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eternal happiness, is the best and most advantageous spending our time ; and we must have a very mean opinion of heaven and eternal happiness, if we think it not worth the obedience and service of a few years, how difficult soever that were ?
4tly, If our lives are so very short at their utmost extent, the sinful pleasures of this world can be no great temptation, when compared with an eternity of happiness or misery. Those sensual pleasures, which men are so fond of, and for the sake of which they break the laws of God, and provoke his justice, forfeit immortal life, and expose themselves to all the miseries and sufferings of an eternal death, can last no longer than we live in this world ; and how little a while is that? When we put off these bodies, all bodily pleasures perish with them ; nay indeed as our bodies die and decay by degrees, before they tumble into the grave, so do our pleasures sensibly decay too : as short as our lives are, men may outlive some of their most beloved vices, and therefore how luscious snever they may be, such short and dying pleasures ought not to come in competition with eternal happiness or misery; whatever things are in their own nature, the value of them increases or diminishes according to the length or shortness of their enjoyment ; that which will last our lives, and make them easy and comfortable, is to be preferred, by wise men, before the most ravishing enjoyments of a day ; and a happiness which will outlast
our lives, and reach to eternity, is to be preferred before the perishing enjoyments of a short life ; unless men can think it better to be happy for three score years, than for ever ; liay, unless men think the enjoyments of three score years a sufficient recompence for eternal want and misery.
5tly, The shortness of our lives is a sufficient answer to all those arguments against providence, taken from the prosperity of bad men, and the miseries and afflictions of the good ; for both of them are so short, that they are nothing in the account of eterni. ty. Were this life to be considered by itself, without any relation to a future state, the difficulty would be greater, but not very great ; because a short happiness, or a short misery, checquered and intermixed as all the happiness and miseries of this life are, is not very considerable ; nor were it worth the while either to make objections against providence, or to answer them, if death put an end to us.
Bad men who make these objections against providence, are very well contented to take the world as they find it, so they may have it without a providence, which is a sign that it is not their dislike of this world (though many times they suffer as much in it, as good men do) which makes them quarrel at providence, but the dread and fear of another world : and this proves, that they think this world a very tolerable place, whether there be a providence or
And if so short a life this is, be but tolerable,
it is a sufficient justification of providence, that this life is well enough for its continuance, a very mixed and imperfect state indeed, but very short too; such a state as bad men themselves would like very well without another life after it, and such a state as good men like very well with another life to follow : it is not a spite at human life, which makes them reject a providence, as any one would guess, who hears them object their own prosperity, and the calamities of good men, as arguments against providence, both which they like very well; and whatever there may be in these objections, supposing there were no other life after this, yet when they all vanish at the very naming of another life, where good men shall be rewarded, and the wicked punished; it is ridiculous to prove, that there is no other lise after this, because rewards and punishments are not dispensed with that exact justice in this life, as we might suppose God would observe, if there were no other life. To prove that there is no other life after this, because good men and bad men do not receive their just rewards in this life, is an argument which becomes the wit and understanding of an atheist ; for they must first take it for granted, that there is no providence, before this argument can prove any thing; for if there be a providence, then the prosperity of bad men, and the sufferings of the good, is a much better argument, that there is another life after this, where rewards and punishments shall be more equally distributed : thus when they dispute against providence from the prosperity of bad men, and the calamities of the good, before this can prove any thing, they must take it for granted, that there is no other life after this, where good men shall be rewarded, and the wickerl punished; for if there be, it is easy enough to justify the providence of God, as to the present prosperity of bad men, and sufferings of the good : so that they must of necessity dispute in a circle, as the papists do between the church and the scriptures, when they either prove, that there is no providence, nor no life after this, from the unequal rewards and punishments of good and bad men in this world : for in effect they prove that there is no providence, because there is no life after this, or that there is no life after this, because there is no providence ; for the prosperity of bad men, and the sufferings of the good, proves neither of them, unless you take the other for grantcd; and if you will prove them both by this medium, you must take them both for granted by turns; and that is the easier and safer way to take them for granted, without 'exposing themselves to the scorn of wise men, by such kind of proofs. But yet though this were no objection against the being of another world, and a providence, yet had the prosperity of bad men, and the calamities of the good continued some hundred years, it had been a greater difficulty, and a greater temptation than now it is.' The pros
perity of the wicked is a much less objection, when it is so easily answered as the psalmist does, yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yed, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be, Psalm. xxxvii. 10. When the very same persons, who have been the spectators and witnesses of his prosperous villanies, live to see a quick and sudden end of him: I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree; yet he passed away, and lo he was not ; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found, 35, 36. And this is enough also to support the spirits of good men : For this cause we faint not, but though our outward man perish, yet theinward man is renewed day by day ; for our light affliction, which is bus for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. xiv. 16, 17.
Sect. V. The time, and manner, and circumstances
of every particular man's death, is not determined by an absolute and unconditional decree.
THOUGH God, who knows all things, does know also the time, and manner, and circumstances of every particular man's death, yet it does not appear, that he has by an absolute and unconditional decree, fixed and determined the particular time of every man's death. This is that famous question, which Beverovicious, a learned physician, was so much concerned to have resolved, and consulted so