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" ANALOGY OF RELIGION, NATURAL AND REVEALED, TO THE CONSTITUTION AND COURSE OF NATURE,"
All things are double one against another, and God hath made nothing imperfect.-Ecclesiasticus, xxii. 24.
BISHOP BUTLER, In his invaluable Analogy, (says his editor, Bishop Hallifax,) instead of indulging in idle speculations, how the world might possibly have been better than it is; or, from a forgetfulness of the difference between hypothesis and fact, attempting to explain the divine economy with respect to intelligent creatures from precon. ceived notions of his own,-first inquires what the constitution of Nature, as made known to us in the way of experiment, actually is; and from this, now seen and acknowledged, endeavours to form a judgment of that large constitution which Religion discovers to us. If the Dispensation of Providence we are now under, considered as inhabitants of this world, and having a temporal interest to secure in it, be found, on examination, analogous to, and of a piece with that farther Dispensation which relates to us as designed for another world, in which we have an eternal interest depending on our behaviour here; if both may be traced up to the same general laws, and appear to be carried on according to the same plan of administration, the fair presumption is, that both proceed from one and the same author. And if the principal parts objected to in this latter Dispensation be similar to, and of the same kind with, what we certainly experience under the former; the objections being clearly inconclusive in one case, because contradicted by plain fact, must in all reason be allowed to be inconclusive also in the other
This way of arguing from what is acknowledged to what is disputed, from things known to other things that resemble them, from that part of the divine establishment, which is exposed to our view, to that more important one which lies beyond it, is on all hands confessed to be just. By this method Sir Isaac Newton has unfolded the System of Nature: by the same method Bishop BUTLER has explained the System of Grace, and thus "formed and concluded a happy alliance between Faith and Philosophy.
It should be remarked, however, (with Bishop Hallifax), that Morality and Religion, when treated as sciences, each accompanied with difficulty of its own, can neither of them be understood as they ought, without a very peculiar attention. But Morality and Religion are not merely to be studied as sciences, or as being speculatively true: they are to be regarded in another and a higher light, as the rule of life and manners, as containing authoritative directions by which to regulate our faith and practice. And, in this view, the infinite importance of them considered, it can never be an indifferent matter whether they be received or rejected. For both claim to be the voice of God; and whether they be so or not, cannot be known till their claims be impartially examined. If they indeed come from Him, we are bound to conform to them at our peril; nor is it left to our choice, whether we will submit to the obligations which they impose upon us or not: for, submit to them we must, in such a sense, if guilty, as to incur the punishments denounced by both against wilful disobedience to their injunctions.
We here presuppose, I need scarcely remark, that the Author of Nature, invested with a will and character, which our whole constitution necessarily leads us to deem moral and just and good, will act universally upon principles in harmony and consistency with each other.