Page images

thoughts rise to the heavens; they wander through eternity ; they anticipate a state of unutterable enjoyment, in the blissful presence of God for ever.



Bishor BUTLER, Father, calls the world a "mighty ruin ;” does not this seem to take away from God's goodness, since we must regard him as destroying the works of his hands?

By no means, Frank ; it affords a display of his infinite love to what is right, of his hatred to what is wrong, and of the awful nature of his displeasure ; but it is no proof of his want of goodness. When a magistrate orders a criminal to be punished, no one thinks that he is wanting in goodness; so far from it, that every reflecting mind would regard him as wanting in goodness, if he were not to act in this manner. Would he be good, who should exempt the most abandoned criminals from punishment, and set them at liberty, to destroy the best interests of society ?

Certainly not, Father. But is there any proof that God destroyed the former world for its crimes ?

Yes : the Bible presents you with manifold proofs of the truth of the assertion. On the very first view of the subject, we might be sure that this was the case. We know that God is a good and kind Being ; we are, therefore, sure that he would not lave destroyed any part of his works without ample reason : and what reason can we even imagine so probable, as the inexcusable rebellion of his creatures against his rightful and paternal authority? There is a well drawn comparison, Frank,in Gisborne's Natural Theology, which, if I recollect right, will admirably illustrate my meaning. Fetch me the volume.

Here it is. Suppose a traveller, penetrating into regions which were unknown to him, suddenly to find himself on the confines of a city lying in ruins. Suppose the desolation to afford manifest proof that it was not effected by the mouldering hand of time, but has been the result of design and of violence. Dislocated arches, pendent battlements, interrupted 'aqueducts, towers undermined and subverted, while they record the primeval strength and magnificence of the structures, proclaim the determined purpose, the persevering exertions, with which force had urged forward the work of destruction. Suppose farther, that the stranger discovers a present-race of inhabitants, who have reared their huts amidst the wreck. He inquires the history of the scene before him. He is informed that the city, once distinguished by splendor, by

beauty, by every arrangement and provision for the security, the accommodation, the happiness of its occupiers, was reduced to its existing situation by the act of its own lawful sovereign-the very sovereign by whom it had been erected, the emperor of that part of the world. · Was he a ferocious tyrant ?'

No !' is the universal reply. • He was a monarch, pre-eminent for consistency, forbearance, and benignity. Was his judgment blinded or misled by erroneous intelligence, as to the plans and proceedings of his subjects ?? He knew every thing but too well; he understood with undeviating accuracy; he decided with unimpeachable wisdom.' - The case, then,' cries the traveller, 'is plain; the conclusion is inevitable. Your forefathers were assuredly ungrateful rebels, and thus plucked down devastation upon their city, themselves, and their posterity.' The actual appearance of the globe on which we dwell, is in strict analogy with the appearance of such a city.”

I see your argument, Father : the globe affords a display of the justice and holiness of God, without being any impeachment of his goodness.

True, Frank ; a Being who was not just and holy, could not be good. But have you read Paley's chapter on the divine goodness?

Yes, Father.

Can you mention some of the principal thoughts which are contained in it? I think I can.

He says, that notwithstanding the pain and affliction which are to be found in the world, that, nevertheless, the creation is in a great measure happy. He remarks, that this is the case with the whole insect world. Their sportive motions prove their felicity. A bee among the flowers is one of the most cheerful objects which can be looked on.

Its life appears to be all enjoyment; it is so busy and so pleased : yet it is only a specimen of the happiness of the whole. The motions of the fish in the water, and their leaping up out of it, show that they are happy.

Does he not mention a curious instance of fish leaping out of the water ?

He does. I wrote the paragraph out in my pocket book. Shall I read it, Father ?

Do, Frank; it is very remarkable.

* Walking,” he says, " by the sea-side, in a calm evening, upon a sandy shore, and with an ebbing tide, I have frequently remarked the appearance of a dark cloud, or rather, very

thick mist, hanging over the edge of the water, to the height, perhaps, of half a yard, and of the breadth of two or three yards, stretching along the coast as far as the eye could reach, and always retire


« PreviousContinue »