2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is fully devoted to Him. You have acted foolishly in this matter. From now on, therefore, you will be at war."
Sermons
A Supreme Providence the Only Explanation of Many ActionsS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
Belief in Providence a Source of ComfortS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
Divine Observation and InterpositionW. Clarkson 2 Chronicles 16:9
Divine ProvidenceH. MeLvill, B.D.2 Chronicles 16:9
Divine ProvidenceJ. Crowther.2 Chronicles 16:9
God the Guardian of the WorldHomilist2 Chronicles 16:9
God Waiting to Show Himself StrongH. W. Butcher.2 Chronicles 16:9
God's Loving Providence Over His PeopleJ. M. Ludlow, D.D.2 Chronicles 16:9
God's Providence -- a Description, and its EndS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
God's Thoughts Toward Good MenJ. C. Jackson.2 Chronicles 16:9
No Mist Before the Eyes of GodT. De Witt Talmage.2 Chronicles 16:9
Our Duty in Regard to ProvidenceS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
Perfection DiscriminatedThomas Cook.2 Chronicles 16:9
Providence Follows the Rule of ScriptureS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
Providence Glorifies God's Grace in Christ2 Chronicles 16:9
The Eyes of the LordJ. Gill, D. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Eyes of the LordS. Charnock, B.D.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Eyes of the LordT. Whitelaw 2 Chronicles 16:9
The Foundations of the Doctrine of ProvidenceS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Guardianship of GodW. G. Barrett.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Heartening CertaintyWayland Hoyt, D.D.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Look of GodJ. Caryl.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Mysteriousness of God's ProvidenceS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Providence of GodS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Unequal Distributions of Providence -- a QuestionS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Universality of God's ProvidenceS. Charnock, B. D.2 Chronicles 16:9
The Unworthiness and Absurdity of Denying Providence2 Chronicles 16:9
The Folly of BriberyJ. Wolfendale.2 Chronicles 16:1-10
The King and the ProphetT. Whitelaw 2 Chronicles 16:7-10
Hanani the seer was evidently a man who was not only bold and brave enough to confront the king with a rebuke, but he was one who had a keen sense of the near presence and power of the Lord "before whom he stood." We may very well believe that it was the latter which explained the former. Let us heed his doctrine while we admire his fidelity.

I. GOD'S ACTIVE OBSERVANCE OF INDIVIDUAL MEN. These vigorous words (of the text) indicate the prophet's belief that God was observing men everywhere, was actively observing them "run to and fro," and was drawing distinctions between the life of one man and another. God's particular and individual observation has been, not unnaturally, objected to on the ground of our human littleness. How can we expect, how can we believe, that the Eternal One would concern himself with the doings or negligences of creatures so remote, so unimportant, so infinitesimally minute as we are? Surely, it is said, such consideration is beneath him. But there are two thoughts which meet this objection and correct this conclusion.

1. The infinitude of God. For that includes the infinitely small as well as the infinitely great; it is a distinct denial of this attribute of God, for it is a limitation of his infinity, to maintain that there is one direction to which his power and action do not extend. The infinitude of God positively requires us to believe that he is observant of the hearts and lives of individual men.

2. The fatherhood of God. Granted that our human spirits are nearly allied to him, share his own likeness, stand in conscious relation to him; are capable of loving, serving, following him; can live on earth the life he lives in heaven, are this and do this in such sense and degree that we can be rightly called and considered his sons and daughters, - and there is no more objection to be taken. Shall not the Divine Father of his human family take particular notice of each one of his children? What fatherhood is that which considers his own child to be unworthy of his notice?

II. THE DISTINCTIONS HE DRAWS BETWEEN THEM.

1. He divides all men into two classes - the evil and the good (see Proverbs 15:3); between those "who fear him and those who fear him not;" between those "who are righteous" and those who "do evil" (see Psalm 34:15, 16).

2. He divides the good into two classes - the imperfectly and the perfectly devoted. There are those who seek not the Lord "with their whole heart," and those who do thus seek him; those whose "heart is not perfect," and those whose "heart is perfect" toward him. This distinction is not absolute. The less devoted of the servants of God have their better hours and their nobler impulses; while the more devoted have their lapses and their blemishes. Asa "did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 14:2); he and his people "sought the Lord... with all their heart and with all their soul" (2 Chronicles 15:12); yet here we find him erring, lacking confidence in God, and "going down" to Syria for help. But taking this into account, it remains true that God distinguishes clearly between those of his servants who are but faint-hearted and feeble in his service, and those who give themselves to him "with their whole desire." Let there be so thorough and so complete a dedication of ourselves, of our powers and of our resources and of our time, to the Person and the cause of our Divine Saviour, that we shall be counted by him among those "whose heart is perfect toward him." We may attain to this, although we may have much still to learn and to acquire as his disciples (see Philippians 3:12-15).

III. HIS INTERPOSITION ON OUR BEHALF. God would certainly have interposed on behalf of Asa, would have "shown himself strong" in his behalf. He would, said Hanani, have given him a far greater success than that which he attained by his gifts and negotiations with Benhadad (ver. 7). God always succours his faithful ones.

1. He may deliver them from their distress; as he had delivered Ass already, and did afterwards deliver Hezekiah. He may give us the victory over our enemies from without - over bodily ill, over opposing circumstances; he may cause us to triumph as "men count" triumph.

2. Or he may grant us deliverance in our distress; he may grant us such spiritual elevation that we shall "glory in our infirmity," shall "rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer," shall bear the noble testimony of perfect contentment with the inferior position (John 3:29); and thus (literally) "show himself strong in those whose heart is devoted to him' (Keil's translation). - C.







For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.
We need not concern ourselves with the occasion on which these words were uttered. Spoken by a prophet to Asa, king of Judah, they have been "recorded for our instruction." The representation sets forth Divine things under human similitudes. Now it can hardly be necessary that we expose the falseness of the opinion that having created this world God left it to itself, and bestows no thought on its concerns. But whilst there are few who hold the opinion, there are many who would limit the providence of God; and it is very easy to put forward descriptions of the magnitude and the power of the Creator, and then to set in contrast the insignificance of man, and to argue from the comparison that it is derogatory to the greatness of God to suppose Him careful of what befalls a house-hold or happens to an individual. But this is poor reasoning; it would not hold good if applied amongst ourselves. If it were possible that a great statesman or potentate, whilst superintending the concerns of an empire, should yet find time for ministering at the bedside of sickness, and be active for the widow and the orphan: well, what would you say — that it was derogatory to him that, without neglecting momentous things, he showed himself capable of attending to things comparatively petty? Nay, you would admire and you would venerate him all the more. Neither is it derogatory — nay, rather, it is essential to the greatness of our God — that whilst He marshals the stars and orders the motions of all the worlds in immensity, He yet feedeth the young ravens that call upon Him, and numbereth the very hairs of our head. But now we will bring this truth before you in greater minuteness, and show what is involved in the saying, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth."

