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the nature of penal justice, may possess its weight in the Divine councils. Virtue perhaps is the greatest of all ends. In human beings, relative virtues form a large part of the whole. Now relative virtue presupposes, not only the existence of evil, 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. I have already observed, that, when we let in religious considerations, we often let in light upon the difficulties of nature. So in the fact now to be accounted for, the degree of happiness, which we usually enjoy in this life, may be better suited to a state of trial and probation, than a greater degree would be. The truth is, we are rather too much delighted with the world, than too little. Imperfect, broken, and precarious as our pleasures are, they are more than sufficient to attach us to the eager pursuit of them. A regard to a future state can hardly keep its place as it is. If we were designed therefore to be influenced by that regard, might not a more indulgent system, a higher, or more uninterrupted state of gratification, 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 very other) privation, disappointment, and satiety, are not without the most salutary tendencies.
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 catalogue, which it supplies, are the pivot upon which the head turns, the ligament within the socket of the hip-joint, the pulley or trochlear muscles of the eye, the epiglottis, the bandages which tie down the tendons of the wrist and instep, the slit or perforated muscles at the hands and feet, the knitting of the intestines to the mesentery, the course of the chyle into the blood, and the constitution of the sexes as extended throughout the whole of the animal creation. To these instances, the reader's memory will go back, as they are severally set forth in their places ; there is not one of the number which I do not think decisive; not one which is not strictly mechanical; nor have I read or heard of any solution of these appearances, which, in the smallest degree, shakes the conclusion that we build upon them. 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 is learnt, and upon the subject of which no proofs were wanted. Now I answer that, by investigation, the following points are always gained, in favour of doctrines even the most generally acknowledged, (supposing them to be true), viz. stability and impression. Occasions will arise to try the firmness of our most habitual opinions. And upon these occasions, it is a matter of incalculable use to feel our foundation; to find a support in argument for what we had taken up upon authority. In the present case, the arguments upon which the conclusion rests, are exactly such, as a truth of universal concern ought to rest upon. “ They are sufficiently open to the views and capacities of the unlearned, at the same time that 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. 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 phaenomena, by dwelling upon proofs and consequences, that mental exercise is drawn into any particular channel. It is by these means, at least, that we have any power over it. The train of