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S E R M. which gave rife originally to those evils, .J^Y^ and which rendered the chastisements we undergo, in this state of discipline, necessary, even for the sons of God.—— But at present, we confine our observation to those miseries of which men are the immediate procurers to themselves; and from them alone, we find sufficient season to consider sin as the capital foe to man; as the great troubler and disturber of his life. To Providence, then, let us look up with reverence. On sin let our indignation be vented,, and, what is of more consequence, against sin and all it's approaches, let our utmost caution be employed. As we proceed through the different paths of life, let us accustom ourselves to beware of sin, as the hidden snake lurking among the grass, from whose fatal touch we must fly in haste, if we would not experience its sting. :- Too many have no just apprehensions of this danger. Fools, said the wise man, make a mock at fin. A fool indeed he must be, who dares to think lightly of it. He shows not only the depravity
pravity of his heart, but, what perhaps s he will be more ashamed to be charged with, he shows his ignorance of the world. He shows that he knows not, he understands not, even his worldly interest, nor the interest and happiness of human society.
In the second place, let us learn from what has been set forth, one of the most awful and important of all truths, the reality of a divine government exercised over the world. Blind must that man be, who discerns not the most striking marks of it, in the doctrine which has been under our view. If there be a sceptic, who contends, that unrestrained liberty in the gratification of desire is given to man; that in the fight of his Creator, all actions are equal; and that no rule of moral conduct hath been prescribed, or by any penalty enforced; in order to confute such a man, we have not recourse to reasonings, but simply appeal to plain and obvious facts. We bid him look only to the life of man; and take notice how every vice, is by the constitution of U 2 things,
• things, connected with misery. We bid him trace the history of any one, with whose conduct he had particular occasion to be acquainted; and observe, whether the chief misfortunes which pursued him were not brought upon him by his own misbehaviour. We bid him remark in the history of nations, whether public virtue has not always exalted them; and whether licentiousness and crimes have not paved the way for their ruin. These are testimonies to the truth of religion, which cannot by any sophistry be evaded. This is a voice, which speaks its warnings loud and strong to every heart.
The system upon which the divine government at present proceeds, plainly is, that men's own 'wickedness should be appointed to correct them; that sinners should be snare din the work of their hands, and funk in the pit which themselves had digged; that the backjlider in heart fliould
he filled with his own ways. Of all the
plans which could have been devised for the government of the world, this ap
proves itself to reason, as the wisest and S E R M.
most worthy of God; so to frame the constitution of things, that the divine laws should in a manner execute themselves, and carry their sanctions in their own bosom. When the vices of men require punishment to be inflicted, the Almighty is at no loss for ministers of justice. A thousand instruments of vengeance are at his command; innumerable arrows are always in his quiver. But such is the profound wisdom of his plan, that no peculiar interposals of power are requisite. He has no occasion to step from his throne, and to interrupt the order of nature. With that Majesty and solemnity which befits omnipotence, He pronounces, Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone* He leaves transgressors to their own guilt, and punishment follows of course. Their sins do the work of justice. They lift the scourge; and with every stroke which
* Hosea iv. 17.
S e R M. they inflict on the criminal, they mi^ this severe admonition, that as he is only reaping the fruit of his own actions, he
deserves all that he suffers. From
what has been said, I might take occasion,
In the third place, to (how the injustice of our charging Providence with a promiscuous and unequal distribution of its favours, among the good and the bad. That unequal distribution takes place in appearance only, not in reality. The whole conduct of Providence sufficiently marks, which of those classes of men it blesses and protects. The prosperity of sinners is no more than a deceitful show. The great materials of happiness are provided for the virtuous; and evil never fails to pursue the wicked. I shall close the discourse with observing,
In the fourth and last place, the necessity which plainly arises from our present condition, of looking up to God for direction and aid, in the conduct of life. The result of the whole doctrine I have