I. We may first alarm it evident THAT NOTHING CAN HAPPEN IN ANY SPOT OF THE PEOPLED IMMENSITY WHICH IS NOT KNOWN TO HIM WHO IS EMPHATICALLY THE OMNISCIENT — indeed, it were to deny the omniscience of God to suppose any the most trivial incident not included within His knowledge. And it is far more than the inspection of an ever-vigilant observer. It is not merely that nothing can happen without the knowledge of our Maker: it is that nothing can happen but by His appointment or permission, for we must ever remember that God is the first cause, and that on the first all secondary depend. But how beautifully simple does everything appear when we trace one hand in all that occurs! It is God whose energies are extended throughout the earth and sea and air, causing those innumerable and beneficial results which we ascribe to nature; it is God by whom all those contingencies which seem to us fortuitous and casual are ordered, so that events brought round by what men count accident proceed from a Divine and therefore irreversible appointment. It is God by whom the human will is secretly inclined towards righteousness, so that there is not wrought upon earth a single action such as God can approve, to whose performance God hath not instigated. It is God who, acting through the instrumentality of various and apparently conflicting causes, keeps together the discordant elements of society, and prevents the whole framework of civil institutions from being rapidly dissolved and broken up piecemeal. I know that it is not the monarch alone at the head of his provinces and tribes who is observed by the Almighty; I know that it is not only at some great crisis in life that an individual becomes the object of the attention of his Maker; rather do I know that the poorest, the meanest, the most despised, the very outcast of society, shares with the monarch the notice of the Universal Protector. Yea, and that this notice is so incessant and so unwearied, that when he goes to his daily toil, or his daily prayer, when he lies down at night, or rises in the morning, or gathers his little ones to the scanty meal, the poor man is not unnoticed by God; he cannot weep a tear God knows not, he cannot smile a smile God knows not, he cannot breathe a wish God knows not. But whilst the universal providence of God is to the full as incomprehensible as aught else that belongs to Divinity, there is nothing in it but what commends itself to the very warmest feelings of our nature.

II. We come now to the second doctrine laid down in our text — THAT ALL THE MOTIONS OF PROVIDENCE HAVE FOR THEIR ULTIMATE END THE GOOD OF THOSE WHOSE HEART IS PERFECT TOWARDS GOD. And you may examine this doctrine under two points of view — as referring either to the Church at large, or separately to the individuals of whom that Church is composed. With Scripture for our guide, we must see that God's design, in all His dealings with this earth, has been the glorifying Himself in the redemption and final exaltation of a vast number of our apostate race. Before Christ appeared amongst men, the whole course of human events was so ordered as to prepare the way for the promised Deliverer. If God sent His own Son to deliver man from the consequences of transgression, and to extirpate evil from the universe, we cannot doubt the objects which engaged so stupendous an interposition must still be those to whose furtherance the Divine dealings tend. There can be no other objects commensurate in importance with those, for no others have required so costly a process; and since these as yet have been only partially attained, we must justly conclude that their thorough accomplishment is the proposed end of all the dealings of providence. The globe was partitioned out with a view to the Church, this land assigned to one nation and that to another, with the set purpose of consulting by the distribution the well-being of Israel. It is as though the Psalmist had said that God directs all the tumults and confusions of the world, guiding the flood with holy and merciful intentions towards His people, that the turbid waters may bring them strength and peace. Why is it that the Church has outlived so many a fierce persecution — that in the place of being vanquished she is only to be invigorated by assault? We ascribe nothing to the native energies of the preachers or professors of Christianity: we ascribe everything to the protecting and fostering care of Him who so loved the world as to give His Son. And it is not only in reference to the Church at large that we are warranted in thus speaking of God's providence. Of each member in this Church we may declare that God watches sedulously over him with the express design of succouring him with all needful assistance. You learn from various portions of Holy Writ that God has a great interest in the righteous, so that the Lord's portion is said to be His people, and Jacob the lot of His inheritance. He now calls His people His jewels, and declares that whosoever toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye. We know that many things may happen to the righteous which seem against them, and that it is easy to find in their disasters apparent exceptions to the truth affirmed by the text; yet who that knows anything of Christian experience would deny that the trials which are permitted to overtake the godly serve as means through which their spiritual well-being is advanced, and afford occasions for such communications of grace as prove that God's strength is made perfect in weakness? It is no proof that the eye of the Lord is not on the righteous that troubles may be found in their portion. When again this man is visited with calamity, death may make inroads in his household, and disorder may pervade his affairs; but the eyes of the Lord are incessantly on him, and if he will but seek his comfort in God, God will show Himself strong by giving him a peace which passeth all understanding. And if anything can encourage the righteous man, and give him confidence amid the onsets of trial, it must be the consideration that the providence of the Almighty is thus perpetually vigilant in his behalf.

(H. MeLvill, B.D.)

I. WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND BY THE EYES OF THE LORD. This is figurative. It designs His all-seeing providence; and that, as concerned in a special manner with His own people (Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:10). The eyes of the Lord, as they are set upon His own people, are like the eyes of doves — expressive of mildness, gentleness, tenderness, and love; but as they are set upon wicked men, His eyes are as flames of fire — expressive of wrath and vengeance (Amos 9:4-8; Psalm 34:15).

II. IN WHAT SENSE THESE ARE SAID TO RUN TO AND FRO THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH. This is expressive of His watchfulness over His people (Jeremiah 31:28). As those who are watchful look here and there, and are very diligent in their observations, so the Lord watches over His people.

1. To help them.

2. To counter-work the adversary (Job 1:7).

III. THE END OF THEIR RUNNING THUS. To show Himself strong on the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him.

1. The descriptive character: "perfect toward Him"; that is, sincere and upright. Where there is "love out of a pure heart and faith unfeigned" (1 Timothy 1:5) the heart may be said to be perfect.

2. The exertion of Divine power on their behalf.

(J. Gill, D. D.)

In Scripture these signify —

I. HIS KNOWLEDGE (Job 34:21; Hebrews 4:13).

II. HIS PROVIDENCE.

1. For good (1 Kings 6:3; Psalm 32:8).

2. For evil (Isaiah 3:8).

(S. Charnock, B.D.)

I. THE DESCRIPTION OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE.

1. Its immediateness: "His eyes." Not like princes, who see by their servants' eyes, more than by their own, what is done in their kingdoms; His care is immediate.

2. Its quickness and speed: "run."

3. Its extent: "the whole earth."

4. Its diligence: "to and fro." His care is repeated.

5. Its efficacy. His care doth engage His strength.

II. THE END OF PROVIDENCE.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. GOD HATH AN INDISPUTABLE AND PECULIAR RIGHT TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD. This right is founded upon —

1. That of creation.

2. The excellency of His being. Every man hath a natural right to rule another in his own art and skill wherein he excels him.

II. GOD ONLY IS QUALIFIED FOR THE UNIVERSAL GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD. God only is fit in regard of —

1. Power.

2. Holiness and righteousness. All disorder is the effect of unrighteousness.

3. Knowledge.

4. Patience.

III. THERE CAN BE NO REASON RENDERED WHY GOD SHOULD NOT ACTUALLY GOVERN THE WORLD, SINCE HE ONLY HATH A RIGHT AND A FITNESS.

IV. GOD DOTH ACTUALLY PRESERVE AND GOVERN THE WORLD.

1. Nothing is acted in the world without God's knowledge. The vision of the wheels in Ezekiel presents us with an excellent portraiture of providence (Ezekiel 1:18).

2. Nothing is acted in the world without the will of God (Ephesians 1:11; Psalm 135:6).

3. Nothing doth subsist without God's care and power.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. IT IS OVER ALL CREATURES.

1. The highest.

(1)Over Jesus Christ, the First-born of every creature (Acts 2:23).

(2)Over angels and men.

2. The meanest. As the sun's light, so God's providence, disdains not the meanest worms.

II. IT EXTENDS TO ALL THE ACTIONS AND MOTIONS OF THE CREATURE.

1. To natural actions. How do fish serve several coasts at several seasons? why do plants that grow between a barren and a fruitful soil shoot all their roots towards the moist and fruitful ground, but by a secret direction of providential wisdom?

2. To civil actions. Counsels of men are ordered by Him to other ends than what they aim at, and which their wisdom cannot discover.

3. To preternatural actions. God doth command creatures to do those things which are no way suitable to their inclinations (1 Kings 17:4; Jonah 2:10; Daniel 3:1).

4. To all supernatural and miraculous actions of the creatures. As when the sun went backward in Hezekiah's time, and when it stood still in the valley of Ajalon.

5. To all fortuitous actions. The whole disposing of the lot which is east into the lap is of the Lord (Proverbs 16:33).

6. To all voluntary actions.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. HIS WAYS ARE ABOVE HUMAN METHODS. Dark providences are often the groundwork of some excellent piece He is about to discover to the world. His methods are like a plaited picture, which on the one side represents a man and the other a beauty.

II. HIS ENDS ARE OF A HIGHER STRAIN THAN THE AIMS OF MEN. Who would have thought that the forces Cyrus raised against Babylon, to satisfy his own ambition, should be a means to deliver the Israelites and restore the worship of God in the temple?

III. GOD HATH SEVERAL ENDS IN THE SAME ACTION. Jacob is oppressed with famine, Pharaoh enriched with plenty, but Joseph's imprisonment is in order to his father's relief and Pharaoh's wealth.

IV. GOD HAS MORE REMOTE ENDS THAN SHORT-SIGHTED SOULS ARE ABLE TO ESPY.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. THE WISDOM OF GOD WOULD NOT BE SO PERSPICUOUS WERE THERE NOT A PROVIDENCE IN THE WORLD. A musician discovers more skill in the touching an instrument, and ordering the strings, to sound what note he pleaseth, than he doth in the first framing and making of it (Isaiah 28:29). All God's providences are but His touch of the strings of this great instrument of the world.

II. THE MEANS WHEREBY GOD'S ACTS DISCOVER A PROVIDENCE. He acts —

1. By small means.(1) In His ordinary works. Great plants are formed from small seeds.(2) In His extraordinary works.(a) In the deliverance of a people or person. A dream was the occasion of Joseph's greatness. He used the cacklings of geese to save the Roman Capitol from a surprise by the Gauls.(b) In the salvation of the soul. Our Saviour Himself, though God, was so mean in the eyes of the world that He calls Himself "a worm, and no man" (Psalm 22:6). The world is saved by a crucified Christ.

2. By contrary means. God makes contrary things contribute to His glory, as contrary colours in a picture do to the beauty of the piece. In some engines you shall see wheels have contrary motions, and yet all in order to one and the same end. God cured those by a brazen serpent which were stung by the fiery ones, whereas brass (according to Grotius) is naturally hurtful to those that are bit by serpents.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

and events in the world: — This is evidenced —

I. BY THE RESTRAINTS UPON THE PASSIONS OF MEN. How strangely did God qualify the hearts of the Egyptians willingly to submit to the sale of their land, when they might have risen in a tumult, broke open the granaries, and supplied their wants (Genesis 47:19, 21).

II. BY THE SUDDEN CHANGES WHICH ARE MADE UPON THE SPIRITS OF MEN FOR THE PRESERVATION OF OTHERS (Genesis 33:4; 1 Samuel 24:17, 18; 2 Chronicles 18:31; Esther 6:1, 2).

III. IN CAUSING ENEMIES TO DO THINGS FOR OTHERS WHICH ARE CONTRARY TO ALL RULES OF POLICY. The Jews in the worst of their captivities were often befriended by their conquerors, to rebuild their city and re-edify their temple, and at the charge of their conquerors too (Ezra 1:1, 2, 7; Ezra 4:12, 15, 19; Ezra 6:4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 22; Nehemiah 2:8).

IV. IN INFATUATING THE COUNSELS OF MEN (Isaiah 33:11; 2 Samuel 17:14).

V. IN MAKING THE COUNSELS OF MEN SUBSERVIENT TO THE VERY ENDS THEY DESIGN AGAINST (Genesis 11:4, 8; John 12:32).

VI. IN MAKING THE FANCIES OF MEN SUBSERVIENT TO THEIR OWN RUIN (2 Kings 3:22, 23; 2 Kings 7:6; Judges 7:19-22).

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

If there be a providence, how come those unequal distributions to happen in the world?

I. ANSWER IN GENERAL.

1. Is it not a high presumption for ignorance to judge God's proceedings?

2. God is sovereign of the world. Why should a finite understanding prescribe measures and methods to an infinite Majesty?

3. God is wise and just, and knows how to distribute. If we question His providence, we question His wisdom. We see the present dispensations, but are we able to understand the internal motives?

4. There is a necessity for some seeming inequality, at least, in order to the good government of the world. The afflictions of good men are a foil to set off the beauty of God's providence in the world.

5. Unequal distributions do not argue carelessness. A father may give one child a gayer coat than he gives another, yet he extends his fatherly care and tenderness over all.

6. Upon due consideration the inequality will not appear so great as the complaint of it. A running sore may lie under a purple robe. As some are stripped of wealth and power, so they are stripped of their incumbrances they bring with them.

II. ANSWER MORE PARTICULARLY.

1. It is not well with bad men here.(1) They are tortured by their own lusts.(2) They have a great account to make, and know not how to make it (Luke 16:2).(3) They are worse for what they have (Psalm 69:22; Proverbs 1:32).(4) In the midst of their prosperity they are reserved for justice (Exodus 9:16; Psalm 37:2).

2. Neither is it bad here with goodmen.(1) Adversity cannot be called absolutely an evil.(2) God never leaves good men so bare but He provides for their necessities (Psalm 37:5; Psalm 84:11).(3) The little good men have is better than the highest enjoyments of wicked men (Psalm 37:16; Proverbs 16:8).(4) No righteous man would in his sober wits be willing to make an exchange of his smartest afflictions for a wicked man's prosperity, with all the circumstances attending it.(5) It is not ill with the righteous in afflictions because they have high advantages by them.(a) Sensible experiments of the tender providence of God over them (Psalm 37:19, 39; 2 Timothy 4:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Peter 4:13, 14).(b) Inward improvements, opportunities to manifest more love to God, more dependence on Him, the perfection of the soul (1 Timothy 5:5; Job 22:10).(c) Future glory.(d) Suffering of good men for the truth highly glorifies the providence of God (1 Peter 4:16).(e) This argument is stronger for a day of reckoning after this life than against providence.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. THE EVIL OF DENYING PROVIDENCE.

1. It gives a liberty to all sin. What may not be done where there is no government?

2. It destroys all religion.

(1)All worship. How is it possible to persuade men to regard Him for God who takes no care of them?

(2)Prayer. What favour can we expect of Him who is regardless of dispensing any?

(3)Praise.

(4)Dependence, trust, and hope.

3. It is a high disparagement of God.

4. It is clearly against natural light. Socrates could say, "Whosoever denied providence was possessed with a devil."

II. THE GROUNDS OF THE DENIAL OF PROVIDENCE. This is founded —

1. Upon an overweening conceit of men's own worth. When men saw themselves frustrated of the rewards they expected, and saw others that were instruments of tyranny and lust graced with the favours they thought due to their own virtue, they ran into a conceit that God did not mind the actions of men below.

