Page images
PDF
EPUB

of things; or they are the Effects of other Mens sins, brought upon us by

Vol.VII. the ambition and covetousness, by the malice and cruelty of others ; and thefe Evils, tho they are procured and caused by others, yet they are deserved by our selves ; and tho they are immediately from the Hand of Men, yet we ought to look farther, and consider them, as directed and disposed by the Providence of God; as David did when Shimei cursed him ; God (faith he) bath bid him curse David, tho it immediately proceeded from Shimei's insolence and ill nature.

Now upon the supposition of Sin, the Evils of Affliction and Suffering are good, because they are of great use to us, and serve to very good ends and purposes.

1. As they are the proper Punishments of Sin. Evil is good to them that do Evil, that is, it is fit and proper, just and due. Pfal. 107. 17. Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. And it is fit they should be fo, crook. ed to crooked is streight and right. A rod for the back of Fools, faith Solomon ; and elsewhere, God hath made every T

thing

thing for that which is fit for it, and the Vol.VII:

evil day for the wicked man.

2dly, As they are the preventions and remedies of greater Evils. Evils of Affliction and Suffering are good for wicked Men, to bring them to a fenfe of their fing and to reclaim them from it, and thereby to prevent greater temporal Evils, and preserve them fróm eternal Misery; and not only good to the Person that suffers, but likewise to others, to deter and affright them from the like sins; to prevent the contagion of Sin, and to stop the progress of Iniquity, upon which greater guilt and worfe" mischiefs might ensue; and they are good to good Men, to awaken and rouse them out of their security, to make them know God and themselves better ; they are almost a neceffary Discipline for the best of Men, much more for evil and depraved dispositions ; and we might as reasonably expect, that there should be no Rod in a School, as that there should be no suffering and afflictions in the World,

3 dly, As they are the occasions and matter of many Virtues.' God teach eth Men temperance by want, and pas

[ocr errors]

tience by reproach and sufferings, Vol. VI. charity by persecution, and pity and compassion to others by grievous pains upon our selves. The benefit of Afflictions to them that make a wise use of them is unspeakable ; they are grievous in themselves ivertheless (faith the Apostle to the Hebrews) they bring forth the peaceable, fruits

, of righteousness, to them that are exertised therewith. David gives a great testimony of the mighty benefit and ad. vantage of them, from his own experience, Pfal. 119. 76. Before I was af flicted. I went aftray, but now have I kept thy word. And, v. 71. It is good for me that I havě been afflicted, that I might learn thy Statutes.

4thly, Tbie Avils of Suffering, patiently submitted to, and decently born, do greatly contribute to the increase of our happiness. All the persecutions and fufferings of good Men in this life, do work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. And if they contribute to our greater good and happiness at last, they are good. The glorious reward of the Sufferings which we have met with, in this life, will in the next clear up the goodnefs

and

in and justice of the Divine Providence, Vol. VII. from all those Mifts and Clouds which

are now upon it, and fully acquit it from all those Objections which are now raised against it, upon account of the afflictions and sufferings of good Men in this life, which are not worthy to be compared with the glory which foall be revealed in them.

* III. As for the Evil of Sin, which is the great difficulty of all. How is it conlistent with the goodness of God, to permit so great an Evil as this to come into the World ? For answer to this, I desire these two things may be considered.

1. That it doth not at all contradict the wisdom or goodness of God, to make a Creature of such a frame, as to be capable of having its obedience tryed in order to the reward of it, which could not be, unless such a Creature were made mutable, and by the good or bad use of its liberty, capable of obeying or disobeying the Laws of his Creator'; for where there is no possibility of finning, there can be no tryal of our Virtue and Obe. dience, and nothing but Virtue and Obedience are capable of reward.

The

order and rank:

The goodness of God towards us is my fufficiently vindicated, in that he made Vol

. VII. us capable of happiness,and gave us suf'ficient direction and power for the attaining of that end; and it does in no wise contradict his goodness, that he does not by his Omnipotency interpose to prevent our fin; for this had been to alter the nature of things, and not to let Man be the Creature he made liim, capable of reward or punishment, according to the good or bad use of his own free choice. It is sufficientsat God made Man good at first, tho mutable, and that he had a power to have continued so, tho he wilfully determined himself to evil; this acquits the goodness of God, thać he made Man upright, but he found out to himself

many

inventions, : 2. If there had not been such an been in their nature mutable, there had been no place for the manifestation.of God's goodness in a way of mer. cy and patience; so that tho God be not the Author of the fins of Men, yet, in case of their willful transgression and disobedience, the goodness of God hath a fair opportunity of disco

F 2

vering

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »