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dency in the creatures; this is the most chimerical imagination in the world, and it is the great cause of all our folly. It is plain it is a creature of our own; God's works cannot be blamed for it; their true worth is not the cause of our false esteem, nor can it be made an excuse for it. All the creatures declare their own insufficiency with the clearest evidence; they direct us to their Author, and acknowledge their absolute dependence upon him.

if men therefore are deceived in this matter, it is because they impose upon themselves; their error is wholly inexcusable. Every practical error indeed is so, because it is voluntary. A man may be passive in believing the truth; irresistible evidence may force his assent to it. Falsehood is incapable of such evidence; it is impossible that the devil, or any external cause whatsoever, can force an error on a creaturė endowed with reason: but there is a peculiarity in this error we are speaking of; though a man should pretend some small shadow of reason for other mistakes, he can pretend none for this, that God's works should be preferred to himself, the stream to the fountain, the shadow to the substance. Though there might be some colour of excuse for falsely preferring one creature to another, surely there can be none for preferring any creature to God.

If any thing be self-evident, that some call in question, or seem by their actions to do so, surely this is self-evident, that God is our chief, yea indeed our. only true happiness. Want of consideration cannot be alleged to excuse or extenuate a man's mistake about this. Indeed men cannot consider all things, and therefore may be ignorant or mistaken about some things without danger; but there is one inquiry which no man can excuse himself for neglecting, though he should neglect every thing else, and that is, To inquire wherein his chief happiness lies, and which is the true way to it? and such a neglect is the more inexcusable. because that inquiry scarce requires any pains, nor is there the least occasion for

demur about it, the thing being so plain, that He only who gave us being, can give us happiness.

If the objection proposed, be enforced by asking the reasons of that goodness and pleasure that is in the creatures, which though it should not excuse our sin, yet is abused at least into an occasion of sin; though we are not fit judges of the reasons of God's actions, yet we may know enough about this, not only for vindicating his holiness, but also for extolling his goodness: For what can be more agreeable to that divine perfection, than that he who is perfectly good himself, should have made his works all very good likewise? that the workmanship might be worthy of the workman, and that the effects might not disparage the cause. Nothing can be more absurd, than to pretend, that it would have been agreeable to God's goodness to have made evil works himself, to prevent the evil works of his creatures. The brightest manifestations of God's glory have been made occasions of dishonouring him; but surely none will say, that it had been better these manifestations had not been made, lest they should be abused; that God's glory had not been so displayed, lest some should have made it an occasion of offending him: that is, that we had wanted those things that are really means and motives of adoring God, lest some should abuse them (contrary to their natural tendency) into occasions of despising him. The old heathens took occasion from the visible glory, beauty and usefulness of the sun, moon and stars, to worship them; how absurd would it be to censure the Author of nature, for endowing these creatures with such beauty and usefulness, because it was abused. Many curious persons have taken occasion from the regularity, order, and deep contrivance that is in God's works, to employ their minds wholly in amusing speculations and inquiries into nature, without regarding its Author: But surely that cannot reflect upon him for forming his works, with such regularity and har mony, that the very contemplation of them gives de

light. Let us consider the native consequences of it, if matters had been ordered otherwise; if, instead of all that beauty and delight that is in the creatures, they had been made unpleasant, deformed, and useless let us reflect, that the love and esteem of God, is a principal part of holiness, and then consider whether it would have been a greater mean or motive to love and esteem the Author of these works, that the works themselves were unworthy of love or esteem; or whether there would have been any incitements and materials for praising the cause, in the effects not deserving praise.

In considering the actions either of God or good men, we should distinguish between two very different sorts of consequences that may follow upon them.

