Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

formation, with the evidence of a thousand demonstrations. I think we may lay this down as an incontested principle, that chance never acts in a perpetual uniformity and consistence with itself. If one should always fling the same number with ten thousand dice, or see every throw just five times less, or five times more, in number, than the throw which immediately preceded it, who would not imagine there was some invisible power which directed the cast? This is the proceeding which we find in the operation of nature. Every kind of animal is diversified by different magnitudes, each of which gives rise to a different species. Let a man trace the dog or lion kind, and he will observe how many of the works of nature are published, if I may use the expres sion, in a variety of editions. If we look into the reptile world, or into those different kinds of animals that fill the element of water, we meet with the same repetitions among several species, that differ very little from one another, but in size and bulk. You find the same creature that is drawn at large, copied out in several proportions, and ending in miniature. It would be tedious to produce instances of this regular conduct in Providence, it would be superfluous to those who are versed in the natural history of animals. The magnificent harmony of the universe is such, that we may observe innumerable divisions running upon the same ground. I might also extend this speculation to the dead parts of nature, in which we may find matter disposed into many similar systems, as well in our survey of stars and planets, as of stones, vegetables, and other sublunary parts of the creation. In a word, Providence has shown the richness of its goodness and wisdom, not only in the production of many original species, but in the multiplicity of descants which it has made on every original species in particular.

But to pursue this thought still farther-Every liv ing creature, considered in itself, has many very complicated parts, that are exact copies of some other parts which it possesses, which are complicated in the same manner. One eye would have been sufficient for the subsistence and preservation of an animal ; but in order te

better his condition, we see another placed, with a math ematical exactness, in the same most advantageous situation, and in every particular, of the same size and texture. It is impossible for chance to be thus delicate and uniform in her operations. Should a million of dice turn up twice together in the same number, the wonder would be nothing in comparison with this. But when

we see this similitude and resemblance in the arm, the hand, the fingers; when we see one half of the body entirely correspond with the other, in all those minute strokes, without which a man might have very well subsisted; nay, when we often see a single part repeated an hundred times in the same body, notwithstanding it consists of the most intricate weaving of numberless fibres, and these parts differing still in magnitude, as the convenience of their particular situation requires; sure a man must have a strange cast of understanding, who does not discover the finger of God in so wonderful a work: These duplicates, in those parts of the body, without which a man might have very well subsisted, though not so well as with them, are a plain demonstration of an all wise Contriver; as those more numerous copying's which are found among the vessels of the same body are evident demonstrations that they could not be the work of chande. This argument receives additional strength, if we apply it to every animal and insect within our knowledge, as well as to those numberless living creatures, that are objects too minute for an human eye: And if we consider how the several species in this whole world of life resemble one another, in very many particulars, so far as is convenient for their respective states of existence, it is much more probable that an hundred million of dice should be casually thrown an hundred million of times in the same number, than that the body of any single animal should be produced by the fortuit. ous concourse of matter. And that the like chance should arise in innumerable instances, requires a degree of credulity that is not under the direction of common


III.-On Natural and Fantastical Pleasures.


IT is of great use to consider the Pleasures which constitute human happiness, as they are distinguished into Natural and Fantastical. Natural Pleasures I call those which, not depending on the fashion and caprice of any particular age or nation, are suited to human nature in general, and were intended, by Providence, as rewards for using our faculties agreeably to the ends for which they are given to us. Fantastical Pleasures are those which, having no natural fitness to delight our minds, presuppose some particular whim or taste, accidentally prevailing in a set of people, to which it is owing that they please.

