Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

be considered but a poor natural philosopher, the. question as to the existence of evil in a system under the management of an infinitely powerful, wise, and good being is still unsolved. The remarks in the latter paragraph appear to be intended to get rid of the difficulty with which miracles embarrass the system of revelation, by substituting the possible hypothesis of their being consistent with the general laws of nature.

Not being a Cartesian, I feel no anxiety on seeing either the celebrated Frenchman or his system of vortices ridiculed, though, if it be similar to that contained in “ Philips's theory of the universe “ I must say it appears to me quite as probable as Newtons famous theory of projectile and attractive forces.” I am not aware that Mr. Frend has published any theory; though, I am of opinion that he has used unanswerable arguments against the doctrine of attraction as generally received.

I shall now reply to the remaining paragraphs, and I do not desire to offend Mr. H. when I say that I derived considerable amusement from the perusal of the two first of them. To the heat of argument, he seems to have forgotten bis much insisted upon doctrine of future rewards, which he has represented as so animating to the believer. If I am not under : a mistake, these future rewards are synonimous with the · inuch desired and much vaunted Heaven of which so much has been written and so little understood. Suppose for an instant, that this Heaven, the object of the Christian's wishes, the place where the wicked cease from troubling and where the weary are at rest, where sorrow and pain will never enter, but where there is nothing but unmixed enjoyment, to be a reality ; it seems, from Mr. H.'s pleasant jeers, that it is a place or a state not worth seeking after. He bas no notion that a world without earthquakes or storms, wars, pestilence or famine, religious corruption or moral darkness, sickness or death, or even the rheumatism or toothache, would be at all desirable. Now is it not strange, that the very heaven which is so much recommended from the pulpits of every sect is described as deriving a great portion of its bliss from these negative excellencies. And if we are to have stomachs, one of the usual properties of living bodies, I fancy, it would form no particular objection to this celestial country, if the land there did actually produce corn and wine and oil, and all other luxuries in abundance, spontaneously. I never met with the believer of any sect except the Swedenborgians, wbo professed an intention or desire to labour in a future world, and even the Swedenborgians themselves are only 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 divipes tell us that the deity is a being without these and yet that his happiness is infinite, and if so, I cannot conceive why 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 in 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 path, make a universe perfect as a whole, but it would lose all the variety and beauty of its component parts, among which 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 quietness and passive enjoyment. Since I read this short

passage, I have endeavoured to form an idea how a a scéne 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, that objection certainly cannot be raised to our present mode of existence; for there is a sufficiently frequent intervention of misery and as much variety 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 thought of, and I think will suit neither Unitarians or any other sect. The Heaven which is usually delineated to us, and, which I dare say, will upon recollection be more to Mr. H.'s own taste, is such a one 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 knowing deity could bave no occasion to try bis creatures; he would be perfectly aware what would be their respective

No. 11, Vol. XII.

[ocr errors]

conduct; and therefore the probationary period is so much time thrown away, and so much gratuitous misery inflicted, prior to rendering them happy. Add to this, that a great part of the human race die in their infancy; and what 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 happy 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 height and size of the same complexion and features, all handsome strong and wise alike; why all the women were not equally beautiful, modest and learned; why 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, had insisted upon these circumstances as essentially requisite to happiness; but, as neither 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 mawkish assemblage he has 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 nothing but happiness. He has bere 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 enjoyment, 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 19tb 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 and 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 paragraph, is the preponderance of happiness and enjoyment. It is calculated by political economists that about three in every five of the children born in populous districts die in the first year of their childhood from different disorders, and that in some of the poorest and most wretched neighbourhoods, nearly pine out of ten die in the first year at the foundling hospital in Paris where 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, nay 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 hour in the morning till late at night, almost, without intermission, for a bare existence? Much above half, 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, and 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 heated 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 his toil to sustain the extremes of heat and cold at short and sudden intervals. And what does he undergo this slavish employment and waste of life for? For a Guinea or eighteen shillings a week, with which he can barely support bimself and family. Look at the immense mass of sufferiug arising from poverty in Ireland, and diseases every where; battles of Waterloo, and Russian campaigns! 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 think the exceptions are more likely to be considered the rule, and the rule the exception. The unwarraatable 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 20th paragraph, where in the majority of cases, it seems, man himself is the voluntary instrument of his own sufferings. But I had 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 his 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, be must deduct considerably from his 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, pothing 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 most 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 whale oil and blubber, will give pleasure to the Esquimaux; as tinking kraal and a buffalo's raw entrails to the hottentot, wbile turtle soup and venison will be a luxury to the Alderman. But Mr. H. has insisted that evil is necessary, and I maintain that it is unnecessary, and bespeaks a deficiency in the power, wisdom or goodness of that being who it is pretended 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

[ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »