Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

On Mr. Luckcock's Remarks on Providence.

515 respecting their own, forgetting that every event within the range of time it is impossible to establish any ana- and space. Your correspondent asks, logy between that which is frail and “wbat adequate idea can possibly be finite, and that which is perfect and formed of such minute and incessant infinite. In pursuing subjects of this attention being necessary to uphold kind, it is necessary, as a first step, the harmony and good order of the to divest the mind of every idea of whole? The human mind is bewil. that limitation and uncertainty which dered on the very threshold of the must attend all human operations. conjecture." And well it may be. Infinity adinits of no limitations and But here he falls into the error which of no degrees,"? 11)

I have pointed out, conceiving of the I would here remark that the illus- Divine nature by the limited standtration of the two watches, which your ard of his own. Is it not presumpcorrespondent' employs, is not fairly tuous to pronounce that such are not applicable to the subject. We con. the design and operations of Omnissider the one a more perfect piece - cience? Surely it is most honourable of mechanism than the other, because to the Deity to extend and not to the attention of the artist is not di. - narrow the sphere of his energy. rected from any other pursuit to 11 Mr. l. justly observes, “What is attend to it. But this does not apply the difference in the estimation of to the operations of the Almighty. perfect wisdom, between the highest Could we conceive that infinite space, state of humpan refinement, and its with all the creatures it contains, were & most humiliating imbecility ?, They infinitely multiplied, still an linfinite can be no other than equal in his Being would be equallyi adequate to parental regard. And where then its support and guidance... tonna are we to draw the line between the

In the formation of the universe, lowest of our own species, and all the Deity must have had a certain the successive gradations of created design ; and to accomplish this, he beings? Why should not the life of must necessarily have employed those every sparrow be the object of the means and those alone, which would care and solicitude of its Maker? best produce it. It is absurd to sup. Why should not every worm of our pose that Infinite Wisdom would cre- gardens, and every gnat of the interate beings without any object, or that minable desert, enjoy the regard of Infinite Power i would form such as infinite benevolence ? did not in every respect answer their According to the foregoing views, intended end. It follows, therefore, the doctrine of a particular Provi. that every creature, and in like man- dence falls naturally to the ground. Der every event, contributes in its For as every event must have its requisite share to the purposes of the proper end in the purposes of the Supreme Mind

Deity, none can possibly occur, withTo a Being of unlimited knowledge out being requisite as a link in the and power, all events, whether past great chain. Hoivever, extraordinary or future, must be equally present therefore to human comprehension equally easy to effect the grandest certain ordinations of Providence may and the most trivial to human com- appear, it is evident that they could prehension alike requiring the exernot in reality have been otherwise. tion only of the Almighty will 1 Such events, nevertheless, though cerEvery portion of his creation, ani- tain and necessary in themselves, are mate and inanimate, must be known to be perfectly contingent';, and to to him, and occupy an equal share of a well-disposed mind, this view, will his attentioni 747 ir 113 1 excitel as much gratitude for unex

So far from shrinking from * the pected mercies, as that which repreunavoidable conclusions avhich must sents them as peculiar interpositions be admitted, before we can conceive of divine favour. that the whole human race is under I know not, Sir, whether I shall such minute superintendence," I reaw have made my ideas as intelligible as dily close in avith them, requiring I could desire. If what I have writonly that the same principles should ten should contribute to produce in be extended to every creature, to any one a clearer and more uniform

[ocr errors]

sense of the Divine power and pre- measure present ; as the eye or ken sence, a stronger confidence in the of an angel may be easily conceived to rectitude and kindness of his proceed- extend much farther in its operation, ings, and more expanded conceptions and to take in a more prodigious of his nature, my object will be fully scope, so the eye of the Almighty attained.

(speaking after the manner of men) P. pervades universal nature. It is im

mediately and intimately present in

every point of space, and throughout On Mr. Luckcock's Remarks on Pro- every moment of duration. This subvidence.

lime principle is inimitably set forth by « Deorum providentia, mundus admi- the royal poet in Ps.exxxix., and in nistratur ; iidemq. consalunt rebus huma. another place he observes, “The eyes nis; neq. solum universis, verum etiam of the Lord are in every place, beholdsingulis."

