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We learn from the Scriptures that there is one God, from, of and to whom are all things. In other words, "By Him were all things created that are in Heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible; whether they be thrones or dominions, principalities or powers; all things were created by Him and for Him." No event can possibly occur, from the launching of a planet into space, to the falling of a sparrow to the earth, without being under His especial guidance and control. It needs but little reflection to infer that everything is created for a purpose, and that nothing whatever is left to the dominion of Chance. The purpose in question, too, is a moral purpose. The whole universe, animate as well as inanimate, is designed to answer some great moral end, and the Scriptures tell us what it is. It is to display, in as clear a light as possible, the perfections of the Divine nature. Perfect goodness and immutable justice are among the attributes of the Divinity. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died to save a world lying under condemnation from utter destruction, vindicated the honor of the broken law. This Saviour was announced at the time of Adam's fall, four thousand years before his appearance on earth. From the Scriptures we learn that various means have been adopted, at different times, to warn the world that it lay under condemnation for sin. As the universe was for a great moral purpose, to wit, the more perfect display of the Divine attributes, every event that occurs in it is to be viewed in connection with this Holy Law, established by the Creator himself. Man is in a state of sin in this world, and all he undergoes — sickness, labor cold, hunger, thirst, death, everything from which unhappiness proceeds — is a punishment for sin. They are rendered, indeed, essentially necessary as a means of discipline, and of chastening the mind and purging it of the passions destructive of man's temporal happiness, and so inimical to his eternal welfare. With regard to aggregations of individuals,--that is, communities and States, or nations,--there can be no doubt that they are governed by the same external principles. Sin lies at the bottom of all the sorrows of this world. Were there no sin there would be no plague, famine or war; there would be no earthquakes or ships wrecks; there would be no tornadoes or tempests. In the present war, God is assuredly punishing us for our transgressions. The doctrine is everywhere announced in the Scriptures. There is, indeed, none other more distinctly laid down; and the examples under the rule are almost unlimited. We have sinned, and we have sinned grievously, and it is because we have so sinned that the hand of the Lord is laid so heavily upon us at this moment, and that reverses and disasters have followed each other with such startling rapidity of late.--That we will continue to sustain reverses and disasters until the whole people shall have repented of their sins in sackcloth and ashes we may be as well assured of as we can be of any truth contained in the writings of the Evangelists. It by no means follows that He favors our enemies in opposition to us. Sometimes — nay, very often,--when He designs that an enterprise shall succeed in the end, He punishes those whom he designs to succeed in the end by temporary failure. There are many instances to prove this fact in Scripture, but one will suffice.--Joshua was not only a good and great man, but he was inspired, and acted immediately under the direction of Heaven. He had been especially assigned to the duty of extirpating the Heathen from the land of Canaan. An expedition which he sent against the town of Ar was repulsed, and he immediately saw that some great sin had been committed, which had drawn down the vengeance of Heaven. What it was, he knew not; but he inquired of Heaven by prayer and sacrifice, and was thereby enabled to discover. He learned that Achan, the son of Carmi, had partaken of the accursed thing, and he punished the offence by cutting him off, with all his descendants. This expiation made, he proceeded to cancel the land and divide it out according to the Divine command. This day it is expected that this whole Confederacy will prostrate itself in prayer at the footstool of Omnipotence. Let the proclamation be strictly obeyed in that. Let all do it. Let them pour out their hearts to God, and repent of their sins in sackcloth and ashes, if they expect His favor. It will not do merely to fast and go to church, returning to their old habits the next day. They must repent, and show that they do repent by changing their courses. The preachers, we hope and believe, will do their duty everywhere. Let them denounce sin everywhere, open or concealed, in the strongest and most direct terms they can think of. This is no time to be nice. Let them preach until every man thinks the Devil has gotten into his pew, and is chasing him up to a corner of it. Let them tell the people plainly what is the matter, that their cause does not prosper. Let them, above all other things, lay bare the great National sin of money getting that has fallen upon all classes like a leprosy. But enough of this. Our people may rest assured that God cannot be propitiated by unclean hands and impure lips.
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