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GOODNESS OF GOD IN THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD IN THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL.
Can He be good, under whose supreme government pain exists? Many of the complaints of those who are discontented with the system of the uśiverse arise from the mere limitation of our faculties and enjoyments; a limitation, in which ingratitude would find an argument, in whatever state of being short of absolute divinity, it might be placed ; and even though possessing all the functions of divinity, from the moment at which it was created, might still look back through eternity, and complain with the same reason, that it had not been created earlier to the exercise of those sublime functions.
It surely is not necessary, for the proof of benevolence on the part of the Divine Being, that man should be himself a god; that he should be omniscient or omnipotent, any more than that he should have existed from eternity. His senses, with all his other faculties, are limited, because they are the faculties of a created being. It would be reasonable, (even though no advantage could be traced as the consequence of the occasional evils of life) to ascribe these rather to purposes unknown to us, than to purposes that are malevolent. If the inhabitant of some other planet were to witness the kindness and solicitude of a father for his child, in his long watchfulness of love, and were then to see the same parent force the child, notwithstanding its cries, to swallow some bitter potion, he would surely conclude, not that the father was cruel, but that the child was to derive benefit from the very potion which he loathed. What that benefit was, deed, it would be impossible for him to conceive, but he would not conceive the less that the intention was benevolent. He would feel his own ignorance of the constitution of things on earth, and would be confident, that if he knew this constitution better, the seeming inconsistency of the affection, and the production of suffering, would be removed.
The presumption, then, as to the goodness of God, even in the apparent evils of the system in which man is placed, would be a reasonable presumption, though with our limited comprehension, we were incapable of discovering the advantages that flow from these particular seeming evils. What we see clearly might be regarded as throwing light on other parts of the immense whole, which are too dim for our feeble vision.-Brown.
The world abounds with contrivances: and all the contrivances which we are acquainted with, are directed to beneficial purposes. Evil, no doubt, exists; but 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. In describing implements of husbandry, you would hardly say of the sickle, that it is made to cut the reaper's hand; though, from the construction of the instrument, and the manner of using it, this mischief often follows. But if you had occasion to describe instruments of torture, or execution; this engine, 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 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 calculated to produce pain and disease; or, in explaining the parts of the human body, ever said, this is to irritate; this to inflame; this duct 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 to torment.-- Paley.
Shall he, whose birth, maturity, and age,
One part, one little part, we dimly scan,
CRITICAL NOTICES OF NEW WORKS.
No FICTION :-A Narrative founded on recent and interesting facts.
By ANDREW Reed, D.D. Post 8vo. Ninth edition.
London :--Ward and Co. Paternoster-row.
When we remember what vivid impressions are produced by the tales of the nursery on the infant mind, we cannot wonder that the same mind, even in more mature life, should still be attracted and held by what is merely fictitious. We have therefore no sympathy with those who would cry down every work of fiction. In
many instances, fictitious writing may prove a happier and more successful medium, for the illustration and communication of great and important truth. It is so in the work before us. Dr. Reed has made fiction the vehicle of conveying to the mind the most impressive lessons of our holy religion. But still the narrative is founded on fact; and the incidents which it relates, are of the most interesting and affecting character. It is the production of no ordinary mind; and the reputation which it has obtained for its author in both hemispheres, and on either side of the Atlantic, is undying and perpetual.
MARTHA :— The Memorial of an Only and Beloved Sister. By
ANDREW REED. D.D. Third edition.
London :---Ward and Co. Paternoster-row.
Taking this Memoir, as a faithful portraiture of its subject, it is unquestionably one of rare excellence. It is but seldom we can meet, or have fellowship with such a spirit. And yet, on Dr. Reed's veracity, we have here “the history of mind ;” and that in giving the “matured, moral, and religious character” of his departed relative, he has “ fallen far short of the holy and sublime elevation of the original.”
The work has been translated into other languages, and has obtained a wide circulation in the United States of America. Its perusal cannot fail to be salutary to every pious heart. And therefore we recommend it to our readers, as a work of both piety and instruction.
