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certainty. By virtue of this rule, those vices which i it exceeds the ordinary patience of human naturo are the known effects of drunkenness, either in to endure. This is usually relieved for a short general or upon particular constitutions, are in all, or time, by a repetition of the same excess; and to in men of such constitutions, nearly as criminal this relief
, as to the removal of every long continas if committed with all their faculties and senses ued pain, they who have once experienced it, are about them.
urged almost beyond the power of resistance. If the privation of reason be only partial, the This is not all: as the liquor loses its stimulus, guilt will be of a mixed nature. For so much of the dose must be increased, to reach the same his self-government as the drunkard retains, he is pitch of elevation or ease; which increase proporas responsible then as at any other time. He is tionably accelerates the progress of all the malaentitled to no abatement beyond the strict propor- dies that drunkenness brings on. Whoever retion in which his moral faculties are impaired. flects upon the violence of the craving in the Now I call the guilt of the crime, if a sober man advanced stages of the habit, and the fatal termihad committed it, the whole guilt. A person in nation to which the gratification of it leads, will, the condition we describe, incurs part of this at the moment he perceives in himself the first the instant of perpetration ; and by bringing him- symptoms of a growing inclination to intemself into such a condition, he incurred that fraction perance, collect his resolution to this point; or of the remaining part, which the danger of this (what perhaps, he will find his best security,) consequence was of an integral certainty. For arm himself with some peremptory rule, as to the the sake of illustration, we are at liberty to sup- times and quantity of his indulgences. I own pose, that a man loses half his moral faculties by myself a friend to the laying down of rules to drunkenness; this leaving him but half his re- ourselves of this sort, and rigidly aljding by them. sponsibility, he incurs, when he commits the action, They may be exclaimed against as stify, but they half of the whole guilt. We will also suppose are often salutary. Indetinite resolutions of ab that it was known beforehand, that it was an even stemiousness are apt to yield to extraordinary chance, or half a certainty, that this crime would occasions; and extraordinary occasions to occur follow his getting drunk. This makes him charge perpetually. Whereas, the stricter the rule is, able with half of the remainder; so that alto- the more tenacious we grow of it; and many a gether, he is responsible in three-fourths of the man will abstain rather than break his rule, who guilt which a sober man would have incurred by would not easily be brought to exercise the same the same action.
mortification from higher motives. Not to menI do not mean that any real case can be reduced tion, that when our rule is once known, we are to numbers, or the calculation be ever made with provided with an answer to every importunity. arithmetical precision ; but these are the princi There is a difference, no doubt, between conples, and this the rule by which our general ad- vivial intemperance, and that solitary sottishness measurement of the guilt of such offences should which waits neither for company nor invitation. be regulated.
But the one, I am afraid, commonly ends in the The appetite for intoxicating liquors appears to other: and this last, in the basest degradation me to be almost always acquired. One proof of to which the faculties and dignity of huinan nawhich is, that it is apt to return only at particular ture can be reduced. times and places: as after dinner, in the evening, on the market-day, at the market-town, in such a company, at such a tavern. And this may be the reason that, if a habit of drunkenness be ever over
CHAPTER III. come, it is upon some change of place, situation,
Suicide. company, or profession. A man sunk' deep in á habit of drunkenness will, upon such occasions THERE is no subject in morality in which the as these, when he finds himself loosened from the consideration of general consequences is more associations which held him fast, sometimes make a necessary than in this of Suicide. Particular and plunge, and get out. In a matter of so great im- extreme cases of suicide may be imagined, and portance, it is well worth while, where it is in any may arise, of which it would be diificult to degree practicable, to change our habitation and assign the particular mischief, or from that consociety, for the sake of the experiment.
