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If, State the Doctrine of a particular Serm. V. Providence.

IIdly, Shew the Possibility of it.

IIIdly, I shall prove the Certainty and Truth of it.

IVthly, Subjoin and conclude with some practical Reflections.

IX, Then, I am to state the Doctrine of a particular Providence.

ift, We must not expect, that God's particular Providence would interpose, where our own Endeavours are sufficient. For that would be to encourage Sloth and Idleness, instead of countenancing and supporting Virtue. Nor ought we to expect to be relieved from Difficulties and Distresses, into which our own Mismanagement and criminal Conduct have plunged us. But when without

any

Fault of ours our Affairs are so perplexed and intangled, that human Affiftance will be of no Avail; then we must have Recourse to God, that he would give us Wisdom to conduct us through all the Labyrinths and Intricacies of Life, Resolution to grapple with Difficulties, and Strength to overcome them. In this Light

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Serm. V. the Prayer, which Josephus puts into the

Mouth of Moses just before his Paffage through the Red Sea, is very just and beautiful. Unpassable Rocks barred his Escape one Way, the numerous Host of the Egyptians blocked up others: Before him stood the Red Sea. In this Situation Mofes, just upon the Brink of Ruin, applies himself thus to God: “ Lord, thou knowest that no

Strength, Wisdom or Contrivance of

ours can here be of any Significancy. It “ is in thy Power alone to find out a Way " for the Deliverance of this People, who

by thy Command and under thy Con« duct have left Egypt. Despairing of all other Ways, we flee to thee alone for « Succour; Lord, let it come speedily;

give us a full Proof of thy Almighty « Power and Veracity. We are in great “ Straits, great and unsurmountable by us; « but to Thee fight and inconsiderable. “ The Sea is thine and it obftructs our

Progress: The Mountains that shut us

up, are thine too. Thou canst divide " this Sea, or turn its Waves into firm “ Land, or make us find a safe Passage

through the Deep *.” * Josephi Opera, Vol. 1. Pag. 3o. Hudson's Edit.

Here was a Knot too hard for any but Serm. V. the Deity to unty: and therefore the Deity descended upon the Scene to unravel the perplexing Difficulty. But in common Cases the best Way is to rely upon Providence, as if all human Endeavours and Resources were useless, as indeed they are, without it; and yet to exert our Endeavours as vigorously, as if Providence would not interpose at all. For God will not prostitute his Power to supersede' our Endeavours as to what we can do; He will only supply, what we cannot do.

2dly, We must not expect that Providence would so far confult our private Interest, as to counterwork that of the whole. Those general Laws, which are calculated for the

Good of the Whole, may, in some Cases, be detrimental to some few Persons ; but, in the main, are beneficial even to them. For if God should, upon no extraordinary Emergency, for no prepollent Good, deviate from his Laws; the utmost Reach and Compass of Thought would avail no more, than Childhood and Ignorance : All human Industry and Forehght would be at a Stand, which depend on Things going generally on in a stated Track. For there could be

no

Serm. V. no Room for Counsel, Deliberation and Fore

cast, where there was no orderly Constitution, no settled Course of Nature. It would not signify to till the Ground, that we might reap the Fruits of the Earth in due Season: There would be no Dependance upon the ebbing and flowing of the Waters at fet Times, and so in a thousand other Cases. It is for the Interest even of that Man, who is uneasy because the Settlement of Nature is not changed in compliance with his Wishes; that God has given Things a Law, which shall not be broken upon every frivolous Occasion.

For if the Deity should depart from his uniform Manner of Acting upon his Application in any material Point; why should he not do so to gratify the Importunity of other Persons? The Consequence of which would be, we should live in an irregular disjointed World, where there would be no Harmony, no Order, no Law; but all would be Confusion and Anarchy. God can and does govern the rational World, without subverting and unhinging the Frame of the natural.

3dly, We are not to expect that Providence upon our repeated Requests would grant what we imagine a Bleding; there

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being several Things which we think to be Serm. V.
Blessings, that are not so upon the Whole,
or not so to us. And Providence is not like
an over-indulgent Parent, who destroys the
future Happiness of his Children, by com-
plying with their importunate Petitions, and
removing their present Uneahness.

We must distinguish likewise between
natural and fantastic Wants. Providence
has generally made ample Provision for the
former, but not for the latter. Besides
those Desires, which are inborn, there are
several, which are inbred in us, by carly
Custom and by a Neglect of Reason: Such
are those of high and sumptuous Food, of
Honours, and all the Pride of Life. Now
every regular Inclination, every Plant, which
our beavenly Father hath planted, he will
take care, in concurrence with our own
Endeavours, to feed and nourish. But we
ourselves, if we will not part with them,
must maintain those Spurious and illegiti-
mate Desires, which we have begot in our--
selves. There would be as exact an Adjust-
ment of the Means of Subsistence to the re-
spective Wants of the rational Creation, as
there is to those of the animal World ; if
Men unsatisfied with Neceflaries and Conve-

niencies

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