2. Upon pedantical and sensual notions of God. As though it might detract from His pleasures and delight to look down upon this world, or as though it were a molestation of an infinite power to busy Himself about the cares of sublunary things.

3. On a flattering conceit of the majesty of God.

4. On their wishes upon any gripes of conscience. Those in Zephaniah were first settled upon their lees, and then to drive away all fears of punishment, deny God's government (Zephaniah 1:12). Some men, upon a sense of guilt, wish, for their own security, there were no providential eye to inspect them.

III. THE VARIOUS WAYS WHEREIN MEN PRACTICALLY DENY PROVIDENCE, OR ABUSE IT, OR CONTEMN IT.

1. When they will walk on in a contrary way to checks of Providence.

2. In omissions of prayer (Psalm 14:2; 2 Kings 1:3; Job 15:4).

3. When men will turn every stone to gain the favourable assistance of men in their designs, and never address to God for His direction or blessing (Job 35:9, 10; 2 Chronicles 16:7, 12; Proverbs 3:5).

4. When upon receiving any good they make more grateful acknowledgment to the instruments than to God, the principal author of it (Isaiah 10:13, 14; Daniel 5:23; Hebrews 1:16).

5. When we use indirect courses and dishonest ways to gain wealth or honour.

6. When we distrust God when there is no visible means (Isaiah 51:12, 13; Psalm 52:7)

7. Stoutness, under God's afflicting or merciful hand, is a denial or contempt-providence (Daniel 5:23; Hosea 7:9; Isaiah 22:12, 13).

8. Envy is also a denial of providence.

9. Impatience under cross providence is a denial and contempt of God's government (Isaiah 8:21, 22).

10. In charging our sins and miscarriages by them upon Providence (Proverbs 19:3).

11. Many other ways.

(1)When we do things with a respect to the pleasure of men more than of God.

(2)In vain boasting and vaunting of ourselves.

(3)Oppression (Psalm 94:6, 7).

(4)Misinterpretations of Providence (Numbers 14:3).

(5)In limiting Providence (Psalm 78:41).

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. MAN IS A SPECIAL OBJECT OF PROVIDENCE (Genesis 1:26).

II. HOLY MEN A MORE SPECIAL OBJECT OF IT (Psalm 33:18; Psalm 37:23; text).

III. HENCE WILL FOLLOW THAT THE SPIRITS OF GOOD MEN HAVE SUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO BEAR UP IN THEM INNOCENT SUFFERINGS AND STORMS IN THE WORLD (Hebrews 6:10).

IV. HENCE FOLLOWS A CERTAIN SECURITY AGAINST A GOOD MAN'S WANT (Psalm 34:10; 1 Timothy 4:8).

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. TO SEEK EVERYTHING WE NEED AT THE HANDS OF GOD.

II. TO TRUST PROVIDENCE.

1. In the greatest extremities.

2. In the way of means.

3. In the way of precept. Let not any reliance upon an ordinary providence induce us into any way contrary to the command (Psalm 37:5).

4. Solely, without prescribing any methods to Him.

III. TO SUBMIT TO PROVIDENCE: for —

1. Whatsoever God doth, He doth wisely.

2. God discovers His mind to us by providences (Luke 7:22; Acts 5:38, 39).

IV. TO MURMUR NOT AT PROVIDENCE.

V. TO STUDY PROVIDENCE.

1. Universally.

(1)The darkest.

(2)The terriblest.

(3)The smallest.

2. Regularly.

(1)By the Word: compare providence and the promise together.

(2)By faith. We many times correct our sense by reason; why should we not correct reason by faith?

3. Entirely.

(1)View them in their connection. The providences of God bear just proportion to one another, and are beautiful in their entire scheme. As in a piece of arras folded up, and afterwards particularly opened, we see the hand or foot of a man, the branch of a tree; or, if we look on the outside, we see nothing but knots and threads and uncouth shapes that we know not what to make of; but when it is fully opened, and we have the whole web before us, we see what histories and pleasing characters are interwoven in it.

(2)View them in their end (Psalm 73:16, 17).

4. Calmly.

5. Seriously.

6. Holily; with a design to that duty Providence calls for (Isaiah 22:12).

7. Ascribe the glory of every providence to God.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

Whatsoever was written was written for the Church's comfort (Romans 15:4); whatsoever is acted in order to anything written is acted for the Church's good. All the providences of God in the world are conformable to His declarations in His Word.

I. ALL GOOD THINGS ARE FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH.

1. The world.

(1)The continuance of the world is for their sakes (Acts 17:30).

(2)The course of natural things is for the good of the Church or particular members of it (Hosea 2:18; Joshua 10:12, 13).

(3)The interest of nations is ordered as is most for the Church's good (2 Kings 9:6, 7).

2. The gifts and common graces of men in the world.

3. Angels.

(1)The highest orders among them are not exempted from being officers for the Church (Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 91:11; Luke 16:22).

(2)Armies of them are employed upon this occasion (Genesis 33:1, 2).

(3)Christ hath the government of them to this end for His Church (Hebrews 2:7, 8; Ephesians 1:21, 22).

(4)The great actions which have been done in the world, or shall be done for the Church, are performed by them (Deuteronomy 7:16; Deuteronomy 8:16; Revelation 10:8, 9; Revelation 22:8, 9).

(5)They engage in this work with delight.

II. ALL BAD THINGS ARE FOR THEIR GOOD.

1. Bad persons.

(1)The devil. The malice of the devil against Job hath rendered him a standing miracle of patience for ever. God overreaches the devil, and makes him instrumental for good where he designs hurt and mischief.

(2)Wicked men. They exist in the midst of the Church either for the exercise of their grace or security of their person or interest (Proverbs 16:7).

2. Bad things.(1) Sin.(a) A man's own sin. Onesimus runs from his master, and finds a spiritual father. God makes the remainder of sin in a good man an occasion to exercise His grace, discover his strength, and show his loyalty to God.(b) Other men's sins. The revengeful threatening of Esau was the occasion of Jacob's flight, which saved him from possible idolatry (Genesis 27:43, 46).(2) Commotions in the world (Psalm 29:10, 11; Isaiah 44:28).

(3)Destroying judgments (Romans 11:11, 12).

(4)Divisions in the Church.

(5)Persecutions.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. ALL THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD IS FOR THE GLORIFYING HIS GRACE IN CHRIST (Ephesians 1:10, 22, 23).

II. GOD HATH GIVEN THE POWER OF PROVIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION OF THINGS TO CHRIST, FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH.

III. GOD IN THE CHURCH DISCOVERS THE GLORY OF ALL HIS ATTRIBUTES. What wisdom, power, sufficiency, grace, and kindness He hath is principally for them.

IV. THERE IS A PECULIAR RELATION OF GOD IN CHRIST TO THE CHURCH, UPON WHICH ACCOUNT THIS DOCTRINE MUST NEEDS BE TRUE. God is a father to provide for them (Isaiah 64:8); a mother to suckle them (Isaiah 49:15); Christ is a husband to love and protect them (Ephesians 5:29); a brother to counsel them (John 20:17).

V. THE WHOLE INTEREST OF GOD IN THE WORLD, LIES IN HIS CHURCH AND PEOPLE.

VI. IT CANNOT BE BUT ALL THE PROVIDENCES OF GOD SHALL WORK TO THE GOOD OF HIS CHURCH, IF WE CONSIDER THE AFFECTIONS OF GOD.

