OF THE VVisdom and Goodness OF PROVIDENCE.

TWO SERMONS Preached before the QUEEN, AT WHITE-HALL, On AUGUST 17 ⟨[and]⟩ 24 MDCXC.

By JOHN MOORE, D.D. Rector of St. Andrews Holborn, and Chaplain in Ordinary to Their Majesties.

Published by Her Majesties Special Command.

LONDON: Printed for W. Rogers at the Sun over-against St. Dun­stans Church in Fleetstreet. MDCXC.


Proverbs iii. 6.

In all thy ways, acknowledg him.

IT would not be easie for men with little Temptation to be drawn into great Sins, if they were fully perswaded that God was present, did behold the Affronts they were put­ting upon him, and would call them to a [Page 2] strict account for them: Neither would good Christians be so affrighted with the remote appearances of danger, and sink so quickly under Affliction, had they a firm belief that God was ever nigh them, and ready to deli­ver and support them.

Those Holy Persons who accustom them­selves to conceive God always present, as they dread doing the least evil, or neglecting any part of their Duty, so the most terrible and cruel Attempts of the Wicked, cannot make them withdraw their Dependance upon the Divine Providence, or renounce the hopes they have in God's Mercy: So that the Bold­ness and Security which does appear in bad men, and the unreasonable and groundless Fears to be found in some Christians, do both chiefly proceed from their want of a hearty Persuasion of the Omnipresence of God, who observes their whole Behaviour, and will certainly punish Sinners, but protect and preserve his Servants.

Nothing then will more suppress Wicked­ness, and dismay and terrifie Sinners, than frequent Meditations upon the Divine Pre­sence; and nothing would so uphold our Spirits in all Conditions, as to let it be our [Page 3] daily Practice to think of the unerring Pro­vidence of God, which disposes all Affairs and Events by wise Rules, and sends Good or Evil to men according as the circumstances of their present state do require, and ever with a design to make them the better thereby.

If therefore men did believe that God go­verned the World, and ordered all the Affairs thereof, they could not ascribe the issue of things to their own Power, and look upon the Prosperity of their Condition to be the effect alone of their own Wisdom and good Ma­nagement. Neither would they think that those Pains, Losses, and Calamities came by Accident and Chance, which God sent on purpose, either to try their love, or to reform their Manners, or to punish their Sins for an example to others.

It must much abate the Bitterness of Affli­ctions and Losses, to be convinced, that they who are humbled under them, who bear them meekly, and dutifully do submit to the Pleasure of God, will thereby greatly improve the Graces and Virtues of their Soul, and shall receive some extraordinary Blessing from the hand of God, the relish of which [Page 4] will be much heighten'd by their past suffer­ings. So as in due time they shall see good reason for that Calamity, which was at pre­sent so grievous unto them.

They then who think God does not con­cern himself in the Affairs of the World, nor regard the Lives of Men, can never truly Reverence him, nor Worship him sincerely; but whereever there is a vigorous belief of Providence, it will always be followed with the Love and Fear of God.

That therefore in the course of our Lives, we may set the Lord before us, and direct our Designs to his Glory, that we may use the Goods he gives us, discreetly and temperate­ly; and when he afflicts us, that we may be patient, quiet, and humble, and without Murmur or Complaint, make an entire Re­signation of our selves, and of all we have, unto his Righteous Will, that we may be grateful for his Mercies, and in all our ways acknowledg him, and think of him; I shall take leave to propose these following things to your Consideration.

(1.) That nothing can come to us through the whole Course of this Life, without the Order or Permission of Providence.

[Page 5](2.) That we should sometimes receive Evil from the Hand of God as well as good, is very agreeable to his Wisdom.

(3.) That if we equally consider things, God's Goodness and Mercy will appear in our greatest Sufferings.

(1.) That nothing can come to us through the whole course of this Life, without the order, or at least, the permission of Provi­dence. When God had made the World, he did not leave it to shift for it self, without any farther regard of it: But his Power does as truly appear in the Preservation and Govern­ment thereof, as it did in its Creation. What he thought fit for his Power to give Being and Life to, he thinks becoming his Good­ness and Wisdom to uphold and preserve▪ as judging all the works of his Hands, worthy of his Providence and Care.

So that there is not any thing which does come by inflexible Fate, or depend upon the uncertainties of Fortune: But God does look down upon every work, he beholds the car­riage of all his Creatures; he perpetually sup­ports the order among things, and directs the whole course of Nature in such just manner, as shall serve for the greatest good and hap­piness [Page 6] of the Creation, and most illustrate his own Glory.

This all follows plainly from the Nature of God, which consists in infinite Perfection; but the denying of Providence, or the sup­posal that matters go in the World, either by Fate, or Chance, is most repugnant to the Blessed Nature of God, and does contra­dict almost every one of his Attributes and Perfections; who could not be Almighty if there was any Power independent upon his; who would not be infinitely Wise if he Go­vern'd the vast productions of his Power by no Laws; whose Goodness would not be boundless, if he had no care of those who Loved Him; if he did not rescue those who suffer'd for his sake; whose Knowledg would not be immense if he did not see all that was acted in the World, if he was not an observer of the words and deeds, but also privy to the very thoughts of his Creatures.

Quod ni ita sit, quid veneramur, quid precamur Deos? Cur sacris Pontifi­ces, cur Auspiciis Augures praesunt? Quid optamus a Diis immortalibus? Quid vovemus? At etiam liber est E­picuri de sanctitate. Ludimur ab homine non tam faceto, quam ad scribendi Li­centiam Libero. Quae enim potest esse san­ctitas, si Dii humana non Curant? Cic. de nat. Deor Lib. 1. Without all things done under the Sun lay open to the Divine view, why should the Good hope in God's Mercy, or the Wicked trem­ble at his Justice? If he did [Page 7] not at all mind the ways of men, they would have no motives to Love him, nor reason to Fear they should fall under his displeasure, by acting the most horrid Im­pieties.

Prayer is the primary Duty of Christians, the great Instrument by which they obtain a supply of all necessaries, Bodily and Spiritual, and the chief support of their Minds in Trou­ble; whereby they compose themselves to en­dure the sharpest Sufferings, and become con­querors of their strongest Temptations: But if God has no Knowledg of the affairs of this World, the reason and very foundation of Prayer will be destroyed, which supposes, that God knows all the Circumstances of our particular case, and does not only hear us when we call upon him in our want and di­stress, but also that he has both the Power, and the Will, to relieve, or deliver all those who make their humble supplications unto him.

Did afflictions happen by meer Chance, we should not know how to behave our selves under them, we should have no en­couragement to bear them Patiently, nor skill to make a due Provision for those which [Page 8] may seize upon us hereafter, and turn them into a benefit to our Souls.

But when we know from whence they come, and that our Cup, how bitter soever it be, was mingled by the merciful hand of our Most Gracious Father for the Health of our Souls; with what readiness and courage shall we stoop to our Burden, and what an hum­ble and heavenly Temper shall we attain by our Sufferings?

Did not God know us, or take notice of our Lives, how could he now Govern the World, or Judge it hereafter? Insomuch as there is no calling the truth of the Doctrine of Providence into question, without striking at the foundation of all the Arguments for Di­vine Worship, for the Fear and Service of God, for Trust in his Mercy, and hope in his Assi­stance: and without putting an end to every reasonable thought about future Rewards and Punishments.

