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there may be many parts, of the greatest importance, which an unskilful observer would not perceive the use of, or would perhaps declare to be useless. Now in the course of Providence, a vast number of events and objects may be employed to accomplish one great end; and it is impoffible for us to pronounce reasonably of any one event or object, that it is useless or improper, unless we know its tendency, and connection with other things both past and future ; which in cases innumerable we cannot do. For of the past we know but little, the present we know imperfectly, and of the future we have no . certain knowledge beyond what is reveal-'. ed. The system of Providence relating to us and to our final destination, extends through thousands of years, as we have good reason to believe ; but our life is short, and our views are bounded by our experience, which is very limited. That therefore may be a most wise and beneficent dispensation, which to a captious mind and fallible judgement may appear the contrary.
422. Moreover, the Deity intended, that the nature of all created things should be progressive. Many years pass away before a man arrives at maturity; and many days, before a plant can yield good fruit. Every thing is imperfect, while advancing to perfection; and we cannot say of any thing, whether it be well or ill-contrived for answering its end, till we know what its state of maturity will be, and what the effects are whereof it may be productive. Physical evils may, as will be shown by and by, be improved into blessings ; and it will also be shown, that Moral evil is a consequence of that law of nature which makes us capable of virtue and happiness. Even in this world, Providence often brings good out of evil ; and every man of observation must have perceived, that certain events of his life, which when they happened seemed to be great misfortunes, have been found to be great blessings in the end.
423. If, then, that which seems evil may really be good, for any thing we know to the contrary; and if that which
is really evil often does, and always may, produce good: how can man be so presumptuous as to suppose, because he cannot distinctly see the nature and use of some things around him, that therefore the Creator of the world is not supremely good and wise! No man can draw this conclusion, unless he believe himself infallible in his knowledge of all things past," present, and future; and he who believes so, if there be any fuch, is a fool.
CH A P.
OF THE Divine ATTRIBUTES.
424. UR knowledge of the Divine Na
U ture, tho' fufficient to raise within us the highest adoration and love, must needs be very imperfect; for we cannot form a distinct idea of any moral or intellectual quality, unless we find some trace of it in ourselves. Now God must pof-, sess innumerable perfections, which neither we, nor any created being, can comprehend. When we ascribe to him every A 3D
good quality that we can conceive, and consider him as possessed of them all in fupreme perfection, and as free from every imperfection, we form the best idea of him that we can: but it must fall infinitely short of the truth. The attributes of God, which it is in our power in any degree to conceive, or to make the subject of investigation, have been divided into NATURAL, as Unity, Self-Existence, Spiria tuality, Omnipotence, Immutability, Eternity; INTELLECTUAL, as Knowledge and Wifdom; and Moral, as Justice, Goodness, Mercy, Holiness.
425. That God is, has been proved already. That there are more gods than one, we have no evidence, and therefore cannot raționally believe. Nay even from the light of nature we have evidence, that there is one only. For in the works of creation there appears that perfect unity of design, which naturally determines an attentive spectator to refer them all to one first. cause. Accordingly, the wisest men in the heathen world, though they worshipped inferior deities, (I should rather fay names which they subftituted for deities ), did
yet yet feem to acknowledge one fupreme God, the greatest and best of beings, the father of gods and men.' It is probable, that belief in one God was the original belief of mankind with respect to Deity. But, partly from their narrow views, which made them, think that one being could not, without subordinate agents, superintend all things ; partly from their flattery to living great men, and gratitude to the dead, disposing them to pay divine honours to human creatures ; partly from fanciful analogies between the Divine Providence and earthly governments; and partly from the figures of poetry by which they faw the attributes of the Deity përsonified, they foon corrupted the original belief, and fell into polytheism and idolatry. And no antient people ever retained long their belief in the one true God, exo cept the Jews, who were enlightened by revelation; and even they were frequently inclined to adopt the superstitions of their neighbours. We see then, that, in order to ascertain and fix mens notions of the . .. 3D 2: Divinc