Infomotions, Inc.Hobart's Analysis of Bishop Butler's Analogy of religion, natural and revealed, to the consititution and course of nature. With notes. Also Craufurd's questions for examination. Revised and adapted to the use of schools. by Charles E. West. / Hobart, Richard




Author: Hobart, Richard
Title: Hobart's Analysis of Bishop Butler's Analogy of religion, natural and revealed, to the consititution and course of nature. With notes. Also Craufurd's questions for examination. Revised and adapted to the use of schools. by Charles E. West.
Publisher: New York, Harper & brothers, 1848.
Tag(s): natural theology; butler, joseph, bp. of durham, 1692-1752. the analogy of religion; apologetics history 18th century; cents; analogy; religion; chap; revelation; christianity; moral; proof; history
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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

PRESENTED BY 

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND 
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID 







HOBART'S ANALYSIS OF 

BISHOP BUTLER'S 

ANALOGY OF EELIGION, 

Natural antr 3&ebealeK, 

TO THE CONSTITUTION AND COURSE OF NATURE. 
WITH NOTES. 

ALSO, CRAUFURD'S QUESTIONS FOR EXAMINATION 




THE LIBRARY 
OF 




HOBART'S ANALYSIS OF 

BISHOP BUTLER'S 

ANALOGY OF RELIGION, 

Natural antr Hebealett, 

TO THE CONSTITUTION AND COURSE OF NATURE. 
WITH NOTES. 

ALSO, CRAUFURD'S QUESTIONS FOR EXAMINATION. 
REVISED 



ADAPTED TO THE USE OF SCHOOLS. 



BY CHARLES E. WEST, 

PRINCIPAL OF RUTGERS INSTITUTE IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK. 



NEW YORK: 
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS, 

82 CLIFF STREET. 
1848. 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand 
eight hundred and forty-eight, by 

HARPER & BROTHERS, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District 
of New York. 



877/W 



ADVERTISEMENT, 



AN abridgment of Hobart's Analysis of 
Butler's Analogy, with questions for examina- 
tion by Craufurd, was edited by me some three 
or four years since. From the favorable man- 
ner in which the work was received, I have 
been led to prepare another edition for the 
press, differing from the former in the follow- 
ing respects : 1st. The Analysis is given with- 
out abridgment. 2d. The Questions have not 
been introduced into the body of the text, but 
are appended at the end of the several chap- 
ters. This course has been adopted to meet 
the wishes of friends, some of whom have ex- 
pressed the desire that there should be no inter- 
ruption in the text by the introduction of ques- 
tions ; while others have been pleased with the 
questions, and have preferred that they should 
be retained. By the arrangement adopted, it 



iv ADVERTISEMENT. 

will be seen that the views of both have been 
met. The use of the questions is left at the 
option of the teacher. They can be dispensed 
with, if rigid attention is given to the synopsis, 
as presented at the beginning of each chapter. 
The combined study of both, however, will not 
be found unprofitable : the first, as giving a suc- 
cinct outline of the argument ; the second, as 
leading to such explanations as are adapted to 
fix it in the mind of the learner. If the scholar 
will take the pains of studying the two in con- 
nection, he can not fail of mastering his task. 
This is the end which has been kept in view 
by the publication of this little work, and it is 
hoped that its introduction into Academies and 
Schools where Butler is studied will prove this 
effort at his elucidation not to have been un- 
successful. 

CHARLES E. WEST. 



Rutgers Institute, New York, 
Feb. 26th, 1848. 



PREFACE, 



NOTWITHSTANDING the approbation with 
which this celebrated treatise of Bishop Butler 
has been received, his style has been frequently 
censured as intricate and obscure. A great 
portion of this obscurity should justly be attrib- 
uted to the nature of the subject, and, perhaps, 
a greater degree of it to the comprehensive 
mind of the author, and the conciseness of ex- 
pression characteristic of such minds. It can 
not be expected that difficulties of the former 
kind can be lessened by an analysis, or, in- 
deed, by any thing else, without that serious 
attention in the reader which subjects of such 
importance demand the removal of those of 



vi PREFACE. 

the latter class has here been attempted. For 
example, the scope and connection of the sev- 
eral parts not being sufficiently marked out ; 
the length of elaborate sentences, where clauses 
are minutely opposed, or exceptions briefly ad- 
verted to ; repetitions that separate, at great 
intervals, the parts of the reasoning ; the in- 
troduction of digressionary remarks all con- 
tribute to render it the more abstruse for ordi- 
nary perusal. 

The summary at the head of each chapter, 
in this Analysis shows, at once, its design and 
the connection of the steps of reasoning em- 
ployed in it. For the most part, the precise 
language of the original has been adhered to, 
so far as it did not come within the preceding 
exceptions. Some notes have been occasion- 
ally introduced from the text containing re- 
marks unconnected with the chapter in which 
they stand, while others have been added of an 
explanatory nature. 

It is distinctly to be kept in view, that the 
evidence of analogy is applied, not to the proof 
of religion natural or revealed, but to the con- 
firmation of that proof supposed to be known. 



PREFACE. vii 

" I know no author," says Dr. Reid, " who 
has made a more just and a more happy use of 
analogical reasoning than Bishop Butler, in his 
Analogy of Religion. In that excellent work, 
the author does not ground any of the truths of 
religion upon analogy as their proper evidence : 
he only makes use of analogy to answer objec- 
tions against them. When objections are made 
against truths of religion, which may be made 
with equal strength against what we know to 
be true in the course of nature, such objections 
can have no weight." To the same purpose, it 
is observed by Dr. Campbell, that, " analogical 
evidence is generally more successful in silen- 
cing objections than in evincing truth. Though 
it rarely refutes, it frequently repels refutation ; 
like those weapons which, though they can not 
kill the enemy, will ward his blows." 

