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made, conducive to its happiness. These meeting is by chance, is accidental, and so passions are strong and general ; and, per- would be called and reckoned, though haps, would not answer their purpose unless the journeys which produced the meeting they were so. But strength and generality, were, both of them, undertaken with design when it is expedient that particular circum- and from deliberation. The meeting, though stances should be respected, become, if left accidental, was nevertheless hypothetically to themselves, excess and misdirection. necessary (which is the only sort of necesFrom which excess and misdirection, the sity that is intelligible): for if the two vices of mankind (the causes, no doubt, of journeys were commenced at the time, purmuch misery) appear to spring. This ac- sued in the direction, and with the speed, count, whilst it shows us the principle of in which and with which, they were in fact vice, shows us, at the same time, the pro- begun and performed, the meeting could not vince of reason and of self-government; the be avoided. There was not, therefore, the want also of every support which can be less necessity in it for its being by chance. procured to either from the aids of religion; Again, the rencounter might be most unforand it shows this, without having recourse tunate, though the errands, upon which each to any native, gratuitous malignity, in the party set out upon his journey, were the human constitution. Mr. Hume, in his most innocent or the most laudable. The posthumous dialogues, asserts, indeed, of by effect may be unfavourable, without idleness, or aversion to labour (which he impeachment of the proper purpose, for the states to lie at the root of a considerable sake of which the train, from the operation part of the evils which mankind suffer,) that of which these consequences ensued, was it is simply and merely bad. But how does put in motion. Although no cause acts withhe distinguish idleness from the love of out a good purpose ; accidental consequences, ease? or is he sure, that the love of ease like these, may be either good or bad. in individuals is not the chief foundation of II. The appearance of chance will alsocial tranquillity ? It will be found, I beo ways bear a proportion to the ignorance of lieve, to be true, that in every community the observer. The cast of a die as regularly there is a large class of its members, whose follows the laws of motion, as the going of idleness is the best quality about them, a watch ; yet, because we can trace the being the corrective of other bad ones. If operation of those laws through the works it were possible, in every instance, to give a and movements of the watch, and cannot right determination to industry, we could trace them in the shaking and throwing of never have too much of it. But this is not the die (though the laws be the same, and possible, if men are to be free. And with- prevail equally in both cases,) we call the out this, nothing would be so dangerous, as turning up of the number of the die chance, an incessant, universal, indefatigable activity. the pointing of the index of the watch, In the civil world, as well as in the mate. machinery, order, or by some name which rial, it is the vis inertiæ which keeps things excludes chance. It is the same in those in their places.
events which depend upon the will of a free and rational agent. The verdict of a jury,
the sentence of a judge, the resolution of an NATURAL THEOLOGY has ever been assembly, the issue of a contested election, pressed with this question : Why, under the will have more or less of the appearance of regency of a supreme and benevolent Will, chance, might be more or less the subject should there be, in the world, so much, as of a wager, according as we were less or there is, of the appearance of chance ? more acquainted with the reasons which
The question in its whole compass lies influenced the deliberation. The differbeyond our reach : but there are not want- ence resides in the information of the obing, as in the origin of evil, answers which server, and not in the thing itself; which, seem to have considerable weight in par- in all the cases proposed, proceeds from ticular cases, and also to embrace a intelligence, from mind, from counsel, from considerable number of cases.
design. I. There must be chance in the midst of Now when this one cause of the appeardesign: by which we mean, that events ance of chance, vis. the ignorance of the which are not designed, necessarily arise observer, comes to be applied to the opera. froin the pursuit of events which are de- tions of the Deity, it is easy to foresee how signed. One man travelling to York, meets fruitful it must prove of difficulties and of another man travelling to London. Their seeming confusion. It is only to think of
the Deity, to perceive what variety of ob- degree of ease and enjoyment intended for jects, what distance of time, what extent of us; and human life be too precarious for space and action, his counsels may, or the business and interests which belong to rather must, comprehend. Can it be won. it. There could not be dependence either dered at, that, of the purposes which dwell upon our own lives, or the lives of those in such a mind as this, so small a part with whom we were connected, sufficient should be known to us? It is only neces- to carry on the regular offices of human sary, therefore, to bear in our thought, that society. The manner, therefore, in which in proportion to the inadequateness of our death is made to occur, conduces to the purinformatior, will be the quantity, in the poses of admonition, without overthrowing world, of apparent chance.
