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The subject has been carried out with much ingenuity, and with
many additional illustrations, in a work entitled “ God in Disease," by Dr Duncan of Dublin.]
Of bodily pain, the principal observation, no doubt, is that which we have already made, and already dwelt upon, viz., " that it is seldom the object of contrivance; that when it is so, the contrivance rests ultimately in good."
To which, however, may be added, that the annexing of pain to the means of destruction is a salutary provision ; inasmuch as it teaches vigilance and caution ; both gives notice of danger, and excites those endeavours which may be necessary to preservation. The evil consequence, which sometimes arises from the want of that timely intimation of danger which pain gives, is known to the inhabitants of cold countries by the example of frostbitten limbs. I have conversed with patients who had lost toes and fingers by this cause. They have in general told me, that they were totally unconscious of
local uneasiness at the time. Some I have heard declare that, whilst they were about their employment, neither their situation, nor the state of the air, was unpleasant. They felt no pain; they suspected no mischief; till, by the application of warmth, they discovered, too late, the fatal injury which some of their extremities had suffered. I say that this shews the use of pain, and that we stand in need of such a monitor. I believe also that the use extends further than we suppose, or can now trace; that to disagreeable sensations we, and all animals, owe, or have owed, many habits of action which are salutary, but which are become so familiar, as not easily to be referred to their origin.
Pain also itself is not without its alleviations. It may violent and frequent; but it is seldom both violent and longcontinued : and its pauses and intermissions become positive pleasures. It has the power of shedding a satisfaction over intervals of ease, which, I believe, few enjoyments exceed. A
be PLEASURE AFTER PAIN,
man rising from a fit of the stone or gout, is, for the time, in possession of feelings which undisturbed health cannot impart. They may be dearly bought, but still they are to be set against the price. And, indeed, it depends upon the duration and urgency of the pain, whether they be dearly bought or not. I am far from being sure that a man is not a gainer by suffering a moderate interruption of bodily ease for a couple of hours out of the four-and-twenty. Two very common observations favour this opinion: one is, that remissions of pain call forth, from those who experience them, stronger expressions of satisfaction and of gratitude towards both the author and the instrument of their relief, than are excited by advantages of any other kind : the second is, that the spirits of sick men do not sink in proportion to the acuteness of their sufferings, but rather appear to be roused and supported, not by pain, but by the high degree of comfort which they derive from its cessation, or even its subsidency, whenever that occurs; and which they taste with a relish that diffuses some portion of mental complacency over the whole of that mixed state of sensations in which disease has placed them.
THE CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE.
AFTER his retirement from his brief and not very successful term of office as Secretary of State, Addison resumed those literary labours in which he had gained for himself an almost peerless renown. One of his undertakings was a defence of the Christian religion. The portion which he had executed appeared after his death, and although it adds no new materials to the proof, it possesses an interest of its own as the work of Addison.*
The Constancy of the Early Christians. Under this head, I cannot omit that which appears to me a standing miracle in the three first centuries. I mean that amazing and supernatural courage or patience which was shewn by innumerable multitudes of martyrs, in those slow and painful torments that were inflicted on them. I cannot conceive a man placed in the burning iron chair at Lyons, amid the insults and mockeries of a crowded amphitheatre, and still keeping his seat; or stretched upon a grate of iron, over coals of fire, and breathing out his soul among the exquisite sufferings of such a tedious execution, rather than renounce his religion, or blaspheme his Saviour. Such trials seem to me above the strength of human nature, and able to overbear duty, reason, faith, conviction-nay, and the most absolute certainty of a future state. Humanity, unassisted in an extraordinary manner, must have shaken off the present pressure, and have delivered itself out of such a dreadful distress, by any means that could have been suggested to it. We can
* Born at Milston, Wiltshire, May 1, 1672; died at Kensington, June 17, 1719.
CONSTANOY OF EARLY CHRISTIANS.
easily imagine, that many persons, in so good a cause, might have laid down their lives at the gibbet, the stake, or the block; but to expire leisurely among the most exquisite tortures, when they might come out of them, even by a mental reservation, or an hypocrisy which was not without a possibility of being followed by repentance and forgiveness, has something in it, so far beyond the force and natural strength of mortals, that one cannot but think there was some miraculous power to support the sufferer.
We find the Church of Smyrna, in that admirable letter which gives an account of the death of Polycarp, their beloved bishop, mentioning the cruel torments of other early martyrs for Christianity, are of opinion, that our Saviour stood by them in a vision, and personally conversed with them, to give them strength and comfort during the bitterness of their longcontinued agonies; and we have the story of a young man, who, having suffered many tortures, escaped with life, and told his fellow-Christians, that the pain of them had been rendered tolerable, by the presence of an angel that stood by him, and wiped off the tears and sweat, which ran down his face whilst he lay under his sufferings. We are assured at least that the first martyr for Christianity was encouraged in his last moments, by a vision of that divine Person, for whom he suffered, and into whose presence he was then hastening.
Let any man calmly lay his hand upon his heart, and after reading these terrible conflicts in which the ancient martyrs and confessors were engaged, when they passed through such new inventions and varieties of pain, as tired their tormentors; and ask himself, however zealous and sincere he is in his religion, whether, under such acute and lingering tortures, he could still have held fast his integrity, and have professed his faith to the last, without a supernatural assistance of some kind or other. For my part, when I consider that it was not an unaccountable obstinacy in a single man, or in any particular set of men, in some extraordinary juncture--but that there were multitudes of each sex, of every age, of different countries and conditions, who, for near three hundred years together, made this glorious confession of their faith, in the midst of tortures, and in the hour of death; I must conclude, that they were either of another make than men are at present, or that they had such miraculous supports as were peculiar to those times of Christianity, when without them perhaps the very name of it might have been extinguished.
It is certain, that the deaths and sufferings of the primitive Christians had a great share in the conversion of those learned Pagans, who lived in the ages of persecution, which, with some intervals and abatements, lasted near three hundred years
after our Saviour. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius, Arnobius, and others, tell us that this first of all alarmed their curiosity, roused their attention, and made them seriously inquisitive into the nature of that religion, which could endue the mind with so much strength, and overcome the fear of death-nay, raise an earnest desire of it, though it appeared in all its ter
This they found had not been effected by all the doctrines of those philosophers whom they had thoroughly studied, and who had been labouring at this great point. The sight of these dying and tormented martyrs engaged them to search into the history and doctrines of Him for whom they suffered. The more they searched, the more they were convinced; till their conviction grew so strong, that they themselves embraced the same truths, and either actually laid down their lives, or were always in a readiness to do it, rather than depart from them.
At the age of twenty-one, Joseph Butler wrote, “I design the search after truth as the business of my life.” He was then a student in a dissenting academy. Before he died, he held the richest see in England, and had refused the primacy;