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extracts to prove that of which no man in his senses can possibly entertain the least doubt. When the ideas in a man's mind respecting the attributes of the Deity have been thus combined and associated, and the result is a confirmed and unalterable belief, that God is thus graciously disposed towards his creatures, ever has been, and ever must be; he then considers how so much misery as he sees in the world is compatible with that affectionate disposition he believes to exist in the mind of God towards the human species: and to unravel this difficulty, he has recourse to those holy pages which were written for our instruction, the only source from which satisfactory intelligence respect
ing God's conduct to man ever was or ever • can be obtained, and where alone it should
be sought for. From that revelation of God's will and word, with which he has blessed mankind, he receives a complete solution of every doubt that can be entertained on the subject.
There have indeed been many treatises written by man on the origin of the evil which prevails in the world; but, in the judgment of a thinking person, if they do not include the Scripture account of it, they
ought all to be rejected, and that alone admitted : and for these reasons; first, because if God has been pleased to give man a solution of this important matter, it is absurd, if not impious, to advert to any other : and, secondly, that in every case or proposition which does not admit of demonstration, that hypothesis should be received which most rationally solves the greatest number of phænomena appertaining to such case or proposition. Now no account or hypothesis given by man of the origin of evil ever yet reconciled the goodness of God with the existing misery of man in any way that was at all satisfactory to a reasonable and intelligent mind : for as to the Manichean system of two independent principles of good and evil, its absurdity is most convincingly proved in these lines, extracted from that fine Poem on the immortality of the soul, by Hawkins Brown, in the sixth volume of Dodsley's Collection. After taking notice of the various and manifold evils of human life, the Poet writes,
Observing this, some sages have decreed,
Whilst that administers a friendly cure.
Such, however, is the unhappy perverseness and scepticism of some people, that, though the Scripture relation of the origin and existence of evil is plain, clear, and entirely satisfactory, they treat the solution of this great difficulty, as it is given in the Bible, with the utmost contempt and derision ; without considering, that on this foundation-stone the beautiful temple of revealed religion entirely stands : take away this, and the whole superstructure falls immediately to the ground. But human writers on this important subject are not only de. fective in their inability to solve that chief difficulty of reconciling the goodness of God with the existing misery of mankind, but they are apt to give a false bias to the mind; thinking to do honour to God, they assert, that he did not design that evil which pre
vails in the world ; notwithstanding, in the most express terms and words, God Almighty himself affirms that he did appoint this evil, and that he did so in consequence of man's disobedience. By inculcating a contrary principle, these writers do the greatest injury to a just and correct opinion of the attributes of the Deity; which consists in the idea of his always acting, with respect to man, on the principle of reward and punishment, according to man's conduct. Thus God declares to Cain, “ If thou “ doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and
if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." And to the Jews, “ O that there were such an “ heart in them, that they would fear me, " and keep all my commandments always, " that it might be well with them, and with " their children for ever*!” And this principle is corroborated and confirmed throughout the whole Bible, from Genesis to the Apocalypse.
That God intended man should be punished in this world both in body and mind, to a certain degree, is incontestible, from the following assertions in Scripture. Does not the Almighty say to Adam on his defection, “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sora
* Deut. v, 29,
shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy “ life?" and to Eve, “ I will greatly multiply
thy sorrow and thy conception?” Further, “ Man is born to trouble; his flesh upon “ him shall have pain, and his soul within “ him shall mourn;" with a variety of similar afflictive denunciations. Thus nothing can be clearer than that it was the intention of God to punish man in this life for his disobedience; and part at least of the misery which prevails in human life is certainly of God's appointment: but when the reason of that appointment is duly weighed and considered, the misery which exists in human life is no more an imputation on the goodness of God, than the punishment inflicted by a judge on a criminal is an imputation on the goodness or mercy of that judge: he undoubtedly passes the sentence of punishment; but the infliction of that punishment has been forced upon him, and is to be imputed to the crime which the culprit committed, and not to any unkindness in the judge, who may reasonably be supposed to be much concerned at the absolute necessity he is under of inflicting the punishment in question. Had man not disobeyed, I am and shall ever be of opinion the will