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the capacity of enjoyment which they all
possess; but, also, in that provision which he has made for the supply of their wants, and the gratification of their desires, and in those stores of happiness which he has scattered, every where in so great profusion. How many things, for example, were made for the ease and convenience of man. forth all her stores to contribute to his happi
Every beast of the field and every bird of the air, every hill and every valley, every fountain, every herb, and every green tree administers to his pleasure. Who can estimate the happiness which results from a contemplation of the objects of nature, from the exercise of the imagination, from the improvement of the understanding, from the cultivation of good and benevolent affections, and from the practice of virtue?
But, this is not all. The Maker of the universe has, not only, displayed his love in contriving a system so well fitted to promote happiness, but, also, in continually governing it, in such a manner, as, effectually, to answer the end of its formation. What rich abundance of goodness does he display in the daily works of his providence, in the continual succession
of day and night, in the gradual revolution of seasons, which, loudly, proclaim the bounty of their Authour? Amidst the immensity of his works nothing is forgotten; every thing is distinguished by universal love. Like a kind and compassionate father, he warms and cherishes all his offspring, and, daily, supplies their returning wants. He feedeth the young ravens that cry unto him; not a sparrow falleth to the ground without his permission. But, if we wish to see his goodness, in full perfection, we must turn to man, his favourite work. and mark that providential care which maketh the outgoings of the morning to rejoice, and the shades of evening to descend in peace. This is, admirably, described by a great king in the following beautiful pastoral hymn in praise of the divine goodness : “The Lord is “my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh
me to lie down in green pastures: he lead“ eth me beside the still waters. He restoreth ‘ my soul : he leadeth me in the paths of “ righteousness for his name's sake. Yea,
though I walk through the valley of the “shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for “ thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they “comfort me. Thou preparest a table before
- anointest my
“me in the presence of mine enemies: thou
head with oil, my cup run“neth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall “ follow me all the days of my life: and I “ will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
If this was the case with David, his son Solomon saw a very different scene in his days, when, after the most diligent search for happiness, he declared, that all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and, that, man was born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards. Indeed, it is impossible to survey the world and consider the complaints of misery and pain which every where are heard, and behold the mixture of evil which is infused into the cup of every man, without asking, how these things are to be reconciled with the unbounded love and benevolence of the divine Being? The difficulty is great; and before it is removed, we cannot entertain just notions of the character of God, nor approach him with that confidence and joy, which are due from children to a father.
And, in the first place, it may be observed, that, the complaints of men are too loud and too frequent. If, indeed, we number
those real ills wbich arise from our own lusts and
passions, and those fictitious ones which are created by a disordered imagination, we may swell the catalogue of human miseries to an enormous size. But, what reason have we to complain of providence, when we ourselves, alone, are to blame? What our bountiful Creator hath done for us, we have already observed : and what are we that we should be visited with so much loving kindness? When we contemplate this scene, wherein we are placed, which is so grand, when we survey this earth, which is so beautiful, how vile a thing is man on this magnificent work of heaven? When we compare the grandeur of the structure with the meanness of the inhabitant, we cannot help exclaiming with the psalmist, " What is man that thou art mindful of him, • or the son of man that thou dost visit him.'
Besides this, we have good reason to infer, both from observation and from presumptive reasoning, that, infinite goodness requires that there be a gradual progression and ascent from the lowest to the most exalted being, that no part be wanting, no station be unoccupied from the millions in the peopled grass to the most perfect angels which surround the throne of God. For one of two things must be believed, either that the goodness of God made it necessary for him to create all beings the most perfect and the most happy possible; which is contrary to fact, and which could be shown to be inconsistent with the wisdom and perfection of God's works; or else, that, this progressive scale of being is not inconsistent with his goodness. Now it is plain, that, in this chain of existence, there must be somewhere or other such a state as that of man, a state which is imperfect, liable to change, and exposed to suffering and pain. The question, then, is whether man is placed in the state proper
for him. This brings us, at once, to see, that our reasoning and complaint on this head arise from pride. We think that we are entitled to destroy every beast of the field, and every bird of the air for our pleasure and amusement; but, if we feel the least pain and unhappiness ourselves, we immediately exclaim that God is cruel and unjust. We seem, indeed, to be the chief of God's works on this earth, but perhaps we only act a secondary part to some other system. We are the first of that order of beings with which we are acquainted ; but perhaps we are lower than the lowest of another order. We foolishly ima