Imatges de pÓgina
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respecting their own, forgetting that it is impossible to establish any analogy between that which is frail and finite, and that which is perfect and infinite. In pursuing subjects of this kind, it is necessary, as a first step, to divest the mind of every idea of that limitation and uncertainty which must attend all human operations. Infinity admits of no limitations and of no degrees,"

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every event within the range of time and space. Your correspondent asks, "what adequate idea can possibly be formed of such minute and incessant attention being necessary to uphold the harmony and good order of the whole? The human mind is bewildered on the very threshold of the conjecture." And well it may be. But here he falls into the error which I have pointed out, conceiving of the Divine nature by the limited standard of his own. Is it not presumptuous to pronounce that such are not the design and operations of Omniscience? Surely it is most honourable to the Deity to extend and not to narrow the sphere of his energy.

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Mr. L. justly observes, "What is the difference in the estimation of perfect wisdom, between the highest state of human refinement, and its most humiliating imbecility? They can be no other than equal in his parental regard." And where then are we to draw the line between the lowest of our own species, and all the successive gradations of created beings? Why should not the life of every sparrow be the object of the care and solicitude of its Maker? Why should not every worm of our gardens, and every gnat of the interminable desert, enjoy the regard of infinite benevolence?

I would here remark that the illustration of the two watches, which your correspondent employs, is not fairly applicable to the subject. We consider the one a more perfect piece of mechanism than the other, because the attention of the artist is not directed from any other pursuit to attend to it. But this does not apply to the operations of the Almighty. Could we conceive that infinite space, with all the creatures it contains,/were infinitely multiplied, still an infinite Being would be equally adequate to its support and guidance. Unc

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In the formation of the universe, the Deity must have had a certain design; and to accomplish this, he must necessarily have employed those means and those alone, which would best produce it. It is absurd to suppose that Infinite Wisdom would create beings without any object, or that Infinite Power would form such as did not in every respect answer their intended end. It follows, therefore, that every creature, and in like manner every event, contributes in its requisite share to the purposes of the Supreme Mind.

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According to the foregoing views, the doctrine of a particular Providence falls naturally to the ground. For as every event must have its proper end in the purposes of the Deity, none can possibly occur, without being requisite as a link in the great chain. However, extraordinary therefore to human comprehension certain ordinations of Providence may appear, it is evident that they could

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To a Being of unlimited knowledge and power, all events, whether pasto or future, must be equally present equally easy to effect the grandest and the most trivial to human comprehension alike requiring the exer-not in reality have been otherwise. tion only of the Almighty will Every portion of his creation, ani mate and inanimate, must be known to him, and occupy an equal share of his attentioni va I WAWI

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Such events, nevertheless, though certain and necessary in themselves, are to us perfectly contingent; and to a well-disposed mind, this view will excite as much gratitude for unexpected mercies, as that which represents them as peculiar interpositions of divine favour.

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So far from shrinking from the unavoidable conclusions which must be admitted, before we can conceive that the whole human race is under such minute superintendence," rea dily close in with them, requiring only that the same principles should be extended to every creature, to

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I know not, Sir, whether I shall have made my ideas as intelligible as I could desire. If what I have written should contribute to produce in any one a clearer and more uniform

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sense of the Divine power and presence, a stronger confidence in the rectitude and kindness of his proceed

ings, and more expanded conceptially scope, so the eye of the Almighty

of nature, my object attained.

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(speaking after the manner of men) pervades universal nature. It is immediately and intimately present in every point of space, and throughout every moment of duration. This sublime principle is inimitably set forth by the royal poet in Ps. exxxix., and in another place he observes, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." How then can he be supposed as inattentive to the works of his hands, to the laws of nature (so called) which he hath orhis rational offspring how a you 19 But it is asked, Which manifests the greatest skill, a watch occasionally to be wound up, or one endowed with a perpetual motion? When the latter curiosity shall have been produced, we may possibly answer this question. In the mean time we shall observe, that though the material universe is governed in general by fixed laws, we cannot deny to its great Author the power of departing from or suspending those laws upon particular occasions. It is upon this principle that we believe in the miracles of the Jewish and Christian dispensations. And with respect to what are called the laws of nature, or the general economy of the Almighty in the government of the universe, it may perhaps be questioned without irreverence, whether Omnipotence itself can so impress inert matter, (which, however modified and organized, is matter still,) as to proceed in one material deviations or uniform course for thousands of years without any irregularities. Dr. S. Clarke ranks this idea only among the possibilities, for it is allowed by all divines, rational and irrational, (the casuists of the Romish church excepted,) that the Divine power is not to be considered as extending to palpable absurdities and contradictions, or to natural impossibilities, or rather that such things are not proper objects of power, and therefore not to be predicated of the Divine. Now, the mundane system, though calculated for a much longer duration than any

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On Mr. Luckcock's Remarks on Pro

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"Deorum providentia, mundus administratur; iidemq. consulunt rebus humanis; neq. solum universis, verum etiam CIC. singulis."

measure present; as the eye or ken
of an angel may be easily conceived to
extend much farther in its operation,

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June 26, 1823.

