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And if pro
ding as well concerning death as life; “What possibly may be hereafter, and what not.” Now to be assured that we can never be concerned in any thing hereafter, we must understand perfectly what it is which concerns or engages us in any thing present. We must truly know ourselves, and in what this self of ours consists. We must determine against pre-existence, and give a better reason for our having never been concerned in ought before our birth, than merely because we remember not nor are conscious. For in many things we have been concerned to purpose, of which we have now no memory or consciousness remaining. And thus we may happen to be again and again, to perpetuity, for any reason we can show to the contrary.
All is revolution in us. Te are no more the self same matter, or system of matter, from one day to another. What succession there may be hereafter, we know not, since even now, we live by succession, and only perish and are renewed. It is in vain we flatter ourselves with the assurance of our interest's ending with a certain shape or form. What interested us at first in it, we know not, any more than how we have since held on, and continue still concerned in such an assemblage of fleeting particles. Where, besides, or in what else we may have to do, perchance, in time to come, we know as little, nor can tell how chance or providence, hereafter may dispose of us. vidence be in the case, we have still more reason to consider how we undertake to be our own disposers. It must needs become a sceptic above all men to hesitate in matters of exchange. And though he acknowledges no present good or enjoyment in life, he must be sure, however, of bettering his condition, before he attempts to alter it. But as yet, Philocles, even this point remains undetermined between us, " Whether in this present life, there be not such a thing as real good.”
Be you, therefore (said I) my instructor, sagacious Theocles ! and inform me what that good is, or where, which can afford contentment and satisfaction always alike, without variation or diminution. For though on some occasions, and in some subjects, the mind may possibly be so bent, and the passion so wrought up, that for the time no bodily sufferance or pain can alter it; yet. this is what can seldom happen, and is unlikely to last long, since without any pain or inconvenience, the passion in a little time does its own work, the mind relaxes with its bent, and the temper wearied with repetition finds no more enjoyment, but runs to something new.
Here then, said Theocles. For though I pretend not to tell you at once the nature of this which I call good, yet I am content to show you something of it, in yourself, which you will acknowledge to be naturally more fixed and constant, than any thing you have hitherto thought on. Tell me, my friend ! if ever you were weary of doing good to those you loved? Say when
you ever found it unpleasing to serve a friend ! Or whether, wben you first proved this generous pleasure, you did not feel it less than at this present, after so long experience . .
Believe me, Philoctes, this pleasure is more debauching than any other. Never did any soul do good, but it came readier to do the same again, with more enjoyment. Never was love, or gratitude, or bounty practised bat with increasing joy, which made the practiser still more in love with the fair act. Answer me, Pbilocles, you who are such a judge of beauty, and have so good a taste of pleasure, is there any thing you admire, so fair as friendship? or any thing so charming as a generous action! What would it be therefore, if all life were in reality but one continned friendship, and could be made one such entire act? Hore surely would be tbat fixed and constant good you sought. Or would you look for any thing beyond 3
Perhaps not, said I, but I can never, surely, go beyond this, to seek for a chimera, if this good of yours bé. not thoroughly chimerical. For though a poet may possibly work up such a single action, so as to hold a play out; I can conceive but very faintly how this high strain of friendship can be so managed, as to filla life. Nor can I imagine where the object.lies of such a sublime heroic passion. . Can any friendship, said he, be so heroic, as that towards mankind? Do you think the love of friends in general, and of one's country, to be bothing? or that particular friends can well subsist without such an enlarged affection, and sense of obligation to saciety? Say (if possible) you are a friend, but hate your country. Say you are true to the interest of a companion, but false to that of society. Can you believe yourself? or will you lay the name aside, and refuse to be called the friend, since you renounce the man ? · That there is something, said I, due to mankind, is what I think will not be disputed by any one who claims the name of friend. Hardly, indeed, could I allow the nameof man to one who could never eall or be called friend. But he who justly proves himself a friend, is man enough, nor is he wanting to society, A single friendship may acquit him. He has deserved a friend, and is man's friend ; though not in strictness, or according to your high moral sense, the friend of mankind. For to say truth, as to this sort of friendship, it may by wiser heads be esteemed perhaps more than ordinarily manly, and even heroic, as you assert it; but for my part, I see so very little worth in mankind, and have so indifferent: an opipion of the publie, that I can propose little satisfaction to myself in loving either..
Do you, then, take bounty and gratitude to be among the acts of friendship and good nature: Undoubtedly, for they are the chief. Suppose then, that the obliged person discovers in the obliger several failings; does this exclude the gratitude of the
former ! Not in the least. Or does it make the exercise of gr titude less pleasing ? I think rather the contrary. For where deprived of other means of making a return, I might rejoice still in that sure way of showing my gratitude to my benefactot, by bearing his failings as a friend. And as to bounty, tell me, I beseech you, is it to those only who are deserving that we should do good ? Is it only to a good neighbour, or relation, a good father, child or brother? Or does nature, reason, and humanity better teach us, to do good still to a father, because a father; and to a child, because a child; and so to every relation in human life! I think, said I, this last is rightest.
Oh Philocles, replied he, consider then what it was you said, when you objected against the love of mankind because of human frailty, and seemed to scorn the publie, because of its misfortunes. See if this sentiment be consistent with that humanity which elsewhere, you own and praetice. For where can generosity exist, if not here? Where can we ever exert friendship, if not in this chief subject? To what should we be true or grateful in the wonld, if not to mankind, and that society to which we are so deeply indebted ? Where are the faults or blemishes which can excuse such an omission, or in a grateful mind can ever lessen the satisfaction of making a grateful kind return? Can you then out of good breeding merely, and from a temper natural to you, rejoice to show civility, courteousness, obligingness, seek objects of compassion, and be pleased with every occurrence where you have power to do some service even to people unknown? Can you delight in such adventures abroad in foreign countries, or in the case of strangers here at home, to help, assist, relieve all who require it, in the most hospitable, kind, and friendly manner? And can your country, or what is more, your kind, require less kindDess from you, or deserve less to be considered, than even one of those chance oreatures ?
O Philocles ! how little do you know the extent and power of good nature, and to what an heroic pitch a soul may rise, which knows the thorough force of it, and distributing it rightly, frames in itself an equal, just, and universal friendship?
P. 246. Though I once thought I had known friendship, and Teally counted myself a good friend during my whole life, yet I was now persuaded to believe myself no better than a learner: since Theocles had almost convinced me, “That to be a friend' to any one in particular, it was necessary to be first a friend to mankind."
But how to qualify myself for such a friendship, was, methought, no little difficulty.
Indeed, said Theocles, you have given us a very indifferent character of yourself, in saying so. But to deserve well of the public, and to be justly styled a friend of mankind, requires no more than to be good and virtuous; terms, which for one's own sake, one would naturally covet.
How comes it then, said I, that even these good terms themselves are so ill accepted, and hardly ever taken, except on further terms ? For yirtue, by itself, is thought but an ill bargain, and I know sew, even of the religious and devout, who take up with it any otherwise than as children do with physic; where the rod and sweetmeat are the potent motives.
P. 251. As for this part of virtue, temperance, I think there is no need of taking it on any other terms to recommend it, than the mere advantage of being saved from intemperance, and from the desire of things unnecessary.,
For if you can be temperate withal towards life, and think it not so great a business, whether it be of fewer or more years, but satisfied with what you have lived, can rise a thankful guest from a full liberal entertainment, is not this the sum of all ? the finishing stroke and very accomplishment of virtue? In this temper of mind, what is there can hinder us from forming for ourselves as heroic a character as we please ? What is their either good, generous, or great, which does not naturally flow from such a modest temperance ? Let us once gain this simple plain-looked virtue, and see whether the more shining virtues will not follow. See what that country of the mind will produce, when by the wholesome laws of this legislatress it has obtained its liberty! You, Philocles, who are such an admirer of civil liberty, and can represent it to yourself with a thousand several graces and advantages, can you imagine no grace or beauty in that original native liberty, which sets us free from so many unborn tyrannies, gives us the priviledge of ourselves, and makes us our own, and independant? A sort of property, which, methinks, is as material to us to the full, as that which secures us our lands or revenues.
P. 255. That virtue should with any show of reason be made a victim (continued he, turning himself to his guests) must have appeared stranger to you, no doubt, to hear asserted with such assurance as has been done by Philocles. You could conceive no tolerable ground for such a spectacle.
spectacle. In this reversed triumph you expected perhaps to see some foreign conqueror exalted, as either vice itself, or pleasure, wit, spurious philosophy, or some false image of truth or nature. Little were you aware that the cruel enemy opposed to virtue should be religion itself! But
you will call to mind, that even innocently and without any treacherous design, virtue is often treated so by those who would magnify to the utmost the corruption of man's heart; and in exposing, as they pretend, the falsehood of human virtue, think to extol religion.
(To be continued.)
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No. 10. VOL. 4.] LONDON, Friday, Sept. 4, 1829. [Price 6d.
CORRESPONDENCE WITH JOHN FINCH, ONE OF
THE ANGRY LIVERPOOL UNITARIANS.
. To Messrs. Taylor and Carlile. · GENTLEMEN-Please to inform me when you intend to meet again for public discussion, also the place of meeting and the hour, as you may expect my attendance, to request an explanation of certain passages in “ The Lion," and also in that admirable work of Mr. Carlile's, called “ Every Woman's Book," as also a little discussion upon the moral tendency of Atheism, and the effects it bas produced, and is producing. Waiting your answer,
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JOHN FINCH. 34, East Side, Salt-House Dock,
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To John Finch.
61, St. Anne-street,
Aug. 31, 1829. JOHN FINCH-I was very much pleased with the receipt of your note, and at the opportunity, very much desired, which it affords, of bringing me into contact with you. Though I prefer the company of gentlemen, or well-behaved men, men of good manners, and of good moral characters, whatever may be their opinions on speculative points in politics, morals, or theology;
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