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some cases, it may appear how difficult it is for us, who have
eyes of flesh,' as Job speaketh, and hearts too never quite freed of carnality, to see through or fully to acquiesce in the deal. ings of God.
It is indeed a distemper incident to us, which we can hardly shun or cure, that we are apt to measure the equity and espedience of things according to our opinions and passions; affecting consequently to impose on God our silly imaginations as rules of his proceeding, and to constitute him the executioner of our sorry passions : what we conceit fit to be done, that we take God bound to perform; when we feel ourselves stirred, then we presume God must be alike concerned : to our apprehensions every slight inconvenience is a huge calamity, every scratch of fortune is a ghastly wound; God therefore, we think, should have prevented it, or must presently remove it; every pitiful bauble, every trivial accommodation is a matter of high consequence, which if God withhold, we are ready to clamor on him, and wail as children for want of a trifle. Are we soundly angry, or inflamed with zeal ? then 'fire must come down from heaven,' then thunderbolts must fly about, then nothing but sudden woe and vengeance are denounced : Are we pleased ? then showers of blessings must descend on the heads, then floods of wealth must run into the laps of our favorites, otherwise we are not satisfied; and scarce can deem God awake, or mindful of his charge. We do beyond measure bate or despise some persons, and to those God must not afford any favor, any mercy, any forbearance, or time of repentance; we excessively admire or dote on others, and those God must not touch or cross: if he doth not proceed thus, he is in danger to forfeit his authority: he must hardly be allowed to govern the world, in case he will not square his administrations to our fond conceit, or froward humor: hence no wonder that men often are stumbled about providence; for God will not rule according to their fancy or pleasure, (it would be a mad world if he should,) neither indeed could he do so if he would, their judg. ments and their desires being infinitely various, inconsistent, and repugnant. Again,
4. The nature of those instruments which divine Providence doth use in administration of human affairs, hindereth us from
discerning it: it is an observation among philosophers, that the footsteps of divine wisdom are, to exclusion of doubt, far more conspicuous in the works of nature than in the management of our affairs; so that some who by contemplation of natural appearances were convinced of God's existence, and his protection of the world, (who thence could not doubt but that an immense wisdom had erected the beautiful frame of heaven and earth, had ranged the stars in their order and courses, had formed the bodies and souls of animals, had provided for the subsistence and propagation of each species, had settled and doth uphold the visible world in its so comely and convenient state, that even such men,) reflecting on the course of human transactions, have staggered into distrust, whether a divine wisdom doth sit at the helm of our affairs ; many thence hardly would admit God to be concerned in them, but supposed him to commit their conduct to a fatal swinge, or a casual fluctuation of obvious causes: one great reason of this difference may be, that whereas the instruments of divine power in nature are in themselves merely passive, or act only as they are acted by pure necessity, (as a pen in writing, or a hammer in striking,) being thence determinate, uniform, constant, and certain in their operation; whenever there any footsteps of counsel, any tendency to an end, and deviation from the common tracks of motion do appear, such effects cannot reasonably be imputed merely to natural causes, but to a superior wisdom, wielding them in such a manner, and steering them to such a mark : but the visible engines of providence in our affairs are self-moving agents, working with knowlege and choice; the which, as in themselves they are indeterminate, irregular, and uncertain; so they are capable to be diversified in numberless unaccountable ways, according to various representations of objects, or by influence of divers principles inclining to judge and choose differently: temper, humor, passion, prejudice, custom, example, together with contingencies of occasion, (depending on like principles in adjacent free causes,) do move, singly or combinedly, in ways so implicate, to the production of so various events, that nothing hardly can fall out, which may not with some plausible color of reason be derived from some one of those sources, or from a complication of them : nothing can appear so uncouth or extravagant, which may not be fathered on some fetch of wit, or some hit of fancy, or some capricio of humor, or some transport of passion, or some lucky advantage, or on divers of those conspiring ; whence in accounting for the reason of such events, men deem they may leave out providence as superfluous; especially considering, that usually disorders and defects, only imputable to man's will, do accompany and further such events.
For instance, what other cause would many think needful to assign for the conveyance of Joseph into Egypt, than the envy of his brethren ; for Shimei’s reviling David, than his base malignity; for David's numbering the people, than his wanton pride; for Jereboam's revolt, than his unruly ambition ; for Job's being robbed, than the thievish disposition of the Arabs; for his being diseased, than a redundance of bad humors; for our Lord's suffering, than the spiteful rage of the Jewish rulers and people; together with the treacherous avarice of Judas, and the corrupt easiness of Pilate? These events all of them are ascribed to God's hand and special ordination ; but men could not see or avow it in them: what need, will men ever say, in such cases to introduce God's aid, when human means suffice to achieve the feat ?
