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for a better World, where the whole Face of Nature shall be so ordered, as to be suited to a State of consummate Holiness and Virtue.
When all Flesh had corrupted his Way, and the Earth was full of Wickedness and Violence, God in his Providence fo difposed Things in the natural World, as to bring in the Flood upon that ungodly Race. And at another Time, as the Lord of Nature, he poured forth a fiery Tempest from Heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighbouring Cities, which kindling the combustible Materials which abounded in that sulphureous Soil, brought a dreadful Ruin upon them, as a just Punishment for their abominable Wickedness.. And not only in such extraordinary Cases, but when Things seem to go on in their usual Way, God in his Providence so governeth the natural World, and disposeth the Course of material Causes, as to correspond with, and fulfil his Intentions towards Mankind, whether of Judgment or of Mercy. According to the Scripture, all these Things execute the Orders of his Providence. The Lightnings are reprefented, by a noble Figure, as saying unto him, Here we are, i. e. as offering themselyes like Servants to wait his Directions, and fulfil his Commands. Job xxxviii. 35. When those nitrous, sulphureous Particles
are gathered together in the Air, which, according to the Course of Things which God hath established, produce the dreadful Roar of Thunder, and Blaze of Lightnings, they are so governed as to serve the Ends of his Providence, and to produce those Effects which it is his Intention they should produce. Stormy Wind is said to fulfil bis Word. Psal. cxlviii. 8. The Winds are for the most part so ordered by Divine Providence, as to be of great Use and Benefit; but they are sometimes made to blow in furious Tempests, and are Instruments in the Hand of God for executing his righteous Judgments upon Men. In like Manner, when God feeth fit to order it so, the Materials which are prepared in the Bowels of the Earth meet together in such a Manner as to produce violent Concussions and Earthquakes there. They sometimes break forth into dreadful Eruptions, which spread 'Desolation far and wide ; at other Times they are so governed as to do little more than threaten and terrify. Of this were the alarming Shocks that were felt in the neighbouring Kingdom, which,if carried to an higher Degree, might have produced the most dismal Effects, but were happily so moderated, that they seem to have been designed only to serve for Warnings to awaken us to serious Re
flections, and to strike us with an Awe of the divine Power. God so ordereth the Seasons in their general Course, that there is fufficient Provifion made for Man and Beast; and he frequently sendeth great Plenty, so as to produce that Appearance of Things which the Pfalmift so beautifully describeth, Pfal. lxv. 9, 11, 12, 13. Thou visitest the Earth, and watereft it; thou greatly enrichest it with the River of God, which is full of Water ; thou preparest them Corn, when thou hast so provided for it.--Thou crownest the Year with thy Goodness; and thy Paths drop Fatness. They drop upon the Pastures of the Wilderness; and the little Hills rejoice on every Side. The Pastures are clothed with Flocks; the Vallies also are covered with Corn; they shout for Joy, they also fing. But sometimes it is so ordered, that there are great Droughts and Dearth. The Heaven is as Iron, and the Earth Brass, and the Rain of the Land is as Powder and Duft; so that the Land doth not give her Encrease, neither do the Trees of the Land yield their Fruit. Lev. xxvi. 19, 20. Deut. xxviii. 23, 24. In like Manner, there are frequently very healthful Seasons : At other Times there is a fickly Constitution of the Air, venemous Exhalations arise, or peftilential Contagions spread a mortal Influence. In all these Cases
second Causes may well be admitted; but these Causes are under the Government of a sovereign Providence, which disposeth and applieth them to wise and righteous Purposes. And accordingly these Things are actually made the Matter of the divine Promises and Threatnings to the Israelites in the Law of Mofes : See especially the 26th Chapter of Leviticus, and the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy. And it appeareth, from the Accounts given us in Scripture of the History of that People, that these Promises and Threatnings were actually accomplished to them in the Event; and that the Course of natural Causes was fo directed and over-ruled by Providence, as to reward them for their Obedience, and punish them for their Disobedience to the divine Laws. And so it hath often been in God's Dealings with other Nations. And both Reason and Religion teach us, in Things of this Nature, to raise our
Views to the supreme Disposer, and to acknowledge and reverence a divine Agency.
In order to our having a right Notion of God's Government of the inanimate Creation, it is proper to observe,
First, That he ordinarily maketh use of it for answering his. Purposes, without at all altering the usual Course of Things. And
this is a manifest Proof of his
great Wisdom, when we cannot say that any Thing hath happened but what is natural, i.e. agreeable to the ordinary Powers and Properties of Things; yet the Time and Circumstances are so conducted, as to produce great Events, and answer particular important Purposes.
Thus the Winds have been so ordered, that mighty Fleets have been scattered, or detained in Port; important Expeditions or Invasions have been prevented or forwarded; upon which, Events of great Consequence, and even the Fates of Kingdoms have depended. Innumerable Cases happen, both of a public and a more private Nature, in which, though there is nothing in them that can be said to be contrary to the Order of Nature, yet they are directed and over-ruled to especial wise and important Ends. And the adjusting these Things to one another is not to be looked upon as a mere Contingency, or the Effect of Chance, but as the Work of a sovereign superintending Providence.
Secondly, Sometimes God may over-rule natural Causes contrary to their stated Course, as in the Case of what are called Miracles. Thus the Fire had no Power over the Bodies of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, nor finged so much as an