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often kings and states have been providentially preserved from dark and dangerous conspiracies; how very seldom it happens but that murders are discovered, though committed in the most occult and secret manner; how frequently it has happened to almost every man, who has lived to any age, to have himself experienced instances of providential escapes from accidents and dangers *: and when to all this we reflect how God in his goodness has provided every
* There is a remarkable instance of this interference of Provi. dence recorded in the third volume of Captain Cartwright's Voyage to Labrador. “The storm lasted three quarters of an “ hour; and even afterwards blew so hard till ten at night, that
we could not shew one rag of sail. It is easier to imagine than “ to describe the anxiety of our minds, when we discovered rag
ged rocks close under our lee, and expected every minute, “ from ten o'clock on the Saturday morning till eight on Sunday
night, in a most violent gale of wind, to be driven on them, “We then most devoutly went to prayers; I officiated as chap
and no sooner had we done, than, to the admiration and “ astonishment of every man on board, the wind became per"fectly moderate, it shifted four points in our favour,) the sky cleared, and, miraculous to relate, the sea, which before ran
as high and as dangerous as it could well do, in an instant be* came as smooth as if we had shot under the lee of Scilly, at “ five or six leagues distance! We could attribute all these things “ to nothing but the effect of the immediate interposition of the “ Divinity, who had been graciously pleased to hear our prayers, “and grant our petitions; and I hope I shall never be of a con""trary way of thinking."
thing necessary for the food and raiment of the human species, for the sustenance of bird, beast, and fish, uninterruptedly, for a course of six thousand years, and so perfectly, that, as the pious Hooker asks, “How
many sparrows have you met in your “ walks that have perished for hunger?” surely when any candid, considerate man reads the express declarations in Scripture, that God by his providence does govern the world, that the very hairs of our head are numbered ; considers the blessings which in real life attend a virtuous conduct; and how agreeable it is to our ideas of the wiss dom, power, and goodness of God, that he should himself rule the universe he has created ; and how impossible it is to conceive any created being equal to the task ; he may on the soundest principles of reason be convinced the world is not governed by chance: and he ought to make up his mind to an entire persuasion and belief in, and a decided adoption of, this assertion of the Jewish monarch and Psalmist, “ Verily there “ is a reward for the righteous. Doubtless " there is a God that judgeth the earth.?
OBJECTION V. Some men have asserted
it to be beneath the majesty of God, and inconsistent either with his dignity or happiness, to interest himself in the concerns of mankind.
Epicurus and Lucretius insist very much on this objection, because their voluptuous principles induce them to annex happiness to indolence and inactivity, and because neither of them had any just ideas of true majesty, or of the infinite goodness of God; which we are authorized from the page of Scripture to assert as naturally prompts him to promote and foster the happiness of his creatures when created, as it did at first to create them. Further, can any one justly imagine it derogatory to the majesty of God to take care of and superintend his own offspring, to take care of intellectual creatures he has thought proper to create in his own image? or can it be supposed possible for him to place his own happiness in apathy and indolence? True and real majesty consists not more, not even so much, in the possession of power, as in the direction and
application of it. And in what way can we possibly conceive the highest majesty can be better employed, than in governing the universe wisely and justly, and, as God him
self expressly asserts by his prophet Jeremiah that he does, in exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness on earth? “ for in these things I delight, saith “the Lord.” How can we imagine either the majesty or goodness of God can be more graciously evinced, after having created millions and millions of intellectual free agents, with a view and intention that they should enjoy temporal and eternal happiness, than in his giving them infallible rules for the attainment of that happiness ; and, when they deviate from these rules, in swaying and inclining their minds, by every possible method short of absolutely overruling their free agency, to return to their duty ?
The reasonable ideas we annex to the omniscience, omnipotence, and majesty of God, is not in his resting in a state of indolence and inactivity, like the immoveable, motionless idols of the Heathens, but in his possessing and exercising universal dominion and government; and if contrivance be the result of knowledge, action of power, and beneficence of goodness, which they certainly are, how can the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of God be more eminently displayed, where can they find a more
ample range or sphere for action, contrivance, and beneficence, than in a wise and just government of the universe, and of this world as one part of that universe? Epicurus and Lucretius, judging of God by themselves, might consider it as interfering with his happiness and ease to govern the world, from imagining, that to attend to such an infinite number of things as the world includes, must distract his thoughts, and dis. turb his self-enjoyment: whereas, if they had considered God as a Being that is infinitely perfect, and his will irresistible, whose almighty power implies an ability to do whatsoever is possible, and whose infinite knowledge includes an universal prospect of all things, past, present, and to come ; this idea of God might have convinced them, that to an omnipotent and omniscient mind there can be nothing difficult, either to be known or effected; for difficulty only arises from impotence, and an incapacity to effect or conquer, without struggling against the resistances of the objects upon which its power is directed. But as the will of God is wholly irresistible, and no objects can make any opposition against infinite power, it is no more trouble to the omni.