1. His love.

2. His delight (Zephaniah 3:17).

VII. THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN HIS CHURCH WILL MAKE ALL PROVIDENCES TEND TO THE GOOD OF IT.

VIII. THE PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH HAVE A MIGHTY FORCE WITH GOD TO THIS END; because —

1. God delights in the prayers of His people.

2. Prayer is nothing else but a pleading of God's promises.

3. They are the united supplications and pleadings both in heaven and earth.

(1)Christ intercedes for the Church.

(2)Angels in all probability do the same.

(3)Glorified saints are not surely behind.Use

I. For information.

1. God will always have a Church in the world.

2. God will, in the greatest exigencies, find out means for the protection of His Church.

3. The Church shall, in the end, prove victorious against all its adversaries, or Providence must miss its aim.

4. The interest of nations is to bear a respect to the Church, and countenance the worship of God in it.

5. We may see hence the ground of most of the judgments in the world.

6. What esteem, then, should there be of the godly in the world!

7. It is, then, a very foolish thing for any to contend against the welfare of God's people.Use

II. For comfort.

1. In duties and special services.

2. In meanness and lowness.

3. In the greatest judgments upon others.

4. In His people's greatest extremities (Isaiah 43:2; Psalm 91:4; John 6:17, 18).

5. In fear of wants.

6. In the low estate of the Church at any time.Use

III. If the providence of God is chiefly designed for the good of the Church —

1. Fear not the enemies of the Church.

2. Censure not God in His dark providences.

3. Inquire into providence and interpret all public providences by this rule.

4. Consider the former providences God hath wrought for the Church in past ages.

5. Act faith in God's providences.

6. Wait upon God in His providence.

7. Pray for the Church.

8. When you receive any mercy for the Church in answer to prayer give God the glory of it.

9. Imitate God in His affection to the Church.

10. Look after sincerity before God.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. God looks upon all things DISTINCTLY. He looks upon every parcel and opens the whole pack of human affairs.

II. He beholds every thing and person PERFECTLY, fully, quite through.

III. IN SEEING HE GOVERNS EVERYTHING EFFECTUALLY, and works it to His own ends.

IV. HE SEETH ALL THINGS TOGETHER.

(J. Caryl.)

There is something sadly natural in the conduct of Asa as described in the context. It is so hard for us to feel that our interests are secure unless we are manipulating them ourselves. A soldier in the battle seizes yonder knoll, driving off with his superior valour the enemies who were holding it. It is nobly done, and it will be well if the plan of his general includes the capture of that knoll. But if not, when the tide of battle rolls off in another direction, the valiant soldier will be left unsupported in the midst of the returning enemies. How many men have been utterly undone by the accomplishment of their own plans, through their own vast industry and heroic enterprise, simply because they had not made their plans subordinate to the purposes of God, the supreme commandant of every life. Keep your eye upon the pillar of fire and cloud which moves over the desert!

I. HOW EAGERLY, THEN, GOD CONSULTS THE WELFARE OF HIS PEOPLE.

II. HOW MINUTELY CAREFUL OF US IS GOD.

III. HOW COMPLETE IS GOD'S SUPERVISION OF OUR WELFARE.

(J. M. Ludlow, D.D.)

The term "Providence," as now commonly applied to God, does not occur in Holy Scripture. It occurs only in two passages in the Apocrypha, viz., Wisd. 14:3 and 17:3. It is, nevertheless, a term convenient and proper for the statement of a Scriptural doctrine. By those of the ancient philosophers who admitted the existence of a God, or of a plurality of gods, terms of correspondent grammatical import were employed, to express that Divine superintendence by which all things in the material creation were fitted and directed to their proper ends, and by which the universe was kept from falling back into that state of chaos which was supposed to have preceded the present orderly and beauteous frame of things. After their example, we have learned to employ the term "Providence," for the purpose of describing "the conduct and direction of the several parts of the universe by a superintending and intelligent Being." My purpose is to invite your attention to such views of the providence of God as more immediately affect the higher interests of man.

I. First, then, we inquire into the GENERAL PROOFS EVINCING A DIVINE PROVIDENCE.

1. The first of these proofs is drawn from the moral fitness and necessity of such a Providence. The Psalmist teaches us he is a "fool" who says "There is no God"; and surely he is not less so who, professing to believe in the existence of such a God as the Jehovah of the Scriptures, can say, "There is no Providence." Some writers on this subject have gone so far as to assert that, in the abstract, the idea of a God without a providence involves a contradiction. But the truth of that position may be reasonably questioned. It we suppose a God, invested with no higher attributes than those which were applied to the false deities of ancient heathenism, where is the folly of farther supposing Him to dwell in a remote and selfish seclusion from terrestrial things? In this respect, the followers of Epicurus gave good proof of their consistency at least when, believing only in such gods as those referred to, they not only denied them to be the governors, but also the creators, of the world; it being, as they rightly judged, but reasonable to conclude that such gods had neither the wisdom nor the power to create, or govern, such a world as this. And they were equally consistent when, having no distinct notion of any intelligent Being to whom the lofty attributes of eternal existence and universal power might be considered as pertaining, they attributed eternity to matter, and give the empire of the world to chance. Were there in reality no higher object of worship than the daemon-gods of Greece and Rome, and were there, consequently, no Providence but such as these gods might be supposed to be capable of exercising, it were surely consistent with good reason and benevolence at least to wish the sceptre of the world's dominion might be wrested from their grasp, and that, rather than be subject to such rule, the course of nature and of all events might be committed to the sportive dance of atoms and the blind rush of accidental causes. But if, as taught in Scripture, we acknowledge, as the first cause of all created things, a Being absolutely perfect, and therefore infinite in wisdom, in goodness, and in power, we must at the same time admit a Divine Providence as still sustaining and governing the universe which He has made; and especially we must admit there is a Providence, to administer and overrule the affairs and interests of men. Much as it has laboured on that point, "the wisdom of this world" presents us with no principles which can at all suffice to show how anything created can even continue to exist unless by a perpetual exertion of wisdom and power on the part of Him who first called it into being; or how, upon the supposition that the Divine guidance and support should be withdrawn, the world could do otherwise than immediately sink back into the nothingness from which it originally sprung. Even supposing the material creation, in "the dew" of its "morning," and in the beauty of its primaeval excellence, to have received the impression of such properties and laws as would have been sufficient, but for the positive intervention of some disturbing cause, to perpetuate its existence and its order, yet we cannot contemplate the character and aspect of the world, as it exists at present, and especially we cannot contemplate its moral character and aspect, without perceiving the necessity of a Divine Providence, to counteract the evils which have gained access to it. That the universal Creator should leave, without a providence, a world like this, in which evil of all kinds has won so large and terrible a sway, and in which there are so many fearful tendencies to universal mischief and confusion, would neither be consistent with wisdom, nor goodness, nor justice, on any other supposition than that of man's having been judiciously abandoned, without hope of redemption, to reap the natural fruit of his own evil and rebellious doings.

