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GOD'S CARE FOR HIS PEOPLE.
BY THE REV. A. E. FARRAR.
“ He careth for you."-1 Pet. v. 7.
If ever opinion entertained by any This appears to us to contain an awful human mind was fraught with more than reflection upon God. We deny not, that ordinary absurdity and cruelty, it is that a thinking man, contemplating the granwhich, excluding the divine Being from deur of his Creator, may, for a moment, the government of the. world he has be tempted to question the individuality formed, represents it as abandoned to the of his attentions. Led by the discoveries sport of a blind and uncertain chance of science, the imagination may travel For were it possible to conceive that infi- from world to world, and system to sysnite Wisdom knows not our affairs; or tem, amidst the still increasing magnifithat, supremely happy in himself, the cence of the divine formations, until our God of unbounded love does not concern earth becomes an indiscernible speck, himself about them ; could it be credited, and appear to bear no more proportion that of him who “ fills all things," the to the other productions of creative enworld is empty, while we gazed upon ergy, than a single leaf to the foliage of “the fatherless void," we might exclaim a widely extended forest. Amid the as Paul did, under a supposition not more illimitable expansion around, we may abhorrent to truth, “ We are of all men feel ourselves dwindle into nothingness, most miserable."
and with somewhat of the hesitancy of There is, however, another sentiment unbelief, may ask, “What is man, that upon this subject, which, if more feasible, thou art mindful of him?" But, be it is not less scripturally incorrect. I remembered, that little and great are disallude to the theory which represents the tinctions of finite minds, which will bear Almighty as “full orb'd, in his whole no correct application to the divine Being; round of rays complete," and only con- and when we consider, that he “ filleth descending to afford mankind some all in all," that he is at the same moment general and undefined regards; and his every where, no object can be tog minute government as a mere inechanical agency, for his attention ; and while he “hangs oontrolled by certain immutable laws, the earth over the empty space,” and which admit not of one peculiar or bene- wheels planets in their orbits, he, with volent attention. "Infidels and semi-infi- no less regard, superintends “the flutterdels have attempted to derive support to ings of the bee," and directs the smallest such views from the consideration of corpuscle of blood that fits through the man's comparative insignificancy. In veins of the smallest animalcule. the flowery numbers classic styles of I am not prepared to say the subject of poetry, we have been taught
a particular providence involves no diffiThe universal cause
culties. One is, the apparent disorder Acts not by partial, but by general laws,
that exists in many providential arrangeHe sees with equal eye, as Lord of all,
ments; but of this we are incompetent to A hero perish, or a sparrow fall;
judge, because we cannot embrace the Systems or atoms into nothing hurlid,
whole circumference of the divine proAnd now a bubble burst, and now a world.” Iceeding. The mighty chain of his deal
ings seems often intercepted and broken;" falleth not to the ground without his but when we are enabled to trace up the notice.” He “ feedeth the young raconcatenation of causes and events to vens;" he “careth for oxen." " The their ultimate tendencies—to look along eyes of all wait upon him, and he giveth the line to its termination, every thing them their meat in due season." Incomwill demonstrate the perfection of a parably beautiful in this view is the landivine agency. At present, “ we know" guage of our Lord to his disciples. only “in part.” The infinite combina- " Take no thought what ye shall eat;. tions and workings of the admirable ma- consider the ravens; they have no barn chinery, which, to the eye of the artist, nor storehouse; your Father feedeth them. are simplicity itself, may seem to us And why take ye thought for raiment ? mere complicated confusion; but when, Consider the lilies of the field ; they toil in the light of eternity, and with an eye not, they spin not; and yet I say unto strengthened by the vision of God, we you, that Solomon in all his glory was look through the perplexing movements, not arrayed like one of these. Yous every thing will appear honourable to the Father clotheth them.” But the arrangewisdom and benevolence of Him who, in ments of Providence, like the dispensaadoring wonder, we shall perceive, “ hath tions of grace, concern more immediately done all things well”—"Clouds and man. darkness are round about him; but just Him God has made capable of knowice and judgment are the habitation of his ing and loving himself. In the visitathrone.”
