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Library of Ithe theological Seminary 



Miss Sarah Stockton 



O N 


By the late Reverend 




.Printed for W. Johnston, in Ludgate-Streei i 
a|n d 
J. Dodsley, i'rh Pall-Mall* 

M DCC LXVlii, 



O F T H E 



The Proofs of a Divine Providence. 
Romans xi. 36. 

Of Mm, and through him, and to him, are 
all Things: to whom be Glory for ever. 
Amen. P^g e *• 


The World preferved by Divine Provi- 

Nehemiah ix. 6. 
Thou prefervejl them all, 

p. 1* 

a 3 



On God's Government of the World : 
And firft, of his Dominion over the 
inanimate Creation. 


Whatfoever the Lord p leafed, that did he in 
Heaven, and in Earth, in the Seas, and in 
all deep Places. P. 37 v 


God's Government and Care as extending 
to the fenlitive Brute Animals. 

Matt. x. 29. 

Are not two Sparrows fold for a Farthing f 
And one of them fhall not fall to the Ground 
without your Father. P. 59. 


On God's providential Government with 
regard to his reafonable Creatures, mo- 
ral Agents. 

Psalm ciii. 19. 

The Lord hath prepared his Throne in the 
Heavens 5 and his Kingdom ruleth over all. 




On God's providential Government to- 
wards good and evil Angels. 

Psalm ciii. 19. 

The Lord hath prepared his Throne in the 
Heavens, and his Kingdom rideth over all. 

P. 101. 


General Obfervations concerning God's 
providential Government towards Man- 

Psalm ciii. 19. 

The Lord hath prepared his Throne in the 
Heavens-, and his Kingdom ruleth over all. 

P. 121. 


Concerning God's providential Govern- 
ment as refpecting large Communities. 

Psalm xxii. 28. 
•9 He is the Governor among the Nations, 

p. 145. 



God's providential Government with re- 
gard to particular Perfons coniidered : 
And firft, as extending to their Hearts 
and Thoughts. 

Psalm xxxiii. 15. 
He fafiioneth their Hearts alike, P. 173. 


On God's Infpe&ion and Government of 
human Actions. 

Prov. v. 21. 

'The Ways of Man are before the Ryes of the 
Lord, and he ponder eth all his Goings. 

P. 201. 


On God's Government and Difpofal of 
the Events which befall us. 

Matt. x. 30. 

tfhe very Hairs of your Head are all num- 
bered* P. 225. 



Concerning the Wifdom of Divine Provi- 

Isaiah xxviii. 29. 

Sfifctr alfo cometh from the Lord of Hcjfs, 
who is wonderful in Counfel, and excellent 
in Working. P. 249. 


On the Goodnefs of Divine Providence. 
Psalm cxlv. 9. 

'The Lord is good to all, arid his tender 
Mercies are over all his Works. P. 277. 


Objections againft the Gocdnefs of Provi- 
dence confidered. 

Psalm cxlv. 9. 

The Lord is good to all, and his tender Mer- 
cies are over all his Works. P. 303. 



On the Righteoufnefs of Divine Provi- 

Psalm cxlv. 17. 

The Lord is righteous in ail his Ways, and 
holy in all his Works. P. 327. 


Objections againffc the Righteoufnefs of 
Providence confidered. 

Psalm cxlv. 17. 

The Lord is righteous in all his Ways, and 
holy in all his Works. P. 347. 


Concerning a future Judgment and State 
of final Retributions, when the Admi- 
nistrations of Providence towards Man- 
kind mall be compleated. 

Eccles. iii. 17. 

1 /aid in mine Hearty God fiall judge the 
righteous and the wicked: for there is a 
c Irme therefor every Pwpofe and for every 
Work. P. 365. 



On the Univerfal Deluge. 

2 Peter ii. 5. 

And /pared not the old World, but faved 
Noah the eighth Perfon, a Preacher of 
Righteoufne/s, bringing in the Flood upon 
the World of the ungodly. P. 407. 


On the General Conflagration. 

2 Peter iii. 10, 1 1. 

Tie Day of the Lord will come as a Thief 
in the Night, in which the Heavens Jhall 
pafs away with a great Noi/e, and the 
Elements fiall melt with fervent Heat -, 
the Earth alfo, and the Works that are 
therein, flail be burnt up. Seeing then 
that all thefe Things Jhall be difbhed, what 
Manner of Perfons ought ye to be in all 
holy Converjution and Godlinefs / P. 485. 


"The Proofs of a Divine Providence. 


Romans xi. 36, 

Of him, a?id through him, and to him, are 
all Things ; to whom be Glory for ever. 

TH E Do&rine of Divine Pro- 
vidence, which comprehendeth 
God's Prefervation and Government 
of the World, is of the highefl Importance. 
If we mould profefs to believe never fo 
firmly, that there is a God who gave Being 
to the World -, yet if we mould at the fame 
Time believe, that he doth not concern him- 
felf about his Creatures after he hath made 
them, and, .particularly, that he taketh no 
Vol. I. B Care 


Care of Men or their Affairs, this would be 
to all the Purpoies of Religion as if we did 
not acknowledge a God at all. It may be 
juftly faid, therefore, that the Belief of the 
Providence of God is no lefs neceflary 
than the Belief of his Exiftence. And if 
the Matter be rightly confidered, it will be 
found that the one of thefe is infeparably 
connected with the other : For if there be 
a fupreme, original, eternal Caufe, a God 
that made this vaft Univerfe, and all Things 
that are therein, he muft be poffefTed of in- 
finite Perfections, of almighty Power, of 
unfearchable Wifdom, and boundlefs Good- 
nefs. And how can it be reconciled with 
thefe Perfections, to make fuch a World as 
this, and then to abandon it, and throw 
afide all Care and Concern about it ? 
And efpecially to make reafonable Beings, 
moral Agents, capable of being go- 
verned by Laws, and endued with a Senfe 
of Good and Evil, and yet be utterly regard- 
lefs how they behave, and whether Virtue 
or Vice, Order or Confufion, Happinefs or 
Mifery, prevails among them ? Whatever 
Reafons induced him to create the World, 
which may be fuppofed to have been for 
the Exercife and Difplay of his own Perfec- 
tions, the Manifestation of his Glory, and 
the Communications of his Goodnefs, muft 
equally induce him to preferve and govern it 



when made. To lay out fuch a Profufion of 
Glory and Excellency in the Formation of this 
vaft, beautiful, and well-ordered Syftem, and 
then leave it to Chance and Confufion, would 
be to act. fo capricious, fo unaccountable a 
Part, as no wife Man would be guilty of, 
and which cannot, without great Abfurdity, 
be afcribed to the abfolutely perfect Being. 
And fuch a Conduct would be as in con- 
fident with his Goodnefs as with his Wif* 
dom. That he mould make numberlefs 
Orders of Beings, and afterwards take no 
farther Care of them, as if he were abfo- 
lutely indifferent what became of them, 
would be in no wife reconcileable to the 
Character of the beneficent Parent of the 

Thefe Things are fo evident and obvi- 
ous to the common Senfe and Reafon of 
Mankind, that all thofe who believe that the 
Formation of the World was owing to a fu- 
preme intelligent Caufe, mull, if they be 
confident with themfelves, believe, that the 
fame infinitely wife, good, and powerful 
Mind governs the World when made, and 
exercifeth a conftant Care over it. And ac- 
cordingly, the Epicureans, who denied a 
Providence, did alfo deny that the World 
was made by God, and attributed the For- 
mation of it, not to the Wifdom and Power 
of an intelligent Caufe, but to Chance, or 
B 2 a for- 


a fortuitous Concourfe and Jumble of Atoms. 
And fo far their Scheme, however falfe and 
abfurd, was confiftent with itfelf: For 
they could find no effectual Way to exclude 
God from the Government of the World, 
which was what they wanted to get rid of, 
but by excluding him from the making of 
it too. But if the fuppofing this stupendous 
Syftem, which beareth fo many illuftrious 
Characters of the moft amazing Skill and 
Contrivance, and the various Orders of rea- 
fonable and intelligent Beings it contains, 
to have been produced by a blind unde- 
figning Chance, or by any unintelligent Caufe 
or Nature, be, as it certainly is, the moft 
abfurd and ridiculous Conceit that ever en- 
tered into the Mind of Man ; if there be 
infinitely greater Reafon to believe, that the 
World was contrived and formed by a moil 
wife, as well as powerful Being, than there 
is to believe that any the moft. exquifite 
Productions of human Skill and Genius are 
the Effects of Contrivance and Defign ; then 
we are almoft irrefiftibly led to conclude, that 
the fame infinite Power and Wifdom, which 
gave Exiftence to the World, ftill main- 
taineth and prefideth over the univerfal Frame 
in all its Parts. It is with the greateft Pro- 
priety that the Apoftle Paul declares con- 
cerning God, that of 'him, and through him, and 
to him, are all 'Things. As all Things are of 



God, as the fupreme original Caufe, mod 
powerful, wife, and good, from whom 
this vaft Univerfe, and all the Orders of Be- 
ings in it, derived their Exiftence; fo 
through him are all Things, i. e. on him 
all Things continually depend, by him they 
are all maintained, difpofed, and governed, 
and are under his conftant Direction and 
Superintendency, who, as the fame Apoftle 
fpeaks, worketh all Things according to the 
Counfel of his own Will. Eph. i. 1 1 . And 
then it follows, that to him are all Things : 
they are all for him, and to him, as their 
fupreme and ultimate End. And who- 
foever believes this, will readily join in 
the apoftolical Doxology, To him be Glory 
for ever. Amen. 

That, if there be a God who made the 
World, there muft be a Providence, may be 
farther argued thus. If God doth not ex- 
ercife a providential Care over his Crea- 
tures, it muft be either becaufe he cannot, 
or becaufe he will not do it. To pretend 
that he cannot do it were to the laft de- 
gree abfurd. For why fhould he not 
be as able to preferve and govern the 
World as he was to create it ? He could not 
have made the World, if he had not been 
porTeffed of infinite Wifdom and almighty 
Power ; and the fame divine Underftanding 
and Power would equally qualify him 
to preferve and govern the World when 
B 3 he 


he had formed it. And it would be no lefs 
irrational and abfurd to pretend that he will 
not do it. For upon what Foundation can 
this be alledged ? Is it that he thinks it 
beneath him ? But furely it cannot be un- 
worthy of his divine Majefty, to take 
care of thofe Things which he did not 
think it beneath him to create. On the 
contrary, to neglect them would be much 
more unworthy and unbecoming him. 
Or is it that he will not be at the Trouble 
of looking after them? As if the Happi- 
nefs of the Supreme Being confifted in an 
eternal unactive Indolence ; or as if it 
could be any Trouble or Difficulty to an al- 
mighty and infinite Mind, who is effential 
Life and Activity, and who is every where 
prefent, and knoweth all Things, to pre- 
ferve and govern every Part of the World 
which he himfelf created, and to which he 
is always prefent. Or mall we fuppofe that 
the kind Parent of the Univerfe, who hath 
implanted in all Creatures a natural Love to 
their own Offspring, and hath caufed them 
to approve fuch a Temper as is proper and 
becoming, doth yet himfelf caft off all Re- 
gard and Affection towards his Creatures, the 
Productions of his own Power and Good- 
nefs ? If therefore it cannot be pretended 
either that God cannot, or that he will not 
take care of the World which he hath made, 




we have the higheft Reafon to ac- 
knowledge that he actually doth take 
care of it, and doth preferve and go- 
vern it. And indeed this may be juft- 
ly concluded from the beautiful Order 
which is ilill maintained in this univerfal 
Syftem. The Frame of Nature, fo grand 
and ftupendous, and confifting of fuch 
numberlefs Parts, continueth to be pre- 
ferved and conducted with fuch a fteady and 
wonderful Regularity, as manifeftly fhews the 
conftant Superintendency of a moil: wife and 
powerful prefiding Mind. Some indeed, by 
a ftrange Way of Reafoning, have endeavoured 
to draw a contrary Conclufion from this. Ob- 
ferving that Things generally go on in a fettled 
Courfe, and according to ftated Laws, agree- 
ably to what is called the Nature of Things, 
they have imagined that this is owing to 
a blind Neceffity and Fate, and to a ne- 
cefTary Connection of natural Caufes, inde- 
pendent on the Will of a fupreme Gover- 
nor. But this is highly abfurd. It is in 
effect: to fay, that becaufe Order prevails, 
and Things are conducted by wife and 
fteady Rules, therefore they are not under 
the Direction of Wifdom and Intelligence, 
when on the contrary, this is one of the 
ftrongefr. Proofs of it. And if Things were 
otherwife, it would look as if they were 
not wifely directed, but were left to an 

B 4 uncer- 


uncertain giddy Chance. When inanimate 
Nature proceedeth in a regular fixed Way, 
this cannot be owing to itielf; for blind un- 
intelligent Nature is not properly capable 
either of prefcribing or following Rules. It 
muft therefore be afcribed to a wife and 
powerful Intelligence, which appointed what 
is called the Courfe of Nature, and continu- 
ally directeth and prefideth over it. 

Rational and moral Agents, which, by 
the Condition of their Natures, have a Power 
of determining their own Actions, cannot 
be fuppofed to be governed in the fame 
manner as the material and inanimate 
World. There muft be Allowance made 
for the Exercife of their Liberty, as free 
Agents, yet ftill under the conftant Superin- 
tendency of the fuperior Being w}io firft 
formed them, and on whom they con- 
tinually depend. And, with refpecl to 
them likewife, there are general Rules, 
according to which Providence ordinarily 
proceedeth in the Government of the mo- 
ral World, and which manifeft a prevail- 
ing wife and righteous Administration; 
as I (hall have Occafion to fhew in the 
farther Profecution of this Subject. There 
are alfo many particular Incidents and Ap- 
pearances in the Courfe of human Affairs, 
which naturally lead confidering Minds to 
the Acknowledgment of a wife and So- 


vereign Providence : fuch as, That the mofl 
important Events are fometimes brought 
about by the feemingly fmalleft and 
moft unlikely Means: That Things are 
conducted, as by a fuperior invifjble Agen- 
cy, through many intricate Turns, to pro- 
duce Events contrary to all human Expecta- 
tion -, and Actions are over-ruled to Effects 
and Iffues quite contrary to the Intentions 
of the Actors : That hidden Things, and 
the darker!: Defigns, are often ftrangely 
brought to Light, and thereby great Mif- 
chiefs prevented, and the mofl artful 
Schemes of human Policy baffled and dis- 
appointed: That furprifing Changes are 
wrought upon the Spirits of Men, and Re- 
ftraints laid upon their Paffions, in a man- 
ner that can fcarce be accounted for, and 
upon which great Events have depended. 
Many fuch Things have happened in all 
Ages and Nations. And any one that is ac- 
quainted with the Hiftory of Mankind, or 
who hath made wife and juft Reflections 
upon Events, will eafilyobferve many Things, 
not only in the Affairs of Nations, but of 
particular Perfons, yea, and relating to 
himfelf and his own Concernments, which 
can fcarce be reafonably attributed to any 
Thing but an over-ruling Providence, both 
in a Way of Mercy and of Judgment. 



The Infpeclion and Superin tendency of 
Divine Providence may be farther argued 
from previous Significations of future Events, 
which no human Sagacity could forefee ; 
Infbances of which may be met with in 
the mofl credible Accounts of Antiquity, 
but no where fo fully as in the Holy Scrip- 
tures. There we have many exprefs Pre- 
dictions recorded, relating to the State of 
the World and of Mankind, the Rifeand Fall 
of Empires, furprifing public Revolutions, 
and national Blemngs or Calamities, as well 
as many remarkable Incidents with regard 
to particular Perfons, fome of them fore- 
told many Ages before they came to pafs. 
This mews that there is a moft wife and 
comprehenfive Mind which fu peri n ten deth 
the Affairs of Men. The fame Thing may 
be concluded from feveral Things that have 
been done from Time to Time out of the 
natural and ordinary Courfe, for wife and 
excellent Purpofes : of fome of which we 
have as much Reafon to be afTured, as of 
any Facfts whatfoever; fince they come to us 
with an Evidence that can fcarce be rejected, 
without rejecting and deflroying all hiflori- 
cal Evidence. 

Finally, What a miferable World would 
this be without a Providence ! If a King- 
dom, a City, or Family, without a Head or 
Director, is apt to fall into Confufion ; 



what ftrange Diforder would enfue, if this 
vaft Univerfe, confiding of fuch unconceiv- 
able Variety of Parts, were without a fu- 
preme Director ! What could keep together 
the wonderful Frame ? Or, what Security- 
could we have, but that fome fudden wild 
Chance would overturn all? This were a 
moft (hocking and unnatural State of Things, 
which a good Man could fcarce think of 
without Horror. It muft therefore be a bad 
Mind that can cherifh or take Pleafure in 
fuch a Thought. The Pfalmift obferves 
that the Fool hath f aid in his Hearty 'There 
is no God. Pfal. xiv. i. The word Elohim, 
there ufed to lignify God, is that which is 
particularly deligned to denote him as a 
Governor and Judge; fo that it is as if it 
had been faid, the Fool hath faid in his 
Heart, There is no God that governeth and 
will judge the World; i. e. there is no Pro- 
vidence. And this is certainly an Argu- 
ment of great Folly as well as Corruption of 

Upon the whole, it may be juftly con- 
cluded, that there is the fame Reafon to be- 
lieve, that God in his Providence preferveth 
and governeth the World, that there is to 
believe, that there is a God who gave Being 
to the World. And accordingly, fome No- 
tion of a Divine Providence feems to have ob- 
tained almoft univerfally among Mankind. 



All the Prayer which have been offered, 
the Vows that have been made, the Oaths 
and folemn Appeals to Heaven, fo ufual in 
all Ages, fuppofe a Providence. Yea, every 
Man may in effect be faid to have a Witnefs 
for Providence in his own Breafl. Confci- 
ence is a kind of perpetual Monitor, and as 
it were God's Vicegerent in the Soul, telling 
Men, whether they will or no, that there 
is a fupreme Governor and Judge, who con- 
tinually obferves them, and to whom they 
muft be accountable. And there have been 
few who have been able fo entirely to ex- 
tinguiih and filence its Remonftrances and 
Admonitions, but that fome Fears and Ap- 
prehenfions of this have ftill remained. 

But no where is the Doctrine of Divine 
Providence fo fully and itrongly inculcated 
as in the facred Writings. And it muft 
certainly be a peculiar Satisfaction and Ad- 
vantage to be allured in the Name, and by 
the Word of God himfelf, of the Care he 
condefcendeth to exercife towards all his 
Creatures, particularly towards Mankind. 
To have this plainly and exprefsly declared 
to us in a well-attefted divine Revelation, 
hath a happy Tendency to remove the 
Doubts and Sufpicions which might be apt 
to arife in our Minds, from the Confideration 
of God's fupereminent Majefty and Glory, 
and our own Meannefs and Unworthinefs. 
i We 


We are every where directed in holy Writ, 
to confider ourfelves and all Things as under 
the conftant Infpection and Government of 
the Supreme Being, to regard his Hand in 
all the Events which befal us, in every good 
Thing we receive, and in every Affliction we 
meet with. The hiftorical Part of Scripture 
containeth an Account of remarkable Acts of 
Providence carried down from the Begin- 
ning of the World, through along Succeffi- 
on of Ages; and the moral and doctrinal Parts 
every where fuppofe it and build upon it, 
and it is frequently defcribed in the mofl 
lively and {hiking Manner. Nor is it with- 
out good Reafon that this is fo much infix- 
ed upon in Writings defigned for the Direc- 
tion and Regulation of our Faith and Prac- 
tice. For, if the Belief of a Providence were 
banimed from among Men, there would" be 
no fuch Thing as Religion, or the Fear and 
Love of God : no Place would be left for 
Trufi: in him, or Dependence upon him. 
Who would think themfelves obliged to 
ferve and wormip a God that gives himfelf 
no Concern about them, and takes no Notice 
of their Actions or Affairs ? To whatpurpofe 
would it be to pray to him for the good Things 
they ftand in need of, or to praife and blefs 
him for the Benefits they enjoy? Every Man 
would then be left to do what is right in 
his own Eyes, and a wide Door would be 



opened for all manner of Licentioufnefs. 
Accordingly, it is often reprefented in Scrip- 
ture as an Ingredient in the Character of the 
worft and wickedeft of Men, that they en- 
deavour to perfuade themfelves that there is 
no Providence, or that God doth not ob- 
ferve, nor concern himfelf about the Actions 
of Men, or the Events which befal them. 
Thus, after the Pfalmift had defcribed, in 
ftrong Terms, a Man that abandoneth him- 
felf to all manner of Wickednefs, and es- 
pecially to Injuftice, Infolence, and Oppref- 
fionj he reprefenteth him as faying in his 
Heart, God hath forgotten, he hideth his 
Face, he will never fee it. Pfal. x. it. 
See to the fame Purpofe, Pfal. lxxiii. 1 1. — 
xciv. j. So alfo, it is obferved concerning the 
Men that were fettled on their Lees, i. e. 
who were fecure and hardened in their evil 
Courfes, and were for making themfelves 
eafy in their Vices, that they faid in their 
Hearts, The Lord will not do Good, neither 
ivill he do Evil. Zeph. i. 12. There are 
few indeed that will openly declare this in 
plain Words, but there are many that fay 
in their Hearts, i. e. who would be glad to 
have it fo, and would fain argue themfelves 
into a Belief that fo it is. Or if they can- 
not bring themfelves abfolutely to believe 
that there is no Providence, yet they indulge 
Doubts and Sufpicions about it, they fix 


their Views wholly on fecond Caufes, and 
overlook the Providence of God, and for 
the moft part confider it as little as if there 
were no fuch Thing, or as if it had no Con- 
cernment with human Affairs. 

But there is no oneThing of greater Con- 
fequence to a Life of Piety and Virtue, than 
to get our Hearts poffeffed with a firm Per- 
fuafion of God's all-governing and all- 
difpofing Providence, and to have a con- 
ftant Regard to it in our whole Courfe. Our 
Belief of this mould not be a cold wavering 
Affent, which will have but fmall Influence; 
it mult be ftrong and vigorous, deeply 
rooted in our Hearts, and eftablimed on 
folid Evidence. Nor muft we fuffer it to 
lie as a fpeculative dormant Principle, but 
muft endeavour frequently to exercife it, 
and then it can fcarce fail to have an hap- 
py Influence upon our whole Temper and 
Conduct. How folicitous, how earneftly 
defirous would this make us to approve 
ourfelves to God in our general Practice, 
to walk always as in his Sight, and to 
commit ourfelves and all our Concernments 
to him with a meek Refignation and fteady 
Dependance! How afraid mould we be of 
offending him ! It would be the moft ef- 
fectual Prefervative againft Impatience and 
Difcontent and an immoderate Dejection un- 
der Adverfity, as well as againft Infolence and 



Abufe of Profperity ; and would make us 
careful to fill up every Station and Relation 
with the proper Duties of it. And finally, 
it would be a Source of Satisfaction and 
Comfort amidft. all the Fluctuations and 
Commotions of this prefent World. There 
is no Confideration fo fitted to produce an 
inward folid Peace and Joy of Heart as 
this, that all Things are under the Di- 
rection and Government of the moft. per- 
fect Wifdom and Goodnefs. All Nature 
then puts on a pleafing Afpect, and every 
thing appears to the Mind in a fair 
and amiable Light, and Order and 
Harmony are fpread through the whole. 
Nothing therefore could be worfe founded 
than the Boafts of Epicurus and his Fol- 
lowers, who entertained an high Opinion 
of themfelves, and expected to be ap- 
plauded by others, as the Friends and Bene- 
nefactors of Mankind, on the Account of 
their Endeavours to deliver them from 
the Apprehenfions of a Providence. This 
might indeed be fome Relief to very bad 
Men, and tend to make them eafy in their 
Sins ; but was an Attempt to rob good 
Men of that which is the chief Support and 
Comfort of their Lives, and the moll: powerful 
Encouragement to the fteady uniform Prac- 
tice of Virtue. It is true, that the Doctrine 



of Providence has been mifreprefented 
and abufed. Men have been apt to 
lay the Blame of their own Faults and 
Follies upon Providence : And among 
many of the Heathens, their Notions 
of Providence were like thofe they form- 
ed of their Deities, whom they reprefent- 
ed as capricious, envious, and revenge- 
ful, actuated by human Paffions and Pre^ 
judices. But the Belief of Providence 
rightly underftood, is the moffc ufeful 
and delightful Thing in the World, and 
is fo far from leading to Superftition, 
that it is the beft and mod effectual Prefer- 
vative againfl: it. 

Accordingly, this is what I propofe 
difUnctly to confider, and {hall endea- 
vour in feveral Difcourfes to explain the 
Doctrine of Divine Providence, by which I 
underftand the Doctrine of an all-perfect 
Mind, preferring and governing this van: 
Univerfe, guiding the Courfe of Nature, 
prefiding over all the Creatures, efpeci- 
ally rational moral Agents, and fliperintend- 
ing and ordering the Events which be- 
fal them, in the befl and fitteft Manner, 
with infinite Wifdom, Righteoufnefs, and 
Equity. I fhall endeavour to direct you 
to a right Ufe and Improvement of this 
important Doctrine, and to obviate ibme 

Vol. I. C of 


of the principal Difficulties and Objecti- 
ons which are raifed againft it. And, I 
think, I can hardly propofe any Subject 
that is of greater Confequence, or which 
may be of more fignal Advantage. 


The World preferved by Divine 


Nehemiah ix. 6. 
Thou preferveft them all. 

N my former Difcourfe, fome Obfer- 
vations were made concerning the Pro- 
vidence of God in general. It was fhewn 
by feveral Arguments that there is a 
Providence, or that this vaft World, and 
every Thing in it, is under the conftant 
Care and Superintendency of that mofl 
wife, and benign, and powerful Being 
that created it. Let us now proceed to a 
more diftinct Confideration of this im- 
portant Subject. 

C 2 The 


The Providence of God may be regard- 
ed as exercifed either in the Prefervation 
of the World, or in the Government of 
it, to which two main Heads all the Acts 
of Divine Providence are reducible. 

Firft, That which comes nrft to be confi- 
dered, is God's Prefervation of the World. 
In that admirable Addrefs that is made 
to God in the Name of the Jewi/h 
Church, after celebrating him as the 
great Creator of the Univerfe in thofe no- 
ble Expreffions, Thou, even thou, art Lord 
alone; thou hajl made Heaven •, the Heaven of 
Heavens, with all their Hoft, the Earth, and 
all Things that are therein-, it is added, and 
thou preferve/l them all. Where it is iigni- 
fied, that the preferving this van: Frame 
of Nature, and all Things that are there- 
in, is owing to the fame omnipotent Be- 
ing that created them. As by creating 
them he brought them into Exiftence when 
they had none before, and endued them 
with fuch and fuch Faculties and Powers ; 
fo by his preferving them, we are to un- 
derftand his upholding them in that Exif- 
tence, and in the Ufe of thofe Faculties and 
Powers which he hath given them. We 
mud not imagine that Things, when once 
put into Being, continue to exift indepen- 
dently of him that firft created them. For, 
an independent Exiflence is not compati- 


b!e with the Nature or Condition of 
Creatures, which owe their Existence 
wholly to the Will and Power of a fu- 
perior Caufe. It is eaiily conceivable that 
the felf-exiftent Jehovah, who exifted ne- 
cefTarily from everlafting, muft certainly 
exift to everlafting, by the intrinfic Excel- 
lency of his own mod perfect Nature, 
But the Cafe is otherwife as to contingent 
Beings, who have the Source and Bafis of 
their Exiftence without them. As they did 
not exift originally and necerTarily of them - 
felves, but merely by the Will of the Crea- 
tor, who willed that they mould exift, and 
they exifted accordingly ; fo neither do they 
continue to exift of themfelves, and by 
the mere Force and Virtue of their own 
Nature, but by the powerful Will of the 
fupreme original Caufe that gave them Be- 
ing. It is true, that Machines which 
were contrived and formed by human Art, 
may fubfift for a Time independently of 
the Man that formed them : Nor is this 
to be wondered at, fince the Matter o: 
Subftance out of which they were form- 
ed exifted before, and did not owe its Be- 
ing to the Artificer. But no Confequence 
can be drawn from this, to prove that, 
therefore, Things which owe their very 
Exiftence and Subftance entirely to thi 
Will and Power of the firft Caufe, may 
C 3 afterwards 


afterwards continue to exift independently 
of the firft Caufe. The Works of Mens 
Hands may fubfift at a Diftance from the 
Hands which fafhioned them: But the 
Creatures can never exift in an abfolute Se- 
paration from God, who is always mod 
intimately and effentially prefent with his 
own Works ; fo that it may be faid with 
the greater!: Propriety, that in him they have 
their Being, as St. Paul exprefleth it, Atts 
xvii. 28. or, as he elfewhere fpeaks by 
him, or as it might be rendered, in him all 
'Things conjift. Col. i. 17. 

That we may treat this Subject more 
diftinctly, we may confider this Prefervati- 
on of all Things, which is an eminent 
Act of Divine Providence, as extending, 

Firft, To the whole inanimate Creation : 

Secondly, To all Things that have Life in 
their different Degrees, both to the inferior 
Brute Animals, and to the higher Orders 
of rational intellectual Beings. 

Firft, God, by his conftant powerful In- 
fluence, upholdeth the inanimate Creation, 
this huge material Syftem, in all its. Parts. 
As at the firft Formation of it, he put 
Things into a certain Order, fo it is by his 
Power and Wifdom that this Order and 
Conftitution of Things is maintained ac- 
cording to the firft Eftablifhment. Not 
only the greater heavenly Bodies are pre- 



ferved in their appointed Courfes or Stati- 
ons, but with regard to the leffer Bodies 
and Particles of Matter, the Laws of Mo- 
tion and Gravitation, to which, by the di- 
vine Ordination, they are fubje£t, conti- 
nue the fame that they were from the Be- 
ginning, and produce the fame Effects in 
the fame Circumftances. Thus all Things 
in the material World proceed accordinp- 
to a fettled Rule or Method : This we are 
apt to pafs over, with a flight Regard, as a 
Thing of Courfe; whereas, it ought to 
engage our Admiration, and lead us to the 
Acknowledgment of a conftant fuperin- 
tending Providence. To this it is owing, 
that the Sun ftill fervethy^r a Light by Day, 
and the Ordinances of the Moon and Stars for 
a Light by Night. Jer. xxxi, 35. and that 
the orderly Returns of Seafons are maintain- 
ed, fo that Seed-time and Harveji, and Cold 
and Heat, and Summer and Winter, and 
Day and Night, do not ceafe. Gen. viii. 22. It 
is God that, by his powerful Influence, fuf- 
taineth this huge terreftrial Globe which we 
inhabit, which hangeth upon nothing, as fob 
expreffeth it, fob xxvi. j. By his Power, 
and according to his fettled Order it is, that 
the Earth ftill preferveth its Fertility, that 
the Minerals continue to be generated and 
ripened in its Bowels, and that the vege- 
C 4 table 


table Kingdom flourimeth in all its Glory. 
As God laid at the fir ft Creation, Let the 
Earth bring forth Grafs, the Herb yielding 
Seed, and the Fruit-tree yielding Fruit after 
his Kind, whfe Seed is in itfelf upon the 
Earth. Gen. i. 11. fo, by his providen- 
tial Concourfe, and according to his Ap- 
pointment, the Plants, the Herbs, the 
Trees, the Flowers in all their Tribes, 
and the various Kinds of Grain, fpring 
up from their feveral Seeds, and gradually 
grow up into Maturity. The Species of 
them are ftill continued and kept diftincl:, 
and they uniformly preferve their feveral 
Virtues, their diftincl; Forms and Appear- 
ances, and bring forth their feveral Pro- 
ductions in the appointed Seafons. When 
we thus behold the regular Courfe of 
Things in the World about us, we mould 
raife our Thoughts to God, to whofe 
conftant Care and Influence this is owing. 
If left to themfelves without a preliding 
Mind, we could have no Security for their 
continuing in Being, much lefs for their be- 
ing maintained in their regular Order. It is 
the Power, Wifdom, and Influence of the 
fir ft Caufe ever prefent with his own 
Work, and leaving nothing to Chance or 
Caprice, that is the Foundation of all our 
Hopes. It is this that giveth us any 



Security that the Sun or Moon fhall 
continue to mine, that the Stars fhall main- 
tain their Courfes or Stations, that the Air, 
the Sea, the Earth, and the Things which 
are therein, (hall preferve their Natures 
and proper Situations, and produce the 
feveral Effe&s, and anfwer the Ufes, to 
which they were originally deiigned. 

Secondly, God preferveth the Beings that 
have Life and Senfe, with their feveral 
Powers, Capacities, and Inftincls. He up- 
holdeth them by his providential Concourfe 
in that kind of Life, which according to his 
own Appointment, and the Order fettled 
by himfelf in the Beginning, belongeth 
to them. And this holdeth good both of 
the inferior Brute Animals, and the higher 
Order of rational and intellectual Beings. 
And to this probably the Words of the 
Text have a fpecial Reference ; for what we 
render, thou preferveji them all, might be 
rendered, thou quickenefl them all, or, main- 
taineth them all in Life. 

Firft, God preferveth and upholdeth the 
inferior Brute Animals in their feveral Spe- 
cies, which by a wonderful Provilion are 
fucceffively propagated according to efta- 
blifhed Laws, and continue to be furnimed in 
all Ages with the fame Organs, Powers, and 
Appetites, and the fame admirable Inflinds. 



By thefe they are enabled to exercife the 
various Functions of the fenfitive Life, and 
are directed to what is mort proper for their 
Nourifhment, their Defence, and their 
Pleafure. To his Providence it is owing, 
that even the feveral Tribes of Infects are 
preferved, and go through their orderly 
Tranfmutations, and come forth in their 
proper Seafons in numberlefs Swarms, and 
in all the Beauty of Colours. To this it is 
to be afcribed that the Ants continue in 
all Ages to be the fame provident and in- 
dustrious Tribe, and fo dexteroufly manage 
the Affairs of their little Commonwealth -, 
that the Bees fo artfully build their waxen 
Cells, and make their Honey, and main- 
tain their well-ordered Polity ; that 
the Silk-worm undergoeth its feveral won- 
derful Changes, is provided in its Seafon 
with proper Food, and fpinneth fo pre- 
cious a Thread out of its Bowels ; that 
the Waters ftill bring forth abundantly 
after their Kind, and the Rivers, Lakes, 
and Seas continue to be plentifully ftored 
with innumerable Quantities of Fimes, in 
their various Forms, from the huge Whales 
to the fmalleft living Creatures which in- 
habit the watery Element : To which 
may be added the feveral Species of Birds, 
which with great Agility wing the airy 



Region. The Hawk is faid to fly by his 
Wifdom ; the Ragle monnteth up at his Com- 
mand, and maketh her Nefi on high ; jrom 
whence fie feeketh her Prey, and her Eyes be- 
hold it afar off. Job xxxix. 26, 27, 29. The 
Stork in the Heaven knoweth her appointed 
Times; and the Turtle, the Crane, and the 
Swallow, and other Birds of PafTage, obferve 
the Time of their coming. Jer. viii. 7. And 
the^ feveral Sorts of iinging Birds chaunt 
forth their melodious Notes, and fing 
among the Branches. To the Care of his 
powerful Providence it is to be afcribed 
that the feveral Kinds of Cattle are pre- 
ferved, and provided with their proper Suf- 
tenance ; that the Dogs retain their Saga- 
city and wonderful Inftin&s, and the Horfe 
his Strength and Swiftnefs, for the Ufe and 
Delight of Mankind. Yea, to this it is 
owing that the wild Beads of the Defarts 
are provided for. As it manifestly tended 
to the Beauty and Perfection of the ani- 
mal Creation, that there mould be fuch 
Creatures formed, and endued with extra- 
ordinary Degrees of Fiercenefs, Strength, 
and Courage, fo there is the fame Reafon 
for continuing, that there was for creating 
them. Thus are the feveral Species of 
Brute Animals maintained and kept dif- 
tinct, and are provided for fuitably to their 
refpedtive Natures and Circuniftances, and 
1 the 


the Individuals of each Species preferve 
their feveral Shapes and Forms, Organs 
and Appetites, and when they go off leave 
others to fucceed them, fo that the admi- 
rable Scheme is ftill carried on. The con- 
tinuing Things in fuch an eftabli fried Courfe 
and Order, which we behold without Afto- 
nimment, becaufe we are accuftomed to it, 
exhibiteth a manifeft Proof of a wife and 
powerful Providence conftantly preferving 
and watching over the various kinds of 
fenlitive Beings. We may therefore on 
this Occafion juftly apply thofe Words of 
fob : AJk now the Beajls, and they jhall teach 
thee ; and the Fowls of the Air, and they 
Jloall tell thee ; and the Fifes of the Sea Jhall 
declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all 
thefe, that the Hand of the Lord bath wrought 
this? Job xii. 7, 8, 9. 

But fecondly, Let us efpecially confider 
God's Providence as exercifed in the Prefer - 
vation of the higher Orders of rational 
and intellectual Beings. It is he that pre- 
ferveth the Angels in their feveral De- 
grees. None of them have an inde- 
pendent Exigence. Strong and mighty as 
they are, they cannot uphold themfeives in 
Being, merely by the Force of their own 
excellentNatures, but are maintained in that 
noble and fublime Life which he hath given 
them, and in the Ufe and Exercife of their 



admirable Faculties and Powers, by the 
conftant fuftaining Power and Influence of 
the Almighty. 

But what we are mod nearly concerned 
to confider, is the Care of Divine Providence 
in preferving Man. This is what St. Paul 
iignifieth, when in his excellent Difcourfe 
to the Athenians, ABs xvii. he declareth 
that God giveth to all, (/. e. to all Men,) 
Life, and Breath, and all 'Things. Ver. 25. 
and that in him we live, and move, and have 
our Being. Ver. 28 

In him we exift or have our Be- 
ing. As he gave us our Exiftence at 
firft, and made us of fuch a particular 
Order of Beings, fo by him we are conti- 
nued in Exiftence, and in that kind of Ex- 
igence which belongeth to us as Creatures 
of fuch a Species. To his Providence it is 
to be afcribed, that one Generation of 
Men rifeth up after another in the Manner 
and according to the Laws wifely eftablifhed 
by him in the Beginning; that the curious 
Structure of the human Body is preferved 
and maintained in it3 proper Form, and 
with all its admirable Organs ; and that the 
human Soul continueth to retain its noble 

In God we not only exift or have our 
Being, but in him we live. As it was he 
that firft eftablimed the wonderful vital 



Union between Soul and Body in Man, fo 
it is by his Care and Influence that it fub- 
fifteth. To this it is owing that our Food 
nourifheth and refrefheth us, that the vi- 
tal Functions are carried on, and that we are 
enabled to exercife our feveral Senfations. 
Juftly, therefore, doth the Pfalmift call 
him the God of his Life. Pfal. xlii. 8. 
and Job declareth, that in his Hand is the 
Soul of every living Thing, and the Breath, 
or Life, of all Mankind. Job xii. 10. And 
again, Thou hajl granted me Life and Fa- 
vour, faith he, and thy Vifitation hath pre- 
ferved my Spirit. Ch. x. 12. 

And as it is in God that we exift and 
live, fo it is in or by him that we move. 
It was he that originally gave us the Power 
of Motion, and Organs admirably fitted 
for carrying it on, and it is through him 
that we are continued in the Ufe and Ex- 
ercife of thofe Organs ; fo that it may be 
juftly faid, that we cannot move a Foot, or 
lift up a Hand without him. And this 
holdeth equally with regard to the Opera- 
tions of our Souls, as the Motions of our 
Bodies. As he hath endued our Souls 
with the admirable Faculties of Under- 
ftanding, Will, Memory, free Agency, and 
hath implanted in us Affections of various 
Kinds, fo by his providential Concourfe, and 
Support of our Faculties, we apprehend, 

J ud S e » 


judge, reafon, remember, and freely determine 
our own Actions. It is he that upholdeth 
the Powers which he gave us, and enableth 
us to exert thofe Powers, and put them 
forth to Action. And this he doeth not 
only when we do Good, but when we em- 
ploy our Powers in acting wickedly. A id 
yet this doth not derive the leaft Stain of 
Guilt upon God, or make him the Author 
of our Sins. The natural active Power, 
and the Ufe of it, which is in itfelf good, 
is from God ; the Abufe of it to linful 
Purpofes is wholly owing to ourfelves, and 
to the Corruption of our Wills. God 
fuftaineth the Sinner in Being, and in the 
Exercife of his natural Powers, whilft he 
is committing the linful Action, but the 
Obliquity of the Action is wholly from 
the Sinner himfelf. And indeed, on Sup- 
polition that God hath created reafonable 
Beings capable of acting freely, and of do- 
ing Good and Evil, it is proper that he 
mould uphold them in Being, and in the 
Ufe and Exercife of their natural Powers, 
even whilft they do evil Actions as well as 
good. For if he fhould withdraw his fuf- 
taining Influence from them the Moment 
they attempt to abufe their natural Powers, 
this would be abfolutely to hinder them to 
exercife their Liberty, nor could they in 
that Cafe be accounted free Agents at all. 



As the God of Nature, he ordinarily up- 
holdeth or continueth them in Being, and 
in the Ufe of their natural Powers, in what 
Manner- fbever they act; and then after- 
wards, as the moral Governor, he will call 
them to* an Account for their Actions, 
and will, reward, or punifh them accord- 
ingly. < ■ 

I mail' conclude with fome fuitable R.e- 

Firft,Whenwe confider the univerfal De- 
pendence of the whole Creation upon God, 
what admiring Thoughts mould it caufe 
us to entertain of God, and what dimi- 
nifhing Thoughts of ourfelves, and all 
created Beings ! Who would not adore the 
great Jehovah, whofe everlafting Existence 
is the folid Balis and Support of the Ex- 
igence of all other Beings whatfoever ? 
Should not we be even as nothing in our 
own Eyes, whilft God is all in all ? Let us 
with the profoundefl Veneration proftrate 
ourfelves before his Divine Majefty, who 
is the great I am, the Fountain of Being 
and Perfection, and be ready to fay, Wor- 
thy art thou to receive Honour, and Glory, and 
Blejjing ; jor thou haft created all Things, and 
for thy T* leaf are they are, and were created! 
And not only fo, but thou prefervert them 
all ; thou upholdeft them by thy moft 



powerful Word ; and in and by thee all 
Things confift. ! 

Secondly, We may hence fee, what a jud 
Propriety and Dominion God hath in and 
over us, fince it is he that both gave us 
our Being, and all our Powers and Facul- 
ties, and who upholdeth us in Life, and in 
the Ufe and Exercife of thofe Powers. 
Thefe two taken together, his Creation 
and Prefervation of us, certainly give him 
the mofl: full and abfolute Property in us, 
and in all our Services, that can be conceiv- 
ed; a Property and Dominion infinitely ex- 
ceeding what one Creature can poflibly have 
over another. He made us, and not we our- 
felves; he preferveth and fuftaineth us in Be- 
ing, and not we ourfelves ; and therefore it is 
mofl: fit and reafonable, that we mould live 
unto him, and not unto ourfelves ; and that 
we mould employ our Powers and Facul- 
ties according to his Will, and for fuch 
Purpofes as he prefcribeth. Nor can any 
Thing be more unjuft, than to turn the 
Beings we derive from him to his Difho- 
nour -, to ufe thofe bodily Members he hath 
furnifhed us with, and which he continu- 
ally upholdeth, as the Inftruments of Un- 
righteoufnefs unto Sin, inftead of ufing them 
as Inftruments of Righteoufnefs unto God ; 
and to employ thofe reafoning thinking 
Powers, and that Gift of Speech which he 
hath beftowed upon us, to Purpofes quite 

Vol. I. D different 


different from thofe which he gave them to 
us for. This certainly involveth in it a 
very heinous Guilt, and is a facrilegious 
Alienation of ourfelves from his Service, 
to whom we do of Right belong. That 
is a heavy Charge which Daniel bringeth 
againft Beljkazzar, "J he God in whofe Hand 
thy Breath is, and whofe are all thy Ways, 
Im'l thou not glorified. Dan. v. 23. 

Thirdly, Another Reflection that is pro- 
per to be made on this Occaiion is this, that 
iince God preferveth us every Moment, 
fmce we cannot move a Limb, nor think 
a Thought without him, he muft needs be 
perfectly acquainted with all our Thoughts, 
Words, and Actions, and all the Events 
which befal us. Juftly may every one of 
us fay with the devout Pfalmilt, Lord, 
thou knoweft my Down-fitting and mi?te Up- 
rifing, thou under jlamUJl my Thoughts afar 
of'. Thou comfajfcft my Path, and my Lying-? 
down, and art acquainted with all my Ways. 
For there is not a Word in my Tongue, but 
lo, Lord, thou knowejl it altogether. Pfal. 
cxxxix. 2, 3, 4. God knoweth every the 
lealt good Action we perform, and every 
good Motion which arifeth in our Hearts. 
Nor, on the other Hand, can any of our 
moft fecret Sins pombly efcape his No- 
tice. For it is by his Influence that we 
are upheld in Being, even whilil we are 



committing thofe Sins againft him. Our 
being able to commit them, our being pre- 
ferved in Life whilft we do fo, is a Proof 
that he is prefent with us, and, confe- 
quently, that he muft know whatfoever we 
are doing in every Circumftance. 

Fourthly, How ftrange and inexcufable 
will our Conduct be, if we allow ourfelves 
in an habitual Neglect and Forgetfulnefs of 
the Deity ! Shall we be unmindful of him, 
without whom we cannot fubfift a Mo- 
ment, by whom we are conftantly upheld 
in Being, and in the Ufe of all our reafon- 
ing and active Powers ? As foon ought we 
to forget that we ourfelves exift. And yet 
fo it is, that a great Part of Mankind go 
on from Day to Day, without ever think- 
ing of that God to whom they owe it 
that they are able to think; and without 
fpeaking of him who gave, and continueth 
to them, the Faculty and Ufe of Speech. 
They act in too many Inftances, as if there 
were no fuch Being at all, though with- 
out him they could not be. Amazing Per- 
verfenefs! What a flrange Depravation of 
a reafonable thinking Mind doth this argue! 
Let us carefully guard againft it, and often 
realize God to our Minds, endeavouring: 
to maintain a conftant Senfe of our abfo- 
lute Dependence upon him, fo as to ftand 
in Awe of his Power, to be thankful to 
D 2 him 


him for his great Goodnefs, and to be defi- 
rous above all Things of his Favour. For 
how great muft his Power be which con- 
flantly upholdeth this vaft univerfal Frame, 
and all the numberlefs Orders of Beings 
in it ! What Folly therefore would it be, 
for fuch Creatures as we are to dare to 
offend him, and provoke his juft Difplea- 
fure ! How eafily could he deftroy us in a 
Moment, and put an utter End to our 
Exiftence ! Or, if he doth not think fit to 
do fo, as not being confident with the De- 
figns of his mofl wife and righteous Provi- 
dence, he can continue and uphold us in 
Being under thofe Punifhments and Mife- 
ries we had brought upon ourfelves by our 

The laft Reflection I would make upon 
this Subject is this, That fince God conti- 
nually preferveth us, he hath an undoubted 
Right to govern us. And this leadeth to 
the other main Work of Divine Providence," 
m. The Government of the World, which 
is what I propofe next to confider. 


On God's Government of the World : 
And firft) of his Dominion over 
the inanimate Creation, 



Whatfoever the Lord pleafed, that did he in 
Heaven, and in Earth, in the Seas, and in 
all deep Places. 

A V I N G confidered the Providence 
of God as exercifed in the Prefer- 
vation of the World, let us now proceed to 
that which deferveth to be confidered more 
at large, viz. His governing that World 
which he hath made, and which he con- 
tinually upholdeth. And this providential 
Government of God may be regarded as 
D 3 extending 


extending to every Part of this vafl Uni- 
verfe, and all the Orders of Beings in it. 
The feveral Kinds of Beings in the Crea- 
tion, as far as they come under our Ob- 
fervation and Notice, may be diftributed 
into three great Ranks, the inanimate, the 
fenfitive, and the rational or moral. The 
Government of Providence, in the proper- 
eft Senfe, is to be underftood of God's 
Administrations towards reafonable Crea- 
tures, moral Agents. But it may be alfo 
applied to his Dominion over the merely 
fenfitive or Brute Animals ; and in a ftill 
lefs proper Senfe to his Dominion over the 
inanimate Creation, which is always fub- 
ject to his Will, and ordered by him as 
feemeth moil: fit to his infinite Wifdom. 
All thefe muft be joined if we would 
form a juft Notion of the Dominion and 
Sovereignty of the great Lord of the Uni- 


Firft, I mail begin with confidering the 
Government of God as extending to the 
inanimate Creation. \ As by his fuilaining 
Influence he preferveth and maintaineth this 
vaft material Syftem in all its Parts, fo by 
his Government of it, I here underftand 
his directing and regulating the natural 
Caufes and Effects of Things, fo as to ap- 
ply them to the wife Purpofes of his Pro- 
vidence. How a Spirit or immaterial Be- 



ing operate th upon Matter, we are not 
able diftinctly to conceive or explain. But 
the Thing itfelf is pad: all Doubt. An 
Image of God's Government of the ma- 
terial World we have in our own Souls 
governing our Bodies, that little World, 
or material Syflem, to which we are more 
immediately related. We only will, and 
it is done, an Arm, a Leg, the Tongue is 
moved in an Inftant. We have alio a 
Power over feveral Parts of the World a- 
bout us, though not in fo immediate a 
Way; a Power of moving, combining, 
feparating the Parts of Matter, and ap- 
plying them to various Ufes, for anfwering 
our Neceiiity, Convenience, or Pleafure. 
Man can, in many Inftances, exert a won- 
derful Power in producing Effects in the 
material World. He can dig into the 
Bowels of the Earth, and extract Metals 
and Minerals ; he can blow up Rocks, 
and turn afide the Channels of Rivers. 
And we may reafonably fuppofe that there 
are other created Beings fuperior to Man, 
that have a much greater and more ex- 
tenfive Power over the material World 
than any Man, or all the Men upon Earth. 
So the Scriptures lead us to think concern- 
ing the Angels good or bad. And there is 
no Abfurdity in fuppoiing that a created 
Spirit might be made fo powerful as to be 
D 4 able 


able to wield this whole earthly Globe, 
or any Part of it, by only willing to do fo, 
with as much Eafe as we move our Bodies, 
or any Limb of them. But ftill there muft be 
an infinite Difference between the Power of 
any created, derivative, dependent Being, in 
ordering and governing the material World, 
and that of the fupreme, felf-exiftent, in- 
dependent Jehovah, who is infinite, origi- 
nal, effential Life, Activity, and Intelli- 
gence. We find, in fact, with regard to the 
inanimate World about us, that it is fub- 
ject to our Direction and Management on- 
ly in a certain Proportion, and within a li- 
mited Sphere ; and that even our own Bo- 
dies, which are more immediately under 
our Power, are fubject to us no farther 
than according to the Laws which the 
Creator hath appointed. And as our Power, 
fo that of every Creature, with refpect to 
the material World, is limited \ but the 
Power of God hath no Bounds or Li- 
mits. Matter hath fome Influence upon us, 
and we are fubject to Imprefiions from 
it, pleafant or painful ; but the infinite 
Mind moveth, actuateth, and govern- 
eth the whole Mafs of Matter, without 
being himfelf impreffed and affected by 
it ; he governeth it, not as a Soul the Bo- 
dy to which it is vitally united, but as the 
abfolute Lord of his own Work, which he 
at firft created, and which continually de- 



pendeth upon him for its Existence. 
What Ufe it may pleafe him to make of in- 
ferior Spirits in moving and governing the 
material Syftem, we cannot tell ; but this 
we are fure of, that they all act in Subor- 
dination to him, and under his fovereign 
Direction, and that he ftill hath the whole 
in his own Hands, and is as immediately 
prefent to every Part of it, as if he made 
ufe of no Inftrament at all. 

This abfolute Dominion of God over the 
material and inanimate World, and his 
making ufe of it to anfwer his mofr. wife 
Purpofes, is frequently reprefented in Scrip- 
ture in a flrong and noble Manner of Ex- 
preflion. This is what the Pfalmifl ligni- 
neth in the Words which I have chofen for 
the Subject: of this Difcourfe, Whatfoever 
the Lord p leafed, that did he in Heaven, and 
in Earth, in the Seas, and in ail deep Places. 
And then it follows : He caufeth the Va- 
pours to afce?id from the "Ends of the Earth ; 
he maketh Lightnings for the Rain ; he 
bringeth the Wind out of his 'Treafuries. 
Pfal. cxix. 91. fpeaking of the Frame of 
Heaven and Earth, he faith, They continue 
this Day according to thine Ordinances : for 
all are thy Servants, i. e. all Things in the 
World ferve thy Purpofes, and execute thy 
Pieafure. Hence God is reprefented as if- 
fuing out his Word and Commandment 
even to the inanimate Creation. Pfal. cxlvii. 


I i;. He fendeth forth his Commandment up- 
on Earth ; his Word runneth very fwiftly. 
And then it is added : He giveth Snow like 
Wool; he fcattereth the Hoar-frojl like Afes. 
Or, as Elihu expreffeth it, He faith to 
the Snow, Be thou upon the Earth ; likewife 
tothefmall Rain, and to the great Rain of his 
Strength. Job xxxvii. 6. And Ver. 12, 13. 
the Cloud is faid to be turned about by his 
Counfels, that they, i. e. the Snow, Rain, 
Meteors of which he had been fpeaking, 
may do whafoever he commandeih them upon 
the Face of the World in the Earth ; He 
caufeth it to come, whether for Correffiien, or 
for his Land, or for Mercy. 

The inanimate Creation is itfelf inca- 
pable of Perception and Enjoyment. It 
cannot, therefore, be fuppofed to be or- 
dained merely for its own Sake, but to 
ferve the Ufes of fenfitive, perceptive Be- 
ings ; and efpecially to anfwer the Pur- 
pofes of God's moral Administration to- 
wards reafonable Creatures, particularly to- 
wards Mankind. It is in this Light that 
we are chiefly to confider God's Govern- 
ment of the inanimate material World, and 
to this it is that the Scripture principally 
directeth our Views. 

As God perfectly knew from the Begin- 
ning all the Caufes and Effects of Things in 
the natural World; fo, upon Suppolition 
of his alfo fore-knowing the free Actions 



of moral Agents, which Reafon, as well 
as Scripture, leads us to acknowledge, it 
was not difficult for him to adjufr. the one 
to the other, fo as to make up one great 
and univerfal Plan of Government, which 
is fucceffively executed in the proper Sea- 
fons ; and indeed none could exercife a 
perfect Government over the moral Part of 
the Creation, but one who had alio the 
material Syftem under his Direction and 
Influence, and could manage it according 
to his Will. 

Whilft Man continued in his State of 
Innocence, God in his Providence fuited 
the ConfHtution of Things in the natural 
World to that State; which ConfHtution 
would no doubt have continued, if Man 
had continued in his original Purity. But 
when he fell, and Sin entered into the 
World, God ordered it fo in his mofr, wife 
governing Providence, that the State of 
Things in the natural World, the ConfH- 
tution of the Earth and Air, as well as 
Body of Man, fuffered an Alteration which 
bore the Tokens of the divine Difpleafure 
againft Sin. And yet, as Man is flill con- 
tinued here on Earth in a State of Trial 
and Difcipline, there are many Things in 
the ordinary Courfe that plainly mew 
God's great Goodnefs and Patience, and 
Forbearance towards him ; the Defign of 
which is to train him up in a Meetnefs 



for a better World, where the whole Face 
of Nature fhall be fo ordered, as to be fuit- 
ed to a State of confummate Holinefs and 

When all Flefh had corrupted his Way, 
and the Earth was full of Wickednefs and 
Violence, God in his Providence fo dif- 
pofed Things in the natural World, as to 
bring in the Flood upon that ungodly 
Race. And at another Time, as the Lord 
of Nature, he poured forth a fiery Tem- 
per!: from Heaven upon Sodom and Go- 
morrah , and the neighbouring Cities, which 
kindling the combuftible Materials which 
abounded in that fulphureous Soil, brought 
a dreadful Ruin upon them, as a juft Pu- 
nifhment for their abominable Wickednefs. 
And not only in fuch extraordinary Cafes, 
but when Things feem to go on in their 
ufaal Way, God in his Providence fo go- 
verneth the natural World, and difpofeth 
the Courfe of material Caufes, as to cor- 
refpond with, and fulfil his Intentions to- 
wards Mankind, whether of Judgment or 
of Mercy. According to the Scripture, 
all thcle Things execute the Orders of his 
Providence. The Lightnings are repre- 
fented, by a noble Figure, as faying unto 
him, Here ive are, i. e. as offering them- 
felves like Servants to wait his Directions, 
and fulfil his Commands. "Job xxxviii. 35. 
When thofe nitrous, fulphureous Particles 



are gathered together in the Air, which, ac- 
cording to the Courfe of Things which 
God hath eftablifhed, produce the dreadful 
Roar of Thunder, and Blaze of Light- 
nings, they are fo governed as to ferve the 
Ends of his Providence, and to produce thofe 
Effects which it is his Intention they 
mould produce. Stormy Wind is faid to 
fulfil his Word. Pfal. cxlviii. 8. The Winds 
are for the molt part fo ordered by Divine 
Providence, as to be of great Ufe and Be- 
nefit; but they are fometimes made to 
blow in furious Tempefts, and are Inftru- 
ments in the Hand of God for executing 
his righteous Judgments upon Men. In 
like Manner, when God feeth fit to order 
it fo, the Materials which are prepared in 
the Bowels of the Earth meet together in 
fuch a Manner as to produce violent Con- 
cuffions and Earthquakes there. They 
fometimes break forth into dreadful Erup- 
tions, which fpread Defolation far and 
wide ; at other Times they are fo govern- 
ed as to do little more than threaten and 
terrify. Of this were the alarming Shocks 
that were felt in the neighbouring Kingdom, 
which, if carried to an higher Degree, might 
have produced the mod difmal Effects, 
but were happily fo moderated, that they 
feem to have been defigned only to ferve 
for Warnings to awaken us to ferious Re- 


flections, and to ftrike us with an Awe of 
the divine Power. God fo ordereth the 
Seafons in their general Courfe, that there is 
iufficient Proviiion made for Man and Bealt; 
and he frequently fendeth great Plenty, fo 
as to produce that Appearance of Things 
which the Pfalmift fo beautifully defcrib- 
eth, Pfal. lxv. 9, 11, 12, 13. 'Thou vifiteft 
the Earthy and water eft it ; thou greatly en- 
richeji it with the River of God, which is full 
of Water ; thou prepareft them Corn, when 
thou haft fo provided for it. — Thou crow?ieft 
the Tear with thy Good?iefs ; and thy Paths 
drop Fatnefs. They drop upon the Pafiures 
of the Wilder nefs ; and the little Hills rejoice 
on every Side. The Pafturcs are clothed with 
Flocks -, the Vallies alfo are covered with Corn ; 
they fiout for Joy, they alfo Jing. But fome- 
times it is fo ordered, that there are great 
Droughts and Dearth. The Heaven is as 
Iron, and the Earth Brafs, and the Ram 
of the Land is as Powder and Diift , fo that 
the Land doth not give her Encreaje, neither 
do the Trees of the Land yield their Fruit, 
Lev. xxvi. 19, 20. Deut. xxviii. 23, 24. 
In like Manner, there are frequently very 
healthful Seafons : At other Times there is 
a fickly Conftitution of the Air, venemous 
Exhalations arife, or peftilential Contagions 
fpread a mortal Influence. In all thefe Cafes 



fecond Caufes may well be admitted -, but 
thefe Caufes are under the Government of 
a fovereign Providence, which difpofeth 
and applieth them to wife and righteous 
Purpofes. And accordingly thefe Things 
are actually made the Matter of the divine 
Promifes and Threatnings to the Ifraelites 
in the Law of Mofes : See efpecially the 
26th Chapter of Leviticus t and the 28th 
Chapter of Deuteronomy, And it appeareth, 
from the Accounts given us in Scripture 
of the Hiftory of that People, that thefe 
Promifes and Threatnings were actually 
accomplimed to them in the Event ; and 
that the Courfe of natural Caufes was fo 
directed and over-ruled by Providence, as to 
reward them for their Obedience, and 
punifh them for their Difobedience to the 
divine Laws. And fo it hath often been 
in God's Dealings with other Nations. 
And both Reafon and Religion teach us, 
in Things of this Nature, to raife our 
Views to the fupreme Difpofer, and to ac- 
knowledge and reverence a divine Agency. 

In order to our having a right Notion of 
God's Government of the inanimate Crea- 
tion, it is proper to obferve, 

Firit, That he ordinarily maketh ufeof it 
for anfwering his Purpofes, without at all 
altering the ufual Courfe of Things. And 



this is a manifcft Proof of his great Wifdom, 
when we cannot fay that any Thing hath 
happened but what is natural, /. e. agree- 
able to the ordinary Powers and Properties 
of Things ; yet the Time and Circum- 
flances are fo conducted, as to produce 
great Events, and anfwer particular impor- 
tant Purpofes. Thus the Winds have 
been fo ordered, that mighty Fleets have 
been fcattered, or detained in Port ; im- 
portant Expeditions or Invafions have been 
prevented or forwarded; upon which, E- 
vents of great Confequence, and even the 
Fates of Kingdoms have depended. Innu- 
merable Cafes happen, both of a public and 
a more private Nature, in which, though 
there is nothing in them that can be faid to 
be contrary to the Order of Nature, yet 
they are directed and over-ruled to efpe- 
cial wife and important Ends. And the 
adjufting thefe Things to one another is 
not to be looked upon as a mere Contin- 
gency, or the Effect: of Chance, but as the 
Work of a fovereign fuperin ten ding Provi- 

Secondly, Sometimes God may over- rule 
natural Caufes contrary to their ftated 
Courfe, as in the Cafe of what are called 
Miracles. Thus the Fire had no Power 
over the Bodies of Sbadracb y Meftacb, and 
AbednegOy nor finged fo much as an 



Hair of their Heads, though it immediate- 
ly confumed thofe that caft them into the 
Furnace. Dan. iii. 22, 27. The Waters of 
the Sea flood upright as an Heap, 
whilft the Ifraelites pafTed, and were a 
Wall unto them on their right Hand, and 
on their left, but foon returned to their 
natural Courfe, and overwhelmed the 
Hoft of the Egyptians. Exod. xiv. 22, 28. 
xv. 8. But however extraordinary thefe 
Things may appear to us, they carry no 
greater Difficulty in them to the divine 
Power, than the continuing Things in 
their ordinary Courfe. It is indeed high- 
ly proper, that what are ufually called the 
Laws of Nature, and which are really the 
Ordinances of Divine Providence, mould 
be generally maintained. Without fuch 
flated Rules, and an eftablifhed Courfe of 
Things, there could be no regular Study 
or Knowledge of Nature; no Men could 
tell what to do or what to expect, or 
how to make a Progrefs in any Art or 
Science, or in the Conduct of Life : nor 
would there be any Advantage of Experi- 
ence ; fince the fame Things might pro- 
duce one Effect this Day, and, the next, 
a quite contrary one in the fame Cir- 
cumftances. And yet, on the other Hand, 
there is no Neceffity of fuppofing that 
thefe Laws are fo constantly and in *ari- 
Vol. I. E ably 


ably obferved and executed, and the na- 
tural Courfe of Things fo fixed, as never 
in any Inftance to be fufpended, or admit 
any the leaft Deviation. It is fufficient that 
thefe Laws, or this Courfe of Things, ge- 
nerally take Place. For this layeth a 
Foundation for an high Probability; and we 
may juftly act and form Schemes upon 
fuch a Probability, though not amounting 
to an abfolute Certainty. It is a fufficient 
Security that we have an ArTurance that 
this Courfe mail always take Effect, ex- 
cept where infinite Wifdom feeth fit for 
valuable Purpofes to order it otherwife. 
But it would be an inexcufable Prefump- 
tion to affirm, that God, having eftablifh- 
ed thofe Laws, and this Courfe of Nature, 
hath bound himfelf never to acl: otherwife 
than according to thofe Laws. There 
may be very good Reafons worthy of his 
great Wifdom, for his acting fometimes 
contrary to the ufual Order of Things ; and, 
even in that Cafe, it may be juftly faid that 
thofe Things which appear moft unufual 
and anomalous to us, are all comprehended 
within the general Plan of his univerfal 
Providence, They are not to be looked 
upon as mere fudden Expedients, unfore- 
feen, and unthought of before, but are to 
be regarded as Parts of the original Scheme. 
The fame Wifdom which appointed or 



eftablifhed thofe natural Laws, appointed the 
Deviations from them, or that they mould 
be over-ruled on fuch certain particular Oc- 
cafions, whether brought about by the im- 
mediate Power of God, or by the Power of 
fubordinate Agents, which are Inftruments 
in the Hand of God for this Purpofe. Jf 
Things were always to go on without the 
leaft Variation in the ftated Courfe, Men 
would be apt to overlook or queftion a wife 
governing Providence, and to afcribe Things 
to a fixed immutable Fate, or blind Ne- 
ceffity, which they call Nature. So the 
Scoffers, mentioned 2 Pet. iii. 4. were rea- 
dy to conclude, that the Earth and the prefent 
State of Things would continue for ever 
without Alteration, becaufe, as they pretend- 
ed, Jince the Fathers feila/leep, all Things con- 
tinue as they were from the Beginning of the 
Creation. Whereas fuch Changes and extra- 
ordinary Operations and Appearances, tend 
to awaken in Mankind a Senfe of a fu- 
preme Difpofer and Governor of the 
World, and may anfwer important Ends, 
for difplaying God's Mercy and Juftice, 
and for giving an Atteftation to the divine 
MifTion of thofe whom he feeth fit to 
fend on extraordinary Errands, for in- 
structing and reforming Mankind. 

This Subject may furnifh feveral ufe- 
ful Reflections. 

E 2 Firft 


Firft, What an awful Idea mould this give 
us of the Greatnefs and Majefty of God, 
confidered as the Lord of Nature ! The vaft 
inanimate material World, the Extent of 
which no human Imagination is able to 
conceive, is under his Direction, and he 
employeth every Part of this unwieldy 
Mafs, as it pleafeth him, to fubferve the 
wife Purpofes of his Providence. How 
huge a Body is this terraqueous Globe; 
compared with which, the loftieft and moil 
extended Mountains, the View of which is apt 
to ftrike us with Aftonimment, are fmall and 
inconiiderable Things! And yet this Earth 
is but a very minute Part of this ftupend- 
ous material Syftem, all of which is under 
the conrlant Influence of the almighty uni- 
verfal Sovereign, moved, actuated, and guided 
according to his Will. He can, with the 
fame Eafe, continue Things in the fettled 
Courfe and Order, or alter and change the 
whole Frame of Nature, or any Part of it. 
This is often reprefented in Scripture in the 
ftrongefl and moil magnificent Expreffions, 
the more effectually to imprefs our Hearts 
with a facred Awe and Veneration of his 
infinite Majefty. He is wife in Hearty and 
mighty in Strength : who hath hardened hitn- 
fcff againfi him, and hath profpered? Which 
removeth the Moimtains, and they h:ow not ; 
which overturneth them in his Anger : Which 



foaketh the Earth out of her Place, and the 
Pillars thereof tremble : Which commandeth 
the Sun, and it rifetb not -, andfeakth up the 
Stars : Which alone fpreadeth out the Hea- 
vens, and treadeth upon the Waves of the 
Sea. Job ix. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. He looketh to 
the Ends of the Earth, and feet h under the 
"whole Heaven, to make the Weight for the 
Winds ; and he weigheth the Waters by Mea- 

fure : And hath made a Decree for the Rain, 
and a Way for the Lightning of the Thunder. 
Chap, xxviii. 24, 25, 26. The Sea, that 
boifterous Element, is defcribed, by a noble 
Figure, as in the Hand of God like an In- 
fant bound in fwaddlingBands. Chap, xxxviii. 
8, 9. He is reprefented as having meted out 
Heaven with a Span, and co?nprehended the 
Duf of the Earth in a Meafnre, and weigh- 
ed the Mountains in Scales, and the Hills in 
a Balance. If. xl. 12. The Lord hath his 
Way in the Whirlwind, and in the Storm -, 
and the Clouds are the Duf of his Feet. He 
rebuketh the Sea, and maketh it dry, and 
dryeth up the Rivers : Bafhan languifijcth, 
and Carmel, and the Flower of Lebanon lan- 
guifheth. The Mountains quake at him, and 
the Hills melt. Nah. i. 3, 4, 5. He it is that 
commandeth the Morning, and caufeth the 
Day-fpring to know his Place. He can bind 
the fweet Influences of Pleiades, and loofe the 
Bands of Orion -, and can bring forth Maz- 
E 3 zarcth 


zarotb in his Seafon, and guide Ar Slur us with 
his Sons: For he hath appointed the Ordi- 
nances of Heaven, and Jet the Dominion 
thereof in the Earth. Jobxxxviii. 12, 31,32, 
33. This prefent Courfe of Things de- 
pendeth wholly upon his Will, and (hall 
continue while he feeth fit, and no longer ; 
and then, when it hath anfwered the De- 
figns of his Providence, this vaft Frame, 
or at leaft that Part of it to which we are 
more nearly related, fhall be taken down. 
For the Day of the Lord cometh, in the which 
the Heavens Jkall pafs away with a great 
Noife, and the Elements Jhaff melt with fer- 
vent Heat, the Earth alfo, and the Works 
that are therein, Jhall be burnt up. And this 
great Cataftrophe of Nature (hall be fucceed- 
ed by a new Face of Things, a new Heaven, 
and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth Righte- 
oufnefs. 2 Pet. iii. 10, 13. Surely when 
we confider all this, we fhould proftrate our- 
felves before him, filled with the moft ador- 
ing Thoughts of his incomprehenfible Ma- 
jefty. How mould fuch feeble Creatures as 
as we are be able to refift him, or ftand be- 
fore him when once he is angry ? Shall not 
we ftand in Awe of his Power, and dread his 
Difpleafure, who can wield and manage the 
whole Courfe of Nature as he pleafeth ? 

But fecondly, God's fovereign Dominion 
over the whole material World may alfo let us 



fee what a proper Object he is of our fleady 
Truft and Dependence. How happy (hall we 
be if our Help be in the Name of the Lord, 
who at firft made, and itill governeth Hea- 
ven and Earth, and hath this vaft univerfal 
Frame, and every Part of it, under his 
Direction, and at his Difpofal ! What can 
we want, or of whom mould we be afraid, 
if the Lord of Nature be our Friend ? 
What a comforting Confideration is it 
to a good Man, that the whole Series of 
natural Caufes is in the Hand of God, 
directed and over-ruled by infinite Wifdom, 
Righteoufnefs, and Goodnefs ! Whofoever 
coniidereth with Attention the State of 
Things, may eafily obferve a wife and be- 
nign Difpofition in the ordering and 
governing the inanimate material World, 
for the general Good of the vital, fenfitive, 
and rational Creation. It is made in num- 
berlefs Ways fubfervient to the Enjoyments 
and Happinefs even of the inferior Brute 
Animals, but efpecially of Mankind. And 
may we not then juftly conclude, that he 
will upon the whole over-rule and order 
the Courfe of Things, for the Benefit of 
thofe who love and ferve him in Sinceri- 
ty ? And if, for the prefent, he frequently 
maketh ufe of thefe Things to chaften them 
in this State of Trial and Difcipline, yet 
all mail in the Iflue be fo ordered, as to 
E 4 contribute 


contribute unto, and terminate in their 
great Happinefs. 

I fhall conclude this Difcourfe with ob^ 
ferving, that a due Confideration of God's 
Dominion and Sovereignty over the inani- 
mate Creation may convince us, that when 
the Courfe of Things in the natural World 
is difpofed to our Comfort and Advantage, 
e. g. when we enjoy healthful and fruitful 
Seafons, and the like, it is our Duty to 
give God the Praife. And, on the other 
Hand, when Things have a contrary Af- 
pect, we mould reverence his Hand, and 
humble ourfelves deeply before him. And 
it is very proper and reafonable for us, in 
all fuch Cafes, to apply to him by devout 
Prayer and Supplication. It is the Com- 
mand of God by the Prophet, A[k ye- 
of the Lor d Rain in the 'Time of the latter 
Rain, fo the Lord Jhall make bright Clouds % 
and give the??i Showers of Rain, to every one 
Grafs in the Field. Zech. x. i. And in 
the admirable Prayer which Solomon of- 
fered up at the Dedication of the Temple, 
particular Notice is taken of this : When 
Heaven is jhut up, and there is no Rain, be- 
caufe they have finned againjl thee ; if they 
■pray towards this Place, and confefs thy Name, 
and turn from their Sin, when thou affliclejl 
them: Then hear thou in Heaven, and for- 
give the Sin of thy Servants, and of thy People 



IfraeJ, that thou teach them the good Way 
wherein they ftoould walk, and give Rain up- 
on thy Land, which thou haft given to thy 
People for an Inheritance. I Kings viii. ^5, 36. 
And, in the following Words, If there be 
in the Land Famine or Pejlilence, Blafting or 
Mildew, they are directed to apply to God 
by Prayer and Repentance, that thefe 
Plagues may be removed. There is no- 
thing in this but what is highly agreer.Me 
to Reafon, and to the Practice of all Na- 
tions, among whom any Face of Religion 
hath been preferved. For though in fuch' 
Cafes fecond Caufes are not to be excluded, 
yet they are ftill to be regarded as under 
the Direction and Superintendency of the 
fupreme Governor, who fo condudteth and 
over-ruleth them, as to carry on the De- 
figns of his moral Administration towards 
Mankind. When therefore we are taught 
in Scripture to regard humble Prayer, and 
a fincere Repentance, as proper Means for 
procuring Blefiings and averting Calami- 
ties; it mud be acknowledged, that fuch a 
Conftitution is worthy of God, and is 
wifely fitted to keep up a Senfe of Religion, 
and of their abfolute Dependence upon 
God, on the Minds of Men. And God's 
having a gracious Regard to fuch Prayer 
and Repentance, fo as to confer thofe Blef- 
fings, and avert thofe Evils on the account 



of it, is perfectly agreeable to the Scheme 
of his wife and righteous Providence, and is 
a remarkable Inftance of his adj lifting na- 
tural Good and Evil to the Conftitution of 
the moral World. Prayer in fuch Cafes 
Is a very proper Act of Homage to God, and 
a fignificant Expreffion of our Dependence 
upon him, as well as tendeth to exercife 
and improve good and religious Affections 
and Difpolitions, that pious and devout 
Temper of Soul which becometh reafona- 
ble Creatures, towards the great and uni- 
verfal Lord of the Creation ; to whom be 
Glory and Dominion for ever and ever. 


God's Government and Care as ex- 
tending to the fenjitive Brute 


Matt. x. 29. 

Are not two Sparrows fold for a Farthing f 
And one of them fhall not fall to the Ground 
without your Father. 

AVING confidered the whole in- 
animate Creation, this vaft material 
World, as under the conftant Direction 
and Superintendency of Divine Providence; 
I fhall now proceed to confider God's provi- 
dential Care and Government as exercifed 
towards the Brute Animals, which are en- 
dued with Life and Senfation, but have not 

a Prin- 


a Principle of Reafon, nor are capable of 
moral Agency. And thefe are certainly 
of an higher and more valuable Kind than 
any Part of the inanimate Creation. Life 
in its lowed: Notion, as including Self- 
motion, and even the fmalleft Degree of 
Senfation, hath fomething in it more won- 
derful than the whole inanimate materia! 
World can furnifh. There is an amazing 
Difplay of the Wifdom and Power of God 
in the Formation of feniitive Beings, both 
in the Fabric of their Bodies, which is 
contrived and formed with a Skill that ex- 
ceedeth all human Imagination, and in 
the feveral Powers, Appetites, and Inftincts, 
which they are furnifhed with. And it is 
reafonable to believe that he that firft formed 
them exercifes conitant Care over them. 
How many different Species there may be 
of living Creatures which have Senfe and 
Perception, and yet are not moral Agents, 
difperfed throughout the feveral Regions 
of this vaft Univerfe, we cannot tell ; but 
that there are various Kinds of them here 
en Earth we well know. The great Au- 
thor of Nature feems to delight in dif- 
fering Life every where : The whole 
Earth is full of Vitality ; it Is as it were 
one vaft Mafs or Collection of living 
Creatures - y every Clod fwarms with Inha- 
bitants. And what a noble Aflonimment 

(ho ul d 


mould poflefs our Minds, to regard all thefe 
various Kinds of living fenfitive Beings, 
from the greater!; to the leaft and meaneft 
of them, as under the Inflection and Go- 
vernment of the univerfal Parent, and Lord 
of all ! 

