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quarter, prove nothing more, than that man is as presumptuous as he is ignorant and weak.
That the method which God made use of to redeem man by the death of Christ, is very
different from that which a modern Philosopher would have made use of, may be admitted, without in the leastimpeaching either the propriety or the wisdom of that method. That God's proceedings are always infinitely wise, is most certain; but he does not conduct himself on the principles of mere human wisdom “ His ways are not as our ways,
nor his thoughts as our thoughts.” It is not always in man to perceive the fitness of those means which God makes use of to obtain his ends; though there can be no doubt but they are the fittest that could have been imagined. Who could have supposed, that the way to exalt Joseph to the highest pinnacle of worldly grandeur and prosperity, was to sell him as a slave to a company of travelling Ishmaelites* ? What apparent proba
* In this, and perhaps one or two other places, a few remarks from other authors have, I believe, (in the course of my reading many years ago) insensibly mingled themselves with my own.
But who those authors were I cannot at this distance of time distinctly recollect. 9
bility bility was there, that Goliah, the great champion of the Philistines, should fall by the hand of a stripling, unused to arms, and furnished only with a stone and a sling ? How indignant was the mighty Syrian, Naaman, when he was told that, in order to be cured of his leprosy, he must wash himself seven times in Jordan ? He expected something very different from this." “ Behold, I thought,” says he, “ that " the Man of God will surely come out to me,
and stand and call on the name of the 66 Lord his God, and strike his hand over " the place, and recover the leper. Are not “ Abana and Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, “ better than all the waters of Israel ? May “ I not wash in them, and be clean* ?” So reasoned this wise man; and so would any other wise man of modern times have reasoned on this occasion. But it proved in this, as it will in every other instance, “ the foolishness 66 of God was wiser than men; and the “ weakness of God was stronger than ment." He washed in Jordan, and was clean.
Nay, even in the ordinary course of God's providence, what a number of things do we
2 Kings v. 11. of 1 Cor. i. 25,
see conducted in a manner totally different from what one should naturally expect? To instance only in that daily bread, which is the chief support of life. How comes it to pass, may the disputers of this world
that so much trouble and pains are requisite to produce so essential an article for our sustenance as this? What occasion can there be, that it should go through so tedious a process, such a long train of preparatory operations, before it becomes fit for use ? How strange does it seem, that the grain, which is to be our food, should first of all be buried in the ground; there remain for some time invisible and useless, and apparently dead g; then spring forth with fresh life, and in a new form; arrive by
§ Apparently dead. The sacred writers saw that the grain actually vlies*: and Voltaire, in his Question sur l'Encyclopedie t, triumphs not a little in this supposed
But a much better physiologist than Mr. Voltaire (I mean Mr. Bonet, of Geneva) affirms, that the position may be justified as philosophically true. The exterior integument of the grain does most certainly corrupt and die. It is the germ only, or principle of vegetation, which remaios and lives, L'Enveloppe du grain perit, & de son interieur sort une plante bien differente de cette enveloppe."--Essai Analytique, &c. pur Mr. Bonet, i Bibliotheque des Sciences, 1772. Prem. part. p. 145.
+ Article Agriculture.
1 Cor, xv. 36.
slow degrees, to a state of maturity, and afterwards employ a prodigious number of hands; undergo a great variety of changes, and assume many different appearances, before it can be manufactured into that solid substance, which affords so much strength and nourishment to man? Might not Providence have obtained the same end by much more obvious and expeditious means? Might not our daily bread be rained down upon us at once from heaven, like the manna of the Israelites; or be made to vegetate on trees, as is the case in some parts of the southern hemisphere, where nature has left no other trouble to man but to gather his bread and eat it, whilst we are forced to labour after it through innumerable difficulties and delays? These questions are just as modest and as proper as those we are apt to ask concerning the mode of our Redemption. And as we find that Providence has not thought fit to humour our prejudices, and conform to our ideas, in the one case, why should we expect it in the other? We may, in both cases, with equal truth and justice, say,
" Where is “ the wise ? where is the scribe? where is Vol. II.
Let us sup
as the disputer of this world? Hath not God u made foolish the wisdom of this world *?" But let us descend a little more to particulars.
We are told, that to save mankind from the punishment due to their sins, the promulgation of a free pardon, on the part of God, would have been fully sufficient.
Let us suppose then for a moment, that this had actually been the case. pose,
that the Son of God, or some other divine messenger, had been sent on earth merely to tell mankind, that they need be under no apprehensions about the consequences of their sins, for that they would all be freely forgiven; and that, provided they behaved better for the future, they would be received into the favour of God, and rewarded with everlasting life. What do
think must have been the consequence of such a general unqualified act of grace and indemnity as this? Would it not have given the world reason to imagine, that God was regardless of the conduct of his creatures, and that there was little or no danger in transgressing his laws ? * 1 Corinth.i. 20,