A DISCOURSE Of the Great Disingenuity & Unreasonableness Of Repining at Afflicting Providences: AND Of the Influence which they ought to have upon us, on Iob 2. 10. Publish'd upon Occasion of the DEATH OF Our Gracious Sovereign, Queen Mary Of Most Blessed Memory. With a PREFACE containing some Ob­servations, touching Her Excellent Endow­ments, and Exemplary Life.

LONDON, Printed for Brabazon Aylmer at the Three Pidgeons in Cornhil, 1695.

THE PREFACE Relating to the QUEEN.


THis Plain Discourse being design'd at first, to go no farther than the Pulpit, I was by the late most Afflicting Pro­vidence induced (as the Title Page tells you) to send it to the Press: Considering that a Discourse of this Nature (tho' it can be at no time Unseasonable) can never be mo [...]e seasonably Published than at this [Page 4] Iuncture; when there is as General a Lamentation for the Death of our most Gracious Queen, as we have ever known for any Publick Calamity. And my design herein being to promote, what in me lyes, a due Acknowledg­ment of the Hand of God in all Af­flictions, and to instruct those who need such Helps, how they are obliged to behave themselves under them, and how they ought to improve them; and to lay before them the most Perswa­sive Motives to such a Behaviour and Improvement; I humbly hope it may be in some measure serviceable to my Country-men in affecting them with such a Sense of this Heavy Storke, as may have that happy Influence upon them, which I have here shewed, God, in His infinite Goodness, doth principally aym at, in all the Evils that befall us.

And because the quicker sense we [Page 5] have of this Loss, there may be the more hope of our Compliance with Gods Design therein; and it being necessary to the retaining and more quickning our sense thereof, to keep fresh in our Minds the Greatness of it, I can not but take this Occasion to Represent, with an Equal mixture of Admirati­on and Grief, the Excellency of the Person, and therefore the Greatness of the Blessing, which we have lost.

But since it would be too great a Presumption (in me Especially) to Pretend to give so full a Description of Her Majesties Virtues, and Her Natural and Acquired Accomplish­ments, as may deserve the Name of Her Character, I intend not mu [...]h more, than to instance in those which lay most open to Observation: But those are enough to speak Her, The Glory of Her Sex.

[Page 6] We had very Admirable Accounts of Her, from Her Court at the Hague, during Her Abode there, from most Unquestionable Testimo­nies, which made us Envy our Neigh­bours Happiness in Such a Princess; who Knew their Happiness, (as 'twas impossible they should not) and had an Extraordinary Value and Veneration for Her. And since Her Return to Her Native Country, and Her Ad­vancement to the Throne here, we ne­ver knew a more Eminent Exception than She was to that Common Obser­vation Minnit Praesentia Famam. The Fame that Persons had when Absent, suffers by their Presence.

The Queen had, to begin with Her intellectual Endowments, an exceed­ing quick Apprehension, and as Clear and discerning a Judgment. The late Arch Bishop of Canterbury [Page 7] hath more than once Expressed to me great Admiration, at the Proofs He knew Her give of these Accomplish­ments in the weighty Affaires of State, in the Kings Absences, when the Ex­ecutive part of the Government was in Her Hands. And, by the way, That Great and Excellent Man, whose Death is also much Bewailed, could not have Chosen a Time for His leav­ing the World, more happy for Himself, than that which Providence Chose for Him; since He escaped a very Terri­ble Shock by being taken away from the inexpressible Loss we are now La­menting, which was then at the door.

The Queen hath left also a Great Name behind Her, for Her Wis­dom and Prudence in the Manage­ment of whatsoever Business She was pleased to be concerned in. And in difficult Cases no Person certainly, [Page 8] might more safely than She be trusted, with that Advice of the Son of Si­rach, Let the Counsel of thine own Heart stand. Several great Passages which I have had from the best hands do make me say this.

And Her Person was not more Ami­able than was Her Temper. It was so far from having the least Tincture of Pride, or Peevishness, or any thing distastful or disobliging, that the Cha­racter of Deliciae Humani Generis, might with as little suspicion of Flat­tery be bestowed on this Queen, as on that [...] Roman Emperour, whose it [...]. Nay I am perswaded, that nev [...] was so Great a Person so Great an Example of Condescending Courte­sy, Kindness and Sweetness, as She was towards all about Her, or that made Addresses to Her; not Except­ing the Meanest of Her poor Suppli­cants, [Page 9] who were very Numerous. As more of true Majesty was never seen in a Sovereign, than in Her, So ne­ver appeared less of Loftiness, or of Contemptuous Behaviour in a Sub­ject. In the several Yearly Courses of my Waiting upon Her as Chaplain, I can truly say, I could never observe Her, to the best of my remembrance, either by any thing she said or by Her manner of speaking or by so much as a Look, to be Angry or out of Humour.

She did not seem to have any thing of Melancholy in Her Natural Com­plexion, and yet, which is very Ex­traordinary, She was at a great di­stance from the other Extreme. She was Easie, Free and Chearful, but without the least appearance of Levi­ty. She would neither [...]e over whelm­ed with Grief, nor transported with [Page 10] Ioy, and yet was far from a Stoick; Her Temper was sufficiently impressi­ble. She hath been seen to Shed Tears, with great Tenderness, for the Death of a Person She had an Esteem for, and would Express a due Sense at the hearing of Unwelcome Tidings; And She had a great deal of Sympathy, and Compassion in Her Nature, as will be shewn: Yet She still bore Af­flictions with great Patience; they could not Extort from Her an Un­seemly Word, nor make Her Uneasy to any Body but Her self.

Her parting with His Majesty once a Year was always Grievous to Her, and a Cloud afterward appeared upon Her Countenance for a time, but it was even Astonishing to observe, not only how soon she Overcame Her Sorrow, and Cleared up again, but also with what Evenness and Composedness of Mind, [Page 11] she could bear his Long Absences, and the Thoughts of the infinite Dangers to which He Exposed his Royal Person. I say this was very wonderful, Consi­dering that She was a Pattern for the Best of Wives; She always Expres­sed the Tenderest Affection to, and the Highest Value for, the King Her Husband. And therefore it was im­possible for Her, notwithstanding the Happiness of Her Temper, so to de­mean Her self under such a Tryal, had She not a great Faith in the Divine Protection, being assured of His be­ing Engaged in the Best of Causes.

Such a Pattern was the Queen of Sobriety and freeness from Vanity, that I am sorry so few of our Ladies could ever perswade themselves to have the Ambition herein to resemble Her: And that (contrary to the Custom, which till this Reign hath here no less [Page 12] Prevailed, than in other Countries) the Example of a Queen should be of little force; nay of So little, as not to be able to make such Childish Vanities as Spot [...]ed Faces, out of fashion.

And tho' Queens of all Ladies may be (I hope) Excused, if they should ex­ceed in their Ward [...]robe▪ our Queen was so far from being lyable to Cen­sure upon that account, that a Gentle­man of great Worth, whose Office would not let him be Ignorant of Her Ex­pences, did sometime since Profess, that he was very unwilling to say how little she laid out upon Apparel.

And as to the Sobriety which relates to the Palate, She was so far from being fond of great Dainties, that I heard Her once say, that She could live in a Dairy.

What an enemy She was to Idleness, even in Ladies, Those who had the [Page 13] Honour to serve Her, are living instan­ces. It is well known how great a part of the day they were employed at their Needles, & several Ingenuities; the Queen Herself, when more Important Business would give Her leave, Work­ing with them. And, that their Minds might be well Employed at the same time, it was Her Custome to Order one to read to them, while they were at work; either Divinity, or some Pro­fitable History.

And what a value She set on Time, appeared by Her leaving Her Pillow by Six in the Morning, and Her late Returns to it: And by the Hours which She daily spent in Her Closet. And 'twas Admirable to see how She would Contrive, to be as little as needs must out of Business. She did not spare so much as Her Dressing time from it: Which was after She had been [Page 14] first in Her Closet about half an hour, and then, after a Dish of Tea or Chocolat, about two hours more. She appointed Her Levy (that is Her Dressing time) for the Receiv­ing of Petitions, and doing what other Business could then conveniently be dis­patch't. And even now also would She have Reading when there was a vacan­cy for it. And this was the time which the Ladies knew to be most acceptable for the receiving of Visits, because then they would least hinder Business. As for those Ladies who came at Her Working time, they knew they should not be welcome, except they work't too.

Between the Chappel-Prayers and Dinner, She would commonly walk in­to the Gardens, and there see how the Gardners had observed Her Orders, and farther appoint them what to do.

[Page 15] But we must return to Her Clo­set, where, how She employed Her­self, we may more than guess, by the Choyce Collection of Books She fur­nished it with; as well of Divini­ty, as History, and other Learned and Ingenious Treatises; and by the great improvement of Her Mind She gained by them: Which those Worthy Men who were Her Chaplains in Hol­land, and the Learned Clerk of Her Closet here (who also for several years waited on Her there) can abundant­ly Witness. Those Histories She spent most time in, were such as by which She might be best Accomplished, for the most Difficult and Weighty Employment of a Sovereign Queen. And as to Divinity, She had been such a Student therein, as well to know, upon what Grounds and Rea­sons, She ought undoubtedly to Be­lieve [Page 16] the Gospel of our Saviour, & the Evidence we have for the Truth there­of: And not only to have the truest understanding thereof, whereby She could well distinguish between the true Teachers and the Corrupters of the Christian Doctrine, but to be able to defend it, and Especially against those of the Roman Communion; Her greatest danger, as I need not say, ha­ving been from that Quarter.

And 'tis highly worth our Notice, what a not able Insight She had into the Errours of that Church, and how un­derstandingly She would Argue against some of those Errours, when very Young, and what a warm Zeal She would even then express against Po­pery; for which she got the Name of Queen Bess, from her Uncle King Charles.

And a Second Q. Elizabeth She [Page 17] proved to be, both in regard of Her immoveable Constancy in adhering to the Protestant Religion, against vigo­rous Assaults, which have not hitherto been made Publick; and of her great Affection to the Church of England, for whose true and just interest She was much concerned. But yet Her Love to this Church did not leven Her Mind, with any sour Prejudices against Other Protestant Churches, as That of Holland found by Expe­rience; nor lessened Her Charity to­wards Sober Dissenters among Our selves.

I am as sensible as my Reader, that I have now a little deviated from the Rules of Method; but it is more pardonable to give You such Remarks as These in a less proper place, than to forget them, when I have a fi [...]er for them.

[Page 18] And now shall I need to add, that our Incomparable QUEEN was also a Person of most sincere and Unaffected Devotion and Piety? whether there be need of it or no, I cannot decline this Sub­ject.

She was, if Comparisons may be made, Most Exemplary in Her Piety.

It is very well Known, in the First place, how strictly Conscienci­ous She was in the Observation of the Lord's Day; and that as well Privately, as in the Publick As­semblies.

As She enjoyned Preaching in the Chapple-Royal after the Evening Prayers (though there were always Prayers, and a Sermon twice eve­ry Sunday Morning) and likewise two Sermons, with the Prayers, [Page 19] on all the Monthly Fasts, so was She constantly a most Serious and Devout Attender on them both parts of those days. As She was also on the Lords Supper, the First Sun­day of every Month. And She was observed to spend more Time than ordinary in Her Closet, not onely the Day, but also the Week be­fore every Communion.

Nor could any Business detein Her from Her Private Chappel, nei­ther Morning nor Evenings, through­out the Week. In all the Times of my Waiting, I never knew Her once absent. And whensoever She had Occasion to go Abroad a Morn­ings, She gave Order for the Prayers before She went; or if She intended to return to Dinner, She would have them, tho' late, before She sate down at Table.

[Page 20]And whereas it was the Practice in former Reigns, to have onely the Second Lesson for the Morn­ing and Evening Service read in the Private Chappel, She Commanded to have both for the future. And it so fell out, that I had the Honour of first receiving this Her Pious Command.

But Her Piety was far from being confined to Her Chappels and Closet; She was every where a like Pious in various Instances. A Reverence of the Deity shewed it self in every thing She said or did.

Who ever heard Her take the Name of God or of our Saviour into Her Mouth, in too light or vain a manner? Tho' this Practice is grown so common, as to be lit­tle scrupled by very many, whom we may not censure as not truly Re­ligious. [Page 21] Such is the Force of a Ge­neral Custom.

I do not, you see, speak of Pro­faining Gods Name by vain Swear­ing, for it would be much too lit­tle a thing to say of such a Saint, that She abhorred this, but of all irreverend Use thereof; but of this, I say, our Blessed Queen did make great Conscience.

And so did She no less, of Cen­suring and speaking ill of Others, and of all other Liberties, which even great Professors of Religion do too commonly give themselves in Talking. And therefore She was one of St. James his Perfect Women; for saith he, If any offend not in Tongue, the same is a Per­fect Man.

And it is no Wonder, if She, who could so perfectly govern Her [Page 22] Speech, should be as void of Of­fence in all Her Actions. And it is certain, that so She was.

So Extraordinary Strict was Her Majesties Life, even from Her Youth, that for the Seventeen Years of Her Married State, The King, as he hath Professed, Could never see any thing in Her, which He could call a Fault. And no Man can keep a Stricter Guard upon his words▪ than his Maje­sty is always observed to do.

And as to the Positive instan­ces of the Queens Piety, or Fear of God, they were such as shewed She made no less Conscience of Sins of Omission, than of Commis­sion.

I might speak of the Pious Care She took of Her immediate Atten­dants; and how concerned She was, [Page 23] to have them secured from Tem­ptations, when they had occasion to go abroad. But I cannot omit One Passage, which is an Equal Instance both of Her Piety and Hu­mility. She having condescended to be God-Mother to a Daughter of one of Her Servants, and calling to mind those Words at the end of the Office of Baptism; You are to take Care, that this Child be brought to the Bishop to be Confirmed by him, &c. She not onely took this Care of Her God-Daughter, but in Order to Her due Preparation for Confir­mation, would instruct her Her­self, and hear her say her Cate­chism. She did not think it enough, to Command one of Her Servants, or the Clerk of Her Closet, to do this Office.

[Page 24] And how great a concern She had for the Reforming of the Manners of Her Subjects, in this very Loose Age, appeared, by Her most Pious Letter to the Iustices of Middle­sex: Wherein She vigorously Ex­cited them to do their Duty, accord­ing to their Oaths, in Executing the Laws against Swearers and Curs­ers, and Profaners of the Lords day, and all Debauched Persons.

And Her Majesties Charity ought to be taken notice of next after Her Piety; in which most Christian Grace, it is impossible So Excellent a Per­son in all other Respects, should be defective.

