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The Proofs of a Divine Providence.

DISCOURSE 1.

ROMANS xi. 36:

Of him, and through bim, and to him, are

all Things : to whom be Glory for ever. Amen.

T

HÉ Doctrine of Divine Providence, which comprehendeth

God's Preservation and Government of the World, is of the highest Importance. If we should profess to believe never so firmly, that there is a God who

gave Being to the World; yet if we should at the same Time believe, that he doth not concern himself about his Creatures after he hath made them, and, particularly, that he taketh no

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Care

Care of Men or their Affairs, this would be to all the Purposes of Religion as if we did not acknowledge a God at all. It

may

be justly said, therefore, that the Belief of the Providence of God is no less necessary than the Belief of his Existence. And if the Matter be rightly considered, it will be found that the one of these is inseparably connected with the other: For if there be a supreme, original, 'eternal Cause, a God that made this vast Universe, and all Things that are therein, he must be possessed of in-finite Perfections, of almighty Power, of unsearchable Wisdom, and boundless Goodness. And how can it be reconciled with these Perfections, to make such a World as this, and then to abandon it, and throw aside all Care and Concern about it? And especially to make reasonable Beings, moral Agents, capable of being governed by Laws, and endued with a Sense of Good and Evil, and yet be utterly regardless how they behave, and whether Virtue or Vice, Order or Confusion, Happiness or Misery, prevails among them? Whatever Reasons induced him to create the World, which may be supposed to have been for the Exercise and Display of his own Perfections, the Manifestation of his Glory, and the Communications of his Goodness, muft equally induce him to preserve and govern it

when

when made. To lay out such a Profusion of Glory and Excellency in the Formation of this vart, beautiful, and well-ordered System, and then leave it to Chance and Confusion, would be to act fo capricious, fo unaccountable a Part, as no wise Man would be guilty of, and which cannot, without great Absurdity, be ascribed to the absolutely perfect Being. And such a Conduct would be as inconsistent with his Goodness as with his Wifdom. That he should make numberless Orders of Beings, and afterwards take no farther Care of them, as if he were absolutely indifferent what became of them, would be in no wise reconcileable to the Character of the beneficent Parent of the Universe.

These Things are so evident and obvious to the common Sense and Reason of Mankind, that all those who believe that the Formation of the World was owing to a supreme intelligent Cause, must, if they be con Gistent with themselves, believe, that the same infinitely wise, good, and powerful Mind governs the World when made, and exerciseth a constant Care over it. And accordingly, the Epicureans, who denied å Providence, did also deny that the World was made by God, and attributed the Formation of it, not to the Wisdom and Power of an intelligent Cause, but to Chance, or

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Care of Men or their Affairs, this would be to all the Purposes of Religion as if we did not acknowledge a God at all. It may

be justly said, therefore, that the Belief of the Providence of God is no less necessary than the Belief of his Existence. And if the Matter be rightly considered, it will be found that the one of these is inseparably connected with the other: For if there be a supreme, original, 'eternal Cause, a God that made this vast Universe, and all Things that are therein, he must be possessed of infinite Perfections, of almighty Power, of unsearchable Wisdom, and boundless Goodness. And how can it be reconciled with these Perfections, to make such a World as this, and then to abandon it, and throw aside all Care and Concern about it? And especially to make reasonable Beings, moral Agents, capable of being governed by Laws, and endued with a Sense of Good and Evil, and yet be utterly regardless how they behave, and whether Virtue or Vice, Order or Confusion, Happiness or Misery, prevails among them? Whatever Reasons induced him to create the World, which may be supposed to have been for the Exercise and Display of his own Perfections, the Manifestation of his Glory, and the Communications of his Goodness, must equally induce him to preserve and govern

it

when

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when made. To lay out such a Profusion of Glory and Excellency in the Formation of this vast, beautiful, and well-ordered System, and then leave it to Chance and Confusion, would be to act so capricious, fo unaccountable a Part, as no wife Man would be guilty of, and which cannot, without great Absurdity, be ascribed to the absolutely perfect Being. And such a Conduct would be as inconfiftent with his Goodness as with his Wifdom. That he should make numberless Orders of Beings, and afterwards take no farther Care of them, as if he were abfolutely indifferent what became of them, would be in no wise reconcileable to the Character of the beneficent Parent of the Universe.

These Things are fo evident and obvious to the common Sense and Reason of Mankind, that all those who believe that the Formation of the World was owing to a supreme intelligent Cause, must, if they be consistent with themselves, believe, that the fáme infinitely wise, good, and powerful Mind governs the World when made, and exerciseth a constant Care over it. And accordingly, the Epicureans, who denied à Providence, did also deny that the World was made by God, and attributed the Formation of it, not to the Wisdom and Power of an intelligent Cause, but to Chance, or

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