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anankind would have been destitute of those dispositions and virtues which are their highest perfection, and the source of their purest happiness. Where would have been patience and forgiveness of injuries; where the godlike disposition of returning good for evil, if there had been no fraud, or cruelties, or oppression exercised?" "Had the good and virtuous of mankind been wholly prosperous in this world," says an excellent person; "had goodness never met with opposition, where had been the trial, the victory, and the crown of virtue?" It is by a resistance to the alluring enticements to unlawful gratification of the inferior appetites and passions, and resolutely turning away from fascinating pleasure, that habits of tempe rance, chastity, and a virtuous self-denial are acquired. If, by stifling that kind, mutual affection which is nature's dictate to all, we had not become eager to grasp every advantage to ourselves, seeking only our own indulgence by every means, ambitious, envious, unjust, trampling upon the rights and happiness of other men, impatient of rebuke and contradiction, revengeful, unawed by any fear of God, and his just awards; there would have been no dangers to encounter with; no hardships nor miseries, no persecutions in the cause of truth and virtue to endure; no conflicts between an unswerving integrity and honesty on the one hand, and a compliance with the mean views of interest and worldly greatness on the other; and we should have wanted those noble examples of undissembled piety, of meekness, fortitude, magnanimity,

nimity, disinterested zeal for and pursuit of the public good, not of one nation, but of all mankind, which have stimulated the good in all ages to the like virtuous exertions and attainments. So that, as it has been justly said of natural evil, pain, diseases, and the like, in vindication of the divine goodness, that there is no useless evil; so must we say of moral evil, sin, and wickedness; that, in the hands of God, every evil of every kind is made an instrument of greater good, and higher felicity, than would otherwise have been enjoyed.

Photinus was going on, as if he had something further to produce, when Volusian starting up in a kind of ecstasy, uttering the words of our great poet, Just are the ways of God,

And justifiable to men;

Unless there be who think not God at all;
If any be, they walk obscure*:

You will pardon me, my friends, said he, this abrupt interference, and I hope Photinus will excuse me thus rudely breaking in upon him, to give vent to the happiness I feel this day in hearing from him so desirable a vindication of Providence, in respect of the calamities and painful sufferings, the abounding vice and misery of this lower world; that the whole has its origin in, and will in the end be found to be a part of, the divine goodness.

This is the clue so earnestly wished and sought for

Sampson Agonistes.


by us in the course of our argument and inquiry, to guide us through the mighty maze, and quiet the mind under the serious perplexities that arise from the view of these sad appendages of human life. In all ages, in seeking to account for such a state of things, consistently with the divine attributes, learned and thoughtful men, among other devices, have most commonly had recourse to the supposition, that it was in consequence of crimes committed in a former period of existence, that mankind were thrust into these dreary abodes of pain and misery, to expiate their previous guilt, and that this amply justified the divine Being in bringing us into such a world. But this was always found to be a fairy-land of imagination merely, without any facts or reality to support it; no passenger of all the sons or daughters of men ever having retained in memory the faintest trace of such a state; and the fond supposition served only to amuse and soothe the inventors and their followers.

In deed and truth, this, with which Photinus hath furnished us, is the only key that effectually unlocks the intricate wards of the divine government, and solves the difficulties of man's lot and destiny in this first stage of his existence.

I hope he will excuse my repeating his argument in a few words, that he may see I have not mistaken him.

"That a Being of infinite wisdom and power, and the most perfect goodness, desirous of the happiness


of his creatures, has made, appoints and regulates all things:"

"That according to certain laws, perceived and acknowledged by all who will be at the pains to consider his works, he governs the world of nature; feeds and preserves in life and happiness the whole sensitive inferior creation of birds and beasts, insects and fishes, &c. for their destined term of existence, longer or shorter; and renews and continues the species of each from age to age:"

"That he also takes care of and governs his rational creation, according to their different natures, leading them to their chief good, to piety and virtue ; all their powers and all their good actions proceeding from him; and all that is bad and evil and irregular in them alike being from him, and under his controul, and permitted only to a certain degree and limit, so as to promote his designs of universal virtue and happiness."

For want of seeing the perfect benevolence of the Deity in the light in which this just representation places him, as connected with a righteous moral government, begun here, and going on to its completion in another state, some great characters have sunk into most unhappy and baneful errors. The late king of Prussia, Frederick, the great, as he is called, here stumbled and fell, so as never to recover: and as I persuade myself it will not lead us out of the way of our present inquiries, I would crave your permis

sion to dwell a little on his story, from the materials with which he himself has furnished us.

From the writings probably of Leibnitz, and others, and the penetrating researches of an ardent mind, this prince was led very early to embrace sentiments concerning the necessity of human actions, which in the end he appears to have carried much farther than his teachers would have' approved. On his first acquaintance and correspondence with M. de Voltaire, begun in 1737, when only prince royal, we find him thus expressing himself at the close of his defence of these sentiments, in reply to the objections of that celebrated writer:


"I will add one remark *,” "to what says he, has gone before; which is, that neither free-will nor necessity exculpates the Deity from being a party to the crimes of his creatures. For, whether he gives us a liberty to do evil, or directly prompts us to it, it is all the same; it is still his doing. In going back to the origin of evil, you must ascribe it to God, unless you espouse the sentiment of the Manicheans concern


Je n'ajouterai qu'une reflection à celles que je viens de faire, c'est que ni le franc arbitre, ni la fatalité absolue, ne disculpent pas la Divinité de sa participation au crime: car que Dieu nous donne la liberté de mal faire, ou qu'il nous pousse immédiatement au crime, cela revient à peu près au même; il n'y a que du plus ou du moins. Remontez à l'origine du mal, vous ne pouvez que l'attribuer à Dieu, à moins que vous ne voulez embrasser l'opinion des Manichéens touchant les deux principes; ce qui ne laisse pas d'être hérissé de difficultés. Le 17 Fevrier, 1738.

Correspondance de Frederic II. Roy de Prusse, tome premier, 1789, p. 225.

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