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2. Mr. Hume alleges, as another argument for this right, the Insignificance of human life. “In the sight of God,” he says, “every event is alike important: and the life of a man is of no greater importance to the Universe, than that of an oyster.”

Our Saviour informs us, on the contrary, that men are of more value in the sight of God than many sparrows. Common sense irresistibly subscribes to the truth of this declaration. It is impossible to believe the contrary declaration. God unquestionably sees things as they are. But, as unquestionably, a mind, possessed of the powers of thought, volition, and motivity; a mind, capable of knowing, and in many instances actually knowing, loving, serving, and glorifying, its Creator; a mind, which can originate, and diffuse, important good to its fellow-creatures; a mind, formed for Immortal being, and destined to an endless improvement in knowledge, virtue, and enjoyment; is certainly of more value than many oysters. All this, however, depends on the life of man. The life of man, therefore, is of more value, than that of an oyster. Were it not; parents, so far as the light of nature teaches us, might, in agreement with the doctrine of Diogenes, and other Cynics, lawfully roast, and eat, their children; as lawfully, as they may now roast, and eat, oysters. A man of common sense would hardly be persuaded, that JMoses, Paul, Louis the Good, the two Gustavuses, Alfred the Great, and Washington, were of no more importance to the Universe, than oysters. With a view, probably, to strengthen this allegation, JMr. Hume asks, “Where is the crime of turning a few ounces of blood out of their channel?” By this question he undoubtedly intends, that his readers shall suppose Suicide to be nothing more, than merely diverting the course of a few ounces of blood. If Mr. Hume believed this; he deserved very little of that reputation, which he has acquired for understanding. If he did not believe it; the question does very little honour to his candour, or sincerity. It is no crime to turn a few ounces of blood out of their channel. Often it is a duty; because it is the means of preserving, or restoring, health. Many ounces of blood may be thus diverted from their course; and life be not only continued, but invigorated, and prolonged. In this case, the sphere of man's usefulness, and duty, and comfort, may in this world be

Vol. IV. 25

enlarged; and his happiness in the world to come secured, and increased. But the destruction of human life, by whatever means it is accomplished, terminates usefulness, duty, and comfort, in the present world; and, if voluntarily accomplished, prevents the existence of happiness in the world to come. The difference between these things, as intended by Mr. Hume, is of course infinite. The phrascology, which appropriately expresses the one, cannot, therefore, be employed, consistently with propriety, nor with even vulgar honesty, to denote the other. 3. The same writer argues this right from the Smallness of the Objects, and Accidents by which the life of man is frequently destroyed without his concurrence. “A hair,” he says, “a fly, an insect, is able to destroy this mighty being, whose life is of such importance. Is it an absurdity then,” he asks, “to suppose, that human prudence may lawfully dispose of what depends on such insignificant causes 2" To this question the reply is easy, and complete. The destruction of human life by a fly, an insect, or a hair, is accomplished, as every man perfectly well knows, and as every man habitually says, by the immediate Providence of God. In the case of Suicide, it is destroyed by the will of man himself. God, who gave life, has an unquestionable right to take it away. It is yet to be proved, that man, who has only received it from God, has a right to destroy it without the known permission of its Author. 4. This assertion is, however, denied by Mr. Hume ; and he directly declares, that Suicide is as absolutely the work of God, as any of those events, specified under the preceding head. “When I fall upon my own sword;” he says, “I receive my death equally from the hands of the Deity, as if it had proceeded from a lion, a precipice, or a sever.” JMr. Hume does not, in this Essay, any where, in form, discuss the question, Whether man is a moral agent, in such a sense, as to be accountable for his actions, and to be deserving of praise or blame, punishment or reward. But it is evident, that he all along proceeds upon the supposition, that man is not such an agent. Of this he has given very numerous, and very plain, indications. A very clear and decisive one is sound in the declaration, which I am now considering. If man is not such an agent; all the observations in this Essay might have been spar. ed. For, plainly, no action of man could, in this case, be of a criminal, because it could not be of a moral, nature. In this case, it would be equally just to censure a post, or a wall, for falling upon a man, and killing him, as to censure an assassin, for producing the same catastrophe by an act of murder. If man be not such an agent; all inquiries concerning the moral nature of his actions are nugatory; because they are unmeaning. Mr. Hume, particularly, ought never to have written the numerous things, which he has so strenuously urged concerning right and wrong, in the different parts of his Works. Neither rectitude, nor its opposite, are predicable of brutes. Why? Because they are not moral agents. If men are not moral agents; neither would these attributes be any more predicable of them. But if men are moral agents; then those, which are called human actions, are not in any such sense the acts of God, as to prevent men from being accountable for them, or to prevent them from being truly commendable, and rewardable, for one class of such actions, and blame-worthy, and punishable, for the opposite. All nations, in all ages, have accordingly censured, and punished, such as were guilty of one class of these actions, and praised, and rewarded, such as performed the other. On this foundation rests all human intercourse, and all human discipline. The child is punished at home, and at school; because he is considered as having done that, which is wrong; and rewarded in both, because he is considered as having done that, which is right. On the same grounds men are disesteemed, hated, censured, and punished even with death; or approved, loved, applauded, and have their merit acknowledged by the most ample reward. As this has been the universal conduct of men from the beginning; it is a clear and full testimony of the views, entertained by the human mind concerning this subject. It is further to be observed, that men cannot act in any other manner. The admission of the doctrine, that mankind are not such agents, would ruin the world. Norought it to be forgotten, that, although many persons have thought proper to assert this doctrine, not an individual among them has ever been found, who

