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or eluding; infinitely the greater part of
Some philosophers, perhaps, will tell us, that the physical ills to which we are subject do not prevent our happiness, if we discharge our duty; and that virtue on the rack, or suffocating in the Black Hole of Calcutta, is happier than vice in any possible situation; that Cato, chained to the triumphal car of Cæsar, and
.. baited with the rabble's curse,"
would be happier than the applauded conqueror and master of the world. Admitting, for the sake of argument, the truth of this assertion, to what does it amount? Does Cato,
in such circumstances, enjoy as much happiness as his nature is capable of enjoying? Surely not: his being then more happy than Cæsar, only proves the wretchedness of both: and why both are permitted, by the omnipotent Ruler of the World, to be wretched from any cause, whether dependent on themselves or not, is the question to be answered. Besides, were it demonstrated that virtue in this world is as happy as it deserves to be, or even as it possibly could be, the question would be as much unanswered as it is at present. Why are millions placed from their birth in circumstances in which it is morally impossible that they ever should be virtuous; every institution of their corrupt religion and civil government, from which they derive all their moral notions, being directly subversive of virtue? To solve this question,
some have supposed that there are two in.
telligent causes in nature, one good, and the other malignant; and that each limits the power, and frustrates the designs, of the other. I will not waste your time in examining this opinion, so grossly and evidently absurd that it would not deserve to be mentioned, were it not for its great antiquity, the multitude of its adherents (among whom were Plato and Plutarch), and the detestable heresies with which it filled the early ages of the Christian church. While some believed that there were two intelligent causes of the chequered condition of man, others believed that there was not one; that the fabric of the universe was the production of chance: others, that it was created by something which they called nécessity: others, again, maintained it to be the work of a Supreme Being, who sustained the frame of nature by physical laws, but exercised no moral government over mankind. With these theories we have nothing to do: there can be no question about the end answered by evil among the disciples of any of them. The difficulty is to reconcile the evil which we suffer with the attributes of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, inherent in the Being whom we believe to be our creator and gover
This difficulty some have imagined to be surmounted by the scale of being, or chain of nature, suggested by Lord Bolingbroke to Pope, and 'borrowed by his lordship from the philosophy of Arabia. This unsatisfactory hypothesis has been ! adopted by the learned Archbishop King, by his ingenious and laborious commentator, and by Soame Jenyns. I call it un. satisfactory, because it has no foundation but human conjecture, and because it is replete with as great difficulties as those which
it attempts to remove. That there are cream tures inferior to us, we know; that there are superior to us, we believe; and superior to what we at present are, we hope to be
But I cannot conceive, that, in the mean time, our sufferings are in any way conducive to the welfare of these superior beings. Soame Jenyns supposes that our sufferings may be an amusement to them, as man delights in the sufferings of the animal creation. This is ludicrously absurd. No amiable man ever received pleasure from the pain of any being whatever; and what are those superior beings who exceed man in the most detestable perversions of his nature? Jenyns alludes, I suppose, to the rural sports, of which many amiable and excellent men partake: but surely he mistakes the nature of the pleasure they receive therefrom. The infliction of pain may, indeed, be inseparable from such di