It consequently follows, that if any point of 
the analogy appears weak, it is not to be con- 
cluded that the proper proofs of it are so. 
Some parts are more convincing than others ; 
but the force of this treatise can only be esti- 
mated by viewing all its parts in connection. 
The books of Nature and of Revelation are 



viii PREFACE. 

compared together. An Author of Nature is 
the only point assumed ; and, by a reference to 
the natural course of things to indisputable 
facts to man himself, according to his original 
constitution to his daily habit of acting on 
evidence far inferior to that which ac ompanies 
revelation all objections are answered, as ap- 
plying with equal force against the constitution 
of nature, where they are found false in fact. 
The objector is answered according to princi- 
ples which he can not deny. The part of his 
conduct which is natural convicts him of ob- 
jecting to what is equally suited to his nature. 

It is evident that the proper motives and 
principles of the Christian are not to be looked 
for in a work that descends so low ; for exam- 
ple, the nature of human life is such as to en- 
courage any kind of exertion OD the lowest 
chance of obtaining the end in view ; yet, al- 
though this may show the unreasonableness of 
neglect with regard to a future state, where the 
chance of its existence is acknowledged, this 
chance is not intended to be a substitute for 
that faith, which is " the substance of things 
hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." 



PREFACE. ix 

Yet it is not to be inferred that the believer can 
not be confirmed by arguments from analogy. 
He also may have doubts which they can im- 
mediately dispel ; and to all, even the most 
steadfast disciples of the Lord Jesus, they must 
afford some degree, if not of profit, at least of 
pleasure. It might be added, if the work were 
written on any other subject, that it would 
serve as a useful exercise to our intellectual 
faculties in and for itself; but, in this case, the 
end so far exceeds the means, that we must al- 
together lose sight of them in the all-important 
object to which they are directed.* 

But the chief design of this treatise undoubt- 
edly is, to w r arn the unbeliever and careless pro- 
fessor of the danger to which they are exposed, 
and to extort from their own breasts a confes- 
sion of their self-condemnation ; to show them 

* I can not forbear adding a late encomium upon the 
works of the author of the Analogy : " I am ready and anx- 
ious to acknowledge," observes Dr. O'Brien, " that I trace so 
distinctly to his ( Bishop Butler's) writings the origin of the 
soundest and clearest views that I possess upon the nature 
of the human mind, that I could not write on this or any kin- 
dred subject, without a consciousness that I was, directly or 
indirectly, borrowing largely from him." Vide Two Ser~ 
mons on the Human Nature of Christ. 



x PRFEACE. 

that there is more even in natural religion, and 
much more in revealed religion, than they sup- 
pose ; and to lead them to search the Scrip- 
tures of truth. It is humbly hoped that the 
present Analysis may prove useful with re- 
spect to such persons where the abstruseness 
of the original work might render it less ef- 
ficient, or even, in some degree, prevent its 
perusal. 



CONTENTS. 



I-A.GB 

INTRODUCTION .13 

PART I. 

OF NATURAL RELIGION. 

CHAPTER I. 
Of a Future Life 25 

CHAPTER II. 

Of the Government of God by Rewards and Punishment, 
and particularly of the latter . . . . .39 

CHAPTER III. 
] Of the Moral Government of God . . . . .48 

CHAPTER IV. 

Of a State of Probation, as implying Trial, Difficulties, 
and Danger 62 

CHAPTER V. 

Of a State of Probation, as intended for Moral Discipline 
and Improvement .68 

CHAPTER VI. 

Of the Opinion of Necessity, considered as influencing 
Practice 88 

CHAPTER VII. 

Of the Government of God, considered as a Scheme or 
Constitution, imperfectly comprehended . . .101 



xii CONTENTS. 

PART II. 

OF REVEALED RELIGION. 

CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Of the Importance of Christianity. . . . .113 

CHAPTER II. 

Of the Supposed Presumption against Revelation, con- 
sidered as Miraculous . . . . . .127 

CHAPTER III. 

Of our Incapacity of judging what were to be expected 
in a Revelation; and the Credibility from Analogy 
that it must contain things appearing liable to ob- 
jections 135 

CHAPTER IV. 

Of Christianity, considered as a Scheme or Constitution, 
imperfectly comprehended 148 

CHAPTER V. 

Of the particular System of Christianity ; the appoint- 
ment of a Mediator, and the Redemption of the World 
by Him 153 

CHAPTER VI. 

Of the Want of Universality in Revelation ; and of the 
supposed Deficiency in the Proof of it . . . 172 

CHAPTER VII. 
Of the particular Evidence for Christianity . . .189 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Of the Objections which may be made against arguing 
from the Analogy of Nature to Religion . . .216 






INTRODUCTION, 



I. The Nature of Probable Evidence. 

II. The Foundation of Probable Evidence. 

III. The Imperfections of Probable Evidence. 

IV. Yet Probability the Guide of Life. 

V. General way of arguing from Analogy conclusive. 

VI. Application of Analogy to Religion. 

VII. The degree of weight to be attached to it. 

VIII. Its superiority above arguments not drawn from facts. 

I. PROBABLE evidence is essentially distinguish- 
ed from demonstrative by this that it admits of 
degrees from the highest moral certainty to the 
very lowest presumption. But the very lowest pre- 
sumption does riot prove a thing to be probably true; 
especially if (as there may be probabilities on both 
sides) there are any probabilities against it ; yet it 
partakes of the nature of probability, for by fre- 
quent repetition, it will amount to moral certainty. 
Thus, the observation of the ebb and flow of the 
tide to-day begets a very low presumption that it 
may happen to-morrow ; but this observation often 
repeated gives us a full assurance that it will. 
B 



14 INTRODUCTION. 

II. From observing a likeness in this event to an- 
other which has come to pass, we determine on the 
probability of its occurrence, and so of every thing 
else.* Therefore, the foundation of probability is 
expressed in the word " likely" (verisimile), like 
some truth, or true event, in itself, or in its evi- 
dence, or in some of its circumstances; and thus it 
daily happens that we have a presumption, an opin- 
ion, orfall conviction of the truth of an event, past 
or future, according to the frequency of the obser- 
\ation of a similar one under similar circumstan- 
ces. For example, we conclude that a child, if it 
lives twenty years, will grow up to the stature and 
strength of a man that food will contribute to the 
preservation of its life, and the want of it, for such 
a number of days, will be its certain destruction. 
Whether we judge, expect, hope, or fear, we are 
guided by the same principle of observed similarity. 