But though there be a great deal of Malice in the objections against Providence, yet upon little examination they will be found weak, and such as cannot shake the belief of any who will impartially consider them.

[Page 9]'Tis objected, That for God to have the care of all things upon him, would disturb his Peace; and that for him to condescend to observe the actions of trifling Man, and to have a regard to the small and vilest parcels of the World, would be below the dignity of his Glorious Majesty.

The weakness of this Objection, which is so much flourisht by the Epicureans, lyes herein, That they suppose God to be like unto men, who can hardly transact any affair wisely without much thinking; who cannot be concern'd in many things together without great disquiet and trouble. Now the trou­ble, uneasiness, irresolution and difficulty, which men find in much or great business, does arise from their faculties being stinted: they are fain to turn things up and down in their thoughts, and to work their brains with long consideration before they can resolve what is fit to be done; and after they have resolved, they are as much at a loss for means to ac­complish their designs. But what is more evident, than that the boundless Power, Wisdom and Knowledg of God, cannot be exposed to any of these Objections and Diffi­culties? Therefore to disown Providence in [Page 8] [...] [Page 9] [...] [Page 10] the plain consequence of things, is to deny the existence of an Infinitely perfect Being Verius est i­gitur nimirum illud, quod Fa­miliaris omni­um nostrum Posidonius disseruit in libro quinto de natura Deorum, nullos esse Deos Epicuro videri; quaeque is de Diis immortalibus dixerit, invidiae detestandae gratiâ dixisse. Neque enim tam desipiens fuisset, ut homunculi similem Deum singeret lineamentis duntaxat extremis, non habitu solido, membris hominis praeditum omnibus, usu Mem­brorum ne minimo quidem, exilem quendam ac perlucidum, nihil cuique tribuentem, nihil gratificantem omnino, nihil curantem, nihil agentem. Quae natura primum nulla esse potest, idque videns Epicurus, re tollit, oratione relinquit Deos. Cic. de nat. Deor. ib..

And though we may bear with such a sorry Objection as this in the Epicures, who were so vain, as to ascribe the Original of the World, in which do appear so many of the marks of deep Skill and Wise contrivance, to a Fortuitous concourse, or casual jumble of Atomes; yet it would be intolerable in Chri­stians, who profess heartily to believe God to be Maker of Heaven and Earth, to hold that he should not think the things Worthy of his Care and Protection, which he once thought Worthy of his Making: or that he should meet with Difficulties and Troubles in Governing the World, who found none in Creating it.

As the firm Belief of Providence is of vast concernment to our Souls, so the Spirit of God has made many declarations of it, and fully set forth all the parts thereof in Holy [Page 11] Scripture, not only how God is pleased to en­gage himself in making provision for the Children of men, but how his care does ex­tend to the smallest Creatures, and the meanest parts of the Creation.

We are taught not only that the Rational Beings do live and move and subsist by the Goodness of their Maker; but that he con­descends to feed the little Sparrow, and to cloath the fading Lillies of the Field, and even to number the slender Hairs upon our Head.

Furthermore, in the Word of God is set forth all the sorts of Instances, in which the Divine Providence does manifest it self to men, who seem to be the extra­ordinary Objects of God's Care and Love. There an account is given how God con­cerns himself in our Birth and first Production; that he makes the barren Woman to be a joyful Mother of Children; that it is he that takes us out of the Womb; that he is our Hope, and our whole Dependance is upon Him, from the time we hung on our Mothers Breasts; and that the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings, set forth the Praise of his Provi­dence.

[Page 12]That the Divine Providence doth not only exercise it self about particular Persons, but reaches unto Societies and Communions, and takes Cities and Nations within it's special Cognisance; that both their Prosperity and Sufferings come from him; that except he keep the City, the watchman waketh but in vain; and that no Evil happens there, but he hath done it; and that he ever makes them to Flourish or Decline, in proportion to their Virtues or their Sins, the universal good of the Creation being the great design and measure of his Provi­dence.

The Holy Scriptures sometimes acquaint us with those parts of Providence which re­late to God's Infinite Knowledg, and the Righteousness of his Dealings, that nothing which we do or think can be hid from Him, but that all lies open and naked to the Pre­sence of Him before whom we stand; that exact observation is made of every turn and design in our Lives; that he seeth all under the whole Heaven, and looketh unto the ends of the Earth; that our whole behaviour is as it were registed in a Book; that at the great Day of Judgment, this Book shall be open'd, and we be Sentenc'd to Everlasting Happiness [Page 13] or Misery, according as our Lives shall from thence appear to have been Good or Evil.

In our Bibles we learn that God suffers Af­flictions to fall upon his own People, and are there shewn the just reasons of those Proceed­ings of his, which at first view seem'd hardly consistent with his immense Goodness; and that all things in the end shall work together for the good of them who love him.

There we also learn, that the Preservation and Continuance of Life, is not in our power, and that length of days does not depend upon our care and skill, but that God keeps the is­sues of Life and Death in his own hand, and we never by any means can be assured, how long we have to live, who see the days of the weak and sickly sometimes extended to very old Age; and they of strong Constitu­tions, and of firm and vigorous heal [...]h, lopt off in their green Years, and full Strength; and all this, that we may never presume to set Death at a great distance from us, but manage the present time prudently, and cir­curnspectly, and not rely upon infinitely con­tingent Futurity, in the great Affair of our Souls, for the due care of which, we were sent into the world.

[Page 14]In this Word of God we find an account not only of the uncertainty of our Lives, but of all the other Goods we possess, which belong unto the present state; that the pos­session we have of them is very preca [...]ious, and that of a sudden we may very many ways be put out of the enjoyment of those things we esteemed most, had kept longest, and were most secure of.

But tho the ways of turning us out of what we have, be many, yet the Holy Scripture gives us good assurance, that we shall never be dispossest of the least good without the Appointment or License of Providence; that as we may not set our hearts upon any of the things of the World, which we have, so we may bear Losses quietly; and without ruffling the Peace of our Minds, and making any abatement of our Love of God, may submit to every change in our condition, with the Patience of Job, yielding back to the Lord what he had given.

Sometimes the Scriptures discourse of the strange Changes which are made in King­doms; how God pulls men down, and sets others up by unlikely means, and when they least expected it; and that in an instant he [Page 15] stript them of their vast Possessions, when their Power and Plenty had thrust him out of all their thoughts, and they placed their security in their own strength, and did not attribute to his Providence the Glory of their Greatness.

Of the wonderful effects of Providence, we have unquestionable examples in all Ages, wherein the motion of God's hand hath been so visible, that necessity will com­pel men to ascribe them to him.

How frequently hath the interposition of the Divine Power been clearly manifest in the Rise and Declension of Kingdoms, and in the surprizing Periods which have been put to mighty Empires by small and improbable Causes, notwithstanding they were founded in deep Policy, and had been of long conti­nuance; he in a moment breaking the firm frame of things, and turning up the Founda­tions which were laid by the Counsels of the most skilful and sagacious men?

