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exert itself in, how can our imagination set any bounds to it?
7 To return, therefore, to my first thought, I could not but look upon myself with secret horror, as a being that was not worth the smallest regard of one, who had so great a work under his care and superintendency. I was afraid of being overlooked amidst the immensity of nature, and lost among that infinite variety of creatures, which, in all probability, swarm through all these immeasurable regions of matter.
8 In order to recover myself from this motifying thought, I considered that it took its rise from those narrow conceptions, which we are apt to entertain of the Divine Nature. We ourselves candot attend to many different objects at the same time. If we are careful to inspect some things, we must of course neglect uthers. This imperfection which we observe in ourselves, is an imperfection that cleaves, in some degree, to creatures of the highest capacities, as they are creatures, that is, beings of finite and limited natures.
9 The presence of every created being, is confined to a certaip measure of space; and, consequently, his observation is stinted to a certain number of objects. The sphere in which we move, and act, and understand, is of a wider circumference to one creature, than another, according as we rise one above another in the scale of existence. But the widest of these our spheres, has its circumference.
•10 When, therefore, we reflect on the Divine Nature, we are so used and accustomed to this imperfection in ourselves, that we cannot forbear, in some measure, ascribing it to HIM, in whom there is no shadow of imperfection. Our reason, indeed, assures us, that his attributes are infinite; but the poorness of our conceptions is such, that it cannot forbear setting bounds to every thing it contemplates, till our reason comes again to our succour, and throws down all those little prejudices, which rise in us unawares, and are natural to the mind of man.
11 We shall therefore utterly extinguish this melancholy thought, of our being overlooked by our Maker, in the multiplicity of his works, and the infinity of those objects among which he seems to be incessantly employed, if we consider, in the first place, that he is omnipresent; and, in the second that he is omniscient.
12 If we consider him in his omn'presence, bis being passes through, actuates, and supports, the whole frame of nature. His creation, in every part of it, is full of him. There is nothing he has made, which is either so distant, so little, or so inconsiderable, that he does not essentially reside in it. His substance is within the substance of every being
whether material or iinmaterial, and as intiinately present to it, as that being is to itself.
13 · It would be an imperfection in him, were he able to move out of one place into another; or to withdraw himself from any thing he has created, or from any part of that space which he diffused and spread abroad to infinits. In short, to speak of him in the language of the old philosophers, he is a Being whose centre, is every where, and his circumfer. ence, no where,
14 In the second place, he is omniscient as well as omnipresent,' His omniscience, indeed, necessarily and naturale ly, flows from his omnipresence. He cannot but be conscious of every motion that arises in the whole material world, which he thus essentially pervades; and of every thought that is stirring in the intellectual world, to every part of which he is thus intimately united.
15 Were the soul separated from the body, and should it with one glance of thought start beyond the bounds of the creation; should it for millions of years, continue its progress through infinite space, with the same activity, it would still find itself within the embrace of its Creator, and encompassed by the immensity of the Godhead.
16 In this consideration of the Almighty's omnipresence and omniscience, every uncomfortable thought vanishes. He cannot but regard every thing that has being, especially such of his creatures who fear they are not regarded by him. He is privy to all their thoughts, and to that anxiety of heart in particular, which is apt to trouble them on this occasion; for, as it is impossible he should overlook any of his creatures, so we may be confident that he regards with an eye of mercy, those who endeavour to recommend themselves to his notice, and in unfeigned humility of heart, think themselves unworthy that he should be mindful of them. ADDISOR.
SECTION I. Happiness is founded in rectitude of conduct. ALL men pursue good, and would be happy, if they knew how: not happy for minutes, and miserable for hours; but happy, if possible, through every part of their existence. Either, therefore, there is a good of this steady, durable kind, or there is not. If not, then all good must be transient and uncertain; and if so, an object of the lowest value, which can little deserve our attention or inquiry
2 But if there be a better good, such a good as we are seek. ing, like every other thing, it must be derived from some cause; and that cause must be external, internal, or mixed; in as much as, except these three, there is no other possible. Now a steady, durable good, cannot be derived from an external cause : since all derived from externals inust_fluctuate as they fluctuate.
3 By the same rule, it cannot be derived from a mixture of the two; because the part which is external, will proportionably destroy its essence. What then remains but the cause internal? the very cause which we have supposed, when we place the sovereign good in mind,--in rectitude of conduct.
SECTION II. Virtue and piety man's highest interest. I FIND myself existing upon a little spot, surrounded every way by an immense, unknown expansion.-Where am I? What sort of place de I inhabit? Is it exactly accommodated in every instance to my convenience? Is there no excess of cold, none of heat, to offend me? Am I never annoyed by animals, either of my own or a different kind? Is every thing subservient to me, as though I had ordered all myself?
