صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

perish by these in one week! And how much larger a number do these accidents injure and fill their lives with pain, though, they are not brought immediately to the grave! Think, of the mischiefs which one part of mankind, in every place, are continually contriving or practising against the other. Take a view of these extensive and reigning evils, and then say whether this world be not a part of the creation of God, which bears plain marks of its Creator's displeasure ? (p. 62.)

“ Much is added to the heap of hụman miseries by the sorrows that arise from the daily loss of our dearest comforts. What groans and wailings of the living surround the pillows of dying friends or relations! What symptoms. of piercing distress attend the remains when they are conveyed to the grave! By such losses, the comforts of future life lose their relish, and the sorrows are doubly embittered. (p. 63.)

“ In the civilized parts of the world, there is scarcely one person sick or in pain, miserable or dying, but several others sustain a considerable share of misery, by the strong, ties of nature or friendship. This diffuses a personal calamity through whole families. This multiplies human mise-, ries into a new and endless number. Add to this, not only the unkindness or falsehood of those from whom we expected the tenderest affection, but the anguish which springs from all our own uneasy and unruly passions. Bring in here all the wrath and resentment in the hearts of men, all the envy and malice that burn within, all the imaginary fears, and the real terrors of future distress coming upon us, all the rage and despair of lost blessings that were once within our hopes, and all the ferments of animal nature which torment the spirit all day, and forbid our nightly repose. Would; mankind be in such a condition as this if they were still in the favour of their Maker? (p. 61.),

“ Yes, men may make miseries for themselves, and 6 be punished by them.. But compare the sorrows which 66 any man necessarily suffers, with the comforts he enjoys, " and the one will balance the other. Or if, his sorrows,

a

“ outweigh bis comforts, this may be necessary in a state of « trial: and God will reward the over-balance of sufferings “ hereafter.” (p. 65.)

“ I answer, There is no reason to think the far greater part of mankind will have any reward hereafter: and if not, how shall we account for this over-balance of sufferings with regard to them?' Therefore we cannot reasonably impute their superior sorrows merely to their being m a state of probation : but rather to the displeasure of the righteous Creator and Governor of the world. (p. 66.)

6.10. To make this still clearer. Not only those who are grown up in the practice of iniquity, who may be punished for their own sins, but all mankind in their very infancy bear the tokens of God's displeasure.

* Before children are capable of committing sin, they are subject to a thousand miseries. What anguish and pain are they frequently exposed to even as they are coming into the world, and as soon as they are entered into it. What ago. nies await their birth! What numerous and acute maladies are ready to attack them! What gripes, what convulsions, what inward torments, which bring some of them down to death, within a few hours or days after they have begun to live! And if they survive a few months, what torture do they find in breeding their teeth, and other maladies of infancy, which can be told only by shrieks and tears, and that for whole days and nights together! What additional pains do they often sustain by the negligence of their inothers, or cruelty of their nurses, whereby many of them are brought down to the grave, either on a sudden or by slow and painful degrees! (p. 67.)

“ And what shall we say of whole nations in elder times, and some even at this day, who when they cannot or will not maintain them, expose their children in the woods to be torn and devoured by the next wild beast that passes by! Add to this the common calamities in which infants are involved by fire, earthquake, pestilence. And there are a thousand other accidents which attend them, whereby their members, their natural powers, receive dismal injuries : so

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that perhaps they drag on throl life with blindness, deafness, Taméness, or distortion of body or limbs. Sometimes they languish on to manhood, or even old age, under sore calamities, which began almost as soon as their being, and which are only ended by death. (p. 68.):

66. Now as these sufferings 'cannot be sent upon them to correct their personal sins, so neither are they sent as a trial of their virtue; for they have no knowledge of good or evil. Yet we see multitudes of these little, 'miserable beings. And are these treated as innocent creatures? "Or rather as under some general curse, involved in some general punishment ? (p. 69.) 1661

But may not these 'sufferings of children'be for the punishment of the sins of their parents?” (p. 71.) 6 Not with

any justice or

e or equity, unless the sins of the parents are imputed to their children. Besides, many of the parents of these suffering children are dead or absent, so as never to know it. And how in these cases can it be a punishment for their parent's sin, any otherwise than as it

. is a general punishment for the sin of their first parent?

