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different tastes and geniuses may here be severally consulted. As the colour and tendency of our minds dispose us, we find a suitable order of proofs; and while one is struck with the solemn and unwearied return of seasons and of fruits, another is better pleased with considering the bland and unerring powers of instinct, which gathers under the mother's wing the little brood of helpless stragglers, and makes its voice heard amidst the howlings of the desert. It is by these contemplations that we learn, in the scriptural phrase, to walk with God; and cherish towards him a certain loyalty of heart, that brings all the ardours and sensibilities of our nature to the side of religion.
I cannot admit among those who reap the true advantage of this study, our modern collectors of cabinets, whose ambition is generally to accumulate rarities only for the distinction they confer, and to swell their lists from a sterile sort of ostentation, without any advancement of real knowledge. The true philosophical observer finds his cabinet of curiosities in his own and his neighbour's fields and gardens; and the interest he feels in every object is not in proportion to its unfrequency, but to the indication it affords of design and providence in the government of the world.
This consoling testimony, so abundantly spread over the face of nature, seems, if I may so express myself, to be distributed into different masses and portions, in the examination of which we may fol. low the bent of our particular tastes and studies. Thus some have been principally captivated by the stated motions of the heavenly bodies, as most inimical to the notion of chance; others consider the Divine wisdom as most emphatically announced in the structure of the human frame; and not a
small number are best pleased with contemplating it in the properties and affections given to plants. The playfulness and innocent joys of young children are to others the kindest proofs of a superintending Providence: and Sir Isaac Newton was of opinion, that a primary mover of all things was incontrovertibly shown by the revolutions of the planets in their orbits, which are the combined effects of a projectile and centripetal force; the latter of which is accounted for by the laws of nature, but the former supposes the voluntary impulse of a predisposing hand.
Thus the various classes of Nature's works present to the studious and contemplative a various arrangement of proofs, as different tastes and opinions decide. New discoveries enrich this valuable collection ; and, as we advance in the knowledge of Nature's varieties, we find fresh ornament in truth, fresh dignity in devotion, and fresh reason in religion. If, after this partial consideration, we mount a stage higher in the argument, and take a view of the whole plan and order of our system, the unity of design and connection of parts force us upon concluding that one pervading Spirit directs the whole.
At this point did the excellent author of the Analogy take up the argument, and, bending his thoughts to discover how far this unity of plan lay open to human penetration, he has shown us that we can trace it through the course of natural and revealed religion : he has shown us that the same character of goodness and wisdom is stamped upon each portion of God's government;
that the same venerable order and progression is every where observed; that the great truths of each unfold themselves in the same course of patient and gradual discovery; and that in each he has opposed certain limits to our investigations, and spread, with jea. lous might, his pavilion of darkness.
The argument therefore from analogy, which reconciles the scheme of natural and revealed religion to the course and constitution of nature, is the highest in the scale of those proofs with which the study of Nature's works supplies us, and closes a series of testimony of the most complete and beautiful kind.
I shall now present my readers with a passage from Xenophon's Anecdotes of Socrates, where that philosopher makes a very noble use of the argument from analogy. After producing a great variety of instances in the economy of nature, to persuade his disciple to embrace the belief of a Providence, he calls upon him to yield to such convincing proofs, unless he is determined to wait until God shall please to render himself visible.
“ This," says he, “would be a very unreasonable expectation, since, in this world, circumstances often reduce us to receive benefits from unknown hands; nor, in this case, are we so ungrateful as to attribute our felicity to the operation of chance. There may be something too that displeases the Deity in such an expectation ; for there is great audacity, doubtless, in hoping to see our Creator with faculties probably incapable of sustaining such an interview.
“ Consider," says he," that the Sun, while he refreshes us with his kindly influence, does not allow himself to be too attentively regarded, and almost deprives him of sight who attempts it. The Deity also chooses to act by an invisible ministry. We hear the thunder rolling above us, and we know that it subdues whatever it encounters; but we
behold neither its coming-on, nor its career, nor its departure. The winds also we cannot discern, but in their effects, which are very
and we can feel them rushing by us. Moreover, the soul of man comes nearest to the Deity of any thing which belongs to us: that it reigns within us, is manifest ; but no man has ever seen his own soul."
This has always struck me as one of the noblest passages in all antiquity, and is the best specimen of this argument from analogy I recollect in any heathen work. I have clothed the thoughts in English, without attempting to translate the Greek words, which are in this place so inimitably empha. tic, that they may challenge any language to express them adequately.
It is myintention to carry on this subject through many of my future papers, if I see a disposition in my readers to attend to it. I think myself engaged, however, by the promise I have given, to present them with a perpetual variety; and, like a good farmer, I bind myself never to take two successive crops of the same produce from the same piece of land. My excellent friend Mr. Anthony Allworth, whose character I have given in a former paper, insists upon my consecrating à portion of my labours to the subject of religion; and I know of no way of rendering it so generally interesting and amusing to my readers, as by considering its analogies with the course and constitution of nature.
I know how well this road has been pointed out before; but if I can throw any entertainment in the way by the discovery of new objects, or render it more sprightly, and cheerful by new veins of thought, and fresh illustrations of fancy, I shall thank my friend very heartily for having suggested the idea. The loose form of this argument from
analogy is what particularly recommends it to me, as on that account it will bear the numerous interruptions it must submit to with less relaxation of its force.
The rank growth of perishable pamphlets and sermons which daily crowd our presses, serves only to dissipate and distract our attentions: they irritate our minds by occupying them ever on little disputed points, and divert us from the more comprehensive works of a graver age, wherein wide views of the subject are disclosed, and great bodies of proof collected. I considered, therefore, that it would be doing some service to my countrymen, if, instead of labouring either to increase the bulk of sacred literature, already grown unwieldy, or to swell the muddy stream of peevish controversy, I could allure my young readers to a portion of reli. gious inquiry, which is perhaps the most inexhaustible of any, and which is of so spreading and various a nature, as to accommodate itself to almost every size of understanding, and every system of study.
There is moreover, in this argument from analogy, a strong tendency to liberalize the mind, by the removal of prejudices; while it provokes curiosity by the order and connection it produces wherever it enters, by its pleasing display of happy coincidences, and its allusions to common life and common observation. It is of small concern to me whether these my speculations upon the analogies of religion and nature be perused before or after that admirable work of the excellent Dr. Butler : in the former case they may serve as a sort of initiation to the reader; in the latter they will tend to keep up in his memory a perishable tenure, which requires frequent examination and repair.
I shall conclude this day's work with repeating my promise to be sparing of such grave subjects.