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the other hand, a person be the occasion of misery to another, this not only checks any expressions of kindness, but puts the injured on thinking how he can prevent a repetition of the injury, and, by the infliction of positive pain, make the evil-doer feel that he cannot invade another's happiness, without losing his own. Thus in a two-fold manner self-love is rendered the instrument of increasing happiness. The operation of this principle must therefore be to augment benevolence without limits; to check malevolence in its origin, and ultimately to destroy it. It is not possible to conceive a more satisfactory evidence of the provision which the Creator has made in the very frame of our nature for our happiness. But it does more than this: it proves in the clearest manner the infinite benevolence of the Creator himself. For it renders benevolence inseparable from knowledge, it shews that benevolence must arise in all beings in proportion to their experience of good and evil, and their acquaintance with causes and effects. Hence it has been most justly argued that benevolence arises as necessarily in an intelligent nature, as self-love does in a sensitive nature: that moral distinctions are founded in truth: that every being who perceives truth must perceive them : that the Deity, therefore, who perceives all truth must perceive them in all their extent and obligation, and be more under their influence than any other being. But the chief of all moral distinctions is, that it is right to communicate happiness, and wrong to produce misery. This distinction God, as intelligent, must perceive, and the perception of it is the same with the approbation of beneficence, and the disapprobation of its contrary. A stronger argument cannot exist : it shews that the principle of benevolence in the Deity is implied in his perception of the truth, and that it is just as certain that he is good, as it is that we say right when we say that happiness is better than misery. The natures of happiness and misery being such, that a preference of one of them to the other must arise in every mind in proportion to the degree in which they are known, it follows with the plainest evidence, that the Supreme Intelligence must be original and supreme
benevolence, or such a benevolence as nothing can turn aside or deceive or counteract. *
In a word, the Creator must either be benevolent or malevolent. Suppose him to be malevolent: suppose his design in creation to have been to produce misery ; in this case evil would have been the aim of nature in all its appointments, and good would have been, as evil is now, always the consequence either of some regulation for
* Dr. Price's Sermon, VIII. Of the Goodness of Gud, pp. 269, &c.
producing general misery or of some unnatural violence and perversion. All design in the frame of nature would have been cruel design, and all that wisdom of God in his works which we now admire and adore we should have dread ed as a contrivance to extend distress and cursed as an expedient to render pain more pungent and permanent. The ordinary state of every being would have been not a state of ease and enjoyment, but of trouble and anguish. “The lower animals and all inanimate nature instead of being made to minister to our delight and accomodation would have been made to annoy and harass us. The bee would have been without his honey and the rose without its fragrance. The fields would have wanted their cheerful green and gay flowers. The fire would have scorched without warming us. The light of day would have dazzled without cheering us. Every breath of air would have cut us like the point of a sword, The appetites and senses would have been the instruments of torture, and never of pleasure to us, except when turned out of their common course by incidental causes. Every touch would have felt like the rubbing of a wound. Every taste would have been a bitter and every sound a scream. Our imaginations would have presented nothing but frightful spectres to us. Our thoughts would have been the seat of a deep and constant melancholy, and our reason would have served only to show us our wretchedness. What we now call gratification would have been nothing but à relaxation of torment, and we should have been driven to the offices necessary for selfpreservation, by an increase of sufferings occasioned by neglecting them. Or if at any time any feelings of delight were granted us, they would have been, as the paroxysms of pain are at present, transient and rare, and intended only to set a keener edge on misery by giving a taste of its contrary.
“In the present state of the world, our pains when they become extreme, soon make an end of either them'selves or us. But in the state of things we are imagining, there could have been no such merciful appointment: for our bodies, probably, would have been so made as to be capable of bearing the severest pains, and, at the same time, we might have been deterred from self-violence by knowing, that the consequence of hastening death would be getting sooner into a state of misery still more dreadful, and which would never come to an end."*
It is impossible to contrast our actual condition with that which is here imagined, without a deep and joyful feeling, that he who gave us life and all things richly to enjoy is a Being of infinite benevolence.
* Dr. Price's Sermons, p. 283.
But if he be really so, whence is misery? He is almighty, and therefore he can have been controlled by no superior power. He is absolute wisdom: to him are known the true natures of all things : he must therefore be perfectly benevolent. And because he is pure reason, he can have no tendencies opposed to benevolence; for reason cannot be the ground of approbation of beneficence, and at the same time of biases inconsistent with it. Whence then is evil? It is impossible even while contemplating the most satisfactory evidence of the Divine goodness not to ask this question. To have a clear and just conception of the answer to it, is to be happy un, der almost all the events of life, and secure and resigned under its worst ills; and though the true answer to it may be collected from what has been already advanced, yet this subject is of such unspeakable importance that it demạnds a more particular consideration,