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PART SIXTH.
ON UNION WITH GOD IN HIS PROVIDENCES.



CHAPTER IX.


RELATION OF THE LAW OF PROVIDENCE TO THE ORDER AND DISORDER WHICH EXIST IN THE WORLD.


Results, if the law of Providence were universally fulfilled.— All would be satisfied with their situation. — There would be universal peace. — Remarks on the present state of things.

VARIOUS are the topics which this great subject suggests. One has relation to the restoration of peace on the earth.

If the law of Providence were strictly fulfilled, it is obvious that order would at once exist throughout the world. The reign of harmony, which poets have dreamed and prophets have predicted, would from that moment commence. Every man would not only be in his place, but, what is more, he would be contented with his place. It would not be the order of tyranny, but the order of benevolent wisdom. It would not be the harmony of force, but the harmony resulting from a common faith in a common Father.

2. The first development, under the strict fulfillment of the law of Providence, would be order and harmony of position. And this would be attended with harmony of feeling. As each one would be in his place, so each would be satisfied with his place, without being more satisfied with his
own place than with that of his neighbor. In looking at the great frame-work of society, all would recognize the necessity of the parts to the completion and symmetry of the whole. As each would have his place, with no rebellion of the foot against the hand, nor of the hand against the head; so there would be no feelings of distrust and envy. How could there be rivalries, how could there be distrust or envy, when each, in being contented with the divine arrangements, would of course be satisfied with that position which those arrangements had assigned him? The fact of the divine choice, especially when taken in connection with the imperfections of human wisdom, would far more than counterbalance all incidental evils; so much so, that want and sneering, attended with God's choice and favor, would be regarded as infinitely preferable to riches and pleasure without them.

3. The cessation of personal and social rivalries would involve that of nations; or, at least, the same divine law, which operated to secure the one, would not fail to bring about the other. Persons and neighborhoods would be at peace. Nations would be at peace also. There is a locality, a rank, a duty of nations, as well as of individuals. If each would take the position, and fully the duty, which the law of Providence indicates to them, national rivalries would cease, because the occasions of such rivalries would no longer exist; and the God of the individual man, and of the domestic hearth, and of social institutions and unions, would be the God of empires. The law of Providence, harmonizing the relations of states, as it does those of individuals and small communities, would constitute a family of nations, and war would be known no longer.

4. On the other hand, there cannot be discordance between man's moral nature and God's providence, without great contention and disorder in the world. And in point of fact, the world is in the greatest confusion and strife, because the ordainment of God is not corresponded to by the wishes of the creature. With scarcely an exception, there is something left of that life of nature which produces divergence and conflict. Every one has his choice. To be a merchant, a prince, a commander of armies, a man of pleasure, a man of science, a mechanic, a farmer, a soldier, a teacher of youth, such are some of the preferences they evince. The object at which they aim is not always, and perhaps not generally, wrong. The fault consists in unwillingness to harmonize with the decisions of a higher power. All wish to decide for themselves; all estimate the good or the evil on the small scale of their own personality and interests; all have their choice. Who among them, in the mournful degeneracy of our fallen race, wishes to follow, or thinks beforehand of following,
the choice of Providence?

The world is a map of situations, inscribed with lines of demarcation, diversified everywhere with discriminative colors, which indicate opportunity, adaptation, want, fulfillment, duty. In one place the poor are to be aided; in another place the ignorant are to be instructed; in another the sick are to be consoled and watched over. In one place is the demarcation of endurance; in another is the arena of action; in another is the platform of authority and eloquence. But who, in beholding any one of these various demarcations and the duties it suggests, goes to God and asks: — Am I the man whom eternal wisdom has selected for this mission? Resigning my own will, I lay myself upon the altar of sacrifice, not to be what I might choose to be, but to be what God may choose to have me to be. Send me, if thou wilt; but let me not go, or have a thought of going, without thine own authority.

5. There are exceptions, it is true, but not enough to reverse, or to modify essentially the assertion, that man is at war with Providence. "All seek their own," says the apostle, "not the things which are Jesus Christ.” In this state of things it is obviously impossible that there should be peace or happiness. The divine harmony is broken. Man, in being by his selfishness antagonistical to God and God's arrangements, is necessarily antagonistical to his neighbor. Place is at war with place, and feeling with feeling. Judgment is arrayed against judgment, because false and conflicting judgments necessarily grow out of the soil of perverted affections. On every side are the outcries of passion, the competitions of interest, and the crush of broken hearts.

6. Shall it always be so? The remedy, and the only remedy, is an adherence to the law of Providence. Renounce man's wisdom, and seek that of God. Subject the human to the divine. Harmonize the imperfect thoughts and purposes of the creature with the wisdom of the Eternal Will. Let the clamors of nature cease, that the still small voice of the Godhead may speak in the soul. Go where God may lead thee.

When this shall be the general disposition, when all shall cease to seek their own, and shall begin to seek the things which are Christ's, when man's life shall be again engrafted on the Universal Life, then will the Law of Providence universally take effect, and God will reign among men.