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this attribute in either? By wisdom he must only mean, that God knows and employs the fittest means to a certain end, no matter what that end may
be: this indeed is a proof of knowledge and intelligence; but these alone do not constitute wisdom; the word implies the application of these fittest means to the best and kindest end: or, who will call it true wisdom ? even amongst ourselves, it is not held as such. All the attributes then that he seems to think apparent in the constitution of things, are his unity, infinity, eternity, and intelligence; from no one of which, I boldly affirm, can result any duty of gratitude or adoration incumbent on mankind, more than if He and all things round him were produced, as some have dared to think, by the necessary working of eternal matter in an infinite vacuum : for what does it avail to add intelligence to those other physical attributes, unless that intelligence be directed, not only to the good of the whole, but also to the good of every individual of which that whole is composed ?
It is therefore no impiety, but the direct contrary, to say that human justice and the other virtues, which are indeed only various applications of human benevolence, bear some resemblance to the moral attributes of the Supreme Being: it is only by means of that resemblance, we conceive them in him, or their effects in his works: it is by the same means only, that we comprehend those physical attributes which his lordship allows to be demonstrable: how can we form any notion of his unity, but from that unity of which we ourselves are conscious ? How of
his existence, but from our own consciousness of existing? How of his power, but of that power which wel experience in ourselves? yet neither Lord Bolingbroke, nor any other man, that thought on these subjects,' ever believed that these our ideas were real and full representations of these attributes in the Divinity. They say he knows; they do not mean that he compares ideas which he acquired from sensation, and draws conclusions from them. They say he acts; they do not mean by impulse, nor as the soul acts on an organized body. They say he is omnipotent and eternal; yet on what are their ideas founded, but on our own narrow conceptions of space and duration, prolonged beyond the bounds of place and time? Either therefore there is a resemblance and anaw logy (however imperfect and distant) between the attributes of the Divinity and our conceptions of them, or we cannot have any conceptions of them at all: he allows we ought to reason from earth, that we do know, to heaven which we do not know; how can we do so but by that affinity which appears between one and the other?
In vain then does my lord attempt to ridicule the warm but melancholy imagination of Mr. Wollaston in that fine soliloquy-"Must I then bid my last farewel to these walks when I close these lids, and yonder blue regions and all this scene darken
out? Must I then only serve to furnish dust to be mingled with the ashes of these herds and plants, or with this dirt under them in life, only to be levelled with them in
upon me and
death ?”* No thinking head, no heart, that has the least sensibility, but must have made the same reflection'; or at least must feel, not the beauty alone, but the truth of it, when he hears it from the mouth of another. Now what reply will Lord Bolingbroke make to these questions, which are put to him, not only by Wollaston, but by all mankind ? He will tell
we, that is, the animals, vegetables, stones, and other clods of earth, are all connected in one immense design, that we are all dramatis persona, in different characters, and that we were not made for ourselves, but for the action; that it is foolish, presumptuous, impious, and profane, to murmur against the Almighty Author of this drama, when we feel ourselves unavoidably unhappy. On the contrary, we ought to rest our head on the soft pillow of resignation, on the immoveable rock of tranquillity; secure, that, if our pains and affilictions grow violent indeed, an immediate end will be put to our miserable being, and we shall be mingled with the dirt under our feet, a thing common to all the animal kind; and of which, he who complains, does not seem to have been set by his reason so far above them in life, as to deserve not to be mingled with them in death. Such is the consolation his philosophy gives us, and such the hope on which his tranquillity was founded.t
Religion of Nature Delineated, Sect. ix. p. 209, quarto. + The reader, who would choose to see the argument, as Lord Bolingbroke puts it, will find it in the fourth volume of his Philosophical Works, Sect. xl. xli. His ridicule on Wollaston is in the fiftieth Section of the same volume.
SET LETTER XXXII.
MR. GRAY TO DR. WHARTON.
Sunday, April 9, 1758. I AM equally sensible of your affliction, and of your kindness, that made you think of me at such a moment; would to God I could lessen the one, or requite the other, with that consolation which I have often received from you 'when I most wanted it! but your grief is too just, and the cause of it too fresh, to admit of any such endeavour: what, indeed, is all human consolation? Can it efface every little amiable word or action of an object we loved, from our memory? Can it convince us, that all the hopes we had entertained, the plans of future satisfaction we had formed, were ill-grounded and vain, only because we have lost them? The only comfort (I am afraid) that belongs to our condition, is to reflect (when time has given us leisure for reflection) that others have suffered worse ; or that we ourselves might have suffered the same misfortune at times and in circumstances that would probably have aggravated our sorrow. You might have seen child arrived at an age to fulfil all your hopes, to attach you more strongly to him by long habit, by esteem, as well as natural affection, and that towards the decline of
e mosť stand in need of support, and when he might chance to have been your only support; and then
* Occasioned by the death of his eldest (and at the time his only) son.
which infàno know there is a sort of tenderness
by some unforeseen and deplorable accident, or some painful lingering distemper, you might have lost him. Such has been the fate of many an unhappy father!
and innocence alone produce; but I think you must own the other to be a stronger and a more overwhelming sorrow. Let me then beseech
eech you to try, by every method of avocation and amusement, whether you cannot, by degrees, get the better of that dejection of spirits, which inclines
you to see every thing in the worst light possible, and throws a sort of voluntary gloom, not only over your present, but future days; as if even your situation now were not
WooDoo to that of thousands round
On as if your prospect hereafter might not open as much of happiness to you as to any person you know : the condition of our life perpetually instructs us to be rather slow to hope, as well as to despair; and (I know you will forgive me, if I tell you) you are often a little too hasty in both, perhaps from constitution; it is sure we have great power over our own minds, when we choose to exert it; and though it be difficult to resist the mechanic impulse and bias of our own temper, it is yet possible, and still more so, to delay those resolutions it inclines us to take, which we almost always have cause to repent.
You tell me nothing of Mrs. Wharton's or your own state of health: I will not talk to you more upon this subject till I hear you are both well ; for that is the grand point, and without it we may as well not think at all. You flatter me in