« VorigeDoorgaan »
support its progeny. All superabundance sapposes destruction, or must destroy itself. Perhaps there is no species of terrestrial animals whatever, which would not overrun the earth, if it were permitted to multiply in persect sasety^ or of sale, which would not fill the ocean: at least, if any single species were left to their natural increase without disturbance or restraint, the food of other species would be exhausted by their maintenance. It is necessary, therefore, that the effects of such prolific faculties be curtailed. In conjunction with other checks and limits, all subservient to the fame purpose, are the thinnings which take place among animals, by their action upon one another. In some instances we ourselves experience, very directly, the use of these hostilities. One species of insects rids us of another species; or reduces their ranks. A third species perhaps keeps the second within bounds: and birds or lizards are a fence against the inordinate increase by which even these last might insest us. In other, more numerous, and possibly more important instances, this disposition of things, although less necessary or useful to us, and of course less Observed by us, may be necessary and useful to certain other
species; species; or even for the preventing of the loss of certain species from the universe: a misfortune which seems to be studiously guarded against. Though there may be the appearance of failure in some of the details of Nature's works, in her great purposes there never are. Her species never fail. The provision which was originally made for continuing the replenishment of the world has proved itself to be effectual through a long succession of ages.
What further shews, that the system of destruction amongst animals holds an express relation to the system of fecundity; that they are parts indeed of one compenfatory scheme; is, that, in each species, the secundity bears a proportion to the smallness of the animal, to the weakness, to the shortness of its natural term of life, and to the dangers and enemies by which it is surrounded. An elephant produces but one calf: a butterfly lays fix hundred eggs. Birds of prey seldom produce more than two eggs: the sparrow tribe, and the duck tribe, frequently sit upon a dozen. In the rivers, we meet with a thousand minnows for one pike; in the sea, a million of herrings for a single shark. Compensation 2 L 2 obtain
obtains throughout. Desert celessness anil devastation are repaired by fecundity.
We have dwelt the longer upon these considerations, because the subject to which they apply, namely, that of animals devouring one another, forms the chief, if not the only instance, in the works of the Deity, of an Eco- nomy, stamped by marks of design, in which the character of utility can be called in question. The case of venomous animals is of much inferior consequence to the case of prey, and, in some degree, is also included under it. To both cases it is probable that many more reasons belong, than those of which we are in possession.
, Our first proposition, and that which we have hitherto been defending, was, "that in a vast plurality of instances, in which contrivance is perceived, the design cf the contrivance is beneficial."
Our second proposition is, "that the Deity has added pleasure to animal sensations, .beyond what was necessary for any other purpose, or when the purpose, so far as it was necessary,
might have been effected by the operation of
, »» pain. ,
This proposition may be thus explained. The capacities, which, according to the established course of nature, are necessary to the support or preservation of an animal, however manisestly they may be the result of an organization contrived for the purpose, can only be deemed an act or a part of the fame will, as that which decreed the existence of the animal itself; because, whether the creation proceeded from a benevolent or a malevolent being, these capacities must have been given, if the animal existed at all. Animal properties therefore, which fall under this description, do not strictly prove the goodness of God. They may prove the existence of the Deity. they may prove a high degree of power and intelligence: but they do not prove his goodness; forasnuch as they must have been found in any creation which was capable of continuance, although it is possible to suppose, that such a creation might have been produced by a being whose views relied upon misery.
But there is a class of properties, which may be faid to be superadded from an intention expressly directed to happiness; an intention to give a happy existence distinct from the general intention of providing the means of ex* .7 2 L 3 istence; istcoce; and that is, of capacities for pleasure, in cases, wherein, so far as the conservation of the individual or of the species is concerned, they were not wanted, or wherein the purpose might have been secured by the operation of pain. The provision which is made of a variety of objects, not necessary to life, and mi nistring only to our pleasures; and the properties given to the necessaries of life themselves, by which they contribute to pleasure as well as preservation; (hew a further design, than that of giving existence*.
A single instance will make all this clear. Assuming the necessity of food for the support of animal life, it is requisite, that the animal be provided with organs, fitted for the procuring, receiving, and digesting of its food. It may be also necessary, that the animal be impelled by its sensations to exert its organs. But the pain of hunger would do all this. Why add pleasure to the act of. eating; sweetness and relish to food? Why a new and ap
. q See this topic- considered in Dr. Balguy's treatise upon the Divine Benevolence, This excellent author first, I think, proposed it ; and nearly in the terms in which it is here stated. Some other observations also tinder this head are taken from that treatise.