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ed to destroy him. At other times, kings and statesmen act fo inconsistently with their professed aims, and take steps, so directly calculated, to prevent what they wish to obtain, or to bring upon themselves what they mean to avoid, that we can only say, they are infatuated. A very small compliance, seemed likely to have secured the affection of the twelve tribes to Rehoboam. We are ready to wonder that he could not be prevailed on to speak mildly to the people, for one day, with a view of engaging them to be his feryants for ever. But when we read that the cause was from the Lord *, and that, in this way, his purpose of separating the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was effected, the wonder ceases. Very observable, likewise, was the coincidence of circumstances which preserved the Jews in Persia from the destructive designs of their adversary Haman. If the king $ had slept that night, as usual, or if his attendants had read to him in any book but the Chronicle of the empire, or in any part of that Chronicle but the very passage in which the service of Mordecai had been recorded ; humanly speaking, Haman would * Kings xii. 15. + Esther vi. 1.

fo fecretly, though powerfully, by the agency of second causes, that only they, who are enlightened by his word and Spirit, can perceive his interference. He permitted Ahithophel to give that counsel to Absalom, which though wicked, was, in the political sense of the word, prudent; that is, it was the probable method of putting David into the power of his rebellious son. David had prayed that the Lord would turn Abithophel's counsel into foolishness *. Had the Lord inftantly deprived Ahithophel of his reason, this prayer would have been more visibly, but not more effectually answered, than by the counter advice of Hushai, which, though rash and extravagant, being suited to gratify the vanity and folly of Absalom t, rendered the other abortive. Sometimes the enemies of his church divide and wrangle ar themselves, and then one party, to and oppose the other, will ner whom, othefe, they wish Paul esc

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ed to destroy him. At other times, kings and statesmen act fo inconsistently with their professed aims, and take steps, so directly calculated, to prevent what they wish to obtain, or to bring upon themselves what they mean to avoid, that we can only say, they are infatuated. A very small compliance, seemed likely to have secured the affection of the twelve tribes to Rehoboam. We are ready to wonder that he could not be prevailed on to speak mildly to the people, for one day, with a view of engaging them to be his feryants for ever. But when we read that the cause was from the Lord *, and that, in this way, his purpose of separating the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was effected, the wonder ceases. Very observable, likewise, was the coincidence of circumstances which preserved the Jews in Persia from the destructive

of their adversary Haman. If the ad Nept that night, as usual, or if his s had read to him in any book but picle of the empire, or in any part

but the very passage in - Mordecai had been repeaking, Haman would + Esther vi, z.

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have carried his point. In this manner, by a concurrence of circumstances, each of them, if considered singly, apparently trivial, and all of them, contingent, with respect to any human foresight or prevention, the Lord often pours contempt upon the wise and the mighty, and defeats their deepest laid and best concerted schemes, in the moment when they promise themseives success.

Many falutary and comfortable inferences may be drawn from the consideration of this subject. Some of them I may perhaps have formerly mentioned, but they will well bear a repetition. We have need to be reminded of what we already know.

1. It should inspire us with confidence. If the Lord of hosts, the Lord of lords be for us, what weapon or counsel can prosper against us? However dark and threatening appearances may be, we need not tremble for the ark of God. The concernments of his church are in safe hands. The cause so dear to us, is still more dear to him. He has power to support it, when it is opposed, and grace to revive it, when it is drooping. It has often been brought low, but never has been, never shall be forsaken. When he

will work none can hinder. Nor need you fear for yourself, if you have committed yourself, and your all to him. The very hairs of your head are numbered*. There is a hedge of protection f around you, which none can break through without his permission; nor will he permit you to be touched, except when he designs to make a temporary and seeming evil, conducive to your real and permanent advantage...

2. It should affect us with an admiring and thankful sense of his condescension. Lord, what is man, that thou shouldest be so mindful of him? He humbles himself to behold the things that are in heaven I. But he stoops still lower. He affords his attention and favour to finful men. His eye is always upon his people, his ear open to their prayers. Not a sigh or falling tear escapes his notice. He pities them, as a father pities his children; he proportions their trials to their strength, or their strength to their trials, and so adjusts his dispensations to their state, that they never suffer, unnecessarily, nor in vain.

3. How great is the dignity and privilege of true believers. Is the man, congratulated or envied, whom the king delighteth to ho* Mat. x. 30. + Job i. 10. † Pf. cxiii. 6. VOL. II.

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