The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Law of Providence

We cannot well understand and appreciate the doctrine of the law of Providence without some proper view of the mutual relationship and connection of things. It was a maxim of the Schoolmen, and is not less a maxim of nature, NIHIL EX NIHILO FIT. Everything, therefore, which exists, if it do not have an existence which is eternal and independent, must come from a common source. Consequently, there must be some common relationships, some common alliances.

And this is just as true of events which exist in time as of things which exist in place. It is true of everything of which it can be said, it is. If God calls into existence, or, in any way, gives rise to certain things and events and establishes them in their order, which, as a "God of order," he cannot fail to do, he necessarily gives to them their position, their relations, their rights, their influences. All these are theirs by the nature of the case. They do not make them of themselves, but have them, as it were, by inheritance. It is not easy to see how it can be otherwise. It is a matter of necessity, although we may properly make a distinction between things and events in some respects, that they should have their place and relations, their appropriate rights, their appropriate effects.

We will endeavor to illustrate what we mean, in the first place, from things which have merely an animate, and not a moral, existence. Among the multitude of created things that fill the air and earth, behold the feeble worm that makes its home in the clod. God has created it. Here is a fact, unimportant as it may seem to be, which makes a part, nevertheless, of his providential arrangements. The fact of the creation of this worm involves the fact of a sphere of life; that is to say, an appropriate place of residence, and adequate means of protection and support. This little animal has not only its assigned place and its means of protection, but it has its rights and claims also in relation to other beings; rights which reach from the dust in which it crawls to the infinite throne, and are as unchangeable as immutable justice. Infinite holiness holds its aegis over this weak creature. Continually the burning eye of Jehovah watches in order to see who invades its sphere, and does it an injury. The protection which is assured to it is not measured by the fact of its strength, but by the fact of its existence. God cannot create a being without, at the same time, pledging his friendship to it. The providence of God, therefore, cannot place a worm by our side without establishing a code of laws between us. The traveller, who sees it crawling in the dust, is obliged to turn aside his foot. The obligation binds the tread of a king as clearly and strongly as the tread of a peasant. He who crushes it without a justifiable cause violates the moral order of things, and tramples on the eternal will of the Creator.

Still more easily is the subject illustrated from other instances, where the rights of human beings are involved. Not far distant from a certain rich man's residence is a very poor family. One of its children has been infirm and helpless from birth; and nothing but the aid of others, more favored in their circumstances, can save it from the greatest suffering. The position of the child, with its wants and sufferings, is a PROVIDENCE. The duty, which devolves upon the rich man to take an interest in its welfare, and to render it aid, is the law of Providence. The law is developed from existing things; but, as the things existing are from God, the law which they disclose and establish is from him also. And he, who will not see a worm trampled upon without displeasure, will never see an injury done to an immortal being with impunity.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 2.

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