"But God recompenses them for these sufferings hereafter.”,.Where does the Scripture affirm this? Besides many of them grow up, to manhood. And if they prove wicked and are sent to hell at last, what recompence have they for their infant sufferings? Or will you say, God punished them before they had sinned, because he knew before-hand they would sind. Yet farther : what wise or good design cán this their punishment answer, when no creature can know what they are punished for, if it be not for that which affects all mankind ? 61, bl. t.

« But how are such miseries reigning among his crea« turés consistent with the goodness of God?"? Perfectly well; if we consider mankind as a sinful, degenerate part of God's creation. It is most abundant goodness that they have any comforts left, - and that their miseries are not doubled. Now the inspired writers do consider mankind as fallen from God, and so his goodriess is evident in a thion

[ocr errors]

2

**

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

sand instances': though it must be confessed there are also a thousand instances of his just hatred of sin, and his righteous punishments among all nations. (p. 73.)

11. “ If we put together all these scenes of vice and misery, it is evident that creatures lying in such deplorable circumstances, are not such as they came out of the hands of their Creator, who is wise, holy, and good. His wisdom, which is all harmony and order, would not suffer him to frame a whole race of beings, under such wild and innumerable disorders, moral as well as natural. His holiness would not permit him to create beings with innate principles of iniquity: nor his goodness to produce a whole order of creatures in such circumstances of pain, torment, and death. (p. 74.)

« Could the holy and blessed God originally design and frame a whole world of intelligent creatures, in such circumstances, that every one of them coming into being, according to the laws of nature, in a long succession of ages, in different climates, of different constitutions and tempers, and in ten thousand different stations and conditions of life: that every one of them should break the laws of reason, and more or less defile themselves with sin? That every one should offend his Maker, every one become guilty in his sight? Every one expose himself to God's displeasure, to pain, and misery, and mortality, without one single exception? If men were such creatures as God at first made them, would not one man among so many millions have made a right use of his reason and conscience, and so have avoided sin and death? Would this have been the universal consequence of their original constitution, as framed by the hand of a wise, holy, merciful God? What can be more absurd to imagine than this ? Surely God made man upright and happy: nor could all these mischiefs have come directly from our Creator's hand. (p. 75, 76.)

• Is it objected, that still the greater part of men have more moral good than evil in them, and have more pleasure than pain, and therefore, on the whole, mankind are

a

sinful and miserable: and that even the best human constitutions, lay some innocent persons, under unavoidable hardships. I answer, 1. In order to pronounce a man miserable, he must have more pain than pleasure: but in order to pronounce a man a sinner, there is no need, that his moral evil should exceed his good. If a man had a hundréd virtues, one vice would make him a criminal in the sight of God: one transgression of the law of his Creator, would lay him under his just displeasure. He that keeps the whole law, except in one point, affronts that authority which requires all obedience. All men therefore are under this condemnation; they are sinners every one of them. (p. 77.)

“ As to misery, let it be supposed (though by no means granted) that there are many whose pleasures exceed their uneasiness: yet it is certain, there are more, whose pains and uneasiness far exceed their pleasures. And it is hard to conceive, how this should be, if all men were innocent and happy by nature.

I answer, 2. Men are not able to frame such constitutions in every case, as shall secure happiness to all the innocent. Their narrow views of things do not enable them to provide against all future inconveniences. But it is not thus with the Creator and Governor of all things. He views at once all possibles and all futures. Therefore he is well able to guard against any inconvenience that might befall innocent beings. (p. 78.)

“I answer, 3. Though the bulk of mankind were happy in the present constitution of things, this gives no manner of satisfaction to any one individual, who is unhappy, without any demerit: the advantage of the majority is no rea. son at all, why any one innocent should suffer. If any one therefore, man or child, and much more, if numbers of them, have more pain than pleasure, they must be involved in some guilt, which may give just occasion to their misery (p. 79.)

12. “ To enforce this, after the survey of these pains and sorrows, let us consider what are the pleasures of the

VOL. XIV.

P

« السابقةمتابعة »