VVhen the measure of the sins of a great People is full, and their Iniquities are grown up to a ripeness fit for ruin, so that God will no longer endure the abuse of his Mercies, and the bold affronts which are put upon his [Page 16] Love and Kindness; then Destruction comes swiftly upon them, and they receive their ter­rible overthrow from those hands which they did despise.

Histories of all Countries furnish us with instances of this kind; and we may read abun­dance of the mysterious variety of the work­ings of Providence in the quick turns, and amazing changes which did happen to the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel: Either the sick or the lame have strength enough to pull down the mightiest Nation, when the crying sins thereof have provoked God peremptori­ [...] to resolve, that there shall be an end put to all its Glory and Power.

Of this case we have a memorable decla­ration made from the Lord to the Jews, by the Prophet Jeremy, of the fatal Blow which should be given to their Kingdom, even by those they themselves had beaten; and that only the wounded men which remained, should be sufficiently able to set Fire to their City, and lay it in Ashes.

Thus saith the Lord, Deceive not your selves, say­ing, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us; for they shall not depart; for tho ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans, that fight against [Page 17] you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire. Now when only the wounded and shatter'd remains of a Conquer'd Army, shall be able to attack and take a well fortified City, the great dispropor­tion between the Instruments and the Work, must force the mouths of the Inhabitants to confess, that it is the Lord's doings, and that their Misery is justly pulled down from Hea­ven, by their abominable sins.

Wherefore when we behold any Empire or Kingdom that hath been long setled, taken deep root, enlarged its Borders, and was [...] Terror to its Neighbours, to dissolve on a sudden, and tumble down, and all the Limbs of this well-built, and often-try'd Body, at once to be dis-jointed; will not in this strange and unaccountable Revolution, the Prints be most conspicuous and plain, of the All-seeing and All-disposing Providence of God, who turns the Wisdom of the Wise into Foolish­ness; does not give the Race to the Swift, nor the Battel to the Strong?

On the other hand, to see a small Society or Body of Men preserv'd when environ'd with [Page 18] Powerful Enemies, each of which could have devoured it; and its State and Condition sup­ported, when they did all conspire to work its ruin; and Peace and Safety restored by most improbable means, where there was no appearance or likelihood of it, must be a de­monstration that God governs the world, and orders all the affairs thereof.

From hence it is, as the Divine Providence hath wonderfully put forth it self in all times, so God shews himself highly displeased, when his people presume to call his Care of them into question, and make any doubt whe­ther he observes their behaviour; declaring it to be utterly impossible, that he should ei­ther neglect or forget them.Ezek. 9.9, 10. Isa. 49.14, 15.For they say, the Lord bath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not. And as for me also, my eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity. —But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking children, that she should not have compassion on the Son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

Thus I have dispatch'd the first Head of this Discourse, namely that nothing can come [Page 19] to us through the whole course of this life, without the Order, or at least the Permission of Providence; and shewn, That not only the Prosperity and Adversity, the Poverty and Riches, the Wisdom and Understanding, the Length of Days, and Death of particular Persons, but also the Growth and Fall of Nations and Kingdoms, comes from the Lord:Psal. 113.6. Jer. 32.18, 19. Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are done in Heaven and Earth: He sheweth loving kindness unto thousands, and recompenceth the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their Children after them: The great, the mighty God, the Lord of Hosts is his name, great in counsel, and mighty in works; for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give every one ac­cording to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

(2.) That we should receive evil from the hand of God, as well as good, is very agree­able to his Wisdom: In the miseries God sends or suffers to fall upon men in this life, many of his great Ends in governing the world, are serv'd, and much Spiritual Pro­fit may accrue to them, who by the cross Events and Disappointments they here en­counter, [Page 20] are wean'd from the world, and will not be drawn in by its most alluring Temptations; who every day discovering more the vanity of all earthly Pleasures, have an immediate recourse to God, and entirely depend upon his Wisdom and Goodness both as to their present condition, and that happy one they hope for hereafter.

All men receive Prosperity from God very kindly, tho they frequently make an ill use of it; but when he sends any affliction, how much soever they may stand in need thereof, they forthwith complain, as if he dealt hardly by them. Nay, when he lays a far lighter Judgment upon them, than their folly and sin has deserv'd, and than the present sickly con­dition of their soul did require, immediately both his Justice and his Wisdom must be im­peached.

Poor man! he thinks he has severe usage, when God is very merciful unto him; and is apt to grumble and be querulous, when the Divine Wisdom does use the most proper and suitable methods to do his soul the greatest good. Most men, if they might chuse for themselves, would never have any thing fall [Page 21] cross to their own Wills; and the best reason that may be for their sufferings, will scarce bring them to think well of them, or to judg favourably of him who order'd and sent them.

This is usually the perverse behaviour of those mean spirits, in every trouble and disap­pointment, who having fixt their hearts upon the goods of this world, do never lift up their hands and eyes towards the Glorious Heavens, or spend any thoughts upon the boundless Eternity into which they are ready to launch: It is also true, That God's own People may sometimes have their feet slip, and be at first stagger'd by a great evil, which suddenly surprizes them; but with a little thought and recollection, they recover the due temper of their minds, and discern the calamity to be so fit and reasonable for their condition, that they not only frame them­selves to a sincere submission to God's pleasure, but devoutly magnifie and praise his Name for the signal advantage their souls will gain thereby.

This is the language of the Saints; Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore [Page 22] despise not thou the chastning of the Almighty, Job 5.17. Whom the Lord loveth, he correcteth, Prov. 3.12. I know, O Lord, that thy Judgments are right; and that thou of faithfulness hast afflicted me, Psal. 119.75.

Theodoret. Tom. 4. p. 376.Blaspheme not God, who makes provisi­on for our souls with much Wisdom, and great care, and by a supply of good things, and the fear of stripes, does teach us the Elements of Virtue, and pulls up the disease of Vice by the roots, and causes bright and gladsom health in the soul.’

Now if by every injury against their Re­putation, every damage in their Estate, eve­ry loss of dear relations, every hurt and pain in their Body, and by every melancholly and grievous thought which may happen in their minds, God designs not to torment, but to purify and reform his people, there can be no reason why they should not accept all in good part which comes, nor why it should be thought a strong Objection against the Wis­dom of Providence, That the Righteous now and then suffer, and have their share of the afflictions of this world.

[Page 23]But because this has been a difficult rub in the way, at which as well the virtuous, as bad men have stumbled; in a more particular answer thereunto, I desire the following things may be consider'd.

(1.) That we are not competent judges any more of the righteousness of men, than of the reasons of their sufferings: We that do not know the hearts of men, nor see the se­crets which are lodged there, cannot pro­nounce who are truly good. Those who make a fair shew of Religion, and take pains to have the world [...]ink well of them, may have much wickedness lurk in their hearts, and privately be exceeding vi­cious.

But unless we knew certainly who were sincerely virtuous men, and who were hypo­crites, we have no right to make this Objecti­on; and it will be very unjust and presump­tuous in us, to charge it as a defect and blemish in the Divine Providence, That the Righteous are frequently afflicted; since that which may look like an undeserv'd Calamity of a good man, may, for ought we know, be but [Page 24] a just Judgment of God, inflicted upon him for his Hypocrisie.

