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degrees, but at the first setting out of life. In order, for instance, to answer the various demands of civil life, there ought to be amongst the members of every civil society a diversity of education, which can only belong to an original diversity of circumstances. As this sort of disparity, which ought to take place from the beginning of life, must ex hypothesi, be previous to the merit or demerit of the persons upon whom it falls, can it be better disposed of than by chance? Parentage is that sort of chance; yet it is the commanding circumstance which in general fixes each man's place in civil life, along with every thing which appertains to its distinctions. It may be the result of a beneficial rule, that the fortunes or honours of the father devolve upon the son; and, as it should seem, of a still more necessary rule, that the low or laborious condition of the parent be communicated to his family; but with respect to the successor himself, it is the drawing of a ticket in a lottery. Inequalities, therefore, of fortune, at least the greatest part of them, viz. those which attend us from our birth, and depend, upon our birth, may be left, as they are left, to chance, without any just cause forquestioning the regency of a supreme Disposer of events.

But not only the donation, when by the necessity of the case they must be gifts, but even the acquirability of civil advantages, ought perhaps, in a considerable degree, to lie at the mercy of chance. Some would have all the virtuous rich, or, at least, removed from the evils of poverty, without perceiving, I suppose, the consequence, that all the poor must be wicked. And how such a society could be kept in subjection to government, has not been shown: for the poor, that is, they who seek their subsistence by constant manual labour, must still form the mass of the community; otherwise the necessary labour of life could not be carried on; the work would not be done, which the wants of mankind in a state of civilization, and still more in a state of refinement, require to be done.

It appears to be also true, that the exigencies of social life call not only for an original diversity of external circumstances, but for a mixture of different faculties, tastes, and tempers. Activity and contemplation, restlessness and quiet, courage and timidity, ambition and contentedness, not to say even indolence and dulness, are all wanted in the world, all conduce to the well going on of human affairs, just as the rudder, the sails, and the ballast of a ship, all perform their part in the navi

gation. Now, since these characters require for their foundation different original talents, different dispositions, perhaps also different bodily constitutions, and since, likewise, it is apparently expedient, that they be promiscuously scattered amongst the different classes of society : can the distribution of talents, dispositions, and the constitutions upon which they depend be better made than by chance ?

The opposites of apparent chance, are constancy and sensible interposition; every degree of secret direction being consistent with it. Now of constancy, or of fixed and known rules, we have seen in some cases the inapplicability ; and inconveniences which we do not see, might attend their application in other cases.

Of sensible interposition, we may be permitted to remark, that a Providence, always and certainly distinguishable, would be neither more nor less than miracles rendered frequent and common. It is difficult to judge of the state into which this would throw us. It is enough to say, that it would cast us upon a quite different dispensation from that under which we live. It would be a total and radical change. And the change would deeply affect, or perhaps subvert, the whole conduct of human affairs. I can readily believe, that other circumstances being adapted to it, such a state might be better than our present state. It may be the state of other beings; it may be ours hereafter. But the question with which we are now concerned is, how far it would be consistent with our condition, supposing it in other respects to remain as it is? And in this question there seem to be reasons of great moment on the negative side. For instance : so long as bodily labour continues, on so many accounts, to be necessary for the bulk of mankind, any dependency upon supernatural aid, by unfixing those motives which promote exertion, or by relaxing those habits which engender patient industry, might introduce negli. gence, inactivity, and disorder, into the most useful occupations of human life; and thereby deteriorate the condition of human life itself.

As moral agents, we should experience a still greater alteration; of which, more will be said under the next article.

Although, therefore, the Deity, who possesses the power of winding and turning, as he pleases, the course of causes which

issue from himself, do in fact interpose to alter or intercept effects, which without such interposition would have taken place; yet it is by no means incredible, that his Providence, which always rests upon final good, may have made a reserve with respect to the manifestation of his interference, a part of the very plan which he has appointed for our terrestrial existence, and a part conformable with, or in some sort required by other parts of the same plan. It is at any rate evident, that a large and ample province remains for the exercise of Providence, without its being naturally perceptible by us; because obscurity, when applied to the interruption of laws, bears a necessary proportion to the imperfection of our knowledge when applied to the laws themselves, or rather to the effects which these laws, under their various and incalculable combinations, would of their own accord produce. And if it be said, that the doctrine of Divine Providence, by reason of the ambiguity under which its exertions present themselves, can be attended with no practical influence upon our conduct; that, although we believe ever so firmly that there is a Providence, we must prepare, and provide, and act

as if there were none ;

I answer, that this is admitted ; and that we further allege, that so to prepare, and so to provide, is consistent with the most perfect assurance of the reality of a Providence: and not only so, but that it is probably, one advantage of the present state of our information, that our provisions and preparations are not disturbed by it. Or if it be still asked, Of what use at all then is the doctrine, if it neither alter our measures nor regulate our conduct? I answer again, that it is of the greatest use, but that it is a doctrine of sentiment and piety, not (immediately at least) of action or conduct; that it applies to the consolation of men's minds, to their devotions, to the excitement of gratitude, the support of patience, the keeping alive and the strengthening of every motive for endeavouring to please our Maker; and that these are great uses.