Cic.

ing the evil and the good.” How then SIR, June 26, 1823.

can he be supposed as inattentive to

the works of his hands, to the laws of N adverting to the commonly re nature (so called) which he hath orgeneral and particular, (for generals his rational offspring ! are made up of particulars,) it may But it is asked, Which manifests be observed first, that it is impossible the greatest skill, a watch oceasionin this case to prove a negative. The 'ally to be wound up, or one endowed omnipresence and omniscience of the with a perpetual motion? When the Deity being universally acknowledged, latter curiosity shall have been prohis superintending providence appears duced, we may possibly answer this to be a necessary consequence; other question. In the mean time we shall wise, you must suppose universal observe, that though the material unipresence conjoined with infinite inac- verse is governed in general by fixed tivity, which notion seems a species laws, we cannot deny to its great of refined epicureanism. It is true Author the power of departing from that we know nothing of the manner or suspending those laws upon partiof the Divine Omnipresence, but we cular occasions. It is upon this prinprove the fact by the same arguments ciple that we believe in the miracles from which we prove his being of the Jewish and Christian dispensaWhen philosophers represent the Dei- tions. And with respect to what are ty as the soul of the world, as filling called the laws of nature, or the geuniversal space, or as comprehending neral economy of the Almighty in the all things within himself, it is evident government of the universe, it may that these are very imperfect illustra- perhaps be questioned without irretions of a subject, to which no human verence, whether Omnipotence itself language is adequate, because they can so impress inert matter, (which, are ideas borrowed from the qualities however modified and organized, is or properties of matter, which are matter still,) as to proceed in one not applicable to the Supreme Being, uniform course for thousands of years and whose peculiar and distinguishing without any material deviations or characteristic it is, that he is an infinite irregularities. Dr. S. Clarke ranks Spirit. Perhaps the syinbol of the this idea only among the possibilities, ancient Egyptians in their hierogly; for it is allowed by all divines, rational phics is, in this view, the best adapted and irrational, (the casuists of the to our present apprehensions. They Romish church excepted,) that the represented the figure of an eye with Divine power is not to be considered a sceptre, as in a conspicnous part of as extending to palpable absurdities the heavens, to denote the universal and contradictions, or to natural dominion and providence of the Al. impossibilities, or rather that such mighty. As the eye of a man npon things are not proper objects of an extensive plain, and much more power, and therefore not to be preupon an eminence, can clearly discern dicated of the Divine. Now, the a prodigious space, to every point of mundane system, though calculated which he may be said to be in some for a much longer duration than any

On Mr. Luckcock's Remarks on Providence.

517

a pur

framed by human art, is still a ma

his faithful camel, becomes a far more chine evidently dependent upona

desirable residence. variety of causes, and incapable as it

« Nature does rough-hew and design, should seem of going on continually

Leaves art to polish and refine." of itself, or on the supposition of the withdrawinent (30 to speak) of the Now, if from these considerations original contriver. When a man makes we ascend to the upper regions, and a machine, if a good workinan, he reflect that any material deviation of proceeds upon certain principles which the planets from their orbits, as they never fail him, and his work remains revolve through the unfathomable (barring accidents) as long as its na. depths of æther, would involve the ture and construction will admit; but wreck of the whole system, men of when we view the great machine of plain understandings will draw a rathe universe, we can only judge of it tional conclusion. from its effects, and know very little Mr. Luckcock relates a story from of the causes of those effects. Abbé. Mrs. Cappe, and also gives us one of La Pluche has clearly shewn that his own, both of which he represents when philosophers talk of attraction in a ludicrous light. But there is and repulsion, gravity and continuity, in reality nothing ludicrous in such they use words without ideas, and events; and every good man that has can justly reason only as to matters experienced eminent and seasonable of fact and experience. What is co- deliverances, (and who has not expehesion? We can give no account rienced them?) will generally ascribe why those immense masses of granite them to the superintendency, and in constituting Waterloo Bridge, which some remarkable cases, to the interappear to the eye as an infinite num- position of Providence in his behalf; ber of molecules glued together, nor in such cases, can the most arshould remain stationary and be dent expressions of gratitude to the likely so to remain for ages, rather Deity ever be justly deemed “ than be every moment in danger of pose little required;" but, on the separating and crumbling into dust, contrary, a debt of interminable oblifurther than that the Almighty will gation, and, like the principle from have it so. And the planets might which it flows, “still paying, still to surely as easily be kept in their orbits owe!” Doubtless, a man should be by the instrumentality of invisible grateful for his crosses as well as for vortices, as by the centrifugal and his comforts, when they have been centripetal forces. And why does not instrumental in promoting his moral the attraction at the centre of the and religious improvement. earth, which they say extends to the Some years ago, a merchant was moon, level all the hills and moun- about to engage in a foreign concern, tains, and render it as simply round and with this view had einbarked the as the globes on which its surface is greater part of his property; when portrayed ? Nature, it is to be feared, the ship was under sailing orders, as would prove but a clumsy manager he was going on board he fell down if all were left to her own discretion: and broke his leg, and of course rewitness those parts of the world which mained on shore: in a short time the are committed in a great measure to vessel was cast away, the cargo and human management and controul. In all the crew lost. He soon, however, the capacious but dismal and neglect- recovered his health and was gradually ed forests of the torrid zone, we restored to prosperity. What are we