tions that meet him he can recognise his Every difficulty, however, with which Father; and through the channel of benethis subject is perplexed, gives place to volent communication made to him, return the authority of God; and it is sufficient to the source of all his blessings. And for us that the doctrine of a particular man needs the most effective expressions providence is pre-eminently that of the of divine attention. Immortals, standing Scriptures. On this point, no words on the brink of eternity, and yet ignorant need be more explicit than those of the of the events of the next hour; capable text"He,” that is God, “ CARETH FOR of celestial enjoyments, but placed in ciryou.” They are adduced as a motive cumstances inimical to their attainment; for “casting all our care upon him;" and surrounded with enemies, and incident to it is impossible to conceive a motive a thousand unseen calamities ; miserable more obvious and persuasive. But I indeed were your lot, my brethren, if left purpose to give them a distinct conside- to struggle alone with your difficulties. ration as a truth of general practical im- I know we are unworthy of the divine portance. Let us inquire to whom they attention. Though he careth for you,' refer? Whether the truth they state can be some of you are thoughtlessly unconestablished? and what improvement should cerned about him. Suppose not, however, be made of the doctrine ? And,
that Providence waiteth upon your sins, First, TO WHOM DO THESE WORDS RE- continuing impenitent; every part of his FER? Not to the inanimate, but rational word denounceth wrath against you, and creation—to man.
your final doom must be inevitable and There is, indeed, a sense in which God aggravated perdition. Yet Providence cares for all his creatures, animate and is co-operating with grace to save you. inanimate. He “maketh the outgoings In what period hath God left himself of the morning and evening to rejoice." "without witness, doing good, sending He covers the fields with abundance. rain and fruitful seasons, and filling men's He “ crowns the year with his goodness." hearts with food and gladness ?" TO He beams forth in the spring, and ap- what part of the world hath he not gone proaches us in the bounties of summer, forth in expressions of beneficence and and loads us with the profusion of autumn. mercy; shining in the splendour of the During the stormy winter, the insignifi- sun, instructing by the pale glory of the cant sparrow chirping on the hedge, moon, and twinkling in the stars ?
“Day unto day uttereth speech." Inosity? But God has expended upon beevery thing, the Lord is looking after the lievers wonders of wisdom and goodness: interests of man.
he has done more; he has made them miraBut the persons more immediately con- cles of mercy; and can he cease to feel cerned in our subject, are described in a interested in their welfare? Similar, on preceding part of the epistle, as “called this topic, was the reasoning of our adoraout from darkness into marvellous light;" ble Redeemer—" Are not five sparrows " which in times past were not a people, sold for two farthings ? and not one of but are now the people of God; which them falleth to the ground without your had not obtained mercy, but now have Father. Ye are of more value than many obtained mercy." Being born again, sparrows.” not of corruptible seed, but of incorrupt This is not a subject involving the least ible, by the word of God which liveth uncertainty. It is revealed in the most and abideth for ever." “ Elect accord- explicit terms. We have but to turn ing to the foreknowledge of God the over the pages of the holy writ, to perFather, through the sanctification of the ceive it shining in all the radiance of Spirit.” This is designatory phrase- divine illumination. Let us examine a ology, which needs no explanation. But few passages. Here is one" Fear pot if there be any circumstances in which | Abram; I am thy shield, and thy exceedthe consolation of the subject may be ing great reward.” Perhaps, you say, peculiarly claimed, they are those of this concerned Abram only. But “ they suffering. Of the persons primarily in- that are of faith are Abram's seed, and terested in the text, the apostle says, “ If heirs according to the promise.” Well; need be, ye are in heaviness through here is another. “The Lord's portion is manifold temptations ;” and intimates, his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritthat further and severer trials awaited ance. He found him in a desert land, them. “Think it not strange," &c. How and in the waste-howling wilderness; he soothing must it have proved to persons led him about; he instructed him; he so situated, to read, “ Casting all your care kept himn as the apple of his eye. As an upon him, for he careth for you.” eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over
her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, “ His saints are lovely in his sight,
taketh them, beareth them on her wings, He views his children with delight,
so the Lord alone did lead him." This, He sees their hope, he knows their fear,
you say, refers to the Israelites; recol. He looks and loves his image there."
lect, however, that “the things which Secondly. Our next inquiry is, Whe- happened unto them were examples." ther THE TRUTH THESE WORDS STATE, We will turn to the book of PsalmsCAN BE SUBSTANTIATED?
