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One doubt more , Doctor , respecting your meaning , requires to be cleared up . You call nature cruel . Do you then ascribe intention to it ? Much of what you have now said seems , as
well as that expression , to imply no less . Yet , whether there be or be not a God , nature cannot with propriety be considered as an intelligent agent * To the theist it is the aggregate of alt the productions , operations , and laws of God , that belorfg to this present visible world : to the atheist it must be either
a term including all beings and events , or else a blind power that , without design , gives birth to whatever is , and to whatever happens . But how in any of these senses can it bepersonified ? Can cruelty or benevolence be predicated of it , otherwise thafi by a mere figure of speech , the introduction of which in such an argument , is by no means philosophical ?
I will not deny , gentlemen , that this way of speaking is far from being strictly just ; by me however it has been adopted only in compliance with the language of some atheists , who in a manner deify nature , and compliment it with divine attributes * though in nobigher a degree th ^ n is necessary to account for the indications of wise contrivance and benevolent design , so
manifest in our own frame , and in most of the objects that surround us . Thus in fact they often represent nature , not as the system of things we behold , nor yet as a cause destitute of thought and of will , but as a potent and intelligent being that has brought into existence all that live , and consequently as our parent . Now it is nature , under this point of view , it was my
aim , in the reflection you do me the honour of discussing , to contrast with that of God , of whose perfect goodness I entertain as little doubt as I do of his existence . I would farther observe , that as this last objection reaches only the expression I made use of , the expression might be changed , and yet the sentiment still remain the Same . This I say would undergo
no material alteration , were I to substitute m the room of the remark under consideration , the following words : If there be no God , there exists no one in the universe that cares for us all , and who sooner or later will deliver us from every evil we experience or apprehend , and effectually provide for our lasting
and substantial comfort and well-being . However if along with the same general idea I wished to convey the feeling of which my heart was conscious wheu I threw upon paper the thought that engages your attention , I should rather choose to unfold it thus : If there be a God , then is our * s the condition
of children watched over by a father , on whose paternal affection they may safely rely ; but compared with this , our situation *^ * — if th ^ fe bs no God , must be that of wretched orphans , who * thQu ^ j not destitute for the present , yet bare no longer a kiiidh
Reflection of Dr . JortirCs . 19
j > 2
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1806, page 19, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1720/page/19/