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Concerning the Wisdom of Divine

Providence.

DISCOURSE XII.

ISAIAH xxviii. 29.

This also cometh from the Lord of Hosts,

who is wonderful in Counsel, and excellent in working

WE

E have in several Discourses taken

a general View of the Providence of God as extending to the inanimate, to the brutal and sensitive, and above all to the rational Part of the Creation, especially to Mankind. But besides what has been already offered, there are several other Observations relating to this Subject, which will tend to illustrate the Wisdom, the 3

Good.

Goodness and Righteousness of God in his providential Dispensations, and to obviate some of the principal Objections that have been urged against Divine Providence. These are Things of no small Importance, and which deserve to be diftin&ly considered.

What I now propose is to offer some Considerations concerning the Wisdom of Providence, with regard to which we may justly make use of these Words of the Prophet, that he is wonderful in Counsel, and excellent in working. And this, if confidered in its most comprehensive Notion, would open to us a Subject of vast Extent. . The same Wisdom which established what we call the Course of Nature, and put Things into such an admirable Order in the Beginning, still continueth to maintain and direct the Course and Order of Things, All the general Laws by which the material System is governed, which, though few and simple, produce an amazing Variety of Effects, are so many standing Proofs of the divine Wisdom. And the most sagacious Enquirers into Nature, the farther they have carried their Enquiries into these Matters, have been struck with the greater Admiration and Astonishment. What marvellous Wisdom appears in the apt Connections and Correspondencies between

the

the several Parts of this vast universal Frame, and in the steady Order and Regularity which is preserved amidst a numberless Multiplicity of Motions and Appearances, seemingly discordant and opposite to one another, yet all conspiring, without knowing it, to carry on the most wise Designs for the Good of the whole. The Wisdom of Providence ftill more remarkably appears in the animal World, in the admirable Powers and Instincts with which the various Tribes of vital and sensitive Beings are furnished, and whereby they are enabled to act in certain Cases with a surprising Sagacity, and are fitted for the several Functions and Enjoyments, which are suited to that Kind of Life for which they are designed. It appears

also in the Provision that is made for the Continuation of their several Species, not one of which has been entirely lost or extinguished through so long a Succeffion of Ages.

But above all, the Wisdom of Providence is most eminently exercised towards rational and moral Agents, which are the noblest Part of the Creation. The human Consțitution is a Master-piece of the divine Power and Skill, whether we consider the Fabric of the Body of Man, which compriseth a wonderful Variety of Parts in a fmall Compass, all harmoniously corre

sponding sponding to one another, and excellently adapted to their several Ends and Uses, or the sublime Faculties of the human Soul, especially its intellectual and moral Powers. And Reason teacheth us to conclude, that the same infinite Wisdom which fo wonderfully contrived and modelled the human Frame, still presideth over Mankind, and governeth them in the wiseft and fittet Manner. And so undoubtedly it will appear, when the entire Scheme of Divine Providence towards Mankind is compleated, and his Designs are brought to their final important Issues. But at present we fee only Parts of his Ways, and cannot have a full View of the Wisdom and Beauty of Divine Providence. And yet there are many Things in the present Course of God's Administrations, with respect to Mankind, in which a truly religious and thoughtful Mind may easily discern the Proofs of a sovereign Wisdom. This is manifest from several of the Observations that have been already made in the Profecution of this Subject. How admirable must that Wisdom be which penetrates into the Secrets of Mens Hearts, and governs their Intentions and Counsels, their Actions and the Events which befall them, whether prosperous or adverse, and even those which seem to be most casual and fortuitous; and this

without

without infringing the Liberty which belongeth to them as moral Agents, so that whilst they think only of answering their own particular Interests and Views, they are really contributing to carry on the Scheme of Divine Providence ! But especially, who can comprehend that Wisdom, whereby God over-ruleth the Sins of Men, of which he is not the Author or the Cause, for accomplishing his own excellent Designs! And whilst he permitteth bad Men to act according to their own Inclinations, causeth Good in numberless Instances to arife out of those Evils, and bringeth Light and Order out of Darkness and Confusion ! The Wisdom of God's Providence might be also illustrated by a distinct Consideration of his most remarkable Dispensations towards the Church and World from the Beginning, of which we have an excellent Account in the sacred Writings, and which oughtgreatly to recommend them to our Efteem. Some Hints have been already given to this Purpose; but to treat this Subject fully and distinctly would take a large Compass. At present I shall only make a few Observations on several Things in the divine Proceedings towards Mankind, which though at first View they may seem to have a contrary Appearance, and have been actually found Fault with by Men of nar

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