The eyes of the Lord are over the rightAnd, happily, on a point of so much eous, and his ears are open to their consequence, we are not left to mere con- prayers.”—“Like as a father pitieth his jectures. Had we no express declaration children, so the Lord pitieth them that on the subject, we might, indeed, safely fear him; for he knoweth whereof we are rest it upon deduction ; and an inference, made, and remembereth that we are but the most obvious, drawn from the most dust." On this pleasing subject, the simple premises, would immediately offer prophet Isaiah is equally evangelical as itself; an inference from the divine in- upon every other. “ Fear thou not," terest in us. Shall not the Maker care says he, in the language of God; “ I am for his works ? Does the potter form his with thee. When thou passest through vessel that it may be instantly dashed in the water and through the fire, I will be pieces by the first rude hand that may with thee; the flames shall not kindle touch it? Does the artist employ his upon thee, neither shall the floods drown pains and skill in constructing a curious thee. Can a woman forget her sucking piece of machinery, and then abandon it child, that she should not have compasto the sport of a blind or malevolent curi-| sion on the son of her womb? Yea, they
may: yet will I not forget thee. I have this have we found; know now whether graven thee on the palms of my hands; it be thy son's coat or not ?" “ It is my thy walls are continually before me." I son's coat,” said he. Joseph is withwill make one quotation more. “ Then,” | out doubt rent in pieces; some evil beast says Malachi (and they were bad times hath devoured him; I will go down to in which he prophesied,) “ Then they the grave unto my son mourning." His that feared the Lord spake often one to tears were scarcely wiped, his wounds another, and the Lord hearkened and were not yet closed, when his sons returnheard them; and a book of remembrance ing from Egypt, where they had been to was written before him for them that purchase corn for the support of their feared the Lord, and thought upon his families during a famine, informed their name.
And they shall be mine, saith father, that unless their younger brother, the Lord in that day when I make up my Benjamin, returned with them into Egypt, jewels; and I will spare them as a man the governor would sell them no more spareth his own son that serveth him.” corn. The prospect of this second loss These are all passages from the Old Tes- was more than Jacob could well bear. tament; in the New, this doctrine, like “How was it that ye dealt so ill with that of immortality, shines still more re- me, as to tell the man ye had yet a brofolgently; and it may be enough to state, ther? Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, that the sermons of our Lord, and the and now ye will take Benjamin away. epistles of his apostles, are in perfect co- All these things are against me, and ye incidence with the language of our text, will bring down my gray hairs with sorand most explicitly prove that God row to the grave !" Stop, Jacob! God ** careth for us."
"careth for thee." 6. Joseph is yet alive, Is it asked, do the divine proceedings and is governor of Egypt.” And when correspond with this language? We ap- a few weeks after, Jacob had embraced peal to facts. The truth derives the most the long-lost exile on the plains of ample illustration and confirmation from Goshen, he heard the same from his own experience. A few instances may suffice lips—“God hath sent me before you, for selection. The first that presents to save your lives by a great deliveritself is in the Old Testament. And here ance." you anticipate me: it is the history of An instance may be selected from the Joseph. The foolish predilection of Ja- New Testament; the case of Peter himcob had rendered Joseph obnoxious to his self. His enemies had put him in prison, brethren's hatred; when sent to the fields and waited but the lapse of Pentecost to of Dothan, where they fed their flocks, to glut their malice in his blood; but inquire after their welfare, the unnatural prayer was made of the church without men seized the opportunity of revenging ceasing to God for him.” And the very the preference of their father upon the night before he was to have been brought innocent object of his affections; and out to the people, an angel of God, spe“ Joseph was sold into Egypt." Tocially appointed for the purpose, roused conceal their crime from the aged patri- him from his sleep, snapped his fetters, arch, they dyed Joseph's coat in the blood and delivered him from the will of of a kid, and set forward towards the Herod, and from all the expectation of vale of Hebron, the family residence. I the people of the Jews.” I see him in seem to see the venerable Jacob ascend the street, after the angel's departure the hill, look wistfully toward Dothan, looking this way and that, and asking and then, as if boding some ill, retire Is it not a dream? Am I awake?' thoughtfully to his home. At length, At length, arrived at the house of hi the ten sons make their appearance; he friend, John Mark, just as the little casts over them his inquiring eye, and society were rising from their knees, &c. has scarcely asked for Joseph, when they their prayers were turned into praises, as produce the blood-stained robe, and, with they gazed upon him, supposing it to all the apathy of guilt, state, “ Behold, have been his angel, I hear him exhort
ing, “Cast all your care upon him, for though the point has been established he careth for you."
