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these sentiments being universal, can only have proceeded from the dispositions imbibed by all from the circumstances in which they are brought into the world, and which are all of divine appointment. Hence from the most antient times of which we have any record, it has been held a duty for men to sacrifice their lives for the good of others; to save their country, for instance, from imminent danger; and particularly to deliver it from slavery, which is worse than death, as it takes away and extinguishes all excitement to whatever is excellent. Such examples have ever been applauded; and to have regarded life, when by hazarding it they could have been of such eminent service to others, would have been held. the utmost disgrace.
It is to be deplored, that the practice of mankind has not kept pace with their better principles ; and that they have not had the fortitude to resist the van rious. temptations to evil, which by degrees have. drawn many on to the commission of crimes, by which human life has sometimes been rendered: a. scene of misery and confusion. Yet, in the midst of all, it must give infinite satisfaction, that the balance has been always greatly on the side of virtue and goodness. We are shocked with indeeds, and know not how to reconcile, the horrid scenes which present themselves before our eyes;. at particular junctures, cspecially in times of war and civil
. commotions. But we can as: little form a true judgment
of the moral state of men from what passes at such scasons, as we can decide of the health and salubri..ousness of a country in the time of a raging infectious fever. In the ordinary course of things, in quiet times, the less frequent instances of cruelty, fraud, and oppression, and other evils, (which will in some degree always be going on, and cannot entirely be prevented,) will be counterbalanced by a general friendliness and probity, and mutual kind endearments and services. And in all places, it must be confessed, the bulk of mankind are and have ever been employed in useful labours for their families, and in doing good offices to others, their friends, neighbours, and acquaintance, and in giving or procuring relief and assistance where needed, and in a thousand beneficent actions.
As this, however, is very much a matter of experience and observation, whether there be a preponderance of moral good in the present state, or not; I shall beg leave to produce a testimony in favour of it, from an eminent person of great learning and knowledge of the world, who might be supposed to be biassed to the other side of the argument by the prejudices of his profession, and shall read it to you as I find it published by Dr. Law, the late Bishop of Carlisle, with approbation. Thus then speaks Dr. King, Archbishop of Dublin, some time after the beginning of the last century, to an anonymous opponent, who had said, “that the prevalence of wick- edness,
edness, or moral evil, was a thing so certain, that
has received a thousand good offices for one ill one.
He could never believe the doctrine of Hobbes, that all men are bears, wolves, and tigers to one another; that they are born enemies to all others, and all others to them; that they are maturally false and perfidious ; or that all the good they do is out of fear, not virtue. Nay, the very authors of that ealumny, if their own characters were called in question, would take all possible pains to remove the suspicion from them; and declare that they were speaking of the vulgar, of the bulk of mankind, and not of themselves. Nor in
reality do they behave in this manner towards their friends and acquaintance; if they did, few would trust them. Observe soine of those who exclaim against all mankind for treachery, dishonesty, deceit, and cruelty; and you will find them diligently cultivating friendship, and discharging the several offices. due to their friends, their relations, and their country, with labour, pain, loss of goods, and hazard of life itself; even where there is no fear to drive them to it, nor inconvenience attending the neglect of it. This you will say proceeds from custom and education. Be it so. However, the world then has not so far des generated from goodness, but the greater part of mankind exercise benevolence, nor is virtue so far exiled as not to be supported and approved; praised and practised, by common consent, and public sufi frage, and vice is stil) disgraceful: Indeed we can scarce meet with one, unless pressed by necessity, or provoked by injuries, who is so barbarous and harda hearted, as not to he moved with compassion, and des lighted with benevolence to others; who is not des ligħted to shew good-will and kindness to his friends; neighbours, children, relations; and diligence in the discharge of civil duties to all ; who does not profess sone regard for virtue, and think himself affronted when he is charged with immoralty. If any one take notice of his own or another's actions for a day together, he will perhaps find one or two blameable, the rest all innocent and inoffensive. Nay, it is doubtful whether a Nero or Caligula, a Commodus
or Caracalla (though monsters of mankind, and prone to every act of wickedness and fury), have done more ill than innocent actions through their whole
lives * "
These just observations on the general character and conduct of men shew, that far from being altogether wicked and worthless, they are such as in their first state might be expected, from their frail and imperfect frame, and the good and evil influences to which tliey are subject; liable to fall by yielding to the various temptations to which they are exposed ; and on the other band, by nobly resisting them, capable of being carried forwards to that which is most exceltent.
And thus the wisdom and goodness of the Creator are vindicated; that he has not made mankind in vain; that he was not disappointed in this the noblest work of bis creation here below; and that in the dangerous trials and difficulties to which it was necessary to exposë his rational offspring, as they could not in any other way become virtuous and happy as he intended thení to be, while many fell away for the present, many also cleaved to truth and goodness, and became purified and confirmed therein ; and the world has been from the first and all along, a nursery for virtuous, noble, and useful characters.
* Essay on the Origin of Evil, by W'illiam King, Archbis!:op of Dublin, translated from the Latin, with notes, by Edmund, Bishop of Carlisle (p: 388). The fifth edition, revised. London, by Faulder. 1781.