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science and omnipotence of God to do all things that he pleases, than to do any one thing whatsoever : and God can with as much facility inspect and govern all beings and things in the world, as one being; for his spirit permeating, pervading, commanding, and irresistibly controlling all nature, has the same absolute power over the whole of it, to put it into that activity and motion he pleases, as the volitions or determinations of the soul of man are executed without difficulty by the
organs of his body; as the mind of man has power over his legs to make them walk or run, or to make his hands touch or reach that which is within their compass. Accordingly, Dr. Paley, in his Natural Theology, observes, with respect to God's conduct, “ We see no signs of diminution of “ care by multiplicity of objects, or of dis“ traction of thought by variety:" and in the spirit of a strong mind, enlightened by a masculine piety, from these premises he draws this noble conclusion, a conclusion calculated on the soundest principles to cheer the heart of every human being ; " we “ have therefore no reason to fear our being * either forgotten, overlooked, or neglected.” If a man can with ease manage one business
within his compass which he perfectly understands, why may not God manage all, since every thing is within his compass,
and he understands all better than we understand any one? and, admitting the things of the universe to be infinite, since God's knowledge and power are infinite too, there is the same proportion of infinite to infinite, as of finite to finite. And if, as has been observed, we consider that the natural tendency of infinite power is to action, of infinite knowledge to contrivance, and of infinite goodness to beneficence ; it is very unreasonable to suppose that it can be any impediment to the ease or happiness of God, or at all derogatory to his majesty, to follow the impulse of his own glorious attributes. To act nothing, to contrive nothing, and to do no good, would indeed be quite contrary to his nature, and would thwart and cross the natural impetus of his attributes : but since it is as easy to him to exercise these perfections in a large as in a narrow sphere, the universal exercise of them must rather be his delight, than disturbance; because the. more he . exercises them, the more he complies with their natural tendencies and inclinations. But why should I any
longer run the risk of fatiguing the reader by a further refutation of a superficial objection, which no sensible man, and none but a voluptuary or atheist, would have thought of making, since it contradicts the common sense of mankind, and, excepting the Epicureans, is against the opinion of every ancient philosopher, whether of the Pythagorean, Platonic, or Stoic sects; and which is likewise against both the letter and spirit of every religion which has yet prevailed on earth, whether Jewish, Christian, Mahometan, or Pagan: for the tenets of each require a belief that God interposes in human concerns; and undeniable testimony has ever been given of that belief, by its having been the practice of men in all ages to erect temples to his honour and worship, and by their returning him thanks in those temples for victory and other public blessings, and by deprecating his wrath in the saine temples, under the pressure of either public or private calamities.
Hoping that in the opinion of the reader those false but plausible objections, which some men have charged on the goodness and providence of God, are obviated and refuted, and to have proved there is no truth what
ever in Calvin's doctrine of predestination and absolute decrees; and that, after a fair and impartial investigation, it does not appear that the providence or goodness of God ought to be impugned or objected to, because there is one lot to the bad and good with respect to the external things of this world, or because of the existence of that evil which the wickedness and depravity of man did originally, and does at present, occasion; or from the appearance of things being left to the government of chance; or because tyrants are occasionally seated on thrones: and hoping to have proved, that the idea of its being derogatory to the majesty of God to superintend the concerns of mankind, contradicts the philosophy, religion, and common sense of mankind : I now proceed to discuss, in the second proposition, the further objects of this Treatise.
On the perfect coincidence and agreement
observable between the words, promises, and actions of God towards man, as recorded in the Old, and between the words, doctrines, and actions of our blessed Saviour, as recorded in the New Testament; on the peculiarity of his doctrines; and on the reasonableness of believing in his divine mission,
IN a noble and celebrated remark of Epictetus *, he observes, that the foundation of all piety consists in having right apprehensions of the nature of God; in being sensible that he is, and that he governs the world well and justly. St. Paul not only inculcates the same principle, when he observes, that those who would come to God must believe that he is; but greatly improves on Epictetus's idea, by adding, that he must like wise believe that God is a rewarder of such
* Chap. 38. Της περι τους θεους ευσεβειας, ισ9ι ότι το κυριωτατον εκεινο εσιν, ορθας υποληψεις περί αυτων εχειν, ως οντων, και διοικούντων τα όλα καλος και δικαιως. .