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in all our thoughts, and to bear upon influence of the heavenly bodies; the our minds an habitual and constant state of the air, the surface of the regard to him; if it be actually true, earth, and the due provision of the as I shall now attempt to prove, that necessary juices ? Thus the care of all the common events of life are re- one thing includes in it the care of a ferred to him, and that nothing can thousand. An attention to what is of happen to us, or to any other being, greater importance, supposes also an but by his appointment.
attention to what is of less; nor could That there is a God who created the whole, or the more considerable the world and presides in it, is plain parts, of nature, be governed and prefrom the harmony, order and beauty served, while particular beings, and of nature; that this Supreme Being is what concerns them, were overlooked powerful, wise and good, appears from and neglected. If but one of the the amazing grandeur and exquisite movements in the vast machine were contrivance of the several parts of the suffered to stand still, if one small universe, and from the conspiring ten- spring did but cease to act, or acted dency of all particular beings to the in an undue or irregular manner, the welfare and perfection of the whole. whole would presently be thrown into Al present I shall not enlarge upon disorder, and might justly be said to the proofs of this principle ; but, want guidance and direction.
We taking for granted the existence and must either, then, deny a Providence perfections of God, and his direction altogether, or acknowledge that this of the greater parts and revolutions of Providence is universal. the world, I would endeavour to shew In like manner, the changes which that, as certainly as these principles happen in the world are not a number are true, so certainly the Divine care of independent events, of which one, reaches to the most minute affairs, or a few, might be neglected without and to those events which seem to be prejudice to the rest; but are conof less conscquence.
nected together, so as to form one This will appear to be highly pro- immense and beautiful scheme, which, bable, if it be considered, that the if the least part were undirected, the world is not a collection of loose and whole would be disturbed and broken. separate beings, but one connected Every thing springs from a mixture of plan and regular system, all whose various causes, of different importance parts, both great and small, are joined and efficacy ; and every particular bein the strictest union to the whole and ing, however inconsiderable, contrito one another. The vegetable crea- butes its share to a multitude of eftion sustains the animal, and both fects, and often to such as are readily depend upon the earth and other ele- acknowledged to be of great imporments. This globe, with whatever tance. What is now present is the belongs to it, is connected with the offspring of the past in a long ascendsun, and with its fellow-wanderers the ing series, and will be the parent of planets. Now, in a system whose what is future, in an indefinite departs have so extensive an influence, scending succession; and that which and such infinite mutual ties and rela- is present in one place may affect and tions, is it possible that the general be affected by a vast number of other concern should be tolerably conducted things in different places. Now, in and provided for, if no regard be had this complicated scene of causes and to the least things in it? For these effects, what bounds can we assign to being neglected, and suffered to run at the Divine Providence? Or where is random, may bring disorder and con- the precise point, concerning which we fusion upon the greatest. If this earth may with any reason pronounce, that of ours be worthy of the Divine notice just hitherto it goes, and no farther? and concern, is it not chiefly for the Those who are assured that it has its sake of its living inhabitants, which limits, must certainly know where would inevitably perish, were not the they are. Let such describe these plants and trees produced to support limits exactly, and we then shall yield them? And if the Divine care ex- up the point. Does God concern tends to the formation of plants and hiinself about mankind ? If not, it is trees, must it not also be employed in not worth our while to dispute whethe revolution of the seasons, and the ther there be any Providence at all or not, interesting itself about other be- rect and conclusive reasoning. Such ings, for what is that to us ? But if as, in the present case, the following mankind be the object of the Divine appears to be. care, so are the particular nations of The same reasons which we have to the earth, and so, too, are the indivi- believe that Providence is concerned duals that compose them: for the hu- in the great affairs and revolutions of man race is nothing but a number of the universe, evince with equal cerindividuals ; and, therefore, to say that tainty that the Divine influence exevery one is neglected, is the same as tends also to the most minute things. to say that the whole are so. Taking it for why do we imagine that God for granted, therefore, that the Supreme governs the sun, moon and stars, mind vouchsafes to direct the affairs but because of their beauty, order, of you and me, what circumstances of regular motion and beneficial effects our being are disposed by him? What And are use, beauty, order, seen only shall we say as to onr place, our du- in the heavenly bodies ? Are they ration, our company, and the part not as clearly discerned in all the we are to act? Are all, or some parts of nature, in every being with only, of these appointed by God? which we are acquainted? The sea If only some, which are they? and is beautiful, the streams and rivers why they more than the rest ? Nay are also beautiful. Beauty is diffused rather, since all the events of life are over the face of the whole earth. 