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ment. 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 favourable 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 shewn 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 inferiour 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 behaviour 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 character is formed, may be detended 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; 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, 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,"misery, to be the proper object of mitigation, or of that benevolence which endeavours 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. Vir tue 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.
MEETING BETWEEN CORIOLANUS AND
AUFIDIUS IN ANTIUM,
Enter Coriolanus, in mean apparel, disguised and muffled.
Cor. A goodly city in this Antium. City,
Enter a Citizen.
if it be your will, Where great Aufidius lies; Is he in Antium?
Cit. He is, and feasts the nobles of the state,
Which is his house, 'beseech you?
I thank you, sir; farewell.
(Exit citizen. O, world, thy slippery turns! Friends, now fast sworn, Whose double bosoms seem to wear one heart, Whose hours, whose bed, whose meal, and exercise, Are still together, who twin, as 'twere in love Unseparable, shall within this hour, On a dissention of a doit, break out To bitterest enmity: So fellest foes, Whose passions and whose plots have broke their
sleep To take the one the other, by some chance, Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends, And interjoin their issues. So with me:My birth-place hate I, and my love's upon This enemy town.—I'll enter: if he slay me, He does fair justice; if he give me way, I'll do his country service.
Scene. A hall in Aufidius's house. Music within..
Enter a Servant. Serv. Wine, wine, wine! what service is here? I think our fellows are asleep.
(Exit.) Enter another Servant. 2d Serv. Where's Cotus? my master calls for him. Cotus.
(Exit.) Enter Coriolanus. Cor. A goodly house: the feast smells well: but I Appear not like a guest,
Re-enter first Cervant. 1 Serv. What would you have friend? Whence
are you Here's no place for you: Pray go to the door.
Cor. I have deserved no better entertainment, In being Coriolanus.
Re-enter 2d Servant. 2 Serv. Whence are you, sir? Has the porter his eyes in his head, that he gives entrance to such companions? Pray, get you out.
2 Serv. Are you so brave? I'll have you talked with anon.
Enter 3d Servant. The first meets him. 3 Serv. What fellow's, this?
1 Serv. A strange one as ever I look'd on: I cannot get him out of the house: Pr’ythee, call my master to him.
3 Serv. What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid the house.
Cor. Let me but stand; I will not hurt your hearth.
3 Serv. What are you?
3 Serv. Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station; here's no place for you; pray you avoid: come.