The Government of Divine Providence, 
as exercifed towards inferior fenfitive Beings, 
or the irrational Brute | Animals, may be 
confidered either as more immediately re- 
fpecting themfelves and their own Benefit. 
As they are all of them, through the Good- 
nefs of Divine Providence, furnifhed with 
Organs and i^ppetites fuited to the different 
Kinds of Life for which thev are deiiened ; 
fo the very loweft and mean eft of them are 
in their Degree capable of an Happineis 
and Enjoyment, which is as truly fitted and 
accommodated to them, as higher Enjoy- 
ments are to Creatures of a higher Kind, 
and of more enlarged Capacities and 
Powers. And even with regard to thofe 
of them that appear to be moft minute and 
inconfiderable, and whofe Lives are of the 
fhorteft'Duration, it muft be confidered that 
their fliort Lives may be as well proportion- 
ed to them, as a much longer Life to Crea- 
tures of a greater Bulk. There may, for ought 
we know, be Creatures of fuch a Kind, that 
a Day may be to them a fufficient Time of 
Exiftence, and yield them as full Enjoyment 



as their Natures are capable of. And the 
ihorter their Lives are, there is a more 
quick Succemon of Individuals. And con- 
cerning the lea.fl of them it muft be owned , 
that their vital Exiftence and Enjoyment, 
fhort as it may feem to be, is certainly bet- 
ter than Non-exiftence, or than an inani- 
mate unperceptive Exiftence, deftitute of 
Life and Senfation. 

With regard to all thofe Animals which 
we are beft acquainted with, the Care of 
Divine Providence over them manifeftly ap- 
peareth in the Proviiion that is made for 
maintaining their fenfitive Life, for grati- 
fying their Appetites, and fcr enabling them 
to attain to the End for which they are de- 
figned. They are all carried by ftrong In- 
ftincls to ufe the propereft Methods for 
preferving Life, and to . fhun whatever is 
deftruftive to it, to feek after and to take 
that Kind of Food which is moft fuited to 
their Nature, to provide themfelves conve- 
nient Habitations, to propagate their Kind, 
and to take Care of their young in the 
fitteft Manner, whilft that Care is necef- 
fary, and no longer. Thefe feveral In- 
ftin<fts by which they are guided, and ac- 
cording to which they act wifely and fteadi- 
ly in certain Cafes, are not owing to any 
Contrivance or Reafon of their own, but to 
the fuperior Wifdom and Power of him 
I that 


that firft formed them, and ftill governeth 
them, and exercifeth a conftant Care over 
them. To this Care it is owing, that the 
feveral Species of them are ftill preferved 
and continued diftinct, and that a due Ba- 
lance among them is maintained. 

And as Reafbn and Obfervation, if duly 
attended to, lead us to acknowledge the 
conftant Care of Divine Providence to- 
wards the Brute Creatures, mere fenfitive 
Beings, fo it is very clearly and exprefly 
aflerted in the facred Writings. We 
are there told, that God giveth to the 
Beafi his Food, and to the young Ravetis 
which cry. Pfal. cxlvii. 9. The whole Brute 
Creation are reprefented as belonging to the 
Family of God, for whofe Suftenance he 
continually provideth. The/e all wait upon 
thee, that thou mayefi give them their Meat 
in due Seafon. That thou givejl them, they 
gather : Thou openejl thine Hand, they are 
filled with Good. It is added, Thou hidejl 
thy Face, they are troubled ; thou takefi away 
their Breath, they die, and return to their 
Duft. Thou fendejl forth thy Spirit, they are 
created ; and thou renewe(l the Face of the 
Earth. Pfal. civ. 27, 28, 29, 30. Among 
the Laws which God gave by Mofes, there 
are fome that prefcribe a kind Treatment 
even of the Brute Animals. And it is par- 
ticularly as one Defign of the Appoint- 


ment of the weekly Sabbath, that theirCattle 
might reft as well as themfelves. Exocl. 
xxiii. 12. God giveth it as a Reafon for 
having Compaffion on Nineveh, that not 
only there were Sixfcore Thoufand Perfons, 
that could not difcern between their right 
Hand and their left, i. e. Infants; but that 
there was alfo much Cattle there. Jonah iv. 
1 1 . And it is to lignify his Care even of 
the Brute Creation, that he is reprefented 
after the Deluge as making Covenant not 
only with Men, but with every living Crea- 
ture, of the Fowl, of the Cattle, and of eve- 
ry Beaft of the Earth, that he would not any 
more fend a general Flood to deflroy the 
Earth. Gen. ix. 10, 1 1 . He ftill fo governeth 
the Earth and its Productions, that there 
is ordinarily fufficient Provifion made not 
only for Men but for the inferior Ani- 
mals. He caiifeth Grafs to grow for the 
Cattle, as well as Herb for the Service of 
Man. Pfal. civ. 14. O Lord, thou prefervefi 
Man and Beaji, faith the devout Pfalmift, 
when celebrating God's univerfal Goodnefs 
and Benignity, Pfal. xxxvi. 6. 

But no where is the Care of Divine 
Providence towards the Brute Creatures 
more ftrongly exprefTed than by our Savi- 
our in thole remarkable Words, where 
fpeaking of fuch inconfiderable Creatures 
as the Sparrows, he faith, that not one of 



them falleth to the Ground without our hea- 
venly Father ; or, as he elfewhere ex* 
preiTeth it, Not one of them is forgotten be- 
fore God. Luke xii. 6. 

This Doctrine of our great heavenly 
Teacher deferveth fpeeial Notice. It hath 
indeed been cavilled againft, as if it were 
a degrading the divine Majefty to repre- 
fent him as concerning himfelf about fuch 
inconfiderable Things as thefe. And it is 
true, that, ftrictly fpeaking, the higher!: 
and molt, excellent of his Creatures may be 
faid to be beneath his Notice. Yet fince 
he hath thought fit to create fuch number- 
lefs Orders of Beings, it is no more unwor- 
thy of him to exercife a providential Care 
over them all from the higheft to the 
meaneft, than it was at firfl to create them. 
But we are apt to form a very wrong Judg- 
ment in this Matter. Many of the Crea- 
tures which appear mean and inconfider- 
able to us, and unworthy of our Notice or 
Regard, are not really fo in themfelves ; 
and it is only owing to our Imperfection 
or Ignorance, that we are apt to defpife 
them. We are prone to meafure all Things 
by the Relation they bear to us, and by their 
immediate Ufefulnefs to us, or the Appear- 
ance they make to our Senfes ; which, 
though wifely accommodated for our Con- 
venience, are not fitted for penetrating into 
Vol. I. F the 


the Natures and Effences of Things. Even 
the meaneft living Creatures have a Life 
and Enjoyment of their own, fuited to the 
Rank they hold in the Scale of Beings, and 
may have many Ufes both with, regard to 
themfelves, and other Beings, that we know 
nothing of. And to fuperior Intelligences, 
that do not judge by grofs Senfes, as we do, 
but have a clear Difcernment of their nice 
and curious Mechanifm, the numberlefs Va- 
riety and exact Adjuftment of their feveral 
Parts, their Appetites and Inftincts, and 
the Ufes to which they are defigned, they 
may appear far from defpicable, and may 
reveal many "Wonders and Beauties; and fo 
they would do to us if we had more en- 
larged Views. All the living Creatures are 
admirable in their feveral Ways ; and the 
great Author of Nature, and Parent of the 
Univerfe, who feeth not as Man feeth, but 
looketh with a benign Eye upon all his 
Works, delighteth in communicating Hap- 
pinefs to them in their feveral Gradations, 
and is pleafed with their feveral Enjoy- 
ments. The Sun, which dirTufeth its Rays 
to the meaneft Infects and Reptiles, as well 
as to the nobler Kind of Animals, and 
imparteth its Light and Warmth to them 
all, and which, were its Beams intellectual, 
might be fuppofed to extend its Care and 
Cognizance to the frnalleft as well as the 



greateft, exhibiteth a fignificant Emblem 
of the univerfal Care of Divine Providence ; 
which reacheth to all the living Creatures, 
not neglecting or defpifing the meaneft of 
them. As the making a World full of Be- 
ings that have Life, fo the exercifing a con- 
tinual Care over them in all their various 
Kinds and Degrees of Life, giveth a noble 
Idea of the immenfe Power, Wifdom, and 
Goodnefs of the Supreme Being. The Ob- 
jection that is made againft this, as if it 
were beneath the Majefty of God to con- 
cern himfelf about fuch trifling Matters, 
which even Men themfelves would think 
unworthy of their Notice ; I fay, this Ob- 
jection, though varnifhed over with aPretence 
of confulting the divine Honour, doth in 
Reality argue very narrow and unworthy 
Conceptions of his infinite Majefty. It is 
in effect a judging of God by ourfelves. 
Man's not concerning himfelf about fuch 
Things is owing to his Imperfection. He 
is not capable, in this prefent State, of dis- 
cerning their real inward Natures and Ef- 
fences. His Views are narrow and limited, 
and he cannot take in many Things at once. 
If therefore he were to attend very clofely 
to fuch minute Matters, he muft neglect 
Things which are of greater Confequence 
to his Happinefs; and his Mind would 
foon be diftracted and overwhelmed with a 
F 2 Mul- 


Multiplicity of Cares. But it is otherwise 
with a Being of infinite Perfection, who 
is intimately prefent to every Part of this 
vaft Creation, and knoweth, and taketh 
Care of all Things at once, with the 
fame Eafe as if he had only one fingle 
Thing to mind. His noticing the leaf! 
Things doth not at all take him off from 
thofe Things which appear to be of 
greater Importance ; nor doth his attending 
to the higher!:, caufe him to neglect: the 
meaneft. He taketh Care of all y in a Way 
fuited to their feveral Natures, Conditions, 
and Circumftances. And as he hath wifely 
eftablimed general Laws, according to 
which he proceedeth in his Dealings with 
the feveral Orders of fenfitive Beings, fo in 
his conftant Providence he feeth to the Ex- 
ecution and Accomplifhment of thofe Laws. 
The Events relating to them, their begin- 
ning to exift, their continuing in Life, and 
having an End put to their Life and 
Exiftence, are all known to him, and or- 
dered by him, agreeably to thofe general 
Laws and Conftitutions ; except where in 
extraordinary Cafes he may think fit to ap- 
point otherwife. 

Secondly, God's Government of the Brute 
Animals may be alfo confidered as reipecl:- 
ing Man, in as much as he frequently 
maketh Ufe of them for carrying on and 
executing his wife, his benevolent, or 



righteous Purpofes towards Mankind. It 
is an Inftance of the Wifdom and Good- 
nefs of Divine Providence, that as there is 
a near Relation between the feveral Orders 
of Beings, fo the lower, befides their own 
proper Exercifes and Enjoyments, are often 
made to contribute to ferve the Ufes of 
Creatures of an higher Rank in the Scale 
of Beings. The merely fenfitive are in 
many Inftances fubordinate and fubfervient 
to the rational and moral ; and as Man is 
the chief Inhabitant of this lower World, 
the inferior Brute Animals are manifeftly 
defigned to be fubfervient to his Ufe. And 
indeed, with regard to many of them, it 
feems evident that the peculiar Inftincts 
given them are intended not merely for 
their own Benefit, but to render them 
more ferviceable to Man, that they may 
contribute in various Ways to his Necef- 
fities, his Convenience, or Pleafure. They 
are frequently made Ufe of by the wife 
and righteous Governor of the World, to 
anfwer the Ends of his moral Adminif- 
tration towards Mankind, in a Way of 
Reward or Punifhment. It is a Promife 
of the Law of Mofes to the Ifraelites, that 
if they hearkened diligently unto the Voice 
of the Lord, bleffedftio\j\&be the Fruit oft\it\v 
Cattle, the Increafe of their Kme, and the 
Flocks of their Sheep. Deut. xxviii, 4. and 

F 3 the 


the contrary is denounced againft them in 
Cafe of their Difobedience. Ver. 18. It is 
mentioned as a great Inftance of national 
Profperity, when their Sheep bring forth 
Thoi/fands, and their Oxen are fir on g to la- 
bour. Pial. cxliv. 13, 14. And on the 
contrary, it is juftly looked upon as a 
grievous Judgment upon Mankind, when 
the Beajls groan, and the Herds of 
Cattle are perplexed, becaufe there is no 
Tafiure ; yea, the Flocks oj Sheep are made 
dcfolate, Joel i. 18. In thefe Cafes the 
Hand of God muff be acknowledged 
governing and difpoling the Events that 
immediately relate to the Brute Creation, 
fo as to turn to the Benefit or Punifh- 
ment of Men. How often has it hap- 
pened that a contagious Diflemper among 
the Cattle has proved a very heavy Ca- 
lamity upon a Nation. This ought to 
awaken ferious Reflections. Divine Pro- 
vidence mould be awfully reverenced 
in fuch Difpenfations. And if Care be 
not taken to improve them, it may pro- 
voke a righteous Gcd to inflict ftill fe<- 
verer Judgments. 

Among the Things threatened in the 
Law of Mofes againff. the Jfraelites, as 
Punifhments to be inflicted upon them for 
their Idolatry and Wickednefs 5 one was, 
that they Ihould be infeiled by wild Beafts, 



of which there were great Numbers in the 
Deflirts adjoining to the Land of Canaan. 
I will fend wild Beafls among you, which 
Jhall rob you of your Children, and dejiroy 
your Cattle, and make you few in Number ; 
and your Highways Jhall be de folate. Lev. xxvi. 
22. And in fuch Cafes it mufr. be faid 
that the wild Beads acted according to 
their Nature; but the Direction of them 
at fuch a Time, to this or that Part of 
the Country, and to fuch particular Per- 
fons, was the Work of Providence for ex- 
ecuting its wife and juft Purpofes : On 
the contrary, it is promifed, that if they 
walked in his Statutes, he would rid evil 
Beajls out of the hand. Ver. 6. God can, 
when he feeth fit, reftram their Fury, and 
over-rule their natural Inftin&s and Ap- 
petites. So the hungry Lions, contrary to 
their Nature, were restrained from hurting 
Daniel, for God fent his Angel and Jhut 
their Mouths, as it is expreffed, Dan. vi. 
22. Yet, immediately after, when his 
Accufers, with their Wives and Children, 
were caff into the Den, the Lions fell upon 
them with the utmofl Fury, and brake all 
their Bones in Pieces before they came at the 
Bottom of the Den. Ver. 24. The Plagues 
of Egypt fitrnifh remarkable Inftances of 
God's making ufe of divers Kinds of living 
Creatures for executing his Judgments. 
F 4 And 


And the Prophet Joel fpeaking of the Lo- 
cufts, the Caterpillars, and other devouring 
Infects, reprefenteth them as a mighty Army 
fent by God in his righteous Judgments 
to lay wafte the Land. See the firft and 
fecond Chapters of Joel. It were eafy to 
produce Inftances from the moft credible 
Hiftorians, of great Devaluations commit- 
ted by the moft inconfiderable Creatures, 
which have been Inftruments in the Hand 
of God for chaftifing Nations*. With re- 
gard to particular Perfons, even in Cafes 
that are ufually called Accidents, it may 
pleafe God to make ufe of Brute Creatures 
for executing the Purpofes of his Provi- 
dence. Thus, e. g. if a Man be bitten by 
a Dog, or gored by a Bull, or thrown and 
killed by an Horfe, though there is nothing 
in fuch Inftances but what is agreeable to 
the Courfe and Order of natural Caufes, 
yet the applying them at that Time, and 
to that particular Perfon, is to be regarded 
as under the Direction of God's moft wife 
Providence, who hath all the Creatures at 
his Difpofah 

I mall conclude with a few Reflections. 

Firft, What an amiable Idea Ihould it 
give us of the Goodnefs and Benignity, the 

* See feveral Inftances of this kind colle&ed by 
Becbart Hieroz : Par. I, lib. 3. cap, 32, 34. 

5 Kindnefs 


Kindnefs and Condefcenfion of the fupreme 
univerfal Lord, that he exercifeth a con- 
usant Care over the various Orders of the 
brutal Kind, the meaneft not excepted ! 
He who humbleth himfelf in beholding 
the Things which are done in Heaven, 
doth not defpife or overlook the leaft, the 
feemingly moft defpicable of all feniitive 
Beings : He fo ordereth the inanimate 
World, that every Part of it affordeth 
Food, Habitation, or Entertainment, to fome 
Beings that have Life. And if we had but 
3 diftant View of all the innumerable 
Kinds of fenfitive Beings, and knew the 
Provifion made for them all according 
to their feveral Capacities, furely it would 
fill us with Aftonifhment, to confider the 
inexhauftible Benignity df the kind Pa- 
rent of the Univerfe, who every where 
fpreadeth Life and Enjoyment in uncon- 
ceivably various Degrees. The wife Man 
obferves, that the righteous Man regardeth 
the Life of his Beaft. Prov. xii. 10. He is 
not for treating even the lower Orders of 
living Creatures with unnecefTary Harfh- 
nefs and Cruelty. And in this he is an 
Image of the fupreme Goodnefs. God is 
introduced as declaring, Every Beaji of the 
Forejl is mine, and the Cattle upon a thoufand 
Hills : I know all the Fowls of the Mountains-, 
and the wild Beajls of the Field are mine. 



Pfal. 1. 10, ii. They are all, even to 
the leaft of them, under his benign Care ; 
and all this without Diffraction or Con- 
fufion. And he ordereth it fo, that they 
have fuitable Relifhes of fenlitive Happinefs, 
and are carried by the Attractions of Plea- 
flire to perform thofe Actions which are 
moft necerTary for the Support of their Be- 
ings, for fupplying themfelves with Food, 
for continuing their Kind, and taking Care 
of their Young : And, whether their Lives 
be longer or fhorter, they are furnifhed 
with Enjoyments proper for them whilft 
they live, and have not a Forefight of 
Death to make them uneaiy , fo that, 
upon the whole, their Exiflence is an Ad- 
vantage to them : And if fome of them 
prove Food to other Animals, there is 
nothing in this Conftitution that can 
juflly be found fault with. For in 
this Cafe it mud be faid, that as during 
the Time of their Lives, they have Enjoy- 
ments fuited to their Natures ; fo the Kind 
of Death they iliffer, is generally lefs grie- 
vous and lingering, than if they died of 
themfelves in the natural Way; and at 
the fame Time is rendered fubfervient to 
the maintaining the Lives of other Ani- 
mals, and contributes to their Pleafure and 
Enjoyment. How mould we, when we 
cpiifider thefe Things, call upon the whole 



Creation around us, to adore and blefs the 
univerfal Lord, and fupreme Governor of 
the World ! And fince the Brute Crea- 
tures are unable to do it of themfelves, 
let us offer up a Tribute of Praife on their 
Account as well as our own, and lend 
them a Voice and Songs ; a noble Speci- 
men of which we have in the rapturous 
Strains of the devout Pfalmift in the 148th 
Pfalm, where he calls upon Beafts and 
all Cattle, creeping Things and flying 
Fowl, to praife the Lord. 

Secondly, Another Reflection which may 
be made upon this Subject is, that if God 
governs and takes Care even of the in- 
ferior Brute Animals, this ought to ftreng- 
then our Faith with Relation to the Care 
he exercifeth towards Mankind, and fhould 
convince us, that all our Concernments 
and Affairs are, in a particular Manner, 
under the Superintendency of Divine Pro- 
vidence. This is what our Saviour hath 
efpecially in View, when he declares to 
his Difciples concerning the Sparrows, not 
one of them falleth to the Ground without 
your Father; or is forgotten before God : 
For he adds, Fear ?tot therefore y ye are of 
more Value than many Sparrows. Mat. x. 
29, 3 1 . And to the fame Purpofe, in his 
admirable Difcourfe again (I anxious tor- 
menting Cares and Solicitude, Mat. vi. 
Behold, faith he, the Fowls of the Air ; 



for they fow not, neither do they reap, tier 
gather into Bams ; yet your heavenly Father 

feedeth them. Are ye not much better than 
they ? Ver. 26. The Argument is clear and 
ftrong, that if the Care of God's Provi- 
dence extendeth even to the irrational 
Brute Creatures, we may be fure he will 
not neglect the rational and much no- 
bler Part of his Creation. This is not 
to be underftood, as if we were not to 
fbw or reap any more than the Brute 
Animals, who are incapable of doing this ; 
but the Meaning is, that as he provideth 
for the Brutes in a Way fuited to their Na~ 
tures, fo he will much more provide for 
Men in a Way fuited %o the rational Na- 
ture he hath given them, which requireth, 
that they mould apply themfelves to the 
Ufe of all proper Means according to their 
Ability. If they do this, they may, with- 
out anxious Solicitude, commit themfelves 
to Divine Providence, depending^ upon it, 
that he who negle&eth not the inferior 
fenfitive Beings, will take Care of the hu- 
man Race, efpecially thofe of them that 
exercife a regular Trufl: in him, and will 
grant what he feeth to be really good and 
needful for them. 

Thirdly, From what hath been offered 
concerning the Dqminion and Sovereignty 
of Divine Providence over both the in- 


animate and Brute Creation, we may fee 
how careful we mould be to pleafe and 
ferve God, and how much it concerneth us 
to fecure an Intereft in his Favour. We 
live in a World where every Thing above, 
beneath, on every Side of us, is in the Hand 
of God, and under his Direction. If we 
be rebellious and difobedient to his Voice, 
he can arm all the Creatures againft us. 
He can caufe the Earth we tread upon to 
(hake under us, and fwallow us up ; he 
can point his awful Thunder at our Heads, 
or can taint the Air we breath in with a 
poifonous Influence ; he can commiflion 
the Water to overwhelm us, or the Fire to 
confume us ; or he can make the Brute 
Beafts the Inftruments of our Puniihment. 
And that he doth not fo, is only owing to 
his wonderful Patience and Forbearance, 
becaufe he is not willing that any mould pe- 
riih, but that all mould come to Repentance. 
On the other Hand, if we lay hold of 
his offered Mercy upon the moil gracious 
and reafonable Terms of his Covenant, and 
are careful to walk before him unto all 
pleafing, he can make the whole Creation 
to be as it were in a Covenant of Friend- 
ship with us, and to fubferve his own 
kind and gracious Intentions towards us. 
This is beautifully expreffed by Elipbaz t 
when he exhorteth Job to return to God, 



and be at Peace with him : Thou Jljalt 
be in League, faith he, with the Stones 
cf the Field-, and the Beafis of the Field, 
faith he, flail be at Peace with thee: 
And thou flalt know that thy Tabernacle 
jhall be in Peace ; and thou flak vijit thy 
Habitation, and flalt not Jin. Job. v. 23, 
24. And to the fame Purpofe, Hof. ii. 
18. God is introduced as declaring con- 
cerning his People, In that Day will I 
make a Covenant for them with the Beajls of 
the Field, and with the Fowls of Heaven, 
and with the creeping 'Things of the Ground, 
And Ver. 21, 22. And it flail come to 
pajs in that Day, I will hear? faith the 
Lord, I will hear the Heavens, and they 
Jhall hear the Earth : And the Earth Jhall 
hear the Corn, and the Wine, and the Oil, and 
they flail hear JezreeL Where there is held 
forth to us a wonderful Concatenation of 
fecond Caufes, all co-operating, under the 
Direction and Influence of God, the fu- 
preme Difpofer, for the Good of his People. 
Let us, therefore, learn to yield a willing 
and entire Subjection to the great Lord 
of the Univerfe. Let us make him our 
Friend, and all Things mall work toge- 
ther for our Good. Either none of the 
Creatures mall be fuffered to hurt us, or, 
if they do, we may be fure this is ordered 
for wife Ends, and mail be over-ruled for 
2 our 


our greater Benefit. For they can do no 
more to us than he feeth proper to per- 
mit. Him, therefore, let us reverence and 
adore ; on him let us place our Confidence, 
and not be afraid what any Creature can 
do unto us. And to this bleffed and only 
Potentate, the Sovereign Lord of the Crea- 
tion, who doth whatfoever he wills in 
Heaven and in Earth, be Glory and Do- 
minion for ever and ever. Amen. 


On GocTs providential Government 
with regard to his reafonable Crea- 
tures > moral Agents. 


Psalm ciii. io> 

The Lord hath prepared his Throne in the 
Heavens ; and his Kingdom ruleth over 


H E Dominion and Government of 
Divine Providence hath been con- 
iidered as extending to the inanimate Crea- 
tion, or the material World, and alfo as 
extending to the fenfitive Part of the Crea- 
tion, or the Brute Animals : Let us now 
take a View of it as exercifed towards rea- 
fonable Beings, moral Agents, which are 
undoubtedly the nobleft and moil excel- 
Vol.I. G lent 


lent of God's Creatures. The material 
Syftem, whatever Order or Beauty may 
be found in it, is not itfelf confcious of 
that Beauty and Order; nor are mere fen- 
iitive Beings capable of making proper Re- 
flections upon it, or of admiring, obeying, 
adoring the great Parent and Lord of the 
Univerfe. This is the fole Privilege of ra- 
tional, intelligent Beings. If therefore the 
Providence of God extendeth to any Crea- 
tures at all, we may be lure that he exer- 
cifeth a fpecial Care over his reafonable 
Creatures; and, lince he hath given them 
fuch noble Faculties and Powers, will go- 
vern them in a Way fuitable to thofe Facul- 
ties and Powers. And this certainly is the 
moll admirable Part of the divine Admini- 
strations. For to govern numberlefs Millions 
of active intelligent Beings, fo unconceivably 
various in their Thoughts, Inclinations, 
and Counfels, and who have each of them 
a Will of their own, and a Power of deter- 
mining their own Actions ; to exercife a 
conftant Superintendency over them, and 
direct and order the Events relating to 
them, and to difpenfe to them proper Re- 
tributions, not only according to their out- 
ward Conduct, but the inward Thoughts 
and Diiporitions of their Flearts; I fay, 
thus to govern them without infringing 
the Liberty which belongeth to them as 



moral Agents, muft needs argue a Wifdom 
as well as Power, that exceed eth our 
Compreheniion, and which can only be 
found in the infinite Mind. 

It is God's Government of reafonable 
Creatures, which the Pfalmift appears to 
have principally in View, when he faith 
that the Lord hath prepared, or, as it might 
be rendered, hath eftablifhed his throne in 
the Heavens ; and his Kingdom ruleth over 
all. Heaven is the rnofc magnificent Part 
of his Dominion; there he exhibiteth the 
brighteft Difplays of his Majefty and Glo- 
ry j and therefore it is reprefented in Scrip- 
ture under the glorious Epithet of the 
Throne of God, and his Dwelling-place. 
There he reigneth over all the Hofts of 
Angels in their feveral bright Orders and 
Degrees. And accordingly the Pfalmift, in 
the Words immediately following, calleth 
upon the Angels to blefs and adore the 
great univerfal Sovereign : Blefs the Lord, 
ye his Angels, that excel in Strength, that 
do his Commandments, hearkening to the Voice 
of his Word. But though God reigneth 
moft illuftrioufly in Heaven, yet his Pre- 
fence and Dominion is not confined there. 
His Kingdom ruleth over all. This vaft 
Univerfe is his Empire, the Extent of 
which tranfeendeth all human Imagination. 
How many different Orders of reafonable 
G 2 Beings 


Beings there may be, which inhabit the 
feveral Parts of this ftupendous Frame, we 
cannot tell ; but whatever they be, they 
are all under the Government of God, from 
the higheft of them to the meaneft. But 
efpecially he ruleth over all Mankind, of 
whatfoever Tribe or Tongue, or Family or 
Nation : They are all equally the Subjects 
of his Kingdom. 

Before I enter into a diftincl: Considera- 
tion of the Kingdom or Government of 
God, with regard to the rational moral 
Part of the Creation, it may be proper 
to premife fome general Obfervations con- 
cerning it. 

Firft, God hath an indifputable Right 
to the Dominion or Government over all 
reafonable Beings throughout the Univerfe, 
in as much as they are all his Creatures, 
who to him owe their Exiftence, and by 
him are continually upheld in Life. He 
made them what they are, and hath af- 
figned them the Rank they hold in the 
Creation. He gave them their admirable 
Faculties and Powers, and maintaineth 
them in the Ufe of thofe Faculties and 
Powers; and- therefore he is by neceffary 
Right their abfolute Proprietor and {ove~ 
reign Lord, who hath the mod juft Claim 
to their higheft Love, Reverence, Subjec- 
tion, and Obedience. His Dominion over 



them, and Right to rale and govern them, 
is not derived merely from any Compact 
or Covenant with them, nor doth it de- 
pend upon their own Confent, but is 
founded in the Nature of Things, and can 
never be alienated. As they are all the 
Creatures of his Power, fo they are all the 
Subjects of his Government, whether they 
will or no : And in this refpect, his Domi- 
nion is of a peculiar and unequalled Kind, 
the like of which cannot poffibly be found 
in any created Beings with regard to one 

Secondly, It flrengtheneth this farther, 
when we confider how well qualified he 
is for the Government of the rational mo- 
ral World, by the infinite Perfection of 
his Nature. As his Creation and Prefer- 
vation of all Things giveth him an un- 
doubted Right to rule them, fo his infinite 
Excellency rendereth it fit and reafonable 
that he mould rule. Yea, it may be faid 
to give him an additional Right to it, fince 
it is, in the Nature of Things, fit that the 
moft perfect and excellent of Beings mould 
prefide over Beings that are infinitely in- 
ferior. So that if we mould, by an im- 
pofiible Suppofition, put the Cafe, that 
this World, and the Things of it, had 
come into Being by Chance, yet when once 
they did exift, the abfolutely perfect Being 
G 3 would 


would have a Right to govern and order 
them, on the Account of the tranfcendent 
Excellency of his Nature; and no other could 
be fit, or have a Right to do it : Forajmuch 
as there is none like unto thee, O Lord, 
faith the Prophet, thou art great, and thy 
Name is great in Might : Who would not fear 
thee, thou King of 'Nations f For to thee doth 
it appertain: Forafmuch as among all the 
wife Men of the Nations, and in all their 
Kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. Jer. x. 
6, 7. Becaufe there is none like unto God 
in Might and Wifdom, therefore to him 
doth the Dominion appertain. He, and 
he alone, hath almighty Power, whereby 
he can do whatfoever he willeth, and is 
every Way able to execute all the Purpofes 
of his Government. And his Underftand- 
ing and Wifdom is infinite, whereby he 
knoweth, in every pomble Inftance, what 
is belt and fitted: to be done ; and hath a 
perfect Knowledge, not only of all the Ac- 
tions of all reafonable Beings, but of the mod: 
fecret Counfels and Intents of their Hearts, 
without which' he might commit Miftakes 
in Government, and reward or puniiri 
Perfons or Actions that did not deferve it. 
The Eyes of the Lord are in every Place, be- 
holding the Evil and the Good. Prov. xv. 3. 
He is prefent to the whole Creation, and 
is therefore capable of feeing and ordering 



every Thing with his own. Eyes : Add to 
this, ' that he is of boundlefs Goodnefs and 
Benignity, and delighteth in the Happinefs 
of his Creatures. The Lord is good to all ; 
and his tender Mercies are over all his Works, 
Pial. cxlv. 9. He is alio a Being of im- 
partial Righteoufnefs and fpotlefs Purity. 
Right eoufnefs and Judgment are the Habita- 
tion, or, as it is rendered in the Margin, 
the Eftablifhment of his Throne. Pfal xcvii. 
2. Taking all thefe Things in Conjuncti- 
on, it appeareth, that God, and he alone, 
is qualified for the Government of the 
World; Co that if we were to wifh for 
ourfelves, for our own Happinefs, and that 
of all the Orders of Beings throughout the 
vaft Univerfe, we mould be defirous that 
the univerfalAdminiftration of Thines mould 
be in the Hands of God. And there could 
not be a more unnatural or monftrous 
Thought, nothing that could poffibly argue 
greater Folly, as well as Depravity of 
Heart, than to wifh that there were no 
Providence, or that God did not rule. If 
we could fuppofe it to be left, to the free 
Vote and Ele&ion of all intelligent Beings, 
they muft all concur in this as their una- 
nimous Defire, if they followed the Dic- 
tates of Reafon and Nature, that God 
mould govern the World, and all Things 
that are therein, becaufe it is for the uni- 
G 4 verfal 


verfal Good that it fhould be fo, and be- 
caufe no other is fit to govern it but he 

Thirdly, As to the Nature of God's 
Government of the World, it is, in the 
ftrkleft and propereft Senfe, independent, 
fupreme, and abiblute, though at the fame 
Time moft juft and righteous. This ap- 
peareth, if we confider what hath been al- 
ready obferved, that his Right to Govern- 
ment dependeth, not upon the Confent of 
his Creatures, or upon any original Com- 
pacl:, but upon his Creation and Preferva- 
tion of all Things ; in confequence of 
which, he hath an entire and abfolute 
Property and Dominion over them : and 
that he is alfo pofTeifed of infinite Power and 
Perfection; and infinite Power and Perfec- 
tion muft, in the Nature of Things* have 
abiblute Sovereignty. He hath no Supe- 
rior to control him, or give him Laws j 
no Counfellor to guide him : For who hath 
direBed the Spirit of the Lord } or being his 
Counfellor hath taught bimf I fa. xl. 13, 
Nor is there any Tribunal to which he can 
be accountable. And that Power, above 
which there is no other, and beyond which 
there can be no Appeal, muft be truly 
and properly abfolute. This cannot be faid 
of any created Beings, however exalted 
they may appear to be. There is a Power 



above them, and infinitely greater than 
theirs, that is able to limit and control 
them, and an higher Tribunal to which 
they are accountable. Hence the wife 
Man mentioneth it as a Conlideration 
which fhculd fupport us againft the Op- 
prerlion of earthly Princes or Magistrates, 
that he that is higher than the hightjl, re~ 
gardeth, and there be higher than they. 
Eccl. v. 8. God is faid to be the King of 
Kings, and Lord of Lords. 1 Tim. vi. 15. 
and to be a great King above all Gods. Pfal. 
xcv. 3. The mightieft earthly Monarchs 
cannot be faid to be ftrictly abfolute and in- 
dependent : For, as they all depend upon 
God, fo they all have fome Dependence 
upon their Fellow-creatures, and even 
upon their own Subjects ; they need the 
Aififtance of their Inferiors ; nor can they 
properly govern or execute their Laws 
by themfelves. But God's Dominion and 
Sovereignty is independent as his Exiftence. 
His Authority is felf-derived, and centring 
in himfelf alone. As he is all -fufficient 
and felf- fufficient, fo he needeth no exter- 
nal Affiftance or Support for any Thin? 
without him to maintain and eftablifh his 
Government. And if he ufeth Inftru- 
ments in the Management or Admini- 
stration of it, it is not that he ftandeth in 
{he leaft need of their Counfel or Affift- 


ance. Juftly therefore is he called, not 
only the bleffed, but the only Potentate, 
i Tim vi. 15. becaufe there is no other 
that is properly lupreme, and an abfolute 
Potentate, but he alone. 

This abfolute Sovereignty of God and of 
his Government, is frequently and ftrongly 
defcribed in the holy Scriptures, and feem- 
eth to be one Thing particularly intended 
here, when it is faid that the Lord hath 
eflablifhed his 'Throne in the Heavens. To 
the fame Purpofe it is declared, Pfal. cxv. 
3. Our God is in Heaven, he hath done 
whatfoever he pleafed. We are allured, 
that all things were created not only by him, 
but for him. Col. i. 16. and that for his 
Pleafure they are, and were created. Rev. iv. 
1 1 . And as his good Pleafure was the 
Caufe of their being made, fo according 
to his good Pleafure they are difpofed and 
governed : He is faid to work all Things 
according to the Counfel of his own Will. 
Eph. i. 1 1. He doeth all Things according 
to his own Will; but it is called the Coun- 
fel of his Will, to fignify, that though it is 
fovereign abfolute Will, it is not mere ar- 
bitrary unreafonable Will, but proceedeth 
upon the wifefl Reafons, always known 
to himfelf, though often hidden from us. 
Nebuchadnezzar, that haughty Monarch, 
was brought to fuch a Senfe of God's abfo- 
3 lute 


lute Dominion and Sovereignty, that he 
made that noble Acknowledgment, All the 
Inhabitants of the Earth are reputed as no- 
thing , and he doeth according to his Will in 
the Army of Heaven, and among the Inhabi- 
tants of the Earth ; and none can Jlay his 
Hand, or fay unto him, What docjl thou? 
Dan. iv. 35. His Power over us is com- 
pared to that of the Potter over his Clay. 
Jer. xviii. 6. O Houfe of Ifrael, cannot I do 
with you as this Potter ? faith the Lord. 
Behold, as the Clay is in the Potters Hands, 
Jo are ye in mine Hand, O Houfe of Ifrael. 
And Ifa. xlv. 9. Wo unto him that f rivet h 
with his Maker : Let the PotJJjerd ftrive 
with the Potfierds of the Earth : Shall the 
Clay fay unto him that fajlnoneth it, What 
makejl thou ? or thy Work, He hath no 
Hands f 

God hath a Right to do many Things 
towards his Creatures, which they have 
no Right to do towards one another. 
Earthly Princes are of the fame Kind of 
Beings with their Subjects, Flefli and 
Blood as well as they; and as they did 
not give them Exigence, fo they have not 
a proper abfolute Right over their Lives, 
to take them away at their own Pleafure. 
But God is the abfolute Lord of the Lives 
and Properties of his Creatures, and can 
difpofe of them as feemeth fit to his infi- 


nite Wifdom. The Lord killeth, and mak- 
eth alive ; he bringeth down to the Grave, 
and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, 
and maketh rich ; he bringeth low, and lift- 
eth up. i Sam. ii. 6, 7. As the Creature de- 
riveth all from his Will and Pleafure, and 
abfolutely dependeth upon him, fo no 
Creature can have a proper Claim againft 
him, either for Life or Property, which 
it is in his Power to withdraw or to conti- 
nue, as beft anfwereth the Ends of his Pro- 
vidence. And in this he tranfgrerTeth no 
Rule of Juftice : For he is not bound by 
the Laws made for fecuring Mens Lives 
and Properties againft one another. The 
Juftice of God's Government and Provir 
dence is of a tranfcendent Nature, and is 
not tied down to our fcanty Rules; but is 
meafured by a much fuperior Rule, the 
Reafon of his all-comprehending Mind, 
which will ever carry him to do what is, 
all Things confidered, beft and fitteft upon 
the whole, and what becometh his own 
glorious Perfections, and the Relations he 
fuftaineth towards his Creatures. 

From this abfolute and independent Do- 
minion and Sovereignty of God, it fol- 
loweth, that there muft needs be many 
Things in the Courfe of his Adminiftra- 
tions, which are above our Reach, and of 
which we cannot pretend to be competent 



judges. Even with regard to earthly So^ 
vereigns, it would be juftly looked upon 
as contrary to the Duty of good Subjects, 
and to the Reverence they owe to Authori- 
ty, to find Fault with every Thing in the 
Princes Actings they do not know the 
Reafon of, and to expect to be let into all 
the Secrets of Government. Many Cafes 
there are, in which it would be account- 
ed highly arrogant to demand a Reafon 
from an earthly Prince or Matter, for his 
acting after this or that Manner in Matters 
that depend upon his own Prerogative 
and free Pleafure. And much more inex- 
cufably infolcnt would it be for fuch Crea- 
tures as we are, or for any created Beings, 
to pretend to demand a Reafon for all God's 
Proceedings, as if we had a Right to cen- 
fure every Thing in the Courfe of his 
Difpenfations which we cannot precifely 
account for. Why doft thou Jlrive againjl 
him f (faith E/ihu) for he giveth not an Ac- 
count of any of his Matters. Job xxxiii. 13. 
Who can fearch the Depths of his facred 
Counfels, or undertake exactly to define 
what he> in his infinite Wifdom and abfo- 
lute Sovereignty, may rightfully ordain and 
appoint ? If we would but allow God the 
Rights of a Sovereign, in the free Diftribu-" 
tion of his Favours, in ordering the Times, 
Seafons, Manner, Degrees of conferring 
I Benefits, 


Benefits, or of forbearing, delaying, inflict- 
ing Corrections and Punifhments, and in 
talcing thofe Meafures which he judgeth 
to be the fitted and beft, it would prevent 
many of the Objections that are made 
againft his Providence and Government. 
He hath undoubtedly (as was hinted be- 
fore) wife and good Reafons for acting as 
he doth, even in Things which feem to 
depend upon mere Prerogative and fove- 
reien Will and Pleafure; but we have not 
the leaf! Right to demand to know thofe 
Reafons. Or, if he mould fee fit at fome 
Time or other to let us into the Reafons 
of his Proceedings, yet he may not think 
it proper to difcover them to us at prefent, 
becaufe we cannot be rightly capable of 
judging of them till the whole Scheme 
mall be compleated. 

Fourthly, The laft general Obfervation 
I would make concerning God's Govern- 
ment towards reafonable and moral Agents, 
is, that the great End of it is to promote 
their real Happinefs, in a Way worthy of 
himfelf, and fuited to their rational Na- 
tures. The principal End of all good hu- 
man Governments, is the public Happi- 
nefs, or the Good of the governed. And 
Reafon and Juftice require that it mould be 
fb. For, fince thofe that govern, are them- 
felves of the fame Species of Beings with 



thofe that are governed by them, it is 
manifeft that the Good of the whole Com- 
munity is, in the Nature of the Thing, of 
greater Worth and Advantage than the 
Will and Pleafure, or Intereft of a fingle 
Perfon, or of a few. This, indeed, can- 
not properly be faid with regard to God 
and his Government. As he himfelf is 
the Fountain of all Perfection, infinitely 
fuperior to the whole rational Creation, 
and hath infinitely greater Worth and Ex- , 
cellency than they altogether, fa it cannot 
be faid that he is under an Obligation to 
promote the univerfal Good of the rational . 
Creation, on the Account of his being 
inferior to the whole, or comprehended in 
it. But though he is not, on that Ac- 
count, obliged to purfue the general Good 
of the rational Creatures, which are the 
Subjects of his Government, yet he is de- 
termined to it by his own infinite Goodnefs 
and Benevolence. That Goodnefs which 
inclined him to create them, and to give 
them all their excellent Faculties and Ca- 
pacities for Happinefs, will alfo incline 
him to govern them fo as to promote their 
Happinefs in a Way fuited to the Natures 
he hath given them, /. e. in a Way fuited 
to moral Agency. This, therefore, may 
be regarded as the great End to which all 
his Adminiitrations towards them are uni- 


formly directed, to promote the Happinefs 
of the whole rational Creation, and that 
of particular Beings in Subordination to, 
and as far as is confiftent with the univer^ 
fal Good j not to make them happy in 
whatever Way they behave, and however 
they act, but to make them happy in the 
right Ufe of their rational moral Powers, 
and to train them up by juft Degrees, and 
a proper Difcipline, to the true Perfection 
of their Natures. And God's thus having 
the univerfal Good and Happinefs in View* 
is no way inconfiftent with his inflicting 
grievous Punifhments upon fuch of his 
reafonable Creatures as violate the Laws 
which he hath given them ; fince even 
the general Good of the whole moral 
World requireth that the divine Laws 
mould be enforced with proper Sanctions* 
and that juft Punifhment mould be inflict^ 
ed on the obftinately wicked and impeni- 
tent : And to iuffer fuch Perfons to tranf- 
grefs the divine Laws with Impunity* 
would be a Defect in governing Wifdom* 
and in Goodnefs too, as that fignifieth 
the promoting the general Happinefs. 

Upon this View of the Nature and 
Ends of God's Government of the ratio- 
nal moral Part of the Creation, we may 
fee that the abfolute independent Power 

' and 


and Sovereignty of the divine Dominion 
hath not any Thing in it, if it be rightly 
confidered, that mould be Matter of Ter- 
ror and Difcouragement, but rather layeth 
a Foundation for the moft folid Confidence 
and Joy; No Being is properly qualified 
for abfolute Sovereignty, but one of infallible 
Wifdom* and of infinite Righteoufnefs and 
Goodnefs, becaufe fuch an One can never 
abufe his Power : And this is unqueftiona- 
bly true of God, and of him only. Though 
therefore his Power and Dominion be 
really, and in the ftricteft Senfe> abfolute and 
unlimited, without any external Law to 
guide or bind him, this mould give us no 
Uneafinefs, for the Perfection and Excel- 
lency of his own Nature may be faid to 
be an eternal Law to him, which he can 
never counteract without denying himfelf. 
Abfolute Power and Sovereignty, when in 
Conjunction with the moft perfect Wif- 
dom, Holinefs, and Goodnefs, is the moft 
comfortable Thing in the World. The 
more abfolute it is in that Cafe the bet- 
ter, and the greater is our Security, He 
that is pofTeiled of a Power that is truly 
and properly independent and infinite, and 
to which no other Power is fuperior or 
equal, can have no poffible Temptation to 
do Wrong, and is raifed by his own tran- 
II fcendent 


fcendent Excellency, above all narrow, 
felfifh, malevolent Affections and Views. 
He muff needs be porTefied of an infinite 
Generality of Temper, and muft be ever 
exercifed in doing the greater!: Good, which 
is the nobleft Act of abfblute Power 
and Dominion. Far be it from God that 
hejhoulddo 7Vkkednefs y and from the Ahnighty 
that he fiould commit Iniquity. Job xxxiv. 
10, Beings that have a Mixture of Weak- 
nefs may be wicked, cruel, or unjuft ; 
but he who is abfolutely fupreme, al- 
mighty, and all-fufficient, cannot be rea- 
fonably fuppofed to be capable of doing a 
cruel or unjuft Thing. For what mould 
induce him to do fo, who hath no Advan- 
tage to procure to himfelf, no Evil to guard 
againit, no Competitor to fear, no private 
Interefts to fecure ? So that the very abfo- 
lutenefs of his Dominion, as it is in Con- 
junction with infinite Perfection, is a 
Ground of the higheft Confidence and Af- 

Let us therefore rejoice in this, that the 
Lord reigneth. Infinite Wifdom, Righ- 
teoufr.efs, and Goodnefs reigneth. Let 
the Heavens rejoice, and let the Earth be 
g 1 id. Let all rational Beings, in every 
Part of this vail Univerfe, form one uri- 



verfal Confort, and break forth into 

To this glorious univerfal Lord let us 
yield a willing and abiblute SutijriHSionj 
As there are no Limits to his Authority, 
there muft be no Bounds to our Obedi- 
ence. We do not obey him as God, and 
acknowledge him to be what he is, the 
fupreme and abfolute Sovereign Lord, if 
we do not endeavour to obey all his 
Laws without Referve, fo as not to 
allow ourfelves in the habitual Needed. 
or Violation of any of them. 

And as we muft yield an unreferved 
Obedience to all his Commands, fo we 
muft yield an entire Resignation to his 
difpoling Will in all Things. For fince 
he is our abfolute Sovereign and Lord, 
he hath not only an indifputable Right 
to give us what Laws he thinks proper, 
but to order and appoint our Condition 
and Circumftances as he pleafeth. We 
muft never, therefore, in any In fiance, 
allow ourfelves to murmur or repine at 
his Difpofals, but muft refolve to ac- 
quieice in whatever Lot it (hall feem fit 
to him to appoint us ; ftill carrying this 
along with us, that whatever his pre- 
fent Difpenfations may appear to be, yet 
all Things {hall be ordered for the be ft 
LI 2 upon 


upon the whole, fo as in the final IfTue 
to turn to the greater Benefit of thofe 
who fincerely love and obey him. For 
though he be an abfolute Sovereign, yet 
he is infinitely holy, wife, and good, and 
never doeth any Thing but with the 
mod wife and benevolent Views, worthy 
of himfelf, and of his own infinite Per- 


On God's providential Government 
towards good and evil Angels. 


Psalm ciii. 19. 

The Lord hath prepared his Throne in the 
Heavens-, and his Kingdom ruleth over 

' I s H E R E is fcarce any Thing of great- 
er Importance to us, than to endea- 
vour to getjuft Notions of God's Government 
of the rational moral Part of the Creation : 
Some general Obfervations were made con- 
cerning it in our former Difcourfe. It is 
proper now to coniider it more diftinct- 
ly, as exercifed towards the feveral Orders 
pf reafonable Beings, the moll remarkable 
H 3 of 


of which, as far as they come under our 
Notice, are Angels and Men. 

I (hall besrin with confiderine the Go- 

o o 

vernment of Divine Providence towards 
the Angels. 

Whoibever duly confidereth what im- 
perfect Creatures we are, will be naturally 
led to conclude, that we are not of the 
hig-heft Order in the Scale of created Be- 
i~£s. Mm is of a middle Nature, a Com- 
pound of Fleih and Spirit; and, as there 
are inferior Animals, that have Life and 
Senfation, and Bodies of Fleih, as we have, 
but are not endued with rational and in- 
tellectual Souls, fo it is congruous to Rea- 
fon, and the juft Order of Things to fup- 
pofe, that there are Spirits and Intelligen- 
cies, which either are not united to Bo- 
dies at all, or are not encumbered with 
fuch grof- corruptible Bodies as ours. 
Since this lower Earth is replenished with 
fuch a Variety of living Creatures, can it 
reafonably be imagined, that all the other 
Parts ' of this vaft Univerfe are deftitute 
of Inhabitants ? And of thefe there may be 
various Orders and Degrees, many of which 
are probably of an higher and more ex- 
cellent Kind than any that dwell in the 
inferior Regions. And accordingly, fome 
Notion of fuch Kind of Beings hath obtain- 
ed in all Nations and Ages, almoft as uni- 



verfally as the Belief of a God and a Pro- 
vidence. The holy Scriptures are very 
clear and exprefs to this Purpofe. There 
we are informed of great Numbers of An- 
gels, or fpiritual intellectual Beings fupe- 
rior to Man, many of whom are holy and 
happy, employing their vail Capacities in 
doing Good, and are called the elect An- 
gels, and holy Angels ; others of them, by 
wilful Difobedience, and an Abufe of their 
noble Powers, have fallen from their ori- 
ginal Purity and Glory, and are reprefent- 
ed as evil and malevolent Beings, Put 
both the one and the other are under the 
Dominion of God, and the Government 
of his Providence. 

Firft, God exercifeth a fovereign Rule 
over the good Angels; this is one Thing 
the Pfalmift feems to have efpecially in 
View, when he here declares, that the 
Lord hath prepared his 'Throne in the Heavens ; 
and his Kingdom ruleth over all. For he im- 
mediately adds, Blefs the Lord ye his Angels, 
that excel in Strength, that do his Command- 
ments, hearkening to the Voice of his Word. 
Blefs the Lord, all ye bis Hofis, ye Minijlers 
of his that do his Pleafure. They are faid to 
excel in Strength, and are elfewhere called 
mighty Angels, tofignify that they are of great 
Power and Activity, compared with whom, 
the Sons of Men that dwell in Houfes of 
Clay, are weak and feeble Beings. They 
H 4 are 


are alfo represented as doing his Commands 
ments, hearkening to the Voice of his 
Word, to Signify that they are ever obe- 
dient to the Will of God, whom they ferve 
with a perfevering Conftancy, and with an 
unwearied Alacrity and Diligence. They 
are of great Splendor and Glory, and are 
reprefented as the immediate Attendants of 
the divine Majefty, employed by him in 
frequent Services and Miniftrations, and 
are therefore called the Holts of God, 
liis Minifters that do his Pleafure. They 
are probably of different Orders and De- 
grees : This feems to be intimated by the 
different Names and Titles by which they 
are defcribed, viz. Angels, Archangels, 
Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Pow- 
ers, &c. As to the Nature of that celeftial 
Polity, the Methods of God ? s Government 
towards the feveral Orders of bleffed Angels, 
and the Laws and Constitutions they are 
under, we rauft be content to be in a great 
Meafure ignorant of them, till we arrive to 
the heavenly World. But it is reafonable to 
believe, that thefe glorious Beings are fre- 
quently employed as the Inftruments of 
Divine Providence in feveral Parts of this 
vail: Univerfe. For God, who can do all 
Things immediately by himfelf, as being 
always intimately preient to every Part of 
the Creation, yet choofeth ordinarily to 
i wprl> 


work by intermediate fecond Caufes and In- 
ftruments, of which the Angels are the no- 
bleft. How far it pleafeth him to make ufe 
cf them in ordering and governing the Mo- 
tions of the inanimate material Syftem, we 
cannot tell ; but that they are employed for 
carrying on the Deiignsof his Providence to- 
wards Mankind, is evident from many exprefs 
Teftimonies of holy Writ. Angels were 
made ufe of in that amazing Manifestation 
of the divine Glory, when the Law was 
delivered at Mount Sinai. This is fignified 
by the Pfalmift, when he faith, The Chariots 
of God are 'Twenty Tboufand, even Thou- 
fands of Angels, the Lord is among them as 
in Sinai, in the holy Mount. Pfal, lxviii. 17. 
The Law is called the Word fpoken by An- 
gels. Heb. ii. 2. And St. Stephen faith, it 
was given by the Di/poftion of Angels, a- 
mong Troops or Ranks of Angels, as fome 
render the Words. Affis vii. ^> There 
are Inflances recorded, both in the Old 
Teftament and the New, of Angels appear- 
ing here on Earth in a vifible confpicuous 
Form and Splendor. But there are not 
many Inftances of this Kind through folong 
a Succeffion of Ages. It is wifely ordered 
that their Miniftrations towards us mould 
ordinarily be in a Way of invifible Agency. 
They are capable, in this Way, of doing 
us all the Services and good Offices that 



we ftand in need of from them, without 
thofe Inconveniences which their vifible 
Appearance would bring along with it, 
which we could not well bear in this pre- 
fent State of Frailty. The Angels are faid 
to be miniftering Spirits fent forth to be Mi-» 
nifters for them who Jhall be Heirs of Salva- 
tion. Heb. i. 14. They are helpful to us 
in a thoufand Ways which we do not now 
diftinctly know. We have Reafon to believe 
that they are often made ufe of in preventing 
Dangers which we do not forefee, or in de- 
fending and carrying us fafe through them, 
and disappointing the Rage and Malice of 
Devils and wicked Men. Many a Deliver- 
ance, which we perhaps attribute to a lucky 
Chance or Accident, is owing, under God, 
to the vigilant Care of thofe holy and power- 
ful Guardians which invifibly watch around 
us. The Angel of 'the Lord, faith the Pfal- 
mift, encampeth round about them that fear 
him, and deliver eth them. Pfal. xxxiv. 7. 
The fame Thing is fignined in thofe re- 
markable Words, Pfal. xci. 10, 11, 12. 
There fiall no Evil befal thee, neither Jloall 
any. Plague come nigh thy Dwelling. For he 
fiall give his Angels Charge over thee, to 
keep thee in all thy Ways. They fiall bear thee 
up in their Hands, lejl thou dajh thy Foot 
again ft a Stone. The Angels may alfo be 
fuppofed to be inftrumental on feveral Oc- 



cations, in fuggefting good Thoughts and 
falutary Counfels ; for fpi ritual Beings may 
have a near Accefs to our Souls, and many 
Ways of operating upon them, which we 
are not able diftinclly to explain. And fi- 
nally, they minifter to good Men imme- 
diately at, and after their Death, in con- 
veying their departed Spirits to the heaven- 
ly Manlions. Thus our Saviour reprei 
the Soul of Lazarus, after his Death, as 
carried by the Angels into Abrahams . 
font. Luke xvi. 22. And he allures us that, at 
the End of the World the Angels jhall come 
fort hi and fiall fever the wicked from a??io?ig 
the juft. Matt. xiii. 49, 50. God's thus 
making ufe of Angels in his Adminiflra- 
tions towards Mankind, is fuited to the 
admirable Oeconomy of his Providence, 
whereby he ordinarily maketh ufe of the 
Creatures as Inftruments in executing his 
Defigns towards one another. And it is 
wifely fo ordered, that the better Founda- 
tion may be laid for cultivating a facred 
Amity between Angels and Men, which 
mall be compleated in the heavenly World, 
where they mail be for ever united in ho- 
ly Love and Concord. And what a n 
Idea doth this give us of the Extent d 
Order of the divine Government ! This is 
one Inflance among many, where by ip- 
pears how much the Gofpel enlarge [ 1 our 



Views. It teacheth us to regard ourfelves 
as nearly allied to the blelTed Angels, and 
as all belonging to the fame glorious uni- 
verfal Family of God. It lets us fee that 
there is a Correfpondence and Intercourfe 
continually carried on and maintained be- 
tween the invifible World and this Earth 
of ours; and that it is the Will of God 
that there mould be a happy Harmo- 
ny between the feveral Parts of his intel- 
lectual Syftem. With what Pleafure mould 
we raife our Views to that nobleft. Part of 
the rational Creation! How mould our 
Hearts flow towards them in Love, when 
we confider them as united to us in the 
facred Bonds of a pure and difinterefted 
Friendfhip, and join with them in bleffing 
and adoring the univerfal Sovereign ! 

But fecondly, Let us confider the Go- 
vernment of God as extending to the evil 
Angels. Thefe, as the Scripture informs 
us, kept not their firft Eftate, but left 
their own Habitation; though, what were 
the particular Occafions and Circumstan- 
ces of their Fall, is not diftinctly revealed 
to us. They are reprefented as of great 
Power and Sagacity, full of Malice and 
Envy, Falfhood and Deceit. Some No- 
tion of fuch malevolent Beings fuperior to 
Man, has generally obtained in the World; 
and there have been, from Time to Time, 



Facts and Events of an extraordinary 
Nature, which can fcarce be accounted for 
upon any other Suppofition. But though 
they are in a State of Difobedience and 
Apoftacy from God, yet they are ftill fub- 
ject to his Dominion, and under his fb- 
vereign Cognizance and Control. They 
are faid to be referved unto Judgment ; they 
are even now under the penal Effects of the 
divine Difpleafure : but there is a farther 
Punifhment prepared for them; and, in 
the mean Time, God fuffereth them to acl: 
according to their Nature, only that he 
fetteth Bounds to their Rage, and over- 
ruleth their Defigns and Attempts to the 
wife Purpofes of his Government. And 
if we had a diftinct View of this Part of 
the divine Adminiftration, it would un- 
doubtedly open a moft furprifing Scene. 
What can be more admirable, than to con- 
sider vail Numbers of evil Spirits, of great 
Might, Subtilty, and Induftry, who, if 
left to themfelves, would fpread Ruin and 
Mifery far and wide, yet all under the 
Control of the fupreme univerfal Lord, 
who, by a Wifdom which exceeds all Com- 
prehension, defeateth their Malice, and 
confoundeth their Devices ; and often or- 
dereth it fo, that they really execute his 
Will, whilft they think only of gratifying 
their own corrupt Inclinations. 



It appears from Scripture, that evil Spi- 
rits are made ufe of as Inftruments for 
ferving the Ends of the divine Govern- 
ment. Remarkable to this Purpofe is that 
parabolical Virion of the Prophet Micaiah ; 
i Kings xxii. 19 — 23. in which God is re- 
prefented as on a Throne feated in awful 
Majefty, and that a Spirit prefented himfelf 
before him, offering to be a lying Spirit in 
the Mouth of A/jab's Prophets, to perfuade 
him to go up to Ramoth-Giiead, and was 
allowed to do it accordingly. The feveral 
Circumftances in this Reprefentation are not 
to be ftridily urged, or taken in a literal Senfe. 
But the general Defign of it is manifeft -, 
which is to lignify, that God, as the righ- 
teous Governor of the World, did, in his 
juft Judgment, fufFer Ahab to. be deceived 
by a lying Spirit in the Mouth of his falfe 
Prophets; in confequence of which he went 
up to Ramotb-Gilead, where Providence 
ordered it f6, that he was flain by the Sy- 
rians, as a juft Punifhment for his great 
Wickednefs. And yet it is to be obferved, 
that in this Cafe Ahab was not laid under 
a Neceffity of being deceived, nor would 
have been fo, if it had not been his own 
Fault. For he was faithfully warned of it 
by one whom he knew to be a true Pro- 
phet of the Lord, though he hated him 
for telling him ungrateful Truths. But he 
3 rejected 


rejected the Warning which was given him, 
and gave himfelf up to the Deluiions of the 
falfe Prophets, whom he himfelf maintain- 
ed to footh and flatter him ; becaufe what 
they fpake, and the Advice they gave, was 
agreeable to his own Inclinations andViews. 

It may reafonably be fuppofed, that God 
makes ufe of evil Angels in fome of thofe 
Plagues and Calamities, which are from Time 
to Time laid upon the human Race, and 
efpecially in inflicting Punimments upon 
the wicked. Thus particularly with re- 
gard to the Egyptians we are told, that 
he cafi upon them the Fiercenefs of his Anger, 
Wrath and Indignation and "Trouble, by j end- 
ing evil Angels among them. Pfal. lxxviii. 
49. And they are alfo fufFered to affault 
and harafs good Men, which they do fe- 
veral Ways ; though God, in his wife Pro- 
vidence, over-rules their pernicious Coun- 
fels and Attempts to the real Advantage of 
his chofen. 

Any one that is acquainted with the 
facred Writings both of the Old Teftament 
and the New, mufl be fenfible, that evil 
Spirits are frequently reprefented there as 
tempting, moving, and inciting Men to 
Sin. Thus it is obferved concerning Judas 
Ifcariot, that the Devil put it into his 
Heart to betray Jefus. John xiii 2. And 
concerning Ananias and Sapphira 3 that Sa- 


tan filled their Hearts, that they mould 
lie again ft the Holy Ghoft. AJs v. 3. This 
is not to be underftood as if the one or the 
other were compelled by Satan to do what 
they did. It was really and properly their 
own Fault, and was originally owing to 
their covetous Difpofition ; and Satan took 
Advantage from it to urge them forward 
for executing his malicious Purpofes. Yet 
Providence ordered it fo, that Good was 
brought out of thefe Evils. For, in the 
Cafe of Ananias and Sapphira, their Sin* 
and the Punifhment inflicted on them for it, 
was over-ruled to the better Eftablifhment 
of the Gofpel, and the procuring a greater 
Reverence and Sanction to the apoftolical 
Authority, which was of mighty Importance 
at the firft founding of the Chriftian Church : 
And, in the other Cafe, Satan's Malice and 
Subtilty in tempting Judas to betray JeJiiSj 
was over-ruled, contrary to his Intention, 
to the Overthrow of his Kingdom, and to 
the promoting the Salvation of Mankind. 

It hath been frequently urged as an Ob* 
jedlion againft the holy Scriptures, that the 
weak and helplefs human Race is there 
reprefented as expofed a Prey to evil Spi- 
rits, Adverfaries mighty and powerful, 
fubtile and malicious, ever feeking to de- 
flroy ; and that this can fcarce be reconcil- 
ed to the Notion of a wife and good Provi- 


dence, prefiding over the World, and mull 
needs give a ftrange Idea of God, and fill the 
Minds of Men with continual Anxieties 
and Terrors. But if the Matter be fairly 
coniidered, it will appear that there is no juft 
Foundation for fuch an Objection, and the 
Clamours which have been raifed upon it. 

That there are Spirits of a fuperior Or- 
der to Man, not tied down to fuch grofs 
flefhly Bodies as ours are, is, as hath been 
already hinted, agreeable to Reafon and to 
the common Sentiments of Mankind. And 
that fome of thefe Angels or Spirits are evil 
and wicked, is as fuppofable, as that by an 
Abufe of their Liberty many of the hu- 
man Race are fo. And fuppoling that 
there are fuch evil Angels or Spirits, it 
may be expected that they will exert their 
bad Difpofitions in fuitable Actions; and 
that if they have Accefs and Intercourfe 
with our World, they will endeavour to 
employ their Powers and Abilities in doing 
what Mifchief they can among Mankind. 
Nor is it any more inconfiftent with the 
Wifdom andGoodnefs of God to permit fuch 
evil Spirits to act according to their wicked 
Purpofes and Inclinations in endeavouring 
to tempt Men to fin, than it is inconfiftent 
with his Wifdom and Goodnefs, to fuffer 
wicked Men to tempt, harafs, perfecute 
their Fellow-creatures in this State of 

Vol. I. I Trial; 


Trial; provided that he ftill takes Care, 
that thofe evil Spirits be not fuffered to 
tempt Men above what the human Nature 
is able to bear; and that there are fuffi- 
cient Helps afforded, by which, if duly 
improved, they may be enabled to refift 
their Temptations. Now this is the Re- 
prefentation which is given us in the holy 
Scriptures. It is there plainly fignified, 
that thofe evil Spirits, however formidable 
in themfelves, are all under the fovereign 
Control of the wife and almighty God 
and Father of Mankind, and cannot tempt 
or affault farther than for wife Ends he 
feeth fit to permit. We are there likewife 
affured, that he is ever ready to commu- 
nicate his Holy Spirit, with his divine In- 
fluences and Aids, to affift and ftrengthen 
us; and that there are alfo Numbers of 
good Angels that minifter to good Men, 
and who are equal or fuperior to the evil 
Angels in Power and Sagacity, and are 
as full of Love and beneficent Goodnefs, 
as the others are of Malice and Envy. And 
laftly, it is to be confidered, that Satan 
can only tempt, or endeavour to feduce us 
to fin, but is not fuffered to compel or 
neceflitate us; nor can he deftroy us but 
by our own Confent. We are furnifhed 
with fufficient Means and Helps for repel- 
ling his AiTaults, if it be not our own 
2 Fault. 


Fault. Hence we are exhorted to re- 
Jift the Devil, ftedfaft in the Faith. 1 Pet. 
v. 9. and are affured, that if we rejift 
him, he will flee from us. James iv. 7. It 
appears then, that there is nothing in the 
Doctrine of the holy Scriptures, on this 
Head, that is contrary to Reafon, and in- 
confiftent with the Conduct of a wife and 
good Providence. On the contrary, this 
Part of the divine Administrations anfwer- 
eth many valuable Ends, and the Coniidera^ 
tion of it may be of no fmall Ufe to Man- 
kind. It giveth us an enlarged View of 
the Divine Providence, as permitting evil 
Angels, as well as wicked Men, to act ac^ 
cording to their Natures ; and, at the fame 
Time, over-ruling their Subtilty and Ma- 
lice in a Subferviency to the wife Defigns 
of his Government. It reprefenteth the 
Chriftian Life in a noble Light, as an im- 
portant Warfare, carried on not merely 
againfl Flefh and Blood, but againfl the 
Powers of Darknefs, and lets us fee what 
great Need we have of exercifing a conflant 
Vigilance and Care over ourfelves, and of 
applying to God for the Aids of his Spirit, 
which, in that Cafe, he is always ready to 
bellow. And, in the Iflue, it will contri- 
bute very much to the Honour and Advan-* 
tage of good Men, and will render their 
Reward more glorious, as well as mightily 
I z heighten 


heighten their Love and Gratitude to God, 
through whofe gracious Affiftances they 
were enabled to overcome fuch formidable 
Adverfaries. What a glorious Scene will 
open, when in the great Day of final Re- 
tributions, they fhall celebrate a joyful 
Triumph over the Devil and his Angels, 
who fhall then receive the juft Punifhment 
of their Crimes, and mail never have it in 
their Power to tempt or difturb God's faith- 
ful Servants any more. 

Thefe general Hints may fuffice, with 
regard to the Administrations of Divine 
Providence towards good and evil Angels. 
So much is revealed to us concerning this 
Matter as may be of Ufe to our Conduct in 
this prefent State ; and this is all that is 
neceffary for us now to know. 

I fhall conclude with a few Reflections-. 
And firft, How awful and glorious is 
God the univerfal Sovereign, as extending 
his mighty Sway over all the angelic 
Orders, the moft eminent and powerful of 
created Beings ! It would be too mean and 
narrow a Notion of the divine Dominion, 
to regard Men as the only or principal Sub- 
jects of his Empire. Thoufmds of An- 
gels ftand before him, and Ten Thoufand 
Times Ten Thoufand minifter unto him; 
compared v/ith whom, the mightieft earth- 
ly Potentates, and all the Force of their 



dreaded Armies, are mean and defpicable 
Things. With what deep Veneration and 
SubmifTion mould we proftrate ourfelves 
before his infinite Majefty, who doeth 
whatfoever he willeth, not only among the 
Inhabitants of the Earth, but among the Ar- 
mies of Heaven, whom the Thrones and 
Dominions, the Principalities and Powers 
in heavenly Places, with the profoundeft 
Reverence adore, and before whom the 
Devils themfelves do tremble ! How great 
muft he be who giveth Laws to the vafl 
World of Spirits, and governeth them in 
all their Claries and Degrees, and accord- 
ing to their various Circumftances and Ca- 
pacities ! And what inexcufable Folly and 
Prefumption would it be in fuch Creatures 
as we are, that dwell in Houfes of Clay, 
whofe Foundation is in the Duft, to op- 
pofe ourfelves to his rightful Authority, 
who hath all the Hofts of Angels under 
his Direction and Command ! 

Secondly, Since the holy Angels in their 
feveral Degrees are under the Dominion 
and Government of God, let us rejoice in 
them as our Fellow-fervants, Subjects with 
us of the fame glorious Lord ; we muft not 
adore them, but join with them in adoring 
the great God and Father of all. Tranfr 
ported with a divine Ardor of Spirit, let 
us with the devout Pfalmift call upon the 
I 3 Angels, 


Angels, the moft eminent Part of the rati- 
onal Creation, to blefs the Lord, and endea- 
vour to awaken in our Souls the holy Affec- 
tions of Love, Joy, and Admiration, to the 
great Sovereign and Benefactor of the Uni- 
verfe. How mould we exult to think that we 
are under his happy Government, to whom 
numberlefs Myriads of holy and glorious 
Spirits pay their glad united Homage. We 
mould not only as far as we are able 
join our Praifes to theirs, and bear our Part 
in the glorious Confort, but mould endea- 
vour to imitate and refemble them more 
and more in their perfect Loyalty and 
Submiffion, and their chearful active Obe- 
dience to the divine Will. They readily 
apply themfelves to whatever Services he 
puts them upon, and m it their Glory 
to be thus employed, even when fent to 
minifler to us of the human Race, who are 
Creatures of an inferior Order. And mall 
we think it beneath us to minifter to thofe 
of our own Blood, and who are Partakers 
of the fame Nature with ourfelves ? Like 
the blefTed Angels, let us engage with 
Alacrity and Delight in whatfoever Ser- 
vices God requireth of us, endeavouring to 
do his Will on Earth, as it is done in 
Heaven. By fuch a Temper and Con- 
duct we fhall cultivate a Harmonv with 
thofe glorious Spirits, and fhall have them 



to afTifr. and befriend us here on Earth, and 
be fitted for the heavenly 'Jerufalem, the 
City of the living God, where we mall be 
affociated to an innumerable Company of 
Angels, and mall be Sharers with them in 
the fame blifsful Exercifes and Enjoy- 
ments for ever. 

Thirdly, This Subject may be improved 
for fupporting and fortifying our Hearts 
againfl the flavifh Fears of evil Spirits. 
Some there are who, through Fear of this 
Kind, are all their Life-time fubjedt to 
Bondage. But the befh Prefervative againfl 
this, is a fteady Belief of God's univerfal 
Government as extending to the evil An- 
gels themfelves. They are all under the 
Check and Control of his wife and righ- 
teous Providence, and can do no more 
than he permitteth. Let us therefore place 
our Confidence in him, and endeavour to 
fecure an Intereft in his Favour, and then 
we need not fear what all the Powers of 
Hell can do againfr. us. 

Laflly, Let us take Warning from the 
Fall and Punifhment of the evil Angels. 
In them we may fee, that no Eminences of 
Power, Abilities, or Splendor, can fecure 
any Creatures againfl: the Wrath of God, 
or can hinder them from being miferable if 
they allow themfelves in a Courfe of wil- 
I 4 frl 


ful Sin and Difobedience. Let us not there- 
fore be high-minded but fear, and make 
it our continual Care and Endeavour to 
pleafe and ferve the great Lord of the Uni- 
verfe, the blefTed , and only Potentate, to 
whom be Honour and Power everlafting. 


General Obfervations concerning God's 
providential Government towards 


Psalm ciii. 19. 

The Lord hath prepared his Throne in the 
Heavens-, and his Kingdom ruleth over 

THESE Words of the Pfalmift 
make a noble Reprefentation of the 
Greatnefs and univerfal Extent of the di- 
vine Dominion ; but they feem to have a 
fpecial Reference to God's Government of 
the rational moral Part of the Creation. 
The principal of thefe, as far as we have 



any Notion of them, are Angels and Men. 
Some Obfervations have been made upon 
the Government of Divine Providence 
with regard to the Angels. Let us now 
confider the Government of God as exer- 
cifed towards Mankind, which is that Part 
of the divine Adminiftration in which we 
are more immediately concerned, and 
which it moll nearly importeth us to 

Man is undoubtedly the moft excellent 
of all God's Works in this lower vifible 
Part of the Creation -, the only Being here 
on Earth capable of knowing and contem- 
plating his Maker, of obeying and adoring 
him, and rejoicing in a Senfe of his Fa- 
vour and Approbation. The Wifdom, 
Power, and Goodnefs of God is eminently 
confpicuous in the wonderful Frame of his 
Body, but efpecially in the noble Faculties 
of his Soul, whereby he is vaftly fuperior 
to the Brutes, and is capable of rifing in 
his Affections and Views beyond Things 
prefent, and fenfible to Things fpiritual and 
eternal, to the fupreme, the infinite Good -, 
which fhews that he was defigned for a 
fublime Felicity. And can it then be 
thought, that Providence, which extendeth 
its Care even to the inferior Animals, neg- 
ledteth Man, the principal Inhabitant of 
this lower World, and to whom all the 



t)ther Claffes of Beings here on Earth are 
fubfervient and fubordinate ? Surely we 
have great Reafon to think that the moft 
wife and powerful and benevolent Lord 
and Parent of the Univerfe, whofe King- 
dom ruleth over all, doth in a fpecial 
Manner exercife his Government and 
Care towards the human Race. 

I mail firft make fome general Obferva- 
tions concerning the Nature and Methods 
of God's providential Adminiftrations to- 
wards Mankind : And then lhall proceed 
more diftinctly to confider the Influence 
and Agency of Divine Providence as ex- 
tending both to Communities and to parti- 
cular Perfons, to the Hearts and Thoughts 
of all Men, to their outward Actions, and 
to the Events which befal them. 

With regard to the Nature and Me- 
thods of God's providential Adminiftrations 
towards Mankind, it is proper to obferve 
in general, 

Firft, That as Men are moral Agents, Co 
God governeth them as fuch, and confe- 
quently hath given them a Law to be the 
Rule of their Conduct. That Man is a ' 
moral Agent is as evident as it is that he is 
a reafonable Creature, or that he is capa- 
ble of Virtue and Vice, of Praife and 
Blame. And whatever fome Perfons may 
■difpute in Speculation, moral or free A- 



gency is what all Men are intimately con- 
icious of. The felf-condemning and felf- 
approving Reflections of every Man's own 
Heart and Confcience plainly ftiew it to be 
fb. God hath not only given Man a Body, 
and animal Perceptions, whereby he is 
nearly connected with the material World, 
and is capable of fenfitive Delights, but 
he hath given him a higher Principle of 
Reafon and Underftanding to direct him 
what is right and fit to be done, a felf- 
determining, and felf- reflecting Power, 
whereby he is capable of governing his Ap- 
petites and Paflions, of chooiing and act- 
ing for himfelf, and of pafling a Judgment 
upon his own Actions. The human Con- 
stitution is an admirable Effect of the divine 
Wifdom ; and God's having made Men 
Creatures of fuch a Kind, /. e. moral A- 
gents, is a demonftrative Proof that he 
will govern them in fuch a Way as is fit 
for moral Agents to be governed, viz. by 
giving them Laws enforced by proper Mo- 
tives, to direct and engage them to their 
Duty, in fuch a Manner as is confident 
with Liberty and Free-agency. 

