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Of the JUSTICE of GOD.
JOB XXXIV. 10, 11, 12. Therefore hearken unto Me, ye men of Un derstanding: Far be it from God, that He fhould do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity: For the work of a Man fhall be render unto him, and caufe every man to find according to his Ways: Yea, furely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert Judgment.
HESE words are a very SER M. lively and emphatical De- XVI. fcription of the Justice and Righteousness of the Supreme Governour of all things; in
troduced with an affectionate Appeal to
SER M. the common Reafon of Mankind, for the XVI. Truth of the Affertion; and clofed, with an cloquent repetition, of the Affurance of its Certainty. The Allertion of the Juftice of God, is in these words: Far be it from God, that He fhould do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that He should com・mit iniquity. The Defcription, wherein this Juftice confifts, is in the words which follow: The Work of a Man fhall be render unto him, and caufe every man to find according to his Ways. The Whole is introduced, with an Appeal to the common Senfe and Reafon of Mankind, for the Truth of what is here affirmed: Hearken unto Me, ye men of understanding; Far be it from God, that He Should do wickedness. And the Propofition is clofed, with an elegant repetition of the fame Affurance: Yea, furely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. There are and will be difficulties in the adminiftration of Providence; But thefe difficulties affect only fuch as are careless in matters of Religion; and they can never make reasonable and confiderate perfons, men of attention and understanding, to doubt concerning the Righteoufness of
the Divine Government : Hearken unto SER M• XVI. Me, ye men of Understanding; Far be it from God, that He fhould do Wickedness. A righteous and just Man, may be depended upon that he will not do an unjust thing: Much more therefore, far be it from the Almighty, far be it from the Supreme Lord and Governour of all things, that He fhould commit iniquity. Many things myfterious, many things incomprehenfible, there needs must be in the nature of the Supreme Being: But Injustice or Iniquity, Hard or Unrighteous Dealing with any of his Creatures; This, above all things, far be it from him; This, whatever we do, far ought we to keep it from all our Notions and Conceptions of him. Objections will be ftarted, and Difficulties (in particular cafes) cannot but arife: But whether we can answer them or no, we are fure they must be false; because no evidence can be fo ftrong, in ; proof of any particular doctrine inconfiftent with this Notion, as are the Arguments which prove in general, the truth of the divine Justice. However therefore our short understanding may perhaps fail in reconciling things, yet the Foundation
SER M. must be ftood to as being demonftrably XVI. true, and what can never be moved; yea, furely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.
My Defign in the following Difcourfe upon these words, is to prove briefly, that God is, and cannot but be Juft; to explain wherein the Nature of that Justice confifts; to remove the Objections arifing from particular cafes against this general Truth; and finally, to apply what fhall be faid, by fome useful Inferences in Practice.
If, THAT the Supreme Lord and Governour of all things is, and cannot but be Juft in all his Actions, may be made appear in the following manner. There being neceffarily in Nature a Difference of Things, which is what we call Natural Good and Evil; and a Variety in the Dif pofitions and Qualifications of Perfons, which is what we call Moral Good and Evil; from the due or undue adjustment of these Natural Qualities of Things to the moral Qualifications of Perfons, arife unavoidably the Notions of Right and Now the Will of Wrong. intelligent Agent, being always directed by
Tome Motive; 'tis plain the natural Mo- SER M. tive of Action, where nothing irregular XVI. interposes, can be no other than This Right, or Reafon of Things. Whenever therefore This Right and Reafon are not made the Rule of Action; it can only be, either because the Agent is ignorant of what is Right, or wants Ability to purfue 0 it, or else is knowingly and willingly diverted from it by the Hope of fome Good, or Fear of fome Evil. But now None of these causes of Injuftice, can possibly have any place in God: His Actions therefore must always neceffarily be directed, by Right and Reafon and Justice only. For having all Knowledge, 'tis impoffi ble he can be deceived in judging what is Right having no Want of any thing, his Will cannot poffibly be influenced by any wrong Affection; and having no Dependence, his Power can never be limited by any fuperiour Strength. 'Tis very evident therefore, that He who knows thus perfectfectly the Rule of Equity, and neceffarily judges of things as they really Are; who has complete Power to execute Justice according to that Knowledge, and no poffible temptation to deviate in the leaft thereBb 3