The BENEVOLENCE OF GOD TOWARDS ALL MANKIND : -- A
Sermon delivered at Bilston and Ramsgate. By the Rev. JAMES MATHER. Royal 12mo, pp. 28.
London :-.J. Snow, Paternoster-row.
The author's reasons for publishing this discourse, are thus briefly stated by himself :-"Being at Ramsgate for the benefit of the air and sea, he was kindly desired to supply the pulpit of the Rev. J. M. Daniell, he being out of town. This he did, and he judged he could not do better than place the Benevolence of God before the congregation; having reasons to conclude that he and the minister were agreed on that subject. A scene took place which is seldom, if ever, witnessed in the house of God. Before half the discourse was delivered, the congregation became manifestly uneasy, and as he proceeded, not less than fifty individuals retired from the place; several expressing great disapprobation, and some going so far as to charge the preacher with speaking blasphemy. Going to the sands the following morning, a respectable deacon of a church in London introduced himself; and after stating who he was, and the satisfaction he had received in what he had heard, advised him hy all means to publish the sermon, urging as a reason, the justification of his own sentiments and conduct."
For an occasional sermon, the author could have selected no topic we conceive, more generally accordant with the presiding feelings and sentiments of a christian heart
. And, beyond all question, he had an undoubted right to present his subject in its argument and illustration in the light in which he deemed to be most scriptural and consistent. But we deny the right of any hearer to interfere with the sentiments addressed from the pulpit, in the way and manner, in which certain parties did with our author. If they differed from him, considering the constitution of the human mind, nothing was more natural ; but to make their opinions the standard to which the views and sentiments of a preacher should be conformed, is what we can never admit. But enough for the ground of difference.
The theme selected by our author, is one of the most sublime and elevated. But, though we think the argument for the Benevolence of God to all Mankind, capable of the most triumphant defence, and are of opinion that the preacher has seized on its leading features, still we cannot but admit, that he might have availed himself of other and more felicitous modes of expressing himself. The combinations are sometimes very unhappy, and might easily have been avoided. It is this, perhaps, which rendered some of his statements so obnoxious to those who became so manifestly uneasy, under their delivery. Still, for the doctrine itself, we would earnestly contend ; and hope it will never fail to be, above all others, the one theme of pulpit ministration,
The ReyIVAL OF Religion. By JAMES DOUGLAS, Esq. of Cavers. Third edition. 12mo, pp. 24.
London :---J. Dinnis, Paternoster-row. We can only introduce this invaluable tract to the notice of our readers. We cannot enter into its vitally-important subject.
But every christian should immediately possess himself of it. "It is worth its weight in gold,
Though our chief attention is directed to seamen and their eternal welfare, and though we must ever feel the deepest interest in the existence and success of every means which is likely to bear on their state and circumstances as intelligent and immortal beings, still we cannot but rejoice in the progress of the great work of moral reformation, among other portions of the community. We have been led to this remark by the wellauthenticated fact, that, in some parts of Scotland, there has recently been a most remarkable revival of religion,-not confined to one sect or party, but extending to all, and terminating in the most palpable and positive results. For while the tone of piety has been greatly strengthened among those who had professed the faith, many of the most thoughtless and indifferent, of the most abandoned and profane, have been unable to resist the force of truth, and have therefore yielded their minds to its power and influence. Oh! it is truly refreshing to turn the eye to those newly-watered spots, and see how they thrive and flourish beneath the copious showers of heaven! And, were but the church universally to be thus visited, -were the Holy Ghost only to come down and rest on the whole body of the faithful, then the long-expected hour of the world's redemption may be said to have arrived. For “why is the world not converted ? Not because the heart is hard and hostile, not because the powers of the world are opposed to the kingdoms of Christ, but because Zion is asleep,-has fallen from her high estate,-has ceased to strive in the moral warfare." Had the church never lost her devotion, she had never lost her dominion over the world. And even now, were each christian to act upon “ the all overcoming principle'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me,'-—and did this spirit prevail, then the millennium were begun. For what is the millennium, but a pouring out of the divine Spirit without restriction or measure ? and what is the latter day effusion of the Spirit,