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Thrale, wishes that the Almighty not may have, but may have had mercy on them; evidently supposing their sentence to have already past in the divine mind. This supposition, indeed, may seem not very consistent with his recommending them to divine mercy afterwards. It proves, however, that he had no belief in a state of purgatory, and, consequently, no reason for praying for the dead, that could impeach the sincerity of his profession as a Protestant.

In Dr. Johnson's prayers on the day his dear mother was buried, he makes use of these expressions?" I commend, O Lord! so far as it may be lawful, into thy hands the soul of my departed mother, beseeching thee to grant her whatever is most beneficial to her in her present state." He did the same also for his departed wife, and repeated these prayers often at church, and particularly on Easter-day,

A Prayer of Dr. Johnson's; April 26, 1752, being after twelve at night of the 25th,

"O Lord, Governor of Heaven and Earth, in whose hands are embodied and departed spirits; if thou hast ordained the souls of the dead to minister to the living, and appointed my departed wife to have care of me, grant that I may enjoy the good effects of her attention. and ministration, whether exercised by appearance, impulses, dreams, or in any other manner agreeable to thy government: forgive my presumption, enlighten my ignorance, and, however meaner agents are employed, grant me the blessed influences of thy Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."


The Bishop of Norwich's Opinion on Dr. Johnson's
Prayers and Meditations.

"The prayers are admirably drawn on the model of our most excellent liturgy. Some few things might have been left out of the Meditations: but they are very instructive; they teach humility to those possessed of great talents, and consolation to those who are not, when they find themselves subject to like infirmities; and they shew a tender and affectionate spirit residing in a heart deemed often little better than savage. Many of us, if we were not too lazy to write a journal, or too cunning to let any body read it when written, might not produce one that would shew us in a fairer light to the world. Man is a strange animal when he is turned inside out!"


I am very desirous of avoiding those customs which the Papists so superstitiously follow, and hope to continue to be (through the blessing of Almighty God upon my feeble endeavours, and the instruction I may meet with from your useful Magazine) a firm and devoted

Member of the Established Church of England.


Esse aliquos Manes, and Subterranea Regna---
Nec pueri credunt, nisi qui nondum ære lavantur:
Sed tu vera puta.-Juv. 2 S.-150,

O circumstance has so much disturbed the philosophy

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of the ancients, and the impatience of the moderns, as the existence of natural and moral evil. To the former it was unaccountable on any reasonable principles,




and embarrassed their fairest theories; and though it has been rendered less mysterious to the latter by the revelations of God, yet to all it is involved in darkness, and is peculiarly perplexing to those who value too highly their own ideas of the Divinity. By the Christian Gospel the certainty of future rewards and punishments is clearly established; and as the eternal duration of the latter involves in it the excess of evil in both its kinds, this doctrine has met with a proportionate difficulty in its reception. That an all merciful God should create an human being, well knowing at his birth that he will purchase for himself endless misery, has appeared so repugnant to the received notions of Divine Goodness, that many have presumed to doubt, and some boldly to deny the truth of so alarming a proposition; and as few difficulties can resist a favourite theory, it has been discovered that the Holy Scriptures contain no conclusive evidence of this doctrine. But as "the terrors of the Lord," are among the great instruments of salvation, we should needs be cautious how we diminish their efficacy, and I fear it may be shewn that the infinite duration of future torments, is rather rendered probable than contradicted by our limited knowledge of divine dispensations, and (which is more conclusive) that the testimony of Revelation is very direct and convincing.

The idea generally entertained of the goodness of God, to which this doctrine is supposed so repugnant, has been "an unlimited disposition to promote the happiness of all his creatures." With this extensive attribute, thus unqualified, not only the eternity of future punishments, but the smallest degree of existing evil, is to our limited understandings irreconcileable; but then they are each equally so; infinite benevolence cannot admit of “majus or minus," it is one and immutable. The most tran

sient head ach, and the damnation of all mankind, are in this view involved in the same mystery. Actual evil does exist, and cannot be inconsistent with the moral perfection of God: it is evident therefore, either that we are mistaken in supposing such an attribute inherent in the Almighty, or that being utterly in the dark upon the subject we can neither affirm or deny any thing concerning it. To maintain then that such must be the nature of Divine Benevolence, and thence infer the impossibility of infinite vengeance, is to talk ignorantly and at random.

But, perhaps, on a more thoughtful consideration of the subject, we may suspect that we are a little too hasty in thus investing our Creator with those attributes

* I have often been struck with our presumption in defining the attributes of the Deity; a subject with which, like most of which we are ignorant, we make rather too free. The usual ideas entertained of our Maker amount to little more than this; we take all those qualities which we find in ourselves contributing, as we think, to our perfection, and adding infinity to them, fancy we have an adequate idea of the “Ens Entium." Whereas it not clear that there is the least similitude between the nature of the creature and his Creator: and it is morally certain, that an infinite variety of perfections must dwell in him, of which no seeds are yet sown in us. The more direct path appears to be the same which we adopt in common life: to draw our inferences concerning his nature and character from the manifestations of it in the affairs of this world, and in express revelation, remembering only the humility with which we should enter on a subject so awful and incomprehensible. Were the mysteries of the Eleusynian Ceres enveloped in darkness, and shall JEHOVAH be the subject of our petulant speculations?

Methinks the contradictions into which we so often fall might teach us more humility: we can only consider the attributes of our Maker singly, and in exalting one we perpetually degrade another; yet it is curious, that the attribute which we most frequently disallow, is that which is most fully evidenced-his Omnipotence. Pope says,


which we think fit to assign him; and may see that this idea of perfect love, is but the fiction of our fancy, which imagines that a virtuous.disposition, amiable in human beings, would suit also the perfection of their Maker. In considering the moral attributes of God, the best guides we can possess are the dispensations of his natural and moral government, which, as far as our weak intellects can comprehend them, afford direct evidences of his character. From an examination of these, it

should seem that we much mistake the nature of Divine Benevolence; which appears to be identified with justice, and to consist not in an infinite affection towards all his works, but in an infinite affection only towards the virtuous part of them; and to be balanced at the same time by a detestation equally infinite of that part which is vicious.

The attributes of the Almighty being thus considered, punishment is a consequence of sin, as necessary, and resulting as directly from his moral nature, as the rewards of virtue and the eternal torments of the wicked, their crimes being supposed to be proportionate, would follow as a natural emanation from the same sys

Of systems possible, if 'tis confest,

That Wisdom infinite must form the best.

laying down this truth as the foundation of his system. Cannot God then be at once All-wise and Almighty? Yet if this postulate be granted his powers are limited indeed; for then it is impossible for him to create above one system, supreme excellence being one. Even Lord Bacon in his celebrated confession of faith, supposes it to have been impossible for God to have created any thing which would have seemed good ́ in his eyes unless washed by the blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Cannot God then be at once all-pure and Almighty? Like flatterers ignorant of their trade, we debase where we mean to exalt. Of these impossibilities I may, perhaps, say more hereafter.


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