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contingency. The former is applied to events that have happened ; the latter tơ future events.
When we fay a thing has happened by chance, we furely do not mean that chance was the cause; for no person ever imagined that chance is a thing that can act, and by acting produce events : we only mean, that we are ignorant of the cause, and that, for ought we see, it might have happened or not happened, or have happened differently. · Aiming at a bird, I shoot by chance a favourite spaniel : the meaning is not, that chance killed the dog, but that as to me the dog's death was accidental. With respect to contingency,
future events that are variable and the cause unknown, are said to be contingent; changes of the weather, for example, whether it will be frost or thaw tomorrow, whether fair or foul. In a word, chance and contingency applied to events, mean not that such events happen without any cause, but only that we are ignorant of the cause.
It appears to me, that there is no such thing in human nature as a sense that any thing happens without a cause : fuch a sense would be grossly delusive. It is
indeed true, that our sense of a cause is not always equally distinct : with respect to an event that happens regularly, such as fummer, winter, rising or setting of the sun, we have a diftinct sense of a cause : our sense is less distinct with respect to events less regular, such as alterations of the weather; and extremely indistinct with respect to events that seldom happen, and that happen without
known cause. But with respect to no event whatever does our fense of a cause vanish altogether, and give place to a sense of things happening without a cause.
Chance and contingency thus explained, suggest not any perception or notion repugnant to the doctrine of univerfal necefsity ; for my ignorance of a cause, does not, even in my own apprehension, exclude a cause. Descending to particulars, I take the example mentioned in the text, namely, the uncertainty of the time of
my death. Knowing that my life depends in some measure on myself, I use all means to preserve it, by proper food, exercise, and care to prevent accidents. Nor is there any delufion here. I am mored to Q2
use these means by the desire I have to live : these means accordingly prove effectual to carry on my present existence to the appointed period ; and in that view are so many links in the great chain of causes and effects. A burning coal falling from the grate upon the floor, wakes me from a sound fleep. I start up to extinguish the fire. The motive is irresistible : nor have I reason to refift, were it in my power; for I consider the extinction of the fire by my hand, to be one of the means chosen by Providence for prolonging my life to its destined period.
Were there a chain of causes and effects established entirely independent on me, and were my life in no ineafure under my own power, it would indeed be fruitless for me to act; and the absurdity of knowingly acting in vain, would be a prevailing motive for remaining at rest. Upon that supposition, the ignava ratio of Chryfippus might take place; cui si pareamus, nihil omnino agamus in vita * But I act necessarily when influenced by motives ; and I have no reason to forbcar, consider
* « Thę indolent principle ; which if we were to * follow, we should do nothing in life.”
ing that my actions, by producing their intended effects, contribute to carry on the great chain,
Aving unfolded the principles of mo
rality, the next step is, to trace out its gradual progress, from its infancy among savages to its maturity among polished nations. The history of opinions concerning the foundation of morality, falls not within my plan; and I am glad to be relieved from an article that is executed in perfection by more able hands (a).
An animal is brought forth with every one of its external members; and completes its growth, not by production of any new member, but by addition of matter to those originally formed. The same holds with respect to internal members i (a) Dr Cudworth and Dr Smith,
the fenfes, for example, instincts, powers and faculties, principles and propensities : these are coeval with the individual, and are gradually unfolded, fome early, some late. The external senses, being necefsary for felf-preservation, foon arrive at maturity. Some internal fenfes, of order for example, of propriety, of dignity, of grace, being of no use during infancy, are not only flow in their progress toward maturity, but require much culture. Among savages they are scarce perceptible.
The moral sense, in its progrefs, differs from those last mentioned ; being frequently discovered, even in childhood. It is however flow of growth, and seldom arrives at perfection without culture and experience.
The moral sense not only ripens gradually with the other internal fenfes mentioned, but from them acquires force and additional authority: a favage makes no difficulty to kill an enemy in cold blood : bloody scenes are familiar to him, and his moral sense is not sufficiently vigorous to give him compunction. The action appears in a different light to a person of delicate feelings ; and accordingly, the moral