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monious whole, without feeling perfectly satisfied that, so sure as their exists an intelligent and Almighty Being, from whom they derive their origin, that Being is distinguished by the possession of a degree of wisdom and goodness which we may well pronounce infinite. No being who was not wise, infinitely wise, could have framed such a system of things as that of which we form a part, abounding, as it does, with the most striking and beautiful examples of the adaptation of means to ends, and consisting, as it does, of an infinite variety of objects, admirably arranged and harmoniously connected. No being, who was not good, could have employed so much wisdom, so as to produce so much enjoyment; could have made the world, such as we find it to be; man, such as he is ; birds, beasts, fishes, insects, such as they are ; could have been the author, in short, of a creation, the first impression derived from a general survey of which is, that it teems with happiness. The argument for the wisdom and goodness of the Deity, derived from an observation of the ordinary course of Divine Providence, is no less conclusive. These attributes are discoverable in the continual preservation of the existing order of nature, no less than in its original constitution. The Almighty continues to bestow upon us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. He continues to us the blessings of social and domestic life, as well as our capacity for those intellectual enjoyments by which we are principally distinguished from the inferior part of the animal creation. Notwithstanding the various causes of misery, which have been formerly referred to, as affecting nations and individuals, and the frequency with which they are brought into operation, we cannot, without gross injustice and ingratitude, deny that man, even in his present state, enjoys a vast preponderance of happiness. The number of human beings exposed to severe suffering from some of the causes formerly noticed, though lamentably great in itself, is yet, when compared with the whole number of mankind, extremely limited. The portion of misery, too, which is endured by most men, is extremely trivial, when contrasted with the happiness which life has been made the means of conferring upon them. From a general survey, then, of nature and providence. we are irresistibly led to the conclusion that the Being whom we regard as the author of both is possessed of the attributes of wisdom and goodness in an indefinite degree.
Divine Providence in general, but both history and experience, by supplying us with examples of cases in which good, both to nations and individuals, has been brought out of seeming evil, tend to encourage the belief that, under the superintendence of the Deity, the most afflictive occurrences may contribute to our advantage, and that all events, however mysterious, may be ultimately for the best.
Thirdly, we cannot fail to perceive an additional motive for reposing an implicit confidence in the Deity, and hoping for a prosperous issue to all his dispensations, in the consideration of our own ignorance and shortsightedness. Nothing can be more evidently unreasonable than an expectation, on the part of beings whose existence is so brief as ours, to be abļe to enter fully into the reasons, or perceive the tendencies of events, every one of which, we have reason to believe, forms a part of one great scheme of Providence, comprehending time, and extending into eternity. Is it, then, a sufficient reason for us to doubt the wisdom and goodness of a dispensation, that we are at present unable to perceive what benevolent end it is intended to accomplish, much less to estimate its fitness to accomplish that end ? Surely not. A million of years, my Christian friends, seems but a small fragment of eternity, yet who can say to what an extent the dispensations of Divine Providence may have been cleared up, to our apprehension, before the lapse of that period
Lastly, we are not only sure that those of the Divine dispensations which now seem most mysterious and afflictive, may ultimately be found to have contributed their share to the production of the most glorious and happy results; but our heavenly Father has most graciously encouraged us to hope that we shall ourselves be permitted to witness their blessed consequences, and enabled fully to understand the manner in which they have contributed to produce them. In holding out to us the blissful prospect of a future state of intellectual and moral improvement, and consequently of happiness, he may be considered as having said to us, as the Lord Jesus said to his apostle, “what I do, though in many cases ye know not now, yet ye shall know hereafter.” Yes, my friends, in that world of bliss and glory, should the mercy and grace of God ever grant us an entrance into it, it may not be the least of our gratifications to look back upon the various events of this earthly pilgrimage, which we may be expected to regard with peculiar interest, as having formed the opening scene of our existence; to call to mind the cares and sorrows, the dangerous temptations, severe trials, and painful exertions by which our intellectual and moral education was conducted, and our preparation for a nobler and happier state of existence gradually completed ; and from such interesting reflections on the manner, now sufficiently evident, in which the apparent calamities of life were so superintended by Infinite Wisdom as ultimately to prove substantial and inestimable blessings, to collect new fuel for that ever-burning flame of piety which will then glow within our bosoms.
The preceding remarks may supply us with a satisfactory answer to the inquiry, formerly referred to, respecting the feelings which, even under the most severe and unaccountable of his visitations, it is reasonable and becoming in us to cherish towards the Deity. We are sure that the Almighty is wise and good, that he possesses these blessed attributes in an indefinite, not to say an infinite degree. We are not sure that even the most painful and mysterious of his providential dispensations is in any degree at variance with these attributes ; nay, we have the strongest encouragement, from our own experience, from history and from revelation, to