That there is a Law which all Man- 
kind are placed under, a little Reflection 
may convince us. This is ufually called 
the Law of Nature, and hath a real Foun- 
dation in the very Nature and Relations of 



Things. Thus if we coniider the Nature of 
God,and the Relation between him and us, 
it is manifeft that we owe him the higheii 
Love, Reverence, Affiance, Adoration, and 
Obedience. From the kind and focial Af- 
fections implanted in our Hearts, and the 
Relation we bear to one another, it may- 
be fairly concluded, that we are defigned 
to exercife Juftice, Charity, Benevolence, 
and Fidelity. And if we duly coniider 
the Conilitution of our own Nature, as 
conlifting of FlefTi and Spirit, it mould 
make us fenfible that we are obliged to 
fhun all Intemperance and Excefs, and by 
the Exercife of Patience, Temperance, 
Prudence, and Fortitude, to keep our Ap- 
petites and Paffions in a regular Subjection 
to the Government of right Reafon ; and 
that it is our Duty to afpire after pro- 
greffive Improvements in Knowledge and 
Virtue, as that in which the true Per- 
fection of our Nature doth confift. There 
is nothing in all this but what will ap- 
pear to a Mind that is not corrupted and 
depraved with vicious Prejudices, to be 
fit and right, and founded in the very 
Nature of Things : and whatfoever clearly 
appeareth from the Nature and Relations 
of Things to be fit and right for reafon- 
able Creatures to perform, we may be fure 
it is the Will of God they mould per- 
form : 


form , fince by thus conftituting the Na- 
ture of Things, and placing them in fuch 
Relations, he hath conftituted their Duty, 
and fhewed that it is his Will that they 
mould act fuitably to thofe Natures and 
Relations. And when it is thus confidered 
as the Will of the fupreme Lord, it be- 
cometh a Law to them in the ftricteft and 
properefl Senfe of the Word. 

But God hath not left Men merely to 
find out their Duty by the Deductions of 
Reafon in confidering and comparing the 
Natures of Things ; he hath alfo im- 
planted in the Heart of Man a kind of 
confcious Perception of Right and Wrong, 
an inward Senfe of Good and Evil, and of 
the moral Differences of Things, fome Re- 
mains of which continue in the human 
Mind even in its moft degenerate State, 
and can fcarce ever be utterly erafed. Who 
would bear the Man that would pretend 
ferioufly to affirm, that there is no real 
Difference at all between Affections and 
Actions ; and that no one of them is more 
blamable or praife-worthy than another ? 
That there is no Evil in Injuftice, Cruelty, 
Falfhood, Perfidy, Ingratitude , and that 
Piety, Gratitude, Generofity, Benevolence, 
Sincerity, hath no Beauty or Amiablenefs 
in it ? That to hate and blafpheme the 
Deity is as proper and becoming a rea- 
fon able 


fonable Creature, as to love, to reverence, 
and adore him ? That to envy and calum- 
niate our Neighbours, to wound, or even 
kill them without Caufe, is as good an 
Action, as to do them friendly Offices, 
and affift them in their Need ? That it is as 
honourable and praife- worthy for a Man 
to be falfe to his Word, Promifes, and En- 
gagements, as to have a flrict and firm Re- 
gard to Truth and Fidelity ; to betray his 
Country, as to fave and deliver it -, to neg- 
lect and defpife his Parents, as to treat 
them with Kindnefs and Refpect ; to re- 
turn an Injury for a Benefit, as to recom- 
pence one Benefit with another ? With re- 
gard to thefe and other Cafes that might be 
mentioned, the Mind of Man is fo confli- 
tuted that it can fcarce help approving fome 
Affections and Actions, and difapproving 
the contrary. From whence it appeareth, 
that there is in the Minds of Men a com- 
mon Senfe of Right and Wrong, of moral 
Beauty and Deformity, of Duty and Ob- 
ligation, which it is fcarce poffible en- 
tirely to make off. There are few but 
have had Experience of an inward Satis- 
faction or Remorfe, and the Workings of 
a confcious Principle within, paffing a 
Judgment on their Actions, and acquitting 
or condemning them according as they 



have been fenfible of their having per- 
formed their Duty or the contrary. 

Taking all thefe Confiderations together, 
it is manifeft that Mankind are placed un- 
der a Law •, which the Brutes are not, as 
being deftitute of a confcious Principle, 
and incapable of a Senfe of moral Obliga- 
tion. And it is one of the clearer!: Princi- 
ples of Reafon, that if God hath given 
Men a Law, it mull: be his Will that his 
Law mould be obeyed ; and as a moral Go- 
vernor he will deal with Men according to 
their Obedience or Difobedience to the 
Laws which he hath given them. Ac- 
cordingly we find in fact that as Mankind 
in all Ages and Nations have had fome 
Senfe of a Deity, fo they have had fome 
Notions of their being accountable to him 
as their fupreme Governor and Judge for 
their Conduct. St. Paul obferveth con- 
cerning the Heathens who had not the Ad- 
vantage of extraordinary Revelation, that 
they had the Work of the Law written in 
their Hearts, their Confciences alfo bearing 
Witnefsy and their 'Thoughts the mean while 
accufmg or elfe excufing one another. Rom. ii. 
15. And Ipeaking of fome of the mofr. 
profligate among them, who perpetrated 
great Acts of Wickednefs, he reprefenteth 
them as knowing the Judgment of God, 
5 that 


that they which do fuch 'Things are worthy of 
Death. Rom. i. 32. 

But fecondly, As God hath given Men a 
Law to be the Rule of their Conduct, fo 
the great and principal Defign of his pro- 
vidential Adminiftrations towards Man- 
kind is, that by Obedience to his Law, 
and by the Practice of Holinefs and Vir- 
tue, they may attain to the true Perfec- 
tion and Happinefs of their Natures. 
This will appear, whether we coniider the 
ordinary ftated Conftitution of Things as 
ordered by his Providence, or his more 
extraordinary Difpenfations towards Man- 
kind from the Beginning. 

Firft, In the ordinary Courfe and Con- 
ftitution of Things as eftablifhed and car- 
ried on by Divine Providence, it is fo or- 
dered that a good and virtuous Conduct 
hath many Advantages attending it, and 
that the Practice of Vice and Wickednefs 
fubjecteth Men to many Evils ; fo that it 
may be juftly laid, that God hath made 
onr prefent Welfare to depend in a con- 
fiderable Degree upon our Obedience to his 
Law, and Performance of the Duties it 
bindeth upon us ; and that there is a Con- 
nection eftablifhed between Virtue and 
Happinefs, Vice and Mifery, even in the 
prefent Conftitution of Things, as far as 
is fuitable to a State of Trial and Dif- 

Vol. I. K. cipime. 


cipline. For that this prefent State is to 
be regarded in this View, and as prepara- 
tory to a State of final Retributions, I fhall 
afterwards have Occafion diftinctly to fhew, 
and is what we muft always bear in Mind in 
order to our forming a juft Notion of the 
divine Administrations. We are fo confti- 
tuted, that a truly pious and devout Tem- 
per of Mind towards God, and the Ex- 
ercife of holy and good Affections, and the 
doing virtuous and benevolent Actions, 
hath an inward confcious Satisfaction at- 
tending it, a real Self-approbation and Self- 
enjoyment. This layeth a folid Founda- 
tion for an habitual Chearfulnefs and Peace 
of Mind, which will greatly contribute to 
render a Man eafy and contented in the 
various Circumftances and Conditions of 
Life. And even with regard to the exter- 
nal Bleflings of Providence, the Practice of 
Religion and Virtue both tendeth to pro- 
cure them in a proper Degree, and to give 
a jufler Relifh and Enjoyment of them. 
The Exercife of Juflice, Fidelity, and ge- 
nerous Honefty, Charity and Benevolence, 
Sobriety and prudent Induftry," hath a Ten- 
dency in the ordinary Courfe of Things to 
promote the bodily Health, to prolong 
Life, to eilablim a Man's Credit and Re- 
putation which contributeth not a little to 
the Succefs of his Affairs, to procure him 
t; the 


the Efteem of his Fellow-creatures, and, 
in general, to caufe a Man to pafs through 
Life more fafely and inoffennvely, more 
honourably and creditably, with greater 
Eafe to himfelf, as well as Ufefulnefs to 
others, than he would other wife do. 

And on the other Hand, a vicious and 
finful Courfe not only is attended with in- 
ward Diffatisfaction and Remorfe, with the 
Stings and Agonies of a Man's own guilty 
Mind, than which, where it is in any 
great Degree, nothing can have a greater 
Tendency to render a Man miferable here 
on Earth ; but it frequently expofeth him 
to outward Evils and Troubles. Pride and 
Envy, Malice and Revenge, Cruelty and 
Injuftice, Idlenefs and Debauchery, and 
DiiTolutenefs of Manners, tend to deflroy 
the bodily Health, to wafte the worldly 
Subftance, to hurt a Man's Credit, to ex- 
pofe him to Poverty and Indigence, to 
Shame and Contempt, to many Conten- 
tions and Vexations, and frequently bring 
great Evils and Mifchiefs, not only upon 
himfelf, but upon his Family and Chil- 
dren too. Such is the prefent Constitution 
of Things. The Proverbs of Solomon 
abound with wife Obfervations to this Pur- 
pofe, drawn from Experience, concerning 
the good Effects of Wifdom and Virtue, 
and the pernicious Confequences of Vice 
K 2 and 


and Wickednefs in this prefent State. And 
this holdeth not only with refped: to parti- 
cular Perfons, but to large Communities, 
and may be juftly regarded as the Appoint- 
ment and Conftitution of the great Ruler 
of the World, who hath thereby given a 
fenfible Proof to confidering Minds of his 
Approbation of Righteoufnefs and Virtue, 
and his juft Difpleafure againft Vice and 
Wickednefs ; that he is the Re warder of the 
one, and Punifher of the other. As to 
the contrary Appearances arifing from the 
Sufferings of the righteous, and the Prof- 
perity of the wicked, this mall be fully 
confidered afterwards, when we come to 
anfwer the Objections that are urged againft 
the Goodnefs and Righteoufnefs of Divine 

But fecondly, Befides this ordinary ftated 
Courfe and Conftitution of Things, which 
mews that we are under a wife and righ- 
teous Government, let us take a brief View 
of fome of the more extraordinary Difpen- 
fations of Providence towards Mankind 
from Time to Time, whereby it will 
appear that from the Beginning of the 
World various Methods have been taken, 
in the Courfe of the divine Administrations, 
for promoting Religion and moral Improve- 
ment among Men. The Views which the 
Scriptures give us of God's various Diipen- 
3 fations 


lations towards Mankind from the Begin- 
ning, furnifh convincing Proofs of his Con- 
cern for human Happinefs, and that he 
hath done a great deal to inftruct and di- 
rect Men in the Knowledge and Practice of 
their Duty, to maintain a Senfe of Re- 
ligion and Virtue in the World, and to 
difcourage and reftrain Vice and Wicked - 
nefs. It appeareth from the Accounts there 
given us, that the nrft Parents of the hu- 
man Race were brought into the World, 
not in an helplefs infant State, but in a 
State of Maturity, and were placed in an 
happy Situation, and in advantageous Cir- 
cumftances for preferving their Purity and 
Innocence ; that to fupply their Want of 
Obfervation and Experience, God vouch- 
fafed to admit them to a near Intercourfe 
with him, and gave them extraordinary 
Notices of his Will and of their Duty : 
that when they violated the particular Com- 
mand given them for a Trial of their Obe- 
dience, and Sin entered into the World, it 
pleafed him to make fome Alterations in 
their Circumftances, fuited to their lapfed 
State, and fitted to reclaim, to exercife, 
and difcipline them : and that, as he gave 
awful Indications of his jiift Difpleafure 
againfl Sin, fo he mewed his Readinefs to 
receive them to Favour upon their Re- 
pentance, and gave them encouraging Inti- 
K 3 mations 


mations of his gracious Defigns for reco- 
vering them from their fallen State. 

The Knowledge of thefe Things, as well 
as of God's Creation of the World, and of 
his Formation of the firft human Pair, 
might be eafily tranfmitted and preferved 
freih and uncorrupted in thofe early Ages 
of the World, and tended to furnifri great 
Advantages for Religion, additional to the 
common Light of Nature and Reafon. To 
which were added, the fetting apart the 
feventh Day to facred Purpofes ; the Infti- 
tution of Sacrifices, both in Acknowledg- 
ment of the divine Dominion, and as a 
Rite of Atonement, for keeping alive upon 
the Minds of Men a Senfe of God's Juf- 
tice, and of their own Guilt, and of his 
Reconcileablenefs to penitent Sinners ; the 
open Declaration God was pleafed to make 
of his Acceptance of righteous y^^/and his 
Offering, and his rejecting Cain and his 
Oblation -, the diftinguifhed Piety of Enoch, 
and the rewarding him by tranflating him 
from Earth to Heaven, which exhibited an 
illuftrious Proof of a future State; and 
finally, the railing up eminent Perfons to 
be Preachers of Righteoufnefs : All thefe 
Things, which are plainly intimated in the 
ihort Account given us in Scripture of the 
divine Administrations during that firft 
Period of the World, had a manifeft Ten- 


dency to maintain a Senfe of God and 
his Providence, and of the Importance of 
religious and moral Obligations on the 
Minds of Men. 

When, notwithstanding thefe Advan- 
tages, all Flefh had corrupted his Way, 
and Mankind in general were funk into 
an amazing Degree of Vice and Wicked- 
nefs, beyond any Hope of being reclaimed 
by ordinary Methods, it pleafed God to 
fend a deftrudtive univerfal Deluge to fweep 
away that whole wicked Race from off 
the Face of the Earth ; which fignal Act 
of Vengeance made a moil awful Difplay 
of God's righteous Providence, and his 
Deteftation againfl Vice and Wickednefs, 
and was defigned for the Benefit of Man- 
kind in all fucceeding Generations to the 
End of the World. And at the fame 
Time he gave a moft remarkable Proof of 
his diflinguifhing Regard to Piety and 
Virtue in the Prefervation of Noah and his 
Family, to be the Seed of a new Genera- 
tion of Men. The Remembrance of this 
great Event, fome Traditions of which 
have fpread almoft univerfally among the 
Nations, the renewed Revelations of the 
divine Will, and the Publication of the 
Law of God in its main Principles, which 
was then made to this fecond Father of 
Mankind, and in him to the whole hu- 
K 4 man 


man Race ; together with the former 
Traditions concerning the Creation, the 
Fall, the original Promife, &c. all which 
Noa.b was well acquainted with ; and the 
farther Alterations made in the Face of 
the Earth by the Deluge, and the fhortening 
the Lives of Men, the Length of which 
had through their Abufe of it probably 
contributed to that great Corruption of 
Manners in the old World ; all thefe Things 
manifeftly tended to revive and maintain a 
religious Senfe of the Deity, and a juft 
Regard to his wife and holy Providence. 
And in this State of Things, it cannot be 
denied, that enough was done on God's 
Part in his Difpenfations towards Men, to 
keep up the Knowledge and Practice of 
Religion and Virtue in the World. And 
if he had done no more in an ordinary 
Way for Mankind, but had after this left 
them wholly to the Light of Nature and 
Reafon, ftrengthened with thefe traditional 
Helps, none could reafonably have found 
fault. It is probable, that when Mankind 
came to be fcattered abroad, fome Time af- 
ter the Flood, all over the Face of the Earth, 
the Heads of the Families carried the 
main principles of the patriarchal Religion, 
which they had received by Tradition, and 
which were alfo highly agreeable to Rea- 
fon, with them into the feveral Places of 



their Difperfion. And there is Reafon to 
think that confiderable Remains of it were 
for a long Time preferved among the Na- 
tions. This may be gathered from the beft 
Accounts that are given us of the ancient 
Perfians and Arabians, and other People 
of the Eaft. And the fame would proba- 
bly appear concerning many other Nations, 
if we were better acquainted with the an- 
cient Hiftory of Mankind. Even among 
the Greeks there had been old Traditions 
relating to the Providence of God, the 
Immortality of the Soul, and other Things 
probably derived from the firft. Ages, as 
appeareth from the Teftimony of fome of 
their own moft celebrated Writers. It was 
in Chaldea, Canaan, Egypt, and the neigh- 
bouring Countries. And accordingly it 
pleafed God in his wife and good Provi- 
dence to take proper Methods for putting 
an early Check to the growing Corruption, 
even in thofe Parts of the World where it 
chiefly prevailed. For this Purpofe he 
called Abraham, and made extraordinary 
Difcoveries of his Will to him, who was 
a Perfon of great Eminence, and an if- 
luftrious Example of Faith, of Piety, and 
Goodnefs. He fojourned in Chaldea, in 
Egypt, and above all in Canaan, where at that 
Time alfo was Melchifedek and others, 
among whom the primitive patriarchal Re- 


ligion was ilrill preferred. About the fame 
Time, the extraordinary Judgment inflicted 
upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their great 
Wickednefs had a manifest Tendency to 
awaken in Men, and particularly in the 
Inhabitants of Canaan, and the neighbour- 
ing Countries, a juft and affecting Senfe of 
God's holy and righteous Providence, and 
of his Debellation againlt Vice and Wick- 
ednefs. From Abraham by Hagar and Ke- 
turah proceeded feveral great Nations ; 
among whom the Knowledge and Practice 
of Religion derived from their great An- 
ceftor, who was very careful to initruct his 
Children and his Houfhold after him, 
Gen. xviii. 19. was probably continued for 
a confiderable Time ; of which there are 
noble Specimens in the Book of Job. But 
efpecially particular Care was taken to 
preferve the true Religion in the Line by 
Ifaac, who was the Heir of Abraham's 
Faith, from whom came Efau and Jacob, 
and their numerous Defcen dents. 

The Advancement of Jqfeph in Egypt, 
and the fettling Jacob and his Family 
there, who foon were remarkably bleifed, 
and grew up into a Nation, and among 
whom, though many of them degenerated, 
the true ancient Religion was in a great 
Meafure preferved, ought to have had a 
gtfbd fiffeft upon the Egyptians, to recover 



ihem from their growing Corruption and 
Idolatry. And when all this proved 
ineffectual, the bringing the Jfraelites out 
of Egypt with fuch amazing Difplays of the 
divine Power, and the dreadful Plagues 
and Judgments inflicted upon the Egyp- 
tians, and their Gods, which was a vifible 
Triumph over Idolatry in the principal 
Seat of it; thefe Things had certainly a 
great Tendency, where-ever the Knowledge 
of them reached (and no Country feems 
then to have been better known than 
Egypt) to awaken Mankind, and reclaim 
them from the Prevalence of Vice and Ido- 
latry, to the true Fear and Worfhip and 
Obedience of the Deity. This alfo was 
one principal Defign of Providence, in the 
erecting the Ifraelites into a peculiar Polity, 
the fundamental Principle of which was 
the Acknowledgment and pure Adoration of 
the only true God, and in the giving them 
a Body of fuch holy and excellent Laws, 
in which the main Duties of Religion and 
Morality, which, through the Corruption 
of Mankind had been very much defaced, 
were plainly laid down in clear and exprefs 
Precepts. All this was defigned, not 
merely for the Benefit of that particular 
Nation, to whom thefe Laws were imme- 
diately delivered, but to be of extenfive 
Advantage. And it is very probable, that, 



as fome learned Men have obferved, they 
were the Original of feveral of the Laws 
that were afterwards publifhed in other 
Nations. The fettling the Ifraelites in the 
Land of Canaan in fuch an extraordinary 
Manner, the awful Punifhments inflicted 
upon the Canaanites, and which were ex- 
prefly declared to be upon the Account of 
their abominable Wickednefs and Vices of 
all Kinds, as well as Idolatry ; and God's 
whole fubfequent Proceedings towards the 
People of Ifrael; the Profperity and Hap- 
pinefs they enjoyed according to the Pro- 
mifes that were made them, whilft they 
adhered to the true Worfhip of God, and 
obferved his holy Laws ; and the great Ca- 
lamities inflicted upon them, when they 
relapfed into Idolatry and Wickednefs : all 
thefe Things were vifible amazing Proofs 
of a mod: wife and righteous Providence, 
and fhould have had a great Effect, not 
only upon the Israelites, but upon all the 
Nations around them, to bring them to 
the Knowledge and Worfhip of the only 
true God, and to the Practice of Righte- 
oufnefs. Their Captivities and Difperiions, 
which had been foretold in their Law, all 
tended to the fame End ; and their being 
fcattered abroad in the latter Times of their 
State in fuch vail Numbers in Bafy/onia, 
Perjia, and throughout the Eafl, as well as in 



the feveral Parts of the wide extended Roman 
Empire, contributed to fpread the Know- 
ledge of Religion, which had been in a 
great Meafure loft among, the Nations. 
And finally, the whole Frame of the Jewift 
Oeconomy was defigned to prepare the Way 
for the Chriftian Difpenfation, which was 
the moft admirable Scheme of Divine Pro- 
vidence for recovering Mankind from the 
amazing Corruption into which they were 
fallen, to the Knowledge, Obedience, and 
pure Adoration of the Deity, and to the 
Love and Practice of Holinefs and Virtue. 
God, in his great Love to Mankind, fent 
his own Son into the World, a Perfon of 
unparalleled Dignity and Excellence, to 
bring a more clear and full Difcovery of 
his divine Will and Counfels for our Sal- 
vation, and a more perfect Syftem of pure 
Morals than ever had been made known to 
Mankind before ; to exhibit a bright Ex- 
ample of univerfal Goodnefs and Purity for 
our Imitation ; to make Atonement for 
our Sins by his Sufferings and Death ; and 
to give the fulleft ArTurances of a blerTed 
Immortality, and a vifible Pledge of it by 
his own Refurrection from the Dead. This 
whole Difpenfation exhibiteth the moft glo- 
rious Difplays of God's marvellous Grace 
and Goodnefs towards Mankind, and at 
the fame Time of his perfect Holinefs and 



rity, and is moft excellently fitted to pro- 
mote real Piety, and the Practice of uni- 
verfal Righteoufnefs. We have there the 
moft admirable Directions, the moft power- 
ful Motives, the moft effectual Helps and 
Encouragements to a holy Life. This was 
made known to the World at a Time when 
it was moft wanted, and when Idolatry and 
Corruption of all Kinds had arrived to the 
greateft Height ; and in Circumftances that 
feemed beft fitted for the univerfal Diffufion 
and Propagation of it. For it made its firft 
Appearance in the Roman Empire, which 
had brought a great Part of the then 
known World under its Dominion. And 
it was introduced in a Manner that was 
very proper for engaging the Attention 
and Admiration of Mankind, as being at- 
tended with the moft illuftrious Proofs and 
Evidences of a divine Power, Prefence, 
and Glory. This Religion hath fpread 
very far, and if Chriftians had been as 
careful both to preferve it in its Purity, 
and to propagate and recommend it by their 
Instructions and Example, as they are 
bound by the ftrongeft Obligations to be, 
it would have been probably before now 
diffufed through the Earth. And from 
the Jeivifi and Chriftian Revelation is 
derived whatever of Good there is in Mo- 
hometaniim, which hath been over-ruled 



by Divine Providence for freeing fome Na- 
tions from grofs Pagan Idolatry. 

Thus it appeareth, that God hath 
in the Courfe of his Providence done 
a great deal for preferving and promot- 
ing the Knowledge and Practice of Re- 
ligion and Virtue among Men, and for 
recovering it when it was in a great Mea- 
fure loft. And this mould fill our Hearts 
with a grateful Senfe of his infinite 
Goodnefs as well as Purity, and of his 
Concern for human Happinefs. How ma- 
ny Ways hath he ftriven with the Per- 
verfenefs of Men ! Of this the Scripture 
giveth us a noble and affecting View, where 
we have the beft Account of the various 
Difpenfations of God towards Mankind. 
And what farther extraordinary Means it 
may pleafe God to make Ufe of for dif- 
fuiing and eftablifhing true Religion in 
the World, we cannot tell ; but fomething 
of this Kind we are taught to expect by 
feveral Pafiages of Scripture, which feeni 
to refer to a future more general Con-, 
verfion of the Jews to the ChrifKan 
Faith, and the bringing in the Fulnefs 
of the Gentiles. And whenever this mall 
happen, it will difclofe a furprifing Scene 
that will fill us with a pleafing Aftonim- 
ment, and tend mightily to illuftrate the 
Glory of Divine Providence. In the mean 



time let us be thankful to God for the 
Advantages we enjoy for religious and mo- 
ral Improvement, and be careful to make 
a proper Ufe of them, and to anfwer the 
End for which they are given us, by de- 
nying Ungodlinefs and worldly Lufts, and 
living foberly, righteouily, and godly, in 
this prefent World. 


Concerning God's Providential Go- 
vernment > as refpe&ing large 


Psalm xxii. 28. 
— He is the Governor among the Nations. 

TH E univerfal Adminiflration of Di- 
vine Providence, as extending to 
the whole Creation, furnifheth a noble 
Subject for our Thoughts. But that which 
is of neareft Concernment to us is God's 
providential Government as exercifed to- 
wards Mankind. Some general Considera- 
tions were offered concerning it in our 
laft Difcourfe. Let us now proceed to 
confider it more diftinctly, as extending 
both to Communities, and to particular 
Perfons, to the Hearts and Thoughts of 
Vol. I. L all 


all Men, to their Actions, and to the E- 
vents that befal them. 

Firft, Let us coniider the Providence of 
God as refpecting Communities. I chufe 
to begin with this, becaufe, if Providence 
concerneth itfelf about Mankind at all, 
it mufl be fuppofed to fuperintend the 
Affairs of Communities and Nations ; the 
Events relating to which are of confide- 
rable Importance, and upon which the 
Welfare and good Order of the World 
very much depends. 

And with regard to this I would firft 
obferve in general, that the Formation and 
Eflablifhment of human Societies muft be 
considered as the Work and Appointment 
of Divine Providence. God, as the Au- 
thor of Nature, hath implanted in us, not 
only the Principles of Self-love and Self- 
prefervation, but the kind and focial or 
public Affections, whereby we are carried 
to ferve and affift one another in mutual 
good Offices, and to love our Friends, our 
Neighbours, and our Country. So ftrong is 
the Inclination that Man naturally hath to 
Society, that he cannot be happy without it. 
A great Part of the choicer! Pleafures of 
Life arife from focial Affections and En- 
joyments. And this natural Inclination 
which is in all Men to Society, is very 
much Strengthened by the mutual Need 


DISCOURSE Vlir. 147 

they ftand in of each others Affiftance. 
Nothing is plainer than that Men are 
. formed and defigned to be helpful to one 
another, and that it is but a fmall Part 
of the Bleffings and Advantages of Life 
which can be obtained, and but a fmall 
Progrefs that can be made in valuable 
Improvements and Accomplimments, with- 
out focial xA-fTiftances. So that it is evi- 
dent, that he that made us defigned and 
fitted us for Society. 

Families and fmaller Societies were 
firfl formed ; from the Combination 
of which, and for their mutual Security 
and Benefit, larger Societies and Commu- 
nities arofe. And for the preferving Or- 
der among them, it is agreeable to the 
Will of God the fupreme Ruler, that 
there mould be Government and Magi- 
flracy eftablifhed, and that Men mould 
be Jubjeft to the higher Powers. Thefe 
Powers are faid to be ordained of God, or- 
dained for the Punijh?nent of evil Doers, 
and the Praife of them that do well." Rom. 
xiii. 1, 3, 4. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. The Au- 
thority they are inverted with, is properly 
and originally derived from God the Foun- 
tain of all Power, but not ordinarily in an 
immediate Way, but mediately by the 
Choice, Confent, or Submiffion of the 
People. And it may be juftly regarded as 
L 2 owing 


owing to the Influence of Divine Provi- 
dence, that fuch a Number of boifterous 
unruly Spirits are made willing to live, 
in Subjection to the Government of a few. 
It is alfo to be afcribed to a wife Provi- 
dence, that there is fuch a Variety of na- 
tural Genius's or Inclinations obfervable 
among Mankind, whereby they are difpofed 
and qualified for acting different Parts, 
and filling different Stations and Offices 
in the Community. All are not Heroes, 
or Statefmen, or Philofophers, endued with 
great political or intellectual Abilities. 
Some are ffrongly inclined to the Purfuits of 
Learning and Science : others have a turn 
for Bufinefs ; and thofe again are of various 
Kinds : fome inclined and fitted to one 
Sort of Employment, fome to another. 
Some are for Confultation, fome 1 for Ac- 
tion : fome have cool Spirits, flow and de- 
liberate ; others are quick, fervent, and 
active. And it is fo ordered, that the Ge- 
nerality of Mankind are of moderate Ge- 
nius and Abilities, fitted for the common 
Affairs of Life, and they are all capable in 
their different Ways of being ferviceable 
to the Community. And from hence arif- 
eth focial Dependence, and mutual Ufeful- 
nefs, by which Societies are cemented toge- 
ther, and without which the Order and Har- 
mony of them could not well be maintained. 
i Secondlv, 


Secondly, Another Thing which I 
would obferve here, is, that all Bleffings 
and Calamities of a public Nature, and 
the Revolutions of Kingdoms and States, 
are to be regarded as under the fpecial 
Direction and Superintendency of Divine 

That Providence hath a particular Con- 
cernment in public Revolutions, the Rife 
and Fall of Empires, the flourishing and 
declining of Cities and Nations, can fcarce 
be denied by any one that believeth a Pro- 
vidence at all. It is what Reafon and Ob- 
fervation will lead a confidering Mind to ac- 
knowledge ; and it is very exprefsly afTerted 
in the holy Scriptures. We are told, that 
God increafetb the Nations, and defiroyeth 
them, he enlargeth the Nations, and Jirai- 
teiieth them again. Job. xii. 23. Sometimes 
he bleffeth them, Jo that they are multiplied 
greatly, again ^ they are minified and brought 
low through OppreJJion, Affliffiion, and Sor- 
row. Pfal. cvii. 38, 39. He changeth the 
'Times and the Seafons ; he removeth Kings, 
and fetteth up Kings. Dan. ii. 21. And in 
general, the Interpofition of Providence 
muft be acknowledged, both in all Bleffings, 
and in all Evils and Calamities, of a pub- 
lic Nature. 

All the Bleffings and Advantages which 
are bellowed upon Societies, mufl be thank- 

L 3 fully 


fully afcribed to Divine Providence. If 
Arts and Sciences flouriiTi among a People, 
and they are furnifhed with valuable Means 
of Improvement in ufeful Knowledge; if 
they have Peace and Plenty, and are free 
from foreign Invafions and domeftic Con- 
fpiracies and Tumults, or have Succefs in 
juft and necerTary Wars ; if they be blefied 
with a good Constitution of Government, 
and have the Advantage of wife and honeft 
Governors to rule over them; if they be 
preferved in the Enjoyment of their Liber- 
ties and Privileges civil and religious; if 
they have healthful and fruitful Seafons, 
and other Inftances of public Profperity; in 
all thefe and the like Cafes the Goodnefs 
of Divine Providence is to be acknowledo-- 


ed, not excluding fecond Caufes, but over- 
ruling and directing them; and devout and 
grateful Minds will find abundant Matter 
of Thankfulnefs. To which it may be add- 
ed, that Providence hath eminently ap- 
peared in railing up, from Time to Time, 
Perfons of extraordinary Abilities, and rare 
Qualifications, who have been infpired with 
great Wifdom, Fortitude, and Zeal for the 
public Good; whereby they have been 
rendered fignally infrrumental for doing 
great Service to the Community, for deli- 
vering oppreffed Nations, and reftoring the 
difordered State of Things, And though 



in fuch Cafes we ought to have a jufl Senfe of 
our Obligations to the worthy Inflruments, 
yet we mould principally carry our Views 
to a moll wife fuperintending Providence, 
and give God the Glory of all. 

On the other Hand, the Divine Provi- 
dence is alfo to be feriouily confidered in 
all public Evils and Calamities. It hath 
often happened that there have been vifi- 
ble Marks of God's Difpleafure againfl a 
People. Their Counfels have been infatu- 
ated, or their Forces enfeebled and difpi- 
rited ; their foreign Enemies have been 
fuffered to prevail againft them, or they 
have been given up to domeftic Tyrants 
and Oppreffors, or they have been rent 
afunder by Tumults and Commotions, and 
have been abandoned to the leading of am- 
bitious and factious Men, who have contri- 
buted to the Ruin of their Country, whilft 
they pretended a great Zeal for its Intereits. 
The Hand of God is to be acknowledged 
in thefe Things, as well as when a Peo- 
ple fuffer by Famine, Peftilence, Earth- 
quakes, inclement Seafons, epidemical Dif- 
tempers, &c. which are ufually regarded 
as the more immediate Work of Provi- 

This leads me to obferve, 

Thirdly, That in all thefe Cafes of pub- 
lic Bleffings and Calamities, or of natio- 
L 4 nal 


nal Revolutions, Providence proceedeth 
not merely in a Way of arbitrary Sove- 
reignty, but according to fteady and righ- 
teous Rules, and for wife Ends and Pur- 
pofes. It may be juftly faid, that the Ad- 
miniftrations of Divine Providence in dif- 
penfing Rewards and Punifhments towards 
Nations or large Communities, are gene- 
rally more conftant and uniform than the 
Diftributions of outward Rewards and Pu- 
nifhments towards particular Perfons in 
this Life. The Reafon is, that particular 
Perfons mail receive their principal Re- 
wards and Punifhments in a future State - y 
whereas, if Communities or Nations as 
fuch be rewarded or punifhed at all, it 
muft be in this prefent State in which 
alone they fubfift:. The Promifes of tem- 
poral Bleffings made to the Ifraelites in 
the Law of Mofesm cafe of their Obedience 
to the divine Commandments, and the 
Threatenings of temporal Evils denounc- 
ed againfl: them in cafe of their Difobe- 
dience. Lev. xxvi. and Deut. xxviii. re- 
lated chiefly to them as a Community. 
For they did not always hold with regard 
to particular Perfons, as is evident from the 
Complaints made by good Men under that 
Difpenfation concerning the Afflictions of 
the righteous, and Profperity of the 
wicked. But with regard to the Public, 



they never failed of being accomplished. 
When Religion and Virtue flourifhed 
among them, and they walked in Obedi- 
ence to the divine Laws, they were raifed 
to a high Degree of Glory and Reputa- 
tion, they were fuccefsful in their Wars, 
and had great Plenty and Affluence, and 
every Thing that could contribute to the 
public Profperity and Happinefs. And on 
the contrary, when they revolted from God, 
and fell into a great and general Depra- 
vity and Corruption, they became abject, 
defpifed, miferable, and were a Prey to the 
neighbouring Nations. And in general it 
may be faid, that whenever any public 
Calamities were inflicted upon them, whe- 
ther by the more immediate Hand of Hea- 
ven, as Famine, Drought, Peftilence, &c. 
or by the Hands of their Enemies and Op- 
preffors ; it was always as a juft Punish- 
ment for their national Iniquities, their 
Idolatry, Impiety, and abounding Wick- 
ednefs and Corruption of Manners. And 
upon their Repentance and Reformation 
thefe Calamities were removed, and their 
Profperity reflored. ' This was the general 
Courfe of God's providential Difpenfations 
towards them, as is manifeft from the 
whole Hiftory of that Nation. 

Nor was this peculiar to the Jews. The 
Hated Rule of the divine Procedure towards 



Nations is laid down, Jer. xviii. 7, 8, 9, 10. 
At what Lift ant IJloallfpeak concerning a Na- 
tion, and concerning a Kingdom, to pluck up, 
and to pull down, and to dejlroy it, if that 
Nation againjl whom I have pronounced, 
turn from their Evil, I will repent of the 
Evil that 1 thought to do unto them; and at 
what ^time I fiall fpeak concerning a King- 
dom, to build, and to plant it, if it do Evil 
hi my Sight, that it obey not my Voice, then 
1 will repent of the Good wherewith I faid I 
would benefit them. It is an Obfervation 
which hath generally held in all Nations 
and Ages, that Right eoufnefs exalteth a Na- 
tion, but Sin, i. e. abounding Vice and 
Wickednefs, is a Reproach to any People. 
It bringeth Difgrace and Mifery upon them, 
Prov. xiv. 34. If we confult the Hiftory 
of Mankind, we fhall find that it hath 
ufually happened, that when a People have 
been remarkable for Juftice, Temperance, 
Induftry, and a Zeal for the public Good, 
they have preferved their Liberties, they 
have profpered in their Undertakings, 
and have been in high Reputation and 
Efteem. Nor can «any Inflance be brought 
of a Nation's being given up to exterminat- 
ing Plagues and Calamities, whilfl Reli- 
gion, Probity ? and Virtue fiourifhed among 
them. But when they have degenerated 
from their national Virtue, when Falfhood 

c and 


and Perfidy, Injuftice and Violence, Lux- 
ury and Debauchery, and a Diffolutenefs of 
Manners, with a Contempt of Religion, 
have generally prevailed among them, they 
have fallen into many Calamities, they have 
been cafl down from their Profperity and 
Glory, and have been deprived of thofe 
Advantages they fo much abufed. God 
may indeed, in his great Wifdom and Pa- 
tience, long bear with a finful degenerate 
People. He may naffer them to enjoy 
great Profperity for a while, and may 
pour forth many Bleffings upon them, 
even when they are in a corrupt State. 
For the Methods of Providence towards 
Societies are generally flow though fure ; 
and the Punifhments that are inflicted up- 
on -Nations feldom come in a fudden and 
extraordinary Way, but are for the moft 
part fo ordered, as to appear to be the 
proper Effects of their own Conduct. 
The Corruption ufually cometh on by 
Degrees, and doth not become univerfal 
at once. And there is often a Remnant of 
good Men ftill continued among them, even 
in a Time of great and general Depravity, 
and for their Sakes Judgment may be de- 
ferred. God firil ufually fen deth leffer 
monitory Judgments upon a People, and 
if they are not reclaimed by thefe, he 
meweth his Juftice and Righteoumefs 



by fending more grievous and dreadful 
Calamities, and fometimes by utterly fub- 
verting their State and Polity : And it is 
obfervable, that in fuch Cafes God is re- 
prefented in Scripture as having a Refpect 
to the Sins of former Generations as well 
as the prefent ; fince it is the fame Nation 
or Body politic which ftill fubfifteth in 
thefe different Generations ; and when the 
Iniquities of that Body are grown up to 
fuch a Height, and have continued fo long, 
that he doth not fee fit to bear with them 
any longer, the Meafure of their Iniqui- 
ties is faid to be Jul/, the Time is come for 
executing a fevere Vengeance upon them, 
and the Punifhment falls the heavier for 
having been fo long delayed. 

It doth not at all call: a Reflection upon 
the Righteoufnefs of God, that it frequent - 
ly happeneth, that thofe whom he maketh 
ufe of for executing his Judgments upon 
guilty Nations, are themfelves chargeable 
with InjufKce and Cruelty, and have no- 
thing in View but the gratifying their own 
Ambition, Avarice, and Lufl: of Power. 
This doth not hinder, but that thofe Evils 
and Calamities which they are the Inftru- 
ments of infli&ing, are juft and right, as 
proceeding from the fupreme Governor of 
the World. And it is ufually fo ordered, 
that they who have been Inftruments in 



punifhing others, are afterwards, at that 
Time which appeareth fittefb to infinite 
Wiidom, juftly punifhed in their Turn for 
their Vices, their Pride, their Violence and 
Injufiice. Thus God threatens, that after 
the Aflyrian, whom he calls the Rod of his 
Anger, had performed his whole Work upon 
Mount Zion, a?id on ferufakm, he would 
pvi fh the Fruit of the flout Heart of the King 
of Affyria, and the Glory of his high Looks. 
Ifa. x. 5, 6, 7, 8, 12. And this was fignally 
verified in the Event ; firft, in the fudden 
Ruin of Sennacherib's mighty Army, and 
afterwards in the utter Deft-ruction of that 
haughty Empire, and laying wafte Nineveh^ 
the Seat of it. The fame Obfervation 
holdeth concerning Babvlon, which for a 
while triumphed over all Oppofition, and 
erected a mod potent and wide extended 
Monarchy, but at length paid dear for her 
Infolence, Oppreffion, and Violence. Her 
Foundations are fallen (faith the Prophet fe- 
remiah) her IV alls are thrown down ; for it is 
the Vengeance of the Lord: T^ake Vengeance on 
her-, as Jhe hath done, do unto her. Jer. 1. 15. 
This Vengeance began to be executed up- 
on Babylon, by Cyrus the Founder of the 
Perfian Empire. And when afterwards 
the Per/ians became infamous for their 
Pride, Oppreffion, Luxury, and all manner 
of Diffolutenefs, their Empire was, through 



the righteous Judgment of God, totally 
fubverted by Alexander the Great. And 
that mighty Conqueror himfelf was foon 
after cut off in the midfr. of his Years and 
of his ambitious Projects; and his Empire 
was divided by furious Contenders, and at 
length the feveral Parts of it fwallowed up 
by the Power of the Romans. This Peo- 
ple by their Juftice, Fortitude, and Tem- 
perance, their Contempt of Luxury, and 
Zeal for the public Good, had rifen, 
through the favourable Interpofition of Di- 
vine Providence, from very fmall Begin- 
nings, till they formed the mightieit. Empire 
that ever was upon Earth. But when they 
fell from thefe Virtues, and became un- 
juft, perfidious, oppreffive, and abandoned 
to DifTolutenefs and Corruption of all 
Kinds, they were nrft, through the juff. 
Judgment of God, torn afunder by bloody 
inteftine Wars; and afterwards deprived 
of their boafled Liberties by domeflic 
Tyrants; and at length their Empire, 
which feemed to be fo ftrongly cftabliih- 
ed, that nothing could overturn it, was 
fubverted by an Inundation of barbarous 
Nations, who were the Inftruments in the 
Hands of God for executing his Judg- 
ments upon them for the Wickednefs, the 
Vices, the Cruelties, and Oppreflions of fo 
many Ages. 



What hath been hitherto offered, re- 
lateth chiefly to civil Communities. Many 
Obfervations might like wife be made con- 
cerning God's providential Dealings to- 
wards Churches, or religious facred Socie- 
ties. I mall content myfelf with a few 
general Hints on this Subject. 

It was a mod fignal Ad; of Divine Pro- 
vidence, and which I had Occalion to take 
fome Notice of before, that when the pri- 
mitive patriarchal Religion, or the true 
Worfhip of God which had been derived 
from the Beginning, was in Danger of 
being loft among Men, and the World 
became generally involved in the groffeft 
Superftition and Idolatry, it pleafed him 
to fingle out a whole Nation from the reft 
of Mankind, and to erect them into a fa- 
cred Polity, fet apart by their fundamen- 
tal Constitution for the Profeffion and 
Worfhip, the Faith and Obedience of the 
one true God, and him only, in Oppofi- 
tion both to the worfhipping Idols or falfe 
Deities, and to the worshipping the true God 
by Images, or in an idolatrous Way. The 
more effectually to awaken the Attention 
of Mankind, and to give the more illuf- 
trious Confirmation to that Church-confti- 
tution, it was wifely ordered, that in the 
founding and eflablifhing of it there were 
many fignal and amazing Exertions of the 
divine Power. And the whole of that Dif- 



penfation was admirably fo contrived, as to 
prepare the Way for a more fpiritual and 
perfect State of the Church, which was tofuc- 
ceed it, and was to be more univerfally dif- 
fufed; in the founding of which, Providence 
interpofed in a yet more remarkable Man- 
ner, by a Series of the moft marvellous and 
extraordinary Events that ever the World 

And not only in the firfr, Erection and 
Eftablifhment of the Jewijh and Chriftian 
Church, but in God's fubfequent Dealings 
towards them, a confiderate Mind may 
obferve and trace the remarkable Foot- 
ileps of a moft wife Providence. 

The Providence of God hath been often 
manifefted in engaging the Powers of this 
World, and even thofe who feemed to be 
in a great Meafure Strangers to true Re- 
ligion, to befriend his Church. Inftances 
of which we have in what was done by 
Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes^ towards 
re-effcablifhing the Jewijh Worfhip and Po- 
lity. But efpecially it hath eminently ap- 
peared in the Deliverances vouchfafed to his 
Church and People, even when their Cafe 
feemed to be defperate, and there fcarce 
remained any Hope of Deliverance : As 
in the bringing back the Jews from the 
Babylonijh Captivity, and in the wonder- 
ful Restoration of that Church, when it 
feemed to be utterly fubverted by Antiochus 

JLpip banes. 


Epiphanes. Through the over-ruling In- 
fluence of a wife Providence, Events that 
Were defigned for the Deftruction of the 
Church have been made fubfervient to its 
better Eftablifhment. Thus Hamaris Plot, 
which threatened the utter Ruin of the 
Jewijh Nation and Religion, was wonder- 
fully over-ruled to contribute to the Confir- 
mation of it. Divine Providence hath been 
alfo remarkable in railing up faithful Wit- 
nefTes for the Truth, and preferving a pi- 
ous Remnant in Times of a general De- 
fection from the Purity of Faith and 
Practice, and fometimes in bringing about 
a Reformation of long eftablifhed Errors 
and Corruptions, by very unlikely Inflru- 
ments, and even over-ruling the Lufts and 
Paffions of Men for contributing to the 
abolifhing of the falfe Religion, and efta- 
bliming the true. 

Finally, What was obferved with regard 
to the divinejudgments towards Nations that 
have fallen into a very corrupt and degenerate 
State, may be alfo applied in a great Meafure 
to degenerate backfliding Churches. God 
declared to the Jews by the Prophet Ames, 
Tou only have I known of all the Families of 
the Earthy therefore I will punijh you for all 
your Iniquities. Amos iii. 2. He had di- 
stinguished them above other Nations, by 
granting them many valuable Privileges, 

Vol. L M and 


and erecting his vifible Church among 
them, and therefore he punifhed them in 
a remarkable Manner for their Revolts and 
Backfliding. Plis Dealings towards them 
might feem to be fometimes fevere, but 
were always unexceptionably juft and righ- 
teous; and have left this great and ufeful 
LerTon to all Ages, that no external Pro- 
ferlion of Religion, or vifible fpecial Re- 
lation to God as their God in Covenant, 
will intitle any Church or People to the 
divine Favour, or fecure them from his 
awful Judgments, if they be deftitute of 
real Virtue and Godlinefs, and become 
generally abandoned to Vice and Wicked- 
nefs : On the contrary, as their Privileges 
and Advantages aggravate their Crime, fb 
they will be expofed to a more grievous 

The fame holdeth good with reipect to 
Churches profeffing ChrifHanity. Some 
Churches which feemed once to be in a 
flourifhing Condition, now lie defolate ; 
their Candleftick is removed, and the Light 
that fhone in them feems to be extin- 
guished. Others which are not utterly de- 
prived of their Privileges yet have been ex- 
pofed to fore Perfecutions. And nothing 
can be more juft than that God fhould 
in his holy Providence manifeft his 
righteous Difpleafure againft backfliding 



Churches, that have fallen from the Purity 
and Power of Religion into a State of 
great Corruption and Degeneracy. The 
Perfecutions they have been exercifed with, 
however grievous they may appear, often 
anfwer very valuable Ends. The Church 
is not always really in the beft Eftate 
when it feemeth to be outwardly mod 
flonriuhing, nor in the worft Eftate when 
it is outwardly oppreffed and perfecuted. 
In Times of long external Peace and Prof- 
perity, there are often great Corruptions 
in Doctrine, Worfhip, and Practice. The 
Spirit of this World prevaileth, and Reli- 
gion degenerateth into Form and Shew, fo 
that though the Church may appear to be 
outwardly in profperous Circumftances, 
yet it hath little more than a Name to live, 
and is really ready to die. And on the other 
Hand, it frequently happeneth that in 
Times of Perfecution, though the Church 
hath fewer ProfefTors, it hath better Mem- 
bers. The Faith and Patience of the 
Saints is more exercifed and difplayed, 
their Zeal and Piety is more eminent, and 
the divine Power of Religion doth more 
glorioufly appear. And then in due Time 
be raifeth his Church, when fitted for it, 
from their afflicted State, and executath 
j uft Vengeance upon their Adverfaries and 
Perfecutors. Thus Babylon of old was pu- 
M 2 nifhed 


nifhed for her Cruelty and Oppreffion of 
the Jewift Church. And fo fhall it alfo 
be in the Cafe of myfHcal Babylon, which, 
after having been long furTered to prevail, 
and to make War with the Saints, (hall have 
a dreadful Downfal, wherein the Vengeance 
and Juftice of God fhall be illuftrioufly 
difplayed ; of which we have a lively De- 
fcription in the 18th Chapter of the Reve- 
lation of St. John. 

This Subject may furnifh feveral ufeful 

And firft, We may hence fee how 
much it is the Wifdom and Duty of all 
the People of the Earth to fear before God, 
and to render him a religious Homage and 
Obedience as their fupreme univerfal King 
and Lord. For the greateft and moft 
powerful Nations are under his Domi- 
nion, and he ordereth the Events re- 
lating to them according to the Counfel of 
his Will. From him the mightieft earthly 
Potentates hold their Crowns and Sceptres. 
Their Empires and even their Lives are at 
his Difpofal. By him Kings reign, and 
Princes decree Jujlice : by him Princes rule, 
and Nobles, and all the Judges of the Earth., 
All Kings mould therefore fall down before 
him, and all Nations (houldferve him. For 
as much as there is none like unto thee, O 
Lord, and thy Name is great in Might, who 



would not fear thee, O King of Nations ? 
for unto thee doth it appertain. Jer. x. 
6, 7. 

Secondly, It mould help greatly to calm 
and compofe our Minds, when Darknefs 
and Confunon feem to be upon the Face 
of public Affairs, to reflect that all Things 
are under the Direction and Superinten- 
dency of a moft. wife Providence. There 
is nothing which is more apt to fill the 
Heart of a good Man with deep Concern, 
than the Calamities that threaten large 
Communities, Nations or Churches ; thofe 
efpecially to which he is moft nearly re- 
lated. Sometimes the AfpecT: of Things 
with regard to Church and State is fo 
black and difmal, that we are ready even 
to fink into Defpondency, and can fee no 
Refource, no Way of Deliverance or 
Efcape. But in fuch Cafes, when Things 
feem to be at the worft, and have the moft 
difaftrous Appearance, there is no Confide- 
ration fo proper to comfort us as this, that 
God reigneth, who will certainly order 
Things for the bell: upon the whole, and 
whofe Prerogative it is to bring Good out 
of Evil, and Order out of Confunon. 
When the Floods lift up their Waves, how 
mould we rejoice to think that the Lord on 
High is mightier than the Noife of many 
Waters. Pfal. xciii. 3, 4. He Jlilleth the 
M 3 ' Noife 


Noife of the Seas, the Noife of their Waves, 
and the Tu?nults of the People. Pfal. lxv. 7. 
Let us therefore check each defponding 
Thought, and place our Confidence in God 
alone. When all worldly Supports fail us, 
we mould reft fatisfied in this, that Things 
are not left to a blind Chance. The King- 
dom is the Lord's, and he is the Governor 
among the Nations. The Lord Jhall reign 
for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all 
Generations. Pfal. cxlvi. 10. The Heathens 
may rage, and the People may imagine a 
vain Thing ; the Kings of the Earth may 
take Counfel together again ft the Lord, and 
again ! l his Chrift ; but he that ftteth in the 
Heavens fiaU laugh, and the Lord jhall have 
them in Deri/ion. Though he may feem to 
forfake his Church for a Time, he will 
take Care that the Gates of Hell Jhall not 
finally prevail againji it. 

Thirdly, In all Events of a public Na- 
ture, whether profperous or adverfe, wc 
mould fix our Views not merely or princi- 
pally upon fecond Caufes, but mould look 
above them to God, and endeavour to 
comply with the Defigns of infinite Wif- 
dom and Righteoufnefs. With regard to 
national Affairs, Men are very apt to con- 
fine their whole Attention to fecond Caufes, 
and to overlook or neglect the Agency of 
Divine Providence. When they obferve 
2 that 


that Prudence and Ability in Counfel, that 
Courage and Skill in War, are crowned 
with Succefs ; that the more powerful Na- 
tions prove too hard for the weaker ; that 
great and well-difciplined Armies under 
able Generals prove victorious -, they are 
apt to look no farther, as if Men had 
wholly the Management of Affairs in their 
own Hands. But this is a very wrong Way 
of judging. It is no Argument at all, that 
becaufe thefe Events are ufually conducted 
according to the ordinary Courfe of fecond 
Caufes, therefore they are not under the 
Direction and Superintendency of Divine 
Providence. For it is Providence that hath 
wifely appointed that this (hall be the ge- 
neral Courfe of Things, and that Events 
fhall ordinarily happen in this Way, that 
Men may be put upon the Ufe of all pro- 
per Means, without which there could be 
no Exercife of human Prudence or Induftry. 
But ftill it mufl be coniidered, that a fove- 
reign Providence prefideth over all thefe 
Events, and over-ruleth them to anfwerits 
own wife Purpofes ; and according as it 
hath Defigns of Mercy or Judgment, can 
fo order the Circumftances of Things, and 
the Courfe of fecond Caufes, as to pro- 
mote the national Profperity, or the con- 
trary. God can, when he feeth fit, give or 
withhold a Spirit of Wifdom and Courage, 
M 4 or 


or he can caufe Things to turn out con- 
trary to all Appearances, of which the 
Hiftories of all Nations furnifh many In- 
stances. How often have mighty Armies 
been ftrangely and unaccountably defeated, 
and the wifefi Politicians baffled and con- 
founded in their beft laid Schemes, by un- 
forefeen Incidents ! It is therefore a Prin- 
ciple which we mould get deeply fixed 
upon our Minds, that the Continuance of 
the public national Profperity dependeth 
upon the Appointment of the great Go- 
vernor of the World, the King of Na- 
tions, who always proceedeth in all his 
Adminiftrations upon the wifeft and fitteft: 
Reafons ; and that it is a vain Thing for 
any People to place their Confidence in 
their own Wealth, or Power, or Policy, 
in the Wifdom of their Counfels, or in 
the Strength of their Fleets or Armies, 
or in any outward fleihly Refources. For 
how many Ways hath God of contending 
with guilty Nations, and how eafily can he 
cad them down from the Height of their 
Profperity and Glory ! 

To apply this to the Cafe of the Na- 
tions to which we belong. We have long 
been continued in the PorTeflion and En- 
joyment of valuable Bleffings and Advan- 
tages both civil and religious, which ought 
to be thankfully afcribed to the Wifdom of 



Divine Providence. We have alfo from 
Time to Time met with Corrections and 
Rebukes of a public Nature. And in 
thefe alfo the fovereign Agency of a righ- 
teous Providence is to be carefully obferved 
and acknowledged. We mould in all fuch 
Cafes humble ourfelves under the mighty 
Hand of God, and mould hear the Rod, 
and who hath appointed it. In what Way 
it may pleafe God further to deal with us 
we do not know. But whofoever ob- 
ferveth the declining State of practical 
Godlinefs among us, and the abounding of 
Vice and Profanenefs, and all Manner of 
Corruption and Diflblutenefs of Manners, 
together with a growing IndirTerency to 
all Religion, and even a Contempt of it, 
muft be fenfible, that according to the or- 
dinary Methods of the divine Procedure 
towards Nations and Churches, there is 
too much Reafon to apprehend God's 
righteous Judgments. Many are the Pro- 
jects which may be formed for procuring 
national Advantages, and promoting the 
public Good j but all other Expedients to 
make a People flourifh, without Reforma- 
tion * of Manners, and endeavouring to 
promote Religion and public Virtue, will 
in the IfTue prove ineffectual and vain. 
Without this, let a Nation appear at pre- 
fent in never fuch profperous Circum- 



ftances, there can be no Security that it 
ihall long continue fo. We muft not nat- 
ter ourfelves that becaufe God hath often 
remarkably diftinguifhed us with his Be- 
nefits and Deliverances, that therefore he 
will continue to fpare and favour us. For 
if we do not walk anfwerably to our Pro- 
femons and Advantages, this will only 
prove an Aggravation of our Guilt, and fet 
our Difobedience and Ingratitude in a 
Itronger Light. If therefore we are de- 
li rous in the beft Manner to fhew our Love 
to our Country, and draw down Bleffings 
upon it, let us do our Part towards a Re- 
formation by fetting ourfelves heartily to 
rectify and reform whatfoever is amifs in 
our own Temper and Conduct, and by en- 
deavouring to promote, as far as in us lieth, 
the Practice of Piety and Virtue among 
others too. The moft proper and effectual 
Way we can take to preferve our valuable 
Privileges, and to promote the national 
Profperity, is not merely to exprefs a cla- 
morous Zeal for Liberty, at the fame Time 
that we abufe it to Licentioufnefs, than 
which nothing hath a greater Tendency both 
through the righteous Judgment of God, 
and in the Nature of the Thing, to deprive 
us of our Liberties ; but it is to endeavour 
to make a juft and wife Improvement of 
our Advantages, to maintain a ftridl Re- 


gard to Religion, Probity, and Purity of 
Manners, and to guard againft Vice, Li- 
bertinifm, Profanenefs, and Debauchery. 
This and this alone will make and pre- 
ferve us a flouriming, a free, and happy 
People. God grant that this may be the 
Bleffing of thefe Nations to the lateft Pof- 
terity. Amen. 


God's providential Government with 
regard to particular Perfons con- 
Jidered : And firfi^ as< extending 
to their Hearts and Thoughts. 


Psalm xxxlii. 15. 
He faJJjio?ietb their Hearts alike. 

IT is of great Importance in Religion to 
have our Minds eftablilhed in the firm 
Belief of the Providence of God, efpeci- 
ally as exercifed towards Mankind, whether 
lingly or collectively confidered. Some 
Confederations have been offered concerning 
God's providential Government, as refpect- 
ing Communities. Let us now proceed 
to confider it as extending to particular 
3 Perfons. 


Perfons. This hath a near Connection 
with the former ; for there could be no 
proper Care taken of collective Bodies, if 
the particular Perfons of which they are 
compofed were abfolutely neglected. To 
pretend that Providence doth not concern 
itfelf about Individuals, about their Ac- 
tions, or the Events which befall them, 
would be to all the Purpofes of Religion 
the fame Thing as to deny that there is a 
Providence at all ; fince in that Cafe every 
Man would be left to do what is right in 
his own Eyes, without the Dread of a fu- 
preme Governor and Judge. All the Ar- 
guments which have been brought to de- 
monstrate a Providence in general, do alfo, 
if rightly confidered, prove that it extend- 
eth its Care to particular Perfons. And 
indeed it is hard to conceive a Providence 
reflecting reafonable Creatures, and yet not 
concerning itfelf with particular Perfons, 
Cafes, and Circumftances. And though it 
muft be acknowledged to be an amazing 
Scheme, to make Provilion for all parti- 
cular Perfons and Cafes, without infringing 
the general Laws of Nature, or the Free- 
dom of moral Agents, yet who will under- 
take to prove that this is impoffible, or 
even difficult, to an infinite Mind ? That 
immcnfe Being, whofe EfTence pofTerTeth 
every Part of this vail Univerfe, is prefent 



to every Individual of the human Race. 
It is in him that we all, from the higheft 
to the meaneft, live and move, and have 
our Being. And if that mod wife, holy, 
and abfolutely perfect Being, the great 
Ruler of the World, be always prefent to 
every Individual of the human Race, then 
every Individual of the human Race, and 
whatfoever relateth to each Individual, mull 
be under his Infpection and Superinten- 
dency. And as his infinite Understanding 
hath a perfect Knowledge of all Things 
before they come to pafs, it can be no Dif- 
ficulty to him to form a Scheme of Things 
in his all-comprehending Mind, which 
mall take in all the Cafes and Circum- 
ftances of particular Perfons, in fuch a 
Manner as is perfectly confident with the 
true Exercife of their rational and active 
Powers. And our not being able dif- 
tinctly to explain how this is done, is no 
juft Objection at all againft it. 

The Government of Divine Providence 
with regard to particular Perfons, may be 
conlidered as extending to their Hearts and 
Thoughts, to their outward Actions, and 
to the Events which befall them. 

I mail diftinctly confider each of thefe. 

Firft, Let us confider God's providential 
Government as extending to the Hearts of 



This is what the Pfalmift fignifies, when 
having declared that God looketh upon all 
the Inhabitants of the Earth, he adds, He 
fajhioneth their Hearts alike. He hath 
equally formed the Hearts of all Men, of 
one as well as another, of high and low, 
rich and poor, and therefore the Hearts of 
all Men are known to him, and in his 
Power. They are all equally fuhject to his 
Jurifdiction. He both exercifeth a con- 
flant Infpection over them, and can dif- 
pofe, incline, and govern them which Way 
he pleafeth. 

Firil, God exercifeth a conftant Infpec- 
tion over the Hearts of all Men, and hath 
a perfect Knowledge of their moll fecret 
Thoughts, Purpofes, and Difpofitions. It 
is but reafonable to believe, that he who is 
acquainted with the inward EfTences of 
Things, who formed the Spirits of Men, 
and gave them their thinking Powers, and 
who is ever intimately prefent with them, 
and fupporteth thofe Powers in Exercife, 
muft needs know every Thing that pafTeth 
in their Minds. All the Springs of 
Thought, all the Motions and Tendencies 
of the Heart lie open to his all-penetrating 
Eye, and are known to him with much 
greater Eafe and Certainty than outward 
Actions are to us. Without this he could 
not carry on his Adminiftrations towards 



Mankind in a proper Manner. If he were 
not acquainted with the Hearts of Men, 
it were to little Purpofe to give them Laws 
for governing and regulating their inward 
Thoughts and Affections, iince in that 
Cafe he could not certainly know, whether 
his Laws were obferved or not. It is the 
Heart that denominateth Men good or bad, 
fo that if God did not know the Heart, 
he could not form a certain Judgment con- 
cerning their real Characters, nor reward 
or puniih them accordingly ; and thus 
might great Miftakes be committed in the 
Government of the World. The Scrip- 
tures, therefore, are very clear and full in 
arTerting the perfect Knowledge God hath 
of the Hearts of all Men. Solomon in his 
admirable Prayer addrefleth himfelf thus 
to God ; Do and give to every Man accord* 
ing to his TVays, whofe Heart thou knowejl ; 
for thou, even thou only, knoweft the Hearts 
of all the Children of Men, 1 Kings viii. 
39. That is a remarkable PaiTage which 
we have Jer. xvii. 9. "The Heart is de- 
ceitful above all Things, and defperately 
ivicked ', who can know it ? i. e. What Man, 
what Angel, what Creature can perfectly 
^know it ? And then it follows : / the Lord 
fearch the Heart, I try the Reins, even to 
give every Man according to his Ways, and 
according to the Fruit of his Doings. To 
Vol. I. N th<? 


the fame Purpofe David declareth, that 
the Lord fearcheth all Hearts, and under- 
Jlandeth all the Imaginations of the Thoughts. 
i Chron. xxviii. 9. God is faid in this 
and other PafTages of Scripture, to fearch 
the Hearts, not as if he needed to make a 
laborious Enquiry ; for he knoweth them 
by immediate Intuition ; but to fignify the 
Certainty and Exactnefs of his Knowledge. 
This is what we muft ftill bear in Mind, 
when we are confidering the Government 
of Divine Providence. For it lieth at the 
Foundation of all God's Adminiftrations 
towards Mankind, both in this and in a fu- 
ture State. Itbothfheweth, that he will here- 
after call Men to a ftridt Account, and will 
bring every fecret Thing into 'Judgment, 
whether it be good, or whether it be evil ; 
and that he now knoweth how to order 
his providential Dealings towards Men in 
this prefent State in the fitted Manner. 
If we did but know the Hearts of Men 
as he doth, we mould undoubtedly fee the 
Reafons of many of his Difpenfations which 
we are now ignorant of, and it would appear 
that Benefits or Calamities are often very 
properly applied, in Instances which at pre- 
fent we find it hard to account for. He 
feeth the riling Defigns and Schemes of 
the fubtileft Politicians, when firft form- 
ed in their Hearts, and can eafily render 



their Devices of no efFecl. For he difcover- 
eth deep Things out of Darknefs, and bring- 
eth to Light the Shadow of Death, as Job 
expreffeth it. Job xii. 22. Juflly there- 
fore is a Wo pronounced unto them thatfeek 
deep to hide their Counfel fro?n the Lord, and 
their Works are in the Dark, and they fay, 
Who feet h us, and who knoweth us t Ifa. xxix. 
15. As if they laid their Plots fo cun- 
ningly, that God himfelf could not difcover 
them. This argueth both great Impiety and 
Folly. What a Check would it be to 
wicked Men, did they but ferioufly confi- 
der and believe, that the moft fecret 
Thoughts and Purpofes of their Hearts, 
though covered over with fair and fpecious 
Pretences, are ever fubjecl: to the Infpection 
of the fupreme Lord and Governor of the 
World ! As, on the contrary, it muft be a 
great Comfort to good Men under the un- 
deferved Cenfures and Reproaches which 
may now be can: upon them, that there is 
a Providence which governeth the World, 
to whom their Integrity and the Upright- 
nefs of their Intentions is fully manifeil:. 

Secondly, As God knoweth the Hearts 
of Men, fo he can govern or influence them 
as he pleafeth. He hath a Power of direct- 
ing and over-ruling the Thoughts, Incli- 
nations, and Intentions of Mens Hearts, 
in fuch a Manner as is agreeable to the 
N 2 wife 


wife Purpoies of his Providence. This is 
a Power that cannot reafonably be denied 
to the great univerfal Lord, who is the Au- 
thor of our Beings, and who formed the 
Spirit of Man within him. And it is very 
exprefsly afferted in the facred Writings. 
Thus it is declared, Prov. xxi. i. The 
Kings Heart is in the Hand cf the Lord, as 
the Rivers of Water ; be tumeth it whither - 
foever he will. The Hearts of all Men are 
in the Hands of God, but thofe of Kings 
are particularly mentioned, as they feem to 
be more abiblute than other Men, more 
felf- willed, and harder to be controlled. 
Yet God can turn their Hearts, their 
Counfels, and Intentions, as it pleafeth him, 
as the Hufbandman or Gardener can turn 
Streams of Water, through Trenches, to 
what Part of his Ground he thinks pro- 
per. We read in Scripture of God's touch- 
ing Mens Hearts. Sam. x. 26. Of his 
preparing their Hearts. 1 Chron. xxix. 18. 
Pjal. x. 17. Of his opening the Heart. 
Acts xvi. 14. Of liis inclining the Heart. 
pfaL cxix. 30. And /ire?/gthening the Heart. 
Pjal. xxvii. 14. No Creature hath a direct 
and abfolute Empire over the Heart and 
Thoughts in Man; and yet it cannot be 
denied that Men may in many Inftances, 
and by many Ways, influence one anothers 
Hearts, Affections, and Inclinations, whe- 


ther to good or bad Purpofes. This they 
often do by Arguments and Perfuafions, 
and by laying before them fuch Motives 
and Inducements, as are fitted to prevail 
upon them. And certainly, God hath a 
much greater Power over the Hearts of 
all Men, than one Man can poffibly have 
over the Heart of another. He who hath 
the neareft Accefs to our Spirits, who is 
perfectly acquainted with all the Avenues 
of our Minds, and the propereft Ways of 
working upon them, muff undoubtedly be 
able to influence our Hearts in a thou- 
fand Ways, which now we cannot diftinct- 
ly explain, and yet without offering any 
Violence to the Freedom that belongeth to 
us, as we are moral Agents. 

Particularly, he can, when he feeth fit, 
put fuch Thoughts into Mens Hearts, 
as may beft anfwer his own mofl wife De- 
iigns. Indeed it is abfolutely inconiiflent 
with the perfect Holinefs of his Nature 
and Government to fuppole that he can 
ever be the Author of evil and linful 
Thoughts. It is an eternal Truth, that 
God cannot be tempted with Evil, neither 
tempt eth he any Man. Jam. i. 13. But with 
regard to thofe Things that have a moral 
Goodnefs in them ; or which, though in 
their own Nature indifferent, yet are io 
circumiianced as to be capable of ferving 
N 3 valuable 


valuable Ends, there is no Difficulty at all 
in fuppofing him, on fome Occafions at 
lead, to put Thoughts of this Kind into 
the Minds of Men. And -there is great 
Reafon to think that this is frequently done, 
and that many excellent Defigns of Pro- 
vidence are in this Way brought about, 
and many Evils prevented. For the mod 
natural Way of working upon Men as rea- 
fonable Creatures, and influencing their 
Actions and Affairs, feems to be by fug- 
gefting proper Thoughts to their Minds, 
and placing them in jfuch a Light as is 
fittefl to make an Impreffion upon them. 
Many Cafes may happen, in which the in- 
fluencing the Thoughts and Determina^ 
tions of one Man, may be of great Impor- 
tance, not only to himfelf, but to many 
others. And in fuch Cafes it cannot be 
unworthy of the great and all^wife Difpo- 
fer and Governor to interpofe. There are 
few Pcrfons that have carefully obferved 
what paifeth in their own Minds, but who 
have had Experience of Motions fometimes 
arifmg there, in a Manner they are not well 
able to account for, which yet have after- 
wards appeared to be of no fmall Confe- 
quence to them, and have produced goo4 
Effects. And in thefe, a truly religious 
Man will be apt gratefully to acknowledge 
the Interpofition of Divine Providence. 



God can work upon the Spirits of Men in 
a Way of immediate Influence, and yet in 
fuch a Way as is perfectly agreeable to their 
rational Natures, and which doth not put 
any improper Conftraint upon others. He 
can alio, and probably often doth, make 
Imprefiions upon their Minds by various 
Means, which he is pleafed to make Ufe 
of in his wife and fovereign Providence to 
this Purpofe. He can eallly order it fo, 
that fuch Arguments and Motives mall 
occur to their own Thoughts, or mall be 
fuggefted to them by others, whether 
Men or invifible fpiritual Beings, as he 
knoweth will induce them to take fuch or 
fuch Refolutions ; or he can fo difpofe out- 
ward Objects and Circumftances as will 
have a great Influence upon their Minds. 
Thus God put it into the Heart of Cyrus, 
according to what had been foretold con- 
cerning him. Ifa. xliv. 28. to give full 
Liberty to the Jews to return into their own 
Land, and to rebuild their City and Tem- 
ple, and furnifh them with large Helps out 
of his Treafury. This was, all Things 
confidered, a very extraordinary Grant, and 
a remarkable Inftance to mew that the 
Hearts of the greater! Kings are in the 
Hands of the Lord. And afterwards, 
when fome other of the Perjian Monarchs 
mewed the Jews uncommon Kindnefs, 
N 4 ■ and 


and gave them not only Permiffion, but 
great Encouragement to finifh the Tem- 
ple, and to fettle and order every Thing 
according to their Law, notwithstanding 
the Reprefentations made by their Enemies 
to the contrary, and which feemed to be 
founded on the Rules of human Policy, 
this is pioufly afcribed to God. Ezra vii, 
27. BleJJ'ed be the Lord God who hath put 
fuch a Thing as this into the Kings Heart. 
And it is obferved, Chap. vi. 22. that 
the Lord hath turned the Heart of the King 
of Afj'yria (fo the Perfian Monarch is there 
Called) unto them, to Jlrengthen their Hands 
in the Work of the Houfe of God, the God 
of Ifrael. And that good Man Nehemiah, 
having formed an important Defign for 
the public Welfare, acknowledgeth that his 
God had put it into his Heart. Neh. ii. 12. 
Another Inftance of God's Power over 
the Hearts of Men, is his caufing them to 
change their Purpofes and Inclinations, 
even where they feemed before to be 
mod fixed and determined. When Jacob 
was greatly afraid of his Brother Efaus 
bitter Refentment againil him, which feem- 
ed to threaten the Ruin of him and his 
family, he applied to God by fervent 
Prayer, to deliver him from his Hand. 
And the Confequence was, that Efaus 
apprehended iiatred was furprifingly chang- 



cd into Love and Friendfhip, fo that he 
treated 'Jacob in the moit tender and affec- 
tionate Manner. A remarkable Inftance this 
to verify the Wife-man's Obfervation, that 
when a Maris Ways pleaje the Lord, he maketb 
even his Enemies to be at Peace with him. 
Prov. xvi. 7 How fuddenly was David 
turned from his wrathful Purpofe of execut- 
ing a fevere Vengeance upon Nabal and his 
Family, for his ungrateful and brutifh 
Treatment of him ! It is true, that the pru- 
dent Conduct of Abigail had a great Influence 
this Way. But David made a wife Re- 
flection upon it He regarded Abigail as 
an Instrument in the Hand of Providence 
and therefore, as he was thankful to her, 
fo he carried his Views principally to the 
fupreme Difpofer. David faid to Abigail, 
Blejjed be the Lord God of Ifrael, which 
fent thee this Day to meet me. And blefl'ed 
be thy Advice, and blejjed be* thou, which 
haft kept me this Day from coming to Jhed 
Blood, and from avenging myfelf with mine 
own Hand. 1. Sam. xxv. 32, 33. When 
king Ahafucrus feemed abfolutely determin- 
ed upon the utter Extirpation of the Jews 
and had confirmed it by a folemn Decree 
how foon were his Intentions and Difpofi- 
tions fo wonderfully changed, as to fhew 
them the higher!: Favour, and to put it in 
(heir Power to deflroy the Enemies that 



had contrived their Ruin! This was 
brought about by a remarkable Train of 
Incidents, all under the Direction of a 
fovereign Providence, which caufed that 
haughty Monarch, without offering any 
Violence to his Will, entirely to change 
his Inclinations and Purpofes, both with re- 
fpect to his favourite Haman and the Jews, 

God's Power over the Hearts and Minds 
of Men doth alfo appear in his directing 
their Counfels or infatuating them, as feem- 
eth fit to him in all his wife and righteous 
Providence. In all thy Ways acknowledge 
kirn, faith Solomon, and he Jhall direct thy 
Paths. Prov. iii. 6. This plainly fuppof- 
eth, that God can, and often doth, in his 
good Providence guide and direct Men to 
the beft and propereft Meafures, efpecially 
in Matters of Confequence, upon which 
perhaps much of their Comfort and Hap- 
pinefs doth depend. He hath many Ways 
of doing this, by clearing and enlightening 
their Judgments, by dispelling their Er- 
rors and Prejudices, and by fo ordering 
Circumstances, that their Way is made 
plain before them, and proper Confidera- 
tions are reprefented to their Minds in 
a ftronp- and convincing Light : And this 
fheweth the Propriety of applying to God 
for Direction, efpecially in Cafes of Diffi- 
culty and Importance. On the other 



Hand, God in his jufl Judgment often 
infatuates and confounds the Counfels of 
the wifeft Politicians, fo that they are ut- 
terly at a lofs what Courfe to take, or they 
take that which mall end in their Deftruc- 
tion. He leadeth Counjellors away fpoiled, 
as fob expreffeth it, and maketh the Judges 
Fools. He taketh away the Heart of the 
Chief of the People of the Earth, and caufeth 
them to wander in the Wildernefs where there 
is no Way. They grope in the Dark without 
Lights and he maketh them to f agger like a 
drunken Man. Job xii. 17, 24, 2$. To 
the fame Purpofe the Prophet Ifaiah, after 
having declared that the Princes of Zoan are 
become Fools ; that the Coimfel of the wife 
Counfellors of Pharaoh is become brutifh, and 
that they had feduced Egypt, even they that 
were the Stay of the Tribes thereof ; afcrib- 
eth it to the over-ruling Influence of Divine 
Providence. The Lord, faith he, hath 
mingled a perverfc Spirit in the midjl thereof, 
and they have caufed Egypt to err in every 
Work thereof. Ifa. xix. 11, 12, 13, 14. 
When Abfalom and the Men of Ifrael pre- 
ferred the Counfel of Hujhai before that of 
Achitophel, the facred Writer obferves that 
this was becaufe the Lord had appointed to 
defeat the good Coimfel of Ac -bit ':• hel, to the 
Intent that the Lord might bring Evil upon 
Abfalom. 2 Sam. xvii. 14. There was no 



moral Evil in preferring the one Counfel 
to the other, and it was no way unbecom- 
ing the Holinefs of God, fo to influence 
the Minds and Judgments of Abfalom, and 
thofe that were with him, as to caufe them 
to embrace that which was in a political 
Senfe the worft Counfel, in Order to bring 
a juft Punimment upon them for their 
Rebellion and Wickednefs, and to hinder 
them from executing their malicious Pur- 
pofes againft their good and lawful King. 
It will not be improper on this Occafion 
to take particular Notice of what is faid in 
Scripture concerning God's hardening Mens 
Hearts. This hath been always looked upon 
as a connderable Difficulty. For clearing 
of which it muft be obferved, that whereas 
Sinners are fometimes reprefented as hard- 
ening their own Hearts; and, at other 
Times, God is faid to harden them ; thefe 
two are to be underflood in a very diffe- 
rent Senfe. Hardnefs of Heart, when un- 
derflood of an Obftinacy in finning, and a 
prefumptuous perfifting in an evil Courfe, 
is always really and originally owing to the 
Sinner himfelf. For God never did, never 
can infufe any finful Difpofitions into the 
Souls of Men, nor can in any Senfe be 
the proper Author or Caufe of their Ob- 
ftinacy and Prefumption in Wickednefs. 
This is only chargeable upon themfelves. 



