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SER M. good men, may be recompensed with per
fect happiness, glory, and honour for ever. And if this should be the event, as it certainly will, then the justice of God will be glorified, and the course of his providence in this world abundantly justified. And the whole assemblage of rational beings may then fay, Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
But it may in the next place be objected, that besides this inequality with regard to the virtuous and the vicious, there is likewise a great inequality of the divine difpenfations, in placing men before there can be any trial of them, in fuch situations as have great influence upon their moral conduct.
Men are brought into the world in various circumstances; fome in poverty, and others in affluence; some with weak and unhappy, and others with healthy and vigorous constitutions and habits of body; fome with weak minds, and others with acute and strong reasoning powers; and withal, fome are born of good and virtuous parents, and have the happiness of a good education, while others, come of those who are wretched and vicious. Now in all this, the Justice of God may be
easily vindicated, by our considering his SER M. rightful power over us as our Creator. He may make his creatures in what manner he pleases, and communicate to them different degrees of ability. He may give to some of them greater faculties, and place them in more advantageous circumstances, withoui any injustice to others; and to use the words of our Saviour, Matt. xx. 15. he may do what be will with his own. It seems rather to be reasonable, that he should diversify the effects of his power, wisdom, and goodness, in placing men in different orders, and in a variety of situations. But though he may thus communicate opportunities to them, in infinitely various degrees, to compleat the beauty and harmony of the moral system, he certainly intended fomething of happiness for all his rational creatures, just as we see infinite variety and different degrees of perfection in the material world. He has made all of them in such manner, that if they will exert their powers, there is a probability of their being in some degree happy. And therefore, though God has made a great inequality in the condition and circumstances of men, he acts with perfect
SERM. Justice towards them, in giving them,
for wife reasons unknown to us, their different degrees of happiness.
In the last place, it may be more particularly objected, that there is a great inequality in the spiritual advantages which men have, and which concern their eternal salvation. Thus in the prefent state of the world, we fee that a great part of it lies in ignorance and idolatry, while other parts have the clear and happy light of the gospel. And in former ages, the ancient Jews had the peculiar advantages of a revelation, while the far greatest part of mankind in the heathen nations, was involved in barbarity and darkness. And here the Justice of God may also be vindicated, by our supposing that he has given to all men fufficient reasonable powers, by which they may discover his being and attributes, and their duty to him, with the probability of a life to come. And if they so far improve their minds, and endeavour to find out the will of God, as their circumstances will allow, there is no doubt but they will enjoy a proportionable degree of happiness. So that though God has not given them all the
advantages that are necessary to their SER M. perfection, he has yet given them reason enough to endeavour after improvement, and for their use of that, they will be justly accountable. Since therefore, fome means are given to all, the Justice of God is sufficiently vindicated, though all have not the fuperior light of revelation. For he may make his rational creatures, in what manner he pleases, instances of happiness here, and glory hereafter.
From the whole, we may draw the following practical inferences. In the
1. Place then, the Justice of God is a glorious pattern for us to imitate. If God, the supreme and omnipotent being, is just in all his dealings with his creatures, and treats them according to their different circumstances, making all reafonable allowances for them; this ought to teach us in our low situation to be just to our fellow-creatures, to regard their reasonable claims
and not to use power, in an arbitrary and tyrannical manner over them. It ought to excite us to act with truth and honesty, not to injure the happiness of any, and to abstain from all little arts of fraud and
SER M. violence. It ought to shew us, that in
justice and oppression, are absurd and
2. The Justice of God is a sure ground
God is not unrighteous, to use the words of the apostle, that be soould forget their works and labour, that proceedeth of love. He cannot but make a distinction between them and the vicious ; for he must consider them as objects justly worthy of his favour and protection ; and to neglect them would be to deny himself, and to disregard the difference between good and evil: therefore, such men may rely upon the Justice of God, that, whatever be the present appearance of things; whatever troubles