(2.) Neither are we competent judges of the happy or miserable state, of the Prosperi­ty or Calamities of men. Let us not so far stray from the Truth, as to think any wick­ed man can be happy, because he is richer than Croesus; more quicksight­ed than Lynce­us; stronger than Milo Cro­toniates; or more beautiful than Ganymedes: For he that has enslaved his mind to a thousand masters, to love Concupiscence, Pleasure, Fear, [...], Folly, Lust, Injustice, can never be happy. Philo de Provident. Euseb. Praep. Ev. p. 387. Those who to us appear the happy Persons, may have so many unruly Passions within their breasts, that in a manner tear their souls in pieces, and sour all the Comforts and Pleasures which their Greatness, Honour, or Plenty should pro­duce.

On the contrary, those who in our eyes pass for vile and contemptible wretches, may have that peace in their minds, being hurried by no masterless lust, nor tortur'd with the guilt of any sin; may have that joy springing up in their souls constantly, from a sense of the Fa­vour of God, and the conscience of their doing good to their fellow-creatures, that they would not change conditions with the greatest Monarch upon Earth.

[Page 25]Possibly good men may be straitned with Poverty, and have little Authority and Inte­rest in the world; and yet for all this, they are still happy; for happiness does not consist in abundance of Riches, nor a large compass of Power.

These things to them would have been a burden, and they therefore never sought them; but a composed mind, devout thoughts, easiness in every condition, a chear­ful resignation of themselves, and of what they had, to the Will of God, when Crosses and Sickness, and Disgrace and Losses should come, is what they heartily desired, and what they earnestly prayed for, and what God graciously was pleased to give them, and in the enjoyment whereof they find real and most intense happiness.

Hence we may be instructed how to take the measures of our Felicity, and to form a true judgment who are the happy, who the miserable men.

That no man is happy by reason of his vast Riches, but Generous Mind, which makes him to live above them, and inclines him to the highest Instances of Charity; so that he [Page 26] is merciful and lendeth; he disperseth and gi­veth to the poor, and the acts of his Bounty shall be had in everlasting remembrance.

That no person is miserable, because by the malice of designing men he may be turn­ed out of his Native Soil; since he may bear his Calamity so evenly, and with such Sub­mission to Providence, as thereby to ensure to himself an habitation in the Heavenly and Eternal Countrey, from whence all the Pow­ers of Darkness can never banish him.

That a man is not happy because he has a healthy and strong Body; but because in an infirm and sickly one, he does carefully pre­serve a sound and spotless mind.

That he is not miserable who meets with much unkind usage, and upon whom many cross and sharp things do fall; But he, who being besotted with prosperous Successes, doth lift up his eyes no higher, but sits down with the brittle and deceitful Goods of the present state, and only among them seeks for rest. Thus it is manifest, that real Felicity does consist in the Innocence and Tranquility of the Mind.

[Page 27]But notwithstanding in the general we may pronounce all those happy, who have quiet and unblemish'd Souls; yet we cannot speak with confidence, as to the happiness or misery of particular men, because by their outward Circumstances, and appearance to the World, we can never be certain of the sin­cerity of their minds, nor whether they have those Virtues in their Possession, which cause solid Happiness. Wherefore seeing we are not competently qualified to judg either of the Piety or of the Happiness of particular men, it evidently follows, That there is very little in that Popular Objection against the Divine Providence, taken from the seem­ing Adversity of the Good, and flourishing state of the Wicked.

Further; Neither is it any disparagement of Providence, nor unkindness in God to­wards his faithful servants, that sometimes he translates them early from hence, and per­mits them to dye in the vigour of their years: For can a greater favour be done them for their short and faithful service, than for God to remove them not only from the dan­gers and temptations to sin, but also from [Page 28] the manifold troubles and vexations of this life, unto his everlasting Mercies? He does this in honour to them, that the wicked may behold and be concern'd, they are no longer worthy of them, nor of the Good they might receive from their Holy and Wise Conversati­on: Besides, when the Justice of God has decreed some dreadful Judgment against a wicked Nation, he often takes away his own People from the Evil to come.

Wisd. 4.7, 10, 13, 14. But tho the righteous be prevented with death, yet shall he be in rest; for honourable age is not, which standeth in length of time, nor that is mea­sured by number of years; but wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age. He pleased God, and was beloved of him; so that li­ving among sinners he was translated. He being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time; for his soul pleased the Lord; therefore hasted he to take him away from among the wicked.

(3.) It is to be consider'd, that the condi­tion of the World is such, that there is a ne­cessity the Virtuous should often be exposed to the same Troubles and Misfortunes which happen to the Ungodly: And as the Wise Man speaks, There will be one event to the righte­ous [Page 29] and to the wicked; for the Calamities of War, Pestilence, Famine, and Fire, involve men of all Conditions, and take in the Holy with the Sinners. Neither the Nipping Frosts, nor scorching Heats, nor raging Floods, nor blast­ing Winds, make any difference between the lands of pious and bad Men; nor can a storm at Sea, distinguish between their Goods which are in the same Vessel.

For a Man to look that God should exempt him from these publick Evils, is to expect he should alter the Course of Nature for his sake, which is wisely establish'd, and for great ends; and therefore all such hopes can have no ground, and must be deem'd very unrea­sonable.

(4.) Notwithstanding such common Ca­lamities cannot be avoided, yet God always intends our good in every harsh disappoint­ment which we meet with; and it will ad­mirably serve to mend the temper of our Minds. By Adversity, which God never lets loose upon us before it is useful for us, he makes an experiment of the reality of our affections towards him, whom we ought in­finitely to esteem above all other things; by [Page 30] it God tries our Constancy; whether we will equally Love him, and preserve as great a Reverence for him in the days of our Sor­row, as when he crown'd us with plenty? And if upon this Trial we entertain as honou­rable thoughts of the proceedings of his Pro­vidence, as when the World went well with us, he has attained his end in Visiting us, and will quickly deliver us from our Grievance. For if under the sorest Crosses, the heaviest Losses, and sharpest Pains, we uphold in our Souls as worthy opinions of God's Administration of Affairs, as when he enricht us with his Bles­sings; then we shall make an undoubted dis­covery of the sincerity of our Love of Him; and it will be evident to men, that we value the Peace of Conscience, and his Favour, a­bove all sensual comforts.

Besides, nothing will more lessen our esteem of these mean and despicable plea­sures, nor take off the edg of our desire for them, than frequently to be disturbed in the enjoyment of them, and to have them forced away, when we were most delighted with them, and confidently promised to our selves their long continuance.

[Page 31]It may indeed be a general Observation, that much Prosperity corrupts mens Morals, and tempts them to rely upon their own Powers; but Adversity reforms their Lives, and teaches them to know their own weak­ness and wants, which they perceive would grow insupportable, did God once withdraw his Assistance.

Wherefore seeing it is so much hard­er to walk uprightly before God in a flourish­ing condition, that make us apt to forget him, than in an afflicted state, which naturally dispo­ses us to seek the Lord, is there any reason, why we should thus murmur at his Rod, and re­pine when he Corrects us with the tenderness of a Father, and visits us with his Judgments, only that he may heal our spiritual diseases?

