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nary Circumstances of the Case, for any alteration to happen to the Fortunes of the One, which shall not very sensibly affect the Other also. The same Titles in Law, the fame Advantages in Trade, the fame Hazards of Person, are shared between them. . The same Vessel at Sea, the same Family on Land, the fame Shop in the City, contains both. So that it is not possible, according to any Human Consideration, for Storms, or Fire, or Pestilence, or any other common Calamity, to sever between them.
Not only so ; but even in those Disasters, that are more Particular and Personal, the Wicked will have some Partners, or Relations, or Friends, who must suffer in them, or with them, or for them. Nay, they will suffer so much the more sensibly, as themselves are better Men; because such are proportionably more tender and compassionate. For Virtue, above all things, softens our Hearts, and fills them with kind and merciful Refentments. Religion is the highest Improvement of Humanity and Good-nature; and none, who is a Christian indeed, can see the Sufferings, even of Them, who deserve most to suffer, without Impression or Concern. So great a Mercy is it to the Righteous, that the Wicked are spared at present. Because it saves them a multitude of Tragical and AMicting Spectacles, which, if God should take swift Vengeance upon Sinners, would render Life a most uncomfortable thing, and turn the World into a Scene of Grief and Horror, of Misery and Blood.
From hence we fee, how impoffible it is, for even that Providence, which can distinguish exactly between the Good and the Bad, to punish the Bad without the Good; except we suppose a Change to be made, in the Condition of all Human Affairs, and in the very Nature of Goodness it felf. For, as the mutual Relations and Concerns of Mankind are
ordered, the Evil cannot suffer without involving the Good, and drawing These into a part of the Punishment, by suffering together with them. And, as the Temper of Religion now stands, the Good will at least be touched with a feeling of their Miseries, and so must needs suffer, and be afflicted, for them.
3. But Thirdly, Could the Tares be entirely gathered up without Danger and Detriment to the Corn, in either of the forementioned Respects; yet it is the part of a provident Housholder to let them stand; because, by so doing, the Price and Goodness of the Wheat is raised. Which is as much as to say, That a Mixture of Bad Men ministers many occasions of Virtue to the Good, and gives them great Advantages of exerting Themselves, without such a Mixture never to be had. It is therefore, upon this account alfo, an Eminent Instance of the Divine Wisdom and Kindness both, ftill to continue such a Mixture. The Deformity of some Vices, the folly and unprofitableness of Others, the vanity of Luft and sensual Pleasures, the Treachery and Disappointment of all worldly Expectations, would be but coldly represented in Words; if we had not living Examples, to furnish undeniable Demonstration of these things: Sad Monuments daily before our Eyes, to bring the truth of the matter home to our very Senses. But when all this is done, we are then powerfully excited to decline our selves, what we cannot but pity, or despise, or detest in others. The severer Dispensations of Justice upon the Wicked, in the Natural, the Morai, the Providential, Consequences of a profligate Conversation, though exercised but sparingly at present, and neither upon all that deserve them, nor in all the Extremity, that some may conceive reasonable; are yet frequent and sharp enough, to daunt the Daring, to settle the Wavering, to raise the Satisfactions of a
resolved Good Man, and to convince as many as con-
It is confess’d indeed, These are they that turn the
But especially, to name One Instance more only, Christian Patience and Fortitude are a plain Evidence of this Point. For it is to the Refractory and Perverse, the Barbarous and Bloody, that the brightest Crowns in Heaven are in some measure owing. Had not those Tares been suffered, not only to stand with, but even to top it over, and shed their Venom upon, the Wheat; the Truth could never have triumphed in her noble Army of Martyrs. Nay, which
is the highest we can poslibly go, The Redemption of Mankind by the Death of the Blessed Jesus, and that most perfect Pattern of all Goodness, is a Consequence of this Mixture. For, how could a Person so excellent have been treated so ignominiously, how that inimitable Meekness have shone so gloriously, had not God permitted the Treachery of an Apostle to betray Him, the Subornation of Pharisees to testify fally against Him, the Cowardice of a Time-servirg Judge to condemn Him, and the unrelenting Cruelty of an inflamed Rabble to crucify Him? Nothing more can be needful to shew, of what Importance it is, that God should think fit to forbear very Bad Men: Or how much Virtue is beholden to Vice, for its Lustre and Force: Since even the Cruelty and Malice of them who wish it worst, awaken its Powers, render the Examples of it more illustrious; and so, in Fact and in Event, exalt and beautify, while their Intention and Endeavour is, to darken and suppress, it.
Thus much may suffice to be spoken, of the Reasons for God's permitting a Mixture of Tares in this Common-field of the World, so far as the Safety and Advantage of the Wheat is consulted by such Forbearance ; That is, The Benefit of those Good Men, among whom the Wicked have Dealings and Conversation. I now proceed to a Second sort of Reasons, such as relate to the Wicked themselves.
And of These my Subject leads me to Two, than which no more are necessary to be mentioned. Because the One illustrates the Goodness, the Other, the Justice of God, in this Dispensation.
1. First, The Goodness of God is very manifeft, in that, by this method, Sinners have longer Time allowed them, to recollect and to reform in. For it is an Observation of considerable weight in the present Argument, that the Case of this Myftical, "differs greatly from That of the Natural, Growth, There,
whatsoever is once a vicious and unprofitable Seed, can never change its Quality ; but Here, these Tares may, by the Grace of God, and their own better Consideration, ennoble their kind, and, after standing long among the Wheat, at last become Wheat themselves. That this is an effect intended by all delays of Punishment, St. Peter plainly declares ; when rendring this Account of our Lord's deferring to come
to Judgment, The Lord (says he) is not 2 Pet. iii. 8.
Nack concerning his promise, as some men count Nackness, but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all hould come to repentance. And, that this is the Improvement proper to be made of all such Delays, is no less evident from St. Paul; who, in his Epistle to the Romans, rebukes
the Jews, for despising the riches of God's Rom. ii. 4, 5.
goodness and forbearance, and long-suffering, and represents their not knowing, that is, not considering that the goodness of God leads men to repentance, as a mark of their hardness and impenitent beart.
The longer such People are spared, the more leisure and opportunities they have for Amendment. The Examples of Others, the various Disposals of Providence, the signal Mercies and Severities of it, are so many fresh Arguments, continually offering them felves, and stirring up new Thoughts and serious Reflections. And every Judgment, that stops short of utter extirpation, is an awakening Call; an Expedient for cherishing the Principles of a spiritual Life. The lopping off luxuriant Branches, and cutting the Stock down low, as well as digging about and dunging the Tree, are methods of Pruning and Cultivating. But plucking up by the Roots, and casting into the fire, cannot become a Master of the Vineyard, till all other Experiments have been made use of to no purpose. And, since it would ill agree with the