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governed by that which depends upon tion of moral government, could not be themselves, the application of what they prevented or alleviated : that is to say, have received. In dividing the talents, no could not be remitted in whole or in part, rule was observed; none was necessary: except by the authority which inficted in rewarding the use of them, that of the them, or by an appellate or superior authomost correct justice. The chief differencerity. This consideration, which is founded at last appears to be, that the right use of in our most acknowledged apprehensions more talents, i. e. of a greater trust, will be of the nature of penal justice, may possess more highly rewarded, than the right use its weight in the divine counsels. Virtue of fewer talents, i. e. of a less trust. And perhaps is the greatest of all ends. In since, for other purposes, it is expedient human beings, relative virtues form a large that there be an inequality of concredited part of the whole. Now relative virtue pretalents here, as well, probably, as an in- supposes, not only the existence of evil, equality of conditions hereafter, though all without which it could have no object, no remuneratory; can any rule, adapted to material to work upon, but that evils be, that inequality, be more agreeable, even to apparently at least, misfortunes; that is, our apprehensions of distributive justice, the effects of apparent chance. It may be than this is ?
in pursuance, therefore, and in furtherance We have said, that the appearance of of the same scheme of probation, that the casualty, which attends the occurrences and evils of life are made so to present themselves. events of life, not only does not interfere I have already observed, that, when we with its uses, as a state of probation, but let in religious considerations, we often let that it promotes these uses.
in light upon the difficulties of nature. So Passive virtues, of all others the severest in the fact now to be accounted for, the and the most sublime; of all others, per- degree of happiness, which we usually enjoy haps, the most acceptable to the Deity; in this life, may be better suited to a state would, it is evident, be excluded from a of trial and probation, than a greater degree constitution, in which happiness and misery would be. The truth is, we are rather too regularly followed virtue and vice. Pati- much delighted with the world, than too ence and composure under distress, afflic- little. Imperfect, broken, and precarious tion, and pain ; a steadfast keeping up of as our pleasures are, they are more than our confidence in God, and of our reliance sufficient to attach us to the eager pursuit upon his final goodness, at the time when of them. A regard to a future state can every thing present is adverse and discou- hardly keep its place as it is. If we were raging; and (what is no less difficult to designed therefore to be influenced by that retain) a cordial desire for the happiness regard, might not a more indulgent system, of others, even when we are deprived of a higher, or more uninterrupted state of our own : these dispositions, which consti- gratification, have interfered with the detute, perhaps, the perfection of our moral sign? At least it seems expedient, that nature, would not have found their proper mankind should be susceptible of this influoffice and object in a state of avowed retri- ence, when presented to them: that the bution ; and in which, consequently, en- condition of the world should not be such, durance of evil would be only submission to exclude its operation, or even to to punishment.
weaken it more than it does. In a religious Again: one man's sufferings may be view (however we may complain of them another man's trial. The family of a sick in every other,) privation, disappointment, parent is a school of filial piety. The cha- and satiety, are not without the most rities of domestic life, and not only these, salutary tendencies. 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
CHAPTER XXVII. really or apparently casual. such sufferings alone that benevolence can operate. For were there no evils in the In all cases, wherein the mind feels itself world, but what were punishments, pro- in danger of being confounded by variety, perly and intelligibly such, benevolence it is sure to rest upon a few strong points, would only stand in the way of justice. or perhaps upon a single instance. Amongst Such evils, consistently with the administra- a multitude of proofs, it is one that does the
It is upon
