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Providence makes the earth fruitful for the supply of man and beast, instead of supplying his wants by immediate creation, drew his supplies from his people. Wonderful humiliation ! The Lord of heaven and earth condescends to live on the bounty of those who are supplied by his own Providence! Thus he gave not only the most amazing instance of humility, but afforded an opportunity to his disciples to manifest their faith in him, and their love of him. In this way he still acts. He makes some of bis people poor, that others of them
may have an opportunity of ministering to Jesus by ministering to the saints. What is done to his children is done to himself. His gospel is not preached, as it might be, by angels; but is to be sent over the world by his redeemed people. Here they have an oppor. tunity of ministering to Jesus, by contributing to extend his kingdom. The service of the Lord Jesus requires the substance of his people ; and they who rest on his power to uphold his kingdom, without connecting it with the means of his appointment, separate what God has joined together. When Jesus had to ride in triumph into Jerusalem, he sent a messenger to the owner of the ass, saying, 66 The Lord hath need of him.”
Is it not enough for a disciple, when the cause of God says to him, " The Lord hath need of thy substance, or thy services ?”
THE CALLING OF ZACCHEUS.-Luke xix.
Zaccheus is to be brought to the knowledge of Christ : mark how the Providence of God puts him in the way of being effectually called. Jesus is in the place where this chief of the publicans resided; but so were thousands whom Jesus overlooked. Providentially, however, Zaccheus was singled out from the rest in a remarkable manner. He had an uncommon curiosity to see Jesus, and to have a satisfying view of him. But he was low of stature. Had he been a tall man, he might have gratified his curiosity without notice. Jesus, indeed, could have called him in any way he chose. But he generally did things in a way of Providence. The man was little; and in order to get a full view of Jesus, he climbed up into a tree on the road side. This was the occasion of presenting him to the notice of the Lord Jesus ; and in his sovereignty he called him down, in the same style of language in which he called the world into existence. “ Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house.”
And thousands are led by curiosity, or a worse motive, to hear the gospel, when it becomes to them the means of eternal life. Many preachers upbraid their hearers with the carnal motives which bring them to hear the gospel. This is wrong. It is a proclamation to keep them from coming again. Jesus did not so with Zaccheus. No matter to us what brings sinners to hear the gospel. Let the preacher do his part, which is to commend the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
THE ENEMIES OF JESUS RESTRAINED FROM INJURING
HIM BY FEAR OF THE PEOPLE.-Luke xix. 48.
Jesus sometimes delivered himself miraculously from his enemies. But he oftener did this in a way of Providence. One very usual means was the fear of the people. The mass of the people were not so hardened as their leaders ; and they were uncommonly taken with his teaching and miracles. Except when their dearest prejudices were touched, they heard the Lord with much attention. Accordingly, on many occasions, when the Scribes and Pharisees would have destroyed Jesus, they were prevented by the fear of the people. So was it on the present occasion. “ The chief priests and the scribes, and the chief of the people, sought to destroy him ; and could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.”
But when the hour was come for the Lord to de. part from this world, this providential restraint was removed; and the people themselves were excited by their rulers to call out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
In how many instances may we find this Provi. dence exemplified in the history of God's people! Divine Providence often raises up ungodly men,
and puts them in such situations as enable them to be a skreen to his people. As long as the cause of the Lord needs this, he will continue it. When it ceases to serve him, he will remove it. And sometimes the protector will be removed, or prevented from giving aid : sometimes he will be himself turned into a persecutor.
PROVIDENTIAL PRESERVATION OF PETER WHEN HE
SMOTE THE SERVANT OF THE HIGH PRIEST
How often does the Lord preserve his people from the consequence of their ignorance in their service of him! It would, indeed, be bad for us were it otherwise. There is much evil in the best of our services. Our very zeal has in it what would condemn us.
Is it not perfectly surprising that Peter escaped after striking the servant of the high priest? Why was he not cut down on the spot ? Why was he not made prisoner, and tried with Jesus? And justly he would have been condemned ; for he resisted the power that God had placed over him. His Master suffered unjustly; he would have suffered righteously. But he acted in ignorance of his duty.; he acted out of love to his Lord. This the Lord approved, and preserved him from the consequences of his rashness and ignorance. Here we have an instance of sovereign providential restraint on the hearts of wicked men. Peter opposed the authorities, and openly drew his sword; yet there
is not a hand to cut him down, while a band of sol. diers are before him ; nor was there a voice to bring him to judgment, though he was by several persons recognised. Jesus rules the hearts of ungodly men, as well as he guides the wheels of nature.
From this we ought to learn, that preservation in any exploit is no evidence that God approves it. Peter was preserved, while he did what his Lord reproved.
PROVIDENTIAL CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING PETER IN
TO THE SITUATION IN WHICH HE DENIED HIS MASTER.- Compare Matt. xxvi. 51; Mark xiv. 47; Luke xxii. 50; John xviii. 10.
Peter was to deny his Master, and the circumstances that led to this event were providentially ordered. Peter begins to fear, but he loses not all courage at once. He followed Jesus, though at a distance. In this way he saw no danger. He still loves the Lord, and wishes to hear how the matter would go in the high priest's hall. But how shall he gain admittance ? There is a person that keeps the door, and he has no interest. Here a link is furnished for the chain in John. He knows the keeper of the door, and gains an entrance for Peter. Had it not been for this circumstance Peter would not have been put to the trial, and Peter would not have fallen. What a sovereignty is in this Providence! By keeping Peter out, Jesus might have kept Peter from denying him, and preserved his own cause from the