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affect, or perhaps subvert, the whole conduct of human aflairs. I can readily believe, that, other circumstances being adapted to it, such a state might be better than our present state. It may be the state of other beings; it may be ours here-nature decidedly evince intention; and since the course of the world and the contrivances of nature have the same author; we are, by the force of this connexion, led to believe, that the appearance, under which events take place, is reconcilable with the supposition of design on the part of the Deity. It is enough that they be reconcilable with this supposition; and it is undoubtedly true, that they may be reconcilable, though we cannot reconcile them. The mind, however, which contemplates the works of nature, and, in those works, sees so much of means directed to ends, of beneficial effects brought about by wise expedients, of concerted trains of causes terminating in the happiest results; so much, in a word, of counsel, intention, and benevolence; a mind, I say, drawn into the habit of thought which these observations excite, can hardly turn its view to the condition of our Although therefore the Deity, who possesses own species, without endeavouring to suggest to the power of winding and turning, as he pleases, itself some purpose, some design, for which the the course of causes which issue from himself, do state in which we are placed is fitted, and which in fact interpose to alter or intercept effects, which it is made to serve. Now we assert the most prowithout such interposition would have taken place; bable supposition to be, that it is a state of moral yet it is by no means incredible, that his provi- probation; and that many things in it suit with dence, which always rests upon final good, may this hypothesis, which suit no other. It is not a have made a reserve with respect to the manifest-state of unmixed happiness, or of happiness simation of his interference, a part of the very plan ply: it is not a state of designed misery, or of which he has appointed for our terrestrial exist-misery simply: it is not a state of retribution: it ence, and a part conformable with, or, in some is not a state of punishment. It suits with none sort, required by, other parts of the same plan. It of these suppositions. It accords much better with is at any rate evident, that a large and ample pro- the idea of its being a condition calculated for the vince remains for the exercise of Providence, production, exercise, and improvement of moral without its being naturally perceptible by us; be- qualities, with a view to a future state, in which cause obscurity, when applied to the interruption these qualities, after being so produced, exercised, of laws, bears a necessary proportion to the imper- and improved, may, by a new and more favouring fection of our knowledge when applied to the laws constitution of things, receive their reward, or themselves, or rather to the effects which these become their own. If it be said, that this is to laws, under their various and incalculable combi- enter upon a religious rather than a philosophical nations, would of their own accord produce. And consideration; I answer, that the name of Reliif it be said, that the doctrine of Divine Provi-gion ought to form no objection, if it shall turn dence, by reason of the ambiguity under which its out to be the case, that the more religious our exertions present themselves, can be attended views are, the more probability they contain. The with no practical influence upon our conduct; degree of beneficence, of benevolent intention, and that, although we believe ever so firmly that there of power, exercised in the construction of sensitive is a Providence, we must prepare, and provide, beings, goes strongly in favour, not only of a creand act, as if there were none: I answer, that this ative, but of a continuing care, that is, of a ruling is admitted; and that we farther allege, that so to Providence. The degree of chance which appears prepare, and so to provide, is consistent with the to prevail in the world, requires to be reconciled most perfect assurance of the reality of a Provi- with this hypothesis. Now it is one thing to dence: and not only so, but that it is probably, one maintain the doctrine of Providence along with advantage of the present state of our information, that of a future state, and another thing without that our provisions and preparations are not dis- it. In my opinion the two doctrines must stand turbed by it. Or if it be still asked, of what use or fall together. For although more of this apat all then is the doctrine, if it neither alter our parent chance may perhaps, upon other principles, measures nor regulate our conduct? I answer be accounted for, than is generally supposed, yet again, that it is of the greatest use, but that it is a a future state alone rectifies all disorders: and if it doctrine of sentiment and piety, not (immediately can be shown, that the appearance of disorder is at least) of action or conduct; that it applies to consistent with the uses of life as a preparatory the consolation of men's minds, to their devotions, state, or that in some respects it promotes these to the excitement of gratitude, the support of pa- uses, then, so far as this hypothesis may be actience, the keeping alive and the strengthening cepted, the ground of the difficulty is done away. of every motive for endeavouring to please our Maker; and that these are great uses.

