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was opened, then the wisdom and contrivance of every part of it was displayed. Then it appeared, it was not they (as the patriarch inferred in consolation of his brethren) it was not they that sold him, but God ;-'twas he sent him thither before them 1; -his superintending power availed itself of their passions-directed the operations of them, held the chain in his hand, and turned and wound it to his own purpose.
“ Ye verily thought evil against me, "_but God meant it for good;">ye had the guilt
of a bad intention,-his providence the glory of ( accomplishing a good one, by preserving you a
posterity upon the earth, and bringing to pass as - it is this day, to save much people alive.'-All history is full of such testimonies; which, though they may convince those who look no deeper than the surface of things, that time and chance happen to ally-yet to those who look deeper, they manifest at the same time, that there is a hand much busier in, human affairs than what we vainly calculate ; which though the projectors of this world overlook,-or at least make no allowance for in the formation of their plans, they generally find in the execution of them. And though the fatalist may arge, that every event in this life is brought about by the ministry and chain of natural causes-yet, in answer, let him go, one step higher,--and consider,—whose power it is that enables these causes to work ;--whose knowledge it is that foresees what will be their effects; whose goodness it is that is invisibly conducting them forwards to the best and greatest ends, for the happiness of his creatures.
So that, as a great reasoner justly distinguishes upon this point, It is not only religiously speak
(ing, but, with the strictest and most philosophical
truth of expression, that the scripture tells us, " that God commandeth the ravens ;-that they are « his directions which the winds and the seas obey. If (his servant hides himself by the brook, such an or6 der of causes and effects shall be laid, that the fowls of the air shall minister to his support. " When this resource fails, and his prophet is di
rected to go to Zarephath,—for tiiat he has com6 manded a widow woman there to sustain him,(the same hand which leads the prophet to the gate r of the city,--shall lead forth the distressed widow
to the same place, to take him under her roof;
and though, upon the impulse of a different occa6 sion, shall nevertheless be inade to fulfil bis pro« mise and intention of their mutual preservation.'
Thus much for the truth and illustration of this great and fundamental doctrine of a Providence; the belief of which is of such consequence to us, as to be the great support and comfort of our lives.
Justly, therefore, might the Psalmist upon this declaration, that the Lord is King-conclude, That the earth may be glad therefore ; yea, the multitude of the isles may be glad thereof.
May God grant the persuasion may make us as virtuous as it has reason to make us joyful ! and that it may bring forth in us the fruits of good living, 10 his praise and glory!- to whom be all might, majesty, and dominion, now and forevermore! Amen.
THE CHARACTER OF HEROD.*
MAT. II. 17, 18.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet,
saying, --In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
The words which St. Matthew cités here as fulfilled by the cruelty and ambition of Herod,-are in the 31st chapter of Jeremiah, the 15th verse. In the foregoing chapter, the prophet having declared God's intention of turning the mourning of his people into joy, by the restoration of the tribes which had been led away captive into Babylon, he proceeds, in the beginning of this chapter, which contains this prophecy, to give a more particular de scription of the great joy and festivity of that promised day, when they were to return once more to their own land, to enter upon their antient possessions, and enjoy again all the privileges they had lost; and, amongst others, and what was above them all, the favour and protection of God, and the continuation of his mercies to them and their posterity.
To make, therefore, the impression of this change the stronger upon their minds, he gives a very pa. thetick representation of the preceding sorrow on that day when they were first led away captive.
* Preached on Inpocenu Day.
Thus saith the Lord, a voice was heard in Rama; lamentation and bitter weeping: Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were not.
To enter into the full sense and beauty of this description, it is to be remembered that the tomb of Rachel, Jacob's beloved wife, as we read in the 35th of Genesis, was situated near Rama, and betwixt that place and Bethlehem. Upon which circumstance the prophet raises one of the most affecting scenes that could be conceived; for as the tribes in their sorrowful journey betwixt Rama and Bethlehem, in their way to Babylon, were supposed to pass by this monumental pillar of their ancestor Rachel, Jacob's wife, the prophet, by a common liberty. in rhetorick, introduces her as rising up out of her sepulchre, and as the common mother of two of their tribes, weeping for her children, bewailing the sad catastrophe of her posterity led away into a strange land,refusing to be comforted, because they were not ;-lost and cut off from their country, and, in all likelihood, never to be restored back to her again.
The Jewish interpreters say upon this, that the patriarch Jacob buried Rachel in this very place, foreseeing by the spirit of prophecy, that his posterity should that way be led captive, that she might, as they passed her, intercede for them.
But this fanciful superstructure upon the passage, seems to be little else than a mere dream of some of the Jewish doctors; and indeed had they not dreamt it when they did, 'tis great odds, but some of the Romish dreamers would have hit upon it before now. For as it favours the doctrine of inter
cessions if there had not been undeniable vouchers for the real inventors of the conceit, one should much sooner have sought for it among the oral traditions of this church, than in the Talmud,where it is.
But this by the bye. There is still another interpretation of the words here cited by St. Matthew, which altogether excludes this scenical representation I have given of them. By which 'tis thought that the lamentation of Rachel here described, has no immediate reference to Rachel, Jacob's wife, but that it simply alludes to the sorrows of her descendants, the distressed mothers of the tribes of Benjamin and Ephrain, who might accompany their children led into captivity as far as Rama, in their way to Babylon, who wept and wailed upon this sad occasion, and, as the prophet describes them in the person of Rachel, refusing to be comforted for the loss of her children; looking upon their departure without hope or prospect of ever beholding a return.
Whichever of the two senses you give the words of the prophet, the application of them by the eyangelist is equally just and faithful; for as the former scene he relates was transacted upon the very same stage,-in the same district of Bethlehem, near Rama—where so many mothers of the same tribe now suffered this second most affecting blow the words of Jereiniah, as the evangelist observes, were liter
ally accomplished; and, no doubt, in that horrid :day, a voice was heard again in Rama; lame ation
and bitter weeping :-Rachei weeping for her chil. dren, and refusing to be comforted :
Bethle"}'hemitish mother involved in this calamity, behoid