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vbist. When a lady once remarked to him, “ that the only excuse for their playing was, that it served to kill time:"_" The best defence possible (replied he,) though time will, in the end, kill us.” Dr. Paley possessed as much of what the French call “ savoir ritre," as most men. He knew how to make the most of life, with all its diversified concomitants ; and there were few even of its less pleasurable accessories from which he knew not how to extract some lesson of usefulness, or some particles of enjoyment.
In order to enlarge his sphere of doing good, and to comply with the wishes of the Bishop of Durham, Dr. Paley consented to act in the commission of the peace. Mr. Meadley has informed us, that in discharging these functions, he was blamed for his irascibility and impatience. No ordinary tranquillity of mind is requisite in investigating the wants, ascertaining the claims, or composing the bickerings, of the poor.
Dr. Paley enjoyed the singular happiness of having his parents live to witness his celebrity, and to rejoice at his success. His mother did not die till March 1796, at the age of eighty-three; and his father survived her till September 1799, when he reached the more advanced period of eighty-eight.
In 1800, Dr. Paley experienced a violent paroxysm of some nephralgic com plaint, which returned with increased exacerbations during the next and the fol. lowing year, and by which he was agonised for longer or shorter intervals during the remainder of his life. His last, and, perhaps, greatest work, entitled “ Natural Theology," was principally composed during the period in which he was subject to attacks of this terrible malady. These attacks must occasionally have impeded the progress of the work; but it is probable that he had been long previ. ously revolving the materials in his mind. In this, as well as in his other publica. tions, he has made large use of the labours of others; but he has illuminated what they left obscure, enriched what was jejune, amplified what was scanty, in. vigorated what was weak, and condensed what was diffuse. The proofs which he adduces of the Divine Attributes, are clear and cogent, and calculated to carry conviction to every capacity. These proofs are not so arranged as to distract by the multiplicity of the parts, or to confound by the enormity of the mass. They consist of a few simple expositions, but of such a nature as to interest every reader, and to edify both the young and the old in the prosecution of the argu
Natural theology can never be dull or uninteresting when it is occupied in illustrating the perfections of the Deity by his works, and does not diverge into the subtleties of metaphysics, or lose itself in the labyrinths of interminable speculation.
Dr. Paley was never more at home than in the composition of this work. The materials, with which he was furnished by what he had read, and by what he had observed, were so various and ample, that it was more difficult for him to select than to amplify, to methodise than to vary, and to compress than to dilate. Though the proofs of the Divine power and wisdom are so many, so vast, and so luminous, that they hardly need any explanation, yet there is no one who can peruse the demonstrative evidence which Dr. Paley has produced of these attributes, without being more deeply impressed with the sentiment of their presence than he was before.
The chapter on the Divine Goodness, though it evinces strong marks of the same unclouded and powerful intellect that predominates in other parts of the work, is perhaps upon the whole less copious and satisfactory than the rest. The
evidence in this division of the subject is, in fact, more perplexed by conflicting arguments, and more exposed to contradictory conclusions. Dr. Paley has well remarked, that when we consider the benevolence of the Deity, we can consider it only in relation to sensitive beings. Without this reference the term has no meaning; for it would otherwise be without any medium through which it could operate, by which its influence could be felt, or its presence ascertained. Gross matter, as long as it remains inanimate and insentient, can never be an object of good or evil, of pleasure or of pain. It is alike unconscious of the one and the other. But, while the arguments for the power and wisdom of the Deity are so completely satisfactory as not to leave a doubt upon the mind, yet there are various appearances which seem hardly compatible with the idea of unlimited benevolence, and which it is difficult to accord with that supposition, except by travel. ling out of this visible diurnal sphere, and connecting the present life with a life beyond the grave. That the plurality and the preponderance of sensations in all the different classes of beings is in favour of happiness, cannot reasonably be denied; but if pain and misery are the lot of many, or only of a few, for a whole life, or even for short intervals, the argument recurs, how is this partial or temporary suffering to be reconciled to the theory of Infinite Benevolence? If pain and misery exist in instances collectively numerous, or in portions however minute, yet vast in the aggregate, how is this to be reconciled with the attribute of Unbounded Goodness, unless we connect an eternity of existence with the present transient scene? If evil exists, it is hardly a satisfactory solution of the difficulty to say, that it is not an object of contrivance, when the world is so constituted that it is more or less one of the ingredients, or accessories, in the con. dition of all sensitive beings. If the evil is not a part of the original intent, it seems an adjunct that cannot be disjoined from the present scheme; and if it be an adjunct of the present scheme, that scheme cannot be said to be a proof of Infinite Benevolence, unless we consider it only as part of a greater whole, and infer that the present is only the commencement of our sensitive and reflective existence.
