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and languages trembled and feared before him:: whom he would,he slew,and whom he would, he kept alive, and whom he would, he set up, and whom he would, he put down." The rage for conquest and domination, exercised by this haughty power, rendered it a scourge to all the surrounding nations. The wars they waged were productive of awful devastation and ruin to every people that were of sufficient importance to attract their attention, or excite their jealousy. Pride and ambition were the moving principles of these cruel and ruinous wars, principles which would not dispense with any thing short of. the intire humiliation of the vanquished.. Every trace of supremacy and independence must be annihilated from every other nation. The success of the Chaldean arms, in effecting this entire subjugation of all other na tions, is predicted in the words of our text.. God had determined, that this power should: triumph over every other.. "And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Neb. uchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son,. until the very time of his land come and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to. pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Baby.
Ion, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand." The anger of God, it seems, was excited against all nations; and the Babylonian power was to be made use of in the execution of that vengeance, which was decreed against them. Thou art my battleaxe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations; and with thee will I destroy kingdoms," &c. The plain import of it is, that God would make use of the barbarous and impious Chaldeans as instruments to fulfil the righteous determinations of his providence. And if that ungodly nation were made to subserve the kingdom of God, is it absurd to hold the same to be true of all wicked men? If God could consistently and gloriously work by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and his numerous host of idolaters; he may, with equal consistency and propriety, make all wicked men instrumental of the accomplishment of the great designs of his providence. Thus is the general instrumentality of the wicked, in the affairs of divine government, established beyond contradiction. That this sentiment may appear in a convincing point of light, I shall deem it expedient to adduce a number of plain, and, as I think, conclusive arguments in support of the doctrine, that sinners are God's instruments in the great work of government; and then briefly suggest how God gets glory to himself by
such means. In each of these particulars our only appeal is to the oracles of God.
We are first to cite arguments in proof of the doctrine, that much of divine government is administered by means of wicked men. When God is about the work of chastizement, (and this is far from being unnec essary in so depraved a world as ours,) he has occasion for such instrumentality, as is consonant with the tempers of the ungodly. Upon such occasions it is, that God selects from a race of sinful créatures such as are meet to become the executioners of his will, and by them carries into effect the wise and salutary discipline of his providence. When he watches over his creatures to do them good and not evil, we find that instruments of a different description are employed. But afflictions, notwithstanding the character of the instruments concerned in producing them, are as really the work of God, as the more agreeable articles of experience, which fall to the lot of creatures. This leads me to alledge for the
1st. Argument, in support of the doctrine advanced, that the effects, which are produc ed by the agency of wicked men, are often ascribed to God, as the appointment and fruit of his infinitely wise providence. The bible and the history of common experience are full of such instances. We shall collect a few, enough for an example to illustrate and confirm the sentiment, which we now advocate. We will begin at a period as
early as when the Israelites first went down into Egypt to sojourn. When Joseph, hitherto a stranger to his perplexed and grieved brethren, at length declares himself, he accompanies the astonishing and over. whelming discovery with some very perti nent and judicious observations upon provi dence, or the government of God in the ar rangement and production of human events. "Now, therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life.
And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." Here we have a memorable instance of divine agency and interference in a sort of connection with the depraved actions of men. It is directly to the point of substantiating what has been laid down, viz. that the same identical events are, in one point of view, ascribable to God, and, in another, to wicked men. Joseph says to his brethren, Ye sold me hither, and God sent me hither. Does he mean any other, than that God had brought about the event, and had done it by their means, or had used them as instruments, in making this wonderful provision for mankind and the church? The work is expressly ascribed to God, as its author. He is acknowledged to have
both planned and executed it. But does this imply, that envy and malice had no hand in it? It implies only, that the counsel of God was benevolent and wise, while it is expressly declared that the evil-minded sons of Israel were moved with cruel jealousy and hatred to the transaction, which issued in so much good. In this affair, two leading and most important ideas are to be noticed; first that Joseph's brethren sold him into Egypt, and secondly, that God sent him there. The same event is here traced to the vindictive malice of men, and to the pure benevolence of Deity. But it is certain, that a primary influence cannot be claimed by both. God must, therefore, be acknowledg ed as first and supreme, and man as his instrument. To the one we trace the effect, as to the original, and to the other, as the instrumental, cause. Joseph's brethren meant he should go into Egypt as a slave; and God meant the same. Their view was to be revenged on one they hated; God's purpose was to open a way for the preservation of many lives. When God is the supreme agent, and man an active instrument in his hand; it is by no means necessary, that both should act under the same views, and with the same intentions. God is able to promote and carry on a good cause by means of the wicked conduct of the vilest of men, as the above example very fully proves. This will also appear from other examples, to which we may be referred. The captivity of Israel