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for his happiness, as what he certainly knows to be so. Nay, further, in questions of great consequence, a reasonable man will think it concerns him to remark lower probabilities and presumptions than these; such as amount to no more than showing one side of a question to be as supposable and credible as the other; nay, such as but amount to much less even than this. For numberless instances might be mentioned respecting the common pursuits of life, where a man would be thought, in a literal sense, distracted, who would not act, and with
great application too, not only upon an even chance, but upon much less, and where the probability or chance was greatly against his succeeding. (See Part i. ch. vi.).
ii It is not my design to inquire further into the nature, the foundation, and measure of probability; or whence it proceeds, that likeness should beget that presumption, opinion, and full conviction, which the human mind is formed to receive from it, and which it does necessarily produce in every one ; or to guard against the errors to which reasoning from analogy is liable. This belongs to the subject of logic, and is a part of that subject which has not yet been thoroughly considered. Indeed I shall not take upon me to say, how far the extent, compass, and force, of analogical reasoning, can be reduced to general heads and rules, and the whole be formed into a system. But though so little in this way has been attempted by those who have treated of our intellectual powers, and the exercise of them, this does not hinder but that we may be, as we unquestionably are, assured, that analogy is of weight, in various degrees, towards determining our judgment, and our practice. Nor does it in anywise cease to be of weight in those cases, because persons, either given to dispute, or who require things to be stated with greater exactness than our faculties appear to admit of in practical matters, may find other cases, in which it is not easy to say, whether it be, or be not, of any weight; or instances of seeming analogies, which are really of none. It is enough to the present purpose to observe, that this general way of arguing is evidently natural, just, and conclusive. For there is no man can make a question but that the sun will rise tomorrow, and be seen, where it is seen at all, in the figure of a circle, and not in that of a square.
Hence, namely from analogical reasoning, Origen * has with
Xρή μέν τοι γε τον άπαξ παραδεξάμενον τα στίσαντος τον κόσμον είναι ταύτας σας γραφάς πεπεισθαι ότι όσα περί της κτίσεως άπαντα τους ζητάει τον περί αίτης aérov, rüytu xai aripi Tão gezpãr. Philocal. p. 23. Ed. Cant.
singular sagacity observed, that “ he who believes the Scripture to have proceeded from him who is the Author of Nature, may well expect to find the same sort of difficulties in it, as are found in the constitution of Nature." And, in a like way of reflection, it may be added, that he who denies the Seripture to have been from God, upon account of these difficulties, may, for the very same reason, deny the world to have been formed by him. On the other hand, if there be an analogy, or likeness, between that system of things and dispensation of Providence which revelation informs us of, and that system of things and dispensation of Providence, which experience, together with reason, informs us of, i. e. the known course of nature; this is a presumption, that they have both the same author and cause ; at least so far as to answer objections against the former being from God, drawn from any thing which is analogical or similar to what is in the latter, which is acknowledged to be from him; for an Author of Nature is here supposed.
Forming our notions of the constitution and government of the world upon reasoning, without foundation for the principles which we assume, whether from the attributes of God or any thing else, is building a world upon hypothesis, like Des Cartes. Forming our notions upon reasoning from principles which are certain, but applied to cases to which we have no ground to apply them, (like those who explain the structure of the human body, and the nature of diseases and medicines, from mere mathematics, without sufficient data) is an error much akin to the former : since what is assumed, in order to make the reasoning applicable, is hypothesis. But it must be allowed just, to join abstract reasonings with the observation of facts, and argue from such facts as are known, to others that are like them ; from that part of the Divine government over intelligent creatures, which comes under our view, to that larger and more general government over them, which is beyond it; and, from what is present, to collect what is likely, credible, or not incredible, will be hereafter.
This method, then, of concluding and determining, being practical, and what, if we will act at all, we cannot but act upon in the common pursuits of life; being evidently conclusive, in various degrees, proportionable to the degree and exactness of the whole analogy or likeness ; and having so great authority for its introduction into the subject of religion, even revealed religion, my design is to apply it to that subject in general, both natural and revealed ; taking for proved, that there is an intelligent Author of Nature, and natural Governor
of the world. For as there is no presumption against this prior to the proof of it, so it has been often proved with accumulated evidence ; from this argument of analogy and final causes ; from abstract reasonings; from the most ancient tradition and testimony; and from the general consent of mankind. Nor does it appear, so far as I can find, to be denied by the generality of those who profess themselves dissatisfied with the evidence of religion.