OF ALL VIEWS under which human life has ever been considered, the most reasonable in my judgment is that, which regards it as a state of probation. If the course the world was separated from the contrivances of nature, I do not

In the wide scale of human condition there is not perhaps one of its manifold diversities, which does not bear upon the design here suggested. Virtue is infinitely various. There is no situation in which a rational being is placed, from that of the best instructed Christian, down to the condition of the rudest barbarian, which affords

after. But the question with which we are now concerned is, how far it would be consistent with our condition, supposing it in other respects to remain as it is? And in this question there seem to be reasons of great moment on the negative side. For instance: so long as bodily labour continues, on so many accounts, to be necessary for the bulk of mankind, any dependency upon supernatural aid, by unfixing those motives which promote exertion, or by relaxing those habits which engender patient industry, might introduce negligence, inactivity, and disorder, into the most useful occupations of human life; and thereby deteriorate the condition of human life itself.

know that it would be necessary to look for any other account of it, than what, if it may be called an account, is contained in the answer, that events rise up by chance. But since the contrivances of

As moral agents, we should experience a still greater alteration; of which more will be said under the next article.

not room for moral agency; for the acquisition, | man world, is distributed amongst the individuals exercise, and display of voluntary qualities, good of the species. "This life being a state of proand bad. Health and sickness, enjoyment and bation, it is immaterial," says Rousseau, "what suffering, riches and poverty, knowledge and kind of trials we experience in it, provided they ignorance, power and subjection, liberty and produce their effects." Of two agents who stand bondage, civilization and barbarity, have all their indifferent to the moral Governor of the universe, offices and duties, all serve for the formation of one may be exercised by riches, the other by character; for when we speak of a state of trial, poverty. The treatment of these two shall apit must be remembered, that characters are not pear to be very opposite, whilst in truth it is the only tried, or proved, or detected, but that they same: for though, in many respects, there be are generated also, and formed, by circumstances. great disparity between the conditions assigned, The best dispositions may subsist under the most in one main article there may be none, viz. in depressed, the most afflicted fortunes. A West- that they are alike trials; have both their duties Indian slave, who, amidst his wrongs, retains his and temptations, not less arduous or less dangerbenevolence, I, for my part, look upon as amongst ous in one case than the other; so that if the final the foremost of human candidates for the rewards award follow the character, the original distribuof virtue. The kind master of such a slave, that tion of the circumstances under which that chais, he who, in the exercise of an inordinate autho- racter is formed, may be defended upon principles rity, postpones, in any degree, his own interest to not only of justice but of equality. What hinhis slave's comfort, is likewise a meritorious cha- ders, therefore, but that mankind may draw lots racter; but still he is inferior to his slave. All for their condition? They take their portion of however which I contend for, is, that these desti- faculties and opportunities, as any unknown nies, opposite as they may be in every other view, cause, or concourse of causes, or as causes acting are both trials; and equally such. The observa- for other purposes, may happen to set them out; tion may be applied to every other condition; to but the event is governed by that which depends the whole range of the scale, not excepting even upon themselves, the application of what they its lowest extremity. Savages appear to us all have received. In dividing the talents, no rule alike; but it is owing to the distance at which was observed; none was necessary: in rewarding we view savage life that we perceive in it no the use of them, that of the most correct justice. discrimination of character. I make no doubt, The chief difference at last appears to be that but that moral qualities, both good and bad, are the right use of more talents, i. e. of a greater trust, called into action as much, and that they subsist will be more highly rewarded, than the right use in as great variety, in these inartificial societies, of fewer talents, i. e. of a less trust. And since, as they are, or do, in polished life, Certain at for other purposes, it is expedient that there be least it is, that the good and ill treatment which an inequality of concredited talents here, as well, each individual meets with, depends more upon probably, as an inequality of conditions hereafter, the choice and voluntary conduct of those about though all remuneratory; can any rule, adapted him, than it does or ought to do, under regular to that inequality, be more agreeable, even to our civil institutions, and the coercion of public laws. apprehensions of distributive justice, than this is? So again, to turn our eyes to the other end of the scale; namely, that part of it which is occupied by mankind enjoying the benefits of learning, together with the lights of revelation; there also, the advantage is all along probationary. Christianity itself, I mean the revelation of Christianity, is not only a blessing, but a trial. It is one of the diversified means by which the character is exercised and they who require of Christianity, that the revelation of it should be universal, may possibly be found to require, that one species of probation should be adopted, if not to the exclusion of others, at least to the narrowing of that variety which the wisdom of the Deity hath appointed to this part of his moral economy.*

