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You acknowledge, that God is infinitely powerful, wise, and good, and also a free agent, and you will not deny that he has communicated to us part of his wisdom, power, and goodness; that is, he has made us, in some degree, wise, potent, and good. And is it, then, impossible for him to communicate any part of his freedom, and make us also in some degree free? Is not even his infinite power sufficient for this? I should be glad to hear what reason any man can give for thinking in that manner. It is sufficient for me to show it is not impossible, and no man, I think, can show it is improbable. Much more might be offered to demonstrate clearly, that men are in some degree free agents and accountable for their actions; however, this I may possibly reserve for another separate discourse hereafter, if I find occasion.
Lastly; if God does not sometimes interfere by his Providence, it is either because he cannot, or because he will not. Which of these positions will you choose? There is a righteous nation grievously oppressed by a cruel tyrant; they earnestly entreat God to deliver them. If you say he cannot, you deny his infinite power, which you at first acknowledged. If you say he will not, you must directly deny his infinite goodness. You are of necessity obliged to allow, that it is highly reasonable to believe a Providence, because it is highly absurd to believe otherwise.
Now, if it is unreasonable to suppose it out of the power of the Deity to help and favor us particularly, or that we are out of his hearing and notice, or that good actions do not procure more of his favor than ill ones; then I conclude, that, believing a Providence, we have the foundation of all true religion; for we should love and revere that Deity for his goodness, and thank him for his benefits; we should adore him for his wisdom, fear him for his power, and pray to him for his favor and protection. And this religion will be a powerful regulator of our actions, give us peace and tranquillity within our own minds, and render us benevolent, useful, and beneficial to others.
LETTER FROM ANTHONY AFTERWIT.
FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE, JULY 10TH, 1732.
I am an honest tradesman, who never meant harm to anybody. My affairs went on smoothly while a bachelor; but of late I have met with some difficulties, of which I take the freedom to give you an account.
About the time I first addressed my present spouse, her father gave out in speeches, that if she married a man he liked, he would give with her two hundred pounds in cash on the day of marriage. He never said so much to me, it is true; but he always received me very kindly at his house, and openly countenanced my courtship. I formed several fine schemes what to do with this same two hundred pounds, and in some measure neglected my business on that account; but unluckily it came to pass, that, when the old gentleman saw I was pretty well engaged, and that the match was too far gone to be easily broke off, he, without any reason given, grew very angry, forbid me the house, and told his daughter, that, if she married me, he would not give her a farthing. However, (as he thought) we were not to be disappointed in that manner, but, having stole a wedding, I took her home to my house, where we were not in quite so poor a condition as the couple described in the Scotch song, who had
"Neither pot nor pan,
for I had a house tolerably furnished for a poor man before. No thanks to Dad, who, I understand, was very much pleased with his politic management; and I have since learned, that there are other old curmudgeons (so called) besides him, who have this trick to marry their daughters, and yet keep what they might well spare, till they can keep it no longer. But this by way of digression; a word to the wise is enough.
I soon saw, that with care and industry we might live tolerably easy and in credit with our neighbours; but my wife had a strong inclination to be a gentlewoman. In consequence of this, my old-fashioned looking-glass was one day broke, as she said, no one could tell which way. However, since we could not be without a glass in the room, "My dear," saith she, "we may as well buy a large fashionable one, that Mr. Such-a-one has to sell. It will cost but little more than a common glass, and will look much handsomer and more creditable." Accordingly, the glass was bought and hung against the wall; but in a week's time I was made sensible, by little and little, that the table was by no means suitable to such a glass; and, a more proper table being procured, some time after, my spouse, who was an excellent contriver, informed me where we might have very handsome chairs in the way; and thus by degrees I found all my old furniture stowed up in the garret, and everything below altered for the better.
Had we stopped here, it might have done well enough. But my wife being entertained with tea by the good women she visited, we could do no less than the like when they visited us; and so we got a tea-table with all its appurtenances of china and silver Then my spouse unfortunately overworked herself in washing the house, so that we could do no longer without a maid. Besides this, it happened frequently, that when I came home at one, the dinner was but just put in the pot, and my dear thought really it had been but eleven. At other times, when I came at the same hour, she wondered I would stay so long, for dinner was ready about one, and had waited for me these two hours. These irregularities occasioned by mistaking the time, convinced me, that it was absolutely necessary to buy a clock, which my spouse observed was a great ornament to the room. And lastly, to my grief, she was troubled with some ailment or other, and nothing did her so much good as riding, and these hackney horses were such wretched ugly creatures that — I bought a very fine pacing mare, which cost twenty pounds; and hereabouts affairs have stood for about a twelvemonth past.
I could see all along, that this did not at all suit with my circumstances, but had not resolution enough to help it, till lately, receiving a very severe dun, which mentioned the next court, I began in earnest to project relief. Last Monday, my dear went over the river to see a relation and stay a fortnight, because she could not bear the heat of the town air. In the interim I have taken my turn to make alterations; namely, I have turned away the maid, bag and baggage, (for what should we do with a maid, who, beside our boy, have none but ourselves?) I have sold the pacing mare, and bought a good milch cow with three pounds of the money. I have disposed of the table, and put a good spinning-wheel in its place, which methinks looks very pretty; nine empty canisters I have stuffed with flax, and with some of the money of the tea-furniture I have bought a set of knitting-needles, for, to tell you the truth, 1 begin to want stockings. The fine clock I have transformed into an hour-glass, by which I have gained a good round sum, and one of the pieces of the old looking-glass, squared and framed, supplies the place of the great one, which I have conveyed into a closet, where it may possibly remain some years. In short, the face of things is quite changed, and methinks you would smile to see my hour-glass hanging in the place of the clock. What a great ornament it is to the room! I have paid my debts and find money in my pocket. I expect my dear home next Friday, and, as your paper is taken at the house where she is, I hope the reading of this will prepare her mind for the above surprising revolutions. If she can conform herself to this new manner of living, we shall be the happiest couple perhaps in the province, and by the blessing of God may soon be in thriving circumstances. I have reserved the great glass, because I know her heart is set upon it; I will allow her, when she comes in, to be taken suddenly ill with the head-ache, the stomach-ache, fainting fits, or whatever other disorder she may think more proper, and she may retire to bed as soon as she pleases. But, if I should not find her in perfect health, both of body and mind, the next morning, away goes the aforesaid great glass, with several other trinkets I have no occasion for, to the vendue, that very day • which is the irrevocable resolution