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Thus the different portions of the globe come into use in succession as , the residence of man; and, in his absence, entertain other guests, which, by their sudden multiplication, fill the chasm. . In domesticated animals, we find the effect of their fecundity to be, that we can always command numbers; we can always have as many of any particular species as we please, or as we can support. Nor do we complain of its excess; it being much more easy to regulate abundance, than to supply scarcity. But then this superfecundity, though of great occasional use and importance, exceeds the ordinary capacity of nature to receive or support its progeny. All superabundance
supposes 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 perfect safety; or of fish, 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 con
junction with other checks and limits, all subservient to the same purpose, are the thin
nings 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 infost 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; 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 The provision which was originally made for continuing the replenishment of the world, has proved itself to be effectual through a long succession of ages.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 shows, that the system of destruction amongst animals holds an express relation to the system of fecundity; that they are parts indeed of one compensatory scheme; is, that, in each species, the fecundity 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 six 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 obtains throughout. Defencelessness and devastation are repaired by fecundity, . . We have dwelt the longer on 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 oeconomy, 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. , o, . . . . . . . . .
“that, in at vast plurality of instances, in which contricance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial.” 2: Our's Ecox D PRopositro N 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 manifestly they may be the result of an organization contrived for the purpose, can only be deemed an act or a part of the same 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 Beity; they may prove a high degree of powers and intelligence: but they do not prove his goodness; forasmuch as they must have been found in any creation which was capable of continuance, although it is possi
ble to suppose, that such a creation might have been produced by a being whose views rested upon misery. . . . . . . . . . . no But there is a class of properties, which may be said 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 existence; 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 ne: cessary to life, and ministering only to our pleasures; and the properties given to the necessaries of life themselves, by which they contribute to pleasure as well as preservation; 'show a further design, than that of giving existence”. . . . . . . . . . . . to . . . . . 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 **See this topic considered in Dr. Balguy's Treatise upon the Divine Benevolence. . This excéllent author first, I think,
o: it ; and nearly in the terms in which it is here stated.
ome other observations also under this head are taken from
that treatise." ' " ' "