Thus it is obferved concerning Zedekiah, 
that he Jliffened his Neck, and hardened his 
Heart Jrom turning unto the Lord God of 
IfraeL 2 Chron. xxxvi. i-$. And concern- 
ing the obftinate Jews, that they refufed to 
hearken, yea, they made their Hearts as an 
Adamant Stone, lefi they Jhould hear the 
Law, and the Word which the Lord of Hojls 
hath Jent in his Spirit by the Prophets. 
Zach. vii. 11, 12. The fame Thing is 
plainly fignified in the Warnings that are 
given Men not to harden their Hearts; To- 
day if you will hear his Voice, harden not 
your Hearts. Pfal. xcv. 7, 8. And Heb. iii. 
1 3 . Exhort one another daily while it is call- 
ed To-day, \lejl any of you be hardened through 
the Deceitfulnefs of Sin. The moft noted 
Inftance in which God is reprefented as 
hardening the Heart, is In the Cafe of 
Pharaoh, and yet he is exprefsly faid to 
have hardened his own Heart. See Exod. 
viii. 15, 32. ix. 34. And in general it may 
be faid, that the Sinners whofe Hearts God 
is faid to harden, are Perfons that have 
hardened, and continued to harden their 
own Hearts. And therefore, what God 
doth in this Cafe, is in a Way of juft 
Judgment upon them for their Wickednefs 
and Obftinacy. 

And this judicial hardening their Hearts 



Firft, God's giving them up to their own 
perverfe Inclinations, and to the Power of 
their corrupt Lufts and evil Habits, and 
juftly with-holding from them the Influen- 
ces of his Grace and Spirit. Remarkable 
to this Purpofe is that Paffage, Pfal. Ixxxi. 
ii, 12. My People would not hearken to 
my Voice, and Ifrael would none of me : So I 
gave them up unto their own Hearts Lufts, and 
they . walked in their own Counfeh. And 
there is nothing in this but what is unex- 
ceptionably juft and right. As God may, 
without the leaft Impeachment of his Ho- 
linefs and Righteoumefs, cut off Sinners 
in the midft of their evil Courfes, and put 
an End to their Lives, and to all the Op- 
portunities and Means of Grace now af- 
forded them ; fo he may, even before he 
taketh them out of the World, as a juft 
Punifhment for their long continued' Ob- 
ftinacy in finning, leave them to the Coun- 
fels of their own perverfe Hearts, and 
ceafe ftriving with them by his Spirit. 
And it is ufeful that it mould be fo in fome 
Instances, that Sinners may be rendered the 
more afraid of perfifting in an obftinate 
Courfe of Wickednefs. Now, becaufe by 
God's thus abandoning them, their Hard- 
nefs of Heart ftill groweth upon them 
more and more, he is faid in that Cafe, in 
a ftrong Manner of Expreffion, to harden 
i their 


their Hearts, though in Strictnefs he only 
leaveth them to harden themfelves in their 
evil Ways. 

But fecondly, Another Thing intended 
when God is reprefented in Scripture as 
hardening the Hearts of Men, is, that in 
his holy Providence he ordereth it fo, that 
Things are put in their Way, which, 
though in their own Nature they have 
no Tendency to harden them, yet through 
their Corruption and bad Dilpolitions, do 
in the Event increafe their Hardnefs and 
Obftinacy. The dreadful Plagues and 
Judgments inflicted upon Pharaoh and the 
Egyptians, had certainly a manifeft Ten- 
dency in the Nature of the Thing to re- 
claim and overcome the Hardnefs of that 
Monarch. And yet thofe very Judgments, 
in feveral Inftances, feemed only to pro- 
voke and irritate his Pride and Stubborn- 
nefs. And when he fometimes appeared 
to be terrified and fubdued by them, and 
prayed to have thofe Plagues removed, 
that Refpite which was granted at his 
Requeft, and which ought to have molli- 
fied his Heart, and led him to Repentance, 
only ferved to confirm him in his evil Pur- 
pofes. See Exod. vii. 22. viii. 15, 31, 32. 
ix. 34, 35. When Men have contracted 
fuch a ftrange Hardnefs of Temper, and are 
given up by God to their own Obftinacv, 



all the divine Difpenfations towards them 
only harden them the more. His Mercies 
encourage them in their evil Courfes, his 
Judgments exafperate and make them def- 
perate. Why Jhould ye be Jiricken any 
more ? Te will revolt more and more. Ifa. i. 
^. And when God doth thofe Things to 
Sinners, which through their own Per- 
verfenefs have this Effect, he is faid to 
harden their Hearts ; though in thefe Cafes 
they themfelves are truly and properly the 
Authors of their own Hardnefs, and only 
take Occalion from the divine Dealings to 
ftrengthen themfelves in their Obftinacy. 
It is true, God knoweth that his Difpenfa- 
tions towards them will eventually have this 
Effect, upon them. But this doth not render 
it improper for him to life thofe Methods ; 
yea, it is wife and juft in him to do fo, to 
fhew that no Means have been wanting 
which were proper to reclaim them, and to 
render their Hardnefs and Obflinacy more 
inexcufable, and thereby juftify the Pun ifh- 
ments he intendeth to inflict upon them. 

This leadeth me to add, thirdly, That 
God's hardening Mens Hearts, is fome- 
times to be particularly underftood of his 
ordering it fo in his righteous Judgment, 
that they go on obftinately in thofe Coun- 
fels which will end in their Deftruc"tion. 
And the hardening theirHearts in this Senfe, 



is not hardening them in their Sins, but in 
thole Meafures which will bring upon 
them the juft Punifhment of their Sins. 
So when Pharaoh had fuffered the Ifraelites 
to go out of Egypt, and heard that they 
were in fuch a Situation between the 
Mountains and the Sea, that he thought 
they could not efcape him, his Heart was 
hardened to purfue them. This was really 
owing to his Pride and Avarice, and Un- 
willingnefs to part with fuch a Number of 
Slaves, whofe Service might be of Ufe to 
him and the Egyptians-, as appeareth from 
Exod. xiv. 5, 6. Yet the Lord is faid to 
have hardened his Heart to follow after them, 
Ver. 4. becaufe by his Appointment the 
Ifraelites were brought into fuch a Situation 
as encouraged Pharaoh and the Egyptiaiis 
to purfue them, who were fo infatuated 
through the juft Judgment of God as to 
run headlong upon their own Ruin. In 
like Manner we are told that // was of the 
Lord to harden the Hearts of the Ca- 
naanites, that they fljould come againjl Ifrael 
tn battle, that he might deftroy them utterly. 
Jofh. xi. 20. i. e. He in his wife and 
righteous Providence gave them up to their 
own Confidence and Obftinacy, fo that 
they took that Courfe which ended in 
bringing that Ruin and Punifhment upon 
Vol. I. O them, 


them, which they had deferved by their 
great Wickednefs. 

I mall conclude with fome Improvement 
of this Subject. 

Firft, What awful adoring Thoughts 
mould we entertain of God, the fupreme 
univerfal Lord, and of his governing Pro- 
vidence, when we confider the fovereign 
Influence and Dominion which he exer- 
cifeth over the Hearts of Men ! This is his 
own proper and peculiar Prerogative. The 
Empire of the Heart is what belongeth not 
to any Creature, but to God alone. The 
mod abfolute earthly Monarchs can only 
call Men to an Account for their Words 
and Actions ; but the Heart lieth out of 
their Reach, and they can take no proper 
Cognizance of what is tranfacted there. 
Who then would not reverence that fove- 
reign Lord of Angels and Men, whofe 
Dominion extendeth to the Secret of our 
Souls, to which no created Eye can pene- 
trate ? How venerable doth the divine 
Majefty appear' in this View ! Let all our 
inward Powers bow down before him, and 
pay him an awful Homage. Let us wor- 
fhip him in our Hearts, which is what he 
mort regardeth, without which no external 
Adoration or Form of Devotion mail be 
accepted in his Sight. How careful mould 



we be to keep our Hearts with all Diligence, 
and to exercife a conflant vigilant Care 
over the inward Thoughts, Affections, and 
Difpofitions of our Souls, fi nee we have to 
do with a God, who not only hath given 
ns a Law which reacheth to the Thoughts 
and Intents of the Heart, but who him- 
felf continually infpecteth the Hearts of 
all Men, and will in the great Day which he 
hath appointed for that Purpofe, make 
manifefr. the Counfsls of the Heart, and 
will judge the Secrets of Men by J ejus Chrijt. 
Rom. ii. 16. 1 Cor. iv. 5. 

Secondly, Since God knoweth and ?o- 
verneth the Hearts of Men, we may hence 
fee how proper and reafonable it is to ap- 
ply to him for directing and influencing 
our own Hearts, or thofe of others. The 
moil: important Matter of Prayer is that 
which relateth to the Power which God 
hath over the Hearts and Minds of Men. 
One of the beft Expreffions of our good 
Will towards our Enemies, and thofe of 
evil Difpofitions, is to be earned in our 
Prayers to God for them, that he would turn 
their Hearts, that he would by his fovereign 
Influence over-rule or rectify their depraved 
Tempers, and incline them to that which 
is good and jufl and pure. And with re- 
gard to ourfelves, that which above all 
Things we mould defire of God is that he 
O 2 would 


would be gracioufly pleafed to cleanfe and 
purify our Hearts, to correct whatever 
is amifs in the Temper of our Minds, and 
toftrengthen, confirm, enlarge good Affec- 
tions and Diipofitions- there. And indeed 
it may be juflly regarded as a wife Confti- 
tution, that in order to our obtaining his 
gracious Influences and Aids, it is ordina- 
rily neceffary, that we mould apply to him 
for that Purpofe with an ingenuous Humi- 
lity and Senfe of our Dependence. Let 
us therefore by the Prayer of Faith lay 
ourfelves open to his. divine Communica- 
tions, making it our earnefl Requeff. that 
in the hidden Part he would make us to 
know Wifdom, and influence our Minds 
to a right Determination and Choice ; that 
he would give us that Truth, that Purity 
and Simplicity of Heart which is pleating 
in his Sight, and would infpire us with an 
inward Love of Virtue, and with an Ab- 
horrence of Vice and Sin ; that he would 
turn our Affections and Views towards 
himfelf, that we may love him above all ; 
and that he would put his Fear into our 
Hearts, that we may never depart from him. 
Such have been the Delires and Prayers of 
good Men in all Ages. Thus the Pialmiff. 
prays, Create in me a clean Heart, O God ; 
and renew a right Spirit withiti me* Pial. li. 
io. Teach me thy Way, O Lord, I will 



walk in thy Truth ; unite my Heart to fear 
thy Name. Pfal. lxxxvi. 1 1 . Incline my 
Heart unto thy Tejlimonies, and not unto Co- 
ve toufnefs. Pfal. cxix. 36. / will run the 
Way of thy Commandments, when thou 
foalt enlarge my Heart. Ver. 3-2. Search 
me, O God, and know my Heart ; try 
me, and know my Thoughts ; fee if there be 
any wicked Way in me, and lead me in I he 
Way everlajling. Pfal. cxxxix. 23, 24. 
There is nothing in fuch Addrefies but 
what is founded in the moil juft and wor- 
thy Notions of God and of his Providence. 
We may upon juft Grounds hope, that if 
we fet ourfelves to do all that in us lies to 
keep our Hearts under a proper Difcipline, 
to correct bad Difpofitions and Inclina- 
tions, and to cultivate and improve good 
ones, and at the fame Time from a Senfe 
of our own Weaknefs apply to God for the 
AlTiftance of his Spirit, he will commu- 
nicate his gracious Influences for enabling 
us to govern our Appetites and Paffions, 
and to make a Progrefs in holy and virtuous 
Attainments. And efpecially there is 
great Reafon to think that he will grant 
extraordinary Supplies of inward Strength, 
when we are exercifed with extraordinary 
Trials and Difficulties. This is what we 
may expect from his Goodnefs as he is a 
Lover of Virtue and of Mankind ; and to our 
O 3 un- 


unfpeakable Comfort we are actually allured 
of it by his own exprefs Promifes in his 
holy Word. Nothing can be fuller to 
this Purpofe, than that Declaration of our 
bleffed Saviour, in which he affureth us, 
that God is more ready to give his holy Spi- 
rit to them that afk him, whofe proper Work 
it is to excite, ftrengthen, and confirm good 
Affeclions and Difpofitions in our Hearts, 
than earthly Parents are to give good Gifts 
unto their Children. Luke xi. 13. If ye 
being evil know how to give good Gifts unto 
your Children ; how much more fiall your hea- 
venly Father give the Holy Spirit to them 
that ■ afk timf i. e. to them that apply to 
him for that Purpofe, by humble and fer- 
vent Prayer. 

Finally, How afraid mould we be of 
provoking God to leave us to ourfelves, or 
to give us up to our own Hearts Lufts, 
and to our own Counfels ! It highly con- 
cerned! us therefore, to beware of ftifling 
Convictions, and of neglecting and abufing 
the Means which he hath provided for our 
Reformation and Amendment. Let us 
take Care that evil Habits do not gather 
Strength upon us, and our corrupt Lufts 
grow more headftro ng, left as a juft Punish- 
ment for our obftinate perfifting in our fm- 
ful Courfes in Oppofition to all the Me- 
thods of his Grace and Providence to re- 
3 claim 


claim us, he mould at length abandon us 
to a judicial Blindnefs and Hardnefs of 
Heart, which is the moil miferable State 
we can be in. To-day, therefore, while it is 
called To-day, let us hearken to his facred 
Voice, and not harden our Hearts againii him. 
Let us endeavour to comply with the Sig- 
nifications of his Will by his Word and by 
his Providence, and maintain an humble 
and fubmiffive Temper of Mind before 
him, as becometh thofe who expecl foon 
to be accountable at his folemn Tribunal 
for their inward Frame as well as their 
outward Praclice. God grant that we may 
now live in a conftant Preparation for 
that great Event, fo as to approve ourfelves 
to the great Searcher of Hearts, the fu- 
preme univerfal Judge, to whom be Glory 
and Dominion for ever. Amen. 

O 4 On 

On God's InfpeSiion and Government 
of human AEiions. 

discourse x. 

Prov. v. 21. 

The Ways of Man are before the "Eyes of the 
Lord, and he ponder eth all his Goings. 

TH E Government of Divine Provi- 
dence towards Mankind extendeth 
both to their Hearts and to their outward 
Actions. This latter is what we are now 
to confider. And furely, if God infpecteth 
and governeth the Hearts of Men, their 
raoft fecret Thoughts, Counfels, and Pur- 
pofes, as was fhewn in our laft Difcourfe, 
it cannot in Reafon be denied, that their 
external Actions muft needs bealfo under his 



fovereign Cognizance and Superintendency. 
This is what the Wife-man fignifieth, when 
he declareth, that the Ways of Man are be- 
fore the Eyes of the Lord, and he ponder eth 
all his Goings. He ponder eth them, he weigh- 
eth them as in a Balance, as the Word pro- 
perly imports, and obferveth them with 
the greatefr. Exactnefs. He beholdeth them 
not merely as an idle Spectator that is 
wholly unconcerned and indifferent about 
them, but as the fupreme Governor and Judge, 
fo as to govern and over-rule them to the 
wife Purpofes of his Providence, and to re- 
ward or punifh them in the propereft Man- 
ner, and in the fitteft Seafon. Thine Eyes 
are upon all the Ways of the Sons of Men, 
faith the Prophet, to give every one accord- 
ing to his Ways, and according to the Fruit 
of his Doings. Jer. xxxii. 19. And not 
only doth God know all Mens Actions 
when they are done, but he hath a perfect; 
Fore-knowledge of them before they are 
done. He knoweth how all Men will act 
in every Circumflance. And though the 
Manner of God's fore-knowing the free 
Actions of Men be hard to account for, 
(nor is it to be wondered at that it mould 
be fo) yet the Thing itfelf is what Reafon 
as well as Scripture leadeth us to acknow- 
ledge. It has been generally owned among 
all Nations which have believed that there 



is a God and a Providence. Nor can it 
well be conceived how the Scheme of Pro- 
vidence could be compleat without it. And 
there is a plain Proof of it in many ex- 
prefs Predictions of human Actions, which 
have all the Appearance of being free and 
contingent that any Actions can have, and 
yet were certainly fore-known many Ages 
before they happened. Several remarkable 
Inftances of which may be found in the 
facred Writings. 

The Providence of God as reflecting the 
Actions of Men may be distinctly con- 
sidered, both with regard to their good and 
evil Actions. 

Firffc, All the good Actions Men perform 
are under the divine Infpection and Govern- 
ment. He is perfectly acquainted with the 
Principles from which they rlow, and all 
the Circumftances that attend them. And 
he makes Ufe of them for anfwerine the 
Ends of his moral Government, for pro- 
moting the Interefts of his Kingdom, and 
the good Order of the World, and for 
rendering Men ufeful to one another. And 
it is pleating' to him to fee his reafonable 
Creatures acting in a Manner agreeable to 
Reafon, Truth, and Righteouihefs, and 
employing the active Powers he hath given 
them to valuable Purpofes. He ordereth 
it fo in his Providence, that fuch good Ac- 


tions are often in fome Meafure rewarded 
even in this Life, and procure prefent 
Bleffings and Advantages to thofe that per- 
form them ; at leaft, they are attended with 
an inward confcious Satisfaction, which is 
far to be preferred before any fenfual Plea- 
fures or Gratifications. Or if, as is fre- 
quently the Cafe in this State of Trial and 
Difcipline, good Actions are attended with 
great Difficulties and Difcouragements, and 
through the Ignorance of miftaken and 
prejudiced, or the Malice and Wickednefs 
of ill-defigning Men, meet with very bad 
Returns, and expofe the Doers of them to 
prefent temporal Evils and Sufferings, he 
wiJl certainly take Care that they mall be 
rewarded in a future State : not one of 
them mall be forgotten before God ; they 
fhall be produced into open View, and 
ihall receive an ample and glorious Recom- 

And the Concernment which the Provi- 
dence of God hath with Mens good Ac- 
tions, doth not only appear in that he ob- 
ferveth and approveth them, and will take 
Care that they {hall be properly rewarded 
in the fittefl Seafon ; but it is farther to 
be considered, that Divine Providence fre- 
quently intererteth itfelf in exciting Men 
to good Actions, and affifting them in 
the Exercife of thofe Actions, and in 



removing Impediments, and furnifhing 
proper Occasions and Opportunities. It 
cannot reafonably be denied, that God may 
have many Ways of doing this, without 
infringing the Freedom which belongeth to 
Men as they are moral Agents, and fo as 
that the good Deeds they perform may ftill 
be truly and properly faid to be of their 
own doing, and may be rewarded as fuch. 
There is nothing in fuch a Suppofition but 
what is worthy of God, and agreeable to 
his fupreme Wifdom and Goodnefs. The 
Doctrine of the Holy Scriptures is very 
clear and exprefs on this Head. And it is 
of great Importance to us to get a Senfe of 
it firongly fixed upon our Minds. What 
an animating Consideration mufl it needs 
be, when we let about the performing a 
good Action, to be afTured that the great 
Lord and Father of all, on whom our Hap- 
pinefs depends, obferveth the good Deed in 
every Circumftace, and is ready to aflift 
us in the Performance of it, and to fupport 
us under the Difficulties which may attend 
it ! This mould both encourage us to apply 
to God by Prayer for his divine Afliflances, 
and mould engage us, when we have done 
any Thing that is good, to give Thanks to 
his holy Name for the Opportunities he 
hath put into our Hands, and the gra- 


cious Aids he hath been pleafed to afford 

But fecondly, Let us confider how far 
the Providence of God concerneth itfelf 
about Mens evil Actions : For here the 
Difficulty principally lies. 

And for clearing this the following Things 
may be obferved. 

Firft, God never is the proper Author or 
Caufe of evil Actions. He never impelled 
Men by any pofitive Influence to the Com- 
miffion of thofe Actions. This neceffarily 
follows from the perfect Holinefs and 
Righteoufnefs of his Nature, which is fre- 
quently declared and afferted in the ftrongefl 
Manner in the facred Writings. Evil and 
iinful Actions are what he moft exprefsly 
forbiddeth in his Law ; and it were greatly 
abfurd and difhonourable to him to fuppofe 
that he mould incline or determine Men by 
any pofitive Influence to commit thofe Ac- 
tions which he himfelf hath forbidden and 
condemned, and againft which he hath 
denounced awful Punifhments. The true 
original Caufe of Mens doing bad Ac- 
tions is owing to their own corrupt Incli- 
nations, and to their Abufe of their Li- 
berty ; and therefore on themfelves they 
are properly chargeable. This is what St. 
James fignifies in that remarkable PafTage I 



had Occafion to mention before, Let no 
Man fay when he is tempted, I am tempted 
of God : for God cannot be tempted of Evil, 
neither tempt eth he any Man. But every 
Man is tempted, when he is drawn away of 
his own Lit]}, and enticed. Jam. i. 13, 14. 

Secondly, Though God is not the Au- 
thor or Caufe of Mens evil Actions, yet 
they cannot be done without his Permimon ; 
and they all come under his Xnfpection -, 
he knows and obferves them in every Cir- 
cumftance. As the God of Nature he 
upholdeth Mens natural Powers, without 
which they could not be able to act at all, 
and he leaveth them ordinarily to the free 
Exercife of thofe Powers, even whilft they 
abufe and employ them in doing Evil. 
He fuffers them to adl according to their 
own Inclinations, or to be tempted to evil 
Actions, though not compelled, or brought 
under a Necefiity of committing them, for 
they may ftill abftain from doing thofe 
Actions, if they will but make a proper 
Ufe of the Powers which they really 
have, and of the Affiftacces which God is 
ready to afford them. 

And as evil Actions cannot be done 
without God's Permimon, fo he hath a 
perfect Knowledge of them with all the 
Circumftances which attend them. Let 
them be done never fo fecretly, and though 



the greateft Care and Pains be taken to 
conceal or difguife them, and varnifh them 
over with fair and fpecious Pretences, yet 
they cannot efcape his Notice. He be- 
holdeth them as they really are in their hid- 
den Springs and Principles. And it can- 
not but be difpleafing to that moft holy 
and righteous Being, the great Governor of 
the World, to fee his reafonable Creatures 
acting fo contrary to the End of their 
Creation, abufing and dishonouring their 
excellent Powers, by doing thofe Things 
which are bafe, unjuft, and impure, and 
yielding their Members the Infiruments of 
XJnrighteoufnefs unto Sin. He ordereth it 
fo in his Providence, that fuch Actions are 
often attended or followed with the prefent 
Marks of his Difpleafure, and bring many 
Evils upon the Actors of them even in this 
World -, or if, as muft be expected in a 
State of Trial, evil Actions do now in many 
Inftances pafs undetected or unpunifhed, 
or even feem to produce fome prefent tem- 
poral Advantages, he will take Care that, 
if impenitently perfifted in, they mall in 
due Time be brought to Light in their 
proper Malignity and Deformity, and mail 
meet with fuch Retributions as will fhew 
him to be a juft and righteous Judge. And 
this Confideration, that not one of our evil 
Actions can pofiibly pafs unobferved by 



God, that they all come under the No- 
tice of his righteous Providence, is of 
great Moment. If a Senfe of it were deeply- 
fixed in our Hearts, no Profpe<ft of worldly 
Advantage or Gain, no Allurement of fen- 
fual Pleafure, would be able to prevail upon 
us to do a vicious or unjuft Thing. There 
is a wonderful, and one would be apt to 
think an almoft irreliftible Force in this 
Thought, if properly impreffed upon the 
Mind. God feeth the Aft of Impiety, 
Fraud, or Impurity I am going to commit, 
and {hall I dare to affront him to his Face, 
and to tranigrefs his Laws under his own 
Eye ? If at prefent he mould feem to con- 
nive at it, and not follow it with an im- 
mediate Punifhment, yet the Time is 
coming when he will moft certainly call 
me to a ftrift Account. 

But thirdly, Another Thing which 
ought to be confidered with regard to the 
Providence of God as refpefting Mens- 
evil Actions, is this, that though they are 
what he cannot but difapprove, yet he fre- 
quently over-rules them for ferving the 
wife Purpofes of his Government, and 
takes Occafion from thence to bring about 
his own excellent Defigns. And in this 
no fmall Part of the Wifdom of Divine 
Providence in its Administrations tow T ajds 
Mankind doth confift. 

Vol. I. P It 


It may be ufeful to take a diftinct 
View of fome In (lances of this Kind. 

Thus e. g. God frequently makes Ufe 
of the evil Actions of fome Men to punifh 
the Sins of others, and to execute his juft 
Judgments upon them. 

It is an Obfervation which hath been 

made by thole who have carefully con- 

fidered the prefent Courfe of Things, that 

a great Part of the outward Punifhments 

inflicted upon bad Men in this Life, are 

the Effects of the evil Actions of other bad 

Men. And though in fuch Cafes the Evils 

and Mifchiefs inflicted upon the Sufferers 

may be wrong and unjuft as coming from 

the immediate Actors of them, who have 

nothing in View but the gratifying their 

own Paffions, or promoting what they take 

to be their worldly Intereft, yet it is wife and 

juft in God to order it fo that the Effects 

of thofe injurious Actions fall upon Per- 

fons who really deferve to be punifhed for 

their own Wickednefs. Thus what the 

King of Affyrw only defigned for anfwer- 

ing the Ends of his own Ambition, was 

over-ruled by God to the juft Punifhment 

of the Jews for their Idolatry, Hypocrify, 

and great Corruption of Manners ; as is 

iignified in that remarkable Paffage, Jfa. 

K« 5» 6> 7. O AJJyrian, the Rod of 

mine Anger, and the Staff' in their Hand 



is ??iine Indignation, I will fend him againfl an 
hypocritical Nation, and againfl the People cf 
my Wrath will I give hi?n a Charge to take 
the Spoil, and to take the Prey, and to tread 
them down like the Mire of the Streets. 
Howbeit^ he meaneth not Jo, neither doth his 
Heart think Jo, hut it is in his Heart to de- 
Jlroy and cut off Nations not a few. 

And as God often makes ufe of the evil 
Actions of wicked Men to punifh the 
Wickedncfs of other bad Men, fo he alfo over- 
rules them for chaftifing his own Children 
on the Account of their Iniquities and 
Backflidinss. A remarkable Inftance of 
this we have in the Punimments inflicted 
upon David for the Sins he had committed. 
For though he had fmcerely repented of 
them, yet it was proper that Crimes of fo 
heinous a Nature, and which had caufed fo 
great Scandal, mould be followed with 
public open Marks of the divine Difplea- 
fure. Hence it was that Abfalom was fuf- 
fered to carry his Rebellion to fo great a 
Height, to defile his Father's Wives, to 
drive him from his capital Citv, and reduce 
him to the utmoft Danger and Diftrefs. 
The true immediate Caufe of all this was 
Abfalom's Wickednefs, who freely followed 
the Dictates of his own Ambition, and the 
Bent of his corrupt and vicious Inclinations, 
And God in his righteous Providence fo or- 
P 2 dered 


dercd it, that he had an Opportunity given 
him of gratifying thefe his wicked Incli- 
nations, and ambitious Views. This was 
permitted as a juft Punifhment for the 
Crimes David had been guilty of; as ap- 
pears from the Threatnings which had 
been denounced againft him on this Ac- 
count by the Prophet in the Name of God. 
2 Sam. xii. 10, 1 1, 12. 

The like Obfervation may be made with 
regard to Shimeis curling David. When 
Abifoai would have killed him, David faid, 
So let him curfe, becanfe the Lord hath 
faid unto him, Curfe David, Who Jhall 
then fay ; Wherefore haft thou done fo ? This 
is not to be underftood as if God had ex- 
prefsly commanded Shimei to curfe David, 
or had put that Malice and Wickednefs 
into his Heart, or moved his Tongue to 
utter thofe opprobious Expremons. But 
Circumftances were fo difpofed, that Shi- 
mei had a favourable Opportunity given 
him to vent the Malice, the Envy and 
Rancour which had been hidden in his 
Heart, in bitter envenomed Reproaches 
againft David. And that Prince wifely 
carried his Views to the over-ruling Provi- 
dence of God, who had permitted and go- 
verned this for his Correction, and who 
would not have furTered thefe feveral Evils 
to have befallen him, or have given an Op- 
3 portunity 


portunity to thofe wicked Perfons to treat 
him in fo injurious a Manner if he had 
not deferved thofe heavy Judgments and 

On this Account wicked Men may be 
called God's Sword, and his Hand, as they 
are by the Pfalmift. Pfal. xvii. 13, 14. 
And indeed, if good Men muft be cor- 
rected, and fuffer for their Faults, as it is 
often neceffary they mould, the wicked are 
the readiefl Instruments for fuch ungrateful 
Work, and need only be left to their own 
Inclinations, and to have an Opportunity 
given them for that Purpofe. And in every 
fuch Cafe, it becometh the Sufferers with 
David to look beyond the immediate In- 
struments, by whofe Malice, Injustice, or 
Cruelty they fuffer, and to adore the Hand 
of God, and acknowledge and fubmit to 
his righteous Judgments. 

It may be farther obferved, that evil Ac- 
tions are often over-ruled to the Punifh- 
ment of the Actors themfelves. The 
Pfalmift mentioneth it to the Glory of Di- 
vine Providence, that the Wicked is friar ed 
in the Work of his own Hands. Pfal. ix. 
16. It frequently happens, that thofe 
Councils and Actions which bad Men de- 
fign to the Prejudice or Ruin of others, 
become the Occafion of their own. They 
fall into the Pit which they have digged, and 
P 3 in 


in the Snare which they have laid is their 
own Foot taken. Ver. 15. Thus God may, 
and often doth make the Sinner's own 
Wickednefs prove his Punifhment. And 
whilfl he fufrereth him to perpetrate the 
Evil he feemed moft intent upon, ordereth 
it fo that this very Thing bringeth fuch 
Mifchiefs upon him as ferve to punifli him 
both for that and other Crimes he hath been 
guilty of. 

I would obferve in the lad: Place, that 
God frequently fo governeth the wicked 
Actions of Men as to bring Good out of 
them. This indeed is far from diminifh- 
ing the real Evil of thofe Actions. For 
Sin of itfelf, and in its own Nature, hath 
only a Tendency to Evil ; but fuch is the 
fovereign and admirable Wifdom of Divine 
Providence, that it caufeth Good to arife 
but of that Evil. A memorable Xnftance 
of this we have in one of the worff. Ac- 
tions that was ever done in the World, viz. 
the betraying and crucifying the holy 
ft fits. St. Peter in his excellent Difcourfe 
to the Jews on the Day of Pentecoft, ex- 
prefieth himfelf thus ; Him, i. e. Jefus, 
being delivered by the determinate Counfcl 
and 'Foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, 
and by wicked Hands crucified and JIain. Acts 
l\. 27. And to the fame Purpoie is the 
Prayer offeree! up by the Diiciples. Acts iv> 



27. Of a Truth , againft thy Holy Child 
Jefus, whom tkou haft anointed, both Herod 
and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and 
the People of If rati, were gathered together 
for to do whatfoever thy Hand a?id thy Counfel 
determined before to be done. There were 
many Things which concurred here : The 
Avarice and Perfidy of Judas, the bitter 
Envy and Malice and worldly Policy of 
the Jeivijh chief Priefts and Rulers, the 
blind Fury of the People, the Bafenefs and 
Injuflice of the Roman Governor; all 
which were really the Faults of the Perfons 
concerned, and the evil Actions they com- 
mitted were properly of their own doing. 
Nor did God exert any pofitive Influence 
for inclining and engaging them to all their 
feveral Parts in this deteftable Affair. But 
he perfectly forefaw all thefe Things, and 
determined to order Circumfrances fo as to 
give them an Opportunity of acting ac- 
cording to their Inclinations, and of exe- 
cuting their linful Purpofes; and the Event 
that followed upon all this, viz. the Suf- 
ferings and Death of Chrifl, was the Ap- 
pointment of his Providence for the moil 
wife and excellent Ends, and was ren- 
dered happily productive of the greatefl 
Good, for promoting the Glory of God, 
and the Salvation of Mankind. The fame 
Obfervation may be applied, in an inferior 
P 4 Degree, 


Degree, to the felling of Jofepb by his Bre- 
thren. Their felling him for a Slave, 
which was intended by them to keep him 
in perpetual Bondage, and to prevent his 
having that Superiority over them which 
his Dreams had feemed to portend, was 
over-ruled by Divine Providence for open- 
ing a Way to the eminent Dignity he was 
afterwards raifed unto, fo much for his 
own and their Benefit. This he takes 
Notice of ' to them in a very pathetical 
Manner. As for, you, 'ye thought Evil 
aga ; nfi me, but the Lord meant it unto Good, 
to bring to pafs, as it is this Day, to fave 
much People alive. Gen, 1. 20. The Plot 
which Haman formed, and was fuffered to 
carry far for the Deftruction of Mordecai 
and the whole People of the Jews, proved, 
by a wife over- ruling Providence, the Oc- 
cafion of the Advancement of Mordecai to 
the higheft Honours, and of the Jews be- 
ing eftablifhed in a more firm and flourim- 
ing Condition than before. There is no 
Action or Event in that whole Story, but 
what fingly and feparately taken is na- 
tural ; the feveral Perfons concerned acted 
freely, and fome of them with a very ill 
Intention, yet the Incidents and Conjunc- 
tures were fo laid together, as plainly 
mewed that the whole was under the fu- 
perior Direction of a mofl wife Providence. 



How often has God made grievous and 
cruel Perfecutions fubfervient to the far- 
ther fpreading and Diffufion of Religion, 
and to the Eftablifhment of his Church, 
which it was deligned to fubvertl St. 
Paul's Bonds, and the preaching of Chrijl 
out of Envy and Strife, with a View to add 
Affliction to his Bonds, was over-ruled to 
the Furtherance of the Gofpel. Phil. i. 
12, 13, 15, 16, 18. And it may be fre- 
quently obferved in the ordinary Courfe of 
Things, that God makes ufe of the inju- 
rious Actions of bad Men for exercifing 
the Graces and Virtues of his Children, 
their Faith, their Patience, their Conftancy 
and Fortitude, their Self-denial and Reiig- 
nation, their Meeknefs, and Readinefs to 
forgive Injuries, and to render Good for 
Evil. Thefe are Difpofitions which tend 
highly to the Glory of God, and to fhew 
forth the Beauty of Religion, and the En- 
ergy of its divine Principles ; and which 
both furnifh excellent Examples to others, 
and will upon the whole be of great Ad- 
vantage to good Men themfelves, to render 
them more meet for Heaven, and encreafe 
their future Reward. 

I mail conclude this Difcourfe with 
faking Notice of an Objection which hath 
been often urged againft Divine Providence, 
drawn from fuffering fo much Sin and 



Wickednefs in the World. If there be a 
wife and righteous God who governeth the 
World by his Providence, why doth he not 
interpofe to put a flop to the abounding 
Wickednefs of Men ? Since if he be al- 
mighty he is able to do it, and if he be 
infinitely holy, he muft be fuppofed to be 
willing to do it. 

Several Confiderations might be infifled 
upon to take off the Force of this Ob- 

Firft, It ought to be obferved, that God 
actually doth in his fovereign Providence 
prevent many bad Actions which would 
otherwife be committed. And if we had 
but a full View of all the Evils which are 
thus prevented, we mould, inftead of al- 
lowing ourfelves to find Fault, be fenfible 
of our great Obligations to a wife and good 
Providence, for retraining and fetting 
Bounds to the Wickednefs of Men. God 
often fo ordereth Circumflances, that Men 
have not an Opportunity given them to 
bring their finful Purpofes into Act. There 
are Obftacles laid in their Way, which dis- 
appoint their Defigns, fo that their Hands 
cannot execute their Enterprise. Job. v. 12. , 
and the mifchievous Devices which they have 
imagined, they are not able to perform. Pfal. 
>:xi. ir. There are innumerable evil Ac- 
tions which are as it were flirted in the 
2 Birth ; 


Birth ; and it may be juftly faid, that 
there is comparatively but a fmali Part of 
the Wickednefs actually perpetrated in the 
World, which would be perpetrated, were 
it not for the over-ruling Agency of Divine 
Providence. And in many Cafes, where 
God doth not fee fit wholly to prevent 
Mens bad Actions, yet he fo limiteth and 
reftraineth them, that they are not able to 
effect all the Evil they defigned, or which 
their Actions had a natural Tendency to 
produce. He holdeth them as it were 
in a Chain, fo that they cannot go their 
utmofl Lengths in doing Mifchief, and 
faith to them as to the raging Sea, Hi- 
therto jh alt thou come, and no farther : 

But fecondly, It muft be confidered, 
that there is no total preventing of Sin in 
the prefent State of Mankind, without ab- 
folutely deftroying the Liberty of human 
Will and Actions, which would be in no 
wife confiftent with the Wifdom of God as 
a moral Governor, or with the Nature of 
Man as a moral Agent. Sin properly and 
originally confifteth in the evil Intentions 
and Difpofitions of the Heart or Mind. 
For the outward Actions feparated from 
thefe are not properly Sins. And how 
could thefe be prevented, except God 
mould miraculoufly by his Almighty Power 
fo work upon the Minds of all Men, as to 



hinder any evil Thoughts or Intentions 
from rifing there ? And to do this ordina- 
rily and perpetually, would be inconfiftent 
with that Freedom of thinking andchoofing, 
which belongeth to us as we are reafonable 
moral Agents. And as to the outward 
Actions it would equally abridge human 
Liberty, if Men were in all Cafes hin- 
dered from acting according to their In- 
tentions. This could not be done without 
putting a perpetual Conftraint upon Men, 
and quite altering the Courfe and Order of 
the World, and the Nature of this State 
of Trial and Difcipline. Befides, how 
could Men's evil Intentions appear to be 
juftly punilhed, if they were never furfered 
to break forth into Ad: ? The Juftice and 
Righteoufnefs of God could in that Cafe 
fcarce be made openly manifeft. 

Thirdly, It muft be farther confidered, 
that God hath done all that was proper for 
him as a moral Governor to hinder Men 
from committing Sin. For he hath given 
the mod holy and excellent Laws to direct 
them in the full Extent of their Duty, and 
hath enforced thofe Laws by the mo ft 
powerful and important Sanctions. He 
hath in his Word both made the mod glo- 
rious and encouraging Promifes to Holinefs 
and Obedience, and hath declared in the 
ftrtongeft Manner his juft Deteilation of 



Sin, and denounced the moll: awful Threat- 
nings againft it, than which nothing can 
poffibly be better fitted to deter Men from 
indulging themfelves in a Courfe of pre- 
fumptuous Sin and Difobedience. He hath 
fo formed our Natures as in the moil im- 
portant Inftances to give us an inward 
Senfe of the Evil of Sin, fo that the Prac- 
tice of it is followed, in Minds which are 
not depraved and corrupted with vicious 
Prejudices and Paffions, with an inward 
Diffatisfaction and Remorfe ; and Con- 
icience is placed within us as a Witnefs 
and J udge, to remonftrate againft the com- 
mitting of it, and to condemn it when 
committed. Add to this, that in the ge- 
neral Courfe of God's providential Deal- 
ings, there are many Things which are 
defigned to mew the Evil of Sin, and the 
pernicious Confequences which attend it. 
The Scripture teacheth us to regard all the 
Miferies to which the Nature of Man is 
now fubject, as the Effects and Punifh- 
ments of Sin. And befides the Evils 
brought upon particular Perfons by their 
Sins, there have been from Time to Time 
Calamities and Events of an extraordinary 
Nature, relating to large Communities, 
which may be looked upon as Tokens of 
the divine Difpleaiure againft the Sins of 
Men. Thus doth a wife and holy Pr - 



dence take many Ways to convince Men 
of the Evil of Sin, and to excite in them 
a Hatred and Abhorrence of it. And upon 
the whole it may be faid, that God hath 
by his Law, and in the Courfe of his Pro- 
vidence, done as much to encourage Men 
to Holinefs and Virtue, and to difcourag-e and 
deter them from Vice and Wickednefs, as is 
fuitable to this State of Trial, and becom- 
ing him as a moral Governor in the prefent 
Circumftances of Mankind. 

To which it may be added, that God in 
his holy Providence often over-ruleth 
Mens nnful Actions to wife and valuable 
Purpofes. And therefore his permitting 
Men to commit them is no juft Objection 
againft his Providence. It hath been fhewn 
that God frequently over-rules the evil 
Actions of Men for punifhing their own 
Wickednefs or that of others, or for cor- 
recting and chaftening his backfliding Ser- 
vants - y that in many Inftances he caufeth 
Good to arife out of them, and turneth 
them to quite different Purpofes than were 
intended by the Actors of them ; and that 
the Permiffion of Sin giveth Occaiion to 
the exercifing and bringing forth into open 
Light, fome of the nobleft Affections and 
Difpofitions of the human Nature, as alfo 
fome of the divine Attributes, which would 
not otherwife be fo eminently confpicuous ; 



fuch as God's impartial Juftiee and Righ- 
teoufnefs, the Wiidom of his moral Go- 
vernment, his Patience and Long-fuffering 
towards Sinners, the Riches of his Grace 
and Mercy in pardoning the truly penitent, 
and reftoring them to his Favour. And 
finally, it hath given Occalion to all the ad- 
mirable Methods of our Redemption and 
Salvation by Jefus Chriji, which will lay a 
Foundation for everlafting Love, Joy, and 

And now to conclude, Since it appears 
that the Sin which is actually committed in 
the World is far fhort of what would be 
committed if a wife and holy Providence 
did not interpofe to prevent it : Since God 
could not entirely hinder Men from doing 
evil Actions without laying them under 
fuch Restraints as are inconfiftent with the 
Liberty of moral Agents constituted in a 
State of Trial : Since he hath done all that 
was proper for him as a moral Governor, 
to diiTuade and deter Men from the Prac- 
tice of Sin ; and to engage them to the 
Practice of Righteoufnefs and true Ho- 
linefs : And finally, lince in his mod wife 
and fovereign Providence he over- rules the 
Sins of Men to anfwer many valuable Pur- 
pofes, and often brings great Good out of 
thofe Evils : All thefe Confiderations taken 
together fully vindicate the Conduct of 



Divine Providence in permitting Mens 
finful Actions, and fhew that in this his 
Wifdom is to be adored, and at the fame 
Time that the Purity and Holinefs of his 
Nature and Government is free from the 
leaft Stain or Blemifh. And this no Doubt 
would appear to us with a brighter and 
more convincing Evidence, if we had a 
more diftincT: and compleat View of the 
divine Adminiftrations. 


On God's Government and Dif- 
pofal of the Events which befall 


Matt. x. 30. 

The very Hairs of your Head are all num- 

HAVING confidered the Providence of 
God as extending its Care and Go- 
vernment both to the Hearts of Men, and 
to their outward Actions, it remaineth that 
we now confider it as difpofing and go- 
verning the Events in which they are con- 
cerned. Thefe are of various Kinds, re- 
lating to their Lives, Fortunes, Conditions, 
Vol. L Q^ and 


and Circumftances, their Bodies and Souls, 
their Perfons and Families, and, in a Word, 
to all the Good and Evil which befalleth 
them. And it is the conftant Doctrine of 
the holy Scriptures, that all Events what- 
foever are under the Superintendency of 
God's moft wife Providence, and that no- 
thing happens to us without his Direction 
or Permiffion. Our Saviour could not 
more fignificantly exprefs this than by 
declaring as he doth to his Difciples, The 
very Hairs of your Head are all numbered. 
The Expreffion is manifeftly proverbial. 
When David promifes the Woman of Te- 
koah that there mould be no Hurt done to 
her Son, he iignifies it by faying, There 
fiall not an Hair of thy Son fall to the 
'Earth. 2 Sam. xiv. 1 1 . And St. Paul in- 
tending to affure thofe that were with him 
in the Ship, that none of them mould come 
to any Harm, faith, There jhall not an Hair 
fall from the Head of any of you. Acts 
xxvii. 34. In like Manner our Saviour 
tells his Apoftles, The very Hairs of your 
Head are all numbered. Not one of them 
fhall fall to the Earth, not the leaft Evil 
mall befall you, any farther than God in 
his wife and fovereign Providence fees fit 
to permit. The Phrafe is very proper to 
lignify that even the moft inconfiderable 
Things which relate to us, are under the 

3 Care 


Cafe of Divine Providence ; much more 
eafy may this be concluded with regard to 
the more important Events that concern 

That Events are not abfolutely in our 
own Power a little Reflection and Obfer- 
vation may convince us. With regard to 
Life itfelf, which is the Bafis of our pre- 
fent Enjoyments, and upon which many 
other Events depend, it is evident that as 
the Commencement of it did not depend 
upon our own Pleafure, fo neither is it in 
our Power to prolong it as w T e think fit. 
This dependeth upon the Will of the fu-» 
preme Lord, who can lengthen or fhorten 
the Term of our Continuance in this State 
of Trial, as feemeth fit to his infinite Wif- 
dom. In his Hand, as "fob fpeaks, is the 
Soul of every living Thing, and the Breath of 
all Mankind. Job xii. 10. And the Pfalmift 
addrefling himlelf to God faith, My Times- 
are in thy Hand, i. e. at thy Difpofal. 
Pfal. xxxi. 15. * And as our Times, fo the 
Events of Time are not wholly in our own 
Power. Many Things happen in the 
Courfe of human Affairs, which oblige 
us to acknowledge with the Prophet, / 
know, O Lord, that the Way of Man is not 
in himfelf, it is not in him that walketh to 
direSt his Steps. Jer. x. 23. i. e. it is not in 
his Power to order the Events of Life as 
Qji he 


he pleafeth. We rauft not imagine that 
Men are entirely and abfolutely the Matters 
of their own Fortune, and can affign to 
themfelves what Lot and Condition in the 
World they think propereft. The Lord 
maketb poor, and maketh rich ; he bringeth 
low, and lifteth up. i Sam. ii. 7. It de- 
pendeth upon God the fupreme Difpofer, 
who knoweth what is fitteft with regard to 
every particular Perfon, to appoint what 
his outward Circumstances and Opportu- 
nities mall be, whether he mail be in a 
high or low Condition, whether his En- 
deavours mail meet with the defired Suc- 
cefs or not. There are indeed general 
Rules of Providence, according to which 
the Events of Things are ordinarily con- 
dueled. As there is in the material World 
what we ufually call the Courfe of Nature, 
/. e. a ftated Order of Things according to 
which Providence fees fit to act for pro- 
ducing certain Effects in a regular Way ; 
under which general Laws are compre- 
hended a numberlefs Variety of particular 
Inftances : fo there are in the Government 
of reafonable and moral Agents, ftated 
Rules of Procedure, formed and eftablifhed 
with great Wifdom, which are generally 
obferved by Divine Providence in the or- 
dering and governing Men and the Events 
relating to them, and which may be called 



the Courfe of Providence in the moral, as 
the other is in the natural World. With- 
out this, God's providential Government 
of his reafonable Creatures, would only be 
a loofe Heap of fudden arbitrary Expedi- 
ents, without any certain Method or Con- 
nection, which would be unworthy of a 
wife Governor. Nor could any Man in 
that Cafe know how to ad:, or what to ex- 
pect, what to hope or to fear ; no Man 
could underftand the Meaning of the di- 
vine Adminiftration, or form any Rules of 
Conduct from it. But then, on the other 
Hand, God's governing by general Laws 
muft not be underftood as if he only pre- 
ferred or appointed fome general Methods 
of Procedure in the Beginning, and after- 
wards concerned himfelf no farther. Thefe 
general Laws and Conftitutions do by no 
Means exclude the conftant Prefence and 
Influence of Divine Providence, which ex- 
tendeth to particular Cafes and Perfons, 
and ordereth and difpofeth the Circum- 
ftances and Events relating to them as 
feemeth mod fit to his fovereign Wifdom ; 
and that in fuch a Manner as is no way 
inconfiftent with thofe general Laws, and 
without diflurbing or confounding the ufual 
Courfe of Things. 

Thus e. g. it may be regarded as a ge- 
neral Law of Providence, which is laid 
Q^3 down 


down by the Wife-man, Prov. x. 4. that 
the Hand of the diligent maketh rich. But 
this is not to be underftood, as if God in 
his Providence only eftablifhed this ge- 
neral Conftitution, and left the reft wholly 
to Men themfelves, and put it entirely in 
their own Power whether they fhall be 
rich or not. All that can be juftly con- 
cluded from it is, that Diligence and In- 
duftry is the moil probable Way, according 
to the ordinary Ccurfe of Things and Ap- 
pointment of Divine Providence, for ac- 
quiring Riches, and without which we 
cannot r^afonably expect to obtain them. 
But then it muft ft ill be remembered, and 
fo this general Rule muft be underftood, 
that it doth not depend upon a Man's In- 
duftry alone, but that feveral Circumftances 
and Opportunities muft concur. And it is 
evident from common Obfervation and Ex- 
perience, that it is not abfolutely in Mens 
own Power to order thofe Circumftances 
and Opportunities as they pleafe. It de- 
pendeth upon the Appointment of Divine 
Providence to order and difpofe Circum- 
ftances fo for this or that particular Perfon, 
that his Diligence {hall have the Effect. 
And another Man may be fo fituated, 
that though he ufeth equal Diligence, it 
is not in his Power to acquire Riches. O- 
ther Inftances might be produced to the 



fame Purpofe. It is proper that Events 
mould be ordinarily conducted in fuch a 
Manner that the Probability of fucceeding 
in the Ufe of Means may engage Men to 
a prudent Application and Diligence ; and 
on the other Hand it is alfo wifely ordered, 
that Events do not conftantly anfwer Ex- 
pectations and Appearances, and the Means 
that have been ufed. The Race is not al- 
ways to the fwift, nor the Battle to the 
Jirong. For Men would be apt in that Cafe 
to forget that they are at the Difpofal of a 
higher Lord. They would afcribe all to 
themfelves and to fecond Caufes, and nei- 
ther look up to God for a Bleffing on their 
Endeavours, nor be fenfible of their Obli- 
gations to him for the Succefs they meet 
with ; and fo would in Time be in Danger 
of loiing all Regard to his governing and 
difpofing Providence. Reasonable Beings 
are capable of having a Senfe of their De- 
pendance upon Gcd, which the Brutes are 
not. And therefore it may be juftly fup- 
pofed, that God expecteth and requireth of 
them that they mould maintain a due Senfe 
of this their Dependance ; and that in Tef- 
timony of their Dependance, they mould 
apply to him for his Afliltan-e and Bleffing. 
And it is reafonable to believe, that in 
many Cafes Deligns may meet with Suc- 
cefs or not, according to their Performance 
QL4 or 


or Neglect of this Condition, purfuant td 
a Constitution of Divine Providence for that 

Plaving offered thefe general Confidera- 
tions concerning God's Difpofal of Events, 
it may be ufeful to confider this Subject 
more diftinctly, with regard to profperous 
and adverfe Events, and even thofe 
which appear to be cafual and for- 

Firft, All profperous Events and worldly 
Bleflings are in the Hand of God, and 
under the Difpofal of his Providence. If 
we meet with Succefs in our lawful De- 
figns and Endeavours, if we have a com- 
petent Portion of thofe outward good 
Things, which contribute to the Conve- 
nience of Life, thefe are all to be thankful- 
ly afcribed to God's good Providence. 
And when we view them in this 
Light, it lays a fpecial Obligation upon 
us to endeavour to ufe them to his Glory, 
and according to his Will, and mould 
make us careful not to abufe them, to 
Pride and Intemperance. Both Riches and 
Honour come of thee, faith David in his 
noble Addrefs to God. i Chron. xxix. 12. 
God brings it as a Charge againfl; Ifrael, 
She did not know, or confider, that I gave 
her Corn, and Wine, and Oil, and multiplied 
her Silver and Gold. Hof. ii. 8. Not 



only fpiritual Bleffings, which are of the 
mofl: excellent Nature, and have the greater!: 
Influence on our Happinefs, are to be re- 
garded as coming from God, from whom 
every good and perfedi Gift doth defend, as 
St. James expreneth it, but even thofe 
Bleffings and Advantages which are of a 
temporal worldly Nature. Thefe are dif- 
penfed with great Variety, and in different 
Meafures and Proportions, according to the 
Will of the fupreme Difpofer, and always 
for wife Reafons, though in many Inftances 
we may not be able at prefent to difcern 
thofe Reafons. 

It is indeed {till fuppofed, and muft be 
carefully remembered, that there are Means 
to be ordinarily ufed on our Parts in order 
to our obtaining and enjoying thofe Blef- 
fings, and that it is the Appointment of 
Providence that it mould be fo. And to ex- 
pect thofe Bleffings, or to hope for Succefs in 
our Defigns, without the Ufe of proper 
Means, is a tempting of God, and a tranf- 
greffing the Orders of his Providence. But 
when we have aiked the propereft Means 
we can, we muft confider the Event as in 
the Hand of God ; and if the Means we 
ufe prove effectual, and our lawful Endea- 
vours are crowned with Succefs, to his wife 
and good Providence we muft afcribe it. 
Thus e. g. if we would enjoy the Bleffing 



of Health, we mull expect it in a Courfe 
of Sobriety and Temperance ; if we would 
obtain a Competency of worldly Wealth, 
we muft feek it in a Way of honeft pru- 
dent Induftry ; if we would acquire and 
maintain a good Name and Reputation, and 
the Love and Efteem of others, the beft 
Way we can take, is to follow the Things 
that are true, and juft, and pure, and 
lovely, and "virtuous and praife-worthy ; 
if we delire to fucceed in any particular 
Defign which we think to be of Impor- 
tance to us, we muft take thofe Meaiures 
which Prudence doth fuggeft, and which 
in the ufual Courfe of Things are moil 
likely to accomplish it ; at the fame Time 
applying to God by Prayer for a Blefting 
on thefe our honeft Endeavours. And if 
in confequence of fuch Means and Endea- 
vours, we meet with the wifhed for Suc- 
cefs, we muft afcribe it principally not to 
ourfelves, but to the Diipofal and Ap- 
pointment of Divine Providence. And 
indeed whatever Advantages we enjoy by 
our own Prudence and Induftry, and by a 
right Ufe of our Abilities and Opportuni- 
ties, are as really the Effects of God's 
Providence to which we owe thofe Abili- 
ties and Opportunities, as if we obtained 
thofe Advantages from him in a more im- 
mediate Way, without any Pains or En- 


deavours of our own. And in like Man- 
ner, with refpect to the Benefits we receive 
from our Fellow-creatures, though we 
ought to retain and manifeft a grateful 
Senfe of their Kindnefs, yet we mufl look 
above them to God the fupreme Benefac- 
tor, in whofe Hand they are Instruments 
for doing us Good, and who fo ordereth 
it, that the Effects of their Kindnefs ex- 
tend particularly to us. 

But if after all, we have not fo large a 
Portion of thefe external Advantages as we 
perhaps could wifh, we muft confider that 
it is the Appointment of Providence, that 
God's faithful Servants, the Objects of his 
fpecial Love and Favour, have often but a 
fmall Share of thefe temporal good Things. 
And this is fo ordered for wife Ends, that 
they may not look upon fuch Things as 
thefe to be the principal Rewards of Piety 
and Virtue, or place too much of their 
Happinefs and Satisfaction in them, but 
may raife their Hopes and Views to Blef- 
fings of a more durable and excellent Na- 
ture, referved for them in a future State. 
And if, as is frequently the Cafe, the un- 
godly pro/per in the World, and increafe in 
Riches, we ought to be perfuaded that 
God hath alfo wife Ends in permitting and 
appointing this : as I lltall have Occafion 
more diflin&ly to mew, when I come to 




confider the Objection that is urged from 
thence againft the Righteoufnefs of Pro- 

Secondly, All the evil and adverfe Events 
which befall us, are under the Govern- 
ment and Difpofal of Divine Providence. 
Shall we receive Good at the Hand of God, 
faith yob, and /hall we not receive Evil? 
Job. ii. 10. Shall there be Evil in a City, 
faith the Prophet, and it may be equally 
faid, Shall there be Evil in a Family, or 
to a particular Perfon, and the Lord hath 
not done it ? Amos iii. 6. This is plain- 
ly to be underflood, not of moral Evil, or 
the Evil of Sin, but of the Evil of Afflic- 
tion or Adverlity. In which Senfe alfo 
God is introduced as declaring, / make 
Peace, and create Evil. Ifa. xlv. 7. It is a 
general Appointment of Providence, that 
through much Tribulation, through many 
Exercifes and Trials of their Virtues, fhall 
good Men enter into the Kingdom of God. 
But we muft not imagine that Providence 
hath no farther Concernment in their Trials, 
than by making this general Conftitution 
or Appointment. The fending, or deter- 
mining the particular Trials with which 
this or that Man mail be exercifed, the or- 
dering the Seafons and Circumftances of 
thofe Trials, and the continuing or remov- 
ing them,, is to fee regarded as the Work 



of God's wife and fovereign Providence. 
Afflictions and Adverfities are reprefented 
in Scripture as the chafiening of the Lord. 
They are Inftruments of Correction and 
Difcipline, and are defigned by him for ex- 
cellent Ends, viz. to put us upon ferious 
Reflections on our pad Ways, to embit- 
ter Sin to us, to exercife our Faith, Pati- 
ence, and Refignation, to difengage our 
Affections from this prefent World, and 
to turn our Thoughts and Views to a bet- 
ter. Not only are we to conlider Divine 
Providence as concerning itfelf in thofe ca- 
lamitous Events, which are in no wife ow- 
ing to any human Agency, fuch as Pefti- 
lence, or epidemical Difeafes, Storms, 
Earthquakes, Inundations, inclement Sea- 
fons, and the like ; but even in thofe Evils 
and Afflictions, which are the immediate 
Effects of our own Folly and ill Conduct, 
and in thofe which are brought upon us 
by the Agency of our Fellow-creatures : 
Such as Injuries and Wrongs, undeferved 
Calumnies and Reproaches, Perfections, 
and Acts of Violence, In all thefe Cafes, 
we mould look beyond fecond Caufes to 
God the fovereign Difpofer. For though 
he doth not put Men upon doing evil Ac- 
tions, which are properly owing to the 
Corruptions of their own Hearts, yet he 
fo over-ruleth thofe evil Actions, that the 



Effects of them light upon fuch particular 
Perfons. And we muft ftill take this along 
with us, that thofe wicked Men could not 
have done us thofe Injuries and Wrongs, 
if God had not for wife Ends permitted it, 
for our Correction or Punifhment, or fot 
the Exercife of our Virtues. A due Senfe 
of this would greatly contribute to quiet 
and compofe our Minds under Afflictions, 
and would caufe us to reverence the Hand 
of God in them. It would help to take off 
ibme of our Refentments againft our 
Fellow-creatures, and to allay the Bitter- 
nefs of Revenge. And finally, it would 
put us upon endeavouring to make a right 
Ufe and Improvement of Afflictions, that 
we may comply with the Ends of Provi- 
dence in fending them upon us. 

Thirdly, The laft Thing I would ob- 
ferve with regard to God's Government 
and Difpofal of Events, is, that even fortuitous 
or cafual Events are under the Superinten- 
dency of Divine Providence. Many of the 
Events that befall us, whether good or 
evil, are the Effects of Defign in rational 
Agents, either qurielves or our Fellow- 
creatures. But there are alfo many Events 
which are ufually looked upon as fortui- 
tous, in which either inanimate or Brute 
Creatures are the Instruments ; or if Men, 
they happen without any Intention on their 



Parts, of producing fuch Events. Now 
all thefe, which we are apt to afcribe to 
Chance, and which cannot be attributed 
to any known defigning Caufe, are under 
the Difpofal of a moil wife and fovereign 
Providence. What is ufually regarded 
more cafual than the cafting of a Lot ? 
Yet the wife Man obferveth, Prov. xvi. 
33. The Lot is caft into the Lap ; but the 
whole difpojing thereof is of the Lord. If a 
Man, without knowing or intending it, 
mould kill another by a Chance-ftroke, 
e. g. by the flying off of the Head of an 
Axe when cleaving Wood, or by throwing 
a Stone at random, without feeing or in- 
tending to hurt any Perfon ; this would 
be looked upon as accidental Death ; and 
it would be really fo with regard to him 
that was the Occaiion of it, but not with 
regard to God. For that Hatchet or Stone 
would not have hit or killed the Perfon 
that died by it, without the Direction or 
Permiffion of Divine Providence, which had 
a Defign in it, though the Man who was 
the immediate Occaiion of it, had not. 
And hence, in that Cafe, it is faid, that 
the Lord delivered him that was thus acci- 
dentally killed, into the Hand of the Man, 
who without intending it killed him. If 
a Man lie not in wait, but God deliver 
him into his Handy then I will appoifit him 

a Place 


a Place whither he Jhallflee. See Exod. xxL 
13. compared with Deut. xix. 5. When 
a certain Man in the Syrian Hojl drew a 
Bow at a Venture, and fmote King Ahab, 
it was Providence directed the Shaft, to 
accomplish its Purpofes in the Death of 
that Prince, according to what had been 
foretold concerning him, though the kill- 
ing Ahab was accidental, with refpect to 
the Man that fliot the Arrow. The com- 
ing of a Meffage to Saul to inform him that 
the Philiftines had invaded the Land, juft 
at the Time when he had almoft furround- 
ed David and his Company, might appear 
to be accidental ; yet it was fo ordered by 
Providence, with a View to deliver David 
from the imminent Danger to which he 
was expofed. See 1 Sam. xxiii. 26, 27, 28. 
What could feem more accidental than the 
coming by of the IJhmaelite Merchants at 
the Time that Jofeph's Brethren thought 
to put him to Death ? And yet this flight 
Circumftance was ordered and over-ruled 
by Divine Providence, for carrying him 
into Egypt, which laid the Foundation of 
his future Fortunes. Ahafuerus's not be- 
ing able to fleep the Night before Haman 
intended to procure an Order from him for 
hanging Mordecai ; and his calling for the 
Book of Records, or Chronicles, to be read 
before him, and happening to light upon 
2 that 


that Part of the Book which relateth to 
Mordecai's Services ; all thefe feem to be 
trifling Circumftances, and what we call 
purely accidental ', and yet they were wifely 
ordered and difpofed by Providence for 
bringing about great Events ; the Advance- 
ment of Mordecai, the Deftruction of Ha- 
man y and the Deliverance of the JewiJJi 
Nation. Such Events as thefe, feemingly 
fo fortuitous, and yet conducted to im- 
portant Ends, mould awaken in us a lively 
Senfe of Divine Providence, and mould 
convince us that God governeth human 
Affairs, even in Cafes which at firft View 
appear to be the Effects of Chance. 

When Perfons in their private Affairs 
meet with what are regarded as lucky 
Hits, which are not the Refult of their own 
or others Contrivance, and yet have a prof- 
perous Effect; in all thefe Cafes Provi- 
dence is to be acknowledged. Many In- 
ftances of this Kind may be frequently 
obferved with regard to ourfelves and 
others. The fame Obfervation may be 
made as to what we ufually call evil and 
unlucky Accidents, as Cafualties by Fire, 
fudden unexpected Hurts, &c. When any 
of thefe Things happen to us, we ought 
to confider the Hand of God in them, 
and to regard them as ordered and difpof- 
ed by his Providence. And when we are 

Vol, I. R prefer ved 


preferved from fitch evil Accidents, and 
fudden unforefeen Perils, we have great 
Reafon for Thankfulnefs, and mould ac- 
knowledge the Care of Providence in 
watching over us, without which many 
fuch Things would befall us. Whereas they 
never happen, but when it feemeth fit to 
the Divine Providence they mould happen, 
which hath always wife and juft Ends in 
permitting or ordering it to be fo. 

Thus we have confidered the Providence 
of God as difpofing and governing all 
Events. Many important Reflections na- 
turally arife upon this Subject. 

Firft, What a profound Veneration mould 
we conceive for the Deity, confidered as 
the fovereign univerfal Difpofer of all the 
Events that concern us, and how defirous 
mould we be to pleafe and ferve him, and 
to fecure an Intereft in his Favour ! When 
we regard him as prefiding over Contin- 
gencies, and amidft. all the endlefs Variations 
of human Affairs, conducting an amazing 
Multiplicity of Events without Diftrac- 
ction or Confufion, and with a proper Re- 
gard to human Liberty, how glorious 
mould he be in our Efteem ! And to heigh- 
ten our Admiration, let us carry our Views 
farther, and confider him as ordering all 
Events, not only relating to the Indivi- 
duals of the human Race, but to all the 



numberlefs Orders of Beings throughout 
this vafl Univerfe, Such Knowledge is 
too wonderful for us, it exceeds our Com- 
prehenfion, and that of every other finite 
Being. Who can duly confider this, and not 
admire and adore ! But it mould not 
merely fill us with Admiration, but mould 
make us follicitous above all Things to 
fervehim,and approve ourfelves in his Sight. 
How careful are we generally to make an 
Intereft with thofe of our Fellow-creatures, 
on whom we have a Dependence, and 
who, we think, have it in their Power to 
do us great Service or Prejudice ! But we 
mould endeavour to get this fixed upon 
our Minds, that there is no Creature on 
whom we have the ten thoufandth Part of 
the Dependence that we all have upon 
God. And fhall we not therefore make it 
our principal Care and Endeavour to ob- 
tain his Approbation, and to walk before 
him unto all pleafing ? Efpecially confider- 
ing, that not only the Events relating to 
this prefent Life and World, but to thofe 
of a future eternal State, are in his Hands. 
Secondly, The Confideration of God's 
difpofing and governing all Events mould 
engage us to acquiefce in that Lot and 
Condition, which it feemeth fit to him in 
his wife and . fovereign Providence to af- 
ilgn us. This is not to be underftood, as if, 
R 2 what* 


whatever Station or Circumftances we are 
in, it were unlawful for us to endeavour 
by proper and prudent Means to get into 
a more advantageous Situation, and to better 
our Condition and Circumftances. We 
muft not cover our own Sloth, and Ne- 
glect of the Ufe of Means, with a Pretence 
of acquiefcing in the divine Dilpofals. 
But if upon ufing all proper and lawful 
Endeavours, we have no reafonable Pro- 
fpect of being able to alter our Circumftan- 
ces to Advantage, we muft acquiefce, and 
looking upon this as the Lot afligned us 
by Divine Providence, muft endeavour to 
act fuitably to it with a chearful and con- 
tented Mind. We muft neither fret and 
repine at our own Condition, nor envy at 
the Succefs and Profperity of others; for 
this would be in effect to charge God 
with an unequal Diftribution. And what- 
ever Station we are in, we mould look up- 
on it to be the Will of God, that we 
fhould fulfil the Duties of that Station 
whilft we are in it. 

Thirdly, Another Duty we owe to Pro- 
vidence is to exercife an intire Submiftion 
and Refignation to God under all the Af- 
flictions which befall us ; and that not 
merely of Neceflity becaufe we cannot 
help it, but from Choice ; from a Senfe 
both of his abfblute Propriety in us, and 



Dominion over us, and of his Wifdom, 
Righteoufnefs, and Goodnefs, and that he 
ordereth all Things in the beft and fitteft 
Manner : We muft never under our Suf- 
ferings allow ourfelves to murmur againft 
God, or to find Fault with his Difpenfa- 
tions, or give way to bitter Paffions and 
Refentments, but muft wait patiently for 
him, trufting that he has wife and holy 
Ends in laying Afflictions upon us, and 
that he will either deliver us from them 
in the fitteft Seafon, or will fupport us un- 
der them, and caufe them to work toge- 
ther for our Good. 

This leads me to obferve, thirdly, that 
fince all Events are under the Govern- 
ment and Difpofal of Divine Providence, 
we mould commit ourfelves and all our 
Ways unto the Lord, with a firm and 
fteady Truft and Dependence. This is 
what is frequently and exprefsly required 
of us in the holy Scriptures, Caft thy Bur- 
den upon the Lord, and be Jhall fujlain thee. 
Pfal. lv. 22. Commit thy Way unto the 
Lord, truft alfo in him, and he foall bring it 
to pafs. Pfal. xxxvii. 5. In all thy Ways ac- 
knowledge him, and he /hall direB thy Paths. 
Prov. iii. 6. With the diligent Ufe of all 
proper Means on our Parts, we muft join 
Prayer to God, which is wifely appointed 
to preferve a due Senfe of our conftant 
R 3 Dependence 


Dependence upon his Providence, and to 
put us in mind that We ought not to at- 
tempt, or defire to obtain any Thing, but 
what we may fafely commend to God, fo 
as to look up to him for a Blefiing with it. 
And when we have ufed our belt Endea- 
vours, we mufl place our Reliance on the 
divine Wifdom, Goodnefs, and All-fufii- 
ciency; by which I do not mean a Confi- 
dence that God will grant us the par- 
ticular Thing which we defire, but that 
he will either do that for Us, or do what 
is really as good or better, and that he will 
order all Things in the wifefl and proper- 
eft Manner. This it is to commit our Way' 
unto the Lord, and to exercife a regular 
Trull and Dependence upon him. And it 
lays a folid Foundation for inward Peace 
and Satisfaction, and intitleth us to the 
divine Protection and Blefiing. For God 
frequently aflureth us in his Word of his 
fpecial Gare towards thofe who put their 
Truft in him. Pfal. xxxi. 19. xxxiv. 8. 
and the whole xci. Pfalm. 

I fhall conclude with this Obfervation. 

How vaft is the Advantage of a Man 
that looketh upon all Events as under 
the Direction of Divine Providence, above 
him who doth not confider the Hand of 
God in them ? All the good Things he 
enjoys, come to him with a redoubled 
2 Sweetnefs 


Sweetnefs and Pleafure, when he regards 
them as the Effects of the divine Favour 
and Goodnefs ^ and Afflictions appear with 
a quite different Afpecl: to him, from what 
they do to the irreligious and profane. It 
may be juftly laid of him, according to the 
Obfervation of the Pfalmift, that he JJjall 
not be afraid of evil Tidings ; his Heart is 
fixed, trufting in the Lord. Pfal. cxii. 7. He 
is prepared for all Events, and can never 
lofe all Hope, or fink into utter Defpon- 
dency under his Burdens and Preffures. 
And this lays a folid Foundation for a no- 
ble Fortitude. And whereas it hath been 
brought as a Charge againft Religion, that 
a Dependence on Divine Providence, has 
a Tendency to make Men neglect the Ufe 
of Means; this is far from being a fair Re- 
prefentation of the Cafe. The truly reli- 
gious Man, who rightly believeth and 
dependeth upon Divine Providence, is as 
careful as any Perfon whatfoever in the 
Ufe of all proper and lawful Means. For 
he not only ufes them, as others do, as 
the mod: probable Way of fucceeding in 
his Defires, but as a Duty laid upon him 
by the Authority and Will of God, and 
the ftated Order of his Providence, which 
hath appointed that Means mould be ufed 
on our Parts: but then, in this he has a 
fignal Advantage above other Men, that 

R 4 if 


if he meets with a Difappointment, he 
can calmly acquiefce, becaufe he believes 
it to be ordered or permitted by the fu- 
preme Difpofer, for wife and righteous 
Ends. This mews the great Benefit of 
Religion. It tends to produce a true 
Greatnefs of Soul, and directs us to a pro- 
per Conduct in every Circumftance. It 
manifestly contributeth to the Eafe and 
Satisfaction of this prefent Life, as well 
as to prepare us for eternal Happinefs in 
a future State. 


Concerning the Wifdom of Divine 


Isaiah xxviii. 29. 

This alfo cometh from the Lord of Hojls, 
who is wonderful in Counfel, and excellent 
in wQrking, 

WE have in feveral Difcourfes taken 
a general View of the Providence 
of God as extending to the inanimate, to 
the brutal and fenfitive, and above all to 
the rational Part of the Creation, efpecially 
to Mankind. But befides what has been 
already offered, there are feveral other Ob- 
servations relating to this Subject, which 
will tend to illuftrate the Wifdom, the 
3 Good- 


Goodnefs and Righteoufnefs of God in his 
providential Difpenfations, and to obviate 
fome of the principal Objections that have 
been urged againlt Divine Providence. 
Thefe are Things of no fmall Impor- 
tance, and which defer ve to be distinctly 

What I now propofe is to offer fome 
Confiderations concerning the Wifdom of 
Providence, with regard to which we may 
juftly make ufe of thefe Words of the Pro- 
phet, that he is wonderful in Counfel, and 
excellent in working. And this, if con- 
fidered in its moll comprehenfive Notion, 
would open to us a Subject of vaft Extent. 
The fame Wifdom which eitablifhed what 
we call the Courfe of Nature, arid put 
Things into fuch an admirable Order in the 
Beginning, ftill continueth to maintain and 
direct the Courfe and Order of Things. 
All the general Laws by which the mate- 
rial Syltem is governed, which, though few 
and fimple, produce an amazing Variety of 
Effects, are fo many Handing Proofs of 
the divine Wifdom. And the molt faga- 
cious Enquirers into Nature, the farther 
they have carried their Enquiries into thefe 
Matters, have been itruck with the greater 
Admiration and Aftonilhment. What 
marvellous Wifdom appears in the apt 
Connections and Correspondencies between 



the feveral Parts of this vaft. univerfal Frame> 
and in the fteady Order and Regularity 
which is preferved amidft a numberlefs 
Multiplicity of Motions and Appearances, 
feemingly difcordant and oppofite to one 
another, yet all confpiring, without know- 
ing it, to carry on the mofl wife Defigns for 
the Good of the whole. The Wifdom of 
Providence ftill more remarkably appears 
in the animal World, in the admirable 
Powers and Inftincts with which the vari- 
ous Tribes of vital and fenfitive Beings are 
furnifhed, and whereby they are enabled to 
act in certain Cafes with a furprifing Saga- 
city, and are fitted for the feveral Functions 
and Enjoyments, which are fuited to that 
Kind of Life for which they are defigned. 
It appears alfo in the Provifion that is made 
for the Continuation of their feveral Spe- 
cies, not one of which has been entirely 
loft or extinguimed through fo long* a Suc- 
ceffion of Ages. 

