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cepts do not oblige antecedently to the command, because we cannot discover any intrinsick goodness in them; yet after the command, they oblige as strongly as moral precepts, because they are initituted by the same righteous lawgiver..
We should not be so vain as to think that nothing is fit to be done by us, which we ourselves cannot difcern to be fo; but should pay so much deference to our maker, as to think that he may possibly know some things to be proper for us to perform, the fitness and decency whereof we ourselves could not discover. Doubtless he hath reasons for commanding whatsoever he hath commanded, tho he may have concealed them from us. Therefore we should never refuse obedience to any of his precepts, because we cannot see the reason of them ; but when upon diligent enquiry we are convinced that they are his precepts, should without delay apply ourselves to the practice of them, because they are commanded by a being who is necessarily just, and cannot possibly command an unrighteous thing.
If, in the next place, we consider those precepts which enjoin a passive
obedience to God, we shall find them to be as righteous as those which enjoin an active obedience. It is as reasonable for us to submit to those evils which he inflicts, as it is to do those things which he commands; for he can no more be unrighteous in the dispensations of his providence, than he is in his precepts. God is infinitely wise, and just, and good; and therefore he cannot possibly do any thing that is unwise, unjust, or cruel.
Indeed most men are the authors of their own miseries. Poverty and want are often the effects of idleness and prodigality: shame and disgrace are often the consequences of some base and scandalous actions ; and bodily pains and diseases are frequently the effects of luxury and leudness. In these cases therefore, men are to blame themselves, and not God, who only suffers natural causes to produce their natural effects. It would be the height of injustice to murmur against him on account of evils which we bring upon ourselves. *
And as for those evils which are inflicted upon us immediately by God himself; it ought to be considered, that they are the just demerit of our fins, and therefore it is but reasonable that we should quietly
submit to them. The provocations which we are daily guilty of against the divine majesty, will for ever vindicate him from injustice in the afflictions wherewith he visits us. Wherefore dotb a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his fins ? Lam. III. 39. We'ought rather to admire the goodness of God in sparing us from utter destruction, than repine at his severity in punishing us so much less than our iniquities deserve.' Submission is most difficult in case of persecution for righteoufness fake. To suffer shame and corment for doing that which is just and good, is hard indeed ; and if any condition could justify a fretful and impatient temper, çertainly such a condition would; for it hath a tendency to shake our faith in God, and would almost tempt one to call in question the justice of his administration. At first fight it seems contrary to our natural notions of him, that he should permit vircue to be discouraged and oppressed, and abandon his own servants to the rage and fury of wicked and unreasonable meń : and therefore no wonder if such providences as these do sometimes create uneasy thoughts in the minds of the righteous, and tempt them to murmur againft him. But upon a nicer survey of this matter, it will appear that even under fuch trials as these, hard and difficult as they are, there is no just ground of complaining against God, but it becomes us quiecly to submit to the dispensations of his providence. For it ought to be considered, that even the best of men have, in fome inItances or other, offended their creator, and thereby render'd themselves obnoxious to his wrath and vengeance. There is not a just man upon earth who doth good and finneth not : therefore God may, without any injustice, permit even his own servants to fall into the hands of wicked men, and be perfecuted by them; for those sufferings which may be designed by their persecutors as discouragements to them in a religious course, may be designed by God as chastisements for their iniquities.
But we may carry our thoughts further, and consider these afflictive difpensations not as judicial, but as kind and favourable. God may suffer his own children to be oppressed by unrighteous men, 'only to render their graces the more conspicuous, to make them examples of heroic virtue, and prepare them for a brighter and more glorious crown. These light affli&tions, which are but for a moment, will work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Therefore it becomes them not only to bear their sufferings with patience, but even to rejoice and be exceeding glad under them, because great Mall be their reward in heaven, Mat..12.
Thus have I considered those' precepts which regard our conduct towards God, and endeavoured to prove that they are righteous precepts.
I should now proceed to prove the same concerning those precepts which respect our conduct towards our fellow creatures, and those which relate to the government of ourselves; and then from the confideration of the righteousness of all the divine commands, should exhort you to follow the psalmist's example in our text. But I am afraid I have been too long already; and therefore shall leave what remains to be said upon this subject to another time.
Only give me leave to conclude with this observation concerning the laws of God in general; that the more you study them, the more you will see the