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External Evils and Calamities, as far as they are good, can be no Objection against the Good ness of Providence; and they are good, as far as the Providence of God is concern'd in them : For they are permitted, and ordered by God, for wife and good Ends; and if they do not prove good to us, it is our own Fault, who will not be made better by them.
Whatever Men suffer, if their Sufferings do not make them miserable, this is no just Reproach to Providence ; for God may be very good to his Creatures, whatever they suffer, while they can suffer, and be Happy; not perfe&ly and compleatly Happy, which admits of no Sufferings, but fuch a Degree of Self-enjoyment, as reconciles external Sufferings with inward Peace, Contentment, Patience, Hope ; which is the Happiness of a suffering State, and a much greater Happiness than the most prosperous Fortune without it, and if we be not thus Happy under all our Sufferings, it is our own Fault.
Thus the Wise-man tells us, That it is not so much external Sufferings (which is all that can be charged upon the Divine Providence) which makes Men miserable, but the inward Guilt and Disorders of their See Sermon be
fore the Queen, own Minds ; 18. Prov. 14. The on chat Text. Spirit of a Man will sustain bis infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear? And if all that God inflicts on us may be born, our Misery is owing to our felves. But I have so particularly discoursed this upon another Occafion, that I shall enlarge no further on it.
2dly, Another Objection against the Goodness of Providence, is God's partial and une
qual Care of his Creatures : And I confess, Par. tiality is a very great Objection, both against Justice, and an Universal Goodness; and such the Goodness of Providence must be.
The Foundation of the Objection is this: That there are very different Ranks and Conditions of Men in the World ; Rich and Poor, High and Low, Princes and Subjects, and a great many Degrees of Power, and Honour, and Riches, and Poverty; and we cannot say, that God deals equally by all these Men, whose Fortunes are so very unequal : But there is no great Difficulty in answering this. For,
1. The Goodness of Providence consists, in consulting the General Good and Happiness of Mankind, and of particular Men, in Subordination to the Good of the whole. And this fully answers the Objection. For tho' there are too many, who are not well satisfied with their own Station, and never will be, unless they could be uppermost; yet I dare appeal to any Man of common Sense, whether it be not most for the Good of Mankind, that there should be very different Ranks and Orders of Men in the World.
There is not any one Thing more necessary to the Happiness of the World, than good Government; and vet there could be no Government in an Equality : And there is nothing makes such an Inequality, like an unequal Fortune. Were all Men equally Rich and Great, there would be neither Subjects nor Servants; for no. Man will chuse to be a Subject, or a Servant, who has an equal Title to be a Lord and Master. : And then no Man could be Rich and Great, which are only comparative Terms; and which is worse than that, no Man could be safe. And if an inequality in Mens Fortunes be as necessary as Government, that is a sufficient justification of Providence, for Human Societies cannot sublist without it.
2dly. And yet it is a very great mistake to think,that the Happiness of Men differs as much as their Fortunes do; that a Prince is 'as much happier, as he is greater than his Subjects; for all the World knows, that Happiness is not entailed on Riches, and Power, and Secular Honours; as they have their Advantages, so they have very troublesome and lowre Allays; and, it may be, upon a true Estimate of things, as different a Show and Appearance as Men make in the World, they are pretty equal as to true Enjoyments. There is very little difference in eating and drinking, while we have wherewithal to satisfy Nature ; for Appetite makes every thing delicious; and the hard Labour of a Poor Man is much more tolerable than Gout and Stone,and those sharp or languishing Diseases, which so commonly attend the Softness and Luxury of the Rich; and as for Opinion and Fancy it self, which creates the greatest difference, every Rank of Men make a Scene among themselves, and every Man finds fomething to value himself upon That, it may be, there is nothing wherein all Mankind are so equal as in Self-love, and Self-Hattery, and a value for themselves; that though there are many Men who would change Fortunes with others, there are few that would change themselves and the difference of Fortunes is very inconsiderable, while every Man is so well fatisfied with himself.
3dly. 3dly. This inequality of Fortunes is for the great Good of all Ranks of Men, and serves a great many wise Ends of Providence. It makes some Men industrious to provide for themselves and Families; it inspires others with emulation to raise their Fortunes; it gives Life and Spirit to the World, and makes it a busy Scene of Action, to keep what they have, and to make new Acquisitions; to excel their Equals, and rival those above them; And though through the Folly and Wickedness of Men, this occafions a great deal of Mischief, yet the World would be a very dull place without it, there would be no Encouragement, no Reward for Virtue ; Providence it self would have very little to do; for the visible Rewards of Virtue, and Punishment of Wickedness, is in the change of Mens Fortunes ; when Industry, Prudence, and Virtue, advance Men of a low Condition to the greatest Places of Trust and Honcur, or at least to a plentiful and splended Station ; and Prodigality, Luxury, and Impiecy, bring Misery, Poverty, and Contempt, upon Rich and Noble Families; fuch Revolutions as these are great Examples of the Wisdom and Justice of Providence; and therefore the inequality of Mens Fortunes is so far from being an Objection against Providence, that there could be little visible Exercise either of the Goodness or Justice of Provis dence without it.
I cannot without some Indignation reflect upon the Baseness and Ingratitude of Mankind, who live, and move, and have their being in God; who know how little they deserve of him, and feel every Day how many Bleffings they receive from him, and yet seem never better pleased, than when they can find, or ignorant
ly invent some plausible Pretence to reproach his Goodness. The Sense of all Mankind confutes such Objections; and I should not have thought it worth the while to answer them, were it not a great Satisfaction, and of great Use, to contemplate the Divine Goodness even on the darkeft fide of Providence: Which will teach us a patient and thankful Submission to God under all our Sufferings, enable us to bear them, and dired us how to prevent or remove them; and give us a more transporting Admiration of the Divine Goodness, when we see it, like the Sun, break through the blackest Clouds. If the Goodness of God conquer the Sins, the Perverseness of Mankind, and shines though all those Miseries which foolish Sinners every Day bring upon themselves ; how good is God, when his Goodness flows with an undisturbed, uninterrupted Current !
CH A P. VIII.
The Wisdom of Providence.
HE Unsearchableness of the Di
vine Wisdom, as I observed above, Chap. 4. is a very good Reason, why we should not judge or censure such mysterious Passages of Providence as we cannot comprehend; but yet it becomes us to take notice of, and to admire that wonderful Wisdom which is viable in the Government of Mankind. We cannot by searching find out God, we cannot find out the Al