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intelligences as possible: possible, that is, in consistency with the greatest sum of happiness. These creatures occupying the first rank in the creation, he endowed with certain natures and attributes : but the universe being as full of these as possible, there might still be room for others of different natures and different attributes. These latter might not at all interfere with the former. Inferior they must be, but though inferior they might still possess a high degree of excellence and enjoy an incalculable amount of happiness. Their imperfection could not possibly detract from the enjoyment of the
to imply both entire uniformity and infinite variety in his works. We can here only submit and refer all to God's infinite knowledge and perfection.” Note C. in King's Origin of Evil, p. 83, ed. 5, and note, (52) pp. 253, 254; Belsham's Elements of the Philosophy of Mind, Chap. ix. Sect. iv. p. 252; Hartley on Man, Vol. II, p. 36. If the power of choosing where motives are perfectly equal, be a perfection of the Supreme Being, there seems nothing impossible in the supposition that it might be communicated to his intelligent creatures. But then there is no evidence whatever for supposing that it actually is communicated, at least, to man. Indeed the increasing difficulty of determining the choice, in proportion to the apparent approximation of motives to equality, renders it highly probable that this power is not an attribute of the human mind. Nor can it ever be proved that a choice has in any instance been actually made, where the motives have been exactly balanced. Belsham's Elements of the Philosophy of the Mind, p. 299.
higher order, but only in a certain measure from their own : and after the necessary allowance is made for this, there might be left a vast balance of excellence and happiness. Now that balance, to whatever it amount, is obviously just so much excellence and happiness produced in the creation, which could not have been produced, had the higher order only existed : that is, had not the degree of imperfection necessarily attached to the inferior order been permitted. When again we suppose the universe to be as full as possible of creatures in the second rank, we can imagine a third order still inferior to the second, and so constituted as not at all to interfere with it: then we can conceive of a fourth subordinate to the third, and a lower still, and yet a lower. According to this supposition, there is a scale of being at the top of which is the Great First Cause of all : between Him and the highest created intelligence there is an infinite distance, but from the highest order of creatures, a gradation to the bottom of the scale, which is nothing, or non-existence ; every in termediate degree being full: full of creatures, happy according to their several powers and capacities : all subserving the most important ends to themselves and to the system, and the higher orders never interfering with the lower, nor the lower with the higher. In relation to subjects so much above our present knowledge and capacity, it
becomes us to think and speak with the greatest diffidence and humility: 'but there is something so reasonable and beautiful in this conception, and it leads us to form such exalted apprehen. sions of the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, that we can scarcely be wrong in cherishing it.
If this representation be just, there can be no question that creation is a most benevolent and glorious work : that it is consistent with Perfect Goodness to give being to imperfect creatures, that it is equally consistent with it to place creatures in different ranks, and to communicate to some higher degrees of perfection than to others, since by this means the sum of happiness is im. measurably increased. : Hence too we perceive the true answer to all such questions as these, Why are not creatures made higher and better? Why are there not more? Why is not such an order of beings endowed with such and such faculties and perfections? Why is it subject to such evils ? The universe is as full of creatures as it can be ; creatures are endowed with as high degrees of perfection as is possible : as many of the highest exist as can exist. Creatures of a certain order are not endowed with such and such faculties and perfections, because if they were, they would no longer be creatures of that order : and all other orders are full. . To whatever imperfections and evils they are subject, they have reason to adore the boundless goodness
of their author, for, it is because his goodness is boundless that he chose rather to give them existence with these evils, together with a vast preponderance of happiness, than no existence at all.
Inseparably connected with this view of the creation is the opinion that creatures are continually advancing from one degree of knowledge, perfection and happiness to another, without ever coming to a period. It is possible that there are beings placed in an unalterable condition, formed at first with all the perfection of which their natures are capable. Such an order of beings may be second only to the Deity in excellence and glory, and occupy the top of the scale of the creation. We can imagine such an order, and if its existeuce be really wise and good, without doubt it does exist; but we know so little even of ourselves and of our own world, and are so entirely ignorant of all others, that while pursuing such speculations we cannot be too cautious and diffident. But as far as we are capable of judg. ing, it seems probable that there is no such order; that no being is fixed in an unalterable condition in the highest possible degree of perfection; for we cannot well conceive of such degree, since that which admits of continual addition can have no highest. According to our best conceptions it seems more reasonable to believe, that the highest order of beings, at whatever point they
commenced their career, are constantly advancing and will continue to advance for ever. And though their progress be inconceivably rapid and continue through all the ages of eternity, they can never come to a period, because there must always be an infinite distance between them and the Creator. These conceptions open to our view a prospect of stupendous magnificence and glory. There is nothing in religion more beautiful and triumphant. Conceive of various ord. ers of creatures, thus going on from strength to strength, thus for ever gaining new accessions and brightening to all eternity; through everlasting ages adding knowledge to knowledge, and excellence to excellence-what can be more glorious ? Surely “it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself to see his creation thus for ever beautifying in his eyes and drawing nearer to him by degrees of resemblance.” *
But we need not stop even here in the justification of the wisdom and goodness of the Deity, in creating beings of different orders and endow. ing them with different degrees of perfection; for it can be proved, that the very evils which prevail among the inferior orders are rendered subservient to their own well-being, and to that of the system. If this can be shown, if the benevolent
* Spectator, No. III.