« PředchozíPokračovat »
not be supposed to want that which he communicated, without diminishing from the plenitude of his own power and happiness. The philosophers before mentioned have indeed done all that in them lay to invalidate this argument; for placing the gods in a state of the most elevated blessedness, they describe them as selfish as we poor miserable mortals can be, and shut them out from all concern for mankind, upon the score of their having no need
But if he that fitteth in the heavens wants not us, we stand in continual need of him; and, surely, next to the survey of the immense treasures of his own mind, the most exalted pleasure he receives is from beholding millions of creatures lately drawn out of the gulf of nonexistence, rejoicing in the various degrees of being and happiness imparted to them. And as this is the true, the glorious character of the Deity; so, in forming a reasonable creature, he would not, if pollible, suffer his image to pass out of his hands unadorned with a resemblance of himself in this most lovely part of his nature. For what complacency could a mind, whose love is as unbounded as his knowledge, have in a work so unlıke himself; a creature that should be capable of knowing and conversing with a vast circle of objects, and love none but himself? What proportion would there be between the head and the heart of such a creature, its affections, and its understanding? Or.could a fociety of such creatures, with no other bottom but self-love on which to maintain a commerce, ever flourish ? Reason, it is certain, would oblige every man to pursue the general Kappiness, is the means to procure and establish his own; and y-t if, befides this consideration, there were not a natus instinct, prompting men to desire the welfare and satisfaction of 1)thers, self-love, in defiance of the admonitions of reafon, would quickly run all things into a state of war and confusion. As nearly interested as the soul is in the fate of the body, our provident Creator saw it necessary, by the constant returns of hunger and thirst, those importunate appetites, to put it in mind of its charge; knowing, that if we should eat and drink no ofiener than cold abitracicd speculation should put as upon these exercises, and then leave it to reason to prescribe the quantity, we should foon refine ourselves out of this bodily life. And, indeed,
it is obvious to remark, that we follow nothing heartily, unless carried to it by inclinations which anticipate our reason, and, like a bias, draw the mind Itrongly towards it. In order therefore to establish a perpetual intercourse of benefits among mankind, their Maker would not fail to give them this generous
prepoffeflion of benevolence, it, as I have said, it were possible. And from whence can we go about to argue its impossibility? Is it inconGistent with self-love ? Are their motions contrary? No more than the diurnal rotation of the earth is opposed to its annual; or its motion round its own centre, which may be improved as an illustration of felf-love, to that which whirls it about the common centre of the world, anfwering to universal benevolence. Is the force of selflove abated, or its interest prejudiced by benevolence ? So far from it, that benevolence, though a distinct principle, is extremely serviceable to self-love, and then doth most service when it is least designed.
But to descend from reason to matter of fact; the pity which arises on fight of persons in distress, and the fatisfaction of mind, which is the consequence of having removed them into a happier state, are instead of a thoufand arguments to prove such a taing as a disinterested benevolence. Did pity proceed from a reficction we make upon our liableness to the same ill accidents we fee befal others, it were nothing to the prefent purpose; but this is afligning an artificial cause of a natural pallion, and can by no means be admitted as a tolerable account of it, because children, and persons molt thoughtless about their own condition, and incapable of entering into the prospects of futurity, feel the most violent touches of compaflion. And then as to that charming delight which immediately follows the giving joy to another, or relieving his forrow, and is, when the objects are numerous, and the kindness of importance, really inexpreffible, what can this be owing to but consciousness of a man's having done something praise-worthy, and expressive of a great soul? Whereas, if in all this he only sacrificed to vanity and self-love, as there would be nothing brave in actions that make the most shining appearance, so nature would not have rewarded them with this divine pleasure ; nor could the commendations, which a person receives
for benefits done upon selfith viers, 5.... 10082 +13 factory, than when he is appiani...i for visit biro Oliia without design; because in both caits ir chuis of selflove are equally answered. The conscience of approving one's self a benefactor to mankind, is the nobleit recompence for being fo: doubtless it is, and the most interested cannot propose any thing so much to their own advantage; notwithstanding which, the inclination is nevertheless unselfish. The pleasure which attends the gratification of our hunger and thirst, is not the cause of these appetites ; they are previous to any such prospect; and fo likewife is the desire of doing good; with this difference, that being feated in the intellectual part, this last, though antecedent to reason, may yet be improved and regulated by it, and, I will add, is no otherwise a virtue than as it is fo.
