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and Judah by the king of Babylon is uniformly represented as a punishment inflicted upon them for their sins, and as such it can be no other than the work of God; since it is his sole prerogative to call men to account for their evil doings, and to chastise them for their ungodly ways. The Judge of all the earth never put this work out of his own hands. He could not do it, without resigning his authority, and ceasing to act in character of moral governor. If the captivity of the church by the Babylonians was, therefore, a punishment for sin, it was inflicted by the hand of God; but is it, on this account, the less a fact, that the king of Babylon did actually lay siege to Samaria and Jerusalem, and overcome them, and carry away their people into other countries under his jurisdiction, and there hold them in a state of captivity for many years? Here again, two things are equally true, the one as the other, viz. that the Babylonians, the enemies of God and his people, made inroads upon the church, prevailed against them, and carried them away out of their own land, and that this event was brought about by the hand of the most High. History states the fact, that Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, and carried the people to Babylon, and the prophet bewails the event as a sore judgment, visited upon them by a justly incensed and angry God. "How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from
heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger?" If this devastation and ruin was brought upon Jerusalem by the arms of the Chaldeans, and was, nevertheless, the Lord's doing, a work of his faithful and righteous providence, does it not bring us to this, that God works by the instrumentality of the wicked; so that the miseries which they, by their crimes, bring upon their fel low-men, may be attributed to the hand of God? This perfectly agrees with the representation of the prophet Isaiah, concerning the primary and ultimate cause of those calamities upon the Jews, and the distress brought upon them by the Babylonian war. "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so ; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few."
Among so many cases, which are full to the present point, and some of which are recorded upon almost every leaf of the bible, I hardly know which to select for the further use of the subject we are now upon; but, for an additional example I shall recur to the afflictions of Job. In them we shall see the double agency of God and man. We shall
see the Lord Jehovah laying a grievous bur den upon his servant, for the trial of his pa. tience and constancy, and making use of a variety of creature agents, to carry this object into effect. The influences of Satan, that grand enemy of God and all good men, is concerned, in no small degree. "And the Lord saith unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. Sɔ Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” If what follows, in the loss of children and substance, be reckoned the work of the devil; it must be confessed that Satan was not the only creature agent, who took part in it. The Sabeans fell upon the oxen and asses and took them away, and slew the servants with the edge of the sword. The Chaldeans, also, made out three bands and fell upon the cam els, carrying them away, and slaying the servants with the edge of the sword. Let it be granted, that these marauders, these robbers and murderers, were instigated and urged on by the devil,and committed their depredations upon the property of Job under the influence of his malice; yet this will not imply, that they were no agents in the affair. If the devil acted a part in this tragedy, so did the Sabeans and Chaldeans likewise. And after all this is observed, the great original, independ ent cause is still out of view, until we listen to the following words of Job, in which he acknowledges the interference of a divine . hand. "Naked came I out of my mother's
womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Should it be asked, who it was that brought poverty and wretchedness upon Job; would it not be answered, that this work was given into the hands of Satan, and he dispatched it ? and that his wealth was pillaged from him by plunderers, mercenary men, who loved the reward of violence and rapine? Satan and his coadjutors among men stripped the opulent and prosperous Job of his riches, and made him a sufferer under the pinching hand of want. At their door lies the whole mischief. And does the injured, the oppressed, the impoverished saint vent the anguish of his soul by breathing out murmurs against these inhuman authors of his wo? Does he brand them as the original contrivers, as well as the executioners, or agents, of his misery?
As for me," he says, "is my complaint to man?" Men had bereft him of his treas ures, and why should he not complain to them of the wrongs they had done him? The reason is, that he has a superior cause in his view. He feels that God has brought him into trouble, though by the secondary agency of men and devils. "God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: be hath also taken me by the neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark." The afflicted patriarch looks beyond the out.
rages of man, and the temptations of the devil, and sees a supreme righteous governor, who is infinitely above all creatures and the spring of all their motions, pouring wormwood and gall into his cup. He contemplates the Deity, as dispensing his righteous judgments to the subjects of trial, by means of those agents, whose impieties and violences render them odious to God and terrible to men. Job felt the chastening he was under to be from the Lord none the less from its coming in the way it did, or its being the effect of the counsels of darkness, and the corrupt passions of men. His view was evidently such as we find on every page of sa cred history, viz. that God acts by creatures, even the most polluted and sinful, in fulfiling his purposes, in bringing to pass the most necessary and wholesome measures of his government. Nay, this is the view, which all reasonable persons entertain of the subject. If an individual rises to uncommon pitch of usefulness, and is looked upon as contributing a great deal to the well being of the community; it is a common thing to acknowledge such an one to be a gift from above, to have been raised up by our common Creator for purposes of goodness and favour to mankind, and to be an instrument of divine beneficence to those, who reap advantage from his good offices. On the other hand, tyrants and oppressors, men of extensive influence and base intentions, are, generally, allowed to be a besom of destruction in W w