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execution of vicious ones; and leave the will uncontrolled in its choice, and the principle of virtue and vice unaffected. If I direct the hand of a benevolent man to fit objects of his charity, his virtue is surely not extinguished by being assisted. If a father gives his son lessons of virtue, and lays before him motives proper to influence his choice, the one has merit in listening to instruction, as well as the other in giving it. Why then should the nature of virtue and vice be any more affected by the invisible motions of Providence, than by the more open and visible operations of man.
But I have yet another exception to this passage. “If, says he, “things are so directed, that prosperity and adversity in this world bear some proportion to men's virtues and vices, a future retribution is of necessity superseded." No, surely; not unless they bear an exact and equitable proportion. Philosophers have told us, and common sense and experience tell us, that happiness and misery in this life will in the nature of things tally with in some degree, and bear some proportion to men's virtues and vices; but will this too destroy the notion of a state of probation, and render a future state quite unnecessary? His conclusion, I fear, will reach much farther than he intended to
it. But see how the conclusion will stand with the notion of a Providence. If God visits a nation with war or pestilence for its vices and corruptions, is this such a punishment of sin as leaves no room for future retribution ? Are not the innocent and the guilty, and the guilty in different degrees, equally involved in all calamities that are general and national ? And does this supersede, or does it not rather infer the necessity of a future and more equitable judgment? All states and conditions of life have their several duties relative to them, and in the discharge of these duties the trial of men's virtues consists. Prosperity is a trial to one man, and adversity to another; and they are both in their turns sometimes a trial to the same man; and they are equally a foundation of trial, whether they are occasioned by the hand of God or the hand of man. Providence therefore neither destroys the notion of a probation in this life, nor supersedes the necessity of another.
But what after all is Mr. Chubb's notion of Providence ?
or has he any notion of it distinct from the general laws of na.. ture? If he has, and a more rational one than divines or philosophers have as yet been able to frame, why does he not explain it for the benefit of mankind ? If he has not, let him speak out; and we shall know in what company to rank him.
The idea of a Providence is not that of an indolent, unactive nature, that (like the gods of Epicurus) sits at ease, an idle spectator of his own creation ; but an active and a vigilant one, that overlooks and directs, governs and controls. This is not a Jewish or a Christian doctrine, but the general belief of all ages and nations; not a prejudice of the superstitious vulgar, but the sober judgment of the reasoning philosopher. There are, it is true, in antiquity some exceptions to this universality; but you find them only amongst a set of men that denied first priuciples; I mean the atheistic sects. A spirit of scepticism, under whatever plausible name it appears, is of all things the most dangerous to truth. How far Mr. Chubb has already been carried by it, or where it will end, I take not on me to determine. He has neither given an honest representation of the common notion of a Providence, nor thought proper to ex
and there I shall leave him till he does. God
gave him parts and knowlege beyond what might have been expected from his life and education, if they are truly reported; and I am sorry to think he has made no better use of them. If the itch of writing be so prevalent in him, and his love of truth and of mankind be real and not pretended, why does he not employ his thoughts and pen in explaining and defending our common religion, the religion of nature, of which I doubt not but he is capable ; and not waste his time and talents in abusing Scripture, which it is very evident he does not, and many parts of which he cannot understand ?
Phil. ii. 7
Col. iii. 1
Ephes. v. 1
1 Tim. iij. 16
Heb. ii. 16
· 475, note. 1 Pet. i. 15
467 &c. notes.
Rom. ii. 14. 15 347 &c.
2 Cor. viii. 13. 14 380
xxii, 17 219. 260 1 Thess. i. 10 38 &c.
xii, 1, 2 92 &c.
xlix. 8-11 219 &c.
Luke ii. 49 . 30
-vi, 13 &c. 252
xxjii. 55 270
. 286 &c.
Jobn ii. 19 . 264
-xiii, 1 . 257
-3, 4 &c. 21
Acts i. 4 &c. . 303 &c.
1 Cor. iv. 11 68
Pbil.i.1, ii. 2 &c. 25-27 &c.
Heb. i. 14
1 Pet.ji. 19.21.25. 15 &c. 57, 58
286 &c. -iji. 14. iv. 15. 16 . 18
2 Pet. ii. 16
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