SIR,
[N adverting to the commonly re-

general and particular, (for generals
are made up of particulars,) it may
be observed first, that it is impossible
in this case to prove a negative. The
omnipresence and omniscience of the
Deity being universally acknowledged,
his superintending providence appears
to be a necessary consequence; other
wise, you must suppose universal
presence conjoined with infinite inac-
tivity, which notion seems a species
of refined epicureanism. It is true
that we know nothing of the manner
of the Divine Omnipresence, but we
prove the fact by the same arguments
from which we prove his being.
When philosophers represent the Dei-
ty as the soul of the world, as filling
universal space, or as comprehending
all things within himself, it is evident
that these are very imperfect illustra-
tions of a subject, to which no human
language is adequate, because they
are ideas borrowed from the qualities
or properties of matter, which are
not applicable to the Supreme Being,
and whose peculiar and distinguishing
characteristic it is, that he is an infinite
Spirit. Perhaps the symbol of the
ancient Egyptians in their hierogly-
phies is, in this view, the best adapted
to our present apprehensions. They
represented the figure of an eye with
a sceptre, as in a conspicuous part of
the heavens, to denote the universal
dominion and providence of the Al-
mighty. As the eye of a man upon
an extensive plain, and much more
upon an eminence, can clearly discern
a prodigious space, to every point of
which he may be said to be in some

framed by human art, is still a machine evidently dependent upon a variety of causes, and incapable as it should seem of going on continually of itself, or on the supposition of the withdrawment (so to speak) of the original contriver. When a man makes a machine, if a good workman, he proceeds upon certain principles which never fail him, and his work remains (barring accidents) as long as its nature and construction will admit; but when we view the great machine of the universe, we can only judge of it from its effects, and know very little of the causes of those effects. Abbé La Pluche has clearly shewn that when philosophers talk of attraction and repulsion, gravity and continuity, they use words without ideas, and can justly reason only as to matters of fact and experience. What is cohesion? We can give no account why those immense masses of granite constituting Waterloo Bridge, which appear to the eye as an infinite number of molecules glued together, should remain stationary and be likely so to remain for ages, rather than be every moment in danger of separating and crumbling into dust, further than that the Almighty will have it so. And the planets might surely as easily be kept in their orbits by the instrumentality of invisible vortices, as by the centrifugal and centripetal forces. And why does not the attraction at the centre of the earth, which they say extends to the moon, level all the hills and mountains, and render it as simply round as the globes on which its surface is portrayed? Nature, it is to be feared, would prove but a clumsy manager if all were left to her own discretion: witness those parts of the world which are committed in a great measure to human management and controul. In the capacious but dismal and neglected forests of the torrid zone, we read that the increase of vegetation, the accumulation of ages, is so immense and so impenetrable as to defy all human art to render them habitable: hence they are the resort only of savage beasts and deadly serpents, the very air is rendered baleful and pestiferous, and the sandy desart of the Arab, seated in his tent, surrounded by his tribe and accompanied by

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his faithful camel, becomes a far more desirable residence.

"Nature does rough-hew and design, Leaves art to polish and refine."

Now, if from these considerations we ascend to the upper regions, and reflect that any material deviation of the planets from their orbits, as they revolve through the unfathomable depths of æther, would involve the wreck of the whole system, men of plain understandings will draw a rational conclusion.

Mr. Luckcock relates a story from Mrs. Cappe, and also gives us one of his own, both of which he represents in a ludicrous light. But there is in reality nothing ludicrous in such events; and every good man that has experienced eminent and seasonable deliverances, (and who has not experienced them?) will generally ascribe them to the superintendency, and in some remarkable cases, to the interposition of Providence in his behalf; nor in such cases, can the most ardent expressions of gratitude to the Deity ever be justly deemed a purpose little required;" but, on the contrary, a debt of interminable obligation, and, like the principle from which it flows," still paying, still to owe !" Doubtless, a man should be grateful for his crosses as well as for his comforts, when they have been instrumental in promoting his moral and religious improvement.

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Some years ago, a merchant was about to engage in a foreign concern, and with this view had embarked the greater part of his property; when the ship was under sailing orders, as he was going on board he fell down and broke his leg, and of course remained on shore: in a short time the vessel was cast away, the cargo and all the crew lost. He soon, however, recovered his health and was gradually restored to prosperity. What are we to make of this? Mr. Luckcock no doubt will say, it was a singular coincidence of circumstances.