The Queen could well distinguish, between the Religion of the Means and of the End. And no one can be more sensible, than She was, [Page 25] how little Praying, Hearing, Read­ing and the Sacraments do signify, to those who place the Whole of Reli­gion in such Things, as Necessary as they are. She knew that the De­sign of these Great Duties, is the making us more and more to Par­take of a Divine God-like Nature; the Subduing of all Corrupt Af­fections and inordinate Appetites, and the making us forward to all Good works.

And it is Evident, that these were the Ends She propounded to Herself, in all Acts of Devotion; as by Her great Proficiency in O­ther Virtues, so particularly by Her Excelling in Works of Mercy and Charity.

She filled Her Almoners with Business of this kind, more perhaps than any King or Queen Ever did [Page 26] in this Kingdom, within such a space of Time. And tha [...] not only in Distri­butions at Home, but also in Fo­reign Parts, among Poor Sufferers for the Sake of Christ.

And I have good reason to believe from what I Know, that Her Own Hands were likewise large Dispen­sers of very Private Charities.

And it is strange, that Her Me­mory should serve Her to be so Pun­ctual as She was, in the Payment of Her Private Pensions, at the Times She had set for it, without being put in mind of those Times when they came. And Her Memory was no less Faithful in reference to the Perfor­mance of Her Gracious Promises; as I have known by Experience.

These things, I say, are very Strange, Considering how Her Mind was always Loaded with Business; [Page 27] and with Business of the greatest Weight & Importance, especially when the King was Abroad: Which I think hath mostly been for the greater Part of Every Year. But it seems She thought nothing could be of greater Importance, than Works of Charity.

In the Last Place, I cannot for­bare taking notice of Another Rare Endowment with which Her Maje­sty was Adorned, and which few would expect to find in the Character of a Woman, tho' a Queen, viz. Courage and Fortitude. Herein was She also a Second Queen Elizabeth.

This was Eminently demonstrated by Her Manly (Her more than Manly) Behaviour, when the French Bravadoed it upon our Coast: And [Page 28] great Danger apprehended from our Busy Enemies at Home, and of Treachery in our Navy; and The King then in very difficult Circum­stances in Ireland.

So that the Streight, the Queen was now in, seemed much like that of David at Ziklag; and much Greater than that of Queen Eliza­beth at Tilbury. But now did She demean Herself, not only as That Queen, but as David did at that Time, She Encouraged Herself in the Lord Her God. And Those who should have Animated Her, had She need of being A­nimated by them, were chiefly support­ed by the Observations they made of the Admirable presence of Mind, She all along shewed. Minding the Bu­siness which the Exegency of Affairs called for, and Expressing no dissidence of Success.

[Page 29] And this, no doubt, was one of those Times, to which a Noble Earl referred, in this Saying which I heard from him, viz. We have owed our Safety more than Once, to the Queens Care and Vi­gilancy. And he was at such a Post, in all the most difficult part of Their Majesties Reign, as to be best Able of any Minister of State, to say this of his own Knowledge.

I cannot here Omit the mention­ing, (tho' it would have better come in before) what Another Great Per­son, very Eminent for Piety as well as Parts and Learning, with whom the Queen frequently Conversed, did say to me of Her, about Four Years since, viz. She is so Good, that when I Compare my self with Her, I am Ashamed to find, how much I fall short of Her.

[Page 30] She was so great an Example of Piety and every Virtue, that Consi­dering them altogether, it can be no Hyperbole to say, Certainly a Greater never Graced a Throne. She had the Virtues of the Best Princes, without the least Mixture of those Failings, with which the Names of most of them are Stain­ed in History.

As to that One (that onely) Thing, which our Male-Contents would fix as a foul Blot upon Her Majesties Memory; would they once be Perswaded to lay aside their Pre­judices, and the groundless Notions they have Entertained, it is impos­sible they should not at length see, with the Generality of their Prote­stant Brethren, not only at Home, but throughout Christendom, that [Page 31] That which they would make such [...]n Hainous Crime in the King and Queen, is rather an Instance of He­roick Virtue.

As to the King, What greater De­monstrations can they desire, than He hath given them, of his not having been Acted in what so much Offends them, by Aspiring Ambition? For had He been induced by so very Bad a Principle, to take upon Him the Go­vernment of these Kingdoms, Are they able to imagine He would have Harassed Himself, and run so many Tremendous Hazards, as He hath done ever since, both by Land and Sea? Can they think it Possible for Him to chuse such a Life, had He Accepted of Three Crowns for the Pleasure of Wearing them?

Had this been his Ultimate De­sign, His Haughty Neighbour had [Page 32] too many Irons in the Fire, to have given Him the least Disturbance in the Enjoyment of His Acquisitions: And would have Thanked Him to let Him have owned Him for His Bro­ther; and to have consented to such a League with Him, as that he made with the Late Usurper: And would no more have been King James's Friend, than he was King Charles's, when He fled to him for Succour; but would have served the One as he did the Other.

Those know Nothing, of that Prince who hath made himself so well known to All Europe, that can make the least doubt of this.

One would think therefore, that Ma­lice it self should not need to be satis­fied, That King William Accepted not of these Crowns, otherwise than as a Means to the Noblest of Ends, [Page 33] viz. The Rescuing of both These and the Neighbouring Nations, from Popery, Oppression and Slavery.

And would the Men I am dealing with, have had the Queen obstruct This Glorious Work, by Refusing to sit with her Royal Husband upon the English Throne, merely because That Prince was her Father who left it Empty? When if He could have been satisfied, not to Subject Himself to the Tripple Crown, and not to be Governed by the Counsels of Jesuites, and by the Dictates of the Greatest Enemy we are capable of having; and to let his People enjoy their Religi­on, and Laws; He might have Reigned as happily, notwithstanding his being a Son of the Church of Rome, as ever did Any of His Royal Protestant Predecessors.

Should the Queen have been so [Page 34] Wilful, as to prefer the False Interest of a Father, to both the Temporal and Spiritual Interest of many Whole Nations▪ to the Interest of so many Millions of Bodies and Souls too) She would have left a Blot indeed upon Her now Spotless and most Precious Memory.

In what I have here said of Her Majesty, Which is Extreamly little, Considering what She deserved, I sin­cerely Profess that I have no other Aim, but to make us the more Affect­ed with that Sad Providence, which hath deprived Us of Her; in Order to our making that good improvement thereof which God Expecteth.

Had the Queens High Deserts been Published in Her Life time, the Pub­lisher ought to have been content to be Cryed Shame of, as a Foolish Fulsome [Page 35] Flatterer; And that I may not now incur the Suspition of Flattery, you see how sparing I have been in speaking of the King. But this I may be allowed to say of his Majesty, That He had an High Esteem for His Royal Consort, upon the account both of Her Wisdom and Piety.

And the King Bewails Her Death, as an unspeakable Loss to Himself, as well as to His People. He decla­red, like a good Christian, when He had no Hope of Her Life, That He did not Repine at the Will of God: But yet the Thoughts of His Parting with Her did Put Him, as Great a Soul as He hath, into Terrible Ago­nies. Which were so far from being Blame-Worthy, that they made His Submission to That Hand, which gave Him this Bitter Cup to drink, [Page 36] the more like His Blessed Saviours.

And the Queens Death was such as it might have been Presumed, such a Life would End in. Upon Her ha­ving the first Intimation of the Dan­ger She was in, She Replyed to this Ef­fect: I have been instructed by the Divines of our Church, how very Hazardous a thing it is to Rely upon a Death-Bed Repen­tance; and I am not now to be­gin the Great Work of Preparing for Death: And, I Praise God, I am not Afraid of it.

And She was so Composed throughout Her Sickness, that 'twas Evident She had not the least distur­bance upon Her Mind; but that all was Calm and Serene within Her. One of Her Physicians (a very Wor­thy Gentleman) was so Affected with [Page 37] the Observations he then made of Her, as since to say, She seemed to me, more like an Angel, than a Wo­man.

Frequently She called for the Pray­ers, which my Lord of Canterbury still read to Her; And about Twelve hours before Her Departure, She Com­fortably received the Holy Commu­nion at his Hands, Seven Bishops Communicating with Her. And at last She went away as quietly as a Lamb, with Her Works following Her.

Oh! What a Dark, What a Black Christmas hath this Year brought us! We may well apply thereto those Words in the Prophesy of Amos, It shall come to Pass, saith the Lord, that I will cause the S [...] to go [Page 38] down at Noon-Day, (and it was scarce Noon-day, with This our Bright Sun, when it sett) and I will turn your Feasts into Mourning, and all your Songs into Lamenta­tion.

And now, if my Grief could Per­mit me farther to Aggravate this our Loss, after the Faithful Representa­tion, as defective as it is, which hath been given of the Worth of the Jewel we have lost, it would not signifie much to you: since the Loss is such, as that you can Conceive, much better than I can Express the Great­ness of it. And if it be not Year af­ter Year more and more Felt, and therefore better Understood, it will be what we have as little reason as can be, to expect.

And nothing but wretched Incon­sideration [Page 39] can make us Fearless of its being designed for a Presage and Fore­runner of other Calamities; while we continue so Bad a People, notwith­standing the Great Blessings, both Spiritual and Temporal, which our Nation hath had a long Enjoyment of, above all other Parts of Chri­stendom: And while most Countries about us have lain under Oppression and Tyranny, and been in Blood and Confusion: And notwithstanding our late most wonderful Deliverance, and the strange and unexpected Things which God hath since done for us, towards the Securing and the Per­fecting thereof.

The most serious People are much afraid, That Her Majesty is taken away from the Evil to come, when they Reflect upon the High Provocation, we have given to the [Page 40] Divine Majesty, by our Obstinate Aversion to the least Reformation, either of Manners, or of any thing Amiss, after all the Marvellous In­terpositions of Providence, in the Behalf both of our Church and State.

God saw Her to be incompara­bly too Good for a People, who would not Mend in the least by Her Ex­ample: And therefore what can we reasonably think, but that He took Her hence in just Iudgment to Us, tho' in infinite Mercy to Herself. At least, this sad Conclusion may be made from this Providence, if we should be as insensible of the Hand of God in our Loss of Her, as we have been of the Blessing we had in Her, while we enjoyed Her. And Her Kingdoms might have enjoyed Her more than Forty Years longer, had they better deserved Her.

[Page 41] Had Her Life been prolonged to such a Number of Years, it would have been no strange thing, consi­dering Her Temperance, and the Healthfulness and Strength of Her Constitution.

We can assign no mere Natural Reason, Why She might not at least have lived to the Age of Queen Elizabeth, who dyed before She was Seventy Years Old, and yet was Thirty Eight Years Elder than our Blessed Queen Mary.

And if it should prove, That this sad stroke should be lost upon us, what Cause may we have to dread, a yet Sadder! I mean the losing of our King too, who may well be called, The very Breath of our Nostrils, since the Prophet Jere­miah did so stile a Prince, who de­served not to be Named on the same day with Him.

[Page 42] And well may I say, that the Loss of King William, would be the Greatest, that (Humanly speak­ing) can befal us: Since those are worse than Blind, who will not see, That the Safety of these Nations, and of at least all our Protestant Neighbours, doth wholly, under God Almighty, depend upon His Precious Life; and must necessarily so do in the Eye of Reason, while our Cir­cumstances continue as they are A­broad.

Should God call the King from us, before our Danger from France is O­ver, I can not think but the Faces of many of his Professed Enemies would soon gather Blackness, at the Scaring Prospect which those who can see but one Inch before them, must needs then have a Clear sight of. And then it may Endanger their Losing that Sense they [Page 43] have left them, to Reflect upon their Prodigious insensibility of their own interest, whether they Ever Come or no, to have any Concernment for the Publick.

And what Cause have we to Pray Heartily for the Kings Long and Prosperous Reign Over us, from Af­fection to Him as well as to Our Selves! Since to Him, as Gods great Instrument, We Owe the Pre­servation of our Religion, and of all that is Dear to us!

To Conclude, Those who are so Ir­religious as to look no farther, than the Natural Cause of the Queens Death, are never like to be Bettered there­by. But Such as are duly Sensible of Gods Hand therein; who could easily have Prevented it without a Miracle, and by his Ordinary Provi­dence [Page 44] too, had He seen it in His infinite Wisdom Fit; Can not but See what an Awakening Providence This is, Loudly Calling upon us to At­tone His Wrath, by deep Humilia­tion, Hearty Repentance and Re­formation.

But let the Consequents of this Stroke be never so Sad, we ought, with Holy King David, To be dumb, and not open our Mouths, because it was Gods doing: And to say, Righteous art Thou O Lord, and just, most just, are Thy Judgments.

And indeed to have such a Bles­sing as This, Snatcht away from us, and one so Qualified in all respects, and so desirous too, to make us (in Conjunction with Her Royal Com­panion [Page 45] in the Throne) both a Good and a Flourishing People; and that in the very Flower of Her Years, and in an Age which could worst Spare Her; Religion being now at so low an Ebb, and Wickedness and Infidelity so Abounding; This is Such a Calamity, as no Considera­tions can Support Good People under it, like the Thoughts of His Hands being in it from whence we receive all our Good, and therefore ought to receive Evil: And the Assurance we have, that Our Migh­ty Loss is Her Infinite Gain.

Edward Gloucester.
JOB, II. X.‘What? Shall we receive Good at the Hand of God, and shall we not receive Evil?’

THe Wicked Speech of Iob's Wife in the foregoing Verse, was the occasion of these Words. Observ­ing his perseverance in his Integ [...]ty; and not onely his Patient Submission to, but also Thankful Acquiescence in the Will of God, under the Hea­viest of Calamities, she brake out into these most Impious and Blasphemous Words, as they are in our Transla­tion, Dost thou still retein thine Inte­grity? Curse God and dye. Where­upon [Page 2] the Holy Man gives her this Re­ply, Thou speakest as one of the foolish Women speaketh; What? Shall we re­ceive Good at the Hand of God, and shall we not receive Evil?

That speech of hers is variously rendred, but I shall onely Observe, that the Hebrew Word which is here Translated Curse, [...] properly signifies the contrary, Bless. The Old Latin Ver­sion so renders it in this Place; but I acknowledge so it doth too, in that saying of the Devil, He will Curse Thee to Thy face; where the same Word is used, but our Translation there must needs be right.

But I have thought it strange, that the Septuagint should render this Speech of Iob's Wife, [...]. Blapheme God and dye; where the Word may very well sig­nifie Bless; and yet render that other of the Devil, [...]. He will Bless Thee to thy face; where 'tis manifest it must signifie Curse; as it does in some few other Texts.