How terrible soever any Calamity may appear to us, yet it is fitted to our Circum­stances, and is not greater than the crazy state of our Souls does stand in need of. For Troubles do not spring casually out of the Earth; or fall upon us without measure or bounds: But God in his Wisdom does order the time when we shall be Afflicted; he deter­mines the kind of Evil which shall fall to our [Page 32] Lot, and metes the very quantity that we must Suffer. Which as soon as it has Hum­bled our Vanity, or extinguish'd our Lust, or abated our Love of Riches, and reduced us to just apprehensions of our selves, be certain­ly will recall from us, and let in the light of his countenance into our hearts.

Now this being the true state of things, as will be plain to every honest enquirer, it may be matter of wonder, why men take Afflictions so ill at the hand of God, when they know they proceed from his Love; and behave themselves so untowardly under almost every degree of Adversity.

A great cause of all this, I judge to be, their making slight or no preparations for Afflictions before they come. Now there is that distraction and disorder raised in the Spi­rit of a man, who is surprized with any Ca­lamity, that he tosseth like a Bull in a Net, and has not temper enough left to consider of the great Causes there were to move God to lay it upon him, or of the sweet fruit he might gather from it by a modest and quiet carriage under the heavenly Discipline, and a total Submission of himself to the will of his Merciful Father.

[Page 33]They therefore who would bear troubles well, must live in a constant expectation of them, and in their good days lay up a stock of Christian Graces against the Winter of Ad­versity. They, I say, who in the height of their Prosperity, will often and seriously re­flect upon the great change, that either by Losses and Pains, or certainly by Death, in a short time will overtake them, and provide themselves with the suffering-Virtues against that dark season, will be so far from having their spirits sink at the approach either of Af­flictions or Death it self, that it will raise them above the World, and mount and carry their Hearts and Affections to God, who is the Centre of all sound Peace, and solid Joy.

How happy are those souls, who when the World most smiles upon them, do not trust it; but furnish themselves with the Hu­mility, and the Meekness, and the Patience of Jesus against the evil day; that as no Sick­ness or Trouble can much surprize them, so neither can it greatly, or long discompose their minds; but they discern the Finger of God in it, and turn it to their spiritual advan­tage.

[Page 34]And they therefore count it joy, when they fall into Temptations; i. e. suffer affliction; for they are assured, that God will not suffer them to be tempted above what they are able: If they are troubled on every side, yet they shall not be di­stressed; if they are perplexed, they shall not despair; if they are persecuted, they shall not be forsa­ken; if cast down, they shall not be destroyed.


III. THAT if we equally consider things, we shall be constrain'd to ac­knowledg, That God's Goodness and Mercy do appear in our greatest Sufferings; and this will be evident from the following Reasons.

(1.) Because, if we look upon God as the Supreme Lord and Owner of the World, who alone has the Right of all, we shall find our selves to be but Tenants at will, for eve­ry thing that we have: And if God has gi­ven us nothing, but during pleasure, then let him take it away when he pleases, he can do us no wrong.

Our Life, that makes us capable of his other Favours; our Health, which makes [Page 36] life comfortable; our Relations, our Estates, our Ease and Peace, are all the free Gifts of the Bounty of him, who had not the least Obligation to us; and if he revoke them all, or any of them, we receive no Injury; for he does but resume his own Right.

Insomuch, as if God strips us of all down to nothing, he will but leave us in the state he found us: Wherefore we ought to be so far from charging him with un­kindness for any temporal Evil, that we must own, it is his singular Goodness we have been permitted the Enjoyment of so many of his Blessings such a long time.

(2.) We cannot but acknowledg the Goodness of God in our Troubles and Los­ses, when we consider him as the great Judg of the Lives of Men, and examine the Conditions upon which he was pleased to grant the use of his Creatures unto them, and the Punishments he has threatned to in­flict upon the disobedient.

Upon this Examination it will be plain to the greatest Sufferers, that God has been merciful, in that they, in many particulars, [Page 37] have broken the Conditions of the Cove­nant, which was made between him and them, and he has not taken the whole forfeiture.

There is no breach of God's Law, in any great instance, made coolly and deliberate­ly, but it does deserve, not only a tempo­ral punishment, but the pains of Hell, should God deal with us according to the measures of strict Justice. Now, when he, who if he proceeded strictly against us, might pass the Sentence of Death upon us, and shut us out of his presence for ever, does but gently correct us with such chastisements as are proper to reform our faults, and cause us to grieve we have of­fended our best Friend; What can we do but admire his Goodness, and magnify the riches of his Mercy towards us!

If God did not let sinners, who have li­ved a great while securely in their iniquity, at length feel the weight of his Justice, they would lay aside all fear of his Power, and fall into ruin beyond a possibility of being recover'd. But yet we may ob­serve, That there is a plentiful mixture of [Page 38] Mercy in the Punishments which God first inflicts upon the greatest sinners; and that he does not proceed to high degrees of severity, until their hearts are so hard, that lighter Afflictions would make no im­pression upon them.

Wherefore when very bad Men are brought to Repentance by a terrible Judg­ment, they discern God's Goodness in no­thing more, than the terrour which at­tended the Judgment wherewith he cor­rected them; because they are sensible it would not have reclaim'd them from their wicked Courses, had it been of a milder sort.

God then tempers Judgment with Mercy, that as the contemplation of the one may preserve in Mens minds an awful regard of his Majesty, so the consideration of the other may keep them from running into despair. Where Sinners are become bold, more of his Justice is requisite to make them dread his displeasure, and to acknow­ledg the infirmities of their own Nature; but on the contrary, where such a tender­ness is found in the Consciences of Men, [Page 39] that they are extream fearful of their con­dition, notwithstanding to the best of their ability they sincerely endeavour to serve him; he is so far from putting any unnecessary hardship upon them, that he letteth forth the treasures of his Compas­sion upon their disturb'd Souls, does scatter their groundless fears, and refresh and che­rish them with his Mercies.

There is no want of proof to convince Men, that as all the temporal evils they suffer are less than in rigour of justice God might lay upon them; so they never overtake them, before they are necessary either to make them reflect upon the Er­rors of their own ways, or to put a stop to others in a bad Course.

The Servants of God, who have been renowned for their Piety, and whose holy deeds, and glorious sufferings in the Cause of Religion, have been recorded by the Holy Ghost for the imitation of the Follow­ers of Christ, and the support of all afflict­ed Saints, these eminent instruments in the work of the Lord, I say, have ever been so sensible of their own frailty, as to dread the Divine Justice.

[Page 40]They never did presume to insist upon their own Righteousness, when they came before God, as if they had lived with such exactness, according to his Laws, that he could not afflict them, without being injurious. They were not such strangers to themselves, as not to be conscious, that in a great number of respects their beha­viour came short of perfection; which alone can justify a Man. Wherefore we shall never find that they appeal to their Innocence, when they have to deal with their Righteous Judge; but full of the ap­prehension of their guilt, they cast them­selves at his feet, and address their Cause wholly to his Mercy.

