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tions, is not, I am afraid, so often attended to, as his authority demands. Compared with his decisions, if duly considered, the judgment of the world, though not altogether indifferent, would yet appear to be but of small moment. But we are seldom, if ever, quite candid with respect to ourselves. It is so very disagreeable to think ill of our own conduct, that we, in general, purposeły turn our view from those circumstances, which might render that judgment unfavourable. Would not he be a bold surgeon whose hand would not tremble, when he performed an operation upon his own person? And would not he be equally as bold, who would not hesitate to pull off the mysterious veil of self-delusion, which would cover from his own immediate view the reprehensible parts of his own actions?

The laws of moral conduct are rarely left to the investigations of philosophy; they assume the hue and dispositions of the mind, whence they are derived. Writers of a sweet disposition, and warm imagination, thus hold, that man is a benevolent being, and that every man ought to direct his conduct for the good of all, regarding himself only as one of the number.* Those of a cold temperament, and of a phlegmatic mind,

VOL. VI.

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again,

* Lord Shaftesbury.

again, hold him to be an animal merely selfish; and to evince this, examples are accummulated without number. But neither of these systems, perhaps, is accurately that of nature. The selfish system, for example, is contradicted by the experience of all ages, affording the clearest evidence, that men frequently act for the sake of others, without regarding themselves, and sometimes in direct opposition to their own interest. And how much soever selfishness may prevail in action, it certainly does not always prevail in sentiment and affection. All men conspire to put a high estimation upon generosity, benevolence, and other social virtues; whilst even the most selfish are disgusted with selfishness in others, and evermore endeavour to hide it in themselves.

Man, in fact, is a complex being, composed of principles, some benevolent, and some selfish; aud these principles are so justly blended in his nature, as to fit him for acting a proper part in society. So deeply, however, do many moralists enter into some one particular passion or bias of human nature, says an elegant writer, that to use the painter's phrase, they quite overcharge the picture. Thus," says he, "I have seen

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a whole

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a whole system of morals founded upon a single pillar of the inward frame; and the entire conduct of life, and all the characters in it, accounted for, sometimes from superstition, sometimes from pride, and most commonly from interest. They forget, however, how various a creature it is they are painting; how many springs and weights, nicely adjusted and balanced, enter into the movement, and require allowance to be made for their several clogs and impulses, ere they can define its operations and effects.*

Enquiry on the Life and Writings of Homer.

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LETTER XCIII.

IT would be well, perhaps, for man, were he not so often, and so peremptorily to pronounce on the inscrutable schemes of Providence. No mortal can look, without giddiness, into the vast abyssof eternal wisdom. Can the sight that is limited, perfectly comprehend an infinity of objects mutually related? We complain, when we should adore. Is not God good, because men are exposed to general evils, to tempests, to earthquakes, to famine, and to pestilence; as well as to particular evils, to pain, to sickness, and to death? Perfect happiness, indeed, cannot have been intended for a creature; for perfect happiness, being an attribute, would be as incommunicable as perfect power and eternity. Is God not good, because we are exposed to evils, which result necessarily from the constitution of a world, which, if we should allow it to have been made for man, must have been made for the universe also?

But

But what real advantages, it is demanded, can result from wars, slaughtered millions, and a desolated earth? Can there be any optimist, ca-. pable of explaining the benefits that result from the evils of existence? To such questions I do not pretend to reply; for I do not presume to comprehend them. Of this, however, I am convinced, that we murmur and complain, when we should blush at our own presumption. The atheist, who would thus attack' Providence, is miserably deficient in those real proofs, which can alone entitle him to affirm, what is adversity and what is not so. To many of these evils do we not expose ourselves voluntarily, and for no other reason, than to indulge the ruling passion of our own minds, to gratify, for example, our ambition, or our avarice? God has given us means to avoid, to palliate, or to cure these evils. But we sedulously court them. The evils, then, that may be said to come from God, are, for the most part, soon over; but the evils of ambition, of avarice, and of the other ruling passions, are everlasting. And the same persons, exposing themselves a new to the same inticements, are never to be satisfied. This world, then, says even a selfish philosopher, was made for the universe, and not exclusively for man.

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* Bolingbroke.

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