Thus have I contended for the dignity of that nature I have the honour to partake of, and, after all the evidence produced, think I have a right to conclude, against the motto of this paper, that there is such a thing as generosity in the world. Though if I were under a mistake in this, I should say, as Cicero in relation to the immortality of the soul, I willingly err, and should believe it very much for the interest of mankind to lie under the fame delusion. For the contrary notion naturally tends to dispirit the mind, and sinks it into a meanness fatal to the God-like zeal of doing good : as, on the other hand, it teaches people to be ungrateful, by possessing them with a persuasion concerning their benefactors, that they have no regard to them in the benefits they bestow. Now he that banishes gratitude from among men, by fo doing stops rip the ftream of beneficence. For though in conferring kindnesses, a truly generous man doth not aim at a return, yet he looks to the qualities of the person obliged, and as nothing renders a person more unworthy of a benefit, than his being without all resentment of it, he will not be extremely forward to oblige such a man.
Friday, September 3.
Persequitur fcelus ille fuum : labefactaque tandem
Ovid. Met, 1. 8. v. 774.
The impious axe he plies : loud strokes refound า "Till dragg’d with ropes, and felld with many a
wound, The loosen'd tree comes rushing to the ground.
:I AM so great an admirer of trees, that the spot of
in 6 the country, is almost in the midst of a large wood. I • was obliged, much against my will, to cut down several « trees, that I might have any such thing as a walk in my
gardens; but then I have taken care to leave the space, * between every walk, as much a wood as I found it. · The moment you turn either to the right or left, you • are in a forest, where nature presents you with a much more beautiful scene than could have been raised by art. • INSTEAD of tulips or carnations, I shew
oaks « in my gardens of four hundred years standing, and a knot • of elms that might shelter a troop of horse from the rain.
• It is not without the utmost indignation, that I observe • several prodigal young heirs in the neighbourhood, fell
ing down the most glorious monuments of their ancestors * industry, and ruining, in a day, the product of ages.
'I Am mightily pleased with your discourse upon plantsing, which put me upon looking into my books to give you fome account of the veneration the ancients had for
There is an old tradition, that Abraham planted a cypress, a pine, and a cedar, and that these three
incorporated into one tree, which was cut down for the * building of the temple of Solomon.
· ISIDORUS, who lived in the reign of Conftantius, affures us, that he saw, even in his time, that famous
• oak in the plains of Mamre, under which Abraham is reported to have dwelt, and adds, that the people look
ed upon it with a great veneration, and preserved it as a « sacred tree.
The Heathens still went further, and regarded it as • the highest piece of facrilege to injure certain trecs which
they took to be protected by some deity. The story of • Erifiathos, the grove of Dodona, and that at Delphi,
all instances of this kind.
If we consider the machine in l'irgil, so much blamed by several critics, in this light, we shall hardly I think it too violent.
ENEÍS, when he bult his fleet in order to sail for Italy, was obliged to cut down the grove on mount Idur, which however he curft not do till he had obtained • leave from Cybele, to whom it was dedicated. The * goddess could not but think herself obliged to protect * these ships, which were made of consecrated timber, after a very extraordinary manner, and therefore desired Jupiter, that they might not be obnoxious to the power of waves or winds. Jupiter would not grant this, but promised her, that as many as came fafe to Italy, should • bę transformed into goddeiles of the fea; which the poet s tells us was accordingly executed.
And now at length the number'd hours were come,
O Trojan race, your needless aid forbear;
Than finge my facred pines. But you, my charge, . Loos'd from your crooked anchors launch at large, L 2