III. But the extent of our observation being 

* Though the common experience of the ordinary course 
of things have justly a mighty influence on the minds of men, 
to make them give or refuse credit to any thing proposed to 
their belief, yet there is one case wherein the strangeness of 
the fact lessens not the assent to a fair testimony given of it. 
For where such supernatural events are suitable to ends 
aimed at by Him who has the power to change the course of 
nature, there, under such circumstances, they may be Jitter to 
procure belief, by how much the more they are beyond or con- 
trary to ordinary observation. This is the proper case with 
miracles, which, well attested, do not only find credit them- 
selves, but give it also to other truths which need such con- 
firmation. Locke. 



xNTRODUCTION. 15 

limited, it may warrant a fair conclusion in the 
way of analogy, though a false one. Thus the 
prince who lived in a warm climate,* who had 
never seen water but in a fluid state, naturally in- 
ferred that there was no such thing as water be- 
coming hard.t The field of our observation being 
more extended, we do not consider this any pre- 
sumption against the possibility of water being 
frozen. We know that it is supposable that there 
may be frost in England any given day in January 
next, and probable on some day in that month, and 
morally certain some time or other in the winter. 
Therefore, probable evidence, in its very nature, 
affords but an imperfect kind of information. 

IV. It relates only to beings of limited capacities. 

* A Dutch embassador, entertaining the King of Siam with 
the particularities of Holland, which he was inquisitive after, 
among other things, told him that the water in his country 
would sometimes, in cold weather, be so hard that men 
walked upon it, and that it would bear an elephant if it 
were there. To which the king replied, " Hitherto I have 
believed the strange things you have told me, because I look 
upon you as a sober, fair man, but now I am sure you lie." 
Locke. 

t But it has been well observed, by Dr. Leland, that ex- 
perience may assure us that facts or events are possible, but 
not that the contrary is impossible. The greatest uniformity 
and frequency of experience can not prove the certainty of 
an event, nor even afford the least probability that it would 
never happen otherwise. For aught we know, there may be 
occasions on which it would fail, and secret causes in the 
frame of things which sometimes may counteract these by 
which it is produced. 



16 INTRODUCTION. 

Every thing is certain to an Infinite Intelligence, 
for every thing must be observed by Him abso- 
lutely as it is in itself, certainly true or certainly 
false ; but with us most things are only probable. 
In questions of real or imaginary difficulty, the low- 
est presumption on one side more than on the other 
determines the question ; and, in the common pur- 
suits of life, even in questions of great consequence, 
we find men considering themselves bound to act 
not only where there are merely slight probabili- 
ties in favor of success, but when these are equalled, 
or even exceeded, by probabilities against their suc- 
ceeding. 

V. But whence is it that likeness produces a 
presumption, opinion, or full conviction ] And 
how can we be certain that the conclusion drawn 
by analogy is correct? This belongs to the sub- 
ject of logic, and is a part of that subject which 
has not yet been thoroughly considered ; but it is 
evident (and enough for the present purpose) that 
this general way of arguing is natural, just, and 
conclusive ; for there is no man can make a ques- 
tion but that the sun will rise to-morrow,* and be 

* " A. man brought into being at maturity and placed in a 
desert island would abandon himself to despair when he first 
saw the sun set and the night come on : for he could have no 
expectation that ever the day would be renewed. But he is 
transported with joy when he again beholds the glorious orb 
appearing in the east, and the heavens and the earth illumi- 
nated as before. He again views the declining sun with ap- 



INTRODUCTION. 17 

seen, where it is seen at all, in the figure of a cir- 
cle, and not in that of a square. 

VI. For introducing this sort of reasoning into 
the subject of revealed religion, we have the au- 
thority of Origen, who has observed, that " he who 
believes the Scripture to have proceeded from Him 
who is the Author of nature, may well expect to 
find the same sort of difficulties in it as are found 
in the constitution of nature." And it may be 
added, that he who denies the Divine origin of the 
one, on account of these difficulties, may, with as 
much reason, deny that of the other. We argue 
from the likeness that exists between the revealed 
and the natural dispensation of Providence, that 
they have both the same Author; at least, that 
the objections against it are of no force, from diffi- 
culties in the one analogical or similar to what are 
found in the other, which is acknowledged to be 
from God,jfor an Author of nature is here SUPPOSED 
(and to this assumption there can be no objection, 

prehension, yet not without hope : the second night is less dis- 
mal than the first, but is still very uncomfortable on account of 
the weakness of the probability produced by one favorable in- 
stance. As the instances grow more numerous, the probabil- 
ity becomes stronger and stronger: yet it may be questioned, 
whether a man in these circumstances would ever arrive at 
so high a degree of moral certainty in this matter as we 
experience, who know not only that the sun has risen every 
day since we began to exist, but also that the same phenom- 
enon has happened regularly for more than five thousand 
years, without failing in a single instance. Beattie on Truth. 
B* 



18 INTRODUCTION. 

since it is not denied by the generality of those 
who profess themselves dissatisfied with the evi- 
dences of religion ; and if it were, as there is no 
presumption against it prior to the proof of it, so 
it has been often proved, with accumulated evi- 
dence, from final causes, abstract reasonings, tra- 
dition, the general consent of mankind, &c., &c.). 

