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come to pass by Chance, or inevitable Necessity; Or, That there is a God, but that God having once put Things into this Frame, never meant to trouble himself more about them, but left them to shift for themselves, Natural Events falling out from necessary Causes, and Civil Affairs being left to Mankind, who are to shuffle and divide the World among themselves as well as they can: I say, proceed which way you will, if you exclude God Almighty's Government, you make this world so dark and miserable a Place, that no serious considering Man can tolerably enjoy himself in it.
For here, upon the former Supposition, you are left without Counsel or Advice. You have nothing to purpose, nothing to design in the course of your Lives. It is all one how you behave yourselves, whether Honestly or Wickedly; whether you mind your Business, or mind it not, for the Event will be the same. You are obliged to No-body for any Benefits; you can complain of No-body for any ill usage. If you be in ill Circumstances, you have none to apply to for Remedy; and if you be in good ones, you may be stript of them without Remedy the next Moment; for all Things are carried on by a whirl of Fate.
And you are not much better'd by the latter Hypothesis, That God hath trusted the Government of the World with Mankind, who are endowed with Reason and Understanding.
Por, if we consider how Mankind do fometimes use their Reasons, it is as good, if not better, to be exposed to the Hazards of Chance or Necessity, as to be subject to their Wills.
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The Truth of it is, if this System of the World be well consider'd, it will appear a more uncomfortable one than the other; for it doth not remove from us the Iron Bands of Fate, we are still under that Yoke, as much as we were before. Yet besides these, it
puts upon us another Yoke, the arbitrary Pleasures of those of our own kind, which, if they be not govern’d by Reason, are Ten Times more unsupportable than the other.
We are by this Hypothesis, as much exposed to Natural Evils, as we were before, and there is no help for them; but over and above, we must bear the Indignities and Insolences, the Ravages and Cruelty of every one that is stronger. than ourselves, and hath the Will to oppress us.
O hard Lot of Mankind, if this was their Constitution ! better by far were it for them to be Brutes, and think of nothing; than to be Men, upon such Terms as these.
Happy therefore are the Inhabitants of the Earth; happy are the remotest isles thereof, that there is a King that reigns both over Fate and Men. Happy are we, that there is a wise and intelligent Being, that super-intends all our Affairs, and so governs both the Powers of Nature, and the Powers of Mankind; that nothing can be done by either of them, but what is design’d by, and pursuant to his Counsels.
Upon this Supposition, we may live like Men, and enjoy ourselves with some Comfort in this world. We may propose Ends and Designs to ourselves, and hope that with
our. Diligence and good Management, they may take effect.
Upon this Supposition we may and ought to look
upon all our good Succefses, as the Bleffings of God to us, and particularly that which we are this Day met together to thank Him for; I mean, the wonderful Preservation of His Majesty, from all the Dangers to which he hath so often been exposed, and his fafe Re. turn to us.
Upon this Supposition we may hope, that tho' all Things have not succeeded according to our Wishes, yet in due Time they may, since the King of the World hath, by the frequent and unexpected Deliverances he hath wrought for us, and the strange unusual Providences that have attended our King, given us some Encouragement to believe (provided we do our Parts towards it) that He hath reserv'd Us for better Times, and Him for the executing those Glorious Designs, which Good Men hope will at last be accomplish'd in the World.
Lastly, Upon this Supposition, every Honest Man will find Reason enough, both to bear contentedly whatever unealy Circumstances he lies under, and to trust in God's Mercy for the Removal of them; and in the mean Time to possess his own Soul, in a chearful Dependance on God's Providence, and a hearty Thankfulness, for all the innumerable Blessings he hath receiv’d, and doth daily receive from his Hands. And, therefore, since the Lord is King, let the Earth be glad; yea, let the Multitude of the Isles be glad thereof.
Now, That the Lord is really thus the King of the World, there are all the Arguments to persuade us, that can be defir’d;
It is the Voice of Reason; it is the Voice of all Mankind; it is the Voice of GOD himself, both in His Works, and in His Word.
Give me leave to give you a Specimen in all these Ways of Arguing, and but a Specimen, because it would be rather the work of a Book, thanof a Sermon, to dilate upon these Matters.
First, I say, Reafon tells us it must be thus : for admitting that the World did not make itself, but was made by God; it will follow, that the same God that made it, must still goyern it ; for the same Ends,, and Designs, and Motives (whatever they were) that induced God to make the World at first, will oblige him for Ever to take care of it, and look after it. Unless we suppose God to contrive and act as uncertainly and unsteadily, and with the fame inconstancy and levity of Mind, that some of us. Mortals here upon Earth do.
Secondly, It is the Voice of all Mankind; For otherwise, how comes it to pass, that among all Nations, and in all Ages, there has been some Religion or other practised.
I pray, what is the meaning of Worshiping God, of putting up Prayers and Supplications to Him for the Things we need; of returning Thanks for the Benefits we have received; of appointing Religious Rites and Methods for the expiation of Guilt, of the averting of impendent Calamities (all which Things have been praaised in all Nations, from the beginning of the World to this Day?)
I say, what is the meaning of all this, unless it was hereby meant to be signified, That there is a God which doth concern himself in the Affairs of Mankind, and who doth difpenfe Good or Evil to them, as they well or ill behave themselves towards him ?
The Truth is, To say, that God doth not govern the World, is to say, that all Religion is a Cheat; and, that all Mankind, except a few debauch'd Wits in the more polite Countries, and a few Brutes in the very barbar ous ones, (who are of no Religion at all) have been, and are a Company of credulous Fools. For this is certain, whatever Argument,. either Fem, or Turk, or Pagan, or Christian, can suggest to himself, for. the convincing him, that it is his Concernment, or his Duty, to worship God, or to be of any Religion at all, nay, or to make any Conscience of
Action he does; I say, all these Arguments do not only prove, but suppose, that God both knows and orders the Affairs of the World.
Thirdly, It may likewise be as strongly proved from Effects; from the Tracks and Footsteps of a Divine over-ruling Providence, which are to be seen in the Events that happen in the World, which is what I call the Voice of God in his Works.
These are indeed so many, and so visible, that wbofoever hath either read History, or hath made Observations, must needs have taken notice of them.
If ever there were any extraordinary Deliverances vouchsafed to Kingdoms, or Cities, or particular Perfons; or ever any remarkable