We have said, that the appearance of casualty, which attends the occurrences and events of life, not only does not interfere with its uses, as a state of probation, but that it promotes these uses.

Now if this supposition be well founded; that is, if it be true, that our ultimate, or our most permanent happiness, will depend, not upon the temporary condition into which we are cast, but upon our behaviour in it; then is it a much more fit subject of chance than we usually allow or apprehend it to be, in what manner the variety of external circumstances, which subsist in the hu

The reader will observe, that I speak of the revela tion of Christianity as distinct from Christianity itself. The dispensation may already be universal. That part of mankind which never heard of Christ's name, may nevertheless be redeemed, that is, be placed in a better condition, with respect to their future state, by his intervention; may be the objects of his benignity and intercession, as well as of the propitiatory virtue of his passion. But this is not "natural theology;" therefore I will not dwell longer upon it.

Passive virtues, of all others the severest and the most sublime; of all others, perhaps, the most acceptable to the Deity; would, it is evident, be excluded from a constitution, in which happiness and misery regularly followed virtue and vice. Patience and composure under distress, affliction, and pain; a steadfast keeping up of our confi dence in God, and of our reliance upon his final goodness, at the time when every thing present is adverse and discouraging; and (what is no less difficult to retain) a cordial desire for the happiness of others, even when we are deprived of our own: these dispositions, which constitute, perhaps, the perfection of our moral nature, would not have found their proper office and object in a state of avowed retribution; and in which, conse quently, endurance of evil would be only submission to punishment.

Again: one man's sufferings may be another man's trial. The family of a sick parent is a school of filial piety. The charities of domestic life, and not only these, but all the social virtues, are called out by distress. But then, misery, to be the proper object of mitigation, or of that benevolence which endeavours to relieve, must be really or apparently casual. It is upon such sufferings alone that benevolence can operate. For were there no evils in the world but what were punishments, properly and intelligibly such, be

nevolence would only stand in the way of justice. | the tendons of the wrist and instep, the slit or perSuch evils, consistently with the administration forated muscles at the hands and feet, the knitting of moral government, could not be prevented or of the intestines to the mesentery, the course of alleviated: that is to say, could not be remitted in the chyle into the blood, and the constitution of whole or in part, except by the authority which the sexes as extended throughout the whole of inflicted them, or by anappellate or superior autho- the animal creation. To these instances, the rity. This consideration, which is founded in our reader's memory will go back, as they are severalmost acknowledged apprehensions of the naturely set forth in their places; there is not one of the of penal justice, may possess its weight in the number which I do not think decisive; not one divine counsels. Virtue perhaps is the greatest which is not strictly mechanical: nor have I read of all ends. In human beings, relative virtues or heard of any solution of these appearances, form a large part of the whole. Now relative which, in the smallest degree, shakes the concluvirtue presupposes, not only the existence of evil, sion that we build upon them. without which it could have no object, no material, to work upon, but that evils be, apparently at least, misfortunes; that is, the effects of apparent chance. It may be in pursuance, therefore, and in furtherance of the same scheme of probation, that the evils of life are made so to present themselves.

