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Justice of his Government, in the most unquestionable and furprizing Events.

The Deftruction of the old World by a Deluge of Water, was a terrible Proof of a juft and righteous Providence. This was God's doing: For he forewarned Noah of it, and commanded him to prepare an Ark, to preferve himself and his Family to People the new World. And herein God made a visible Distinction between good and bad Men, that when he destroy'd the whole World of Sinners, he preferv'd Noah and his Family, who was the only righteous Perfon then living. His confounding the Language of the Builders of Babel, and their Difperfion into all Parts of the Earth, is another fenfible Proof of the Divine Providence. Mofes tells us, that all this was done by the immediate Power and Command of God; and the Events themselves prove it: For none can deftroy the World, but he who made it: And the natural Unaccountableness of an univerfal Deluge, which fome Men have fo perplex'd themselves to affign the philofophical Causes of, proves, that it was a fupernatural Vengeance. And tho' the Confufion of Languages has not fo much Terror in it, yet it is to the full as furprizing and myfterious. For it is impoffible that any Power, but that which first form'd the Mind of Man, fhould in a Minute's time wipe out all their old Ideas of Words, and imprint new ones in their room.

The History of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who liv'd under the immediate Government of God; the Life of Mofes, and all thofe Wonders God wrought by him in Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the Wilderness, especially that terrible Appearance on Mount Sinai at the giving of the Law; and all that long Series of Wonders and Miracles, whereby God gave them Poffeffion of the Land of Canaan, the Hiftory of their Judges, their Kings,


and the whole Form and Administration of their Government; their frequent Captivities, and wonderful Deliverances from their Enemies, which were a punctual Accomplishment of the Threatnings and Promifes of their Law: I fay, all this made the divine Providence and Government as vifible to Ifrael, as a King is visible on his Throne, in his Minifters and Laws, and publick Adminiftration of Justice.

Now how strong foever the natural Arguments for a Providence are, no Man can think them equal to fuch a visible Government. The natural Proofs we have of the Difference of Good and Evil, are not like the Publication of the Law from Mount Sinai in an audible Voice, with all the most awful and visible Solemnities. The natural Perfuafions we have of the Juftice of God in rewarding the Good, and punishing the Wicked, are not like exprefs Promises and Threatnings, and the vifible Execution of them: And the greater Evidence we have of the divine Providence, the better is the Argument from the divine Providence to prove a future State. That God governs this World, does not immediately prove a future State; but the Conclufion refults from the Juftice of Providence, and the prefent unequal Adminiftration of it. If God governs the World, thofe natural Notions we have of God, affure us that he is a righteous and holy Governor; and therefore that he will reward good Men, and punish the wicked. And fince he does not always make fuch a vifible Diftinction between good and bad Men in this World, we reafonably enough conclude, that there is another World, wherein this Diftinction will be made. And this is a very good Argument, when we have fuch an Affurance of the divine Providence, as no myfterious and unaccountable Events can stagger. But we know there are many Men which make


that an Argument against a Providence, which we urge, upon a Suppofition of a Providence, as an Argument for a future State: That all things happen alike to all; That there is not an equal and uniform Diftribution of Juftice in the Government of this World, is, fay they, a plain Argument that God does not govern the World, because the World is not juftly govern'd. Now though it be easy to vindicate these Inequalities of Providence, upon Suppofition of a future State; and these unequal Adminiftrations are very good Arguments of a future State, upon a Suppofition of a divine Providence; yet, inftead of proving a future State by it, this is a very untoward Objection against Providence, if our original Proofs of a Providince be not very evident and certain. As for my own part, I am abundantly fatisfied that our natural Proofs of a Providence are much stronger than this Objection is against it. But yet when there are Arguments on both fides, and nothing but Reason to appeal to, all Men do not judge equally and impartially, but very often determine the Question by Inclination, or fome appearing Intereft; And then, as we see too many do, they may reject the Belief of a Providence, for the Sake of fuch unequal Administrations; and the Belief of another World, for want of Providence. But when we have fuch undeniable Proofs of the divine Government and Providence, as the Hiftory of Mofes gives us, which no Man can believe, and deny a Providence; their Objection against a Providence proves a very good Argument for a future State. And this is a great Advantage the Jews had, above the reft of Mankind, for the Belief of a future State. They were more vifibly govern'd by God, and had more fenfible Proofs of the Divine Truth and Justice, in publick Bleffings and Profperity of their Nation, when they obey'd God: and in


thofe National Judgments and Calamities, when they difabey'd him, than the reft of Mankind had: Though with refpect to particular Men, they were as fenfible as the reft of the World are, of an unequal Providence; and frequently complain'd of the Profperity of the Wicked, and the many Sufferings and Afflictions of the Righteous.

Now when we have fuch certain Evidence of a Divine Providence, that the greatest Difficulties of Providence can never be a fufficient Reafon to disbelieve a Providence; the prefent unequal Administration of Juftice, is a very good Reafon to believe, That the Providence of God extends beyond this World. When we are fo abundantly affur'd, as the Jews were by the Promifes and Threatnings of their Law, and by the publick and visible Execution of Juftice, that God does Love and will Reward good Men, and Punifh the Wicked; this is a good Reafon to believe, that thofe good Men, who are not rewarded in this World, fhall be rewarded in the next; and that those wicked Men, who efcape Punishment in this Life, fhall be referved for more terrible Vengeance hereafter. And thus we find good Men under the Law did understand this; and thus they anfwer'd that Objection concerning the Sufferings of good Men, and the Prosperity of the Wicked.

The 73d Pfalm is a plain Proof of this. The Pfalmift complains very tragically of the Profperity of the Wicked, which was a great Snare and Temptation to him. My feet were almost gone, my steps bad well nigh flipp'd. For I was envious at the foolish, when I faw the Profperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their Death; but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble like other Men, neither are they plagued like other Men. And yet these were a very wicked Generation,

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proud and infolent Oppreffors of the Good, and Blafphemers of God and his Providence. Therefore pride compaffeth them about like a Chain, and violence covereth them like a garment; they Set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth; and they fay, How doth God know, aud is there knowledge in the most High? And yet there were the happy and profperous Men, Behold thefe are the ungodly, that profper in the world, and increase in riches. And what Encouragement is there then for Piety and Virtue, when fuch Men as these are profperous, and even divide the World among them; while those who take care to serve and please God, are very great Sufferers? Verily, I have cleans'd my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have Ibeen plagu'd, and chaften'd every morning.

Here is the Objection very fully and paffionately represented on both Sides. Let us then confider how he answers it. He lays this down in the beginning of the Pfaim as an undoubted Principle, which no difficulties of Evidence fhould ever make him queftion, Verily, God is good to Ifrael, even to fuch as are of a clean heart. As the Prophet Jeremy does upon the fame Occafion: Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee, yet let me talk with thee concerning thy Judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked profper? Wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Jer. 12. 1. This, as I obferv'd before, the Jews had unquestionable Evidence of. And when this is laid for the Foun dation, That God is very Juft and Righteous, and very good to good Men; this Objection concerning the Profperity of the Wicked, and the Sufferings of the Good, is eafily anfwer'd. And there are two Anfwers given to it, which are fo intermixt with each other, that fome Men do not fufficiently diftinguish them.

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