« FöregåendeFortsätt »
which was the neceffáry and immediate Effect of God's curfing the Ground; that whereas before, the Earth would
have supply d man with all things for his Neceflioy and Delight; without his care and labour, now it would not yield its Increase of id felf, but brought forth Briars and Thorns. And as difficult a State as this is, it was very fit for fallen mans
1. A laborious Life is of great use to fubdue the fleshly Principle, and to prevent the Opportunities, and Occasions, and Temptations to fin. The experience of the World tells us, that nothing more corrupts mens Manners than Idleness, the Flefh growsrampant with Sloth and Luxury; and Time it felf is fo uneafy and troublefome when we have nothing to do, that men rather chuse to be wicked, than to be idle; and therefore God who forefaw the Degeneracy of Mankind by the Fall, hath provided work for us, that with the fweat of our Brow we must eat our Bread.
2. This does not only employ the Bodies, but the Minds of men: Puts them upon the study of Philofophy, and the invention of Arts and Sciences; upon obferving the Works of Nature, and Dependance of Causes and Effects; to obferve che Motions of the Heaven, the Sun and Moon, and Planets, thereby to know the Seasons of the Year, and to fix the time of their return; it is this necessity to which we owe the mostufeful Difcom veries in Nature, which is not only very beneficial to the World, but a very delightful Entertainment, and the most natural Ornament and Perfection of our Minds.
3. The Neceflities of Human Life are the foundation of Human Societies, and make men combine together for mutual Help and Comfort: For tho Man is a fociable Creature, and delighted with Human Conversation, yet in this degenerate State nothing is a greater endearment than our mutual Dependance upon each other, that we cannot live single and apart, because we want a great many things which the Skill and Labour of other men must supply us with.
Now this obliges us to the exercise of all friendly and sociable Virtues; brings us under Government, without which Human Societies cannot subsist; and this lays great Restraints upon the Lufts of Men, and by a ftri& Discipline trains them up to the practice of Moral Virtues, which is a good means to corred the Degeneracy of Human Nature ; it inspires us with Principles of Love and Humanity, of Justice and Charity, and softensand polishes our Natures by the mutual Endearments of Conversaţion; it makes us Friends to Mankind; gives us a sense of Injuries, and an abhorrence of them; and which is more than this, it gives publick Countenance and Encouragement to Religion ; for Publick Government must encourage Religion, because Religion is its greatestDefence and Support; and this makes some men sincerely religiousand devout and forces fome external signs of Honour from those who have little sense or reverence of a Deity, which tho it does no good to them, is for the advantage of theWorld.
So that this Curse in the necessary Consequences of it, is the greatest Blessing to Mankind; which is an abundant Justification of the Wisdom and Goodness of God in it. A more
easy easyftate of Life did better become a ftate of Innocence; but since the Fall, such an easy, careless, unconcerned Life,would have funk man lower into Sensuality, and made his Recovery more desperate and hopeless.
It were easy to give many Instances of this nature, to justify the Divine Wisdom and Goodness in such Passages of Providence as seem very harsh and severe to us; but this may suffice at present to make us modest in our Censures of Providence, and not to perplex our Minds with such Difficulties as we cannot unriddle.
2. Especially if we add, That there is a plain and evident reason why we cannot and never shall be able to understand a great many Difficulties of Providence in this world, and therefore ought not to censure the Divine Providence, because we cannot in all cases comprehend the reasons of it. As for instance ;
We are very ignorant of men, and therefore can never be able to give an account of GOD's Providence towards them: We can in general justifie the Divine Providence both as to the Amicions and Sufferings of good men, and the Prosperity of the wicked; but when we descend to Particulars, we are at a loss, why such a good man is a great Sufferer, and another good man profperous; why such a bad man reaps the juft Rewards of his Villanies in this World, while another man equally bad escapes, and prospers by his Wickedness. We cannot know this, because we do not sufficiently know men. mistake those for good men, who are secret Hypocrites, and carry on wicked Designs under a
Mafque of Religion ; and then when we complain that such a good man fuffers, God may be very juft in punishing an Hypocrite. We know not what the secret Diltempors of good mon are, which may require a sevete Remedy, nor what good there may be even in bad men, which may make their Recovery hopeful, and make it reafonable for God to ipare...
007 Thus we know not how particular mens Interests are interwoven with each ather, or with the Publick, which may make it reafonable for God to spare or to punish them upon more
accounts than their own; for good men may sufferlin the Sufferings of the wicked, and be bieffed in their Prosperity : The Sufferings of good men, and the Prosperity of the wicked, may be of publick use to the world; and it is very jutt andreafopable in the wise Governor of theWorld, to make the Interests of private men subordinate toia Publick Good. But when this is neceffary, we know not, and therefore are very incompetent Judges of the Divine Providence: Nay we feebut a very little part of God's Providence towards particular men ; but a Scene or two of their Lives, or it may be but a little piece of a Scene, and therefore it is impossible we should make a true Judgment of God's Providence towards them, the Beauty of which confifts in the proportion of Parts, and adapting eyery thing to the end it serves. The Hiltory of Joseph taken all together, is a Demonftration of God's tender care of him, though there were some doleful Scenes of his Life; the hard Ulage he met with from his Prethren, who fold him for a Slave into Egypt ;
and from a wicked Mistress there, whose false Accusations condemned him to a Gaol, from whence God raised him to Pbaroah's Throne. There are very few Men can make any Objection against the Divine Providence, with respect to themselves, because they know themselves, and the several Stages of their Lives, what Good and Evil they have done, and what they have deserved, and what they have received from God; which is a good Argument that we should find as little to except against the Providence of God to other Men alto, did we know them as perfe&ly as we know our felves.
III. As for what cannot be known in this World, it is time enough for us to know it in the World to come,
Indeed this Knowledge is not fit for us in this World; it is not fit we should know one another fo perfectly, as is necessary to vindicate every Paisage of God's Providence towards other Men; for this would be to have a Casement into each others Breasts, 'to understand all the Intrigues and Secrets of Families; and were it put to our own Choice, I am apt to think we should rather be contented to be ignorant of a great many things, than to be so well known our felves to all the World.
Nor is it fitting in this State that we should so perfectly underftand all the Secrets of the Divine Counsel, for what reason he afflicts or prospers private Men, or publick Societies, as is necessary to make a Judgment of the Divine Providence: One greac Mystery of Government is to conceal Counlels; and this is the Glory of the Divine Providence, by dark and mysterious Methods to bring