David, a Man after God's own heart, openly confesses to him, If thou, Lord, will be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it! i. e. If God should reckon with the best Man in the World for his Sins, and pass Sentence upon him ac­cording to his demerits, his Punishment would be intolerable: Therefore he flies to his Compassion, Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

[Page 41] Job, who being assaulted with many violent Temptations, and harass'd with a number of bitter Calamities, yet sinned not, durst not however stand upon his own Integrity; or think he could make a com­pleat defence of his Life to God: For in answer to his Friend, who had wisely ob­served, That mortal Man could not be more just than God, or more pure than his Maker; he says, I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? or if he will contend with him, he cannot answer him, one of a thou­sand.

Jeremiah, after he had made a large List of the Troubles and Calamities of God's People, charges no Injustice upon him, as if he had treated them more severely than their Case deserv'd; but quite otherwise, he humbly acknowledges, That it was due to the Divine Goodness, that they fared no worse. It is the Lord's mercy we are not con­sumed, because his compassions fail not. And of this the Prophet gives a good reason; because Life, and all a Man enjoys by that capacity, which is preferable to no­thing, is the free grant of God. Where­fore [Page 42] doth a living Man complain, a Man for the punishment of his Sins? i. e. While a Sinner has Life, he hath more than he can claim, and therefore hath no cause to find fault with any smaller evil that God corrects him with for his crimes.

(3.) We must acknowledg the Divine Goodness in our Losses and Sufferings; when we consider, that in the Gospel there is no express Covenant, obliging God to bestow temporal prosperity upon Holy Men. In the Christian Religion there is no absolute promise of worldly Power, Honour, or Wealth, even to them who do perform the Conditions there­of.

And if God has not tied himself to preserve the Saints always in a flourish­ing state, Shall they who are wicked ex­pect it from him? Shall the Sinners de­mand that, as justly belonging to them, which he has not made a debt to the best of his Servants? Wherefore, if God be under no obligation in the Gospel to bestow a greater share of the things of [Page 43] the World, which are by Men so fiercely sought after, than what is necessary to Life, he does not, in depriving us of any of our superfluities, break any one Con­dition of the Covenant between us; since the smallest Secular conveniency in our possession, is more than we can claim, or than he contracted for. Our Saviour was so far from making any engagement, That they who are his Disciples should all be Rich, or Rulers, or Men of interest in the World; that he has declared, Father and Mother, and Wife and Children, and Hou­ses, and Lands, must all be forsaken, where they cannot longer be had without doing dishonour to his Holy Name, or breaking the Laws of his Religion.

And because upon account of their Relations, or Riches, or Power, Men would meet with the most prevailing temptations to transgress the Precepts of the Gospel, it is that Christ does pro­nounce, That it is easier for a Camel to go through the eye of a Needle, than for a rich Man to enter into the Kingdom of God.

[Page 44]May we not then be sure, that Christ would not encourage his Friends to hope for a constant and steddy current of Plenty, and Honours and Pleasure, when these things powerfully draw their affections from him, and tempt them to blot him out of their thoughts? His Kingdom being of another World, none of the Glories of this are necessary to the attainment of it.

And as we do not find, that our Lord made any promise to Christians of an abundance of things, highly valued by the Men of this World; so neither do we observe, that he treats Great Men with more respect, or gives them cause to ex­pect they shall have kinder usage, or re­ceive more favours from him, than the Poor, and those of low Rank. He has made no special Promises to the Rich, and Celebrated and Popular Persons: But the Beatitudes descend upon the Heads of Men of quite other Qualification: Not their outward Circumstances, but the holy dispositions in their Souls, procure and fetch down his Blessings. He blesses [Page 45] the Humble, the Poor in Spirit, the Holy Mourners, the Meek, they that hunger and thirst after Righteousness, and earnestly desire to fulfil God's Just and Good Will; the Merciful, the Pure in Heart, the Peace­makers, and they that suffer Persecution, and are evil spoke of by all for Righteous­ness sake.

And hence it follows, that no body by reason of their Wealth or Honour, are greater objects of Christ's love, or come more within the Verge of his Care; but that men of mean and contemptible state, are as much under the Protection of his Providence, as those of highest Quality; have as plentiful a Portion of his Grace, and stand in as near a capacity to the King­dom of Heaven.

Had our Lord come into the world in­circled with all that Pomp and Power which the Jews expected the Messias should appear with, as he could have been no Ex­ample of Sufferings to his Followers, so would they have been tempted to arrive at some degrees of their Master's Glory, and have set their Hearts upon the Greatness [Page 46] and Splendors of the present state, when it was so principal a part of his work, to teach his Disciples to neglect and despise them.

Since then the Possession of a large Por­tion of worldly Goods, is no part of the Bargain Jesus Christ made with men in his Religion, who only promises a Supply of the Necessaries of Life; and since men, for the most part, have more than what is barely necessary to sustain them, they must acknowledg their great Obligation to the Divine Goodness, with respect of the ful­ness and ease of their condition here upon Earth.

How much men under the Christian Law, owe to the Bounty of God, more than by the terms of it they could demand, is plain, notwithstanding you suppose them to perform every condition of the Gospel, and to live in a state of innocence; but look upon them what really they are, as vile sinners, and then in God's usage of the greatest Sufferers, enough will appear to clear the Justice of his dealings, and to con­vince them, who complain most bitterly, [Page 47] That he has been Gracious, and corrected them with Mercy.

But further; When we reflect upon the utter averseness of the world to the designs of Christ's Religion, and the deep Malice which it bears against those who sincerely profess it, as we shall see reason to believe and expect, that those who live godly in Christ Jesus, should suffer affliction; so al­so all good men may to their unspeakable joy observe, That their Religion does mightily thrive, when the wicked most en­deavour to suppress it; and that nothing more refines the Lives of Christians, and makes them come up to the Purity in the Gospel required, than Persecution.

Of that part of Providence which ex­tracts Good out of Evil, the Ancient Fa­ther discourses well; ‘It is, saith he, the greatest Argument of Divine Providence, that it not only altogether destroys the hurtful quality of the Evil which proceeds from the Apostacy of Human Will; but also does not suffer it to abide useless and unprofitable; for it is the business of the Divine Wisdom, Virtue, and Power, not [Page 48] only to do good (for that is the Nature of God, to say it once for all, as much as it is of Fire to burn, and of Light to shine), but especially to order and direct, that the Devices of the Wicked should serve to good and useful Purposes.’ Clem. Alex. Strom. lib. 1. p. 312.

As therefore it is in the nature of Unbe­lievers, and of the Prophane, to hate the People of God, and to deal cruelly by them; so it is God's Will to suffer it, that thereby his own may be improved in that Piety and Virtue which will prepare them for his Presence, and incline him to take them out of all their Troubles the sooner unto himself.

And tho it be a great crime in naughty men to persecute the Servants of God, yet they have the less reason to complain of it, or to be very uneasie when afflicted; be­cause their sufferings do tend so much to their Perfection. Nay, on the contrary, they ought to esteem it as a mark and to­ken of God's Kindness, that he is pleased to better and advance their Nature, even by Adversity. And it is no less than a de­monstration of Infinite Wisdom, that the [Page 49] Plots which are laid to ruin the Saints, should make them more perfect; and that, to the astonishment of all men, the Spight and Cruelty of Persecutors should make Religion take deeper root, to grow the faster, and in the shorter time to spread it self over the face of the Earth.