But, of the greatest part of those, who, either in this book or any other, read arguments to prove the existence of a God, it will be said, that they leave off only where they began; that they were never ignorant of this great truth, never doubted of it; that it does not therefore appear, what is gained by researches from which no new opinion I have already observed, that when we let in re- is learnt, and upon the subject of which no proofs ligious considerations, we often let in light upon were wanted. Now I answer that, by investigathe difficulties of nature. So in the fact now to tion, the following points are always gained, in be accounted for, the degree of happiness, which favour of doctrines even the most generally acwe usually enjoy in this life, may be better suited knowledged, (supposing them to be true,) viz. to a state of trial and probation, than a greater de- stability and impression. Occasions will arise to gree would be. The truth is, we are rather too try the firmness of our most habitual opinions. much delighted with the world, than too little. And upon these occasions, it is a matter of incalImperfect, broken, and precarious, as our plea-culable use to feel our foundation; to find a support sures are, they are more than sufficient to attach in argument for what we had taken up upon auus to the eager pursuit of them. A regard to a thority. In the present case, the arguments upon future state can hardly keep its place as it is. If which the conclusion rests, are exactly such, as a we were designed, therefore, to be influenced by truth of universal concern ought to rest upon. that regard, might not a more indulgent system, "They are sufficiently open to the views, and ca

a higher, or more uninterrupted state of gratifica-pacities of the unlearned, at the same time that

tion, have interfered with the design! At least it seems expedient, that mankind should be susceptible of this influence, when presented to them: that the condition of the world should not be such as to exclude its operation, or even to weaken it more than it does. In a religious view, (however we may complain of them in every other,) privation, disappointment, and satiety, are not without the most salutary tendencies.

they acquire new strength and lustre from the discoveries of the learned." If they had been altogether abstruse and recondite, they would not have found their way to the understandings of the mass of mankind; if they had been merely popular, they might have wanted solidity.


In all cases, wherein the mind feels itself in danger of being confounded by variety, it is sure to rest upon a few strong points, or perhaps upon a single instance. Amongst a multitude of proofs it is one that does the business. If we observe in any argument, that hardly two minds fix upon the same instance, the diversity of choice shows the strength of the argument, because it shows the number and competition of the examples. There is no subject in which the tendency to dwell upon select or single topics is so usual, because there is no subject, of which, in its full extent, the latitude is so great, as that of natural history applied to the proof of an intelligent Creator. For my part, I take my stand in human anatomy; and the examples of mechanism I should be apt to draw out from the copious cata-means, at least, that we have any power over it. logue which it supplies, are the pivot upon which The train of spontaneous thought, and the choice the head turns, the ligament within the socket of of that train, may be directed to different ends, the hip-joint, the pully or trochlear muscles of the and may appear to be more or less judiciously fixeye, the epiglottis, the bandages which tie downed, according to the purpose, in respect of which

But, secondly, what is gained by research in the stability of our conclusion, is also gained from it in impression. Physicians tell us, that there is a great deal of difference between taking a medicine, and the medicine getting into the constitution. A difference not unlike which, obtains with respect to those great moral propositions, which ought to form the directing principles of human conduct. It is one thing to assent to a proposition of this sort; another, and a very different thing, to have properly imbibed its influence. I take the case to be this: perhaps almost every man living has a particular train of thought, into which his mind glides and falls, when at leisure from the impressions and ideas that occasionally excite it; perhaps, also, the train of thought here spoken of, more than any other thing, determines the character. It is of the utmost consequence, therefore, that this property of our constitution be well regulated. Now it is by frequent or continued meditation upon a subject, by placing a subject in different points of view, by induction of particulars, by variety of examples, by applying principles to the solution of phenomena, by dwelling upon proofs and consequences, that mental exercise is drawn into any particular channel. It is by these


