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honest and benevolent actions which are performed every day. The reason is, that the latter are the common and ordinary events of life; the former its rare occurrences. One evil action may deprive a person or many persons of existence; but no life can have been reared and protected to maturity or adolescence without the exercise of more charities, of more truly humane and virtuous, and often-repeated sympathies, than it is possible to number. Nothing can be unjust, if it be not unjust in the great question concerning moral evil to overlook its real tendency and its actual amount.
OF THE EVILS OF THE. SOCIAL STATE, AND ESPECIALLY OF THE EVILS WHICH ARE ALLEGED TO RESULT FROM THE PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION.
THERE is another class of evil which, though it is really of the same nature as moral evil, and is only a particular modification of it, yet deserves a separate consideration, because it is under this form that the most frequent, and calamitous examples of moral evil occur. It is not wonderful that the evils which have hitherto been found inseparable from the social state, should have excited the most deep and abiding doubts of the perfect goodness of the Creator, because they are constantly forced on our observation, they are subject to peculiar occasional aggravations, and they are at all times unequal in their distribution. But a calm investigation of their nature, their amount, their mitigations, and their tendency, will satisfy the mind that their appointment is consistent with perfect benevolence. The chief evils of the social state are poverty, dependence and servitude. The vice and misery to which these evils at all times give rise, and the mental and moral degradation and wretchedness which they sometimes produce, are so extreme, that, in the contemplation of them, and especially while suffering under them, it may too often, with truth, be said, that “. Reason stands aghast, and Faith herself is half confounded.” It does, indeed, require a most clear and comprehensive knowledge of the principles and ends of the Divine government to think and feel aright amidst the sorrows and the crimes of life. These evils, terrible as they are, it does not seem possible for infinite wisdom, and benevolence wholly to have avoided. For, to beings constituted as men are constituted, possessing only a limited understanding, having mutual intercourse, and standing in need of each other's assistance to promote the common good, some kind of government is indispensable. But it is impossible to administer the affairs of the community, without a delegation of the power to some one, or, to some few, to determine the measures to be pursued for the common good. Those entrusted with this power, must be in better circumstances, than, those whose duty it is to obey: that is, they may, with greater certainty and ease, and in more cases, obtain their ends, effect, their choice, and accomplish their desires.” By greater talents, or greater industry, or better health, or better opportunities, or more favorable conjunctures, some must become more
wealthy than others, while, from a want of talents, of industry, of health, or of opportunities, some must be reduced to poverty, and hence the other great evils of the social state, dependence and servitude, must inevitably follow. A state of perfect equality is indeed conceivable and perhaps possible, in which all men might live together in ease and plenty, sharing alike the bounties of nature. This is a speculation in which some of the wisest and best men have delighted to indulge, for in the realization of this captivating vision they have anticipated, not only a vast addition to the sum of positive enjoyment, but a total absence of all the evils peculiar to the social state. And, without doubt, in a society thus constituted, the absence of poverty, dependence, and servitude, might be secured; but it is questionable whether the sum of enjoyment would be increased, and whether the disadvantages of such a change would not overbalance the advantages. For in a state of equal and universal plenty, ease and happiness, what is there that could afford that stimulus to exertion which is essential to the developement of the noblest faculties of our nature? All observation, all experience, all his. tory, whether extending back to the earliest periods of which we have any record of our race, or embracing any intermediate period down to the present, whether relating to savage or to civilized society, prove that man, in all countries, in all climates, under all institutions, in fact, under every variety of circumstance hitherto known, sinks into a state of indolence when not excited to action by some powerful stimulus. And that a state of indolence is a state in which the human faculties not only could not be improved, but could not even be unfolded, has never been called in question. A provision for this stimulus was, therefore, indispensable, and by the existing structure of society it is afforded. Its effect is to place every individual in circumstances which force him to exertion. Either for himself or for those dear to him as himself; either by the direct pressure of want, or by the fear of want; either to maintain himself in the situation in which he is placed by birth, or to raise hithself to a higher rank, every one is compelled to the cultivation and exercise of his powers. No one can be idle. In a world which will produce nothing without culture; in a state of society in which the consumers are constantly, however slowly, increasing, every one who partakes of the supply actually raised, must contribute to its replenishing. The difficulty, yet the absolute necessity of procuring food, puts all the faculties of the mind on the stretch, to invent expedients for hereasing its quantity, and for abridging the labour necessary to raise it. Henee