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tural Consequence and just Punishment of thar; and such a terrible Punishment it is, as should make us afraid of being over-curious in Matters so far above us.
2. If this does not make us Atheists, yet it is apt to give us very wrong Notions concerning God, which is a very great Evil, next to Atheism it self.
This we know tempted some Men to assert two Principles, or two Gods, a good and a bad God; for when they observed fuch a mixture of Good and Evil in the nature ofthings,they thought it impoflible, that a good God should be the Author of so much Evil as is in this World; and because they could not answer this Difficulty, nor give anaccount how a good God should make and govern the World, and yet there be so much Evil and Wickedness in it; they concluded that there was a bad God, who was the Author of all the Evil in the World, and a good God of all the Good. But this starts a much more unaccountable Difficulty, how a good and a bad God should agree together in making and governing the World: For can any thing be more opposite to each other, than essential Good and essentialEvil: They can never agree, and therefore they must be either equal in Power, or must destroy each other; if they be equal, neither of them are Omnipotent, for two Omnipotents is a Contradiction; and then neither one nor both could make the World, which is a work of Omnipotence: At least since it is impossible they should agree together to make a World; as impossible, as that effential Goodness should consent to any thing that
is Evil ; or essential Evil consent to any thing that is good; they must necessarily hinder each other in making the World, if their Power were equal; and then the World had never been made. But I shall not trouble you with the Confutation of this, but only point you to the Source and Origine of this Mischief, which in its Consequence overthrows all Religion.
Others to ease themselves of these Difficulties of reconciling all the Passages of Providence to God's Wisdom and Justice, set them both aside, and resolve all into God's Arbitrary and Sovereign Will and Pleasure; who makes himself, and the advancement of his own Glory his fole end
They lay it down indeed as an agreed Principle, That all that God does, is wife, and good, and juft; but we must not examine this by Humane Rules and Measures of Goodness and Justice ; for God is an abfolute Sovereign, and unaccountable to his Creatures ; his Will is the Rule of Justice, and he wills what is most for his own Glorý ; he magnifies his Goodness and Grace in a free and arbitrary kindness to some of his Creatures; and magnifies his Justice in as free and arbitrary Severities to others : he makes some Creatures to be Objects of his Love, and others to be the Objects of his Vengeance and Displeasure: and thus they cut the Knot which they can't unty.
But this is a greater Difficulty than all the rest, to a considering man, who would inuch rather chuse to giveno account of the Divine Providence, than to give so ill an account of the Nature of God: Arbitrary Will and Power is the very worst Notion we can have of God: It destroys our Love
to him, and our Hope and Confidence in him, unless we can fancy him as partial to us as we are to our felves ; it turns Religion into a superftitious dread of God, or hypocritical Flatteries; destroys the Notions of Good or Evil, or all regard to them, while we think God takes no notice of them himself.
This may satisfy us, how dangerous it is to be too inquisitive into the Mysteries of Providence, which God hath thought fit to conceal from us; which should make us careful to keep our distance, and humbly to reverence and adore God, and trust his Wisdom beyond our own Understanding of things; and in order to cure this Curiosity, consider,
II. How unreasonable it is to disturb oar Minds with such Difficulties of Providence, as we cannot answer; or to draw any such Conclusion from them, as shall either shake our Faith as to the Being or Providence of God, or corrupt our Notions of him; and there are two things which may satisfy any man in this:
ist, That there are a great many things which are called Difficulties, which may be very fairly accounted for, and therefore the Difficulty is not in the things, but owing to our want of Underftanding; which is reason enoughto prefume,that thus it may be in other cases too, since as mens Knowledge increases, so the Difficulties of Providence leffen; which should make us never quarrel at Providence, but bewail our own Ignorance, and
grow modeft under a sense of it. 2dly. That in such matters as we can give no account of, there may be plain reasons afligned
why no Account can be given of them in this World.
1. As for the first, it is easie to give many Inftances of it: There are many things which Mankind greatly complain of, and for which they think themselves very hardly used by God, which upon a true Estimate of things, considering the corrupt State of Human Nature, are greatly for the Happiness of the World; and tho' they were inflicted as Punishments by God, yec have an excellent Temperament of Wisdom and Goodness, · This I have formerly shewed you, as to that Sentence of
Death which God pronounced against Mankind, after the Fall of cur first Parents, Dust thou art, and to Dust thou shalt return; and as to his shortning the Lives of Men after the Flood; and I shall now give another Instance in that Curse God pronounced upon the Earth for the Sin of Man, to which we owe most of that Pain, and Toil, and Labour, which is under the Sun, and most of the Miseries and Calamities of Human Life: And if in this alfo the Wisdom and Goodness, as well as the Justice and Severity of God appears, I hope it will convince us how reasonable it is to be modest in our Censures cf. Providence, and to conclude, that God is equally wise and good in those things which we do not understand.
The Justice of this is very evident; for when Man, who was the Lord of the Creation, had rebelled against God, it was very just for God to punish him; and the most proper Punishment which he could inflict on him, next to his own MorcaliK
ty, was to Curse those Creatures which were made for his Use and Delight: As God told Adam, when he had eaten the forbidden Fruit, Because thou hast bearkned to the Voice of thy Wife, and eaten of the Tree whereof I commanded thee, Saying; Thou shalt not eat of it: Cursed is the Ground for tby Sake; in Sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the Days of tby Life. Thornis also and Thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the Herb of the Field. In the Sweat of thy Brow shalt thou eat Bread, until thou return to the Ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for Duft thou art, and unto Dust thou shalt return, 3. Gen. 17. For I need not tell you this Curse upon the Ground was no Punishment to the Ground, which was sensible of no hurt, but to Man, who was to live upon it; it defaced the Beauty and Glory of the Creation, and entailed a toilfome and painful Life on him; it made his Food less whollome, and more hard to come by: And whereas all Creatures before were in perfect Subjection to Man, according to the grand Character of the Creation, Have Dominion over the Filha of the Sea, andoverthe Fowl of the Air, and over every living thing that moveth on the Earth, 1. Gen. 28. Now we find by Experience that they have cast off this Yoke, and very often revenge the Quarrel of their Maker upon Apostate Man. Thus Man: fell from the Glory and Happiness of his Nature; and yet if we wisely consider things, we shall find Excellent Wisdom and Goodness even in this Curse.
For Man having corrupted himself, the best State he could be put into, was an industrious and laborious Life; to force him to work hard to get his Living, and to earn his Bread with the Sweat of