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*he had proved, that God was the Cause of all things, and the creatures nothing more than his instruments. If, however, his prejudice had not hindered him, he must have perceived that, if this be true, then the Divine Being, whenever "he has punished mankind for their fins, must have punished them not for what they did, but for what he did himself by their instrument
ality. If, moreover, . he punished them : not with any view to their benefit, but to satisfy his wrath and vengeance* on creatures who were nothing more than bis instruments; -what must be our idea of such a Deity? An idea which I am unwilling to express. But if such a Deity there were (as happily there is not) we should be constrained to think him not the best, but the worst being in the universe.
Mr. Cowper seems not to have tasted merely, but to have drank deep of the
* Jeremiah ch. v. 9. God is represented as say. ing, “Shall not my soul be avenged?" 6
scriptural spring. He would otherwise never have been qualified to furnish us with the above cited description so exquisitely horrible. Yet after all, with no better a religion, one is glad to find a man so truly good as Mr. Cowper undoubtedly was. However, it is but justice to acknowledge (retaining the metaphor) that the scripture is a fountain which 'sends forth not bitter water only, but sweet. From the scripture Mr. Cowper derived the shocking and blasphemous representation which he has given us of the Divinity, who is, likewise, there characterized as the benevolent parent of the prodigal fon.
Nevertheless, if men do indeed believe a future state of endless happiness for the eleet, and endless misery for the reprobates, the consideration is so very important and interesting, that it cannot fail to occupy their minds exceedingly; and that consideration must bring with it a character of Deity very different from the character of a benevolent parent.
It is a remarkable fact that a philosophical christian, in a correspondence with me upon the subject of Revelation, conceded not willingly I presume) “ That
the object of christian worship had been
too generally a malignant Deity.” This gentleman, in common, I apprehend, with
every philosophical theist, is convinced agreeably to Mr. Cowper's doctrine, that there is in the universe but one proper Cause of all things. He believes however that that VENERABLE CAUSE, whatever temporary calamities may be admitted into the grand system, operates, according to the dictates of eternal wisdom and benevolence, not partially for the advantage of a few favourites, but for the benefit of the whole creation : thus tasting, as Thomson expresses it, s. The joy of God, to see a HAPPY WORLD."
T. Bepfley, Printer, Bolt Court, Fleet Street, London,