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ESSAY ON MAN,
ACCORDING TO THE
CHAPTER I. Of Man under Sin. CHAPTER II. Of his Redemption through
CHAPTER III. Of the New Creature.
No man can satisfy himself or others about the Origin of Evil: and to give an account of man, without any account of evil, is to do little. The question being far too deep for us, we must be contented with such a view of the subject, as the gospel presents to us; and this should make us easy, till we have further lights, and stronger faculties,
The disciples of Jesus Christ, seeing a man who had been blind from his birth, proposed the case as a difficulty for which they were not able to account : “ Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind *?" They expected that their Master would consider the question as they did ; but instead of this,
he • John ix. 2. (See Sermon VIII.)
he takes such a view of the case, and gives such a solution of it, as they had not been able to conceive. He goes at once to the final cause, for which this, and all other examples of evil, are permitted in the world ; the glory of God. Strange, that God should be glorified in evil, by which he seems to be dishonoured; but so it is.
If we ask ourselves by what causes such or such strange effects come to pass ; experience teaches us how hard it is to answer the question : but if we ask, for what end, the enquiry becomes more hopeful, as well as more useful. In the ways of God, the grounds and reasons, on which the Divine justice proceeds, are out of our sight; while the ends, which the Divine goodness has in view, are open to our sight, and. level to our capacities. This we suppose to be the reason why our Saviour gave a turn to the question, so different from what his disciples expected. Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, said he, i.e. so as to account for his blindness; but he was born blind for this
end, that the works of God might be made manifest in him.
To all questions of the same kind, the same answer will serve. Evil is permitted in the world, that God may be manifested to us as the author of good. The sun is never so glorious as at his rising, when the shadows of the night fly before him. The Creator might have blessed us with perpetual day; but his wisdom and goodness are better understood in the victory · which light obtains over darkness. And it is not clear, that good can be effectually distinguished, and received as what it is, till we have had the opportunity of comparing it with its contrary. The attributes of God were more fully displayed in the restoration of a man who was born blind, than if he had been born with his eye-sight. The physician derives his honour, not from the healthy, but from the sick; and the health which comes after sickness is doubly valuable. The mind may be insensible of its preservation, and yet feel and understand the blessing of a