« PreviousContinue »
The Carnal Posterity of Abrabam were chosen by God for his peculiar People, to preserve his own Name and Worship among them; and for this purpose they were to be a distinct Nation, separated from the rest of the World, and had the Land of Canaan given them to live in; and they were to continue so till the coming of the Messias, according to Jacob's Prophecy, The Scepter shall not depart from fudab, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, until Shilob come, and to bim Shall the gathering of the people be, 49. Genef. 10.
But the Blessings of the Messias were promised only to the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, as St. Paul proves, 9. Rom. 3. Gal. That is, to all those, whether Jews or Gentiles, who believe in Chrif Jesus ; for Christ was the true promised Seed, and in Christ are all the Promises of God, Yea and Amen ; and therefore nothing but Faith in Christ can entitle us to the Promise of Abrabam; as the Apostle in these places confirms by several Arguments, which I cannot now insist on.
Now if we thus distinguish between Abraham's Carnal and Spiritual Seed, and those Promises which belong to Abrabam's Carnal Pofterity, and those which peculiarly belong to his Spiritual Seed, there will appear no great difficulty in God's destroying the City and Temple of FeruSalem, and dispersing the Jews into all parts of the Earth.
God had accomplished what he intended by the Carnal Posterity of Abrabam ; that is, he had preserved and propagated the knowledge of the One True God in the World, and prepared Men to receive Chrift, when he should be preached to them; and now. Christ was come, the Spiritual Covenant took place; which was not confined to Abrabam's Carnal Posterity, but
extended to all that believed in Christ all the World over: So that God had no longer any one Nation for his peculiar People, but those only were his peculiar People, whatever Nation they were of, who believe in Jesus.
The Jews then, considered as Abraham's Carnal Posterity, were God's peculiar People no longer ; nor did God's Promise oblige him to preserve them a distinct Nation any longer ; and therefore the Divine Providence might now as justly destroy them as any other Nation, if they deferved it ; and certainly the Crucifixion of their Messias, and their obstinate Infidelity, did deserve it. And when they had thus juftiy deserved a final Excision, the Divine Wisdom had admirable Ends to serve by it.
This gave a glorious Testimony to Christ and his Religion in that terrible Vengeance which befel his Murtherers, which Christ himself had so exprefly and punctually foretold, that no Man, who knew what he had foretold, with so many particular Circumstances, could be ignorant why Jerusalem was destroyed.
The obstinate Infidelity of the Jews, who blasphemed the Name, and persecuted the Difciples of Christ, did in some degree hinder the progress of the Gospel among the Gentiles ; but the Destruction of Jerusalem, and the miraculous Preservation of the Chriftians, was so visible a Testimony to Christianity, and delivered the Christian Church from such bitter and implacable Enemies, that the Gospel had a freer pafsage, and prevailed mightily in the World.
And the dispersion of the Jews into all Countries, as before it spread the Knowledge of the One True God, so now it made them unwile
ling Witnesses to Christianity, as being the vifible Triumph of the Crucified Jesus.
In a word, When all Mankind were Idolaters, God chose the Posterity of Abrabam, and multiplied them into a great Nation, to preserve and propagate the Knowledge and Worship of the One Supreme God, and to prepare Men to receive the Gospel, which would in time extirpate all Pagan Idolatries. When Christ was come, and the Gospel preached to the World, God rejected that Nation for their Infidelity, and by that means gave a freer passage to the Gospel among the Gentiles; and St. Paul intimates, That the time will come, when the Sincere Faith, and Exemplary Piety of the Chriftian Church shall contribute as much to the Conversion of the Jews, as they formerly did to the Conversion of the Gentiles; for this feems to be the Sum of the Apostle's Reasoning, with which I shall conclude this Argument, 11. Rom. 30, &c. For as ye in times past bave not believed God, yet now bave obtained mercy through their unbelief i Even so bave tbese also now not believed, that through your mercy, they also may obtain mercy ; for. God bath concluded them all in unbelief, that be might bave mercy upon all
. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearcbable are his judgments, and bis ways past finding out.
Secondly, Let us now consider the Wisdom of Providence in some more common and ordinary Events, especially such as are made Obje&ions againft Providence. I have already upon other occasions taken notice of several things of this nature ; but it will give us a more transporting Sense of the Divine Wisdom, to fee as much of it as we can in one View,
In general ; whoever considers what it is to Govern a World, and to take care of all the Creatures that are in it, must confess it to be a Work of Infinite and Incomprehensible Wildom.
The Epicureans, for this Reason, rejected a Providence, because they thought it too much Trouble for their Gods, full of Care, Solicitude, and Distraction, to observe all that is done in the World ; and to over-rule and determine áll Events, as Wisdom, Justice, and Goodness, should direct : And indeed, nothing less than an Infinite Mind can do this, which sees all. Things at one View, judges infallibly at first Sight, and orders all Things with a powerful Thought.
But my chief Delign at present is, to fhew you the Wisdom of Providence in some particular Cases, which either are not sufficiently observéd, or not rightly understood.
Some of the great Objections against Providence, are, che troublesome and tempestuous State of this World ; the Uncertainty of all Events ; the Ficklenefs and Inconftancy of Human Affairs ; the promiscuous Dispensation of the good and evil Things of this Life, both to good, and to bad Men. And I have already vindicated, not only the Justice and Goodniefs, but the Wisdom of God, upon these Accounts; by shewing, what wife Ends God ferves by them, and what a wise Use we may make of such Providences. And therefore, the principal Thing I shall now insist on, shall be some of those wise Methods, God uses in Rewards and Punishments; wherein the great Wisdom
of Government consists : And I shall briefly mention some few.
1. That God rewards, and punishes Men, in their Posterity. This is so plainly taught in Scripture, that it will admit of no Dispute ; thoʻsome Men venture to dispute the Justice at least of one Part of it, that God should visit the Sins of the Fathers upon the Children ; which the Fews objected against God, in that Prophane Proverb, The Fathers have eaten sowre grapes, and the Children's teeth are set on edge, 18. Ezek. And by the Answer God there makes, we may learn in what Sense God threatens to punish the Posterity of bad Men, and to reward the Pofte. rity of good Men, for their Fathers Sakes ; which does not extend to the other World, where every Man shall be judged according to his own Works, and the soul that sinneth, it shall die: And as to this World, where we may allow more to the Sovereignty of Providence, without impeaching the Divine Justice ; yet God assures us, that a Righteous Son shall not be punished, merely because he had a wicked Father ; nor a wicked Son be rewarded, merely because he had a Righteous Father : For thus much the Words must signify, if they relate to this Life; as they certainly do, as well as to a Future State.
Now, if neither a Righteous Son shall suffer for the Wickedness of his Father, nor a Wicked Son receive the Rewards of his Father's Virtue ; this can afford no Pretence, to impeach the Justice of Providence; but it gives Occasion to enquire, in what Sense God is said to vifit the Sins of the Fathers upon their Children,