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PREFACE.

If the divine conduct towards the intellectual system can be vindicated, there will be no room for any dispute about his decrees. If God always does what is best for him to do, his decreeing from eternity to do so, cannot be objected against : unless we can suppose it to be wrong, for God to determine upon a conduct in all respects right. All God's decrees primarily respect his own conduct. First, what a world to create. Secondly, how to behave towards his creatures, in every particular circunstance. For, “God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.” The whole of the divine conduct towards intelligent beings, after they are brought into existence, may be arranged under these two general heads. (1.) Wbat he does. (2.) What he forbears to do. For instance: He placed our first parents in the garden : he forbid them to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, on pain of death. These things he did. He did not hinder the serpent from tempting, nor our first parents from eating. These things he forbore to do. If he always has a good reason for doing what he does, and for forbearing what he forbears ; then his whole conduct, as comprehending both, is justifiable.

To vindicate the conduct of the Holy One of Israel, was the design of my sermons on the wisdom of God in the permisson of sin. But the author of the Attempt, not believing that God has done so well in this affair as he might have done, has undertaken to write against-Against whom? against me? No: rather, to write against his Maker. For he does not deny the fact, viz. that God permits sin; but endeavours to prove, that God in this, as well as in some other things, has not done “what was most for his own glory.” So that the design of the following pages, is not to vindicate myself, but to vindicate the GOD that made us all. I have certainly the best side of the question ; and could I do justice to the subject, I might expect the approbation of all the friends of God. For, as a dutiful child loves to hear the

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VOL. II.

righteous cause of his injured father pleaded ; so does every true Christian, every real child of God, love to hear the works and ways of the Holy One of Israel justified. And even when they cannot fully see the reasons of the divine conduct, they are disposed to believe that he has done well ; because he is an absolutely perfect Being, who cannot err, Nor do I know how to be so uncharitable to the author of the Attempt, as to suppose that he will, on second thoughts, in good earnest abide by what he has published, Rather I hope, his belief that "supreme wisdom cannot err,” will finally prevail over his doubts, that “God does in fact what is not most for his own glory."

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That God permits sin, is plain fact, cannot admit of disa pute, and needs no proof. Or if any should be so weak as to đeny the fact, it may be easily proved. For all acknowledge that sin is in the world ; but if God had interposed, and efféctually hindered its ever coming into the world, it never would have been. That he did not interpose and effectually hinder it, is therefore as certain, as that sin is now in the world. And God's not hindering sin, is what I call his permitting it. And this fact, that God permits sin, gives rise to this question, viz. Is it wisest and best, that God should conduct as he does in this affair ?

Had wé a comprehensive view of God's universal plan, and a perfectly holy taste, the whole of the divine conduct towards the intellectual system, of course, must appear to us now in this world, perfect in wisdom, glory, and beauty; as, it is acknowledged, it will to all holy beings at the day of judg

But as the evil and dreadful consequences of sin to us at present engross our attention, and the good to be brought out of evil, how great soever it may be, is almost entirely out of sight, to be sure, to the generality of men; and not at all suited to please a vicious taste, were it in ever so clear a view 3 it is no wonder if it be very difficult to bring a guilty apostate world to think well of the divine conduct in this affair. And yet if we once conclude, that the Holy One of Israel has not it is come! the joyful day is come!“ I bring you tidings of great joy," said the angel," for this day the Saviour is born."

ment.

I see not why the predictions of the glorious days are not as full and as plain as were the predictions of the Messiah ; nor why we may not as firmly believe the setting up of his kingdom, as of old, they believed his coming in the flesh. It is certain this is a great objection of the Jews against our Jesus being the true Messiah, that the things prophesied of the Messiah have never been fulfilled in him. That the nations should beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks, and learn war no more. And that there should be nothing to hurt or offend; the knowledge of the Lord filling the earth, as the waters do the seas, &c. &c. Nor do I see any possible way to answer their objection, but to say, these things are still to be accomplished.

And if they should be accomplished in all that GLORY, in which they are painted in the prophetic descriptions, nothing . hinders but that this plan, of all possible plans, may at last actually prove to be the best ; in all respects the best. Most for God's glory, and most for the good of the system too ; yea, so far as we are able to see, it seems as if this must be

the case.

It is matter of the greatest joy, that all the affairs of the universe are conducted by infinite wisdom. It is an honour that belongs to God, to govern the world which he has made; to govern his own world; to lay out and order the affairs of his own family. We think we have a right to lay out schemes. for our own families, and should take it ill if our children or servants should dispute our right. Sovereign monarchs, in time of war, think they have a right to lay out a plan of operation for an ensuing campaign, and would take it ill if their right should be disputed by a private soldier. Much more bas God a right to lay out an universal plan, for the conduct of all things, in a world to which he has an original, underived, absolute right; nor can he look upon

the worm that dares dispute his right, but with infinite contempt and detestation. And, O what matter of infinite joy it is, that he has taken this work upon himself! not left things to the devil's control; nor to be decided by the lusts of an apostate

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