generally, enter a little more at large into Let us refer to history. Were the his- particulars. His care extends to tory of the church well written, (but no Your property. This may, indeed, be thing is worse written,) it would be so but little, and for the reason I am assignmany records of God's kindness. A few ing, because God “careth for you ;" for striking instances of it have been pre “ the cattle upon a thousand hills are his," served. One shall serve for quotation. In and so are “the wool and the flax, the that period of Christian barbarism, render- silver and the gold," and he has promised ed infamous in a neighbouring country by to “withhold no good thing from them the revocation of the edict of Nantz, when that walk uprightly.” But little as it the blood of the saints was shed without may be, without him flames shall not measure—(since then God has given that consume it, thieves shall not steal it, nor nation blood to drink)—some of those bankruptcies waste it. In proof of all this, persons employed in the diabolic work of I need only refer to the well known persecuting to death, under the name of history in the first chapter of the book of heretics, their unoffending neighbours, Job. - There was a day," says the hiswere sent in pursuit of the celebrated Du torian, “when the sons of God came to Moulin, a minister of eminence among present themselves before the Lord, and the Protestants. They had long sought Satan came also among them. And the for him in vain, when at length they Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest traced him to a house, and followed thou ? Then Satan answered the Lord, immediately his steps into it. Every and said, From going to and fro in the corner of this house they searched, an earth, and from walking up and down oven excepted; which he who can em- in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, ploy on the designs of his mercy an Hast thou considered my servant Job ?" insect as well as an angel, had rendered, He needed not information, but he would by means of a despicable spider, the se- have the avowal from Satan's own lips. cure asylum of his servant. A web just " Then Satan answered the Lord, and thrown over its mouth prevented scrutiny, said, Doth Job serve God for nought? and thus Du Moulin was preserved! God Hast thou not set a hedge about him, and cared for him."
about his house, and about all that he You say these instances are extraordi- hath on every side ?" Observe these nary. True; what then may we not words,“ a hedge”-impenetrable even by expect when his care can be evinced by the devil; and before Satan could touch ordinary means? But why do I appeal one of Job's camels, or even a single ewe to Scripture, and to history? Are none lamb, God must make a breach in this of you instances of this care? What say hedge! And is he not a hedge round you? Methinks, if the decorum of this his people now? He is “a wall of fire service admitted, one would rise and say, round about them, and the glory in the • The Lord is my shepherd-he maketh midst of them.” “ He careth for" me to lie down in green pastures, he Your families. Is it necessary to prove leadeth me beside the still waters." this? I appeal to the ark, where a Another would add, “ He hath led me shameless Ham is floating among the by a way that I knew not; he hath made wrecks of the deluged world, preserved crooked things straight, and rough places for the father's sake. I refer to the hisplain before me." And a third would tory of Lot. “ Hast thou here," said the state, referring to some particular deliver- angel who was about to inflict righteous ance, “ In that day the light was neither judgment upon Sodom, “ Hast thou here clear nor dark, but it was a day known to any besides, sons in law or daughters ? the Lord, not day nor night; but it came Get them out of this place; for I can do to pass, that at evening time it was light.” nothing till ye be come yonder.” I refer “ Hle careth for you.”
; but there is no need to multiply We may carry the subject farther, and evidence. “The mercy of the Lord is