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none at all why his feelings or his reason should be shocked on this occasion ; for this world is a planet, however inconsiderable, of God's creating, as well as other greater and superior planets. He is the heavenly Father of all his creatures, and of course of the inhabitants of this planet, who are intellectual beings, created in his own image. His infinite goodness is, as before observed, an everoperating principle, conjoined to his wisdom and power, and inseparable from them; and therefore, I apprehend, without either rashness or presumption, it may be imagined impossible for him to suffer millions and millions of intellectual beings (though they have offended : him)utterly to perish, without making such effort to save them as is consistent with his justice and wisdom. And our blessed Saviour accordingly represents the conduct of God towards the human race to be like that of a shepherd, who may have one hundred sheep, and if he loses one, leaves the ninety and nine in search of that
“ It is not the will of my Father that
of these little ones should perish;" and therefore, though there should be ever so many solar systems besides our own, yet this being one inhabited by intelligent beings,
created in the image of God, capable of worshipping and adoring him, and of enjoying immortal happiness; it is as congenial to right reason as to Scripture to believe that God would, in that effective way he pleases, interpose, and prevent the utter destruction of so many millions of such beings; and who, without such interposition, must perish for ever.
Even where this attribute of goodness is true and genuine in the character of a man, though it will or ought to be subject to the control of reason, and be influenced by attendant circumstances, yet it will be general, universal, and consistent; it will exert itself on very small as on very great occasions; and the same principle or motive that actuates its exertion to make the widow's heart leap for joy, will influence it even to relieve any the most insignificant brute, or even reptile, from evident and visible distress : and if so, if the distress of a brute can stimulate finite goodness into action, the distress, the lost state of millions and millions of intellectual beings, created in the image of God, with a capacity of worshipping him, and of enjoying immortality, may very rationally be supposed capable of stimulating infinite good
ness into action. It is too much, too daring, too arrogant, for human reason to presume to dictate to God the manner, or to censure or criticise the plan of action, he, in his infinite wisdom, has thought proper to adopt for this purpose. If any mere human creature could have accomplished this great work of man's redemption, it might be contrary to reason to suppose that God would have sent his Son into the world for this purpose: but as we cannot rationally suppose either the virtue or ability of man equal to the task, reason has nothing further to object; for, however a vain arrogance and impiety may presume to question, arraign, or cavil at the means or plan God, in his infinite wisdom, haş thought proper to adopt for this gracious purpose, it is by no means the part of reason to do so; instead of this she recommends, that the wreath of gratitude, of humble love and affection to God, should be entwined by every man around his heart, mind, and soul, as a mark or token of his thankfulness for this great and stupendous instance of God's goodness to him. Many of those men who are so presumptuous and absurd as to arraign the conduct of God and his goodness in this awful matter, in
stead of being able to determine what infinite goodness is capable of, are often unable to judge of the extent even of finite good
Some fathers, for example, take little or no pains to provide for their offspring, and behave with constant unkindness to them ; whilst others, of a better nature, think no difficulty too great to undergo for the promotion of their welfare, and even willingly risk their lives for this purpose; and yet all the reward they desire, wish, or seek from their children is to see them happy. Again, some men, from the natural magnanimity and goodness of their nature, will do the most noble and generous actions, and think nothing of them ; whilst others make a merit of the least, and, from their selfish nature, question, arraign, and cavil at every disinterested action, founded in nerosity and goodness, which they call, and really consider, as instances of egregious folly and extravagance.
But true reason does not think it incredible that infinite goodness should be capable of the exertion of that virtue and compassion which finite goodness has often exhibited: for, though the observation made by the late Mr. Adam Smith may be very
true, that the selfish nature of man is such, that he would suffer more real grief from the reflection that the first joint of his little finger was to be cut off, than he would from hearing that an earthquake had swallowed up the whole empire of China, and all its inhabitants; the compassion of man's nature is, at the same time, such, that if the prevention of this earthquake, by which so many people would suffer, depended on the sacrifice of a man's life, there are many men, I am persuaded, who would shew they possessed virtue and goodness enough to make a voluntary sacrifice of theirs, to prevent so very dreadful a catastrophe, if in their heart they believed their conduct in so doing was right and proper, and agreeable to the will of God. Indeed, history furnishes us with a case exactly in point, and that such a sacrifice was intended to be made with such a view in that very empire. This extract is made by Mr. Maurice, in his Indian Antiquities, from Martinius's History of China, and is as follows :
“ An universal barrenness, arising from “ continued drought, having for seven years “ together desolated the kingdom, and thin“ ned the inhabitants of China; Ching Tang,