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As to the first,

It is alledged, that God does not ap prove, or difapprove, from capricious Hu{ mour or arbitrary Pleasure, but from the real Valuableness or Unworthinefs of fuch the Object of his Approbation or Dislike : And that therefore, Nothing but Men's right Behaviour could make them the Objects of God's Favour.

To unravel which Fallacy,

SERM. V.

In the firft Place, we must carefully dif tinguish between the Approbation, and the Good-will, or Benevolence, of the Deity. For the Deity juft fo far approves of Beings, as they are really good, and his Approbation is always proportioned to the feveral Degrees of Goodness in them. But his Benevolence needs not keep exact Pace with, and be determined folely, and wholly, by his Approbation and their Goodness. The Approbation of an unerring Being muft, in the Nature of the Thing, be founded on something intrinfic, and in the Beings approved: But his Benevolence often does, and in fome Cafes muft, proceed from Motives extrinfic to the Beings themfelves: Of which, among many others, the Communication of greater Degrees of Happinefs to fome

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Beings

SERM. V. Beings than others, antecedently to, and therefore, without any Regard to, their Merits, at the Creation, is a pregnant Inftance. And he who made fome Beings Angels and not Men, for no other Reason than his own WILL; may, certainly, advance us from Men into Angels of Blifs, at the Inftance and Interceffion of our bleffed Saviour. It may be granted, that the Deity cannot love any Being farther, than it is lovely in itself, with a Love of Esteem, Complacency, or Good-liking. And yet there may be a confiderable Degree of Benevolence and Good-will in the Deity, towards Beings, for whom he has but a flender Share of Efteem and Approbation. The Reafon is very plain: The Benevolence of the Deity is infinite; but his Approbabation is finite, and adjusted to the intrinsic Worth of each Creature, be it lefs or more. Our perfonal Valuableness therefore, or our right Behaviour, may be the only Ground of the divine Approbation; but God forbid, that it should be the only Ground of his Favour and Acceptance. Suppofing the Deity to be infinitely Good, and to take a Delight in communicating Happiness to his Creatures, there will always be a strong Reafon

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*

Reason for his Beneficence or the Com SERM. V.
munication of Good to us, when there lyes
no Reafon against it. The only Reasons,
that could lye against it, were either that
we are Subjects intirely indifpofed for, and
incapable of, Happiness, through our evil
and inveterate Habits or that it is not con
fiftent with God's Wifdom, Juftice, and
his Regard for the Whole, to admit us to
a State of an exceeding and everlasting
Weight of Glory. The firft Impediment
we ourselves, by the Grace of God, must
remove, by correcting each habitually bad
Difpofition, and Bent of Inclination. The
fecond our bleffed Saviour removed, by the
Sacrifice of himself, made it confiftent with
the Good of the Whole, to bestow Hap-
piness upon us, and gave the divine Bene-
volence full Scope to exert itself. ::

Though nothing that another Perfon
does, can make us more perfonally valu-
able, yet the common Course of Things
every Day proves, that, what another Per-
fon does, may avert Mifery from us, or
procure Happiness to us. If there is any
Thing wrong in fuch a Procedure, then
the whole Course of Nature is manifeftly
fo: It being neceffary in the ordinary Course
of

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SERM. V. of Nature, which is no less God's Appoint ment than his fupernatural and extrarodinary Difpenfations; that one Man fhould be rescued from Ruin, or advanced to Happiness, by the Interpofition of another *.

And the Arguments, which are brought to difprove the Grace of our Lord Jefus Christ, conclude with equal Strength (that is, with no Strength at all) against the Charity of our fellow Creatures. The Laws of Nature, as well as the Oeconomy of our Redemption, point out to us, that, though no Man can with Juftice be esteemed for what another Agent does; yet One may be made more happy, or less miserable, by the Means of Another.

The Author of the Book of Job feems to have had no Notion of founding the Favour of God to us, merely upon his Approbation of us, when he fays, God cbargeth his Angels with Folly: The Stars are not pure in his Sight: How much lefs Man that is a Worm, and the Son of Man that is a Worm?

Created Beings, that are perfect in their Kind God muft abfolutely approve; Beings,

* See Bishop Butler's Analogy. Page 211.

that

that are absolutely bad, he must abfolutely SERM. V. disapprove. But between Perfection, and abfolute Depravity, there are fo many intermediate Degrees of Goodness, and it's opposite Quality; of Amiableness and Unamiableness; and thefe often fo complicated and blended together in the fame Subject; that no one can be affured, how the Scale would preponderate, or where the Over-balance would be, in the Judgment of that Being, who fees not as Man fees. Nay, the more amiable any Man was in the Sight of God, the more liable he would be, upon this Scheme, to Defpondency, not to fay, Defpair. For certainly, if any Thing can make fuch Beings as we are, amiable in the Sight of God; it muft be a modeft Opinion of ourselves, and a juft Senfe of our own Unworthiness. But the more modest Opinion a Man entere tains of himself; the more diffident he will be of his own Righteousness, and the Divine Approbation.

So true it is, that whoever has deviated from Scripture, has left us, at the Foot of the Account, in a worse State than he E found us.

For

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