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The Gracious Providence of God does oftentimes prolong the Lives of his Servants, by proper Aćts of Preservation. For this must be meant by these, * and other Parallel expressions in Scripture; Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them. The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord shall preserve thee from all evil. He shall defend thee under his //ings, There shall no evil happen unto thee. Instances of Good men's providential Deliverances may be more Signal, and strike a Deeper: Impression upon us; But Instances of their Preservation are more Frequent, or, rather to be accounted Constant and Perpetual: An Invisible Divine Power is Always Defending them from the Invisible and unknown Designs of Evil Men, or, from Impending Evil Accidents, which would, otherwise, fall upon Life, and break it in pieces. It is Applicable to the Preservation of Life, as well as the other circumstances of Good Men, that f all things work together for good to them that love God: A Passage of
Scripture, ever supplying Comfort to the Expediations, and ever Confirmed by the Experience of Good Men. This Passage is said to have been Particularly recollečted with high satisfaction, by that great Example of Faith and Beneficence, Epiphanius Bishop of Salamis, in the Close of his Life, which was then drawn out to the Length of about a Hundred
years. Who can be so Unjust, as to withhold that l’eneration, which is a Debt Indispensably due to Old Age thus crown'd with Virtue? Or, who can Doubt that This is a Scene of Delight and True Happiness? For if a Man's Happiness essentially consists in his Firm Dependence on the Divine Favour, grounded upon a sense of his own Virtue and Goodness; then the Longer his Experience, and the more Extensive the Effet/s, and the more Clear and Full the 7estimonies of his own Goodness are, the Greater must the measures of his Happiness be. A Long Life thus Improved, thus Accomplished, thus Blessed, is no Faint Resemblance of That Immortality, - which which was the Portion of the First Adam, nor yet of That, which is purchased for us by the Second, the Lord from Heaven. The Felicity therefore, and the Dignity of such a state as This must be obvious and plain to every one, who passeth a Right Judgment upon the Principles of Human Nature, upon the Promises of God to Good men, upon the Effects of Virtue and Religion, and upon the Nature and Conditions of Happiness. 2dly, Riches are oftentimes the Effeóts of God's Special providence over Good men; which seems evident from Gen. xxxix. 2, 3. Deut. xxviii. 8, 11, 12. Prov. x. 22. and many other Texts. Hezekiah's Riches were exceedingly Increased by the same Gracious Providence, which Prolonged his Life; And the same Divine Power and Goodness, which condućted Abraham into a Good Old Age, did supply him with Riches in abundance. And we may Easily conceive, that when God gives Wealth to his most Sincere and Faithful servants, he knows, that the Abundance thus bestowed upon them, will not prove Pernicious to them. Riches arC are not Let Loose upon a Good Man, as Enemies to Wound him: Infinite Wisdom first Guards and Fortifies him against all the Mischief they can do; And then puts them into his Possession and Power, that he may extratt all the Good, and Avoid the Poyson of them. And indeed it must be a wonderful Strength and Constancy of Mind, that can render a Man Impregnable, and able to Hold
out, under the many and Violent Tem tations, which an Abundance of Wealth is always Playing against him. It must be a vast Weight of Wisdom, that can keep down that Towering Spirit of Selfsufficiency within him, which all his outward Circumstances do conspire in Raising to the most Dangerous Height. Nothing but the Greates Mind, and That Supported by the Holy Spirit, can Safely bear the Greatest Fortune. Glorious then and Admirable must the Endowments of those Faithful and Holy men be, whom God does intrust with Large shares of Earthly Treasures, because he knows, that they are Qualified to Enjoy them with intire Safety, and Improve them them to the utmost Spiritual Advantage; that they will Testifie the Generosity of their Souls by the Effečis of it; and that they will be so far from Trusting in their Riches, that they will by proper Dispensations, render them Instrumental to the Confirmation of their Trust and Hope in God. 'Tis Remarkable in the Charaćter of a Great Prince, that, when some of his Friends, observing his Unbounded Munificence, took the Liberty to ask him, What he would have Left for Himself under such a Conduct? He answerd, Hope. And if an Heathem could support Himself, in his A&ts of Munificence, upon the Principle of Hope, how Firm and Lasting Foundations of Satisfaction, and Safety, may be laid by Christians, in Their Aćts of Liberality and Charity. They have plain and Full Evidence, that Their Good Works are an Unexceptionable and Undoubted Principle of their Affiance in God; and that Affiance in God is a Further, and High Recommendation of Them to His Favour.