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tural Consequence and just Punishment of that; and such a terrible Punishment it is, as should make us afraid of being over-curious in Matters to far above us.
2. If this does not make us Atheists, yet k is apt to give us very wrong Notions concerning God, which is a very great Evil, next to Atheism it self.
This we know tempted some Meri to afiert two Principles, or two Gods, a good and a bad God; for when they observed such a mixture of Good and Evil in the nature of things,they thought it impossible, that a good God stould be the Author of so much Evil as is in this Worlds and because they could not answer this Difficulty., nor give an account how a good God should make and| govern the World, and yet there be so much Evil and Wickedness in it,- they concluded that there; was a bad God, who was the Author of all the Evil in the World, and a good God of all the Good. But this starts a much more unaccountable Difficulty, how a good and a bad God stiould agree together in making and governing the World: For can any thing be more opposite to each other, than essential Good and essential Evil? They can never agree, and therefore they must be either equal in Power, or must destroy each other; if they be equal, neither of them are Omnipotent, for two Omnipotents is a Contradiction; and then neither one nor both could make the World, which is a Work of Omnipotence: At least since it is impossible they should agree together to make a World; as impossible, as that essential Goodness should consent to any thing tha t
is Evil i or essential Evil consent to any thing that is good; they must necessarily hinder each other in making the World, if their Power were equal; and then the World had never been made. But I shall not trouble you, with the Confutation ojf this, but only point you to the Source and Origine of this Mischief, which in its Consequence overthrows all Religion.
Others to ease themselves of these Difficulties ©f reconcih;jg all the Passages of Providence to God*s Wisdom and Justice, set them both aside, and resolve all into God's Arbitrary and Sovereign Will and Pleasure• who makes himself, and the advancement of his, own Glory his sole endf They lay it down indeed as an agreed Principle, That all that God does, is wife, and good, and just; but we must not examine this by Humane Rules and Measures of Goodness and Justice; for God is anabsolute Sovereign, and unaccountable to his Creatures ; his Will is the Rule of Justice, and he wills what is most for his own Glory ; he magnifies his Goodness and Grace in a free and arbitrary kindness to some of his Creatures; and magnifies his Justice in as free and arbitrary Severities to others: he makes some Creatures to be Objects of his Love, and others to be the Objects of his Vengeance and Displeasure: and thus they cut. the Kr*ot which they can't «nty. . .
But this is a greater Difficulty than al! the rest, to a. considering man, who would much rather chuse to give no account of the Div ine Providence, than to give so ill an account of the Nature ot God: Arbitrary Will and Power is the very worst Notion we can have of God: It destroys our Love
to to him, and our Hope and Confidence in him, unless we can fancy him as partial to us as we are to our selves; it turns Religion into a superstitious dread of God, or hypocritical Flatteries; destroys the Notions of Good or Evil, or all regard to them, while we think God takes no notice of them himself.
This may satisfy us, how dangerous it is to be too inquisitive into the Mysteries of Providence, which God hath thought fit to conceal from us; which should make us careful to keep our distance, and humbly to reverence and adore God, and trust his Wisdom beyond our own Understanding of things; and in order to cure this Curiosity, consider,
II. How unreasonable it is to disturb our Minds with such Difficulties of Providence, as we cannot answer; or to draw any such Conclusion from them, as shall either stake our Faith as to the Being or Providence of God, or corrupt our Notions of him; and there are two things which may satisfy any man in this:
ist, That there are a great many things which are called Difficulties, which may be very fairly accounted for, and therefore the Difficulty is not in the things, but owing to our want of Understanding; which is reason enough to presume,that thus it may be in other cases too, since as mens Knowledge increases, so the Difficulties of Providence lessen; which stould make us never quarrel at Providence, but bewail our own Ignorance, and grow modest under a sense of it.
idly. That in such matters as we can give no account of, there may be plain reasons assigned
* why no Account can be given of them in this World:;
i. As for the first, it is easie to give many Instances of it: There are many things which Mankind greatly complain of, and tor which they think themselves very hardly used by God, which upon a true Estimate of things, considering the corrupt State of Human Nature, arc greatly for the Happiness of the World; and tho' rhey were inflicted as Punishments by God3 yer have an excellent Temperament of Wisdom and Goodness,
This I have formerly shewed you, as to that Sentence ofDeath which God pronounced against Mankind, after the Fall of cur first Parents, Dust . thou art, and to Dust thou fl).?lt return; and as to h;s fhortning the Lives of Men after the, Flood; and I shall now give another Instance in that Curse God pronounced upon the Earth for the Sin of Man, to which we owe most of that Pain, and Toil, and Labour, which is under the Sun, • and most of the Miseries and Calamities of Human Life: And if in this also the Wisdom and Goodness, as well as the Justice and Severity cf God appears, I hope it will convince us how reasonable it is to be modest in our Censures cf' Providence, and to. conclude, that God is equally wife and good in those things which we do not understand.
The Justice of this is very evident; for when Man, who was the Lord of the Creation .had rebelled against God, itwasvery just for God to punish him; and the most proper Punishment which he could inflict on him, next to his own MorcaliK ty,
ty, was to Curse those Creatures which were made for his Use and Delight: As God told Adam, when he had eaten the forbidden Fruit, Because thou haft bearkned to the Voice os thy Wife, and eaten os the Tree whereof I commanded thee Jay ingi Thou (halt not eat of it: Cursed is the Ground for thy fake; in Sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the Days of thy Life. Thorns also and Thistles snail it bring forth to thee; and thou jhalt eat the Herb of the Field. In the Sweat os thy Brow (halt thou eat Bread, until thou return to the Grounds for out of it wast thou taken y for Dust thou art, and unto Dust thou jhalt return, 3. Gen. 17. For Ineed not tell you this Curse upon the Ground was no Punishment to the Ground, which was sensible of no hurt, but to Man, who was to live upon it; it defaced the Beauty and Glory of the Creation, and entailed a toilsome and painful Life on him; it made his Food less wholsome, and more hard to come by: And whereas all Creatures before were in perfect Subjection to Man, according to the grand Character of the Creation, Have Dominion ever the Fish of the Sea, andovtr the Fowl of the Air,and over every living thing that moveth on the Earth, 1. Gen. 28, Ji(ow we find by Experience that they have cast off thjs Yoke, and very often revenge the Quarrel of their Maker upon Apostate Man. Thus Man fell from the Glory and Happiness oshis Nature; and yet if we wisely consider things, we shall find Excellent Wisdom and Goodness even in this .
Curse. . ... v.. i ..\
For Man having corrupted himself, the best State hecouldbe put into, was an industrious and laborious Life; to force him to work hard to get his Living, andcoearn hisEread with the Sweat of _