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Of affinity to this was the error of the Manichees, who supposed two first causes of things, one of good, the other of bad, taken, it seems, from the Persian, Egyptian, or other Ethnical doctrines, which to this purpose we may see recited by Plutarch, in his tractate de Ifide el O/iride: the Plut. de If. Persian, from Zoroaster, he tells us, had their Oromazes 6S9."'p' and Arimanius; the Egyptians their Osiris and Typhon;Steph. Gr. the Chaldeans their good and bad planets; the Greeks their Zeus and Hades; the Pythagoreans their Movaj and Abo;; Empedocles his Concord and Discord, &c. The common reason or ground upon which erroneous conceits were built was this; that there being in nature some things imperfect and bad, these could not proceed from perfect goodness; it would have produced all things in highest perfection and in indefectible state of goodness. (If, discourseth Plutarch there, expressing the main of their argu-. ment, nothing naturally can arise without a cause, and good cannot afford causality to evil, it is necessary that nature should have a proper seed and principle of evil, as well as goodd: and thus it seems to the most and wisest: for they indeed conceive two Gods, as it were, counterplotting each other; one the contriver and producer of good things, and the other of bad; calling the better one, God; the other, Dæmon.)

But this discourse hath two great faults: it supposeth something imperfect and evil, which is not truly so; and that which is truly imperfect and evil it affigneth to a wrong cause: it supposeth some things according to their original constitution imperfect and evil, which is false: there was no creature which did not at first pass the divine approbation; God Jaw every thing that he had made, and Gat... 31. behold it was very good. Good 5 that is, convenient and suitable to its design, fair and decent in its place and proportion: very good; that is, altogether perfect in its degree, without any blemish or flaw, not liable to any just exception. There be indeed degrees of perfection, (it was

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fit there should be such in great variety, that things might commend and illustrate each other;) some things may comparatively be said to be imperfect, or less excellent in respect of others, but nothing is positively bad or imperfect, void of that perfection due to its nature and kind. Every thing contributes something to the use and ornament of the whole; no weed that grows out of the earth, no worm that creeps upon the ground, but hath its beauty, and yields some prosit; nothing is despicable or abominable, though all things not alike admirable and amiable. There is nothing therefore unfit or unworthy to have proceeded from God; nothing which doth not in some sort and degree confer to the manifestation of his glorious wisdom, power, and goodness. 0 Lord, faith the devout

Pf. civ. a«. Psalmist, after particular consideration of them, how manifold are thy works ! in wisdom hast thou made them all :■ ike

Wisd. i. 14. earth is full of thy riches: He created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, faith the Hebrew Wise Man.

As for those real imperfections and evils, (moral evils, habitual distempers, irregular actions, with all tbe mischiefs consequent on them,) we need not seek any one eternal cause for them; (though order and uniformity do, disorder and confusion do not, argue any unity of cause whence they should proceed;) the true causes of them are notorious enough: men, (or other intellectual agents,) their voluntarily declining from the way God doth prescribe them; disobeying his laws and precepts, transgressing the dictates of their own reasons, abusing their own faculties, perverting themselves and others, (by their bad example, persuasion, allurement, or violence;) these causes of such evils are most visible and palpable; they are called our ways, our works, our inventions; they are imputed altogether to us; we are blamed, we are punished for them. Nor need we to inquire any other principle of them; (no Arimanius, no uncreated Cacodæmon, no eternal Fate to father them upon.)

As for other evils of grief and pain, incident to the na- Mali nulla ture or consequent upon the actions of any being, they are TM'uaTM !jjj» such as God himself (without any derogation to his good- boni mali ness) may in his wisdom or justice be author of, for ends "evAt^Jimg. sometimes apparent to our understanding, sometimes fur- Jt Cn>. D. passing its reach; it may suffice that God'challengeth to Rom.xi.33. himself the being cause of them; Shall there be any evil Amos iii.6. in the city, and the Lord hath not done it P Doth not evil Lam. and good proceed out of the mouth of the Moji High? /isa. xW. 57. am the Lord, and there is none else: I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. For these evils, therefore, is it in vain to search for any other cause than God's just providence: But I will not trouble you farther in considering the mistakes of those blind philosophers or blasphemous heretics.

I will only briefly touch upon a consideration or two (concerning the manner how and the reason why God did make the world) which will commend it to us, and ground somewhat of our duty, and direct our practice inNonpotest respect thereto. The manner of God's producing the^["0^ world was altogether voluntary, absolutely free: .it didcit nisi °Pnot proceed from him as heat doth from the fire, or light est neceffifrom the fun, by a natural or necessary emanation, (ag "s sua. 5<-».