If indeed we regard the Malice and Rage of men, certainly enough has been attempted to banish the Gospel and Name of Jesus Christ out of the World, had not God appeared on its side, and maintained his own Cause and People. And while God is with us, and does support the Interest of the Religion wherein we are engaged, we may re­main confident, that Captivity, Imprison­ment, Bonds, and Scourges, how much soever at present they may terrifie and grieve us, yet they shall never over­throw the Christian Church, or reduce to a state of Desparation, the sincere Be­lievers; but God's special Grace will help and carry them through troubles of [Page 50] every kind and degree, and make all con­clude in their Salvation.

Let us then not hope either that the Wicked should alter the Perverseness of their Natures; or that for our sakes God should change the Wise Methods of his Providence. Let us not think we shall have kinder usage from the World, than Christ and his Apostles had, and than the Army of Martyrs and Confessors, and all the Primitive Christians did meet with.

But as we are baptized into the Name of Christ, so never let us be asham'd openly to profess it, or afraid to bear the Cross of our dear Master: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. And let us steddily look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy which was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God; for consider him that en­dured such contradiction of sinners against him­self, lest ye be wearied, and faint in your minds. Heb. 12.23.

[Page 51](4.) We must acknowledg the Good­ness of God, whether in Sickness, Pain, or Trouble, when we place our Medi­tations on the inestimable Rewards of the next Life, which he has provided to recompence the Sufferings of Holy Men in this. Our deep ignorance of the Joys of the other Life, will make all things said of them, to be with great disadvantage. The Philosophers, and Men of refined Reason, were general­ly possest with the Belief of a Future State; of which yet their Discourses are obscure, and full of uncertainty; and when they handle this Argument, they are often inconsistent with themselves. Neither need this be a wonder; since it is not to be imagined that by Natural Light, we should be able to make any large discovery of the Pleasures of Hea­ven: For they do so vastly differ from Worldly Enjoyments, and so infinitely surpass all the Pleasures of Sense, that our present Experience will not at all enable us to frame a Conception of them.

[Page 52]So that the best Information we are to expect in this matter, must be from the Holy Scripture; neither doth that it self descend into a particular description of the nature of Heavenly Joys: The Spi­rit thought it sufficient for the support of our Faith, to give a general account of the uncounceivable Happiness of the Future Life; and to let us have full as­surance that it should be the Portion of all those, who shall to the end perse­vere in a sincere obedience to the Laws of the Gospel. And notwithstanding, the best Progress we can make in our enqui­ry after the Delights of the Glorious World above, will be chiefly by Nega­tives; for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entred into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him; yet the consideration of them, will be mighty comfortable, and enough to make us bear up under all the Pressures and Troubles which shall attend the Cross of Christ.

In Heaven we shall be free from all Sins; and from every Temptation to do [Page 53] evil, which now proceeds from so huge a number of causes and occasions. We shall be placed above the reach of the Malice and Power of the Devil; whose perpetual work it is, to lay Plots to corrupt our Innocence, to take and en­snare our Souls by his cunning De­vices.

We shall be removed from the sight and company of bad men, who by their ill example, and restless importunity, are ever inticing us to sin. We now con­verse among the dangerous Enemies of our Souls, who have a constant eye up­on us; so that if we do but forbear to watch never so little, they will surprize us; if we do not walk circumspectly, we presently shall be made to fall; if we do not pray continually, the wick­ed will prove too strong for us, and de­ceive us with the gaudy appearance of their tempting baits.

O what a perpetual struggle have we with our Lusts! and how much pains does it cost to overcome them, when they violently press upon us!

[Page 54]What a Vexation and Grief is it to our Minds, that we find it so hard to subdue the Motions to almost every sin! Nay, that those Lusts which we have conquered, should rally their Forces, assault us afresh, and sometimes prove too many for us, and often so terrifie us, as to make the Victory hazardous! so that we are fain to cry out with the great Apostle, O wretched creatures that we are, who shall deliver us from this body of Death! Who shall deliver us from the Tyranny of our impetuous Lusts, which are always labouring to get the Rule over us, and would lead us captive into the Gates of Death! We have not strength enough in our selves; nothing but the Grace of God, and the cherishing Influences of his Ho­ly Spirit, will enable us to get the Ma­stery over our own Rebellious Appe­tites.

So difficult it is for the Spirit to con­quer the Flesh, and to drive Satan out of his strong-holds; who will dispute eve­ry Pass, and contend every point with us; [Page 55] and never yield, while we allow him the least encouragement.

O what fears must be injected into the hearts of faint and timorous Christians, by their being constantly plyed with such implacable Adversaries! To serve God in­deed, is their real desire, and they love him with all their hearts; but despair holding out under these furious and hour­ly attacks of the Powers of Hell. They dread they shall fall away in this day of heavy tribulation, and would give all they were worth, to be secured from the danger and trouble of their Temp­tations.

Now in the next world, these Sor­rows, and Fears and Dangers, which are here so frightful and so constant, will all be at an end: And what an undisturbed Peace, and equality of Temper will the Mind possess, when it is got past the ha­zard of all kinds of Temptation; when the Flesh shall be entirely subject to the Spirit, and make no further opposition to its reasonable dictates; and there shall be nothing which can raise the least com­motion [Page 56] or disorder within it; but it shall abide in an uninterrupted course of In­nocence; and behold all its Enemies lying slain before it, as the Israelites did with Joy and Triumph look back upon the drowned Egyptians, floting on the Red Sea.

And as we shall be freed from the Power of Sin, so we shall get rid of all the Vexations, Grievances, and Miseries of this world; many of which are the natural fruit, and proper effects of our sins. We shall be strangers to the drudge­ry and labours, which are so necessary to get a Livelihood in this earthly state, and to all the fears and cares which are needful to preserve our Gains, and to con­vey th [...]m down safe and entire to our Children and Posterity. Neither Pover­ty, nor Contempt, nor Disgrace, will threaten us; neither the Covetousness of men will lessen our Plenty, nor their Perverseness disturb our Peace, nor their Cruelty bring any Hardship upon us: We shall meet with no Difficulties to perplex our Thoughts, nor Dangers to [Page 57] exercise our Fears; but abide in a state of perpetual Love and Friendship with all our fellow-creatures.

And as in the Regions of Heaven we shall get above the Power of Tempta­tion, the Malice of ill men, and all the Calamities of the lower World; so shall these infirm, crazy, and fading Bodies, which stand in need of daily supplies to repair their decays, and which minister fuel constantly to our Passions, be chan­ged into Incorruptible, Heavenly, and Immortal ones; which will not solicite and make the Soul uneasie with their hunger; nor clog and burden it with their weight; nor discourage and grieve it with their gross and melancholly fumes; nor spot and defile it with their Lust. We shall know nothing more of Disea­ses, nor Pains and Aches, nor Hunger nor Thirst. They hunger no more, neither thirst any more; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne, shall feed them; and shall lead them unto living Fountains of Wa­ters. Then we shall be clothed with Robes of Beautiful Light, and the Righ­teous [Page 58] shall shine as the Stars of the Fir­mament for ever.

