S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
We cannot be guilty of a greater act of uncharitableness than to interpret the afflictions which befall our neighbours as punishments and judgments. It aggravates the evil to him who suffers, when he looks upon himself as the mark of divine vengeance, and abates the compassion of those towards him who regard him in so dreadful a light. This humour of turning every misfortune into a judgment, proceeds from wrong notions of religion, which in its own nature produces good will towards men, and puts the mildest construction upon every accident that befalls them. In this case, therefore, it is not religion that sours a mans temper, but it is his temper that sours his religion.
The whole design of mens preservation hath been beaten in pieces by some unforeseen circumstance, so that judgments have broken in upon them without control, and all their subtleties been outwitted; the strange crossing of some in their estates, though the most wise, industrious, and frugal persons, and that by strange and unexpected ways; and it is observable how often everything contributes to carry on a judgment intended, as if they rationally designed it: all those loudly proclaim a God in the world; if there were no God, there would be no sin; if no sin, there would be no punishment.
When the vines of our village are nipd with the frost, the parish priest presently concludes that the indignation of God is gone out against all the human race, and that the cannibals have already got the pip. Who is it, that seeing the bloudy havock of these civil wars of ours, does not cry out that the machine of the world is near dissolution, and that the day of judgment is at hand; without considering that many worse revolutions have been seen, and that, in the mean time, people are very merry in a thousand other parts of the earth for all this?
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. xxv.
God may defer his judgments for a time, and give a people a longer space of repentance; he may stay till the iniquities of a nation be full; but sooner or later they have reason to expect his vengeance.