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fent, and seeing all things, and being thus SER M. infinitely able to determine all Events ac- XVI.

cording to his own Will, fhould yet be
only a careless and unconcerned Beholder
It is Evident therefore from

of them.
Reason, that the Providence of God can
and must govern and over-rule all things.
And that it actually and in fact does fo,
the whole History and Doctrine of the
Scripture abundantly confirms to us. It
fhows us by numberlefs Inftances, that
God has not only upon special occafions
made ufe of the Power of Miracles for
the Preservation of the Righteous, or the
Deftruction of the Wicked, but that ge-
nerally he governs the Moral World, by
providentially directing Natural Caufes and
Influences, to effect what he determines
fhould be done: That he rewards or pu-
nishes men by wholesome or peftilential
Air, by fruitful or barren Seafons; that
he promotes or disappoints their Designs
by the uncertain changes of Winds or
Weather; that he employs and directs the
Influences of Nature to overthrow the
most powerful Armies, to defeat the wi-
fest Counfels, to determine the Differences



SER M. of Princes, and the Fates of Men and XVI. Kingdoms: That the unfearchable Wif

dom of Providence directs and fteers the moft cafual and accidental Events, to change the Fortunes of Men, and disappoint the most proper and natural means of fuccefs; fo that the race is not to the fwift, nor the battle to the firong, neither yet bread to the wife, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill but that Time and Chance, directed by the Providence of God, happens to them all. Nay further, the Scripture teaches us, that God not only directs Natural Causes and over-rules the Actions of men to fulfil his own good pleasure, but moreover influences mens minds by ftrange Concurrences of external caufes, or by other more secret and unknown ways, to bring about just Events: That he comforts good men and fupports them in their Defigns; that he terrifies bad men with ftrange Amazements, to discover their own Confpiracies, and to fall into the Snares which they had fecretly laid for others; that he frustrateth the tokens of liars, and maketh diviners mad; turneth wife men backward,


and maketh their knowledge foolish: that SER M. a man's heart dervifeth his ways, but the XVI. Lord diretteth his steps: that there are many devices in the heart of man; but the counfel of the Lord, That shall ftand: and that the heart of the Prince is in the hand of the Lord; as the rivers of waters, he turneth it whither foever he willeth.

By these and numberless other paffages, illustrated with many hiftorical Examples, which no man can read the Bible without obferving, the Scripture affures us that the Providence of God governs and directs the Events of all things. It remains only to confider, how this Doctrine agrees with our our present Experience of things, and is confiftent with that fixed courfe of Natural Caufes, which God feems to have established in the world. And here indeed lies the great Difficulty of all; fince Men do and cannot but observe, that where Miracles are not wrought, God fuffers the World to be governed by the natural Operations and Efficacy of Second Causes. Moft things go on in a regular and fettled courfe; and diligent men by studying the Nature of things, Bb 2


SER M. and the ordinary Series of Causes, have XVI. been able in moft Events to difcover the Connexion of the Caufe with the Effect. Hence men of Understanding and Industry, foresee very many Events; and by ordering their Affairs accordingly, fecure to themselves in most of their Designs a great probability of Success. And even where Things do not fucceed according to the Probabilities of known Causes, but are disappointed or changed by ftrange intervening Accidents, or fudden and unexpected Turns of things; yet even There it appears generally that the Alteration proceeds from fome equally natural, though not timely foreseen Cause. When the Race is not won by the Swift, nor the Battle by the Strong, as it ought to be in the ordinary courfe of things; yet even in fuch a cafe men are generally able to discover, that the unforefeen Accidents which altered the courfe of things, and prevented the expected Succefs, were the Effects of fome Natural Causes, which ought to have been taken into the Eftimate, and would, if men could have attained a perfect knowledge of the whole Natures and

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Powers of things, have entirely changed SER M. their Expectations of the Succefs. Thus XVI. the Discovery of This Day's wicked Confpiracy, was owing to a strange series of Accidents, which though utterly impoffible to be foreseen by humane Wisdom, yet, after the Event, appeared not to have any thing in them abfolutely above the power of Nature: And our Deliverances from later Attempts against our Religion and Laws, were not ftrictly Miracles, but plainly owing on one hand to the ill maRagement of our Adverfaries, and on the other hand to the Wisdom and Conduct of his late Majesty.

IF then things be acknowledged to be Thus, the Difficulty is, how the Interpofition of Providence is reconcileable with this Regularity of the Operations of Natural Caufes; and why (as the Scripture plainly determines) we are bound with all Thankfulness to acknowledge the Goodness of the Divine Providence in working for us fuch Deliverances, which yet we do not at the fame time believe to be properly and strictly miraculous. Now though to This it might perhaps

Bb 3

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