VII. As to the degree of weight to be attached 
to this argument from analogy, in some cases it 
will amount to a practical proof in others merely 
a confirmation of what can be otherwise proved ; 
yet its chief force will be to answer the objections 
against the system both of natural and revealed re- 
ligion, and it will possess considerable force in an- 
swering objections against the evidence of it the 
argument being conclusive in proportion to the de- 
gree of the whole analogy or likeness. It is to be 
distinctly observed that, in this analogy, we argue 
from known existing facts to others that are like 
them. 

VIII. This has been shown to be a method of 
proof, practical, usual, and conclusive in various 
degrees. It does not argue from hypothesis, or 
from the possibility to the propriety of a better 
form of Divine government. Those who argue 
from hypothesis, reason either from assumed prin- 
ciples, or from certain principles assumed to be ap- 
plicable to cases to which they have no ground to 
apply them. The former resemble Des Cartes 



INTRODUCTION. 19 

building a world upon hypothesis; the others act 
like those who explain the structure of the human 
body from mere mathematics, without sufficient 
data. As to those who run into the wild extrava- 
gance of planning an improved state of things, the 
plan fixed on by the wisest speculator probably 
would not be the very best, even according to his 
own notion of " best." For what would he pro- 
pose ? That which, both by occasions and mo- 
tives, was productive of the greatest virtue, or 
greatest happiness, or both combined ; i. e., when 
fully expressed, that all creatures should, at first, 
be made as perfect and as happy as they were ca- 
pable of being ; that nothing at least nothing of 
hazard or danger should be put upon them to 
do ; or that they should, in fact, always do what 
was right and most conducive to happiness. And 
how would he effect this ? He would do away 
with the method of government by punishment, as 
absurd and contrary to happiness ; and he would 
either not give them any principles which would 
endanger their doing wrong, or he would lay the 
right motive of action before them in so strong 
a manner as would never fail of inducing them to 
act conformably to it. We may at once give 
this General Answer : Following the first princi- 
ples of our nature, we unavoidably judge some 
ends to be preferable to others ; and our whole na- 
ture leads us to ascribe all moral perfection to 



20 INTRODUCTION. 

God, and to deny all imperfection of Him ; this is a 
practical proof of His moral character, for it is the 
voice of God speaking in us ; from hence we con- 
clude that virtue and happiness are essentially 
united, and that under His government right must 
prevail. But the necessary means of accomplish- 
ing this end, we have not faculties to determine. 
Even in the little affairs of this present life, we are 
not competent judges, and we are likely to be 
much less so in a system of such extent as this 
world may be, taking in all that is past and to 
come, though we should suppose it detached from 
the whole creation. 

We shall first apply the argument from analogy 
to the foundation of all our hopes and fears a fu- 
ture life. 



QUESTIONS INTRODUCTION. 

1. How is probable evidence distinguished from 
demonstrative ; and to what may the former at length 
amount ? Illustrate this by a fact in nature. 

2. What exception does Locke justly produce to the 
following general rule, namely : that from observing a 
likeness in an event to another which has come to pass, 
we determine on the probability of its occurrence and 
so of every thing else ? 

3. What imperfection naturally attaches itself to 
our reasoning by analogy, from the extent of our ob- 
servation being limited ? Quote Dr. Leland's observa- 
tion as to the exact value of experience, in reasoning 
upon a reported fact. 

4. How do men act in all worldly affairs, with re- 
spect to probable evidence ? 

5. Quote the argument from Beattie by which he 
endeavors to prove that likeness would produce pre- 
sumption, then opinion, lastly conviction. 

6. What does Origen say upon the application of 
analogy to religion ? How does Butler support and 
confirm his argument ? 

7. What degree of weight is to be attached to the 
argument from analogy ; and in what consists its prin- 
cipal excellence ? 

8. What general answer may we give to those who 
would argue from the possibility to the propriety of a 
better than the existing form of Divine government? 



SCHEME OF PART I. 



ON NATURAL RELIGION. 

CHAP. I. Analogy folly confirms the Scripture account of 
the existence of a Future State 

CHAP. II. And that it will be one of Rewards and Punish- 
ments 

CHAP. III. And that these Rewards and Punishments will be 
dispensed according to the merit and demerit 
of our actions. 

CHAP. IV. Therefore it becomes incumbent on us to resist 
all Temptations in this State of Trial. 

CHAP. V. And to make use of all the Means of Improvement 
for another Life, which this Probation State 
affords as intended for Moral Discipline. 

CHAP. VI. For these Obligations are not in the least degree 
affected by the opinion of Universal Necessity. 

CHAP. VII. Or by any objections which may be urged against 
God's Moral Government. 



PART I. 
OF NATURAL RELIGION. 



CHAPTER I. 

ON A FUTURE STATE. 

I. A Future State probable from the Changes which we have 
undergone. 

II. And from the probability of our continuing endued with 
the same Capacities, unless there be some ground for sup- 
posing that Death will destroy us we have no grouud 
from Analogy or Reason, and we can not have it from any 
thing else. 

HI. Yet there are Imaginary Presumptions founded on the 
notion of Living Beings being Compounded, and therefore 
divisible. A proof of the Contrary confirmed by a general 
Observation from Experience, leading to four particular 
Observations. An Objection to some of these, " that they 
tend to prove the immortality of Brutes," answered. 