sideration alone to demonstrate the guilt; and Habits of drunkenness commonly take their rise these cases have been the chief occasion of coneither from a fondness for, and connexion with, fusion and doubtfulness in the question: albeit, some company, or some companion, already ad- this is no more than what is sometimes true of dicted to this practice; which affords an almost the most acknowledged vices. I could propose irresistible invitation to take a share in the indul- many possible cases even of murder, which, if gences which those about us are enjoying with so they were detached from the general rule, and much apparent relish and delight; or from want governed by their own particular consequences of regular employment, which is sure to let in alone, it would be no easy undertaking to prove many superfluous cravings and customs, and often criminal. this among the rest ; or, lastly, from grief, or fa The true question in this argument is no other tigue, both which strongly solicit that relief which than this: May every man who chooses to de inebriating liquors administer, and also furnish a stroy his life, innocently do so? Limit and disspecious excuse for complying with the incli- tinguish the subject as you can, it will come at nation. But the habit, when once set in, is con- last to this question, tinued by different motives from those to which For, shall we say, that we are then at liberty it owes its origin. Persons addicted to excessive to commit suicide when we find our continuance drinking, suffer in the intervals of sobriety, and in life become useless to mankind ? Any one who near the return of their accustomed indulgence, a pleases, may make himself useless; and melanfaintness and oppression circa præcordia, which choly minds are prone to think themselves use
less, when they really are not so. Supposing a, vine counsels, more acceptable perhaps, than the law were promulgated, allowing each private per- most prostrate devotion; atford an edifying exson to destroy every man he met, whose longer ample to all who observe them; and may hope for continuance in the world he judged to be useless; a recompense among the most arduous of human who would not condemn the latitude of such a virtues. These qualities are always in the power rule? who does not perceive that it amounts to a of the miserable; indeed of none but the miserable. permission to commit murder at pleasure ? A The two considerations above stated, belong similar rule, regulating the right over our own to all cases of suicide whatever. Beside which lives, would be capable of the same extension. general reasons, each case will be aggravated by Beside which, no one is useless for the purpose of its own proper and particular consequences; by this plea, but he who has lost every capacity and the duties that are deserted; by the claims that opportunity of being useful, together with the pos- are defrauded; by the loss, affliction, or disgrace, sibility of recovering any degree of either; which which our death, or the manner of it, causes our is a state of such complete destitution and despair, family, kindred, or friends; by the occasion we as cannot, I believe, be predicated of any man give to many to suspect the sincerity of our mcral living.
and religious professions, and, together with ours, Or rather, shall we say that to depart volunta- those of all others; by the reproach we draw upon rily out of life, is lawful for those alone who leave our order, calling, or sect; in a word, by a great none to lament their death ? If this consideration variety of evil consequences attending upon peis to be taken into the account at all, the subject culiar situations with some or other of which every of debate will be, not whether there are any to actual case of suicide is chargeable. SOTTOW for us, but whether their sorrow for our I refrain from the common topics of " deserting death will exceed that which we should suffer by our post,” “throwing up our trust,”. “ rushing continuing to live. Now this is a comparison of uncalled into the presence of our Maker," with things so indeterminate in their nature, capable some others of the same sort, not because they are of so different a judgment, and concerning which common, (for that rather affords a presumption the judgment will differ so much according to the in their favour,) but because I do not perceive in state of the spirits, or the pressure of any present them much argument to which an answer may anxiety, that it would vary little, in hypochon- not easily be given. driacal constitutions, from an unqualified license Hitherto we have pursued upon the subject the to commit suicide, whenever the distresses which light of nature alone; taking however into the men felt, or fancied, rose high enough to over- account, the expectation of a future existence, come the pain and dread of death. Men are without which our reasoning upon this, as indeed never tempted to destroy themselves but when all reasoning upon moral questions, is vain: we under the oppression of some grievous uneasi- proceed to inquire, whether any thing is to be met ness: the restrictions of the rule therefore ought with in Scripture, which may add to the probato apply to these cases. But what effect can we bility of the conclusions we have been endeavourlook for from a rule which proposes to weigh our ing to support. And here I acknowledge, that pain against that of another; the misery that is there is to be found neither any express determifelt, against that which is only conceived, and in nation of the question, nor sufficient evidence to so corrupt a balance as the party's own distempered prove that the case of suicide was in the contemimagination ?
plation of the law which prohibited murder. Any In like manner, whatever other rule you assign, inference, therefore, which we deduce from Scrip it will ultimately bring us to an indiscriminate ture, can be sustained only by construction and toleration of suicide, in all cases in which there is implication : that is to say, although they who danger of its being committed. It remains, there were authorised to instruct mankind, have not fore, to inquire what would be the effect of such decided a question which never, so far as appears a toleration: evidently, the loss of many lives to to us, came before them; yet I think, they have the community, of which some might be useful or left enough to constitute a presumption how they important; the affliction of many families, and would have decided it, had it been proposed or the consternation of all: for mankind must live thought of. in continual alarm for the fate of their friends and What occurs to this purpose, is contained in dearest relations, when the restraints of religion the following observations: and morality are withdrawn; when every disgust 1. Human life is spoken of as a term assigned which is powerful enough to tempt inen to suicide, or prescribed to us : * Let us run with patience shall be deemed sufficient to justify it; and when the race that is set before us.”—“I have finished the follies and vices, as well as the inevitable ca my course.”—“That I may finish my course with lamities, of human life, so often make existence a joy.”—“ Ye have need of patience, that, after ye burthen.
have done the will of God, ye might receive the A second consideration, and perfectly distinct promise."— These expressions appear to me infrom the former, is this :' by continuing in the consistent with the opinion, that we are at liberty world, and in the exercise of those virtues which to determine the duration of our lives for ourselves. remain within our power, we retain the oppor- If this were the case, with what propriety could tunity of meliorating our condition in a future life be called a race that is set before us; or, state. This argument, it is true, does not in strict which is the same thing, “our course;" that is, ness prove suicide to be a crime; but if it supply the course set out or appointed to us? The rea motive to dissuade us from committing it, it maining quotation is equally strong:-“That afannounts to much the same thing. Now there is ter ye have done the will of God, ye might receive no condition in human life which is not capable the promise." The most natural meaning that of some virtue, active or passive. Even piety and can be given to the words, “after ye have done Te-ignation under the sufferings to which we are the will of God,” is, after ye have discharged the called, testify a trust and acquiescence in the Di- duties of life so long as God is pleased to continue
you in it. According to which interpretation, the ciple in morality be so, that no one, by his consent, text militates strongly against suicide: and they can transfer to another a right which he does not who reject this paraphrase, will please to propose possess himself. It will be equally difficult to aca better.
count for the power of the state to commit its 2. There is not one quality which Christ and subjects to the dangers of war, and to expose their his apostles inculcate upon their followers so often, lives without scruple in the field of battle; espeor so earnestly, as that of patience under affliction. cially in offensive hostilities, in which the priviNow this virtue would have been in a great mea- leges of self-defence cannot be pleaded with any sure superseded, and the exhortations to it might appearance of truth: and still more difficult to exhave been spared, if the disciples of his religion plain, how in such, or in any circumstances, prohad been at liberty to quit the world as soon as digality of life can be a virtue, if the preservation they grew weary of the ill usage which they re- of it be a duty of our nature. ceived in it.— When the evils of life pressed sore, This whole reasoning sets out from one error, they were to look forward to a “far more exceed- namely, that the state acquires its right over the ing and eternal weight of glory;" they were to life of the subject from the subject's own consent, receive them, “as chastenings of the Lord," as as a part of what originally and personally belong. intimations of his care and love : by these and the ed to himself, and which lie has made over to his like reflections they were to support and improve governors. The truth is, the state derives this themselves under their sufferings; but not a hint right neither from the consent of the subject, nor has any where escaped of seeking relief in a volun- through the medium of that consent; but, as I tary death. The following text in particular may say, immediately from the donation of the strongly combats all impatience of distress, of Deity. Finding that such a power in the sovewhich the greatest is that which prompts to acts reign of the community is expedient, if not neof suicide : “Consider Him that endured such cessary, for the community itself
, it is justly precontradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be sumed to be the will of God, that the sovereign wearied and faint in your minds.” I would offer should possess and exercise it
. It is this presumpmy comment upon this passage, in these two tion which constitutes the right; it is the same queries: first, Whether a Christian convert, who indeed which constitutes every other : and if there had been impelled by the continuance and urgency were the like reasons to authorise the presumption of his sufferings to destroy his own life, would not in the case of private persons, suicide would be as have been thought by the author of this text "to justifiable as war, or capital executions. But unhave been weary," to have “ fainted in his mind," til it can be shown that the power over human to have fallen off from that example which is here life may be converted to the same advantage in proposed to the meditation of Christians in dis- the hands of individuals over their own, as in tress? And yet, secondly, Whether such an act those of the state over the lives of its subjects, would not have been attended with all the circum- and that it may be entrusted with equal safety to stances of mitigation which can excuse or extenu- both, there is no room for arguing, from the existate suicide at this day?
ence of such a right in the latter, to the toleration 3. The conduct of the apostles, and of the of it in the former. Christains of the apostolic age, affords no obscure indication of their sentiments upon this point. They lived, we are sure, in a confirmed persuasion of the existence, as well as of the happiness, of a future state. They experienced in this world every
BOOK V. extremity of external injury and distress. Todie, was gain. The change which death brought
DUTIES TOWARDS GOD. with it was, in their expectation, infinitely beneficial. Yet it never, that we can find, entered into the intention of one of them to hasten this change
CHAPTER I. by an act of suicide; from which it is difficult to say what motive could have so universally with
Division of these Duties. held them, except an apprehension of some unlawfulness in the expedient.
In one sense, every duty is a duty towards God, Having stated what we have been able to collect since it is his will which makes it a duty: but in opposition to the lawfulness of suicide, by way of there are some duties of which God is the object, direct proof, it seems unnecessary to open a sepa- as well as the author; and these are peculiarly, rate controversy with all the arguments which and in a more appropriated sense, called duties are made use of to defend it; which would only towards God. lead us into a repetition of what has been offered That silent piety, which consists in a habit of already. The following argument, however, being tracing out the Creator's wisdom and goodness in somewhat more artificial and imposing than the the objects around us, or in the history of his rest, as well as distinct from the general consider- dispensations; of referring the blessings we enjoy ation of the subject, cannot so properly be passed to his bounty, and of resorting in our distresses to over. If we deny to the individual a right over his succour; may possibly be more acceptable to his own life, it seems impossible, it is said, to re- the Deity than any visible expressions of devotion concile with the law of nature that right which the whatever. Yet these latter, (which, although they state claims and exercises over the lives of its sub- may be excelled, are not superseded, by the forjects, when it ordains or intiiets capital punish- mer,) compose the only part of the subject which ments. For this right, like all other just authority admits of direction or disquisition from a moralist. in the state, can only he derived from the compact Our duty towards God, so far as it is external, and virtual consent of the citizens which compose is divided into worship and rererence. God is the state; and it seems self-evident, if any prin- I the immediate object of both; and the difference
between them is, that the one consists in action, 2. It may be consistent with the wisdom of the the other in forbearance. When we go to church Deity to withhold his favours till they be asked an the Lord's day, led thither by a sense of duty for, as an expedient to encourage devotion in his towards God, we perform an act of worship: rational creation, in order thereby to keep up and when, from the same motive, we rest in a journey circulate a knowledge and sense of their depenupon that day, we discharge a duty of reverence. dency upon him.
Divine worship is made up of adoration, thanks 3. Prayer has a natural tendency to amend the giving, and prayer.-But, as what we have to petitioner himself; and thus to bring him within atfer concerning the two former may be observed the rules which the wisdom of the Deity has preof prayer, we shall make that the title of the fol- scribed to the dispensation of his favours. bowing chapters, and the direct subject of our If these, or any other assignable suppositions, consideration.
serve to remove the apparant repugnancy between the success of prayer and the character of the Deity, it is enough; for the question with the pe
titioner is not from which, out of many motives, CHAPTER II.
God may grant his petition, or in what particular Of the Duty and of the Eficacy of Prayer, so far manner he is moved by the supplications of his as the same appear from the Light of Nature. nature to be moved at all, and whether there be
creatures; but whether it be consistent with his When one man desires to obtain any thing of any conceivable motives which may dispose the another, he betakes himself to entreaty; and this Divine Will to grant the petitioner what he wants, may be observel of mankind in all ages and coun- in consequence of his praying for it. It is suffitries of the world. Now, what is universal, may cient for the petitioner, that he gain his end. It be called natural; and it seems probable that God, is not necessary to devotion, perhaps not very as our supreme governor, should expect that to consistent with it, that the circuit of causes, by wards himself , which, by a natural impulse, or by which his prayers prevail
, should be known to the the irresistible order of our constitution, he has petitioner, much less that they should be present prompted us to pay to every other being on whom to his imagination at the time. All that is neces. we depend.
