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kedly, when we know the terrors of the Lord, and that: we must one day answer all our bold violations of his law, and contempts of his authority, with the lofs of our immortal fouls, and by fuffering the vengeance of eternal fire?

What is it then that can give men the heart and courage (but I recal that word, because it is not true courage, but fool-hardinefs) thus to out-brave the judgment of God, and to fet at nought the horrible and amazing confideration of a miferable eternity? How is it poffible that men that are awake, and in their wits, fhould have any eafe in their minds, or enjoy fo much as one quiethour, whilst fo great a danger hangs over their heads, and they have taken no tolerable care to prevent it? If we have any true and just sense of this danger, we cannot fail to fhew that we have it, by making hafte to escape it, and by taking that care of our fouls, which is due to immortal fpirits that are made to be happy or miferable to all eternity.

Let us not therefore estimate or measure things as they appear now to our fenfual, and deluded, and depraved judgments; but let us open our eyes, and look to the laft iffue and confequence of them: let us often think of these things, and confider well with ourselves, what apprehenfions will then probably fill and poffefs our minds, when we fhall ftand trembling before our judge, in a fearful expectation of that terrible sentence which is just ready to be pronounced, and, as foon as ever it is pronounced, to be executed upon us; when we fhall have a full and clear fight of the unfpeakable happiness, and of the horrible and aftonishing miferies of another world; when there fhall be no longer any veil of flesh and sense to interpose between them and us, and to hide these things from our eyes; and, in a word, when heaven, with all the glories of it, fhall be open to our view; and, as the expreffion is in Job, Hell fhall be naked before us, and deftruction shall have no covering.

How fhall we then be confounded, to find the truth and reality of those things which we will not now be perfuaded to believe? and how fhall we then wifh, that we had believed the terrors of the Lord; and inftead of quarrelling with the principles of religion, and calling

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them into question, we had lived under the constant fenfe and awe of them?

Bleffed be God, that there is yet hope concerning us, and that we may yet flee from the wrath to come; and that the miferies of eternity may yet be prevented in time: and that for this very end and purpose, our most gracious and merciful God hath fo clearly revealed these things to us, not with a defire to bring them upon us, but that we, being warned by his threatenings, might not bring them upon ourfelves.

I will conclude all with the counfel of the wife man, Wifdom of Solomon, chap. i. 12. 13. 16. Seek not death in the error of your life and pull not upon yourselves deftruction, with the works of your own hands. For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the deftruction of the living. But ungodly men with their works and words have called it down upon themselves. Which that

none of us may do, God of his infinite goodness grant, for his mercies fake in Jefus Chrift. To whom, with thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghoft, be all honour and glory, dominion and power, thanksgiving and praise, both now and for ever. Amen.

SERMON

SERMON

293

XXXVI.

Succefs not always anfwerable to the proba bility of fecond causes.

Being a faft-fermon preached before the houfe of Com-mons, on Wednesday, April 16. 1690.

ECCL. ix. 11.

I returned, and faw under the fun, that the race is not to the fuift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet bread tothe wife, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth tothem all.

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Ext to the acknowledgment of God's being, no-thing is more effential to religion, than the be-lief of his providence, and a conftant dependence upon him, as the great governor of the world, and the wife difpofer of all the affairs and concernmentsTM of the children of men: and nothing can be a greater argument of providence, than that there is fuch an order of causes laid in nature, that in ordinary courfe every thing does ufually attain its end; and yet that there is fuch a mixture of contingency, as that now and then, we cannot tell how nor why, the most likely caufes do deceive us, and fail of producing their ufual effects.

For if there be a God and a providence, it is reafonable that things fhould be thus: becaufe a providence. does fuppofe all things to have been at firft wifely framed, and with a fitnefs to attain their end: but yet it does alfo fuppofe, that God hath referved to himfelf a power and liberty to interpofe, and to cross, as he pleases, the ufual course of things; to awaken men to the confideration of him, and a continual dependence upon him; and to teach us to ascribe those things to his

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wife difpofal, which, if we never faw any change, we fhould be apt to impute to blind neceffity. And therefore the wife man, to bring us to an acknowledgment of the divine providence, tells us, that thus he had obferved things to be in this world; that though they generally happen according to the probability of fecond caufes, yet fometimes they fall out quite otherwife: Ireturned, and faw un er the fun, that the race is not to the Swift, nor the battle to the strong, &c.

The connexion of which words with the foregoing difcourfe, is briefly this. Among many other obfervations which the wife preacher makes in this fermon, of the vanity and uncertainty of all things in this world, and of the miflakes of men about them, he takes no-tice here in the text, and in the verfe before it, of two extremes in human life: Some, because of the uncertainty of all worldly things, caft off all care and diligence, and neglect the ufc of proper and probable means, having found by experience, that, when men have done all they can, they many times fail of their end, and are difappointed they know not how: Others, on the contrary, rely fo much upon their own skill and industry, as to promife fuccefs to themfelves in all their undertakings; and prefume fo much upon fecond caufes, as if no confideration at all were to be had of the firft.

The wife preacher reproves both these extremes, and fhews the folly and vanity of them. On the one hand, of those who fit ftill, and will use no care and endeavour, because it may all happen to be disappointed, and to fail of fuccefs: not confidering, that though prudent care and diligence will not always do the bufinefs, yet there is nothing to be done without them, in the ordinary courfe of things; and that, in the order of fecond causes, these are the most likely and effectual means to any end and therefore, rejecting this lazy principle, he counfels men, whatever they propofe to themfelves, to be very diligent and vigorous in the ufe of proper means for the attainment of it, in the verfe immediately before the text, Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.

But then he obferves alfo as great a folly and vanity on the other hand; that they who manage their af

fairs with great wisdom and industry, are apt to prefume and reckon upon the certain fuccefs of them, without taking into confideration that which, in all human affairs, is most confiderable, the favour and bleffing of that almighty and wife providence which rules the world: I returned, (fays he), and faw under the fun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,

&c.

I returned, and faw; that is, having confidered on the one hand, the folly of floth and careleffnefs, I turned mine eyes the other way, and faw as great an error on the other hand; in mens prefuming too much upon their own diligence and conduct, without taking notice of the providence of God. For I have found, fays Solomon, by manifold observations, that the fuccefs of things does not always answer the probability of fecond caufes and means. So that the fum of the preacher's advice is this: When thou propoundest any end to thyfelf, be diligent and vigorous in the use of means; and when thou haft done all, look above and beyond these to a fuperior caufe, which over-rules, and steers, and stops, as he pleases, all the motions and activity of fecond caufes. And be not confident that all things are ever fo wifely and firmly laid, that they cannot fail of fuccefs: for the providence of God doth many times step in, to divert the most probable event of things, and to turn it quite another way; and whenever he pleafeth to do fo, the most strong and likely means do fall lame, or ftumble, or, by fome accident or other, come short of their end.

I returned, and faw under the fun; that is, here below, in this inferior world.

That the race is not to the fwift. This the Chaldee paraphraft does understand with relation to warlike affairs. I beheld, (fays he), and faw, that they who are fwift as eagles, do not always efcape in the day of battle. But I chufe rather to understand the words in their more obvious fense, that, in a race, many things may happen to hinder him that is fwifteft from winning it.

Nor the battle to the ftrong; that is, victory and fuccefs in war do not always attend the greatest force and

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