תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

for employing themselves according to their inclinations, so that I fear their productions in that place will afford a very trifle for consumption. If passions, or nerves, or teeth, cannot exist without producing misery and pain to the possessor, he had better be destitute of them. Some divines tell us that the deity is a being without these and yet tbat bis bappiness is infinite, and if so, I cannot conceive wby a man or a woman may not also be very happy without them. To be sure they would be different beings from us; but if they were happy, of what consequence is that, I do most certainly contend that imperfection in the works of any being argues a deficiency of power or skill ju that being, and I should be glad, once more, to be informed by what mode of reasoning I am to infer perfection from imperfect results.. The deity Mr. H. thinks, might, if his operations were confined to one patb, make a universe perfect as a whole, but it would lose all the variety and beauty of its component parts, among wbich, I suppose would be pain want and misery, for he says it would then present only one vast monotonous melancholy scene of inactive intellect and virtue, of drowsy quietpess and passive enjoyment. Since I read this short passage, I have endeavoured to form an idea how a a scene of enjoyment could be a melancholy one, but I am unable to imagine such a picture. If the monotony be the principal objection to the enjoyment, tbat objection certainly cannot be raised to our present mode of existence; for there is a sufficiently frequent intervention of misery and as much va- . riety of it, the most determined Optomist can reasonably desire. I thought enjoyment was enjoyment, but it seems I was under a mistake and that Heaven will be no Heaven without a quantum sufficit of pain and calamity to rouse us from our drowsy quietness, and excite our intellect to activity. Well! this Heaven of Mr. H.'s is the strangest I ever heard or thougbt of, and I think will suit neither Unitarians or any other sect. The Heaven which is usually delineated to us, and, wbich I dare say, will upon recollection be more to Mr. H.'s own taste, is sucb a oue as I have previously alluded to, from which care and pain, want and sorrow, disease and death are shut out, and of which the positive fruition is said to exceed all comprehension, and this life we are told is merely a state of probation and a passage to immortality-and but for the evils of this we should not be able to set a proper value on our future happiness. But an all koowing deity could have no occasion to try his creatures; he would be perfectly aware what would be their respective

No. 11, Vol. XII.

conduct; and therefore the probationary period is so much time thrown away, and so much gratuitous misery inflicted, prior to rendering them bappy. Add to this, that a great part of the human race die in their infancy; and wbat sort of a state of probation can theirs be? Does the torture of the Gripes, the pain of teething, the agony of convulsions contribute to make infants appreciate a bappy futurity any better? If the deity be all powerful as well as wise, he can as easily make his creatures happy and competent to enjoy happiness now as as at the end of 70 or 80 years of a chequered existence. I should certainly be prone to inquire why all men (under the management of an infinitely perfect being) were not exactly of the same beight and size of the same complexion and features, all bandsome strong and wise alike; why all the women were not equally beautiful, modest and learned; wby the males were not all sages, and and the females all bas bleus (blue stockings) if it could be proved against me that either I, or the atomic philosophers, bad insisted upon these circumstances as essentially requisite to happiness; but, as peither I nor they contend that enjoyment is impossible with a variety of height, size complexion, features, strength and beauty, I can feel no force in Mr. H.'s attempts at ridicule. He says, he should prefer being almost frozen to death in the remote regions of the Georgiam Sidus to living in the maukish assemblage be bas pourtrayed. I have no businesss to quarrel with Mr. H.'s taste, but I cannot help thinking that there would be a pleasure in any assemblage where there was notbing but happiness. He has here thrown a slur upon the poor cold inhabitants of the Georgiam Sidus, and bad he had occasion to mention mercury he would have pitied the mercurians for being compelled to suffer the heat of their boiling hot climate. Now, I am so liberal in my notions, that I imagine it within the compass of possibility that the animals upon every planet, primary and secondary, nay even upon the comets and the sun itself, may be all equally happy, and so far from thinking variety any obstacle to en. joyment, it seems to me that happiness would be increased by it. My objection is not to varieties of ingredients in happiness, but to its being mixed up with pain, either monotonous or varied.

In the 19th paragraph we are told, that the circumstances of the world and the appearances around us do not afford the slightest shadow of a ground for the unbeliever's unwarrantable assumption that the deity cannot or will not prevent evil; but that on the contrary he can aud will, and does ;" “ that we are very frequently entirely mistaken in our estimate of evil;" and that misery and suffering are excluded by the general rule, which general and obvious rule of the divine government in the earth, he says in the 20th paragrapb, is the preponderance of happiness and enjoyment. It is calculated by political economists ibat about three in every five of the children born in populous districts die in the first year of their childbood from different disorders, and that in some of the poorest and most wretched neighbourhoods, nearly nine out of ten die in the first year at lue foundling hospital in Paris w bere from 7000 to 8000 infants are annually received, only 180 were left alive at the age of ten. I was going to say, look at the suffering in the East and West Indies, of the great bulk of the population, but I have no occasion to go so far; London, Manchester, Glasgow, pay even our own town, Bradford, will furnish us with misery enough. How many out of a population of above 13,000, before the present turn out for wages, toiled

from an early bour in the morning till late at night, almost, * without intermissiou, for a bare existence? Much above -, hall, and a great part of them young children. Who that has a

