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Against Gods Providence. 75
siticerity of man, keep up an intercourse between God and the world. Some have thought God a sleepy God, as though he never cared how the world moved, so he might rest, Zeph. 1.12. Some thought it below God's majesty to mind sublunary things, as though it were more unworthy for God to govern them, than it was to create them. This appears,
1. In ascribing his works to second causes. When we look upon second causes as the authors of benefits we enjoy, and attribute to them what is due to God, and ascribe them to blind chance, or the dexterity of our own wit, and thither return our thank-offerings; They sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense to their drag, Heb. I. 16. Deifying the creature, the instrument, without any, or, a formal regard to the chief actor. In chastisements we look not upon sin as the meritorious, or God as the efficient cause. Thus Balaam spurred on his ass, and never considered the angel that stood in the way. Many regard instruments, and never consider God, who does all the evil in the city; and thus rob God both of the honour of his mercies, and die obedience required both by him and his chastisements.
2. In the offence we take, and the resistance we make to his providences if they cross our will. Sometimes men will charge the providence of God in times of affliction, that he is unjust towards them, and inflicts punishments when they deserve rewards; therefore the spirit of God gives it as commendation of Job, that in all this, i. e. in those many afflictions, he did not charge God foolishly, Job 1. 22, a praise scarce to be given to any man in the world. We are apt to murmur, as if God were bound to take care of us, and act all for our good, and neglect the whole world besides; or as though it were fitter for him to govern according to our foolish wills, than his own wise and righteous will. Sometimes men will oppose the designs of his providence. The Gadarenes are so startled at the loss of their swine, that with a joint con.sent they desire Christ to depart from their coasts, having no mind to entertain his person or his doctrine, when they should rather have been moved by his miraculous power and his preaching, to have enquired into the gospel which he preached. When the carnal interest of men's grandeur is struck at, they will quarrel at the powerful ways of God, Acts 5. 16, 17. The high priests and sadducees were filled with indignation at the apostle's miracles, which had reason enough to convince them, had they not had too much malice to withstand them. Instead of submitting to the rod, we rage against God, when he is correcting us; and, like chaff, fly in the face of him that fans us. Not like children, submitting to a father, but like rebels, denying his superiority over us.
3. In our misinterpretations of providence. Shimei misinterpreted the providence of God, when David fled from Jerusalem upon his son Absalom's rebellion. Oh, saith he, now God will revenge the house of Saul, 2 Sam. 16. 7, 8. We will put interpretations upon God's acts according to our fancies, humours, and wishes; therefore the Spirit of God takes particular notice, that Shimei was of the house of Saul, and therefore according to his own humour accounted this a punishment, for his outing the house of Saul from the government. This is a high usurpation of God's prerogative, who is the best interpreter of his own acts, as well as his laws.
1 p. Enmity to his content and pleasure.
I. In his nature. Such an enmity there is in sin, that it strives to make a confusion in God himself, a war in bis very nature: for sin put God to his infinite wisdom to satisfy all the perfections of his nature. If he spared the sinner, how could he be just? If he destroyed him, how could he be merciful? What wit of men or angels could contrive a way to compose those attributes, and make truth and righteousness, mercy and justice, to kiss each other, and still those jars which sin endeavoured to make between them? Against sovereign Pleasure. 77
If justice should have its full due, what would become of the creature? If mercy should only act its part, what would become of the righteousness of God'* nature? If the creature should be damned by the severity of justice, mercy might sit weeping for want of objects, unless new ones were created. If mercy should have its contentment in the impunity of the sinner, righteousness and truth might bewail the want of a due satisfaction. The heart of mercy would be broken if sin were punished; and the cry of justice would be perpetual, unless the. sinner fell under his own demerits. That surely is the greatest enemy, that endeavours to set division in a man's own family and nature.
2. In his works. Men endeavour to disappomt God of his glory, the end of his creation, and the most valuable jewel he reserves for his own use, and will not impart to another. God created all things for himself, and man by turning them to another use. evidences, that he would not let God have the pleasure of his own works, or the rent due to him for them. Sin made him repent that ever he put his hand to the framing that world, which after the creation he had pronounced good, Gen. 6. 6, 7; and made God be grieved at his own creatures, which with so much wisdom he made, and so much delight acquiesced in. God requires no more of man for all his benefits, but a service, and they deny him this, and endeavour to make him weary of his life, as if we studied how we could most vex and disquiet him. Thou hast fretted me in all those things, Ezek. 16. 43.
God created the world to have a service from his rational creatures, and yet their services naturally, as well as their sins, are a trouble to him, and tire him, that he is ready to shake the world in pieces. Your appointed feasts, my soul hateth , I am weary to bear them, they are q trouble to me, Isa. 1. 14; so that he can have no ease but in the acts of vengeance. Ah, I will ease me of my adversar ies, and avenge me of mine enemies, ver. 24. God created the world, not for any need he had of it, but to communicate his own goodness, and made man as a choice vessel to receive it; but man shrinks his soul, that goodness cannot enter upon him, and so endeavours to frustrate God of this end. Can there be a greater contempt, than to deny God the satisfaction of his own works?
Now to sum up all that has been said. Suppose, if it were possible, that there were another God to judge, or an indifferent person to judge between God and men, of this world, and had a copy of all the laws and promises, records of all God's dealings, would he not judge by the practices of men, that God was some cruel Pharaoh, that notwithstanding all his fair words and promises, minded nothing but the destruction of his creature; and that man had some high provocations from God, to act so against the laws of goodness, and proposals of eminent rewards? That God had no excelleucy to make him desirable, but that he were the most despicable, contemptible, unworthy being in the whole world. All the actions and practices of men testify thus much, that he is a weak, impure, cruel, false, empty, shallow, inconsiderable being, and one that hath no authority over him; a pattern not fit to be imitated, one that hath been injurious to him, &c. An indifferent person, that had no knowledge of God, viewing his laws, would have a high opinion of him; but again considering the practices of his creatures, he could not but think that some great provocation was offered by God to men; that he was full of dissimulation; he could not otherwise think that there should be so general a defection from him. But to declare this enmity further, it will be evident, by considering what enmity there is against all that comes from him; both the truths he reveals, and the duties he enjoins.
Reluctance to believe it—Opposition to it—Carnal men do not receive the truth for its own sake—Their unsettled affections—Their abuse oft he truth—Their enmity to spiritual duties—Unwillingness to them— Careless attention to them—Weariness in them— Desertion of duty—Their enmity to Christ—And to his followers—Their unlikeness to God—As to nature—Ends—Their guilt—Their enmity roused by the opposition of providence to their carnal interests—Their love of sin—Injury done to God Slavish fear of God—Pride—Love of the world.
First. THE carnal mind is enmity against God in his truth. Hating instruction is a part of atheism; Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee, Psa. 50. 17. God complains in Hos. 8. 12, that the most excellent things were accounted as a strange thing. God had given them the great things of his law, and they esteemed them not.
1. In men's unwillingness to believe any divine truth; or to meditate upon it. Men shun the thoughts of what they do not love; if we will not let truth in, which is a message from heaven, it is a sign we care not for the person from whom it comes.
It is hard to believe moral or divine truths. Because