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time let us be thankful to God for the Advantages we enjoy for religious and moral Improvement, and be careful to make a proper Use of them, and to answer the End for which they are given us, by denying Ungodliness and worldly Lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present World.
Concerning God's Providential Go
vernment, as respecting large Communities.
PSALM Xxii. 28.
He is the Governor among the Nations,
HE universal Administration of Di
vine Providence, as extending to the whole Creation, furnisheth a noble Subject for our Thoughts. But that which is of nearest Concernment to us is God's providential Government as exercised towards Mankind. Some general Considerations were offered concerning it in our last Discourse. Let us now proceed to consider it more difinctly, as extending both to Communities, and to particular Persons, to the Hearts and Thoughts of Vol. I.
all Men, to their Actions, and to the Events that befal them.
First, Let us consider the Providence of God as respecting Communities. I chuse to begin with this, because, if Providence concerneth itself about Mankind at all, it must be supposed to superintend the Affairs of Communities and Nations ; the Events relating to which are of confiderable Importance, and upon which the Welfare and good Order of the World very much depends.
And with regard to this I would first observe in general, that the Formation and Establishment of human Societies must be considered as the Work and Appointment of Divine Providence. God, as the Author of Nature, hath implanted in us, not only the Principles of Self-love and Selfpreservation, but the kind and social or public Affections, whereby we are carried to serve and assist one another in mutual good Offices, and to love our Friends, our Neighbours, and our Country: So strong is the Înclination that Man naturally hath to Society, that he cannot be happy without it, A great Part of the choicest Pleasures of Life arise from social Affections and Enjoyments. And this natural Inclination which is in all Men to Society, is very much strengthened by the mutual Need
they stand in of each others; Aflistance. Nothing is plainer than that Men are formed and designed to be helpful to one another, and that it is but a small Part of the Blessings and Advantages of Life which can be obtained, and but a small Progress that can be made in valuable Improvements and Accomplishments, without social Assistances. So that it is evident, that he that made us designed and fitted us for Society.
Families and smaller Societies were first formed ; from the Combination of which, and for their mutual Security and Benefit, larger Societies and Communities arose. And for the preserving Order among them, it is agreeable to the Will of God the supreme Ruler, that there should be Government and Magistracy established, and that Men should be subject to the higher Powers. These Powers are said to be ordained of God, ordained for the Punishment of evil Doers, and the Praise of them that do well.” Rom. xiii. 1, 3, 4. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. The Authority they are invested with, is properly and originally derived from God the Fountain of all Power, but not ordinarily in an immediate Way, but mediately by the Choice, Consent, or Submission of the People. And it may be justly regarded as L 2
owing to the Influence of Divine Providence, that such a Number of boisterous unruly Spirits are made willing to live in Subjection to the Government of a few. It is also to be ascribed to a wise Providence, that there is such a Variety of natural Genius's or Inclinations observable among Mankind, whereby they are disposed and qualified for acting different Parts, and filling different Stations and Offices in the Community. All are not Heroes, or Statesmen, or Philosophers, endued with great political or intellectual Abilities. Some are strongly inclined to the Pursuits of Learning and Science: others have a turn for Business; and those again are of various Kinds : fome inclined and fitted to one Sort of Employinent, some to another. Some are for Consultation, fome for Action: some have cool Spirits, flow and deliberate ; others are quick, fervent, and active. And it is so ordered, that the Generality of Mankind are of moderate Genius and Abilities, fitted for the common Affairs of Life, and they are all capable in their different Ways of being serviceable to the Community. And from hence arifeth social Dependence, and mutual Usefulness, by which Societies are cemented together, and without which the Order and Harmony of them could not well be maintained.