Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

all in Flames; but the Moral, as well as the Natural World, has its Temperate, as well as Torrid Zones; and what shall we attribute this to, if we do not attribute it to Providence? To what else can we ascribe our Deliverance from those unseen Snares which were laid for us, and which we knew nothing of, till we had escaped; nay, which, it may be, we know nothing of to this Day? How many wicked Designs prove abortive? how many secret Plots are discovered, when ripe for Execution? How often does God put a Hook into the Nostrils of the proudest Tyrants, and by some cross Accidents, or by weak and contemptible Means, breaks their Power, and humbles them to the Duft? Sacred and Profane Histories are full of such Examples; which can be attributed to nothing else but a Divine Providence, which fets bounds to the Waves of the Sea, and to the Rage and Pride of Men. The Scripture teaches us to afcribe our Deliverance from all the Evils we escape, as well as all the Good we enjoy, to a Divine Providence ; and then we must acknowledge, that the Divine Providence prevents all that Evil which bad Men would do, but can't; and who knows how much this is? who knows how much Evil bad Men would do, had they no reftraint? That we have much more reason to adore the Divine Goodness for restraining the Lusts and Paffions of Men, which prevents an universal Deluge of Misery, than complain that he suffers so many Miseries to afflict the World.

3dly. Especially if we consider in the next place, That God permits bad Men to do no more Hurt and Mischief, than what he over-rules to wise and good Purposes. For God many

times ferves the wise Ends of his Providence, by the Wickedness of Men, to punish the Wicked, and to chastise the Good ; to exercise the Graces and Virtues of Good Men, or to give terrible Examples of his Vengeance on the Wicked: And all this, how severe soever it may be, proves the Goodness of Providence ; because it is for the General Good of the World, chat Bad Men should be punished, suppressed, destroyed, and that Good Men should be made better, and become great and eminent Examples of Faith and Patience. Whatever Evils and Miseries there are in the World, if there be no more than the Good Government of the World requires ; if no Man suffers any more than what he deserves, or than what will do himself good, if he wisely improves it ; or will do others good, if they will either take Warning by his Sufferings, or imitate his Virtụes; all this is not only reconcilable with the Goodness of Providence, but is an eminent Instance of it : For to do good is an Expression of Goodness, tho' the Ways of doing it may be very severe.

This is a fufficient Juftification of Providence, even as to those Evils which God himfelf immediately inflies upon the World, that he inflicts no more, nor greater Evils, than what are for the Good Government of the World, as I have observed before : But it is much more so, with reference to those Evils which Men bring upon themselves : For is it not wonderful Goodness.in God, to defend us from our felves, to qualify the Malignity of our own Sins, to fuffer us to do our selves no more hurt, than what he can turn into great Good to us, if we consider our Ways, and learn Wisdom by the Things which we suffer ? So to restrain bad

Men,

Men, that they shall hurt no body but those whom God thinks fit to punish, or to correct, or to exercise with some Severities; and that they shall do no more hurt, nor hurt any longer than the Divine Wisdom sees useful to these Ends ?

Let us then briefly review this Objection and Answer; and setting aside the Consideration of God and his Providence, let us suppose it to be the Case of a Father. And, I hope, what we our felves would allow to be a reasonable Defence of Earthly Parents, will be thought a good Justification of God and his Providence.

Suppose then a Father has several Children, whom he provides very bountifully for ; and sends them abroad into the World in such hopeful Circumstances, that if they will be frugal, diligent, and virtuous, they may live happily, and increase their Fortunes : Should such Chil. dren turn Prodigals, and waste their Estates in Rioting and Luxury, destroy their Health, and suffer all the Miseries of Sickness and Poverty ; would any Man blame their good Father for this? And would not such a good Man think himself much injured, should he be accused of Unkindness and Severity to his Children, only because after all the Kindness he could shew them, they have made themselves miserable ? Especially if we suppose this Kind Father to keep such a watchful Eye over them, and to take such prudent and effectual Care, as not to suffer them utterly to undo themselves, to make their Condition hopeless and desperate, but only to let them feel the Smart of their own Folly, to bring them to more fober Thoughts, not to perilh under it, till there is no Hope left of

Reclaim

Reclaiming them.' What could a Kind Father do more for Prodigals, unless you would have him maintain them in their Luxury and Lewdness, which a wise and good Father can't do? He brought none of these Miseries upon them, and it is Kindness to let them smart under them, to prevent their Undoing as long as he can: Hé turns the Miseries they bring upon themselves, only into a State of Discipline; he suffers them to injure one another, to make them all sensible of their Folly ; and those who are past Recovery,he makes Examples of greater Severities, to reform the rest. If this would be thought a Kind, Merciful, and Wise Conduct in Earthly Parents; apply it to the Providence of God, and you have an Answer to most of the Miseries of Human Life.

3dly, In Answer to this Objection against the Goodness of Providence, from the many Evils and Miseries that are in the World, we may consider further, That as most of these Evils are owing to our own, or to other Men's Sins, so it is we our felves who give the Sting to them all. As many External Calamities as there are in the World, and as the present State of this world requires there should be in it; God has made abundant Provision, for the Support of good Men under them. It is not always in our Power, to avoid many of the Sufferings and Calamities of Life ; but it is our own Fault, if we fink under them. Natural Courage and Strength of Mind, the Powers of Reafon, and a wise Consideration of the Nature of Things, the Belief of a Good Providence, which takes Care of us, and orders all Things for our Good, and the certain Hopes of immor

tal

tal Life, will support good Men under their Sufferings, and make them light and easy. And if God enable us to bear our Sufferings, and to enjoy our selves under them, to possess our Souls in Patience, and to rejoice in Hope ; tho' we may suffer, we are not miserable and Sufferings, without Misery, are no formidable Objections against Providence : This is like the Bush, that was on fire, but was not burnt; a signal Token of the Divine Presence and Favour ; and that can be no Objection againft the Goodness of Providence. What is merely external, may afflict a good Man, but cannot make him miserable ; for no Man is miserable, whose Mind is easy and chearful, full of great Hopes, and supported with Divine Joys. But the Disorders of our Passions make us miferable, and make us sink under external Sufferings. An immoderate Love of this World, Pride, Ambition, Coverousness, Anger, Hatred, Revenge, make every Condition uneasy, and any great Sufferings intolerable. It is this that makes Poverty and Disgrace, the Loss of Estate and Honours, the Frowns of Princes, and the Clamours of the People, such unsufferable Evils, which a wise and good Man cannot only bear, but modestly despise. It is this that terrifies us with the least Approach of Danger, and, distracts us with Fear, and Care, and Solicitude, and with all the imaginary Evils, and frightful Appearances, which a scar'd Fancy can raise in the dark. Especially when Guilt makes Men afraid, and look upon every Misfortune, Disappointment, Affliction, as a Token of the Divine Vengeance, and a terrible Presage of the endless Miseries of the next Life.

« AnteriorContinua »