the necessary stability of human affairs. III. In a great variety of cases, and of Disease being the forerunner of death, cases comprehending numerous subdivi- there is the same reason for its attacks sions, it appears, for many reasons, to be coming upon us under the appearance of better that events rise up by chance, or, chance, as there is for uncertainty in the more properly speaking, with the appear. time of death itself. ance of chance, than according to any ob- The seasons are a mixture of regularity servable rule whatever. This is not seldom and chance. They are regular enough to the case even in human arrangements. authorize expectation, whilst their being, Each person's place and precedency, in a in a considerable degree, irregular, induces, public meeting, may be determined by lot. on the part of the cultivators of the soil, Work and labour may be allotted. Tasks a necessity for personal attendance, for acand burdens may be allotted :
tivity, vigilance, precaution. It is this -Operumque laborem
necessity which creates farmers; which Partibus æquabat justis, aut sorte trahebat. divides the profit of the soil between the
owner and the occupier ; which by requirMilitary service and station may be allotted. ing expedients, by increasing employment, The distribution of provision may be made and by rewarding expenditure, promotes by lot, as it is in a sailor's mess; in some agricultural arts and agricultural life, of all cases also, the distribution of favours may be modes of life the best, being the most conmade by lot. In all these cases, it seems to ducive to health, to virtue, to enjoyment. be acknowledged, that there are advantages I believe it to be found in fact, that where in permitting events to chance, superior to the soil is the most fruitful, and the seasons those, which would or could arise from the most constant, there the condition of regulation. In all these cases also, though the cultivators of the earth is the most events rise up in the way of chance, it is depressed. Uncertainty, therefore, has its by appointment that they do so.
use even to those who sometimes complain In other events, and such as are independ- of it the most. Seasons of scarcity thement of human will, the reasons for this selves are not without their advantages. preference of uncertainty to rule, appear to They call forth new exertions; they set be still stronger. For example: it seems contrivance and ingenuity at work; they to be expedient that the period of human give birth to improvements in agriculture life should be uncertain.“ Did mortality and economy; they promote the investigafollow any fixed rule, it would produce à tion and management of public resources. security in those that were at à distance Again; there are strong intelligible reafrom it, which would lead to the greatest sons, why there should exist in human disorders; and a horror in those who ap- society great disparity of wealth and staproached it, similar to that which a con- tion ; not only as these things are acquired demned prisoner feels on the night before in different degrees, but at the first setting his execution. But, that death be uncer- out of life. In order, for instance, to antain, the young must sometimes die, as well swer the various demands of civil life, there as the old. Also were deaths never sudden, ought to be amongst the members of every they who are in health would be too con- civil society a diversity of education, which fident of life. The strong and the active, can only belong to an original diversity of who want most to be warned and checked, circumstances. As this sort of disparity, would live without apprehension or re- which ought to take place from the beginstraint. On the other hand, were sudden ning of life, must, ex hypothesi, be previous deaths very frequent, the sense of constant to the merit or demerit of the persons upon jeopardy would interfere too much with the whom it falls, can it be better disposed of than by chance ? Parentage is that sort of The opposites of apparent chance, are chance : yet it is the commanding circum- constancy and sensible interposition ; every stance which in general fixes each man's degree of secret direction being consistent place in civil life, along with every thing with it. Now, of constancy, or of fixed and which appertains to its distinctions. It known rules, we have seen in some cases may be the result of a beneficial rule, that the inapplicability: and inconveniences the fortunes or honours of the father devolve which we do not see, might attend their upon the son ; and, as it should seem, of application in other cases, a still more necessary rule, that the low or Of sensible interposition, we may be laborious condition of the parent be com- permitted to remark, that a Providence municated to his family; but with respect always and certainly distinguishable, would to the successor himself, it is the drawing be neither more nor less than miracles renof a ticket in a lottery. Inequalities, there- dered frequent and common. It is difficult fore, of fortune, at least the greatest part to judge of the state into which this would of them, viz. those which attend us from throw us. It is enough to say, that it would our birth, and depend upon our birth, may cast us upon a quite different dispensation be left, as they are left, to chance, without from that under which we live. It would any just cause for questioning the regency be a total and radical change. And the of a supreme Disposer of events.
change would deeply affect, or perhaps But not only the donation, when by the subvert, the whole conduct of human affairs. necessity of the case they must be gifts, I can readily believe, that, other circumbut even the acquirability of civil advan- stances being adapted to it, such a state tages, ought, perhaps, in a considerable de- might be better than our present state. It gree, to lie at the mercy of chance. Some may be the state of other beings; it may would have all the virtuous rich, or, at be ours hereafter. But the question with least, removed from the evils of poverty, which we are now concerned is, how far without perceiving, I suppose, the conse- it would be consistent with our condition, quence, that all the poor must be wicked. supposing it in other respects to remain as And how such a society could be kept in it is? And in this question there seems to subjection to government, has not been be reasons of great moment on the negative shown : for the poor, that is, they who seek side. For instance : so long as bodily their subsistence by constant manual labour, labour continues, on so many accounts, to must still form the mass of the community ; be necessary for the bulk of mankind, any otherwise the necessary labour of life could dependency upon supernatural aid, by unnot be carried on; the work would not be fixing those motives which promote exertion, done, which the wants of mankind in a or by relaxing those habits which engender state of civilisation, and still more in a state patient industry, might introduce negligence, of refinement, require to be done.
