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the labourer, when many that wallow in abundance, have diseases which embitter their plea
If some want those worldly ornaments which others have, may they not have more wisdom than those who enjoy them? As some are without wealth and power, so they are free from the incumbrances connected with them. If we do not enjoy the favours of providence in one respect, we do in another, and thus things are pretty nearly equal after all. Sir Thomas Browne in his "Religio Medici," makes the following remarks on this subject. “It is, I confess, the common fate of men of singular gifts of mind, to be destitute of those of fortune ; which doth not any way deject the spirit of wiser judgments, who thoroughly understand the justice of this proceeding; and being enriched with higher donatives, cast more careless eye on these vulgar parts of felicity. It is a most unjust ambition to desire to engross the mercies of the Almighty, not to be content with the goods of the mind, without a possession of those of body or fortune: and it is an error worse than heresy, to adore these complimental and circumstantial pieces of felicity, and undervalue those perfections and essential points of happiness, wherein we resemble our Maker. To wiser desires it is satisfactory enough to deserve, though not to enjoy the favours of fortune."
THE EXISTENCE AND ORIGIN OF MORAL Evil, are mysteries in providence.
The existence of moral evil, is a subject that has occupied the attention of many minds for many ages; and yet notwithstanding the degree of attention which has been paid to it, it is still found surrounded with clouds and darkness, and difficulties are still found to impede our progress towards a satisfactory solution of all the different points, involved in the controversies that have arisen out of it. It has sometimes been said, since God is omnipotent, he could have prevented the introduction of moral evil into the world. Very frequently is this objection made. But if we take this objection to the character or the government of God, we have first of all to ask, Have we nothing to do with any attribute of God but his omnipotence? and are we to look to omnipotence, as exercising in all and every case its own irresistible energy, without reference to any other attribute of the Divine nature ? God could do many things, so far as his power is concerned; but then the question arises, would it be right to do them? We are greatly mistaken, when we think that God ought to do every thing he is able to do. We should not ask omnipotence to come out in all the force and strength of its energies; we should ask God to come out surrounded by all his attributes, and with all those attributes acting in harmonious consent. We should not expect him to make bare his omnipotent arm, and to make everything yield to the influence of his superior power. If we do, we shall destroy the personal freedom of man, and destroy all the attributes which belong to God, except the one attribute—omnipotence.
The following remarks on the origin of moral evil by a celebrated divine, may be interesting and instructive to some of
readers. “I think,” says Dr. Dwight, “that God cannot be proved to be the efficient cause of sin. It is, I think, dictated by Reason, as well as Revelation, that no man may say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God : for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. It will not be disputed, that we ought not to admit the doctrine, that God is the efficient cause of sin, until it is proved. Until this is is done, therefore, Man is unquestionably to be acknowledged as the cause of his own sin. And again, it cannot be proved that the existence of sin will, in the end, be a detriment to the universe. Until we know what will be both the progress and the end, we certainly can never prove the proposition ; because the means of proof lie beyond our reach. All moral beings are governed by motives only. What motives will, upon the whole, produce the greatest good, united with the least evil to the intelligent kingdom; and how far the fall and punishment of some moral beings may, in the nature of the case, be indispensably necessary to the persevering obedience of the great body, cannot be determined by us. But, until this is done, and indeed many other things of great moment to the question, it can never be proved, that the existence of moral evil is injurious to the universe, or the permission of it inconsistent with the most perfect good-will on the part of God. At the same time, I acknowledge myself utterly unable, and my complete conviction, that all other men are unable, to explain this subject so, as to give to an inquirer clear and satisfactory views, by the light of Reason, of the propriety of permitting the introduction of moral evil into the world.”
THE MANNER IN WHICH SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS ARE BESTOWED ON MEN AND NATIONS, is one of the mysteries of providence.
On the one hand, many who are deemed moral in their conduct, do not enjoy those spiritual blessings in heavenly places, which it is the prerogative of God, and his only, to bestow; whilst on the other hand, many of the most vile and abandoned of mankind, have their dispositions changed and renewed by divine grace, and are brought out of the darkness of nature into the marvellous light of the gospel. Such were Zaccheus, the Woman of Samaria, and the Thief on the Cross. It may be, that God acts in this manner to humble the pride of man ; for there are none so proud, and none who despise their meaner fellow-creatures so much; as they who are self-righteous, and think highly of their moral excellence. The Pharisee scorned the Publican, but the latter went down to his house justified, rather than the former.
And who can decide how it is, that, under the same means of religious improvement, “one shall be taken, and the other left ?” that the sermon which pierces one man to the heart, shall leave another unaffected ? “ This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth."
So it is with nations. No reason can be assigned, why some lands should be visited with the light of the gospel, and others suffered to continue in “darkness and the shadow of death." We can easily account for the removal of religious privileges from nations which once enjoyed