« PoprzedniaDalej »
of high importance to our well-being; and that notwithstanding this character, they are apt to be forgotten in the list which we form of our blessings, and to be numbered among those which we call things of course. If we consider the number, and the importance of these and the like blessings, and the frequent recurrence of some of them, and the uninterrupted continuance of others; we cannot fail, if influenced by a just and candid spirit, to unite with the Psalmist in his earnest wish, “That men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.”
And God in his providence furnishes mankind with many alleviations, and many remedies for the evils which they suffer in the present world. Of this nature are the innumerable medicines which he has provided for the relief, or the cure of our diseases : fire, for our deliverance from the evils of cold; shade, for those of heat; rest, from those of labour; sleep, from those of watching; together with innumerable others, which cannot here be mentioned. I feel myself obliged however, to take notice of the attention, which God has given to the preservation of life, of health, and of safety, in the warnings which our senses give us of the approach of, or existence of injuries, in an innumerable variety of ways. Thus, on the one hand, pain warns us of
all injuries to which our bodies are exposed, or by which they have begun to be affected. On the other hand, the eye, by its power tracting the pupil, defends itself from the blindness which would otherwise necessarily ensue from the admission of too great a quantity of light. The hands also, and other members, are instinctively employed to defend us from evils, in many cases, when contrivance would come too late for our safety. Nor ought I here by any means to omit the self-restoring power of our bodies, so remarkable in recovering us from sickness, in the healing of wounds, and in the renewal of our decayed faculties. These and innumerable other things, of a nature glaringly similar, are certainly strong proofs of the goodness of Providence.
And we should also bear in mind, that these arrangements are not essentially requisite for our existence. We might have lived, and breathed, and walked, says Dr. Dick, though every thing we touched had produced pain ; though every thing we ate or drank had been bitter; though every movement of our hands and feet had been accompanied with uneasiness and fatigue; though every sound had been as harsh as the saw of a carpenter! though no birds had warbled in the groves; though no flowers had decked the fields, and filled the air with their perfumes; though
one unvaried dull uniformity had prevailed, and beauty and sublimity had been swept away from the face of nature ; though the earth had been covered with a mantle of black, and no bright orbs had appeared in our sky. But what a miserable world should we then have inhabited, compared with that which we now possess ! Instead of ease, and enjoyment, and delight in the exercise of our functions and faculties, the ordinary state of the lower animals and of human beings would have been a state of trouble, disease, dejection, and anguish. Every breath of air might have cut us like the point of a dagger. Every touch might have been felt like the sting of a nettle. Every taste would have been bitter as gall and wormwood, and every sound harsh and dissonant as a hideous scream. All our senses instead of being the sources of pleasure, as they now are, would have been the instruments of pain and torture.
The lower animals, instead of ministering to our delight and necessities, would have been formed so as to torment, to harass, and annoy
The cow and the goat would have afforded us no milk, nor the bee its honey, nor would the birds of the air have charmed us with their music. The fields would have wanted their delightful verdure, and the beautiful flowers with which they are now adorned. The fire might have scorched without warming us ; and water, instead of refreshing us, might have produced intolerable pain. But, every arrangement of
Providence is directly the reverse of what we have now supposed. And this fact shows us that the great Creator of the Universe is the God of love, whose mercy and benevolence are displayed towards every rank and order of sensitive and intelligent beings, and these attributes we are assured, will never cease in their operations, so long as the universe endures.
And if we consider further, that all the blessings, experienced by mankind, are bestowed on sinful beings. It will not be denied that the communications of good to an evil, ungrateful creature, is a far higher manifestation of goodness, than the communication of the same good to a virtuous and grateful one. As therefore, all the blessings found in the present world, are in every instance given to creatures of this evil character; the goodness of Providence in giving them is enhanced beyond our comprehension. An impartial and contemplative mind, when observing the conduct, and marking the character of the human race, cannot but be struck at the sight of such extensive displays of goodness, communicated unceasingly, for so many ages, to beings of such a character. The patience and forbearance of God, particularly, towards such a world as this, are an illustrious proof of his benevolence. Mankind rebel against his government; accuse him of weakness, injustice, and cruelty; murmur against his dispensations; profane and blaspheme his name ; refuse to him the only regard, which they can render him, namely, reverence, love, and obedience, and pay this regard to men and beasts, stocks and stones. In the mean time they deceive, defraud, pollute, hate, oppress, and murder each other; and make it a great part of their employment to carry violence and devastation through the world. Still God has patiently waited on them six thousand years ;
has forborne to execute the vengeance, which this evil conduct has universally merited; has returned day and night, summer and winter, seed-time and harvest to this polluted world ; and has given its inhabitants, unceasingly, rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness. Can our minds conceive of a character, at once wise and just, and at the same time fraught with higher benevolence.
But in no dispensation of the Almighty towards our world is the divine goodness so strikstrikingly displayed as in the economy of our redemption.
In the Scriptures, we are informed, that notwithstanding the rebellion of mankind, God