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life. Yet that such there have been, and still
Now whoever renounces a Providence, and rejects God's authority over him, must do it upon one of these two principles; either through a spirit of infidelity, because he neither believes nor acknowledges such a Providence, or else through the corruption of his heart, which will not let him submit to it, though he does believe it.
And first then, If it proceeds from a spirit of infidelity, because he does not believe a Providence, I would ask any serious man, what can be a greater folly than to deny that which is not only the most credible thing in the world, but the very foundation of all things that are credible? To deny what the most sensible heathens believed by the bare light of nature? To deny
what has been, and can be proved by a variety of arguments, which no effrontery can contradict, no subtilty evade? And yet this is the very, case of every man that denies a Providence. For first, he shuts his eyes against the very fountain of light, which is the being of a God. For the first and most immediate consequence that can be drawn from the being of a God is, that there is a Providence: he, therefore, that denies a Providence, either denies the being of a God wholly; or else, which comes to the same thing, makes him such a supine and indolent being, as takes no care of his creatures; and, therefore, can neither be just, nor wise, not good : for all these perfections must be wanting in him, if he neglected to take care of the work of his hands : and, without these perfections, he can be no Deity. He, therefore, that denies a Providence, in fact denies the first principle and foundation of all knowledge, the being of a God. And secondly; in reality, therefore, though he may profess Christianity; such a man is worse than a heathen : for there was scarce any sect among the pagans that denied or doubted of a Providence, except those, who like the fiends of a neighbouring nation, by their abominable principles plunged men into the most diabolic practices, and whose interest, therefore, led them to wish and maintain that
there there was neither God, nor law, nor rewards, nor punishments, nor Providence, nor justice, either in this world or the next; but that one eternal sleep might closer together their crimes and their lives...
But farther. As it is the particular character of religion to make us hope even against hope, so he that. denies a Providence becomes faithless and unbelieving against the strongest proof, the conviction of his own mind, and the conclusions of his own reason. For put the matter in other words, and we shall find him, in reality, allowing the justice and certainty of those reasonings, upon which we found the notion of a Providence. He believes that a state cannot be well governed without the wisdom and council of a prince ;--that a ship cannot be safely steered without the attention and dexterity of a pilot ; --that a family cannot subsist in good order without the vigilance and care of a master :and when he sees the kingdom flourish in peace and due subordination,--the ship ride safely in the midst of contending elements,--and the family acting, in their several departments, with harmony and concord, -he concludes without hesitation, that they are severally governed by the wisdom of some intelligent being. Is it hot, therefore, the flattest contradiction to his
own reason, as well as to common sense, to suppose, that whilst these petty concerns require the guidance and wisdom of a directing hand, the vast fabric of the universe can be maintained in that wonderful order in which we see it, by chance or fate, without Providence; that is, without the care and guidance of an intelligent Being? He, therefore, that denies a Providence, must, in reality, contradict the conclusions and conviction of his own mind.
But besides all this, there are other proofs.of God's care in the government of the world, against which he obstinately shuts his eyes, though they cannot escape his notice. For there is no man, I believe, that looks back upon his past life, and considers what has happened to him, but is able to call to mind either some in minent danger that he has escaped, or some extraordinary mercy that he has received, which shewed the visible care of a divine Providence over hiin. This the royal Psalmist long ago emphatically declared to be the case of one de scription of men in particular, and therefore calls upon them in the strongest terms, to "! praise the Lord for his goodness, and to " declare the wonders that he doth for the
children of men *.”
* Psalm cvii.
And what is here said of those " who occupy " their business in great waters,” is not less true of all men who have had an enlarged and extensive conimerce in life: for the world is the great theatre and school of Providence; in which, if we are capable even of the smallest reflection, we shall soon perceive a superintending power and wisdom, which disposes of men's fates, and directs their counsels; which raiseth up and bringeth down; which maketh poor and maketh rich; which killeth and maketh alive; and, like an universal arbiter, disposeth of all events : 6 For the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole “disposing thereof is of the Lord.” It is, therefore, wilful blindness alone, that can make any man deny the Providence of God, which so manifestly displays itself in every event of our lives.'
And yet, such is the folly and inconsistency of infidelity, that these very men, who deny the care of Providence whilst the world smiles upon them, are always the first to murmur against its wise decrees when any misfortune overtakes them; being ever ready to make God the author of evil, though they will not acknowledge the good they receive from his fatherly hand.