16 so strangely interwoven with each is found in the barren deserts and other, how is it possible that one wilds of nature, as well as in the part of them should be ordered, and cultivated plains. It appears on the all the rest be undetermined ? Each rugged rocks and bleak mountains, of us, therefore, and all his affairs, in the stately forest and shady grove. is comprehended in that compass It lives through all life, both animal which Providence takes in. But this and vegetable. It appears in a high could not be, unless the affairs of degree in those beings which are enother beings, to whom we are related, dowed with sense and mind : and in were also contained in the divine the highest in such as are blest with order. It were easy to carry this reason and moral sentiments. But point farther, and to trace down Pro- in some measure it is communicated vidence from the stars of heaven to to the least and ineanest of nature's the most inconsiderable affairs of this works. Every tree, plant and flower, lower world. But what has been every beast, bird, fish and insect, said may suffice to shew, that if we partake of it. Symmetry, order, a be once fairly brought to acknowledge nice adjustment of parts to each a Providence at all, we can never find other, and of the whole inward and where to stop, till we have allowed outward structure to its circumstances that this. Providence extends to all and mode of life, obtain in every beings, the lowest as well as the creature. highest.
And as grace and beauty are every Perliaps it may be said, there may where shed abroad, so every being is be limits to the Divine Providence, of some use and service, and conthough on account of the weakness tributes in its place to the general of our faculties we may not discern good. The elements furnish the maand cannot distinctly apprehend them: terials, and are made to assist in the and therefore these arguinents are formation and growth of vegetables calculated rather to perplex than and animals, which no sooner die satisfy the mind. I grant it; and for than their bodies tend to dissolution, that very end this reasoning was here and hasten to prepare for other serapplied, that if any were prejudiced vices. Plants and trees at once adorn in favour of the contrary opinion, the earth, and support the various they might see that it also has its tribes of living creatures, which difficulties. For when he who has enjoy life themselves, and administer been positive in an opposite belief, to the welfare and preservation of can once be made to doubt and hesi- each other. The very lowest class of tate, he is come half way to convic- them is not useless, and could not be tion, and placed in the best situation wanted without some harm to the for discerning the force of more di- general system. Now since order and
use are aimed at and effected, as in then, that the power and wisdom of the more magnificent, so also in the God are equal to the direction of the least and most inconsiderable parts of most minute affairs, however numenature, have we not as good reason to acknowledge the hand of God in If, therefore, he do not dispose and the one as in the other? Wherever govern them, it must be because he beauty appears, and the general wel- will not. But that he will direct all, fare is consulted, there God is pre- even the minute and inconsiderable sent, there he acts. But these ends affairs, may easily be shewn, if we are every where pursued, in all the will only admit this principle, that regions of nature, in all kinds and he will always do what is best. And degrees of life, in earth and air and what can induce him to act otherwise ? sea, and in the make and disposal of Not sloth or cowardice : for sloth each particular being.
proceeds from some uneasiness in actIf God, at the same time that he ing; and cowardice from a sense of directs and manages the universe in weakness and a fear of danger. But • general, yet takes no care of minute the Divine nature acts without diffi
affairs and particular beings, it must culty, and is not obnoxious to any be either because he cannot, or be- fear; every object yields to its will, cause he will not. That he cannot, and immediately assumes that very we shall scarcely affirm : for which is nature, place and form, which he easier, to create worlds, and keep would have it. “He speaks, and it them in rapid and regular motion, is done ; he commands, and it is esor to form and dispose of a single tablished.” Neither can he, like man, plant or animal? You acknowledge be drawn aside from doing what is that he is able to effect the former; best, by selfish views of any kind : he must therefore be equal to the for what interest can the universal latter, which requires no greater ex- mind possibly have, inconsistent with, pense of power.
