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This , gentlemen , I am very willing to do . I believe nature to Be but a part , because I believe the Author of * nature to be perfectly good . Perfect benevolence is in my mind included within the idea I form of God , whom therefore I regard as a
father , meaning thereby one , not only from whom life proceeds , but who loves and blesses those whom he has brought into existence : agreeably to this idea , I arm convinced that God loves his creatures not collectively only , but individually also , and therefore that the happiness of every one is an object of his attention . It is surely not thus with nature . The preservation of the race , the support and welfare of the species , are admirably
provided for by her ; the consequence ot which is , that to the generality of individuals life , so long as it continues , proves in the naain a considerable blessing ; but still it is undeniable that numbers are sacrificed or neglected—they bear indeed no proportion to the mass , and with this she is satisfied . She intends ,
it is true , harm to none , but good to all ; nevertheless , she suffers misery to become the portion of many a one . Therefore whilst the beneficence of her administration towards mankind at large , is highly entitled to praise and gratitude , her unconcern for the fate of individuals is not seldom attended with all the
effects of deliberate cruelty ; besides , though her regulations promote the happiness of men in general whilst they live , yet careful only to prevent the extinction of the race , she yields them all up to destruction successively , and thus far may be said to act cruelly towards alL Thus far , were she to be considered as our parent , she must be confessed to shew very little
of maternal affection towards her children ; as a parent , hbw ^ ever , the atheist , if he confeses any , must consider her , as to her only he can ascribe the existence both of himself and all that he sees . But those who believe in God disclaim nature as
a parent t they venerate in her , it may be said 5 to keep up th $ personification , the minister of the Deity , not entrusted however with the perpetual government of his universal empire £ for were this the case , it would be the same in fact as if she were our parent , but presiding only for a limited period over a comparatively small portion of his boundless dominion .
Entertaining this conception of her , they firmly believe that whatever she does is right ; they do not pretend indeed that what she does appears always right to them , or would be so in reality , did it not bear a reference to a subsequent and more extensive administration . Many of her proceedings , were her laws the immutable statutes of all 3-ges , and not merely temporary
regulations , they would be compelled , they would not scruple to pronounce cruel and unjust : many of these , I say , were she the supreme ruler , or which conies to the same , did the vvhote q |
Reflection of Dr . Jortm s * 17
vol . i . d
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1806, page 17, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1720/page/17/