Jacob Cushing: The Workings of Divine Providence

Old South Meeting HouseCALLED UNTO LIBERTY, FOUNDING ERA SERMONS

APRIL 1778

… That there is a God, “is the prime foundation of all religion.” We should therefore employ our utmost diligence to establish our minds in the stedfast belief of it. For when once we have firmly settled in our minds the belief of God’s being, it will mightily influence all our powers of action; it will invite our hope, alarm our fear, and address to every passion within us, that is capable of persuasion, and be in us a never-failing source of devotion and religion.

A God without a providence, is a solitary kind of being, and affords but gloomy apprehensions. For ’tis by his providence that all intercourse between God and his rational creatures is maintained, therein he exercises and displays his perfections, therein his power executes the contrivances of his wisdom, and his wisdom plans the methods of his goodness and grace, which open to the view and admiration of the wise and good, through successive ages and generations.

But that branch of providence, which, in a peculiar manner, demands our attention on this occasion, and should excite our gratitude, is God’s uninterrupted government of the rational part of his creation, mankind in particular. For as all government, so the divine, supposes laws, and laws suppose rewards and punishments, of which intelligences only are capable.

Since, therefore, God interests himself in the affairs of mankind, and the universal administration of his providence extends to all his works, a large field opens for the employment of our contemplative minds. And we are naturally led to consider this divine government, as respecting communities; the affairs whereof are important, and upon which the order and felicity of the world greatly depend.

God is the sovereign of the world, and disposes all things in the best manner. All blessings and calamities, of a public nature, and the revolutions of kingdoms and states, are to be viewed as under the special direction of heaven. Hence the scripture saith, that God “increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them, he enlargeth the nations, and straitneth them again—sometimes he blesseth them, so that they are multiplied greatly; again, they are minished, and brought low, through oppression, affliction and sorrow.”

These truths being necessarily interwoven with religion, and extensively useful under the varying scenes of life, and misteries in providence—the main design of the present discourse, is to awaken our attention to the passages of divine providence—and lead us to a religious improvement of God’s hand, in the tragical events that took place on the nineteenth of April, 1775. I mean the murderous war, rapine and devastation of that day, which we are now met to commemorate.

Under this visitation, or the greatest trials imaginable, we have abundant consolation, that God rules in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of this earth.

The words but now read, may be, perhaps, not unfitly applied to us, for comfort and encouragement under God’s chastisements, and his usual conduct towards the enemies of his church and people: “Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” These are the concluding words of Moses his song, which setteth forth God’s works of mercy and judgment towards the children of Israel, his covenant people. And though, in their primary meaning, they respect that nation only, yet they may be accommodated and fairly applied to God’s faithful and obedient people, at all times, and in all ages; inasmuch as the latter part of the prophecy reaches unto the latter days, and is not yet wholly fulfilled. …

Read full sermon here.


Source: Jacob Cushing. Excerpt from his April 20, 1778 Sermon delivered on the third anniversary of inhumane acts committed by two brigades of British soldiers at Lexington, Massachusetts, April 19, 1775.


Called Unto Liberty is researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional introductory notes and commentary) by Steve Farrell, Founder and Editor In Chief of The Moral Liberal. Copyright © 2015 Steve Farrell.