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The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)


      In 1855, page 601, Mr. Campbell teaches of


      Providence occurs but once in the Christian Scriptures. The Greek representative of it is pronoia, and found in the Greek Testament but twice (Acts xxiv. 2). In this occurrence it is represented by providence, in the common version. In Rom. iii. 14, it is represented by provision; literally it means foresight. The verb pronoeo is found three times, always represented by provide, and providing. In theological use, it indicates guardianship, guidance, direction, protection. In our English dictionaries it is defined--"The act of providing, or preparing for future use or application" (Webster).

      Deists, Theists, and speculative Christians, designate what they call God, or "the Deity," by the term Providence. By the good old orthodox Presbyterians this was repudiated as irreverent and un-Christian.

      That God provides for all his creatures, is just as true as that he created them. This providence is as general as all creation. Though five sparrows were sold in old Jerusalem for two farthings, yet not one of them was forgotten or unprovided for by their Creator. He feeds young lions and tigers, ravens and doves; the animalcule, invisible to the human eye, though so small that millions of them are found in a cubic foot, and some affirm in a cubic inch!

      But that God's providence is as general or as broad as creation, no one, of any information or discrimination, can either doubt or deny.

      Thirty millions of suns, and one hundred millions of satellites, or worlds moving round them, each of which is as large as our earth in a general average, having as many genera and species of animated beings on them as our planet has; covered with hair or feathers, as a portion of our tenantry are, and yet so cared for, and provided for by Him, that not one hair or feather can fall from any one of them unheeded or unobserved by him. Such are our conceptions of the sublime, the awful, the incomprehensible grandeur and majesty of Him that fills immensity, that inhabits eternity, and who can bestow as much attention to any one animated atom as though it were the [47] solitary tenant of the entire universe. His creation and providence are necessarily, eternally, and immutably co-extensive. He opens his rich and liberal hand, and from his unexhausted and inexhaustible treasuries, supplies most abundantly the wants of every living thing. And so happy were they all, that before sin was conceived in heaven or in earth "the morning stars," in one grand concert, "sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy."

      They who admit a general providence, and, at the same time, deny a special providence, are feeble and perverted reasoners and thinkers. A general, or universal supervision or providence, necessarily implies a special or particular providence. The executor of a will, or the superintendent of an estate, who selected out of either a certain part only as worthy of his attention, and who executed or superintended that alone, would be judged and treated as a defaulter. And shall we impute to the Lord and Proprietor of heaven and earth that whim we could condemn and reprobate in a steward, or in a superintendent of an earthly estate! But all such reasonings from the analogies of earth and time to Him that is from everlasting to everlasting, and as present everywhere and anywhere, are necessarily frail and imperfect. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" says He "who inhabits eternity." "What house can you build for me, and where is the place of my rest? Has not my hand made all these things?"

      But says the great Teacher himself--"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, yet not one of them is forgotten before God!"1 This, methinks, should suffice.

      But still we do not comprehend, nor even apprehend, the claims of one of these objects upon the attention and care of the great Proprietor and Protector of a single sparrow. How many objects in this one object of his care and protection, must be cared for, provided for, and protected by this great Proprietor and Preserver of the sparrow! How many organs has it? As many as a mammoth! Yes! as many organs as a mammoth.

      In order to a full appreciation of this most pregnant theme, so fraught with instruction to mankind, we shall notice, somewhat in detail, the history of the incidents of this distinguished patriarch, and the apparent contingencies on which their fortunes turned.

      Joseph, the son of the beloved Rachel, for whom his father Jacob served Laban, his mother's father, full fourteen years, through paternal partiality, indiscreetly shown, became an object of envy and hatred on the part of his brethren, afterwards known as eleven of the twelve distinguished patriarchs, second in rank only to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. [48]

      This partiality consummated its weakness in a coat of variegated colors, bestowed on Joseph. Joseph himself, gifted with prophetic dreams touching his own destiny and that of his brethren, indiscreetly told them to his brethren. These dreams intensified their envy into actual hatred, to such a degree that when, on a mission from his father to inquire after their welfare, he appeared in the plains of Dothan, his brethren, with the single exception of Reuben, conspired to take his life. Meantime a caravan of Ishmaelites appeared in sight, and Judah proposed to take him out of the pit and sell him as a slave to these merchants.

      Ten of the brethren conspiring to sell him, demanded from them only two shekels apiece--in all, twenty shekels, equal to about fifteen dollars. Thus he was carried into an Egyptian market, and sold to Potiphar, a captain in Pharaoh's service--an eunuch of much authority in Egypt, who, like many eunuchs in that day, had a wife. Joseph, by his great moral worth, soon rose in the confidence of his master; but being assailed by the allurements of his unsatisfied wife, through his faithfulness to his master and his God, he escaped from her importunities and blandishments; which so exacerbated her temper that she machinated his ruin, and had well-nigh consummated it, having him confined in prison. But the Lord sustained him.

      He formed an intimate and a happy acquaintance with the chief baker and the chief butler in Pharaoh's household, who providentially had each a portentous dream. In the fullness of their hearts, and with great esteem for Joseph, they told him their dreams. He had the gift of understanding and interpreting symbols, and most satisfactorily and truthfully interpreted their dreams, as the sequel proved.

      In process of time, on Pharaoh's birthday feast, the chief butler was restored to his former station and service at the banquet, while his companion lost his life, as Joseph had foretold. [49]

[A. C.]      

      1 Luke xii. 6.

      Alexander Campbell. Extracts from "Providence, General and Special." The Millennial Harbinger 26
(November 1855): 601-604.


[MHA1 47-49]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
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