IV. A contrary Analogy proved to be only apparent. 

V. Our entrance on another State shown to be natural. 

c 



26 ON A FUTURE STATE. [PART I. 

I. PASSING by the difficulties raised by some con- 
cerning personal identity,* the probability of a fu- 
ture state appears from the changes we have under- 
gone from the imperfect state of infancy to mature 
age. Nor is this a law of our being only, that we 
should exist at one period of our life with capaci- 
ties of action, of enjoyment, and suffering greatly 
different from those at another period of it; we 
find it in other creatures also; for example, the 
change of worms into flies birds and insects burst- 
ing the shell, and, by this means, entering into a 
new world. But, as far as we are concerned, that 
there should be a future state of existence, as dif- 

* To the Analogy are usually subjoined two dissertations, 
both originally inserted in the body of the work. One on 
Personal Identity, in which are contained some strictures 
on Mr. Locke, who asserts that consciousness makes or con- 
stitutes Personal Identity ; whereas, as our author observes, 
consciousness makes only Personality, or is necessary to the 
idea of a person, i. e., a thinking, intelligent being ; but pre- 
supposes, and therefore can not constitute, personal identity ; 
just as knowledge, in any other case, presupposes truth, but 
does not constitute it. Consciousness of past actions does 
indeed show us the identity of ourselves, or gives us a cer- 
tain assurance that we are the same persons or living agents 
now which we were at the time to which our remembrance 
can look back : but still we should be the same persons as 
we were, though this consciousness of what is past were 
wanting, though all that had been done by us formerly were 
forgotten unless it be true that no person has existed a 
single moment beyond what he can remember. The other 
dissertation is on the Nature of Virtue, which does not be- 
long to the religious, but to the moral, system of our author. 
Bishop Halifax. 



CHAP. I.] ON A FUTURE STATE. 27 

ferent from the present as the present is from our 
state in the womb and in infancy, is only what is 
warranted by the analogy of nature. 

II. Secondly, from the probability of our con- 
tinuing endued with the same capacities of action, 
happiness, and misery which we feel that we now 
possess. This is probable, unless there be some 
ground for supposing that death will destroy them ; 
for, in any thing, existence leads to a probability 
of continuance, except where we have some reason 
to think it will be altered. This seems to be our 
only reason for believing that any one substance 
now existing will continue to exist a moment 
longer (the self-existent substance only excepted). 
There is the same kind of probability, though not 
the same degree of it, that our living powers will 
continue after death as there is that our substances 
will; and there would be no probability against 
the former, if men were assured that the unknown 
event, death, was not the destruction of our facul- 
ties of perception and action; i. e., there would be 
no probability against it arising from any thing 
else, unconnected with death, being able to destroy 
them. Now, if death be justly presumed to destroy 
them, and if this be not merely a confused suspicion, 
we must have some ground for the presumption 
from the reason of the thing, or from the analogy 
of nature. First, we have it not from the reason 
of the thing, for we know not what death is in it- 



28 ON A FUTURE STATE. [PART 1 

self, but only some of its effects, such as the disso- 
lution of flesh, skin, and bones ; we know not upon 
what the exercise (much less the existence) of our 
living powers depends ; for they may exist without 
being exercised, and when there is no present ca- 
pacity of exercising them, as in a sleep or swoon. 
They may depend on something out of the reach 
of the King of Terrors ; so that there is nothing 
more certain than that the reason of the thing 
shows us no connection between death and the 
destruction of living agents.* Secondly, we have 
it not from the analogy of nature, for, throughout 
the whole of it, there is not the slightest presump- 
tion that animals ever lose their living powers 
much less, if possible, by death. This event de- 
stroys the sensible proof which we had before their 
death, of their being possessed of living powers, 
but does not appear to afford the least reason to 

* Destruction of living powers, is a manner of expression 
unavoidably ambiguous, and may signify either the destruc- 
tion of a living being, so as that the same living being shall 
be incapable of ever perceiving or acting again at all, or the 
destruction of those means and instruments by which it is ca- 
pable of its present life, of its present state of perception, and 
of action. It is here used in the former sense. When it is 
used in the latter, the epithet present is added. The loss of 
a man's eye is a destruction of living powers in the latter 
sense; but we have no reason to think the destruction of 
living powers, in the former sense, to be possible. We have 
no more reason to think a being endued with living powers, 
ever loses them during his whole existence than to believe 
that a stone ever acquires them. Butler. 



CHAP. L] ON A FUTURE STATE. 29 

believe that they are then, or by that event, de- 
prived of them. As far as our faculties can trace, 
they retain them, and this is in itself a probability 
of their retaining them beyond that period, espe- 
cially when viewed in connection with our first 
proof. 

III. Objected against the assertion that " there is 
no proof from the reason of the thing"* " Living 
beings are compounded, and so divisible." 

ANSWER. There is no proof of this ; it arises not 
from reason, but from that delusive faculty useful, 
indeed, to apprehension, but the author of all error 
Imagination. Since consciousness is indivisible, 
it should rather seem that the perceptive power, 
and consequently the subject in which it resides, 
must be so too.t As a particle of matter (as well 
as its power of motion) is one and indivisible, if its 
motion be absolutely one and indivisible for if the 

* There is no subject on which doubts and difficulties 
may not be started by ingenious and disputatious man ; and 
therefore from the number of their objections, and the length 
of the controversy to which they give occasion, we can not, 
in any case, conclude that the original evidence is weak, or 
even that it is not obvious and striking. Were we to pre- 
sume that every principle is dubious against which specious 
objections may be contrived, we should be quickly led into 
universal skepticism. The two ways in which the ingenuity 
of speculative men has been most commonly employed are 
dogmatical assertions of doubtful opinions, and subtle cavils 
against certain truths. Gerard's Dissertation, II., 4. 

t See Dr. Clarke's Letter to Dodwell, and the defenses 
of it. 



