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And these laws bear a mutual analogy not only in their universality, but in their nature. They are all laws of attraction, of association, of union. There is a bond of society and of holy brotherhood in the natural as well as the moral world. It requires no very lively imagination to see in the planet and its satellites the emblem of a harmonious and happy family; in the solar system, a larger circle of affectionate friends and neighbors ; in those groups of solar systems which revolve perhaps about some common centre, so many well regulated and well governed nations; and in the universe of worlds all circling around the central throne of God, a counterpart of what the buman race would be, did they but yield as perfect obedience to the law of their social and moral nature as the heavenly bodies render to the law of gravitation. On the other hand, what is holy love but a principle of attraction, a law of gravitation in the spiritual world, which unites individual Christians into particular churches, particular churches into the church universal, the church on earth to the spirits of the just made perfect in heaven, the whole general assembly and church of the first born, to the innumerable company of the angels, and all holy beings fast to the throne of the Most High!
Knit like the social stars in love,
Christians through life appear. And in the future life, when the repelling and disturbing power of selfishness will be annibilated, oh, how strong will be the bond, how exquisite the barmony, how beautiful and blissful the union and sympathy, that pervades the church triumphantthe holy universe !
3. The laws in each kingdom are self-executing. This is another characteristic analogy, which pervades the various departments of the divine government.
In human governments, it is usually quite as difficult to execute the laws as to make them. The executive does not always understand them, sometimes wilfully misinterprets or fails to execute them; and even when the agents of the government are well disposed and efficient men, they are utterly incapable either of securing perfect obedience to the laws, or of punishing every instance of disobedience. The man, who should devise a code of laws, that would execute theniselves, would be an unrivalled benefactor to his species and would acquire for himself an imperishable renown.
Such now are the laws of nature, providence and grace. They are inwrought into the very constitution, stamped on the forehead, graven upon the heart of the subject. “I will put my law in their inward parts and write it upon their hearts.” Such is the decree of heaven promulgated in relation to the kingdom of grace, and the realms of nature and providence are governed according to the same decree. Every subject yields obedience to the law from the necessity of his nature, or if in the exercise of free-agency, he disobeys, he cannot help the self-infliction of the penalty. Every nian must obey the laws of his physical nature, or injure his health and shorten or destroy bis life. He must obey the laws of his social nature, or torture himself, while he wrongs and provokes others. He must obey the laws of his moral and spiritual being, or conscience condemns and passion rages and consumes the offender.
Take the laws already specified, the law of gravitation, the law of society and the law of love. Obedience to each secures order and harmony, safety and beauty. Disobedience is immediately and inevitably followed by disorder, confusion and ruin. “The wreck of matter and the crush of worlds,” which would attend a suspension of the law of attraction, is but a type of the jarring and collision of fiercer elements and the wreck and ruin of dearer interests, which are consequent upon a suspension of the social principle and the law of love. While on the other hand, the harmonious and beautiful order of the material universe as it is, is an emblem fit of the harmony, peace and happiness, that would pervade the spiritual world on condition of perfect obedience to the law of social reciprocity and universal benevolence.
“There's not an orb, which thou behold'st
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.” 4. There is a striking analogy in the degree and manner of sovereignty exercised in each of the kingdoms.
Does God make one creature an animalcule to float in the minutest drop of spray, and another a great whale to traverse the boundless ocean ; one a reptile to crawl in the dust, another a lion to roam the monarch of the forest, and a third an eagle to soar above the clouds; the zoophyte scarcely to be distinguished from the senseless plant, and man to bear the image of his Maker and exercise in part the sovereignty of the universal Lord—without consulting at all the wishes of his creatures ?
In like manner, his providence has cast one man's lot in the wilderness a wandering savage, and another's in the city amid luxury and refinement; has exalted one to sit king on a throne, and doomed another to toil a slave in the mines, has taught one to range the universe, "borne on thought's most rapid wing;" and left another to confine his views to his native valley and his necessities to the supply of his bodily wants—and he has done all this without consulting the preference of the individuals concerned.
That a similar sovereignty is exercised in the kingdom of grace, need scarcely be stated, for it forms a standing objection to the administration of that realm. There too " it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth but of God, that showeth mercy. The angels sin, and are all thrust down to the realms of darkness and despair. Man rebels, and an atonement is provided for his salvation. Yet only a part of mankind are destined to obtain eternal life, while the remainder are left to perish in their sins. Some are born to live and die heathen, while a Christian birth-right and inheritance fall to the lot of others.
