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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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Table of Contents


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Loose notions of providence —Importance of right views.—The Bible the only source of reliable information—Helplessness apart from it — The danger of not being impressed by it while theoretically believing it —Classical learning of no value in this matter —Bible ideas and illustration of providence —Such a thing as "chance."—A first principle of the subject.— The relation of the universe to God.—Divine volition versus the mechanical action of nature —The platform of providence —Some things God's doings, and some not, though all things constituted of God and existing in Him ........1


The next principle —Individuality of the Creator —Scripture illustrations — Localization in heaven of His being.—The physical glory and form of His person —The scientific bearing of the idea considered.—The angels.— Their relation to the Eternal Father and their place in the execution of His plans everywhere — Scriptural illustrations —Angelic agency the leading element in the operations of providence. — The necessity for providence ........10


Miracle as distinguished from providence —The practical illustration of the latter.—Abraham.—Abimelech withheld from touching Abraham's wife — A privilege accessible now —The sending away of Hagar —Grievous in Abraham's eyes, yet for his good —Ishmael blessed for Abraham's sake.— A lesson for all times —Ishmael made a nation.—The Divine hand in politics.—Marriage of Isaac and Ishmael.—The "marriage question."— Divine guidance in the case of Isaac.—Eliezer's angelically guided visit to Mesopotamia ........24


Providence in the life of Isaac.—The promised seed.—Barrenness of Rebecca.— Faith and patience —Prayer and its answer.—Apparently natural, but God-given.—Isaac's contemplated removal to Egypt because of famine — The command to remain where he was —God with him —How manifest — A lesson.—Isaac doing his best —Faith and presumption.—The hand of God in common life —Isaac's departure to Gerar —The strife about the wells —Meekness of Isaac —His removal to Beersheba.—Cheering words to him from God —Similar words to all his children.—God " with " a man, and how we know it ........33


The life of Jacob.—Abundant illustration of the ways of providence.—Angelic guidance in it all.—The angelic hand not seen.—Jacob and Esau —Why Jacob was chosen, though the younger —Isaac's preference for Esau.— Esau's possession of the birthright.—How it was transferred to Jacob — The incident of the pottage.—Its moral bearings.—Importance of common incidents.—Isaac's parting blessing.—The importance of Jacob receiving it.—How it was diverted from Esau contrary to Isaac's intentions.—The deception involved.—How it is to be regarded.—Human speculations on the nature of " morality "—The true standard .....45

CHAPTER VI.—JACOB (continued).

Esau's anger at the loss of the blessing.—His threatening attitude towards Jacob.—Jacob's departure to Padan-aram in quest of a wife.—Why he did not seek one among the daughters of the land.—Important influence of the marriage relation —A good wife " from the Lord."—The right sort not appreciated by the Ishmaels and the Esaus.—Providential guidance of the Jacobs.—The promise to Jacob that God was with him —His life read in this light.—Not unmixed prosperity —Rigorous service in the field.— An austere master—Affliction and labour.—Trouble no sign that a man is deserted by God —Jacob s fears and precautions —His return home with wives and children.—His terror at the prospect of meeting Esau —His prayer, his conciliatory arrangements and the result.—Our lesson........57

CHAPTER VII—JACOB (continued).

Jacob and the completeness of his case as illustrating providence.—The abduction of Dinah.—Her violent recovery and the slaughter of the abductions by Simeon and Levi.—Jacob's fear of the consequence.—Divine directions.—The terror of God on the neighbouring tribes.—Divine help not always apparent —Evil allowed sometimes in punishment, sometimes in vindication —Presumption excluded by the method of divine ways —Constant need for faith and obedience.—The present state an evil state —Divinely regulated on behalf of those whom God will choose — Jacob as a broken hearted father—Joseph's disappearance —Twenty years of darkness for Jacob, ending with famine, and greater darkness still.— The visit of his sons to Egypt —Their rough experiences —The joyful end of the matter ........70