. Nat. (iu.

some philosophers have conceited, some later Platoriists, Prof.

and some Stoics,) but from his wife counsel and free v,d-Basil

, . . pag. 10.

choice. (He could have abstained from making the

world; he could have made it otherwise.) Thou art wor- Rev. iv. 11. thy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou haft created all things, x, Si<i To Si\ri[ha <r«, and for (or by) thy will (or pleasure) they are and were created, fay the elders in the Revelation. It is the property of God, St. Paul tells us, to perform all things according to Eph. i. 11. the counsel of his will. He could not be fatally determined, there being no superior cause to constrain him. He could not be obliged to impart any perfection, being master of all, and debtor to none: it would destroy all ground of our thankfulness and devotion, if God was not a free agent. And it is plain, if the world had Vol. v. y

been produced by necessary emanation, that it should have been eternal; as if the fun had been eternal, the light had been so. But that the world was produced in time, and that not long since, (within five or fix thousand years,) not only faith and divine chronology assure u<s, but reason also (hews, and all history conspires to make us believe; there being no monuments or probable memory of actions beyond that time; and by what progressions mankind was propagated and dispersed over the world, how and when and where nations were planted, and empires raised, and cities built, and arts invented or improved, it is easy enough to trace near the original times and places. The world therefore, in respect of time conceivable by us, is very young; and not many successions of men's lives have pasted between its beginning and ours: whence it is evident that it was freely produced by God. And how he produced it the Scripture farther teaches us; not with any laborious care or toil; not with help of any engines or instruments subservient; not by inducing any preparatory dispositions, but 4<»Aa> T<5 |3«'X(tr$ai, (as Clemens Alexandrinus speaks,) by his Ady. Herm. mere will and word; (these were the hands, as Tettullian Ps.cii.95. expounds it, by which it is said God made the heavens;) at his call they did all immediately spring up Out of nothing; at his command they obediently ranged themselves into order. It was not only a high strain of rhetoScct. y. ric in Moses, (as Longinus supposed,) but a most proper expression of that incomprehensible efficacy which attend? the divine will and decree.

But (since God did not only make the world freely, but wisely, and all wise agents act to some purpose, aim at some end) why did God make the world? it may be asked; what reason induced him thereto? I answer with Sen. Epist. Plato, ctyuQh; i|v, {Quœris quid propofitum Jit Deo? Bonu 6S' tas: ila certe Plato ait: Quæ Deo J'aciendi mundum cew/ff

suit? Bonus eji, nulla cujusquam boni invidia eft:) He was good: his natural benignity and munificence was the only motive that incited (or invited) him to this great action of imparting existence and suitable perfection to his creatures respectively. No benefit or emolument could hence accrue to him; no accession of beatitude: he did not need any profit or pleasure from without himself, being full within, rich in all perfection, completely happy in the contemplation and enjoyment of himself. Our goodness Ps. xvi. a. doth not extend to God; we cannot anywise advance or amplify him thereby: Can a man, faith Eliphaz, (can any Job xxii. 2. creature,) be profitable to God? No: goodness is freely diffusive and communicative of itself; love is active and fruitful; highest excellence is void of all envy and selfishness and tenacity: these being intrinsecal to God's nature, {for God is love; that is, essentially loving and good,) did 1 John iv. dispose him to bestow so much of being, beauty, delight, ''' and comfort upon his creatures. Hence, The earth, faith ps. xxxiii. theifolmist, is full of the goodness of the Lord; that iBj *•«>*• ««• every creature therein is an effect thereof, partakes thereof in its being and enjoyments. The Lord is good to all, andPt- cxiv. 9. his tender mercies are over all his works; (his tender mercies,,racliamavi, his bowels of affection;) good and tender over all his works, as well in producing them as preserving them; in rendering them at first capable to receive good, as in providing for and dispensing good unto them. That thou giveft them they gather; (it is spoken in respect Ps- civ. as. to the whole university of creatures;) thou openefl thy hand, they are all filled with good: it is from God's open hand (his immense bounty and liberality) all creatures do receive all that good which fills and satiates them. A glimpse of which truth the ancient heathens seemed to have when they delivered, (as Aristotle tells us,) that love Arist. Mcwas the original principle of things: [wpajTi?oy p.ay epaila,ap ''" *' Ssro jiwdiValo iravluiv, is a verse he cites out of Parmenides.]

But I will not insist longer upon this point; only I shall briefly touch some uses the belief and consideration thereof will afford to us.

The belief thereof must necessarily beget in us the highest esteem, admiration, and adoration of God and his excellencies. What a power must that be (how unconceivably great, both intensively and extensively!) that

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