In short, I see no reason why we should not (with some of our most Learned Expositors) understand this [Page 3] Word here according to its Proper sig­nification; and so make Iob's Wife to say to him, Bless God and dye.

You may Object, Why then should these Words so strike Iob to the heart, as his Reply shews they did, viz. Thou speakest as one of the foolish Women speaketh; that is, Thou speakest like a Wicked Wretch.

I Answer, That 'tis too evident these Words were spoken Tauntingly, and therefore well deserved so severe a Rebuke: They may be thus Para­phras'd: I see thou art a wonderful Thankful Man: Thou canst bless God, when of a vastly Rich Man, He makes thee a Beggar; when of a Father, of no fewer than Ten Children, He makes thee Childless in a Moment: Go on to Bless Him still, since thou hast so great Encouragement; the Reward He designs thee being the destroying of thee, next after thy Children.

And this saying, Bless God and dye, used as a Taunt, I need not tell you was highly daring and presumptu­ous; tho' not so Horribly Profane as Curse God and dye.

[Page 4] In Discoursing on the Latter Part of Iob's Admirable Reply, What? Shall we receive Good at the Hand of God, and shall we not receive Evil? I shall endeavour to shew,

  • I. That Evil proceeds from the Hand of God as well as Good.
  • II. What is meant by Receiving E­vil at His Hand.
  • III. How our Receiving Good is a Motive to receive Evil at His Hand too: Or where in lies the Force of this Motive.
  • IV. I shall draw several Inferences from the whole.

First, That Evil proceeds from the Hand of God, as well as Good. Or, that Evil Events as well as good, are from the Divine Providence. You see I shall take it for granted that Good things are all from God;Quod ni i­t [...] sit, quid V [...]n [...]ra­ [...]ur quid Precamur Deos? De Nat. De [...]r. and well I may, since Tully could ask, Why do we Worship Him, or Pray to Him, if it were otherwise? And he thought, with Posidonius before him, that a Man cannot deny this, but he must [Page 5] be an Atheist; and therefore made no better Men of Epicurus and his Fol­lowers, tho' none did more Profess the Belief of a Deity.

But we will a little Enquire, Whe­ther Evil things do come also from God's Hand; because those who have the Highest Thoughts of the Divine Goodness, may be most apt to Que­stion how God can be the Author of any Evil; How out of the same Foun­tain can Flow, both Sweet Streams and Bitter; Or rather, How Bitter­ness can issue forth from the Fountain of Sweetness.

Now that this is very Accountable, will chiefly appear from what we are to say hereafter. Our present Busi­ness is to shew, That Evils do pro­ceed from the Hand of God; as also what Hand He hath in th [...]m.

That they do proceed from His Hand, is so evident from the Holy Scriptures, that nothing is more evi­dent. God Almighty saith by His Prophet Isaiah, Ch. 45. 7. I form the Light, and create Darkness; I make Peace, and create Evil: I the Lord [Page 6] do all these things. And by His Pro­phet Amos, Ch. 3. 6. Shall there be Evil in a City, and the Lord hath not done it? And by His Servant Moses, Deut. 32. 39. See now, that I even I am He, and there is no God with me; I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my Hand. And all the Threatnings in the Book of God do suppose this.

And therefore we there find Good Men, still acknowledging God's Hand in their Afflictions. Thus Upright Iob, upon his receiving the Tydings of his Prodigious Losses, saith, The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away, &c. Ch. 1. 21. The Lord hath taken away, as well as given. King David we find frequently ma­king such Acknowledgments. And our Blessed Saviour calls his Suffer­ings, The Cup which his Father had given him to drink.

And indeed the Pagans had gene­rally this sense of the Evils (especi­ally the Greater) that befell them, as well as of their Good Things: [Page 7] And therefore they had their Cathar­mata, and many Expiatory Rites, for the Pacifying of their Gods, when­soever Calamities of any kind did light upon them.

Now in order to our Understand­ing What Hand God hath in Evils, we are to take Notice.

1. That they do not ordinarily proceed immediately from His Hand: Nay we have no reason to believe that any Evils ever do, but 'tis pro­bable that those do proceed from In­visible second Causes, which do not from Visible.

2. Nor is it necessary to make E­vils, at least Ordinarily, the Effects of Second Causes, by any positive Act of God, whereby he useth those Causes as his Instruments in the most proper and strict sence of that Word. But it may be enough to say, upon the falling out of Disasters, that His good Providence did not interpose, in preventing those Evil Effects be­ing produced by their Causes. Nor can we certainly conclude, that ever God doth any more than withhold [Page 8] his wonted Protection in such Cases.

3. Evils may be truly of God's Ap­pointing, tho not caused by any Po­sitive Act of His. And whensoever His Providence suffers us to fall into such Circumstances, as that certain Evils inevitably light upon us, and no Care could prevent them; then, at least, we may look upon them as being of the Divine Appointment, no less than Permission.

And even those may be so, which are the Effects of other Peoples Wick­edness. As when the Pride, or Cove­tousness, or Malice of another makes me a Sufferer. For the Opportuni­ties and Advantages which a wicked Man may at any time have against me, are from the Divine Providence. So that, tho' it be infinitely unwor­thy of God, to infuse Evil Affecti­ons, Inclinations or Dispositions into any man, or to excite any one to Sin, yet He knowing such Affecti­ons and Inclinations to be in such Persons, and that they only want Objects or Opportunities for the Act­ing of them, He may make use of [Page 9] them, for the scourging of such Par­ticular Sinners, or for the Tryal of such or such of His Servants.

We have an Instance hereof in Shi­mei's Cursing King David. Upon A­bishai's saying, Why should this dead Dog Curse my Lord the King? Let me I pray thee go over, and take off his Head: The King thus Reply'd, Let him Curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David; who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?

David could not mean by these Words,2 Sam. 16. 9. that God had laid His Com­mand upon that Wretch to Curse him; This would have been to make him no Sinner herein, but His Obe­dient Servant. But his Meaning was, That God had by his Providence gi­ven Shimei this Opportunity of insult­ing over him, and venting his Spite upon him. And therefore the good King concluded that God in just Judg­ment did not scourge him with the Tongue of Shimei, as He had done by the Sword of his Son Absalom.

And thus God calls the Assyrian, The Rod of his Anger, Esay 10. 5, 6. and saith that [Page 10] He will send him against an Hypocri­tical Nation. And by this Phrase, we are to understand, God's so Order­ing it, as that all Difficulties and Dis­couragements should be removed out of his way to the invading of the Is­raelites; which He knew he was pre­pared in mind to do, as soon as he could have an Opportunity. Nor are we to think it strange that such Words, as Sending, Commanding, Doing, Determining, and many other like them, should be used onely to Ex­press, either removing Rubs out of the way to certain Evils, (whether Na­tural or Moral) or bare Permissions; since these ways of Speaking are He­brew Idioms, and as ordinary as can be in the Iewish Language: Of which there are innumerable Instances in Holy Scripture: I will Name one more, viz. that in Acts 4. 28. where God's Hand and Counsel and Deter­mination are said to be in the Horri­ble Death and Sufferings of His Ho­ly Child Iesus. But 'tis as evident as that 'tis impossible for God to be the Author of Sin, that those Phrases sig­nifie [Page 11] no more than His Permitting, or Decreeing to permit those Suffer­ings to be inflicted by His Enemies, and His so Ordering it in His Wise Providence, as that all Impediments to the Executing of their Malice, should be removed.

And we may well say, that God's Hand is in the Evils which befal Men, tho' there should be no positive Act of His Hand in them, since the Evils of which Iob saith, Shall we not re­ceive them at the Hand of God? Were all inflicted by the Hand of the De­vil, through His Permission. All his Heavy Calamities were the Effects of Satan's Malice, and consequent up­on God's not restreining him from venting it as he did.

It appears by the Story, that it was the Devil who stirred up the Sabeans and others to Rob him of his Cattle, and to destroy his Servants: That it was the Devil that brought down the Fire on the remainder of them, altho' it be called the Fire of God from Heaven: That it was the Devil who raised the Storm, which [Page 12] blew down the House upon his Sons and Daughters: That it was He who filled his Body with Blains & Botch­es. And these Terrible Evils were not onely Permitted by God, but Appoin­ted too, but His Appointment took place through His mere Permission: As knowing that Satan was enough his Enemy, to bring all these Cala­mities upon him, and worse too, if He would but suffer him. There is no more than Permission, or not hindering to be understood in that Saying of the Divine Majesty to him, Behold all that he hath is in thy Power, &c. Chap. 1. 12. Or in that, Behold he is in thine Hand, &c. Chap. 2. 6. Not that God gave him a Commission, or so much as Leave (or Licence) thus to Torment the Upright Man; He one­ly withdrew the Restreints he was before under, from thus Worrying him. This is evident from the Ac­count which the Devil himself gives of his having hitherto spared him, Chap. 1. 10. Hast thou not, saith he, made an Hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on [Page 13] every side? And whereas he saith in the next Verse, But put forth thine Hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will Curse thee to thy Face: It is plain, he meant no more by these Words, but Cease to protect him from my hand: And in so Expressing this his Meaning, he complyed with the fore-mentioned Hebrew Idiom, or Manner of Speaking.

Before we proceed further, Let us stop a while to take Notice, how in­finitely we are obliged to the Divine Protection; in that we find not our present State, far more Sad and Ca­lamitous than it is. Many Afflictions we meet with in this World, and sometimes very Heavy ones: But for One Exercise of our Patience, we should have a Thousand, and those much more intolerable than we have ever yet felt, did not the good Providence of God continually guard us; were not The Lord of Hosts with us; were not The God of Iacob our Defence and Refuge: There are not a few things in all pla­ces, which would be both Mischie­vous [Page 14] and Destructive to us, but for the Care which God Almighty takes of us, by the Ministry of His Angels, and very many other invisible Ways▪ We know, both by Observation and Experience, that there is no Creature so inconsiderable, as not to be able to make us Miserable, with the Di­vine Permission, or to put a Period to our Lives. And therefore that was a good Reply, which Theodorus made to Lysimachus, when he threat­ned to Kill him, viz. What a mighty Matter is that, the most contemptible things is as able to do this as thy self. The ill Accidents to which we are dayly liable, are innumerable; and so are the Natural Causes, both with­out us and within us, of a great Num­ber of Diseases; so that if they were not over-ruled by Providence (and that by such secret Means as make it impossible for us to understand how) we could never have one hours free­dom from Sickness, or Pain; and should be always running into Mis­chief.

But if the Devils were our onely Ene­mies, [Page 15] who are still watching all Ad­vantages against both our Souls and Bodies, were it not for the Divine Pro­tection, the Case of both would be most deplorable. St. Peter compares the Head of them to A Roaring Lyon, and saith, that he walketh about seek­ing whom he may devour. Of these ma­lignant Spirits, and their Malevolence to Mankind, the Pagans had an Un­doubted Tradition, & the poor Ameri­cans especially need no such Tradition, to whom, to this day, they make them­selves Visible, and make them feel sad Effects of their Malice. And we find enough in the History of the Gospel, to incline us to think it very proba­ble, that many of the Diseases, and other Evils which happen to us, are of their Procurement. And there needs no more, but God's saying to any one of them, concerning any of us, what he said of Iob, Behold they are in thine hand, to make this Life a very hell to us.

I say therefore, how unspeakably are we obliged to our Good God, for protecting us, as He doth, with His [Page 16] Watchful Eye, and Almighty Arm! We have seen that He needs not do any thing, nor Exert His Power in any one Act, to make our Being in this World most miserable. He needs, in Order thereto, onely not to conti­nue His Care of us; which the Bad as well as Good, and those who pro­voke Him every day, such is His Goodness and Long-suffering, are e­very Moment protected by; though not alike protected; nor the same Persons alwaies alike. And how fear­ful should we be of disobliging such a Friend, lest we at length provoke Him to pluck up His Hedge of Pro­tection!

Secondly, We come next to shew, What is meant by Receiving Evil at the Hand of God; which Iob's Que­stion here speaks to be a most neces­sary Duty.—Shall we not receive Evil? This implyeth these Four Things.

  • 1. Heartily Acknowledging the Hand of God, to be in the Evils that befal us.
  • [Page 17] 2. Submitting Patiently to His Will under them.
  • 3. Doing this also, Thankfully.
  • 4. Complying with God's Great End and Design, in them.

First, Heartily Acknowledging the Hand, or Providence of God, to be in the Evils which befal us. Since God's Hand is, as hath been shewed, in them, we must needs be obliged to receive them as from Him; and with a great sense of the Truth of that Saying of Eliphaz, Affliction cometh not forth of the Dust, neither doth Trouble spring out of the Ground: Or it is not to be ascribed merely to Earthly or Natu­ral Causes. And therefore, as we have observed, we find Pious Men in Scrip­ture, still owning God's Providence in their Afflictions.

Those consequently, who look no farther than the immediate Causes of them, or who look not beyond those which are Visible, cannot behave themselves like Religious Men under them, nor scarely like Men: But do too often resemble those silly Currs, that fly furiously upon the Stones [Page 18] which are flung at them, taking no Notice of the Hand from whence they come.

Those must either not believe that God takes care of Men, and deny that there is any such thing as Providence, (which is as bad as slat Atheism, if it be ever separated from it) who, when, for instance, they are visited with Sickness, think of no higher Cause thereof, than the noxious quality or quantity of what they have eaten or drank, or infectious Steams, or bad Air, or the like; and never consider, that none of these things could hurt them, had not God seen it good, not to keep them by some Providence or other out of Harms way, or not to Over-rule such Causes. And the like may be said of those, who, upon the Death of a dear Relative or Friend, are aware of no other Cause thereof, than the Nature of the Disease, or the Weakness of the Means which were used for the Cure thereof, or some ill Accident, &c. and it never enters in­to their thoughts, that this Person would have Recovered, had God seen [Page 19] it fit to prolong his or her Life: Which if He had, more effectual Me­dicines would have been applyed, or Success given to more ineffectual: Or, in a word, God would then have raised up the Patient by some Means or other, innumerable of which He hath at His Command; or have done it, if He had pleased, without Means.

He who suffers from the Hand of Malice, doth not suffer like a Pious Man, who looks not upon His Ene­my as God's Rod; who considers not, that as much ill Will as he hath, he could have no Power against him, ex­cept it were given him from Above; as our Blessed Saviour said to Pilate. And so we might proceed in other Instances.

