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nations would have been occasionally deprived of these elements, so essential to human existence. Yet, notwithstanding the prevalence of such depraved dispositions, the streams of Divine benevolence towards our apostate race, have never yet been interrupted. The earth has never stopped in its career, and thrown nature into a scene of confusion; the light of heaven has never ceased to illume the world; the springs of water have never been dried up, nor has the fertile soil ceased to enrich the plains with golden harvests. God "hath not left himself without a witness" to his beneficence, in any age, in that he hath unceasingly bestowed on the inhabitants of the world, "rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness." This is one of the characters of Deity which forms the most perfect contrast to the selfish and revengeful dispositions of man, which as far transcends human benevolence, as the heavens in extent surpass the earth-a character calculated to excite our highest love and admiration, and which we are called upon, in the Sacred Oracles, to imitate and revere. "Be ye merciful, as your Father who is in heaven is merciful: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." “Õ that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men."
From such considerations, we learn, even from the system of nature, that mercy is an attribute of the Deity; for, if mercy consists in bestowing favours on those who are unworthy, or who merit punishment, the greatest sinners in all ages have shared in it, and every individual of the human race, now existing, enjoys a certain portion of those comforts which flow from the benevolent arrangements which the Creator has established. "He maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good." Though the nations in ancient times, as well as at present, "walked in their own ways," indulging in impiety, falsehood, lewdness, war, devastations, abominable idolatries, and every other violation of his law, he still supported the functions of their animal frames, and caused the influences of the sun, the rains, and the dews, to descend upon their fields
that they might be refreshed with his bounty, and filled "with food and gladness." If mercy were not an essential attribute of the Deity, he would have cut them down in the midst of their first transgressions, shattered to pieces the globe on which they dwelt, and buried them in eternal oblivion. But whether Divine mercy will extend to the final forgiveness of sin, and the communication of eternal happiness to such beings, can be learned only from the discoveries of Revelation.
In regard to the inferior animals-the immense multitude of living creatures with which the earth is replenished, is a striking evidence of the vast profusion of Divine Beneficence. More than a hundred thousand species of animated beings are dispersed through the different regions of the air, the water, and the earth, besides myriads which are invisible to the unassisted eye. To estimate the number of individuals belonging to any one species is beyond the power of What countless myriads of herrings, for example, are contained in a single shoal, which is frequently more than six miles long, and three miles broad! To estimate the number of individuals in all the different species would, therefore, be as impossible as to count the grains of sand in the Arabian deserts. There is not a single spot, in any region of the globe, but what teems with animated beings. Yet, all this vast assemblage of sensitive existence is amply provided for by the bountiful Creator. "These all wait upon him, and he giveth them their meat in due season." They enjoy not only life, but also a happy existence. The sportive motions, and gesticulations of all the animal tribes-the birds skimming through the air, warbling in the groves, and perching on the trees -the beasts of the field, bounding in the forests, and through the lawns-the fishes sporting in the watersthe reptiles wriggling in the dust, and the winged insects, by a thousand wanton mazes-all declare that they are rejoicing in their existence, and in the exercise of those powers with which the Creator has furnished them. So that wherever we turn our eyes, we evidently perceive, that "the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord," and that "his tender mercies are over all his works."
This subject is boundless-but it would be inconsistent with our plan, to enter into any particular details. And it is the less necessary, when we consider, that every instance of Divine Wisdom is, at the same time, an instance of benevolence; for it is the ultimate object of all the wise contrivances in the system of Nature, that happiness may be communicated to the various ranks of sensitive and intelligent existence. Goodness chooses the end, and wisdom selects the most proper means for its accomplishment; so that these two attributes must always be considered in simultaneous operation. And, therefore, the instances I have already specified, of the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Creator, may also be considered, as exemplifications of Divine Benevolence.-I shall therefore conclude this topic with the following extract from Dr. PALEY.
"Contrivance proves design; and the prominent tendency of the contrivance, indicates the disposition of the designer. The world abounds with contrivances; and all the contrivances we are acquainted with, are directed to beneficial purposes. Evil, no doubt, exists; but it is never, that we can perceive, the object of contrivance. Teeth are contrived to eat, not to ache; their aching now and then, is incidental to the contrivance, perhaps inseparable from it or even, if you will, let it be called a defect in the contrivance, but it is not the object of it. This is a distinction which well deserves to be attended to. scribing implements of husbandry, you would hardly say of a sickle, that it is made to cut the reaper's fingers, though, from the construction of the instrument, and the manner of using it, this mischief often happens. But if you had occasion to describe instruments of torture or execution, this, you would say, is to extend the sinews; this to dislocate the joints; this to break the bones; this to scorch the soles of the feet. Here pain and misery are the very objects of the contrivance. Now, nothing of this sort is to be found in the works of nature. We never discover a train of contrivance to bring about an evil purpose. No anatomist ever discovered a system of organization calcu lated to produce a pain and disease; or, in explaining the
parts of the human body, ever said, this is to irritate; this to inflame; this duct is to convey the gravel to the kidneys; this gland to secrete the humour which forms the gout. If, by chance, he come at a part of which he knows not the use, the most he can say is, that it is useless; no one ever suspects that it is put there to incommode, to annoy, or torment. Since, then, God hath called forth his consummate wisdom to contrive and provide for our happiness, and the world appears to have been constituted with this design at first, so long as this constitution is upheld by him, we must, in reason, suppose the same design to continue."-Paley's Moral Philosophy, Book II. Chap. 5.
Thus, I have endeavoured, in this and the preceding section, to exhibit a few specimens of the Wisdom and Goodness of God, in the system of nature. These might have been multiplied to an indefinite extent, but the instances adduced, I presume, are sufficient to show, that the economy of the material world is not altogether a barren subject, to a pious and contemplative mind. Every intelligent believer in Revelation, will readily admit, that it would be a highly desirable object, to induce upon the mass of Christians, such a habit of devout attention to the visible works of creation, as would lead them, in their social and solitary walks to recognise the agency of God, in every object they behold, to raise their thoughts to Him as the Great First Cause, and to expand their hearts with emotions of gratitude. How very different must be the sentiments and the piety of the man who looks on the scene of wisdom and magnificence around him, with a "brute unconscious gaze," as thousands of professed Christians do and the grateful and pious emotions of him who recognises the benevolent agency of God, in the motions of his fingers, and his eye-balls, in the pulsation of his heart, in the picture of external objects, every moment formed on his retina, in the reflection of the rays of light, and the diversified colours they produce, in the drying of his clothes, in the constitution of the atmosphere, in the beauty and magnificence of the earth and the heavens, and in every other object that meets his eye, in the ex
panse of nature! The numberless astonishing instances of Divine agency, which every where present themselves to our view in the scene around us, seem evidently intended to arrest the mind to a consideration of an 66 ever-present Deity;" and I envy not the sentiments or the feelings of that man who imagines, that he stands in no need of such sensible mediums to impress his mind with a sense of the benevolent care and omnipresence of God.