or even different from, the interest Nor need we be concerned lest the and good of the whole? But here it Deity should be perplexed by attend- is needless to enlarge ; since we are ing to such a vast multiplicity of now reasoning with those who accreatures and events, or lost he knowledge that God is perfectly good; should neglect some of them, because and a Being perfectly good will conhe cannot, or not without difficulty, tipually do what is best. oversee them all. This would be to And now to complete the argumake man the standard of God, and ment. If God will do what is best, to measure an infinite mind by our he will concern himself in those affairs limited and imperfect powers. And which may seem to us of the least yet even our minds, narrow as they consequence. For can it be best, are, can with ease comprehend many that, while great things and events are things at the same time. We, who directed, smaller affairs should be are confined to so small a part of left at random? Were it not better space, can view at once a large pros- that all things, small as well as great, pect, and take in all its varieties of should be appointed and ordered by hills and plains, woods and rivers, to the Supreme Wisdom? Let us cona considerable distance. And can we sider what is the case in matters diimagine that the Divine mind, which rected by human art or prudence. is every where present, is not able to Ask the mechanist, whether his clock see all things every where and at or watch will be more perfect, if all once? We can, in an instant, ob- the parts of it are made and adjusted serve the affairs of different persons, in the exactest manner, or if none societies and nations : and is it likely but the principal movements are accuthat be, from whom these ininds of rately wrought, and justly disposed. ours are derived, and who infinitely So it is in the government of the exceeds all his creatures in every kind Universe, which "being as closely of perfection, cannot with ease come united into one system, and composed prehend the affairs of the whole uni- of parts as intimately connected as verse, and attend at once to all beings, the most curious and complicated nations and worlds ? It is plain, machine, the whole of it cannot be
administered in the best manner, un- free will and philosophical necesless the Divine Providence extend to sity;" but I may be allowed to state all beings and events, however trivial that the views which I wish to lay and inconsiderable they may some of before you are in my own case dethem appear to us.
rived from a full and I trust practical Our reasoning, on the whole, stands belief of the latter doctrine. I do thus. The Divine Being can direct not, however, conceive that such a the most minute affairs and events : belief is by any means necessary to he will do what is best : but it is best, their reception. “He who advocates that all affairs, as well the less as the the plainest and most intelligible hymore important, should be directed; pothesis, is best co-operating with the and therefore he both can and will, Deity in teaching mankind their vathat is, he actually does, appoint and rious duties and their future expectadetermine the smallest things and tions.” Such I believe to be the most inconsiderable events.
tendency of the opinions which I Upon the whole, then, we con- entertain. They appear to me calcuclude, that from God all things pro- lated beyond any others, to illustrate ceed, and by him all things are go- the condition and circumstances of verned. Nothing is left out of the man, and the moral government of scheme of his providence. Whatever God. we meet with in the world, whatever That the Supreme Being, the Crecompany or accommodations we find, ator of the universe, is infinite in whatever we do or suffer, makes a power and in knowledge, will be gepart of the divine order. God grant nerally admitted ; and it follows that tbat, as all things proceed from him, he must, from the beginning, bare we may refer all things to him; and known and consequently willed, every receive both the blessings and af- event which should take place in his flictions of life with becoming piety creation throughout eternity. Reand veneration ; remembering whence specting the system on which he rethey come, and for what end they gulates its concerns, there are various were designed.
opinions. It is maintained by some CESTRIENSIS POSTHUMUS. that he did at the first impress upon
the universe certain laws, by which
Bristol, all its motions and changes, natural Sir,
June, 1823. and moral, are continually regulated, I
AGREE with the views of your and then left it to pursue its course,
correspondent Mr. Luckcock, in his independently of his own immediate remarks on a Particular Providence, controul. Others suppose that the (pp. 286—292,) so far as they respect more important concerns of the the tendency of that doctrine to con- world are under the Divine direction, fine our ideas of the moral govern- but that the general current of events ment of the Deity, and the pernicious is left to form its own channel, reconsequences it is calculated to pro- ceiving at times such impulses as duce on the dispositions and conduct suit the views of Almighty Wisdom. of those who entertain it. But I There are those again who believe cannot accord in his observations re
that every part of the creation is under lating to the universality of the Din the constant direction of the Deity, vine administration ; and it is in the by whoin the whole is maintained and hope of placing this subject in a regulated, and whose influence is felt juster light, that I am induced to in- alike throughout every instant of time, trude the following remarks upon and every corner of the universe. your notice. In so doing let me not What Mr. L.'s view is, I cannot exbe thought to undervalue the spirit actly discover, but the last he deof practical utility and benevolent cidedly opposes. Yet it is this which intention which distinguish Mr. L.'s alone appears to me consistent with communication.
