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for his Use, as it was survey'd and approv'd of by the Allwise Architect of it, was in every part of it pronounc'd to be exceeding Good; there was, as the same Wise - man speaks, no poyfon of Destruction in it, no Kingdom of Death, no Evil upon the Earth. (Wild. 1.4.) But the Condition upon which both Immortality and Happiness were held was Uprightness and Obedience; The State of Innocence it was that made the State of Felicity; and Sin and Misery were both at one unhappy Birth brought forth into the World together: and they ever since have been inseparable Companions. Whatever the outward appearance may be, the State of the Wicked, and of them Only, is truly Miserable; their very prosperity is a Curse and tends to their Destruction; whilft on the other hand, undifturb’d: Peace and uninterrupted Happiness are in the Dwellings of the Righteous'; in whatever. Circumftances they may seem to be to the eye of the World, yet Blessed certainly is their Condition, all things work together for their good, and even their Miserys are Blessings. Tis Guilt only that gives a Sting to Adyersity, and sheds Poison into the Cup of AfHidtion; where Sin is not, there cannot poffibly be any real Evil; Righteousness and Innocence are plac'd out of the Reach of That; Tibera fallthere Can, no Evil happen to the
The Truth of which Proposition, if taken in the strictness of it's Terms, is Self Evident and Undeniable upon these two
ift. Because there are None Just, i.e. There is no Man fo Righteous on Earth, but has Sins enough to deserve more Evils, than this World can happen to him.
2dly. Because no Evil happens ;. Every Evil that Men fuffer, thoto outward appearance never so Casual, being ordain'd by the Wise and Just appointment of God.
But tho’ both these. Affertions are unquestionably true', and will be also of good Úse to explain, and of strong Force to prove what the Wisest of Men here intends; yet the Words of the Text are not to be so strictly taken. Such a Proposition as they would then make, namely That no Evil ever happening, and there being No Man Just, tho undoubtedly Certain, yet would be very impertinent;, tho’a very great, yet so very plain a Truth, that a Man not so Wife as Solomon would have thought it needless, if not ridiculous, to lay it down for a Maxim. By the Just therefore here, as in the usual Language of Scripture, we are to understand, not the Man of consummate unsinning Righteousness, for where will such be found Never was any
Man such, Except One who was God allo, Even the Man Christ Jesus. But He is the Just Man in the Text, whofe Uniform, and Serious and Conscientious, tho' not absolute and unerring Obedience, is for the sake of that perfec Righteousness of Christ, approv'd by God; who knowing our Frame, and pitying our Weakness, is graciously pleas d to accept of Hearty Endeavours, inftead of Exact Performances, and Sincerity, instead of Perfection. It is indeed a Notorious and Deplorable Truth, that since that firft Apoftacy and Rebellion in Paradise and the forfeiture of Original Righteousness by Our first Parents, there has never been any of their Offspring entirely Righteous; and that if the best of Us fay, That He has no Sin, he deceives Himself and the Truth is not in tdim. It is nevertheless moft Certain, that there have been in all Ages, many Persons who have so order'd their Lives, fearing God and having respect to his Laws, and endeavouring to keep a Conscience void of offence towards God and towards Men, that in the main, notwithstanding many Human Infirmitys and Failings, they may be juftly accounted Good, and Holy, and Righteous Men. The Word of God himself files them fo, and quite through the Holy Scriptures, tho they teach us that, in strictness all Men are
Sinners, there is yet a manifeft Distinction made between the Righteous and the Ungodly, the Wicked and the Juft, as para ticularly in this very Verse of the Text, There shall no Evil happen to the Fuft, but the Wicked shall be fild with Mischief."
By which Words There fall no Evil happen to the Juft, we are not to conceit that there is any Privilege or Exemption promisd to the juft from the Common Infirmitys, and Weaknesses, the Usual Calamitys and Difafters to which Our Being is Subject. Man is Born to Trouble as the Sparks fly upward, Job 5.7. nor without reafon are those Tears which he sheds at his first Entrance into this troublesome World, Cui tantum in Vita reftat fafferre Malorum; This is but a Suitable beginning of that Life, the whole Courfe of which, if not continually, Exercis'd with Miserys and Sorrows, yet is always expos'd and lies Open to them. But the Scope and chief intent of the Words are, that Religion and Virtue are the likelieft Preservative against the Miserys and Evils that are fo frequent in the World, and which are the undoubted Product and Offspring of Vice and Sin; That Virtuous and Good Men are likelieft to 'pass thro’ the Waves of this Tempestuous World with lealt tossing and difturbance, that they meet with no Affli&tions but what by right using they may
improve into Blessings, that generally Peace and Prosperity are the Attendants of Religion and Piety; Godlines having the promise of this Life, as well as of that'vohich is to come.
And this will appear both from the Natural Tendency of Virtue, and the Exercise of those Dutys that Religion enjoins; And from the promis
d Favour of God, and the Protection of his good Providence, ever Watching over them that Serve and Obey Him.
And Firft from the Natural tendency of all Virtuous Actions, and the Exercise of those Dutys that our Holy Religion enjoins.
As it is most certain that there had been no Evil in the Earth, if Man had not tranfgress'd the Law of his Maker; no Misery if there had been no Sin; so if now all the Laws of God were duly kept and universally obey'd, all the Miserys that afflict the Sons of Men would foon vanish, and a kind of Heaven upon Earth would commence. if, as We daily Pray, The Will of God were done in Earth as it is in Heaven, Man might live almoft as happily here, as the Angels and Blessed Spirits there , pofseft even now of that Peace, and tasting those Joys that differ rather in degree than kind from those which are to be the portion of his Everlafting Inheritance. For All the Ca