2. The second proof of a Divine Providence is found in the positive and repeated testimony of Holy Writ.

3. A third proof evincing a Divine Providence is found in certain miraculous attestations which have occasionally marked its interposition. We are enabled to point out numerous occasions on which God has come forth from the "hiding-place" in which He usually dwells and carries on His operations and has shown Himself, as it is stated in my text, by tokens which could not but be seen, and which could not be mistaken. There is the flood coming on "the world of the ungodly," whilst Noah and his family, being "warned of God," are directed to the means of their exemption from the general destruction. We point to "the cities of the plain, turned into ashes by fire and brimstone, which the Lord rained upon them out of heaven," whilst righteous Lot is escorted by angelic attendants to a place of safety. We will exhibit to him the long roll of those "mighty acts and wonders" which are displayed in the history of the Israelitish people. We contemplate the strange deliverance of Daniel and his three countrymen from the power of savage beasts and from the rage of the devouring flame. We will show him how Nature herself — the imaginary deity whom infidels pretend to worship — has in many instances forgotten her own laws, and been arrested, or even turned backwards, in her course; and we will challenge him to show us how these stupendous anomalies are to be accounted for, unless upon the supposition that in these instances there was the interposition of a Power superior to anything that has ever been understood by the term Nature — an interposition which must necessarily lead us to admit the providence for which we are contending.

II. THE GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THAT DIVINE PROVIDENCE WHICH IS DEMONSTRATED TO EXIST.

1. This Providence is universal, "for the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth." By a universal Providence we mean a Providence which is at the same time general and particular. Indeed a Providence which is Divine must necessarily bear both these characteristics. No argument can be adduced in favour of the one which is not equally applicable in favour of the other; and we cannot exclude either of them from our notion of that Providence by which the world is governed without admitting into our notion of the Deity by whom that providence is exercised an imperfection of which He is incapable. For, in excluding either a general or a particular Providence, we necessarily suppose some portion of our world, of greater or less extent, from which the Divine presence and care are totally excluded. It is true that we are utterly confounded in every attempt we make to estimate the wisdom and power and condescension which are required to be in constant exercise, in order to the maintenance of an inspection so vast in its extent, and yet so minute in its details. But from this feeling of astonishment no objection would arise against the doctrine either of a general or a particular Providence, were it not for those monstrously absurd comparisons which we are wont to institute between the Almighty and ourselves, together with our strange forgetfulness of the important truth that God is everywhere present at one and the same time; and that to One whose knowledge and power are subject to no bound or imperfection, it must be quite as easy to attend to many things, however numerous or complicated they may be, as to attend to only one.

2. A second characteristic of the providence of God is its beneficence. In all its operations it regards, as its final object, the welfare of mankind in general; and as far as may be found consistent with that object, the welfare of individuals in particular. This general purpose of beneficence is to a great degree apparent in the general provision which is made for human sustenance and comfort. It is impossible to view the astonishing arrangements which everywhere display themselves, for the supply of "food convenient for us," and for the general preservation of our race, without being prompted to exclaim, "Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness; Thy paths drop fatness." And the moral ends contemplated by a Providence which is thus mindful of our bodily necessities, and of our humblest natural infirmities, must be, in even more than an equal degree, characterised by a pure and infinite beneficence. There may at first, indeed, appear to be something almost incompatible with such a doctrine, in the affliction and misery which desolate the earth. But the difficulty arising on that ground is easily resolved by such considerations as the following:(1) In the first place, much of the natural evil which exists is rendered, in some sort, necessary by the depravity of man. It constitutes, in fact, a part of that salutary chastening by which, not unmindful even of the prodigal who has wandered from His household, and "wasted his substance in riotous living," our heavenly Father seeks to recover "the children of disobedience to the wisdom of the just"; or if they are already recovered, opens to their faith the means of apprehending "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." In vain, perhaps, have been the attempts of His Providence, by the dispensations of its bounty, to win the thoughtless wanderer to reflection and repentance; "but in the day of his affliction," says Jehovah, "he will seek Me early." In mercy, therefore, to the sinner, rather than in anger, and not with anything like a vindictive purpose, He lays His chastening hand upon him.(2) Even in those cases where individuals, or collective communities of men, derive themselves no moral benefits from the evils which they suffer, yet very frequently there results a moral benefit to others; and thus, under all the circumstances of such cases, the infliction of those evils is vindicated, as being consistent with the goodness and mercy of God, not less than with His justice. We cannot but adore, amidst the justice and judgment displayed in their destruction, the goodness which was careful so to order the circumstances of their fate as to render it in the most eminent degree available to the instruction and benefit of all succeeding generations.

3. A third characteristic of Divine Providence is its mysteriousness. I do not say that there is any mystery as to the general object which that Providence regards. We have already "seen the end of the Lord, that He is pitiful and of great mercy." But of the course which He pursues to the attainment of that end, it may frequently be said, that "His path is in the whirlwind, and His way in the great deep, and His footsteps are not. known." And surely a Providence which is Divine must necessarily, in the detail of many of its plans and operations, appear to be mysterious to creatures so short-sighted as we are. It is certainly right, because perfectly consistent with just notions of the God whom we adore, that we should acknowledge the existence of mysteries in providence; but why should we profess to wonder at such mysteries, while there remain so many mysteries in Nature? I have said that the general principles of the Divine administration of the world are clearly made known. But I remember the saying of a great man, now no more, that "things pertaining to God may be mysterious, in proportion as they are revealed"; and I cannot but feel the application of that paradoxical yet just position to the point which is before us. Were God a finite being, like ourselves, the revelation of the principles on which He acts, however vast and comprehensive in their range and application those principles might be, would not, perhaps, be such as we should be unable adequately to conceive. But principles which know no limit, in themselves or in their application, save that which is imposed by the will, or by the necessity, of a Divine and incomprehensible nature, must necessarily, in whatever degree they are revealed to us, remain mysterious because of their infinity; and the more nearly we are enabled to contemplate those principles, the more overpowering — I had almost said, the more bewildering — will be the effect of their united splendour, both on our mental and spiritual vision. And then, besides the physical reason to which I have referred, why the providence of God should in many of its dispensations be mysterious, there is a moral reason — a reason arising out of the beneficence by which the operations of that providence are shaped to their intended issue. For were those operations free from mystery, then would our faith want those trials which constitute its most important and profitable exercise; and in wanting those trials, it would want, at the same time, the arena on which it wins its brightest victories, and becomes entitled to its richest and most glorious reward. Think, for example, of the difference which it might have made to Abraham if in his path to the attainment and confirmation of the promise in regard to his son Isaac, there had been no adverse hope against which he might continue to "believe in hope," and no apparent impossibilities in the midst of which he might still be "strong in faith, giving glory to God."