Now I take it, that the tranquillity and cheerfulness with which I have passed my life, are the effects of having, ever since I came to years of discretion, continued my inclinations to the former sort of pleasures. But as my experience can be a rule only to my own actions, it may probably be a stronger motive to induce others to the same scheme of life, if they would consider that we are prompted to natural pleasures, by an instinct impres sed on our minds by the Author of our nature, who best understands our frames, and consequently best knows what those pleasures are, which will give us the least uneasiness in the pursuit, and the greatest satisfaction in the enjoyment of them. Hence it follows, that the ob jects of our natural desires are cheap, and easy to be obtained; it being a maxim that holds throughout the whole system of created beings, "that nothing is made in vain," much less the instincts and appetites of animals, which the benevolence, as well as the wisdom of the Deity is concerned to provide for. Nor is the fruition of those objects less pleasing,than the acquisition is easy; and the pleasure is heightened by the sense of having answered some natural end, and the consciousness of acting in concert with the Supreme Governor of the universe.

Under natural pleasures I comprehend those which are universally suited, as well to the rational as the sensual part of our nature. And of the pleasures which af

fect our senses, those only are to be esteemed natural, that are contained within the rules of reason, which is allowed to be as necessary an ingredient of human nature, as sense. And indeed, excesses of kind are hardly to be esteemed pleasures, much less natural pleasures.


It is evident that a desire terminated in money is fantastical; so is the desire of outward distinctions, which bring no delight of sense, nor recommend us as useful to mankind; and the desire of things, merely because they are new or foreign. Men who are indisposed to a due exertion of their higher parts, are driven to such pursuits as these, from the restlessness of the mind, and the sensitive appetites being easily satisfied. It is, in some sort, owing to the bounty of Providence, that, disdaining a cheap and vulgar happiness, they frame to themselves imaginary goods, in which there is nothing can raise desire, but the difficulty of obtaining them. Thus men become the contrivers of their own misery, as a punishment to themselves, for departing from the measures of nature. Having by an habitual reflection on these truths, made them familiar, the effect is, that I, among a number of persons who have debauched their natural taste, see things in a peculiar light, which I have arrived at, not by any uncommon force of genius, or acquired knowledge, but only by unlearning the false notions instilled by custom and education.

The various objects that compose the world, were, by nature, formed to delight our senses; and as it is this alone that makes them desirable to an uncorrupted state, a man may be said naturally to possess them, when he possesses those enjoyments which they are fitted by nature to yield. Hence it is usual with me to consider myself as having a natural property in every object that administers pleasure to me. When I am in the country, all the fine seats near the place of my residence, and to which I have access, I regard as mine. The same I think of the groves and fields where I walk, and muse on the folly of the civil landlord in London, who has the fantastical pleasure of draining dry rent into his coffers, but is a stranger to the fresh air and rural enjoy

ments. By these principles, I am possessed of half a dozen of the finest seats in England, which, in the eye of the law belong to certain of my acquaintance, who be ing men of business, choose to live near the court.

In some great families, where I chose to pass my time, a stranger would be apt to rank me with the other domestics; but, in my own thoughts and natural judgment, I am master of the house, and he who goes by that name is my steward, who eases me of the care of providing for myself the convenience and pleasures of life.

When I walk the streets, I use the foregoing natural maxim, viz. That he is the true possessor of a thing, who enjoys it, to convince myself that I have a property in the gay part of all the gilt chariots that I meet, which I regard as amusements designed to delight my eyes, and the imagination of those kind people who sit in them, gaily attired, only to please me, I have a real, they only an imaginary pleasure, from their exterior embellishment. Upon the same principle, I have discovered that I am the natural proprietor of all the diamond necklaces,the crosses,stars, brocades and embroidered clothes which I see at a play or birth night, as giving more natural delight to the spectator, than to those that wear them. And I look on the beaus and ladies as so many paroquets in an aviary, or tulips in a garden, designed purely for my diversion. A gallery of pictures,a cabinet or library, that I have free access to, I think my own. a word, all that I desire is the use of things, let who will have the keeping of them; by which maxim I am grown one of the richest men in Great- Britain; with this dif ference That I am not a prey to my own cares, or the envy of others.


The same principles I find of great use in my private economy. As I cannot go to the price of history painting, I have purchased, at easy rates, several beautifully designed pieces of landskip and perspective, which are much more pleasing to a natural taste, than unknown faces or Dutch gambols, though done by the best masters; my couches, beds and window curtains are of Irish

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »