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The Nature, Poffibility and Truth, of a particular Providence fet forth.


Who is like unto the Lord our God, who bath his Dwelling fo high; and yet humbleth himself to behold the Things that are in Heaven and Earth?


"T is one great Recommendation of the SERM. V. Sacred Writings, that they have expreffed themselves with more Juftness of Thought concerning the Nature of God, than any other Compofitions whatever. What the Vanity of Science, falfely fo called, has afcribed to Nature, or to fecond Caufes, exclufively of the First, is by them refolved into the immediate Will and Providence of God. This is the trueft Philosophy, as well as the beft Divinity. For what is Nature? is it an understanding Being? or is it not? If it be not, how can an undeK 2


SERM. V. figning Being produce plain Notices of Contrivance and Defign? If it be an Underftanding Being, who acts throughout the Universe; then it is that great Being, whom we call God. For Nature, Neceffity, and Chance, mere Phantoms, which have no Reason, Wisdom, or Power, cannot act, with the utmoft Exactness of Wisdom, powerfully, inceffantly, and every where. And here I would obferve, that no Words are more undetermined in their Signification, than those, which pafs current in common Converfation. We never queftion, but that we clearly underfland Terms, which are daily in ufe, and familiar to us: Whereas those Words are often mere Sounds, without Senfe, or any fettled Signification. Thus few seem to know (though it is the only clear and determinate Meaning of it) that Nature in this Cafe means nothing, but the conftant and stated Operation of God upon Matter.

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We have no lefs Reason to beg our daily Bread of Almighty God, than the Ifraelites had to pray for their Suftenance, when they were fed with Manna from Heaven. For that a Handful of Corn fhould multiply to a prodigious Degree, and that the Fields

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fhould ftand fo thick with Corn, that they SERM. V fhould laugh and fing, must be afcribed to God; as well as that the Food of Angels was given from above to the Ifraelites : Because a regular, conftant 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 Mechanifm, 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 Sense, 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 refolved 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 defcribe 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 Exercife 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,

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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 ticular Providence would interpofe, where our own Endeavours are fufficient. For that would be to encourage Sloth and Idlenefs, instead of countenancing and supporting 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 must have Recourfe to God, that he would give us Wildom to conduct us through all the Labyrinths and Intricacies of Life, Refolution to grapple with Difficulties, and Strength to overcome them. In this Light

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