No-nothing like it, the farthest from it possible. 2 The world appears not, then, originally made for the private convenience of me alone?- It does not. But is it not possible so to accommodate it, by my own particular in. dustry? If to accommodate man and beast, heaven and earth, if this he beyond me, it is not possible. What consequence then follows; or can there be any other than this ?If I seek an interest of my own, detached from that of others, I seek an interest which is chimerical, and which can never have existence.
3 flow then must I determine? Have I no interest at all? If I have not, I am stationed here to no purpose. But why no interest? Can I be contented with none but one seperate and detached ? Is a social interest, joined with others, such an absurdity is not to be admitted? The bee, the heaver, and the tribes of herding animals, are sufficient to convince me, that the thing is somewhere at least possible.
4 How, then, am I assured that it is not equally true of man? Admit it, and what follows? If sn, then honour and justice are my interest; then the whole train of moral virtues are my interest; without some portion of which, not even thieves can maintain sooiety.
5 But, farther still- I stop not here - I pursue this social
interest as far as I can trace my several relations. I pass from my own stock, my own neighbourhood, my own nation, to the whole race of mankind, as dispersed throughout the earth. Am I not related to them all, by the mutual aids of commerce, by the general intercourse of arts and letters, by that common nature of which we all participate ? 6 Again--I must have food and clothing.
Without a proper genial warmth, I instantly perish. Am I not related, in this view, to the very earth itself; to the distant sun, from whose beams I derive vigour? to that stupendous course and order of the infinite host of heaven, by which the times and seasons ever uniformly pass on?
7 Were this order once confounded, I could not probably survive a moment; so absolutely do I depend on this common general welfare. What, then, have ) to do, but to enlarge virtue into piety? Not only honour and justice, and what I owe to man, is my interest; but gratitude also, acquiescence, resignation, adoration, and all I owe to this great polity, and its great Governour our common Parent.
SECTION III. The injustice of an uncharitable spirit. A SUSPICIOUS, uncharitable spirit, is not only incon sistent with all social virtue and happiness, but it is also, in itself, unreasonable and unjust. In order to form sound opinions concerning characters and actions, two things are especially requisite; information and impartiality. But such as are most forward to decide unfavourably, are commonly destitute of both. " Instead of possessing, or even requiring, full information, the grounds on which they proceed are frequently the most slight and frivolous.
2 A tale, perhaps, which the idle have invented, the inquisitive have listened to, and the credulous have propagated; or a real incident, which rumour, in carrying it along, has exag. gerated and disguised, supplies them with materials of contident assertion, and decisive judgment. From an action, they presently look into the heart, and infer the motivc. This supposed motive they conclude to be the ruling principle and pronounce at once concerning the whole character.
3 Nothing can be more contrary both to equity and to sound reason, than this precipitate judgment. Any man who attends to what passes within himself, may easily discern what a complicated system the human character is; and what a variety of circumstances must be taken into the account, in order to estimate it truly. No single instance of conduct, whatever, is sufficient to determino it.
4 As from one worthy action, it were credulity, not charity, to conclude a person to be free'from all vice; so from one which is censurable, it is perfectly unjust to infer that the author of it is without conscience, and without merit. If we knew all the attending circumstances, it might appear in an excusable light; nay, perhaps, under a commendable form. The motives of the actor may have been entirely different from those which we ascribe to him ; and where we suppose him impelled by bad design, he may have been prompted by conscience, and mistaken principle.
5 Admitting the action to have been in every view criminal, he may
have been hurried into it through inadvertency and surprise. He may have sincerely repented ; and the virtuous principle may have now regained its full vigour. Perhaps this was the corner of frailty; the quarter on which he lay open to the incursions of temptation ; while the other avenues of his heart were firmly guarded by conscience.
6 It is therefore evident, that no part of the government of temper, deserves attention more, than to keep our minds I pure from uncharitable prejudices, and open to candour and
humanity in judging of others. The worst consequences, both to ourselves and to society, follow from the opposite spirit.
WE find inan placed in a world, where he has by no means the disposal of the events that happen. Calamities sometimes befall the worthiest and the best, which it is not in their power to prevent, and where nothing is left them, but to acknowledge, and to submit to the high hand of Hea:
For such visitations of trial, many good and wise reasons, can be assigned, which the present subject leads me not to discuss.
2 But though those unavoidable calamities make a part, yet, they make not the chief part, of the vexations and sorrows that distress human life. A multitude of evils beset us, for the source of which, we must look to another quarter. No sooner has any thing in the health, cr in the circumstances of men, gone cross to their wish, than they begin to talk of the unequal distribution of the good things of this life; they envy the condition of others ; they repine at their own lot, and fret against the Ruler of the world.
3 Full of these sentiments, one man pines under a broken constitution. But let us ask him, whether he can,