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there were, or, however, to those which were prior to the production of our world. Let us then view the awful Majesty of heaven, surrounded with ineffable glory, and enthroned in absolute perfection, beyond conception blessed in the consciousness of unbounded plenitude. What motive could influence him, who already enjoyed complete perfection and happiness, to call unsubstantial nothing into existence? What could be the views of infinite Wisdom in speaking a world into being ? No prospect of any addition to his own perfection or happiness : for that which · was already infinite, what addition could it receive? Could the adorable Creator propose to be more than infinitely perfect and happy? It is evident, his sole view mustjhave been to the happiness of the creatures he was to produce. His own was ever, and ever must be, unbounded, undiminished, and unchanged. The addition of happiness therefore, which was to be produced, was to be bestowed upon those who were not yet created. Does then Divine Goodness extend to that which has no existence? Does the Universal Parent think of what is not? We, poor, narrow souls ! think it a nighty stretch of benevolence, if we can bring ourselves to regard with some measure of affection those of our fellow-creatures, who stand most nearly connected with us; in loving whom, we do little more than love ourselves, or love our friends and relations for our own sakes. If there be a mind yet more generous, it may take in its country, or the human species. A benevolence still more extensive may perhaps enlarge itself so wide as to comprehend within its generous embrace the varjous orders of being which form the universal scale; descending from the flaming seraph to the humble reptile. Nor indeed can any mind sincerely love the Almighty Maker, and hate, or despise any of the works of the same hand, which formed itself. But the Divine Benevolence is as far beyond all this, as infinitude is larger than any limited space. How peevish, and apt to take offence at

: every trifling injury, are narrow-hearted mortals ! Yet what are the insults our fellow-worms can offer us, when compared with the atrociousness of an offence committed by the dust of the earth against the Infinite Majesty of the universe ? Though the Omniscient Creator from eternity


foresaw that the creatures he was to form would prove rebellious and disobedient; that they would violate all his wise and sacred laws, and insult his sovereign honour, as Governor of the world; has he grudged to give them existence; to bestow upon them a temporary happiness; to make his sun shine and his rain descend on all promiscuously : and put it in the power of all to attain perfection, happiness, and glory? What neglect of every duty and obligation; how many acts of fraud, oppression, and cruelty; how many horrid execrations and infernal blasphemies does every day record against the daring race of men around the world ? Yet seldom does the Divine vengeance break loose upon the impious offenders. Our wicked species, if there were no other lawless order of creatures in the universe, are ever offending. And yet the thunder seldom strikes the guilty dead. Earthquakes and inundations are rarely let loose. A few cities purged by fire, and a world cleansed by a deluge once in six thousand years, serve just to put unthinking mortals in remembrance that there is a power above them. So that every moment of the duration of the world is an universal witness, declaring to all the nations of the earth, in a language distinctly intelligible to all, the goodness of the Maker and Governor of the universe. At the same time that the prince of angels receives from the immediate communications of the Divine Goodness, beatitude past utterance, the humble peasant rejoices in his bounty, with which the fields are enriched, and the fair face of nature is adorned. Even the lonely savage in the wilderness, the sordid reptile in the dust, and the scaly nations which people the unfathomable deep, all taste of the bounty, and are supported by the unlimited goodness of the Universal Parent, who opens his unwearied hand liberally, and satisfies every living soul.

If human understanding apprehends any thing according to truth and right, the benevolent character is the proper

object of the love of every rational mind, as the contrary is the natural object of aversion. If every human, or other finite mind, is more or less amiable, according as it has more or less of this excellent disposition; it is evident, that Infinite Goodness is infinitely amiable. Who is be, that pretends to think and reason, and bas po pleasure in contemplating the Divine Goodness? Who can reflect upon such goodness and not admire it? who can admire and not endeavour to imitate it? Who can imitate it, and not be an universal blessing? Who can be an universal blessing, and not be happy?

If the Divine Goodness be evidently disinterested, it being impossible that the smallest happiness should, from any enjoyed by the creatures, be added to that of the Crew ator, which is necessarily infinite; it is plain what makes real and perfect goodness of disposition in any mind, viz. a propensity to contribute to the happiness of others, without any view to self-interest. In so far as a view to one's own happiness is the motive to his exerting himself for the good of his fellow-creatures, in so far it has less of the truly worthy and commendable in it. For self-love, being merely instinctive, has nothing praise-worthy. And to promote the happiness of others for the sake of adding to one's own, is what the most selfish and sordid character is capable of. To be truly benevolent, is to imitate the Deity ; to do good for the sake of doing good; to be bountiful from the disposition of the mind, from universal love and kindness, from rational considerations of the intrinsic excellence of that godlike disposition; not from mere weak and effeminate softness of nature.

