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Secondly, Another Thing which I would observe here, is, that all Blessings and Calamities of a public Nature, and the Revolutions of Kingdoms and States, are to be regarded as under the special Direction and Superintendency of Divine Providence.
That Providence hath a particular Concernment in public Revolutions, the Rise and Fall of Empires, the flourishing and declining of Cities and Nations, can scarce be denied by any one that believeth a Providence at all. It is what Reason and Observation will lead a considering Mind to acknowledge; and it is very expressly asserted in the holy Scriptures. We are told, that God increaseth the Nations, and destroyeth them, be enlargeth the Nations, and straiteneth them again. Job. xii. 23. Sometimes he blessèth them, so that they are multiplied greatly; again, they are minished and brought low through Opprefsion, Affliction, and Sorrow. Pfal. cvii. 38, 39. He changeth the Times and the Seasons; he removeth Kings, and setteth up Kings. Dan. ii. 21. And in general, the Interposition of Providence must be acknowledged, both in all Blessings, and in all Evils and Calamities, of a public Nature.
All the Blessings and Advantages which are bestowed upon Societies, must be thank
fully ascribed to Divine Providence. If Arts and Sciences flourish among a People, and they are furnished with valuable Means of Improvement in useful Knowledge; if they have Peace and Plenty, and are free from foreign Invasions and domestic Conspiracies and Tumults, or have Success in just and neceffary Wars; if they be blessed with a good Constitution of Government, and have the Advantage of wise and honest Governors to rule over them; if they be preserved in the Enjoyment of their Liberties and Privileges civil and religious; if they have healthful and fruitful Seasons, and other Instances of public Prosperity; in all these and the like Cases the Goodness of Divine Providence is to be acknowledge ed, not excluding second Causes, but overruling and directing them; and devout and grateful Minds will find abundant Matter of Thankfulness. To which it may be added, that Providence hath eminently appeared in raising up, from Time to Time, Persons of extraordinary Abilities, and rare Qualifications, who have been inspired with great Wisdom, Fortitude, and Zeal for the public. Good; whereby they have been rendered signally instrumental for doing great Service to the Community, for delivering oppressed Nations, and restoring the disordered State of Things. And though
in such Cafes we ought to have a just Sense of our Obligations to the worthy Instruments, yet we should principally carry our Views to a most wise superintending Providence, and give God the Glory of all.
On the other Hand, the Divine Providence is also to be seriously considered in all public Evils and Calamities. It hath often happened that there have been visible Marks of God's Displeasure against a People. Their Counsels have been infatuated, or their Forces enfeebled and dispirited; their foreign Enemies have been suffered to prevail against them, or they have been given up to domestic Tyrants and Oppreffors, or they have been rent afunder by Tumults and Commotions, and have been abandoned to the leading of ambitious and factious Men, who have contributed to the Ruin of their Country, whilft they pretended a great Zeal for its Interests. The Hand of God is to be acknowledged in these Things, as well as when a People suffer by Famine, Pestilence, Earthquakes, inclement Seasons, epidemical Diftempers, &c. which are usually regarded as the more immediate Work of Providence.
This leads me to observe,
Thirdly, That in all these Cases of public Blessings and Calamities, or of natio
nal Revolutions, Providence proceedeth not merely in a way of arbitrary Sovereignty, but according to steady and righteous Rules, and for wise Ends and Purposes. It may be justly said, that the Adminiftrations of Divine Providence in difpensing Rewards and Punishments towards Nations or large Communities, are generally more constant and uniform than the Distributions of outward Rewards and Punishments towards particular Persons in this Life. The Reason is, that particular Persons shall receive their principal Rewards and Punishments in a future State; whereas, if Communities or Nations as such be rewarded or punished at all, it must be in this present State in which alone they subsist. The Promises of temporal Blessings made to the Ifraelites in the Law of Mofes in case of their Obedience to the divine Commandments, and the Threatenings of temporal Evils denounced against them in case of their Disobedience. Lev. xxvi. and Deut. xxviii. related chiefly to them as a Community. For they did not always hold with regard to particular Persons, as is evident from the Complaints made by good Men under that Dispensation concerning the Afflictions of the righteous, and Profperity of the wicked. But with regard to the Public,
they never failed of being accomplished. When Religion and Virtue flourished among them, and they walked in Obedience to the divine Laws, they were raised to a high Degree of Glory and Reputation, they were successful in their Wars, and had great Plenty and Affluence, and every Thing that could contribute to the public Prosperity and Happiness. And on the contrary, when they revolted from God, and fell into a great and general Depravity and Corruption, they became abject, despised, miserable, and were a Prey to the neighbouring Nations. And in general it may be said, that whenever any public Calamities were inflicted upon them, whether by the more immediate Hand of Heaven, as Famine, Drought, Pestilence, &c. or by the Hands of their Enemies and Oppressors; it was always as a just Punishment for their national Iniquities, their Idolatry, Impiety, and abounding Wickedness and Corruption of Manners. And upon their Repentance and Reformation these Calamities were removed, and their Prosperity restored. This was the general Course of God's providential Dispensations towards them, as is manifest from the whole History of that Nation.
Nor was this peculiar to the Jews. The stated Rule of the divine Procedure towards