we consider it: but in a moral view, I shall not, I | we find attention bestowed upon even the mibelieve, be contradicted when I say, that if one nutest parts. The hinges in the wings of an train of thinking be more desirable than another, earwig, and the joints of its antennæ, are as highit is that which regards the phenomena of nature ly wrought, as if the Creator had nothing else to with a constant reference to a supreme intelligent finish. We see no signs of diminution of care by Author. To have made this the ruling, the ha- multiplicity of objects, or of distraction of thought bitual sentiment of our minds, is to have laid the by variety. We have no reason to fear, therefore, foundation of every thing which is religious. The our being forgotten, or overlooked, or neglected. world thenceforth becomes a temple, and life itself one continued act of adoration. The change is no less than this: that, whereas formerly God was seldom in our thoughts, we can now scarcely look upon any thing without perceiving its relation to him. Every organized natural body, in the provisions which it contains for its sustentation and propagation, testifies a care, on the part of the Creator, expressly directed to these purposes. We are on all sides surrounded by such bodies; examined in their parts, wonderfully curious; compared with one another, no less wonderfully diversified. So that the mind, as well as the eye, may either expatiate in variety and multitude, or fix itself down to the investigation of particular divisions of the science. And in either case it will rise up from its occupation, possessed by the subject in a very different manner, and with a very different degree of influence, from what a mere assent to any verbal proposition which can be formed concerning the existence of the Deity, at least that merely complying assent with which those about us are satisfied, and with which we are too apt to satisfy ourselves, will or can produce upon the thoughts. More especially may this difference be perceived, in the degree of admiration and of awe, with which the Divinity is regarded, when represented to the understanding by its own remarks, its own reflections, and its own reasonings, compared with what is excited by any language that can be used by others. The works of nature want only to be contemplated. When contemplated, they have every thing in them which can astonish by their greatness; for of the vast scale of operation through which our discoveries carry us, at one end we see an intelligent Power arranging planetary systems, fixing, for instance, the trajectory of Saturn, or constructing a ring of two hundred thousand miles diameter, to surround his body, and be suspended like a magnificent arch over the heads of his inhabitants; and, at the other, bonding a hooked tooth, concerting and providing an appropriate mechanism, for the clasping and reclasping of the filaments of the feather of the humming bird. We have proof, not only of both these works proceeding from an intelligent agent, but of their proceeding from the same agent: for, in the first place, we can trace an identity of plan, a connexion of system, from Saturn to our own globe: and when arrived upon our globe, we can, in the second piace, pursue the connexion through all the organized, especially the animated, bodies which it supports. We can observe marks of a common relation, as well to one another, as to the elements of which their ha hitation is composed. Therefore one mind hath planned, or at least hath prescribed, a general plan for all these productions. One Being hath been concerned in all.

Under this stupendous Feing we live. Our happiness, our existence, is in his hands. All we expect must come from him. Nor ought we to feel our situation insecure. In every nature, and in every portion of nature, which we can descry,

The existence and character of the Deity, is in every view, the most interesting of all human speculations. In none, however, is it more so, than as it facilitates the belief of the fundamental articles of Revelation. It is a step to have it proved, that there must be something in the world more than what we see. It is a farther step to know, that, amongst the invisible things of nature, there must be an intelligent mind, concerned in its production, order and support. These points being assured to us by Natural Theology, we may well leave to Revelation the disclosure of many particulars, which our researches cannot reach, respecting either the nature of this Being, as the original cause of all things, or his character and designs as a moral governor: and not only so, but the more full confirmation of other particulars, of which, though they do not lie altogether beyond our reasonings and our probabilities, the certainty is by no means equal to the importance. The true theist will be the first to listen to any credible communication of Divine knowledge. Nothing which he has learnt from Natural Theology, will diminish his desire of farther instruction, or his disposition to receive it with humility and thankfulness. He wishes for light: he rejoices in light. His inward veneration of this great Being will incline him to attend with the utmost seriousness, not only to all that can be discovered concerning him by researches into nature, but to all » that is taught by a revelation, which gives reasonable proof of having proceeded from him.

But, above every other article of revealed religion, does the anterior belief of a Deity bear with the strongest force upon that grand point, which gives indeed interest and importance to all the rest the resurrection of the human dead. The thing might appear hopeless, did we not see a power at work, adequate to the effect, a power under the guidance of an intelligent will, and a power penetrating the inmost recesses of all substance. I am far from justifying the opinion of those, who "thought it a thing incredible, that God should raise the dead:" but I admit, that it is first necessary to be persuaded that there is a God, to do so. This being thoroughly settled in our minds, there seems to be nothing in this process (concealed as we confess it to be) which need to shock our belief. They who have taken up the opinion, that the acts of the human mind depend upon organization, that the mind itself indeed consists in organization, are supposed to find a greater difficulty than others do, in admitting a transition by death to a new state of sentient existence, because the old organization is ap parently dissolved. But I do not see that any impracticability need be apprehended even by these; or that the change, even upon their hypothesis, is far removed from the analogy of some other operations, which we know with certainty that the Deity is carrying on. In the ordinary derivation of plants and animals, from one another, a particle, in many cases, minuter than all assignable, all conceivable dimension; an aura, an effluvium, an

