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thing is perfectly adapted to that use. He hath formed the sun to give us light by day, and the moon by night ; he causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth.” That every tree and plant should produce its distinct and proper seed, to perpetuate the same species for future years, is an admirable provision of divine wisdom. "The sea also is his”—“ the great and wide sea, wherein are creatures innumerable.” “There go the ships," which render the sea the medium of union among the most distant nations, although it seems to separate one country from another; for, by navigation and commerce, the productions of different countries become a common stock, and wonderfully increase the comforts of man, while it employs the skill and industry of multitudes, facilitates friendly intercourse, and extends knowledge, especially that best kind of knowledge, the gospel of Christ, which is " the wisdom of God.”
The changing seasons of the year are a wise and gracious appointment of Heaven, and are far more grateful than a constant sameness. The frost of winter destroys noxious insects and weeds, braces the human body, and prepares the soil for a new crop. The returning spring renews the face of the earth, and inspires the heart of man with cheerfulness and pleasure. The warmth of summer ripens the succeeding productions of the garden and the field ; and the autumn crowns the year with fruit and corn to reward the care and toil of the husbandman. The succession of night and day is pleasant and useful to man; he welcomes the day as the proper season of labour, and the night is no less welcome as the season of rest. All night would be intolerable, and all day would be extremely inconvenient. “The day is thine, the night also is thine ; thou hast prepared the light and the sun ; thou hast set all the borders of the earth : thou hast made summer and winter." Ps. lxxiv. 16, 17.
The bodies of animals and all other living crea. - tures display the wisdom of God in a most wonder
ful manner. Some are formed to live in the water, an element that would destroy others. Birds are furnished with wings to soar aloft in the air ; some animals live beneath the surface of the gound; but they all have organs suited to their destination ; proper food is provided for their support, and they have sagacity to find it, and stomachs fitted to digest it. All this proceedeth from him who is excellent in counsel and wonderful in working.
The human frame is itself a world of wonders. Consider some of its parts. The bones are so firm that they support the whole body, yet so flexible that we can perform a vast variety of motions. The muscles, which are more than four hundred in num. ber, have all their particular uses, yet never interfere with each other. The eye is an organ of such astonishing contrivance, that anatomists have called it "a sure cure for Atheism.” The ear is no less wonderfully adapted to its office ; its mechanism is extremely simple, but the variety of its effects is remarkably great. The process of digestion is surprising; the power of the stomach and other organs to turn so many different substances into chyle and blood, and thus to nourish life for many years, is truly amazing. The circulation of the blood is equally admirable. The heart has the power of forcing the blood into the arteries, and receiving it back from the veins, after it has visited the most distant and minute parts of the system ; for this purpose it con. tracts and dilates its muscles, four thousand times in every hour, making one hundred thousand strokes every twenty-four hours; and continuing to do this, without weariness or disorder, for seventy or eighty years together. This wonderful machine is, generally speaking, kept in perfect order; for health requires the exact performance of every function. Little do we consider how much must go to produce the ease we generally enjoy. We need not wonder if at any
time we are unwell ; but, knowing the complicated machine of the body, we may wonder at a single hour's comfort and activity. Well may each of us say with the prophet, “ I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made : marvellous are thy works, and that iny soul knoweth right well.”
2. The 'wisdom of God is no less apparent in the work of Providence than in that of Creation. It requires the same skill to govern the world as to make it. The order and harmony of the Universe can be ascribed only to the constant influence of the eternal mind ; without which neither an empire rises, nor a sparrow falls. The world is like a vast machine, in which there are many millions of movements, some of which, to our mistaken view, seem to contradict each other ; but, by the wisdom of the great Artificer, they all concur to accomplish his design, and to promote his glory.
But it is to MAN, and to man as a fallen creature, that we should chiefly direct our attention. How remarkable is the wisdom of God in conferring upon men those difftrent abilities and inclinations, which tend to the general welfare of society! How wonderful is the restraint which he lays upon the wicked, without which, their ungoverned appetites and ferocious tempers would deluge the earth with misery and blood! but " he stilleth the noise of the waves, and the raging of the people.”