1st, Their true and proper effects for which they are designed, and which they have a native tendency to produce; and 2dly, those indirect consequences that may follow on them, not through any tendency in the good actions themselves to these evil consequences, but through the perverse dispositions of others. In this last sense, very bad consequences may follow upon the very best actions; but the latter can nowise be blamed as the cause of the former. When a good man is about to do an excellent and useful action, he máy foresee that some envious person will take occasion from that, to be guilty of slander, backbiting, and perhaps worse, and that others will be very ungrateful for the good he does; but he can neither be blamed for that, nor ought he to forbear his duty to prevent their sins. No man is obliged to do evil, or to forbear what is absolutely good, in order to prevent the evil of others; that would indeed be doing evil, that good might come of it. A man of a wicked dis position may take occasion from the best action to do things directly contrary to the nature of that action, and to its native tendency, and proper effects.

To apply these things to the present case; the direct tendency of all the goodness and pleasure with which God has endowed the creatures, is to manifest

his being and glorious perfections, particularly his goodness and all-sufficiency, and our absolute dependence on him, and to make us long for the enjoyment of himself the fountain, when there is so much goodness even in the streams that flow from him. Accordingly God's actions produce these their true and proper good effects in numberless multitudes of holy creatures, angels and saints. These same works of God, from which wicked men take occasion to neglect him, are to all holy creatures, means and motives of love, esteem, adoration, praise and thanksgiving, reliance on him, and desire of union to him. Light is not more opposite to darkness, than these native effects of God's works are to the unnatural evil uses, that wicked men make of them: they make the effects of his power occasions of despising him; the evidences of his all-sufficiency occasions of alienating their desires from him. And, which is the most monstrous abuse imaginable, as was before observed, they make his benefits occasions of ingratitude.

It was proved already, that the pleasures of sense are evidences of God's goodness, because they are means of preserving mankind; but there is a wise temperament in this, which serves both to illustrate the doctrine, and to refute the objections in view. It is God's goodness, that these objects being so useful, are so pleasant as they are; it is God's goodness likewise that they are not more pleasant: it is dangerous to exceed in them; such excess tends not only to divert the thoughts, but to alienate the mind from the higher objects, to which these inferior things. should lead us for preventing that excess it is wisely ordered, that these pleasures are neither too numerous, nor too violent, nor durable. It is otherwise with spiritual and intellectual enjoyments; these tend directly to the perfection of our souls, whereas the former are but for the subsistence of our bodies. Intellectual enjoyments have something in their nature that is immortal, like the soul; but sensible pleasures are made fleeting and short-lived; because, how

ever innocent in themselves, they are dangerous wher exceeded in. It is but a small part of life they can fill up, and, when idolized, they decay by use, and cloy by repetition. Things are so well adjusted, that there is just so much pleasure in these objects, as may effectually excite men to use them, and so little, as should in all reason hinder them from abusing them.

The same considerations serve also to refute the second objection that was mentioned, viz. that these objects which are the occasions of sin, are not only made pleasant but necessary to us, and that there are desires after them implanted in our nature.


objection carries its answer in its bosom, (though through men's stupidity it does harm.) If these ob jects are necessary to us, that itself shows that the use of them is lawful, and the just and natural desire of them innocent. God has only implanted in men desires towards what is their duty, that is, self-preservation; but if men's wickedness abuseth the means of their preservation into occasions of their ruin, even the heathens could observe that this is living contrary to nature; besides, it is obvious, that God has so ordered matters, that it is a very little that satisfies nature, and when that good end is obtained, desire ceases. Thus it is with hunger and thirst, for instance, when one has taken what is sufficient for health and nourishment. It is otherwise indeed with men, who have contracted evil habits, by being accustomed to excess; but these habits are not natural, but acquired; and we should distinguish between those inclinations implanted in us by God, and those that are contracted by ourselves.

If it be asked, Why these objects are made necessary to us? This question is as much out of the way, as to ask why the world was made, or men made to inhabit it. The prophet Isaiah seems to intimate, that to have made the earth uninhabited, would have been a making of it in vain; Isa. xlv. 18. Thus saith the Lord God himself that formed the earth, and made it. - he created it not in vain, he formed it to

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