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newed to him. There is no mention of Serm. any particular promise with respect to the V. present exigency in answer to his prayers, that is, that he should escape from Esau ; and there was no need of any, for the favour of God is in all events sufficient for his fervants, their rock and refuge in every article of danger ; when that foundation is once laid, and an interest in the loving-kindness of their God ascertained to them, they are fully satisfied, and reason with themselves in this manner;

let the appearances be ever so dismal and shocking, our God is able to deliver but if he has thought fit to appoint otherwise, and that the present danger must put an end to life, still we are safe, his favour reacheth beyond the line of life, and maketh death itself our gain. Such hope had those glorious confessors for the true religion, Shadrach, Meskach, and Abednego, when doomed to a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, and their hope inspired them with heroic resolution, Dan. iii. 16. They answered, and said, Q Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and be will deliver us out of thy hand, o

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SER M. king. But if not, be it known unte thee, O
V. king, we will not serve thy gods, nor worship

the golden image which thou hast set up. I

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Second Place, To consider the title which wisdom or religious virtue giveth to the favour of God, or upon what grounds we may expect, according to the declaration in the text, that if we find wisdom, we shall obtain favour of the Lord. As I shewed before, that the perfection of felicity, and the greatness of the reward, imported in the favour of God, is justly inferred from his glorious natural excellencies, his absolute dominion and power over all things ; so that the wise, that is, the virtuous and the good, are intitled to his favour, may be justly argued from his moral attributes. We must neceffarily suppose that the Supreme Being is infinitely good, righteous, and true, and that he exerciseth these perfections in the government of his reasonable creatures. This is proved in the same manner as the existence of God, and his other attributes, that is, by arguing from effects to their causes, from the exercife of powers and principles to their being ; and from this most certain truth, that all

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real and absolute excellencies must belong tò SERM. the infinite, unoriginated, and independent V. cause of all things. Every considerate person will find himself obliged to acknowledge that the moral attributes are real and absolute excellencies, most justly and worthily therefore ascribed to the infinitely perfect Being. Besides, this must be allowed to be the foundation of true religion, and, there fore, hath been universally acknowledged wherever it was professed or practised; for how can men do any thing that is good out of a regard to the Deity, which is the very meaning of religion, unless they first believe him to be good, and a lover of virtue ? - And, indeed, the greatest corruptions of religion and morality have taken their rise from wrong notions of God. What wonder is it, if the worshippers are misled to cruelty, lasciviousness, and ambition, if it be once believed that the objects of worship themselves are of the same dispositions, and that wicked practices are agreeable to them? But if, on the contrary, we are fully convinced that God is perfectly holy, just, benevolent, and faithful, then we are fürnished with the strongest motives to practice, and to think on the things which are

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SERM. pure, and true, and honest, and virtuous,
V. because we are sure these things are approved

by him. What the scriptute declareth on
this subject is perfectly agreeable to reason,
for it celebrateth the holiness and the justice
of God, especially as manifested in the di-
stinction he maketh between good and bad
men, Psal. xi. 5, 6, 7. The Lord trieth the
righteous, but the wicked and him that loveth
violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked be
Mall rain snares, fire, and brimstone, and
an horrible tempeft; this shall be the portion
of their cup. For the righteous Lord loveth
righteousness, his countenance doth behold
the upright. And elsewhere we are taught,
that because he is holy therefore he delight-
eth in holiness, he hateth sin, and the evil
and the vicious are an abomination to him.

But this is so evident, I need not spend
time in endeavouring to illustrate it. I shall,
therefore, apply myself to the confideration
of an obvious obbjection taken from the
promiscuous administration of things in this
world. How doth it appear that the wise
and virtuous obtain favour of the Lord, since
his providence doth not distinguish them by
marks of favour; but, by the confeffion of
the sacred writers themselves, they are in as

bad

bad a condition with respect to the affairs of SERM. this life as the wicked ? Ecclef. ix. 1, 2. The V. righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; no man knoweth love or hatred by all that is before him. All things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked, to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean ; to bim that facrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not; asis the good, foisthe pinner, and be that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. Nay, it is often found in experience, that when wickedness is triumphant, and the proud are counted happy, the most eminently religious suffer cruel persecution; the apostles were set forth as examples suffering all manner of adversity and tribulations, counted the off-scourings of all things, and the filth of the world. This objection hath been often advanced against the equity and wisdom of providence, and as seeming to prove that the affairs of this world are under no intelligent direction, but left to blind chance or nocessity ; and taking it in its whole compass, it would require a large confideration ; but I shall at present only examine it with a view to the point before us, that is, I will fhew that it is not conclusive against

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