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them as many Afflictions as he will. Shall we receive Good at the Hand of God, and mall we not receive Evil g? All that he granted, he may withdraw at any Time : and our Concern is only toʻsay with yob, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the Name of the Lordh. He might have made any one of

very

lowest of his Creation : and if the meanest of the Works of his Hands hath a Claim to more than he hath vouchsafed, it hath an equal Claim to more without End : and if it is not bound to Resignation at present, can never be bound to it in any Situation at all.

But though the Sovereignty of God is abfolute, we know not that he ever uses it in an arbitrary Manner. The Scripture tells us in express Terms, that he doth not willingly affiiet or grieve the Children of Meni. And to think, that he limits the Happiness of the least happy of his Creatures without Cause, would be entertaining a disrespectful Notion of his glorious Attributes. Manifold as his Works are, yet in IVifdom hath he made them all* : and the Earth is full of the Goodness of the Lord! The farther Men fee into whatever he hath done or appointed, the more Evidence they discern of 3 Job ii. 10.

Job i. 21.

Lam. iii. 33
Pl. xxxiii, v.

Fore:

* pr. civ. 24.

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Foresight and Skill, of Bounty and Mercy : and therefore ought firmly to believe they take Place, even where they see them not. Such and such Things we are apt to imagine might have been contrived more for our particular Advantage. Yet perhaps we mistake; and what we wilh either could not have been at all, (for many Things may be impossible, which we do not perceive to be fo) or would not have been the better for us.

Our Insight into Consequences reaches but a very little Way. In Multitudes of Cases we are full as ignorant of what would be for our Benefit, as Children are of what would be for theirs.: and ought therefore to acquiesce in the Will and the Knowledge of our heavenly Father, as we expect them to acquiesce in ours.

But supposing that granting every one of our Desires would be an Act of Kindness to us; yet the Lord is good to all, and his tender Mercies are over all his Works". Very often it is visible, that, if we succeed in our Wishes, others must fail in theirs : were we to have this or that Advantage, they must be under proportionable Disadvantages. And why is it not as consistent with the Wisdom and the Goodness of God to regard their Interests, as ours ? Perhaps we deserve it no better, perhaps not so well. Or if we did, or if it appeared not who would be hurt by greater Indulgence to us, it doth not follow, that no one would ; and that no Inconvenience to any Part, or in any Respect, would arise from it. In this wide World the Connections of Things are innumerable : and

** Ps. cxlv. 9. Q3

Good

may

be

very important, where they are absolutely hidden from our View, who probably discern but an inconsiderable Portion of them. Subordinations are necessary in every System of every

Kind. The low Rank and Helplessness of many

Creatures fits them for our Use; our Advantages proceed from their Sufferings ; from the very Sufferings which we inflict on them ; yet they are totally ignorant of this : and how know we, what Advantages may, some Way, though quite different and quite inconceivable to us, proceed from our low Rank and our Sufferings ? And as God hath wisely and kindly made so many Orders of Beings beneath us; why may it not be as wisely and kindly, notwithstanding we are ignorant on what Account, that he hath made us just such as we are, and no higher or happier ?

But though, in all Likelihood, we can see only a few of the Reasons of God's Ways, yet several we may see, at least in fome Measure. For Instance : He governs the World by general Laws. On some Occasions indeed he hath openly departed from them, and wrought Miracles : on many, we have Cause to think he secretly restrains and varies them for gracious Purposes, or just Correction : but were he not to observe them in the ordinary Course of Things, we should neither know, what to expect, nor how to proceed. If solid Bodies did not weigh downwards, if Bodies in Motion did not communicate their Motion to others, if Winds had not a strong Force, if Rain was not carried about by them, if Fire did not heat and consume, if sharp Instruments did not cut, the whole Frame of Nature would be disordered, and stop. If what tends to destroy our Lives or our Healths did not give us Pain, we should take no fufficient Care to avoid it. If any one Thing almost, that we know, were to fail of commonly producing its natural Effect, very general Mischiefs, or however Inconveniences, would follow : and yet, if they are left to pro

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duce their Effects, grievous Distresses to Particulars, from Time to Time, must be the Consequence. Therefore we should learn to respect the Regulations of Providence, though occasionally we suffer by them. We honour, if we are at all reasonable, whatever Laws of our Country we know to be for the common Good, though often greatly opposite to our own private Interest : and surely less Honour cannot be due to the Laws of Heaven.

He, who could make such a World as this, may doubtless have, throughout his Conduct of it, wise and good Ends in his View, of which we cannot possibly form any Conception. Were God to question us, as once he did Jobs Where wast thou, when I laid the Foundations of the Earth? declare, if thou hast Understanding " : our Answer must be, what one of his Friends acknowledged, We are of resterday, and know

Nothing o: or as the Book of Wisdom expresses it more largely; What Man is he, that can know the Counsel of God ? or who can think, what the Will of the Lord is? For the Thoughts of mortal Men are miserable, and our Devices are but uncertain . Indeed Creatures of our own Rank, only of Abilities perhaps a little Job xxxviii. 4. Job viii. 9.

Wisd. ix. 13. 14.

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