business. If we observe in any argument, from the discoveries of the learned.” If that hardly two minds fix upon the same they had been altogether abstruse and reconinstance, the diversity of choice shews the dite, they would not have found their way strength of the argument, because it shews to the understandings of the mass of manthe number and competition of the exam- kind; if they had been merely popular, they ples. There is no subject in which the ten- might have wanted solidity.. dency to dwell upon select or single topics But, secondly, what is gained by research is so usual, because there is no subject, of in the stability of our conclusion, is also which, in its full extent, the latitude is so gained from it in impression. Physicians great, as that of natural history applied to tell us, that there is a great deal of differthe proof of an intelligent Creator. For my ence between taking a medicine, and the part, I take my stand in human anatomy; medicine getting into the constitution. A and the examples of mechanism I should be difference not unlike which, obtains with apt to draw out from the copious catalogue respect to those great moral propositions, which it supplies, are the pivot upon which which ought to form the directing principles the head turns, the ligament within the of human conduct. It is one thing to assent socket of the hip-joint, the pulley or troch- to a proposition of this sort ; another, and lear muscles of the eye, the epiglottis, the a very different thing, to have properly imbandages which tie down the tendons of bibed its influence. I take the case to be the wrist and instep, the slit or perforated this : perhaps almost every man living has muscles at the hands and feet, the knitting a particular train of thought, into which his of the intestines to the mesentery, the course mind glides and falls, when at leisure from of the chyle into the blood, and the consti- the impressions and ideas that occasionally tution of the sexes as extended throughout excite it; perhaps, also, the train of thought the whole of the animal creation. To these here spoken of, more than any other thing, instances, the reader's memory will go back, determines the character. It is of the utmost as they are severally set forth in their places; consequence, therefore, that this property of there is not one of the number which I do our constitution be well regulated. Now it is by not think decisive; not one which is not frequent or continued meditation upon a substrictly mechanical ; nor have I read or ject, by placing a subject in different points of heard of any solution of these appearances, view, by induction of particulars, by variety which, in the smallest degree, shakes the of examples, by applying principles to the conclusion that we build upon them. solution of phenomena, by dwelling upon
But, of the greatest part of those, who, proofs and consequences, that mental exereither in this book or any other, read argu- cise is drawn into any particular channel. ments to prove the existence of a God, it It is by these means, at least, that we have will be said, that they leave off only where any power over it. The train of spontanethey began; that they were never ignorant ous thought, and the choice of that train, of this great truth, never doubted of it; that may be directed to different ends, and may it does not therefore appear, what is gained appear to be more or less judiciously fixed, by researches from which no new opinion is according to the purpose, in respect of which learnt, and upon the subject of which no we consider it : but, in a moral view, I proofs were wanted. Now I answer that, shall not, I believe, be contradicted when by investigation, the following points are I say, that, if one train of thinking be more always gained, in favour of doctrines even desirable than another, it is that which the most generally acknowledged (supposing regards the phenomena of nature with a them to be true,) viz. stability and impres- constant reference to a supreme intelligent sion. Occasions will arise to try the firm- Author. To have made this the ruling, the ness of our most habitual opinions. And habitual sentiment of our minds, is to have upon these occasions, it is a matter of incal- laid the foundation of every thing which is culable use to feel our foundation; to find religious. The world thenceforth becomes a support in argument for what we had a temple, and life itself one continued act taken up. upon authority. In the present of adoration. The change is no less than case, the arguments upon which the conclu- this; that, whereas formerly God was selsion rests, are exactly such, as a truth of dom in our thoughts, we can now scarcely universal concern ought to rest upon. “ They look upon any thing without perceiving its are sufficiently open to the views and capa- relation to him. Every organized natural cities of the unlearned, at the same time body, in the provisions which it contains for that they acquire new strength and lustre its sustentation and propagation, testifies a care, on the part of the Creator, expressly Our happiness, our existence, is in his directed to these purposes. We are on all hands. All we expect must come from sides surrounded by such bodies; examined him. Nor :ought we to feel our situation in their parts, wonderfully curious ; compared insecure. In every nature, and in every with one another, no less wonderfully diver- portion of nature, which we can descry, we sified. So that the mind, as well as the eye, find attention bestowed upon even the mi-, may either expatiate in variety and multi- nutest parts. The hinges in the wings of an tude, or fix itself down to the investigation earwig, and the joints of its antennæ, are as of particular divisions of the science. And highly wrought, as if the Creator had noin either case it will rise up from its occu- thing else to finish. We see no signs of pation, possessed by the subject, in a very diminution