The following quote is from an eBook you can download for free at Monergism.com here.
“History should live by that life which belongs to it, and that life is God. In history, God should be acknowledged and proclaimed. The history of the world should be set forth as the annals of the government of the Sovereign King….
There is a living principle, emanating from God, in every national movement. God is ever present on that vast theater where successive generations of men meet and struggle. It is true he is unseen; but if the heedless multitude pass by without caring for him because he is “a God that dwelleth in the thick darkness,” thoughtful men, who yearn for the very principle of their existence, seek for him the more ardently, and are not satisfied until they lie prostrate at his feet. And their inquiries meet with a rich reward. For from the height to which they have been compelled to soar to meet their God, the history of the world, instead of presenting to their eyes a confused chaos, as it does to the ignorant crowd, appears as a majestic temple, on which the invisible hand of God himself is at work, and which rises to his glory above the rock of humanity.
Shall we not recognize the hand of God in those grand manifestations, those great men, those mighty nations, which arise, and start as it were from the dust of the earth, and communicate a fresh impulse, a new form and destiny to the human race? Shall we not acknowledge him in those heroes who spring from society at appointed epochs – who display a strength and activity beyond the ordinary limits of humanity – and around whom, as around a superior and mysterious power, nations and individuals unhesitatingly gather? Who has launched into the expanse of time, those huge comets with their fiery trains, which appear but at distant intervals, scattering among the superstitious crowd abundance and joy, calamity and terror? Who, if not God? Alexander sought his origin in the abodes of the Divinity. And in the most irreligious age there has been no eminent glory that has not endeavored in some way or other to connect itself with heaven.
And do not those revolutions which hurl kings from their thrones, and precipitate whole nations to the dust, – do not those wide-spread ruins which the traveler meets with among the sands of the desert, – do not those majestic relics which the field of humanity presents to our view; do they not all declare aloud – a God in history? Gibbon, seated among the ruins of the Capitol, and contemplating its august remains, owned the intervention of a superior destiny. He saw it – he felt it: in vain would he avert his eyes. That shadow of a mysterious power started from behind every broken pillar; and he conceived the design of describing its influence in the history of the disorganization, decline, and corruption of that Roman dominion which had enslaved the world. Shall not we discern amidst the great ruins of humanity that almighty hand which a man of noble genius one who had never bent the knee to Christ – perceived amid the scattered fragments of the monuments of Romulus, the sculptured marbles of
Aurelius, the busts of Cicero and Virgil, the statues of Caesar and Augustus, Pompey’s horses, and the trophies of Trajan, – and shall we not confess it to be the hand of God? What a startling fact, that men brought up amid the elevated ideas of Christianity, regard as mere superstition that Divine intervention in human affairs which the very heathens had admitted!
….And see what luster this great truth (God in history) receives under the Christian dispensation. What is Jesus Christ, if he be not God in history? It was this discovery of Jesus Christ which enable John Muller, the greatest of modern historians, fully to comprehend his subject. ‘The Gospel,’ said he, ‘is the fulfillment of every hope, the perfection of all philosophy, the interpreter of every revolution, the key to all the seeming contradictions in the physical and moral world: it is life and immortality. Since I have known the Savior, every thing is clear to my eyes: with him, there is no difficulty I cannot solve.’2
Thus wrote this eminent historian; and is not this great truth, that God has appeared in human nature, in reality the keystone of the arch, – the mysterious link which binds all earthly things together, and connects them with heaven? History records a birth of God, and yet God has no part in history! Jesus Christ is the true God of man’s history: it is shown by the very meanness of his advent. When man would raise a shelter against the weather – a shade from the heat of the sun – what preparation of materials, what scaffolding and crowds of workmen, what trenches and heaps of rubbish! – but when God would do the same, he takes the smallest seed that a new-born child might clasp in its feeble hand, deposits it in the bosom of the earth, and from that grain, scarcely distinguishable in its commencement, he produces the stately tree, under whose spreading branches the families of men may find a refuge. To effect great results by imperceptible means – such is the law of God. In Jesus Christ is found the most glorious fulfillment of this law.
Christianity has now taken possession of the gates of every people. It reigns or hovers over all the tribes of the earth, from the rising to the setting sun; and even a skeptical philosophy is compelled to acknowledge it as the social and spiritual law of the world. And yet what was the commencement of this religion, the noblest of all things under the vault of heaven – nay, in the “infinite immense” of creation? A child born in the smallest town of the most despised nation in the world – a child whose mother had not what even the most indigent and wretched woman of our towns possesses, a room to shelter her in the hour of travail – a child born in a stable and cradled in a manger! In this, O God, I acknowledge and adore thee!” 1
1. J. H. Merle D’Aubigne. History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (Kindle Locations 781-839). Monergism Books.
2. Letter to Charles Bonnet.