Imatges de pÓgina
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of the Divine Goodness and Mercy, he mentions the Plagues of Egypt, and the Deliverance of Israel by the Overthrow of Pharaob in the Red Sea ; To bim that (mote Egypt in their first born; for bis mercy

endureth for ever. And brought out Israel from among them, for bis mercy enduretb for ever. Witb a strong band, and with a stretched-out arm, for bis mercy endureth for ever. To him which divided the red Sea in two parts, for bis mercy, &c. And made Ifrael to pass througb the midst of it, - but overtbrew Pharaoh and his host in the red Šea; for bis mercy, &c. To him who [mote great King', - and sew famous Kings, Sibon King of the Amorites, and 'Og the King of Bashan, --- and gave their land for an beritage, even for an beritage to Israel bis Servant; for bis ercy enduretb for ever.

This ought to be well considered, before we object the Evils and Calamities which befal bad Men, against the Goodness of Providence. For there are few bad Men who suffer any remarkable Vengeance, but that their Sufferings are a great

Kindness and Deliverance to others, and it may be, to the Publick, in breaking their Power, or taking them out of the World. And in all such cases the Psalmist has taught us a very proper Hymn ; I will fing of mercy and judgment, unto thee, O Lord, will I fing, Pfal. 101. 1.

Thus the good Government of the World requires some great and lasting Examples of God's Justice and Vengeance against Sin : And as terrible as such Examples are, they are a great publick Good to the World.

Some few such Examples as thefe will serve to warn an Age, nay, many succeeding Ages and Generations of Men ; which prevents the more frequent Executions of Vengeance, and

justifies

juftifies the Pacience and Long-suffering of God to Sinners.

If such Examples in any measure reform the World, as God intends they should, it makes this World a much happier place; for the better Men are, the less hurt, and the more good they will do ; and the less evil there is committed in the World, the less Mankind will suffer, and the greater Blessings God will bestow on them.

And though there be a great deal of Wickednefs committed in the World after such terrible Warnings as these, God may exercise great Patience, and Forbearance towards Sinners, without the least blemish to his Holiness or Justice: For such frightful Executions convince the World of God's Justice ; and when God has publickly vindicated the Honour of his Justice, he may try gentler Methods, and glorify his Mercy and Patience towards Sinners : And thus God punishes, that he may spare ; is sometimes very terrible in his Judgments, to prevent the neceflity

of striking often, that Sinners may have sufficient warning, and that he may be good to Sinners, without encouraging them in Sin.

Thus the Destruction of the Old World by a Deluge of Water, when they were paft being reformed, is a warning to all Sinners as long as this World lafts, and is a publick and ftanding Confutation of Atheism ; of such Scoffers as say, Where is the promise of bis coming ? for since the faa thers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. The constant and regular Course of Nature, without any Supernatural Changes and Revolutions, tempts Men to think that there is no God in the World, who changes Times and Seasons; but this St. Peter tells us, is visibly confuted by the Destruction of

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the Old World ; for this they are willingly ignorant of, that by the word of God the Heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water, and in the water, whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: And this is Reason enough to fear and expect what God has threatned, That this present World shall be burnt by Fire. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of Judgment, and perdition of ungod ly men, 2 Peter 3. 5, 6, 7. Such Deftrucions as these can be attributed to no Natural Causes but the fame Word which made the World, de stroyed the Old World by Water, and will deftroy this by Fire, which makes' it a visible Demonftration of the Power and Justice of God.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrab by Fire from Heaven, is not only a general Warning to Sinners, but an Example of a Divine Vengeance against all Uncleanness, and unnatural Lufts. As St. Jude tells us : Even as Sodom and Gomorrab, and the Cities about them, in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vene geance of eternal fire, v. 7.

Thus the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, which was attended with the moft terrible Circumstances that we ever meet wich in Story, is a lasting Confutation of Infidelity, and a glorious Testimony to Christ and his Religion : So that most of the terrible Examples of God's Vengeance, how terrible soever they were to those who suffered, are Acts of great Goodness to the World, and therefore belong to the Goodness of Government; by some severe Executions to protect and defend the Innocent, and reclaim other Offenders, without the necessity

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of terrifying the World in every Age with such repeated Severities.

Nay, we may observe farther, That when the World is grown very corrupt and degenerate, and such Sinners, if they be suffered to continue in it, will certainly propagate their Atheism, Infidelity and Lewdness to all Pofterity ; it is great Goodness to all succeeding Generations, to cleanse the World of its impure Inhabitants by fome great Destruction ; by Sword, or Plague, or Famine, to lessen the number of Sinners, and to possess chofe who escape, with a greater Awe and Reverence of God's Judgments.

Nay, to observe but one thing more ; Many times these terrible Shakings and Convulfions of the World are intended by God to open some new and more glorious Scene of Providence. Thus it was in the four Empires which prey'd upon each other, and were at last swallowed up by the Roman Powers; though they made great Destructions in the World, yet they carried Learning and Civility into barbarous Countries, that the general State of the World' was much the better for it, and Mankind the better dispofed to receive the Gospel, which then began to be preached by Christ, and his Apostles,

But this is enough to satisfy us, what little reason there is to impeach the Goodness of Providence, upon account of those many Evils which Mankind suffer: If we consider what the Goodness of God requires of him, and what is good for us in a state of Discipline, and what is necessary to the good Government of the World, neither our own, nor other Mens Sufferings, will tempt us to question the Goodness of Providence.

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I proceed now particularly to examine those Obje&ions which are made against the Goodness of Providence: Which are reduced to these two.

1. The many Miseries which are in the World.

2. God's unequal Care of his Creatures, or the unequal diftribution of Good and Evil, both as to particular Men, and publick Societies.

What I have already said, contains a sufficient Answer to all this, but it will not be amiss for our more abundant Satisfaction, to confider some things more largely and particularly:

1.' I shall begin with the many Miseries of Human Life. Now this Objection relates either to the Being of any Miseries in the World, or to the Number, Nature, and Quality of them. :

1. As for the first; some will not allow God to be good, while there are any Miseries in the World: For, say they, a good God should not suffer any Miseries to enter into the World: This I observed and answered before; That the Goodness of Providence muft bear proportion to the Nature, Qualities, and Deserts of Creatures; and since Man, who was created innocent and happy, forfeited his original Happiness by Sin, we must now consider, not what Absolute, Unconfined Goodness would do ; but what becomes a State of Discipline ; what is good for Sinners, and for a Corrupt and Degenerate World; and this will abundantly justify the Goodness of Providence in all the Evils which Mankind suffer, as you have already heard.

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