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his principal end; and that the happiness of derived, dependent, and obedient creatures, should be only a subordinate end, inseparably connected with it. For it is an article in the creed of sound reason, as well as the doctrine of the Bible, that "all creatures are as "nothing" in comparison of the infinite Creator.* It is therefore most unreasonable to conclude, with many philosophers of high reputation, that the happiness of the creatures is the ultimate end of God, in all his dispensations; seeing the glory of his own name is an object of infinitely greater importance.
This indeed is concerned in rendering obedient creatures happy; but the reasonings of many on this subject principally relate to the happiness of men, who without exception, have rebelled against the authority of the great Creator. And surely it is most absurd to suppose, that the holy God prefers the happiness of sinners to his own glory; and that he will dishonour himself, and act contrary to his own perfections, ra» ther than leave them to the just punishment and consequences of their crimes! For who would not count it most unreasonable, that the welfare of criminals should be considered as the great end of civil government, even in preference to the honour of the prince, and the security of his loyal subjects? It must, therefore, be manifest, that the Lord hath a right to prefer his own glory to the happiness of his creatures, when their disobedience hath introduced a competition between them.
If this be admitted; it will also follow, that all rational creatures should recognize this right of God; and that they should propose to themselves the same end in all their works, and attempt nothing contrary to it by word or deed; otherwise they do not render him the glory due to his name.
IT. From eternity God possessed an unalienable right to create what orders of beings he saw good, and to arrange them in the universe according to his own plan. Many discourse about the several creatures, which are known or supposed to exist, as if they comprehended the whole design and plan of the Creator. "But who hath known the mind of the Lor D, or who "hath been his counsellor?"*—It would be a presumption unspeakably less reprehensible, for the most illiterate person on earth to find fault with the apparatus of an eminent philosopher, as unsuitable to his purpose; than for the most exalted of creatures to censure in the slightest degree any work of the only wise God,
Had not he seen good to form us rational creatures, eur objections would have been precluded: and did he indeed give us existence, and endue us with understanding, that we might be capable of censuring his works? "Shall the thing formed say to his Creator, "Why hast thou made me thus?" Surely this must be as inconsistent with reason as with piety! And adoring gratitude, fervent praises, and humble acquiescence in the wisdom and will of God, must far bet
» Isa. xl. 13,14. Rom. xi. 34—36. „
"are round about him; yet justice and judgment are "the basis of his throne." We act after this manner in respect of our fellow creatures: for when a man's general conduct is manifestly distinguished by prudence, integrity, and generosity; we give him credit in a particular action that has a contrary appearance, and suppose him to be influenced by motives with which we are unacquainted. How much more reasonable is it to proceed in this manner, when He is concerned, " whose judgments are unsearchable, and his "ways past finding out!"
But it is especially our duty to recognize the sovereign right of God, with reference to ourselves and all our concerns; and not to utter a word, or harbour a thought, that implies the least degree of dissatisfaction with his dealings, towards us, or any of his creatures. In particular, " The earth is the Lord's and the ful"ness of it;" and " He hath given it to the children lt of men," as it seemed good in his sight. The different proportions, in which its produce is distributed, result from an almost infinite variety of second causes, operating and combining their energy, through successive generations. But, though the good or bad conduct of every individual, and that of his predecessors or contemporaries, concur in assigning him his situation in the community, and dividing to him a more scanty or abundant provision: yet the Lord ought to be acknowledged as the-first cause in the whole distribution. Talents, health, industry, and success, are his gifts: He permits, restrains, directs, counteracts,' or prospers men's activity, as he sees good: he is the original Source of the difference in climates, soils, and seasons. The Lord " maketh rich, and maketh poor; "he lifteth up and casteth down:1' and the vast inequality which subsists in men's rank and station, must be resolved into his sovereign appointment, by all who consistently acknowledge his providence.
He hath wise and holy reasons for those dispensations, by which the wicked prosper; and the more inoffensive are impoverished and oppressed: as well as for famines, earthquakes, and pestilences, by which numbers suffer without any exact discrimination of character. We may indeed use proper means of averting such calamities: and thus restraints may be imposed on the selfishness of mankind; encouragement and protection may be given to honest industry and ingenuity; and an enlarged beneficence may prevent the miseries which spring from too great an inequality in men's circumstances: for, a moderate inequality is a common benefit, and even essential to a well-regulated community. But after all, the Lord has a right to defeat such endeavours, as far as he sees good: and he gives, and takes away, whatever means or instruments he employs.
We should, therefore, consider our condition as God's express appointment for us, acquiesce in his wisdom, justice, and goodness; accommodate ourselves to the duties of it as those that must give account, and use no unjustifiable means of changing it. We ought not to repine, or envy, when we see others more prosperous: we are not allowed to covet any thing belonging to another man: much less then may we attempt by violence, or fraud, or by disturbing the publick tranquillity, to seize on those possessions,