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Mafque of Religion; and then when welcom plain that fuch a good man fuffers, God may be very juft in punishing an Hypocrite. We know not what the fecret Diftempers of good mon are, which may require a fevere Remedy; nor what good there, may be even in bad men, which may make their Recovery hopeful, and make it, reafonable for God to fpare...
Thus we know not how particular mens Inte refts are interwoven with each other, or with the Publick, which may make it reafonable for God to fpare or to punish them upon more accounts than their own; for good men may fuffer in the Sufferings of the wicked, and be bleffed in their Profperity: The Sufferings of good men, and the Profperity of the wicked, may be of publick ufe to the world; and it is very juft and reafonable in the wife Governor of theWorld, to make the Interefts of private men fubordinate to a Publick Good. But when this is neceffary, we know not, and therefore are very incompetent Judges of the Divine Providence: Nay,we fee but 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 impoffible we fhould make a true Judgment of God's Providence towards them, the Beauty of which confifts in the proportion of Parts, and adapting every thing to the end it ferves. The Hiftory of Jofeph taken all together, is a Demonftration of God's tender care of him, though there were fome doleful Scenes of his Life; the hard Usage he met with from his Brethren, who fold him for a Slave into Egypt ; and
and from a wicked Mistress there, whose false Accufations condemned him to a Gaol, from whence God raised him to Pharoah's Throne. There are very few Men can make any Objection againft the Divine Providence, with refpect to themselves, because they know themselves, and the feveral 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 alfo, did we know them as perfectly 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 fhould know one another fo perfectly, as is neceffary to vindicate every Pallage of God's Providence towards other Men; for this would be to have a Cafement into each others Breafts, 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 fo well known our felves to all the World.
Nor is it fitting in this State that we should fo perfectly underftand all the Secrets of the Divine Counfel,for what reafon he afflicts or profpers private Men, or publick Societies, as is neceffary to make a Judgment of the Divine Providence: One great Mystery of Government is to conceal Counfels; and this is the Glory of the Divine Providence, by dark and mysterious Methods to bring K 4 about
about Glorious Designs, to furprize the World with unexpected Bleffings, or unfeen Evils, to keep them in conftant Awe and Dependance on himself.
And then of what use is it to us, to be able to give a Reafon of every particular Paffage of Providence? We have nothing to do to fit in Judgment upon God; and therefore if we know enough to be a fteady Foundation of our Faith and Hope, we know all that is needful in this Life: God does not intend to gratify our Curiofity, or our Scepticism: We must not perfectly know God in this World, for we must live by Faith here, which fuppofes an imperfect Knowledge; but perfect Sight and Knowledge is the Reward and Happiness of Heaven.
It is the laft Act which explains the whole Plot, the reft is Amusement and Surprize; and therefore the proper time to understand the whole Myftery of Providence, is when all is finished: When God puts an end to this World, he will think fit to difplay that infinite variety of Wifdom and Goodness, which governed the World from the beginning to the end.
IV. And this we may expect to understand at the Day of Judgment; for I know no other Reafon why God fhould in fo Solemn a manner Judge the World, but to justify the Wisdom, and Juftice, and Goodnefs of his Providence to all his Creatures.
God does not thus publickly judge the World, to enquire into Mens Lives, and Actions, and Deferts,which is the Reason of Human Judgments, to convince Sinners by Witneffes and Evidences,and to inform the Judge in Matters of Fact; but God
perfectly knows us all; and every Man's Confcience is a Witness against himfelf, that God might without any farther Solemnity adjudge every Man to his proper Place and Reward: But he confults his own Glory in this, and fummons all his Creatures together, that Men and Angels may understand, and be Witneffes of his Mercy and Juftice.
Now it is impoffible God fhould juftify his Providence, without expounding the Reasons of it; and therefore then we may expect to underftand the Cafe of the fallen Angels, which now we know nothing of; and all the Paffages and various Scenes of Providence, from the Fall of Adam, till the end of the World: Then the State of Nations, of Kingdoms, of Churches, and of private Men, will be explained: the Secrets of Hearts will be difclofed, and the hidden Works of Darkness brought to Light.
Let us then ftay till this Day comes,when God will justify his Providence againft all the Reproaches and evil Surmifes of Men, for he will appear just when he judgeth, and overcome when he contendeth. Let us not difturb our Heads with fuch Difficulties as we cannot understand now; we know enough to believe that God is Righteous in all bis Ways, and Holy in all his Works; enough to make us devout Worshippers of God: And to enquire farther, is a dangerous Curiofity, like looking into the Ark of God.
Fifth Inference: To affect our Souls with a strong, and vigorous, and conftant Sense of Fudgment.
Ince it is certain that God will Judge the World, let us endeavour by all means poffible to affect our Souls with a strong, and vigorous, and conftant Senfe of Judgment: The Belief of a Future Judgment is worth little, when it ends in Speculation; the ufe of it is to govern our Lives, and to prepare us to give a good Account of our felves to God, fince we know that he will demand an Account of us: But a mere Belief that we fhall be judged, will not do this, unless we affect our Souls with à Senfe of Judgment. The Experience of the World, and our own Experience of our felves, does fufficiently prove this: We all profefs to believe a Future Judgment, and most of us do heartily believe it; and yet there are too many. among us, who give little Reafon to the World to think they believe it; who commit thofe Sins every day, for which they know God will Damn them when they come to Judgment; which one would think those who believe they fhall be judged, could never do: So that a mere Belief. of a Future Judgment cannot govern Mens Lives; but then thefe very Men, when they are awakened into a Dread and Fear of Judgment, feel the Virtue and Power of it on their Hearts; it makes them hate their Sins, and hate themselves for them; it makes them very devout and importunate in their Prayers, very