stance totally and essentially different from matter, (as most certainly these operations, though effected by material causes, hold very little affinity to any properties of matter with which we are acquainted,) adopt perhaps a juster reasoning and a better philosophy: and by these the considerations above suggested are not wanted, at least in the same degree. But to such as find, which some persons do find, an insuperable difficulty in shaking off an adherence to those analogies, which the corporeal world is continually suggesting to their thoughts; to such, I say, every consideration will be a relief, which manifests the extent of that intelligent power which is acting in nature, the fruitfulness of its resources, the variety, and aptness, and success of its means; most especially every consideration, which tends to show that, in the translation of a conscious existence, there is not, even in their own way of regarding it, any thing greatly beyond, or totally unlike, what takes place in such parts (probably small parts) of the order of nature, as are accessible to our observation.

infinitesimal; determines the organization of a future body does no less than fix, whether that which is about to be produced, shall be a vegetable, a merely sentient, or a rational being; an oak, a frog, or a philospher; makes all these differences; gives to the future body its qualities, and nature and species. And this particle, from which springs, and by which is determined, a whole future nature, itself proceeds from, and owes its constitution to, a prior body: nevertheless, which is seen in plants most decisively, the incepted organization, though formed within, and through, and by, a preceding organization, is not corrupted by its corruption, or destroyed by its dissolution: but on the contrary, is sometimes extricated and developed by those very causes; survives and comes into action, when the purpose, for which it was prepared, requires its use. Now an economy which nature has adopted, when the purpose was to transfer an organization from one individual to another, may have something analogous to it, when the purpose is to transmit an organization from one state of being to another state: and they who found thought in organization, may see something in this analogy applicable to their difficulties; for whatever can transmit a similarity of organization will answer their purpose, because, according even to their own theory, it may be the vehicle of consciousness; and because consciousness carries identity and individuality along with it through all changes of form or of visible qualities. In the most general case, that, as we have said, of the derivation of plants and animals from one another, the latent organization is either itself similar to the old organization, or has the power of communicating to new matter the old organic form. But it is not restricted to this rule. There are other cases, especially in the progress of insect life, in which the dormant organization does not much resemble that which encloses it, and still less suits with the situation in which the enclosing body is placed, but suits with a different situation to which it is destined. In the larva of the libellula, which lives constantly, and has still long to live under water, are descried the wings of a fly which two years afterward is to mount into the air. Is there nothing in this analogy? It serves at least to show that even in the observable course of nature, or ganizations are formed one beneath another; and, amongst a thousand other instances, it shows completely, that the Deity can mould and fashion the parts of material nature, so as to fulfil any purpose whatever which he is pleased to appoint.

They who refer the operations of mind to a sub

Again; if there be those who think, that the contractedness and debility of the human faculties in our present state, seem ill to accord with the high destinies which the expectations of religion point out to us; I would only ask them, whether any one, who saw a child two hours after its birth, could suppose that it would ever come to understand fluxions; or who then shall say, what farther amplification of intellectual powers, what accession of knowledge, what advance and improvement, the rational faculty, be its constitution what it will, may not admit of, when placed amidst new objects, and endowed with a sensorium adapted, as it undoubtedly will be, and as our present senses are, to the perception of those substances, and of those properties of things, with which our concern may lie.

Upon the whole; in every thing which respects this awful, but, as we trust, glorious change, we have a wise and powerful Being (the author, in nature, of infinitely various expedients for infinitely various ends,) upon whom to rely for the choice and appointment of means adequate to the execution of any plan which his goodness or his justice may have formed for the moral and accountable part of his terrestrial creation. That great office rests with him; be it ours to hope and to prepare, under a firm and settled persuasion, that, living and dying, we are his: that life is passed in his constant presence, that death resigns us to his merciful disposal.

*See Search's Light of Nature, passim.

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