Obrazy na stronie
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nite wisdom and goodness of God: whereas, if man had been originally so wickedly created and disposed, the noblest and most important animal in this world would have been the worst and most imperfect of all God's creatures. I or any man have as good a right to deny, that, in the scale of creation, there was any absolute necessity for the existence of so much evil and misery in this world, as Lord Bolingbroke has to maintain the contrary, by his assertion, that in the scale of creation there must ever have been such a being as man, endued ab origine with exactly the same portion of vice and virtue which he now possesses. It is impossible, I think, to dishonour God more than this nobleman does by the assertion in question, Do those who maintain this opinion imagine the arm of God so short, or his wisdom so narrow, or his goodness so defective, that he could not have created a race of beings, like the human species, free agents, and with the degree of intellect they now possess; who, instead of abusing their free agency, and unnecessarily disobeying God, would have employed their powers in acts of virtue, piety, and benevolence, and the mutual interchange of good offices, and have di

rected their works of ingenuity more to the glory of God and the accomplishment of their own happiness, than as that intellect and free agency are now too frequently exhibited in wars, cruelties, murders, oppressions, and various other vices, which ble mish and degrade the human character? It is impious to suppose the contrary, as such a supposition ascribes to the conduct of God what ought only to be ascribed to the wickedness of man: for God having been pleased to create man free, and to constitute free agency so essential to his character, that he is no'man without it; as such he permits him to act, though his actions may be, and certainly often are, extremely criminal, and highly offensive to him. Now the soul of man having by original transgression deviated from true virtue and piety, and thereby become so depraved, that, instead of hating, he too often loves and encourages sin ; yet, if we are sure of any thing, we are sure that God ever did, ever does, and ever will abhor sin ; and therefore, unless we suppose God to be the author and establisher of what he hates and detests, there is a glaring and obvious absurdity, even in the supposition of God's creating a being necessarily

sinful; and though man by the abuse of his free agency fatally introduced sin into the world, contrary to the wish or will of God, it is not only absurd, it is much more, it is blasphemous in the highest degree, to maintain that it was necessary it should have existed ab origine, and that it was the intention of God that man should always from the beginning have been as viciously disposed as he now is. The present sinful state of man, therefore, was not caused by the will of God, but by the disobedience of man. Upon a supposition, that this world was intended so far to have been such a world as it now is, that is, a world of authority on one hand, and of subjection on the other, and that the social duties were to have existed and to have been displayed by a reception and communication of mutual kind and good offices, and that the employ of mankind was to have consisted in worshipping God, and promoting the happiness of man; in the avocations of commerce, agriculture, domestic life, and in the practice and culture of the fine arts, &c. there does not appear any reason why, without the existence of vice, all these might not as well (indeed a great deal better) be accomplished, than with it; for every person

will admit, that the more virtuous and industrious, and the fewer vicious and idle characters there are in any nation, the happier and more flourishing that nation necessarily is. Let us therefore beware how we charge on God that evil, which the Scriptures assure us originally proceeded from the disobedience of man, and the malevolence of an evil being

It is a great instance of the goodness of God, that, when he created man, he was pleased to implant, to lodge in his soul, certain inbred and fundamental truths ; such as that there is a Being who gave us our existence; that he is a Being of unlimited power, and wisdom, and perfection; a natural admiration and approbation of virtue and abhorrence of vice; an expectation and desire of future existence; and many others, which do not depend on sources so vague and uncertain as external objects, or the particular fancies, representations, or conjectures of philosophers. These truths we cannot be said to acquire, for we find them in the soul, and they are to the human species what instinct is to brutes : they may be so far considered as the principles of reason, that they command it, and are not to

be overthrown by any misrepresentations she may make. They challenge the assent of mankind, and are acknowledged by it; they operate so strongly, and act with so much force, that whatever opinions contradict them are never generally received by the bulk of mankind, or considered as truth, however such opinions may amuse or puzzle the ingenuity of philosophers. Thus Bishop Berkeley's assertion, that there is no such thing as matter, is an ingenious hypothesis; and though no man has been able to disprove his arguments, yet the world believes, and ever will believe, that there is such a thing as matter, and that there are such qualities in that matter as hardnéss and soft

In the same manner, the lower classes of the people have, in all ages and countries, believed in a future state, though we know that many of the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers did not; professing themselves wise, in this respect they became fools. And in modern times, we find the same vanity has influenced many men to write against the veracity of revealed religion, and the immortality of the 'soul, and who have endeavoured to confound the natural distinction that exists between vice and virtue:

ness.

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