4. There remains to be noticed yet one other characteristic of the providence of God, and that is, its entire subservience to the purposes of His redeeming grace. Indeed, it is altogether of that grace that there exists at all a Providence of such a character; in other words, had there been no redeeming grace, then no such Providence could have existed. No; it is then only accounted for on principles justly claiming to be considered "rational," when it is set forth as the result of "the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ." On the part of persons who maintain a contrary opinion, we sometimes hear the question, "How can the death of Christ, as an atoning sacrifice, be made to seem consistent either with perfect justice or with perfect goodness?" But we may retort that question with another, which they will find it much more difficult to answer. Suppose our fallen world to have been left without redemption, and that no means had been devised, in the counsels of the Divine grace and wisdom, for the recovery of its guilty population to "the favour and the peace of God," where then would have been the consistency — nay, where the possibility, of a Providence so condescending and beneficent as that which now appears? Or where would have been the actual benefit to man of a Providence to correct and modify the course of outward things, if he had still been doomed, for want of a Redeemer, to bear for ever the burden of a guilt for which there was no expiation? But let us take that doctrine along with us, and we then discover an apt and harmonious reason for such a Providence, by which its utmost beneficence is justified. And, as that characteristic of the providence of God which renders it especially dear and valuable to us originates in, or operates at least as the result of, the "grace" which "came by Jesus Christ," so, as already stated, it is ever in subservience to the purposes of the same grace that its operations are conducted. It is thus in those extensive operations which involve the character and fats of nations and empires. It were vain for us to indulge in speculation as to the objects which Jehovah might contemplate, on the supposition of man's having continued in his original uprightness. We have the fact of his departure from that character into a state of guilty estrangement and hostility. And taking the world in its present circumstances, and seeing that "God so loved that world," fallen as it is, as to "give His only begotten Son" for its redemption, we may be assured that there can be no object dearer to the heart of God than that His Son should "see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied," in the reception of "the heathen for His inheritance," and of "the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession." As the providence of God thus stands, and ever must stand, connected with the purposes of His redeeming grace, so it is in those cases where the grace of God specially prevails, that this Providence specially exerts its powerful and benignant operation; or, as stated in the text, it is "on the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" that the Lord "shews Himself strong," and for their sakes more especially His "eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth." In other words, He is eminently the God of providence to those who bow before Him, and rejoice in Him, as the God of comforting and sanctifying grace. Doubtless, this was one of the great truths designed to be set forth by those numerous providential interpositions which shed so illustrious a light upon the early history of the Israelitish people. On this express condition, that they should "have no other gods before Him," and that they should "keep His statutes and His judgments diligently, to do them," Jehovah engaged on His part to "shew himself strong" on their behalf, in such a manner as should render them the astonishment and envy of surrounding nations. And, on the other hand, the judgment so frequently inflicted on that people during their journeys through the wilderness, and in the subsequent periods of their history, and more especially their present wonderful dispersion throughout other nations, go to remind us, with equal emphasis and certainty, that it is only in proportion as our heart is "perfect toward Him" that God can be expected to "shew Himself strong" on our behalf. We thus perceive that the great lesson intended to be taught by all the mighty acts and wonders which God did for Israel is, that the same God will ever in a peculiar manner, ears for those who, being Christ's, are therefore "Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise," whilst those who are yet "aliens," or outcasts from His spiritual Israel, though not excluded entirely from His providential care, shall still enjoy that care in an inferior degree. It is on this ground that we discover the foundation of those promises which ensure to all God's people, in their individual as well as their collective character, an adequate supply of all their bodily and temporal necessities. For if, as intimated in the history of the Jewish people, the providence of God is the handmaid of His grace, and, as such, is commissioned with the special care of those "whose heart is perfect toward Him," then, unless we would again charge an all-perfect Being with infirmity, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion, that all those things which Nature absolutely needs, and the providing of which often brings so severe a burden on the mind, "shall (certainly) be added." Again, the principle that the operations of God's providence are subservient to the purposes of His grace sheds no inconsiderable light upon the mystery which is "supposed to be presented when, whilst the ungodly "increase in riches," and "have more than heart could wish," the man whose heart, if not absolutely perfect toward God, is yet, in general, upright and sincere before Him, is "plagued till the day long, and chastened every morning." It is not that He who claims as His own, "the gold and the silver, and the cattle on a thousand hills," would merely "for His own pleasure" deny to His people the advantages of health and riches. But He regards their eternal salvation as being an object infinitely more important than their worldly comfort, and to this one great object all others must be subordinate and secondary.

1. In the first place, the doctrine of a Divine Providence, that Providence being beneficent as well as universal, condemns that excessive anxiety with which we are so prone to burden and distress ourselves.

2. Secondly, this doctrine inculcates the duty, and when heartily embraced, it will inspire the feeling, of a grateful acquiescence in our lot, however far removed that lot may be from the circumstances which we should have chosen for ourselves.

3. More especially, this subject, as connecting the operations of God's providence with the purposes of His grace, calls upon us to look well to it, that our own "hearts are perfect towards Him"; and that, in order to their being so, they are the subjects of that grace which can alone destroy their deceitfulness and enmity, and render them a holy and acceptable sacrifice.

(J. Crowther.)

Homilist.
I. THAT GOD'S GUARDIANSHIP OF THE WORLD IS UNIVERSALLY INSPECTIVE "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth." God sees the whole of a thing. Of those objects with which we are most acquainted, we know but a little of their outside; the essence of everything is hid beneath an impenetrable veil from us. Few, indeed, are the things we are permitted to see even the outside of. Space limits us. Our widest horizon is not a handbreadth to the heavens as compared with the universe. Duration limits us. Wonderful things were transpiring, even on planet, ages ere we woke into conscious thought. But neither space nor duration limits the knowledge of God; He is in all places; He exists through all times. Whatever is, has been, will be, or can be, are in His eye. All actualities and possibilities are there. "All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." If the eye of a child has sometimes been known to paralyse the arm and frustrate the intentions of him who has been bent on some criminal deed, how would not the lightning glance of God check thee from all evil?

II. THAT GOD'S GUARDIANSHIP OF THE WORLD IS PERSONALLY EXERCISED. He does not watch and superintend the world through the instrumentality of others; His eyes, His own eyes, are employed. He does not, like human potentates, get a knowledge of His empire by hearsay and report, but by His own personal inspection. It is a glorious truth that God Himself is in our world. He is not merely here by representation. He does not look after the universe as parents after their children, merchants after their business, monarchs after their dominions — by proxy. He employs others, it is true, but He is with them and in them — the force of all causes, the motive of all motives. Nor is He here merely by influence, just as the author is in the book, or as the telegraphic officer is at the time wherever he transmits his message. Those heavenly bodies, which fill thoughtful minds, as they "gaze upon them shining," with unutterable emotions, and seem to engulf the spirit into their own immeasurable vastness, we are told, radiate and revolve by law. Man is born, sustained, enjoys, suffers, lives, and dies, by "laws." Blessed thought! the great Father of the world is here, not merely by representation, or influence, but in person. The world has not only His agents and His works, but His eyes — His all-seeing Self is here.

III. THAT GOD'S GUARDIANSHIP OF THE WORLD IS MORALLY DESIGNED. Why does He thus so sedulously and constantly guard the world? "To shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him." God guards the universe for the interests of the good. It is not material Nature in any of its wondrous combinations of beauty and sublimity, not blooming landscapes, mighty oceans, starry spheres, revolving worlds, or refulgent systems, that interest Him most. No; it is His adopted ones, His loving children, though little and afflicted, that engage His sympathies. He says, in effect, "I keep up the machinery of the universe only for the good of My children. I have no affection for it, 'but for the saints that are in the earth, in whom is all My delight': wherever they are, ' Mine eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually.'" This subject teaches —

1. The true spirit of life. If God is the all-seeing Guardian of the world, whose eyes pierce into every avenue of existence, what should be the spirit of life? Not the spirit of empty frivolity and childish trifling, treating all things as if made for foolish jests and giddy laughter, but the spirit of solemnity clothing all objects with a Divine significance.

2. The true interests of life. What are they? Secular possessions? mental attainments? social honours? No, but a perfect heart.

3. The true Judge of life. Our life has many judges, at many tribunals are we tried, and many, and often diverse, are the verdicts returned. Some are too favourable, and some too adverse. The few instances of accuracy are random guesses, not righteous deductions. But there is one true Judge; it is He whose "eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth."

(Homilist.)