inactivity, and disorder, into the most useIt appears to be also true, that the exi
ful occupations of human life ; and theregencies of social life call not only for an by deteriorate the condition of human life original diversity of external circumstances,
itself. but for a mixture of different faculties, tastes, As moral agents, we should experience and tempers. Activity and contemplation, a still greater alteration ; of which, more restlessness and quiet, courage and timidity, will be said under the next article. ambition and contentedness, not to say even Although therefore the Deity, who posindolence and dulness, are all wanted in sesses the power of winding and turning, the world, all conduce to the well going on as he pleases, the course of causes which of human affairs, just as the rudder, the issue from himself, does in fact interpose to sails, and the ballast of a ship, all perform alter or intercept effects, which without their part in the navigation. Now, since such interposition would have taken place; these characters require for their foundation yet it is by no means incredible, that his Prodifferent original talents, different disposi- vidence, which always rests upon final good, tions, perhaps also different bodily constitu- may have made a reserve with respect to tions; and since, likewise, it is apparently the manifestation of his interference, a part expedient, that they be promiscuously scat- of the very plan which he has appointed tered amongst the different classes of so- for our terrestrial existence, and a part conciety: can the distribution of talents, dis- formable with, or, in some sort, required by, positions, and the constitutions upon which other parts of the same plan. It is at any they depend, be better made than by chance ? rate evident, that a large and ample province remains for the exercise of Providence, templates the works of nature, and, in those without its being naturally perceptible by works, sees so much of means directed to us; because obscurity, when applied to the ends, of beneficial effects brought about by interruption of laws, bears a necessary pro- wise expedients, of concerted trains of causes portion to the imperfection of our knowledge terminating in the happiest results; so much, when applied to the laws themselves, or in a word, of counsel, intention, and benerather to the effects which these laws, under volence; a mind, I say, drawn into the their various and incalculable combinations, habit of thought which these observations would of their own accord produce. And excite, can hardly turn its view to the if it be said, that the doctrine of Divine condition of our own species, without enProvidence, vy reason of the ambiguity deavouring to suggest to itself some purpose, under which its exertions present them- some design, for which the state in which selves, can be attended with no practical we are placed is fitted, and which it is made influence upon our conduct; that, although to serve. Now we assert the most probable we believe ever so firmly that there is a supposition to be, that it is a state of moral Providence, we must prepare, and provide, probation ; and that many things in it suit and act, as if there were none;
with this hypothesis, which suit no other. that this is admitted ; and that we further It is not a state of unmixed happiness, or of allege, that so to prepare, and so to pro- happiness simply; it is not a state of devide, is consistent with the most perfect signed misery, or of misery simply: it is not assurance of the reality of a Providence : a state of retribution: it is not a state of puand not only so, but that it is, probably, one nishment. It suits with none of these suppoadvantage of the present state of our inform- sitions. It accords much better with the idea ation, that our provisions and preparations of its being a condition calculated for the proare not disturbed by it. Or if it be still duction, exercise, and improvement of moral asked, of what use at all then is the doc- qualities, with a view to a future state, in trine, if it neither alter our measures nor which these qualities, after being so proregulate our conduct? I answer again, that duced, exercised, and improved, may, by a it is of the greatest use, but that it is a new and more favouring constitution of doctrine of sentiment and piety, not (imme- things, receive their reward, or become their diately at least) of action or conduct; that own. If it be said, that this is to enter it applies to the consolation of men's minds, upon a religious rather than a philosophical to their devotions, to the excitement of consideration ; I answer, that the name of gratitude, the support of patience, the keep- Religion ought to form no objection, if it ing alive and the strengthening of every shall turn out to be the case, that the more motive for endeavouring to please our Maker; religious our views are, the more probability and that these are great uses.