The wisdom of God is frequently conspicuous in effecting the most grand and glorious designs by weak and feeble means, and even by the bad dispositions of men..
The envy and cruelty of Joseph's brethren, led the way to his advancement in Egypt, as did also the wickedness of Potiphar's wife. God turned the counsel of Ahitophel into foolishness; so that what was proposed for the destruction of David, became the means of his safety. The luxury of some of the rich, provides labour and food for the poor; and
the worst of human actions give occasion to the enactment of the most excellent laws. Persecution itself, the vilest effort of human depravity, tends to the promotion of the gospel, and “the blood of the martyrs becomes the seed of the church.” Thus, even “ the wrath of man is made to praise him, and the remainder thereof he is pleased to restrain.”
3. But the wisdom of God is most of all illustrated in the grand affair of Human REDEMPTION; other discoveries of it, however excellent, are as the dawning light of the morning, compared with that of the meridian sun, shining in its brightest splendor.
To restrain or lessen human evils, and render them tolerable, is no small effort of the wisdom of man; but the wisdom of God has brought out of greatest possible evil, the greatest possible good. ' He has made the apostacy of angels, the malice of devils, and the rebellion of man, the occasion of exhibiting all his glorious perfections, and especially his wisdom, to the utmost advantage. Nothing in all the world can be so evil, so detestable as sin; nothing so hurtful and horrible as its effects : and yet it has given occasion for the manifestation of divine wisdom, holiness, justice, patience, and mercy, beyond what we can conceive would have been possible, had not sin entered into the world.
Here then is the “hidden wisdom of God;" wisdom which the light of nature could never have discovered ; and which our feeble intellect so imper. fectly comprehends, that it still remains “the wisdom of God in a mystery.” 1 Tim. i. 17; and 1 Cor. ii. 7. It is “the manifold wisdom of God”-displayed, not in a single act, but in a variety of coune sels ; the union of the most excellent ends and of the. most excellent means. “ He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence:"-wisdom in the contrivance, and prudence in the execution of the plan.
Nothing less than wisdom truly divine could
have found out an expedient whereby “ Mercy and truth” (apparently contrary to each other) “should meet together; righteousness and peace,” equally hostile to each other, “ should meet and embrace." The claims of justice and of mercy are so opposite, that human wisdom could never have reconciled them. We may suppose justice to plead in the following manner:- Dread Majesty of Heaven, I ar- . raign, before thy awful tribunal, the rebel man. Made in thy image, richly favoured by thy blessings, paced under a law, easy, righteous, and reasonable, -bound by ten thousand ties to love and serve thee, he has listened to the tempter, wilfully transgressed thy commandments, dishonoured thy government, and filled thy whole creation with folly, and sin, and woe. I demand his life. It is forfeited. He well deserves to die: and die he must ; or what becomes of thy truth, which declared he should die ? What becomes of thy holiness, should he not die ? What world of thine will hereafter believe that thou art holy, or just, or true ? I demand therefore that he die."
But Mercy, smiling, appears. “I too,” saith she, “ have my plea to offer. It is true, man hath sinned, and deserves to die. But is there no room for the exercise of pity and compassion ? Justice is already displayed in the punishment of fallen angels ; let that suffice. Permit mercy also to be exhibited to the universe. Now there is an admirable opportunity for it, for without misery there can be no mercy. Shew pity, then, to miserable man. Shall devils for ever triumph ? Shall they boast that, by one daring stroke, they have spoiled the six days labour of a God; and this fair globe, adorned with a profusion of thy choicest gifts, become a mere wilderness of woe, a charnel-house of destruction, and nothing more than the porch of hell? O listen to Mercy, and let the rebel sinner live!”
Now who can adjust these jarring claims ? If one bę gratified, it must be at the expence of the other ;