As there are some, who, instead of thus attending to what is in fact the constitution of Nature, form their notions of God's government upon hypothesis ; so there are others who indulge themselves in vain and idle speculations, how the world might possibly have been framed otherwise than it is ; and upon supposition that things might, in imagining that they should, have been disposed and carried on after a better model, than what appears in the present disposition and conduct of them. Suppose, now, a person of such a turn of mind to go on with his reveries, till he had at length fixed upon some particular plan of Nature, as appearing to him the best,-one shall scarce be thought guilty of detraction against human understanding, if one should say, even beforehand, that the plan which this speculative person would fix upon, though he were the wisest of the sons of men, probably would not be the very best, even according to his own notions of best ; whether he thought that to be so which afforded occasions and motives for the exercise of the greatest virtue, or which was productive of the greatest happiness, or that these two were necessarily connected, and run up into one and the same plan. However, it may not be amiss, once for all, to see what would be the amount of these emendations and imaginary improvements upon the system of Nature, or how far they would mislead us. And it seems there could be no stopping, till we came to some such conclusions as these :-That all creatures should at first be made as perfect and as happy, as they were capable of ever being : that nothing, to be sure, of hazard or danger should be put upon them to do; some indolent persons would perhaps think, nothing at all : or certainly, that effectual care should be taken, that they should, whether necessarily or not, yet eventually and in fact, always do what was right and most conducive to happiness, which would be thought easy for infinite power to effect; either by not giving them any principles which would endanger their going wrong, or by laying the right motive of action, in every instance, before their minds continually, in so strong a manner, as would never fail of inducing them to act
conformably to it: and that the whole method of government by punishments should be rejected, as absurd ; as an awkward round-about method of carrying things on; nay, as contrary to a principal purpose, for which it would be supposed creatures were made, namely happiness.
Now, without considering what is to be said in particular to the several parts of this train of folly and extravagance, what has been above intimated, is a full, direct, general answer to it, namely, that we may see beforehand that we have not faculties for this kind of speculation. For though it be admitted, that, from the first principles of our nature, we unavoidably judge or determine some ends to be absolutely in themselves preferable to others, and that the ends now mentioned, or, if they run up into one, that this one is absolutely the best, and, con
, sequently, that we must conclude the ultimate end designed in the constitution of Nature and conduct of Providence, is the most virtue and happiness possible: yet we are far from being able to judge what particular disposition of things would be most friendly and assistant to virtue, or what means might be absolutely necessary to produce the most happiness in a system of such extent as our own world may be, taking in all that is past and to come, though we should suppose it detached from the whole of things. Indeed, we are so far from being able to judge of this, that we are not judges what may be the necessary means of raising and conducting one person to the highest perfection and happiness of his nature. Nay, even in the little affairs of the present life, we find men of different educations and ranks are not competent judges of the conduct of each other. Our whole nature leads us to ascribe all moral perfection to God, and to deny all imperfection of him. And this will for ever be a practical proof of his moral character, to such as will consider what a practical proof is, becavse it is the voice of God speaking in us. And from hence we conclude, that virtue must be the happiness, and vice the misery, of every creature; and that regularity, and order, and right, cannot but prevail, finally, in a universe under his government. But we are in no sort judges what are the necessary means of accomplishing this end.
Let us, then, instead of that idle and not very innocent employment of forming imaginary models of a world, and schemes of governing it, turn our thoughts to what we experience to be the conduct of Nature with respect to intelligent creatures ; which may be resolved into general laws or rules of administration, in the same way as many of the laws of Nature, re
specting inanimate matter, may be collected from experiments. And let us compare the known constitution and course of things with what is said to be the moral system of Nature, the acknowledged dispensations of Providence, or that government which we find ourselves under, with what religion teaches us to believe and expect, and see whether they are not analogous, and of a piece. And upon such a comparison it will, I think, be found, that they are very much so; that both may be
, traced up to the same general laws, and resolved into the same principles of Divine conduct.
The analogy here proposed to be considered is of pretty large extent, and consists of several parts; in some more, in others less, exact. In some few instances, perhaps, it may amount to a real practical proof, in others not so ; yet in these it is a confirmation of what is proved otherways. It will undeniably show, what too many want to have shown them, that the system of religion, both natural and revealed, considered only as a system, and prior to the proof of it, is not a subject of ridicule, unless that of nature be so too. And it will afford an answer to almost all objections against the system both of natural and revealed religion, though not perhaps an answer in so great a degree, yet in a very considerable degree an answer, to the objections against the evidence of it; for, objections against a proof, and objections against what is said to be proved, the reader will observe, are different things.
Now, the Divine government of the world, implied in the notion of religion in general, and of Christianity, contains in it,- That mankind is appointed to live in a future state, (ch. i. ;) that there every one shall be rewarded or punished, (ch. i. ;) rewarded or punished respectively for all that behaviour here which we comprehend under the words, virtuous or vicious, morally good or evil, (ch. iii.;) that our present life is a probation, a state of trial, (ch. iv.) and of discipline, (ch. v.) for that future one; notwithstanding the objections which men may fancy they have, from notions of necessity, against there being any such moral plan as this at all, (ch. vi. ;) and whatever objections may appear to lie against the wisdom and goodness of it, as it stands so imperfectly made known to us at present, (ch. vii. :) that this world being in a state of apostasy and wickedness, and consequently of ruin, and the sense both of their condition and duty being greatly corrupted amongst men, this gave occasion for an additional dispensation of Providence, of the utmost importance, (Part ii. ch. i.) proved by miracles, (ch. ii.) but containing in it many things appearing to us