heart can behold the poor trembling creatures dragged out of their beds by five o'clock in the morning, scarcely awake, aud destined to be immured in a close unwholesome manufactory for twelve or 14 hours daily, without execrating a system that produces such unnatural scenes! Look at the weaver, who by a close and incessant Inbour can earn about fifteen shillings a week upon which he has very probably a wife and two or three small children to support. See the comber exposed, in a beated atmosphere, to the poxious fumes of charcoal, and every nerve and muscle stretched to its full pitch of bearing, besides being obliged in the course of bis toil to sustain the extremes of heat and cold at

short and sudden intervals. And what does he undergo On this slavish employment and waste of life for? For a Guinea en or eighteen shillings a week, with which he can barely sup

port himself and family. Look at the immense mass of sufferiug arising from poverty in Ireland, and diseases every where; battles of Waterloo, and Russian campaigos! And are all these proofs of the existence of a beneficent deity ?

The exceptions to the general rule are so numerous and ; multiplied that I thivk the exceptions are more likely to be , considered the rule, and the rule the exception. The unwarrantable assumption appears to me to belong to those who make the assertion that that the deity does exclude evil, either by the general rule or any other rule. But he asks, " is the benevolent governor of the universe to be charged with the consequences of the pride and folly of men, who rush together in arms, and slaughter each other in the field of battle ?” But I refer the reader to the whole of the 2016 paragraph, where in the majority of cases, it seems, man himself is the voluntary instrument of his own sufferings. But I bad before been given to understand that the whole of the events in nature were under the controul of a wise and benevolent being, and that they were necessary to bis general plan, and consequently could not be expected to be otherwise. I am however, willing to acknowledge my error and to acquit the deity of as much of the charge of evil as Mr. H. thinks proper, but even in that case, he must deduct considerably from bis supposed attributes of infinite power wisdom and goodness, or some one of them. My arguments are intended to apply to a being to whom absolute and unlimited perfection is assigned and not to a limited and imperfect one. Many of the evils of life, it is said, are imaginary. I do not think that this circumstance detracts from the misery they cause; for if the mind be pained, the affliction is real, and where the imagination lends its boundless power to create or increase the evil, nothing can exceed its extent as for iustance, in the torments of unfounded jealousy. The part of this paragraph wbere the esquimaux, the hottentot and the city alderman are introduced, instead of helping my antagonist, appears to me, to assist my argument; for it proves that, even constituted as we are, happiness may exist in the greatest and must extreme variety, and that in order to make us all happy, it will not be necessary to reduce us all to a torpid monotony of enjoyment, nor to make the men all sages and the women all bas bleus, seeing that a snow cabin, with wbale oil and blubber, will give pleasure to the Esquimaux; as tinking kraal and a buffalo's raw entrails to the hottentot, while turtle soup and venison will be a luxury to the Alderman. But Mr. H. has insisted that evil is necessary, and I main. tain that it is unnecessary, and bespeaks a deficiency in the power, wisdom or goodness of that being who it is preten. ded manages the affairs of the universe. Pain and want, the only things that visit us, spontaneously, without exertion on our parts, are unmixed evils; satisfaction and pleasure are artificial and factitious, and can only be obtained by labour, which is another evil. So that enjoyment must be the production of the individual, while suffering and privation are the unsolicited gifts of the bountiful father of mankind, and can only be removed or alleviated by the lesser evil, labour-it may probably be disputed that labour is an evil, but tbat it is, will be easy of proof; no one would labour, for the sake of labour; it is always undertaken to remove some evil or to procure some good; it is the indispensible condition of ease and pleasure, and on that account only do we apply to it. Were it good, were pleasurable sensation inseparably connected with it, it would not be decessary for so profound a statesman, as was my Lord Castlereagh, to suggest the propriety of compelling Burkes Swinish Multitude to dig holes one day and to fill them up the next; for labour of itself would be pleasant, and this or some other equally useless employment would be their own choice.

I have now replied to Mr. H.'s remarks, on every point, that seems to ine, material to the question at issue, but whether satisfactorily or not is for others to determine; but as the attributes of the Theist's and Christian's deity, have been the principal subject of consideration, the existence of such a being bas not been argued, otherwise than incidentally. I will, however, in conclusion, offer an argument on the subject, which I do not remember ever to have seen. This being is represented as infinitely wise and powerful, and also as omnipotent or existing every where. I will bere repeat wbat I have so often insisted on, that to reason philosophically, we must not travel beyond the regions of experience and analogy.. Well theu, what do these teach us respecting intelligence ? that it is never found separate from an organized form, every idea we have of it is invariably in connexion with organization. We also find that sensation is necessary to its production and existence, that it grows, improves, decays and dies, and consequently is no self existant substance. If we follow this train of reasoning and apply it to the deity, what is the necessary inference? Why that being intelligent, he must possess organization and sensation, but if he be organized he must possess figure: but if be be figured, he must be limited ; and if limited his ubiquity is gone and there is an end to his infinity. And if sensation be one of his properties, he may be acted upon by objects distinct and separate from himself and he will be subject to change of feeling, and his immutability will no longer exist. And as sensation is, as far as we have expe

« הקודםהמשך »