In the works of human genius or industry, the object of the contrivance may differ from the effect, owing to the imperfection of the human faculties; but when we consider the operations of the Divine Mind, we cannot separate the ob. ject and the end ; or say that one thing was designed and another produced, with. out impeaching the Supreme Power of weakness, or the Supreme Intellect of in. consistency. If in any particular contrivances in the creation, good was the object while evil is the result, can we reverentially affirm, that God willed one thing, but that a different was produced? If God is the author of all things, the evil must be regarded as much his contrivance as the good. If God made the teeth, he made them to ache as well as to masticate. The good of mastication is the principal object of the contrivance, but is not the evil of aching the occa. sional effect? In considering the sensitive works of the Great Creator in the present world, all that we can truly say is, that good, or pleasure, is the PREDOMI. NANT design, the primary object, but that evil, or pain, is one of the concomitant effects, or subordinate accessories. There is too much good in the world to ad. mit the supposition of malevolence in the Great Author of the scheme; and there is too much evil not to lead us to expect a state of future retribution. Those phenomena in the present state of things, which militate against the theory of Infinite Benevolence, appear to be only presages of the good that is to come.
the good even here greatly predominates over the evil, it is reasonable to infer, that in some future period the evil will disappear, and the Divine Benevolence be resplendent, without any apparent spot or limitation, in the condition of every individual.
In the commencement of the year 1805, while Dr. Paley was resident at Lincoln, he experienced a violent paroxysm of his agonising malady, which could not be appeased by the usual remedies; and symptoms appeared that his end was approaching. He languished, however, in a state of debility and disease, till the period of his return to Bishop Wearmouth, where he expired on the 25th of May. His mental faculties suffered little, if any, diminution to the last moment of his existence ; but if his intellectual vision underwent no eclipse, his corporeal sight is said to have failed for a few days before his death.
It cannot be said of Dr. Paley that he lived in vain !-His was a mind of great powers; and in general he employed it for the noblest ends. He was particularly active in diffusing that knowledge which tends most to exalt the dignity of man ; and raise him highest in the scale of virtue and intelligence. His moral and theological works reflect the highest honour on his memory; and if he betrayed a little seeming political versatility in smaller and more ephemeral productions, we may find some apology for his inconsistency in the times in which he lived ; in his solicitude for the welfare of a large family; and in circumstances of which few have sufficient energy to control the agency or to resist the influ. ence.
In person, Dr. Paley was above the middle size, and latterly inclined to corpu. lence. The best likeness of him is by Romney, in which he is drawn with a fishing-rod in his hand. As in his domestic arrangements, and in his general habits of expense, he practised what may be called an enlightened economy, and observed a due medium between parsimony and profusion, his income was more than adequate to all his wants; and he left his family in easy if not in affluent circumstances.
A volume of sermons was published after the death of Dr. Paley, which he left by his will to be distributed among his parishioners. In clearness of expres. sion, in harmony of style, and in force of moral sentiment, some parts of these sermons are equal if not superior to any of his other works. In the pulpit he was one of those preachers who excelled in bringing the most important truths home to men's interests and bosoms.- Though a few will rejoice, yet the majority of readers will lament, that in these sermons the author has abandoned his usual reserve with respect to certain doctrinal matters, which it is more easy to find in the liturgy and the articles of the church, than in the precepts of Christ, or the writings of the Evangelists.—Those doctrines which tend only to engender strife and to produce vain logomachies, would always be better omitted in the pulpit ; and it is greatly to be deplored that in these sermons Dr. Paley has sanc. tioned their introduction. The great end of the commandment is charity ; but can these doctrines conduce to that end? If this question had been proposed to Dr. Paley, it is not difficult to conjecture what would have been his reply, if that reply had been in unison with his unsophisticated sentiments.
The reader will perhaps not be displeased, if we add to this biographical sketch of Dr. Paley the following interesting anecdote, which he related to a friend at Cambridge, in the year 1795, while they were conversing on the early part of his academical life.
“I spent the first two years of my undergraduateship,” said he, “ happily, but unprofitably. I was constantly in society, where we were not immoral, but idle, and rather expensive. At the commencement of my third year, however, after having left the usual party at rather a late hour in the evening, I was awakened at five in the morning by one of my companions, who stood at my bed-side, and said, ' Paley, I have been thinking what a d****d fool you are. I could do nothing, probably, were I to try, and can afford the life I lead: you could do every thing, and cannot afford it. I have had no sleep during the whole night on ac. count of these reflections, and am now come solemnly to inform you, that if you persist in your indolence, I must renounce your society.' I was so struck,” Dr. Paley continued, “ with the visit and the visitor, that I lay in bed great part of the day and formed my plan. I ordered my bed-maker to prepare my fire every evening, in order that it might be lighted by myself. I arose at five; read during the whole of the day, except during such hours as chapel and hall required, alloting to each portion of time its peculiar branch of study; and just before the closing of gates (nine o'clock) I went to a neighbouring coffee-house, where I constantly regaled upon a mutton chop and a dose of milk punch. And thus, on taking my bachelor's degree, I became senior wrangler."
Anecdotes of this kind, which have something of the marvellous, are seldom related with a punctilious adherence to truth: but if here be no erroneous statement, or inaccurate representation, Mr. Meadley appears to ascribe too much to the occurrence, when he attributes to it“ not only his (Paley's) successful labours as a college tutor, but the invaluable productions of his pen.” A mind like that of Paley could not have been long so indolent as is represented, without some compunctious visitings of remorse. It is more than probable that when he first received this friendly admonition, his bosom was a prey to some lurking pangs of self-condemnation ; and he was consequently predisposed instantly to put in force a plan of more systematic and more vigorous application. Where the mat. ter of combustion already exists, a little spark will set it in a blaze.
In the treatises that I have met with upon the subject of morals, I appear to myself to have remarked the following imperfections ;- either that the principle was erroneous, or that it was indistinctly explained, er that the rules deduced from it were not sufficiently adapted to real life and to actual situations. The writings of Grotius, and the larger work of Puffendorfi, are of too forensic a cast, too much mixed up with the civil law and with the jurisprudence of Germany, to answer precisely the design of a system of ethics—the direction of private consciences in the general conduct of human life. Perhaps, indeed, they are not to be regarded as institutes of morality calculated to instruct an individual in his duty, so much as a species of law books and law authorities, suited to the practice of those courts of justice, whose deci. sons are regulated by general principles of natural equity, in conjunction with the maxims of the Roman code; of which kind, I understand, there are many upon the Continent. To which may be added, con. cerning bih these authors, that they are more occupied in describing the rights and usages of indepen. dent communities, than is necessary in a work which professes not to adjust the correspondence of sations, but to delineate the offices of domestic life. The profusion also of classical quotations with which many of their pages abound, seems to me a fault from which it will not be easy to excuse them. E these ertracts be intended as decorations of style, the composition is overloaded with ornaments of one kind. To any thing more than ornament they can make no claim. To propose them as serious argu, Dents, gravely to attempt to establish or fortify a moral duty by the testimony of a Greek or Roman poet, is to trifle with the attention of the reader, or rather to take it off from all just principles of reasoning in porals.
Of our own writers in this branch of philosophy, I find none that I think perfectly free from the three objections which I have stated. There is likewise a fourth property observable almost in all of them, Lamely, that they divide too much the law of Nature from the precepts of Revelation; some authors industriously declining the mention of Scripture authorities, as belonging to a different province; and others reserving them for a separate volume; which appears to me much the same defect, as if a com. Lentior on the laws of England should content himself with stating upon each head the common law of the land, without taking any notice of acts of parliament; or should choose to give his readers the common law in one book, and the statute law in another. “When the obligations of morality are taught,” sars a pious and celebrated writer, “ let the sanctions of Christianity never be forgotten: by which it will be shown that they give strength and lustre to each other; religion will appear to be the voice of resion, and morality will be the will of God."*
The manner also in which modern writers have treated of subjects of morality, is, in my judgment, Lable to much exception. It has become of late a fashion to deliver moral institutes in strings or series of detached propositions, without subjoining a continued argument or regular dissertation to any of them. The sententious apophthegmatizing style, by crowding propositions and paragraphs too fast upon the mind, and by carrying the eye of the reader from subject to subject in too quick a succession, gains not a sufficient hold upon the attention, to leave either the memory furnished, or the understanding satisfied. However useful a syllabus of topics or a series of propositions may be in the hands of a lecturer, or as a guide to a student, who is supposed to consult other books, or to institute upon each subject researches of his own, the method is by no means convenient for ordinary readers; because few readers are such thinkers as to want only a hint to set their thoughts at work upon; or such as will pause and tarry at every proposition, till they have traced out its dependency, proof, relation, and consequences, before they permit themselves to slep on to another. A respectable writer of this classt has comprised his doctrine of slavery in the three following propositions :
* No one is born a slave; because every one is born with all his original rights."
“No one can become a slave; because no one from being a person can, in the language of the Roman law, become a thing, or subject of property."
* The supposed property of the master in the slave, therefore, is matter of usurpation, not of right."
It may be possible to deduce from these few adages, such a theory of the primitive rights of human nature, as will evince the illegality of slavery: but surely an author requires too much of his reader, when he expects him to make these deductions for himself; or to supply, perhaps from some remote chapter of the same treatise, the several proofs and explanations which are necessary to render the meaning and truth of these assertions intelligible.
* Preface to “ The Preceptor," by Dr. Johnson.