of care by multiplicity of objects, different manner, and with a very different or of distraction of thought by variety. We degree of influence, from what a mere assent to have no reason to fear, therefore, our being any verbal proposition which can be formed forgotten, or overlooked, or neglected. concerning the existence of the Deity, at The existence and character of the Deity, least that merely complying assent with is, in every view, the most interesting of all which those about us are satisfied, and with human speculations. In none, however, is which we are too apt to satisfy ourselves, will it more so, than as it facilitates the belief of or can produce upon the thoughts. More the fundamental articles of Revelation. It especially may this difference be perceived, is a step to have it proved, that there must in the degree of admiration and of awe, be something in the world more than what with which the Divinity is regarded, when we see. It is a farther step to know, that, represented to the understanding by its own amongst the invisible things of nature, there remarks, its own reflections, and its own must be an intelligent mind, concerned in reasonings, compared with what is excited its production, order, and support. These by any language that can be used by others. points being assured to us by Natural TheoThe works of nature want only to be con- logy, we may well leave to Revelation the templated. When contemplated, they have disclosure of many particulars, which our every thing in them which can astonish by researches cannot reach, respecting either their greatness : for, of the vast scale of the nature of this Being as the original operation through which our discoveries
cause of all things, or his character and decarry us, at one end we see an intelligent signs as a moral governor; and not only so, Power arranging planetary systems, fixing, but the more full confirmation of other parfor instance, the trajectory of Saturn, or ticulars, of which, though they do not lie constructing a ring of two hundred thousand altogether beyond our reasonings and our miles diameter, to surround his body, and probabilities, the certainty is by no means be suspended like a magnificent arch over equal to the importance. The true theist the heads of his inhabitants; and, at the will be the first to listen to any credible other, bending a hooked tooth, concerting communication of Divine knowledge. Noand providing an appropriate mechanism, thing which he has learnt from Natural for the clasping and reclasping of the fila- Theology, will diminish his desire of farther ments of the feather of the humming-bird. instruction, or his disposition to receive it We have proof, not only of both these works with humility and thankfulness. He wishes proceeding from an intelligent agent, but for light: he rejoices in light. His inward of their proceeding, from the same agent: veneration of this great Being, will incline for, in the first place, we can trace an him to attend with the utmost seriousness, identity of plan, a connection of system, not only to all that can be discovered confrom Saturn to our own globe : and when cerning him by researches into nature, but arrived upon our globe, we can, in the to all that is taught by a revelation, which second place, pursue the connection through gives reasonable proof of having proceeded all the organized, especially the animated, from him. bodies which it supports. We can observe But, above every other article of revealed marks of a common relation, as well to one religion, does the anterior belief of a Deity another, as to the elements of which their bear with the strongest force upon that habitation is composed. Therefore one grand point, which gives indeed interest and mind hath planned, or at least hath pre- importance to all the rest,—the resurrection scribed, a general plan for all these produc- of the human dead. The thing might ap. tions. One Being has been concerned in all. pear hopeless, did we not see a power at
Under this stupendous Being we live. work adequate to the effect, a power under
the guidance of an intelligent will, and a nization will answer their purpose, because, power penetrating the inmost recesses of all according even to their own theory, it may substance. I am far from justifying the be the vehicle of consciousness; and because opinion of those, who “ thought it a thing consciousness carries identity and individuincredible, that God should raise the dead;" ality along with it through all changes of but I admit, that it is first necessary to be form or of visible qualities. In the most persuaded, that there is a God, to do so. general case, that, as we have said, of the This being thoroughly settled in our minds, derivation of plants and animals from one there seems to be nothing in this process another, the latent organization is either (concealed as we confess it to be) which itself similar to the old organization, or has need to shock our belief. They who have the power of communicating to new matter taken up the opinion, that the acts of the the old organic form. But it is not rehuman mind depend upon organization, stricted to this rule. There are other cases, that the mind itself indeed consists in orga- especially in the progress of insect