SIX VOLUMES IN ONE BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D. REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada REV. STEPHEN KEENAN REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J. REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
§ II. What providence God uses towards the wicked in punishment of their sins. — If the mercy of this blessed providence which the good enjoy, has no influence on us, let us at least be moved with the fear of that providence, if I may so call it, which God uses against the wicked, and which measures sinners by their own measure, and deals with them according to their forgetfulness and contempt of the divine Majesty, forgetting those who forget him, and despising those by whom he is despised. God, to make this the plainer to us, commanded the prophet Osee (ch. i. 2) to marry an adulteress, to signify to his people the spiritual fornication they had committed, in leaving their true spouse and Lord, and ordered the child he had by his wife to be called Lo-ammi, a Hebrew word, which means " not my people," to show them that since they would not acknowledge or serve him as God, he would not own or deal with them as his people. And that they might know him to be in earnest, he says to them, " Judge your mother, judge her: because she is not my wife, and I am not her husband " (ch. ii. 2) ; giving them to understand, that since she had not observed the respect and duty of a good wife, neither would he show her the love and kindness of a true husband. Thus plainly God tells us he will deal with us just as we deal with him.
They, therefore, who live as if they took no notice at all of God, are abandoned by him, and left as a school without a master, a ship without a rudder, as goods without an owner, or as a flock that goes astray for want of a shepherd, which never misses falling among the wolves. And, therefore, he tells them by the prophet Zacharias (ch. xi. 9), "I will not feed you; that which dieth, let it die, and that which is cut off, let it be cut off: and let the rest devour every one the flesh of his neighbour." What he says by Moses, in his canticle, is to the same purpose: " I will hide my face from them, and will consider what their last end shall be;" Deuter. xxxii. 20.
He acquaints us more at large with this kind of providence, by the prophet Isaias speaking to his people under the figure of a vine, against which, for not yielding the fruit that was expected from it, after having been so carefully dressed and pruned, he pronounces this sentence: "I will show you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted: I will break down the wall thereof: and it shall be trodden down. And I will make it desolate; it shall not be pruned, and it shall not be digged; but briars and thorns shall come up: and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it" (Isaias v. 5, 6); that is to say I will take away all those efficacious helps and succours I had given it before, and then must necessarily follow its utter ruin and destruction.
Do not you think this sort of providence is much to be dreaded ? what greater misery can a man fall into than to be deprived of the providential care of God, to be exposed to all the accidents of the world, and to all the injuries and calamities this life lies open to? For since, on the one hand, this world is like a tempestuous sea, a desert of so many wild beasts and thieves, since there are such numbers of misfortunes and accidents, so many and such powerful enemies to encounter with, so many snares laid for us, and so many dangers surrounding us; and since man, on the one hand, is a creature so frail, so helpless, so blind, so impotent, so destitute of strength, and so much in need of advice, what can he do against so many strong ones, if he wants the help and assistance of God ? What can he, who is a mere dwarf, do against so many giants ? How can he, who is so blind, avoid so many snares? Or, alone and unarmed, how can he deal with so many enemies ?