Secondly, Receiving Evils at God's Hand implyeth also, Submiting pati­ently and quietly to His Will under them. Patient submission under Af­flictions is expressed by Accepting them, which is the same with Recei­ving them. If their Vncircumcised Heart be humbled, and they Accept of [Page 20] the Punishment of their Iniquity, &c. Lev. 26. 41. And they shall Accept of the Punishment of their Iniquity, v. 43.

We had as good, not to Acknow­ledge the Hand of God in our Affli­ctions, as not to submit to His Hand. Nay, in this respect it is worse, to Murmur and Repine at them, while we acknowledge a Divine Providence in them, than to have no belief here­of, viz. That Repining at any thing which we believe God hath an Hand in, is Charging Him foolishly. 'Tis at least, a Tacit and Virtual Accusing God Almighty of Injustice, or Un­kindness, or want of Wisdom.

Impatience under God's Hand must necessarily proceed from some false and unworthy Notion of Him; nor can we grudge at any Dispensation of His Providence, while we have a Sense of this, That God can do no­thing, but what is most fit to be done. Now it is nothing so great a Reflexion upon the Divine Honour, to deny that God concerneth Himself in our Suf­ferings, as, acknowledging it, to think that He can do what is Vnworthy of [Page 21] Himself, and can be Cruel or Unrigh­teous in any of them: Or can at any time Act unlike to an Absolutely Per­fect Being. Nay Plutarch would tell us, that it casts less Dishonour upon God, to deny His very Being, than to conceive such a thing as this of Him: For He saith, That he had rather the World should hereafter say there was never such a Man as Plutarch, than that Plutarch was an Vnjust and Naughty Man. And I am sure, every Good Man will be of his Mind.

So that there is no Duty more rea­sonable, and therefore more indispens­able, than quiet Submission under the Severest of Providences; which doth always imply a Sense of their being Good, as Severe as they may seem to be; and no less Good really, than they are Severe seemingly and in ap­pearance.

And therefore, where as we have observed, that we still find good men Acknowledging the Hand of God in their Sufferings, so we have them as constantly expressing their Submission thereto.

[Page 22] Iob was a most Admirable Exam­ple of Patience, considering what a prodigious Sufferer he was; tho' in the last of his terrible Tryals, he dis­covered too much weakness.

Old Ely, when the Prophet Samuel had told him the Dreadful Things, which God had threatned against his House, immediately expressed his Sub­mission in these Words, It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth Him good, 1 Sam. 3. 18.

King David under a very sore Af­fliction, which he called the Stroke and the Blow of God's Hand, thus ex­pressed his Submission; I was dumb, I opened not my Mouth, because Thou didst it, Psal. 39. 9. And there is another very Remarkable and Affecting In­stance given by him hereof, when he was not onely forced to flee from Ie­rusalem, but in Eminent Danger of losing his Kingdom, by reason of the Powerful Conspiracy of His own Son against Him. If, saith He, I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me again, and shew me both the Ark of God and his Habitation: But [Page 23] if He thus saith, I have no Delight in thee, Behold here am I, let Him do what seemeth good unto Him, 2. Sam. 15. 25, 26.

But as, all things considered, ne­ver was there such a Sufferer as our Blessed Lord, so never was there a Pattern of Patience and Submission, comparable to that which He hath set us. Never were worse Words heard from Him, than such as these: If this Cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, Thy Will be done. Not my Will, but Thy Will be done. The Cup which my Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it? And His Example is again and again proposed to us, as a great Motive to Patience, and the resigning of our selves to the Divine Will under all Afflicting Pro­vidences, Let us, saith the Author to the Hebrews, run the Race that is set before us with Patience, looking unto Iesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith; who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, de­spising the Shame, &c. Chap. 12. 1, 2. For consider Him, who endured such [Page 24] contradiction of Sinners against Him­self, lest ye be wearyed and faint in your Minds, ver. 3. And for as much, saith the Apostle St. Peter, as Christ hath suffered for us in the Flesh, Arm your selves also with the same Mind, 1 Epist. 4. 1.

Thirdly, In Receiving Evil at Gods Hand, is likewise implyed Thankful, as well as Patient Submission. It is evident, that Iob intended this too, in saying, Shall we not receive Evil? Seeing his Wifes upbraiding him with his Blessing God in these words, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the Name of the Lord, did occasion that Reply to her.

Nor are we to think, that this his Blessing of God, upon his receiving such Woful Tydings, was more than his Duty; as greatly honoured as he hath most deservedly been in all Ages for it: For 'tis as highly Reasonable, that We should receive Evils thank­fully, as that we should be Submissive under them; tho' it is more difficult.

Not that an Affliction as such is [Page 25] matter of Thankfulness; but it is so, Considered as designed by God for our Good, our greatest Good; as will hereafter be shewed.

Good People find it a very Easie thing, to thank God heartily for Af­flictions after the Smart of them is over, upon their Experimenting Ad­vantage to their Souls by them: But there is the same Reason to Thank God for His designing us Good, that there is for our actual receiving it. I have every whit as much reason, when I am Sick or in Pain, or when I see one so who is dear to me, or when I have lost such a one; to Praise God for intending such Sufferings for my Spiritual Advantage, as I have so to do, after I have found this Advan­tage by them.

No Man can doubt, but that Iob was Obliged to be Thankful for his Afflictions (as Heavy as they were) after he was raised to much more Plen­tiful and Happy Circumstances by the means of them; and therefore it is Evident that it became him so to be, while he continued under the weight [Page 26] of them. Because the Notion he had of God assured him, that he Meant great good to him by them; Possi­bly in this World, but Certainly in that to come; which is far better.

All Afflictions as such are Evils, as Iob calls them, and therefore it would be Harsh Doctrine to say, that we ought to Bless God for them Consi­dered under that Notion; but it Sounds no more Harshly to say, that we are bound to be heartily Thank­ful for them, as they are Means of Grace, and Divine Methods for the more and more qualifying us for the Heavenly Happiness, than it doth to tell me, That my Surgeon deserves not only Thanks but a Reward too, for the Torment he gives me, as that Torment is designed in order to my Cure.

Considering Afflictions under the notion of Medicines for the Curing of our Spiritual Maladies, or as Try­als for the Exercise of our Graces, they are not onely Good, but some of the Best things; but I shall not need to say, that all Good things are [Page 27] matter of Thanksgiving; nor that our Thankfulness for them ought to be proportioned to the degrees of Goodness that are in them.

Fourthly, It is implyed too in Re­ceiving Evils at Gods Hand; that we Chearfully Comply with Gods Ends and Designs in inflicting them.

We now intimated that they are designed for Good to us, but the Con­currence of our Endeavours with the Divine Grace, is absolutely necessary to the accomplishing of Gods good Designs upon us. No Means of Grace can signify any good to us, without our making use of them as Such.

We said but now, That Patient Submission is Expressed by Accepting the Punishment of our iniquities; and now we add that Compliance also with the Ends thereof, the Chief of which is our Reformation, was intended by that Form of speech. Nor can we be properly said to Receive Evil from God, or to Accept thereof, if we are meerly Passive under it; or at least we then receive it in vain, as the Apostle [Page 28] beseecheth us not so to receive the Grace of God.

Not to improve Afflictions to our Spiritual Advantage, seeing this is the Design of them, is to despise them; which Eliphaz warned Iob against. Happy is the man, saith he, whom God Correcteth, therefore despise not thou the Chastening of the Lord, Iob 5. 17. Which is as much as if he had said, Seeing God doth mean the greatest Good to Men in Correcting them, be sure thou so improve this His Se­vere Correction; as not to frustrate His End therein. And Excellent was that Advice which Elihu gave him, Ch. 34. 31, 32. Surely it is meet to be said unto God I have born Chastise­ment, I will not offend any more; That which I see not teach Thou me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.

Some may think, that we have o­mitted one Great thing, in Shewing what is implyed in Receiving Evils at Gods Hand, and that is Rejoycing and Glorying in them; which is more than being Thankful: For there are [Page 29] several Texts in the New Testament, which speak this likewise to be a Du­ty. As particularly St. Iames saith, Ch. 1. 2. Count it all Ioy, when you fall into diverse Temptations, or Try­als. St. Paul saith, We Glory in Tri­bulations, Rom. 5. 3. And I will ra­ther Glory in mine Infirmities, 2 Cor. 12. 9. And other passages there are to the same purpose.

But in Answer hereunto, such Ex­pressions doubtless have not reference to those Afflictions, which God lay­eth upon us in the Ordinary Course of His Providence, but to those par­ticularly which Christians meet with, for the Testimony of a good Consci­ence, and for Righteousness Sake; which were the Chief sufferings of the Apostles, and the Primitive Christi­ans. And the Apostle doth plainly intimate, in the words next follow­ing those I last cited, that this sort of Afflictions were those he there meant, viz. Therefore I take Pleasure in Infirmities, in Reproaches, in Ne­cessities, in Persecutions, in Distresses, for Christ's Sake. Or in Suffering all these for Christ's Sake.

[Page 30] And those words of our Saviour may well lead us, thus to understand the forementioned and the like Texts, viz. Blessed are ye, when Men shall hate you, and when they shall Separate you from their Company, and shall Re­proach you, and Cast out your Name as Evil, for the Son of Man's Sake. Rejoyce ye in that day and Leap for joy: For behold your Reward is great in Heaven; For in the like manner did their Fathers unto the Prophets. Luke 6. 22, 23. And there are three Special Reasons, why Afflictions that are Suffered upon this account, should be Rejoyced and Gloried in. Name­ly,

1. Because infinite Honour is done us, when we are called forth to Suf­fer for the Sake of Christ. Where­fore it is said, Acts 5. 41. That The Apostles departed from the presence of the Council, Rejoycing that they were accounted worthy to Suffer for His Name.

2. Because such Sufferings have the most Glorious Reward Promised to them. Which you now saw is the [Page 31] Reason, which our Saviour gives, why such Sufferers should Leap for joy.

3. Because a Great Reward doth likewise accompany Such Sufferings, viz. A mighty Presence of Gods Spirit, whereby the Sufferers are Strengthned with Might in their in­ward Man. And this was the Rea­son the Apostle gave, why he would most gladly Glory in his Infirmities; for it follows, That the Power of Christ may rest upon me: And why he took Pleasure in Reproaches, in Necessities, in Persecutions, in Distresses for Christs Sake, viz. Because, When I am Weak then am I Strong. Or then do I find Great Strength from Above, when my Sufferings do most Exceed my natural Strength. Again, St. Pe­ter saith, If ye be Reproached for the Name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of Glory, and of God, resteth up­on you. So that Glorying in Tribu­lations, in such Tribulations, is, if we make Comparisons, rather a Pri­vilege than a Duty.

As it is a very dangerous thing, [Page 32] to make Christianity an Easier Re­ligion than Christ hath made it, so is it to make it a Harder too: For this tends greatly to the Discourage­ing of men, and the frighting them away from it. But nothing could more incline us to think it an im­practical Religion, than to be told that one of its Precepts is, That we must Rejoyce, Triumph and Glory under whatsoever Afflictions we are Exercised with. So that, when I am Tormented with a Disease, when I have lost a most dear Relative or Friend, or see such a one in Misery; When a Great Publick Blessing (such a one as That which we are now Lamenting) is taken away from us, it is not Enough to submit qui­etly to the Hand of God, nor to Thank Him for His good and gracious De­signs in such fore Tryals, towards those who shall duly improve them, but I must also Rejoyce and Glo­ry in them; or I cannot Suffer like a Christian: This in Truth is much too Severe Doctrin. We must needs say of it, what the Disciples said [Page 33] in another Case, This is an hard say­ing, who can hear it? If this were One of the Duties (as it is not) to which Christianity does oblige us, we could not affirm that there is no ground for this saying of Trypho the Iew to Iustin Martyr, viz. Those Pre­cepts of yours, which are conteined in the Book which you call the Gospel, are [...], So Great and Won­derful, that I suspect no Mortal can observe them.

I think it here sit to suggest this also, That neither are we obliged to behave our selves under Afflictions, as if we had no Sense of Pain. This is to suffer like Stoicks, not like Christi­ans. Afflictions are painful things; They are not for the present (as the Apostle saith) joyous but grievous; and if they were not Grievous they would not be Afflictions. And when a man is in pain, to carry it as if he felt nothing, is so far from being Brave, or so much as Commenda­ble, that it is to play the Hypocrite. Our Saviour never taught us such [Page 34] Doctrin, as not by Precept, so nei­ther by His Example; since He Him­self expressed a sharp Sense of Pain. And so Tender was his Nature, that when He saw others weep for His dead Friend Lazarus, He could not forbear weeping with them, altho' He intended presently to restore him to Life.

And therefore it is so far from be­ing Blame-worthy in Us, that it be­comes us to shed tears, and to use other Natural Expressions of Grief under Afflictions; and as they are greater or less, to express more or less Sense of them. Onely we must do all that lies in us not to be immo­derate Mourners: That is, we ought not to give way to so great a De­jection of Spirit, as will disable us for those Duties which an Afflicted State calleth for.

And as to Weeping, I would be so far from Checking an Afflicted Person for it, that I would Encou­rage him to it, if he can weep. For Experience tells us, that Tears give a Vent to Grief, and so give some [Page 35] Ease. But yet we may weep too much, for Excessive Weeping raiseth Vapours, and as much disturbs the Head, as Moderate does relieve the Heart.

And thus much for our Second Head of Discourse: What is here meant by Receiving Evil at God's Hand?

Thirdly, We shall now shew, How Receiving Good at the Hand of God, is a Motive to Receive Evil: Or, where­in lyeth the Force of this Motive.

The Force thereof lies in these Four Particulars; which singly, and much more Altogether, do make it very Strong and Powerful.

  • I. The Evils we Receive at God's Hand, are exceeding Few in Compa­rison of the Good Things.
  • II. Our Good Things are all Unde­served, even the least of them; but we deserve incomparably more Evil Things than we meet with in this world, and incomparably Worse Things.
  • III. We Need Evil Things as well as, and no less than, Good Things. Which will lead us to shew, That,
  • [Page 36] IV. Evil things are Ordered and Appointed to us by God, from the same Principle that Good things are: And therefore the Evil things which come from His Hand are Good, considered as coming from thence.

First, The Evils which we receive at the Hand of God, are exceeding Few in comparison of the Good things, which are innumerable. Our Good things are so many, that we are dayly load­ed with them. Blessed be the Lord, saith the psalmist, who darly loadeth us with His Benefits, Psal. 68. 19.

