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Own reason, as well as to common sense, to suppose, that whilst these petty concerns require the guidance and wisdom of a directing hand, the vast fabric of the universe can be maintained in that wonderful order in which we see it, by chance or fate, without Providence; that is, without the care and guidance of an intelligent Being ? He, therefore, that denies a Providence, must, in reality, contradict the conclusions and conviction of his own mind.
But besides all this, there are other proofs of God's care in the government of the world, against which he obstinately shuts his eyes, though they cannot escape his notice. For there is no man, I believe, that looks back upon his past life, and considers' what has happened to him, but is able to call to mind either some inminent danger that he has escaped, or some extraordinary mercy that he has received; which shewed the visible care of a divine Providence
This the royal Psalmist long ago emphatically declared to be the case of one description of men in particular, and therefore calls upon them in the strongest terms, to
praise the Lord for his goodness, and to " declare the wonders that he doth for the is children of men *."
* Psalm cvii.
And what is here said of those "who occupy "their business in great waters," is not less true of all men who have had an enlarged and extensive commerce in life: for the world is the great theatre and school of Providence; in which, if we are capable even of the smallest reflection, we shall soon perceive a superintending power and wisdom, which disposes of men's fates, and directs their counsels; which raiseth up and bringeth down; which maketh poor and maketh rich; which killeth and maketh alive; and, like an universal arbiter, disposeth of all events: "For the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." It is, therefore, wilful blindness alone, that can make any man deny the Providence of God, which so manifestly displays itself in every event of our lives.
And yet, such is the folly and inconsistency of infidelity, that these very men, who deny the care of Providence whilst the world smiles upon them, are always the first to murmur against its wise decrees when any misfortune overtakes them; being ever ready to make God the author of evil, though they will not acknowledge the good they receive from his fatherly hand.
Others there are who doubt of a Providence, for those very reasons which ought more fully to convince them of it. They see the world filled with rapine and violence, and therefore conclude there is no superintending Providence to direct the actions of men. But they should consider, that these things, which proceed from the abuse of natural liberty, only become disorders as they contradict an established order ; and that order is nothing but the law of Providence, which stamps a mark of infamy upon every deviation from its bounds. Thus treachery. and perfidiousness are universally abhorred: and why? Because a love of integrity and upright dealing is implanted in us by a Providence. Thus theft and rapine will always be hated and disgraced, because there is a Providence, which has established a rule of right and wrong, and inspired into the breast of every man a natural sense of probity and honour, and which will not suffer its dictates to bę violated, without the stings of remorse, shame, and confusion, And thus every irregularity in the moral world, as contradicting an established law, implanted in the breasts of all men, plainly supposes and implies the existence of a Providence, by which that law was first implanted,
Such then is the folly of those who renounce the belief of a Providence, through a spirit of infidelity! Let us, in the next place, see whether they are viser who do indeed profess to believe a Providence, but, through a spirit of corruption, reject its authority, and have not God in all their thoughts.
It is an undeniable truth, which serves to give us an exalted idea of the Deity, that God would be no God to us, if we could enjoy any solid happiness without him. This, therefore, is a convincing proof that he is our ultimate end and chief good, and that we make ourselves miserable the moment we forsake him. And this, in fact, we every day see verified in those who throw off their dependence upon God, and follow their own corrupt imaginations.
: Paint to your imaginations a ship in the midst. of the wide ocean, buffeted by the winds and waves, without compass to guide, or pilot to steer its course : such is the man who, in the great voyage of the world, is without God as the rule of his conduct, and the support of his weakness. For when he has once renounced the protection of Providence, upon what can he depend, or whither shall he fly? Will he depend upon himself for support? Alas! there he will
find but small comfort. Let him first well weigh, on the one hand, the snares with which he is beset, the dangers with which he is sur rounded, and the enemies with which he is assaulted; and, on the other, the treachery of his own heart, and the general infirmity of nature, by turns overwhelmed with fear, depressed with sorrow, inflamed with revenge, devoured with pride, transported with lust, embittered by disappointment; let him well weigh these melancholy concomitants of human life, and he will find little reason to fly to himself for succour. The solitary traveller, exposed to the dangers of a pathless wilderness, amidst the hor rors of midnight, without any guide to direct his wandering steps;-the captive exile, ex+ piring under the complicated miseries of darkness, famine, and disease, without hope of relief, and without one friend to cheer his fainting soul;-afford but a faint picture of the wretchedness of man left to himself with God and his Providence.
Should he, therefore, conscious of his own weakness, fly for help to others, let him learn, from the mouth of wisdom itself, what he is to expect from that quarter: "For cursed is the σε man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh "his arm, and whose heart departeth from the