It is strange that ever it should have been questioned, whether it is reasonable for dependant creatures to address themselves to their Infinite Creator for the supply of their wants. Yet books have been written to show the unreasonableness of prayer.

“The Supreme Being,” says an objector, “ knows whether I am worthy to receive favours at his hand, and what I most need, before I apply to him. * If I am worthy he will bestow, whether I ask or not: If not, he will not be prevailed on by any solicitation to bestow upon an unworthy object. If I ask what is unfit for me, he is too wise and good to grant it; and if I ask what is fit, I gain nothing: for he would have bestowed it upon me of his own goodness, without my asking."

There cannot be a more egregious fallacy than that on which this objection is founded. For it is evident, that, if it be rational to think of ourselves as beings dependant upon the Supreme, it is rational for us to express our de

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pendance ; if it be reasonable for us to express our dependance on our Creator, it is unjustifiable in us to neglect it; so that I can in no propriety of speech be said to be a worthy object of the Divine favour, till I actually address myself to him. Again, it is evident, that no degree of homage, or submission, ought to be wanting from dependant creatures to their Creator. But the service of both body and mind is a greater degree of homage, than that of the mind alone. Šo that till I yield the bodily homage, as well as that of the thind, my service is deficient, which renders me an unworthy object of the Divine favour.

It is likewise remarkable, that many of the more rational and pious writers on this subject have laboured to represent the whole rationale of the duty of prayer as consisting in the advantage which is thereby to accrue to the worshipper, by improvement in piety and goodness. It is true, that the moral effects likely to be produced by the constant observance of this most important duty, are of great and inestimable consequence, which renders it a most useful instrument for those noble purposes. Did men habitually observe the practice of addressing themselves to their Creator, with an awful sense of his infinite greatness and authority over them; such a fixed impression must in time be thereby made upon their minds, as would prove a restraint from vice, at all times, and in all cases, equally powerful. Did people make a point of applying constantly and regularly to the Giver of every good gist, they could hardly miss entertaining in their minds an habitual sense of their absolute dependance upon him; of gratitude for his bounties received; and of studying obedience, in order to his future favour. What man could be so hardened as to go on daily lamenting and confessing his offences, and daily repeating them? Who could presumptuously be guilty of a crime, which he knew he must the same day confess to his all-seeing Judge, and implore the pardon of it? He, who kept up his constant intercourse with his Creator, must find himself very pow. ! erfully influenced by it, and improved in every pious and worthy disposition. But besides all this, it is evidently in itself a reasonable service; and is to be considered not only as a noble and valuable means of moral improvement,

but as a positive act of virtue ; it being as proper virtue to render to God the honour and worship due to him, as to give to men their just rights: and to withhold from him what he has the most unquestionable title to, being as much an injustice (with the atrocious addition of its being committed against the greatest and best of beings) as to withhold from a fellow-creature his just property. There is also plainly a connexion in nature and reason, between asking and receiving, and between neglecting to ask and not receiving. This natural connexion makes it reasonable for dependant creatures to expect to obtain their reasonable requests; and to conclude that what they do not think it worth while to ask they shall not receive. If there were not such a connexion and foundation in reason for this duty, it had never been commanded by the all-wise Lawgiver of the universe; nor come to be universally practised by the wisest and best of mankind, in all ages and nations. Nor is there any greater difficulty in conceiving the possibility of a pre-established scheme in the Divine economy, according to which the blessings of Heaven, whether of a spiritual or tenporal nature, should be granted to those who should ask, and be found fit to receive them, than in any other instance of Providence, or than in the future happiness of the good part of mankind, and not of the wicked.

If the Supreme Being be One, he is the proper object of the adoration of all reasonable beings, because, having all things in his absolute disposal, without possibility of being thwarted or controled by any one, if we can gain bis good will, we cannot want that of any other. If He be kind and good in the most disinterested manner, and to the highest degree, even extending his bounty to the wicked and rebellious, and preserving them in existence who make no use of their existence but to offend Him; it is reasonable to hope, that He will lend a propitious ear to the humble requests of the virtuous and pious part of his creatures. If he has all things in his power, and can bestow without measure, gifts both spiritual and temporal, without diminishing his inexhaustible riches, to apply to him is going where we are sure we shall not be disappointed through want of ability to supply us. If he is

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