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is still disposed to regard them with kindness; and that to such a degree, as to proffer to them the forgiveness of their sins, and a restoration of their minds to the character and privileges, from which they have fallen. To this end, as we are further taught, he has sent his only. begotten Son into the world, to die in our stead; and has promised that whosoever believeth on him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. In consequence of his mediation, God has also sent into the world his Holy Spirit, to sanctify our souls, to purify our lives, to aid all our virtuous endeavours, and to conduct us in safety to the kingdom of the blessed. This was the most wonderful event, and the most illustrious display of divine love and grace that was manifested to our world. What displays of divine goodness may have been made to the other worlds, or other orders of beings, we are not in a situation to determine. For anything we know to the contrary, there may be worlds and beings who have departed from their original integrity, and towards whom a similar manifestation of divine mercy may have been made. But, whatever may be the case in this respect, we may boldly affirm that the mission and death of Jesus Christ were the most wonderful events, and the most astonishing displays of divine goodness that was ever made to our world. As an inspired apostle has declared, there is "a height and depth, a breadth, and a length in the love of God which is in Christ Jesus that passeth all understanding.” When we consider the depths of misery from which it raises us, the heights of happiness to which it exalts us, the boundless nature of its operations, the low rank which man holds in the scale of being, and the everlasting duration of all the blessings of redeeming love—we have reason to exclaim with the enraptured poet,
“O goodness infinite! goodness immense!
Let us now notice a few of the OBJECTIONS which are sometimes made against the goodness of Providence.
It is sometimes said, for instance, that there is very much suffering in the world, and this is a proof against the goodness of Providence. In considering this objection, says a writer to whom we have before referred, we are bound to separate carefully the sufferings which are caused by God, from those which are produced by men. Were this separation carefully made, we should be astonished to see how small would be the number of evils, of which God is the
Were we to consider attentively the multitude of sufferings brought upon mankind by the evil dispositions of themselves, and their fellow men, either directly or indirectly, the mass would rise so much higher than our expectation, as to disappoint every preconception we had formed on the subject. Even in those cases, in which we acknowledge the infliction to be derived from our Maker, we should be astonished to see how great a proportion of our sufferings is produced by ourselves, or by our fellow men. We suffer greatly from poverty. How large a part of human poverty is created by sloth, extravagance, intemperance, fraud, falsehood, oppression, and war. We suffer greatly from disease. What a vast proportion of the diseases in this world owe their origin to indolence, imprudence, intemperance, passion, and other causes merely human. The same observations are applicable to
many other things of the same general nature. In truth, men in almost all cases either originate, or increase the evils suffered in the present life.
And it should be borne in mind, that the evils inflicted by God are always less than mankind deserve by their sins.
Certainly then, God who inflicts less than justice will warrant, or than the criminal deserves, is benevolent. No sober man will for a moment pretend, that the evils which he suffers, are greater than he deserves. Every such man will acknowledge readily, that he suffers less than he merits.
It will perhaps be here replied, that these sufferings fall as heavily upon good men as upon the worst : and that they experience greater evils than they have deserved.
If this should indeed be thought, or said, it can only spring from gross inattention to the subject, an inattention it must be acknowledged most unhappily common among men. The doubt, if it exist, may easily be removed. Go to as many good men as you please, and every one of them will inform you that his sufferings are much less than he is conscious of having deserved. In truth, good men never call this fact in question; but find themselves employed in lamenting, on the one hand, their guilt, and in thankfully admiring, on the other, the forbearance of God.
Sturm, in his “Reflections upon the works of God,” notices a few of the complaints, which men commonly make against the arrangements of Providence, and with these we shall conclude this chapter. He says,
“Why is the human body, from its constitution subject to so many accidents and infirmities?” Let him who asks this question say, if it be possible to figure to himself a body which can unite more advantages than that which he has received from his Creator? It was incompatible with the nature of things below, that man should be provided with a body that was invulnerable. Though some are deformed, others lame, and deaf, and dumb, we have no reason to murmur at the dispensations of Providence. These defects are not so frequent as to give us occasion to repine.
“Why are some countries of the earth so different one from another; sometimes cold, sometimes wet, sometimes low, at others elevated ?” If thou, O man ! hadst the power of forming a world where every thing should contribute to the welfare of men and animals, would thy understanding furnish thee with the place of one better than that of our globe ? The countries of the earth produce, by means of their diversity, different winds, from which result that medium of air, which experience teaches us is best adapted to the health and comfort of animal life, and the promotion of vegetation.
And notwithstanding there is so much evil of one kind or another in the world, it will be found by examination that the prevalence of good is greater than that of evil. To render this truth more evident, let us calculate how many days we have passed in the enjoyment of