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question to their own minds, Whether it be most probable that the great and wise Creator hath erred in his distribution of human things, or that they have erred in the judgment which they form concerning the lot assigned to them? Can they believe, that the divine Artist, after he had contrived and finished this earth, the habitation of men, with such admirable wisdom, would then throw it out of his hands as a neglected work; would suffer the affairs of its inhabitants to proceed by chance; and would behold them, without concern, run into misrule and disorder? Where were then that consistency of conduct, which we discover in all the works of nature, and which we cannot but ascribe to a perfect Being?—My brother! when thy plans are disappointed, and thy heart is ready to despair; when virtue is oppressed, and the wicked prosper around thee; in these moments of disturbance, look up to Him who created the heaven and the earth; and confide, that he who made light to spring from primæval darkness, will make order at last to arise from the seeming confusion of the world.
Had any one beheld the earth in its state of chaos; when the elements lay mixed and confused; when the earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the
deep; would he have believed that it was presently to become so fair and well-ordered a globe as we now behold; illumined with the splendour of the sun, and decorated with all the beauty of nature? The same powerful hand, which perfected the work of creation, shall, in due time, disembroil the plans of Providence. Of creation, we can judge more clearly, because it stood forth at once; it was perfect from the beginning. But the course of Providence is progressive. Time is required for the progression to advance, and before it is finished, we can form no judgment, or at least a very imperfect one, concerning it. We must wait until the great æra arrive, when the secrets of the universe shall be unfolded; when the divine designs shall be consummated; when Providence shall be brought to the same completion which creation has already attained. Then we have reason to believe, that the wise Creator shall appear, in the end, to have been the wise and just ruler of the world. Until that period come, let us be contented and patient; let us submit and adore. Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is before him; therefore trust thou in him.* This exhortation will receive more force, when we,
* Job, xxxv. 14.
III. Consider creation as a display of supreme goodness no less than of wisdom and power. It is the communication of numberless benefits to all who live, together with existence. Justly is the earth said to be full of the goodness of the Lord. Throughout the whole system of things we behold a manifest tendency to promote the benefit either of the rational, or the animal creation. In some parts of nature this tendency may be less obvious than in others. Objects, which to us seem useless or hurtful, may sometimes occur; and strange it were, if in so vast and complicated a system, difficulties of this kind should not occasionally present themselves to beings, whose views are so narrow and limited as ours. It is well known, that in proportion as the knowledge of nature has increased among men, these difficulties have diminished. Satisfactory accounts have been given of many perplexing appearances. Useful and proper purposes have been found to be promoted by objects which were, at first, thought unprofitable or noxious.
Malignant must be the mind of that person; with a distorted eye he must have contemplated creation, who can suspect, that it is not the production of infinite benignity and goodness. How many clear marks of bene
volent intention appear every where around us. What a profusion of beauty and ornament is poured forth on the face of nature? What a magnificent spectacle presented to the view of man? What supply contrived for his wants? What a variety of objects set before him, to gratify his senses, to employ his understanding, to entertain his imagination, to cheer and gladden his heart? Indeed, the very existence of the universe is a standing memorial of the goodness of the Creator. For nothing except goodness could originally prompt creation. The Supreme Being, selfexistent and all sufficient, had no wants which he could seek to supply. No new accession of felicity or glory was to result to him from creatures whom he had made. It was goodness communicating and pouring itself forth-goodness delighting to impart happiness in all its forms, which in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. Hence those innumerable orders of living creatures with which the earth is peopled; from the lowest class of sensitive being, to the highest rank of reason and intelligence. Wherever there is life, there is some degree of happiness; there are enjoyments suited to the different powers of feeling; and earth, and air, and water, are,
with magnificent liberality, made to teem with life.
Let those striking displays of creating goodness call forth, on our part, responsive love, gratitude, and veneration. To this great father of all existence and life, to Him who hath raised us up to behold the light of day, and to enjoy all the comforts which this world presents, let our hearts send forth a perpetual hymn of praise. Evening and morning let us celebrate Him, who maketh the morning and the evening to rejoice over our heads; who openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing. Let us rejoice, that we are brought into a world, which is the production of infinite goodness, over which a supreme intelligence presides; and where nothing happens, that was not planned and arranged, from the beginning, in his decree. Convinced that he hateth not the works which he hath made, nor hath brought creatures into existence merely to suffer unnecessary pain, let us even, in the midst of sorrow, receive with calm submission whatever he is pleased to send; thankful for what he bestows; and satisfied, that without good reason he takes nothing away.
Such, in general, are the effects which me