30 ON A FUTURE STATE. [PART I. 

particle were divisible, one part might be moved 
and the other at rest, and thus its motion could not 
be as is supposed in the same way, if the subject 
of consciousness be divisible, the consciousness of 
our own existence would be divisible ; so that one 
part would be here and another there, contrary to 
what is supposed and experienced.* Hence the 
absolute oneness of the living agent renders the 
body unessential to its being, and our organized 
bodies are no more ourselves, or part of ourselves, 
than any other matter around us ; and yet it is as 
easy to conceive how such matter may be appro- 
priated to our use in the manner that our present 
bodies are, as how we receive impressions from, 
and have power over any matter. It is as easy to 
conceive that we may exist out of bodies as in 
them ; that we might have animated bodies, of any 
other organs and senses, wholly different from those 
now given us, and that we may hereafter animate 

* That it is highly unreasonable and absurd to suppose 
the soul made up of innumerable consciousnesses, as matter 
is necessarily made up of innumerable parts ; and, on the 
contrary, that it is highly reasonable to believe the seat of 
thought to be a simple substance such as can not naturally be 
divided and crumbled into pieces, as all matter is manifestly 
subject to be, must, of necessity, be confessed. Consequently 
the soul will not be liable to be dissolved at the dissolution 
of the body, and, therefore, it will naturally be immortal. All 
this seems to follow, at least, with the highest degree of 
probability, from the single consideration of the soul's being 
endued with sense, thought, or consciousness. Clarke's Evi- 
dence of Natural and Revealed Religion. 



CHAP. I.] ON A FUTURE STATE. 31 

these same or new bodies, variously modified and 
organized, as to conceive how we can animate such 
bodies as our present. Their destruction, then, 
might be like that of any other matter, without any 
tendency to destroy our living powers. Even with- 
out determining whether our living substances be 
material or immaterial, all this is confirmed (though 
from the nature of the case not properly proved) 
by observations from experience. We remain the 
same living agents after the loss of our limbs, or- 
gans of sense, or even the greatest part of our 
bodies ; we can remember ourselves the same when 
our bodies were extremely small, and we lose now, 
and might have lost then, a great part of our bodies, 
and yet remain the same. And it is certain, that 
the bodies of all animals are in a constant change 
from that never-ceasing attrition which there is in 
every part of them. All this leads us to distinguish 
the large quantity of matter in which we are near- 
ly interested from the living agent who remains one 
and the same permanent being. 

OBJECTION. What is alienated or lost is no part 
of our original solid body, but only adventitious 
matter. 

ANSWER. Surely entire limbs which we may lose 
must contain many solid parts and vessels of the 
original body; or, if this be not admitted, we have 
no proof that any of these solid parts are dissolved 
or alienated by death. 



32 ON A FUTURE STATE. [PART I. 

From this it follows : 1st. Even though the liv- 
ing being be not absolutely indivisible, yet it can 
not be assumed that death will be the dissolution of 
it until its proper bulk be determined, and till it be 
determined to be larger than the solid elementary 
particles of matter, which there is no ground to 
think any natural power can dissolve. 2dly. Our 
interest in systems of matter does not imply the de- 
struction of ourselves the living agents, for we have, 
though not to the same degree, the like interest in 
all foreign matter, which gives us ideas, and over 
which we have any power ; nor have we any ground 
to conclude that any other systems of matter, sup- 
pose internal systems, are the living agents them- 
selves ; for we can have no reason to conclude this, 
except from the same principle our interest in such 
systems. 3d. If we consider the component parts 
of our body, this will more clearly appear. Our 
organs of sense and our limbs are only instruments 
which the living persons ourselves make use of to 
perceive and move with ; and therefore we have no 
other kind of relation to them than we have to any 
other foreign matter formed into instruments of per- 
ception and motion suppose into a microscope 
and a staff. But are not our organs themselves 
percipient ? No ; the common optical experiments 
show that we see with our eyes in the same sense 
that we see with glasses ; and the like may justly 
be concluded from analogy of all our other senses. 



CHAP. I.] ON A FUTURE STATE. 33 

Some of these organs may be lost, while the living 
beings, the former occupiers, remain unimpaired. 
In dreams we have a latent power, and, what would 
otherwise be an unknown power, of perceiving sen- 
sible objects in as strong and lively a manner with- 
out our external organs of sense as with them. But 
are not our limbs endued with the power of moving 
and directing themselves 1 No ; a man can move 
an artificial leg, for example, as he used to move 
his natural one, only that the natural instrument of 
motion was more exactly formed, so as to move 
and produce motion in its several parts ; his active 
power remains unlessened. And thus the finding 
that the dissolution of matter in which living beings 
were most nearly interested is not their dissolution, 
and that the destruction of several of the organs 
and instruments of perception and of motion is not 
their destruction, shows, demonstratively, that there 
is no ground to think that the dissolution of any 
other matter, or destruction of any other organs 
and instruments, will be the dissolution or destruc- 
tion of living agents, from the like kind of relation. 
And we have no reason to think we stand in any 
other kind of relation to any thing which we find 
dissolved by death. 

OBJECTION. Brutes, in the same way, might be 
proved to be immortal, and, by consequence, capa- 
ble of everlasting happiness. 