There is no democracy, no levelling, no fear of distinctions in any part of God's government; and it is most unreasonable and inconsistent, that they, who have always recognized the exercise of absolute sovereignty in some parts of his government should be surprised to discover the same sovereignty in other parts, and that they, who find no fault with the principle in nature and providence, should consider the same principle an insuperable objection to the administration of divine grace.
There is an analogy also as to the manner in which or the principle on which the sovereignty is exercised. “I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” says Christ,“ that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes—even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” In like manner Paul says in relation to his own times. “ Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the
world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised hath he chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are.”
The great principle involved in both these passages is that the heirs of earthly good are not usually chosen to inherit spiritual blessings. And it is a principle, which pervades every department of God's government, that he seldom lavishes all bis favors upon the same individuals. The treasures of nature, of providence, and of grace are all infinite, yet they are meted out with a sparing and a discriminating hand.
How liberal has nature been in the provision of her gifts, yet how parsimonious in the distribution of them! The sum total is beyond calculation, the dividend is usually small. Through the whole range of animals, how rarely are strength and agility combined, beauty and melody blended, cunning and courage united! The gaudy plumage of the peacock and the sweet voice of the nightingale never meet. The strength and ferocity of the lion do not coëxist with the cunning of the fox or the reason of man.
So Providence rarely allots learning to the king or rank to the scholar. He takes health and peace away from both, and makes them the portion of the obscure and illiterate peasant. The healthy are not usually the wealthy, nor the wealthy the wise. Solomon stands almost alone as at once the greatest, the richest and the wisest man in his kingdom. God has given to tropical climes beauty and fertility, but he has also given them the tempest and the tornado. He has doomed the inhabitants of temperate climes and mountainous regions to toil and fatigue, but he has rewarded them by “health, peace, and competence,' and in like manner Grace has made exhaustless provision for our spiritual wants. Heaven was emptied of its choicest treasure and brightest glory to procure gifts for men, yet these gifts are not lavished upon those, who have already full hands and surfeited hearts. The Gospel was committed, not to the Literati at Rome, or the Rabbis at Jerusalem, but to the Fishermen of Galilee. It was preached unto the poor, and embraced by the humble and unlearned. It is the poor and hungry, the weeping and mourning, the despised and persecuted that inherit the christian beatitudes. If you would find the abodes of virtue and piety, you must go, not where
-the spicy breezes Blow soft o'er Ceylon's isle,
And every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile; but to New England's rock bound coast and Iceland's frozen shores, the rugged mountains of Scotland, or the inaccessible fastnesses of the High Alps.
5. There is the same necessity for active exertion in each of the three kingdoms. Divine Sovereignty and human agency run parallel through nature, providence, and grace. It is the law of the kingdom of grace. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It is the law of providence, “God helps those, that help themselves," and the law of nature, " The sun-shine and the plough cover the valleys over with corn.” “ The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich," naturally, intellectually spiritually rich, but not without “ the hand of the diligent.
He, who would explore the mysteries of nature, providence and grace, must study hard ; and he must labor hard, who would secure and enjoy their blessings. In the sweat of his face man eats his bread. This life gives us nothing without great labor, * and strait is the gate and narrow the way, that leads to life everlasting. We must agonize to enter the kingdoms of nature and providence as well as the kingdom of grace—all alike suffer violence and the violent take them by force.
The divine agency may be more or less secret and inscrutable, and we may not be able to discern the connection between the means required of man and the end to be accomplished, yet both are absolutely essential to the accomplishment of the end. We cannot discover the manner of divine and human coöperation, yet is it an obvious fact, that without that coöperation, we can put forth no successful effort of body, mind or heart; transact no important business in the natural or the spiritual world ; secure no valuable interest for time or eternity. The Creator's efficiency and the creature's responsibility, absolute dependance and entire free agency, run parallel throughout the natural and the moral universe.
6. There is the same apparent mixture of good and evil,
* Τών γαρ όντων αγαθών και καλών ουδέν άνευ πόνου και επιμελειας Θεοί διδόασιν ανθρώποις. Xenophon, Memorabilia. II. 1: 28.
Nil sine magno
Vita labore dedit mortalibus.-Horace Sat. 9, Lib. I.