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is true indeed, the Epicureans did deny that God either made the world or governs it; and therefore wise men always doubted whether they did indeed believe the being of God, or not; but being unwilling to incur the danger of so odious an opinion, they were content, for fashion fake, to own his being, provided they might take away the best and moft substantial arguments for the proof of it. The rest of the Philosophers owned a providence, at least a general providence, that took care of great and more important matters, but did not descend to a constant and particular care of every person, and every little event belonging to them, Interdum curiofus singulorum, says Tully ; Now and then when he pleases, he takes care of particular persons, and their leffer concernments; but many of them thought that God did generally neglect the smaller and more inconsiderable affairs of the world, Dii minora negli. gunt,neque agellos fingulorum e viticulas persequuntur, The Gods overlook smaller matters, and do not mind every man's little field and vine. Such imperfect apprehensions had they of the providence of God. And though they would seem hereby to consult the dignity and ease of the Deity, by exempting him from the care and trouble of lesser matters, yet, in truth and reality, they cast a dishonourable reflexion upon him, as if it were a burden to infinite know. ledge, and power, and goodness, to take care of eyery thing.
But now divine revelation hath put this matter out of doubt, by assuring us of God's particular care of all persons and events. Our Saviour tells us, that God's providence extends to the leait and most inconsiderable creatures, To the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, Mat. vi. 30. To the fowls of the air, and that to the least of them, even to the sparrows, two of which are sold for a farthing, and yet not one of them falleth to the ground without God, Mat. X. 29. Much more doth the providence of God extend to men, which are creatures far more considerable, and to the
least thing that belongs to us, to the very hairs of our head,
which are all numbred; the lowest instance that can be thought on.
So that the light of nature owns a more general providence; and divine revelation hath rectified those imperfect apprehensions which men had about it, and hath satisfied us, that it extends itself to all particulars, and even to the least things and most inconfiderable. And this is no ways incredible, considering the infinite perfection of the divine nature, in refpect of which, God can with as much and greater ease take care of every thing, than we can do of ny one thing; and the belief of this is the grear foundation of religion.. Men therefore pray to God for the good they want, and to be freed from the evils they fear, because they believe that he always regards and hears them. Men therefore make conscience of their duty, becaufe they believe God obferves them, and will reward and punish their good and evil deeds. So that take away the providence of God, and we pull down one of the main pillars upon which religion stands; we rob ourselves of one of the greatest comforts, and best refuges in the afAictions and calamities of this life, and of all our hopes of happiness in the next.
And though there be many disorders in the world, especially in the affairs of man, the most irregular and intractable piece of God's creation; yet this is far from being a sufficient objection against the providence of God, if we consider that God' made man a free creature, and capable of abusing his liberty, and intends this present life for a state of trial in order to another, where men shall receive the just recompence of their actions here : And then if we consider that mapy of the evils and disorders, which God permits to happen, are capable of being overruled by him to a greater good, and are made many times to serve wise and excellent purposes, and that the providence of God does sometimes visibly and remarkably interpose, for the prevention and remedy of great disorders and confusions ;. I say, considering all this, it is no blemish to the divine providence, to permit many of these irregularities
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which are in the world, and suffer the fates of good and bad men to be so cross and unequal in this life. For supposing another life after this, wherein men shall come to an account, and every man fhall receive the just recompence of his actions, there will then be a proper season and full opportunity of setting all things straight, and no man shall have reason then, either to glory in his wickedness, or to com. plain of his sufferings in this world. This is the first, that God's providence governs the world, and interests itself in the affairs of men, and disposeth of all events that happen to them ; and this is a very good reason why we should cast our particular cares upon him, who hath undertaken the government of the whole.
2. The providence of God is more peculiarly concerned for good men, and he takes a more particular and especial care of them. The Apostle speaks this to Christians, Caft all your care on him, for he careth for you.
And this David limits in a more peculiar manner to good men'; Caft thy burden upon the Lord, and he will suftain thee ; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
The providence of God many times preserves good men from those evils which happen to others, and by a peculiar and remarkable interposition, re. scues them out of those calamities which it suffers others to fall into ; and God many times blefieth good men with remarkable prosperity and success in their affairs. To which purpose there are in numé. rable declarations and promises in the holy scriptures, so well known, that I shall not trouble you with the recital of them.
Notwithitanding which, it cannot be denied, that good men fall into many evils, and are harassed with great afflictions in this world : but then the providence of God usually ordereth it so, that they are armed with great patience to bear them, and find great comfort and support under them, and make better use and improvement of them than others ; so that one way or other they turn to their advantage. So the Apostle assures us, Rom. viii.
28. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God. All the evils and afflictions which happen to good men, conspire one way or other to the promoting of their happiness, inany times in this world, to be sure they make a great addition to it in the other. So the same Apostle tells us, 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, whilft we look not, &c. And can we lay God's providence neglects us, when he rewards our temporal sufferings with eter, nal glory : when through many hardships and tribulations, he at last brings us to a king dom? Was Jofeph neglected by God, when by a great deal of hard usage, and a long imprisonment, he was raised to the highest dignity in a great kingdom? Or rather was not the providence of God very remarkable towards him, in making those sufferings so many steps to his glory, and the occasion of his adyancement ? And is not God's providence towards good men as kind and as remarkable, in bringing them to an infinitely better and more glorious kingdom, by tribulations and sufferings, and making our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, ta work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory? Thus you see what is implied in God's care of us in general ; that he governs the world, and disposeth all events ; and particularly, that he is peculiarly concerned for good men, and takes a more especial, care of them. Let us now fee of what force this consideration is, to persuade to the duty enjoined in the text, to cast all your care upon God; that is, after all prudent care and diligence hath been u. sed on our part, not to be anxious and solicitous about the event of things, but to leave that to God. Now this consideration, that God cares for us, should be an argument to us, to cast all our care upon him, upon these two accounts :
1. Because if God cares för us, our concernments are in the best and safest bands.
2. Because all our anxiety and solicitude will do us no good.
1. Because if God cares for us, our concernments are in the best and safest hands, and where we should desire to have them ; infinitely safer than under any care and conduct of our own. And this ought to be a great fatisfa&tion to our minds, and to free us from all disquieting thoughts ; for if God undertakes the care of us, then we are sure that nothing shall happen to us, but by the disposal or permission of infinite wisdom and goodness. There are many things indeed, which to us seem chance and accident; but in respect of God, they are providence and design ; they may appear to happen by chance, or may proceed from the ill will and malicious in. tent of second causes, but they are all wisely de. signed ; and as they are appointed or permitted by God, they are the result of the deepest counsel, and the greatest goodness. And can we with that we and our concernments should be in better and safer hands, than of infinite power and wisdom, in conjunction with infinite love and goodness ? And if we be careful to do our duty, and to demean ourselves towards God as we ought, we may reft af. fured of his love and care of us ; and if we do in good earnest believe the providence of God, we cannot but think that he hath a peculiar regard to those that love and serve him, and that he will take a peculiar care of their concernments, and that he can, and will dispose them better for us, than we could manage them ourselves, if we were left to ourselves, and our affairs were put into the hands of our own counsel.
Put the case we had the entire ordering and difposal of ourselves, what were reasonable for us to do in this case? We would surely, according to our best wisdom and judgment, do the best we could for ourselves; and when upon experience of our own manifold ignorance and weakness, we had found our weightiest affairs and designs frequently to miscarry, for want of foresight, or power, or skill, to. obviate and prevent the infinite hazards and disapa