But above all, the Wifdom of Provi- 
dence is moll eminently exercifed towards 
rational and moral Agents, which are the 
nobleft Part of the Creation. The human 
Constitution is a Mafter-piece of the di- 
vine Power and Skill, whether we confider 
the Fabric of the Body of Man, which 
comprifeth a wonderful Variety of Parts in 
a fmall Compafs, all harmonioufly corre- 



iponding to one another, and excellently 
adapted to their feveral Ends and Ufes, or 
the fublime Faculties of the human Soul, 
efpecially its intellectual and moral Powers. 
And Reafon teacheth us to conclude, that 
the fame infinite Wifdom which fo won- 
derfully contrived and modelled the human 
Frame, ftill prefideth over Mankind, and 
governeth them in the wifeft and fittefl 
Manner. And fo undoubtedly it will ap- 
pear, when the entire Scheme of Divine 
Providence towards Mankind is compleated, 
and his Defigns are brought to their final 
important Iflues. But at prefent we fee 
only Parts of his Ways, and cannot have a 
full View of the Wifdom and Beauty of 
Divine Providence. And yet there are 
many Things in the prefent Courfe of 
God's Adminiftrations, with refpect to 
Mankind, in which a truly religious and 
thoughtful Mind may eafily difcern the 
Proofs of a fovereign Wifdom* This is 
manifeft from feveral of the Obfervations 
that have been already made in the Profe- 
cution of this Subject:. How admirable 
muft that Wifdom be which penetrates into 
the Secrets of Mens Hearts, and governs 
their Intentions and Counfels, their Actions 
and the Events which befall them, whether 
profperous or ajdverfe, and even thofe which 
leem to be moficafual and fortuitous ; and thii 



without infringing the Liberty which be- 
longed! to them as moral Agents, fo that 
whilft they think only of anfwering their 
own particular Interefts and Views, they 
are really contributing to carry on the 
Scheme of Divine Providence ! But efpe- 
cially, who can comprehend that Wifdom, 
whereby God over-ruleth the Sins of Men, 
of which he is not the Author or the Caufe, 
for accomplifhing his own excellent De- 
figns ! And whilfl he permitteth bad Men 
to act according to their own Inclinations, 
caufeth Good in numberlefs Inftances to 
arife out of thofe Evils, and bringeth Light 
and Order out of Darknefs and Confufion ! 
The Wifdom of God's Providence might 
fee alfo illuitrated by a diftincl: Confideration 
of his moft remarkable Diipenfations to- 
wards the Church and World from the 
Beginning, of which we have an excellent 
Account in the facred Writings, and which 
ought greatly to recommend them to our Ef~ 
teem. Some Hints have been already given 
to this Purpofe ; but to treat this Subject 
fully and diftinctly would take a large Com- 
pafs. At prefent I fhall only make a few 
Obfervations on feveral Things in the di- 
vine Proceedings towards Mankind, which 
though at firft View they may feem to have 
a contrary Appearance, and have been ac- 
tually found Fault with by Men of nar- 


row or corrupt Minds, yet are really upon 
the whole conducted with great Wif- 

Firfl, The Wifdom of God appeafeth 
in bringing about great Events by the feem- 
ingly moil inconfiderable and unlikely 
Means. How often have furprifing Revo- 
lutions been effected by contemptible In-» 
flruments, or have had their firfl Rife in 
what we call Accidents, which appeared 
at firfl to be of no Confequence, and were 
flighted as not worth regarding ! Mighty 
Armies have been overthrown by a weak 
and defpifed Enemy. Thus Benbadad's 
numerous Hoflwas vanquifhed and put to 
a fhameful Rout, by two hundred and fifty 
of the young Men, i. e. Servants who be- 
longed to the Princes of the Provinces,. 
followed by a Handful of the Ifraelites+ 
whom he thought only of taking alive 
without any Difficulty, i Kings xx. 15,— 
21. It is wifely ordered that fuch Things 
fhould fometimes happen, that when there 
is fo great a feeming Difproportion be- 
tween the Means made Ufe of and the 
Effects produced by them, Men may more 
plainly fee, and be brought to acknow- 
ledge, the fovereign Agency of Divine Pro- 
vidence in ruling the Affairs of Men. In 
the firfl Eflabliihment of the Chriftian 
Church, it pleafed God to make ufe of 



the Miniftry of the Apoftles, who being 
deftitute of all thofe Advantages and Ac- 
complishments which are apt to attract the 
Regards and Admiration of Mankind, 
feemed the moft unlikely Inflruments that 
could be pitched upon for converting the 
Nations. But fo it was appointed that, as 
St. Paul fpeaks, the Excellency of the Power 
might be of God, i. e. might appear to be 
of God, and not of Men. 2 Cor. iv. 7. 
Not many wife Men after the Flejh, not many 
mighty, not many noble were called, at the 
planting of the Gofpel. 1 Cor. i. 26. And 
yet it foon made an aftonifhing Progrefs, 
through the divine Power and Blefling ac- 
companying it. Whereas, if its nrft Pro- 
pagators or Converts had been Men of great 
Power, Riches, Eloquence, and Intereil, its 
Progrefs would not have been looked upon 
as fo extraordinary ; and there would have 
been fome Pretence for regarding it as a 
cunningly devifed Scheme of a wordly 
Nature and Original. The preaching of 
Chrijl crucified, which was to the Greeks 
Foolijhnefs, triumphed over all their boafted 
Learning and Philofophy. Thus God 
chofe the foolijh Things of the World to con- 
found the wife, and the weak Things of the 
World to confound the Things that are 
mighty ; and bafe Things of the World, and 
Things which are defpifed, hath God chofen, 



yea, and things which are not, to bring to 
nought 'Things that are-r-that no F/eJh 
might glory in his Prefence, but he that 
glorieth might glory in the Lord. 1 Cor. i. 
27, 28, 29, 31. 

Secondly, Providence often accom- 
plifheth its Defigns by Means which not 
only feem fmall and inconfiderable, but 
contrary to the End propofed, and maketh 
the Counfels of Men fubfervient to Events 
quite oppofite to their Intentions and Views. 
Thus the Decree procured by Haman for 
the Extirpation of the Jews proved, by the 
over-ruling Difpofition of Divine Provi- 
dence, the Means of their better Eftablifh- 
ment, and of their getting rid of their 
bittereft Enemies. And the fame Haman $ 
waiting in the Court with a View to get an 
Order- for hanging Mordecai, and the 
Counfel he then gave to the King, and 
which he intended for his own Honour, be- 
came the Occafion of procuring the highefl 
Honours for him whom he above all Men 
hated and defpifed. Thefe are remarkable 
Things, which when they happen fill us 
with Wonder, and mould lead us to 
confider a mod wife and comprehenfive 
Mind prefiding over human Affairs. Who 
had feen Jofeph fold by his Brethren as a 
Slave, carried as fuch into Egypt, and 
afterwards caft into Prifon upon the^Ac- 



-cufationlaid againfthim by his Matter's Wife 
would not have thought him absolutely ru- 
ined beyond Recovery ? and perhaps have 
been ready to think hardly of Providence, for 
fullering fo much Innocence and Virtue to 
be oporerTed ? And yet by a furprifing 
Turn thefe very adverfe Events opened the 
Way for his Advancement to the highefr. 
Dignities. Jacob's quitting Canaan, with 
his whole Family, and fettling in Egypt, 
which feemed to be in effect a giving up 
the Hope of the protnifed Land, prepared 
the Way, at a long Diftance of Time, for 
his Poflerity's conquering and taking Pof- 
feffion of it. The putting Chrifl to 
Death, which the Jews intended, according 
to the Maxims of a worldly Policy, to 
difcourage his Difciples, and fupprefs his 
Doctrine, and to hinder their Nation's be- 
ing deftroyed by the Romans, John xi. 47>— 
53. both contributed to the fpreading of 
his Doctrine, and brought on the Deftruc- 
tion of their Nation and Polity, which 
they feemed fo defirous to prevent. 

Thirdly, Another remarkable Proof of 
the Wifdom of Divine Providence is the 
admirable Timing of Events, and ordering 
them in the fitteit Seafon, and in the pro- 
perefl Manner. Of this we have a fignal 
Inftance of the Time of Chrifl % coming 
and Manifeflation in the Flefh. The 

Vol. I. S ApoiUe 


Apoftle obferves, that when the Fulnefs of 
the Time was come, God fent forth his Son 
made of a Woman, ?nade under the Law. 
Gal. iv. 4. The Time was come, which 
had been determined for that great Event 
in the divine Counfels, and many Things 
concurred to render it the fitted and propereft 
Seafon. Learning, Eloquence, and the 
liberal Arts, had long flourifhed in the hea- 
then World to a great Degree. But it ap- 
peared, that the World, by all their Wifdom, 
knew not God. It had been fufriciently 
tried, what Philofophy could do, and it 
was found ineffectual to recover the Nations 
from that abfurd and grofs Idolatry and Po- 
lytheifm, and that amazing Corruption of 
Manners into which they were fallen, and 
which about the Time of our Saviour's ap- 
pearing had arrived to the moft monftrous 
Height. At the fame Time the Jews, 
among whom alone the Worfhip of the true 
God free from Idolatry and Polytheifm 
was preferved, were fallen in a great Mea- 
fure from the true Spirit and Deiign of the 
Oeconomy they were under. They had 
loft the Subftance of Religion in Forms 
and Traditions, and were become greatly 
corrupt in their Practice. The Church 
had been long enough difciplined under 
carnal Ordinances, and it was Time for a 
more fpiritual Difpenfation to fucceed. Add 



to this, that the Way had been prepared 
for Cbrift's coming by a wonderful Series 
of Prophecies and Predictions, pointing to 
the Saviour that was to come, and to the 
Time of his coming, and to the moft re- 
markable Parts of his Offices and Charac- 
ter, and which gave a mighty Force to the 
other illuftrious Atteftations, whereby his 
divine Minion was confirmed. The Jews 
were then fpread in great Numbers through 
the Nations, and their Scriptures came to 
be generally known, being tranflated into 
Greeks the common Language, fo that many 
were brought to look for the Meffiah, and 
a general Expectation of the Appearance 
of an extraordinary Perfon about that Time 
prevailed. Thus there was a Concurrence 
of many Things to make it feafonable for 
the promifed Redeemer to appear, and to 
introduce a new and more perfect Difpen- 
fation. To all which it may be added, 
that the greater!: Part of the then known 
World was united in a peaceable Subjec- 
tion to the Roman Dominion, which 
tended to facilitate the Progrefs of the Gof- 
pel through the feveral Parts of that wide 
extended Empire. And therefore inftead 
of making it an Objection, as hath been 
often done, that Chrijl came no fooner, 
we mould regard it as a great Proof of 
the divine Wifdom as well as Goodnefs, 
S 2 that 


that he appeared when he did, which was 
on many Accounts the propereft Seafon 
for his appearing, and when the State 
and Circumftances of the World moil 
required it, and were heft fuited to it. 

Fourthly, The Wifdom of God's Pro- 
vidence is eminently displayed in humbling 
and calling down haughty OpprefTors in 
the Height of their Pride, and in the 
Fulnefs of their Power, and in delivering 
his People when reduced to the greater!: Ex- 
tremity. Thus it was with regard to the 
bringing forth the Ifraelites out of Egypt. 
The Power of Pharaoh was at its Height ; 
he thought none could oppofe him, and 
therefore, in the Infolence of Prefumption, 
laid, Who is the Lord that I Jhoztld obey his 
Voice, and let Ifrael go ? Exod. v. 2. The 
Ifraelites were reduced to the loweft Dif- 
trefs ; their Lives were made bitter 
through heavy Bondage, and they had no 
Expectation of Deliverance. And then it 
was that Providence interpofed for hum- 
bling the Infolence of Pharaoh, and break- 
ing his Power, and for refcuing the Ifraelites 
from their long continued Oppreflion and 
Bondage. It frequently happens, that 
when the Church and People of God are 
ready to fay, Hath God forgotten to be gra- 
cious ? Will he be favourable no more f when 
they are entangled as helplefs Birds in the 
Snare of the fowler ; then through a molt 



feafonable Interpofition of Divine Provi- 
dence, the Snare is broken, and they efcape ; 
fo that they fay with Thankfulnefs and 
a pious Confidence, Our Help is in the 
Name of the Lord, who made Heaven and 
'Earth. Pfal. cxxiv. 7, 8. In fuch Inftances 
the Wifdom as well as Power of God is 
very confpicuous. This Way of Proceed- 
ing tendeth to hide Pride from Men, and 
to take them off from all Creature-depend- 
ence, that they may not make Flefli their 
Arm, but turn their Hopes and Views to 
God alone. It exercifeth their Faith and 
Patience, and putteth them upon earnert. 
Prayers and Supplications, and afterwards 
giveth a peculiar Accent to their Praifes and 
Thankfgivings. They are hereby better 
prepared for receiving and improving the 
intended Mercy; and it is a Ground of 
Reliance on God in their future Straits and 
Difficulties. Whereas if their Deliverance 
had come fooner, and in the Way they ex- 
pected, before they were reduced to fuch 
Extremity, they might have been apt to 
afcribe too much to fecond Caufes, and in 
a great Meafure overlook the Providence 
of God. The 126th Pfalm is remarkable 
to this Purpofe. When the Lord turned 
again the Captivity of Zion y we were like 
them that dream. 'Then was our Mouth filed 
with Laughter* and our tongue withfng- 
S 3 ing. 


ing. Then f aid they among the Heathen, The 
Lord hath done great Things for them. The 
Lord hath done great Things for us, whereof 
we are glad. Pfal. exxvi. i, 2, 3. 

Fifthly, The Wifdom of Providence is alfo 
obfervable in conducting its Defigns through 
different Paths to the fame admirable IrTue, 
and caufing a Variety of Things to contri- 
bute to the fame End. Providence often 
feemeth to go a great Way about for ac- 
complifhing its Deligns, fo that we fcarce 
know whither Things are tending, till at 
length, when the whole is rinimed, it ap- 
peareth that every Thing was moft wifely 
conducted. Some of the Inftances that 
have been already mentioned are remarkable 
to this Purpofe. What a Variety of Things 
concurred to Jofeph's Advancement, fome 
of which feemed to tend the quite contrary 
Way, and threatened his Ruin ! By what a 
long Train of Incidents was the Way pre- 
pared for erecting the Jewijh Polity, and 
fettling Jfrael in the Land of Canaan ! But 
efpecially it deferves to be confidered that 
as no Event was ever fo important as the 
coming of our Lord Jefus Chrift, fo never 
was any Event ufhered in with fo great and 
folemn Preparation. The glorious Scheme 
was laid from the Beginning -, Things were 
difpofmg towards it for many Ages. The 
calling of Abraham, the choofing the Seed 



of Jacob, and keeping them diftincl: frem 
the reft of Mankind, the whole Mofaical 
Oeconomy with its typical Rites and Ordi- 
nances, containing a Shadow of good 
Things to come, the railing up a Succeflion 
of Prophets, by whom God fpake at fun- 
dry Times and in divers Manners ; all thefe 
Things, which took up a long Time, were 
defigned to be fubfervient to this moil il- 
luftrious Event, this moft. amazing Dif- 
penfation of Divine Providence. And it 
was fo ordered, that many Things in the 
civil State of the World did alfo contribute 
to the fame End. 

Sixthly, There are feveral Things relating 
to the Diftribution of Rewards and Pu- 
nifhments in this prefent State, which at 
firft View may have an odd Appearance, 
and yet, if carefully conlidered, ihew the 
Wifdom of Divine Providence. It hath 
been often thought very ftrange, that bad 
Men mould have temporal worldly Bleffings 
and Advantages conferred upon them, and 
that good Men fhould be chaftifed with 
worldly Evils and Calamities ; and yet up- 
on an attentive Examination of the Cafe 
it will appear, that it is very proper it 
mould be frequently fo in this State of Trial. 
But not to infift upon this at prefent, which 
(hall be confidered more at large when we 
come to vindicate the Righteoufnefs of Di- 
S 4 vine 


vine Providence ; I mail now inftance in 
two Things with regard to the prefent 
Diftribution of Rewards and Punifhments, 
which deferve our Notice. The one is, 
that the Rewards of Mens good Actions, 
and the Puniihments of their evil ones, of- 
ten extend to their Children or Pofterity. 
The other is, the punifhing Men for their 
Sins even after they have fincerely repented 
of them. 

It cannot be reafonably denied, that the 
Rewards of Mens good Actions, and the 
Puniihments of their evil ones, frequently 
extend in their Effects to their Children or 
Pofterity. How often may we obferve, 
that Perfons fare the better for the Piety 
and Virtue of their Parents and Anceftors, 
and enjoy Advantages which were origi- 
nally owing to the Goodnefs of thofe 
from whom they defcended ! And on the 
other Hand, the Effects of Mens Wicked- 
ness often fall heavy upon tfieir Pofterity. 
They frequently inherit diflempered Bo- 
dies, Poverty, Difgrace, the Lofs of Ho- 
nours and worldly Subftance, and other 
Evils, which were originally brought on 
by the bap! Conduct of their Parents or Pro- 
genitors; This indeed never extendeth to 
the final Retributions of a future State, 
iince it could not be thought juft or fit, 
that any Perfons fliould be made happy or 



miferable for ever, for the Virtues or Faults 
of their Parents or Anceftors. But it is 
wifely ordered, that it mould be frequently 
fo with regard to temporal Evils or Bleffings 
in this State of Trial and Difcipline, in 
which alone thefe Relations of Fathers and 
Children do properly fubiift. It tendeth 
greatly to recommend Piety and Virtue, 
and to make the Benefits and happy Effects 
of it more confpicuous, when the Advan- 
tage of a Man's Virtues and Services over- 
flows to his Children after him, and con- 
tributes to derive a Bleffing upon them. 
And on the other Hand, it rendereth Sin 
and Vice more odious, and furnifheth pow- 
erful Diffuarives againft it, to confider that 
the bad Effects of wicked Actions are not 
confined to thofe who commit them, but 
frequently extend to their Children too; 
fo that a Concern for the Welfare of their 
Children and Families, as well as their own, 
mould have a great Influence to engage 
Perfons to the Practice of Religion and 
Virtue, and to deter them from vicious and 
ungodly Courfes. 

The other Thing I mentioned, and which 
deferves alfo to be confidered, is, that God 
often feeth fit to punifh Men for their Sins 
even after they have fmcerely repented of 
them. Though he fo far p^rdoneth them 
that they mall not be condemned, or made 



miferable 911 the Account of thofe Sins in a 
future State, yet he frequently ordereth it 
fo that they fuffer under the Effects of 
them in this. A remarkable Inftance of 
which we have in God's Dealing with Da- 
vid. Though when he was brought to a 
deep and ingenuous Repentance for his Sins, 
the Prophet Nathan was commiffioned to 
declare to him in the Name of God, The 
Lord bath put away thy Sin, thou Jhalt not 
die. 2 Sam. xii. 13. yet many and grie- 
vous Penalties were inflicted upon him; 
the moft mocking Calamities were raifed 
againfl him out of his own Family ; all 
which were to be regarded as the Judgments 
of God upon him on the Account of his 
Sins. And this is certainly a very wife 
Procedure well fuited to this State of Dif- 
cipline, the more effectually to imprefs 
Mens Minds with a deep Senfe of the great 
Evil of Sin, and God's jufl Difpleafure 
againffc it ; in that he will not let it go ab- 
folutely unpunimed, even in thofe who 
have turned to him with a true Contrition. 
Let no Man, therefore, prefume to venture 
upon Sin in the Hope and Expectation of 
Pardon upon Repentance ; fince even 
though his Repentance mould be fincere, 
and of the right Kind, yet many bad Ef- 
fects of his Sins may ftill continue. How 
often doth it happen that Perfons, even af- 


ter Repentance and Reformation, are made 
to poffefs the Sins of their Youth ! In 
confequehce of their former Vices they fuf- 
fer by grievous Pains and Difeafes of Bo- 
dy, or by Breaches made upon their For- 
tunes, even after they have heartily re- 
pented, and forfaken thofe Sins which flrft 
brought thofe Evils upon them. 

Seventhly, The Inequality of Mens out- 
ward Conditions and Circumftances, the 
Uncertainty and Inftability of human Af- 
fairs, and the many Viciflitudes to which 
they are fubject, which have been often 
urged as Objections againft Providence, do 
yet, if duly confidered, furnifh manifeft 
Proofs of the divine Wifdom. It might 
ealily be fhewn that the remarkable Variety 
of Mens Conditions and Circumftances in 
this prefent State is much more wifely or- 
dered, than if all Men were levelled to the 
fame Condition. It gives greater Scope for 
Induftry, and is better fuited to the Variety 
of Mens Powers and Capacities. It would 
be as abfurd to expect or require, that all 
Men in the Community or political Body 
mould be in the fame Station or Circum- 
ftances, as that all the Members of the na- 
tural Body mould be exactly in the fame 
Situation and Pofition. Different Abilities, 
Conditions, and Stations, are necelfary to 
mutual Amftance and Dependence, and to 



the Exercife of focial Virtues, and bind 
Men more ftrongly together in Society ; all 
concurring in their feveral Ways to the 
Service and Advantage of one another, and 
of the whole. Thofe in an inferior Sta- 
tion are as ufeful and as necefTary in their 
Place in Society, as thofe in a higher. And 
it is manifeilly proper that moil of Man- 
kind fhould be in a low Condition, and 
have Tempers and Capacities fitted for it. 
So that it may be juftly faid, that the Dif- 
ference of Genius's, Conditions, and Cir- 
cumflances, tendeth to public Happinefs, 
and to the greater Good of the whole -, and 
that without it much of the Beauty, Or- 
der, and Harmony of Society would be 

The Uncertainty of Events, and Infta- 
bility of human Affairs, is alfo very fuitable 
to the Nature of a State of Trial and Dis- 
cipline. It tendeth to humble our Vanity 
and Self-confidence, and to make us fenfi- 
ble of our Dependence upon a fuperior 
Power, as alfo to keep us from fetting too 
high a Value on earthly Things, or feeking 
for Reft and Happinefs in them. It fhould 
both prevent our being haughty and info- 
lent when pofTerTed of Riches and outward 
Advantages, and our being immoderately 
dejected when deprived of them. We are 
thereby farther intruded that the beft Way 



we can take for our own Security, is to 
keep clofe to the Rule of Duty, which is 
a fteady and conftant Thing, and can alone 
make us uniform in our Conduct. Whereas 
thofe who without Regard to this, endea- 
vour, according to the Maxims of a 
worldly Policy, to accommodate themfelves 
to the Times, and to the prefent View of 
Affairs, often meet with miferable Difap- 
pointments through unforefeen Changes in 
the Face of Things ; fo that their own 
Arts turn to their Prejudice. It may be 
added, that thefe Uncertainties and Fluc- 
tuations of human Affairs often give an 
Opportunity to the Exercife of the nobleft 
Virtues, fuch as Patience, Fortitude, Equa- 
nimity, and a fteady Confidence in God 
under the fevereft Trials. 

The laft Thing I would mention with 
regard to the Wifdom of Providence, is 
this, that God often bringeth about his 
Deligns by hidden Methods which we are 
unable to fearch out or to comprehend. This 
hath been frequently made an Objection 
againft Providence. But whofoever confi- 
dereth this Matter with Attention will be 
feniible, that if there be a Providence at 
all, many of its Methods mull; be unfearch- 
able, and exceed our Comprehenfion. If 
it were otherwife, and we could eafily 
comprehend all the Reafons of the divine 



Proceedings, we fhould be apt to enter- 
tain too low an Opinion of God's Wifdom, 
and too high an one of our own. It would 
look as if his Wifdom were finite and li- 
mited, and his Views fhort and narrow 
like ours. Among Men, they are ac- 
counted but mallow Politicians, all whofe 
Counfels are eafily penetrated by the Vul- 
gar. It may therefore be juftly affirmed, 
that if the World be wifely governed, 
there will be fecret and hidden Ways of 
Providence. It is the Glory of God to con- 
ceal a Thing, faith the Wife-man. Prov. 
xxv. 2. It tendeth to the Glory of his 
Divine Majefty, that in many Inftances 
he governeth by Methods which are con- 
cealed from us, and above our Reach. 
This hath a Tendency to keep us hum- 
ble, and to exercife our Faith and Refig- 
nation to God, and conftraineth us to cry 
out with a devout and awful Admiration, 
Oh the Deph of the Riches both of the Wif- 
dom and Knowledge of God ! How wifear cit- 
able are his Judgments, and his Ways pafi find- 
ing out ! Rom. xi. 33. We are told that 
fecret Things belong to God. Deut. xxix. 
29. Verily, faith the Prophet, thou art a 
God that hideji thyfelf, O God of Ifrael the 
Saviour. Ifa. xlv. 15. Some of God's moft 
remarkable Works of Providence in Fa- 
vour of his Church and People have been 
5 brought 


brought about, not in that Way or Time, 
nor by thofe Means which they were apt 
to expect. The Things we are greatly afraid 
of, are often turned to our Advantage, and 
the Things from which we promifed our- 
felves moft Satisfaction, and upon which we 
built the greater!: Expectations, prove vain 
and unprofitable, and even pernicious. This 
mould convince us, what fhort-fighted 
Creatures we are, and that Things are con- 
ducted by a wife and fovereign Provi- 
dence, compared with which the greater!: 
human Sagacity is but Darknefs and 

I mail conclude with a few brief Re- 

Firft, Let us delight to trace, as far as 
we are able, the glorious Footfteps of 
God's admirable Wifclom in his providential 
Difpenfations. This is a worthy and noble 
Employment, when we engage in it not 
from a Principle of vain Curiofity, but 
from an earner!: Defire to behold and adore 
the manifold Wifdom of God. We mould 
often confider and review the wonderful 
Acts of his Providence, wrought in former 
Ages, which will help us in our Enquiries 
into his Proceedings, whether of a private 
or public Nature. Whofo is wife and will 
obferve thefe Things, faith the Pfalmift, 
fpeaking of the Acts of Divine Providence, 



even he Jhall underjland the loving Kindnefs 
of the Lord. Pfal. cvii. 43. How venerable 
doth God appear as ordering all Things in 
the wifeft Manner ! For nothing is more 
apt to engage our Admiration than Wifdom. 
The Scriptures particularly fpeak of the 
Wifdom of God as moft illuftrioufly dif- 
played in the Methods of our Redemption, 
which is the moft fignal Work of Provi- 
dence, and the moft beneficial to Mankind, 
that can be conceived. And therefore this 
mould be in a fpecial Manner the Object 
of our devout Contemplations, for herein 
God hath abounded towards us in all Wifdom 
and Prudence. Eph. i. 8. And thefe are 
Things which the Angels themfelves dejire to 
look into. 1 Pet. i. 12. 

Secondly, When we are not able to ac- 
count for God's Actings in the Methods of 
his Providence, let us not allow ourfelves 
to find Fault, but reft fatisfied in this Per- 
fuafion, that they are ordered for the wifeft 
Reafons, though we do not at prefent dif- 
cern thofe Reafons. It is manifeft that we 
are ignorant of many Things, without the 
Knowledge of which we are incaoable of 
forming a proper Judgment of the Rea- 
fons of the divine Difpenfations. It is but 
little that we know of the wonderful 
Works of God in the natural World, of 
the Erlences and Conftitutions of Things, 
3 an ^ 


and their mutual Relations and Refpects ; 
nor are we acquainted with the Hearts of 
Men, their fecret Intentions and Difpo- 
fitions ; and yet without knowing thefe we 
cannot in many Instances perceive the Pro- 
priety of his Dealings towards them. We 
are often ignorant of the fpecial Ends which 
Providence hath in View, and therefore 
cannot rightly judge of the intermediate 
Events, and their Subferviency to thole 
Ends. And there may be a vail Variety 
of Means to thofe Ends which we know 
nothing of. Our Views are narrow and 
partial, whereas thofe of Providence are of 
great Extent, taking in the Succeffion of all 
Times and Ages, and all the Connections 
and Relations of Things both to one 
another, and to the whole. We mould 
therefore never take upon us to cenfure 
the divine Proceedings, but always attri- 
bute any feeming Irregularities in them to 
our own Shortfightedneis, and to our not 
having a full View of Things in their pro- 
per Harmony. The Infinitenefs of the 
divine Mind both fhews that the Methods 
God is pleafed to make ufe of muft be in 
many Inftances above our Comprehenfion, 
and at the fame Time is the greater!: Secu- 
rity that all Things fhall be ordered in the 
bell and fitteft Mangier 5 lince no Demon- 
itration is more certain than this, that infi- 
Vol. I. T nite 


nite Wifdom mull be always perfectly 
in the right, and can never take wrong or 
imperfect Meafures. 

This leads me to add, 

Thirdly, That we ought to wait upon 
God in an implicit Dependence upon his 
fovereign Wifdom, leaving it to him to 
do Things in that Seafon, and in that 
Manner which appeareth to him to be 
the fitteft. Nothing is more unbecom- 
ing fuch Creatures as we are, than to be 
fretful and difcontented becaufe Things 
are not done in our own Way ; as if we 
could take upon us to prefcribe to infi- 
nite Wifdom, and being God's Counfellors 
could teach him. Our Part is to 
wait patiently and conflantly in a dili- 
gent Performance of our Duty, and in 
the Ufe of all proper Means, depending 
on him fo to order Events in his great 
Wifdom, as fhall be mod for his Glory, 
and for our real Benefit. That is an ex- 
cellent Advice which is given us, Prov. 
iii. 5. Trufl in the Lord with all thine 
Heart, and lean not unto thine own JJn- 
derjlanding. For as Job fpeaks, with 
him is Wifdom and Strength, he hath 
Coiinfel and Under/landing. Job. xii. 13. 
Bleffed are all they that wait for him, 
faith the Prophet. Ifa. xxx. 18. And 
again, Thou wilt keep him in perfect Peace, 
5 whofe 


whofe Mind is flayed on thee; becaufe he truft- 
eth in thee. Ifa. xxvi. 3. I fhall conclude 
this Difcourfe with that compreheniive 
Doxology of the Apoftle Pan/, Rom. xvi. 
27. To God only wife be Glory through 
J ejus Chrififor ever. Amen. 

T 2 


On the Goodnefs of Divine Provi- 


Psalm cxlv. 9. 

The Lord is good to ally and his tender 
Mercies are over all his Works, 

TH E Goodnefs of God is frequently 
celebrated in the facred Writings, 
and reprefented as furnifhing the propereft 
Subject for our joyful Praifes and Acknow- 
ledgments. And in thefe Words of the 
Pfalmift the great Extent of it is defcrib- 
ed, The Lord is good to all, and his tender 
Mercies are over all his Works. It was free 
and fovereign Goodnefs that moved him 
to create the World. He that made Hea- 
T 3 ven 


ven and Earth, and all Things that are 
therein, and who hath fpread fuch Order 
and Beauty throughout this vaft Syftem, 
mull be infinitely good, and kind, and be- 
neficent. And the fame Goodnefs which 
inclined him to create all thefe Things, 
will extend itfelf to them when created. 
And in this View how amiable and glo- 
rious doth he appear ! We behold with 
Pleafure a Perfon of difFufive Benevolence, 
who delighteth in doing Good to all about 
him ; and the more extenfive his Benevo- 
lence is, the more he is the Object of our 
Admiration and Efleem. And from thefe 
imperfect Traces of Goodnefs in Creatures 
like ourfelves, we are naturally led to the 
original univerfal Goodnefs, the fupreme 
Benevolence. God, by implanting in us 
fuch a Senfe of the Beauty, the Excellency, 
and Amiablenefs of fuch a Temper and 
Character, has taught us to raife our Af- 
fections and Views to him, the heft and 
moft excellent of Beings, in whom is 
Goodnefs without any Limitation' or De- 
fect. For what Limitation can there be 
to his Goodnefs, who is all-fufficient and 
felf-fufficicnt, and who mufl therefore be 
incapable of Envy, or of any Malignity of 
Temper, or Narrownefs of Difpofition, 
and can never have his Benevolence cramp- 
ed or confined by partial or felfiih In- 



terefts, fince he hath nothing to gain or 
lofe by any Being or Beings whatfoever ? 
Infinitely happy in himfelf, and in the 
abfolute Fulnefs of his own Perfection, he 
takes a divine Delight in diftributing the Ef- 
fects of his Bounty through the whole Crea- 
tion. If the Sun were an intellectual Being, 
what a noble and extenfive Pleafure may 
we fuppofe would it find in a Confciouf- 
nefs of Spreading Warmth, Light, and 
Joy, to enlighten, refrefh, chear, and ani- 
mate a World of Beings, which, without 
its invigorating Influences and Beams, 
would wither and languish, and be cover- 
ed with Darknefs and the Shadow of 
Death? But even this would exhibit but a 
very faint and imperfect Reprefentation of 
the immenfe and boundlefs Benignity of 
the fupreme Being, from whom the Sun 
derives its Influences and Rays, and who 
is the Fountain of Life and Happinefs, 
not only to all the Creatures which inhabit 
this lower World, and the folar Syftem, 
but to the feveral Orders of Beings through- 
out this vaft Univerfe, the Extent of which 
tranfcendeth all human Imagination. Who 
can without a grateful Admiration con- 
iider the univerfal Providence of God as 
exercifing its benign Care over all the va- 
rious Kinds of Beings, fenfitive, rational, 
and intellectual, preferving, cherifhing, 
T 4 providing 


providing for them all according to their 
different Degrees of Life, and the feveral 
Powers and Capacities for Happinefs which 
he has furnifhed them with? The very 
ineaneft are not neglected. Efpecially, 
how ravifhing would it be, if we had the 
Beauties and Felicities of the heavenly 
World opened to us, and there beheld the 
divine Goodnefs mining forth in its high- 
eft Glory to all the Orders of the bleff- 
ed Angels, the moft eminent of created 
Beings! But this we muft be content to 
be in a great Meafure ignorant of till we 
get to Heaven. In the mean time, what 
it principally concerneth us to confider, 
is the Goodnefs of Divine Providence as 
exercifed towards Mankind. Of this we 
have the moft fenfible and convincing 
Proofs. We tafte, we feel the Effects of 
it every Day of our Lives -, God hath not 
left himfelf without Witnefs in any Age 
or Nation of the World, in that he hath 
been continually doing Good, and pouring 
forth a Variety of Bleffings and Benefits on 
the human Race. And yet there is fcarce 
any Thing which has been more objected 
againft than the Goodnefs of Providence -, 
and that principally on the Account *of the 
Evils and Miferies that are in the World, 
and which it is prefumed would not be, 
if infinite Goodnefs governed the World, 



and prefided over the Affairs of Men. 
This therefore is a Matter which deferves 
to be carefully confidered, fince to enter- 
tain wrong or difparaging Thoughts of the 
divine Goodnefs, would be of the moft per- 
nicious Confequence to Religion and 

In treating of this Subject I fhall firft 
lay down fome Principles, which may be 
of Ufe for regulating our Notions of the 
divine Goodnefs, and which may tend to 
prevent or rectify Miftakes which Perfons 
are apt to fall into concerning it. 

Secondly, I fhall make a general Re- 
prefentation of the Goodnefs of Divine 
Providence towards Mankind in this pre- 
fent State. And then fhall proceed to con- 
fjder the Objections that are raifed againft 

Firft, I fhall lay down fome Principles 
which ought to be carefully attended to, in 
order to our forming right Notions of the 
divine Goodnefs, and of the Manner in 
which it is exercifed. 

1 ft, The Goodnefs of God and of his 
Providence, is not a blind inconfiderate 
Goodnefs, acting by a Neceffity of Nature 
to the utmoft of its Capacity ; but it is a 
moft wife Goodnefs, i. e. it is a Goodnefs 
always in Conjunction with, and under the 
Direction of infinite Wifdom. This is a 



Principle fo reasonable and evident, that it 
can fcarce be contefted ; and yet the Ob- 
jections which have been made againft 
the Goodnefs of Divine Providence, feem 
to have been principally owing to Mens 
not attending to this as they ought. When 
they hear of infinite Goodnefs, they are 
apt to form a Notion of an abfolute Good- 
nefs, acting always, and in every Inftance, 
to the utmoft partible Degree -, and there- 
fore they look upon every Evil which 
happeneth to the Creatures in any Part of 
the Univerfe, to be inconfiftent with it. 
But it is manifeft, that mere Goodnefs 
and Benevolence, let us fuppofe it never 
fo great, if it adted neceffarily, and in all 
Cafes, without Distinction or Difcernment, 
would lofe much of its Excellency, and 
could fcarce be accounted a Virtue or a 
Perfection. So it evidently is among Men. 
Goodnefs in a private Man, much more in 
a Prince, may be carried to an Excefs, if 
it be exercifed promifcuoufly without Con- 
iideration or Judgment. It is then that 
Goodnefs and Beneficence is truly admira- 
ble and praife-worthy, when it is in a happy 
Conjunction with Wifdom and Prudence, 
and is exercifed towards proper Objects, at 
proper Seafons, and in proper Meafures 
and Degrees. We muft not imagine that 
God difpenfeth his Benefits by a natural 

NeceiTity ; 


Neceflity ; as the Sun fendeth forth its 
Rays, and a Fountain its Streams. Such 
a Notion of the divine Goodnefs would 
be difhonourable to God, and of ill Con- 
fequence to the Interefts of Religion and 
Virtue in the World. But his Goodnefs 
is that of a moil: holy and under/landing 
Mind, and is always exercifed in fuch a 
Way as feems mofl fit to his infinite Wif- 
dom, and when confidered in this View 
is mofl amiable and venerable, and fuch as 
becometh the infinitely perfect Being. 

2dly, It muft be farther confidered, 
that the Goodnefs of God in his Provi- 
dence, is the Goodnefs of a free and fove- 
reign Benefactor, who is the abfolute Lord 
of his own Gifts, and can difpenfe them in 
what Meafures and Proportions he fees 
fit, of which he is certainly the beft Judge. 
The Nature of Goodnefs no Way re- 
quires that he mould exactly confer the 
fame or equal Benefits upon all his Crea- 
tures, or make them all equal in their Ca- 
pacities or Degrees of Excellence. For 
then there muff have been only one Species 
of Beings created, and that of the higheft 
Kind. Whereas it cannot be reafonably 
denied, that both the Wifdom and Good- 
nefs of God is eminently confpicuous in 
the creating and providing for numberlefs 
Species of Beings, from the higher Or- 


ders of created Intelligences, through all the 
various Degrees of Life, to the very loweft 
of fenfitive Beings : thofe of an inferior 
Kind contributing, in their feveral Stations 
and Degrees, to the Beauty, Order, and 
Harmony of the Univerfe, as well as 
thofe of an higher. And as Goodnefs doth 
not require, that God mould make all his 
Creatures of one and the fame Species, fo 
neither doth it require, that he mould make 
all the Individuals of the fame Species 
equal among themfelves, and give them 
all precifely the fame or equal Capacities 
and Advantages. It is in no wife incon-^ 
fiftent with the infinite Goodnefs of God, 
that he mould difpenfe his Gifts and Blef- 
fmgs with great Variety. No wife Man 
pretends to find Fault with the Goodnefs 
of an earthly Prince or Benefactor, merely 
becaufe he beflows his Favours in a larger. 
Degree upon fome Perfons than upon 
others. And mail we confine the fove- 
reign Lord of the Univerfe within narrower 
Limits than we do our Fellow- creatures,. 
or make him lefs the Lord of his own 
Gifts than they are ? The contrary is an 
abfurd Notion of Goodnefs, neither found- 
ed in Reafon, nor agreeable to Fact and 
Experience. And yet fome Objections that 
have made a great Noife againft the Good- 


nefs of Divine Providence, proceed upon 
this Suppofition. 

3dly, The Goodnefs of God as exer- 
cifed towards Man, is farther to be con- 
fidered as the Goodnefs of a moral Gover*- 
nor, and therefore it mull be exercifed in a 
Way fuited to the Nature of moral Go- 
vernment. It muft not therefore be ex- 
tended equally at all Times to the good 
and bad. Nor muft. the Effects of it be 
bellowed indifcriminately upon Men how- 
ever they behave, and without any Regard 
to their moral Conduct. For this would 
be to overthrow and diffolve all Govern- 
ment, and to confound the Differences be- 
tween Good and Evil. If Men be moral 
Agents, and if God beareth towards the?n 
the Relation of a moral Governor, his 
Goodnefs muft be dilpenfed towards them 
as becometh a wife and righteous Gover- 
nor, and therefore cannot be inconfiftent 
with the Exercife of his redtoral Juftice, 
nor confequently with the inflicting Pu- 
nimments upon obftinate Offenders. Yea, 
Goodnefs itfelf confidered in the moft ex- 
teniive View requireth fuch Punimments 
to be inflicted, as tend to the Good of the 
whole, and to the prefer ving the Peace, 
Order, and Harmony of the moral World. 
No confidering Man ever pretended that it 
is a Derogation from the Goodnefs of an 



earthly Prince, that he takes Care to vin- 
dicate the Authority of his Laws, by caus- 
ing Malefactors to be punifhed; but, on the 
contrary, would look upon it as a great 
Diminution of his Character, if he mould 
fuffer all Manner of Crimes to be com- 
mitted with Impunity. And therefore 
no penal Evils can be properly objected 
againft the Goodnefs of God's Providence, 
which are neceffary to the Vindication of 
his Jufcice, or to anfwer the wife Ends of 
his Government, and fecure the good Or- 
der of the World. And this Confidera- 
tion, if duly attended to, would cut off 
many Objections which are confidently 
urged againft the Goodnefs of Divine Pro- 

4thly, In confidering the divine Good- 
nefs as exercifed towards Men here on 
Earth, we muft regard them as in a 
finful State, a State in which there are 
many and great Corruptions, and, at the 
fame Time, as in a State of Trial and 
Difcipline. There muft therefore be fuch 
a Meafure of Goodnefs and Happinefs 
communicated, as is fuited to the Nature 
and Deiign of fuch a State, /. e. there 
muft be fo much Goodnefs exercifed to- 
wards Mankind, as may £hew that this 
prefent State is a State of Difcipline, a 
Difpenfation of Mercy and Forbearance, 



and not a State of final Judgment; fo 
much Goodnefs as ordinarily to over-ba- 
lance the Evils and Calamities to which 
we are now expofed, and to render Man's 
Life on Earth tolerable, and generally 
agreeable -, and yet not fo much Goodnefs as 
is proper to a State of perfect Felicity, which 
would be no way fiiitable to the prefent Con- 
dition and Circumflances of Men here on 
Earth. It is very proper, yea it is abfolutely 
neceffary, that there mould be a Mixture of 
natural Evils in this World, as a Check 
and Correction to the moral Evils which 
fo much abound. An unmixed Profperity, 
Eafe, and Affluence, would be of the worft 
Confequence to Mankind in this prefent 
State. They are now no way fitted for 
it, and in all Probability it would, as 
Things are now circumftanced, render the 
World far more wicked, and confequently 
in the Ifiue far more miferable than it is. 
It would render bad Men more profligate, 
and would have an ill Effect on good Men 

5thl'y, No Evils are a proper Objec- 
tion againft the Goodnefs of Providence, 
which are, in the End, productive of 
greater Good, and which are in their De- 
fign and Tendency beneficial upon the 
whole. No Rule of Goodnefs requireth, 
that even if Creatures were perfectly inno- 


cent, they mould always be entirely ex- 
empted from all Pains and natural Evils. 
For the Advantages ariling from the Exer- 
cife of Patience, Magnanimity, Fortitude, 
and the like excellent Difpofitions, for 
which there would be no Trial if there 
were no Afflictions or Sufferings, would 
more than compenfate for any prefent Un- 
ealinefs which thefe Things might occa- 
lion. Thofe Difficulties which tend to the 
Exercife and brighter Difj^lay of Virtue, 
will, upon the whole, contribute very 
much to the Enlargement of Happinefs. 
God may, in his great Goodnefs, promife 
a perfect Felicity, without the leaft Mix- 
ture of Pain or afflictive Evils, as the Re- 
ward of a Virtue which hath proved vic- 
torious in Time of Trial. But, antece- 
dently to fuch a Promife, there is nothing 
in the Nature of Things, which mould 
render it unbecoming the divine Goodnefs 
to luffer an innocent Creature to be exer- 
cifed with Afflictions and Troubles; and, 
in that Cafe, it would mightily heighten 
the Felicity and the Satisfaction of the Re- 
ward, that it cometh after fuch difficult 
Trials. And, if it be not inconfiftent with 
the Goodnefs of God to lay Afflictions 
and Hardfhips even upon innocent Crea- 
tures, for the Trial and Exercife of their 
Virtues, provided thefe were followed with 

a pro- 


a proportionably greater Degree of Hap- 
pinefs; much lefs is it inconfiftent with his 
Goodnefs to lay afflictive Evils upon fin- 
ful Creatures. Efpecially when it is con- 
fidered, that in their Cafe fomething of 
this Kind feems to be abfolutely neceffa- 
ry for recovering them from their moral 
Diforders, and for the Formation and Efta- 
blifhment of good and virtuous Habits. And 
if thefe Things are of a medicinal Na- 
ture, if they be made inftrumental to correct 
and reclaim from bad Difpoiitions, or to 
ftrengthen and improve good ones, they 
anfwer a valuable End -, and inftead of 
being Objections againft the Goodnefs of 
the fupreme Ruler and Difpofer, are 
Proofs both of his Wifdom, and of his 
Goodnefs too. For in judging of the 
Goodnefs of Providence towards reafonable 
Creatures, we muft take in the whole of 
their Existence; and that may be faid to be 
really beft for them, which is the beft up- 
on the whole, and in the final IfTue of 

Having premifed thefe Principles for 
clearing our Way, .let us now proceed, 
fecondly, to take a general View of the 
Goodnefs of Divine Providence towards 
Mankind as appearing in this prefent 

Vol. I. U Although, 


Although, according to the Account the 
Scripture gives us, this Earth would have 
been a happier, a more delightful Place, 
if Man had continued in a State of Inno- 
cence; and although there was an Alteration 
for the worfe in the Face of this lower 
World, when Man, the chief Inhabitant 
and Lord of it, finned againfl his Maker 
(which very Alteration was intended for 
wife and righteous Purpofes) -, yet itill it is 
certain, that even in this prefent State, the 
Earth Is full of the Goodnefs of the Lord. 
Pfal. xxxiii. 5. civ. 24. Who can under- 
take to enumerate the various BlerTings of 
a common bountiful Providence ? We have 
not a bare Exiftence given us, but there is 
ample Provifion made for rendering it 
agreeable. Many Things concur to make 
this Earth, in which we dwell, a delight- 
ful Habitation. Its Surface is, for the 
moil part, covered with a refreshing Ver- 
dure. If we look around us, we may be- 
hold the grateful Intermixture of Hills 
and Dales, lofty Mountains, and wide ex- 
tended Plains and Lawns, Rivers and 
Fountains, Woods and Groves, and all 
the admirable Varieties of the vegetable 
Kingdom, Plants, Trees, Fruits, and 
.Flowers, of manifold Ufe and exquifite 
Beauty, together with the feveral Kinds 
of Grain, and other Productions, which 

c ' the 


the Earth brings forth in great Abundance, 
Grafs for the Cattle, and Herb for the Ser- 
vice of Man. If we defcend into the Bow- 
els' of the Earth, it is replenished with 
hidden Treafures, vaft Quantities of Ma- 
terials, capable of being employed by hu- 
man Art, which is alio the Gift of God, 
for ferving a thoufand Purpofes in Life, 
both for real Ufe, and for Ornament. 
Even the great and wide Sea, that feem- 
ingly boiflerous and raging Element, is, in 
many Inftances, fubfervient to Man's Con- 
venience and to his Pleafure. And if we 
turn our Views from the inanimate Crea- 
tion to the various Kinds of living Crea- 
tures which inhabit the Earth, Sea, and 
Air, we mail find that as they are all en- 
dued with admirable Powers and InfKncts, 
and are provided with every Thing necef- 
fary for the Suftenance and Entertainment 
of their fenfitive animal Life, fo they do, 
in their feveral Ways, Contribute to the 
Service and the Delight of Mankind. If 
we look above us, we behold the magni- 
ficent Arch of Heaven flretched over us 
with all its rich and radiant Furniture, 
a Sight beyond Imagination beautiful and 
glorious. We are placed in the midfl: of 
an auguft and ample Theatre, than which 
nothing can be better fitted to flrike the 
Eye, and to fill the Mind with Pleafure 
U 2 and 


and Aftonifhment. Our Saviour juftly re- 
prefents it as a manifeft Proof of the Good- 
nefs of God, that he eaufeth his Sun to 
fhine, and his Rain to defcend, even upon 
the unthankful and the evil. And St. 
Paul declares, that God hath not left himfelf 
without Witnefs, in any Age, in that he did 
Good, and gave Rain from Heaven and fruit- 
ful Seafons, filing our Hearts with Food and 
Gladnefs. Acts xiv. 17, When the Air 
breathes upon us its balmy Influence, when 
we feel the warm, fprightly, chearing 
Rays of the Sun, and behold it illuminat- 
ing and beautifying the Fare of Nature, 
and revealing innumerable Objects to ou? 
View, in all the Diverfity of pleafing Co- 
lours and Profpects ; when we fee re- 
freshing Rains defcend, the Earth made 
fbft with Showers, and the little Hills re- 
joicing on every- Side ; when, on the o ther 
Hand, we behold the various Beauties of 
a froity Scene, and fnowy Landfcape; 
when we obferve the conftant regular Vi- 
ciffitudes of Day and Night, and the or- 
derly Succeffion of Seafons, Summer and 
Winter, Seed-time and Harveil:, each of 
them in their feveral Ways ufeful an d 
beautiful ; furely, in all thefe Things the 
Goodnefs and Benignity of the great Parent 
of the Univerfe, and the conftant Care he- 
takes of his Creatures, as well as his great 



Wifdom, is eminently confpicuous. He hath 
Co conftituted us, that even the neceifary 
Means of our Nourishment, of fuflaining 
and preferving Life, yield us very pleafing 
Senfations. We cannot fatisfy the necef- 
fary Cravings of Nature, Hunger, Thirft, 
and other Appetites, without feeling a fen- 
fible Gratification. The Pleafures we take 
in by the Eye, the Ear, the Tafle, and 
other Senfes, are fufficient to make mofl 
Men defire Life, notwithstanding the Hard- 
ships which may attend it. The Bleffings of 
Providence that have been mentioned, are, 
in general, fpread through all Nations and 
Countries. Even thofe Parts of the Earth, 
which perhaps to others feem to be un- 
comfortable and inhofpitable Regions, 
yet have their Advantages and Comforts 
which recommend them to the Inhabitants, 
fo that they would not be willing to change 
their Clime. To which it may be added, 
that the poor enjoy the Pleafures of Nature 
as well as the rich, yea and very often 
have really more Enjoyment of thefe 
Things, and a more exquifite Senfation of 
them, than thofe whofe abufed Plenty and 
Affluence overwhelms Nature, clogs their 
Senfes, and prevents their waiting the Re- 
turns of Appetite. The mofl valuable 
fenfible Bleffings of Life are common to 
all Men. 

U 3 But 


But there are Pleafures provided for Men 
of a far higher and nobler Kind than thofe 
that arife merely from the Gratification of 
the fenlitive Appetites. Such are, befides 
the Pleafures of the Imagination, which are 
of a large Extent, and ftrike the Mind with 
great Force, the Pleafures that are to be 
found in the Purfuits and Acquifiticns of 
Knowledge and Science, which open to us 
a thoufand Avenues of pure and refined 
Entertainments ; and the nobler Pleafures 
that refult from the Exercife of the kind 
and focial Affections, from good Actions, 
generous Emotions, from Love, Gratitude, 
Benevolence ; but above all, the divine 
Joys of Religion, the Satisfaction which 
flows" from the Teftimony of a good Con- 
ference, from the Contemplation and Wor- 
fhip of the Deity, and the Exercife of 
pious and devout Affections towards him, 
and from a Senfe of his Favour and Apr 
probation, and the pleanng Hopes of a 
happy Immortality, which Man alone of 
all the Creatures in this lower World is 
capable of entertaining, and which have 
been the great Support and Comfcrt of the 
heft of Men in all Ages. 

Such are the Pleafures which the human 
Kature is made capable of even in this 
prefent State. And doth not this (hew the 
great Gocdnefs of God towards Mankind, 



that there is a Way opened for them to fuch 
various Pleafures and Gratifications, and 
even to thofe of the nobleft. Nature, if 
they will but make it their earner!; Endea- 
vour in the Ufe of all proper Means to 
obtain them ? And it is very fit they mould 
ftrive, and exert their utmoft Diligence to 
this Purpofe. For it is a mofr. wife gene- 
ral Law of Providence, that nothing ex- 
cellent and truly valuable is to be obtained 
without Diligence. And what is thus ob- 
tained yieldeth a more exquifite Relifh end 

I mail conclude with fome fuitable Re- 

And firft, From this general View of the 
divine Goodnefs, we may fee that God is 
moil juftly intitled to our higheft Love, 
Admiration, and Efteem. Since we are the 
only Creatures in this lower World capable 
of contemplating, loving, and adoring him, 
and fince we have fo many undoubted 
Proofs of his Goodnefs in the Frame 
of Nature, in our own Bodies and 
Souls, and in the numberlefs Benefits of 
his common bountiful Providence, furely 
we mould all join to make up one univerfal 
Chorus in grateful Acknowledgments to 
our fupreme' Benefactor. That Profusion 
of Bleffings which is ipread through every 
Part of the Creation that cometh within 
U 4 our 


our Notice, could only proceed from a moil 
beneficent Being. The better to affect our 
Hearts, let us confider what a Condition 
we fhould be in, if we wanted any of the 
Common Benefits which Providence hath 
provided for our Ufe and Entertainment ; 
if we were deprived of the comforting 
Beams of the Sun, or had not the Moon 
to chear us in the Night-feafons ; if the 
Earth were not fo plentifully furnimed 
with Rivers and Fountains to fupply us 
with Waters, or there were no Metals and 
Minerals in its Bowels, or Plants and Trees 
to adorn its Surface ; or if Men were left 
alone upon the Earth without any of the 
inferior Brute Animals to minifter to their 
Neceffities or Convenience; if we were 
obliged to the Drudgery of eating and 
drinking merely to fupport Life, without 
ever relifhing any Pleafure in the Gratifica- 
tion of our natural Appetites \ or if we 
flatedly wanted any one of the Senfes 
which we are now furnifhed with. When 
this happens to be our Cafe for a Time, 
and Things are fo circumftanced, that we 
are fhut out from the Ufe and Enjoyment 
of any of the common Gifts and Bleffings 
of Providence, we then are made feniible 
of the Advantage of them. But for the 
rnoft part, through a ftrange Inattention or 
Inlenfibility of Mind, becaule they are fo 



common, we pafs them over with a (light • 
Regard : Whereas, the Commonnefs of 
them is what above all (hews the Extenlive- 
nefs and the Riches of the divine Liberality. 
Let us guard againft a Temper fo unbe- 
coming reafonable and thinking Beings, and 
do all we can to cherifh in our Souls the 
warm and lively Emotions of Love and 
Gratitude towards our heavenly Father, 
and conflant gracious Benefactor, and not 
fuffer every little Difappointment we meet 
with to mar the Relifh of the innumerable 
Benefits we receive. We ought often to 
conlider the Goodnefs of God, not only as 
extending to all Mankind in general, but 
as exercifed towards ourfelves in particular- 
How manifold are the Experiences we have 
had of his kind Providence watching over 
us and taking Care of us in every Stage and 
Condition of Life, delivering us from 
Dangers, fupporting us under our Dif- 
trefTes, and providing for us out of the 
Stores of his Bounty ! All the Bleffings of 
every Kind that we have ever received, or 
which we now enjoy, fpiritual and tem- 
poral, whether relating to our Bodies or to 
our Souls, yea, and the Acts of Kindnefs 
done us, and the Benefits we receive, by 
the Hands of our earthly Benefactors, are 
to be ultimately afcribed to the Goodnefs 
of a fovereign fuperintending Providence. 



It mould therefore be our Language, as it 
was that of the devout Pfalmifh, How pre- 
cious are thy thoughts unto me, O God I how 
great is the Sum of them ! If Ijhould count 
them, they are more in Number than the Sand : 
when I wake, I am fill with thee. Blefs the 
Lord, O my Soul, and let all that is within 
me blefs his holy Name. Blefs the Lord, O 
my Soul, and forget not all his Benefits. And 
it fhould mightily enhance the Goodnefs of 
God towards us, to reflect that in many- 
Things we all offend, and yet are daily re- 
ceiving the Effects of his Goodnefs and 
Benignity. It is aflonifhing to think what 
heinous Sins are committed, what Indigni- 
ties are offered to the divine Majefly, whofe 
Goodnefs ftill continueth to flrive with the 
Perverfenefs of Men in this prefent State 
of Trial and Difcipline, and poureth forth 
a great Variety of Benefits upon the dege- 
nerate human Race. But above all it 
ihould fill us with the higheit. Admiration 
of God's infinite Goodnefs to coniider the 
wonderful Methods of his Wifdom and 
Grace for the Salvation of lofl Sinners, in 
fending his own Son to redeem us, and his 
Holy Spirit to affifl, guide, and comfort 
us in this Pilgrimage State, and in pro- 
mifmg to crown our fincere, though im- 
perfect Obedience, with a glorious Refiir- 
recftion and eternal Life. This openeth to 



us a raoft marvellous and delightful Scene, 
in which God's infinite Love to Mankind 
mines with the brighteft Glory. And now 
what mould be the Effect of all this 
Goodnefs upon our Hearts ? The propereft 
Return we can make, is to love him with 
a fuperlative Affection, and to manifest the 
Sincerity of our Love by the befl Expref- 
fions of it that are in our Power, viz. not 
only by praifing and blefling his great and 
moft excellent Name, but by keeping his 
Commandments, and making it our conti- 
nual Endeavour to pleafe and ferve him, 
and to glorify him in the World, and es- 
pecially by imitating his fupreme Goodnefs 
and Benevolence, in doing Good to all as 
far as we have Ability and Opportunity, 
and even rendering Good for Evil. By 
fuch a Conformity to him in his infinite 
Goodnefs, we mall be fitted for the En- 
joyment of him, and for being happy in 
his Love to all Eternity. 

Laftly. I would conclude with warning 
you to beware of abufing the divine Good- 
nefs. There is nothing which aggravateth 
the Evil of Sin fo much, as that it is com- 
mitted againft the Love and Goodnefs of 
the beft of Beings, our moft gracious and 
bountiful Benefactor. To take Encou- 
ragement from the Mercies of God, toper* 



fift in a prefumptuous Oppofition to his 
Authority and Laws, has fomething in it 
fo ftrangely bafe and difingenuous, that it 
exceedeth the Power of Language to de- 
icribe the Malignity of it. If any Man 
fhould declare in exprefs Words, becaufe 
God is infinitely good, and is daily 
loading us with his Benefits, therefore I 
will offend and difhonour him, I will dif- 
obey his Laws, and caft Contempt upon 
his Government : I fay, if we fhould hear 
any Man openly declare this in fo many 
Words, it would appear fo monftrous, that 
it would be apt to fill our Souls with Hor- 
ror. And yet thus it is that Sinners act ; 
whatever they may profefs in Words, this 
Is the real Language of their Praclice. 
They prefume upon his Mercy and Indul- 
gence, and flatter themfelves that he is fo 
good that he will not be fever e to puniih 
their Tranfgreflions ; and therefore they al- 
low themfelves to violate his holy Com- 
mands, and fly in the Face of his Au- 
thority and Government ; and inftead of 
being led by the BlefTmgs he vouchfafes 
them to- love and obey him, employ 
them in making Provifion for the Flefh 
to fulfil the Lufts thereof. Thus they 
defpife the Riches of his Goodnefs and For- 
bearance, and Lcng-fufferingy not knowing; 

i. e. 


i. e. not confidering, that the Goodnefs of 
God leadeth to Repentance. Rom. ii. 4. But 
let fuch Perfons conlider that the Goodnefs 
of God is not a foft weak Tendernefs like 
that of a too fond and indulgent Parent, 
or of a good-natured, but unfteady Prince, 
who has not Refolution enough to vin- 
dicate his Authority and Laws from Con- 
tempt : But his Goodnefs, as was before 
obferved, is fuch as becometh the wife and 
juft Governor of the World, and is exer- 
cifed in fuch a Manner as is agreeable to his 
moft perfect Wifdom, Righteoufnefs, and 
Equity. If therefore we be fo bafe and 
difingenuous as to continue and abound in 
Sin, becaufe Grace aboundeth, we fhall find 
in the Iffue that abufed Goodnefs is the 
moft dreadful Thing in the World. By 
wilful continued Impenitency and Difobe- 
dience we fhall fhut our Souls againft the 
Influences and Irradiations of the fupreme 
Love and Goodnefs. And then though 
God be infinitely good, we fhall be mifera- 
ble, we fhall banifh ourfelves from the 
Joys of his beatific Prefence, and mall 
draw down upon us the moft awful Ef- 
fects of his righteous Difpleafure. It is 
only in a Courfe of fincere Piety and Vir- 
tue that we can expect to be admitted to 
the facred Intimacies of Communion with 



the God of Love, and may upon good 
Grounds look forwards with Joy to that 
glorious State where infinite Love fhall 
take us into its neareft Embraces, and we 
mail be perfectly happy in the immediate 
Vifion and Fruition of the Deity to all 


ObjeElions againjl the Good?tefs of 
Providence conjidered* 


Psalm cxlv. 9. 

*T/je Lord is good to all, a?id his tender Mer- 
cies are over all his Works. 

IN my former Difcourfe on thefe Words 
feveral Principles were laid down for 
leading us into right Notions of the divine 
Goodnefs, and the Manner in which it is 
exercifed towards his Creatures; and then 
we proceeded to make a general Re- 
prefentation of the Goodneis of Pro- 
vidence towards Mankind in this prefent 

-K It 


It now remains that we confider the Ob- 
jections which are urged againft it. And 
thefe are principally drawn from the great 
Difference that is made between fome of 
the human Race and others in the Diftri- 
butions of the Gifts and Bleffings of Divine 
Providence ; or from the Variety of Evils 
and Miferies to which Mankind are fubject 
in this prefent State, and which could 
fcarce be fuppofed to be the Cafe if infinite 
Goodnefs governed the World. 

Firft, It is objected againft the univerfal 
Goodnefs of God, that there is great Dif- 
ference made between fome and others of 
the human Race, in the Distribution of 
the Gifts and Bleffings of Divine Provi- 
dence. The Matter of Fact cannot well 
be denied. It is true that with regard to 
the Incapacity of Mens outward Conditions 
■and Circumftances it might eaiily be fhewri, 
that the Difference arifing from thence be- 
tween fome and others in real Satisfaction 
and Enjoyment, is not near fo great as 
many are apt to imagine ; fince a low Sta- 
tion hath its Advantages, and Perfons in 
mean Circumftances are often free from 
Inconveniences, to which thofe in higher 
Stations and more fplendid Circumftances 
are fubject. It may be faid therefore, that 
Happinefs is in this Refpect more equally 
diffufed among Mankind, than it feems to 



be to a fuperficial Obferver. Yet frill it 
muit be acknowledged that the Goodnefs of 
Providence is more remarkably difpenfed to 
fome of the human Race than to others. 
Some whole Nations are in a more advan- 
tageous Situation than others, with reipect 
to Opportunities of Improvement in Arts 
and Sciences, and ufeful Knowledge, es- 
pecially in moral and religious Knowledge. 
Nor can it be denied, that in the fame Na- 
tion fome particular Perfons have fuperior 
Genius's and Capacities, finer Endowments 
than others, happier natural Tempers and 
Difpofitions, better Education and Initruc- 
tion, and greater Advantages for virtuous 
Improvement. Thefe Things are to be re- 
garded as under the Direction of Divine 
Providence. And this is analogous to its 
Way of acting in all Parts of the Univerfe 
that we are acquainted with, fince we may 
every where obferve different Degrees of 
Excellence and Happinefs among different 
Species of Beings, and among the feveral 
Individuals of the fame Species. 

But granting this to be the Truth of the 
Fact, it is not eafy to fee with what Pre- 
tence of Reafon it can be made an Ob- 
jection againit the Goodnefs of Divine Pro- 
vidence. Doth it follow that God is not 
good, though he doeth much Good to all, 
becaufe the Effects of his Goodnefs are ex- 
Vol. I. X tended 


tended in a greater Meafure and Degree 
to fome than to others ? The Goodnefs 
of God, as hath been already obferved, 
is the Goodnefs of a fovereign Benefactor, 
who is the abfolute Lord of his own Gifts. 
And if he difpenfeth the Effects of his free 
Benignity to different Perfons in different 
Proportions, according to his good Plea- 
fure (for which undoubtedly he hath al- 
ways wife Reafons, though we may not 
know thofe Reafons) this mud be acknow- 
ledged to be an Exercife of his Sovereignty, 
but is no real Objection againft his Good- 

It was fhewn in a former Difcourfe, that 
God hath done a great deal in the Courfe 
of his Providence, to promote the Know- 
ledge and Practice of Religion and Virtue 
among Mankind. Pie hath given to all 
Men the Light of Nature and Reafon, 
which, if duly improved, might be of 
great Benefit. And it appears from Scrip- 
ture, that there were important Difcove- 
ries made to the firft Ancestors of the hu- 
man Race, which if carefully preferved 
and propagated as they ought to have been, 
might have been of fignal Ufe, for main- 
taining a Senfeof Religion, and the Know- 
ledge and Fear of God. And if the Na- 
tions did in Procefs of Time lofe or abufe 
both the Light of Nature, and the addi- 


tional Notices and important Traditions, 
derived from the firft Ages, and which 
were originally owing to extraordinary Re- 
velation, the Blame mud: be charged wholly 
upon themfelves. It was becaufe they liked, 
not to retain God in their Knowledge, and 
became vain in their Imaginations, and their 

foolifh Heart was darkened, and they mod 
inexcufably revolted from God to Idols, and 

ferved and wor flipped the Creature jnore than 
the Creator. We are not fufficiently ac- 
quainted with the Hiftory of Mankind, to 
know what Helps and Advantages God 
may in his Providence have vouchfafed 
from Time to Time in different Parts of the 
Earth. But it is not improbable that fome 
Helps and Advantages may have been for- 
merly granted, even to Nations which ap- 
pear now to be the moft deeply immerfed 
in Ignorance, Idolatry, and Barbarifm ; 
among fome of whom there are Traces to 
be found of Ufages, which feem to lliew 
that they formerly had fome Knowledge of 
the true Religion. And if at length they 
a] moft entirely extinguished it, it would 
be an inexcufable Rafhnefs to arraign the 
Juftice or Goodnefs of God, on the Ac- 
count of that which was the Effect of 
their own culpable Negligence and Cor- 
ruption. And if God has been gracioully 
pleafed to grant more frequent and extra- 
ct 2 ordinary 


ordinary Advantages for Knowledge and 
Improvement to fome other Nations, it 
would be an odd Thing in them that are 
thus highly favoured, inftead of gratefully 
acknowledging and adoring the diftin- 
guifhing Goodnefs of God towards them, 
to find Fault with his Providence, becaufe 
all are not porTerTed of the fame Advan- 
tages. Their Bufinefs and Duty is to 
make a right Ufe of their own Privileges, 
and to blefs God for them ; and as to others 
that want them, to leave them to the Mercy 
of God, who we may be fure has wife 
Reafons for his Procedure towards them, 
and will deal juftly and equitably with 
them, and will make all proper Allowances 
in the Judgment of the great Day for the 
Difadvantages they were under. And this 
is fufficient to fatisfy a reafonable and un- 
prejudiced Mind, and ought to prevent or 
iilence all Murmurings againft. the divine 
Goodnefs on that account. 

I proceed now, fecondly, to confider the 
Objection which is brought againft. the 
Goodnefs of Providence, from the Evils 
and Miferies that abound in the World, 
and to which Mankind are now fubjedt. 
Thefe are too many to be diftinctly enu- 
merated. How often are Men tormented 
with grievous Pains and Difeafes of Body, 
which occafion the mon: bitter and dolo- 


rous Senfations ! Or they are perplexed with 
anxious diffracting Cares, or they meet 
with vexatious CrofTes and Difappointments, 
pinching Straits and Difficulties, and a Va- 
riety of Troubles and Sorrows, which in a 
great meafure deftroy the Comfort of Life. 
Every State and Condition hath its Uneafi- 
nefs attending it, from which thofe that 
are looked upon to be in the happiefl Cir- 
cumftances are not exempted. So that it 
may be juftly faid, that Man that is born of 
a Woman is of few Days and full of Trouble. 
Job. xiv. 1 . To which it may be added, 
thofe Calamities which are of a more ex- 
tenfive Nature, inclement Seafons, Fa- 
mines, Peftilences, Earthquakes, public 
Devaftations, in which whole Nations or 
large Communities are involved. 

This muft be acknowledged* to be a con- 
fiderable Difficulty. But it ought not to 
make us doubt of the divine Goodnefs, of 
which we have fo many convincing Proofs. 
It is not to be wondered at, that there are 
fome Things in the prefent Courfe of the 
divine Difpenfations, which we find it hard 
to account for. This ought to be attri- 
buted to the Narrownefs of our Views ; 
and we mould be perfuaded that all thofe 
Difficulties would be perfectly cleared up to 
us, if we could behold the whole Extent 
of God's Providence and Government as 

X 3 taking 


taking in all Nations and Ages, and the 
Reafons and Ends of his Difpenfations in 
their proper Connexion and Harmony. But 
befides this general Confideration, feveral 
Things may be offered which will help to 
take off the Force of the Objection. 

Firfl, Let it be confidered, that many of 
thofe that are called phyfical or natural 
Evils, are the Effects of excellent general 
Laws, which are manifeftly for the Advan- 
tage of the whole. Thus e. g. many of 
the uneafy or painful Senfations which we 
feel, are deiigned to remind us of fupplying 
the Necemties, or repairing the Decays of 
Nature, or to put us upon our guard a- 
^ainft what would prove pernicious or de- 
ftruttive to our Conftitution. Of this 
kind is Hunger and Thirft, and the Pains 
that accompany Hurts or Wounds, and 
broken or diflocated Bones, and the Sick- 
nefs which attends a diflempered State of 
Body. Thefe Things tend to put us upon 
ufing proper Methods or Remedies, and if 
it w r ere not fo, we mould be apt to neglect 
a due Care of ourfelves, and the maintain- 
ing or preferving our Conftitution, which 
might in that Cafe fall into Ruin before 
we were aware. By the fame Law by 
which Pleafure and Eafe is annexed to a 
found Conftitution of Body, Sicknefs and 
Pain muff be annexed to an unfound or 
2 dif- 



diibrdered one. By the fame Rule that the 
bodily Organs are fo difpofed as to deceive 
agreeable Senfations from certain Object:; 
that are fitly proportioned to them, others 
which are difproportioned to them will oc- 
caiion difagreeable Senfations. For it would 
be abfurd to fuppofe that our Senfes mould 
be fo constituted as that Objects mould be 
alike to them. For this would be to fup- 
pofe, that our fenfitive Organs mould have 
no determinate Power or Figure at all, 
fince if they have, fome Things will be well 
fitted to them, and others not ; and thefe 
muff ftrike the Senfes in a different Manner, 
except they be fo formed, as not to be af- 
fected by any Thing at all -, and I believe 
none will fay, that this would be fo good a 
Conftitution as the prefent, or that it would 
be for our greater Advantage and Happinefs 
that it mould be fo. 

Secondly, It is to be confidered, that moil 
of the Evils and Miferies which now dis- 
turb human Life, are owing to Men them- 
felves, and are the Effects of their Sins. 
And why mould Providence be charged 
with the Evils that Men bring upon them- 
felves by their own ill Conduct ? They are 
indeed very prone to lay the Blame of their 
own Mifcarriages upon God and his Pro- 
vidence. Tbe Foolijhnefs of a Man per- 
vertetb bis Way, and his Heart freitcth 

X 4 cigainjl 


againfi the Lord. Prov. xix. 3. But this 
is highly unreafonable. Nothing can be 
more fit and juft than that Men mould fuf- 
fer by their own Sins, and fo feel by Ex- 
perience what an evil and bitter Thing it is 
that they have finned againft God. Mens 
Pride, Envy, Revenge, Difcontent, and 
ungoverned Paffions, do more to embitter 
their Lives than any outward Evils what- 
foever, which without thefe would be com- 
paratively light and tolerable. And many 
even of the outward Evils Men fuffer are 
brought upon them by their own Vices, 
or at leaft by their Rafhnefs and Folly, 
their Wilfulnefs or Negligence ; or by the 
Sins and injurious Actions of other Men, 
The near Conjunction of Men in Society 
produceth in general many good Effects, 
and tendeth greatly to the Advantage and 
Satisfaction of human Life ; yet it often 
happeneth that in confequence of this 
Conjunction they are expofed to Evils from 
one anothers Actions. And this cannot 
be entirely prevented without abfolutely 
excluding them from each others Society 
and Intercourfe, which would produce much 
greater Inconveniences. To which may 
he added, that it is very wifely permitted, 
that Men mould fuffer by the Sins of others, 
the more effectually to convince them of 
the Evil of Sin, and excite in them an Ab- 


horrence of it. When we ourfelves are 
guilty of bad Actions, we are apt to be fo 
blinded by our Paflions, and by our Self- 
love and Partiality in our own Favour, that 
we have not a juft Senfe of the Evil of 
fuch a Conduct. But we are made 
thoroughly fenfible of the great Evil of 
Injuftice, Fraud, Violence, Debauchery, 
when we or our Families fuffer under the 
evil Effects of them as done by others. 

Whofoever thinks impartially muft be 
convinced, that there could be no pre- 
venting the Mifery that is in the World 
without preventing Mens Sins. If it be 
urged that a World governed by infinite 
Goodnefs ought to be fo ordered, that there 
mould be no Mifery at all, and therefore 
no Sin > this is in effect to fay, that in a 
World governed by infinite Goodnefs, there 
mould be no Creatures made with a Free- 
dom of moral Agency, or endued with a 
Power of chufing or doing Good or Evil, 
and of determining their own Actions. 
But fince Liberty and a felf-determining 
Power, Reafon, and Choice, are certainly 
noble Faculties, how will it be proved that 
4he making Creatures endued with thefe 
Faculties is inconfiftent with infinite Wif- 
dom and Goodnefs ? And if not the mak- 
ing them, then neither is the governing 
them according to their Natures, that is, 



governing them as becometh moral Agents, 
and leaving them to their own free Choice 
and Liberty, inconfiftent with infinite 
Goodnefs. And if they be left to their 
own free Choice, this is to put it in their 
Power to make themfelves miferable. But 
it is furficient in that Cafe to vindicate the 
Goodnefs of God, that they fhall not be 
miferable but by their own Fault, and that 
it is in their Power by a proper Choice 
and Courfe of Action to procure tc them- 
felves a high Degree of Happinefs and Per- 
fection, vaftly fuperior to what merely fen- 
fitive Beings are capable of. In a Syftem 
where there are rational and free Agents, 
by the fame wife and excellent Rules ac- 
cording to which certain Ways of chuiing 
and acting will produce happy and bene- 
ficial Effects, the contrary Choices and 
Actions will have contrary Effects, and be 
productive of evil and hurtful Confequences. 
Nor can this Conftitution be juftly found 
fault with, but muff be acknowledged to 
be fitly ordered, and to be calculated for 
the general Good. And it is evident, that 
if there were no fuch Creatures as free 
Ap-ents, the World would be far lefs per- 
fect than now it is, and that there would 
be much lefs Happinefs upon the 
whole. The Happinefs they are capable 
of enjoying is of a more excellent Kind 



than they could have enjoyed, if they had 
not a Power of chufing and acting freely. 
How great is the Satisfaction ariling from 
the overcoming great Temptations, from 
Conftancy, Fortitude, and all the pleafing 
Reflections on paft Trials ! and from the 
gradual Improvement of the intellectual 
and moral Powers, till they are made per- 
fectly happy in the nobleft Exercifes and 
Enjoyments ! And it mall give a peculiar 
Relim to their Felicity, that it mall come 
to them as the Effect of their own Con- 
duct, and the Reward of their Piety and 
Virtue. And, on the other Hand, if there 
be Mifery in confequence of the ill Con- 
duct of rational moral Agents, this is not 
to be charged upon Divine Providence, 
fince it is wholly owing to their own Abufe 
of the nobleft Powers, and of the excellent 
and high Prerogative of Reafon, Liberty, 
and free Agency. 

It might indeed be reafonably expected 
from the infinite Goodnefs, as well as Ho- 
linefs of God, that he fhould ufe all pro- 
per Methods becoming a moral Governor, 
and confiftent with the Liberty of moral 
Agents, to hinder them from committing 
Sin, and to engage them to a holy and 
virtuous Practice : And this (as I have had 
Occaiion to obferve before) he hath done, 
by implanting in the Hearts of Men, a 



Senfe of the Beauty and Excellency of 
Virtue, and the Turpitude and Deformity 
of Vice and Sin, by the Stings and Re- 
morfe of natural Confcience, by the Pre- 
cepts and Threatnings of his holy Law, 
forbidding Sin, and denouncing the moft 
awful Threatnings againfr. it, and by or- 
dering it fo, that it expofeth Men to ma- 
ny Evils in this prefent Conftitution of 
Things. And what could he be expected 
to do more, except he exerted his own 
almighty Power io f prevent all Men (in- 
ning, which could not be done without 
putting a perpetual Conflraint upon them, 
and abridging them of their natural Li- 
berty and Freedom ? And yet after all, it 
may be juftly faid, that there would be far 
more of thofe Evils in the World, which 
are the Effect of Mens Sins, if a merciful 
Providence did not interpofe, and avert a 
great deal of the Evil that Sin would other- 
wife introduce ; and which, were Men 
left merely to themfelves, without a wife 
and good prefiding Mind, would render the 
Earth tenfold more miferable than it is. 