Then, as to the general doctrine of Divine influence or suggestion: objections seem to have arisen from mistakes or misrepresentations, confounding it with the miraculous gifts of the Spirit in the apostolic age, and which ceased soon after. But both

particularly in the latter case, whether the desirable event was effected in the heart of this generous friend by the natural influence of the principle of benevolence originally impressed upon it by the broad seal of the Creator; cultivated and improved, and always ready for action upon suitable occasions; or, by a divine suggestion, pressing more s strongly than usual upon this particular spring, and by a morally irresistible impulse, fixing the resolution of the benefactor? However, in either view, as before hinted, the beneficiary can scarcely avoid referring all to Providence, as to a sensible interference in his behalf, and as a favourable answer to his prayers.

Prayer itself is founded in the belief of a Providence, for to what end do

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sery us too far, we may safely

Both its history and its

their exercise can when he pleases of cate the doctrine, not

only of an ever-present, but also,
though language is inadequate to the
exalted idea, of an ever-active Intelli-
gence. He is a God near at hand,
and not a God afar off." And we are
encouraged to the most strenuous ex-
ertions in the path of duty by this
animating motive, that it is God
that worketh in us, both to will and
do." ev
Thus, divine and human
agency are represented as perfectly
consistent, and by these incitements,
without any miracle, or unconditional
favouritism. Many things may be
prevented, that otherwise would be,
and many brought about that other-
wise would not."

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Your correspondent quotes Solomon, All things come alike to all," and thinks to put us off with the literal sense. Writers of the New Light" should be the last persons in the world in capping texts, and supposing a literal sense, when such a sense is absurd, and contrary to fact; especially when they are continually attacking the Calvinists upon this Score. We all know that this is an elliptical mode of speech very common 943 Jigin DOEBST veolens odi u bag engi

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things" frequently """ come alike to all." "There is" sometimes one event to the righteous and to the wicked." So again, "The race is not" always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong but, in general, the contrary is the fact. Thus the modern Necessarians quote a passage in Isaiah, by a strange coincidence, in the same sense with the Calvinists:

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Birmingham, SIR, 0.95 September 2, 1823. THAVE given all the attention in my power to the statement in the Repository by Mr. Turner, (pp. 399405,) in reply to my observations on a Particular Providence, as connected with the Memoirs of Mrs. Cappe, (PP 163-167), without being able to perceive that I have singularly misconceived" the doctrine, as it is maintained by the excellent person who is the subject of these remarks;" and, of course, I cannot admit that my reasoning is founded on a false and gratuitous assumption." I do not mean to assert that the opinions entertained by Mrs. C. may not have been similar to those of Mr. T., but I request my readers will bestow a glance upon my quotation from the Memoirs, and form their own opinion as to which of the two disputants assumes the most. I take the passage as I find it, without any reference to what I suppose may have been her more extended opinions: and it certainly appears to my apprehension, that if there be any meaning in language, any ideas that words can express with something like the perspicuity of correct and definite precision, she has accomplished what she intended in communicating her sentiments. I am well aware of the extreme difficulty in finding words and expressions that shall not be liable to objections. No language can supply an exact picture of the mind and feelings; and we must make a suitable allowance for imperfections, to which no person could be insensible who ever took up his pen to reason on any abstract subject; and more especially on this which is so entirely ideal, and out of the reach of demonstration. Mrs. C., for instance, uses the words happened and accidentally, not because she considered them as philosophically cor

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Is there any evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it? I form peace, and create evil;" but this the context shews to relate to natural evil; and no doubt the sentiment is just in that view; because nothing can happen to states or individuals, which is beyond the Divine controul, and which he cannot overrule or restrain. Or if they will contend that it relates to moral evil also, St. James shall answer them: Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. 9dt selvsag970 To conclude: let the advocates of free inquiry defend the doctrine of the simple Unity of the Deity, and of the true and proper humanity of our Saviour, and also enforce all the moral and scriptural arguments, (guarding them against abuse,) for the final salvation of all mankind. Here, they stand upon a rock, from which the darts of infidelity, and (as we conceive) of mistaken orthodoxy, will ultimately recoil. But the offices of Christ, in the great work of redemption, are "not of private interpretation;" every man should endeavour to form the best ideas upon these points that he is able; but no one has a right to impose his own sense upon his neighbour. And this rule is applicable to those serious Christians who think they can discover the pre-existence of our Lord in the sacred volume. But, above all things, let the persons werect, but because there will inevitably subsist a discrepancy between the nice distinctions the mind perceives, and those of which oral or written speech is incapable. When we have made the nearest approaches we can, so as to render ourselves intelligible to each other, we should be satisfied, and not look for perfection where we shall never attain it. I therefore, shall lay no stress upon these or similar expressions in her statement, nor at

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are speaking of be cautious, though with the best intentions, of attempting to undermine principles which have stood the test of ages, and which a have appeared to the wisest and best of men perfectly consistent with the severest reason and judgment, with the nature of things, and the analogy of the faith," till they shall have something to give us in their room. I. L.

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