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and piéty, and thereby become so depraved, that, instead of hating, he too often loves and encourages sin; yet, if we are sure of any thing, we are sure that God ever did, ever does, and ever will abhor sin; and therefore, unless we suppose God to be the author and establisher of what he hates and detests, there is a glaring and obvious absurdity, even in the supposition of God's creating a being necessarily sinful; and though man by the abuse of his free agency fatally introduced sin into the world, contrary to the wish or will of God, it is not only absurd, it is much more, it is blasphemous in the highest degree, to maintain that it was necessary it should have existed ab origine, and that it was the intention of God that man should always from the beginning have been as viciously disposed as he now is. The present sinful state of man, therefore, was not caused by the will of God, but by the disobedience of man. Upon a supposition, that this world was intended so far to have been such a world as it now is, that is, a world of authority on one hand, and of subjection on the other, and that the social duties were to have existed and to have been displayed by a reception and communication of mutual kind and good offices, and that the employ of mankind was to have consisted in worshipping God, and promoting the happiness of man; in the avocations of commerce, agriculture, domestic life, and in the practice and culture of the fine arts, &c. there does not appear any reason why, without the existence of vice, all these might not as well indeed a great deal better) be accomplished, than with it; for every person will admit, that the more virtuous and industrious, and the fewer vicious and idle characters there are in any nation, the happier and more flourishing that nation necessarily is. Let us therefore beware how we charge on God that evil, which the Scriptures assure us originally proceeded from the disobedience of man, and the malevolence of an evil being.
It is a great instance of the goodness of God, that, when he created man, he was pleased to implant, to lodge in his soul, certain inbred and fundamental truths; such as that there is a Being who gave us our existence; that he is a Being of unlimited power, and wisdom, and perfection; a natural admiration and approbation of virtue and abhorrence of vice; an expectation and desire of future existence; and many others, which do not depend on sources so vague and uncertain as external objects, or the particular fancies, representations, or conjectures of philosophers. These truths we cannot be said to acquire, for we find them in the soul, and they are to the human species what instinct is to brutes : they may be so far considered as the principles of reason, that they command it, and are not to be overthrown by any
misrepresentations she may make. They chal·lenge the assent of mankind, and are acknowledged by it; they operate so strongly, and act with so much force, that whatever opinions contradict them are never generally received by the bulk of mankind, or considered as truth, however such opinions may amuse or puzzle the ingenuity of philosophers. Thus Bishop Berkeley's assertion, that there is no such thing as matter, is an ingenious hypothesis ; and though no man has been able to disprove his arguments, yet the world believes, and ever will believe, that there is such a thing as matter, and that there are such qualities in that matter as hardness and softness. In the same manner, the lower classes of the people have, in all ages and countries, believed in a future state, though we know that many of the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers did not; professing themselves wise, in this respect they became fools. And in modern times, we find the same vanity has influenced many men to write against the veracity of revealed religion, and the immortality of the soul, and who have endeavoured to confound the natural distinction that exists between vice and virtue: but in any enlightened country, or even unenlightened, have they ever succeeded, except with a very few? and those few for the most part are such characters, as are either so wrong-headed, so immoral, or so
uncharitable and illiberal, that men of information and virtue have no desire to associate with thern, and in general justly despise them.
When we observe the glories of God's creation, our minds are so forcibly struck with the conviction of the infinite power and wisdom of God, from the display of that power and wisdom exhibited in the animal, mineral, vegetable, and solar systems, that contemplation on these attributes, though it vibrates the soul in the noblest and most delightful manner, can scarcely be said to increase that conviction. But the goodness of God, though equally infinite with his power, being not so ostensibly displayed, requires a close and attentive contemplation, before we can have a true idea of it. His goodness, in many instances, is like some of his works; those stars, for example, which, unless viewed by a telescope, are never seen: contemplation is in this respect to the mind, what the telescope is to the eye, and without it we shall never have more than a very imperfect notion of the goodness of God. With the reader's permission, I will illustrate what I mean by an example. The fruits of the field, such as wheat, barley, &c. respectively grow ripe at once, because it is for the evident advantage and interest of man they should do so; and it would be a dreadful evil if they did not: whilst the fruits and flowers of a garden ripen in succession, and the
fruit even on any one tree does not ripen at once, there being often an interval of ten days or a fortnight between the ripening of the first and last peach or nectarine on the same tree, because these delicious fruits were clearly and unequivocally intended for a continued pleasure and gratification to man; and this gracious intention on the part of God would have been in great measure frustrated, if these fruits of the garden had grown ripe all at once, like those of the field. Is not the goodness of God evidently exhibited in this instance? Nevertheless, I have never heard it remarked either in conversation, or seen it noticed in any book, though it may have often been observed in both; as indeed it is one so plain and obvious, that a child might have remarked it. But yet as I have not known it instanced, I mention it to prove, that unless we accustom' our minds frequently to contemplate the goodness of God, and take a sincere pleasure in that contemplation, we shall never appreciate it as we ought to do; and the most obvious instances of it may and will escape our observation.
Here I might exceedingly enrich this volume, by extracting from Dr. Nieuwentyt’s “Religious “ Philosopher, or Right Use of contemplating the “ Works of the Creator;" “ Derham's Physico and “ Astro Theology;" “ Ray on the Wisdom of God “ in the Creation;" and “ Dr. Paley's Natural