Page images

"and placed far beyond the reach of human injuries."


Certainly. When Judas betrayed his Master, it was foreseen that he would do so, and all things were ordered accordingly. "Providence was still inviolate;" but Judas was not therefore guiltless.

Page 15. It is affirmed, that "to divert rivers from "their course, to inoculate for the small-pox, to

put a period to our own life, to build houses, cul"tivate the ground, or sail upon the ocean, are ac"tions equally innocent or equally criminal." Why? Because" in all of them we employ our powers of "mind and body, to produce some innovation in (6 the course of nature; and in none of them do we any more.


As to the actions of "diverting rivers, building houses, cultivating the ground, and sailing upon the ocean," there is no occasion to discuss their legality.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

2dly. The intention of inoculation is to preserve life, that of suicide can be only to destroy it; so that there is a material difference between them.

3dly. No one ever rested the morality of human actions merely on the circumstance here stated, of 'producing some innovation in the course of nature." Otherwise, one might argue, after the manner of Mr. Hume; "Jack kills a hog, and Dick kills a man. They must be equally innocent, or equally "criminal. Jack employs his powers to produce


some innovation in the course of nature; and "Dick does no more. Each turns a few ounces of "blood out of their natural channel; and the blood

[ocr errors]

"of a hog makes as good puddings as that of a




Page 15. "But you are placed by Providence, "like a sentinel, in a particular station; and when you desert it without being recalled, you are equally guilty of rebellion against your Almighty Sovereign, and have incurred his displeasure."

This is an argument urged against suicide by Heathen as well as Christian writers. How does Mr. Hume overthrow it?

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Page 16. "I ask, Why do you conclude that Pro"vidence has placed me in this station? For my

part, I find that I owe my birth to a long chain of "causes, of which many depended on the voluntary "actions of men."

[ocr errors]

Here we should answer, but that Mr. Hume, like the mother of Sisera, returns answer to himself.

Page 16. "But Providence guided all these causes, "and nothing happens in the universe without its "consent and co-operation."

Now comes Mr. Hume's reply.

"If so, then neither does my death, however vo"luntary, happen without its consent."

If by consent Mr. Hume means permission, all the evil ever perpetrated on earth has been perpetrated by God's permission; for otherwise it could not have been perpetrated at all. But if he means approbation, we must deny the proposition. Many things are permitted, which are not approved. Of his approbation or disapprobation, we have other rules by which to judge.

Page 16. "And whenever pain or sorrow so far

"overcome my patience, as to make me tired of life, "I may conclude that I am recalled from my station "in the clearest and most express terms."

Then may every man put an end to his own life when he thinks proper. The "patience" of some people is soon "overcome;" and perhaps there are few Englishmen, who have not found themselves "tired of life," in one part or other of the month of November; but, happily prevented from hanging themselves by a sense of higher obligation, they have returned to business, and done excellent service to their country, in the month of January. The station of a sentinel is not, nor is it supposed to be, a station of ease, but of duty. A good soldier endures hardship; and a good Christian must do the same. Affliction is "a call, in the most clear and express

terms," not to sullenness and suicide, but to the exercise of patience, resignation, and fortitude. "For even hereunto are we called ;" and our commander himself has set us the example. Let us follow him with alacrity and cheerfulness, and we shall one day sit down with him at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens-This is a philosophy that has some comfort in it, and is worth cultivating.

Page 16. "Tis Providence surely that has placed "me at this present in this chamber: but may I not "leave it when I think proper, without being liable "to the imputation of having deserted my post or "station ?"

[ocr errors]

Is there no difference, then, between your walking out of life, and your walking out of one room into another?

Page 16. "When I shall be dead, the principles "of which I am composed will still perform their part in the universe, and will be equally useful in "the grand fabric, as when they composed this individual creature.



They may be so. Your clay, like that of Alexander, may stop a bunghole.


"The difference to the whole will be no greater "than betwixt my being in a chamber and the open "air. The one change is of more importance to me "than the other; but not more so to the universe.' This is the old argument, that "the life of a man "is of no greater importance to the universe than "that of an oyster.'

As far as this argument goes, then, there would be no harm done, if the whole species were to take arms, and, like Bayes's troops in the Rehearsal, "all "kill one another." But we know that the life of man is no insignificant matter in the eye of God and Mr. Hume himself seems to think it of some im portance to the person concerned.

[ocr errors]


WE are next to inquire, whether suicide be any breach of our duty towards our neighbour.


Page 17. "How does it appear that the Almighty "is displeased with those actions which disturb society? By the principles which he has implanted "in human nature; and which inspire us with a sen"timent of remorse if we ourselves have been guilty "of such actions, and with that of blame and disap"probation, if we ever observe them in others. Let "us now examine whether suicide be of this kind of "actions."

Before we enter upon the examination here proposed, it is obvious to remark, that there is no instinct, or "principle implanted" in human nature, which seems to be more universal and more forcible than that of an aversion to suicide. For a man to destroy himself, is directly against the voice and the very prime inclination of nature. Every thing desires to preserve itself. "No man hateth his own flesh, "but nourisheth and cherisheth it". And, therefore, nations in general, as taught by the immediate voice of nature, by the very first accents which she utters to all, have abhorred men's laying violent hands upon themselves; and, to show their abhorrence, have decreed to pursue self-murderers, after their

« EelmineJätka »