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hope to enjoy. I know not how long; but before I wax so feeble as to be to you a burden, the Lord will permit me, I trust, to enter into that rest which yet remaineth to the people of God.
Should my successor, whoever he may be, on any pretence, conceal, or pervert the gospel of Christ, may he find you laudably impatient, (Rev. ii. 2.) and feel you have not forgotten either the text, or tendency of the first sermon, you heard in Keppel-street. Acts xiv. 7. On the contrary, when I am removed, should you have reason to say, Here, the everlasting gospel is still preached; here, its peculiar doctrines are believed; here, those special ordinances, which say plainly, that CHRIST IS COME, are conscientiously regarded'; here, that hope which maketh not ashamed, is enjoyed; here, the holiness of truth is visible, and the order of the gospel gladly regarded; God grant you may be thankful for such a pastor, and glorify God in him,
Remember, daily, that no church on earth is perfect. In each, whether parochial, or congregational, are those with whom spiritual men can
have but little communion. Forget not, that your dissenting from other churches, in every article of your dissent, is, your honor or dishonor, your glory, or your shame. A blessing may be on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brethren; but what blessing can they expect, who consent not to the doctrine which is according to godliness, but are continually doting on questions and debates about words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railing, and evil surmising? Of such con, ceited, litigious persons, beware.
At present, you must be convinced, that infidelity is the wide spreading pest of this age of reasoning against revelation. Take therefore, not philosophers, but the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Marolles did so in all his trials. Contrast his pure and peaceable behaviour, with the impure vanity and violence of his persecutors, and you will know whom to pity, and whom to applaud; whom to follow, and from whom to flee; and when you cannot flee, of him, you will learn how to stand. As you admire his fortitude, who, to keep unspotted the answer of a good conscience, was made willing to die in a
dungeon, you will revere his memory, you will peruse the memoirs of his sufferings with secret satisfaction, and regard his Essay on Providence as a production replete with intellectual treasure.
Let me here request a continued interest in your prayers, that my public services may always be such as you need not be afraid, or ashamed to approve, and that my private deportment, in all things, may not be unworthy of your candid at
I am, my dear friends, your obliged,
Respectful, and faithful pastor,
WE cannot think properly on what is commonly called providence, unless we maturely consider whose providence it is, on which our thoughts are employed. When Tertullus said to Felix, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness, it is evident, Tertullus did not give thanks to the providence of Felix, but to Felix himself; for whose foresight, forecast, and timely care, Tertullus said, the Jewish nation had been much indebted. All this, however, was flattery, for Felix governed the Jews in a very arbitrary manner, and committed the grossest acts of oppression and tyranny.
Providence must always be as HE IS, by whose providence we are fed, governed, and protected; and, if his name be JEHOVAH, to him, surely, and not to his acts and operations, must our devotion be directed; whether we pray for assistance, or give thanks for protection. The manner, therefore, in which many pious people speak of providence, is not to be defended; and, in my appre
hension, Mr. Marolles himself, sometimes personifies providence, in a manner not to be commended.
Providence, like the cloud which went before the sons of Jacob, is always subservient to the word of God, and never inconsistent with it. It may be considered, as a kind of comment on the sacred text; but this comment, like that cloud, is both opaque, luminous, and silent: they who fear God are guided by it safely; while unbelievers gaze and censure, refuse to follow, and either stand still, or act in opposition to divine direction, till, like Pharaoh, they are confounded.
Against the necessity of divine providence, many arguments have been urged; among which, one of the most considerable, is said to be this: "That the world was originally framed, in such wonderful order and perfection, as to stand in no need of the Creator's superintendence; that his rational creatures were made capable of guiding themselves, and of governing those beneath them, and that thereby, the order of the world may be maintained without divine interposition."
I "The answer to which is, that every part of this pretence is groundless. It is demonstrable, that the very material world, cannot be kept in order by second causes, but continually stands in need of the Creator's influence; much less could the order and harmony of the intellectual world be maintained,