what we know of the Almighty, and I am not more desirous than your with what we observe around us. correspondent, of “ entering the Mankind too generally found their boundless and thorny field of contro- conceptions of the Divine nature, versy, respecting fate, predestination, upon what knowledge they possess respecting their own, forgetting that every event within the range of time it is impossible to establish any ana- and space. Your correspondent asks, logy between that which is frail and “what adequate idea can possibly be finite, and that which is perfect and formed of such minute and incessant infinite. In pursuing subjects of this attention being necessary to uphold kind, it is necessary, as a first step, the harmony and good order of the to divest the mind of every idea of whole? The huinan mind is bewilthat limitation and uncertainty which dered on the very threshold of the must attend all human operations. conjecture.” And well it may be. Infinity adınits of no limitations and But here he falls into the error which of no degrees,
I have pointed out, conceiving of the I would here remark that the illus. Divine nature by the limited standtration of the two watches, which your ard of his own. Is it not presumpcorrespondent employs, is not fairly tuous to pronounce that such are not applicable to the subject. We con- the design and operations of Omnissider the one a more perfect piece cience? Surely it is most honourable of mechanism than the other, because to the Deity to extend and not to the attention of the artist is not di- narrow the sphere of his energy. rected from any other pursuit to Mr. L. justly observes, “ What is attend to it. But this does not apply the difference in the estimation of to the operations of the Almighty. perfect wisdom, between the highest Could we conceive that infinite space, state of human refinement, and its with all the creatures it contains, were most humiliating imbecility? They infinitely multiplied, still an infinite can be no other than equal in his Being would be equally adequate to parental regard.” And where then its support and guidance.
are we to draw the line between the In the formation of the universe, lowest of our own species, and all the Deity must have had a certain the successive gradations of created design; and to accomplish this, he beings ? Why should not the life of must necessarily have employed those every sparrow be the object of the means and those alone, which would care and solicitude of its Maker? best produce it. It is absurd to sup- Why should not every worm of our pose that Infinite Wisdom would cre- gardens, and every gnat of the interate beings without any object, or that minable desert, enjoy the regard of Infinite Power would form such as infinite benevolence ? did not in every respect answer their According to the foregoing views, intended end. "It follows, therefore, the doctrine of a particular Provithat every creature, and in like man- dence falls naturally to the ground. ner every event, contributes in its For as every event must have its requisite share to the purposes of the proper end in the purposes of the Supreme Mind.
Deity, none can possibly occur, withTo a Being of unlimited knowledge out being requisite as a link in the and power, all events, whether past great chain. 'However extraordinary or future, must be equally present, therefore to human comprehension equally easy to effect-the grandest certain ordinations of Proviilence may and the most trivial to human com- appear, it is evident that they could prehension alike requiring the exer- not in reality have been otherwise. tion only of the Almighty will. Such events, nevertheless, though cerEvery portion of his creation, ani- tain and necessary in themselves, are mate and inanimate, must be known to us perfectly contingent; and to to him, and occupy an equal share of a well-disposed mind, this view will his attention.
excite as much gratitude for unexSo far from shrinking from “ the pected mercies, as that which repreunavoidable conclusions which must sents them as peculiar interpositions be admitted, before we can conceive of divine favour. that the whole human race is under I know not, Sir, whether I shall such minute superintendence,” I rea- have inade my ideas as intelligible as dily close in with them, requiring I could desire. If what 1 have writonly that the same principles should ten should contribute to produce in be extended to every creature, to any one a clearer and more uniform