5. Indeed, as in nature, the influences of heaven, and of inferior causes, so commonly in the production of these events, divine and human agency are so knit and twisted one with the other, that it is not easy to discriminate them, so as to sever the bounds of common and special providence; or to discern what God performeth by natural instruments, what by superior efficacy; when the balance turneth from our inclinations, when it is cast from a grain thrown in by divine interposition; the management of these affairs being a concert, wherein God's wisdom beareth one part, man's free-will playeth another; fortune and occasion also do strike in ; we not seeing the first, are prone to ascribe all the harmony to the last, which are most obvious and visible.
6. The more apt we are to do thus, because the manner of divine efficacy is ever very soft and gentle : God disposeth things fortiter et suaviter ; so as effectually to perform what he designeth, but in the most sweet and easy way: his providence
doth not hurry along like an impetuous rumbling torrent, but glideth on as a smooth and still current, with an irresistible but imperceptible force carrying things down therewith : without much ado, without any clatter, by a nod of his head, by a whisper of his mouth, by a turn of his hand, he doth effect his purposes : winding up a close spring, he setteth the greatest wheels in motion ; and thrusting in an insensible spoke, he stoppeth the greatest wheels in their career; injecting a thought, exciting a humor, presenting an occasion, insinuating a petty accident, he bringeth about the most notable events. He doth so • fashion the hearts of men,' so manage their hands,' so 'guide their steps,' that even they who are acted by him cannot feel the least touch on them. For, 'the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters; he turneth it wheresoever he will ;' that is, by secret pipes, by obscure channels, God conveyeth the minds and wills of greatest persons (the chief engines of his providence) unto such points of resolution as he pleaseth, so that they seem to flow thither of their own accord, without any exterior direction or impulse : hence do his most effectual operations slip by us without making impression on our minds, which are wont to apprehend things, as with a gross palpability they do incur the senses, so that the preacher, comparing the methods of providence with the most occult proceedings in nature, might well say, “As thou knowest not the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; so thou knowest not the works of God, who maketh all.' Again,
7. God, in his progress toward the achievement of any design, is not wont to go in the most direct and compendious ways, but commonly windeth about, and taketh a large compass, enfolding several other coincident purposes, some whereof may be no less considerable, than is that which we deem most necessary, and affect to see dispatched : but this course seemeth tedious to us, who have not the wit to perceive that complexion of ends, nor the temper to wait for the completion of them. If God, when we seem to need, doth not instantly appear in our favor and succor; if he doth not presently vindicate truth and right; if he doth not nip wicked designs in the bud, and repress the first onsets of outrageous violence; if for a while he suffereth the 'tabernacles of robbers to prosper,' and • iniquity to lift up its horn;' then he is in a slumber, quite unmindful or insensible of us; then he turneth aside his face, or doth behold what passeth as an unconcerned spectator; then he standeth aloof, unready to help us; then doth he hold of his hand, not meddling in our affairs : in such cases we are apt to cry out, Estis ubi ? O superi! · How long, O Lord, wilt thou forget ; how long wilt thou hide thy face?' Lord, how long wilt thou look on ? Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord! why standest thou afar off? why withdrawest thou thy hand! • Pluck it out of thy bosom :' * Return, O Lord, how long? Such are our prayers, such our expostulations : so is our blind impatience prone to muse and mutter; not considering how many good designs God is carrying on in a calm and steady pace, by well measured steps, all which, in due season, when they are ripe for accomplishment, shall undoubtedly be effected; for, • The Lord,' as St. Peter saith, is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness : but is longsuffering toward all men ;' that is, he certainly will express his faithful benignity toward good men, yet so as also to extend his merciful patience toward others; he so will tender the interests of some, as concurrently to procure the welfare of all, and accordingly will time his proceedings, allowing the leisure and opportunities requisite thereto: he can, although we cannot,
wait to be gracious ;' for as iu him there are no passions to precipitate action, so to him there are no sensicle differences of time, one day being with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.'
3. Again, God (as is the property of every wise agent) is wont to act variously, according to the state and circumstances of things, or to the dispositions and capacities of persons; so as to do the same thing for different ends, and different things for the same end; to apply one instrument to several uses, and by several instruments to work out one purpose: so he afflicteth good men out of love, for trial and improvement of their virtues, bad men in displeasure, to illustrate his power and justice on them; he encourageth and blesseth the one, he punisheth and curseth the other with prosperity; he reclaimeth both from error and sin by either