested and uninjured.

"If we pass through one birthday, we expect to arrive at another
in good health; to eat and to drink, to ride and to walk, to wake and
to sleep, in peace; without considering that these things can not take
place unless God, of his infinite mercy, keep us from a thousand
temptations, and deliver us from ten thousand dangers.

"So continually are we partaking of God's blessings, that we look
on them as things of course; the seed we sow must, in our apprehen-
sion, spring up abundantly; our tables must be provided for, and the
mercies of yesterday must be supplied to-day, and those of this year
continued to us through the next. How seldom do we offer up the
prayer, 'Give us this day our daily bread,' with a full consciousness
of our entire dependence on our heavenly Father for our earthly sup-
plies; and how frequently do we feel more gratitude to our fellow
worms for a passing act of kindness, than to the Lord of life and
glory, for his permanent and unmerited mercies. We bow and cringe
to a fellow-sinner, to obtain at his hands the empty baubles of an
hour; while the love of the Redeemer of the world, the means of favor,
and the hope of eternal glory, are sought for with indifference.

"Let us look more on our common mercies as the gifts of God.
Let our health and our strength, our days and our nights, our bits and
our drops, and our meanest comforts, be regarded as being bestowed
by a heavenly benefactor, and bear in mind our own unworthiness,
that we may be more reasonable in our desires, and more grateful
when they are attained." R. R. 1836.


"Let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and
knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judg-
ment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight,
saith the Lord." — Jeremiah.

Government implies overruling power, authority, or dominion
exercised by any one, either in person or by delegation. The idea,

THE MILLKSSIAL tlAliliISai:i{ AlililDQEU. 17

then, of the divine government of the universe is, that God exerts
such an overruling power in directing and controlling the order,
motions, powers, and actions of all created things or beings. It does
not consist in a mere permitting certain events to happen, or a mere
general superintendence over the regular operations and laws of the
universe; but in an active and overruling influence or agency,
employed in the accomplishment of certain important purposes, which
purposes constitute the proper ends of government. These are mainly
the disappointing of the designs of the wicked and the protection of
the innocent — the distribution of punishments to the wicked, and
rewards to the righteous.

Such are the objects of all government, and hence the ultimate
relation of all government is to intelligent beings, and though all
things are governed whether animate or inanimate, mind or matter,
it is upon the higher orders of creation which are possessed of under-
standing and accountability that all the purposes of government ter-
minate, as it is for them indeed that inferior things exist. Thus the
earth which we inhabit is for the abode of man. "The heaven, even
the heavens," says David, "are the Lord's; but the earth hath he
given to the children of men." And while the elements, and that
inferior constitution of things which exist for man, are controlled,
they are rather the instruments than the proper subjects of the divine

Government differs from preservation in this, that while the latter
merely sustains the established order or existence of things, the
former directs and employs what is thus sustained for the accom-
plishment of the purposes specified. Thus while Paul declared to the
Athenians that "God gave to all life and breath and all things," he
also afl[irmed that "he was Loud of heaven and earth." The acts of
preservation, too, are constantly required — but this is not the case
with many of the acts which belong to government. Thus under
human government we enjoy, for a long time, peace and protection,
without any visible action on the part of the government, and we
remain as it were ignorant of the existence of any law until that law
is broken. A man may be a thief or a murderer in his heart, but it
i<; only when he commits evil or attempts to do so, that government
makes itself visible in prevention or punishment. So with the divine
government; and whenever the actions of any one are likely to affect
any other person, then it is that the providence of God is concerned,
either to permit, prevent, punish, or reward such actions. There are,
however, some other special acts, as changing laws, fulfilling treaties,
covenants, etc., arising from the various internal or external relations
of society, in which the agency of government, whether it be human
or divine, may be displayed.


That the absolute control of all the various departments of crea-
tion is in the hands of God, is clearly taught in the Scriptures. "He
doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the
inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto
him, What doest thou?" "The Lord reigneth," says David, "let the
earth rejoice." "All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me,"
said Jesus, the "King whom God hath set upon Zion's holy hill," upon
whose "shoulders" now rests the "government," and whose "reign"
shall continue until all his enemies are subdued. For it is to him
that the reins of universal empire are now committed, and to him that
"angels and authorities and powers are made subject." Seated at the
right hand of God, his foes shall be made his footstool; and though
the "kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel
together against the Lord and against his Anointed, he that sitteth
in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision — for
to the Son hath he given the heathen for his inheritance and the
uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. He shall break them
with a rod of iron, he shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
"The Father loveth the Son," said Jesus, "and hath given all things
into his hands" — "Blesised, therefore, are they who put their trust in
him," and who "honor the Son even as they honor the Father." "For
the Lord," says David, "is the salvation of the righteous, and he is
their strength in time of trouble."

We will now briefly consider the means by which the purposes of
the divine government are accomplished as it regards the human

