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should stand so thick with Corn, that they Serm. V should laugh and fing, must be ascribed to God; as well as that the Food of Angels was given from above to the Israelites : Because a regular, constant and uniform Effect, in which there are evident Traces of Wisdom and Benevolence, stands as much in Need of the Operation of a wise and benevolent Being, equal to the Effect, to produce it constantly at set Times and Seafons; as an occasional, infrequent and extraordinary Phænomenon does to produce it now and then, when an extraordinary Ocsion offers.
The Generation of a human Body in the ordinary Way is no more to be accounted for by the Laws of Mechanism, than the Raising of a dead Body from the Grave : And the only assignable Motive, why we attribute the latter to the immediate Agency of God, and not the former ; is that the late ter is an unusual Operation of the Deity. If we faw Bodies commonly rise from the Grave, as we do Corp from Seed fown in the Earth; we should endeavour to explain this Effect, just as we do the other, from philosophical Causes exclusive of the First*, * See Dr. Clarke's Reply to Leibnitz, Page 35!.
No Beings, but what have Life and Sense, can, in Propriety of Speech, be termed Caufes : All other Things being dead and unactive are only like Tools in the Hand of a Workman: And whatever we ascribe to Matter a passive Being, must be resolved into his Will, who useth Matter as an Instrument. Can Matter, which resists every Change of State, effect what it resists, not only move itself, but change it’s Motion from a straight to a circular one, and give itself a new Direction; as the Planets must do to describe their Orbits round the Sun ? But I need not insist
this Point any longer. For to deny a Providence in general, is, in effect, to deny a God. If there be a God-invested with the Attributes of infinite Power, Wisdom and Goodness; Providence is nothing but the Exercise of those Attributes, viz, his Wisdom, Power and Goodness on the Creation in general. It cannot be supposed, that he will let those Attributes lye dormant in Him in a State of Inaction, without exerting them at all.
A general Providence then must be granted : But a particular Providence is clogged with some Difficulties. I shall therefore, to remove them,
It, State the Doctrine of a particular Serm. V.
IIIdly, I shall prove the Certainty and
IVtbly, Subjoin and conclude with some
IX, Then, I am to state the Doctrine of a particular Providence.
1st, We must not expect, that God's particular Providence would interpose, where our own Endeavours are sufficient. For that would be to encourage Sloth and Idleness, instead of countenancing and support: ing Virtue. Nor ought we to expect to be relieved from Difficulties and Distresses, into which our own Mismanagement and criminal Conduct have plunged us. But when without any Fault of ours our Affairs are so perplexed and intangled, that human Allistance will be of no Avail; then we must have Recourse to God, that he would give us Wisdom to conduct us through all the Labyrinths and Intricacies of Life, Resolution to grapple with Difficulties, and Strength to overcome them. In this Light K 4
Serm. V the Prayer, which yosephus puts into the
Mouth of Moses just before his Passage through the Red Sea, is very just and beautiful. Unpassable Rocks barred his Escape one Way, the numerous Host of the Egyptians blocked
others: Before him stood the Red Sea. In this Situation Moses just upon the Brink of Ruin applies himself thus to God: “ Lord, thou knowest that no " Strength, Wisdom or Contrivance of
qurs can here be of any Significancy. It " is in thy Power alone to find out a Way “ for the Deliverance of this People, who
by thy Command and under thy Con« duct have left Egypt. Despairing of all “ other Ways, we flee to thee alone for “ Succour ; Lord, let it come speedily ; “give us a full Proof of thy Almighty “ Power and Veracity. We are in great «. Straits, great and unsurmountable by us; " but to Thee flight and inconsiderable. " The Sea is thine and it obstructs our
Progress: The Mountains that shut us
up, are thine too. Thou canst divide " this Sea; or turn its Waves into firm “ Land, or make us find a safe Passage “ through the Deep *.” Fosephi Opera, Vol. 1. Pag. go. Hudson's Edit.
Here was a Knot too hard for any but SERM. V. the Deity to unty : and therefore the Deity descended
the Scene to unravel the perplexing Difficulty.
But in common Cases the best Way is to rely upon Providence, as if all human Endeavours and Resources were useless, as indeed they are, without it; and yet to exert our Endeavours as vigorously, as if Providence would not interpose at all. For God will not proftitute his Power to supersede our Endeavours as to what we can do; He will only fupply, what we cannot do.
2dly, We must not expect that Providence would so far consult our private Interest, as to counterwork that of the whole. Those general Laws, which are calculated for the Good of the whole, may, in some Cases, be detrimental to some few Persons ; but, in the Main, are beneficial even to them. For if God should, upon no extraordinary Emergency, for no prepollent Good, deviate from his Laws; the utmost Reach and Compass of Thought would avail no more, than Childhood and Ignorance : All human Industry and Forenght would be at a Stand, which depend on Things going generally on in a stated Track. For there could be