OF ALL VIEWS under which human life has ever been considered, the most reasonable, in my judgment, is that which regards it as a state of probation. If the course of the world was separated from the contrivances of nature, I do not know that it would be necessary to look for any other account of it than what, if it may be called an account, is contained in the answer, that events rise up by chance. But since the contrivances of nature decidedly evince intention ; and since the

VOL. I.

gation. Now, since these characters require for their foundation different original talents, different dispositions, perhaps also different bodily constitutions; and since, likewise, it is apparently expedient, that they be promiscuously scattered amongst the different classes of society : can the distribution of talents, dispositions, and the constitutions upon which they depend be better made than by chance ?

The opposites of apparent chance, are constancy and sensible interposition; every degree of secret direction being consistent with it. Now of constancy, or of fixed and known rules, we have seen in some cases the inapplicability ; and inconveniences which we do not see, might attend their application in other cases.

Of sensible interposition, we may be permitted to remark, that a Providence, always and certainly distinguishable, would be neither more nor less than miracles rendered frequent and common. It is difficult to judge of the state into which this would throw us. It is enough to say, that it would cast us upon a quite different dispensation from that under which we live. It would be a total and radical change. And the change would deeply affect, or perhaps subvert, the whole conduct of human affairs. I can readily believe, that other circumstances being adapted to it, such a state might be better than our present state. It may be the state of other beings ; it may be ours hereafter. But the question with which we are now concerned is, how far it would be consistent with our condition, supposing it in other respects to remain as it is ? And in this question there seem to be reasons of great moment on the negative side. For instance : so long as bodily labour continues, on so many accounts, to be necessary for the bulk of mankind, any dependency upon supernatural aid, by unfixing those motives which promote exertion, or by relaxing those habits which engender patient industry, might introduce negli. gence, inactivity, and disorder, into the most useful occupations of human life; and thereby deteriorate the condition of human life itself.

As moral agents, we should experience a still greater alteration; of which, more will be said under the next article.

Although, therefore, the Deity, who possesses the power of winding and turning, as he pleases, the course of causes which

issue from himself, do in fact interpose to alter or intercept effects, which without such interposition would have taken place; yet it is by no means incredible, that his Providence, which always rests upon final good, may bave made a reserve with respect to the manifestation of his interference, a part of the very plan which he has appointed for our terrestrial existence, and a part conformable with, or in some sort required by other parts of the same plan. It is at any rate evident, that a large and ample province remains for the exercise of Providence, without its being naturally perceptible by us; because obscurity, when applied to the interruption of laws, bears a necessary proportion to the imperfection of our knowledge when applied to the laws themselves, or rather to the effects which these laws, under their various and incalculable combinations, would of their own accord produce. And if it be said, that the doctrine of Divine Providence, by reason of the ambiguity under which its exertions present themselves, can be attended with no practical influence upon our conduct; that, although we believe ever so firmly that there is a Providence, we must prepare, and provide, and act as if there were none; I answer, that this is admitted ; and that we further allege, that so to prepare, and so to provide, is consistent with the most perfect assurance of the reality of a Providence: and not only so, but that it is probably, one advantage of the present state of our information, that our provisions and preparations are not disturbed by it. Or if it be still asked, Of what use at all then is the doctrine, if it neither alter our measures nor regulate our conduct? I answer again, that it is of the greatest use, but that it is a doctrine of sentiment and piety, not (immediately at least) of action or conduct; that it applies to the consolation of men's minds, to their devotions, to the excitement of gratitude, the support of patience, the keeping alive and the strengthening of every motive for endeavouring to please our Maker; and that these are great uses.

OF ALL VIEWS under which human life has ever been considered, the most reasonable, in my judgment, is that which regards it as a state of probation. If the course of the world was separated from the contrivances of nature, I do not know that it would be necessary to look for any other account of it than what, if it may be called an account, is contained in the answer, that events rise up by chance. But since the contrivances of nature decidedly evince intention ; and since the

VOL. I.

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