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hath brought some men to doubt, hath induced others SÉRM. flatly to deny, that there is a God, (that is, a most
XXXII. wise, powerful, just, and good Being, every where present,) or that he being, doth preside over, or any- Vid. Luc. wise concern himself in our affairs : from this source Coofur. did flow all those impious conceits, which Seneca Placitis,&c. thus expresseth; One objecteth to the gods neglect Plin. xi. 7. of us ; another, iniquity; another casts them out beyond his world, and leaves them forlorn, as lazy and dull, without any light, or any worki. From hence it hath been, that in all places and times there have been persons ready to say with those in the Psalms, How doth God know? is there know-Psal. lxxiii.
II. xciv. 7: ledge in the Most High? The Lord doth not see, x. 11. neither doth the God of Jacob regard it: God hath forgotten; he hideth his face, and will never
k And not only upon blind pagans and profane persons, but even upon the most pious of God's
people these considerations have made impression, extorting from their hearts and mouths expostulations like that of Jeremiah ; Wherefore doth the way of ler. xii. 1. the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously ? and that of Job, Wherefore doth the wicked live, become old, and Job xxi. 7. are mighty in power ? their seed is established in
"Η χρή μηκέθ' ηγείσθαι θεούς, ει τάδικο έσται της δίκης υπέρτερα. Eurip. Elect.
Alius illis objicit negligentiam nostri, alius iniquitatem ; alius illos extra mundum suum projicit, et ignavos hebetesque illos sine luce, sine ullo opere destituit. Sen. de Benef. vii. 31.
Quippe sapientissimos veterum, quique sectam eorum æmulantur, diversos reperies ; ac multis insitam opinionem non initia nostri, non finem, non denique homines Diis curæ; ideo creberrima et tristia in bonos, læta apud deteriores esse. Tac. An. 6.
SERM. their sight, their houses are safe from fear, neither XXXII. is the rod of God upon them—they spend their
days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the Job x. 3. grave : and that, Is it good unto thee that thou
shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hand, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked ? Such questions did this kind of observations draw forth, and it shrewdly tempted them
to a dissatisfaction in their pious practice, that they Psal. lxxi. were ready to say with the Psalmist, Verily I have
cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands Mal. iii. 14. in innocency; or with those in the prophet; It is
vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we
have kept his ordinances, and that we have walked Ps. Ixxiii. 2. mournfully before the Lord ? so that hence, their
feet were almost gone, and their steps had well nigh slipped into a distrust of God's wise and just providence; they were moved to suspect that God did not indeed bear that special regard to goodness, and affection to good men, that great hatred of iniquity, and displeasure toward the lovers of it, which religion supposeth, as the main grounds of piety: thus, I say, have men, both good and bad, upon such occasions been induced or tempted to doubt concerning those fundamental points; and that not without apparently weighty cause, admitting that all accounts are made up here in this life between God and men; or that there is no reckoning behind, to be adjusted in another world by divine justice and goodness; then indeed that saying, it is a reproach to the Deity that bad men do prosper', and good men suffer, hath a plausible semblance of truth; then he that affirmed, there was no God, and heaven to be
Θεών όνειδος τους κακούς είδαιμονείν. .
a void place, proving his assertion hence, that while SERM.
XXXII. he thus affirmed, he found himself in a good casem, did argue smartly; then Diagoras from an unpunished perjury collected probably, that God did not exist, or did not mind what was done here; for that being, and regarding things, he would not have endured himself to be so affronted, and those under his care so abused"; then had Dionysius some reason to justify his sacrilege by his prosperous navigation from committing it; and with fair colour Diogenes might say, that Harpalus's successful treachery and rapine did testimonium dicere adversos deos, bear testimony against the gods, as guilty of injustice or carelessness : these sort of discourses would, I say, upon excluding the supposition of future judgment, have some validity, or speciousness: and for want of that supposition we may observe the apologies for Providence, elaborately composed by some philosophers, to be very lame and unsatisfactory. But supposing a judgment hereafter designed by God, and a proceeding with all men according thereto, all difficulty in these cases vanisheth, all objections have plainly no moment or force : then God's present connivance, or patient indulgence toward wicked inen will signify no more, than what most becometh him as God and governor of the world ; his most excellent goodness and admirable clemency toward Rom. ii. 4. his creatures and subjects; in waiting to be gra- 2 Pet. iii.
