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Benefits, or of forbearing, delaying, inflicting Corrections and Punishments, and in taking those Measures which he judgeth to be the fittest and best, it would prevent many of the Objections that are made against his Providence and Government. He hath undoubtedly (as was hinted before) wise and good Reasons for acting as he doth, even in Things which seem to depend upon mere Prerogative and fovereign Will and Pleasure; but we have not the least Right to demand to know those Reasons. Or, if he should see fit at some Time or other to let us into the Reasons of his Proceedings, yet he may not think it proper to discover them to us at present, because we cannot be rightly capable of judging of them till the whole Scheme shall be compleated.
Fourthly, The last general Observation I would make concerning God's Government towards reasonable and moral Agents, is, that the great End of it is to promote their real Happiness, in a Way worthy of himself, and suited to their rational Na
The principal End of all good human Governments, is the public Happiness, or the Good of the governed. And Reason and Justice require that it should be fo. For, since those that govern, are themfelves of the same Species of. Beings with
those that are governed by them, it is manifest that the Good of the whole Community is, in the Nature of the Thing, of greater Worth and Advantage than the Will and Pleasure, or Interest of a single Person, or of a few. This, indeed, cannot properly be said with regard to God and his Government. As he himself is the Fountain of all Perfection, infinitely fuperior to the whole rational Creation, and hath infinitely greater Worth and Excellency than they altogether, so it cannot be said that he is under an Obligation to promote the universal Good of the rational Creation, on the Account of his being inferior to the whole, or comprehended in it. But though he is not, on that Account, obliged to pursue the general Good of the rational Creatures, which are the Subjects of his Government, yet he is determined to it by his own infinite Goodness and Benevolence. That Goodness which inclined him to create them, and to give them all their excellent Faculties and Capacities for Happiness, will also incline him to govern them so as to promote their Happiness in a Way suited to the Natures he hath given them, i. e. in a Way suited to moral Agency. This, therefore, may be regarded as the great End to which all his Administrations towards them are uni
formly formly directed, to promote the Happiness of the whole rational Creation, and that of particular Beings in Subordination to, and as far as is consistent with the univerfal Good; not to make them happy in whatever Way they behave, and however they act, but to make them happy in the right Use of their rational moral Powers; and to train them up by just Degrees, and a proper Discipline, to the true Perfection of their Natures. And God's thus having the universal Good and Happiness in View, is no way inconsistent with his inflicting grievous Punishments upon such of his reasonable Creatures as violate the Laws which he hath given them ; fince even the general Good of the whole moral World requireth that the divine Laws should be enforced with proper Sanctions, and that just Punishment should be inflicted on the obstinately wicked and impenitent: And to suffer such Persons to transgrefs the divine Laws with Impunity, would be a Defect in governing Wisdom, and in Goodness too, as that signifieth the promoting the general Happiness.
Upon this View of the Nature and Ends of God's Government of the rational moral part of the Creation, we may see that the absolute independent Power
and Sovereignty of the divine Dominion hath not any Thing in it, if it be rightly considered, that should be Matter of Terror and Discouragement, but rather layeth a Foundation for the most solid Confidence and Joy. No Being is properly qualified for absolute Sovereignty, but one of infallible Wisdom, and of infinite Righteousness and Goodness, because such an one cart never abuse his Power : And this is unquestionably true of God, and of him only. Though therefore his Power and Dominion be really; and in the strictest Sense, absolute and unlimited, without any external Law to guide or bind him, this should give us no Uneasiness, for the Perfection and Excellency of his own Nature may be said to be an eternal Law to him, which he can never counteract without denying himself. Absolute Power and Sovereignty, when in Conjunction with the most perfect Wifdom, Holiness, and Goodness, is the most comfortable Thing in the World. The. more absolute it is in that Cafe the better, and the greater is our Security. He that is possessed of a Power that is truly and properly independent and infinite, and to which no other Power is superior or equal, can have no possible Temptation to de Wrong, and is raised by his own tranH
scendent Excellency, above all narrow, selfish, malevolent Affections and Views. He must needs be possessed of an infinite Generosity of Temper, and must be ever exercised in doing the greatest Good, which is the noblest Act of absolute Power and Dominion. Far be it from God that be should do Wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should commit Iniquity. Job xxxiv. 10. Beings that have a Mixture of Weakness may be wicked, cruel, or unjust; but he who is absolutely supreme, almighty, and all-sufficient, cannot be reasonably supposed to be capable of doing a cruel or unjust Thing. For what should induce him to do so, who hath no Advantage to procure to himself, no Evil to guard against, no Competitor to fear, no private Interests to secure ? So that the very abfoluteness of his Dominion, as it is in Canjunction with infinite Perfection, is a Ground of the highest Confidence and Afsurance.
Let us therefore rejoice in this, that the Lord reigneth. Infinite Wisdom, Righteousness, and Goodness reigneth. Let the Heavens rejoice, and let the Earth be glad. Let all rational Beings, in every Part of this vast Universe, form one uni