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himself, to prevent them from being unhappy. And where was the crime? It was only "turning so many
more ounces of blood from their natural channel." This, it seems, is the philosophical idea of murder, somewhat similar to the notion once entertained of perjury by an Irish evidence: "Who would not "smack the calveskin," said he, "for a friend?"
But more curiosities await us. We are now to be informed, that resignation and gratitude are with the suicide; and that it belongs to the poor foolish Christian only to murmur and be thankless.
Page 12. "Do you imagine that I repine at Pro"vidence, or curse my creation, because I go out of
life, and put a period to a being, which, were it to "continue, would render me miserable?"
I do really imagine, from all that I have observed and heard, that this is the disposition of mind in which many of those leave the world, who become their own executioners. Suicide is the refuge most frequently recurred to by pride, lust, and ambition, when disappointed in their schemes, or reduced to beggary by their own folly and extravagance. Sour, gloomy, and desperate, they put themselves upon the forlorn hope of atheism and annihilation, dash from the world, and plunge into eternity at a venture. Melancholy, if it proceed from the above-mentioned causes, partakes of their criminality. If it be constitutional, it is a disease, and must be judged of accordingly. As to the supposed instances of suicide committed to escape from pain and sickness, they very seldom happen. In
that school of affliction men learn patience, and with patience many other good lessons. But from whatever cause such a resolution may proceed, he who throws back his life, the gift of God, in the face of the donor, and, in effect, says he will have no more of it, most certainly "repines at Providence," and cannot be far from "cursing his creation." How would the despised Christian virtues of humility, repentance, faith, and charity, in every trial, set all right, and reconcile us to our sufferings and our duty! But let us hear Mr, Hume.
Page 12. "Far be such sentiments from me--I "thank Providence both for the good which I have "already enjoyed, and for the power with which "I am endowed of escaping the ill that threatens me.
A very fine piece of still life, for one about to commit such an act of violence upon himself! A most amiable and gracious portrait of self-murder, after the manner of the Stoics! Suppose, instead of thanking Providence for a power," which you are going to employ in a manner never intended by your Maker, when you are upon your knées, you should entreat for grace to bear your misfortunes like a man, and improve them to the purpose for which they were sent-Would not this conduct dis play more piety and resignation than cutting your throat to escape them? Mr. Hume is of a different opinion.
Page 13. "To you it belongs to repine at Providence, who foolishly imagine that you have no "such power, and who must still prolong a hated
life, though loaded with pain and sickness, with "shame and poverty."
Pardon me, sir; the accents of a Christian in such circumstances are very different indeed: "Thou "hast sent me sickness, and I have borne it with patience, without murmuring; great losses, and I "have blessed thy holy name; calamities and af"flictions, and I have received them with thanksgiving."
Page 13. "Do not you teach that, when any ill "befalls me, though by the malice of mine enemies, "I ought to be resigned to Providence, and that "the actions of men are the operations of the Al"mighty as much as the actions of inanimate beings?" Certainly they are all under his direction; and now again for the inference:
"When I fall upon my own sword, THEREFORE, "I receive my death equally from the hands of the Deity, as if it had proceeded from a lion, a preci"pice, or a fever."
That is, because I must be resigned to God's providence, when, in the course of his dispensations, my life is taken from me, therefore-I may kill myself. This is an argal that would have disgraced the grave-digger in Hamlet. In the one instance we employ our utmost exertions to preserve life; in the other, we ourselves destroy it. But it is said, Page 13. "If my life be not my own, it were "criminal for me to put it in danger, as well as to 'dispose of it."
When it pleases God to call for life in the way of
duty, it must willingly be sacrificed. But suicide never lies in the way of duty. And no two cases can be more essentially different, than that of the hero who dies in the cause of his country, his king, or his God, and that of the wretch, who through pride, impatience, and cowardice, lays violent hands upon himself. Attempt not, for the credit of philosophy, to confound the two characters; for heaven and hell are not farther asunder.
Page 14. "There is no being-which by ever so irregular an action can encroach upon the plan of "the Creator's providence, or disorder the universe. "Its operations are his works equally with that "chain of events which it invades, and whichever principle prevails, we may for that very reason "conclude it to be most favoured by him."
Rare news for pickpockets, profligates, and cutthroats! A lady has paid a visit to a neighbour, and in the evening is returning to her home, which, according to the natural "chain of events," she should reach in peace and quietness. But a man, "exercising the powers with which his Creator has "invested him," ravishes, robs, and murders her. This is the "irregular action, which invades the "chain." Be of good courage, my boy!" Its "operations are equally the works of God with the "chain of events invaded by it, and whichever principle prevails, we may for that very reason con"clude it to be the most favoured by him."-" God "sees no sin in his elect," says the fanatic: but according to the new philosophy, God sees no sin (for
if this mode of reasoning be just, there neither is nor can be sin) in any man.
Page 14. "When the horror of pain prevails "over the love of life; when a voluntary action anticipates the effects of blind causes, it is only "in consequence of those powers and principles "which he (the supreme Creator) has implanted in "his creatures.
Does not the argument prove too much? May not the same be said of numberless desires which arise in the heart of man, as at present circumstanced, and which, according to all the rules of true philosophy as well as true religion, ought to be controlled and overruled by a superior principle? Will not the same plea be as valid in the case of him who finds himself strongly excited to revenge, to intemperance, to lust, &c. &c. &c. as of him who is tempted to destroy himself? All, it may be said, happens "in consequence of those powers and principles implanted "in us." The truth is, that human actions must be directed, because they will be judged, by other measures than our pains or our pleasures. On one side is my propensity; on the other, the law of God. Can it be a matter of indifference, which of the two prevails? According to these arguments, as Rousseau has justly observed, "there can be no crimes "which may not be justified by the temptation to perpetrate them; and as soon as the impetuosity "of passion shall prevail over the horror of guilt, a
disposition to do evil shall be considered as a right "to do it." See Eloisa, Lett. cxv.
Page 15. "Divine providence is still inviolate,