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Divine Providence in permitting Mens sinful Actions, and shew that in this his Wisdom is to be adored, and at the same Time that the Purity and Holiness of his Nature and Government is free from the least Stain or Blemish. And this no Doubt would appear to us with a brighter and more convincing Evidence, if we had a more distinct and compleat View of the divine Administrations.
On God's Government and Dis
posal of the Events which befall
MATT. X. 30.
The very Hairs of your Head are all num
AVING considered the Providence of
God as extending its Care and Government both to the Hearts of Men, and to their outward Actions, it remaineth that we now consider it as disposing and
governing the Events in which they are concerned. These are of various Kinds, relating to their Lives, Fortunes, Conditions, VOL. I. Q
and Circumstances, their Bodies and Souls, their Persons and Families, and, in a Word, to all the Good and Evil which befalleth them. And it is the constant Doctrine of the holy Scriptures, that all Events whatsoever are under the Superintendency of God's most wise Providence, and that nothing happens to us without his Direction or Permission. Our Saviour could not more significantly express this than by declaring as he doth to his Disciples, The very Hairs of your Head are all numbered. The Expression is manifestly proverbial. When David promises the Woman of Tekoah that there should be no Hurt done to her Son, he signifies it by saying, Tbere Mall not an Hair of thy Son fall to the Earth. 2 Sam. xiv. II. And St. Paul intending to assure those that were with him in the Ship, that none of them should come to any Harm, faith, There shall not an Hair fall from the Head of any of you. Acts xxvii. 34. In like Manner our Saviour tells his Apostles, The very Hairs of your Head are all numbered. Not one of them fall fall to the Earth, not the least Evil shall befall you, any farther than God in his wife and sovereign Providence fees fit to permit. The Phrase is very proper to fignify that even the most inconsiderable Things which relate to us, are under the Care of Divine Providence; much more easy may this be concluded with regard to the more important Events that concern
That Events are not absolutely in our own Power a little Reflection and Obfervation may convince us.
With regard to Life itself, which is the Basis of our present Enjoyments, and upon which many other Events depend, it is evident that as the Commencement of it did not depend upon our own Pleasure, so neither is it in our Power to prolong it as we think fit. This dependeth upon the Will of the supreme Lord, who can lengthen or shorten the Term of our Continuance in this State of Trial, as seemeth fit to his infinite Wifdom. In bis Hand, as yob speaks, is the Soul of every living Thing, and the Breath of all Mankind. Job xii. 10. And the Psalmist addressing himself to God faith, My Times are in tby Hand, i. e. at thy Disposal. Psal. xxxi. 15. And as our Times, so the Events of Time are not wholly in our own Power. Many Things happen in the Course of human Affairs, which oblige us to acknowledge with the Prophet, I know, O Lord, that the Way of Man is not in himself, it is not in him that walketh to direct his Steps. Jer. x. 23. i. e. it is not in his power to order the Events of Life as
he pleaseth. We must not imagine that Men are entirely and absolutely the Masters of their own Fortune, and can assign to themselves what Lot and Condition in the World they think properest. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich; he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 1 Sam. ii. 7. 'It dependeth upon God the supreme Disposer, who knoweth what is fittest with regard to every particular Person, to appoint what his outward Circumstances and Opportunities shall be, whether he shall be in a high or low Condition, whether his Endeavours shall meet with the desired Success or not. There are indeed general Rules of Providence, according to which the Events of Things are ordinarily conducted. As there is in the material World what we usually call the Course of Nature, i. e. a stated Order of Things according to which Providence fees fit to act for
producing certain Effects in a regular Way; under which general Laws are comprehended a numberless Variety of particular Instances : so there are in the Government of reasonable and moral Agents, stated Rules of Procedure, formed and established with great Wisdom, which are generally observed by Divine Providence in the ordering and governing Men and the Events relating to them, and which may be called