ANSWER. (1st.) In amoral point of view, no such 



34 ON A FUTURE STATE. [PART I. 

consequence necessarily follows as that they should 
be capable of everlasting happiness ; and, even ad- 
mitting it, there is no difficulty ; for we know not 
what latent capacities they may be endued with: 
and it is a general law of nature, that beings should 
possess capacities of virtue for some time without 
exercising them, as in infancy and childhood, and 
often without exercising them at all in this world. 
(2dly.) As to a natural immortality, the economy 
of the universe may require living creatures with- 
out any capacities of this kind. Therefore we 
must know the whole system before such can be 
an objection to this part of the proof of the im- 
mortality of the human soul : it is less applicable 
to the next part, which is more peculiar to man. 
(3dly.) Our present powers of reflection not be- 
ing dependent on our gross bodies in the manner 
in which our organs of sense are, we may conclude 
that they are not destroyed by death. We can 
live in a state of reflection, after ideas are gained, 
when none of our senses are affected or appetites 
gratified, and in this state enjoy the greatest pleas- 
ure, or feel the greatest pain, without any assist- 
ance from our senses, and without any at all, which 
we know of, from that body which will be destroy- 
ed by death. Further, there are some mortal dis- 
eases which do not affect, and, therefore, it may 
be presumed, will not destroy our present intel- 
lectual powers. Indeed, the body and intellectual 



CHAP. I.] ON A FUTURE STATE. 35 

powers mutually affecting each other would no more 
prove the necessity of their joint dissolution than 
the connection of the body and the living agent re- 
quired their joint destruction, as already shown; 
but instances of their not affecting each other afford 
a presumption of the contrary. Several things, in- 
deed, greatly affect all our living powers, and at 
length suspend the exercise of them as, for in- 
stance, drowsiness increasing till it ends in sound 
sleep ; and from hence we might have imagined it 
would destroy them, till we found, by experience, 
the weakness of this way of judging. But by these 
diseases there is not even a shadow of probability 
that our present reflecting powers will be destroy- 
ed. And if death, by diseases of this kind, is not 
their destruction, it will scarcely be thought that 
death by any other means is; and as it does not 
destroy, it is probable it does not interrupt the con- 
tinuance of the exercise of these powers, since they 
can be exercised without the aid of the body, and in 
a most lively manner, during the whole progress of 
a mortal disease ; nay, it may even remove the kin- 
derance to our existing in a higher state of reflec- 
tion,* namely, those external organs which render us 
capable of existing in our present state of sensa- 
tion, so that it may in some respects answer to our 

* There are three distinct questions relating to a future 
life here considered : Whether death be the destruction of 
living agents ? if not, whether it be the destruction of their 



36 ON A FUTURE STATE. [PART I. 

birth,* not a suspension, but a continuation of our 
former faculties, with great alterations. 

IV. Objected against the assertion that " there is 
no proof from analogy." There is an analogy for 
death being the destruction of living creatures 
namely, the decay of vegetables. 

ANSWER. This comparison may be just enough 
for poetic similes, but not for an analogy ; for one 
of the two subjects compared is wholly void of that 
which is the chief thing in the other, and which is 
the only thing about the continuance of which we 
are inquiring the power of perception and of ac- 
tion.t 

V. Thus, when we go out of this world, we may 
pass into new scenes, and a new state of life and 
action, just as naturally as we came into the pres- 
ent ; for it would be a contradiction to say, that 

present powers of reflection, as it certainly is the destruction 
of their present powers of sensation ? and if not, whether it 
be the suspension or discontinuance of the exercise of these 
present reflecting powers? Now, if there be no reason to 
believe the last, there will be, if that were possible, less for 
the next, and less still for the first. Butler. 

* This, according to Strabo, was the opinion of the Brack- 
mans. 

t St. Paul answers objections against the resurrection, by 
analogy from the works of nature. Vide ICor., xv., 36. "The 
seed dies it is only the germ or bud that springs ; the body 
of the seed first feeds this bud, and then turns to corrup- 
tion." It is particularly to be noted, that St. Paul is not 
speaking of the identity of the raised bodies. Vide Whitby 
on the passage. 



CHAP. I.] ON A FUTURE STATE. 37 

no state is natural but the present, and yet that the 
probability of a future one appears from reason. 
The meaning of the word natural is, stated, fixed, 
or settled ; since what is natural as much requires 
and presupposes an Intelligent Agent to render it 
so, i. e., to effect it continually, or at stated times, as 
what is supernatural or miraculous does to effect it 
for once. And from hence it must follow, that our 
notion of what is natural will be enlarged in pro- 
portion to our greater knowledge of the works of 
God, and the dispensations of His Providence. 
And this state may naturally be a social one, and 
the advantages of it advantages of every kind may 
naturally be bestowed, according to some fixed gen- 
eral laws of wisdom, upon every one in proportion 
to the degrees of his virtue. 

NOTE. The credibility of a future life, which has been here 
insisted upon, seems to answer all the purposes of religion. 
Even a demonstrative proof of it would not be a proof of re- 
ligion ; for it is just as reconcilable with the scheme of Athe- 
ism as the fact that we are now alive ; but as religion implies 
;t future state, presumptions against the latter would be 
urged against the former, and, therefore, it was necessary to 
r amove them. 

D 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER I. 

1. Describe at full length the scheme of the first part 
of the Analogy which treats on natural religion. 

2. How does Butler correct Locke in his definition 
of personal identity ? 

3. How does the analogy of Nature warrant us to 
assert that a future and different state of existence is 
probable ? 

4. Why is it probable that we may continue endued 
with the same capacities, unless they may be destroy- 
ed by death ? 

5. Show that there is no ground, from reason or 
from analogy, to presume that death does destroy any 
faculty of perception or action. 

6. What answer can be given in refutation of the 
objection that "Living beings are compounded, and so 
divisible, "and consequently liable to complete- destruc- 
tion ? 

7. By what argument do we arrive at the following 
conclusion : viz., " That the dissolution of matter iu 
which living beings were most nearly interested, is not 
their dissolution?" And to the proof of what truth is 
this conclusion applied ? 

8. Show that there is no probability that death will 
cause the destruction of our present powers of reflec- 
tion. 

9. Explain what is meant by the assertion that, 
44 Our entrance on another state will be natural." 

10. Show that the credibility of a future life, insist- 
ed on by Butler in this chapter, answers all the pur- 
poses of religion that a demonstrative proof would. 



CHAPTER II. 

)N THE f^OVT RN'IENT OF GOD BY REWARDS AND PUN- 
ISHMFNTS, AND PARTICULRALY ON THE LATTER. 