life, in nization, are supposed to find a greater which the dormant organization does not difficulty than others dn, in admitting a much resemble that which encloses it, and transition by death to a new state of sen- still less suits with the situation in which the tient existence, because the old organiza- enclosing body is placed, but suits with a tion is apparently dissolved. But I do not different situation to which it is destined. see that any impracticability need be appre- In the larva of the libellula, which lives hended even by these; or that the change, constantly, and has still long to live under even upon their hypothesis, is far removed water, are descried the wings of a fly, which from the analogy of some other operations, two years afterwards is to mount into the which we know with certainty that the air. Is there nothing in this analogy? It Deity is carrying on. In the ordinary serves at least to show, that even in the derivation of plants and animals, from one observable course of nature, organizations another, a particle, in many cases, minuter are formed one beneath another; and, than all assignable, all conceivable dimen- amongst a thousand other instances, it shows sion; an aura, an effluvium, an infinite- completely, that the Deity can mould and simal; determines the organization of a fashion the parts of material nature, so as to future body: does no less than fix, whether fulfil any purpose whatever which he is that which is about to be produced, shall be pleased to appoint. a vegetable, a merely sentient, or a rational They who refer the operations of mind to being; an oak, a frog, or a philosopher; a substance totally and essentially different makes all these differences; gives to the from matter (as most certainly these operafuture body its qualities, and nature, and tions, though affected by material causes, species. And this particle, from which hold very little affinity to any properties of springs, and by which is determined, a matter with which we are acquainted), whole future nature, itself proceeds from, adopt perhaps a juster reasoning, and a and owes its constitution to, a prior body: better philosophy: and by these the connevertheless, which is seen in plants most siderations above suggested are not wanted, decisively, the incepted organization, though at least in the same degree. But to such as formed within, and through, and by, a pre- find, which some persons do find, an inceding organization, is not corrupted by its superable difficulty in shaking off an adhercorruption, or destroyed by its dissolution; ence to those analogies, which the corporeal but, on the contrary, is sometimes extricated world is continually suggesting to their and developed by those very causes; sur- thoughts; to such, I say, every considervives and comes into action, when the ation will be a relief, which manifests the purpose, for which it was prepared, requires extent of that intelligent power which is
Now an economy which nature acting in nature, the fruitfulness of its rehas adopted, when the purpose was to trans- sources, the variety, and aptness, and success fer an organization from one individual to of its means; most especially every consideranother, may have something analogous to ation, which tends to show that, in the it, when the purpose is to transmit an orga- translation of a conscious existence, there nization from one state of being to another is not, even in their own way of regarding state: and they who found thought in it, any thing greatly beyond, or totally organization, may see something in this unlike, what takes place in such parts (proanalogy applicable to their difficulties; for, bably small parts) of the order of nature, as whatever can transmit a similarity of orga- are accessible to our observation.
Again; if there be those who think, that those substances, and of those properties of the contractedness and debility of the human things, with which our concern may lie. faculties in our present state, seem ill to Upon the whole; In every thing which accord with the high destinies which the respects this awful, but, as we trust, glorious expectations of religion point out to us; I change, we have a wise and powerful Being would only ask them, whether any one, who (the author, in nature, of infinitely various saw a child two hours after its birth, could expedients for infinitely various ends), upon suppose that it would ever come to under. whom to rely for the choice and appointstand fluxions ;* or who then shall say, ment of means adequate to the execution of what farther amplification of intellectual any plan which his goodness or his justice powers, what accession of knowledge, what may have formed, for the moral and accountadvance and improvement, the rational able part of his terrestrial creation. That faculty, be its constitution what it will, great office rests with him ; be it ours to may not admit of, when placed amidst new hope and to prepare, under a firm and objects, and endowed with a sensorium settled persuasion, that, living and dying, adapted, as it undoubtedly will be, and as we are his; that life is passed in his conour present senses are, to the perception of stant presence, that death resigns us to his • See Search's Light of Nature, passim.