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bosom, anxiously considers how she may best avail herself of the situation in which she is placed to advance its happiness ; wishes she had the command of circumstances, and could prevent the occurrence of every event capable of endangering its virtue and enjoyment.
This power, so vainly desired by human parents, is possessed by the Universal Parent, and is it possible to believe that he will not exert it for the welfare of his offspring? With unerring wisdom and unbounded goodness, must he not feel towards them in the best manner; and since no power in the universe is capable of controlling his will, must he not at all times act towards them as these feelings dictate ?
No other consideration surely can be necessary to make every intelligent being satisfied with his lot, and resigned to the dispensations which befal him. Many of the events of life, it is true, are deeply afflictive. Often our enjoyments seem given us but to be removed, and even the most secure, we hold by an uncertain tenure, The inequalities in health ; in the duration of life; in the distribution of property; the prevalence of natural and moral evil in their thousand shapes, sometimes press with such severity upon the mind, as to create even in the most pious and confiding, a doubt whether a Being of perfect benevolence be indeed seated at the helm of affairs. Our very hearts die within us when sickness and death assail our beloved friends. When the heart on which our image was engraven, and which beat with generous affcetion for us, is insensible and cold ; when in that dark and narrow bed, from which they cannot arise, sleep a father, a wife, a child, a friend, we feel a sorrow which refuses to be. comforted. We dwell upon their excellences with a mournful pleasure. We think of the happy hours we have spent in their society, hours never to return, with a feeling which nearly approaches to despair. That they are no more; that they have ceased to think, to feel, to act, at least for us ; that that eye which used to gladden at our approach is dark, and can no more beam upon us with tenderness and love ; that those lips which have enlightened us with the counsels of wisdom, or soothed our souls with the accents of hallowed and virtuous affection, are silent for ever, no more to solace us in sorrow; no more to excite or to heighten our pleasure: while these thoughts press upon the mind, (and on the loss of our dear and virtuous friends they do incessantly press upon it, sinking it to the dust,) the universe is a blank to us. No longer do we discover any traces of that supreme and unchanging goodness which we had been accustomed to contemplate with de
light. But even in these moments of sadness we must be unjust to ourselves, and to the Author of our mercies, if we are not soon revived by the consciousness of benevolence, to which the severity of anguish may for a while have made us insensible. The privation of our friends, afflictive as it is, is never without be. nefit to us. It is then we feel that we are born for immortality; that the world is not our home; that we are travelling to a fairer clime: it is then that we enter into religion, and feel its genuine spirit. The same happy effects are often produced by sickness, and to the natural and moral disorders which prevail, we owe the production and the growth of the highest excellences of our nature. In a word, an attentive consideration of what are termed the evils of life, enables us to discover so much of the truest benevolence in many of them, as may well induce us to bear with resignation those whose design we cannot so fully comprehend, until it shall please our heavenly Father to give us clearer light and
It is true, that the evil we suffer, and, indeed, that the general train of events, is the result of laws which we cannot without absurdity suppose the Deity to be continually changing and suspending, for the benefit of individuals. Neither does any rational believer in a providence maintain such an opinion. It is not necessary to his argument to suppose, that these general laws have ever once been suspended. From a conviction that he has evidence of the fact, he may believe, that on some occasions of supreme importance they have been suspended; but the great argument for the doctrine of a providence would remain just the same, even though it could be demonstrated, that the laws by which the universe is governed, have operated with undeviating regularity from the beginning. For whoever believes that these general laws were appointed by a Being of infinite wisdom and goodness, must admit that he foresaw all the consequences which would result from their operation, in every instant of time and to every individual. If, therefore, when he appointed them, he foresaw that they would give rise to any event inconsistent with perfect benevolence, he would have so modified them, as effectually to have prevented its occurrence; or he would have provided for its counteraction by the operation of secondary causes. Whether the Deity govern the universe by such an original adjustment as secures, with undeviating order, the occurrence of every thing in its proper season, place and manner, according to the plan which his wisdom and goodness have ordained ; or whether he govern it by a continual superintendo
ence of events, every thing, on either supposi. tion, is entirely in his hands. It is possible that the first is his plan ; he may have adopted the second; both must be alike easy to him : but since both were equally in his power, he can have been induced to choose the one rather than the other, only because the one is better adapted than the other to accomplish the purposes of benevolence: and it seems scarcely possible for us not to conclude, that these purposes may
be better effected by the second than by the first, and therefore that this is the plan which he has adopted.
To sum up the whole argument. If of every event all the care is not taken, which it is right should be taken, the administration of the world is imperfect; but the wisdom, power and good, Ress which are spent on the minutest and the meanest object we can contemplate, necessarily lead to the conclusion, that their author possesses. these attributes in a perfect measure ; and since they have been exerted in the production of particular objects, they must be employed in the government of the whole. We have there. 'fore the most solid ground to adopt the sublime and cheering conclusion, that nothing can happen without the knowledge and permission of unerring wisdom and perfect goodness, and that all the vast affairs of the universe, in every par