I. THE WORLD HAD A GUARDIAN.

II. THAT THE GUARDIANSHIP OF THE WORLD IS OF THE MOST MINUTE CHARACTER.

III. THAT THIS GUARDIANSHIP OF GOD IS OF THE MOST LOVING AND GRACIOUS CHARACTER.

(W. G. Barrett.)

I. WHY DOES GOD EXERCISE ALL HIS POWER OF OBSERVATION AND CONTROL IN THIS WORLD IN BEHALF OF GOOD MEN? The answer is that they of all creatures best illustrate His character and glorify Him most. They alone —

1. Were originally created in the Divine likeness.

2. Have been born again into His spiritual image.

3. Glorify Him in the highest degree by holy lives.

II. HOW HAVE GOD'S POWERS OF OBSERVATION AND CONTROL BEEN EXERCISED IN THEIR BEHALF?

1. The process of the earth's development during the vast geologic periods of the first five creative days all meant that man was coming, and that God's eyes were running forward to prepare him a home.

2. In connection with the creation of living creatures, by the aid of comparative anatomy we can see God's eyes running forward through all the orders of animate life up to man.

3. Having given him a body fearfully and wonderfully made, He has made abundant provision for the supply of all his wants.

(1)Physical.

(2)Intellectual.

(3)Social.

(4)Religious. Sanctified afflictions; Bible; Christ.

(J. C. Jackson.)

We see a Divine purpose in the discovery of America, in the art of printing, in the exposure of the Gunpowder Plot, in the contrivance of the needle gun, in the ruin of an Austrian or Napoleonic despotism; but now hard it is to see God in the minute personal affairs of our lives. We think of God as making a record of the starry host, but cannot realise the Bible truth that He knows how many hairs are on our head. It seems a grand thing that God provided food for thousands of Israelites in the desert, but not how He feeds hungry sparrows. We cannot understand how He encamps in the crystal palace of a dew-drop, or finds room to stand, without being crowded, between the alabaster pillars of a pond-lily. Cromwell, Alexander, Washington, or an archangel, is not more under Divine inspection than your life or mine. Pompey thought that there must be a mist over the eyes of God because he favoured Caesar. But there is no such mist.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

To shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him
I. GOD HAS SHOWN HIMSELF STRONG ON BEHALF OF MEN. It is often the knowledge of God's ability to help that causes us the greatest difficulty, and paralyses our faith in Him. We do not feel able to say quite as confidently as we might that all His promises are yea and amen, or else we limit their reference, and say that they have only to do with certain orders of things. Now we have this fact before us: God is able, He must be, to control all things. His knowledge is infinite; His wisdom, His strength eternal. As it is, while we acknowledge His ability we limit its exercise, and find in this reason for our independent action. We see, in opposition to the limit which we are often ready to place on God's interference on our behalf, the wonderful variety and modes of the help given to men as recorded in the Scripture. There is not a condition but God has appeared in that, strong to help. What wisdom and power are here shown on behalf of men! Lost by sin, we are restored by faith in Christ.

II. GOD LOOKS OUT FOR OPPORTUNITIES OF SHOWING HIMSELF STRONG. His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth. He is thus represented as watching men for the purpose of revealing Himself, so that when He sees the opportunity He is there ready to do it. He is not reluctant to give.

III. WHY, THEN, DO WE NOT ALWAYS RECEIVE? How is it we make mistakes, complain of want of life and light and progress? Here is the reply. The opportunity for which He waits is a heart perfect toward Him. This is the fitness which is always needed ere He shows Himself strong. "How wilt Thou manifest Thyself to us?" etc. "My Father will love him, and We will take up our abode with him." We are not so dependent on the condition of our life as we think. Let the heart be right, and everything else will be transformed. But what fitness is here required? Asa did not trust God, but his own wisdom and gold and silver. Apply the general truth of God as for all, without considering that God, though the absolute monarch of all, does not act arbitrarily towards any. Thus here God does not manifest His strength to men always. Far from it. Asa found that God's strength did not help him; he had wars all the remainder of his life. We are often left in our weakness, otherwise there would be no such thing as failure in the details of life. We ask why does not God make bare His arm when He sees the weak struggling against greater forces. Be it nation, be it tribe, or people, or individual, He knows the need, He measures it, and at a time and under conditions most calculated to ensure the eternal and lasting good of His creatures, He comes forth to help and to save. That this is His way of dealing with men may be seen in the greatest and highest gift He has given. We gather, in conclusion —(1) God knows and estimates our life and needs from the state of heart, our actual condition. His standard differs greatly from ours. He withholds blessings that we may get a more firm hold of them as we learn this. You have not enjoyment of Christ. You have not forgiveness. You have not strength to overcome sin. You have not a perfect heart toward God.(2) This gives you the real object of life.

(H. W. Butcher.)

Asa is in trouble. Baasha has captured and fortified Ramah and so hemmed in Jerusalem. Is not that a frequent type of life? Is not every man often thrust into straits as Asa was? Is there not for every man some threatening Ramah over against his Jerusalem.

1. Here is a man whose work in life seems sometimes vaster than his energies. How can life's work get done — the support of a family, the meeting of obligations, etc.?

2. Here is a man confronted with some special obstacle, e.g., unholy competition in business, etc.

3. Here is a man under the shadow of the Ramah of disappointment.

4. Here is another man who is dissatisfied with his pernicious way of life.

5. And there is Doubt, another Ramah often built across our way. Is there any help for a man in the presence of these Ramahs? Our Scripture is the statement of the heartening certainty. "Perfect" in our Scripture means pure intent. Once I was becalmed upon the sea. I was in a sailing ship. For some days the wind died utterly away. There was not the curl of a minute ripple even on the ocean's surface. We were drifted here and there, now backward and then forward, as the tides rose and as they fell. Of course we could not get on thus. There was no inherent power of motion in the vessel. What did the captain do? Order the sails furled? Let the man at the helm sleep? No, he did the best he could. Every sail was hung broadly on the yards. The helm was firmly held. The vessel was kept pointed toward her port. In a word, the captain kept the vessel in pure intent; not perfect in power; she had no power. And when, at last, the wind did come, the sails were filled, and we were wafted into harbour. This is the heartening certainty. This is the meaning of our Scripture. The man who thus holds himself in pure intent, keeping his sails spread and his helm steadily pointed toward the right, and fixed, and from the wrong, that man God shall see, and He shall send upon him the breezes of a Divine strength, and waft the man on into accomplishment, victory, heaven.

(Wayland Hoyt, D.D.)

We must discriminate between purity of heart and maturity of Christian character. The entire cleansing received by faith is perfect health of soul; but it is not perfect development. Perfect health is the entire absence of disease. Perfect holiness is the entire absence of sin. Christian purity brings finality to nothing but inbred sin. It is the field cleared of the noxious weeds, not the ripe waving harvest. It is the best preparation for growth, not the consummation of growth. Sin in the heart makes us like a child that is sickly, or a tree with a worm at the root. Some hope by cultivating the graces of the Spirit to grow into purity, which is like a man cultivating the vegetables in his garden to grow the weeds out from about the roots of the plants. Common sense says, "Pluck up the weeds, and give the plant a fair chance for growth and development." This is the Divine method. God cleanses the heart from inbred sin, after which growth is always more rapid and symmetrical; advancement in knowledge, and love of God, and all spiritual excellence, becomes possible then as it never was before. Maturity is the result of experiences, trial, conflict, and requires time; but in purity we grasp by faith the sin consuming power that sweeps the heart clean at a stroke.

(Thomas Cook.)

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