"There is a God that judgeth in the earth," and that ruleth over the affairs of men. The providential government of God, extending to the minutest concerns, and having a special regard to the interests of his servants, was a truth firmly believed and realized by the body of Nonconformist ministers. It was under a full conviction of this truth that they cast themselves on the care of God; and they trusted that he would superintend all their concerns.
They knew that in his consummate but inscrutable wisdom he did frequently call his servants to pass through scenes of self-denial, painful trial, and suffering in the path of duty. Yet they believed that he often interposed on their behalf; that he did impart special consolation in seasons of greatest trial; and that such a sacred, sanctifying influence was bestowed as made great good to arise out of seeming evil. He would "cause the wrath of man to praise him, and the remainder he would restrain."
In accordance with these views, we find a number of remarkable, well-authenticated facts, in the history of the two thousand confessors, which indicate divine interpositions in their favour, deliverances granted, supplies communicated, support and consolation afforded. There were scenes of darkness which the light of eternity only can dispel, yet there were others irradiated with a light from above, while the sufferers remained on earth.
We select a few instances of this nature, and bring them together in this part of our work, in order to render them more full and impressive than when they are found scattered in different places.
In the memoirs of the life of the eminent Philip Henry we are informed that there were many worthy, able ministers, in the part of the country where he resided, turned out both from work and subsistence, that had not such comfortable support for the life that now is as Mr. Henry himself had, for whom he was most affectionately concerned, and to whom he showed kindness. There were computed, within a few miles around him, so many ministers turned out to the wide world, stripped of all their maintenance, and exposed to continual hardships, as,« with their wives and children, having most of them numerous families, made up above a hundred that lived upon Providence, and though oft reduced to wants and straits, were not forsaken, but were enabled to "rejoice in the Lord, and to joy in the God of their salvation," notwithstanding; to whom the promise was fulfilled, "So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." Mr. Henry made the following observation not long before he died, that though many of the ejected ministers were brought very low, had many children, were greatly harassed by persecution, and their friends generally poor and unable to support them, yet, in all his acquaintance, he never knew, nor could remember to have heard, of any Nonconformist minister being in prison for debt.