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Inseriours; And many of the most Necessary Offices in Human Society must be Neglected, through want of proper Persons to Sustain and Discharge Them.
Indeed, as Riches stand purely Opposed to Want, and signify only such a Plenty, as is Suitable to every Man's Particular Station; And as Honour is Strictly Opposed to Disgrace, and signifies only such a Fair Esteem and Reputation, as is Suitable to every Man's Rank and Order; As Riches and Honour are taken in This Sense, and it seems to be a proper fense of them, in the Promise of them annex'd to Religion, They are without Doubt, Generally bestowed upon Good men, when they are not Inconsistent with any Condition necessarily Implied in That Promise. In like manner, the Promise of Long L'tse must needs be Interpreted, under the Implicit condition of it's consistency with men's Natural Frame and State, whereby one Man is Disposed to a much Earlier Dissolution than Another; Insomuch that Nothing Less than a Miracle can bring
the the Lives of all Good men to one and the fame Measure of Duration.
There may indeed be Instances, as will be observed below, of God's prolonging a Good man's Life, in an Extraordinary manner. But the promise os Long Life to Good Men, consider'd in General, cannot well be understood to signifie any more than This, that their Lives shall, Ordinarily, be carried on, by Divine Providence to their Natural Period, and not be Judicially cut off, as Other men's Lives may be, before They have filled up the Bounds, which Nature hath Assigned to Them. , And yet, 'tis here to be observed, that it is sometimes matter of Divine Favour to Good men, that they are taken away, before the Term of their Natural Lives is expired. For thus the Holy Spirit hath taught us, and 'tis a Lesson Jiifficient to prevent our Judging Rashly and Censoriously of Events, which we know not the Reasons of; The Righteous pe~ rijheth, and no man layeth it to hearty and merciful men are taken away, none
SERMON VJII. '303
considering, that the Righteous is taken away from the evil to come. *
idfy, The Truth of the Proposition before us appears from Hence, that the Spiritual and Eternal Welfare of some Good Men might be very much Obstructed, if not Finally Prevented by Temporal Prosperity. Everlasting Life is the Grand Blessing, to which Good men are Intitled by the promise of God; And all Other Promises, which he hath made them, do Presuppose and Imply their Consistency with That. Whensoever therefore, their Tempers and Dispositions are such, that their full enjoyment of Earthly Blessings would interfere with their Attainment of Celestial Bliss; the Divine Providence Graciously withdlds those Advantages from them, which would prove Destructive to them.
Indeed Men Obstinately Wicked are oftentimes Indulged, by Providence, in a state of Affluence, in the Enjoyment of all Temporal Advantages; which they
* Isa. Ivii. 1.
do Abuse, and, by That Abuse, render the Instruments of their own Ruin; For the Prosperity of Fools shall destroy them*. And the Reasons of this Providential Permission are many and plain, but unnecessary to be offer'd in this Discourse, because they are far Removed from the Subject, as well as the Occasion of it. However, the Mention of this Permission seems to magnifie God's Tender Regard to his Chosen Servants, whom he will not Indulge in any the most Agreeable Circumstances, whereby they may Forfeit, or Hazard their Salvation.
Such is the Knowledge of God, that he Throughly understands every Man's Qualifications and Dispositions; and such his Goodness:, that he will not Trust Good men with a Larger Portion of Prosperity, than they are able to Manage, lest they should sink under the Weight of it. Where either Ballast, or a Skilful Pilot is wanting, there the more Full and Swelling the Sails, the Greater is the danger of Shipwreck.
* Prov. i. 32. .
$dly, And more Particularly, As some Good men's Tempers and Dispositions wduld render them Unsafe in a Course of Profperity, so are they better Qualified to exercise those Virtues, which are Needful in a Depressed, than thofe which are the Duties and the Ornaments of an Exalted State. Different Plants do require Different kinds of Soyl to Thrive in: Patience ^^Resignation may Flourish and grow up to the Highest perfection in a Soul, wherein Condescension, Liberality and Generosity would either take no Root, or, not rise to Maturity, but Pine and Wither, Droop and Die. Our Wife and Merciful Creatour gives his Several servants proper Occasions of exercising thofe several Virtues which he hath planted in Them, and which are most Likely to be Fruitful of the Highest Degrees of Godliness upon Earth, and of Glory in Heaven.
But, after All, the Difficulties which Good men are reduced to, are not always laid upon them, purely on account of Themselves, or, because such Circumstances will Best accord with their