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been proved already. More truth would be elicited, and much pains spared, if each reasoner set out where his predecessor in the same subject had concluded; or only thought himself obliged to demonstrate anew points that had been hitherto imperfectly explained.

The example, however, of Bolingbroke, which I before adduced, affords an instance, amongst others, of arguments raised against the general conclusion, from the numerous exceptions which confessedly militate against it; and which, in the opinion of some, prove the object of the Creator not to have been benevolent, or accord. ing to others, frustrate his benevolent contrivance. Let it be allowed, they say, that there is a visible provision for the happiness of man; that sources of gratification are opened, such as cannot be resolved into mere utility, and evidencing a desire upon the part of the Creator corresponding to what might have been antecedently expected, that man should be happy. But in a Being of infinite power, why is this provision frustrated? Why do we actually find so great a

proportion of natural evil, in the shape of pain and privation; and of moral confusion, from the existence of vice, the consequences of which are destructive to happiness, and entail misery on the good as well as on the wicked? "If we behold any thing irregular in the works of man,

if

any machine answer not the purpose it was made for if we find something in it repugnant to itself or others, we attribute that to the impotence, ignorance, or malice of the workman, but since these qualities have no place in God, how come they to have place in his works ?"*

This objection embraces an inquiry which has been often pursued: neither indeed can it be expected, from the limited nature of our faculties and our want of a comprehensive knowledge of the divine counsels, that it ever should receive so complete an answer as to set at rest the curiosity of man upon a subject at once so perplexed and so interesting. But as the difficulty it involves is both more important and more obvious than any other within the range of theology; and * King's Origin of Evil, p. 72.

as there are various courses of argument by which it may be met; additional inquirers may be still usefully employed, in considering the disorders of the natural and moral world, the degree in which they exist, and the probable design of the Creator in permitting their existence.

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CHAPTER II.

The present Existence of Mankind considered as a State of moral Trial.

On our entrance upon this subject, it is necessary to premise what has sometimes been kept out of sight by the visible and prominent disorders of man's moral state, namely, that there are still proofs of an evident determination in favour of virtue in the world. This determination is shown by the tendency of virtue to promote happiness, to gain superiority, to acquire the love and approbation of mankind; while vice, on the other hand, is not only punished as detrimental to society, but excites general abhorrence, as it were from some innate principle, however in many instances perverted. The fact, at all events, whether ascribed to innate

sentiment, or to the spontaneous influence of reason, or to the universal effects of virtue upon society, is undeniable, that, in spite of the extent and prevalence of evil, it is the uniform tendency of mankind to favour, love, and admire virtue; and that this being part of the constitution of things, or necessarily arising out of it, amounts to a declaration from "Him who is supreme in nature, which side he is of, and which part he takes; a declaration clearly in favour of virtue and against vice." *

But supposing it allowed, that mankind, by the exertion of some of their inherent faculties, usually discern, and even choose by preference, where their passions do not interfere, a course of conduct conformable to the general rules of moral virtue; a fact which, in this low view of it, will hardly be denied; the question, it is

* Butler, Analogy, chap. iii. to which I refer, as having indisputably established the fact alluded to. See also some remarks to the same purpose in Search's Light of Nature, vol. v. p. 307.

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