sary is, that there be no impossibility apprehended The same may be said of thanksgiving. in the matter. Prayer likewise is necessary to keep up in the Thus much must be conceded to the objection: minds of mankind a sense of God's agency in the that prayer cannot reasonably be offered to God universe, and of their own dependency upon him. with all the same views, with which we often
Yet, after all, the duty of prayer depends upon times address our entreaties to men (views which its efficacy : for I confess myself unable to con are not commonly or easily separated from it,) ceive, how any man can pray, or be obliged to viz. to inform them of our wants and desires; to pray, who expects nothing from his prayers; but tease them out by importunity; to work upon who is persuaded, at the time he utters his request, their indolence or compassion, in order to perthat it cannot possibly produce the smallest im- suade them to do what they ought to have done pression upon the being to whom it is addressed, before, or ought not to do at all. or advantage to himself. Now, the efficacy of But suppose there existed a prince, who was prayer imports, that we obtain something in con- known by his subjects to act, of his own accord, sequence of praying, which we should not have always and invariably for the best ; the situation received without prayer; against all expectation of a petitioner, who solicited a favour or pardon of which, the following objection has been often from such a prince, would sufficiently resemble and seriously alleged : " If it be most agreeable to ours: and the question with him, as with us, perfect wisdom and justice that we should receive would be, whether, the character of the prince what we desire, God, as perfectly wise and just, being considered, there remained any chance that will give it to us without asking; if it be not he should obtain from him by prayer, what he agreeable to these attributes of his nature, our en- would not have received without it. I do not contreaties cannot move him to give it us, and it were ceive that the character of such a prince would inpious to expect that they should.” In fewer necessarily exclude the effect of his subject's words, thus: "If what we request be fit for us, we prayers; for when that prince reflected that the shall have it without praying; if it be not fit for us, earnestness and humility of the supplication had we cannot obtain it by praying.” This objection generated in the suppliant a frame of mind, upon admits but of one answer, namely, that it may be which the pardon or favour asked would produce agreeable to perfect wisdom to grant that to our a permanent and active sense of gratitude; that prayers, which it would not have been agreeable the granting of it to prayer would put others upon is the same wisdom to have given us without praying to him, and by that means preserve the praying for. But what virtue, you will ask, is the love and submission of his subjects, upon there in prayer, which should make a favour con- which love and submission their own happiness, sistent with wisdom, which would not have been as well as his glory, depended; that, beside that so without it? To this question, which contains the memory of the particular kindness would be the whole difficulty attending the subject, the fol- heightened and prolonged by the anxiety with lowing possibilities are offered in reply: which it had been sued for, prayer had in other
1. Å favour granted to prayer may be more apt, respects so disposed and prepared the mind of the on that very account, to produce good effects upon petitioner, as to render capable of future services the person obliged. It may hold in the Divine him who before was unqualified for any: might bounty, what experience has raised into a proverb not that prince, I say, although he proceeded upon in the collation of human benefits, that what is no other considerations than the strict rectitudo obtainel without asking, is oftentimes received and expediency of the measure, grant a favour or without gratitude.
