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vestigations, and spread, with jealous 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.
66 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 manifest; 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 emphatic, that they may challenge any language to express them adequately.
It is my intention 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 a 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 fr end 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 religious 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 liberalise 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. They will be ranged at suitable distances from each other, like the sainted chapels by the road side, where the traveller was used to repose, till, after offering up his little orison, he gathered fresh spirits
for his journey. I submit the arrangement of all my papers to the old lady, my mother; hoping thereby to come at the taste and humour of my female readers; and I think she seems little disposed to satiate them with this topic. Not that any person can entertain a purer zeal than this complacent old dowager for the propagation of religion; but it is her humour to think that the party of profligacy is grown so strong and numerous, that, should religion find its way thither, it would be less likely to communicate its own advantages, than to share in the reproach of its new connections. She knows how religion has fared among fashionable philosophers, and your flimsy pretenders to a liberal devotion. She mourns too with a genuine sorrow for the wrongs it has suffered from many of its avowed friends, who have taken it under their insidious protection only to dishonour it more at their leisure; and have used what influence they have acquired over it by faithless and hollow professions, to gain credit to the plausible mischiefs they prepare against it, and to plunder it in secret of some of its fairest distinctions and firmest consolations. She tells me sometimes, with a sober sort of humour in her countenance, that, should religion be any how introduced into the fashionable world, it might come away so painted, patched, and disfigured, that she would hardly know it again.
I cannot wonder much at my mother's apprehensions, being sensible myself of correspondent feelings, in turning my eyes on fashionable life. When we become old, and have known the value of religion, we find so much comfort and repose in its pledges and assurances, and are so near its consummation and its rewards, that we cannot help regarding this solemn and final dependance with an aching
and irritable anxiety. For my part, I never leave a large company wherein doubts and paradoxes have been thrown about with sportive temerity, without questioning myself immediately as to the state of my mind, whether any article of my faith has been shaken or dislodged; like a certain prime-minister of Persia, whose custom it was always to feel about for his head upon leaving the audience-chamber of the despot his master.
N° 7. SATURDAY, MARCH 31.
"Plus vident oculi quam oculus."
"Many eyes see more than one."
It is one of the hardest conditions of my undertaking, that I must bend my thoughts so many various ways for the entertainment of the public. Like a good prince, I am expected to have no favourites among my subjects, but to stretch my regards equally to all. I have taken therefore the greatest pains to exercise myself in this versatility of attention, and have actually had three or four papers going on at once, to inure myself to this distraction of lights, and perplexity of objects.
The confusion which this flying study has sometimes produced in my essays, has been whimsical enough: upon reading over some of them for correction the other morning, i found fiddler, faro, Sunday, princes, cards, crops, curricles, conjurors,