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mighty to perfe&tion : It is as high as beaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? the measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader ihan the sea, 11. Job 7, 8, 9. But though we cannot discover all the Wisdom of Provi. dence, no more than we can the Wisdom of the Creation, yet we may discover enough to satisfy us, that the World is governed as well as made with infinite Wisdom: When we contemplate God, it is like losing our selves in a boundless Prospect, where we see a great many Glories and Beauties, but cannot see to the end of it. We may discover admirable and surprizing Wisdom in that little we fee of Providence, as I have already briefly observed upon several Occafions; but we know so little of what has been done in the World, and by what means it was done, and what Énds it served, that it is no wonder if we have as imperfect a view of the Wisdom of Providence, as we have of the History of the World. But yet whoever diligently applies his Mind to the Study of Providence, will fee reason to admire a great many Events, which careless Observers make objections against Providence: Which will be of such great use to confirm us in the belief of a Providence, and to give us a profound Veneration of the Divine Wisdom, that I shall venture to make some little Essay of this Nature ; which though I am fensible must fall infinitely short of the Dignity of the Subject, yet will suggest some very use. ful Thoughts, and shew us the most delightful and profitable way of studying Histories, and Providence. And to do this in the best manner I can, I Mall
î. Consider some great Events recorded in Scripture, which are as it were the Hinges of Providence, whereon the various Scenes of Providence turned.
2. I shall take notice of some other visible Marks and Characters of Wisdom in the more common Events of Providenee, especially such as are made Objections against Providence.
1. Some great Events recorded in Scripture, which gave a new Face of things to the World, and opened new Scenes of Providence.
The State of Innocence, wherein Man was created, was a State of perfect Happiness. There was no Death, no Sickness, no Labour, or Sorrow; but the Fall of Man made a very great change in this visible Creation : Man himself became Mortal, and was condemned to an industrious and laborious Life; according to that Sentence, Cursed is the ground for thy lake; in forrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and Thistles Mall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field: In the Sweat of tby face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast tbou taken: For dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return, 3. Gen. 17, 18, 19
This was a very severe Sentence, which deprived Man of Immortality, and of the easy and happy Life of Paradise; condemned him to Labour and Sorrow while he lived, and then to return unto Duft; and yet the Wisdom as well as Justice of Providence is very visible in it; it was not fit that when Man had finned, he should be immortal in this World; and an industrious and laborious Life is the best and
Discourse of happiest State for fallen Man, as I Death, ch. 2.
have elsewhere shewn at large. fe&t. 1.
We know little more than this of Discourse of the Antediluvian World, till we Judgm. ch. s.
hear of the general corruption of sex. 8.
Mankind, That the earth was filled with violence, for all flesh bad corrupted his way upon the earth; insomuch, that it repented the Lord that he had made man upon the earth, and it grieved bim at bis beart, 6. Gen. This was so universal a Corruption, that there was but one righteous Family left, only Noab, and his three Sons, and therefore God resolved to sweep them all away with an universal Deluge, excepting that one righteous Family, whom he preserved in the Ark, which he appointed Noab to prepare for that purpose.
The Justice of this no Man can dispute ; for if all Flesh corrupt its ways, God may as juftly destroy a whole World of Sinners, as he can punish, or cut off any one single Sinner. But that which I am now concerned for, is to shew the wonderful Wisdom of Providence in the destruction of the Old World by a deluge of Water; and rightly to understand this, we muft consider the several Circumstances of the Story, and what God intended by it.
Now though that wicked Generation of Men deserved to be deftroyed, yet God did not intend to put a final end to this World, nor to cut off the whole Race of all Mankind, but to raise a new Generation of Men from a Righteous Seed; and to make the Destruction, of the Old World a standing Warning, and a visible Lesson of Righteousness to the New: And a few Observations will satisfy us, that nothing could be more wisely designed for this purpose:
1. Let us consider the Wisdom of Providence in destroying the Old World without the utter Destruction of Mankind. It was too soon to put a final End to the World which he had so lately made, without reproaching his own Wifdom in making it. There had been very little of the Wisdom of Government yet feen, but one Act, and that concluding in all disorder and confusion; and had God left off here, and put a final end to the Race of Mankind, it had been but a very ill spectacle to the Angelical World, to fee a whole Species of Reasonable Beings so foon destroyed. The Old Serpent, who deceived our first Parents, would have gloried in his Victory, that he had utterly spoiled and ruined the best part of this visible Creation, and even forced God to destroy the most excellent Creature he had made on Earth. But God had threatned the Serpent, that the Seed of the Woman fhould break his Head, and therefore the whole Pofterity of Eve must not be destroyed, but a Righteous Seed must be preserved to new-people the World.
But besides this, The Destruction of the Old World being intended as a warning to the New, it was necessary there should be some living Witnesses, both of the Destruction and the Resurrection of the World, to assure their Pofterity of what they had seen, and to preserve the Memory of it to all Generations. Of which more presently.
2dly. The Wisdom of God was very visible in delaying so terrible an Execution till there was no Remedy. To destroy a World carries great Horror with it, and makes a frightful representation of God, if it be not qualified with all the
moft tender and softning Circumstances. And I cannot think of any thing that can justify Providence in it (excepting the last Judgment, when the Divine Wisdom thinks fit to put a final End to this World) but the irrecoverable State of Mankind, and the absolute necessity of some new methods of reforming the World.
And therefore God delayed the Destruction of the Old World, till all Flesh had corrupted his Ways, and there was but one Righteous Family left, which must be in danger of being corrupted too by the universal Wickedness of the Age. However, it is certain, That though Noab might have preserved his own Integrity, and have taught his own Family the Fear and Worship of God, yet he could do no good upon the reit of the World; he was a Preacher of Righteousness, but his Sermons had no effect. It is generally concluded by the Ancients, that he was an hundred Years in building the Ark, and all this while he gave visible warning to them of the approaching Deluge : Now when it was impossible by any ordinary means to put a stop to the Wickedness of Mankind, what remained but to destroy that corrupt and incurable Generation, and to preserve righteous Noah and his Sons, to propagate a new Generation of Men, and to train them up in the Fear and Worship of God ? Had he delayed a little longer, the whole World might have been corrupt, without one righteous Man in it; and then he must either have maintained and preserved a World of Atheists and profligate Sinners, or must have destroyed them all: But it more became the Divine Wisdcm, when Religion was reduced to one Family, to defer Vengeance no longer, while he had one righteous Family to save, to