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of moral Agents is the most admirable Part of the Divine Administrations, and in which his glorious Perfections are made moft illuftriously manifeft. Το

govern Numbers which no Man can number of reasonable Beings, fo very various in their Thoughts, , Inclinations, and Counsels, each of whom have a Will of their own, and a Power of determining their own Actions; to inspect their very Hearts and Thoughts, as well as their outward Actions, and accordingly to dispense to them proper Retributions, and to order Events so as not to infringe that Liberty of chusing and acting which belongeth to them, as intelligent and accountable Beings; I say, thus to govern them must needs argue a Wisdom, as well as a Power, which exceedeth our Comprehension, and can only be found in the infinite Mind; and, as Man is the only Creature in this lower World that can properly be regarded as a moral Agent, God's providential Government towards the humari Race is what it moft nearly concerneth us to consider. And a constant Regard to this is what eminently distinguisheth the truly good and religious Man ; it necessarily entereth into his Character, and is indeed the great Support and Comfort of his Life. For, First, He holdeth it as a certain

Principle, that, as God's Government over us is founded on the justest and most unquestionable Right, so it is always adminiftered in the best Manner. For this the im mutable Perfection of his Nature gives us the highest possible Security. As his Understanding and Wisdom is infinite, he must needs know in every poflīble Instance what is fitteft to be done. As his Power is almighty, he must be always able to execute his most wise Purposes. As he is present to the whole Creation, he hath every Thing under his own Eye. As he is of perfect Righteousness and Equity, he can never be biassed to do a wrong Thing. And, as he is of boundless Goodness and Be nignity, the End he hath in View, in his Government of reasonable Beings, is to promote their Happiness, in such a Way as is worthy of himself, and suited to their reafonable Natures, and consistent with their moral Agency. His Government is indeed in the strictest Sense independent, supreme, and abfolute, and accountable to none. Nor is there any Thing in this, if rightly considered, which fhould be Matter of Terror and Discouragement to a good Mind. On the contrary, abfolute Power and Sovereignty, when it is in Conjunction with the most perfect Wisdom, Righteousness,


and Goodness, is the most comfortable Thing in the World. The more absolute it is in this Case the better, and the greater is our Security. For this must needs raise him above all Possibility of being tempted to Evil, and he must needs be possessed of an infinite Generosity of Mind, which will carry him to do the greatest Good, this being the noblest Exercise of absolute Power and Dominion. A Persuasion of this naturaliy tends to fill the Heart of a good Man with a Divine Confidence and Joy.

Secondly, He firmly believes that all the Events which befall us, whether profperous or adverse, are under the Direction and Superintendency of Divine Providence. This is the constant Doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. Hence God is introduced as des claring, I form the Light, and create Darknefs. I make Peace, and create Evil: I the Lord do all these Things. If. xlv. 7. where by Light and Peace we are to understand Prosperity and Comfort, and by Darkness and Evil we are to understand Trouble and Adversity; and it is signified that both the one and the other are under his supreme Direction. This is especially true of all those Events in which the Public is concerned. The Revolutions of Kingdoms and States, to whatsoever Causes they are im


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mediately 'owing, are disposed and over-ruled by his wise and fovereign Providence : He changeth the Times and Seasons ; he removeth Kings, and setteth up Kings. Dan. ii. 21. Promotion cometh neither from the East nor from the South ; but God is the Judge ; be putteth down one, and setteth up another. Pf. lxxv. 6, 7. He leadeth Princes away Spoiled, and overthroweth the Mighty. He increaseth the Nations, and destroyeth them ; be enlargeth the Nations, and straiteneth them again. Job xii. 19, 23. A truly religious Man regardeth these various Changes, not as the Effects of blind Chance, or as the Sports of Fortune, which is only another Word for Chance; but as all conducted with the most wise Design. And, though he is far from excluding second Causes and Instruments, he looketh above them to the supreme Lord and Governor of the World, and can with great Satisfaction consider him as presiding over those Events, and over-ruling them all to valuable Purposes. And not only doth God fuperintend Events of a public Nature, but those which relate to particular Persons. He ordereth Men's outward Condition and Circumstances in the World, as seemeth fit to his infinite Wisdom: The Lord maketh Poor, and maketh Rich; he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raileth up the Poor out of the Vol. III.



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Duft, and lifteth up the Beggar from the bill. i Sam. 11. 7, 8. Even those Things which we commonly call Accidents, and which appear to us to be casual and fortuitous do not happen to us without the Divine Direction or permission. What a comfortable Confideration is this, and what a stable Foundation doth it lay for a peaceable Confidence, and a calm Acquiescence in every Condition and Circumstance of Life; Whatsoever Success a pious Man meets with in his lawful Endeavours, whatsoever good Things he enjoys, he receives them with Thankfulness as the Effects of the Divine Goodness ; and this greatly heighteneth the Pleasure he finds in them. And, on the other Hand, if he be exercised with Troubles of various kinds, he considers them as wilely ordered or permitted by an overruling Providence. And there cannot be a more effettual Remedy than this against thote Cares and Anxieties, those Fears and Sorrows, which imbitter human Life, and destroy the Peace and Comfort of it.

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Thirdly, That it must needs be a noble and pleaning Employment to a religious Mind to endeavour to trace God's illuftrious Footieps in his Providential Difpenfatione, and to admire the Caracters of the

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