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maintained, without divine administration. It is true, men are endowed with reason, and angels with more; but yet, both men and angels, being endued also with liberty, and being imperfect, might act against the light of their own minds, and fall into disorder; and accordingly, both of them have done so: on which account, were it not for God's providence and government, it is evident, that the moral world, as well as the natural, would become a mere chaos, and fall into inextricable confusion. Is it not necessary for the public security, that evil men and evil angels, should be curbed and restrained? Is it not necessary, that innocence should be protected, and virtue encouraged? That guilt should be exposed and prosecuted, and vice and villany checked and punished? But how shall any thing of this kind be effectually done, if God did not sit at the helm, dia rect all affairs, and dispose of all events, according to the rules of righteousness and truth?”
“ But in order to discover more fully the weakness of this plea against the necessity of divine providence, we need only take notice how it would hold in any human establishment. Is any thing to be done without rulers and governors? Supposing a set of laws, of the best laws already made, will they execute themselves? It is very true, that men have reason to direct them, and laws of various kinds; but it is likewise as true, that many men have wild humours, fierce desires, and furious pasa sions, which frequently prompt them to act in de
fiance both of law and reason; on which account, and for the enforcement and support of both, an executive power is, and ever will be, absolutely necessary in all states and communities: and must not this observation, hold much stronger in respect of the whole creation? If the several societies among men, require rulers and governors, and cannot subsist without them, what can we think of the universe itself? Must not the whole stand in greater need of government than any párt? Most certain, therefore, it is, that the all-wise creator, would never produce such a great and glorious system, and then leave it in a state of anarchy; this being utterly inconsistent with all the rules of wisdom that we are capable of discovering."
By these reasonings of Mr. Balguy, and by many other invincible arguments, the necessity of divine providence has been strongly manifested; but what God has been pleased to reveal on this subject, gives, to pious minds, superior satisfaction, They firmly believe, the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in behalf of them, whose heart is perfect towards him. They say, The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble.
To encourage us to regard the providence of the MOST HIGH, and to assist us in our meditations upon that subject, the ablest pens in all commupities, and in all countries, have been employed;
but none of them to better purpose than those pens which were made, used, and worn out, under oppression and affliction. Yet, it has long been, and still is the opinion of many, that if we have not a great degree of civil liberty, with health and uninterrupted leisure, our genius must be depressed, and that our productions will be unworthy notice: whereas, we are sure, that many have left behind them such lessons of instruction, on the most serious subjects, written with such energy of expression, such fulness of thought, and plenitude of unction, as the labored efforts of men at ease, have seldom been able to produce. The post of human observation is often perilous, and on that account, it is sometimes much to our advantage; for in the greatest perils, those objects are sometimes visible, which they who live at their ease, may have heard of, but never saw. They that do business in great waters, see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
Among those means by which we may best increase and improve our acquaintance with the mystery of providence, to give ourselves as much as possible, to the word of God and prayer, seems to be the first: next to this, both in order and importance, is frequent and serious meditations on past events; those especially, which are recorded in scripture, with repeated observations on the changing scenes of real life, and upon the effects of those variations on the minds of the self righteous, the pious, and profane: for he who does not b 2
thus occupy his own talent, will reap but little ad. vantage from the talents of others. The remarks of many probably are deeper, and more sagacious than our own; but on religious subjects, we shall derive but little advantage from them, unless we endeavor to excel those instructors, by the same means in which they endeavored to excel.
The connection between what is commonly called nature, providence, and grace, destroys not the distinction. A man may have many natural endowments and acquired abilities, or be destitute of those advantages, who is exposed to the most afflicting scenes of providence; and in those inevitable trials, he' may, or he may not be a partaker of that grace which bringeth salvation. There is, however, so much agreement between the operations of God in providence and in grace, that where the former are properly regarded, the latter cannot easily be slighted, or treated with disrespect.
For a practical purpose, and to promote that conversation which becometh the gospel of Christ, some of the best thoughts on providence I ever met with, except in the Bible, are those that occur in the following Essay of Mr. de Marolles. It was put into my hands, many years ago, in a time of affliction. I read it with pleasure, and much to my own advantage. Afterwards, I wished to edify others, by publishing a translation of that Essay, with some account of its venerable author. In
search of some authentic account of him, I met first, with the history of his sufferings, published at London, in 1712, and said to be “ done newly out of French.” The translator, was, I believe, a pious good man; but certainly better acquainted with piety than with the English language. From this history, I formed, as well as I could, the following historical account of Mr, de Marolles.
Afterwards, I met with Dr. Priestley's edition of an history of the sufferings of Mr. Lewis de Marolles, published in the year 1788. But as Dr. Priestley has "made no alteration from the former English edition, exceptingofa few words and phrases, which were become obselete, and sometimes in the division of sentences and paragraphs,” his edition afforded me but little assistance.
The Dr. speaking of Mr. de Marolles, and of Mr. Le Fevre, says, “Some, perhaps, may wonder that I should chuse to exhibit to this advantage, persons who appear to have thought very differently from myself, considering Jesus Christ as the supreme God, and addressing prayers to him?" I own, I was surprised to see an edition of this work by Dr. Priestley; but what advantage it receives from his name, unless it be his bearing witness to the good effect of principles, which he himself rejects, I am unable to discover. If by
considering Jesus Christ as the supreme God," the sense that unitarians put upon that phrase be intended, why should Dr. Priestley assert,