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The wisdom and goodness of the Deity in the permission of natural and moral evil, may be perfectly vindicated, and can be perfectly vindicated only on the supposition that, considered in relation to the entire period of his being, it increases the sum of happiness to every individual. And that this will be the ultimate issue of evil, is confirmed by every thing which reason and experience teach concerning its nature and tendency, and is opposed by nothing but the prejudices of a system, which leads to consequences truly horrible, and which is supported by no appearance in nature, by no testimony of experience, and by no induction of reason.
If it be said that this is assuming more than is absolutely necessary to vindicate the Divine perfections, it must at least be granted, that the lowest ground it is possible to assume is, that how much soever evil may prevail, every individual will nevertheless experience, the whole period of his being considered, more happiness than misery. If this position be denied, no ingenuity can reconcile the prevalence of evil with the government of infinite wisdom and goodness: if it be granted, the doctrine of end. less misery must be abandoned at once, and the mind must ultimately rest (as will be largely shewn hereafter) in the conclusion, that evil is
designed to be, and actually is, the means of increasing the ultimate sum of happiness to every individual. If it be objected that, according to this view of evil, the Deity has himself violated the command which he has given to his creatures, and has done evil in order that good may come, it is replied, that the consequence may be readily admitted, and that the principle which justifies the Divine procedure is obvious. To allow to such a being as man the liberty of doing evil with a good design, would be fatal, because he cannot certainly foresee the effect of his conduct, nor control events in such a manner as to secure his purpose. But God, being possessed of perfect knowledge and almighty power, must be acquainted with the result of all possible combinations of circumstances, and must be able to secure it against all miscarriage. It may, therefore, be supremely benevolent in him to do what it would be ruinous in man to attempt. From the whole of what has been said, then, it appears that we may without presumption, with the full concurrence of reason, and on the clear warrant of scripture, affirm, that when the Deity placed man in such circumstances as he foresaw would be attended with the production and indulgence of evil passions, he at the same time perceived that, under his direction, these passions would produce to mankind collectively, and to every individual particularly, a greater sum of happiness than could have existed without them. That the evil which results from the indulgence of the bad passions of mankind, may be made the means of eradicating them, and of training the mind to purity and benevolence, we have, as has been fully shewn, unquestionable proof in the daily events of life. This, then, which we see to be their effect with regard to some individuals at present, it is contended, will be their ultimate effect with respect to all mankind; that this is the final cause of their existence, and THAT THE GREAT DESIGN of THE DEITY Is To BRING ALL HIS INTELLIGENT OFFSPRING TO A STATE OF PURITY AND HAPPINESS, This doctrine reconciles every difficulty, and throws a glorious and cheering light on all the dispensations of the Deity. If it be true, every thing was planned by benevolence; every thing is guided by benevolence; every thing will terminate in benevolence, in eternal and everincreasing felicity to all. This doctrine, which represents the character of the Universal Parent in the most glorious and affecting light, and is benevolent in its tendency beyond any other opinion whatever, kas been opposed with much violence, by some of the best of men; and the worst have as loudly exclaimed against it. The prejudices of the good and the bad, of the pious and the profane, equally oppose it: yet there is no other truth which seems to be supported by so many different appearances, or by evidence derived from so many different sources. And since it throws so much light on the character and dispensations of the Deity, and is replete with such solid consolation, it may be useful to examine it somewhat at length; first considering some of the arguments which appear to favour it, and next the objections which are Musually brought to oppose it.
Because this doctrine maintains that mankind will finally be restored from sin, and from the present and future misery which is its consequence, to a state of purity and happiness, and that this will ultimately be the case with respect to every individual of the human race, it is sometimes termed the doctrine of UNIVER's A L REstor ATION, which phrase, merely for the sake of brevity, we may hereafter frequently employ.
Some dispute, however, has arisen respecting the nature of the evidence which alone can establish this doctrine. It will be vain to proceed, therefore, before the principles are