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he must be defective; for if he is unjust in Serm. permitting Afflictions to befal good Men III.

av (for such the Argument intends them) he is so, either for want of knowing who these good Men are, or else for want of Goodness to give them their Due ; upon both which Accounts his Wisdom also will be very liable to be suspected and call'd in Question. But now God is infinite every Way, not only in Power, Duration, Extension, &c. but in every thing else; for he is either Nothing, or the Sum of all Things. The Idea of God includes in it every thing that is great and excellent, and that in an infinite Degree, according to the Son of Syrach's sublime Description of him. By his Word all Things consist ; we may speak much, and get come soort, wherefore in Sum he is all. How fall we be able to magnify him, for he is great above all his Works ? The Lord is terrible, and very great, vellous in his Power. When you glorify the Lord, exalt him as much as you can, for even get will he far exceed; and when you exalt him, put forth all your Strength, and be not weary, for you can never go far cnough. Who hath seen him, that he might tell us ? and who can magnify him as he is : There are yet bid greater Things F 2

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SERM. than these be, for we have seen but a few
III. of bis Works. He therefore must be juft

and righteous, and that in a most eminent
Manner, for this is a Part of those glorious
Perfections which make him be what he is :
And if so, there must be a fufficient Reason
for every thing he does, whether we are
able to find out that Reason, or no.

Now, because the making those Amieti-
ons we fuffer in this Life an Argument a-
gainst the Justice of God implies that Man
is innocent, and therefore more just than
God, because a righteous Man will not pu-
nish another without a just Caufe, this Sup-
position also proceeds from an Ignorance of
ourselves as well as of God. Whatever
Light a vain Fancy, and a bloated Imagi-
nation, may have plac'd us in, and how in-
nocent and righteous foever we may appear
in our own Glass, yet if we will look into
ourselves with an exact Scrutiny, and dili-
gently view this Body of Sin which we in.
habit ; if we will but trace our natural De-
pravity to its Spring-Head, till we find
that we were born in Sin, and shapen in
Iniquity, and be at the Pains to observe the
dismal Effects of it breaking out into re-
bellious Paftions, perverse Humours, and
every evil Work, we shall foon find the

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Miftake; an impartial Eye will discover all SERM, thoseDeformities, which a too goodOpinion of III. ourselves has always plac'd in a wrong Light. The Scripture and our own Consciences have concluded all under Sin. Who, says the wife Man, can say, I have made my Heart clean, I am free from my Sin ? And this is the Case not only of Sinners, but of good Men too, and when Men are truly sensible of this, it is a sign that they are good. What is Man, 'fays Eliphaz, that he should be clean, and he which is born of a Woman, that he poould be righteous ? Behold, he putteth no Trust in his Saints, yea the Heavens are not clean in his Sight; how much more abominable and filthy is Man, who drinketh Iniquity like Water ! And, fays Bildad, Behold even to the Moon and it Jineth not, yea, the Stars are not pure in his Sight; how much lefs Man, that is a Worm, and the Son of Man, which is a Worm ! So that hąd we right Notions of God, and of ourselves, we should not make the Afflictions which happen to us in this Life an Argument against the Justice of

for then we should be convinc'd, that as God is infinite in every Respect, in Wisdom and Justice, as well as in every thing else, and is therefore a Being of all

possible

God;

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SERM. possible Perfections, there must be a suffin
III.

cient Reason for these Things; and a true
Knowledge of ourselves would give us the
Reason, a Reason sufficient to justify God
in his Proceedings, and convince us, that
whatever we undergo in this Life is no more
than we might expect as the Consequence
of our Guilt: Why then poould a living
Man complain, as the Prophet says, a Man
for the Punifoment of his Sins ?. Or, why
shall the righteous Lord be accounted un-
just for punishing us according to our De-
serts ? or mortal Man be more just than God
for deserving it?

Tho' we can't trace out the Footsteps of
the Divine Providence, and when we labour
under any Amictions, after our utmost Care
and Endeavour to preserve our Integrity,
may, with Job, want to know the Cause
of such Proceedings, yet 'tis enough that
we are guilty; 'tis sufficient to answer all
Objections against the Justice of God, that
we have desery'd them, tho' perhaps they

not fent as the immediate Consequence of Sin, but as Trials to exercise our Patience and Humility, or for some other Reason which we are not able to difcover. For ir Ami&tions were always the Consequence of Sin, wicked Men could then

expect

are

expect but little Content and Satisfaction, Serm.
their Life would then be one continued Scene III.
of Trouble ; whereas the contrary to this is
very often true, good Men being fometimes
niore afflicted than they; and tho' none are,
strictly speaking, so good as not to deserve
Punishment, yet, as there are better than
others, they that are so would, by this
Rule, have least of it. But this is not al-
ways the Case ; Job's Friends were there-
fore very much mistaken, when they asserted
that good Men only were prosperous, and
that the Wicked were the only afflicted
Men in this Life, and consequently that
good and bad Men were always to be known
by the Comforts or Troubles that happen'd
to them ; for tho' this may sometimes be
true, yet that it is no constant Rule and Me.
thod of God's Proceedings Job plainly
shews from History and good Observation.
If this Opinion be true, he wants to be in-
form'd why many wicked Men enjoy the
good Things of this Life, and want neither
Power nor Might, nor old Age to prolong
or encrease their Enjoyment, their Children
are provided for, and they are not disturbid
in their Habitations, they spend their Days
in Pleasure, uninterrupted with Pain or Sick-
ness, and go easily and quietly to their

Graves.

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