And he thus addresseth himself to God, Psal. 40. 5. Many, O Lord my God, are Thy Wonderful Works which Thou hast done, and Thy Thoughts which are to us ward: They cannot be reckon­ed up in Order unto Thee; if I should declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

It is impossible for us to draw an Inventory of the Thousandth part of those Blessings, which in a very short time we all receive from the Boun­ty of Heaven. Every Minute of our Lives is full of Mercies, nor can we [Page 37] see any Place, which doth not a­bound with Effects and Expressions of the Divine Benignity: Whether we look upwards or downwards, or round about us, or within us, as well as without us. And all Considerative Persons are able to make a large Ca­talogue of more special Favours, from time to time conferred upon them, over and above those which are the Common Portion of their Fellow Creatures.

Nay, as it is certainly beyond the Ability of a Finite Understanding, to comprehend all the individual Bles­sings which every Man is oblig'd to God for; so is it too much for an Humane Understanding to number all the several Species and Sorts of them.

We can begin with Meat, Drink and Cloaths, Health and Strength, the Use of our Reason, and many Bodily and Mental Endowments: And we can proceed to Friends and Relations, to Preventions of Evils feared, and Deliverances from Evils felt, &c. But when we have gone as far as we can, we can not say how [Page 38] much we have fallen short of filling up the Account; and are fain to con­tent our selves at last, with summing up all in such Generals as these, Ne­cessaries, Conveniences and Superflu­ities: Things Profitable, Honoura­ble and Pleasant: Bodily and Spiri­tual good things; or those which re­late to our Well-being in this World, and to our Eternal Happiness in the other.

Now what an Argument is this, to perswade us to do what we shew­ed is implyed, in Receiving Evil at God's Hand! viz. For now and then a Days Cloudy Weather, I have many Weeks of Sun-shine: For a few Weeks Sickness, I have many Months, and per­haps Years of Health: Evils fall upon me in thin Drops, but Good things come down in plentiful Showers; Or I have many Thousands of Good things, for One of Evil.

This Consideration must needs make us sensible, that it is the most disingenuous thing in the World, to forget our Obligations to God for an infinite Number of Good things, by [Page 39] means of the Greatest of those (Com­paratively speaking) extremely few Evils, from which His Providence does not protect us.

Nay, there is One Gift of GOD, which Alone will Weigh down all the Temporal Evils that do, or can befal us; Namely, That of His own Son: How then are they Out-weigh­ed by this, and all the other Fruits of the Divine Mercy and Bounty put together!

Secondly, Another Consideration that adds much to the force of this Motive, is, That our Good things are all Undeserved, even the very least of them: But we deserve all the Evils we Suffer, and incomparably more and greater, than are inflicted in this Life. There is no good man, but will rea­dily say with Iacob, Gen. 32. 10. I am not Worthy of the least of all the Mercies, and of all the Truth, which Thou hast sh [...]wed unto Thy Servant.

It is impossible that such poor Im­potent Creatures as We are, should be able to do any Service, whereby we can Challenge the least Reward [Page 40] at the Hands of our Creator, upon the account of Merit.

Indeed the notion of a Creature is inconsistent with the least deserv­ing from Him. A creature owing all that it is, and all the Power it hath, to its Maker. It being a per­fectly Dependent thing, and Unable to Act or to Subsist one Moment, but by virtue of its dependence up­on its First Cause. And therefore the Glorious Angels themselves must needs acknowledge, that they are obliged to the Divine Grace for all the Blessings they Enjoy.

And as the notion of a Creature Excludeth all Merit in reference to God, so doth the notion of a God, render it impossible for a Creature to Merit of Him. For that Notion being Absolute Perfection, and Infinite Self-Sufficiency, it is impossible to do God a Kindness; and for him to be Beholden to any one. Can a Man, saith Eliphaz, be Profitable to God, as he that is Wise may be Profitable unto himself? Is it any Pleasure, or ad­dition of Happiness, to the Almigh­ty, [Page 41] that thou art Righteous? Or is it Gain to Him, that thou makest thy ways Perfect? Job 21. 2, 3. And there­fore I say, there can be no proper Meriting at His Hands.

But on the Contrary, the Evils we receive are all Deserved. We can­not but be Convinced of our ill de­serts, when we Consider that we are Lapsed and Apostate Creatures; and how we have Transgressed the Eter­nal Laws of Righteousness, and Af­fronted the Great Sovereign of the World, by innumerable Acts of Dis­obedience. He knows not what Sin is; what Horrible Injustice is in it; how Intolerably Presumptuous a thing it is, for Creatures to oppose their wills to the Wise and Good Will of their Great Creator; nor does he know what Prodigious In­gratitude, nor what Desperate Mad­ness, every Wilful Sin against God Implyeth, who is not sensible that the Worst of Evils are deserved by him.

And whosoever have a due Sense of their Sins, will say whilst under [Page 42] the Heaviest Calamities with Nehe­miah, in the Name of the Rebellious Israelites, How be it, Thou Lord art just in all that is come upon us, for Thou hast done Right, but we have done Wick­edly, Ch. 9. 33. And with Ezra, Thou hast punished us less than our Iniquities deserve, Chap. 9. 13.

And as in the General, all Kinds of Evils are deserved by us, as we have been more or less Guilty of Wilful sinning, so whatsoever par­ticular Evils we at any time fall un­der, we are, I doubt, (ordinarily at least) Conscious to our selves of having more especially deserved each of them, by such and such Particu­lar Sins. Who, for instance, when he is cast upon a Bed of Sickness, is not sensible that he deserveth to be deprived of his Health, by ha­ving too much abused it while he en­joyed it; or by having been too un­thankful for it? Who when he hath lost a Dear Relative, doth not, or ought not, to Reflect upon his ha­ving over-loved him, or not having had a due value for the Blessing he [Page 43] had in him; or not having dischar­ged his duty towards him, &c. A­gain, where is that Man to be found, who, when he has Susteined a great Loss in his Estate, is not compelled by his Conscience to acknowledge that this is very just upon him, for his having made it Serviceable to some Lust or other, or his having made an Idol of it, and Preferred it before God; or for doing too little good with it, or for minding the great Concerns of his Soul and the other Life, the Less for it? Who, when he is wronged in his Good-Name, can say he deserves not to suffer in this kind from the Providence of God, either for having so wronged Others; or for not being so tender as he ought to have been of their Reputation; or for having been too forward, to take up Reports against men, without good Evidence; or over-valuing his own Credit, and Priding himself therein; or for not having Endeavoured as he ought, to promote the interest of Reli­gion thereby; nor Imployed it to those good Ends and Purposes, upon the [Page 44] account of which a good Name in the World is chiefly desirable?

Now what Stronger Arguing can there be than this? Do we receive good things in so great an Abundance, from the Hand of God, when our Merits could not Claim the very least of them; and is it then Reasonable that we should think much of receiv­ing Evil things also from the same Hand; when our Hearts Accuse us of having deserved every one of them, and much greater Evils too, than have ever befallen us?

I will bear, saith the Prophet, the Indignation of the Lord, because I have Sinned against Him, Micah Ch. 7. 9.

Thirdly, It adds still more Force and Strength to this Motive, to Consider, That We need Evil things as well as Good, and no less than Good things. Afflictions are needful for all Sorts of People: For the Bad; for the more Imperfectly Good, and even for the very Best.

I. They are Needful, and most Ne­cessary, for Bad People. For those who live without God in the World; [Page 45] who make none, or but little Con­science of their Ways; who live in great Forgetfulness of their being Sub­ject to Gods Sovereign Authority, of their Continual Dependance up­on Him, both for their Well-being and their Continuance in Being, and of their Unspeakable Obligations to Him; Who are alienated from the Life of God, and wholly addicted to the Animal and Sensual Life, and Mind­less of the Concerns of their Immor­tal Souls.

Afflictions are so necessary for such as these, that no other Means are like to be Effectual to their Conversion, to the Opening of their Eyes, and the turning them from Darkness to Light, and from the Power of Satan to God, Except they are inforced by them.

Afflictions are in their own nature apt to make men Serious, and to put Vain People upon Considering, as well as by their being backed with the Di­vine Grace. They are most Proper Means to this End, as they force Sin­ners to retire from their Naughty Companions, and from their Sports [Page 46] and Pastimes (especially if they are very Smarting and Painful) and from all their Secular Employments too, by setting their hearts on which, they are continually diverted from concerning themselves in the Affairs of Religion and the other World; and as they render all Carnal and Worldly Delights and Pleasures un­savoury to them. Afflictions do al­so naturally Excite men to Call upon God, especially when they are sensi­ble that He alone is able to Help them; and Awaken their Consciences, and make them Reflect upon their many Miscarriages, as having Provoked Him to inflict them. And they as naturally put them upon making Strong Resolutions to amend their Lives for the Atoning of His displea­sure.

Thus the Woman of Zarephath, upon the suddain death of her Child, Cryed out to the Prophet, Art thou come unto me to call my Sin to remem­brance, and to Slay my Son? 1 Kings 17. 18.

And thus Iosephs Brethren, upon [Page 47] the Severity he used towards them, Said one to another, we are verily Guil­ty Concerning our Brother; in that we Saw the Anguish of his Soul when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. Gen. 42. 21.

God saith, Hosea 5. 15. I will go and return to my Place, or I will withdraw my Protection from them, till they acknowledge their Offence, and seek my Face: In their Affliction they will seek me Early.

And it is said, Psal. 78. 34. When He Slew them, then they Sought Him, and they Returned and Enquired after God. And they Remembred that God was their Rock, and the High God their Redeemer. Or, then they cal­led this to mind, who till they were Afflicted, could never be perswaded to Consider it.

As Stubborn a Wretch as Pharoah was, his Hard heart was quickly from time to time Softned by the Plagues, and it reteined its Softness under each Plague, till it was removed.

When the Prodigal Son was brought [Page 48] to extream Penury, he soon came to himself and Returned to his Father.

King Manasseh was a Prodigy of Wickedness, yet When he was in Affliction (as the Text saith) he be­sought the Lord his God, and Humbled himself greatly before the God of his Fa­thers. And Prayed unto Him, and He was intreated of him, &c. Then Ma­nasseh knew that the Lord He is God. Or he had a Powerful Sense thereof upon his Mind, 2 Chron. 33. 12, 13.

Afflictions are so necessary to the Conversion of Sinners, that those who have spent many years in a Loose Sort of Life, are very rarely Effectu­ally Reclaimed otherways, than by Gods Blessing upon some Sharp Af­fliction.

II. Evil things, or Afflictions, are very Needful and Necessary for Imperfectly Good, as well as for Bad, People. They greatly need them, in order to their Growing in Grace, and rising to higher degrees of Goodness.

Particularly, in order to their be­ing more Watchful against Tempta­tions to Sin. This Experience King [Page 49] David had of the Benefit of Afflicti­ons. Before I was Afflicted, saith he, I went Astray, but now have I kept thy Word. Psal. 119. 67.

In order to the more weaning them from this Vain World, and the Mor­tifying of all Remainders of Sensu­ality.

In order to the more Humbling them, under a Sense of their Frailty and Impotence, and their more close dependence upon God.

In order to the more Softning of their Hearts, and more opening their Bowels of Compassion towards others in Affliction. None have such a sym­pathy with their Suffering Brethren, as those who are made sensible of the Sadness of their Condition, by their own Feeling.

In order to their more loving of God, and Trusting in Him. To which the Experience they have had of Di­vine Supports under Afflictions, and Deliverances out of them, doth great­ly Contribute.

In short, by Afflictions The Ini­quity of Jacob is purged, and this is [Page 50] all the Fruit, to take away his Sin. Isaiah 22. 14.

III. Evil things are needful too even for the Eminently Good. And that, as upon some of the foremen­tioned Accounts, so more Especial­ly,

1. For Prevention. For which End the most Healthy Persons do some­times take Physick. St Paul, as E­minent a Saint as he was, had a Mes­senger of Satan sent to Buffet him, lest he should be Exalted above measure, through the Abundance of his Revela­tions, as he tells us, 2 Cor. 12. 7.

There are none so Good as to be out of all danger, while they remain in this World; as to be able to bear long and uninterrupted Prosperity, without being lyable to be the worse for it in several respects.

Who is so Humble, who so Hea­venly minded, as to have no Reason to fear his being too much Opinio­nated of himself, and loving the world too much, if God did not sometimes mind him what an infirm and weak Creature he is, by Afflictions of one [Page 51] kind or other, and never imbittered his Comforts to him?

2. The Best People need them like­wise, for the Tryal and Exercise of some Graces and Virtues, which can­not be exerted without them. What Exercise can there be of the Grace of Contentment, while all things succeed according to a man's desire and ex­pectation? Of Patience, while he feels no pain? Of Submission to God's Will, while God never Crosseth his Own Will? Of Meekness and Forgiveness of Enemies, while he hath no Ene­mies to forgive, or meets with no Pro­vocations from them? And this leads me to Add,

3. That the Best do need Afflicti­ons, in Order to their doing so much the more Credit to Religion, and the more benefiting the World by their Examples. For we have now seen, that they cannot be Examples of all Virtues without them.

4. The Best need them also, to make them so much the more to Va­lue, and consequently to be the more Thankful for, the Good things they [Page 52] enjoy. There is no Man so good, but he prizeth Health the more, for be­ing some times Sick. No man can be so affected with his Obligations to God for any Blessing, who never was without it, as he who hath felt how uneasie and grievous a thing it is to want it.

Nay, were there no Life after this, we should think tolerable Evils necessary to give the better Gusto, & a more plea­sing Relish to the Gratifications of our Senses. The more Hungry or Thirsty a Man is, the greater is the Pleasure he takes in Eating or Drinking. How pleasant is a Bed or Couch to a Man tyred with hard Labour; a cool Shade to one parched with Heat; Liberty after Confinement; the Enjoyment of a dear Relation or Friend, after a long Absence; and even Indolence or mere Ease, after great Pain! As Socrates observed, in his last Discourse with his Friends, after he was rid of his Shackles.

And perhaps there are not many Evils, which we are able to bear with any patience, and that continue not [Page 53] over-long, which do not make us a good Recompence, by the much more pleasant Enjoyment we have of the Opposite Good things, upon their Leaving us.

Fourthly, The last Consideration I named, which gives great Weight to the Motive in the Text, To Receive Evil things at the Hand of God, is, That they are Ordered and Appointed to us by God, from the Self-same Prin­ciple that Good things are, viz. That of Good Will. And therefore, as was said, the Evils which come from Him are Good, as they come from Him.

There is an Excellent Saying to this Purpose of an Heathen Philoso­pher▪ viz:In Epi­ctet. En­chirid. c. 34. p. 167 Simplicius, We do not say that the Divine Iustice is the Cause of Evil, but of Good; because the Evil which proceeds from thence, is in order to Good.

We have seen that all sorts of Men do need Evil things, as well as Good; and we are now to shew, that God inflicts them, because we need them.

We have shewed, That they are [Page 54] Spiritual Physick, for the Cure of the Maladies of our Souls; and we find that for this Reason God sends them, in Hebr. 12. 9, 10. The Apostle tells us in some of the foregoing Verses, That in the general, Gods End in his Chastizements is good; that Good-will is the Principle from whence they proceed; and in these he shews parti­cularly, that God designs our Spiri­tual Advantage by them. Further­more, saith he, we have had Fathers of our Flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much more be in Subjection to the Fa­ther of Spirits [...] and Live? For they verily for a few days chastened us, af­ter their own pleasure; but He for our Profit, that we might be Partakers of His Holiness.

We have shewn, That Afflictions are needful, not onely for Correction, in Order to our Amendment, but, for Tryal too; and we read that this End also God hath in them, 1 Pet. 1. 6, 7.—Now for a Season (if need be) ye are in Heaviness through mani­fold Temptations: That the Tryal of [Page 55] your Faith being much more precious than that of Gold which perisheth, tho' it be tryed with Fire (or, it being of much more Advantage to your Faith, than the Tryal of Gold is to Gold, because it will wear out, tho' it can bear the trial of Fire) might be found unto Praise, & Honour, & Glory, at the appearing of Iesus Christ. And 1 Pet. 4. 12. Think it not strange concerning the Fiery Tryal, which is to Try you, &c. or, is designed by God for this purpose.

God is alike good in the Evils He inflicts, & the Good things he con [...]ers upon us; as the Physitian hath the same Good design towards his Patient, in his Griping Physick and Comforting Cordials: He equally aims at the Re­covery of his Health, in making him Uneasy with the One, and Chearing his Spirits with the Other.

And therefore Considering this Last with the foregoing Particulars; nay, tho' there were no other but this to be considered, well might Iob say, Shall we receive Good at the Hand of God, and shall we not receive Evil? And infi­nite [Page 56] reason have we, not only to be Patient under Evil things, but to be Thankful for them too; seeing they are not so Evil Considered in them­selves, as they are Good Considering their Design; seeing, if we will Com­ply therewith, they are not more painful than they are profitable, nor so Injurious to our Outward Man, as Beneficial to our Inward.

I will Conclude this Argument with the Words of another of the Philoso­phers, viz.Com­ment. in Epictet. l. 2. c. 6. p 117. Epictetus in Arrian; O Man, what dost thou? Why dost thou not rid thy self of all this Trouble? Adventure at last, with eyes lifted up to God, to say unto Him; Vse me, O God, for the future at Thine own Plea­sure, Thou hast my freest Consent. I am of the same Mind that Thou art, I have a Mind to nothing but what Thou thinkest Good. Lead me whither Thou wilt, Cloath me as Thou pleasest. Wilt Thou have me bear an Office, or shall I live a private Life? Must I stay, or must I fly? Shall I be Poor, or shall I be Rich? I am ready to Obey, I will defend Thee against all the World. I [Page 57] will make an Apology for Thy Provi­dence about these things to every Body. I say that all is Good, because Thou art so. What could he have said better, had he been a Christian?

But to prevent Mistakes, I desire it may be observed, that I have not said that in whatsoever Evils men may Suffer, God aimeth at the benefit and advantage of the Sufferers; for had I affirmed this I could not have justi­fied it: There being some Evils which we have cause to look upon as whol­ly Iudgments, and as proceeding from mere Vengeance, in reference to those on whom they are inflicted. As when a Notoriously wicked Wretch is Cut off in the very Act of some Horrible Wickedness. Instances of this kind are not only to be found in the Sacred Records, but our Own Age hath produced such, and Possibly no Age hath been without them. And when provoking Sinners are taken a­way in their Sins, without any Pre­vious Warning. But it is notwith­standing most true, that God Almigh­ty's Design is Good in all Evils; for [Page 58] when He means not the Good of the Sufferers, He intends a more Gene­ral and Publick Good: That all Spectators of such Judgments, and those to whom the Notice of them shall come, may be Scared by them from those Impious Practises which drew them down.

But I will add, That those have not the least reason to fear, that E­vil things of any nature whatsoever, have fallen upon them in mere Iudg­ment, who do not feel themselves gi­ven up to Hardness of heart; by which Phrase we are to understand Pervers­ness of Will, or to a Reprobate Sense▪ but find that their Afflictions have a good influence upon their Minds; that they make them more Serious, and Excite in them good Inclinations, and Awaken them to Consider the things which belong to their Peace, and Eternal Happiness.

Fourthly, We are now come to the Inferences, which are to be drawn from the Doctrine we have deliver­ed.

[Page 59] First, I Infer from thence, how we are to Pray Against Afflictions, viz. Not Absolutely, but Conditionally, and with intire Submission.

That it is Lawful to deprecate them, we are well assured, in that we find not only the best Men so doing in H. Scripture, but also our Blessed Saviour Himself. He did so, Iohn 12. 27. Now is my Soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father Save me from this Hour. And He doth the like, Matth. 26. 39. O my Father, if it be Possible, let this Cup pass from me.

But we have also His Example, for Praying against the Bitter Cup Conditionally, and with Submission to the Will of His Father. This is Im­plyed in those words, if it be possi­ble: That is, to give it in the words of Grotius, if it be Consistent with Thy Decrees, that by any other Means Thy Glory, and the Salvation of Mankind, may be Equally Provided for. And this Condition, we have in the Ex­pressest terms in the latter part of that Verse, Nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt. Again, V. 42. O [Page 60] my Father, if this Cup may not pass away Except I drink it, Thy Will be done. And V. 44. it is said, He went away and Prayed the third time, Say­ing the same words.

And the same Submission is Imply­ed in the Text first cited; For after our Lord had said, Father Save me from this Hour, and so expressed His Natural Aversion thereunto, it follows, But for this Cause came I un­to this Hour. Which is as much as to say, But being assured that it is Thy Pleasure that I must undergo this ter­rible Death, I heartily Submit. But there are others who read these words, Father Save me from this Hour, with an Interrogation Point, & so they con­ceive Him thus to speak, What shall I say? Shall I say, Father Save me from this Hour? No I will not, as well knowing that Thou hast determi­ned otherwise.

And it is evident, that no Tem­poral Evils are to be prayed against otherwise, in that Afflictions of one sort or other, are such things, as hath been shewed, as we have Need of up­on [Page 61] several Accounts; and there is no particular Affliction but it is better for us to undergo it, than to be with­out it, for ought we know. We are therefore to refer our selves to the Un­erring Wisdom of God, who knows in all Circumstances what is best for us, and best in it self, after we have prayed Him to keep off such an Af­fliction, or to remove it.

It becomes us consequently not to Beg either, Over-passionately and Ve­hemently: For this would be to pre­scribe to God, and to tell Him what is best. Those do no less than so, who pray for Health or any outward Bles­sing for themselves or theirs, as if they would have no Nay. Instead of so do­ing, we ought heartily to endeavour to bring our Minds to a full Acqui­escence in the Divine Wisdom and Goodness; and to a Willingness to bear such or such an Affliction (with the Divine Assistance) if God sees it fit we should; as knowing that what He seeth fit, must necessarily be so, and that it is Madness to be averse to what is so.

[Page 62] And by this means shall we be a­ble to say that our Petitions are ne­ver denyed. I mean, when we pray with Submission, and desire Abso­lutely nothing but what is best for us, or rather what is best in it self; which also will prove to be best for us, when we are once brought to this happy Temper.

It is said by the Author to the Hebrews, That our Saviour was heard in that he feared. How was he heard, since the bitter Cup of death did not pass from him, but he did drink it? Why, he was heard, as in other re­spects so in this, that he Prayed a­gainst that Cursed death, not Abso­lutely but Conditionally. And there­fore he Prayed for it upon suppositi­on that it was most agreeable to the Wise and Good Will of God that he should Suffer it: For we have seen that he said, Not as I will but as Thou wilt.

To this purpose, Arrian. l. 2. P. 186. I will present you with other most Excellent sayings of the last Cited Philosopher. Let us begin every thing without too Passionate [Page 63] a desire, or an Over-great aversness. Let us behave our selves like a Travel­ler, who when he comes where two Ways meet, asks the first passenger which of them he shall take to such a Place; having no inclination to the Right hand, rather than to the Left: But desiring onely to understand the ready way to his Iourneys End. Iust so must we go to God, as to our Guide; as to One who ought to dispose of us as He Pleaseth. We must not direct Him, what Course to take with us, but embrace that which He Proposeth, and desire only that He will Conduct us in the direct way to Hap­piness. This is our Duty and our Safe­ty: Whereas now you shall see Men run­ing to Him; Saying, Lord have Mer­cy upon me, Deliver me from such or such an Evil! Wretch that thou art, wouldst thou have any thing but what is Best; and who can tell what that is? Is there any thing Best, but what shall seem so to God? Why dost thou endea­vour to Corrupt Him, who is thy Iudge, and to Seduce Him who is thy Councel­ler, and to move Him by thy Cries to do otherwise than He thinks sitting? Suf­fer [Page 64] Him therefore to follow His own Wisdom, &c.

What Admirable Discourse is this! 'Tis most worthy of the high­est rank of Christians. But yet it is not very Strange, that it should come from the Pen of a Considerative Re­ligious Pagan; it being perfectly a­greeable to Right Reason, and neces­sarily to be inferred from a true No­tion of God, which very many of Them had.

And Consequently what a Shame must it needs be to us Christians, not heartily to Endeavour to get our Minds into this Frame.

But it is a very Melancholy thing to consider, that it should be so Ex­treamly difficult, as we generally find it is, so to master our Passions under great Afflictions, as to bring our selves to an intire Acquiescence in the good Pleasure of God; while we cannot but Acknowledge it to be the most Unreasonable thing imaginable, not to rest well Satisfied therewith. And that it should be even next to impossible, without an Extraordinary measure of [Page 65] the Divine Grace, to make our Minds Easie under Such Afflictions (and e­specially for those who are of Unhap­py Bodily Tempers, be they never so good Christians) but by the help of Time, which without the help of Rea­son, will much deaden the sense of a­ny Affliction.

And therefore it is alike difficult not to Pray against such Evils, as we are Naturally inclined most to dread, over Vehemently, and with less Sub­mission than becomes us.

But God is so Good, as to consider our Frame, and to make Abatements for our natural infirmities, so long as we do not give our selves leave to Re­pine and Murmur at any of His Pro­vidences.

One of the Philosophers, I think Epictetus, adviseth never to Pray to God, for any External Blessings in Par­ticular, but only that he would do for us in the general what is Best. And such a Sence may be put upon One or Two of the last recited Sayings, tho' they do not necessarily imply it. But he was so careful to avoid One [Page 66] Extreme, as to run into Another, tho' the safer of the Two. For we are sufficiently warranted by the H. Scrip­tures (and therefore that Extreme was very pardonable in those who were unacquainted with them) to ask for particular Outward Blessings; tho with great Care to do it with Re­signation to the Wise Will of God.

And it is very wonderful to see, how Epictetus could himself take that forementioned Advice, which he gave to Others, in this following Address he made to the Supreme Deity, viz. Did I ever find fault with Thy Go­vernment? I was Sick when Thou wouldst have me to be so, and so are Others, but I was willingly Sick. I was always Poor at Thy Appointment, but Rejoycing. I never was a Magi­strate, nor had any Dignity, because Thou wouldest not have me, and I ne­ver desired it. Didst Thou ever see me the more out of Humour, or Cast down for this? Have I ever appear­ed before Thee with a discontented Coun­tenance? Was I not always prepared and ready for whatsoever Thou Requiredst? [Page 67] Wilt Thou have me depart out of this Festival Solemnity, I am rea­dy to go; and I give Thee all Thanks for having Honoured me so far, as to give me leave to keep the Feast with Thee, and Behold Thy Works, and Ob­serve Thy Government of the World. Let Death seize on me no otherwise em­ployed, than thus thinking and writing of such things.

And he thus Appealed to his Ac­quaintants, Arrian. Epict. l. 3. C. 22. P. 314. Behold I am an Exile, with­out House, without Servants, I lye up­on the Ground, I have no Wife, no Chil­dren, &c. But when did you ever hear me Accuse either God or Man? When did I ever Complain of any one? Have ever any one of you seen me with a Sad Countenance? O how few Chri­stians can for bear Blushing at the read­ing of these Passages!

And what hath been said of Pri­vate and Personal Evils, is as true of Publick and National. These neither are to be deprecated Absolutely; for they are designed no less for the good of Nations and Bodies Politick, than [Page 68] the other are for the good of particu­lar Persons. When Thy Iudgements are abroad in the World, the In [...]abitants thereof will learn Righteousness, saith the Prophet, Isaiah 26. 9. And that for this end they are inflicted we are abundantly assured. No Calamity short of utter Destruction, ought o­therwise to be interpreted, than as designed for the Reformation of those Kingdoms, Cities, and other Socie­ties on which they fall.

And God hath Threatned it as an high Expression of His displeasure, that He will not Punish a Wicked People; nor certainly can there be an higher on this side Hell. As Hosea 4. 14. I will not Punish your Daughters when they commit Whoredom; nor your Spouses, when they commit Adultery. And Ver. 17. Ephraim is joyned to Idols, let him alone. And nothing more Severe could well come out of the Mouth of God Almighty, than those words, Isaiah 1. 5. Why should you be Smitten any more? You will Re­volt more and more.

And therefore, I say, in our inter­cessions [Page 69] for the diverting or removing of General Judgments, we must be­ware of prescribing to God: In Pray­ing for which, without any Condi­tions Expressed or Implyed, we make our selves Wiser than infinite Wisdom. And in so doing, we may Curse our Selves and our Country, when we think we Pray for both.

We do now seem generally impati­ently desirous to have a Conclusion put to this Bloody and Expensive War; but yet we may not Pray Absolute­ly for it, because we are far from knowing that it will prove best for us to have our Prayers granted. Nay indeed we have too great reason to fear it will not, since this heavy Scourg hath wrought no visible Reformation upon us: And that the Consequence of a Peace, and of the total Remo­val of our Fears from Abroad, may be an Occasion (Considering how many Unquiet and Restless Spirits we have among us) of running us into Confusion at Home: Which is not much less dreadful to think of, than falling into the Clutches of our Com­mon [Page 70] Enemy; and which (without a Mi­raculous interposition of Providence, which it would be Madness to ex­pect) must inevitably make us a Prey to his Teeth; and fasten for ever, at least for this Age, our Chains up­on us. But if this should not be the Effect of a Peace before we more de­serve it, and are better Prepared for it, God hath Plagues enough for a People who hate to be Reformed, which may make them as Miserable as any War can do. And so we pass to our Second Inference.