Thirdly, Another Thing that is proper 
to be confidered on this Subject, is, that 
many of the Things that are accounted 
Evils here on Earth, are more fo in Opi- 
nion than in Reality. And why fhould the 
Goodnefs of Providence be arraigned for 



Evils, the Stings of which lie in the 
wrong Judgment or Imagination Men form 
concerning them ? Our Duty in this Cafe 
is not to accufe the divine Goodnefs, but 
to correct our own falfe Opinions of 
Things. Many look upon it to be a great 
Evil, that they are in a mean and low 
Condition, and have not fuch a large Por- 
tion and Affluence of wordly Riches and 
Honours as fome others. And yet this 
Meannefs of Condition is more an Evil 
in Opinion than in Reality. For Men may 
be poor and in low Circumftances, (and 
it is proper on feveral Accounts that moft 
of Mankind mould be fo in this prefent 
State,) and yet may have many Mercies and 
Bleffings, and as much true Enjoyment, 
and often more, than Perfons in higher 
Stations, and more fplendid outward Cir- 
cumftances. Difappointments are general- 
ly regarded as great Evils, and yet the 
Evil of them often amounteth to no more 
than this, that Men fall fhort of Expecta- 
tions which they ought not to have in- 
dulged, and which were owing to their 
having fixed to themfelves wrong Mea- 
fures of Happinefs. The fame may be 
faid of anxious perplexing Cares, which 
caufe great Trouble and Vexation, and 
which a right Judgment of Things would 
have prevented, or greatly moderated. In 



general it muft be acknowledged, that the 
Evils and Miferies of this prefent Life are 
for the moft part magnified and exafperat- 
ed by Mens own Paffions, and fome times 
entirely owing to them. Many there are 
who have great Advantages, but they do 
not- enjoy them, nor are thankful for 
them as they ought. When they are in 
Circumftances that mould make them 
eafy and contented, they create to them- 
felves imaginary Evils. This is not pro- 
perly chargeable on Providence, but on 
their own wrong Tempers. And it is but 
■juft that that Temper which is their Sin 
and Fault, mould alfo be their Punifh- 
ment. Yet fuch is the Goodnefs of God, 
that he hath directed us, both by the Rea- 
ibn he hath given us, if duly improved 
and attended to, and by the Inftrucl:ions 
of his Word, to form right Sentiments of 
Things, eipecially concerning the Nature 
of true Happinefs. He hath been graci- 
oufly pleafed to forbid our foolimly dif- 
quieting and tormenting ourfelves ; and he 
alloweth and requireth us to caft our Cares 
and Burdens upon him, and to endeavour 
to keep our Appetites and Paffions within 
proper Bounds, and is ready to encourage 
and affift us in our fincere Endeavours to 
this Purpofe. 

Fourthly, It is proper farther to obferve, 
that a great deal of the Evils and adverfe 



Events which are in the World, are over- 
ruled to Good. And certainly, as was ob- 
ferved in my former Difcourfe, thofe Evils 
are no juft Objections againft the Good- 
nefs of Divine Providence, which are made 
to produce greater Good, and prove bene- 
ficial upon the whole. Men indeed, for 
the moft part, judge of Good and Evil by 
their prefent Feeling, by the prefent Plea- 
fure or Trouble they yield. But this is 
not a right Way of judging. As we are 
now in a State of Trial and Difcipline, 
prefent Things are principally to be confi- 
dered as Means to the ultimate Happinefs 
of Man. And what hath a Tendency to 
promote this, though it may now feem 
troublefome, is really good. So that in 
judging of the Goodnefs of Providence to- 
wards us, we mult confider, not merely 
what is at prefent agreeable or difagreeable 
to us, but what is fuitable for Creatures 
in fuch a State as this. And in this 
View, the with-holding outward Bleflings, 
and inflicting outward Evils and Adverfi- 
ties, may be really an Act of great Good- 
nefs. For though, to be deprived of earth- 
ly Comforts and Enjoyments, or to be ex- 
ercifed with grievous bodily Pains and 
Diftempers, or with worldly Croifes and 
Difappointments, and other Things which 
give us Uneafinefs, may feem to be very 



hard Treatment; yet when the Matter 
is duly confidered, it will be found, that 
Afflictions are necefTary in this prefent 
State, and anfwer many valuable and im- 
portant Ends. They are in the Nature of 
a wholefome Medicine or Difcipline, and 
no Man will pretend that it is inconfiflent 
with the Goodnefs or Humanity of a Phy- 
iician to prefcribe bitter and difagreeable 
Medicines, in order to the Recovery or 
Eftablifhment of Health, or with the 
Tendernefs of a good Parent to correct a 
beloved Child, when it appeareth to be 
necefTary for the Child's real Benefit. So 
far is the fending Afflictions upon us in 
this State of Trial from arguing any Want 
of Goodnefs in God, that we are taught in 
Scripture to regard them as Inftances and 
Proofs of his paternal Love and Care. 
We are exhorted not to defpife the Chajien- 
ing of the Lord, nor faint when we are re- 
buked of him. For whom the Lord loveth 
he chajieneth, and fcourgeth every Son whom 
he receiveth. And we are aflured, that 
he chajieneth us for our Profit, that we 
might be Partakers of his Holinefs. Heb. 
xii. 5, 6, 10. Afflictions are ufeful many 
Ways. They tend to put Men upon feri- 
Ous Reflections, to awaken them out of 
their thoughtlefs Security, and to convince 
them of the Evil of Sin, and infpire them 



with a Hatred and Abhorrence of it. They 
tend alfo to difengage their Hearts and Af- 
fections from this prefent World, to make 
them fenfible that this is not defigned for 
their proper ultimate Portion and Felici- 
ty, and that it is vain to look for Happi- 
nefs and Reft in any earthly Enjoyments. 
They are alfo often rendered greatly con- 
ducive to ftrengthen and brighten their 
Graces and Virtues, and to exercife and 
improve fome of the nobleft Difpofitions of 
the human Nature, and in which much 
of the Beauty and Excellency of Religion 
doth coniift, fuch as Faith, Patience, For- 
titude, Equanimity, Refignation, Confi- 
dence in God under the greateft Difficul- 
ties, Meeknefs, and the forgiving of Inju- 
ries. Thus though no Chaftening for the 
prefent feemeth to be joyous, but grievous ; ne- 
verthelefs, afterwards it yie/deth the peace- 
able Fruit of Right eoufiefs unto them which 
are exercifcd thereby. Heb. xii. 11. It 
layeth a folid Foundation for true Satisfac- 
tion and Happinefs, and will enhance the 
future Reward, and both quicken our De- 
fires after it, and form us into a greater 
Meetnefs for it. And mail we find Fault 
with the divine Goodnefs for thofe Things 
which are defigned for fuch excellent 
Ends ? What can be fuller of Confolation 
and Encouragement, or have a greater 
Vol. I. Y Tendency 


Tendency to caufe us even to rejoice 
in Tribulation, than to be allured, that our 
light Affliction, which is but for a Momenta 
•worketh for as afar more exceed'nig a?td eter- 
nal Weight of Glory. 2 Cor. iv. 17. 

Fifthly, Many of the Evils that are ob- 
fervable in this prefent State, are necelfary 
for the Declaration of God's re&oral jus- 
tice and Righteoufnefs. And certainly no 
Objections can lie againfl the Goodnefs of 
Divine Providence, from Events which are 
proper to vindicate the Righteoufnefs of it. 
Though this is not a State of final Judgment,, 
and therefore^ Sentence againjl an evil Work 
is not, in the ordinary Courfe of Things, 
fpeedily executed, yet it is very fit that there 
mould be, even in the prefent Difpenfa- 
tions of Divine Providence, fome awful 
Manifeftations of God's jufi: Difpleafure 
againft Sin, without which Sinners would, 
be apt to queftion his Holinefs and Juf- 
tice ; and confequently, it is fit that there 
Ihould be fome Punifhments now inflicted 
to vindicate the Majefty and Righteoufnefs 
of the fupreme Governor, and the Autho- 
rity of his Laws, And accordingly, many 
of thofe Evils and Calamities that are in- 
flicted on particular Perfons and large 
Communities, mull be regarded in this 
View. This Obfervation may efpecially be 
applied to thofe extraordinary Diipenfa- 



tions, which Teem to bear upon them fig- 
nal Marks of the divine Juftice and Hatred 
againft Sin, and to be deiigned for Warn- 
ings to future Ages as well as the prefent. 
Such were the univerfal Deluge, the De- 
struction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the 
dreadful Judgments inflicted upon ^jerufa-* 
km and the jfew/fi Nation, which, however 
difaftrous to thofe that fuffered them, were 
no more than they really deferved, and were 
deiigned to be of extenfive Ufe to Mankind 
in all Ages. But though it is for the general 
Good thatfome fuch Instances and Examples 
there mould be, yet it is manifeft, that 
in the ordinary Courfe of Things there is 
much Forbearance exercifed towards Sinners 
in this prefent State. God is continuallv 
doing Good in the Methods of his bountiful 
Providence, not only to the good and ju(l, 
but to the unjufi, the unthankful, and the 
evil. And this is fo obfervable, that 
thofe very Perfons who accufe the Divine 
Providence as defective in Goodnefs to- 
wards Mankind, are at other Times rea- 
dy to turn the Goodnefs and Forbearance 
of God towards Sinners into an Objection 
againft his Righteoufnefs. And it may be, 
juftly affirmed upon the whole, that there 
is a great deal more Good than Evil here 
on Earth, and that the Afflictions and Ad- 
verfitiesof Life are very much over-balanced 
Y 2 by 


by the Bleflings and Advantages which 
Providence putteth into our Hands, if 
we will but fet ourfelves to improve 
and enjoy them as we ought. Things 
are fo circumftanced as generally to ren- 
der Life not only tolerably eafy, but 
agreeable and defirous to the greater Part 
of Mankind. All that can be juftly con- 
cluded from the Evils we now fuffer, is, 
that this prefent World is not designed 
to be the State of our final Happinefs. 
The Effect they mould have upon us, 
mould be to keep us from being too fond 
of Life, which otherwife we mould be 
apt to be, and to make us willing to 
part with it when God calleth us to do fo, 
and to raife our Affections and Views 
to a nobler State of Existence. And 
the Evils of this Life confidered in this 
View, are not only wifely but gracioufly 
ordered. For after all, this is but a fmall 
Part of our Exiflence, and it is but a little 
comparatively that we tafte and fee of the 
divine Goodnefs in this prefent State. But 
what a glorious and ravifhing Scene will 
open to us in a better World, when we mall 
enter upon that blefTed Life and Immortali- 
ty which is fo clearly brought to Light by 
the Go/pel! Then mail Sin and Sorrow be 
for ever banifhed, and God fiall wipe away 
all 'Tears from our Eyes, Oh how great is 

5 % 


thy Goodnefs, which thou haft laid up for 
them that fear thee! No Heart can con- 
ceive it, much lefs is any Tongue of Man 
able to defcribe it. In all our Contempla- 
tions of the Goodnefs of Divine Provi- 
dence towards Mankind here on Earth, we 
muft ftill carry our Views to the heavenly 
State, where it mall be fully compleated, 
and mall mine forth in its brighten: Glo- 
ry to all Eternity. 

I mall conclude with this Reflection. 

What a delightful and comforting Con- 
fideration is it, that infinite Goodnefs go- 
verneth the World, and that all Things 
are under the Direction and Superinten- 
dency of a mofl wife and benign Provi- 
dence ! Happy is the Man that liveth under 
the Influence of this Perfualion. What- 
ever be the prefent Appearances of Things, 
he hath a ftrong Security that all Things 
(hall certainly be ordered for the beft. No 
Difficulties can fhock him ; the whole Face 
of Things looks placid and ferene about 
him. With what Satisfaction and Com- 
placency may he reiign himfelf and all his 
Concernments to the Difpofal of his kind 
and almighty Friend, Parent, and Benefac- 
tor ? It is true Religion, and that alone, 
which layeth a folid Foundation for a com* 
fortable and peaceable Life. Far be it from 
us, on any Occafion, to entertain dimo- 
Y 3 nourable 


nourable Thoughts of the divine Good- 
nefs, much more to break forth into un- 
becoming Reflections upon it. It appear- 
eth from the Account which hath been 
given, that God permitteth no more Evil 
than he over-ruleth to excellent Purpofes ; 
and that he ordereth it fo, that no Man 
in this prefent State fhall fuflfer more 
Evil, than either he hath deferved by 
his Sins, or than mall turn to his own 
Benefit, if he be careful to make a wife 
and juft Improvement of it, and mail 
alfo tend to the Benefit of others, if 
they take Warning by his Patience and 
Virtues. And there is nothing in this, 
but what is perfectly confident with a 
wife and good Adminiftration. Let us 
therefore frequently review the Instances 
of God's Goodnefs towards us, and in- 
flead of allowing ourfelves to find Fault, 
break forth into thankful Praifes and 
Acknowledgments, faying in the Lan- 
guage of the devout Pfalmift, What Jhall 
1 render unto the Lord for all his Bene- 
fits towards me? Pfal. cxvi. 12. Oh that 
Men would praife the Lord for his Good- 
nefs, and for his wonderful Works to the 
Children of Men ! Whofo is wife, and will 
obfcrve thefe Things, even they fhall under- 
(land the- Loving- Undue fs of the Lord. 
Puil. cvii. 8, 43. 


Q?i the Right eoufnefs of Divine Pro- 


Psalm cxlv. 17. 

*£he Lord is righteous in all his Ways, and 
holy in all his Works, 


OME of the mod fpecious Objections 
againft Providence are drawn from 
Events that feem to ftrike at the Righte- 
oufnefs of the divine Adminiftrations. It 
is pretended, that there are many Things 
done in the World, which are abfolutely in- 
confiftent with the perfec"l Righteoufnefs 
of a fupreme Governor, and which would 
not be admitted if this World and the 
Affairs of it were under the Direction and 
Y 4 Super- 


Superintendency of an infinitely juft and holy 
Being. But that this is a wrong Charge 
will fufficiently appear from a diftinct Ex- 
amination of what is offered in Support 
of it. 

The Righteoufnefs of God is frequently 
celebrated in the facred Writings. Thofe 
Words of the Pfalmift which I have chofen 
for the Subject of this Difcourfe, are very 
full to this Purpofe. The Lord is righteous 
in all his Ways, and holy in all his Works. 
He is righteous in all his Difpenfations 
whatfoever, efpecially towards Mankind; 
for to thefe the Pfalmift feems here to have 
a particular Reference. There is not one 
of his Proceedings in which he is not per- 
fectly juft and holy. 

In treating of this Subject I fhall firft 
offer fome general Considerations to fhew 
that God is holy and righteous in all his 

Secondly, I (hall confider the principal 
Things in the divine Administrations to- 
wards Mankind, that feem to have a con- 
trary Appearance, and which are ufually 
urged as Objections againft the Righteouf- 
nefs of Divine Providence. 

Firft, I fliall offer fome general Confi- 
derations to fhew that God is juft and 
righteous in all his Ways. 



And ift, This neceffarily followeth 
from the infinite Perfection of his Nature. 
It is not conceivable how an abfolutely 
perfect Being can be capable of Injuftice or 
Unrighteoufnefs. For as his Underftand- 
ing is infinite, he cannot but always dis- 
cern in every Inftance what is fit and pro- 
per to be done, and what is moft con- 
formable to Truth, Juftice, and Equity. 
And agreeable to the Light of his infinite 
Underftanding is the perfect Rectitude of 
his Will, whereby he is eternally and in- 
variably determined to will and to do that 
which appeareth to his unerring Mind to 
be juft and right. If his Underftanding 
dictated one Thing, and his Will purfued 
another, there would be a Jarring and Con- 
trariety in his Nature. His own Mind 
muft in that Cafe difapprove and condemn 
him, which would produce a Confufion 
and Diforder within, an inward Difiatisfac- 
tion and Remorfe, abfolutely inconfiftent 
with the perfect Felicity of the Supreme 

2dly, It will help farther to illuftrate 
this, if it be confidered that none of thofe 
Things that are the Caufes of Injuftice and 
Unrighteoufnefs, can poflibly have Place in 
God. He can never do an unjuft Thing 
through Error and Miftake, by taking 
wrong for right, or right for wrong. Nor 



is he fufceptible of any of thofe narrow and 
partial Affections, or corrupt Paffions and 
Prejudices, which fo often turn Men afide 
from the Paths of Juftice and Equity. He 
is incapable of Envy and Ill-will, or of 
unreafonable Humour or Caprice ; nor can 
he ever be fwayed, as Men often are, to do 
an unjuft Thing, by a Regard to his own 
private Intereft. For as he is infinitely 
happy in himfelf, and itandeth not in need 
of any Thing without him, and therefore 
hath nothing to hope or to fear from any other 
Being, it is evident he can have no private 
Interefts of his own to ferve, no Addition 
of Profit or Power in View. — That car- 
rieth its own Evidence with it, which we 
have 2 Chron. xix. j. 'There is no Iniquity 
with the Lord our God, nor RefpeB of Per- 
fons, nor taking of Gifts; And again, Surely 
God will not do wickedly, neither will the Al- 
mighty pervert Judgment. Job xxxiv. 12. 
Injuftice and Wickednefs can only belong 
to weak and imperfect Beings, in whom 
there is a Defect of Power. For none 
would do wrong, if he thought he could 
as well attain his Ends in doing right, or 
if he were not overpowered by fome Paf- 
iion, which is an Argument of Weaknefs. 
And therefore it cannot reaibnably be fup- 
pofed, that the almighty and all-fufficient 
Being mould pervert Judgment. 



3dly, The perfect Juftice and Righ- 
teoufnefs of God may be farther argued 
from that inward Senfe of right and wrong 
that is implanted in the human Mind, 
which naturally carrieth us to approve and 
admire impartial Juftice and Righteoufnefs 
tempered with Goodnefs and Equity, and 
to difapprove and condemn Injuftice and 
Oppreffion, Cruelty and Violence, Fraud 
and Falfhood. This is a Kind of natural 
Law written in the human Heart, and 
which exerteth itfelf when it is not over- 
ruled and obftructed by the Influence of 
diforderly Appetites and Pamons, and felfiih 
Interefts. And whence could this origi- 
nally proceed but from the Author of our 
Beings ? We could not have had this Senfe, 
if he had not given it us. And we may 
juftly conclude, that he that hath fo con- 
ftituted our Nature, that we can fcarce 
help approving the right, and condemning 
the wTong as far as we know it, muft him- 
felf be a Being of perfect Righteoufnefs, 
and muft approve the Things which are 
juft and true and pure, and have an Ab- 
horrence of whatfoever is contrary there- 

If we take thefe feveral Confiderations 
together, they form a convincing Evidence 
that God is righteous in all his Ways. And 
indeed if there were not a fupreme and 



moft perfect Righteoufnefs at the Head of 
Things, what Mifery and Confufion would 
enfue ? The fovereign Lord of the Uni- 
verfe muft neceflarily be the higheft Power, 
to whom all Appeals muft ultimately lie. 
And what a miferable Thing would it be 
if the laft Refort were not to perfect Righ- 
teoufnefs ! For Jhall not the Judge of all the 
Earth do right f Gen. xviii. 25. 

There are two Things in which the 
Righteoufnefs of God as a fupreme Gover- 
nor doth efpecially appear. The firft is 
his ordaining juft and righteous Laws, and 
fuch evidently are all the Laws which God 
hath given to Mankind, whether difcover- 
able by the Light of Nature, or made 
known to us by extraordinary Revelation. 
The Laws which God enjoineth, are excel- 
lently reprefented in the holy Scriptures, 
and the more attentively we confider them, 
the more we fhall be convinced that they 
are all of them holy and juft and good, true 
and righteous all together, according to the 
Pfalmift's Defcription of them Pfal. xix. 
8, 9. Whatfoever Things are true, what- 
Jbever Things are honeft, whatfoever Things 
are juft, whatfoever Things are pure, what- 
foever Things are lovely, whatfoever Things 
are of good Report, if there be any Virtue, 
and if there be any Praife, thefe are the 



Things required in the divine Law. Phil. 
iv. 8. 

And as the perfect Righteoufnefs of 
the fupreme Governor appeareth in the 
Laws which he hath given to Mankind, fo 
alfo in his confequent Dealings with them, 
or rewarding and punifhing them according 
to their Obedience or Difobedience to thofe 
Laws. And with regard to this, the ge- 
neral Rule of the divine Procedure towards 
Mankind, is that which is laid down, Ifa. 
iii. 10, ii. Say to the righteous, that it 
Jhall be well with him : for they Jhall eat the 
Fruit of their Doings. Wo unto the wicked, 
it /hall be ill with him : for the Reward of 
his Hands jhall be given him. The Righte- 
oufnefs of God as a moral Governor re- 
quireth that it mould be well with the 
righteous, and ill with the wicked, that 
the former mould be happy, and the lat- 
ter miferable in the final IiTue of Things, 
and taking in the whole of their Exiftence. 
But then it muft be remembered, that this 
prefent Life is but a fmall Part of our Ex- 
iftence -, and that the State we are now in 
is only a State of Difcipline and Trial, and 
not a State of final Judgment ; that there- 
fore it is not to be expected, that the 
righteous mould be at prefent fully re- 
warded, and rendered compleatly happy, or 
that Judgment mould be univerfally and 



fpeedily executed upon the wicked. It is 
fufficient to vindicate the Righteoufnefs of 
God in the prefent Difpsnfations of his 
Providence, if it be exercifed in fuch a 
Manner as is fuited to the Nature and De- 
sign of a State of Trial and Forbearance, 
which is to be fucceeded by a State of Re- 
tributions, wherein whatfoever is now 
wanting and defective mall be fully fup- 
plied and rectified. Now this is the 
View which the Scriptures give us of this 
Matter. There is enough in the prefent 
Courfe of Providence and Conftitution of 
Things to convince us that God is a good 
and righteous Governor, and that Righte- 
oufnefs and Virtue is what he approveth, 
and is ordinarily the beft Way to true 
Satisfaction and Enjoyment even here on 
Earth ; and that Vice and Sin is the Ob- 
ject of his j lift Difpleafure, and in the or- 
dinary Courfe of Things hath a Tendency 
to bring Mifery upon thofe that abandon 
themfelves to the Practice of it. But then 
the proper and principal Retributions to the 
righteous and the wicked are referved for 
another World. 

Having taken this general View of the 
Righteoufnefs of God in all his Ways, I 
now proceed, fecondly, to confider the prin- 
cipal Things in the divine Adminiftxations 
towards Mankind, that' have a contrary 



Appearance, and which are ufually brought 
as Objections againft the Righteoufnefs of 

It is urged, that if a righteous Provi- 
dence governed the World, it might be 
expected, that Virtue and Probity mould 
be rewarded, and Vice and Wickednefs pu- 
niihed ; but that this is not done in the 
prefent State. It is the Obfervation of the 
Wife-man, confirmed by the Experience of 
all Ages, that all "Things come alike to all; there 
is one Event to the righteous, and to the wicked; 
to the good, and to the clean, and to the un- 
clean. Ecclef. ix. 2. The former is not re- 
markably diftingu ifhed with the Favours 
and Benefits of Divine Providence above 
the latter. Yea, it often happeneth, that 
the very contrary State of Things obtains, 
and that good Men inftead of having a 
larger Portion of Bleffings given them, 
have a greater Share of Afflictions and Ca- 
lamities than other Men. Many of the 
befi: Men in all Ages have been loaded with 
Obloquy and Reproach, injured in their 
Perfons, Reputations, and Properties, by 
the Malice, the Fraud, and Violence of 
wicked Men, yea, and often expofed to the 
moil grievous Sufferings and Perfecutions, 
and even to Death itfelf. And on the 
other Hand, we frequently fee the wicked 
and unjuft profpering in their Wickednefs,, 



flowing in Riches, and abounding in all 
the Delights and Enjoyments this World 
can afford. The vileft Men are exalt ed^ 
and have thofe Honours conferred upon 
them which ought only to be the Rewards 
of Virtue. And particularly it is to be 
obferved, that the Hiftory of all Ages fur- 
niflieth us with Inftances of fuccefsful Ra- 
vagers, who have fpread wide their Con- 
quefts, and laid whole Nations wafte, and 
inftead of receiving the juft Punifhment 
due to their lawlefs Violence, have been 
crowned with Glory and Victory. And 
doth this look like a World governed by 
infinite Wifdom and Righteoufnefs ? Would 
it be thus, if a juft and holy Being pre- 
fided over the univerfal Adminiftration of 
Things ? 

This is the Objection in its full Force, 
and it muft be acknowledged to have no 
fmall Difficulty in it. Some have made 
ufe of it as a Pretence to cover their 
Atheifm, or, which cometh to the fame 
Thing, their Denial of a Providence. x\nd 
good Men themfelves have often been 
greatly perplexed and puzzled with it. The 
Prophet Afaph owneth concerning himfelf, 
in the 73d Pfalm, that the Temptation had 
liked to have proved too ftrong for him. 
Jeremiah, though he was perfuaded of the 
perfect Righteoufnefs of God, could fcarce 



tell how to reconcile it with this State of 
Things. Righteous art thou, O Lord, when 
I plead with thee-, yet let me talk with thee 
of thy judgments. Wherefore doth the Way 
of the wicked pro/per, wherefore are all they 
happy, i. e. fuccefsful and profperous, that 
deal very treacheroujly ? Jer. xii. i. To 
the fame Purpofe the Prophet Habakkuk. 
'Thou art of purer Lyes than to behold Evil, 
and canfl not look on Iniquity : Wherefore 
lookeft thou upon them that deal treacheroufly, 
and holdejl thy Tongue, when the wicked de- 
voureth the Man that is ?nore righteous tha?i 
he ? And makeft Men as the Fijhes of the 
Sea, as the creeping Things that have no 
Ruler over them. Habak. i. 13, 14. 

That we may return a proper Anfwer 
to this complicated Objection, let us di- 
ftinc~tly coniider the feveral Parts of it : 
1 ft, As it relateth to the promifcuous 
Diftribution of Events in this prefent 
State, 2dly, As it relateth to the Suffer- 
ings and Calamities which befall the righ- 
teous. 3<dly, To the Profperity of the 

1 ft, Whereas it is objected, that in 
this prefent State all Things come alike 
to all, and that there is ordinarilv no Dif- 
tinclion made in the prefent Difpenfations 
of Divine Providence between good and 

Vol. I. Z bad 


bad Men, the righteous and the wicked, 
It is to be obferved, 

i ft, That this is only to be under- 
stood with refpe£t to the outward Occur- 
rences of this Life, and the Diftribution 
of external Blcffings and Advantages, or 
external Evils or Afflictions. For as to all 
thofe BlefTings that are of a fpiritual and 
internal Nature, and which are the choi- 
ceft of all Comforts and Bleliings, good 
Men have undoubtedly a vail Advantage 
above the wicked, even in this prefent 
State. There are Pleafures, which, ac- 
cording to the divine Conftitution, are or- 
dinarily annexed to the Excrcife of gcod 
Affections, and to the Practice of Piety 
and Virtue. There is an inward Peace 
and Satisfaction, which tendeth to pro- 
duce an habitual Chearfulnefs in all the 
Conditions and Circum trances of Life, and 
on the account of which it may be iuftly 
faid, that a good Man is Jhtisfiedfro?n him- 
felf. Prov. xiv. 14. i. e. he hath a real 
Source of Happinefs within him. No 
outward Comforts can equal the Joys that 
arife from the Teftimony of a good Con- 
ference, from a Senfe of the Love and Fa- 
vour of God, from the Confolations of 
the Holy Spirit, and from the Hopes of 
eternal Glory in a better World. Thele 
are Things which bad Pvlen have no In- 



terefl in, but of which the righteous have 
often had large Experience, even here on 
Earth. In like Manner, as to internal and 
fpiritual Evils, the Senfe of indulged Guilt, 
the Stings and Agonies of an evil Con- 
fcience, the Conflicts and Tumults of the 
diforderly Paffions and Lufts warring in 
the Members, and the direful Forebodings 
of a future Judgment ; it cannot be denied 
that good Men are more exempted from 
thefe dreadful Evils, than the wicked 
and difobedient. Thus it appeareth, that 
ordinarily there is a great Difference in 
this prefent State between the righteous 
and the wicked, as to thofe good and 
evil Things which are of the greater!: 
Confequence, and upon which our Hap- 
pinefs or Mifery doth moil immediately 
depend. For as to outward good Things, 
and what are ufually called the Gifts of 
Fortune, and outward Evils or Afflictions, 
thefe are not abfolutely and in themielves 
good and evil, but may prove good or 
evil in different Circumffances, according 


to the Ufe that is made of them. Flap- 
pinefs is, properly fpeaking, an internal 
Thing, and is principally feated, not in 
the outward Condition and Circumfhnces, 
but in the Frame and Temper of the 
Mind. For it is an undoubted Maxim, 
that a Marls Life, i. e. the Happinefs of 
Z 2 his 


his Life, confifieth not in the Abundance of 
the 'Things which he poff'ejfetb. Lukexii. 15. 
But 2dly, Even as to outward Ad- 
vantages, and outward worldly Evils, the 
Rule doth not hold universally, that thefe 
are promifcuoufly distributed, and that 
there is, in this Refpect, no DifHnction 
made between the righteous and the wic- 
ked. For with regard to the mod valu- 
able even of external Bleffings, and which 
are ufually thought to contribute moft to 
our prefent Satisfaction and Enjoyment, 
fuch as the Love and Efteem of our 
Fellow-creatures, a fair Reputation and 
Credit, a found healthful State of Body, 
Succefs in Bufinefs, and fuch a Portion of 
worldly Subftance as is Sufficient to anfwer 
the real Ufes of Life ; the good and vir- 
tuous, the temperate and indunrious are 
more likely to obtain them, in the prefent 
Conftitution of Things, than the vicious 
and profligate. And it may be truly af- 
firmed, that there are more good Men, in 
Proportion to their Numbers, that have a 
competent Share of thefe Things, ' than 
wicked Men. And they have alfo a much 
truer Enjoyment of thefe temporal Blef- 
fings, in as much as they tafte the Good- 
nefs of God in them, and with them have 
thofe greater Spiritual Advantages which 
have been mentioned, and a comfortable 



Senfe of the divine Favour and Appro- 

And as to the outward Evils and Mife- 
ries of this Life, fuch as extreme Poverty 
and Want, Difeafes of Body, ill Fame and 
Difgrace, and many other Evils incident 
to Mens Perfons and Fortunes, the wick- 
ed are, in the ordinary Courfe of Things, 
more fubjecled to them than the rio-hte- 
ous, and they are very ufual Effects of a 
vicious and diifolute Courfe. And certainly 
the Wife-man, by faying that all things come 
alike to all, there is one Event to the righteous 
and the wicked, never intended to deny 
this. For the whole Book of Proverbs 
every where aboundeth with excellent 
Maxims drawn from Obfervation and Ex- 
perience, concerning the good Effects and 
great Advantages of Prudence, Virtue, 
Temperance, Induftry, even in this pre- 
fent Life, and the great Evils, Mifchiefs, 
and difaftrous Events Men usually bring 
upon themfelves by their Vices. And 
with regard to this, it may be laid, that 
God hath, in fome Meafure, efrablifhed a 
Connection between Virtue and Happinefs, 
Vice and Mifery, even in the prefent Con- 
stitution of Things, which fheweth the 
Wifdom and Righteoufnefs of his Provi- 1 
dence, his Regard to Virtue, and his 
Diiapprobation of Vice and Wickednefsj 
Z 3 and 

342 D I S C O U R S E XV. 

and from whence we may conclude, that 
the Time is coming when he will com- 
pleatly reward the one, and punifh the 

If therefore it be afked, what then is 
intended by this Obfervation, that all 
things come alike to all •, I anfwer, 

3dly, That the Delign is to fignify, 
that there is not a conilant ftated vifi- 
ble Diftinction made between good 
and bad Men here on Earth in God's 
external providential Dealings, fo as that 
we mould be .able to conclude, that a 
Man is in the Favour of God, or the 
contrary, by the outward Events which 
befall him. That this is the Delign of 
the Wife- man, is evident from his Way 
of introducing this Paflage : No Man (faith 
he, knoweth Love or Hatred by all that 
is before him: And then he addeth, that 
all things come alike to all, there is one 
Event to the righteous and to the wicked. 
Not that it always happeneth fo, but that 
it is frequently io in the Courfe of hu- 
man Affairs. And indeed it is no Way 
proper that there mould, in all Cafes, 
be an open vifible Diifinclion made be- 
tween good and bad Men here on Earth, 
in the outward Events of Things, and 
Difperifations of Divine Providence. This 
would not be faited to the Nature of 

a State 


a State of Trial, nor could we certain- 
ly know whether the divine Difpenfa- 
tions were rightly applied or not, except 
we were acquainted with the Hearts of 
Men, and knew who were really righ- 
teous, and who the contrary ; which fhall 
not be till the great Day of final Retri- 
butions, when God wilt make manifeft the 
Counfels of the Hearts, as the Apoftle 
fpeaks, i Cor. iv. 5. The promifcuous 
Dilfributions of outward worldly good or 
evil Things in this preient State anfwereth 
many valuable Ends. If good Men were 
always remarkably crowned with worldly 
Profperity, and an Affluence of Riches and 
Honours, we mould be apt to over-rate ~ 
thefe Things, and to look upon them as 
the chief Rewards of Virtue. And this 
would feem to authorife our too eager 
Purfuits of them, and would carry us 
off from the Purfuit of Things of fupe- 
rior Excellence. Whereas, when we ob- 
ferve that God in his wife Providence fo 
frequently beftoweth an Abundance of 
thefe external Advantages upon Perfbns 
of no moral Worth or Goodnefs, whilil 
many of thoie that are the excellent of 
the Earth, the Objecls of his fpecial Love 
and Favour, have but a fmall Portion of 
them, this tends to convince us, that thefe 
are not the choice!!, and moft. valuable Blef- 
Z 4 fings, 


lings, and confequently mould keep us 
from fetting too high a Value upon them, 
or priding ourfelves on the account of 
them. It mould teach us to efteem no 
Man merely for his external Circumftan- 
ces, for his Wealth or the Splendor of his 
Appearance, and to defpife no Man for 
being poor and airlifted. To which it may 
be added, that when we confider, that 
even Perfons of the greateft Piety and 
Worth have no Security in the Revolutions 
of human Affairs, but that they may be 
deprived of the outward good Things they 
now enjoy, and may be expofed to great 
worldly Evils and Calamities ; this hath a 
Tendency to keep our Hearts open to the 
Miferies and Neceffities of our Fellow-crea- 
tures, and make us ready to pity and 
affift them. Whereas, if we had an Ap- 
prehenfion that worldly Profperity and 
Affluence were to be regarded as a fure 
Mark of the divine Favour, and appropri- 
ated to the good and virtuous, this 
would very much check our Compaffion 
and Benevolence, and flraiten our Hearts 
and Hands with regard to the indigent 
and diftreffed, as looking upon them to 
be Perfons againft whom God had declared 
in his Providence, and who were the Ob- 
jects of his righteous Difpleafure. 


D I S C O U R S E XV. 345 

Thefe Coniiderations may fufficc to ob- 
viate that Part of the Objection which 
is brought againft the Righteoufnefs of 
Divine Providence from the feemingly 
promifcuous Diftributions of Things here 
on Earth. As to what is more particu- 
larly urged with regard to the Sufferings 
of the righteous, and Profperity of the 
wicked in this prefent State, it mail be 
diftinctly confidered in our next Dif- 


Objections againji the Right eoufnefs 
of Providence conjidered* 


Psalm cxlv. 17. 

The Lord is righteous in all his Ways, and 
holy in all his Works. 

N our former Difcourfe on thefe Words, 
after offering fome general Confidera- 
tions to mew that God is perfectly holy 
and righteous in all his Ways, we pro^ 
ceeded to confider the principal Things in 
the divine Difpenfations towards Mankind, 
that feem to have a contrary Appearance, 
and which are ufually urged as Objec- 
tions againft the Righteoufnefs of Pro- 



And i ft, We confidered the feemingly 
promifcuous Diftribution of Events in this 
prefent World, in which all Things come 
alike to alU and there is no viiible Diftinc- 
tion made between the righteous and the 
wicked in the Courfe of God's outward 
Difpenfations. And it was fhewn that no 
Argument can be drawn from thence againft 
the Wifdom or Righteoufnefs of Divine 

But 2dly, It is farther urged, that 
good Men are not only liable to Troubles 
and Afflictions in common with the reft of 
Mankind, but that they have frequently a 
larger Share of them than other Men. In- 
ftead of receiving the Rewards of their 
Piety and Virtue, they are often in very 
mean and deftitute Circumftances, and la- 
bour under a Variety of Evils and Sorrows. 
Some of the worthieft of Men have met 
with the moft fevere and injurious Treat- 
ment, and have been expofed to the bit- 
tereft Obloquy and Reproach, and to the 
moft grievous Sufferings. And would this 
be permitted if this World were under 
the Admin iflration of a righteous Provi- 

dence ? 

But fevera] Conliderations mav be of- 
fered to take off the Force of this Ob- 




And i ft, It doth not appear, that in 
the common Courfe of Things, abftracting 
from Seafons of extraordinary Trial and 
Perfecution, (which mall be coniidered af- 
terwards,) good Men have a greater Share of 
Afflictions and Calamities than other Men. 
On the contrary, it is certain that, as hath 
been already obferved, there are many and 
great Evils and Troubles to which bad Men 
are ordinarily more expofed, and which 
they ufually bring upon themfelves as the 
Effects and Punimments of their Vices and 

2dly, Another Thing which is pro- 
per to be coniidered on this Occaiion is, 
that fome of thofe under great Afflictions, 
whom we look upon to be pious and good 
Men, may not be really fo; and if we 
knew their Hearts and real Characters as 
God doth, we mould, inftead of finding- 
Fault with the Severity of his Dealings to- 
wards them, acknowledge and adore his 
Juftice and Righteouihefs. 

But 3dly, fuppofing them to be really,, 
taking in the whole of their Character, 
good and upright Perfons, as it cannot be 
denied that many fuch in all Ages have 
been greatly afflicted, yet they may have 
been guilty of Sins on the account of 
which God feeth fit to lay his chaftening 
Hand upon them, and thev may have fpi- 



ritual Diforders and Corruptions, which 
need the Correction of his Rod. And in 
that Cafe, far from accufing the Righte- 
oufnefs of God, we mould admire the Im- 
partiality of his Juftice, in thus manifest- 
ing his Difpleafure againfr. the Sins and 
Faults even of thofe that are the Objects of 
his fpecial Love and Favour. And what 
rendereth it more proper that the Faults 
of good Men mould now be punifhed, is, 
that their Corrections and Punifhments 
are confined to this prefent State of Trial 
and Difcipline. And when this is at an 
End, God fhall for ever wipe away all 
Hears from their Eyes. 

To this it may be added, 4-thly, that 
the Afflictions of the righteous are fent 
with a falutary Defign, and are made to 
work together for their Good, and fo prove 
real BleiTings to them, as was fhewn in a 
former Difcourfe *: And fuch Afflictions 
and Adverfities which are in the Intention 
of God defigned for their greater Benefit, 
and in the Event prove really to be fo, 
cannot properly be brought in as Objections 
againft the Righteoufnefs or even Goodnefs 
of God, but rather are Proofs of both. 
Efpccially confidering the gracious Affiif- 
ances and Supports which God is pleafed 
to vouchfafe to good Men under their 

* See Difcourfe fecond, on Pfalm cxlv. 9. 



Troubles, and which make a great Difference 
between their Afflictions and thofe of other 
Men. If we compare their outward CrofTes 
with the fpiritual Privileges and Benefits 
they are made Partakers of, and with their 
inward Comforts aiifing from the Light of 
God's Countenance, from the Communi- 
cations of his Grace and Spirit, and from 
the peaceful Teftimony of a good Consci- 
ence, and efpecially from the Hopes of 
eternal Glory and Felicity, I fay, if we 
balance the Advantages arifing from thefe 
Things againft. their outward CrofTes, it 
will appear that the former are much fupe- 
rior to the latter. Nor would good Men 
under the moil: afflictive Circumftances ex- 
change Conditions with the mofl profperous 
wicked Man upon Earth. 

It mufl be owned indeed, that in Times 
of fevere Perfecution, fome of the beft of 
Men have been expofed to Sufferings which 
human Nature is fcarce able to bear. Not 
only have they endured thzfpoiling of their 
Goods, and been branded with the moil 
odious Calumnies, but they have been fub- 
jected to the mofl grievous Pains and Tor- 
ments which the bittereff. Rage and Malice 
could inflict, and have at length been put 
to a cruel and ignominious Death, not for. 
any Evil they were guilty of, but for their 
fready Adherence to the Caufe of Truth 



and Righteoufnefs. But it muft be con- 
sidered, that God hath very wife Ends in 
fuffering fuch Perfecutions. They tend to 
the purifying his Church, and to the ex- 
ercifing the Faith and Patience of the 
Saints, and rendering it more illuftrious. 
They mew the Reality and divine Energy 
of Religion, and the Strength and Preva- 
lency of its Principles and Motives. They 
alfo tend mightily to the Honour and Ad- 
vantage of the Sufferers themfelves, who 
have frequently experienced fuch divine 
Confolations and Joys, as have enabled 
them to triumph in their fharpeft Suffer- 
ings, and have rendered them far happier 
than their cruel and infolent Perfecutors. 
To which it muft be added, that their 
Reward in Heaven mail be proportionably 
more glorious. For this is what we muft 
always have in View, when we are con- 
fidering the prefent Afflictions and Suf- 
ferings of good Men, that there is a Hap- 
pinefs prepared for them in a future State, 
which mall infinitely tranfcend all their 
Sufferings. And of this we have the fulleft 
Affurance given us in the Gofpel Reve- 
lation. And it furnimeth a full and fa- 
tisfactory Anfwer to all that can be ob- 
jected againft the Righteoufnefs of Divine 
Providence, with regard to the Afflictions 
and Adverfities to which good Men are 



expofed here on Earth. They are defigned 
to form them into a Meetnefs for that fu- 
ture Glory, and to heighten their heavenly 
Reward. And mail thofe Things be com- 
plained of, that mail have fuch a happy 
and glorious IfTue ? We may juftly reckon 
with the great Apoftle St. Paul, that the 
Sufferings of this prefent Time are not worthy 
to be compared unto the Glory which Jba/l be 

Thirdly, As the Afflictions and Suffer- 
ings of the righteous, fo alfo the Profpe- 
rity of the wicked hath been frequently 
urged, to mew that this World is not un- 
der the Government of a wife and righteous 
Providence. The worft and vileft of Men, 
inftead of being punifhed as they deferved, 
and as might be expecfled under a juft Ad- 
miniftration, have often been placed in 
very advantageous and flourifhing Circum- 
ftances, porTefTed of large Treasures, and 
exalted to high Honours and Dignities, to 
the Wonder and Envy of all that beheld 

But upon a careful Confideration it will 
appear, that this furnifheth no proper Ob- 
jection againft the Righteoufnefs of Divine 

It hath been already fhewn that wicked 
Men are often in a very miferable and ca- 
lamitous Condition even here on Earth, 

Vol. I. A a and 


and that fuch is the prefent Conftitution of 
Things, that in the ordinary Courfe of hu- 
man Affairs, Wickednefs, Injuftice, and 
Dilfolutenefs of Manners, tend to bring 
great Evils on thofe that practice them. It 
is alio certain, that God frequently exe- 
cuteth his Judgments in a very remarkable 
Manner upon thofe that have diftinguifhed 
themfelves by great %nd uncommon Wick- 
ednefs, efpecially upon bloody Perfecutors, 
impious and audacious Scoffers and Blaf- 
phemers, cruel, and infolent Oppreffors^ 
lb that thofe who have obferved, have been 
led to fear, and to declare the Work of God, 
and wijely to confider of his Doings. Pfal. 
lxiv. 9. and have acknowledged, that verify 
there is a God that judgeth in the Earth ; 
and that the Lord is known by the Judg- 
tnent which he executeth. Pfal. ix. 16. 
But it cannot be denied that it alfo fre- 
quently happeheth, that wicked and un- 
godly Men are in very profperous and 
fplendid outward Circumftances, and have 
a large Affluence of the i>;ood Thines of 
this prefent World. 

And with regard to this T would firft 
obferve in general, that it is no way pro- 
per or fitting that all wicked Men and 
wicked Actions mould be immediately pu- 
nched in this prefent State. For this would 
change the very Nature of this State of 



Trial and Difcipline, and confound it with 
a State of Judgment. The Righteoufnefs 
of Divine Providence mould be now exer- 
cifed in fuch a Manner as to preferve the 
World, and not to deftroy it. Whereas, if 
Punifhments were immediately to follow 
every wicked Perfon and evil Action ; if 
God did not bear with Sinners, nor Men 
bear with one another, which in that Cafe 
they would look upon themfelves to be un- 
der no Obligation to do; this World would 
become a mere Shambles, a Place of utter 
Defolation and Mifery. Where would be 
the Exercife of divine Mercy ? or what 
Space would be left for Repentance ? And 
yet it is certain that many who have been 
bad Men, and done wicked Actions, have 
afterwards reformed, and fome of them have 
proved remarkably good and ufeful. God's 
bearing with Sinners in this prefent State 
of Trial, and even conferring many Bene- 
fits upon them, lheweth the Riches of his 
Goodnejs, and Patience, and Long-Juff'ering, 
and that he is not willing that any Jhould 
perijhy but that all 'Jhould come to Repentance. 
And it hath a Tendency alio to form them 
to a merciful forgiving Temper towards 
one another. Profperity is one Way of 
trying Perfons as well as Adverfity. And 
will any fay, that it is never proper that 
bad Men mould be thus tried ? if the Way 
A a 2 of 


of Indulgence were never to be ufed to- 
wards them, it could not be faid that all 
proper Methods were ufed to amend and to 
reclaim them. The Goodnefs of God in 
its natural Tendency leadeth Sinners to Re- 
pentance ; and if it hath not that Effect 
upon them, will leave them without Ex- 
cufe. We mould therefore on fuch Occa- 
calions acknowledge and admire his Pa- 
tience and Forbearance, but not find Fault 
with his Righteoufnefs, which will cer- 
tainly be manifefted in the fitteft Seafon, 
of which undoubtedly he is the beft 

It may be proper farther to obferve, that 
we may in fome Cafes pafs a wrong Judg- 
ment on Perfons, and look upon thofe to 
be bad Men that really are not fo ; or at 
leaft may regard them as much worfe than 
they are. For when Men fee others prof- 
per, they are often apt, through Envy 
and Impatience, to reprefent them in too 
unfavourable a Light, and give wrong 
Turns to their Actions. Or, if they be 
really, taking in the whole of their Ac- 
tions and Chara&er, bad Men, yet they 
may have fome valuable Qualities, and 
God may fee more Good in them than 
we know, yea, they may in fome In- 
ftances be Inflruments in the Hands of 
Providence for doing Service to the Com^ 



munity, or to his Church and People, and 
therefore he may fee fit to give them tem- 
poral Rewards. And it is a Proof of the 
divine Goodnefs and Righteoufnefs that he 
doth not fuffer the good Qualities and Ser- 
vices even of bad Men to pafs wholly un- 
rewarded. It is alfo to be confidered, that 
many Men, who are not Perfons of real 
Piety and Virtue, may yet be of eminent 
natural and acquired Abilities, and of great 
Induftry and Sagacity, and may be very af- 
fiduous in the Ufe of thofe Means, which, 
according to the dated Rules of Providence, 
and Laws of Society, have a Tendency to 
procure temporal Bleflings, Riches, Power, 
and Dominion. And if Providence in 
fuch Cafes fuffereth them to obtain what 
they fo earneftly feek for, and crowneth po- 
litical Gifts and Abilities with political Re- 
wards, there is nothing in this Procedure 
but what is wife and fit. And indeed, con- 
fidering that there are fuch Numbers of 
bad Men in the World, it can fcarce be 
avoided, but that Perfons of this Charac- 
ter muft frequently be pofTefTed of great 
Wealth and Power, efpecially fince they 
are often more eager and diligent to obtain 
them than other and better Men, except 
God mould extraordinarily interpofe to al- 
ter the common Courfe and State of Things 
A a 3 here 


here on Earth, which for wife Reafons he 
doth not generally think fit to do. 

Another Confideration of no fmall Mo- 
ment, which ought not to be palled by if 
we would form a right Judgment concern- 
ing the Matter before us, is this, that the 
Profperity of the wicked, which maketh 
fo great a Shew, and exciteth fo much 
Envy, is merely external. The Spectators 
who judge only by the Splendor of their 
Appearance, may think them to be in a hap- 
py Condition, when they are really miferable. 
Let them be placed in never fuch advantage- 
ous outward Circumftances, yet if they be 
under the Power and Tyranny of impetu- 
ous Lufls, and bafe diforderly Appetites 
and PafTions, if they are fwollen with vain 
Pride, or cankered with Envy, or embit- 
tered with Malice, Hatred, and Revenge, 
or racked with Ambition, and reftlefs 
infatiable Defires, efpeciahy if their own 
Minds and Confciences reproach and con- 
demn them for their Impieties, their De- 
baucheries, their Acts of Injustice and 
Oppremon, as they muft when they allow 
themfelves Time for ferious Reflection ; if 
this be the Cafe, they are wretched in all 
their Affluence, and the meaneft good Man 
that hath a Senfe of the divine Favour, and 
is contented in his low Condition, is really 
far happier than they. 



With regard to profperous Tyrants, and 
mighty Conquerors, who have often met 
with great Succefs in their lawlefs Ravages, 
and in executing their ambitious Defigns to 
opprefs and inflave Mankind, it muft be 
confidered that this is permitted for very 
wife and righteous Ends. They are Scourges 
in the Hand of God for chaftening guilty 
Nations. And as it is proper that fuch 
Nations mould be puniihed, fo there are no 
Inftruments fitter to execute thofe Punifh- 
ments than fuch Perfons as thefe, though 
they themfelves have nothing in View but 
the gratifying their own Paflions, and their 
Luil of Dominion and Power. The De- 
valuations and Cruelties they commit are 
juft Punimments on the People that fuffer 
them, confidered as inflicted by a holy 
and righteous God, though they are often 
very unjuit, as Prosperity and Succefs of 
wicked Men is no Objection againft the 
Righteoufnefs of Divine Providence, when 
it is neceMary for executing his juft 
Punimments upon guilty Nations, that 
they mould profper and have Succefs. 

If it be urged, that though they be 
fuffered to profper for a while, yet Juftice 
requireth that they fhould alio be punimed 
in their Turn for their Wickednefs and 
In juft ice, their Cruelty and Violence; I 
anfwer, that fo it frequently happeneth. 
A a 4 Thofe 


Thofe wicked Perfons, after having been 
Inftruments in the Hands of God for pu- 
nifhing others, are themfelves punifhed in 
a very exemplary Manner, and are carl: 
down from their Profperity and Glory. Se- 
veral Inftances of this Kind the Hiftories 
of all Nations and Ages will furnifh us 
with. But fuppofing that they continue in 
a profperous Condition, and in great Power 
and Splendor through the whole Courfe of 
their Lives, it muft ftill be remembered, 
that the principal Punifhments of the 
wicked, as well as Rewards of the righ- 
teous, are refervedfor a future State. And 
it perfectly clears the Difficulty to confider 
that there is a Time coming, when thofe 
mighty and lawlefs OpprerTors, who had 
no human Power to control them, mall 
be diftinguifhed with dreadful Punifhments 
before Heaven and Earth, and fhall receive 
& full Recompence for their Pride, Cruelty, 
Injuftice, and their many enormous Acts of 
Wickednefs. And it is a general Rule, 
which we mould always take along with 
us in confidering God's providential Dif- 
penfations towards Mankind, that it is his 
Will and Defign that we mould not termi- 
nate our Views here on Earth, but mould 
look forwards to another World, to a State 
of final Retributions. Not to do this, would 
be to overlook and confound the proper 



Order and Oeconomy of Divine Providence, 
which, taken in its juft Extent, compre- 
hendeth God's Adminiftrations towards 
Mankind both in this and in a future State, 
both which concur to make up one great 
Scheme of Government. 

I mall conclude with this Reflection, 
that we mould, on no Occafion, allow 
ourfelves to entertain any harm or injuri- 
ous Conceptions of the Righteoufnefs and 
Equity of God's Dealings towards his Crea- 
tures. It muft certainly be an inexcufable 
Rafhnefs in fuch fhort-fighted Creatures as 
we are, who know fo little of the Reafons 
of the divine Difpenfations, and have fuch 
imperfed: Views of the Works and Ways 
of Providence, to take upon us to judge 
and cenfure the Counfels and Proceedings 
of the Deity. We mould reject with the 
utmofl Abhorrence, the very Thought of 
charging God with InjufUce, faying, as St. 
Paul did in a very difficult Cafe, What 
fhall we fay then ? Is there Unrighteoufhefs 
with God?- God forbid. Rom. ix. 14. Or, 
as Elihu expreffeth it, Shall even he that 
hateth Right govern f And wilt thou condemn 
him that is fnofljuflf Job xxxiv. 17. When 
Clouds and Darknefs are about him, and we 
cannot at prefent penetrate into the Reafons 
of his Difpenfations, we muft be ready to 
acknowledge with the devout Pfalmift, that 



Right eonfnefs and "Judgment are the Habita- 
tion, or, as it might be rendered, the Ef- 
tablijhment of his throne. Pfal. xcvii. 2. 
And what Comfort mould this yield amidfl 
all the Difficulties of this prefent State, 
and all the Injuries we may now fuftain 
from our Fellow-creatures ! A righteous 
God feeth all our Wrongs, and will redrefs 
them in that Time and Manner which he 
in his infinite Wifdom knoweth to be fit— 
teft and beft. He may indeed fufFer thofe 
that have a juft Caufe to be oppreffed, be- 
caufe they deferve to be puniihed upon 
other Accounts, or becaufe he intendeth 
fo to order it, that this prefent Trial mall 
turn to their greater Benefit. But this we 
may be fure of, that he always favoureth 
the righteous Caufe, and it {hall moft cer- 
tainly appear in the final IrTue of Things, 
that he doth fo. Nor can any Man upon good 
Grounds expect his Favour and Bieffing in 
an unrighteous Caufe or Courfe, though he 
may for wife Ends fuffer fuch Perfons to 
profper and prevail for a while. For it is 
a ftable Truth, that he beholdeth Mijchief 
and Spite, to requite it with his Hand, i. e. 
to requite it in the fitted Seafon. And that 
the righteous Lord loveth Righteoufnefs, his 
Countenance doth behold the upright ; viz. 
with an Eye of Favour and Complacency. 
Pial. xi. 7. And how happy is it to be 



under the wife and equal Government of 
that infinitely perfect Being, who loveth 
Righteoufnefs, and hateth Iniquity, and 
who cannot poflibly, in any Inflance, do a 
wrong or unjuft Thing ! Let us therefore 
with the profoundeft Reverence acknow- 
ledge and adore him under this glorious 
Character, and join in that noble Song of 
Mofes and of the Lamb, in which the 
Saints of God under the Old Teflament and 
the New, the Church militant, and the 
Church triumphant, joyfully concur, Great 
and marvellous are thy Works , Lord God al- 
mighty ; jujl and true are thy Ways, O thou 
King of Saints. Who would not fear thee, 
and glorify thy Name ? For thou only art ho- 
ly, and thy Judgments are made manifejl* 
Rev. xv. 3, 4. 


Concerning a future Judgment and 
State of final Retributions ', when 
the Adminifirations of Providence, 
towards Mankind fhall be com- 


Eccles. iii. 17. 

I /aid in mine Heart, God Jhall judge the 
righteous and the wicked : for there is a 
Time therefor every Purpofe and for every 

IN my laft Difcourfe feveral Things 
were offered for vindicating the Righ- 
teoufnefs of God in his Difpenfations to- 
wards Mankind in this prefent State ; but 



it was obferved, that this cannot be fully 
done without taking a future World into 
the Account. For it is then that the great 
Scheme of Providence fhall be compleated, 
and all thofe Difficulties which now puzzle 
and aftonifh our Minds fhall be fully ad- 
justed and reconciled. We cannot there- 
fore more properly conclude this Subjedt, in 
treating of which we have endeavoured to 
take a general View of the Administrations 
of Divine Providence towards Mankind, 
than by turning our Thoughts to a State of 
future Judgment and Retributions, when 
all the Defigns of God towards the human 
Race fhall be brought to their final impor- 
tant Iflues. 

To this the Words of the Wife-man, 
which I have now chofen to infill upon, 
feem plainly to refer. He had faid in the 
Verfe immediately preceding, I faw under 
the Sun, the Place of judgment, that Wick- 
ednefs was there; and the Place of Right eouf- 
hefs, that Iniquity was there. It hath often 
happened, that they whofe proper Work 
and Office it is to execute Juftice and Judg- 
ment, to punifh evil Doers, and to do Right 
to the injured and oppreffed, are themfelves 
unrighteous and unjuft. They join with the 
OpprefTors againfl the poor and innocent, and 
fuffer Judgment to be perverted in Favour 
of the Wealthy and powerful. This made 

a great 


a great Impreflion upon his Mind, and he. 
frequently takes Notice of it in this Book. 
Thus Ch. v. 8. he reprefenteth it as no un- 
common Thing to fee the Opprefjion of the 
Poor, and violent perverting of Jujlice and 
Judgment in a Province. And Ch. iv. 1 . I 
returned (faith he) and pondered all the Op- 
prefjions thai are wider the Sun -, and behold 
the Tears of fnch as were opprefed, a?id they 
had ?w Comforter ; and on the Side of their 
OppreJJ'ors there was Power ; but they, i. e. 
the oppreffed, had no Comforter. This fa 
affected his Heart, that in the Bitternefs of 
his Concern he adds, Wherefore I praifed 
the dead which are already dead, more than 
the living which are yet alive. But this 
feems to have been the Language of Paffion 
and Melancholy. A more juft and reafon- 
able Conclufion from the fame Premifes, 
and which he formed in the cool deliberate 
Judgment of his Mind, is that which is 
contained in the Words we are now to 
confider ; I f aid in mine Heart, God Jhall 
judge the righteous and the wicked. Since it 
often happeneth that no Juftice is to be 
found at earthly Tribunals, it is natural 
and reafonable to believe that there is a 
Time coming, when God will fet all Things 
right, and will call all Mankind to an Ac- 
count for their Actions, and put a remark- 
able Difference between the righteous and 



the wicked. For, as it is added, there is a 
Time there, i. e. with him, for every Pur- 
fofe, and for every Work. He hath in his 
great Wifdom appointed the propereft Time 
for every Work, and therefore we may be 
fure he hath appointed a Time for this, 
which is the moft important Work of all, 
and upon which the good Order of the 
World and of his Government doth very 
much depend ; viz. the judging all Men, 
both the righteous and the wicked, and 
diftributing proper Retributions. And to 
this the Wife-man hath a manifest. Re- 
ference in that remarkable Paffage with 
which he concludeth this Book : For God 
Jhall bring every Work into Judgment, with 
every fecret Thing, whether it be good, or 
whether it be evil. In which Words he 
cannot be fuppofed to intend that God doth 
always and in every Inftance execute Judg- 
ment upon Men in this prefent Life : the 
contrary to which he moft exprefsly de- 
clareth in this Book. For he complains, 
that in this World all Things come alike to 
all, and that there is one Event to the rigb~ 
teous and to the wicked. Ch. ix. 2. And 
again, that there is ajuft Man that peri/heth 
in his Righteoufnefs, and that there is a 
wicked Man thai prolongefh his Life in his 
Wickednefs. Ch. vii. 15. Or, as he ex- 
preffeth it Ch. viii. 14. There is a Vanity 



Hsibich is done upon the Earth, that there be 
juji Men unto whom it happeneth according 
to the Work of the wicked : and there be 
wicked Men to whom it happeneth according 
to the Work of the righteous. When there- 
fore he faith, that God fhall bring every 
Work into Judgment, it muft be under- 
flood of a Judgment which mall be exe- 
cuted upon Men in a future State after this 
prefent Life is at an End. And what 
plainly demonftrates this, is, that he de- 
clares univerfally, that God will bring 
every Work into Judgment, with every fe- 
cret 'Thing, whether it be good, or whe- 
ther it be evil. For who will pretend to 
fay, that this is done in this prefent World ? 
The Expreffions are as ftrong as thofe ufed 
by St. Paul in defcribing the laft general 
Judgment, that then every Man fiall re- 
ceive the Things done in his Body, accord- 
ing to that he hath done, whether it be 
good or bad. 2 Cor. v. 10. and that in 
that Day God fiali judge the Secrets of 
Men. Rom. ii. 16. To which it may be 
added, that to interpret thefe Words as 
referring to a future Judgment, feems befr. 
to agree to the Scope and Deiign of this 
Book, which is to fhew the Vanity of all 
Things here below, and to the Conclufion 
he draweth from it : Hear the Conclufion 
ef the whole Matter : Fear God, and keep 
Vol. I. B b his 


his Commandments -,for this is the All of Man. 
So it is in the Original, /. e. his whole 
Duty and Happinefs too. And then he 
addeth, For God Jhall bring every Work 
into Judgment, with every fecret Thing, &c. 
The Argument is ftrong and cogent, if un- 
derftood of the future Judgment, when 
God will call all Mankind to a ftrict Ac- 
count for their Conduct. And it is with a 
View to this, that he warneth a young 
Man in the Heat of his youthful Lufts and 
Pafiions, to confider, that for all thefe 
Things God will bring him into Judgment. 
Ch. xi. 9. To this future Judgment there- 
fore he may be reafonably fuppofed to refer, 
when he here declareth, / faid in mine 
Heart, God jhall judge the righteous and the 
wicked-, i. e. he mail fo judge them as to 
reward the one, and punifli the other. For 
to judge Men, and yet in confequence of 
fuch a Judgment to appoint no Retribu- 
tions of Rewards and Punifhments, would 
be to all the Purpofes of Government, as 
if they were not judged, yea, it would be 
a more inconfiftent Conduct than not to 
call them to an Account for their Actions 
at all. 

I have infifted the more largely upon 
opening the true Intention and Defign of 
this PafTage, becaufe it affordeth a clear 
and ftrong Proof of what fome Perfons 



are very unwilling to own, that the Belief 
of a future State of Judgment and Retri- 
butions obtained among the good Men who 
Jived under the Old Teftament Difpen- 

But what I chiefly delign in this Dif- 
courfe, is to prove, that it is a Principle 
highly agreeable to Reafon, that there is a 
Time coming in a future State, in which 
God will certainly judge the righteous and 
the wicked, and will render to them 
proper Retributions of Rewards and Pu- 

For illustrating which, I mall firil offer 
fome general Confiderations tending to mew 
that this prefent Life is not the whole of 
Man's Exigence, and that it is defigned 
by Providence only for a probationary 
State, or a State of Trial and Difcipline, 
and not of final Judgment or Retribu- 

And then I fliall proceed more difb'nclly 
to prove, that the proper and principal Re- 
wards of the righteous, and PunilhmentS 
of the wicked, are not difpenfed here 
on Earth, but are referved for a future 

Firft, I fhall offer fome general Confi- 
derations to fhew that this prefent Life is 
not the whole of Man's Existence, and 
that it is defigned for a probationary State, 
B b 2 a State 


a State of Trial and Difcipline, and not of 
final Judgment or Retributions. 

That this Life is not the whole of Man's 
Exiftence, or the only State he is defigned 
for, may be fairly argued from the very 
Frame of his Nature, compared with the 
prefent State of Things here on Earth. 
The Brutes foon arrive at all that Perfec- 
tion for which their Natures are defigned. 
They are provided with Enjoyments fitted 
to fatisfy the utmoft of their Defires and 
Capacities. Nor is there any Likeli- 
hood, that if they had a much longer 
Life afforded them, they would become 
more perfect, or arrive to higher Degrees 
of fenfitive Happinefs, the only Happinefs 
they are capable of, than now they can at- 
tain to. But Man hath Faculties of a 
fuperior Nature, whereby he is capable of 
making immortal Proficiencies in intel- 
lectual and moral Improvements , and it 
is but a fmall Progrefs comparatively that 
he can make in thefe Things within the 
fhort Compafs of this frail and tranfitory 
Life. Nor are any of thefe prefent earth- 
ly Enjoyments adequate to the Capacities 
of the human Soul, or capable of filling and 
fatiating its infinite Defires, And can it be 
thought then that Man was endued with fuch 
vaft and fublime Capacities, only that he 
might take a few Turns on this earthly Stage, 



and then disappear for ever, and be loft in 
an utter Extinction of Being, without hav- 
ing Time or Opportunities given him for 
ever arriving to the proper and ultimate 
Felicity and Perfection of his Nature ? 
To fuppofe Man to be made for no other 
Life than this, would be to fuppofe him 
to be one of the mod: unaccountable Com- 
pofitions in all Nature. It would be to 
fuppofe the moft admirable Powers given 
him with an Intention to cut him off be- 
fore they can arrive to their proper Matu- 
rity ; an excellent Work begun without 
any Defign of ever compleating it ; a grand 
Foundation laid prominng a glorious Fa- 
brick, and no Care taken to carry on and 
finifh the Structure. A Way of proceeding 
which would be unworthy of a wife Man, 
and therefore not to be charged upon the 
infinitely wife and good God. 

To enforce this Way of reaibning it 
may be obferved, that Man alone of all 
the Creatures in this lower World, hath 
a Power of looking forwards to Fu- 
turity, and of carrying his Expectations 
and Views beyond the Grave. He alone 
is capable of feeling the Force of Argu- 
ments and Motives drawn from another 
World, from a future State of Happinefs 
or Mifery. Of this the Brutes are incapa- 
ble, which meweth that they are not de- 
B b 3 figned 


figned for a future Exiftence, and that this 
is the only Life they are made for. And 
if Man had been deligned for no other State 
than this, it is reafonable to believe, that 
his Profpects, like thofe of the inferior 
Animals, would have been bounded within 
this prefent Life, and that he would not 
have been made capable of looking farther j 
nor would the wife Parent of his Being 
have framed his Faculties fo as that he 
mould be governed by the Hopes or 
Fears of an hereafter. It ftrengtheneth 
this, when it is conlidered that the De- 
fire and Hope of a future State of Immor- 
tality, is the rtrongeft in the moft. excellent 
and virtuous Minds, and in Proportion as 
it prevaileth, furnifheth powerful Incen- 
tives to the moft worthy and laudable Ac- 
tions and Purfuits, and may therefore be 
juftly regarded as deriving its Original from 
•God himfelf. 

Thus the Frame of our Nature, if duly 
attended to, plainly fheweth, that Man 
was not intended merely for this prefent 
tranfitory Life, fince he is exactly fo 
constituted, and hath fuch Faculties and 
Powers given him, as would have been 
given him, if he had been designed for 
Immortality. And therefore we may juft- 
ly conclude, that the wife Author of his 
Being defigned him for it. And confequently 



that this prefen t Life is not the whole of 
his Exigence, but only the nrft. Stage of it. 
And if fo, it is reafonable to think that 
this Life is intended by Providence for a 
probationary State, a State of Trial and 
Difcipline, and not of final Judgment 
or Retributions. And accordingly to a 
careful Obferver it will appear, that here 
are but as it were the nrft. Rudiments of 
Virtue; excellent Difpofitions are in an 
immature State, and are carried on from 
fmall and very imperfect Beginnings. We 
have many Appetites and Paffions which 
need to be governed, and kept within pro- 
per Bounds. And we have now a great 
deal to do in point of Self-government, and 
for the forming of our Tempers. To 
which it may be added, that the prefent 
Courfe of Things, and of .the divine Dif- 
penfations towards Mankind, is precifely 
fuch as may be expected in a State of 
Trial, and is wifely fuited to it. For in 
fuch a State it might juftly be expected, 
that a great Variety of Methods of Trial 
and Culture mould be employed ; that 
Men mould be placed in different Circum- 
ftances ; that there mould be a Mixture 
of Good and Evil, of Pleafures and Pains, 
of Profperity and Adverfity. For each in 
their feveral Ways are proper for trying 
and exercifing Mens Virtues, for correct- 
B b 4 ing 


ing what is amifs, and forming them to 
worthy Habits and Difpofitions. It might 
alfo be expected, that if this be a State 
of Trial, Things mould be fo conducted 
upon the whole, as to lead us to conclude 
that Virtue, Piety, and Goodnefs, is what 
God approveth, and that Vice and Wick- 
ednefs is the Object of his juft Difpleafure, 
and yet that the former mould not receive 
its full Reward, nor the latter its full Pu- 
nifhment, in this prefent World. 

And accordingly this is now the general 
Courfe of Divine Providence in its Admi- 
niftrations towards Mankind. There is a 
great Mixture of Events here on Earth. 
External Good and Evil, Profperity and 
Adverfity, are difpenfed to all Sorts of Per- 
fons. And though in the prefent Confti- 
tution of Things, God giveth various 
Tokens of his favourable Regards to good 
Men, from whence we may conclude, 
that true Virtue and Goodnefs is what he 
loveth and approveth ; yet he frequently 
exercifeth them with fharp Afflictions and 
Troubles, as may be expected in a State of 
Trial and Difcipline. And in like Man- 
ner, though there are many Things from 
Time to Time in the Courfe of God's Dif- 
penfations, which mew his Difpleafure 
againft Vice and Wickednefs, yet, for the 
moft part, he exercifeth Forbearance to- 


wards bad Men, without inflicting any 
extraordinary Punifhments upon them j 
yea and it often happeneth that they are 
indulged in Profperity and Affluence unto 
the End of their Lives. This is not to be 
wondered at in a State of Trial and For- 
bearance, but would be no way proper, if 
this were a State of final Judgment and 
Retributions. For in fuch a State it would 
be neceffary, that all the righteous mould 
be rewarded, and all the wicked punifhed, 
and that this mould be done in an open 
public Way. It would be alfo neceffary 
that Mens fecret Difpofitions mould be 
brought to light, whether good or bad, 
and that they mould be rewarded or pu- 
nifhed accordingly, lince their inward Dif- 
pofitions conftitute their real Characters, 
and properly denominate Men and their 
Actions good or evil. But it is evident 
that this is not ordinarily done in this pre- 
fent State. There is no open conftant 
Difference now made between the righte- 
ous and the wicked. It cannot be pre- 
tended that all the righteous are rewarded, 
and all the wicked punifhed. On the 
contrary, that which the Wife-man com- 
plaineth of is frequently the Cafe here on 
Earth, that there be jiifi Men to whom it 
happeneth according to the Work of the wick- 
ed-, and there be wicked Men to whom it 



bappeneth according to the Work of the 
righteous, Eccl. viii. 14. The principal 
Rewards now conferred upon good Men, 
are of a fpiritual, fecret, invjfible Nature, 
and therefore often not regarded by the 
World. And the prefent Punifhments of 
the wicked are often chiefly internal, tranf- 
acted in their own Minds and Confciences, 
To which it may be added, that we 4o not 
at prefent certainly know who are the righ- 
teous and the wicked ; and how then can we 
be fure, whether and how far they are re-? 
warded or punifhed ? Their Hearts are in a 
great Meafure concealed from us. We are 
often impofed upon by fpecjous Appearances, 
unable to penetrate through the Difguife 
of the formal Hypocrite, or to diftinguifh 
between the counterfeit Virtue and the 
true. How often do falfe and artful Men 
pafs through the World in a fair Dif- 
guife, whilft Perfons of undhTembled Pie- 
ty and Integrity, of real Sincerity and 
Truth of Heart, and who are incapable 
of acting a deceitful Part, are traduced 
and mifreprefented ! There muft therefore 
be a Time coming, when the Secrets of all 
Hearts mall be revealed, and Men mall 
be dealt with according to their true Cha- 
racters and real Difpofitions : when the 
Hypocrite, that at prefent not only efcap- 
eth Cenfure, but obtaineth Applaufe, mall 

5 be 


be detected and expofed : and when there 
fhall be an open eternal Difcrimination put 
between the juft and the unjuft ; and it 
mall appear that all the former are reward- 
ed, and all the latter punifhed : without 
which the Righteoufnefs of God cannot 
be fully difplayed and vindicated. 

Thefe feveral Confiderations plainly fhew, 
that this prefent Life is not the whole of 
Man's Exiftence ; and that it is deligned for 
a probationary State, a State of Trial and 
Difcipline, and not of final Judgment ; and 
confequently, that there muft be a future 
State and Seafon, in which God will 
judge the righteous and the wicked. 

But to fet this in a clearer Light, I mail 
proceed more diftinctly to mew, that neither 
the righteous receive their proper and full 
Reward here on Earth ; nor are the wick- 
ed punifhed in fuch a Manner as would be 
neceffary if this were deligned to be a State 
of final Retributions. But as I have not 
Time to in lift upon this at prefent fo fully 
as it well deferves, I mall referve the Con- 
fideration of it to another Opportunity, and 
conclude with this Reflection. 

That fince it appeareth that this prefent 
Life is not the whole of Man's Exiftence, 
and is only a probationary State, or a State 
of Trial, we mould take Care that our 
whole Temper and Conduct be fuited to 



fuch a State. Let us not act as if we were 
to have no other Life but this. Let us not 
fuffer our Defires and Views to center and 
terminate here, but carry them forward to 
a future World. We mufl not take up with 
any earthly Enjoyments as our proper final 
Portion and Happinefs, but mufl: be ftill 
looking towards that State to which this 
is defigned to be preparative. We mould 
regard the Circumftances in which we are 
now fituated, all the Good and Evil, the 
profperous and adverfe Events which befall 
us, as deiigned in feveral Ways to prove 
and exercife us, and as Part of the Difci- 
pline allotted us by the fovereign Lord who 
hath placed us here on Earth, and mould 
endeavour to make Ufe of them all for 
helping forward our moral Improvement. 
And it is of vafl Importance to us what 
Habits, what Difpofitions are now fettled 
and eftablifhed in our Minds. For as this 
is the firft Stage of our Being, our good 
or ill Behaviour in this prefent State, and 
the Habits to which we are now formed, 
will lay a Foundation, both according to 
the Appointment of God, and the natural 
Tendency of Things, for our Happinefs 
or Mifery in the future Part -of our Exig- 
ence. It highly concerneth us therefore to 
be careful to redeem and improve our preci- 
ous Time, and to exercife a conftant Watch 



over ourfelves. We muft guard againft 
the Snares and Temptations to which we 
are now expofed, and mult take Pains to get 
evil Habits aH .orrupt Difoofitions cor- 
rected and retrained, and to cultivate and 
impr^ . good ones. For as we fow here, 
we mail reap hereafter. This is what St, 
Paul plainly fignifiethin that excellent Paf- 
fage, with which I fhall conclude, Gal. vu 
7, 8. Be not deceived, God is not mocked-, for 
whatfoever a Man foweth, that Jhall he alfo 
reap. For he that foweth to his Flejh, Jhall 
of the Flejh reap Corruption - y but he that 
foweth to the Spirit, Jhall of the Spirit reap 
Life everlq/iing. 


Concerning a future "Judgment and 
State of final Retributions^ when 
the Adminifl rations of Providence 
towards Mankind Jhall be corn- 


Eccles. iii. 17. 

1 /aid in mine Heart, God Jhall judge the 
righteous and the wicked : for there is a 
'Time there for every Purpofe and for every 

IN my former Difcourfe feveral Con- 
fiderations were offered to mew that 
this prefent Life is not the whole of Man's 
Exiftence, and that it is defigned for a pro- 


bationary State, a State of Trial and Dif- 
cipline, and not of final Judgment ; and 
confequently that there muft be a future 
State and Seafon in which God will judge 
the righteous and the wicked. 