read that the increase of vegetation, to make of this?. Mr. Luckcock no · the accumulation of ages, is so im- doubt will say, it was a singular co

mense and so impenetrable as to defy incidence of circumstances. all human art to render them habita- Then, as to the general doctrine ble: hence they are the resort only of Divine influence or suggestion : of savage beasts and deadly serpents, objections seem to have arisen from the very air is rendered baleful and mistakes or misrepresentations, conpestiferous, and the sandy desart of founding it with the miraculous gifts the Arab, seated in his tent, surround- of the Spirit in the apostolic age, and ed by his tribe and accompanied by which ceased soon after. But both

[ocr errors]

reason and revelation seem to point particularly in the latter case, whether out a general assistance of the Deity the desirable event was effected in the in particular cases.“ Deo juvante; heart of this generous friend by the Divina afilatu ; Nil sine Jove; Jovis, natural influence of the principle of omnia plena,” were heathen maxims, benevolence originally impressed upon which appear almost to be discarded it by the broad seal of the Creator ; by some modern Christians. But cultivated and improved, and always these influences are suasory and not ready for action upon suitable occacompulsory, and therefore neithersions ; or, by a divine suggestion, miraculous nor supernatural, for the pressing more strongly than usual mind of man may be regarded as a upon this particular spring, and by a curious machine, consisting of various morally irresistible impulse, fixing the springs and

movements, which in a resolution of the benefactor? Howcertain degre act of themselves, ever, in either view, as before hinted, though under the will and judgment the beneficiary can scarcely avoid reof the individual; for we cannot ferring all to Providence, fas to a senwhile awake avoid thinking of some-sible interference in his behalf, and as thing, but then we may generally a favourable answer to liis prayers. direct our thoughts according to our Prayer itself is founded in the belief choice, and the mind is excited to a Providence ; for to what end do action by moral motives, and not by we pray to an unseen power, but that physical efficients. God is the great we believe he is able and willing to master of this machine; he originally help us? And not to enter into the furnished it withi all its powers, and historical parts of the Bible, which capacities, and can easily diminish would carry us too far, we may safely their exercise Or st and in- assert, that

both its history and its

, (so to speak) press upon particular only

of an ever-present, but also, springs to promote his own wise pur- though language is inadequate to the poses, in perfect consistence, never-exalted idea, of an ever-active Intellithe human mind, and with the ac- and not a God afar oft. And we are

at , countability and proper character of a encouraged to the most strenuous ex

SAN5100) I D9 rational being.

ertions in the path of duty by this A person sets out

for the

but animating motive, that it is * God with no particular view, and at length that worketh in us, both to will and feels a slight inclination to go into a to do.” Thus, divine and human certain district when there, he saves agency are represented as perfectly a child from being run over ; or, per- consistent, and by these incitements, haps, sees a fire breaking out, is the without any miracle, or unconditional first to give the alarm, and happily favouritism. Many things may be succeeds in preventing farther mis- prevented, that otherwise would be, chief. A pious man, under circum- and many brought about that otherstances of unavoidable distress, applies wise would not." to a friend, though with great doubts Your correspondent quotes Soloand hesitation, to lend him a certain

mon,

All things come alike to all," sum of money. He supplicates the and thinks to put us off with the Deity, that if it be consistent with the literal sense. Writers of the New plans of his providence, (for a Chris- Light” should be the last persons in tian is not to pray for any temporal the world in capping texts, and supblessing absolutely, except for his posing a literal sense, when such a daily bread,) his suit may succeed. sense is absurd, and contrary to fact; At length he receives an answer fully especially when they are continually equal to his wishes. Who shall decide attacking the Calvinists upon this here, whether in the former case, the score. We all know that this is an determination was formed by a mere elliptical mode of speech very common act of the will, without any particular