Secondly, We learn from what hath been discoursed, how great a Folly it is for a man to Judge himself or o­thers to be out of Gods Favour, be­cause much Afflicted. If Afflictions were in all respects Evils, this ought to be Concluded. But it hath been shewed that, as they come from God's Hand, they are good things: That there is not only a Good Design in them but the Best of Designs; and that they are things apt in their own nature, to promote our greatest Good.

[Page 71] Those look no farther than the Pain and Smart of an Affliction, that Conclude it an Expression of God's Ill-Will. They fix their Eye only up­on the dark side of the Cloud, and take no notice of the bright side. They are People of very little Thought, and Consideration; otherwise they would easily call to mind, that nothing is more common among our selves, than Correcting and Chastising from a principle of Love, and of the great­est Love: Than putting to Pain from the greatest Good-Will, and for the most Charitable Purposes.

They would also, if they used them­selves to Thinking, Consider that no­thing makes People so Serious, or so brings them to their rightminds, as Af­flictions. And they could not (if well acquainted with the Bible) but think of such Texts as these: Whom the Lord loveth he Correcteth, as a Father the Son in whom he delighteth, Prov. 3. 12. Happy is the man whom God Correcteth, Job. 5. 17. Whom the Lord loveth He Chastneth, and Scourgeth e­very Son whom He receiveth, Heb. 12. 6, 7.

[Page 72] If it be Replyed, That tho' every Affliction is no sign of a persons being out of the Favour of God, yet being exercised with frequent, long and sharp Afflictions, seems not consistent with His Love: Those who make This Reply, need only to be minded, of the Calamities which fell on Iob; who being declared by God Himself to be an Upright, & most Exemplarily Good Man, could not but be His Ex­traordinary Favourite: Or of the Terrible Afflictions with which King David, tho' a Man after God's own Heart, and the Prophet Ieremiah, and many other of the Best Men in the Old Testament, were exercised: And those of the Great St. Paul and others, which we read of in the New.

Nay, those who think there are such Temporal Evils, as cannot con­sist with the Love of God, must be­lieve that His Onely Begotten Son, was an Object of His Hatred.

But God's Hatred is so far from be­ing to be concluded from any Evils that here befal us, that we cannot certainly conclude so much as His [Page 73] Anger from any whatsoever, without taking in other Considerations, be­sides that of the Nature of those E­vils. For we have seen that they come from God's Hand, for diverse other Ends besides that of Punishing for Sin. And this may be said even of the greatest that are of a mere Tem­poral Nature. For we do not find, that there was any thing of Punish­ment in Iob's Calamities; and we are certain there was nothing of it, in our Saviour's Sufferings. That is, they could not be inflicted upon the Ac­count of any Displeasure He had gi­ven to His Heavenly Father, because in Him was no Sin.

And considering what hath been said upon this Subject, it would be no unaccountable thing, if none were ever so Afflicted as God's Children. No nor if His dearest Children, that is the best CHRISTIANS, and those who have arrived to the high­est degrees of Virtue and Goodness, should be always most Afflicted of a­ny of His Children. This would be no perplexing Providence, because [Page 74] such would make the best Examples to the World of bearing Afflictions, of Patience, chearful and thankful Submission to the Will of God under them.

Nor would they judge themselves upon a little sedate thinking, hardly dealt with, if the better Christians they are, the more they should be Af­flicted, because they look not at the things that are seen, as the Apostle speaks, but at the things that are not seen: The things that are seen being Temporal, but the things that are not seen, Eternal. They know that they shall have an Abundant Recompence made them hereafter, for all their Suf­ferings here: That they are not wor­thy, as the same Apostle saith, to be compared with the Glory, which shall be revealed in them: That the extraor­dinariness of their Afflictions for a short time, shall (through the Me­rits of their Saviour) procure to them an extraordinary degree of Heavenly Bliss to all Eternity.

And they find also, especially if their Sufferings be for Righteousness [Page 75] sake, supports at present suitable to their Burdens; and that as their Suf­ferings abound, their Consolations a­bound likewise.

And thus we see what a weak thing it is, to have the worse Opinion of our Spiritual Estate, or to conclude our selves out of the Divine Favour, upon the Account of our being much afflicted: And how Unchristian a thing it is, to pass, like Iob's Friends, severe Censures on others upon the like Accounts.

I could Name one of the most Eminent Persons, and Christians too, of the Age he lived in, who was so far from looking upon great Affli­ctions, as a Sign of God's Hatred, or Displeasure, that one Day read­ing the 12th. to the Hebrews, where it is said, If ye be without Chastise­ment, whereof all are Partakers, then are ye Bastards and not Sons, &c. fell into a deep Melancholy concern­ing his own state, because he did not then remember, that he had e­ver had any very Remarkable Af­fliction. Which being observed by [Page 76] a Friend of his, he humbly desired to know of him the Cause of the great pensiveness he discerned in his Coun­tenance. And having his Request satisfied, he Replyed, That he won­dred his Memory should so fail him, since he was fallen (through the Iniquity of the Times) from most plentiful to low Circumstances. The Good Man not acknowledging this to be any great Affliction, because God had still taken such Care of him as that he never wanted, his Friend minded him of a Great One indeed, (which it is much he should at any time forget) which gave case to his Mind. But this Great Man was herein guilty of the Other Extreme, not considering those words of K. Solomon, No man knoweth Love or Hatred by all that is before him.

As for the foresaid Words of the Author to the Hebrews, and that say­ing of St. Paul, we must through much Tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God: And that other, All that will live godly in Christ Iesus, must suffer persecution, they had doubtless a spe­cial [Page 77] relation to that Time when they were spoken. When a Man could not make Profession of Christianity, and adhere thereto, but he must expect to suffer greatly for it. Tho' the World was never yet I doubt so good, as that there hath been a Time when this could not be truly said, The great­er Conscience Men make of their ways, and the more strictly they keep to the Rules of Righteousness and Goodness, the more Trouble they must make Account of: Especially when it relates to Per­sons in publick Stations. Tho' it must be acknowledged too, that these Mens Troubles are not to be compared with those, in which the bold Transgres­sors of those Rules are, in a well Go­verned Nation, frequently involved.

In short, We are to judge of our own Spiritual Estate, by considering how it is within us, not without us. And we are to judge of Others, as to that State, by their Lives and Manners, not by their Outward Cir­cumstances. This Rule our Blessed Lord hath taught us, in the Begin­ning [Page 78] of the Thirteenth Chapter of St. Luke's Gospel.

Thirdly, I Infer from what hath been said upon this Subject, That it is a part of great Wisdom, to be, when we are in the most easie Circumstan­ces, often thinking of a Change, and preparing our selves for New Affli­ctions. This will be a means to make them much easier to be born when they come; and may be a means to prevent their coming, because by thus doing we must needs have so much the less Need of them. But the more we need one Affliction or other, the more reason have we to expect it, from the Consideration even of the Divine Goodness.

And Good People should make the less Account of any Long Uninter­rupted Prosperity in this World, be­cause they have not their Portion here, as the Wicked have. And it is very unreasonable for those to pre­sume upon a kind of Heaven here, who upon the best Grounds do hope for a Heaven hereafter; and to con­clude [Page 79] on passing through Temporal Pleasures to Eternal Ones.

We ought in all reason, if we think Heaven our Home, to be very well satisfied, to live on Earth like Pil­grims and Strangers. As the Apostle saith the Good Patriarchs Confessed themselves to be, Heb. 11. 13.

If we look upon Heaven as our E­verlasting Rest, how can we so much as hope, that our Condition here will be better than that of Travellers? Who use to make full Account of a deal of Rugged and Foul, as well as Smooth and Clean Way; Who ex­pect not to have Dry and Serene Weather always, nor scarcely for the most part; who are not at all surpri­zed at Rain, Wind and Storms, as if some strange thing happened to them. Nor do they think themselves Un­happy, if they meet with more Scorch­ing Heat, than Cool Shade; or with more Uncivil than Kind and Cour­teous Usage in a Strange Country, so long as they hope to get safe to their Journeys End; and know that they shall find all things there most agree­able [Page 80] to their desires, and to their hearts Content.

Good Christians need not be mind­ed, that the Captain of their Salvation Himself was made Perfect by Sufferings; as the Apostle saith, Heb. 2. 10. That He took the Cross in the way to His Crown. That He was a Man of Sor­rows and acquainted with Grief before He could enter upon the possession of That Ioy which was set before Him: That He entred into the Kingdom of Heaven, through much Tribulation.

Nor can they think that GOD hath any Reason, to be more Tender of them than of His Dear Son; nor imagine themselves ill dealt with, if it fareth no worse with them than it did with Him. Or, if God will have them go the same Uneasie Way to E­ternal Bliss, that He went. They can not see the least Cause to complain, if He will have the Members to be conformed to their Head in all re­spects in this World, as well as in the World to come.

Those are therefore very impru­dent, that because of their having [Page 81] suffered Severe things, presume up­on a long Respite from the like again. It is possible they may have such a Respite, but it ought not to be with any Confidence Expected; because there is no Reason on which to found such an Expectation, as hath been shewed.

And (by the way) it would be a very great Folly, in reference to the Publick, to Conclude upon Hap­py Times, if we were once eased of our present Burdens and Complaints, and Effectually Secured from our pre­sent Fears. For when we are biggest with hopes of a most Prosperous State of Affairs, and that God will make us Glad, according to the days wherein he hath Afflicted us, and the years where­in we have seen Evil, some unthought of Calamity may Suddenly Seize us; as we have again and again found by Experience. For how often have we seen cause to say with the Prophet, We looked for Peace, but no good came; and for a time of Health, but behold Trouble! Ier. 8. 15. And to allude [Page 82] to that in the 18th. V. Many a time, when we have been Comforting our selves against more Sorrow, there hath pre­sently happ [...]ned one Cross thing or other, which hath Caused our Hearts to Faint in us. And so, no doubt, it will be for the future with us, if we continue as Unreformed as Ever. Ex­cept our Good God should give us Over, for an Obdurate and incorri­gible People, and no farther concern Himself for our Amendment. But, as hath been intimated, this is the Saddest of all Judgments; and it speaks Eternal Destruction to be Seal­ed upon those People, upon whom it lighteth.

But to return to the Matter in hand; We seeing so great Reason, while we remain in this World, to look for New Afflictions, it greatly Concerns us to be still preparing our selves for them, that they may not come upon us before we are Aware. For whensoever they do so, we shall find them so much the Heavier and more [...]ntolerable; and that it requires [Page 83] much the longer time for the so sub­duing our Passions to our Reason, as to be able to demean our selves de­cently, and as becomes Men, and much more as becomes Christians, under them.

As the Son of Sirach saith, Eccles. 41. 1. O Death, how bitter is the Re­membrance of thee, to a Man that liveth at Rest in his Possessions; unto the Man who hath nothing to Vex him, and that hath Prosperity in all things! So may it be said, How bitter, how unsup­portable, is a great Affliction to a Man, when it falleth upon him all of a Sud­dain; when he thought of nothing less, than Afflictions! How Weak doth a Sad Providence find a Man, when at the time of its comming he had Put far from him the Evil day, and did not in the least dream of any Al­teration of his Condition!

What a Horrible Surprize must it have been to the Rich man in the Gos­pel (had it been no Parable but a real History) to hear those words, Thou Foool this night shall thy Soul be required of thee, then whose shall those [Page 84] Things be, which thou hast Provided? at that very instant, when he was saying to himself, Thou hast Goods laid up for many Years; Take thine Ease, Eat, Drink and be Merry!

Fourthly, I infer from the Text, what a Wonderfully Powerful Mo­tive, the Hopes we have of Receiving such Glorious Things in the Future life, must needs be, To Receive Evil things at the Hand of God in this life. If our Receiving the Good things of this Present State, be such a Motive thereto as hath been shewed, then What a Motive is that of the Hope of infinitely better Things in that to come!

I Confess that the Motive in the Text hath the Advantage, as the Mat­ter there of is Things present, and the Matter of the other, Things to come: But considering all the other differences, between these two sorts of Good things; and that there is the greatest assurance imaginable given to good People, of their hereafter Re­ceiving those Good things, there is [Page 85] no Comparison to be made between this and that Motive.

It is impossible, that he should think God a Severe Master, let him meet with never so many Evil things in this World, who hath a Sure and Certain Hope of Ere long Receiving such Good things, as Pass all Vnderstanding: As the Eye of Man never saw, nor his Ear ever heard, nor his Heart is able to Conceive any like unto them.

It must needs make this Vale of Tears, not only a Tolerable but a Pleasant Place, to Consider, that at the End thereof is the Mount of Ioy: Of Ioy Vnspeakable and full of Glory. And that these (comparatively speak­ing) Light Afflictions which are but for a Moment, will work out for us (if we are not inexcusably wanting to our selves) a far more exceeding and Eternal weight of Glory.

Fifthly, I infer, How unreasonable it is, to have the lower and more undervaluing thoughts of the Divine Goodness and Beneficence, and the less Sense of our Obligations to God, [Page 86] in regard of the Evils wherewith our Good things are mixed, and our Earthly Comforts are allayed. The great unreasonableness hereof will appear by the following Considera­tions, over and above those we have been presented with from the words of the Text.

I. Very many, and perhaps the incomparably greater part of the E­vils we suffer, are not from the mere, or immediate Providence of God. It is Certain, that innumerable are of Mens own inflicting upon themselves. And not only deserved by them, but also the necessary Effects of their Sin­ning, or of their Inadvertency.

We will take Poverty for one In­stance. For the most part, we may well adventure to say, Men fall into it from Plentiful Fortunes, through their wicked or foolish wasting their Estates; by either Spending them up­on their Lusts, or their rash Engaging for Non-Solvent Persons, or their Im­providence, Idleness and Mindlesness of their Business. Where one is brought [Page 87] to great Want, by the mere Provi­dence of God, our observation I be­lieve will tell us of Many, who ought to impute it to themselves immedi­ately.

Let Sickness be another Instance. Men, for Certain, do ordinarily fall into Diseases, by doing what they ought not to do, or neglecting what they ought to do, and for want of due Care and Caution.

