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LEAD ME IN THY TRUTH, AND TEACH ME.
PSA. XXV. 5.
GREAT EVENTS FROM LITTLE CAUSES. SUCH is the wisdom, as well as goodness of the Lord, that they are not only to be seen in the great things he performs, but in the very least also; and so various and manifold are his ways and works, and so marvellous in many respects, that at the same time they instruct, they : please and entertain also. We find this in whatever view we take of the Lord, whether we see him in his Word or works; whether we behold him in his providence or grace, we see enough to be charmed and ena. moured, and to acknowledge with the Psalmist, “The works of the Lord are great, and to be sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." VOL. II,
The great things of God fill the mind with awe, and give it just and proper ideas of his majesty and greatness. Those we call little things, are equally instructive, and give us such pleasing ideas of his love and condescension as greatly endear him unto us: and so connected are they one with the other, that they cannot well be separated. Corrupt and unbelieving minds, and those who only think superficially of God, and his ways, see nothing of him in any thing but what is awful and tremendous, and so dread rather than fear and love him. A general providence they allow him to exercise; this they suppose worthy of him; but think it beneath him to look into second causes, and exercise a particular, much less a minute providence; and to order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men. And yet unless he had done this, what confusion had ensued, and how great evils and miseries had overwhelmed mankind, and desolated the world they dwell in! I have been led to these reflections from considering several things that have come to pass, and made a very great and glorious appearance, which yet were small in their beginnings, and originated from little occasions. For order's sake we may rank them under three heads, viz. things in nature, things in providence, and things of the written Worů. Who then would have thought, had it not been made manifest, that all the books, all the parchments and MSS. with the Book of God itself, and all those epistles and letters that have passed between vari
ous correspondents, and been of the greatest importance to mankind, should have had their rise from 26 letters, and five of them only vowels ? All the lights that illuminate towns, cities, and countries, with the fires and conflagrations we often read of, come frequently from a spark. And surprizing is it to think that the widespreading oak, and other trees, with all those ships of war, and other vessels of the great ocean, should have taken their beginning from so small a thing as the acorn, and from other seeds of still smaller size! The virtue and use of the lark is said to have been discovered by a sick person's bathing where a tree had lain son e time, and impregnated the water with it's bitters, becoming quickly and considerably the better for it. The great use of the tar-water, we are told from the pen of a Right Rev. Prelate (Bishop Berkeley) was discovered in a way like this. See his Tract called Siris.
As to things in Providence, what shall we say of that memorable event in church history, our reformation from popery? Was it not little in it's cause, tho' great and lasting in it's issue and consequences? Henry the eighth, shaking off the supremacy of the Pope, because he did not sanction his evil, was the prime and ostensible reason why it has been shaken off ever since; and religious liberty, with it's good and happy effects, have ensued, and the Church materially bettered, and brought on towards it's best and most flourishing state. And that horrid and black design, the Gunpowder Plot, how mar
vellously vellously was it discovered, and from how little a cir. cumstance! Percy, a noted papist, and one of the conspirators, willing to save his friend, Lord Monteagle, who was a protestant, and who was to have been at the Parliament house when it met, sent him an anonymous letter some days before, written obscurely, and couched in uncertain terms, advising him not to be there, warning him in general of danger, and saying, respecting himself, it would be over as soon as he had burnt the letier ; but this was so dark and unintelligible to him, that he shewed it the king, who put a construction upon it that did not occur to Lord Monteagle, viz. that as soon as did not mean what it seemed to do, directly, but as quickly as that letter would be burnt if it was burnt; importing some sudden blow or other. This thought was pursued; led to the discovery of that infernal business; preserved the head and strength of the nation, and proved an event of the greatest consequence. From what little causes do long, lasting, and ruinous wars often begin, and what great events are frequently the effects of them! How trifling a thing will often bring on death itself! A bow drawn at a venture shall wound Ahab to death, and save a number of other lives, though it miss Jehoshaphat, against whom it was first levelled. A sudden fright; news, either good or bad, shall sometimes so operate as to issue in sadden dissolution ; so that not only private families shall be separated and dispersed, but public societies also shall be so affected thereby as to be materially changed for the