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Lastly, if God be benevolent at all, he must be infinitely so; at least we can see no reason why he should wish to make his creation happy at all, and not wish to make it as happy as posible. If this be the case, the reason why all his creatures are not, at all times, as happy as their natures can bear, must be because variety and a gradual advance are, in the nature of things, necessary to their complete and final happiness.
Besides, as there is reason to believe that the other perfections of God, his wisdom, power, &c. are infinite, it seems to follow, by analogy, that his goodness must be so too, though we may not be able to prove it demonstrably and consequentially.
It must be owned to be impossible completely to answer every objection that may be made to the supposition of the infinite benevolence of God; for, supposing all his creatures to be constantly happy, still, as there are degrees of happiness, it may be asked, why, if their maker be infinitely benevolent, do not his creatures enjoy a higher
degree of it. But this question may always be asked, so long as the happiness of any creature is only finite, that is less than infinite, or less than the happiness of God himtelf, which, in its own nature it must necetirily be. It must be consistent, therefore, even with the infinite benevolence of God, that his creatures, which are neceflarily finite, be finitely, that is imperfectly harry: n when all the circumstances relating to any being are con idered at once, as they are by the divine min., positive evils have only the same effect as a diminution of petitive good, being balanced, as it were, against a degree of good to which it was equivalent; so that the overplus of happiness which falls to the share of any being, after allowance has been made for the evils which he suffers, is to be considered as his share of unmixed happiness.
It is only owing to our imperfection, or the want of comprehension of mind (in which, however, we advance every day) that we are not able to make all our pleasures and pains perfectly to coalesce, so as that we shall be affected by the difference only. And whenever we shall be arrived at this state ; whenever, by long experience, we shall be able to connect in our minds the ideas of all the things which are causes and effects to one another, all partial evils will absolutely vanish in the contemplation of the greater good with which they are connected. This will be perfectly the case with respect to all intelle&tual pleasures and pains, and even painful sensations, will be much moderated, and more tolerable under the lively persuafion of their contributing to our happiness on the whole. However, in the light in which the divine being, who has this perfect comprehension, views his works (and this must be the true light in which they ought to be considered) there is this perfect coincidence of all things that are connected with, and subservient to one another; so that, since all evils are necessarily connected with some good, and generally are directly productive of it, all the works of God, appear to him at all times very good, happiness greatly abounding upon the whole. And since the works of God are infinite, he VOL. I.
E contemplates contemplates an infinity of happiness, of his own production, and, in his eye, happiness unmixed with evil.
This conclusion, however, is hardly consistent with the supposition that any of the creatures of God are necessarily miserable in the whole of their existence. In the ideas of such creatures, even when they have arrived at the most perfect comprehension of mind, their being must seem a curse to them, and the author of it will be considered as malevolent with respect to them, though not fo to others.
It seems, likewise, to be a reflection upon the wisdom of God, that he should not be able to produce the happiness of some, without the final misery of others; and so incapable are we of conceiving how the latter of these can be necessary to the former ; that, if we retain the idea of the divine benevolence, together with that of his power and wisdom in any high degree, we cannot but reject the supposition. That any of the creatures of God should be finally, and upon
the We may,
the whole, miserable, cannot be a pleasing circumstance to their benevolent author. Nay, it must, in its own nature, be the last means that he would have recourse to, to gain his end ; because, as far as it prevails, it is directly opposed to his end. therefore, rest satisfied, that there is no such blot in the creation as this; but that all the creatures of God are intended by him to be happy upon the whole.
He stands in an equal relation to them all, a relation in which they must all have reason to rejoice. He is their common father, protector, and friend.