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following accounts; that a recent and severe earthquake had occurred between Tobasco and the South sea; by which, as it is stated, land thirty leagues in extent had been sunk, the whole face of the country torn up, the river Tobasco, and also the St. Francis covered with floating trees, and an Indian village swallowed with all its inhabitants*: and that the town of Votissa, near Athens, has been inundated by a sudden rising of the sea during a violent earthquake, and that about five thousand of the inhabitants perished in the floodt.
I am aware of only one objection, which might seem to furnish grounds for escaping the conclusion, that the appointed or permitted ravages of volcanoes and earthquakes on human life and happiness are indications that man is in a state of transgression, and has lost the original favour of his Creator. It may be alleged, that the reasoning, if valid, would equally apply to the animal world; that if the destruction of men by the flames of the volcano, or by the jaws of the earth
The Day and New Times, June 18, 1817, quoting from a New York newspaper.
The Star, Jan. 14, 1818.
quake, proves the human race to be transgressors, and under a penal dispensation, the accompanying destruction of animals by the same catastrophe must establish the same inference respecting them also; and that the absurdity and the impossibility of the latter inference evince the futility of the former. In no degree. For animals are incapable of moral agency; and, consequently, are not placed under moral responsibility. There is an end, therefore, to all pleas of analogy between the two cases. Why then, resumes the objector, were the animals consumed or engulfed? They suffered as belonging to a world, in the present system of whose administration suffering is an ingredient; and under the general effect of the laws which produced the particular eruption or the particular earthquake. They suffered, as under human governments individuals are frequently involved in the participation of national calamity, to the introduction of which they had not knowingly contributed; or lose their lives and their property by a conflagration which broke forth without their fault or their consciousness in the house of a neighbour. Human governments, it may perhaps be replied, have not the power, neither in
public troubles, nor in local distresses, of effecting discriminations and exemptions: but the Deity has the power. Do you then contend, that a system comprehending a frequency of miraculous interpositions on the part of the Deity should take place on behalf of the brute creation: should take place too, while no such interposition is em ployed on behalf of the human race to discriminate between the more and the less guilty of men? With equal reason might you require that the brute creation shall in no instance suffer by connection with man; that a miracle should always preserve a horse from being wounded in battle, and an ox from being lamed at the plough.Your reasoning, however, the objector answers, leaves the Deity open to the imputation of unkindness, and even of injustice, towards the animals, his creatures. No. God can compensate for any suffering. Then animals are to live in a future state of existence. An inference altogether unnecessary. God can in any case give compensation, superabundant compensation, antecedently to the suffering which it is to counterbalance. Will you take upon yourself to affirm that an animal whose sufferings you are contemplating,
may not already have enjoyed in the course of its existence a mass of satisfaction more than equivalent to the aggregate of the pain which it has hitherto endured, and of that which may yet await it? A post-horse is a familiar instance of animal wretchedness. You survey, in its seasons of pressure, its toils and its stripes under the impatience of a cruel driver, and the, perhaps, equally or more cruel traveller. But forget not, that it does not find the whole year a general election. Forget not that, in its most distressing periods, it has necessarily some alleviating gratifications in ordinary food and repose. Forget not that it has, at less busy seasons, its longer intervals of gentle employment, or of positive freedom from labour. Forget not that during several continued from its birth it knew not the lash nor years the burthen; and enjoyed, nearly without interruption, the comforts and the happiness allotted to its sphere and mode of existence. To vindi. cate the justice and the benignity of God towards any one of His creatures, this fact alone can be requisite; that the being of that creature, whenever or in whatever manner terminated, shall havę been to it on the whole a blessing.
ON THE GENERAL NATURE OF THE OBJECTS PROVIDED ON THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH, OR WITHIN THE REACH OF ATTAINMENT, FOR THE USE OF MAN.
If the consideration of some of those parts of creation, animate or inanimate, with which men are principally conversant for purposes essential to the welfare and the comfort of the human species, shall indicate those objects to be, so far as we are competent to the enquiry, specially suited to the condition of fallen beings; that is to say, far more adapted to their condition, far more requisite to it, than we can discern them to be important to the supposed state of a holy race, in the full enjoyment of the Divine favour: the conclusions inaintained in the preceding chapters, will thus acquire additional confirmation. This confirmation, if to be furnished, is evidently to * be expected, rather in a concurrent result from a number of examples, each supplying its accordant and proportionate share of testimony, than from decisive force in any single instance.