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SUMMARY OF SERMON IX.
JOHN, CHAP. V.- VERSE 17.
WHEN at first by the divine power this visible system of things was consummated, it is said that God rested from all his work which he had made. Meaning of this rest explained : it does not extend to an Epicurean indolence; but his wisdom is constantly displayed in his superintending care and goodness, &c. ; particularly in his command and control over nature, in the suspension of his own laws, and the performance of marvellous actions, to excite our minds towards him. That this is the case we learn from the words of truth itself in the text; whose affirmation it is intended to second with particular instances well attested: these distributed into two classes; those which are above or against the power
of nature, and those which surmount or cross the stream of human affairs.
The first kind considered; of which it may be generally affirmed, that no man can deny many such to have been performed, without giving the lie to the most authentic records of history, and disparaging the credit of mankind, &c.
To this kind may be referred the presignification and prediction of future events : this head enlarged on and illustrated by examples from profane and sacred history.
But especially works usually styled miraculous, which exceed or contravene the ordinary course or power of nature, and which therefore all men refer to an agent exceeding their comprehension in power or knowlege : such described : their reality vindicated.
Consideration of other extraordinary events, as apparitions from another world ; spirits; visions; the power of enchantments, &c. The truth of some of these asserted and distinguished from the falsity of others; which truth, inferring the existence of powers invisible, if it be admitted, may confer much to the belief of that supreme Deity, which these discourses strive to maintain.
The objections of those who argue from the impossibility of the existence of such things, answered. The folly of those, who think it a mark of wisdom to be very incredulous, exposed.
The second sort of extraordinary events touched on; such as are observable in the transaction of human affairs, aud
surpassing the common efficacy of human causes ; by which God, as it were, in a louder tone declares his presence and providence.
1. Slender instruments raised up to overthrow long established iniquity, &c. Examples given.
2. Examples of consummate justice or vengeance on remarkable sinners.
3. Similar ones on ambitious conquerors. 4. The generally lamentable end of great tyrants and oppres
5. The judgments of God on persons and families raised to wealth and splendor by oppression, fraud, and rapine, &c.
6. The detection of murders and other enormous crimes done in secret.
7. The like strange discoveries of plots against the commonweal and lives of princes, &c.
8. The remarkable providences that occur in the recompense and encouragement of virtue, the protection of good men from dangers, &c. Such considerations as the above, taken singly, have not the greatest force and evidence; nor can they be so strongly insisted on as the arguments drawn from the course of nature : reasons for this stated at large.
But however general providence may work in convincing some, particular providence will at least produce that effect in many: reasons for this alleged. Conclusion.
I Believe in God,
THE BEING OF GOD PROVED FROM SUPER
JOHN, CHAP. V.-VERSE 17.
But Jesus answered them, My Father hitherto worketh, and
When at first by the divine power this visible system of things was consummated and settled in that course wherein it now stands, it is said that God rested from all his work which he had made :' the plain meaning of which saying is, that God so framed all the parts of nature, and several kinds of things, and disposed them into such an order, and inserted into them such principles of action, that thereafter (without more than an ordinary conservation or concourse from him) things generally should continue in their being, sta. tion, and course, without any great change, for ever; that is, for so long as God had determined, or till their due period was run through : ( He established them,' as the psalmist speaks, • for ever and ever; he made a decree, that shall not pass : His word was settled in the heavens, and his faithfulness unto all generations : they continue this day according to his ordinances :"'• He made a covenant with day and night, and appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth :') thus God rested and ceased from his work of creation. But it is not said, nor intended, that God did absolutely give over or forbear working; that he withdrew his care, and tied up, as it were, his own hands by a resolution not to intermeddle more with
any thing, but to enjoy a kind of Epicurean ease and á pašia. No: his wisdom hath so ordered things, that there should be need and reason of his acting continually; that there should be frequent occasion of variously displaying his glorious attributes ; of exercising his power, of demonstrating his goodness. Indeed, as to beings merely natural and unintelligent, there were no need of his doing more; for they are all thoroughly his obedient servants, and exactly fulfil his word; never straggling from the station in which he placed them; never transgressing the rule that he prescribed them: but he hath also made other beings, by nature uncapable of such uniformity and settlement; very free, and therefore very mutable; to the well governing of whom therefore a continual intention and activity is requisite. For the use and benefit of which beings, as a great part of nature was designed and made by God, so it was not unmeet, that for their sake he should sometime. alter the course of nature, and cross or check the stream of things. The fuller and clearer illustration of his glory, the showing that all things do not pass on in a fatal track; the confirming that he made nature, because he can command and control it; the demonstration of his especial care over and love toward men, pending or thwarting his own established laws and decrees, as it were, for their sake; the exciting men the more to mind God, and impressing on them a respect toward him; the begetting faith in him, and hope in his providence, are fair accounts, for which God sometimes should perform (even in a manner notorious and remarkable to us) actions extraordinary. And that God doeth so, we learn in the words I read from the mouth of truth itself; whose affirmation (for persuading the incredulous) I intend to second with particular instances, attested to by reasonable proof, suitable to the nature of the matter; and this with design to infer from such operations (as effects assignable to no other cause) the existence of God; having endeavored formerly to deduce the same from the common ordinary works, appearing in both worlds, natural and human. And as we before distinguished the ordinary works or actions, so here we shall distinguish the extraordinary ones, into two sorts ; into those which are above or against the course (or power) of nature; and those, which surmount or cross the