But to fet this in a clearer and ftrono;er 
Light, I mail now proceed more diftinctly 
to mew, that neither the righteous receive 
their proper and full Reward here on Earth, 
nor are the wicked punimed in fuch a 
Manner as would be neceffary if this were 
deligned to be a State of final Retribu- 

Firfl, The righteous do not receive their 
proper and full Reward here on Earth. That 
which good Men afpire after as their pro- 
per Felicity, is not the Enjoyment of 
worldly Riches or Honours, or of fenfual 
Pleafures, but a Happinefs arifing from the 
Perfection of Righteoufnefs, Goodnefs, and 
Purity, from the neareft Communion with 
God, and Conformity to him in his ami- 
able moral Excellencies. But this is v/hat 
they are not capable of fully attaining to in 
this prefent World. They are ftill reach- 
ing forward, and endeavouring to make a 
continual Progrefs in the moft holy and 
virtuous Difpofitions. But after all their 
Efforts they fall greatly fhort : Many are 
the Defects which attend them whilft they 
are in the Body. The beft of Men are moil 



ienfible of this, and ready to acknowledge 
with the Apoftle Pan/ y that they have not yet 
attained, neither are already perf eel; and there- 
fore they moft earneftly afpire after a better 
State, where they mall be entirely free from 
all their Sins and Defilements, and arrive 
at the true Perfection and Felicity of their 
Natures. But what a chilling Thought 
would it be, if this immature and imper- 
fect State were all they had to hope for ! 
If they were to have no Profpects or Op- 
portunities of ever arriving to any higher 
Degrees of moral Excellence, or of bein^ 
railed to a nearer Conformity to God, or a 
fuller Enjoyment of him, than they can 
attain to in this prefent fhort and mortal 
Life 1 Is the good Man only left to ftruggle 
with his Appetites and Pamons for a while, 
and after having, by a careful Difcipline, 
brought them under proper Regulations, 
muft he, when he is juft entered as it were 
upon a Courfe of Wifdom and Virtue, and 
beginning to make a hopeful Progreis in. 
the divine Life, be matched away at once, 
and an utter End be put to all his noble 
Purfuits and Attainments ? Shall all the 
earnefh Defires and Afpirations after Im- 
mortality and Perfection in Holinefs, which 
are kindled in the religious and virtuous 
Soul, prove vain and abortive, and end in 
eternal Difappointment ? What a Difcou- 
Vol. I. C c ragement 


ragement would this be to the moil 
worthy and excellent Aims and Endea- 
vours ! 

And not only are good Men incapable 
in this prefent State of arriving at that 
Perfection and Happinefs for which they 
appear to be defigned, and to which they 
ardently afpire, but they are expofed to 
Troubles of various Kinds, which anfwer 
many valuable Ends if this Life be con- 
sidered as a State of Trial and Difcipline, 
but at the fame Time plainly mew, that 
this prefent World is not intended for the 
Place of their final Reft. They as well as 
others are fubject to grievous Pains and 
Difeafes of Body, to many difaftrous Events 
and vexatious CroiTes and Difappointments 
in the Courfe of their private Affairs. And 
with regard to Judgments of a public Na- 
ture inflicted upon whole Nations and large 
Communities, good Men as well as others 
are frequently involved in the common Ca- 
lamity. There is no Difficulty in account- 
ing for this, if there be a future State, in 
which God will diftinguifh them in a glo- 
rious Manner, though here they fall un- 
diftinguifhed in the common Ruin. But 
if there were no other State to be expected 
after this Life is at an End, it would be 
hard to reconcile fuch a Procedure with the 
Goodnefs and Righteoufnefs of Divine Pro- 
c vidence. 


vidence. For why mould the guilty and 
the innocent, the righteous and the wicked, 
mare alike ? 

But it carrieth the Argument much far- 
ther, when we confider that many excellent 
Perfons have not only fuffered in common 
with the wicked in this prefent State, but 
that they have in feveral Inftances fuffered 
more than other Men< Even their own 
virtuous DifpofitionSj their Benevolence 
and Goodnefs of Heart, do on many Occa- 
sions fubjed: them to peculiar Griefs and 
Sorrows, by rendering them fufceptible of 
the moft tender and affedting Impreffions 
from the Calamities which they fee all 
around them, fo that the Miferies of others 
are by a tender Sympathy made their own. 
Befides which, they themfelves are fre- 
quently expofed to Derifion and Contempt, 
and to the moft cruel and injurious Treat- 
ment from wicked and unreafonable Men. 
It hath often happened that thofe who 
have done fignal Services to Mankind 
have met with the moft ungrateful Re- 
turns. Not a few have perifned in noble 
Defigns and Attempts undertaken from 
the moft upright and excellent Views. 
There have been Times in which to be re- 
markable for Virtues and good Qualities, 
was to be marked out for Deftruftion, and 
Eminency in Merit hath been made a 
C c 2 Crime* 


Crime, and was fure to expofe Men to the 
Rage and Envy of thofe in Power. And 
what an overwhelming Thought would it 
be, if they had no Profpects beyond this 
prefent World, in which the befr. of Men 
have been tifed fo ill ! Numerous have 
been the In (lances of Perfbns that have 
been perfecnted for Right eoufnefs fake. Thofe 
of whom the World was not worthy, have 
been deftitute, affliSied, tormented, treated as 
the Off-fcouring of all 'Things, and after en- 
during many grievous Sufferings and Re- 
proaches have been put to a moft ignomi- 
nious and painful Death. Thefe are In- 
fiances of jufi Men periflring in their Righ- 
t eoufnefs, which the Wife- man complaineth 
of, Ecclef vii. 15. And if there were no 
future State, they mult perifh for ever 
without any proper Recompence for their 
exemplary Piety and Virtue. Yea, upon 
fuch a Suppofition, they would not only be 
unrewarded, but greatly punifhed for it. 
And what a monftrous Suppofition would 
this be, that they fhould have no other Re- 
ward for their uncommon Goodnefs, than 
to be expofed to the greatefr. Sufferings on 
the Account of it, and to perifh under 
thefe Sufferings ! In this Cafe they might 
be faid to be irreparable Lofers by their 
Piety, their Devotednefs to God, and firm 
Adherence to the Caufe of Truth and 



Righteoufnefs. And can it be fuppofed, 
that a juft and holy God would fufFer this ? 
Will he not take Care that fuch illuurious 
Piety and Virtue be fuitably rewarded ? 
And if it be rewarded at all, it muft be in 
a future State, fince in the Cafe now put, 
they have no Reward in this. 

It is true that good Men have often 
great Supports and Comforts under their 
Afflictions and Troubles, which render 
their Condition even in thofe Circum- 
stances really preferable to that of the 
wicked. But then it muft be confidered, 
that thofe Supports and Comforts arife in 
a great Meafure from the Hope of a bleffed 
Immortality. When they can fay with 
St. Paul, We rejoice in Hope of the Glory of 
God, then they may alfo fay with him, 
Tea, we glory in tribulation alfo. Rom. v. 
2, 3. Take away this Hope, and you 
cut the Sinews of their Patience, and de- 
prive them of that which tendeth chierly 
to infpire them with a divine Confidence 
and Joy. That Virtue is its own Reward 
is indeed a glorious Way of talking, and 
which in a qualified Senfe may be ad- 
mitted. But if taken in fuch a Latitude 
as fome have underftood it, is no Way 
agreeable to Reafon, or to Fact and Ex- 
perience. Never did the wildefr. Flights 
of Enthufiafm produce any Thing more 
C c 3 arro- 


arrogant, or more repugnant to common 
Senfe, than what fome Philofophers of old 
aflerted, that a wife Man is perfectly happy 
in himfelf, as happy as God, by the mere 
Force of his own Wifdom and Virtue, in- 
dependently of any Thing without him, 
and without any farther Views or Profpects ; 
yea, though we mould fuppofe him to be 
actually under the greater! bodily Tor- 
ments, and in the moil miferable outward 
Circumftances that can be imagined, and 
which by the very Frame of our Nature can- 
not but produce the mod bitter and painful 
Senfations. Far be it from me to detract from 
the intrinfic Beauty and Excellency of 
Virtue, and from the inward Peace and noble 
Satisfaction which floweth from it. But for 
any to magnify this fo far, as to render the 
Expectations or Hopes of a Reward prepared 
for good Men in a future State needlefs, is 
under Pretence of a high Efteem for Virtue 
and moral Excellence to betray its Interefts, 
and to deprive it of its greateft Securities 
and Encouragements. For that which 
principally animateth to the Practice of it, 
is a Senfe of the divine Favour and Ap- 
probation, and the glorious Profpects it 
openeth to us. But if there were no future 
State, how narrow would the Profpect be ! 
How feeble the Proofs that real Piety and 
Virtue is acceptable and well pleafing to 



the Deity, if he left it to conflict with the 
tevereft Difficulties and Trials, and then 
fuffered it to perim without any farther No- 
tice or Regard ! How would it appear that 
he is an Approver and Lover of Righteouf- 
nefs, if he did fo little for thofe who make 
it the Bufinefs of their Lives to cultivate 
it ? If after giving the ftrongeft Evidences 
of their Love, Refignation, and Obedience 
to God, amidfr. the greateft Difficulties, 
they mould inftead of receiving a proper 
Recompence have an eternal Period put to 
all their Hopes, and to all their virtuous 
Purfuits ? 

To all which it may be added, that it hath 
fometimes happened that Perfons of great 
Piety and Integrity have not only had many 
outward Troubles here on Earth ; but have 
experienced little of thofe divine Confo- 
lations which other good Men have been 
favoured with. They have complained of 
God's hiding his Face from them, and have 
been opprefled with Sorrow and Sadnefs. 
With the beft Difpofitions in the World 
they have laboured under black and difmal 
Clouds of Melancholy, which have filled 
their Minds with gloomy Apprehenfions. 
So it hath pleafed God to fuffer it, to con- 
vince us the more that this is not the pro- 
per State of Rewards for good Men 5 that 
there is another and better State to be ex- 
C c 4 pedted, 


pected, where all thofe Clouds (hall be 
difpelled, where God mall wipe away all 
Tears from their Eyes, and they (hall re- 
joice and be happy in him to all Eter- 

From thefe feveral Confiderations it ap- 
peareth, that the righteous do not receive 
their proper and full Reward here on Earth, 
and that therefore there mull: be a future 
State of Retributions after this Life is at 
an End. 

The fame Thing may be argued from 
there not being an adequate Puniihment in- 
flicted upon the ungodly in this prefent 
World. It is indeed fo ordered by Divine 
Providence, that Vice and Sin frequently 
bring great Evils upon Men even in this 
prefent Conflitution of Things. But this 
is far from being fo univerfal, or in fuch a 
Degree as might be expected, if this were 
to be the proper and only State of Punish- 
ment for the wicked. There are many bad 
Men who by their viciousConduct confume 
their worldly Subftance, impair their Health 
and Credit, expofe themfelves to Poverty 
and Shame, and ihorten their own Lives, 
fo that they do not live out half their Days. 
But befides that there are good Men who 
are poor, afflicted, expofed to Obloquy 
and Reproach, and fubiecT: to the fame 
external Evils with the wicked, and 



vvhofe Lives are cut off in the midfl of 
their Years ; it cannot be denied that there 
are wicked Perfons who enjoy an uninter- 
rupted Courfe of great outward Profperity. 
They are not in 'Trouble as other Men, neither 
are they plagued like other Men. Therefore 
Pride co7?7paffeth them about as a Chain, Vio- 
lence cover eth them as a Garment. Their Ryes 
Jland out with Fatnefs, they have more than 
Heart could wifi. — Behold thefe are the un- 
godly who pro/per in the World, they increafe 
in Riches. Pfal. lxxiii. 5, 6, 7, 12. They 
may therefore be juftly faid, inftead of hav- 
ing their Punifhment, to have their Portion 
in this Life, as it is exprefTed, Pfal. xvii. 
14. They are often exalted to the higheft 
worldly Honours and Dignities, and crown- 
ed with Acclamation and Applaufe. They 
become old, yea, are mighty in Power ; or, as 
the Wife-man fpeaks, prolong their Lives in 
their Wickednefs. Ecclef. vii. 1 5. And if there 
were no future State, how much happier to 
all Appearance would their Lot be than 
that of many pious and righteous Perfons, 
who are all their Lives long afflicted and 
opprefled, and perhaps end all with a 
painful and forrowful Death ? There are 
Sinners of the firft Magnitude, whofe 
Crimes as far tranfcend thofe of the com- 
mon Sort of bad Men, as they are fuperior 
to them in Dominion and Power, and 
3 whofe 


whofe evil Actions or unrighteous Decrees 
have a molt, mifchievous and extenfive In- 
fluence, and yet they have nothing to fear 
from any human Judicatories. And if fuch 
enormous Sinners are not to be punifhed in 
a future State ; if after having had the full 
Indulgence of thefe Gratifications in which 
they themfelves take moft Pleafure, and af-r 
ter having gone on profperoufly in their 
evil Courfes to the End of their Lives, they 
muft only like other Men fink into the 
Grave, and after Death be in no worfe a 
Condition than the beft of God's faithful 
Servants ; how could fuch a State of Things 
be pofiibly reconciled to the Wifdom, 
Righteoufnefs, and Goodnefs of the fupreme 
Governor ? There feemeth to be no Way 
of accounting for this, but by allowing a 
future State of Judgment and Retributions, 
in which there fhall be a remarkable Dif- 
tin&ion made between the righteous and 
the wicked, and the former fhall be fignally 
rewarded, and the latter mail receive the 
juft Punifhment of their Crimes. 

If it be urged, that Wickednefs carrieth 
its own Punilhment with it, that our Minds 
are fo conftituted, as to have an inward 
Senfe of the Deformity of Vice and Sin, 
which by the very Frame of our Nature is 
attended with deep Difiatisfaclion and Re- 
rnorfe, and with the Stings and Agonies of 

a guilty 


a guilty Confcience, and that this rendereth 
the wicked miserable in the Height of their 
outward Profperity : I anfwer, that it is 
indeed a great Proof of the Wifdom an$ 
Righteoufnefs of God, that he hath fo or- 
dered it, that Men can fcarce commit enor- 
mous Acts of Wickednefs, without being 
felf-condemned, and liable to the Reproaches 
of their own Minds. This fheweth that the 
Author of our Natures is himfelf holy and 
righteous, that he hateth Sin, and that it is 
his Will that we fhould do fo too; and confe- 
quently it afFordeth a Proof that he will 
awfully punifh it -, and if Sinners break 
through thefe Reftraints which he hath 
laid upon them, this will aggravate their 
Guilt, and expofe them to his righteous 
Vengeance. But to make the inward Re- 
morfe which often accompanieth or fol- 
loweth bad Actions to be the only Punifh- 
ment that (hall be inflicted upon them, 
would be a moil abfurd Suppofition. What 
human Government would be fafe, if there 
were no other Penalties enacted againft 
thofe that are guilty of the greater! Crimes, 
but the natural Confequences of Vice, or 
the Anguifh Sinners feel in their own 
Breafts for having committed thofe Crimes ? 
Would it be fumcient for anfwering the 
Ends of Government, and for deterring 
evil Doers, to publifh fine Edicts, fetting 
before them the Evil and Deformity of 



Vice, InjufKce, Oppreffion, Murder, Im- 
purity, and Debauchery, and leaving them 
to the Stings and Torments of their own 
Confciences as the greatefr. Punifhments 
that could be inflicted ? Would not fuch a 
Scheme of Government be accounted per- 
fectly ridiculous ? By the common Confent 
of all Mankind thefe are not alone fufficient 
Punifhments. That which giveth the 
greateft. Force to the Stings and Agonies of 
a guilty Confcience, is the Dread of a fu- 
preme Governor and Judge, and the Ap- 
prehenfions of the Wrath to come. Take 
away this, and the Pangs and Terrors 
which attend the Practice of Sin will be 
very much allayed and diminished. Befides, 
it is manifeft from Fact and Experience, 
that in this prefent State there is fuch a 
Variety of Amufcments and Entertain- 
ments, there are fo many Things to divert 
the Attention of the Mind, and to take off, 
or greatly abate the Edge of keen and 
bitter Reflections, that Men for the mofl 
part find Ways of fhunning the Uneaunefs 
of their own Minds, and even of arguing 
themfelves out of it by debauching their 
Reafon to patronize their Vices. Many 
by a long Courfe of finning have con- 
tracted a flrange Infcnfibility, and have 
quite ftupified their own Confciences, and 
even gloried in their Crimes. They have 
been fo far depraved, as not only to takePlea- 



Cure in gratifying their vicious Inclinations, 
but in reflecting upon them afterwards, 
and in acting over former Scenes of Im- 
purity and Revenge in their own Imagina- 
tions. So that if the inward Anguifh and 
Remorfe of their own Minds were to be 
the only or principal Punimment Sinners 
were to undergo, then the mod: profligate and 
obdurate Sinners, they who had arrived to 
the greater!: Height of Wickednefs, would 
be the freeft from Punifhment. Thofe 
would fuffer mod who are raw and un- 
practifed in Vice ; and the longer any Per- 
fon had gone on in a Courfe of finning, 
and the more hardened he was in his evil 
Habits, the lefs would his Penalty be , 
which is the mo ft abfurd Suppofition that 
can poflibly be admitted, and the moft in- 
consistent with the Righteoufnefs of the 
fupreme Governor and Judge. 

Upon the whole, it is the Dread of future 
Punifhments that is the mofl powerful Re- 
straint to Vice and Wickednefs. If this 
were once entirely removed, there would 
be little comparatively to hinder Sinners 
from giving an unbounded Licence to their 
corrupt Appetites and LuftS ; the World 
would be far wickeder and therefore more 
miferable than it is. And there are few 
Sinners, whatever Pains they take with 
themfelves, who can get abfolutely rid of 



all Appreheniions of this Kind. Still there 
are fome fecret Forebodings of a future Ac- 
count, which are apt to arife in their 
Minds, and on fome Occalions, at leaft, 
to give them Uneafinefs. 

And now if we take the feveral Confi- 
derations together which have been men- 
tioned, they lead to this Conclufion, that 
there mall be a future State, in which God 
will judge the righteous and the wicked, 
and will reward the one and punifh the 
other. And in facl:, no Inftance can be 
brought of a well-ordered State, where the 
Generality of the People had not fome 
Notion (though often blended with much 
Obfcurity) of a future State of Rewards 
and Punifhments, which was both derived 
to them by a moft ancient and general 
Tradition, and may be juftly regarded as 
the Voice of Nature and Reafon, arifing 
from a fecret Conviction that fome further 
Retributions are necefTary than are difpenf- 
ed here on Earth. And that which is 
fo agreeable to right Reafon to fuppofe, 
and which is rendered fo probable by the 
State and Circumftances of Mankind, is 
put beyond all Doubt by the Gofpel of 
yefus. There Life and Immortality is 
brought into the mofl clear and ooen 
Light, which is an ineftimable Advantage 
to us. For though, in general, it is rea- 



ibnable to believe that God will reward 
good Men in a future State, yet in apply- 
ing this to our own Cafe,, many are the 
Doubts and Difficulties that will be apt to 
arife, confidering the Imperfection of our 
Virtues, the Sins we are chargeable with, 
and the many Defects in our Obedience. 
Befides that, if left to our own unaffifted 
Reafon, we muft be greatly at a lofs with 
regard to the Nature and Greatnefs of 
that future Reward which it mall pleafe 
God in his infinite Wifdom and Gcodnefs 
to beftow. It muft therefore be an un~ 
fpeakable Comfort and Advantage to be 
affured in the Name of God himfelf, and 
by his own exprefs Promife, that he will 
gracioufly pardon our Iniquities upon our 
returning to him with a true Repentance, 
and will crown our fincere, though im- 
perfect Obedience, with a glorious Refur- 
rection, and Life everlafting; a Reward far 
tranfcending all that we are able to exprefs 
or even to conceive. In like manner we 
are alfo affured, that there are dreadfui 
Puniihments prepared for the wicked in 
a future State, which are reprefented in a 
Manner very proper to make ftrong Im- 
premons upon the Minds of Sinners, and 
to deter them from a Courfe of prefumptuous 
Sin and Difobedience. We have now the 
clearefl Difcovery made to us, and the moll 



abfolute AfTurance given us, of a future ge- 
neral Judgment. It is declared to us by 
exprefs Revelation* from God himfelf, that 
there is a Day coming, a certain appointed 
Seafon fixed in the divine Counfels, though, 
for wife Reafons, the precife Time of it is 
concealed from us, in the which God will 
judge the World in Righteoufnefs. That 
then he will render to every Man according 
to his Deeds ; to them, who by a patient Con- 
tinuance in Well-doing, feek for Glory, Ho- 
nour, and Immortality, eternal Life-, but 
unto them that are contentious, and do not 
obey the 'Truth, but obey JJnrighteoufnefs, In- 
dignation and Wrath, Tribulation and An- 
gui/h. That this Judgment mail be uni- 
verfal, extending to all Mankind without 
Exception, and mail be carried on with 
the moft awful Solemnity, with the 
utmoft Impartiality, and without refpect 
of Perfons, and that the Secrets of all 
Hearts mall be made manifeft. This we 
are afiured of by the moft credible and 
illuftrious Meffcnger that could poflibly be 
fent from Heaven, even the Son of God 
himfelf, Jefus Chrifi our Lord, by whom 
thib dement fhall be immediately admi- 
nifter^ ■ 'he Father's Name, and whofe 
divine Minion cometh to us confirmed by 
the moft illultrious Atteftations. And this 
Conftitution, where jy the Saviour of Man- 


kind is appointed to be our Judge, fheweth, 
that we fhall be dealt with according to 
the Rules of Righteoufnefs and Equity, 
but not with the utmoft Rigour and Severi- 
ty of unallayed juftice; a Confideration 
which cannot but minifter great Comfort 
to good Men, and at the fame Time giv- 
eth no Encouragement to thofe that perfifl 
in an obftinate Courfe of Difobedience. 

I (hall conclude this Difcourfe and all 
that I have to offer on this important Sub- 
ject relating to the Providence of God, with 
obferving, that at the great Day of Judg- 
ment and final Retributions, the Scheme of 
Providence towards Mankind fhall be ac- 
complifhed, and mail appear in its proper 
Harmony and Glory to the whole intelligent 

God's impartial Juftice and Righteouf- 
nefs and fpotlefs Purity fhall then be aw- 
fully difplayed. He feemed frequently as 
it were to connive at Mens Wickednefs 
here on Earth, fo that they were fometimes 
ready to conclude that he was altogether 
fuch an one as themfelves. — But it fhall be 
made appear at the great Day to the whole 
moral World how infinitely God hateth 
Sin. Then fhall the mofl obftinate Sinners 
be conftrained to adore him as glorious in 
Holinefs, and be too late convinceed that 
he is of purer Eyes than to heboid Iniquity, 

Vol. I. D d and 


and that he will by no Means clear the guilty, 
for he mall then effectually reprove and 
condemn them, and mall fet their Sins in 
Order before their Eyes. Hence the Day of 
Judgment is called the Day of Wrath, and 
'Revelation of the righteous Judgment of God. 
Rom. ii. 5. 

The Glory of God's infinite Goodnefs, 
Grace, and Love, mall then alfo be made 
illuftrioufly manifeft. It mall appear what 
a kind Rewarder he is to them that dili- 
gently feek him, that he did not forget 
their Work of Faith, their Labour of Love, 
and Patience of Hope. They might per- 
haps feem to have been neglected and dif- 
regarded here on Earth ; they, it may he, 
went through a Courfe of grievous Suffer- 
ings, Reproaches, and Perfecutions,*for his 
Sake : But who can comprehend the Glory 
of that Reward which he mall then be- 
ftow upon them I A Reward infinitely 
tranfcending their Labours and Sufferings ! 
He will himfelf be their all-fufficient Por- 
tion and Happinefs to all Eternity. All 
the Wonders of his Love, the Methods of 
his Grace, the great Things he had done 
from the Beginning of the World for the 
Salvation of the loft human -Race, mall be 
brought into open View, and he mall ap- 
pear in all the Glory of that amiable Cha- 
racter, that he is the Father of Mercies, 



the God of Love, infinite eternal Love and 
Goodnefs itfelf. 

The Wifdom of God, as Governor of 
the World, fhall then alfo mine forth with 
an unclouded Luftre. All the amazing Dif- 
Acuities and feeming Contrarieties in the 
Difpenfations of his Providence which now 
puzzle our Minds, fhall be fully adjufted 
and reconciled. In this prefent State we 
view only fome feparate Fragments of God's 
Dealings, and not the various Parts toge- 
ther in their proper Connection and Har- 
mony. But then, when the entire Scheme' 
fhall be opened, how worthy of God fhall 
it appear ! how admirably adjuiled in all 
its Parts ! We mall then fee, that even 
thofe Events that feemed mofr. mocking 
and hardefl to be accounted for in this 
prefent State, were all beautiful in their 
Seafon, and under the fteady Conduct of a 
fuperior divine Hand. How delightful 
will it then be to behold how the Malice 
and Wickednefs of Men, only bent on ful- 
filling their own Lulls, were, in number- 
lefs Inftances, over-ruled to fubferve the 
wife and righteous Ends of the divine Go- 
vernment -, how Good was made to arife out 
of Evil, Light out of Darknefs, and Order 
out of Confufion ; how God, through an 
infinite Variety of feemingly contradictory 
D d 2 Events, 


Events, ftill carried on the fame uniform 
grand Defign, fb that though the Parts, 
feparately confidered, might perhaps feem 
to be irregular and confufed, yet nothing 
could be more wifely ordered, and more 
harmonious than the whole ; in a Word, 
to behold how all the Events of this pre- 
lent State of Trial were ordered in fuch a 
Manner, as was moil proper to make Way 
for that State of eternal Retributions that 
was to fucceed ! When all thefe Things are 
cleared up to us, what a beauteous Scheme of 
Providence will prefent itfelf to our View ! 
How fhall thofe illuftrious moral Perfec- 
tions of the Deity then mine forth in all 
their Glory, which are fitted to engage and 
command the affectionate, awful Admira- 
tion and Efteem of all reafonable intelli- 
gent Beings ! The Profpects of this fhould 
now fill us with the moft adoring Thoughts 
of the divine Majefty, and effectually pre- 
vent all impatient querulous Repinings 
and Difcontents at any of his providential 
Difpenfations, and mould caufe us to dread 
his Difpleafure, and to defire his Favour 
and value his Loving-kindnefs above all 

Here, therefore, let us conclude our 
Meditations on Divine Providence, look- 
ing forwards to that important Day of 



final Retributions, and making it our 
principal Bufinefs to prepare for it. And 
now unto him that is able to keep us 
from falling, and to prefent us faultlefs 
before the Prefence of his Glory with ex- 
ceeding Joy, to the only wife God our Sa- 
viour, be Glory and Majejly, Dominion and 
Power, both now and ever. Amen. 

D d % On 

On the Unhcrfal Deluge. 


2 Peter ii. 5. 

And /pared not the old World, but faved 
Noah the eighth Per/on, a Preacher of 
Righlcoufiiefs, bringing in the Flood upon 
the World of the ungodly. 

"'HERE is Icarce any Event that ever 
happened to Mankind, which is of 
a more extraordinary Nature than the Uni- 
verfal I?eluge, whereby the World that 
then was, being overflowed with Water, pe~ 
rijhed; as it is expreffed, 2 Pet. Hi. 6. 
And yet it feems to be but little confidered. 
We are for the moft part apt to regard it 
in no other View than as a ftrange Event, 
which happened a long Time ago, and in 
D d 4 which 


which we have no Concern. But this cer^ 
tainly is a wrong Way of thinking. Why 
is this Event fo particularly recorded in the 
holy Scriptures, and the Account of it 
carefully tranfmitted to future Generations 
in Books written by divine Infpiration, if 
not that we mould make ferious Reflec- 
tions upon it, and endeavour to improve it 
to good religious and moral Purpofes ? I 
hope therefore it may be of Ufe to confider 
this Subject: diftinftly. 

In treating of which, I propofe firft to 
enquire into the Caufes of the Deluge, as 
fet forth in the facred Writings, which will 
lead us to make fome Reflections on the 
State of the World and of Mankind, 
whom this dreadful Calamity came upon. 

Secondly, I mail confider the Account 
that is given us of the Deluge itfelf, the 
Greatnefs and Univerfality of it, and the 
general D ^ftru&ion it brought upon the 
whole Race of Mankind that was then upon 
the Earth, Noab and his Family only ex- 

The next Thing to be considered is the 
Truth and Certainty of this great Event, 
and that however extraordinary it may ap- 
pear, we have fufficient Evidence to con- 
vince us that it really happened ; as appears 
both from the exprefs Teftimony of holy 
Writ, and frcm the ancient Traditions con- 


cerning it, which fpread very generally 
among the heathen Nations themfelves. 

I mail conclude the whole with fome 
Obfervations, which may help us to make 
a right Ufe and Improvement of this 
amazing Difpenfation of Divine Providence; 
and which is what I have principally in 
View in the Choice of this Subject. 

Firft, Let us begin with enquiring into 
the Caufes of the Deluge, as they are iet 
forth to uS in the facred Writings. And 
this will lead us to confider the State of 
the World and of Mankind, when this 
dreadful Calamity came upon them. As 
certain as it is that there is a God that 
made and governeth the World, fo certain 
it is that an Event of fuch vail Con- 
fequence to Mankind, could not have come 
to pafs without the fpecial Direction and 
Interpofition of Divine Providence. And 
to this the Apoftle Peter here plainly af- 
cribes it, when he declares, that God 
fpared not the old World-*-bringing in the 
Flood upon the World of the ungodly. What- 
ever Ufe might be made of natural Caufes, 
concerning which learned Men have offered 
various Conjectures, yet ftill it mull: be ac- 
knowledged that it was God's Providence 
which directed and over-ruled the whole. 
And we may be fure from the beft No- 
tions we can form of the divine Perfections, 



that there muff have been wife and jufl 
Reafons for that aftonifhing Difpenfation. 
It cannot be fuppofed that the benevolent 
Father of Mankind, the fupreme Lord 
and Governor of the World, who is per- 
fectly holy, and juft, and good, would have 
fent fuch a deiblating Judgment upon a 
World of his Creatures, if it had not been 
for Ends worthy of his infinite Wifdom 
and Righteoufnefs. Let us therefore en- 
quire what Light the Scripture affords us 
into the Reafons and Ends of this wonder- 
ful Event. And in general we are afTured, 
that it was the univerfal Depravation, the 
Wickednefs and Corruption of Mankind, 
w r hich brougbt that destructive Deluge 
upon them. This manifeftly appears from 
the Account given us of it by Mofes. He 
obferves, Gen. vi. 5. that God Jaw that the 
Wickednefs of Man was great upon the Earthy 
and that every Imagination of the Thoughts of 
his Heart was only evil continually. This is a 
very fignificant Reprefentation of the great 
and univerfal Depravity into which Mankind 
were fallen. Not only were their Actions 
wicked and corrupt, but their Thoughts 
and Affections, the Intentions and Imagi- 
nations of their Hearts ; their inward Part 
was very Wickednefs, their moral Senfe of 
Things, their very Notions of Good and 
Evil, were ilrangdv depraved. Again it is 



faid, Ver. 12. that God looked upon the 
Earth, and behold it was corrupt -, for all 
Flejh had corrupted his Way upon the Earth. 
But befides this general Account there are 
fome particular Things hinted at by the fa- 
cred Hiftorian which deferve to be diftinctly 

And 1 ft, It is plainly intimated in the 
Mojaic Account, that fenfual Lufts, Impu- 
rity, and DirTolutenefs of Manners, abound* 
ed among them. We are told, Gen. vi. 2. 
that the Sons of God Jaw the Daughters of 
Men that they were fair ; and they took thein 
Wives of all which they chofe. It is generally 
agreed by the molt learned Expolitors, that 
by the Sons of God we are here probably to 
underftand the Pofterity of Seth, fo called 
becaufe they made a Profefiion of Re- 
ligion, and of being devoted to the Wor- 
ship and Service of God. For in Scripture 
Language the Worfhippers of the true God, 
and who are brought into a fpecial Relation 
to him, are honoured with this Character. 
Thus Mofes faith to the Ifraelites, who 
were a peculiar People unto God, as dis- 
tinguished from the heathen World, Te 
are the Children of the Lord your God. Deut. 
xiv. 1. And God calls them his Sons and 
Daughters, Deut. xxxii. 19. In like Manner 
by the Sons of God here may be underllood 
' thofe of the old World, who had kept up 
an Appearance of Piety, and had not hi- 


therto mingled with the profane and im- 
pious Race of Cain ; but now being allured 
by the Charms and Beauty of their Wo- 
men, who are called the Daughters of Men, 
by Way of Diftinction from thofe who are 
denominated the Sons of God, they en- 
tered into a clofe Commerce with them, 
and gave a full Loofe to their luftful Ap- 
petites. This feems to be fignifiedhere, when 
it is faid that they Jaw that they were fair, and 
they took them Wives of all which they chofe. 
They hearkened only to the Voice of their 
Paflions, and had no Regard to Religion and 
Virtue in their Choice, and probably took 
as many of them as their Inclinations led 
them to, and, if they could not otherwife 
obtain them, took them by Force -, which 
is a Senfe that, in the Opinion of fome learned 
Critics, the Words in the Original will well 
bear. Polygamy feems to have firft begun 
in the Family of Cain ; one of whofe De- 
fendants, Lantech, is the firft Polygamift 
we read of; concerning whom Mofes ob- 
ferves, that Lantech took unto him two 
Wives, Adah and Zillah. Gen. iv. 19. And 
afterwards, probably, this Cuftom became 
general among the Pofterity of Seth as well 
as Cain. And there is Reafbn to think 
that Corruption and Debauchery made con- 
tinual Advances, till at length an univerfal 
DhTolutenefs and Licentioufnefs overfpread 
the human Race ; and all Senfe of Mo- 



defty and Virtue feemed to be in a great 
Mealure extinguished. 

2dly, It is farther fignified in the Ac- 
count given us of the old World, that 
all Manner of Injuftice and Violence pre- 
vailed amongft them. Thus, Gen. vi. 11. 
we are told that the Earth was corrupt be~ 
fore God, and the Earth was filled with Vio- 
lence: And this is repeated again, Ver. 13. 
The Hebrew Word which we render Vio- 
lence, fignifies not only the doing Wrong 
by open Force and Rapine, but all Kinds 
of unjuft and injurious Dealing, without 
any Regard to Right and Equity. Mofes 
obferves, Gen. vi. 4. that there were Giants 
in the Earth in thofe Days: There were 
Giants of the Race of Cain before the 
Children of Seth intermixed with them; 
and he adds that, alfo after that, when the 
Sons of God came in unto the Daughters of 
Men, and they bare Children unto them ; the 
fame became mighty Men, which were of old, 
Men of Renown. Gen. vi. 4. It is proba- 
ble, that as Men, in general, were in thofe 
early Ages of much ftronger bodily Con- 
ftitutions than they have been fince the 
Flood, as may be reafonably concluded 
from their living to an Age vaftly fuperior 
to the prefent Race of Mortals, fo there 
were many among them of extraordinary 
and prodigious Strength and Stature, who, 
confiding in their own Strength, made Force 



their only Law, and placed their whole 
Glory in Deeds of lawlefs Might and 
Violence, They became, as Mofes expreff- 
eth it, Men of Renown. Thus was all Man- 
kind in a State of War and Confufion ; 
there was no Peace or Security, the Sword 
decided all Controverfies ; the Voice of 
Reafon and Equity was not heard. Hu- 
manity and Benevolence, and the amiable 
Virtues of Charity, Meeknefs, Kindnefs, 
Benignity, Peaceablenefs, were defpifed 
and almoft extinguifhed among Men : No- 
thing efteemed and admired, but Pride, 
Haughtinefs, a brutal Fiercenefs and Cou- 
rage, and lawlefs uncontrolled Dominion, 
carrying every Thing by Force and Power. 
Some Traditions of this obtained in the 
heathen World. As they had traditional 
Stories among them of the long Lives of 
Men in the firft. Ages of the World, ' fo 
alfo of Giants, Men of huge Strength and 
Bravery, above the ordinary Rate of the 
human Race, and alfo of fierce and cruel 
Difpofitions, who gloried in Acts of Vio- 
lence i and that the State of Things was 
fuch, that Truth and Juftice fled to Hea- 
ven, and found no Place among Man- 

3<ily, That which carried their Wicked- 

nefs to the greateft Height, was Impiety and 

Profanenefs, a daring Contempt and Neglect 

2 of 


of all Religion. This feems here to be 
fignified by the Apoftle Peter, when fpeak- 
ing of the Men of the old World, upon 
whom the Flood came, he calls them the 
World of the ungodly. It is a Queftion 
among the learned, whether there was 
Idolatry before the Flood. There is no- 
thing in the Mofaic Account, from which 
we can abfolutely decide or pronounce 
concerning it one Way or other. The 
moft learned Jewi/h Writers are generally 
of Opinion that there was. The fame is 
the Opinion of the Arabian Writers, and 
they pretend to fix the Time when Idola- 
try hrfl began, which they fay was in the 
Days of Jared. But as Mofes takes no 
Notice of this, it cannot be depended 
upon. It may however be faid, that fince 
all Kinds of Wickednefs and Impiety 
abounded in the old World, it would be 
a Wonder if they efcaped Idolatry, to 
which Mankind in ail Ages have been fo 
very prone. And their falling fo early as 
they did after the Flood into the idolatrous 
Wormip of the heavenly Bodies, and of 
deified Men or Heroes, feems to make it 
probable that fomething of this Kind had 
been in Ufe before. And a great deal has 
been offered by Perfons eminent for Learn- 
ing, to mew that fome of thofe that were 
worshipped as Deities after the Flood had 



been Men of Renown in the antediluviari 

But whatever becomes of thefe Conjee^ 
tures, and whether we fuppofe Idolatry to 
have obtained among Mankind before the 
Flood or not, yet it feems evident from 
the Account given of them, that they were, 
for the mofl part, very impious and pro- 
fane. This may be fairly gathered from 
what is faid in the Prophecy of Enoch, as 
recorded by the Apoftle Jude, who tells us, 
that Enoch the Seventh from Adam prophe^ 
fed, faying, Behold the Lord cometh with 
ten Thoufands of his Saints, to execute Judg- 
ment upon all, and to convince all that are 
ungodly among them of their ungodly Deeds, 
which they have ungodly committed, and of all 
their hard Speeches, which ungodly Sinners 
have fpoken againji him. Jude 14, 15. Here 
it is fignified, that with daring Infolence 
they fet their Mouths againft Heaven, 
and broke forth into profane and blaf- 
phemous Speeches. They either denied 
that there is a God, or would not allow 
that he concerneth himfelf with the Affairs 
of Men. Idolatry, which is a falfe Religion 
probably obtained among many of them, 
as was before hinted, but it feems rather 
to have been their prevailing Character 
that they had no Religion at all, or had 
an utter Contempt of all Religion, and 



were chargeable with Atheifm, or, which 
comes to the fame Thing, they did not ac- 
knowledge a Providence, or God's moral 
Government of the World. And this be- 
ing the Cafe, they threw off all Reftraint, 
and gave an unbounded Licence to all 
Manner of Wickednefs, Violence, and 
Impurity. They were abominable and 
corrupt, and had no Fear of God before 
their Eyes. And this daring and enor- 
mous Impiety feems to be fignified in the 
Traditions which were fpread in the hea- 
then World concerning the Giants of old, 
who waged an impious War againft Hea- 

Thus I have made a brief Reprefenta- 
tion, following the Light the Scriptures 
afford us, of the univerfal and amazing 
Depravity of the old World, and which 
is reprefented to have been the Caufe of 
that univerfal Deluge which God fent in 
juft Judgment upon the human Race. 
Their Corruption did not come to the 
Height at once, but was gradually encreaf- 
ing, till at length they became abfolutely 
incorrigible, lofl to all Senfe of Religion 
and Virtue, Vefiels of Wrath fitted to De- 
finition. God had no doubt ufed many 
Methods to reclaim them. They were 
not removed many Ages from the Crea- 
tion. Adam, the firft of Men, who lived 

Vol. I. E e nine 


nine hundred and thirty Years, we may 
reafonably conclude, took Care to inftrudt 
his Pofterity in the Things it moft con- 
cerned them to know, efpecially with re- 
lation to the Creation of the World, the 
primitive State of Man in Paradife, the 
Fall, the original Promife. There were 
alfo Preachers of Rtghteoufnefs in the old 
World, Perfons of great Authority and 
Eminence, and who had extraordinary Re- 
velations communicated to them from 
God himfelf. Such an one was Enoch, 
remarkable for his Piety in a Time of 
great and general Corruption, and who, 
no doubt, did all he could by his Inftruc- 
tions, and by his Warnings, as well as by 
his holy Example, to ftem the Torrent of 
abounding Impiety and Wickedneis. And 
it pleafed God by a vifible Tranflation of 
him into Heaven, to give a fenfible Proof 
of a future State, which might have been 
of great Advantage to that unbelieving Ge- 
neration. There were probably others 
from Time to Time, who endeavoured to 
awaken them to a Senfe of their Guilt and 
Danger, and to turn them from the Evil of 
their Ways; the laft of whom was Noah, 
who is here called by St. Peter, a Preacher of 
Right eoufnefs. By him God gave farther 
Warnings; and condefcended fo far as to 
acquaint them, that the urmoft Time of 



his Forbearance towards them, and the 
Space given them for Repentance, and for 
averting the awful Judgments which hung 
over thern^ mould be one hundred and 
twenty Years-. This is what Mofes iigni- 
fies when he tells us, that the Lord [aid, 
My Spirit Jloall not always ftrive with Man, 
for that he alfo is Flejh ; yet his Days, i. e. 
the Days of my Spirit ftriving with him, 
fiall be an hundred and twenty Tears. Gen. 
vi. 3. And what God declared to Noah, 
that good Man no doubt took Care ta 
declare to others, and to make it generally 
known as far as lay in his Power. To which 
it may be added, that his building the Ark 
by God's own exprefs Appointment, which 
muft have been a long Time carrying on, 
the profeifed Delign of which was to fave 
himfelf and his Family from that dreadful 
Inundation which mould overwhelm the 
reft of Mankind, was a fenlible Token 
and Warning given them in the Name of 
God, what they were to expect if they 
did not repent. To this the Apoftle Peter 
has a Reference in that remarkable Paf- 
fage, 1 Pet. iii. 19, 20. where having 
obferved that Chrift was put to Death in 
the Flejh, but quickened by the Spirit, he 
adds, by which alfo, i. e. by which Spi- 
rit, he went and preached unto the Spirits in 
E e 2 Prifon, 


Prifon, which were fometime dif obedient \ when 
once the Long-fuffering of God waited in the - 
Days of Noah, while the Ark was preparing. 
Chrifi preached to the Spirits in Prifon, 
i. e. to thofe heinous Sinners who are now 
Spirits in Prifon, referved unto the final 
Judgment, but were fometime difobedient 
in the Days of Noah -, he preached to them 
to call them to Repentance, not immedi- 
ately and perfonally, but by his Spirit, 
and through the Miniftry of Noah. But 
they were difobedient to the divine Call, 
they continued obftinately to defpife all the 
Riches of the divine Goodnefs, and Pati- 
ence, and Long- Suffering ; and when no 
Warnings could make an Impreffion, it ■ 
feemed fit to an holy and righteous God 
to order it fo, that that wicked and incor- 
rigible Race mould be deftroyed from off 
the Face of the Earth, and that a new Ge- 
neration of Men mould arife to people it, 
who might take Warning from that amaz- 
ing Defolation, which was defigned to be 
a lafting Monument to all fucceeding Ages 
of the heinous Evil and Malignity of Sin, 
and of' God's juft Deteitation and Abhor- 
rence of it. Mofes, after obferving that 
God faw that the Wickednefs of Alan was 
great in the Earthy adds, and it repented 
him that he made Man, and it grieved him 



at his Heart. Gen. vi. 6. This is not to 
be taken in a grofs literal Senfe* It is 
fpoken after the Manner of Men, and in 
a Way of Analogy to human Paflions and 
Affections. But the Intention of thefe 
Expreflions is plainly this, to fignify in a 
finking Manner that the great and uni- 
verfal Corruption of Mankind was highly 
difplealing to a pure and holy Deity, and 
would have affected him with Grief, if his 
glorious Nature had been capable of it ; and 
that whereas he had long borne with the 
Wickednefs of Mankind, and treated them 
with great Lenity and Indulgence, now 
that they were become incorrigible, he 
would alter the Courfe of his Dealings to- 
wards them, and pimifh them with fuch a 
juft and awful Severity, as if it had repent- 
ed him that he had made Man upon the 
Earth. But we are not to imagine that in 
all this there was a real and proper Change 
of Mind and Counfel in God, as there is 
in Men when they repent, and when 
Things have happened which they did 
not forefee. For the univerfal Corruption 
and Depravation of the human Race was 
what he perfectly forefaw ; and the fend- 
ing the Flood upon them was a Part of 
the Scheme of Providence formed in the 
. divine Counfels from the Beginning, though 
E e 3 it 


it was not actually executed till the proper 
Seafon, when the Iniquities of Mankind^ 
were arrived at the greater!: Height. And 
what an awful Manifeftation of the divine 
Juftice this exhibited, I (hall have Occa- 
fion to {hew in the farther Profecution of 
this Subject, 


On the Univerfal Deluge. 


2 Peter ii. 5. 

And /pared not the old World, but faved 
Noah the eighth Per/on, a Preacher of 
Right eoufnefs, bringing in the Flood upon 
the World of the ungodly, 

IN a former Difcourfe upon this Subject, 
fome Inquiry was made into the Caufes 
of the Univerfal Deluge, as fet forth to us 
in the holy Scriptures. And this led us to 
confider the univerfal and amazing Corrup- 
tion into which Mankind had then fallen, 
and which through the juft Judgment of 
God brought this dreadful Calamity upon 

E e 4 I now 


I now proceed, fecondly, to confider the 
Account given us of the Deluge itfelf, and 
the direful Effects it produced in the De- 
flruclion of the whole human Race, which 
were then upon the Earth, Noah and his 
Family only excepted. 

When God had long borne with the 
Wickednefs of the old World, and had ex- 
ercifed great Patience towards them, which 
was fo far from leading them to Repentance, 
as it ought to have done, that they grew 
worfe and worfe, more and more aban- 
doned to Vice and Impiety ; the Time 
was at length come which had been de- 
termined in the divine Councils for exe- 
cuting this tremendous Judgment upon 
them. They feem to have been then in a 
profound Security. Notwithstanding the 
exprefs Warnings which had been given 
them by Noah in the Name of God, and 
that he had fhewn the firm Perfuafion he 
had of the Truth of thofe divine Denun- 
ciations by building a great and capacious 
Ark for the Reception of himfelf and his 
Family, in Obedience to God's Command, 
yet the Men of that corrupt Generation 
paid no Regard to thofe folemn Warnings. 
They probably looked upon Noah as little 
better than a wild Vilionary, and ridiculed 
the Warnings he gave them as the Reve- 
ries of Enthufiafm. They either did not 



believe a Providence, or that God con- 
cerneth himfelf with Men and their Af- 
fairs -, or they flattered themfelves that he 
was too merciful to punifli his Creatures 
with fuch Severity -, and thus, under Pre- 
tence of extolling his Goodnefs, they de- 
nied his Juftice, and did not ftand in Awe 
of his Judgments : or perhaps they treated 
the univerfal Deluge as an abfurd and im- 
poffible Thing, as fome Unbelievers have 
fince done. But however this be, they 
feem to have had no Fears or Apprehen- 
fions of the dreadful Ruin that was com- 
ing upon them. Our Saviour takes Notice 
of this. He tells us, that as in the Days 
that were before the Flood, they were eating 
and drinking, marrying and giving in Mar- 
riage, until the Day that Noah entered into 
the Ark, and knew not till the Flood came 
and took them all away, Jo Jhall alfo the Com- 
ing of the Son of Man be. Matt. xxiv. 38, 
39. Luke xvii. 26, 27. All on a fudden, 
when they expected no fuch Thing, and 
were buiily engaged in their worldly Af- 
fairs, or were freely indulging themfelves 
in Mirth and Jollity, and perhaps in Ex- 
ceffes of Riot, the awful Judgment over- 
took them at once. No fooner was Noah 
entered into the Ark, with his Family, and 
the feveral Kinds of Animals which God 
had ordered to be preferved there, but the 



Flood came on with an impetuous Violence, 
In that very Day, as Mofes informs us, all 
the Fountains of the great Deep were broken 
up, and the Windows of Heaven were opened. 
Gen. vii. u, 13. He firft obferves, that 
all the Fountains of the great Deep were 
broken up. Belides the vaft Affemblage of 
Waters in the wide extended Ocean, and in 
the feveral Seas into which it is divided, 
and in the Lakes, Pools, Rivers, &c. 
there are huge Repolitories of Waters in 
the Bowels of the Earth, as the ableft natural 
Philofophers who have enquired into thefe 
Things have acknowledged. To this pro- 
bably the Pfalmift. refers, when after hav- 
ing faid, that God gathereth the Waters of 
the Sea together as an Heap, he adds, that 
he layeth up the Depth in Store-houfes. 
Pfal. xxxiii. 7. And elfewhere fpeaking 
of the Earth, he faith, that God hath found- 
ed it upon the Seas, and ejlablifjjed it upon 
the Floods, Pfal. xxiv. 2. And again, that 
he ft retched out the Earth above the Wa- 
ters. Pfal. cxxxvi. 6. Where it is plainly 
implied, that there are Waters under the 
Earth, ready to ferve the Purpofes of Di- 
vine Providence. And who can pretend to 
affirm what Quantity of Waters there may 
be collected in thofe huge fubterraneous Ma- 
gazines, or to what Depth they may de- 
scend ? for ought any Man knows, or 



can prove to the contrary, there might be 
Waters enough there to overflow the 
whole Earth, if they could be brought out 
upon its Surface. And this might be ea- 
fily effected by the divine Power ; the In- 
terpofltion of which on this extraordinary 
Occafion mufl neceflarily be acknowledged. 
When therefore it is here faid, that all the 
Fountains of the great Deep were broketz 
up, it fignifies that Providence ordered it 
fo, that by fome mighty Force the outward 
Cruft of the Earth was in many Places 
broken at once, and the Waters of the 
Abyfs came rufhing forth with an amazing 
Rapidity, and joining with the Waters of 
the Sea, Lakes, and Rivers, foon covered 
the Face of the Ground. And at the fame 
Time we are told the Windows of Heaven 
were opened. The Word in the Original 
which we tranflate Windows is very em- 
phatical. It is rendered in the Margin of 
our Bibles, Flood-gates -, the Flood-gates of 
Heaven were opened. Some after the Sep- 
tuagint tranflate it Cataracts. The Wa- 
ters came pouring down from Heaven, not 
by Drops, but as in Spouts, Inftances of 
which are frill feen in fome Parts of the 
World, when Clouds break at once and 
difcharge huge Torrents of Water, which 
overwhelm whatever they fall epon. Thefe 
exceilive Rains continued without Ir. 



miffion forty Days and forty Nights, as 
Mofes exprefsly afiures us, Gen. vii. 12. fo 
that the whole .Air or Atmofphere looked 
as if it were diffolved into Water. And 
who can exprefs the Confufion, the Con- 
firmation and Difmay, which then feized 
that corrupt and abandoned Race of Mor- 
tals ? They were, as was hinted before, in a 
State of deep Security, without any Dread 
of God, or his impending Judgments, when 
all at once there was an aftonifhing Change 
in the Face of this lower World. The 
Ground in many Parts of the Earth broke 
and funk under them, and difclofed horrid 
Chafms, through which the rufhing Waves 
of the great Abyfs came upon them with a 
dreadful Noife and irrefiftible Fury, at the 
fame Time the Heaven opened its Flood- 
gates ; fo that the mighty Waters came 
pouring from above, from beneath, on every 
Side. Stunned with the amazing Din, and 
furrounded with Terrors, whither could 
they flee for Refuge ? Thofe haughty Gi- 
ants, who, confiding in their own Strength 
and Courage, feared neither God nor Man, 
and dared to lift up their blafphemous 
Mouths againft Heaven, now find too late 
the Truth of thofe Threatnings which they 
had defpifed. They now believe and trem- 
ble, and feel, by woful Experience, that 
verily there is a God that judgeth in the 



Earth. Now at laft would they lift up 
their fuppliant Hands to Heaven, but all 
in vain. The Decree is gone forth, the 
Judgment is irrevocable, nothing before 
them but Vengeance and Deftru&ion : 
nothing to be ieen but raging Waves, 
Sea covered Sea, Sea without Shore. All 
thofe that inhabited the Plains would foon 
be deftroyed. And as they that pofleffed 
the higher Grounds, or fled thither, be- 
fides the Waters rifing upon them from 
below, the Catarads pouring upon them 
from above, took away all Hopes of Efcape, 
mighty Torrents met them from the Tops 
of the Hills, and with an irrefiftible Vio- 
lence fwept away all before them. 

And as the Deluge was great at the ve- 
ry firft, fo it continually increafed, and 
prevailed upon the Earth for one hundred 
and fifty Days without the lead Abate- 
ment. Gen. vii. 24. Some have pretended 
that the Deluge reached only over a Part 
of the Earth. But this feems to be ut- 
terly inconfiftent with the Account the 
facred Hiftorian has given of it. He tells 
us that the Waters prevailed exceedingly upon 
the Earth, and that all the high Hills that 
were under the whole Heaven were covered. 
— And all Flefi died that moved upon the 
Earth, both of Fowl, and of Cattle, and of 
Beaft, and of every creeping T^hing that 



creepeth upon the Earth, and every Man : All 
in whofi Noflrils was the Breath of Life, 
and of ail that was in the dry Land, died. — • 
And Noah only remained alive, and they that 
were with him in the Ark. Gen. vii. 19. 
—23. Scarce any Exprcffions can be 
imagined ftronger to fignify that the Flood 
was univerfal, and was lpread over the 
whole Earth. And what renders this 
more aftonifhing is, that there is great 
Reafon to think that Mankind were then 
very numerous. Thofe that have made the 
moft accurate Computations, have thought 
it highly probable, that confidering the 
Length of Mens Lives in thofe Ages* 
and the Strength of their Conftitutions* 
they multiplied much more in the 1656 
Years from the Creation to the Flood* 
than in above 4000 Years fince. Who 
can think of fuch Deftruction without 
Amazement and folemn Awe ! Yet Provi- 
dence fo ordered it, that the human Race 
was not utterly extinguished. A Rem- 
nant, a fmall Remnant was ftill preferv- 
ed to be the Seed of a new Generation. 

This leads me to what I propofed to 
confider in the next Place, the wonderful 
Prefervation of Noah, and of thofe that 
were with him in the Ark. This St. Pe* 
ter here refers to when he tells us, that 
God fpared not the old World, but faved 



Noah, the eighth Per fori, a Preacher of 
Righteoufnefs, bringing in the Flood upon the 
World of the ungodly. When it is here 
faid, that God faved Noah, the eighth Perfon, 
the Meaning is, that he faved eight Per- 
forms in all, and Noah was one of the eight, 
and the moll eminent among them. And 
accordingly the fame Apoflle elfewhere 
obferves, that the Long-fuffering of God 
waited in the Days of Noah, while the Ark 
was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight 
Souls, were faved by Water. 1 Pet. iii. 20. 
At the fame Time that God exhibit- 
ed fuch an awful Demonftration of his 
righteous Abhorrence of Sin and Wicked- 
nefs, he gave alfo a moil illuftrious Proof 
of his difKnguifhing Regard to eminent 
Piety. Mofes tells us, that when God deter- 
mined to execute his juft Vengeance on 
that ungodly Generation, Noah found Grace 
in the Eyes of the Lord; and he adds, 
that Noah was a jufl Man, and perfeft in 
his Generations, and Noah walked with Godl 
Gen. vi. 8, 9. He was not only free from 
all thofe enormous Vices and Impieties 
which then fo much abounded in the 
World, but he was a Man of exemplary 
Piety and Righteoufnefs, and diligent in 
every Part of his Duty both towards God 
and Man. It is faid of Noah as well as 
of Enoch, that he walked with God, he 



maintained Communion with him by Faith, 
and, under a conftant Senfe of a prefent 
Deity, endeavoured to approve himfelf to 
him in the whole Courfe of an holy and 
virtuous Life and Converfation. In this 
Courfe he perfevered when all Flejh had 
corrupted bis Way upon the Earth. And 
this was fo pleafing in the Sight of God, 
that he chofe to diftinguifh him in a very 
extraordinary Manner. With thee, fays he, 
will I ejlablifld my Covenant, and thou Jhalt 
come into the Ark, thou and thy Sons, and 
thy Wife, and thy Sons Wives with thee. 
Chap. vi. 1 8. And again, Chap. vii. i. it 
is obferved, that the Lord /aid unto Noah, 
Come thou, and all thy Houfe into the Ark 9 
for thee have I feen righteous before me in 
this Generation. There is a particular Em- 
phafis in this Manner of Expreflion ; Thee 
have I feen righteous before me in this Gene- 
ratio?!. Even in this moft wicked Gene- 
ration, am id ft the univerfal Corruption, 
thou haft been righteous before me, thou 
kaft maintained thine Integrity, and gone 
on in an uniform Courfe of Piety and Vir- 
tue. And not only was Noab eminently 
righteous in his own Perfon, but he was 
a Preacher of Right eoufnefs to others * 
He endeavoured by his pious Inftructions 
and Admonitions, by his Exhortations as 
well as Example, to reclaim an ungodly 



Race from the Evil of their Ways, and to 
engage them to turn unto the Lord by a 
imcere Repentance. He faithfully warned 
them of the dreadful Ruin they would 
draw upon themfelves, both in this World 
and the next, by their continued Impeni- 
tency and Difobedience, and no doubt 
promifed them Mercy upon their Refor- 
mation and Amendment. But they paid 
no Regard to the Warnings he gave them 
in the Name of God. The facred Writer 
to the Hebrews obferves, that by Faith No- 
ah being warned of God of 'Things not Jeen 
as yet, moved with Fear, prepay ed an Ark 
to the Saving of his Houf, by the which he 
condemned the World, and became Heir of 
the Righteoufnefs which is by Faith* Heb. xi. 
7. i. e. he not only obtained a temporal 
Deliverance from the Flood, but had a 
Right given him to that eternal Life and 
Salvation which God will, in his rich 
Grace and Mercy, beftow on thofe that 
lincerely believe and obey him. 

And not only was Noah himfelf faved 
from the Flood, but with him, and for 
his Sake, his Wife, and his three Sons, 
and their Wives. And thefe were all that 
were preferved of the whole human Race. 
All the reft perifhed in the Waters, under 
the vifible Marks of the divine Vengeance. 
And it is to be feared, that this dreadful 

Vol. I. F f temporal 


temporal Judgment was not the worn: 
Thing that was to befall them, or which 
their enormous Impiety and Wickednefs 
deferved. The greater!: Punifhment in 
this prefent World, fuch as that of Sodom 
and Gomorrah, will not excufe obftinate 
impenitent Sinners from being accountable 
and expofed to farther Punifhments at the 
Day of Judgment. Yet I do not think 
we are obliged to fuppofe, that the whole 
Race of Mankind which were then upon 
the Earth, except Noah and his Family, 
were configned over to remedilefs Con- 
demnation and Punifhment in a future 
State, though they were all equally involv- 
ed in the fame deadly Calamity in this. 
For befides that there mud be vaft Num- 
bers of Infants and Children who were 
comparatively innocent, that yet were de- 
ftroyed along with their Parents, as often 
happens in public Calamities, I dare not 
fay, nor do I think there is fufficient 
Ground to affirm, that among the adult, 
and thofe that were come to the Ufe of 
their Reafon, there was not a fingle Perfon 
of the human Race that had any Thing of 
Piety and Virtue, except Noah and they 
that were with him in the Ark, though he 
was the moft eminently pious Perfon then 
in the World, and who had openly diftin- 
guifhed himfelf in that corrupt and aban- 


doned Generation, and therefore was in an 
extraordinary Manner diftinguifhed by Di- 
vine Providence in being exempted from 
the general Ruin. It cannot be denied 
that good Men may be, and have been, 
involved in Calamities of a public Nature, 
inflicted upon, large Communities and Bo- 
dies of Men for their Wickednefs ; in 
which Cafe it mud be faid, that though, 
for wife Ends, God doth not think fit to 
exempt them from fuffering in common 
with many others in this World, yet he 
will certainly make a proper DifUnction 
between them in a future State of Retri- 
butions. Something of this Kind may 
poffibly have been the Cafe with refpecl: 
to fome of thofe who perimed in the ge- 
neral Deluge in common with the Bulk 
of the human Race. However general 
we may fuppofe the Corruption of Man- 
kind to have been in the old World, 
they were not all equally corrupted, nor 
had arrived to equal Degrees of Wicked- 
nefs. Nor can it be well fuppofed, that 
all the Seeds of Piety, Virtue, and Bene- 
volence, were entirely extinguished in every 
Individual of the human Race. As Men 
were then probably fpread in great Num- 
bers over the Face of the Earth, there 
might be here and there fome Individuals, 
in whom fome good Thing might be found 
F f 2 towards 


towards God, though fo very few as to 
be fcarce difcernable, fo that there was 
juft Reafon for thofe general Expreffions, 
that all Flejh had corj'iipted his Way upon the 
Earth. And as it feemed fit to God to 
fend a Deluge which fhould be univerfal, 
and fhould extend to all Parts of the 
Earth, fuppofing there were fome Per- 
fons here and there of better Difpofitions 
and Characters, fcattered in different 
Places, the divine Wifdom might chufe 
to fuffer them to be involved in the 
fame general Calamity, rather than exempt 
them from it by an extraordinary mi- 
raculous Interpofition in Favour of every 
particular Perfon. Noah was, on all Ac- 
counts, the moft proper to be thus di- 
ftinguifhed, who was a Preacher of Righ- 
teouf?iefs, and had remarkably oppofed 
the growing Corruption, and flood up 
for the Caufe of Religion and Virtue in 
a profane and atheiftical World. He 
was accordingly chofen to be the fe- 
cond Parent of the human Race, from 
whom a new Generation of Men was to 
proceed ; and for this Purpofe he and his 
Family were to be preferved, whilfr the 
reft of Mankind was involved in one 
common Ruin ; though no doubt in a fu- 
ture State, a diftincl: Regard mail be had 
to the Cafe and Circumftances of every 



Individual, and all Things with refpect 
to them mall be adj lifted, according to 
the Rules of the moft perfect. Wifdom, 
Righteoufnefs, Goodnefs, and Equity. 

In my next Difcourfe I mall endeavour 
to mew, that we have fufficient Evidence 
to fatisfy us of the Truth and Certainty of 
this great Event, and mall then proceed to 
offer fome Obfervations and Reflections 
which may help us to make a right Ufe 
and Improvement of this Subject. 

F f 3 


On the Uiriverfal Deluge. 


2 Peter ii. 5. 

And [pared not the old World, but faved 
Noah the eighth Verfon, a Preacher of 
Right eoufnefs, bringing in the Flood upon 
the World of the ungodly. 

N my laft Difcourfe on thefe Words, 
I confidered the Account given us in 
the facred Writings of the Univerfal De- 
luge, the general Deft ruction it brought 
upon the human Race, and the wonderful 
Prefervation of Noah and his Family. 
Thefe are Events of fo extraordinary a Na- 
ture, fo much out of the ufual Courfe of 
Things, that Doubts might be apt to arife 
in our Minds concerning them, if we had 
F f 4 not 


not fufficient Evidence to convince us of 
the Truth and Certainty of the Facts. 
And that we have fuch Evidence, is what 
I now propofe to fhew. 

The original Account of the Deluge is 
written by Mojes, the moft ancient and 
credible Hiftorian of the firft Ages. The 
Re'ation he gives of it is clear and 
diftinct, and is delivered in fuch a Man- 
ner, as fhews that he had a full and exact 
Information concerning it, of the Truth 
of which he was perfectly affured. From 
his Writings we know the Year of the 
World, and the Year of Noah's Life, when 
it happened. He mentions the Month, 
and the Day of the Month when it firft 
began ; how many Days and Nights the 
violent Rains lafted without Intermiflion ; 
how long the Flood continued to increafe 
and prevail, and at what Time it began to 
decline and abate. He mentions the Day 
when the Ark firft refted on Mount Ara- 
rat, and when the Tops of the Moun- 
tains were feen, as alfo when the Waters 
were dried from off the Face of the Earth, 
and the Day of the Month and Year 
when Noah came forth out of the Ark, 
by the divine Command. He gives a di- 
ftinct Account of the Construction and 
Dimenfions of the Ark, and of feveral 
pther Circumftances, from which it ap T 



pears that he was perfectly acquainted 
with the principal Things, and with ma- 
ny remarkable Particulars relating to this 
great Event. Noab, and his three Sons 
with their Wives, who were with him in 
the Ark, had no doubt a thorough Know- 
ledge of thefe Things ; and as they were 
Eye-witnerTes, and mull: needs have very 
ftrong Impreffions made upon them by 
Events of fo extraordinary a Nature, they 
took Care to tranfmit a faithful Account 
of them to their .Children and Defen- 
dants, and their long Lives gave them an 
Opportunity of doing it to Advantage. 
And when Mankind were difperfed after 
the Flood, the Heads of the feveral Fami- 
lies carried the Account of this wonder- 
ful Event into the feveral Regions of their 
Difperfion. Mofes gives us a particular 
Account of the Names of thofe Heads 
of Families, and principal Leaders of the 
feveral Colonies, from whom the Nations 
of the Earth defcended, which mews the 
great Knowledge he had acquired of the 
Antiquities of thofe early Ages. 

But to fet this Matter in a clearer Light, 
it is proper to obferve, that Noab himfelf, 
the fecond Parent of Mankind, lived three 
hundred and fifty Years after the Flood. 
His Son Sbem, who had been with him in 
the Ark, and was ninety-eight Years old 



when the Flood came, lived five hun- 
dred Years after it, and confequently, 
by comparing the Accounts given by 
Mofes, it appears, that he lived one hun- 
dred and fifty Years after the Birth of 
Abraham. It is manifeft then, that this 
great Father of the faithful was, for a 
great Number of Years, contemporary with 
that eminent Perfon Sbem, from whom 
he defcended in a direct Line, and who 
having been an Eye-witnefs of the Flood, 
was able to give a diftincl: Account of the 
principal Circumftances of that amazing 
Event. And confidering the excellent 
Character of Abraham, it is not to be 
doubted but he would both take great 
Care to get a right Information himfelf 
concerning a Thing of fuch Importance, 
and tranfmit it to his Defcendants. For, 
to his Diligence in inftructing his Children, 
and his Houjhold after him, there is an 
honourable Teftimony given by God him- 
felf. Gen. xviii. 19. The fame Obferva- 
tion may be made concerning that good 
Man Ifaac. The Inftruclions he received 
from his Father Abraham, were by him 
faithfully communicated to his Sons, ef- 
pecially to 'Jacob, who was fifteen Years 
old when his Grandfather Abraham died, 
and lived one hundred and twenty Years 
with his Father Ifaac. Jacob was there- 


fore capable of giving a full Account of 
what he had received from his Progenitors 
to his Sons, the Heads of the twelve 
Tribes of Tfrael, one of whom was Levi, 
from whom Mofes defcended, and who 
lived with Jacob near feventy Years. Ko- 
haihi the Son of Levi, was Mofes 's Grand- 
father, and lived with Levi an hundred 
Years, and about forty Years with Jacob ; 
and drnram, Mofes 's Father, was for ma- 
ny Years converfant with Kobatb, and 
even with Levi himfelf, whofe Daughter 
he married. So that Mofes's being able 
to give an Account of the Deluge, and 
other important Events of the firft Ages, 
may without much Difficulty be accounted 
for. In thofe ancient Times when Men ge- 
nerally lived much longer than they do 
now, and were not detracted with fuch a 
Variety of Occupations, but led a plain 
and paftoral Life, which was particularly 
true of Mofes' s Anceftors, they had a good 
Opportunity of preferving the Traditions 
committed to them clear and diftincl:, es- 
pecially as they looked upon it as a Point 
of Religion to do fo -, and by frequently 
repeating and inculcating thefe their In- 
flruclions throughout the Courfe of a long 
Life, might keep the Impreffions frefh 
and ftrong upon the Minds of their Chil- 
dren and Defcendants. And probably 
they had other Methods befides their ver^- 



bal Inftruclions of tranfmitting the Me- 
mory of paft remarkable Events. And it 
may be reafonably inferred from the parti- 
cular Account Mofes gives of the Deluge, 
and the chief Circumftances attending it, 
that there were at that Time authentic 
Accounts of it remaining, which he knew 
might fafely be depended upon. And if 
we confider him only as an ancient and 
faithful Hiftorian of great Wifdom and 
Probity, which was a Character given him 
by fome of the moll eminent heathen 
Writers, what he has recorded deferves 
great Regard, efpecially with refpect to 
fuch an Event as the Flood, an Event that 
could not be foon forgotten, and the prin- 
cipal Circumftances of which were no 
doubt handed down to Perfons of diffe- 
rent Families and Nations in thofe ancient 
Times. But when we add to all this, that 
Mofes himfelf was a moil eminent Prophet, 
the greateil of all the Prophets that ap- 
peared before the Time of our Saviour, 
and whofe divine Miffion and Infpiration 
was confirmed by the moft illuflrious At- 
tcflations, this compleats the Evidence -, 
fmce from thence we may juftly conclude, 
that he was preferved from Mirlake and 
Error in the Accounts he gave, efpe- 
cially with Relation to a Matter of fuch 
Importance to Mankind as the univerfal 



Deluge, and the Remembrance of which 
was defigned to continue throughout all 
Ages. The other infpired Prophets who 
lived after Mo/es, not only bear Tefiimo- 
ny to him and to his Writings as true and 
divine ; but fome of them refer in a par- 
ticular Manner to this great Event. But 
what gives a mighty additional Weight to 
all this, it is confirmed to us by the Au- 
thority of our bleifed Saviour himfelf. As 
he frequently refers to the Writings of 
Mo/es and the Prophets as facred and di- 
vine, fo he makes exprefs Mention of the 
Deluge which happened in the Days of 
Noah -, and obferves, that the Men of that 
Generation were in profound Security, 
till the very Day that Noah entered into 
the Ark, and then the Flood came and 
deftroyed them all- See Matt. xxiv. 38, 39. 
Luke xvii. 26, 27, 28. The Truth of the 
Mofaic Account concerning the Deluge, is 
alfo confirmed by the Apoftle Peter, both 
in the Words I am now infixing upon, and 
in the 3d Chapter of his fecond Epiftle, 
Verfe 7. as alfo by St. Paul, Heb, xi. 7. 
It appears then that we have the concur- 
ring Teftimony both of the Old Tefta- 
ment and the New, of Mo/es and the 
Prophets, of Chrifl and his Apoftles, to 
the Truth and Certainty of the univerfal 
Deluge, which therefore comes to us 



confirmed by all the Evidences that demon- 
strate the divine Original and Authority 
of the facred Writings, and cannot confif- 
tently be denied or doubted of by any 
that acknowledge the Truth and Divinity 
either of the Jewifo or Chrijlian Revelation. 
Secondly, It may be farther obferved, 
that there are remarkable Traces of this 
great Event to be found among the Pagan 
Writers themfelves. The Tradition of it 
hath fpread very generally among the Na- 
tions of Europe, AJia, Africa, and hath 
reached even to the Savages of America. 
Many Teltimonies have been produced by 
learned Men to this Purpofe. It has been 
particularly fhewn, that this Tradition 
obtained among the ancient Syrians, Phoe- 
nicians, Egyptians, Chaldeans, Perjians, In- 
dians, as well as among the Greeks and Ro- 
mans. But it feems to have been preferv- 
ed more diftind: among thofe Eaftern Na- 
tions which lay nearefl the Place where 
Noah and his Defendants firfl fettled after 
the Flood, and where civil Politics were 
firft erected. Not only had they general 
Accounts among them of the univerfal 
Deluge, but of feveral particular Circum- 
stances relating to it, fuch as, that the 
firft Race of Men were become prodigiouf- 
Iy wicked, and that therefore a Flood 
was fent upon them, by which they were all 



deftroyed; that this Flood was foretold 
beforehand to an excellent Perfon, whom 
they call by different Names, and who was 
preferred for his Wifdom, Piety, and Vir- 
tue; that he was admonifhed by divine 
Direction to build an Ark, in which he, 
together with the Women and Children of 
his Family, was preferved from the Flood ; 
and not only fo, but foine of every Species 
of Animals, Birds, and Beads, were alfo 
taken into the Ark, that they might be 
kept alive in the general Inundation, and 
continued with him as long as the Waters 
remained upon the Earth; that he fent 
out Birds, particularly a Dove, to try 
whether the Ground was dried, which re- 
turned to him into the Ark, not being 
able to find a Place to red in; and that 
the Ark at length fettled on the Mountains 
of Armenia. Thefe feveral Things are 
mentioned in ParTages frill extant, that 
have been extracted from the Writings of 
eminent heathen Authors, fome of whom 
have averred, that in their Time there 
were ftill Fragments of the Ark Temaining 
in thofe Mountains, Pieces of which, and 
of the Bitumen belonging to the Ark, were 
made Ufe of by many of the People as 
Charms and Amulets *, 

* A Colle&ion of Paflages to this Purpofe may be fee n 

in Grotius de Verlt. Relig. Ch.i/iian. Lib. I. Cap. xvs. 

4 But 


But befides all this, there are fenfible 
Demonftrations of the univerfal Deluge in 
the marine Shells, the Teeth and Bones 
of Fillies, and other Things of the like 
Kind, properly belonging to the Ocean, 
which, by the mofl diligent Inquiry, are 
to be found mixed with the Soil to a great 
Depth in all Parts of the Earth, at a vail 
Diftance from the Sea, and even on the 
Tops of the higheit Mountains. This 
evidently proves, that the Waters of the 
Sea had once been there, and that there 
had been a Deluge which covered the 
whole Earth. So that it may be juftly 
faid, that all over the World there are 
Traces of the general Flood; and all the 
Attempts which have been hitherto made 
to account for thefe Appearances on any 
other Suppofition, have been ineffectual 
and vain. 

But notwithftanding the Evidence we 
have to convince us of the Truth and 
Certainty of the univerfal Deluge, many 
Objections have been raifed againft it by 
Men of unbelieving Minds. One of the 
principal of which is, that there could not 
poffibly be found Waters enough, either 
in the Bowels of the Earth, or in the Sea, 
or in the Clouds above, to overflow the 
Earth to fuch a Height as Mofes defcribes. 
But, as was hinted in my laft Difcourfe, 



thofe that make this Objection proceed up- 
on Suppofitions which they cannot prove. 
We do not know enough of the Conftitu- 
tion of this terraqueous Globe, efpecially 
as it was at the Time of the Deluge, or of 
the great Abyfs, or of the Atmofphere and 
cloudy Region, to be able to pronounce 
with any Certainty, what Quantities of 
Water might be furniihed from all thefe. 
Some of the moft eminent ancient heathen 
Philofophers were fo far from feeing any 
Impoffibility in fuch an univerfal Deluge, 
that they fuppofed there might be fucceffive 
Inundations of this Kind at certain Periods. 
To which I add, that there have been fe- 
veral ingenious Hypothefes advanced by 
learned modern Philofophers to account for 
it, none of which can be pretended to be 
impomble, but which I need not take any 
particular Notice of in this Place. 

Another Objection that has been urged 
with great Confidence is, that the Ark 
was by no Means fufficient to contain, be~ 
fides Noah and his Family, all the feveral 
Kinds of earthly Animals, which were or- 
dered to be mut up there to fave them from 
the Flood, together with the Food and 
Provifions necelfary for their Suftenance 
whilft the Deluge lafted. This feems, at 
firrt View, to be a plaufible Objection. 
But a full Anfwer has been returned to it 

Vol. I. G e bv 


by Men of great Learning and Judgment, 
able Judges of thefe Matters, who have 
considered, the Dimenfions of the Ark, as 
deicribed by Mofes, with a mathematical 
E * ?:nefs ; and have alfo * made a Com- 
putation of the feveral Species of earth- 
ly Animals, Birds, Beafts, &c. hitherto 
known to the moft fagacious Naturalifts ; 
and upon a careful Comparifon have de- 
monftrated by a nice and particular Calcu- 
lation, that the Ark was capable of taking 
in fome of every Species of thofe Animals, 
with as much Food as was fufficient to 
fupport them. Some able Mathematicians 
that have accurately examined the Struc- 
ture of the Ark, according to the Account 
given by Mofes, have thought it fo admi- 
rably contrived for the Purpofe for which 
it was intended, as to furnifh no inconfi- 
derable Argument of its having been done 
by a divine Direction. 

