Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

one will contend that they placed themselves where they are. Now he who could place them there; he, the constitution of whose nature admits of his ever having been present at these inconceivable distances, must possess a nature so essentially different from ours, that we ought to have no difficulty in supposing that it may allow of his being present at them at one and the same time, as easily as at successive periods. As our mode of existence confines our presence to one spot at one time, his may be such as necessarily makes him present in every part of the universe. Many writers on this subject appear needlessly to have magnified the difficulty which attends our conception of it. They seem in general to think that the Deity bears no relation whatever to space: that in fact he is actually present no where, and that of course it is only in a figurative sense that he is omnipresent. But surely it is more just to conceive of him as really pervading all space, as actually present in every part of the universe. This idea is at least distinct, and enables us to conceive in a satisfactory manner of his universal operation; while the view commonly entertained is extremely confused: for do what we will, we can form no idea of a being who bears no relation to space; and if we could, we should still be pressed with the difficulty of conceiving how a being can operate where he is not: but if we admit the hypothesis now proposed, we can readily believe that the Deity operates every where, for according to it he is every where. In whatever manner, however, we may conceive of the omnipresence of the Deity, we must all admit the fact itself, that by the necessity of his nature, he is every where, and that by the same necessity he knows every thing. And no other admission is requisite to establish in the most satisfactory manner his universal and perfect government. His benevolent eye is upon me; his almighty arm is beneath me; with the situation in which I am placed, he is infinitely better acquainted in all its parts, than I am with any single circumstance in it. He knows that a certain event is about to befal me: he understands its nature: he foresees its consequences: he is perfectly wise: he is infinitely good. Would he then permit it to happen, did he not foresee it would answer some wise and benevolent purpose Can we conceive that he is every where present without acting * That he knows every thing without availing himself of the power he posseses, to prevent what is wrong and to accomplish what is right? That, though he is perfectly acquainted with every evil which is about to arise, and perfectly able to prevent it, he will not stretch out his hand to do so? That the original source of all activity is the only inactive being in the universe, and the source of all energy the only being who does not exert his power 2 If this opinion be absurd in itself, and unsupported by the shadow of reason, there is but one other conclusion which can be adopted, namely, that every event which happens to every creature, takes place according to the appointment of the Deity. Nothing can be more frivolous than the objection, that the watchfulness which this supposes over the most trifling concerns of the most insignificant creature is unworthy of the Sovereign of the universe. Whatever it was not beneath him to create, it cannot be beneath him to provide for and to protect; and whatever is of any importance, either to the present or the future comfort of any being, is worthy of care in the degree in which it may be the means of enjoyment or the cause of suffering. Its minuteness cannot render it unworthy of notice, if it be of any consequence; and what would detract from the dignity and greatness of the Governor of the universe would be, not his taking care of these minute concerns, but his neglecting them. A great part of animal enjoyment depends upon what we are accustomed to consider as little things. A great number of little things, particularly if they often recur, become of greater importance than any single event, however vast or momentous; they produce, taken together, a larger sum of enjoyment, and there seems no possible way of taking care of this collective sum, but by taking care of particular events. And, indeed, the superintendence of minute events implies as much dignity as the superintendence of great events, and our admiration is never more excited than when we contemplate an intelligence, which, while it directs the most grand and mighty movements, overlooks not the most insignificant concern capable of affecting the ultimate result. That superintendence which extends its care to the least obvious circumstance, no less than to the most striking, is certainly more perfect than that which regards only such events, as no intelligent being could possibly overlook. The apprehension that this constant superintendence of events, from the minutest circumstance which is capable of exciting sensation, up to those mighty movements which affect the condition of worlds, must be attended with perplexity to the Deity, originates in conceptions equally unenlightened and imperfect. He is at all times present every where, and every where is capable of exerting his power. The superintendence of all the events in the universe, there

fore, can be attended with no more trouble to him than the superintendence of any single event. The whole of possibility must at all times be equally easy to the Being who possesses infinite power. We have therefore abundant reason to rest in the delightful assurance, that of every event which takes place all the care is taken, which perfect wisdom can dictate, and infinite goodness require: that all its consequences are foreseen and considered ; that its time, its place, its measure, its duration, are all appointed by him who first set in motion the complicated and mighty wheels which bring it round. Of this sublime truth, which nothing but its greatness can lead us to doubt, we may be further assured, by the consideration of the relation which the Creator necessarily bears to his creatures. He is not merely their Creator. By the very act of creation, he unites himself to them by a tie, but feebly represented by that which binds a parent to his child. He is their Father in a much more near and real sense than any human parent is the father of his offspring, and the best feelings of earthly parents must be exceeded by his in the degree in which he is more perfect than they. Yet a good father lives but to labour for the welfare of his family. A tender mother, while she presses her child to her

« PoprzedniaDalej »