m Nullos esse Deos, inane cælum,
Affirmat Selius, probatque quod se
Sunt nobis nulla profecto
Luc. vii. 445
Jer. xji. 3.
SERM. cious, and providing for their return to a better mind; XXXII.
affording them time and means of reforming their minds and manners, that so they may escape the stroke of final vengeance : so in most cases ; and in some also signifying his wise justice, in suffering bad men to proceed forward to an inexcusable pitch of guilt, in order to their more clearly just condemna
tion and severe punishment hereafter; that being Rom. ix.22. KATMPTIOMÉvor eis ånádelav, thoroughly fit, as St. Paul
speaketh, or ripe for perdition ; being prepared, as the prophet Jeremiah expresseth it, or sanctified for the slaughter ; ° being by their present ease and abused prosperity become fat and fair, they may fall more proper victims to divine severity.
Then also from God's permitting good men to suffer, how smartly soever, nothing can be inferred prejudicial unto divine goodness or justice; since they are thereby made fitter for, and do attain a surer title to, those excellent rewards, which he upon such trial and approbation of their virtues doth intend to confer upon themP; especially considering that afflictions are necessary, both as means of rendering men good, and as occasions of expressing their goodness, that scarce any virtue could subsist
or could appear without them. Vid Chrys.
There could be no such thing as patience, if there dvdg.a.
were no adversities to be endured; no such thing as contentedness, if there were no wants to be felt; no such thing as industry, if there were no pains to
Ο "Αγνισoν αυτούς εις ημέρας σφαγής αυτών. LΧΧ.
Ut victimæ saginantur, ut bostiæ coronantur. Min. Fel. P Justis quicquid malorum irrogatur, non est pæna criminis, sed virtutis examen. Aug.
9 Experitur, indurat, sibi ipsum præparát. Sen, de Prov. 1.
be taken; no such thing as humility, if sensible in- SERM. firmities and crosses did not prompt us to sober XXXII. thoughts, and shew us what we are'. There would be no true wisdom, no clear knowledge of ourselves, or right judgment of things, without experiencing the worst half of things. We should never learn to master our passions, or temper our appetites, or wrest our inclinations to a compliance with reason, if that discipline were away, which the holy Psalmist intimateth, saying, It is good for me Psal. cxix.
67, 71, 75 that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy No marstatutes. How much we do love God, how submis- fyrs, if no sive we are to God's will, how little we do value tivn. these mean things here, we cannot otherwise than by willingly undergoing or patiently bearing afflictions, well express; without it no sure trial of virtue can be, without it no excellent example of goodness had ever been. As therefore it is necessary that Magnum
exemplum good men, even that they may be good, should suf- nisi mala fer here ; so it is, supposing a future judgment, very just that they should do so, that they may acquire a Sen, de title to the rewards following it; rewards far out- 2Cor. iv.17. weighing the light afflictions they are put to endure 18. here.
In reference therefore to the present impunity of bad men, and letting iniquity to prevail or to proceed here, that which cured David, Job, and Solomon, may satisfy us; going into the sanctuary, and Psal. Ixxiii. understanding the end of those men; considering, that the wicked is reserved to the day of destruc- Job xxi. 30. tion, and shall be brought out to the day of wrath; that after all their jollity and pleasure, God for all Rom. vi, 5.
Eccles.xi 9. Semper esse felicem, et sine morsu animi transire vitam, ignorare est rerum naturæ alteram partem. Sen, de Prov. 4.
fortuna non invenit.