From whence do too Commonly the Tormenting Diseases of the Gout and Stone, and the Dropsy and Con­sumption come, but from mens offend­ing as to the Quantity or Quality of their Liquors; or from such other Causes as by a greater Care of them­selves might have been Prevented?

Feavers are some of the most com­mon Diseases, but are they not ordi­narily Occasioned, either by some in­temperance in Meats or Drinks, or Exercise; or unseasonable Drinking when Over hot, or not taking care to cool by degrees, and the like? And I am per [...]waded, that in reflecting [Page 88] upon the Causes of our Sicknesses of most kinds, there are few of us who are not sensible, that they were the natural Consequents of some Sin or Imprudence or other, much more frequently, than of that which was wholly unavoidable.

Except in the Case of the Airs be­ing infected with Pestilential or Ma­lignant Vapours, we have great rea­son to think, that the much greater Number are laid upon Sick Beds by the Ordinary Maladies, through some Neglect of their Health; and therefore that there may be no more than the Permissive Hand of God in their be­ing deprived thereof.

When we suffer in our Reputation, or otherways, from the Ill will of o­thers, ought we not too often to thank our selves for not being so Cautious, as we should have been, of giving them Offence; and to impute it at least to Inconsideration and Rashness as to some Actions or Words, which gave occasion more or less, to their being provoked against us?

[Page 89] Those that suffer from the Misbe­haviour, or Vndutifulness of their Chil­dren (which must needs be, especi­ally to Good Men, the greatest of all Afflictions) are they not, for the most part, too well aware, that these suf­ferings are in a great measure owing to themselves; and that they might have had much better Children, if they had set them a better Example, and given them better Education?

And I need not add, that the same is to be said, in reference to the Di­vine Providence, of those Afflictions which do arise from our Sympathy with those in Affliction, who are dear to us, when they suffer through their own default.

And the same thing is to be asser­ted of those Evils, which we have not brought upon our selves, but are occasioned by the Faults of our Pa­rents, or of such as whose Interests and Concerns, are necessarily linked together with ours; so that the one cannot suffer, but the other also must.

[Page 90] As when a Man lives in Penury, by means of his Fathers disabling himself by his Prodigality, Sin, or Folly, to leave him a Subsistence. Or when a Trades-man is made a Bankrupt by his means, whom he hath taken into Partnership. Or when Parents, having by Debauche­ry Marred their own Bodies, and vi­tiated their Constitutions, Propagate their Diseases or Weaknesses, to the Children which are afterwards born of them.

Now I say, there is nothing more Unreasonable, than to think God Al­mighty the less Good, in regard of such Evils as those now mentioned.

And if it be well Considered, I can­not, I say, doubt but that most of those which Men complain of, are of that nature.

And what would we have God to do, to keep off such Evils as these? Would we have him to be continually laying irresistible Restreints upon Free Agents, so as that it shall be impos­sible [Page 91] for them at any time to do wick­edly, or at any time to act fool­ishly? If we think that this would well become Him, we must think at the same time, that to make Free Agents did disbecome Him. But sup­posing such Agents so left to the Use of their Liberty, as not to be so with­held from either Sinning, or playing the Fools, as that they can not do ei­ther, the foresaid and such like Evils will necessarily follow from the Abuse thereof. And therefore far be it from us, to have the lower opinion of the Divine Goodness upon the account of them.

But I ought to add (in order to our having a just Sense of Gods Good­ness, and that it may lose nothing of the Honour due to it) that He doth innumerable times prevent by Special Providences, our running into those Sins, and those Rash Actions, which we should most Certainly have other­wise been guilty of. And He doth frequently (and possibly as often) in a Secret invisible manner, so Over­rule [Page 92] Natural Causes of Evils, as to prevent their producing them, when they were ready to do it. Not only History, but many of our Own ob­servations, do furnish us with great Proofs hereof. And if these Proposi­tions were not both true, it is not imaginable but that this world would be a far more intolerable Place than it is, Considering how it Abounds with Wickedness, and how Corrupt Human Nature is in this lapsed State, and what Foolish & Heady Creatures the Generality of Mankind are, and what Dangers we are always Encom­passed with. And the worst objecti­no we can make against Almighty God, for not always thus interposing, is, that He will not have His Goodness in any one instance, to thwart and contradict that Wisdom by which He Governs the World.

But suppose we waved the Consi­deration of the Divine Wisdom in the Case, what Reason can we have to complain of God's deficiency in Good­ness, because He is not more concern­ed to keep Evils off from us, than [Page 93] we our selves are? 'Tis certain, He is much more concerned for our Good than we can be, and sad would it be for us, if He were not; but suppose Him onely equally so, we should not have cause to think Him wanting to us, but should see great Reason to Admire His Goodness; considering that He is infinitely Above even the Glorious Angels, and can get nothing by any of His Creatures being Hap­py, nor lose any thing by their be­ing Miserable.

II. Let us next Consider, That, as Abundance of the Evils which men groan under, are not from the mere or immediate Providence of God, so very many things which we are apt to account Evils, and are matter of Dis­content to us, are not Evils. That Stoical Maxim, Mens Minds are not troubled with Things, but with the False Opinions they have of Things, would be very true, if it ran thus, Mens Minds are not so much troubled with Things, &c. For there are a mul­titude of things which greatly di­sturb [Page 94] men, which are onely Evils of their own making; and which they would make exceeding light of, would they govern themselves more by Rea­son, than by fond Phansy, and the Childish Opinions of other Folk.

To have nothing of Superfluity, but a bare Competency, how many are there who account this a great Evil! Tho' the Apostle saith, Having Food and Rayment, let us be therewith con­tent. And we have a good Old Say­ing, Nature is content with a little, and Grace with less. How many lay it to heart, as a grievous thing, to be necessitated to Earn their Bread with the Sweat of their Brows; nay not to be able to make such a Figure among their Neighbours, as divers of them do! And thereupon they take but slight Notice of the innumerable great Mercies which they enjoy; and instead of being thankful for them, murmur at the Divine Providence, because they have not all they would have.

But as God Almighty asked the peevish Prophet, Whether he did well [Page 95] to be Angry? I ask these, Whether they do well to be discontented, and to have so little Sense of the Bounty of their Great Benefactor? For (not to mind them again, that whatsoever the Good things are which they enjoy, they are more than He oweth them, or than their Deserts can claim) they ought to consider, that the whole World is God's Charge, and not only some particular Persons; and that His Goodness expresseth its self by so pro­portioning His Blessings to particu­lars, as shall be most for the good of the Whole: And that it would be extremely ill for the Whole, for all to be alike Sharers in His Good things.

And it is necessary for the Well­being of the whole, that there should be a great Variety of Ranks and Or­ders of Men: By which means, all necessary Offices have People sitted for them.

And, withal, they ought to Con­sider, that if it be necessary that ma­ny should be in low Circumstances, for the performance of the lower and meaner Offices, which yet are eve­ry [Page 96] whit as necessary as the higher, what Reason can they give, why themselves should not be in the Num­ber of those many? And whether, for the same Reason that they would be placed in one of the higher Orbs, e­very body else may not expect it? Self-love is the onely Reason, why They would be so, but why may not Every man Love himself, as well as they love themselves?

They ought to consider too, that at this rate there could be no plea­sing them. For tho' God should still Humour them, in giving them their desires, it would but make them rise, still higher and higher in their Cra­vings.

It is an Unquestionable Truth, that Contentment is not to be fetched from without, but from an inward good Frame and Temper of Mind. And therefore we find, that those who are in High Places, are not the most but the least Contented; are far more Ambitious of Rising still Higher, than those who are in the very lowest. And for the same Reason, he, who being [Page 97] in a Low Condition, is discontented because he is not in an higher, will never be satisfied till he gets to the ve­ry Top; nor then neither.

So that, if thy being without such or such Good things, may Reasona­bly be a matter of Complaint, or cause an Abatement of Gratitude, thou canst never be put into such Cir­cumstances, as where in thou wilt see cause to be very Thankful, or not to Complain.

And I add, that it is highly Wor­thy of an Infinitely Good God, in­stead of being Repugnant to His Good­ness, to make such feel real Evils, who frame to themselves so many Imagi­nary Ones: To make those Sufferers in good earnest, who complain of such things as Evils, which are not so, but at worst in a less degree Good things: And to bring Heavy Afflictions on those, who make by their Discontent Light Ones Heavy.

III. Consider that, as you want those Good things which many have, so Abundance of those who enjoy [Page 98] those things, do want others that you have. How many that have great Estates, and Honourable Titles, are destitute of some of the most Common Mercies; by which means they are able to take but little Content, in all their Grandeur! And by which means, Thousands of the Meanest People, would be very unwilling to change Conditions with them. And who knows not, that the most com­mon Blessings, are the most Valu­able?

What Beggar would lose his Eye­sight, to be a Lord? Who would change his Cottage for a Palace, if he must give his Health and his Ease into the Bargain? Who would not rather chuse to sleep sweetly upon Straw, than to lye Crying out under the Stone or Gout, upon a Bed of Ivory? What Wise Man would not rather Eat Course Fare with a good Sto­mach and Appetite, than to be serv­ed with Great Variety of Choice Dishes, and unable to Digest one of them without Wine, or Relish one of them without Sauces?

[Page 99] Nay, if we understood what Crosses and Vexations of innumerable kinds, do attend great Estates, and what Dangers High Places are surrounded with, we should greatly pity very Rich and Great Men, instead of En­vying them; and think our selves far more Happy with a quiet and a safe Competency.

There is nothing more plainly Ob­servable, than that ordinarily the Meanest Servants of Great People, do enjoy more satisfaction, than their Lords or Ladies.

So that put all things together, tho' there be a vast difference between Men and Men in their external Cir­cumstances, there is but very little difference between them, as to their partaking of the Divine Beneficence.

No Man enjoys all Good things, and 'tis commonly seen that he who falls short of another in some, as much excells him in Others.

IV. Consider how prone we are, to make the Good things God bles­seth us with, Evils to our selves, and [Page 100] the greatest Evils. That is, to con­vert our Temporal Good things in­to Spiritual Evil things; and to make them more Mischievous to our Souls, than it is possible they should be Be­neficial to our Outward Man.

And, as we are all very prone here­to, so, are not most Men actually so much the more High-minded, Vain, Covetous and Sensual, &c. by how much the more they Abound in Earth­ly Blessings? And therefore is God ever the less Good to men, in either depri­ving them of those Good things they so Abuse, or in Withholding many such from those, whom He knows would be in very great Danger of Abusing them, if they had them?

V. Consider how many do make little Conscience of doing Evil to o­thers; of making them Sufferers in one respect or other: And how many of those, who would not be thought Unjust or Cruel, can find in their hearts to be Severe and Rigid. And how many that are better Natured and better Principled than such Per­sons, [Page 101] are nothing so inclined to Pity the Af­flicted and Distressed, as they ought to be; nor to Concern themselves to keep off Evils from their Brethren, or to Ease them of them, according to their Power.

Now with what Face can such Expect, that God Almighty should be so [...]ender of those, either in Preventing the lighting of Evils upon them, or in taking them off, when ever they would have Him, who are either Harsh to, or so little Tender of their Fellow-Christians, or Fellow-Creatures?

How doth it Dis-become the Goodness of God, to say to such, With what Measure you Mete, it shall be Meted to you again?

What Wretched People then are they, who Complain of God, for Shewing no more Mer­cy to them, who have no more Mercy for others; and that will have Him to be the less Good upon this account! Since it is no con­tradiction to His Goodness, to Abandon such to Extreme Sufferings, but an Act most wor­thy of His Justice.

VI. It may be Considered too, that ma­ny of the Evils which befall us, others do Gain more by than the Sufferers lose; & con­sequently, God is more Gracious to others in [Page 102] them, than He is Severe to those who Suf­fer by them. We use to say, That is an Ill Wind, which blows no body good.

And, as we have shewed, that God designs Mens own Good in their Sufferings, be they never so bad, provided they have not Sin­ned themselves past Recovery by Afflictions; and that all that improve them as they ought, do reap great Advantage by them, especially Spiritual Advantage, so hath He Contrived things in so Wise a manner, as that we are Mutually Advantaged by one anothers Af­flictions. There may be given a Thousand Instances of this nature, and therefore it is needless to give any.

Now, He that would take a Measure of the Divine Goodness, by what happeneth to Him­self, Considered as a Being Separate from the Rest of Mankind, must be so Silly as to think at the same time, that God hath no Body to be Concerned for besides Himself.

Now, take we along with these Considera­tions, what hath been Discoursed of the Few­ness of our Evil things, in Comparison of our Good things: And of our Non-desert of the least Good things, but our High de­sert of the Greatest Evils: And of the Need [Page 103] we all have of Evil things: And of Evil things being appointed us by God Almigh­ty, from the Self-same Principle that Good things are; I say, Let these accompany our last mentioned Considerations, and then, if we are Able, let us think it a Tolerable thing to Repine at any of God's Dealings with us; or to Cease to Praise Him, and to have a Thankful Sense of our Obligations to Him, under even the Sharpest Tryals. Then let us think, if we can, that that Ex­hortation of the Psalmist, may be sometimes Unseasonable, viz. Praise the Lord; for it is Good to Sing Praises unto our God: For it is Pleasant, and Praise is Comely.

If, after all that hath now been Offered to our Consideration, we can perswade our selves thus to think, we must Blame holy Iob for being so offended as his Wife's Taunt, Bless God and Dye.

But now, in the Conclusion, I must Repeat what hath been already Suggested, and which Sad Experience assures us of, viz. That it is far more easie to Satisfie our Reason, than to bring our Passions under the Government thereof; and especially in reference to the Bearing of Afflictions. And therefore there [Page 104] is an Absolute Necessity of adding, to what­soever Considerations we are furnished with to Strengthen us under them, our Frequent, Humble, and most Importunate Supplicati­ons to the Throne of Grace, that we may not under the Afflicting Hand of God, be so Over-Power'd with Melancholy, as to be un­able to think a Wise Thought; and to be In­abled so to fix our Minds upon Such Consi­derations, as that they may make an Effe­ctual Impression; and that we may have Sup­ports suitable to our Burdens; without which, let us Exercise our Thinking Faculty as well as we can, we shall be as Weak as Water. And they were great Divine Supports to which Iob was above all beholden; or he had never Behaved himself as he did, under Such Mighty Calamities; nor particularly given so brave a Reply to his Wifes Pro­phane Speech, as, ‘What? Shall we receive Good at the Hand of God, and shall we not receive Evil?’


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