« AnteriorContinuar »
worth a Jew's eye! Indeed no money can compensate me for its loss.
Com. I cannot order you a Jew's eye, Mr. Williams, unless Mr. Lawrence can persuade his friend Shylock to part with one of his ; but I will order you such a sum, in monies numbered, as you will swear this wig was fairly and honestly worth.
A long dispute followed as to the value of the wig, when Mr. Williams ultimately agreed to take 20s. and costs; and the parties were dismissed, mutually grumbling at each other.
A MOUSE, weary of living in the continual alarm attendant on the carnage committed among her nation by Mitis and Rodilardus, thus addressed herself to the tenant of a hole near her own.
"An excellent thought has just come into my headI read in some book which I gnawed a few days ago, that there is a fine country, called the Indies, in which mice are in much greater security than here. In that region, the sages believe that the soul of a mouse has been that of a king, a great captain, or some wonderful saint, and that after death it will probably enter the body of a beautiful woman or mighty potentate. If I recollect rightly, this is called metempsychosis. Under this idea, they treat all animals with paternal charity, and build and endow hospitals for mice, where they are fed like people of consequence. Come then, my good sister, let us hasten to a country, the customs of which are so excellent, and where justice is done to our merits." Her neighbor replied," But, sister, do not cats enter these hospitals? if they do, metempsychosis must take place very soon, and in great numbers; and a talon or a tooth might
make a fakir, or a king; a miracle we can very well do without." "Do not fear," said the first mouse, " in these countries order is completely established; the cats have their houses as well as we ours, and they have their hospitals for the sick separate from ours." After this conversation, our two mice set out together, contriving the evening before she set sail, to creep along the cordage of a vessel that was to make a long voyage.
They got under weigh, and were enraptured with the sight of the sea, which took them from the abominable shores on which cats exercise their tyranny. The sail was pleasant, and they reached Surat, not like merchants, to acquire riches, but to receive good treatment from the Hindoos. They had scarcely entered one of the houses fitted up for mice, when they aspired to the best accommodation. One of them pretended to recollect having formerly been a Bramin on the coast of Malabar, and the other protested that she had been a fine lady of the same country, with long ears; but they displayed so much impertinence, that the Indian mice lost all patience. A civil war commenced, and no quarter was given to the two Franks who pretended to impose laws on the others; when, instead of being eaten by cats, they were strangled by their own brethren. From this it is evident, that it is useless to go far in search of safety; as, if we are not modest and wise, we only go into danger; and if we are so, we may be secure at home.
A STATE OF PROBATION CONSIDERED WITH REFERENCE
TO DIVINE GOODNESS.- -Paley.
Of all views under which human life has been considered, the most reasonable, in my judgment, is that which regards it as a state of probation. It is not a state of unmixed happiness simply: it is not a state of designed misery, or of misery simply: it is not a state of retribution :
it is not a state of punishment. It suits with none of these suppositions. It accords much better with the idea of its being a condition calculated for the production, exercise and improvement, of moral qualities, with a view to a future state, in which these qualities, after being so produced, exercised and improved, may, by a new and more favorable constitution of things, receive their final reward.
If it be said that this is to enter upon a religious, rather than a philosophical consideration, I answer that the name of religion ought to form no objection, if it shall appear that the more religious our views are, the more probable they become. It may be observed that a future state alone rectifies all disorders; and if it can be shown that the appearance of disorder is consistent with the uses of life as a preparatory state, and that, in some respects it promotes these uses, then so far as this hypothesis may be accepted, the ground of the difficulty is removed.
In the wide scale of human condition, there is not perhaps one of its manifold diversities which does not bear upon the design here suggested. Virtue is infinitely various. There is no situation in which a rational being is placed, from that of the best instructed christian, down to the condition of the rudest barbarian, which affords not room for moral agency, for the acquisition, exercise, and display of voluntary qualities, good and bad. Health and sickness, enjoyment and suffering, riches and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, power and subjection, liberty and bondage, civilization and barbarism, have all their offices and duties, all serve for the formation of character. The best dispositions may subsist under the most depressed, the most afflicted fortunes. A West-Indian slave, who amidst his wrongs retains his benevolence, is among the foremost of human candidates for the rewards of virtue. The kind master of such a slave, he who in the exercise of an inordinate authority postpones his own interest to his slave's comfort, is likewise a meritorious character: but he is inferior to his slave. But what we
contend for is, that these destinies, opposite as they may be in other respects, are both trials.
Now, if it be true that our ultimate and eternal happiness will depend not on the temporary condition in which we are cast, but our behavior in it, then it is a much more fit subject of chance, than we usually allow or apprehend it to be, in what manner the variety of external circumstances which subsist in the human world, is distributed amongst the individuals of the species. Of two agents who stand indifferent to the moral governor of the universe, one may be exercised by riches, the other by poverty: both have their duties and temptations, not less arduous or dangerous in one case than the other; but if the final award follow the character, the original distribution of the circumstances under which that charactor is formed may be defended upon principles of justice. The appearance of casualty which attends the occurrences and events of life, not only does not interfere with its uses, as a state of probation, but promotes them. Passive virtues, of all others, the severest and the most sublime, of all others, perhaps, the most acceptable to the deity, would, it is evident, be excluded from a constitution in which happiness and misery always followed virtue and vice. Patience and composure under distress, affliction and pain; and a steadfast keeping up of our confidence in God, and of our reliance upon his final goodness, when every thing is adverse and discouraging; and (what is no less difficult to retain) a cordial desire for the happiness of others, even when we are deprived of our own: these dispositions which constitute, perhaps, the perfection of our moral nature, would not have found their proper object and office in a state of avowed retribution; and in which, consequently, the endurance of evil would be only submission to punishment.
Again, one man's sufferings may be another's trial. The bedside of a sick parent, is a school of filial piety. The charities of domestic life, and not only these, but all the social virtues, are called forth by distress. But, mi
sery, to be the proper object of mitigation, or of that benevolence which endeavors to relieve, must be really or apparently casual. It is upon such sufferings alone that benevolence can operate. Were there no evils in the world, but what were punishments, properly and intelligibly such, benevolence would only stand in the way of justice. Such evils, consistently with the administration of moral government, could not be prevented or alleviated; that is to say could not be remitted in whole or in part, except by the authority which inflicted them, or by an appellate, or superior, authority. This consideration, which is founded in our most acknowledged apprehensions of the nature of penal justice, may possess its weight in the divine counsels. Virtue is, perhaps, the greatest of all ends. In human beings, relative virtues form a large part of the whole. But, relative virtue presupposes, not only the existence of evil, without which it could have no object, no material to work upon, but that evils be, apparently at least, misfortunes. I have already observed that, when we let in religious considerations, we often let in light upon the difficulties of nature. So in the fact now to be accounted for, the usual degree of human happiness, that degree may be better suited to a state of trial and probation than a greater portion. The truth is, we are rather too much delighted with the world than too little. Imperfect, broken and precarious, as our pleasures are, they are more than sufficient to attach us to the eager pursuit of them. A regard to a future state can hardly keep its place as it is. Designed, as we are, to be influenced by that regard, might not a more indulgent system, a higher or more uninterrupted state of gratification, have interfered with such design? In a religious view, then, privation, disappointment and satiety, are not without the most salutary tendencies.