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versions ; but is so far from being the ob-. ject of them, that it is regretted by all sportsmen of amiable feelings, and dimi. nished by them as much as possible. Besides, if beings superior to us-approaching more nearly to the nature of the Supreme Being---take pleasure in the sufferings of all beings inferior to them, we must conclude that God takes pleasure in the misery of every being in the universe; than which a more horrid notion never entered into the human mind : it strikes at once at the root of all religion, it deprives man of every hope of happiness in any possible state, and represents God (horresco referens !) as the most detestable being in existence. This author, however, 'is not him. self satisfied with this hypothesis ; and accordingly conjectures that evil may possibly be some partial defect, utterly inconsiderable when compared with the whole of the
stupendous system of Providence, which he assures us is undoubtedly perfect-he knows not how-though some of its parts may be defective. This supposition is as absurd as the former. The imperfection of any part of God's works directly militates against our notions of his infinite wisdom : and the human mind cannot conceive the perfection of a whole, as any thing but the result of the perfection of all its parts.
Lucretius, from the supposed imperfection of parts of the system of nature, denies it to be the production of a Deity.
Nam, quamvis rerum ignorem primordia quæ sint,
And certainly, the premisses being admitted, the Roman's conclusion is inevitable. If there is a self-existing Being, the creator of all things, he must be infinitely perfect; for there can be no effect without a cause, and what could set limits to his perfections ? And every production, and every part of every production, of an infinitely perfect being, must be infinitely perfect. Supposing, then, that the system of nature is the work of such a Being, we may conclude, a priori, that the imperfection imputed to that system by Epicurus and Soame Jenyns exists not therein, but in their own imperfect views of it.
Archbishop King * attempts to show, that physical evils are the necessary consequences of the laws of matter and motion, and that those consequences could not be prevented without a perpetual miracle. This is, in fact, to say that we are made of bad materials, and that God could not have
* Essay on the Origin of Evil.
made us of better : it is to adopt Democritus's theory of the intractability of matter, and to suppose that God is not what Mr. Godwin hopes the human mind will be omnipotent over it. Any argument, how, ever, founded on this supposition, will have little weight with any one, who, with you, believes that matter can have no qualīties, and nature no laws, but such as are given to them by God; and that God could have given them any qualities and laws he thought proper.
Surely it could not have escaped his grace's sagacity, that a perpetual miracle is a contradiction in terminis: a miracle is a deviation from the usual course of nature; and consequently any perpetual operation of nature would be one of what we call her laws, and not a miraculous deviation therefrom. His grace, however, supposes that some substitute for this perpetual miracle was provided in Paradise for the protoplasts, in the tree of life, whose fruit was to preserve mankind, to all eternity, from pain, disease, decay, and death; and that Adam and all his posterity were for his sin deprived of this miraculous tree, and given up to the deleterious laws of matter and motion.
This leads to the question, Why God suffered the creatures—whom, we are told, he made in his own image-to sin, and thereby incur his displeasure and all its dreadful consequences ?
This is, indeed, a perplexing question; and various, inconsistent, and unsatisfactory, are the answers which have been given to it. A brief examination of some of these answers shall be the subject of my next letter.