Imágenes de páginas

frame of nature; as in the fun, moon, and stars; in the earth which we inhabit, and in the vegetables and animals which it contains, together with the powers of reason and understanding possessed by man, we cannot suppose any effect to which the divine power is not equal ; and therefore we are authorised to say that it is infinite, or capable of producing any thing, that is not in its own nature impossible; so that whatever purposes the divine being forms, he is always able to execute.

The defigns of such a being as this, who cannot be controlled in the execution of any of his purposes, would be very obvious to to us if we could comprehend his works, or see the issue of them; but this we cannot do with respect to the works of God, which are both incomprehensible by our finite understandings, and also are not yet compleated; for as far as they are subject to our inspection, they are evidently in a progress to something more perfect. Yet from the subordinate parts of this great machine of the universe, which we can in some measure Vol. I.


understand, and which are compleated ; and allo from the manifest tendency of things, we may safely conclude, that the great design of the divine being, in all the works of his hands, was to produce happiness.

That the world is in a state of improvement is very evident in the human species, which is the most distinguished part of it. Knowledge, and a variety of improvements depending upon knowledge (all of which are directly or indirectly fubfervient to happiness) have been increasing from the time of our earliest acquaintance with history to the prefent; and in the last century this progress has been amazingly rapid. By means of increasing commerce, the valuable productions of the earth become more equally distributed, and by improvements in agriculture they are continually multiplied, to the great advantage of the whole family of mankind.

[ocr errors]

It is partly in consequence of this improvement of the human species, as we may call it, that the earth itself is in a state of

improvement, improvement, the cultivated parts continually gaining ground on the uncultivated ones ; by which means, besides many other advantages, even the inclemencies of the weather are, in fome measure, lessened, and the world becomes a more healthy and pleasurable abode for its most important inhabitants. If things proceed as they have done in these respects, the earth will become à paradise, compared to what it was formerly, or with what it is at present.

It is a considerable evidence of the goodness of God, that the inanimate parts of nature, as the surface of the earth, the air, water, falts, minerals, &c. are adapted to answer the purposes of vegetable and animal life, which abounds every where ; and the former of these is evidently subservient to the latter ; all the vegetables that we are acquainted with either directly contributing to the support of animal life, or being, in some other way, useful to it; and all animals are furnished with a variety of appetites and powers, which continually prompt. C2


them to seek, and enable them to enjoy some kind of happiness.

It seems to be an evident argument that the author of all things intended the animal creation to be happy, that, when their powers are in their full strength, and exercise, they are always happy; health and enijoyment having a natural and necessary connection through the whole system of nature; whereas it can hardly be imagined, but that a malevolent being, or one who should have made creatures with a design to make them miserable, would have constituted them so, that when any creature was the most perfect, it would have been the most unhappy.

It agrees with the supposition of the benevolence of the divine being, that there is the most ample provision' made for the happiness of those creatures which are naturally capable of the most enjoyment, particularly the human species. We have a far greater variety and extent of powers, both of action


and enjoyment, than any other inhabitants of the earth; and the world abounds with more sources of happiness to us than to any other order of beings upon it. So perfectly adapted are the inanimate, the vegetable, and the animal world to the occasions and purposes of man, that we may almost fay, that every thing was made for our use; and though there are both plants and animals, which, in some applications, are noxious to us, yet, in time, we come to find out their uses, and learn to avail ourselves of their extraordinary powers.

There are many things in the system of nature, as tempests, lightning, diseases, and death, which greatly terrify and annoy us, and which are often the occasion of much pain and distress ; but these evils are only partial; and when the whole system, of which they are a part, and a necessary consequence, is considered, it will be found to be, as far as we can judge, the best, and the most friendly to us upon the whole; and that no other general lares, which should obviate and exclude these evils, would have C3


« AnteriorContinuar »