« PoprzedniaDalej »
fhould fand fo thick with Corn, that they SERM. V fhould laugh and fing, must be ascribed to
God; as well as that the Food of Angels was given from above to the Ifraelites: Because a regular, conflant and uniform Effect, in which there are evident Traces of Wisdom and Benevolence, ftands as much. in Need of the Operation of a wife and benevolent Being, equal to the Effect, to produce it conftantly at fet Times and Seafons; as an occafional, infrequent and extraordinary Phænomenon does to produce it now and then, when an extraordinary Ocfion offers.
The Generation of a human Body in the ordinary Way is no more to be accounted for by the Laws of Mechanism, than the Raifing of a dead Body from the Grave: And the only affignable Motive, why we attribute the latter to the immediate Agency of God, and not the former; is that the latter is an unusual Operation of the Deity. If we faw Bodies commonly rife from the Grave, as we do Corn from Seed fown in the Earth; we should endeavour to explain this Effect, juft as we do the other, from philofophical Caufes exclufive of the Firft*. *See Dr. Clarke's Reply to Leibnitz, Page 351.
No Beings, but what have Life and Senfe, can, in Propriety of Speech, be termed Caufes: All other Things being dead and unactive are only like Tools in the Hand. of a Workman: And whatever we afcribe to Matter a paffive Being, must be resolved into his Will, who ufeth Matter as an Inftrument. Can Matter, which refifts every Change of State, effect what it refifts, not only move itself, but change it's Motion from a straight to a circular one, and give itself a new Direction; as the Planets muft do to describe their Orbits round the Sun ?
But I need not infift upon this Point any longer. For to deny a Providence in general, is, in effect, to deny a God. If there be a God invested with the Attributes of infinite Power, Wisdom and Goodness; Providence is nothing but the Exercise of thofe Attributes, viz. his Wifdom, Power and Goodness on the Creation in general. It cannot be fuppofed, that he will let thofe Attributes lye dormant in Him in a State of Inaction, without exerting them at all.
A general Providence then must be granted: But a particular Providence is clogged with fome Difficulties. I fhall therefore, to remove them,
It, State the Doctrine of a particular SERM. V Providence.
IIdly, Shew the Poffibility of it.
IIIdly, I fhall prove the Certainty and Truth of it.
IVtbly, Subjoin and conclude with fome practical Reflections.
It, Then, I am to ftate the Doctrine of a particular Providence.
ift, We must not expect, that God's particular Providence would interpofe, where our own Endeavours are fufficient. For that would be to encourage Sloth and Idlenefs, instead of countenancing and fupporting Virtue. Nor ought we to expect to be relieved from Difficulties and Diftreffes, into which our own Mifmanagement and criminal Conduct have plunged us. But when without any Fault of ours our Affairs are fo perplexed and intangled, that human Affiftance will be of no Avail, then we muft have Recourse to God, that he would give us Wisdom to conduct us through all the Labyrinths and Intricacies of Life, Refolution to grapple with Difficulties, and Strength to overcome them. In this Light K 4
SERM. V the Prayer, which Jofephus puts into the
Mouth of Mofes just before his Paffage through the Red Sea, is very juft and beautiful. Unpaffable Rocks barred his Escape one Way, the numerous Hoft of the Egyptians blocked up others: Before him stood the Red Sea. In this Situation Mofes juft upon the Brink of Ruin applies himself thus to God: "Lord, thou knowest that no Strength, Wisdom or Contrivance of
qurs 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.
Defpairing 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 unfurmountable by us ; "but to Thee flight and inconfiderable. "The Sea is thine and it obftructs our
Progrefs: 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 fafe Paffage "through the Deep *."
* Jofephi Opera, Vol. 1. Pag. 90. Hudson's Edit.
Here was a Knot too hard for any but SERM. V. the Deity to unty: and therefore the Deity defcended upon the Scene to unravel the perplexing Difficulty. But in common Cafes the best Way is to rely upon Providence, as if all human Endeavours and Refources were useless, as indeed they are, without it; and yet to exert our Endeavours as vigorously, as if Providence would not interpofe at all. For God will not proftitute his Power to fuperfede our Endeavours as to what we can do; He will only fupply, what we cannot do.
2dly, We must not expect that Providence would fo far confult our private Intereft, as to counterwork that of the whole. Those general Laws, which are calculated for the Good of the Whole, may, in fome Cafes, be detrimental to fome few Perfons; but, in the Main, are beneficial even to them. For if God fhould, upon no extraordinary Emergency, for no prepollent Good, deviate from his Laws; the utmoft Reach and Compafs of Thought would avail no more, than Childhood and Ignorance: All human Induftry and Forefight would be at a Stand, which depend on Things going generally on in a stated Track. For there could be