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you ; it is none of my business, nor do I at all regard these things. How is it possible to believe a wise and an infinitely good being can be delighted in this circumstance, and be utterly unconcerned what becomes of the beings and things he has created ? For thus we must believe him idle and inactive, and that his glorious attributes of power, wisdom, and goodness are no more to be made use of.
In the third place; if you say he has decreed some things, and left others to the events of nature and free agency, which he never alters or interrupts; still you un-God him, if I may be allowed the expression; he has nothing to do; he can cause us neither good nor harm; he is no more to be regarded than a lifeless image, than Dagon or Baal, or Bell and the Dragon ; and, as in both the other suppositions foregoing, that being, which from its power is most able to act, from its wisdom knows best how to act, and from its goodness would always certainly act best, is, in this opinion, supposed to become the most inactive of all beings, and remain everlastingly idle ; an absurdity, which, when considered or but barely seen, cannot be swallowed without doing the greatest violence to common reason and all the faculties of the understanding.
We are then necessarily driven to the fourth supposition, that the Deity sometimes interferes by his particular Providence, and sets aside the events, which would otherwise have been produced in the course of nature, or by the free agency of men; and this is perfectly agreeable with what we know of his attributes and perfections. But, as some may doubt whether it is possible there should be such a thing as free agency in creatures, I shall just offer one short argument on that account, and proceed to show how the duty of religion necessarily follows the belief of a Providence.
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
u Neither pot nor pan,
But four bare legs together," .. 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 every thing 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, I begin to want stockings. The fine clock I