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do Abuse, and, by That Abuse, render the Instruments of their own Ruin; For the Prosperity of Fools shall desiroy 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 Subjećt, as well as the Occasion of it. However, the Mention of this Permisfion 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 SalvatiOIl. 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, left they should sink under the Weight of it. Where either Ballast, or a Skilful Pilotis wanting, there the more Full and Swelling the Sails, the Greater is the danger of Shipwreck.
* Prov. i. 32.
3dly, And more Particularly, As some Good men's Tempers and Dispositions would render them Unsafe in a Course of Prosperity, so are they better Qualified to exercise those Virtues, which are Needful in a Depressed, than those which are the Duties and the Ornaments of an Exalted State. Different Plants do require Different kinds of Soyl to Thrive in: Patience and Resignation may Flourish and grow up to the Highest perfeótion 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 Wise and Merciful Creatour gives his Several servants proper Occasions of exercising those several Virtues which he hath planted in Them, and which are most Likely to be Fruitful of the Highest Degrees of Godlines; 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 X SpiriSpiritual Welfare, or, are Best adapted to the Exercise of their Peculiar Virtues, but for other Reasons, and to other Purposes. For - . . . . . * 4thly, The Difficulties and Sufferings
of Good men are sometimes Necessar to the Advancement of God's Glory; And the Glory of God which is the Ultimate End of all Beings, may well be understood and supposed, as an Implicit Condition in all Promises. On account of this Great End it was, that the Apostles, and Other Holy Martyrs Lived in Continual Trouble, and Died in Exquisite Torment. Their Consummate Piety did not want the Harsh Discipline of Sufferings, for it's own Improvement; but their Suffering became the Necessary and Effectual Instruments of Propagating God's Honour, and Man's Salvation. And in Other and Lower Instances, the Submission, the Easiness, and the Cheerfulness, which shine in Good Men, under the Severer Dispensations of Heaven, do greatly Promote God's Honour, and the Interest of Religion: They are Abundant TestimoJ. - -- IllCS
nies, that God is Especially Present and Propitious to his Servants, when they stand most in Need of him: They are an Abundant and Endearing Convićtion, that the Spirit of Religion is the Only Spirit of Power, and of Firmness, and of Excellency, which may be Depended on, and will never Fail; In comparison of Which, all the Powers of the World are as that Brittle and Broken Reed, whereon if Infirm and Afflićted Man shall lean, he will find it so far from Supporting him, that it will Sink under him; and not only So, but will go into his hand, and pierce it. These, and such as These, are the Conditions and Limitations previously Supposed and Implied in the Promises of Temporal Blessings to Good men; And they may supply us with these Three Observations, amongst many others; 1st, That Temporal Inconvenience is far from being a Certain Mark of God's Displeasure, and is, therefore, far from being a Just Reason of entertaining an Ill Opinion of those that suffer it, or, - X 2. CVCI)
even of taking up any Suspicions of Iniquity or Unworthiness in them.
2dly, That, as Temporal Advanta
ges are Design'd, and Proposed to us, only as Inferiour and Subordinate Motivesto Religion, so our Efteem of them should be, Comparatively, very Low, and very Little, that our Thoughts and Desires may be the more Closely and Intirely fixed upon the principal Objećt of our Hopes, the Blessings of a Future, and an Endless Life; And 3dly, That these Conditions and Limitations of the Encouragements, in the Text, are in Themselves highly Reasonable and Just; And a Man must throw up all Pretensions to Wisdom and Goodness, before he can Wish or Exped such
a Distribution of Temporal Advantages,
as would be Inconsistent, either with that variety of Ranks and Orders, under which the Societies of Men are Ranged and Established by Infinite Wisdom; or, with the Eternal Salvation of his own Soul, or, with his own most Successful Progress in the Way of Salvation; or, with God's Honour and the Advance—