In that Holy Place our Desires will be gratified; our Appetites will have full satisfaction; our highest expectati­ons will be answer'd; and all our hopes turn'd into Fruition: But notwithstand­ing every capacity of our nature will be filled with its proper pleasure, yet they shall never be glutted; but as the Fa­vours of Heaven increase, so will our Faculties be more and more enlarged to receive them: And although there shall be no end of our Joys, yet their perpe­tual abode will never cloy us; who shall to all Eternity be improving into a great­er Likeness of God; and still attain there­by to a higher, and more quick and sen­sible Relish of our Heavenly Delights.

Then we shall be admitted into the most desirable and pleasing Company: We shall converse with Angels, and be of the Society of all the Holy Men, who have been so renown'd in their Ge­nerations, and have set those admirable Examples of Godliness and Virtue. There [Page 59] we shall sit down by our nearest and most dear Relations, whose departure hence was so terrible and grievous to us; by our best Friends, Neighbours, and Ac­quaintance, and love and rejoice together, and praise the Lord for the great good, which by our mutual Piety we did one to another.

O then we shall behold the Glorious Face of our Ever-Blessed Redeemer, who sacrificed his own Blood to rescue us from the Power and Guilt of our Sins, and to bring us into this most illustrious Habitation! And that which swallows all the Powers of our Imagination, we shall come into the Presence of the great and mighty God, and see him as he is, and for ever be taken up in rapturous con­templations of the inconceivable bright­ness and splendor of his Infinite Ma­jesty.

Now when we duly consider that these shall be the unexpressible Rewards of our slight and short Afflictions, will it not appear most just and reasonable that we should submit to the Will of God in all things?

[Page 60]As nothing will tend more to God's Glory, so nothing will agree more with our Interest, or more produce true Com­fort and Peace in our Minds; than thank­fully to receive all that God gives, and patiently and meekly to bear the loss of all he takes away; who will so infinite­ly recompence all our sufferings for his sake in the next life.

And since God has provided such Joys for our Souls in the other State, O that he would quicken our Desires, and help our Endeavours to prepare our selves for them! Seeing he hath been pleased to chuse our Bodies for Temples for his Holy Spirit to dwell in, O that he would free them from all Malice and Impuri­ty, and chase away every strange and filthy Lust from his chosen Habitation!

O that we might have so lively a sense of the Goodness of the Lord, and of the Infinite Advantage we shall gain therefrom, as not to give sleep to our eyes, nor slumber to our eye-lids, until from the bottom of our Hearts, we had repented of every sin; until we had [Page 61] worked up our Souls to an utter hatred of it, and obstinately resolv'd to forsake it; until laying aside all the Thoughts and Interests of this World, we had em­ployed our Souls wholly in making a firm, well-grounded, and lasting Peace with our God.

May we so frequently meditate on the Glories of his Nature, as earnestly to la­bour and strive to grow like him in his Truth, and Purity, and Love, and Mer­cy. May we so often spend our thoughts on Heaven, that the Joys thereof may deeply affect our souls, and become most desirable unto us.

Did we deliberately consider these things, it can be no question, but we should make it the great business of our whole lives, to fit and duly qualifie our selves for the Kingdom of Heaven. We should abundantly more endeavour to live as the Righteous man doth, did we oftner reflect upon the unspeakable Com­forts which attend his Death; did we but seriously think upon the Peace and Joy with which he finisheth his course, and de­parts this Life.

[Page 62]For Death will only be to him a Pas­sage from bad Men, and malicious De­vils, to Holy Angels, and Innocent and Blessed Souls; from Labours, and Trou­bles, and Toils, to perpetual Ease and Quiet, and most durable Satisfaction; from Pains and Grief, and Sickness, to Everlasting Delights.

When the Wicked shall begin to trem­ble, and their hearts to fail and sink within them, and their Consciences to astonish and amaze them with a full and lively Representation of their many vile sins, and the notorious and shameful abuses they have put upon all God's ten­der Mercies, and of the intolerable slights and contempt with which they have re­ceived his Numerous and kind Invitati­ons to turn from their evil ways and live; and when there shall be no other Prospect before their Eyes, but that of Misery, Horror, and Confusion; then shall you good Christians look up towards Hea­ven, and behold certain signs of your Salvation drawing near.

[Page 63]O in what a Transport of Pleasure will your Souls be, in the minute they are reunited to your Bodies, and shall be­hold that most Blessed and most dear Saviour approching towards you on a bright Cloud, whom you have served with all your Powers, and the great­est and most solicitous Care, to the end of your days; whom you have loved above all, and denied the fiercest Ap­petites of the Flesh, and stoutly resist­ed the most pressing Temptations of the World, that you might follow him, and exactly conform your selves to his most Holy Example: When this Glorious Sa­viour of yours, appearing in all his Ma­jesty, shall call you forth from the midst of that vast Assembly of men of all Times and Places, and looking very graciously upon you, shall take particular notice of the Zeal, Love, sincere Affection and Piety with which you have always be­haved your selves towards him, and in his Cause.

O what Tongue can describe the Joy you will feel in your hearts, when the [Page 64] Camp of Heaven, as it marches and moves on, shall shout and rejoice to meet you; when the Angels, who conceived so much Pleasure at your first Conversion, shall loudly triumph at the Consumma­tion of your Happiness!

O how will your Souls overflow with grateful Reflections upon the Boundless Goodness of God, when the Patriarchs, and Prophets, and Holy Apostles, and Glorious Martyrs, with all the People of the Lord, shall congratulate your escape from a wicked and miserable World, and sing, and praise their Redeemer, at this the accomplishment of your Salva­tion!

When having put on a Splendid Body of Light, Christ shall present you to his Father on the Throne, and reckon up all your Prayers, and Fastings, and Tears; all your Acts of Devotion; all your Deeds of Charity and Compassion to those in Misery; your readiness on every occa­sion to comfort Widows, relieve Orphans, and to deliver the humble and helpless from the hard hands of the Oppres­sor; [Page 65] your Meekness, Temperance, and Chastity, and incessant Pains to re­duce your lower appetites to a ready Obedience to the Divine Laws, and the suggestions of clear Reason; when your Kindness to Strangers; your Humility in a Prosperous State; your Patience and Submission in Adversity; your unshaken Constancy to the Interests of him your dear Master under Persecution; and your steddy adherence to the True Faith, in the Times of greatest danger, shall be all distinctly rehearsed, and accepted, and adjudged worthy of Eternal Re­wards!

O how thankful will you be to God for the day in which you did seriously begin your Repentance! how will you love the man who did minister the oc­casion, and was the Instrument of your sincere Conversion, and did first guide you into the right Paths of Everlasting Happiness!

Do Thou therefore, O Lord, reveal to us so much of the Beauty of Thy Perfe­ctions, [Page 66] that with all our Heart, and all our Strength, we may seek Thee; do Thou so direct our Steps, that having sought, we may find Thee; and having found Thee, may Reverence Thy Maje­sty, Dread Thy Power, Obey Thy Will, Love Thy Goodness, Adore all Thy At­tributes, and Increase in all Deeds of Pie­ty, until thou shalt put an end to this mor­tal Life, and take us into a Glorious Eter­nity.

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