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propose the following, as a general method of procedure, in this examination ; sirst, to state, clearly and fairly, the meaning of my author; secondly, to examine his opinions, and consider whether they are true or false ; if false, then, thirdly, to present the public with what I consider to be truth.
We have, already, I think, discovered Mr. S.'s ideas of the greatest quantity of happiness. It isthe greatest glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom. And Mr. S. affirms that sin and misery are the necestary means of producing this greatest glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom.
That we may have his whole system in one view, we will now endeavor to obtain Mr. S.'s ideas of the divine benevolence.
Mr. S. fays, p, 109, "One of three things must certainly be true. Either 1st. That God is not a benevolent being.—Or 2dly. God hath not been a« ble to prevent misery.—Or 3dly. Insinite benevolence is consistent with the existence of misery, and this is doubtless the truth. 2. Benevolence is consistent with immediately appointing and producing misery."
In p. up, he says, " It appears that the following things are true concerning benevolence: First, That it is a love of the greatest quantity of happiness. Secondly, that it is consistent with the existence of misery, and with being the instrument of executing it. Thirdly, that it has regard to the greatest quantity
tity of happiness in society, and not to the happi-
We have now, perhaps, made quotations enough for the present purpose ; and may proceed to collect and present, in one view, our author's ideas, both of the greatest possible quantity of happiness ; and of the divine benevolence. The greatest possible quantity of happiness, is the greatest pubic or general good; or the greatest gpod of the whole ; or the greatest glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom.—This greatest glory and blesscdnels of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom, consists with the eternal misery of individuals—are promoted by this misery—yea, sin and misery are the necessary means of producing the greatest glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom!! —The divine benevolence consists in loving the greatest possible quantity of happiness; or in maintaining a supreme and inviolable attachment to his own greatest glory and bless-dness, and to the greatest glory anc- blessedness of his holy intelligent kingdom ; or in loving, and taking supreme delight in that glory and that blessedness, which are not promoted only, but necessarily produced, by sin and misery !! I
The picture is shocking ! —It is dreadful!! I truly pity every reader, who is not absolutely divested of every spark of piety and humanity. The seelings of every pious and humane foul must be intolerably wounded by such a representation of the ever glo* rious God ; the Father and the Friend of alibis creatures. The grossest and most corrupt fallhood must
lie at the foundation of such- a system as this. And it is very unfortunate for Mr. S., since he hath, with considerable parade and ostentation, stepped, forth as a champion for the truth, in this day of general decay of religion, and corruption of opinion, thet the foundation principles of his scheme of truth, should appear so grossly and palpably false and corrupt.
To undertake a formal refutation of Mr. S.'s apinions of the greatest possible happiness, and of the divine benevolence, would be an unpardonable imposition on the intellectual abilities of the lowest class of my readers.
If I were to aflc an American child, of ten years •sage, and of half common sense, whether the greatest domestic happiness consisted, in the happiness of a part of the family, and the sin and misery of the rest 5 or in the united happiness of the whole family, he would readily, and without the least premeditation answer, that the supreme happiness of a family consisted in the aggregate of the happiness of each individual.
And, if I were still to proceed with this child, and to aflc him which father were posstfsed of the truest benevolence, he who loved to contemplate the happiness of a part of his children joined with the sin and misery of the rest ?or he who cordially loved all his children, dealt kindly by them all, and endeavoured to promote the happiness of all? he would as promptly answer, as before, the latter;
the the latter is the truly benevolent father. This is the native voice of the human heart ;—it is the voice of reason ;— it is the voice of common and' unlettered sense.
I am very loth, in a candid, though critical, examination, to say hard things. Mr. S. is a gentleman of good natural and acquired abilities. But I cannot think he reasons so accurately and conse* quentially now, as he did twenty years ago. Instead of a formal refutation of the fundamental principles and opinions in Mr. S.'s system, I will beg leave to present him, and my sellow-citizens, with some few considerations on the supreme good of intelligent beings, and the divine benevolence.
The period in eternity was, if I may be allowed such an expression, when there was, a solitary God. No being in the universe but he. No creature existed. What then did the greatest glory and blessedness of God consist in ? Was He not as glorious and as blessed then, as He hath ever been since, or as He ever will be ? There was no sin, no misery then. Will Mr. S. fay, God was not so glorious, nor so happy, then, as he hath been since the introduction of sin and misery into the system ? I think he must say this, to be consistent; for he hath affirmed, that sin and misery are the necessary means of producing the greatest glory and blessedness of God. An unfortunate, and unfounded idea!
Did not virtue, holiness, and self-enjoyment, •ompose the glory and blessedness of God, in the