pardon to this man, which he did not grant to
another, who was too proud, too lazy, or too busy, I prayer would infallibly restore health? In short, too indifferent whether he received it or not, or if the efficacy of prayer were so constant and ob too insensible of the sovereign's absolute power to servable as to be relied upon beforehand, it is easy give or to withhold it, ever to ask for it? or even to foresee that the conduct of mankind would, in to the philosopher, who, from an opinion of the proportion to that reliance, become careless and fruitlessness of all addresses to a prince of the cha- disorderly. It is possible, in the nature of things, racter which he had formed to himself, refused in that our prayers may, in many instances, be efhis own example, and discouraged in others, all ficacious, and yet our experience of their efficacy outward returns of gratitude, acknowledgment of be dubious and obscure. Therefore, if the light of duty, or application to the sovereign's mercy or nature instruct us by any other arguments to hope bounty; the disuse of which, (seeing affections do for effect from prayer; stíll more, if the Scriptures not long subsist which are never expressed) was authorise these hopes by promises of acceptance; followed by a decay of loyalty and zeal amongst it seems not a sufficient reason for calling in queshis subjects, and threatened to end in a forgetful- tion the reality of such effects, that our observaness of his rights, and a contempt of his authority ? tions of them are ambiguous; especially since it These, together with other assignable considera- appears probable, that this very ambiguity is netions, and some perhaps inscrutable, and even in- cessary to the happiness and safety of human life. conceivable, by the persons upon whom his will But some, whose objections do not exclude all was to be exercised, might pass in the mind of the prayer, are offended with the mode of prayer in prince, and move his counsels; whilst nothing, in use amongst us, and with many of the subjects the mean time, dwelt in the petitioner's thoughts, which are almost universally introduced into pubbut a sense of his own grief and wants; of the lic worship, and recommended to private devotion. power and goodness from which alone he was to To pray for particular favours by name, is to diclook for relief; and of his obligation to endeavour, tate, it has been said, to Divine wisdom and goodby future obedience, to render that person pro- ness: to intercede for others, especially for whole pitious to his happiness, in whose hands, and at nations and empires, is still worse ; it is to presume the disposal of whose mercy, he found himself that we possess such an interest with the Deity, as to be.
to be able, by our applications, to bend the most The objection to prayer supposes, that a per- important of his counsels; and that the happiness fectly wise being must necessarily be inexorable: of others, and even the prosperity of communities, but where is the proof, that inexorability is any is to depend upon this interest, and upon our part of perfect wisdom; especially of that wisdom choice. Now, how unequal soever our knowledge which is explained to consist in bringing about of the Divine economy may be to the solution of the most beneficial ends by the wisest means ? this difficulty, which requires perhaps a compre
The objection likewise assumes another prin- hension of the entire plan, and of all the ends of ciple, which is attended with considerable difficulty God's moral government, to explain satisfactorily, and obscurity, namely, that upon every occasion we can understand one thing concerning it: that there is one, and only one, mode of acting for the it is, after all, nothing more than the making of best ; and that the Divine Will is necessarily de- one man the instrument of happiness and misery termined and confined to that mode: both which to another; which is perfectly of a piece with the positions presume a knowledge of universal na course and order that obtain, and which we must ture, much beyond what we are capable of at- believe were intended to obtain, in human affairs. taining. Indeed, when we apply to the Divine Why may we not be assisted by the prayers of Nature such expressions as these, “God must other men, who are beholden for our support to always do what is right,” “God cannot, from the their labour ? Why may not our happiness be moral perfection and necessity of his nature, act made in some cases to depend upon the interces otherwise than for the best," we ought to apply sion, as it certainly does in many upon the good them with much indeterminateness and reserve; offices, of our neighbours ? The happiness and or rather, we ought to confess, that there is some- misery of great numbers we see oftentimes at the thing in the subject out of the reach of our appre- disposal of one man's choice, or liable to be much hension; for, in our apprehension, to be under a affected by his conduct: what greater difficulty is necessity of acting according to any rule, is in- there in supposing, that the prayers of an inconsistent with free agency; and it makes no dividual may avert a calamity from multitudes, or difference which we can understand, whether the be accepted to the benefit of whole coinmunities? necessity be internal or external, or that the rule is the rule of perfect rectitude.
But efficacy is ascribed to prayer without the proof, we are told, which can alone in such a sub
CHAPTER III. ject produce conviction, the confirmation of ex- of the Duty and Efficacy of Prayer as Re
, shall content myself with this remark, that if
presented in Scripture. prayer were suffered to disturb the order of second The reader will have observed, that the refleccauses appointed in the universe, too much, or to tions stated in the preceding chapter, whatever produce its effects with the same regularity that truth and weight they may be allowed to contain, ihey do, it would introduce a change into human rise many of them no higher than to negative araffairs, which, in soine important respects, would guments in favour of the propriety of addressing be evidently for the worse. Who, for example, prayer to God. To prove that the efficacy of would labour, if his necessities could be supplied prayers is not inconsistent with the attributes of with equal certainty by prayer ? How few would the Deity, does not prove that prayers are actually contain within any bounds of moderation those efficacious: and in the want of that unequivocal passions and pleasures, which at present are testimony, which experience alone could afford to checked only by disease, or the dread of it, if this point, (but which we do not possess, and nava