they contain. The degree of beneficence, OF ALL views under which human life of benevolent intention, and of power, exerhas ever been considered, the most reason-. cised in the construction of sensitive beings, able in my judgment is that, which regards goes strongly in favour, not only of a creait as a state of probation. If the course of tive, but of a continuing care, that is, of a the world was separated from the contriv- ruling Providence. The degree of chance ances of nature, I do not know that it which appears to prevail in the world, rewould be necessary to look for any other quires to be reconciled with this hypothesis. account of it, than what, if it may be called Now it is one thing to maintain the doctrine an account, is contained in the answer, that of Providence along with that of a future events rise up by chance. But since the state, and another thing without it. In contrivances of nature decidedly evince in- my opinion, the two doctrines must stand tention; and since the course of the world or fall together. For although more of this and the contrivances of nature have the apparent chance may perhaps, upon other same author; we are, by the force of this principles, be accounted for, than is geneconnection, led to believe, that the appear- rally supposed, yet a future state alone ance, under which events take place, is rectifies all disorders: and if it can be reconcileable with the supposition of design shown, that the appearance of disorder is on the part of the Deity. It is enough that consistent with the uses of life as a prepathey be reconcileable with this supposition ; ratory state, or that in some respects it and it is undoubtedly true, that they may promotes these uses, then, so far as this be reconcileable, though we cannot recon- hypothesis may be accepted, the ground of cile them. The mind, however, which con- the difficulty is done away.
In the wide scale of human condition, tianity, is not only a blessing, but a trial there is not perhaps one of its manifold It is one of the diversified means by which diversities, which does not bear upon the the character is exercised : and they who design here suggested. Virtue is infinitely require of Christianity, that the revelation various. There is no situation in which a of it should be universal, may possibly be rational being is placed, from that of the found to require, that one species of probest instructed Christian, down to the con- bation should be adopted, if not to the exdition of the rudest barbarian, which affords clusion of others, at least to the narrowing not room for moral agency; for the acquisi- of that variety which the wisdom of the tion, exercise, and display, of voluntary Deity hath appointed to this part of his qualities, good and bad. Health and sick moral economy.* ness, enjoyment and suffering, riches and Now if this supposition be well founded ; poverty, knowledge and ignorance, power that is, if it be true, that our ultimate, or and subjection, liberty and bondage, civili- our most permanent happiness, will depend, sation and barbarity, have all their offices not upon the temporary condition into and duties, all serve for the formation of which we are cast, but upon our behaviour character: for when we speak of a state of in it; then is it a much more fit subject of trial, it must be remembered, that charac- chance than we usually allow or apprehend ters are not only tried, or proved, or detected, it to be, in what manner the variety of exbut that they are generated also, and formed, ternal circumstances, which subsist in the by circumstances. The best dispositions may human world, is distributed amongst the subsist under the most depressed, the most individuals of the species. “This life being afflicted fortunes. A West Indian slave, a state of probation, it is immaterial,” says who, amidst his wrongs, retains his bene- Rousseau," what kind of trials we experivolence, I, for my part, look upon as ence in it, provided they produce their amongst the foremost of human candidates effects.” Of two agents who stand indiffor the rewards of virtue. The kind master ferent to the moral Governor of the uniof such a slave, that is, he who, in the exer- verse, one may be exercised by riches, the cise of an inordinate authority, postpones, other by poverty. The treatment of these in any degree, his own interest to his slave's two shall appear to be very opposite, whilst comfort, is likewise a meritorious character: in truth it is the same : for though, in many but still he is inferior to his slave. All respects, there be great disparity between however which I contend for, is, that these the conditions assigned, in one main article destinies, opposite as they may be in every there may be none, viz. in that they are other view, are both trials; and equally alike trials; have both their duties and such. The observation may be applied to temptations, not less arduous or less dangerevery other condition; to the whole range ous in one case than the other; so that if of the scale, not excepting even its lowest the final award follow the character, the extremity. Savages appear to us all alike; original distribution of the circumstances but it is owing to the distance at which we under which that character is formed, may view savage life, that we perceive in it no be defended upon principles not only of discrimination of character. I make no justice but of equality. What hinders, doubt, but that moral qualities, both good therefore, but that mankind may draw lots and bad, are called into action as much, - for their condition ? They take their portion and that they subsist in as great variety, of faculties and opportunities, as any unin these inartificial societies, as they are, or known cause, or concourse of causes, or as do, in polished life. Certain at least it is, causes acting for other purposes, may hapthat the good and ill treatment which each pen to set them out; but the event is individual meets with, depends more upon the choice and voluntary conduct of those about him, than it does or ought to do, un
* The reader will observe, that I speak of
the revelation of Christianity as distinct from der regular civil institutions, and the coer- Christianity itself. The dispensation may al cion of public laws. So again, to turn our ready be universal. That part of mankind eyes to the other end of the scale ; namely; nevertheless be redeemed, that is, be placed that part of it which is occupied by mankind in a better condition, with respect to their enjoying the benefits of learning, together future state, by his intervention; may be the with the lights of revelation ; there also, the objects of his benignity and intercession, as
well as of the propitiatory virtue of his pasadvantage is all along probationary. Chris
sion. But this is not “natural theology;" tianity itself, I mean the revelation of Chris- therefore I will not dwell longer upon it.