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ON A PARTICULAR PROVIDENCE. How mysterious are the ways of Providence! Why did I receive grace and mercy? Why was I preserved, afflicted for my good, received, as I trust, into favor, and blessed with the greatest happiness I can ever know or hope for in this life, while others were overtaken by the great arrest, unawakened, unrepent ing, and every way unprepared for it? His infinite wisdom, to whose infinite mercy I owe it all, can solve these questions, and none beside him. If I am convinced that no affliction can befall me without the permission of God, I am convinced, likewise, that he sees and knows that I am afflicted. Believing this, I must in the same degree believe that, if I pray to him for deliverance, he hears me; I must needs know likewise with equal assurance that, if he hears, he will also deliver me, if that will, upon the whole, be most conducive to my happiness; and if he does not deliver me, I may be well assured that he has none but the most benevolent intention in declining it. He made us, not because we could add to his happiness, which was always perfect, but that we might be happy ourselves; and will he not, in all his dispensations towards us, even in the minutest, consult that end for which he made us ? To suppose the contrary, is (which we are not always aware of) affronting every one of his attributes; and at the same time the certain consequence of disbelieving his care for us is, that we renounce utterly our dependence upon him. In this view, it will appear plainly that the line of duty is not stretched too tight, when we are told that we ought to accept every thing at his hands as a blessing, and to be thankful even while we smart under the rod of iron with which he sometimes rules us. Without this persuasion, every blessing, however we may think ourselves happy in it, loses its greatest recommendation, and every affliction is intolerable. Death itself must be welcome to him who has this faith, and he who has it not, must aim at it, if he is not a madman.
I From a letter to Lady Hesketh, dated Sept. 6, 1765.