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ut 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 of them. It is Evident therefore from Reason, that the Providence of God can and must govern and over-rule all things. And that it actually and in fact does so, the whole History and Doctrine of the Scripture abundantly confirms to us. It fhows us by numberless Inftances, that God has not only upon special occafions made use of the Power of Miracles for the Prefervation of the Righteous, or the Destruction of the Wicked, but that generally he governs the Moral World, by providentially directing Natural Causes and Influences, to effect what he determines fhould be done: That he rewards or punishes men by wholesome or peftilential Air, by fruitful or barren Seasons; that he promotes or difappoints their Designs by the uncertain changes of Winds or Weather; that he employs and directs the Influences of Nature to overthrow the moft powerful Armies, to defeat the wifeft Counfels, to determine the Differences VOL. VI.
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 difappoint the most proper and natural means of fuccefs; fo that the race is not to the fwift, nor the battle to the strong, 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 Caufes and over-rules the Actions of men to fulfil his own good pleasure, but moreover influences mens minds by ftrange Concurrences of external causes, 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 fruftrateth the tokens of liars, and maketh diviners mad; turneth wife men backward, and
and maketh their knowledge foolish: that SER M.
By thefe and numberless other paffages, illuftrated 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 present Experience of I things, and is confiftent with that fixed courfe of Natural Caufes, which God feems to have eftablished 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 and
SERM. and the ordinary Series of Causes, have XVI. been able in moft Events to discover the Connexion of the Caufe with the Effect. Hence men of Understanding and Induftry, forefce very many Events; and by ordering their Affairs accordingly, fecure to themselves in most of their Designs a great probability of Succefs. And even where Things do not fucceed according to the Probabilities of known Causes, but are disappointed or changed by strange 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 Caufe. When the Race is not won by the Swift, nor the Battle by the Strong, as it ought to be in the ordinary course 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 Powers
Powers of things, have entirely changed SER M.
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 Bb 3 perhaps