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harmonize to Haman's ruin. Providence loses no ground in all the compasses we imagine it takes: every circumstance is necessary to the carrying on of the common end. 4thly, There is a harmony of providences with the prayers of the people of God, that have the Spirit of prayer, Gen. xxxii. compared with xxxiii. 10. Many dispensations of providence are the returns of prayer. This seems to be the ground of that conclusion, Psal. xli., 11, “By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me;’ and puts an additional sweetness in mercies. There is one general rule as to the hearing of prayer, John xvi. 23. Whatsoever prayers are believingly put up in Christ's name are heard. And so we should notice the harmony of providence with prayer. Concerning which I offer these five observations. (1.) That where God has no mind to give such a mercy, the spirit of prayer for that mercy will be restrained, Jer. vii. 16. ‘Pray not thou for this people,’ &c. As, upon the other hand, when God minds his people a favour, he will open their lips to pray for it, Ezek. xxxvi. 37. “Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.’ And this is no wonder, if we consider, that the Spirit of the Lord dictated the word whereof providence is the accomplishment, and the same Spirit guides the wheel of providence, Ezek. i. 20, and the same Spirit is the author of acceptable prayer, by which the sap of the word is sucked out in providence, Rom. viii. 26, 27. : (2.) God hears believing prayers, either by granting the mercy itself which is sought, as Gen. xxiv. 45, in Rebekah’s appearing at the well, and drawing water as Abraham's servant had prayed for; or else the equivalent, something that is as good, 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. in Paul's obtaining grace sufficient for him. Either of these ways providence brings the answer of prayer, For God's bond of promise that faith lays hold on, and pleads in prayer, may be paid either (as it were) in money or money-worth. And the harmony betwixt prayer and providence is to be acknowledged either of the ways. (3.) Providence may for a time seem to go quite contrary to the saints prayers, and yet afterwards come to meet exactly. It is an astonishing * of providence that the saints H h 2

sometimes meet with, namely, that a case never is more hopelessthan just after they havehadaparticularconcernupon their spirits before the Lord about it; so that they are made to say, as Psal. lxv. 5. ‘By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation.” But it is very usual in the Lord's dealings with his people to pass a sentence of death on their mercies ere they get them, as he did with the Israelites in Egypt, who were worse treated by Pharaoh after the application made to him to let them go, than before, Exod. v. ult, Providence acts like a man that is to fetch a stroke, swinging the axe back, that he may come forward with the greater vigour. (4.) Providence often very discernibly keeps pace with the prayers of his people, that as they go up or down, so it goes. An eminent instance whereof we have Exod. xvii. 11, in that while Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek preyailed. Hence sometimes a matter will go fairly on, while the soul is helped to believe and wrestle; but when unbelief makes the soul fag, the wheel begins to stand too. And it is no wonder this takes place, where the same Spirit is in the creature, and in the wheel. ' ' ' ' ' (5.) Lastly, Providence may sweetly harmonize with the spirit of prayer, and the believer's expression in prayer, and yet not with the desires of their own spirit, which perhaps they went to lay before the Lord, Rom. viii. 26, 27. The not distinguishing of these two makes many see a greatjar. ring betwixt providence and their prayers, while in very deed there is a notable harmony betwixt them. And if they would carefully mark the words in which, under the influence of the Spirit, they presented their petitions to the Lord, they might find them wonderfully agree with the dis. pensation of providence, though not with the desire of their own spirits. - IV. I proceed, in the next place, to assign reasons why Christians should wisely observe providences. • * : 1. Because they are God's works, Psal. cxxxv. 6. The world, in the framing of it, was not a work of chance; nei. ther is it so in the management of it. Whoever be the instruments and second causes by which any thing falls out in our lot, God has the guiding of the wheels, and has a ne: gative on the whole creation, Lam, iii. 37, ‘Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth

it not * Meet me with a favourable event? we are debtors

to God for it, As Abraham's servant acknowledged, on the
favourable answer he received relating to Rebekah, in his
bowing his head, and worshipping the Lord, Gen. xxiv.
26. Do we meet with a cross one? It is the finger of God,
though we see a creature's whole hand in it, Amos iii. 6.
* Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not
done it? Now, seeing they are his works, they ought to
be observed. , , - * , . . .
2. Because they are great works, Psal. cxi. 2. ‘The work
of the Lord is great.” Every work of providence bears
the signature of a divine hand upon it. But the stamp is
sometimes so fine, and our eyes so dull, that we are slow
to perceive it. I told you that there are small lines of pro-
vidence as well as great: but the great God does nothing
but what is great and suitable to himself. Though some of
his works are comparatively small, they are all great abso-
lutely. And therefore with respect to those I called small
ones, I must say to you, as Deut. i. 17. ‘Ye shall hear the
small as well as the great.” And good reason is there for
it. For, * * * * * • * , . . . * * * * * * -
(1.) The smaller a piece of work is, the greater and more
curious is the workmanship. Galen confessed the hand, and
extolled the wisdom of God in the thigh of a gnat. An
ordinary artificer will fit out a mill; but the small wath
requires a curious hand, and pictures of the least size shew
most of the painter's skill. That frogs should have been a
plague to Pharaoh, or Herod eaten up of worms, was more
admirable, than if the one had been plagued with an arm-
ed host, and the other devoured by a lion. The rats de-
vouring hats and poppies. (Turn. hist. Prov. chap. 112.)
was truly more admirable than the conquests of Alexander
and Caesar both. . . . . . o
(2.) Great things may be lying hid in the bosom of very,
minute and ordinary things. Search into the rise of that
wonderful turn of providence with the church in Esther's
days, and ye shall find it to be the king's falling off his rest
one night, Est. vi. 1. of that wonderful overthrow of the
Moabites, and ye will find it a mere fancy, 2 Kings iii. 22,
23. The curse of God may be in the miscarrying of a
basket of bread, Deut. xxviii. 17. And it may be big with

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a great mercy. They say the whale is mightily beholden to the little fish called musculus, which swims as a guide before her, without which she would be in danger in straits and betwixt great rocks. The little cloud like a man's hand often darkens the heavens ere all be done, 3. Because they are often very mysterious works, and therefore they need observation, Psal. xcii. 5. It is necessary to give us right views of providence, and to keep us from mistakes. The making judgment of providences is a very tender point, wherein the best of men have gone far wrong, Was not Jacob far out when he said, Gen. xlii. 36. “All these things are against me,’ if we compare the promise, Rom. viii. 28. “All things shall work together for good,' &c. and the event too? Many a time the outside of provi. dence is very unlike it inside. The greatest cross may be 'wrapt up in what we take to be our greatest comfort; and the greatest comfort may be inwrapt in what we call our greatest cross. Observation must break the shell, that we may look in. 4. Because they are always perfect works. They will abide the strictest search and the most narrow inquiry, Deut. xxxii. 4. Whatever faults we find with them, as we do many, it is for want of due observation. But at length he shall gain that testimony and recantation, “He hath done all things well, Mark vii, 37. In these his works no flaw is to be found, no mistake; nothing too much, nothing too little; nothing too soon done, nothing too late done; nothing misplaced, nothing in or over; nay, nothing done that is not best done; nothing that man or angel could make better. The world will startle at this as a paradox: but faith will believe it, on the solid ground of infinite wis. dom, though sense contradict it, Isa. xxxviii. 8. Jer. xii. 1. O that they who will debate this truth would come near and observe. 5. Lastly, Because they are speaking works, Micah vi. 9. They speak Heaven's language to the earth, and therefore should be observed. And they speak, (1.) Of him, Psal. xix. 2. They preach to us that he is, what a God he is, how holy, just, wise, good, and powerful, &c. We may see there his perfections as in a glass. Each pile of grass speaks a God, a wise, good, and powerful one. So many creatures as there are, so many mouths to speak of him. And it is man's work to observe and hear. When God had replenished the heavens with sun, moon, and stars, and the earth with variety of creatures, the creation was still imperfect till man was made. For what avails the musical instrument, if there be no body to play on it 2 (2.) For him. Cross providences speak for him, Micah vi. 9. And favourable providences also, Rom. ii. 4. Hereby sinners are instructed in the way they should go, Psal. xxxii. 8. reproved, as Joseph's brethren; and comforted, as Paul was, Phil. ii. 27. And, in a word, they call us from sin unto God; by them, where the word goes before, Christ knocks at the doors of sinners hearts, and calls for access. I come now to the improvement of this doctrine. And, I. It may serve for lamentation. Ah! may we not say, Who is wise to observe these things? Wise observers of providence are thin sown in the world; because there are few exercised to godliness. , God has given us enough to observe in the public and in our private case. He is speakin by his providence to the land, he is speaking loudly at this day to the parish, to you and to me, and to every one in particular. But, alas! it is not observed to purpose. Graceless people are presumptuous, and will not observe; and even many godly are heedless, and do not observe. There are these six evidences that this wise observation of providence is very rare. 1. How many are there who see God no more in their mercies and crosses, than if they were a parcel of atheists, that did not think there were a God, or that believed no providence at all? If they get a mercy, God is not owned in it; they sacrifice to their own net. If they get a cross, they cry out by reason of the arm of the Almighty. But none saith, Where is God my Maker In all the turns of their life and lot, they never seriously look to the wheel within the wheel. 2. How many are there to whom God in his providence is speaking plain language, that he who runs may read it, yet they will not understand it Psal. lxxxii. 5. God plagues the Philistines for the ark most visibly, yet they are at a loss, saying, It may be it is a chance, 13alaam's ass refuses to carry him forward on the way, but he is in a rage against her. God meets sinners in their way, with speaking providences; but on they go; they do not hear, they

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