91 1090 motive, or by a secret suggestion, reelece sabido acting, not by chains and ropes, but a Woollaston, Addison, Clarke, Basby an unperceived inducement and ter, Watts, Foster, &c. &c. 150 100

1901 anotadora

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Mr. Luckcock's Defence of his Remarks on Providence. 519 with the sacred writers, and that we do not missa

Birmingham, must supply the sense thus : “ All

September 2, 1823. things” frequently “come alike to I HAVE given all the attention in all. “There is sometimes one my power to the statement in the event to the righteous and to the Repository by Mr. Turner, (pp. 399— wicked.” So again, “The race is not” 405,) in reply to my observations on always to the swift, nor the battle a Particular Providence, as connected to the strong;” but, in general, the with the Memoirs of Mrs. Cappe,

contrary is the fact. Thus the mo- (pp. 163-167), without being able
dern Necessarians quote a passage in to perceive that I have
Isaiah, by a strange coincidence, in misconceived” the doctrine, as it
the same sense with the Calvinists: is maintained by the excellent person

Is there any evil in the city, and the who is the subject of these remarks;” Lord hath not done it? I form peace, and, of course, I cannot admit that and create evil;" but this the context my reasoning is founded on a false shews to relate to natural evil; and and gratuitous assumption.". I do not no doubt the sentiment is just in that mean to assert that the opinions enview ; because nothing can happen to tertained by Mrs. C. may not have states or individuals, which is beyond been similar to those of Mr. T., but the Divine controul, and which he I request my readers will bestow a cannot overrule or restrain. Or if they glance upon my quotation from the will contend that it relates to moral Memoirs, and forin their own opinion evil also, St. James shall answer them: as to which of the two disputants as“Let no man say when he is tempted, sumes the most. I take the passage I am tempted of God, for God cannot as I find it, without any reference to be tempted with evil, neither tempteth what I suppose may have been her he any man.

more extended opinions : and it cerTo conclude: let the advocates of tainly appears to my apprehension, free inquiry defend the doctrine of that if there be any meaning in lanthe simple Unity of the Deity, and of guage, any ideas that words can exthe true and proper humanity of our press with something like the perspiSaviour, and also enforce all the mo- cuity of correct and definite precision, ral and scriptural arguments, (guard- she has accomplished what she intending them against abuse,) for the final ed in communicating her sentiments. stand upon a rock, from which the culty in finding words and expressions darts of infidelity, and (as we conceive) that shall not be liable to objections. of mistaken orthodoxy, will ultimately No language can supply an exact picrecoil. But the offices of Christ, in ture of the mind and feelings; and the great work of redemption, are we must make a suitable allowance “not of private interpretation,” every for imperfections, to which no person man should endeavour to form the could be insensible who ever took up best ideas upon these points that he his pen to reason on any abstract sub impose his own sense upon his neigh- which is so entirely ideal, and out

of bour. And this rule is applicable to the reach of demonstration. Mrs. C., those serious Christians who think for instance, uses the words happened they can discover the pre-existence of and accidentally, not because she conour Lord in the sacred volume. But, sidered them as philosophically corabove all things, let the persons we rect, but because there will inevitably are speaking of be cautious, though subsist a discrepancy between the nice with the best intentions, of attempting distinctions the mind perceives, and to undermine principles which have those of which oral or written speech stood the test of ages, and which is incapable.wWhen we have made have appeared to the

wisest and best the nearest approaches we can, so as of men perfectly consistent with the to render ourselves intelligible to each severest reason and judgment, with the other, we should be satisfied, and not nature of things, and the analogy look for perfection where we shall of the faith,” till they shall have some- never attain it. I, therefore, shall lay thing better to give us in their room. no stress upon these or similar ex

1. L. pressions in her statement, nor at

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »