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Divinity or Theology, as it proves the existence of a Deity, and the immortality of souls, is composed partly of reasonings concerning particular, partly concerning general, facts. It has a foundation in reason, so far as it is supported by experience: But its best and most folid foundation is faith and divine revelation.
Morals and criticism are not so properly objects of the understanding as of taste and sentiment. Beauty, whether moral or natural, is felt more properly than perceived. Or if we reason concerning it, and endeavour to fix its standard, we regard a new fact, to wit, the general taste of mankind, or some such fact, which may be the object of reasoning and enquiry.
When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc muft we make? If we take in our hand any volume of divinity or school metaphyfics, for instance; let us alk, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
OME objects produce immediately an agreea
ble sensation, by the original structure of our organs, and are thence denominated Good; as others, from their immediate disagreeable sensation, acquire the appellation of Evil. Thus moderate warmth is agreeable and good; excessive heat painful and evil.
Some objects again, by being naturally conformable or contrary to paflion, excite an agreeable or painful sensation ; and are thence called Good or Evil. The punishment of an adversary, by gratifying revenge, is good; the sickness of a companion, by affecting friendship, is evil.
2. All good or evil, whence-ever it arises, produces various passions and affections, according to the light in which it is surveyed.
When good is certain or very probable, it produces Joy : When evil is in the same situation, there arifes GRIEF or Sorrow. When either good or evil is uncertain, it gives
rife to FEAR or Hope, according to the degree of uncertainty on one side or the other.
DESIRE arises from good considered fimply; and AVERSION, from evil. The Will exerts itself, when either the presence of the good, or absence of the evil, may be attained by any action of the mind or body.
3. None of these passions seem to contain any thing curious or remarkable, except Hope and Fear, which, being derived from the probability of any good or evil, are mixed passions, that merit our attention.
Probability arises from an opposition of contrary chances or causes, by which the mind is not allowed to fix on either side; but is incessantly tossed from one to another, and is determined, one moment, to consider an object as existent, and another moment as the contrary. The imagination or understanding, call it which you please, fluctuates between the opposite views; and though perhaps it may be oftener turned to one side than the other, it is impossible forit, by reason of the opposition of causes or chances, to rest on either. The pro and con of the question alternately prevail; and the mind, surveying the objects in their opposite causes, finds such a contrariety as destroys all certainty or established opinion.
Suppose, then, that the object, concerning which we are doubtful, produces either desire or averfion ; it is evident, that, according as the mind turns itself to one side or the other, it must feel a momentary impression of joy or forrow. An object, whose existence we desire, gives satisfaction, when we think of those causes which produce it; and for the same reason, excites grief or uneasiness from the opposite confideration. So that, as the understanding, in probable questions, is divided between the contrary points of view, the heart must in the same manner be divided between opposite emotions.
Now, if we consider the human mind, we shall observe, that, with regard to the passions, it is not like a wind-instrument of music, which in running over all the notes, immediately loses the sound when the breath ceases; but rather resembles a string-inftrument, where, after each stroke, the vibrations still retain some sound, which gradually and insenfibly decays. The imagination is extremely quick an l agile; but the passions, in comparison, are flow and restive: For which reason, when any object is presented, which affords a variety of views to the one and emotions to the other; though the fancy may change its views with great celerity; each stroke will not produce a clear and distinct note of passion, but the one passion will always be mixed and confounded with the other. According as the probability inclines to good or evil, the passion of grief or joy predominates in the composition; and these passions being intermingled by means of the contrary views of the imagination, produce by the union the passions of hope or fear.
4. As this theory seems to carry its own evidence along with it, we shall be more concise in our proofs.
The passions of fear and hope may arise, when the chances are equal on both sides, and no superiority can be discovered in one above the other. Nay, in this situation the passions are rather the strongest, as the mind has then the least foundation to rest upon, and is tost with the greatest uncertainty. Throw in a superior degree of probability to the side of grief, you immediately see that passion diffuse itself over the composition, and tincture it into fear. Encrease the probability, and by that means the grief; the fear prevails still more and more, 'till at last it runs insensibly, as the joy continually diminishes, into pure grief. After you have brought it to this situation, diminish the grief, by a contrary operation to that which encreased it, to wit, by diminishing the pro
bability on the melancholy 'side ; and you will see the paifion clear every moment, 'till it changes insensibly ixto hope ; which again runs, by flow degrees, into joy, as you encrease that part of the composition by the encrease of the probability. Are not these as plain proofs, that the passions of fear and hope are mixtures of grief and joy, as in optics it is a proof, that a coloured ray of the sun, passing through a prism, is a composition of two others, when, as you diminish or encrease the quantity of either, you find it prevail proportionably, more or less, in the compofition?
5. Probability is of two kinds ; either when the object is itself uncertain, and to be determined by chance ; or when, though the object be already certain, yet it is uncertain to our judgment, which finds a number of proofs or presumptions on each side of the question. Both these kinds of probability cause fear and hope ; which must proceed from that
property, in which they agree; namely, the uncertainty and fluctuation which they bestow on the passion, by that contrariety of views, which is common to both.
6. It is a probable good or evil, which commonly causes hope or fear; because probability, producing an inconstant and wavering survey of an object, occasions naturally a like mixture and uncertainty of passion. But we may observe, that, wherever, from other causes, this mixture can be produced, the passions of fear and hope will arise, even though there be no probability.
An evil, conceived as barely possible, sometimes produces fear; especially if the evil be very great. A man cannot think on excessive pain and torture without trembling, if he runs the least risk of suffering them. The smallness of the probability is compensated by the greatness of the evil.
But even imposible evils cause fear; as when we tremble on the brink of a precipice, though we know