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acted in conformity to it: not one, who did not as bitterly complain of what he called wrongs, or vindicate as strenuously what he called his rights, as his fellow-men. But, should we admit this argument, it will prove more, than either we, or even Mr. Hume, may be aware of; at least, more than he intended. If men are not moral agents; if their voluntary actions are merely the acts of God; then it will follow, that, equally with Suicide, their frauds, lies, oppressions, and murders, are acts of God. Should a swindler cheat JMr. Hume out of his estate; or an assassin plunge a poignard into his bosom ; it would, I think, be a very odd, a very unsatisfactory, consolation to him, to be told by the villain, that he ought to be perfectly contented with the villainy, since it was only an act of his Creator. 5. Another argument, alleged by JMr. Hume for the right in question, is, that Suicide does not disturb the Order of the Universe. “There is no being,” he says, “ which by ever so irregular an action can encroach upon the plan of the Creator's Providence, or disorder the Universe.” If JMr. Hume intended by this declaration, that God rules all things with such an universal and absolute dominion, as that none can stay His hand, nor any being lawfully say unto Him, What doest Thou? as that He will bring “good out of the evil, and order out of the confusion,” occasioned by sin; he has undoubtedly declared, here, a truth of high importance. Unfortunately for him, however, this truth will contribute nothing to the support of his cause. No being can, indeed, resist the hand of God. But every sinner wishes to resist it; and in this wish becomes guilty, hateful, and deserving of punishment. In this declaration, and many others, contained in the same Treatise, the Author studiously avoids mentioning, what he ought every where to have strongly insisted on, the broad, and obvious, distinction between the Providential, and the Preceptive, Will of God. It is unquestionably a part of the Providential Will of God, to permit, for reasons, (inscrutable by us, at least in most instances, but undoubtedly sufficient in themselves,) the exis. tence of sinful actions. But it is no part of his Preceptive Will, either to require, or to allow, them. His preceptive Will, or in other words the Moral Law, requires of all Intelligent beings

perfect holiness: a disposition, perfectly loving what He loves, and hating what He hates. So evident is this truth, that all nations, not absolutely sunk in ignorance, have discerned it, to a considerable extent, by the mere light of nature. The Savages of the Western Wilderness have acknowledged, equally with the Greeks and Romans, that Reverence and Gratitude were due to their Gods; and that they required of men justice, truth, and kindness, to their fellow-men. JMr. Hume himself would not dare to say, that God does not love these things; nor that he does not require them of his creatures, any more than He loves, and requires, impiety, ingratitude, injustice, falsehood, and cruelty. He would not say, that God at all loves, or requires, the things last mentioned. Loose as his apprehensions concerning Religion and Morality were, he would not say, that God does not hate the crimes, which I have specified; nor that He has not forbidden them to mankind. He would not say, that these crimes are equally agreeable to the will of God, equally pleasing to Him as actions of his Intelligent Creatures, with the virtues, mentioned above. But all this he must say, in order to make this allegation an argument to his purpose. If no action of any being can be so irregular, as to be opposed to the Preceptive Will of God; then it will follow, that impiety, ingratitude, profaneness, atheism, fraud, lying, oppression, injustice, adultery, rape, and murder, are equally agreeable to the Creator with piety, justice, truth, benevolence, purity, and mercy. Then it will follow also, that God is wholly indifferent to all these objects; and that all, which is meant by right and wrong, holds exactly the same place in His estimation, and pleasure. In other words, it will follow, that the Creator of the Universe is wholly regardless of the moral character and conduct of His creatures. 6. Mr. Hume insists, that Suicide does no harm to Society; or, at the least, that, as by cutting off his life in this manner he only ceases to do good, he does the least supposable harm to Society. To this I answer, that if he has friends; he compels them to lament his death, with views peculiarly distressing by their perplexity, and with feelings of agony and despair. Perhaps no

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