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The page of History is but the record of Providence, the unfolding of the plans of God. He who reads history bearing this truth in mind, possesses a talismanic key which unlocks many a secret door, around which merely philosophic fingers have vainly wandered. The rise and sall of empires, those grand events which have rent the world and made the nations quake, are but the development to human view of God's eternal purpose. The Earth is a mighty theatre : its scenes are painted by the hand of God, in the light of his own knowledge, and concealed from the eye of man behind the curtain of futurity. As the dim drapery is drawn aside, the breathless audience start, amazed at the magnificence of each recurring view, and wonder what will next present itself in the great drama. Yet there was nothing new or strange in all these scenes to the great Artist who had painted them. God looks with infinite composure on the events which his own hand brings to pass, “ while now an atom falls and now a world.”
Our conceptions of such wisdom and power must ever be inadequate, yet there is wonderful sublimity even in the human idea of a Being whose plans embrace alike the fall of a kingdom on the earth, and the motion of an atom in the farthest star. In the mind of such a Being the idea of great must often be associated with an event termed small by us, and what we call great is often trivial with Him. To man, an event is sometimes great, because it is near and startling ; with the Most High the greatness of an event is measured by its bearing on his eternal plan. A blazing meteor at midnight awakens admiration, because we see it amid surrounding darkness, but to a being lifted far above the earth it would seem like a dying taper, for he would measure it with the sun. This truth might receive a thousand illustrations, the most striking one which ever occurred we are familiar with. When a Redeemer was to be ushered into the world, God pacified the warring nations to receive him, and to the Babel roar of conflict which had scarceFOL XI.
ly paused since Adam fell, he said, "Be still !" When he was born. Heaven came to Earth to welcome Him with " a seven-fold chorus of symphonies and harping hallelujahs.” When he died, God robed the sun in mourning and wrapped the rent earth in darkness. And yet to man, these were unnoticed eras. So unnoticed, that in the whole Roman world there seems to have been only one solitary soldier to smite upon his breast and say " verily, this was the Son of God!"
This is not strange; the horizon of our vision is narrow, and we can only judge of events in their most palpable relations, and so we often miscall things trivial or momentous. Two events occur which in appearance are exactly similar, whose issues may be so diverse, that one shall become the whirpool which engulfs a nation, and the other but a bubble in the vortex. A common infant differs not from a cradled Bonaparte. Both are objects of equal care; across the partial eye of the fond mothers flit visions of equal glory, and both are alike unregarded by the great world. Yet one lives to become a mere follower of the other, while that other introduces a new era in the world's history. There sleeps an infant Emperor ; in that cradle there is an embryo Austerlitz and Waterloo, and the fate of a hundred millions such as sleep in the cradle by his side, hang on that infant's destiny. To the world that infant's birth was an unnoticed era, but to the Most High it was as momentous as the memorable conflict when Napoleon rose and fell.
Of all the lessons which History inculcates, not one is more impressive than this. That it is the prerogative of Deity to connect results of vast moment with causes of the most ordinary kind. It might be said of almost any nation, that could a second Tishbite be placed upon the Carmel of its history, he would often foretel the siorm destined to overwhelm it from the sight of a cloud no bigger than a man's hand. How often did Rome illustrate this lesson of Providence! There is a camp at Ardea, and in a certain tent four youthful soldiers sit at play—a jest occurs, and that jest issues in the loss of a monarch's throne, and frees Rome from the tyranny of kings during five hundred years. Again, a fair maiden walks the streets of Rome, and the glance of a Decemvir's eye lights on her face. That glance changes the government of Rome a second time. And to pass by other instances, who needs to be reminded that but for the cackling of a goose, the wonder and admiration of the world might never have been awakened by the history of the eternal city? Who looks at Ireland now, beautiful Ireland, blasted in her hopes, and bending under the weight of seven centuries of woe, and remembers how slight a circumstance led to it all ? A rude chieftain casts an eye of love on a beautiful woman, the wife of another chieftain rude as himself. Whether with her consent or not, history does not inform us, but he bears her off from her husband's halls to grace his own, and receives the praises of a gallant deed in an age as barbarous as that of Helen, and in a nation where such exploits were not unfrequent. A fierce feud arises; the ravisher is expelled and the might of England is invoked to aid his unholy cause. The historian tells us that “ by a few trivial exploits, scarcely