The case of Joseph—A providential work of God placed beyond question by explicit testimony.—His troubled youth at home —His dreams.—-Dreams that are divine, and dreams that are not —Joseph hated of his brethren.-— Adversity a needful preparation for exaltation —Put into a pit.—Sold to traders.—Taken to Egypt.—From one dreadful experience to another—• God with him, though not apparently so —A lesson to his brethren of all ages —Joseph's cheerful service in Potiphar's house —His false accusation by Potiphar's wife.—His imprisonment —The aggravated dreadfulness of his position —A little easement by and bye.—The lessons of the case. —Arrival of the butler and baker as prisoners.—The circumstances leading to Joseph's release —His promotion to the governorship of Egypt —His treatment of his brethren ........ 85


The case of Moses.—The providential (apparently natural) features.—Arrival of the time of the promised deliverance from Egypt —God disposing events in preparation beforehand, yet not in a visible manner —Moses born —The edict for the drowning of the male Hebrew children.—Deposit of Moses by the river brink in the ark of bulrushes.—Arrival of Pharaoh's daughter to bathe—What followed.—His education by his mother—His manhood at the court of Pharaoh.—His interpretation of providence.—His judicial slaughter of an Egyptian.—Ht's flight from Egypt—His life in Midian — The quietness cot the whole situation, yet a tremendous crisis impending. —Its commencement with the burning bush .........100

CHAPTER X.—MOSES (continued)

The work of Moses —The character of Pharaoh.—The result to be achieved by divine interference.—The nature of the interference.—A plain political issue.—The hardening of Pharaoh's heart —The moral difficulties considered —The raising up of providential men —Apparently natural, yet divine—The hand of God in public affairs—Somethings not divine.— Israel's multiplication in Egypt.—What God does, and what He does not do.—Modern applications.—God "with" Israel and God not with Israel.— The difference illustrated.—Human effort useless without divine co-operation.—Wrong applications of the principle.—Man's part necessary to God's part, yet the accomplishment all of God........115

CHAPTER XI.—MOSES (continued)

The conquest of Bashan.—Cod gave the land, yet Israel had to conquer — Modern application of the principle —The message of Moses to Sihon.— A wise way of doing divine work.— The action of Moses — \ clue to the work of Christ at His coming —Proposals to the nations before destruction— God with Joshua after the death of Moses, yet success dependent on Joshua's measures — Providence towards the nations —The moral state of the Amontes a reason for Israel's destruction of them.— The principle in modern times —God's use of the Gentile nations in carrying out His purposes—God's own explanations in the prophets — God at work when men often cannot discern —Individual application ........129


After the death of Moses.—Joshua to be brave.—Intrepidity required of the servants of God.—Jeremiah —Ezekiel —The need for courage in Joshua's case.—The need in later times, as apostolically commended.—Joshua's adoption of wise measures—1 he spying of Jericho—The report of the spies.—The importance of casual information sometimes—The case of Gideon.—Modern cases—The campaign after the fall of Jericho.—The hardening of the hearts of the Canaanitish nations ........142


Unfinished state of the Monte conquest at the death of Joshua.—The "chariots of iron" a difficulty to Judah, and why.—The divine thwarting of Israel's success for reasons specified.—The process apparently natural.— Causes of defeat and success.—Providential cases and multitudes of non-providential matters in newspaper records and daily life. — European politics angelically regulated —The times of the Judges.—The divine strengthening of the adversary against Israel. — The source of all efficiency —Human complacency and boasting irrational.—The tragedy of Abimelech.—Divine retribution rendered by natural means.—An instructive case.—The particulars.—The case of Samson ........152


The case of Eh.—The divine destruction of his house in a natural way.— Samuel raised up of God, yet brought upon the scene through natural circumstances. — Israel's request for a king.— Samuel's grief—God's directions to Samuel to comply —The divine sending of Saul.—How he was sent —The lost asses.—God at work sometimes in the most unlikely circumstances.—God not in every circumstance.—Saul trying to force providence.—David apparently retiring before it —An important lesson.— The choice of David.—His preparation beforehand an apparently natural work . ........166