1. By the agency of the elements, or by what are called natural
phenomena. Thus in displaying his goodness and long-suffering, "he
sends rain upon the just and unjust," and gives to men "showers of
rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food
and gladness." Or, in order to punish and reform the disobedient, he
deprives them of these blessings, as he declares in Amos iv. 6, "And
I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want
of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith
the Lord. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there
were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon
one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one place was
rained upon, and the place whereupon it rained not withered. So two
01 three cities wandered into one city, to drink water; but they were
not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. I have
smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens, and your
vineyards, and your fig-trees, and your olive-trees increased, tho
palmer-worm devoured them; yet have ye not returned unto me, saith
the Lord." By the controlling of natural influences Jeremiah distin-


gulshes (Jod from the idols of the heathen. He asks, "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?" The
Lord himself inquires of Job, "Canst thou lift up thy voice to the
clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send
lightnings that they may go and say unto thee. Here we are?" "What-
soever the Lord pleased," says David, "that did he in heaven and on
earth, in the seas and all deep places. He causeth the vapors to
ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings for the rain:
he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries" (Ps. cxxxv.). And in
Ps. cxlviii. he represents the "stormy wind" as "fulfllling his word.'
Paul in Hebrews, quoting Ps. civ., says. He "maketh winds his angels
and flaming fire his ministers." H was accordingly by a strong east
wind that God brought the locusts from the deserts upon the land of
Egypt — and by a west wind that he cast them into the Red Sea. It
was by lightnings and fire and hail that he destroyed the crops of the
Egyptians and "all that was in the field." "He destroyed their vines
with hail," says the Psalmist, "and their sycamore trees with great
hailstones. He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks
to hot thunderbolts" — and thus "cast upon them the fierceness of his
anger" by "sending," as he says, "evil angels among them." Again,
it was by "the wind" that he "brought quails from the sea" for the
children of Israel. (Num. xi. 31.) "He caused," says David, "an east
wind to blow in from heaven; and by his power he brought in the
south wind: he rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered
fowl like as the sand of the sea; and he let it fall in the midst of their
camp, round about their habitations" (Ps. Ixxviii.). It was also by
"a strong east wind" that ho caused the waters of the Red Sea to
"go back all night, and made the sea dry land" for the Israelites to
pass over. In this occurrence, however, there was also a miraculous
agency, for the waters "stood like a wall upon their right hand and
upon their left." And here we may observe, that in bringing about
certain events both a providential and miraculous agency are employed.
As far as natural causes or ordinary agencies can be useful, they are
employed, and miracles (which we have said involve an interruption
of established laws) are then, if necessary, superadded. For instance,
when "certain Chaldeans" accused the three Hebrew captives, because
they would not worship the image of Nebuchadnezzar and they were
thrown into the fiery furnace, it was miraculous power which pre-
vented the flames from hurting theni; but in the destruction of their
enemies, who were slain by the flame of the fire while executing the
king's urgent command, we perceive no miracle, but the providence
of God. Again, it was through a miracle that Daniel escaped in the
lions' den; but the lions acted in accordance with their nature, when


they tore in pieces the enemies of Daniel, who, by means of the divine
or providential agency, were thrown within their power.

We can easily see, then, how the Divine Being can often accom-
plish the important purposes of government by means of natural
agents. He thus punishes his enemies and delivers his people, and
by means of pestilence and famine, by earthquakes, and the direction
and control of ordinary and established influences, he can not only
circumvent and frustrate the designs of the wicked, but bring down
upon their own heads the evil which they designed for others.
He thus changes the purposes of kings, and defeats their armies, as
when he brought the simoon upon the army of Sennacherib and
destroyed in one night 185,000 men, causing him to return with shame
into his own land, because he defied the Lord and sought to take Jeru-
salem. Queen Elizabeth was so much impressed with a sense of divine
agency in the dispersion of that immense armament, the Spanish
Armada, and its destruction by storms and tempests, so that they
could not even effect a landing in England, that she had a medal
struck upon the occasion, representing a fleet beaten by a tempest
and the ships dashing upon each other, with the motto Afflavit Deus
ET uissipantur: "He blew ivitJi his ivind and they were scattered."

2. By means of the animal and insect tribes. Thus flies, frogs, and
locusts became the instruments of punishment to the Egyptians, and
flying serpents to the Israelites in the wilderness. Thus a lion met
the disobedient man of God who prophesied against the altar at Bethel
and slew him, but was not permitted to devour the body nor tear the
ass upon which he rode. Bears also came out of the wood and
destroyed the children who mocked Elisha; and worms devoured
Herod, when, after his speech, the people cried, "It is the voice of a
god and not of a man!" and he did not give God the glory.

3. By a concurrence of circumstances. It is well known how
great an influence the peculiar circumstances which surround men
have upon them, and how the most important events are brought about
by circumstances often of the most trivial character. Thus Joseph's
dreams excited the hatred of his brethren — his father sent him down
to them in Dothan — they conspired to kill him — but it happened as
it were accidentally that certain Ishmaelites passed by on their way
to Egypt, and they sold him to them — they took him to Egypt — he was
there tempted and imprisoned, but afterwards liberated when recalled
to the memory of the chief butler by the apparently trifling circum-
stance of Pharaoh's dream — and finally exalted to great power in
Egypt. Thus, by a singular train of circumstances, not only his
dreams were verified, and his brethren brought to bow before him,
but the preservation of Egypt and the prophecy of God to Abraham
that Israel should sojourn in a strange land four hundred years were


accomplished. Yet all these important ends were ordered and brought
about by the Divine Being. "As for you," said Joseph to his brethren,
"ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good." That Is
to say, "you intended evil, but God disappointed your designs, and
brought the most happy consequences out of your evil action."

Sometimes, indeed, God hinders the actions of the wicked, but at
other times he permits these to take place, and then counteracts their
designs and brings upon themselves the evil which they designed for
the righteous. Thus Haman was, by a peculiar train of circumstances,
emboldened to erect a gallows for Mordecai. On the other hand,
Ahasuerus was prepared, by reading during a sleepless night in the
chronicles of the kings of Persia respecting the meritorious conduct o£
Mordecai, to meet Haman in the morning with the question, "What
shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?" And
after he had replied under the impression that he himself was meant,
he was compelled to do these very honors to Mordecai, and was finally
hung upon the gallows he had himself erected. Thus "the wicked are

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 70)