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public, and the interests of fociety: If we, being evil, would abhor fuch a character, fhall we impute it, can we impute it, to Him who is infinite in goodnefs, and who is poffeffed of abfolute perfection? To what purpose is God every where pesent, if he is not every where employed? Whereto serves infinite power, if it must be for ever dormant? Whereto ferves infinite wisdom, if it is never to be exerciled? To what purpose are the Divine goodness, and the Divine juftice, if we only hear of their names? Are all the Attributes of the Godhead in vain? How falfe, how abfurd, how blafphemous, is an opinion that would destroy every Divine perfection!
I have thus fhown you the absurdity of that system which would exclude God from the government of the universe; and I am now, in the fecond place, to establish and confirm the doctrine of a particular Providence. This doctrine is founded both upon reafon and the Scriptures.
Reason and true philofophy never attempt to feparate God from his works. We must own him in the sky to hold the planets in their respective orbits; we must own him in the earth, and in the feas, to keep them within their proper bounds, and we must own him through the whole fyftem of nature, to fupport and maintain that gravitating force which gives confiftency and stability to all material things. Reafon tells us, that it is not probable that the Creator of the universe would forfake that world which he had made; that it is not probable that a Being poffeffed of infinite perfection can be an idle and unconcerned spectator of his own works.
But our chief evidence for this doctrine rests.
on Revelation. Mankind obtained early notices of the Divine fuperintendence, by peculiar interpofitions. In the hiftory of the Old Teftament, we have an account of the lofs of Paradife by fin; of the banishment of Cain for the murder of his brother; of the tranflation of Enoch, as the reward of his righteoufnefs; of the wickednefs of the old world, and its deftruction by the deluge, Noah and his family only excepted, who, by the eminence of his piety, found grace in the fight of God to become the Father of the new world. When this new world revolted from God, and ran into idolatry, we fee Abraham called out to be the head of a mighty nation, which grew up and flourished, by a series of the moft wonderful providences; governed by laws of God's own appointment; with promises of protection and blef fing, fo long as they should be obedient, and threatenings of punishment and destruction, if they fell off to ferve other gods; which in the event were punctually verified. This was a vifible and a standing evidence of a governing Providence. The doctrine was thus established upon a higher authority than reason, and upon better evidence than the light of nature. God revealed himfelf to men as the Governor of the world, the avenger of the wicked, and the protector of the good. But, although, in adminiftering the affairs of the univerfe, the object of Providence fhould be to deprefs the bad and to favour the good; yet an exact retribution of rewards and punishments was none of the ends of his administration in this fcene of things. This would have defeated the plan of his Providence, and fuperfeded the neceffity of a day of judgment. Nevertheless, he would
frequently interpofe to punish signal wickednefs, or reward illuftrious virtue. Thus, in the early ages of the world, he did often miraculously interpofe, to let the nations understand that he took notice of their righteous or unrighteous deeds; that he had power to vindicate the honor of his laws; and to make examples whenever it was requifite, for the correction and reformation of men. Miraculous interpofitions were not intended to be permanent or perpetual; yet the providence of God was not to ceafe. Accordingly, he took care to inform us, that what in the firft ages he had done vifibly and by miracles, he would do in the latter ages by the invisible direction of natural caufes. The Scriptures are fo full of this notion, that it would be endless to be particular. You may read the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, where you will fee all the powers of nature fummoned as inftruments in the hand of the Almighty, to execute the purposes of his will; where you behold them commiffioned to favour the good with national profperity, with domeflic comforts, with fafety from their enemics, with fruitful feasons, with a numerous offspring, and with an abundance of all bleffings; commiflioned to punish the wicked with national distresses, with indigence, with flavery, with deftructions and moleftations of every kind, by war, by famine, and by all forts of diseases. From all which, the plain inference is this, That the most common and moft familiar events, are under the direction of God, and by him are used as inftruments, either for the hurt or for the good of men.
How this particular Providence operates, may, in 'fome degree, be conceived by us. Man, in his limit
ed sphere, can take fome direction of natural caufes. You can direct the element of fire either to warm or to confume; the elements of air and water to cherish and to annoy. Does not that power, then, in a more illuftrious manner, belong to God? Is it not as eafy for Him, think you, to give laws to the tempeft, where to spend its force; to direct the meteor flying in the air, where to fall, and whom to confume? Are the elemental and fubterraneous fires bound up? He can let them loofe. Are they broken loofe? He can collect them as in the hollow of his hand. And all this he performs, without unhinging the general system, and without any visible tokens to us, that he is at all concerned, though in truth he is the effective agent. In like manner, we may comprehend, in some measure, how God may direct, not only the motions of the inanimate and paffive part of the creation, but also the determinations of free agents, to answer the purposes of his providence. The hearts of men are in the hand of the Lord, as much as the rivers of water. This does not in the least destroy the freedom of human actions. Every one knows that the acts of free agents are determined by circumstances; and thefe circumftances are always in the hand of God. The difpofitions and refolutions of men are apt to vary, according to the different turn or flow of their spirits, or their different fituations in life, as to health or sickness, strength or weakness, joy or forrow; and by the direction of thefe, God may raise up enemies, or create friends, ftir up war, or make peace. Take, as an inftance, the history of Haman. That wicked man had long meditated the deftruction of Mordecai the Jew, and P
rather than not fatiate his vengeance upon him, would involve the whole Jewish nation in utter deftruction. He at laft obtained a decree, fentencing this whole people to the fword; and the day was fixed. In this crifis of their fate, How was the chofen nation to be delivered? Was God vifibly and miraculously to interpofe in favour of his own people? This he could have done ; but he chofe rather to act according to the ordinary train of fecond caufes. He who giveth fleep to his beloved, withheld it from Ahasuerus, the monarch of Perfia. In order to pass the night, he called for the records of his reign. There he found it written, that Mordecai had detected a confpiracy formed against the life of the king, and that he had never been rewarded for it. By this fingle circumftance, a fudden reverse took place. Mordecai was advanced to honor and rewards; the villany of Haman was detected; the decree fatal to the Jews was revoked; and the nation of the Jews was faved from inftant destruction. In like manner, in the history of Joseph, and other hiftories of the Old Testament, you see the most familiar events made inftruments in the hand of God to effect the purposes of his will.
There is then a particular Providence. The arm of the Almighty, reaching from heaven to earth, is continually employed. All things are full of God. In the regions of the air; in the bowels of the earth; and in the chambers of the fea, his power is felt. Every event in life is under his direction and control. Nothing is fortuitous or accidental. Let me caution you, however, against abufing this doctrine, by judging of the characters of persons from their