As to other fmaller Objections, they 
ought to be of no Weight again ft an Ac- 
count of a Fact that comes to us fo well 
attefted and confirmed. The Difpenfation 
was of fo extraordinary a Nature, and car- 
ried in it fuch an immediate Interpofition 
of Divine Providence for wife and juft 

* See Buteo de Area Noe. Bp. TPilkittis Efiay, &c. 
and Monf. PeUetier's Diikii.furl' Arche de Noe. 



Purpofes, that it is not to be wondered at, 
if it were attended with fome Circumfian- 
ces quite out of the ufual Couffe of Things, 
but which are by no means beyond the 
Reach of the divine Power. 

Upon the whole, we have as much Evi- 
dence to fatisfy us of the Truth of this 
great Event, as can reafonably be defired. 
But it will be of little ConfeqUence to us 
barely to believe that fuch an Event once 
happened, if we do not endeavour to make 
a right Ufe and Improvement of it. And 
to affifl: you in this, is the Defign of what 
I propofe to offer in the farther Profecu- 
tion of this Subject. 

At prefent I mail conclude with this 
general Reflection : 

That this wonderful Event exhibits a 
convincing Demon fixation of a Divine Pro- 
vidence as interefting itfelf in human Af- 
fairs, and Mens moral Conduct 
and Behaviour. It is probable, as I had 
Occafion to obferve before, that there were 
many among that wicked and ungodly Ge- 
neration, who did not believe, or would 
not acknowledge that God concerneth him- 
felf with Mankind, or their Affairs, or 
any of their good or evil Actions. But 
nothing could poffibly give a clearer Proof 
of this moft important Article, which lies at 
the Foundation of all Religion, than this 
G g 2 aflonifhing 


aftonifhing Difpenfation taken in all its 
Circumflances. If fome mortal Peftilence 
had deftroyed the human Race, or if an 
Inundation had covered a great Part of the 
Earth, but not the whole, it might pofli- 
bly have been fuppofed to have been the 
mere Effect of fome natural Caufe, or acci- 
dental Concurrence of natural Caufes; 
or, if the whole Earth had been over- 
whelmed with the Flood, and none of the 
human Race faved, it might have been 
thought to have been owing to fome 
unaccountable fatal Necefhty, which, 
at certain Periods, produces the De- 
ftrudtion of the planetary World, a No- 
tion that obtaineth among fome of the 
Pagan Philofophers. But as this great 
Event was circumftanced, there was not 
the leafl room for fuch a Suppoiition, The 
Deluge was univerfal, and extended to 
every Part of our Globe, and it was plain- 
ly foretold, and Warnings given of it a . 
confiderable Time before it happened, with 
an exprefs Declaration in the Name of 
God himfelf, that this Deluge mould be 
fent in a Way of jufl Punimment for the 
great and univerfal Corruption of Man- 
kind. And at the fame Time it was fo 
ordered, that though the whole Earth was 
covered with the Flood, and even the high- 
efr. Mountains, yet that excellent Perion 



Noah, and his Family, were wonderfully 
preferved, from whom a new Generation 
were to proceed, together with fome of 
every Species of terreftrial Animals. And 
an Ark was provided, and admirably con- 
trived for that Purpofe, by an exprefs 
divine Direction and Appointment. All 
thefe Things plainly mewed, that it was 
not a mere fortuitous Event, owing to a 
blind unguided Chance, or to an unintel- 
ligent Nature and fatal Neceffity, but was 
the Effect of the divine Counfels, brought 
about by a wife and fovereign Providence; 
and it continues to all fucceeding Genera- 
tions a ftrong and affecting Proof, that 
verily there is a juft and holy God that 
judgeth in the Earth, and who taketh No- 
tice of Mens moral Conduct, and will re- 
ward or puniiti them accordingly. 

g 3 On 

On the Univerfal Deluge. 


2 Peter ii. 5. 

And /pared not the old Worlds but Javed 
Noah the eighth Perfon, a Preacher of 
Righteoufnefs, bringing in the Flood upon 
the World of the ungodly. 

THESE Words exhibit to us one of 
the moll remarkable Events that 
ever happened to Mankind, and which is 
capable of furnifhing very ufeful Reflec- 
tions. In treating of this Subject, we firfl 
enquired into the Caufes of the Deluge, 
and this led us to make fome Obfervations 
on the univerfal and amazing Corruption 
into which Mankind were fallen, and 
which, through the juft Judgment of God, 
G g 4 brought 


brought this dreadful Calamity upon them. 
We then proceeded to coniider the Ac- 
count given us in Scripture of the Deluge 
itfelf, and the general Deftruction it 
brought upon the whole human Race, 
Noah and his Family only excepted, who, 
by an extraordinary Interpofition of the 
divine Power and Goodnefs, were wonder- 
fully preferved. We next endeavoured to 
fhew, that we have fufficjent Evidence to 
convince us of the Truth and Certainty of 
the univerfal Deluge -, and that, however 
amazing it may appear, it was an Event 
which really happened. 

It now remain's that we endeavour to 
make a proper Ufe and Improvement of 
this important Subject. In my laft Di£? 
courfe it was obferved in general, That 
this wonderful Event exhibits a convincing- 
Proof of an over-ruling Providence, which 
intereiteth itfelf in the Affairs of Men, and 
infpecteth their moral Conduct and Beha- 
viour. Let us now proceed to make fome 
more particular Obfervations and Reflec- 
tions upon the Subject we have been con- 
sidering. And here we {hall firO: take No- 
tice of fuch Reflections as feem naturally 
to arife from the Account which is given 
us of the dreadful Defolation and Ruin 
which the Flood brought upon the World 
of the ungodly. Secondly, We mall make 



fome Obfervations upon the wonderful 
Prefervation of that excellent Perfon Noah 
and his Family. 

Firft, Let us confider fuch Reflections as 
feem naturally to arife from the Account 
which is given us of the dreadful Def- 
lation and Ruin which the Flood brought 
upon the World of the ungodly. 

And i ft, What an awful Idea does this 
give us of God's irrefiftible Power, and of his 
Juftice, and righteous Abhorrence of Sin 
and Wickednefs. There cannot be a full- 
er Proof of it, than that he fent a def- 
tructive Deluge upon a whole World of 
his Creatures at once, when they became 
universally corrupted and denied. There 
is no Nation now in the World that can 
be compared for Numbers or Power to 
that Race of Men which peopled the Earth 
at the Time of the Deluge, when their 
Lives were much longer, their Conftitu- 
tions more firm and robuft, and their Cou- 
rage more daring than the prefent Genera- 
tion of Mortals. They braved Heaven by 
their Impiety and Prefumption, yet when 
the divine Vengeance overtook them, how 
feeble were they, and unable to make the 
leaft Refiftance ! When God contends with 
guilty Nations, the united Force of their 
mightieft Armies is mere Weaknefs and 
Impotency. And though he has been 



pleafed, in his great Goodnefs, to promife 
that he will no more fend an univerfal De^ 
luge to deftroy the whole Race of Man- 
kind from off the Face of the Earth, yet 
he has no where engaged that he will not 
deflroy any of thofe particular Nations, 
Kingdoms and States, into which this 
Earth is divided, when they are arrived to 
an enormous Height of Wickednefs. He 
has many Ways of executing his juft Ven- 
geance upon them. He can do it by the 
Sword and Devaftations of War, by Fa^ 
mine and Peftilence, by Fire, and furious 
Storms and Inundations. How dreadful 
was the Ruin of Sodom and Gomorrah, and 
the neighbouring impious and luxurious 
Cities, and the Deft-ruction of the Canaan- 
itijh Nations for their Wickednefs and 
many crying Abominations \ How often 
has the Peftilence almoft depopulated large 
Cities and Countries! Hiflory informs us 
particularly of one that fpread its. Ravages 
through a great Part of the known World, 
and was thought to have deftroyed near a 
third Part of Mankind. The proper Ufe 
to be made of fuch Inftances of the divine 
Judgments, but efpecially of that which 
was the moft amazing of them all, the 
univerfal Deluge, is to get our Hearts pof- 
fefled with a religious Awe of God, and 
a facred Dread of his Difpleafure. The 



Voice of this Difpenfation to all Mankind 
is this : The Lord is the true God, be is the 
living God, and an everlafiing King ; at his 
Wrath the Earth fh all tremble, and the Na- 
tions JImII not be able to abide his Indignatioji* 
Jer. x. 10. On this Occafion we may 
take up the Words of the Song of Mofes 
and the Lamb, as it is called, Rev. xv. 3, 
4. Great and marvellous are thy Works, Lord 
Gad Almighty, jujl and true are thy Ways 9 
O thou King of Saints : who /ball not fear 
thee, and glorify thy Name $ For thou only 
art holy : All Nations ft: all come a?id worjbip 
before thee, for thy "Judgments are made ma- 
nifejl. Thou art not a God that hath Plea- 
jure in Wickednefs ; neither fiall Evil dwell 
with thee. Pfal. v. 4. Who can fland be- 
fore God, when once he is angry ? As no 
Power is able to refill: him, fo there is no 
Place that can hide us from his Prefence, 
no Way can be contrived to efcape his 
avenging Arm. He is the Lord of Na- 
ture, and can arm all the Elements againfl 
us -, for he doeth whatfoever he pleafeth in 
Heaven and in Earth, in the Sea, and in 
all deep Places. Pfal cxxxv. 6. The uni- 
verfal Deluge gives this moft ufeful LefTon 
to all fucceeding Generations, that the 
Number and Power of TranfgrefTors is no 
Security againfl God's righteous Judg- 



2dly, Another important Reflection 
which arifes upon this Subject is this, 
Though God may long bear with guilty 
Perfons and Nations, and may exercife 
great Patience towards them, yet it would 
be the Height of Folly to prefume that 
he will always do fo. On the contrary, 
the Punifhment often comes with greater 
Weight and Force for having been fo long 
delayed^ God had borne with much Long- 
fufFering the Sinners of the old World, not- 
withstanding their heinous Provocations. 
And becaufe Sentence a?ainft their evil 
Works was not fpeedily executed, there- 
fore their Hearts were fully fet in them to 
do wickedly. According to their Hard- 
nefs and impenitent Hearts, they defpifed 
the Riches of his Goodnefs, and Forbear- 
ance, and Long-furTering; but at length 
the Day of Vengeance came, and of the 
righteous Judgment of God. This is a 
Warning to Mankind in all fucceeding 
Ages, not to abufe the divine Goodnefs, 
or flatter themfelves, that becaufe he de- 
lays inflicting upon them the juft Punifh- 
ment of their Crimes, therefore he hath 
forgotten them, or will pafs them over 
with Impunity. As there is a Time for 
God's bearing with prefumptuous Tranf- 
greffors, fo there is a Time when it is pro- 
per for him to change the Method of his 



Dealings towards them, a Time when 
Judgment muft take Place. This is what 
his rectoral Wifdom and Righteoufnefs re- 
quires. When Wickednefs is arrived to 
a certain Height, it may be neceffary for 
anfwering the Purpofes of God's moral 
Government to execute his Judgments 
upon obftinate hardened Offenders, and 
not to bear with them any longer, but to 
fet them forth as the awful Monuments of 
his jufl Wrath. Some Sins there are that 
do, in an efpecial Manner, draw down the 
divine Difpleafure upon the People among 
whom they abound, as an avowed Neglect 
and Contempt of all Religion, blafphe- 
mous Impiety and Profanenefs, open In- 
juftice and Violence, and an univerfai Cor- 
ruption and Diffolutenefs of Manners. 
Thefe were the Sins of the old World, 
and which brought the Deluge upon them; 
and when once they become general in 
any Nation or Community, they will 
fooner or later, through the jufl Judgments 
of God, expofe them to heavy and ruin- 
ous. Calamities. 

Again, 3dly, Another Ufe that is to 
be made of what is to be offered on this 
Subject, is, to regulate our Notions of 
the divine Goodnefs, and to convince us 
that it is not to be regarded as a mere foft 
Tendernefs and Indulgence, inconfiftent 



with a juft and feafonable Severity. One 
would have been apt to think, that the 
Mercy of the companionate Father of 
Mankind would not have fuffered him to 
cut off fo many Millions of them at once, 
as was done at the Deluge, by one aw- 
ful exterminating Stroke. But we may 
fee by this Inftance, that the Love of God 
towards Mankind is not a mere blind partial 
Affection, like that of a too fond and in- 
dulgent Parent towards his Children, but 
is in an infeparable Conj unction with the 
moft perfect Wifdom and Righteoufnefs. 
It is always exercifed in fuch a Manner 
as is moft confident with the invariable 
Rectitude of his Nature, with the Ma- 
jetty of his Government and Laws, and 
with the wife and righteous Ends of his 
moral Adminiftration. There is fcarce any 
Thing in which Men are more apt to de- 
ceive and natter themfelves, than in what 
relates to that moft amiable and glorious 
Attribute of the divine Mercy and Good- 
nefs. Many are apt fondly to imagine 
that God is too good to pimiili them . for 
their Sins, and that he will not fuffer any 
Of his Creatures finally to perifh. Theie 
are Notions of a pernicious Tendency, and 
which ought to be carefully guarded a- 
gainft. They manifeftly tend to encourage 
Sinners to go on in their evil Courfes, to 



take away the Fear of God, to vacate 
the Authority of his Laws, and to fubvert 
all Order and Government. Such fmful 
and fhort-fighted Creatures as we are, are 
certainly very improper Judges of what it is 
fit for God to do in the Government of 
the World. We are too apt to be partial 
in our own Favour, and to entertain very 
flight Thoughts of the Evil and Demerit 
of Sin. If it were left to the Determina- 
tion of the Criminals themfelves, the beffc 
Laws might be thought too rigorous and 
fevere, and the moff. „ jufl and upright 
Judge might be cenfured as a cruel Man, 
void of all Pity and Compaffion. But 
fuch an Inftance as that of the Deluge, 
mould prevent our flattering ourfelves with 
Hopes of Impunity if we continue to 
perfift in our linful Courfes, and mould 
affect our Hearts with a fenfible Convic- 
tion, that not only Goodnefs and Mercy 
towards thofe who are proper Objects of 
Mercy, but impartial Juftice and Holi- 
nefs, and a fteady Deteftation of Vice and 
Wickednefs, neceffarily enters into the 
Character of the infinitely perfect Being, 
the fupreme Lord and Governor of the 
World. It is the great Excellency of the 
holy Scripture, that at the fame Time that 
it makes the moft amiable and inviting 
Difplay of God's rich Grace and Mercy 



towards penitent returning Sinners; it al- 
io declares in the flrongeft Terms, his utter 
Abhorrence of Sin, and the eternal Op- 
pofition of his Nature and Will to all 
moral Impurity. And all Doctrines and 
Schemes that tend to make Men eafy 
in their vicious Practices, and to reprefent 
Sin as comparatively a fmall Evil, which 
does not deferve any fevere Punifhment at 
the Hand of God, all fuch Doctrines and 
Schemes, however plaufible they may ap- 
pear, are certainly falfe, and mufl have a 
pernicious Influence on the Interefls of 
Religion and Virtue. It is true that God 
delighteth in the Happinefs of his Crea- 
tures, and taketh all proper Methods to 
promote it. But it is in a Way becoming 
his own glorious Perfections, and fuited 
to their Natures as reafonable Creatures 
and moral Agents. His Goodnefs does 
not carry him to make them all indis- 
criminately happy however they behave, 
but to make them happy if they will feek 
for Happinefs in the Way which his fo- 
vereign Wifdom and Righteoufnefs hath 
appointed, viz. in the Paths of Holinefs 
and Virtue. But if they refufe this, and 
obftinately go on in the Way that leadeth to 
Deftruction, their Ruin is owing to them- 
felves ; God and his Throne will be guilt- 
lefs for ever, and it would be the highefl 



Impiety to charge the fupreme Being with 
Injuftice or Cruelty, on the Account of 
the Evils and Miferies they bring upon 
themfelves by their own wilful Impenitency 
and Difobedience. 

Fourthly, This Difpenfation exhibits a 
ltriking Proof of God's fovereign Domi- 
nion over his Creatures, and that he is 
the abfolute Lord of their Lives; in his 
Hand is the Soul of . every living Thing, 
and the Breath of all Mankind. He can 
without Injuftice cut off whole Nations at 
once, and even put an End to the whole 
human Race. But though his Dominion 
be abfolute, it is not exerpifed merely in 
an arbitrary Way, but in a Manner per- 
fectly confident with his own infinite 
Wifdom, Righteoufnefs, and Goodnefs. 
He fent a deftru&ive Deluge upon the 
old World. And in this he did no more 
than he had a Plight to do ; and none 
can refift his Will, or fay unto him, What 
doefi thou f As he is the Giver of Life, he 
can withdraw it when he pleafes. But 
yet he did not this merely for his own 
good Pleafure, but for wife and juft Rea- 
fons ; becaufe the Wickednefs of Men 
was become general and incorrigible, and 
they were not to be reclaimed by Mer- 
cy and Indulgence. 

I (hall conclude with obferving, that 
as through the juft Judgment of God, 

Vol. I. H h and 


and by an Act of his fovereign Dominion, 
this Earth, and Mankind upon it, was 
overwhelmed with the Flood, fo the Time 
is coming when it fhall undergo a fe-* 
cond Deftruction by Fire, And as the 
former of thefe was exprefsly foretold, 
and folemn Warnings were given of it 
to Mankind before it happened, fo we 
are allured by the Word of God, that 
cannot lie, that the latter fhall be ful- 
filled in the proper Seafon. This is what 
the Apoftle Peter takes particular Notice 
of in the third Chapter of his fecond EpiA 
tie, where fpeaking of Scoffers that fhall 
come in the lafl Days, he obferves, that 
this they willingly are ignorant of, that by 
the Word of God the Heavens were of old, 
and the Earth Jlanding out of the Water, 
and in the*Water. Whereby the World that 
then was, being overflowed with Water, pe- 
rijhed. But the Heavens and the Earth 
which are now, by the fame Word are kept 
in fore, referved unto Fire againfl the Day 
of judgment, and Perdition of ungodly Men. 
2 Pet. iii. 5, 6, 7. Since the one of thefe 
has actually come to pafs, according to the 
divine Threatening, it fhould ftrengthen 
our Faith with refpect to the future Ac- 
complishment of the other. And as the 
Flood came upon the old World at a Time 
when they were in a profound Security, 



and had no Expe&ation of it, fo mall it be 
in the fecond Deftruction of the World by 
Fire. For, as St. Paul exprefleth it, The 
Day of the Lord fo cometh as a Thief in 
the Night. For when they Jhall fay. Peace 
and Safety ; then fudden Dejlrudlion cometh 
upon them, as Travail upon a Woman with 
Child, and they Jhall not efcape. I TheflT. v. 
2, 3. The proper Inference to be drawn, 
both from the Confideration of that awful 
Event of the Deluge which is already paft, 
and of the Conflagration of the World 
which is yet to come, is this, What Man- 
ner of Perfons ought we to be in all holy 
Converfation and Godlinefs ! 

Hh2 On 

On the Univerfal Deluge. 


£ Peter ii. 5* 

And /pared not the old World, but faved 
Noah the eighth Per/on, a Preacher of 
Right eoufnefs, bringing in the Flood upon 
the World of the ungodly. 

THIS remarkable PafTage which I 
have been for forrie Time infilling 
upon, relates to a Subject of great Impor- 
tance, and which well deferves our feri- 
ous Thoughts. It is not deligned merely 
to amufe us, and to gratify our Curiofity, 
but to affect our Hearts, and to influence 
the Conduct of our Lives. 

Accordingly in my laft Difcourfe I en- 
deavoured to lay before you fbme ufeful 
H k 3 Obfer- 


Obfervations, which feem naturally to 
arife from the Account which the Scrip- 
ture giveth us of the dreadful Ruin and 
Defolation which the Flood brought upon 
the World of the ungodly. Let us, now 
turn our Thoughts to the more agreeable 
and pleafing Part of the Subject, the won- 
derful Prefervation of Noah and his Fami- 
ly, which is fignified here by the Apoftle, 
when after having faid, that God /pared not 
the old World, he adds, but faved Noah the 
eighth Per/on, a Preacher of Right ecufnefs. 

I fhall not repeat what I offered in a 
former Difcourfe for explaining and illus- 
trating this Part of the Apoftle's Words, 
but fhall proceed to fome Reflections which 
may help to make a proper Ufe and Im- 
provement of it. 

And, Fir ft, We may fee the Regard 
which God, the wife and righteous Gover- 
nor of the World, hath for true Holinefs and 
Virtue, and the Complacency he takes in 
it. As the Deftruction of the old World by 
the Deluge exhibiteth a moft awful Demon- 
ftration of the great Evil of Sin, and God's 
juft Difpleafure againft it, fo the remark- 
able Prefervation of Noah and his Fami- 
ly is an illuftrious Proof of the great 
Worth and Excellency of real Religion 
and Righteoufnefs ; that it is what God 
appro veth, and will gracioufly reward. 



To this it was owing that he fingled out 
Noah from the midfr. of a corrupt and 
abandoned Generation, and took fuch an 
extraordinary Way for delivering him from 
the general Ruin. It was not for his great 
Knowledge and Underftanding, or for his 
Strength and Comelinefs of Body, or for 
his Courage and Abilities in War, or for 
his political Wifdom, or Skill in the Arts 
and Sciences, or for his great Wealth, and 
the worldly Dignities and Dominion he 
was porTened of, that Noah was fo remark- 
ably diftinguifhed by the divine Favour. 
However eminent he might be for fome of 
thefe Advantages, there were probably 
others in the old World who were equal 
or fuperior to Noah in thefe Refpedts ; for 
many among them were, as Mofes informs 
us, Men of Renown. But it was Noah's 
eminent Piety and Virtue, his holy and ex- 
amplary Conduct, which recommended him 
to the Favour of God. Mofes obferves, 
that Noah found Grace in the Eyes of the 
Lord, and that Noah was a juft Man,' and 
perfect in his Generations, and Noah walked 
with God. Gen. vi. 8, 9. So pleaiing was 
his Piety and Righteoufnefs in the Sight of 
God, that he extended his Favour, not 
only to him, but to his Family, and even. 
to the Brute Animals which were with 
him. This ihews of what mighty Ad- 
H h 4 vantage 


vantage religious Virtue and uncorrupted 
Integrity is to Mankind. Degenerate as 
the World now is, it may be juftly faid, 
that it is fpared and preferved for the Sake 
of the virtuous few that are in it. There 
are many PafTages of Scripture from which 
it appeareth, that guilty Nations have been 
long fpared, and threatened Judgments 
refpited, for the Sake of a godly Remnant 
which Hill continued among them ; and 
when thefe failed, and fcarce any of them 
remained, and the Corruption became uni- 
verfal, defolating Judgments came upon 
them with a difmal Overthrow. Even So- 
dom, notwithstanding the abominable Cor- 
ruption of its Inhabitants, would have 
been fpared if ten righteous Perfons had 
been found in it. And though Noab's 
Righteoufneis could not prevail for fparing 
the old World, when their Wickednefs 
was become incorrigible, and had arrived 
at llich a Height, that it was not con'fift- 
ent with the rectoral Wifdom and Juftice 
of God to bear with them any longer, yet 
it fo far prevailed, that the Earth, and the 
Race of Mankind upon it, was not utter- 
ly deftroyed. God was pleafed in his great 
Grace and Goodnefs, to make a Covenant 
with Noah to preferve him and his Fami- 
ly to be the Seed of a new Generation of 
Men, and alfo to preferve fome of each 



Species of Animals, who were to be under 
the Dominion, and for the Ufe of Man- 
kind. And ftill it holds true, that the 
good Men which are in the Earth greatly 
contribute to the Prefervation of it. They 
are the Salt of the Earth that keep it 
from being totally corrupted and putrified. 
Wicked and vicious Men, who are fo apt 
to infult and opprefs the virtuous and god- 
ly, and to treat them with Scorn and Ri- 
dicule, are more obliged to them than they 
are aware, fince it is principally on their 
Account that God with-holds or fufpends 
the Calamities which would other wife 
overwhelm thofe Communities, which 
the wicked by their Impieties and Dif- 
folutenefs of Manners expofe to Ruin. The 
Righteoufnefs and Virtue that is ftill re- 
maining among Mankind, is really the 
Stay and Support of the World ; and it 
will no longer be fit to be preferved in its 
prefent State, when Religion and Virtue 
has abandoned it. 

Secondly, Another Reflection which 
arifeth upon this Subject is this, that 
Piety and Righteoufnefs then appears with 
a peculiar Luftre, and is, in an efpecial 
Manner, pleafmg in the Sight of God, 
when it is maintained and exercifed in a 
Time and State of great and general Cor- 
ruption. It was this that made Noa//$ 
2 good 


good Character fo remarkable, that he pre- 
ferved his Piety and his Integrity untainted, 
when all Flefh had corrupted his Way, and 
the whole Earth was filled with Wickednefs 
and Violence. And accordingly, God faid 
unto Noah) Come thou and all thy Houfe into 
the Ark -, for thee have I feen righteous be- 
fore me in this Generation. Gen. 7. 1. In 
this evil and mod corrupt Generation thou 
haft kept thyfelf pure and undefiled, and 
haft walked before me in Righteoufnefs 
and Holinefs of Life. And certainly it 
muft argue an uncommon Degree of Pie- 
ty and Virtue, a peculiar Steadinefs and 
Strength of Mind, to dare to be fingular- 
ly good, when there is nothing but Vice 
and Corruption to be feen all around > not 
to be influenced or drawn afide by the- Bias 
of corrupt Cuflom and Fafhion, by 
Allurements of Vice when it is univer- 
fally practifed and recommended by the 
Example of thofe whom the World ho- 
nours and admires ; to ftand the Shock of 
fo many Temptations, of the general Scorn, 
Reproach and Ridicule, caft upon the 
Ways of Religion and Righteoufnefs - } when 
no Pleafures of the Flefh can entice, no 
worldly Advantages bribe, no Terrors or 
Difficulties difcourage from the Profemon 
and Practice of true Godlinefs °, this muft 
certainly be highly pleafmg to God. And 



on this Account it was, that Noah was fo 
eminently diftinguifhed by the divine Fa- 
vour. And what heightened this flill 
more, he was, in that Time of univerfal 
Wickednefs and Corruption, not only a 
PracTifer of Righteoufnefs himfelf, but a 
Preacher of Righteoufnefs to others. So the 
Apoftle Peter here calls him. He flood 
up for the Caufe of Religion and Virtue 
in an impious and profligate Generation, 
and did all that was in his Power by 
his Prayers, Exhortations, and prophetic 
Warnings and Admonitions to engage 
them to turn from their linful Courfes, 
His Endeavours indeed to brine them to 


Repentance and Reformation, proved in- 
effectual, yet God fhewed that his At- 
tempts this Way were acceptable in his 
Sight, though they did not meet with the 
defired Succefs. And this yields a mofl 
ufeful LefTon to all fucceeding Generations, 
that let the Times be never fo bad, and 
the Depravation univerfal, this mould not 
difcourage us from uiing our bell Endea- 
vours to put a Stop, as far as we are able, 
to the overfpreading Corruption, to bear 
up nobly againft the Torrent, and to ufe 
whatever Means God puts into our Hands 
to this Purpofe; we (hall hereby deliver 
our own Souls, and perhaps prevail to 
bring a BlefTing upon others too. 



This leads to another Obfervation, viz. 

Thirdly, That in the midfl of Judg- 
ment God ufually remembers Mercy, and 
preferves a Remnant to whom he exer- 
cifeth his Grace and Favour. Thus it 
eminently was with regard to Noah and 
his Family. Though the Ruin was fo 
univerfal, and extended generally to the 
whole Race of Mankind, yet God did not 
utterly deflroy them all. He interpofed, 
in a wonderful and extraordinary Manner, 
to preferve Noah, and them that were with 
him ; and was gracioufly pleafed to efta- 
blifh a Covenant with him and his Chil- 
dren, that he would not deftroy the Earth 
any more by fending an univerfal Deluge. 
This was done in great Mercy for allay- 
ing their Fears. He declared his Accept- 
ance of Noah's Piety and Devotion, and 
of the Sacrifice which he offered, and pro- 
mifed, that the Courfe of Nature which 
had been fo greatly difturbed by the Flood, 
mould be renewed and re-eftablifhed ; and 
that the orderly Succemon of Seafons, 
Seed-time a?id Harveji, and Cold and Heat, 
and Summer a?id Winter, mould be conti- 
nued, whilfl: the Earth remaineth. Gen. viii. 
22. He renewed his Bleffing to Noah, as 
he had done to Adam at the Beginning, 
together with the Grant of a Dominion 
over the Earth, and all the Creatures in it, 



for his Ufe and that of his Pofterity, 
which they might otherwife be apt to 
fear was forfeited. They were encourag- 
ed again to replenifh the Earth, and had 
many Intimations given them of the divine 
Grace and Favour to engage them to Obe- 

I would conclude with obferving, that 
if we take the whole of this Difpenfation 
together, the bringing the Flood upon the 
World of the ungodly, and preferving No- 
ah and his Family, it manifeftly tended to 
the general Good, to the maintaining the 
Caufe of Righteoufnefs and Virtue in the 
World, and laying a Restraint on the Pre- 
valency of Vice and Wickednefs. It might, 
for any Thing we know, or can prove to 
the contrary, exhibit an awful Difplay of 
the divine Juftice and Vengeance againft 
Sin to other Orders of Beings, and even 
to the Angels themfelves, and thus might 
anfwer Purpofes of Providence, which we 
are not at prefent aquainted with. Or 
however this be, it is of Ufe and Advan- 
tage to the human Race, if we take in 
the whole Compafs of Ages and Genera- 
tions to the End of the World. It is 
true, that that Generation of Men was 
deftroyed, and it was proper it mould be 
fo, for all Flejh had corrupted his Way upon 
■ the Earth ; luch a Race of Creatures was 



not fit to be continued to inhabit the Earth 
any longer ; they were become abfolutely 
incorrigible , the Means of Forbearance 
and Indulgence had been tried in vain, 
no Amendment or Reformation was to be 
expected. Yet God did not think fit to 
put an utter End to the whole human 
Race, or to extinguish this Order of Be- 
ings, fb that they mould have no farther 
Place in his Creation. He was therefore 
pleafed to preferve that excellent Perfon 
NoaBy and his Family, from whom a new 
Generation was to be propagated. And 
they had, in feveral Refpects, Advantages 
above thofe of the old World for deterring 
them from Vice and Sin, and engaging 
them to the Practice of Righteoufnefs, and 
for imprefiing them with a Senfe of Re- 
ligion, and a believing awful Regard to 
God's Providence. It is true that Noah, 
the fecond Father of Mankind, was not 
perfectly innocent and fmlefs as Adam was 
at his firft Creation. But then he had 
great Experience, and was fix hundred 
Years old when the Flood came. He 
had (ctn the wretched and corrupt State 
into which Mankind had fallen, and the 
direful Effects to which their Wickednefs 
had expofed them, and therefore was well 
qualified to warn his Pofterity againft 
thofe evil Practices which had brought 



fo dreadful a Deftruction upon the World 
of the ungodly. Though he was not ab- 
folutely free from Infirmities and Defects, 
yet he had perfevered in an uniform Courfe 
of Righteoufnefs amidft the ftrongeft 
Temptations. He had the Advantage 
of the Revelations and Difcoveries which 
God had made to Adam, and which might 
eafily he tranfmitted to him, fince Me- 
thufelah, his Grandfather, had been Con- 
temporary with Adam near two hundred 
and fifty-eight Years, and Noah himfelf 
lived feveral hundred Years with Methufelah 
and others of the antediluvian Patriarchs. 
He was therefore well fitted to inftrucT: 
his Pofterity in the great Articles of the pri- 
mitive Religion relating to the Perfections 
and Attributes of God, the Creation of the 
World, a governing Providence, the inno- 
cent and happy State in which Man was 
at firft formed, his Fall from that State by 
his Sin and Difobedience, and the Evils 
and Miferies that were thereby brought 
upon the human Race $ as alfo the Difco- 
veries that were made of the divine Mer- 
cy, and the Promife of a Redeemer or 
Deliverer that mould arife to Mankind 
from the Woman's Seed. Noah was now 
become the Heir and Depofitary of this 
Promife, which was to be accomplished in 
the proper Seafon. And it muft be farther 
5 . confidered, 


confidered, that Noah had not only the 
Advantage of the Revelations made to A- 
dam and the Patriarchs before the Flood, 
but he had farther Revelations and Dis- 
coveries made to him by God himfelf. 
He was able therefore to recommend Re- 
ligion and Righteoufnefs with particular 
Advantage. He had three Sons with him 
in the Ark grown up to Maturity. He 
had, we may be fure, taken great Care to 
train them up in the Ways of Religion, in 
the right Knowledge, Adoration, and O- 
bedience of the only true God, and to 
preferve them from the general abounding 
Impiety and Corruption. And whilft they 
were in the Ark, and had the ftriking 
Proofs of the divine Vengeance againft the 
Wickednefs of Mankind, and of his Mer- 
cy in their own wonderful Prefervation, 
continually before their Eyes, this muft 
needs give a mighty Weight to their pious 
Father's Inftructions, and mufl: tend to im- 
prefs a ftrong and affecting Senfe of the 
main Principles of Religion upon their 
Minds, to fill them with a holy Fear of 
God, the wife and righteous Governor of 
the World, and to raiie them to an inge- 
nuous Truft and Hope in his Grace and* 
Mercy. x*\nd as Noah continued to live 
three hundred and fifty Years after the 
Peluge, it is not to be doubted that he 



took the propereft Methods in his Power 
to preferve and promote the Knowledge 
and Practice of Religion among hk De^- 

It cannot therefore be denied, that Man- 
kind after the Flood had considerable Ad- 
vantages, if they had been careful to make 
a right Improvement of them.. That aw- 
ful Cataftrophe of the Deluge, which they 
•knew was fent as a Punifhment for the 
Wickednefs of the old World, naturally- 
led them to reflect with Horror on the 
Crimes and Vices, which the Men of that 
impious Generation had been guilty of. 
And the extraordinary Favour fhewn to 
that excellent Perfon Noafj, mould have 
made them fenfible, that the Way to pleafe 
God, was to perfevere in an uniform Gourfe 
of Righteoufnefs and true Holinefs. Such 
was the Effect which the extraordinary 
Difpenfation of Divine Providence ought 
to have had upon Mankind, not only in the 
Ages immediately after the Flood, but in all 
the following Ages, as long as the Account 
of it mall be preferved in the World. 
It is amazing, that notwithstanding all 
this, Men fell foon after the Flood from the 
Knowledge and Worfhip of the living and 
true God, into a State of deplorable Dark- 
nefs, Idolatry, and Corruption of Manners. 
Yet in this State of Things, God did riot 

Vol. I. I i utterly 


utterly abandon Mankind, but gracioufly 
interpofed for upholding the Knowledge 
and Practice of true Religion in the World. 
For this Purpofe, in about two hundred 
Years after the Death of Noah, he gave 
an extraordinary Call to Abraham, from 
whom many Nations proceeded. He fa- 
voured him with renewed Revelations of 
his Will, and vouchfafed to eftablifh a gra- 
cious Covenant with him, and promifed, 
that in his Seed mould all the Families of the 
Earth be bleffed. It pleafed God afterwards to 
erect the Jewifh Polity, the proper Defign 
of which was to preferve the Knowledge 
and Worfhip of the one true God in Op- 
poiition to the fpreading Idolatry, and to 
prepare the Way for that more perfect 
Difpenfation of Religion which was to be 
brought by the Son of God himfelf, the 
great Saviour of Mankind, who had been 
promifed and foretold at fundry Times, 
and m divers Manners, from the Begin- 
ning. Pie accordingly came in the Fulnefs 
of Time, to bring the cleared and fulleft 
Revelation of the divine Will, that had 
ever been given to Mankind, to free them 
from Condemnation and Wrath, to make 
Atonement for the Sins of the World, and 
to guide and am ft Men by his Word, by 
his Example, and by his holy Spirit, in 
the Way to everlafting Life. This is the 



Difpenfation which, to our unfpeakable 
Comfort and Advantage, we are now con- 
stituted under, and which mail continue to 
the Confummation of all Things, when 
the prefent Scheme of Divine Providence 
towards Mankind mail be compleated. 
Then mall that Day of the Lord come, in 
the which the Heavens jhall pajs away with 
a great Noife, and the Elements Jhall melt 
with fervent Heat, the Earth alfo, and the 
Works that are thereifi, fiail be burnt up. 
2 Pet. iii. 10. Thole good Men who mall 
then be found alive upon the Earth mall be 
matched from the _ midft of a World in 
Flames. They mail not die, but (hall be 
wonderfully changed ; and mall, together 
with the rifen Bodies of the Saints, which 
had lain many Ages in the Grave, be caught 
up in the Clouds to meet the Lord in the 
Air. And thenceforth they mall be for 
ever with the Lord, happy in the biifsful 
Vifion and Enjoyment of God and the 
Redeemer unto all Eternity. 

I i 2 On 

On the General Conflagration. 


2 Peter iii. 10, 11. 

"The Day of the Lord will come as a Thief 
in the Nighty in which the Heavens Jhall 
pafs away with a great Noi/e, and the 
Elements fiall melt with fervent Heat y 
the Earth alfo, and the Works that are 
therein, foal I he burnt up. Seeing then, 
that all thefe Things fiall be dijj'ohed, what 
Mariner of Perfons ought ye to be in all 
holy Converfation and Godlinefs I 

THE Subject which thefe Words 
prefent to our Thoughts is of great 
Importance, and well deferves our ferious 
Consideration. We are apt to be ftruck 
I i 7 with 


with an Account of any extraordinary 
Events, efpecially if they be fuch in which 
not only the Interefts of particular Perfons 
and Families, but of large Communities, 
of populous Cities and Nations, are involv- 
ed. But what are any of the Revolutions 
th;t happen to particular States and King- 
doms, the Overthrow of flourifhing Cities 
and mighty Empires, or what are the 
moft dreadful Devaluations, by Sword, 
Fire, Peftilence, Earthquakes, Tempefts r 
even thofe of them that fpread farther!:, and 
produce the moft pernicious Effects, com- 
pared with the DifTolution of this prefent 
World at the Judgment of the great Day! 
I had Occafion fome Time ago to con- 
fider the Account the Scriptures give us 
of the general Deluge, which it pleafed 
God, in his juft Judgment, to fend upon 
the World of the ungodly ; and whereby 
the whole human Race, which was then 
upon the Face of the Earth, was deftroy- 
ed, except Noa/j and thofe that were with 
him in the Ark. It was obferved to you, 
that this is an Event which is not only 
clearly recorded in the holy Scriptures, 
but of which there are remarkable Traces 
to be found in the Hiftory and Traditions 
of the moft ancient Nations as appears 
from the Tefcimonies of the heathen Wri- 
ters themfelves. We. have the Promife 



and Covenant of God to allure us, that this 
Earth fliall not again be overwhelmed with 
an universal Flood. But let us not there- 
fore flatter ourfelves that this World, iri 
the prefent Form of it, mail be of a per- 
petual Duration. There is a Time ap~> 
proachirig when it {hall be diffolved and 
confumed by Fire. And there is no Paf- 
fage in the facred Writings that is more 
exprefs and full to this Purpofe than thefe 
Words of the Apoftle Peter, which I have 
now chofen to iniift upon. There is fuch 
an Emphaiis in every Expreflion, fuch a 
Pomp and Solemnity in the whole Defcrip- 
tion, efpecially when we confider it in its 
Connection with the Context, as fuffici- 
ently demonftrates that it cannot be iinder- 
ftood merely of Chriff's particular coming 
to the Deflruclion of Jerufalem, to which 
fome have endeavoured to apply it. If we 
look back to the third Verfe of this Chap- 
ter we fliall find that the Apoftle tells us 
of fome Scoffers that fball come in the lajl 
Days, walking after their own Lifts, and 
faying, Where is the Fromije oj his coming ? 
For fince the Fathers fell afleep, all Things 
continue as they were from the Beginning of 
the Creation, i. e; the World continues 
ft ill the fame that it was fome thoufand 
Years ago ; there are no more Signs of a 
Decay or Diffolution now than there were 
I i 4 then : 


then : and therefore, where is the Pro- 
mi ie of Cbrijl's coming to Judgment,- or of 
the general Refurrection and DirTolution of 
the World ? we have been told of thefe 
Things long fmce, and yet they fcem to be 
as far oil as ever. To thefe Scoffers St. 
Peter gives a full Anfwer in the 5th, and 
following Verfes. He firft obferves,, that 
this they are willingly ignorant of, that by 
the V/ord of God the Heavens- were-- of old, 
and the Earth jlcmding oat of the Water. 
Verfe 5. If they did but confider that the 
Heavens and tire Earth were made of old 
by the Word of God,, it would not feem 
an impomble Thing that they mould be 
deitroyed, or the whole Frame- of them 
changed by the fame almighty Power that 
created them ; efpecially considering the 
Proof that has been already given of this 
in the univerfal Deluge ; whereby, as he 
fpeaks, Verfe- 6. the World that then was, 
bein<r overflowed, with Water, perified. And 
as then the Earth- was overflowed with 
Water, fo it- is* to- undergo a fecond De- 
flruction by Fire. 'The Heavens and the 
Earth which are now, fays he, Verfe 7. by 
the fame Word are kept in Store, referved 
tmto Fire againft the Day of fudgment, and 
Perdition of ungodly Men. And whereas 
this Time feems to be long delayed, the 
Apoftle anfwers, 1 ft,. That, though it may 



feem long to us, it is but a fliort Time to the 
bleffed God. For one Day is with the Lord 
as a thoufand Tears, and a thoufand Tears 
as one Day. Verfe viii. And, 2dly, That 
the Caufe of this feeming Delay is not 
any Slacknefs on the Part of God in the 
Performance of his Promife, but his Pa- 
tience and long-fuffering Goodnefs to- 
wards Sinners, that he may give them 
Time and Opportunity for repenting, and 
reforming their evil Ways, and laying 
hold on his offered Mercy. The Lord is 
not Jlack, fays he, Verfe 9. concerning his 
Promif, fas Jems Men count Slacknefs J but is 
Img-Juffering to us-ward, not willing that 
any foidd perijh, but that all fould come ta 
Repentance. And then he proceeds to de- 
scribe the coming of Chrijl to Judgment 
and the general Conflagration that mall at- 
tend it, in the molt emphatical Terms* 
But the Day of the Lord will come as a 
Thief in the Night, in the which the Hea- 
vens /hall pafs away with a great Noife, and 
the Elements fall melt with fervent Heat, 
the Earth alfo, and the Works that are 
therein, fall be burnt up. There are two 
Things here to be diftincfly confidered. 
The firft is, that there is a Time approach- 
ing, here called the Day of the Lord, when 
this World, and all Things in it, mall be 
deftroyed by Fire. The fecond is* that 



this Day of the Lord fiall come as a 'Thief 
in the Night. 

Firft, We are here allured, that there is a 
Time approaching, when this World and 
all Things in it fhall be deftroyed by Fire. 
Some Notion of this obtainted pretty ge- 
nerally ' amongft the Pagans, and was pro- 
bably a Tradition derived to them from 
ibme of the early Patriarchs, and which 
came originally by divine Revelation. It 
was an Opinion held by the Epicureans, 
Stoics, and other Philofophers, as might 
be fhewn by many Teftimonies, and is fo 
among the Indian Bramins at this Day. 
The Paffage in the Poet Ovid is well 
known, where he fpeaks of a Time deter- 
mined by the Fates, in which the Sea, 
the Earth, and the Palace of Heaven mail 
burn, and the whole prodigious Fabric of 
the World fhall be brought to Ruin. This 
Tradition was, like many others, greatly 
corrupted. Many of the Philofophers 
afcribed the Conflagration of the World 
to a phy iical and fatal Neceffity, and fome 
of them fuppofed that there would be fe- 
veral fuch fucceflive Conflagrations, return- 
ing at certain Periods, in the endlefs Re-» 
volutions of Ages, But to pafs by thefe 
Reveries, it is in the holy Scripture alone 
that we have an Account of the fiery Dif- 
folution of the World, which can be fafe- 


ly depended upon. And the appointed Time 
when this Conflagration of the World (hall 
be, is here called, the Day of the Lord. Not 
as if all were to be done precifely with- 
in the Cornpafs of one natural Day ; but 
it is ufual in Scripture to call any Time 
of whatfoever Continuance, wherein God 
delivereth his People, and- executeth Ven- 
geance upon his Enemies, the Day of God, 
Thus I/a. xxxiv. 8. where the Deflruc- 
tion of Idumea is fpoken of in Terms which 
feem to bear fome Allufion to the general 
Judgment, it is called the Day of the Lord's 
Vengeance-, and the Tear of Reccmpcnces for 
the Controverjy of Zion. What is called 
the Day of the Lord's Vengeance in the 
former Part of the Verfe, is called the Tear 
of Recompence in the latter. Thus in the 
Text the Time in which Chriji will judge 
the World, and confume it in avenging 
Flames, is called the Day of the Lord, and, 
Verfe 7th, the Day of' Judgment, and Per- 
dition of ungodly Men. In that great Day, 
we are here told, the Heavens flail pa/} away 
with a great Noife, and the Elements Jl:all 
melt with fervent Heat, the Earth aljo, and 
the Works that are therein, (I: all be burnt up. 
Let us a little confider the feveral Parts of 
the Defcription. 

1 ft, It is here declared, that the Hea- 
vem fiall pafs away with a great Noife, or, 



as it is exprefTed Verfe 12th,. Tine Heavens, 
being on Fire flail be diffbhed. The Word 
Heaven in Scripture Language admits of 
various Significations. It is often under- 
stood of the Heaven of the blefted, which 
is in Scripture called Gods throne, and 
his Dwelling-place, becaufe there he is pecu- 
liarly prefent, and makes the brighter! Dif- 
plays of his Glory, there the holy Angels 
behold his Face, and there mall the glori- 
fied Saints live and be happy for ever. It 
is evident that this is not included in the 
Heavens mentioned here, and which mall 
pafs away at the great Day* The Fire of 
the general Conflagration mall not ap- 
proach thofe blifsful Regions, where eter- 
nal Joy and Felicity mall dwell. But it 
is to be obferved farther, that Heavens, 
in Scripture Language is alfo ufed to lig- 
nify that vail and glorious Expanfe where 
the heavenly Bodies, as they are called, 
perform their Courfes, or have their Sta- 
tions appointed them by a divine Hand. 
Flence we often read of the Stars of Hea- 
ven. It is alfo frequently put for the Air 
or Atmofphere, where the Clouds and Me- 
teors are formed. Accordingly we read of 
the Clouds of Heaven, Rain from Hea- 
ven, the Dew of Heaven, the four Winds 
of Heaven, the hoary Froft of Heaven-, 
and the Birds that fly in the Air are call- 


ed the Birds of Heaven, and are faid to 
fly in the open Firmament of Heaven, 
Now if the Inquiry be what thofe Heavens 
are which are referred to in the Text, all 
Interpreters are agreed, that the leaft that 
can be fuppofed is, that thefe Expreffions 
take in the whole Atmofphere about us, 
the Air which furrounds this earthly Globe, 
and is ftretched above, beneath, and on 
every Side of us. But many are of Opinion 
that the Words are to be taken in a larger 
View. And though they are not for 
extending them to all the {tarry Heavens, 
as if that whole vaft and unmeafurable 
Expanfe, which exceeds the utmoft Flight 
of human Imagination, with all the fixed 
Stars, thofe ftupendous Orbs, which are 
each of them probably fo many Suns with 
their attendant Planets, were to be dirTolv- 
ed at the great Day, when Mankind mall 
be judged, which it were abfurd to ima- 
gine, yet they think it probable, that by 
the Heavens here may be underftood, that 
Part of the ftarry Heavens which hath a 
near Relation to our Earth, and which is 
ufually called the folar Syftem. And if this 
Interpretation be allowed, what a dreadful 
Pomp muff, it add to the Solemnity of 
that awful Day, that not only this Earth 
of ours, with the circumambient Air, but 
thofe heavenly Bodies which more imme- 
3 diately 


diately minifter unto us, the Sun, Moon, 
and thofe Planets that belong to our parti- 
cular Syftem, of which Man is probably' 
the principal Inhabitant iliall be involv- 
ed in this great Cataffrophe of Na- 
ture. Amazing Thought ! St. Jcbtj, when 
giving an Account of the future general 
Judgment, reprefents it thus, that the 
Earth and the Heaven fled away from the 
Face of him that fat upon the Throne, 
and there was found no Place for them. 
Rev. xx. ii. And the Pfajmift in his 
noble Addrefs to God, Pfal. cii. 25, 26, 
27. after having faid, Of old bajl thou laid 
the Foundation of the Earth, and the He a-? 
Vfns are the Work of thine Hands; adds, 
they JbaJl peri/Jj, but thou Jhalt endure ; yea, 
all of them Jhalt wax eld like a Garment ; as 
a Ve'tiure fialt thou change them, and they 
jkatt be changed. But thou art the fame, 
and thy Tears fiall have no End. It is 
particularly obferved in the Text, that 
the Heavens jhall pafs away with a great 
Noife. Indeed if this had not been fo ex- 
preisly mentioned, we might juftly fup- 
pofe it would be fo. If the Noife of 
Thunder in Clouds about us be fo terrible, 
what muft it be when the Frame of thofe 
prodigious Bodies mall burft afunder and 
fall into Ruins. How mall the raging 



Fire roar! Its Fury lhall not be confined to 
this lower Region, but fhall fpread its Tri- 
umph through the encircling Heavens ! 
On every Side fhall the dreadful Echoes 
rebound. The hideous Noife of the moll: 
impetuous Thunders that ever terrified 
amazed Mortals, is infinitely lefs, compar- 
ed to this, than the Crack of a fmall 
Nut to the loudeft Thunders. 

2dly, The next Thing here mentioned 
is, that the Elements fia>l melt with fervent 
Heat, Learned Critics have obferved, 
that the Word, which we render Ele- 
ments, is ufed by eminent Greek Au- 
thors to fignify the Planets, and fo it is 
understood by. fome of the moft ancient 
Chriftian Writers. And if taken in this 
Senfe, it differs but little from what was 
faid before, only the Expreffion is varied 
for the greater Emphafis. Or we may- 
take the Word here rendered Elements in 
a more reftrained Senfe, as having a par- 
ticular Reference to this lower Air, or 
Atmofphere, which contains a Mixture of 
Elements, where are the Balancings of the 
Clouds, the Region of Vapours and Me- 
teors, the Repository of Lightnings and 
Thunders. Vaft Quantities of Fire are 
lodged in thofe airy Magazines, which mall 
then be brought forth, and break out in- 
to the fiercer!: Explofions. The whole Air 
5 fhall 


ihall be inflamed. The Clouds which be- 
fore (Tied down upon the Earth refrefhing 
Rains or Dews, mall then pour out Streams 
of liquid Fire, of which that which con- 
fumed Sodom and Gomor7"ah yields but a 
very faint Reprefentation. Nothing fhali 
be feen but univerfal Flame and burning 
Sulphur, even where before were the Trea- 
fures of Snow and Hail, and where the 
hoary Froft of Heaven was gendred. 

^dly, The lafr. Part of the Defcription 
is this, that the Earthy and the Works that 
are therein, fiall be burnt up. Not merely 
fhall the Surface of the Ground be fcorch- 
ed, but the whole Earth fhall be burnt 
up. The raging Flame mall penetrate its 
inmoft Bowels, and mall reach to its very 
Centre. Even the vaft Ocean itfelf, with 
all its huge Collection of Waters, fhall 
evaporate into Smoke, and fhall become a 
dry and fandy Defart, or be turned into 
a Lake of Fire. The Vulcano's or burn- 
ing Mountains, which are now to be 
found in feveral Parts of the Earth, mew 
that there is a large Quantity of combufti- 
ble Materials ftored up in its Bowels. 
Fire is in a greater or lefs Degree mixed 
with all earthly Bodies, though it is now 
for the mod part fo difpofed and govern- 
ed by Divine Providence, as to be of great 
Uic to Mankind, and is generally reftrain- 


Discourse xxiv. 497 

ed from producing mifchievous Effects. 
But then mall the raging Element be com- 
mimoned to fpread its Ravages far and 
wide; and the fubterraneous Fires, joining 
with the Inflammations in the Air, mail 
produce an univerfal Combuftion and Con- 
fufion. Not only (hall the more foft and 
lefs durable Parts of the Earth be diflblv- 
ed, and thej Woods and Forefts fend up 
an amazing Blaze, but the everlafting 
Hills themfelves, which feemed to be 
formed for a perpetual Duration, the huge 
Mountains that fcale the Sky, and the 
flinty Rocks mail fplit afunder, or melt 
like Wax before the Sun. And if the 
Works of Nature here on Earth fhall be 
confumed, much more all the Improve- 
ments of human Art. What will then 
become of ftrong and impregnable For- 
treffes, rich and magnificent Cities, flate- 
ly Palaces, with all their fumptuous Fur- 
niture, beautiful Gardens, delightful Re- 
treats ? They will all be reduced to a 
deformed Heap, and buried in one com- 
mon Mafs of fiery Ruin. Where will 
then be all the Provifions that are made 
to gratify a luxurious Appetite ? Where 
will be the boafted Monuments of hu- 
man Splendor, the Pride, the Pomp, and 
Grandeur of the mightiefl Empires ? Whi- 
ther will guilty Mortals flee for Re- 
Vol, I, K k fuo-e, 


fuge, when the Air above them, and the- 
Earth beneath, and under their Feet, {hall 
be all in Flames, and on every Side tre- 
mendous Thunders and Lightnings, Tem- 
pers and Whirlwinds of devouring Fire. 
Then mall the mod obftinate and harden- 
ed Sinners believe and tremble, and find 
too late what a fearful Thing it is to 
fall into the Hands of the living God. 

And let none fay, How can thefe Things 
be ? There is nothing in all this but what 
may without Difficulty be effected by the 
Power of the Almighty. He can, as 
hath been already hinted, eafily kindle 
and let loofe upon us the fiery Matter that 
is difperfed in inconceivable Quantities 
throughout the Earth and Air : or he 
can order it fo that we mall be involved 
in the fiery Tail of a Comet; or that this 
Earth, and the feveral Planets in this fo- 
lar Syilem, which are now kept by the 
Divine Providence at proper Diftances from 
the Sun, mall have their Courfe and Di- 
rection fo altered, as to be drawn in by the 
attractive Force of the Sun, and fwallowed 
up in that immenfe Ocean of Fire. But 
we need not be curious to enquire how 
all this mall be performed, which may 
be done in many Ways which at prefent 
we have no Notion of. It is enough that 
wc are allured in the Word of God, that 



ihere is a Time coming , when this World 
and all Things in it fhall be deftroy'ed by 

It has been a Queftion among Divines, 
Whether the Subftance of all thefe Things 
fhall be utterly abolifhed and annihilated, or 
only the Form of them changed. And 
as to this it may be obferved on the one 
Hand, that it feems manifeft that the 
primary and immediate EffecT: of this ge- 
neral Conflagration of the World (hall be 
the deftroying and reducing it to a con- 
fufed Heap and fiery Ruin. And on the 
other Hand* it is not probable that the 
very Subftance of all thefe Things fhall 
be entirely annihilated. Melting, burn- 
ing up, and difTolving, which are the 
ExprefTions here made ufe of, do not pro- 
perly fignify annihilating the Subftance,. 
but altering and deftroying the Form of 
Things. That laft dreadful Conflagration 
fhall not reduce this World and all Things 
in it to nothing, but fhall turn them into 
Afhes and Confufion. And God may, 
after having manifefted his righteous Judg- 
ments by deftroying and diffolving this 
our Syftem, caufe a new and beauti- 
ful World to arife out of the fame Mate- 
rials, for the Glory of his infinite Power, 
Wifdom, and Goodnefs. To this Purpofe 
many underftand what is faidy Verfe 1 3th 
K k 2 of 


of this Chapter, where, after having men- 
tioned the general Conflagration, the A- 
poflle adds, Neverthelefs we, according to 
his Promife, look for new Heavens and a 
new Earth, wherein dwelleth Right eoufnefs. 
And it is fuppofed by fome Interpreters, 
that St. Paul hath a Reference to this, 
when he faith, that the Creature itfelf jhall 
be delivered from the Bondage of Corruption 
into the glorious Liberty of the Children of 
God. Rom. viii. 21. 

I fhould now proceed to the fecond 
Thing I propofed to confider, viz. That 
this Day of the Lord, in which the World 
and all Things in it mall be deftroyed by 
Fire, will come as a 'Thief in the Night. But 
this, with fome other Things for the far-, 
ther Illimration of this Subject, and the 
practical Improvement of it, muft be re- 
served for another Difcourfe. 


On the general Conflagration. 


2 Peter iii. 10, 1 1. 

The Day of the Lord will come as a Thief 
tn the Night, in which the Heavens Jhall 
pafs away with a great Noife, and the 
Elements Jhall melt with fervent Heat, 
the Earth alfo, and the Works that are 
therein, Jkall be burnt up. Seeing then 
that all thefe Things Jh all be diffolved, what 
Manner of Perfons ought ye to be in all 
holy Converfation and Godlinejs ! 

I have already entered upon the Confi- 
deration of this remarkable ParTage, in 
which, firft, it is afTerted that there is a 
Time approaching, here called the Day of 
K k 3 the 


the Lord, when this World, and all Things 
in it, fhall be deftroyed by Fire. Secondly, 
That this Day of the Lord will come as a 
Thief in the Night. And then we are 
directed to the proper Improvement of 
this great Event. Seeing then that all 
theft Things fhall be diffbhed, what Manner 
of Perfons ought ye to be in all holy Conver- 
fnfion and Godlinefs I 

The rlrfl of pjsfe was confidered in my 
former Difcourfe. A Reprefentation was 
made, following the Light the Scripture 
affords us, of the general Conflagration or 
Diffolution of the World by Fire. We 
endeavoured diftinctly to enquire into the 
awful and pompous Defcription here given 
of it by the Apoftle Peter, that the Hea r 
vens fiall pafs away with a great Noife, and 
the Elements (hall melt with ferment Heat, 
the Earth alfo, and the Works that are 
therein, fiall be burnt Up. 

I now proceed to the fecond Thing here 
ohferved, and that is, that this Day of the 
Lord, in which the World fhall be diflblv- 
ed by Fire, will come as a Thief in the 
Night. And there are two Things which 
feem to be intended by this Manner of 

ift, That the precife Time when this 
fhall happen is utterly unknown to us. 
A Thief docs not fend Word beforehand 


SX what Time he will come. And Chrift 
has not determined in his Word the cer- 
tain Period in which we may expect him 
to put an End to this prefent State of 
Things. The Day of the general Conflar 
gration, which in the Text is called the 
Day of the Lord, is in the 7th Verfe called 
the Day of Judgment, and Perdition of un- 
godly Men. And our Saviour exprefsly tells 
us, that of that Day and that Hour know- 
eth no Man, no not the Angels which are 
in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 
It is a Secret which for wife Ends God 
hath thought fit to conceal from every 
Creature. Even the Son himfelf, /. e. 
our Lord Jefus Chrift, in his human Na- 
ture did not know it whilft he was on 
Earth in the Days of his Flefh - ? and this 
ihould filence a bold Curiofity, and put 
a Stop to all rafh and prefumptuous Enqui- 
ries about it. 

2dly, Another Thing that is Implied, 
when it is here declared, that this great 
Day of the Lord will come as a Thief in the 
Night, is, that it mall furprife the Inha- 
Htmts of the Earth, and ftrike them with 
a fudden Terror when they leafl: expect 
it. When the Men of that Generation 
{hall be funk into a deep carnal Security 
and a very degenerate and corrupt State, 
the Signs of the Son of Man, the dread- 
K k 4 fu] 


ful Harbingers of approaching Judgment, 
fhall appear at once. The Trump of God 
{hall blow, and fill all the Earth and the 
vaft Concave of the furrounding Heavens 
with its awful and pompous Sound. A Fire 
mall go before him, and burn up his Ene- 
mies round about. His Lightnings mail 
enlighten the World, the Earth lhall fee 
and tremble. The Hills mall melt like 
Wax at the Prefence of the Lord, at the 
Prefence of the Lord of the whole Earth. 
It mail feem as if the Frame of Nature 
were feized with convullive Pangs and ex- 
piring Agonies. And what Tongue of 
Man is able to exprefs, or what Heart to 
conceive the Amazement, Conilernation, 
and Difmay, that fhall then overwhelm 
guilty Mortals, even thofe of them that 
dared before to lift up their blafphemous 
Mouths againft Heaven, and who feemed 
to have arrived at the higher!: Degree of 
obitinate Impiety ! That this is one Thing 
principally intended here in this Expreffi- 
on of the Day of the Lord's coming as a 
Thief in the Night, is plain from the Ac- 
count St. Paul gives of it, i Theff. v. 2, 3. 
Yourfehues know perfectly (faith he to the 
believing Thefj'alonians) that the Day of the 
Lordfo cometh as a Thief in the Night. For 
when they fiall fay, Peace and Safety, then 
fudden DeftruStion cometh upon them, as 



'Travail upon a Woman with Child, dnd they 
JJ:all not efcape. 

I now come to what principally con- 
cerns us, and that is, the practical Im- 
provement we mould make of this im- 
portant Subject. For it is not defigned 
merely as an amufing Speculation to gra- 
tify our Curiofity, but ought to have a 
proper Influence upon our Temper and 
Conduct. This is what the Apoftle Peter 
here directs to, when after having given 
a fublime Defcription of the general Con- 
flagration, he adds, feeing then that all 
thefe Things fiall be dif/blved, what Manner 
of Perfons ought ye to be in all holy Conver- 
fation and Godlinefs ! 

And i ft, The Conflderation of this 
mould fill us with a holy Fear of God, 
and with adoring Thoughts of his infinite 
Majefty, his almighty Power and fovereign 
Dominion. Thunder and Lightning have 
in all Ages been regarded as awful Proofs 
of the irrefiftible Power, Majefty, and 
Grandeur of the Divinity. There have 
been Inftances of Perfons, who before 
made a Scoff of all Religion, who have 
been brought by violent Thunders to ferir 
ous Thoughts of God, and a Senfe of the 
Duty and Worfhip they owed him. This 
is what one of the heathen Poets owns 
concerning himfelf. Thunder is frequent- 


ly reprefented in the Old Teftament as the 
Voice of God. The whole 29th Pfalm is 
deiigned to celebrate its Effects in Strains 
of the moft exalted Piety and Devotion, 
The Voice of the Lord is upon the Waters ; 
the God of Glory t bunder eth. The Voice of 
the Lord is powerful : the Voice of the Lord 
is full of Majefty. The Voice of the Lord 
breaketh the Cedars of Lebanon. The Voice 
of the Lord divideth the Flames of Fire. 
The Voice of the Lord floaketh the Wilder nefs, 
it maketh the Hinds to calve, and uncovereth 
the For eft. But what are thofe Thunders 
or Earthquakes that are apt to fill us with 
Amazement and Dread, and which are for 
the moft part confined within narrow 
Bounds, in Comparifon of the dreadful 
Shocks and Convulfions at the great Day, 
when this whole terraqueous Globe, and 
the furrounding Heavens mall be rent afun- 
der, and be involved in one general fiery 
Ruin. Many of the ancient Philofophers, 
who made high Pretentions to Learning 
and Wifdom, when they beheld the con- 
ftant Revolutions of the Heavens, and the 
Stability of the Courfe of Nature, attri- 
buted this to a blind fatal Necefiity, rather 
than to the free Appointment of a moft 
wife intelligent Caufe; they maintained 
the Eternity of the World in its prefent 
Form, and that the Heavens are incor- 


ruptible, and not fubject to Change. But 
liow much j utter and nobler is that of the 
Pfalmift, when fpeaking of the Earth and 
Heavens in his admirable Addrefs to God, 
Pfal. cii. 26, 27. he expreifeth himfelf 
thus, < TheyJhallperi/h, but tkou Jhalt endure, 
yea all of them fiall wax old as doth a Gar' 
ment ; as a Vejlure jhalt thou change them, 
and they fiall be changed: but thou art the 
fame, and thy Tears Jhall have no End. 
The DirTolution of this material World 
mall fhew that it did not make, nor is 
able to fubfift and fupport itfelf by its own. 
Force. It is God that hath eftablifhed it, 
and it fhall continue only during that Time 
which he hath affigned for its Duration. 
With what Reverence then mould we 
adore that eternal Majefty, who at firft 
erecled this vaft and magnificent Theatre 
by his almighty Hand, and will at the ap- 
pointed Seafon change and take it down, 
and put an End to this prefent State of 
Things ! Let all the Earth therefore fear 
the Lord, and all the Inhabitants of the World 
f and in Awe of him. Pfal. xxxiii. 8. Shall 
fuch impotent Worms as we are, Crea- 
tures of Yefterdav, that dwell in Houfes 
of Clay, whofe Foundation is in the Dull:, 
dare to oppoie our Wills and Appetites to 
his Will and to his Authority ? He is 
■wife in Heart, and mighty in Strength, 



as Job fpeaks, who hath hardened himfelf 
againjl him, and hath pro/per ed? Which 
removeth the Mountains , and they know not : 
which overturneth them in his Anger : which 
Jhaketh the Earth out of his Place, and the 
Pillars thereof tremble. Yea, as it is elfe- 
where expreffed, the Pillars of Heaven 
tremble, and are ajlonified at his Reproof. 
Who knoweth the Power of his Anger ? 
Not to fear what Man can do unto us, 
when we are engaged in a juft Gaufe, 
argues a noble Fortitude, and a true Great- 
nefs of Mind; but not to fear God, who at 
firffc created, and can deftroy a World, is 
not Courage but Madnefs. How careful 
therefore mould we be not to expofe our- 
felves to his juft Wrath I how defirous to 
fecure an Intereft in his Favour ! And, 
bleffed be his Name ! he encourageth and 
inviteth us to lay hold of his offered Grace 
and Mercy. Hear what he himfelf faith 
by his Prophet, Ifa. xxvii. 4, 5. Who 
would fet the Briers and 'Thorns againjl me 
in Battle f I would go through them, 1 would 
burn them together. Or let him take hold 
of my Strength, that he may make Peace with 
me, and he Jhall make Peace with me. Sweet 
and comfortable Words ! Who would not 
be defirous to be at Peace with this al- 
mighty Jehovah! And in order to this we 
rnuft come to him in the Way of his own 



Appointment through Jefus Cbrift, who 
hath made Peace by the Blood of his Crofs, 
and through whom that gracious Covenant 
is eftablifhed, in which Pardon and eter- 
nal Salvation is freely offered to perifhing 
Sinners upon the moft reafonable and con- 
defcending Terms. 

2dly, The Confideration of the ap- 
proaching DirTolution of the World mould 
affect our Hearts with a deep Senfe of the 
heinous Evil of Sin, and God's juft Difplea- 
fure againft it. To make an open Decla- 
ration of this to Angels and Men, feems 
to be one great End of this extraordinary 
and moft amazing Difpenfation. This 
Earth of ours has been, for fome thoufands 
of Years, the Stage on which the moft 
abominable Impieties, the moft fcandalous 
Impurities, and all Kinds of Wickednefs 
and Acts of Injuftice and Violence have 
been perpetrated ; and therefore, as under 
the Law, the Walls of a Houfe infected 
with the Leprofy were to be pulled down ; 
and as when Perfons were devoted to De- 
ftruction for their Wickednefs, it was 
fometimes fo ordered, that all Things that 
belonged to them were involved in the 
fame Ruin, and brought under the Curfe ; 
fo this Earth which has fo long been pol- 
luted with the Sins of Men, and on which 
the Lord of Glory was crucified, together 



with the Atmofphere about us, and, . as 
fome learned Perfons underftand this Paf- 
fage, the whole folar Syftem, of which 
Man is probably the principal Inhabitant, 
fhall be dLTolved in that great Day of 
'Judgment, and Perdition of ungodly Men: 
A Day in which the evil Angels alfo, 
which had fo great a Share in tempting 
Men to fin, mail have their final Doom 
and Punifhment compleated. The Sun,' 
Moon, and Planets, which the Nations 
regarded as Deities, and to whom they gene- 
rally paid an idolatrous Worfhip, mail then 
appear to be unable to preferve themfelves. 
or their Votaries. And what an awful 
Idea muft it give us of God's Juflice and 
Purity, that even the inanimate Creation 
itfelf, which had been abufed to Sin, mail 
bear the Marks of the divine Difpleafure 
againfi: it ! If it was fo dreadful to fee Fire 
and Brimfrone raining down from Heaven 
upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and turning 
them into Ames, that they might be an 
Enfample unto them that mould hereafter 
live ungodly, as St. Peter fpeaks, 2 Pet. 
ii. 6. what will it be to fee the whole 
Earth, the Elements, and the furrounding 
Heavens in Flames ! How ftrange is the 
Malignity of Sin, that has fuch a Tenden- 
cy to fpread Ruin and Confufion through 
le beautiful Creation of God ! 

3 di y ; 



3dly, Another Ufe we mould make of 
the Doctrine before us, is, to moderate 
our Defires and Affections towards all 
Things here below, and to give us an affect- 
ing Conviction of the Vanity and Infuffici- 
ency of this prefent World and all its En- 
joyments to make us happy. To have a juft 
Senfe of this is an eminent Point of Wif- 
dom, and of great Importance to the 
Chriftian Character. For an inordinate 
Love to this prefent World, and a too 
clofe Attachment to the Objects and En- 
joyments of it, is one of the greatest Ob- 
structions to a holy and virtuous Practice ; 
it is the principal Source of our Mifcarri- 
ages, and tends to lead us aftray in our 
whole Courfe. But at the great Day 
God (hall draw a Line of Confuiion and 
Emptinefs over the World, and all thofe 
Things in it in which Men are moff apt 
to feek for Happinefs. Who that looks 
forward by Faith, and beholds the Fafhion 
of this World paffing away, and the whole 
Frame of it diffolved at the general Con- 
flagration, can help pronouncing over it* 
Vanity of Vanities, Vanity of Vanities, all 
is Vanity ! Surely it would caft a Damp 
upon our Defires and Purfuits after the 
moft valued worldly Enjoyments, ferioufly 
to realize to ourfelves that awful Day when 
all thefe Things fhall be confumed, toge- 
3 ther 


ther with their infatuated Admirers. Shall 
we be proud of Riches, or make Gold our 
Confidence, when we confider, that yet a 
little while and this Earth, with all the 
Riches contained in its Bowels, the hidden 
Treafures of Gold and Silver, and the Re- 
pofitories of precious Stones, mail become 
a Prey to the devouring Flames ? Shall 
we make our Boafts of worldly Honours 
and Dignities, which mail fo foon be at 
an End? Behold Thrones tumbling, Crowns 
and Sceptres dirTolving, the moft magni- 
ficent Palaces, and all the Monuments of 
human Grandeur turned into a ruinous 
Heap ! The raging Flame mall not fpare 
them any more than the meaneft Cottages. 
What mall then become of all the Plea- 
fures of the voluptuous Senfualift ? Are 
thefe the Things that Men lofe their God 
and their Souls for ? Oh ye Sons of Men, 
how long will ye love Vanity, and ex- 
hauft the Vigour of your Spirits in pur- 
fuing after that which fhall fhortly va- 
nish in Smoke, or fall into Allies ? The 
Deftruction of the World furnifhes this 
moft inftruclive Leflbn to Angels and 
Men, that there is no liable Happinefs but 
in God alone. Without him this whole 
earthly Globe, and thefe vilible Heavens, 
would be but a tranfitory Portion. They 
mall periih, but he remaineth immutably 
1 5 the 


the fame infinite Fountain of Happinefs, 
the ftable ever] ailing Portion of his Peo- 

4thlv, The laft Reflection I would make 
upon this Subject is this, That lince there 
is a Day coming when this World and all 
Things in it mall be diifolved, and the 
preeife Time of it unknown to us, we 
ihould labour to be in a conflant Readi- 
nefs and Preparation for it. This is what 
St. Peter intends, when in the Words fol- 
lowing the Text, he reprefents it as the 
Duty of Chriflians to be looking for and 
hafting unto the coming of the Day of 
God, wherein the Heavens being on Fire 
Jhali be diffblved, and the Elements flail melt 
with fervent Heat. And again, Verfe 14. 
Wherefore, beloved, feeing that ye look for 
fuch 'Things, be diligent that ye may be found 
of him in Peace, without Spot, aizd blamelefs. 
It is of infinite Importance to us that we 
be found ready for the coming of our Lord 
jfe/us Chrifi, in the Day when he mail be 
revealed from Heaven with his mighty 
Angels in flaming Fire. If the Earthquake 
and great Darknefs, and the rending of the 
Rocks at our Saviour's Crucifixion, could 
caufe even the heathen Centurion to fay, 
Truly this was the Son of God I how 
much more when the World mail be in 
Flames, and this Frame of Nature rent 

Vol. I. L 1 afunder, 


afunier, at his fecond glorious Appearing, 
fhall even the mod obftinate Infidels be 
conftrained to acknowledge and adore his 
Power and Majefty ! Let us therefore, now 
whilft there is a proper Opportunity for 
it, whilft the Day of Grace lafts, hearken 
to his gracious Voice, and come to him 
by Faith and a fincere Repentance, being 
perfuaded, that thofe who thus come to 
him he will in no wife caft out. Let us 
fet ourfeives without Delay to forfake 
our evil Ways, and call away from us our 
darling Iniquities, and ufe our utmoft En- 
deavours, through the'Amftance of divine 
Grace, to get a Work of real San edifica- 
tion bep-un and carried on in our Souls. 


Renouncing all other Confidence, let us 
give up ourfeives wholly to the Lord jfefus 
Chrift as the Lord our Righteoufnefs and 
Strength, in a hearty Con fen t to the graci- 
ous Terms of the new Covenant, being 
perfuaded of his Sufficiency as a Saviour, 
and that he is able to keep that which we 
have committed unto him againft that Day. 
And through him let us yield up ourfeives 
to God our heavenly Father, as fupreme 
and rightful Lord and chief Good, whom 
we humbly refolve by his Grace to obey, 
and in whom alone we can be compleatly 
and for ever happy. And having the Foun- 
dation thus rightly laid by a true Conversion 



of Soul, and an unreferved Dedication of 
ourfelves to God through the Redeemer, 
let it be our great Care to keep our Souls 
in a conftant actual Readinefs for Chrifi's 
fecond coming, by a careful Improvement 
of our Talents, and a diligent Perform- 
ance of the Duties which God requireth 
of us. Let us be filled with the Fruits of 
"Right eoufnef s 9 which are by Jefus Chri/l, 
unto the Glory and Praife of God ; and ef- 
pecially let us abound, as far as we have 
Ability and Opportunity, in Acts of Cha- 
rity and Mercy, that we may lay up a 
good Foundation for the Time to come, 
and may lay hold of eternal Life. To 
them that now go on in a patient Conti- 
nuance in well doing, that Day which 
mall fill the ungodly with Amazement and 
Terror, will be Matter of unfpeakable 
Joy. The Day of their compleat Redemp- 
tion is then come. The dead in Chri/l 
fhall rife firft ; their Duft, which perhaps 
feemed to be fcattered abroad and loft, 
mall be re-united at his commanding 
Word, and be formed into a beautiful and 
glorious Frame, mining with a celeflial Ra- 
diancy and Splendor. And thofe Saints, 
that fhall then be found alive upon the 
Earth, fhall be changed as in a Moment, 
in the Twinkling of an Eye, without fee- 
ing Death, and mail be caught up in the ' 



Clouds to meet the Lord in the Air : And 
after having been folemnly acquitted and 
applauded by the great, the univerfal Judge, 
they fhall all be thenceforth for ever with the 
Lord in the Regions of unchangeable Blifs 
and Glory, happy in the Vifion and Enjoy- 
ment of God and the Redeemer unto all 

The End of the Second Volume. 






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