Life of David —Brimming with instruction in the ways of God.—Divine deliverances accomplished in a natural way, and by means of David's own precautions.—David's " subtlety" not inconsistent with his righteousness. —The same principle in the case of Jesus and Paul.—The combat with Goliath.—A providential introduction of David to Israel—The result of David's individual faith and courage.—A valuable example for modern imitation.— David's escape from Saul's menaces.— Undignified flight according to some —A sensible avoidance of peril in reality.—Sensible expedients not faithless acts ........178

CHAPTER XVI.—DAVID (continued)

The days of David's exile—Bitter adversity "good for" him.—God's dispensation, jet in a natural form.—A preparation for exaltation—Important discernment of the ways of providence.—David at Keilah —Divine statements sometimes qualified by unexpressed conditions.— The case of Nineveh.—Paul's shipwreck.—David's elevation to the throne.—The natural elements in the process —David's prudential measures.—David's dilemma. —His answer from the Lord.—The present a day of divine silence, and why'—The gradualness and naturalness of David's elevation.—Patience and faith ........189

CHAPTER XVII —DAVID (continued).

The consolidation of David's power —The covenant made with him concerning Christ.—The circumstances leading to the covenant.—David's own faithfulness the cause of it —Other instances of the same thing —The lesson for modern times.—David's sin " in the matter of Uriah."—Its providential punishment —Its notoriety in the day of judgment.—Its retribution on David in David's lifetime —Troubles in his family —Absalom's revolt—David's flight.—Shimei s curse—The Philistine's inroads.— Adonijah's treason—All apparently natural, yet divinely caused.—David's recognition of the fact.—Double-sidedness of events affecting the chosen of God.—The closing scene


Solomon —His recognition of the ways of providence in his dedicatory prayer —Modern misapplications.— Solomon's prayer and its answer.— The threatened destruction of Israel to be God's -work, yet natural in the form in which it was effected —Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar divine instruments without knowing it, being at the same time self-serving individualities —-Their self volitions regulated —Solomon's apostasy.—The punishment —The rending of the kingdom.—A divine act human in form. —The same with regard to the uprise of various adversaries —Consoling modern application ........215


The divided house of Israel.—First, the Ten Tribes.—Jeroboam, their first king —His great opportunity.—His misuse of it —A low prudence.—Running into the very destruction he feared —Baasha's sedition.—The destruction coming about in a perfectly natural^ way, yet divinely caused. —The principle in its modern form —Smiting of the Ten Tribes.— Jehovah's work, yet apparently natural.—The nature of a divine " command " to the unwitting instrument in such a case.—Elijah's maintenance. —The command to the widow —Other instances.—The only drawback to the application of the principle now.—Ahab and Jehu.—Necessity of human co-operation with the plans of providence.—Explanation of this at first sight extraordinary fact ........224

Ahab in Naboth's vineyard—God's message by Elijah—The prophecy that his blood should be licked by the dogs in the same place as Naboth's.— How it came to pass.—The same prophecy as to the eating of Jezebel by dogs —The incidents of its fulfillment, showing a human work divinely superintended.—The mode of Ahab's death.—The bow drawn at a venture.— The divinely-guided arrow.—Providence affected and diverted by human action.—Ahab's repentance —The siege of Samaria.—Famine inside and the unexpected relief.—King Joash s visit to Ehsha's dying bedside— The arrows and the prophecy.—The removal of the Ten Tribes ........236


History of the kingdom of Judah.—Rehoboam's departure from God and consequent punishment " by the hand of Shishak,' an unwitting instrument.— The reign of Asa—Vexations and adversity to Judah from God because of disobedience—The rule not universal.—Gods providence in well-marked and narrow channels only.—Israel's experience, a lesson for the saints. — Jehoshaphat's goodness, and "no war."—The opposite with Jehoram, his successor —The days of Amaziah.—Instructive incidents.— A prophet's interpretation of the ways of providence.—The reign of Uzziah. — Military intruders unconsciously doing the work of God.— Hezekiah.—His prayer and his wise precautions —A valuable lesson ........250


Reign of Josiah.—Preservation of the scriptures.—A work of providence.— Josiah's enquiry and God's answer.—Coming judgment by the hand of the enemy.—Josiah's cleansing of the land.—His visit to Bethel.—The graves of the idolatrous priests.—His "turning himself."—The fulfillment of a prophecy uttered 300 years before.—The evil that came on Judah " at the commandment of the Lord "—The nature of it from a human point of view—Nebuchadnezzar's invasion.—Providence illustrated.—The wicked the sword of the Lord, but none the less wicked for that.—End of the seventy years' captivity.—Daniel and Cyrus.—Of the edict of restoration.— Bearing of the case on these latter days and the coming restoration........ 262


From the Babylonish captivity to Christ —The providential in the case of Christ —Place of His birth —The difficulty as to the visit to Egypt.—The part performed by John the Baptist.—Christ's maintenance during His ministry.—The pre-eminently providential character of the crucifixion.— Divinely pre-arranged and required, yet brought about in a perfectly natural manner.—A work of God, \et a crime of man.—Providential feature of the apostolic age.—Pentecost —Persecution.—Education of Paul.—John in Patmos.—A tendency of the contemplation of the ways of providence A corrective found in the visible hand of God ........277


The overthrow of the Jewish state by the Romans —A divine catastrophe foretold, though not recorded in the scriptures —Josephus the providential recorder.—Christ's allusions to the impending calamity.—Its relation to His own disciples —Its bearing on our own day.—A summary of Josephus's narrative.—Disorders commenting A.D. 40.—Tumults and factions.—The Sicardn.—The Egyptian prophet.—Florus, the Roman Governor, exasperates the Jews and incites them to revolt.—The Jews in Jerusalem rise. —Cestius marches against them and is defeated ........291


The repulse of Cestius causes uneasiness at Rome —The emperor Nero orders the suppression of the Jews in revolt.—Entrusts the work to the hands of Vespasian and his son Titus.—The Jews organise a war of independence.— A Roman army concentrated at Antioch —The Roman plan of operation.— The Jews commence hostilities at Askelon—Are twice defeated there.— Sepphoris surrenders —Gadara attacked and taken by the Romans.—They attack Jotapata—Desperate defence by Josephus.—The city finally taken and overthrown. — Capture and destruction of Tanchea. — Siege and capture of Ganala.—Taking of Gibchala.—Galilee subdued.—The country desolated.—Fugitives repair to Jerusalem.—Dreadful disorders break out in the city ........ 302


Arrival of the Romans before Jerusalem —Preparations for siege.—The feast of unleavened bread draws large numbers to the city.—The city crowded. —The suburbs devastated by the siege works.—The Jews desperately molest the Romans —Capture of the first wall —Then of the second.— Deserters to the Romans.—Desperate resistance of the defenders.—Titus shows them the Roman army in array for four days without result.— Proposes terms of submission in vain.—Renews the siege.—Speech by Josephus.—Progress of famine.—Thousands of dead bodies thrown over the walls—Dreadful closing scenes.—Hundreds of Jews crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem.—The houses inside crowded with dead.—Capture and burning of the city and Temple.—Enormous crowds of slain ........318


Summary.—Nature of providence.—Importance of understanding it.—Much that is not providence.—" Chance."—God's personality the basis of providence. —The leading illustrations.—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob —Joseph.—Moses — Joshua.—Israel.—The nations divinely used as instruments.—Myriads of incidents outside the channel of providence —European politics.—Prophecy.—Providence the divine machinery for saving the world.—A mighty work complete in many parts .....335