I. If a Future State were only as credible as the last Chap- 
ter proves it to be, yet it is sufficient to urge us seriously to 
inquire, whether it is to be a State of Rewards and Pun- 
ishments, depending upon our Conduct here ? The prob- 
ability of this appears from our happiness, and, in a great 
measure, our misery, in this life, being left dependent on 
our own actions; and objections to it are answered. 

II. That there is to be a Future State of Punishments, ap- 
pears from several particular analogies. 

I. THE importance of the question concerning 
a future life arises from our capacity of happiness 
and misery. But the consideration of this question 
would appear of so little importance as only to be 
brought into our thoughts by curiosity concerning 
the mortality of others, or the near prospect of our 
own, if there were not a supposition of our happi- 
ness and misery hereafter depending upon our ac- 
tions here. 

That there is a future state of rewards and pun- 
ishments, appears from the following General An- 
alogy We are at present under such a govern- 



40 ON THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

merit; all that we enjoy, and a great part of what 
we suffer, is put in our own power ; for pleasure 
and pain are the consequences of our actions, and 
we are endued, by the Author of our nature, with 
capacities of foreseeing the consequences. Our 
preservation, and every kind and degree of our en- 
joyment, is effected by the means of our own actions. 
Generally (though not always) our sufferings are 
produced by our own actions, though instruction, 
example, and experience forewarned us that the 
effect of such conduct would be injurious to our 
reputation, our property, or our life. But why is 
the happiness and misery of creatures left depend- 
ent on themselves ] Perhaps any other course 
would, from the nature of things, be impossible, or 
would confer a less degree of happiness, or not an- 
swer the end of an infinitely Perfect Mind, which 
may be pleased with the moral piety of moral 
agents in and for itself, as well as on account of its 
being a means of conferring happiness, or, perhaps, 
it would not answer the whole end of the Deity, 
which our faculties can not discern. But is not the 
dispensation of happiness and misery in this world 
to be ascribed to the general course of nature ] 
True, this is the very point asserted ; it is to be 
ascribed to the general course, and, therefore, to the 
Author of nature ; for we must not deny that He 
does things at all, because He does them constant- 
ly because the effects of His acting are permanent, 



CHAP. II.] ON THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 41 

whether His acting be so or not, though there is no 
reason to think it is not. The natural course of 
things is the appointment of God ; our natural 
faculties, which guide us in our actions, by ena- 
bling us to foresee their effects, are given by Him 
also ; the consequences of our actions are, there- 
fore, His appointment, and the foresight of these 
consequences a warning given us by Him how we 
are to act ; so that we are at present actually un- 
der His government in the strictest sense in such 
a sense as that He rewards and punishes us for our 
actions in the same sense as that we are under 
the government of civil magistrates. Because the 
annexing pleasure to some actions and pain to 
others in our power to do or forbear, and giving 
notice of this appointment beforehand to those 
whom it concerns, is the proper formal notion of 
government. It matters not, in this case, whether 
the Deity interpose or not. If civil magistrates 
^ould make offenders execute their laws upon 
themselves, or could execute them some other way, 
without interposing at all, we should be under 
their government in the same sense then as we are 
now, but in a much higher degree and more per- 
fect manner. 1st. Objected : Is the pleasure, then, 
naturally accompanying every particular gratifica- 
tion of passion, intended as an inducement and a 
reward for the gratification of it in every such par- 
ticular instance ? No, certainly ; no more than our 

D* 



42 ON THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I 

eyes, which were unquestionably given us to see 
with, were intended to give us the sight of each 
particular object to which they do or can extend, 
however destructive of them, or however improper. 
2d. Objected : Is every trifling pain an instance of 
Divine punishment ? The general thing here as- 
serted can not be evaded, without denying all final 
causes ; for if pleasure and pain be annexed to ac- 
tions, as apparent inducements for our conduct, 
they must be admitted as instances of final causes, 
and as rewards and punishments. If, for example, 
the pain felt on approaching too near the fire be in- 
tended to prevent our doing what tends to our 
destruction, this is as much an instance of God's 
punishing our actions, as if He did after having 
warned us by a voice from heaven. 

II. A future state of punishment, being what men 
chiefly object against (either from man's nature 
being so frail and exposed to temptation as almost 
to annihilate the guilt of human vice, or from the 
nature of God, irresistible in His will, or incapable 
of offense and provocation), will appear farther 
credible from the following particular analogies 
between the punishments in this life and what re- 
ligion teaches us of those in the next : 

" 1st. Natural punishments often follow actions 
that are accompanied with present gratification ; 
for example, sensual pleasure followed by sickness 
and untimely death. 



CHAP. II.] ON THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 43 

2d. The punishments are often much greater 
than the present pleasures or advantages. 

3d. The punishments are often delayed a great 
while, sometimes tilllong after the actions occasion- 
ing them are forgotten, contrary to what we might 
imagine, that they would immediately follow crimes 
or not at all. 

4th. After such delay, these punishments often 
come, not by degrees, but suddenly, with violence 
and at once. 

5th. Though these punishments, in very many 
cases, inevitably follow at the appointed time, yet 
persons have seldom a distinct full expectation, 
and, in many cases, see, or may see, only the cred- 
ibility of their following : e. g., that intemperance 
will bring after it diseases. 

6th. The thoughtlessness and imprudence of 
youth does not prevent the punishments of excess 
following, and continuing the whole course of their 
existence in this life. These consequences are 
generally not considered, and can seldom be prop- 
erly said to be believed beforehand. 

7th. There are frequent punishments for want 
of acquirements, which being neglected at the 
natural season of acquiring, could not be acquired 
afterward : this is very observable in the natural 
course of things. The indocility of youth makes 
the consequent defects of old age irretrievable; the 
neglect of the seed time brings with it the irrecov- 



44 ON THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

erablc loss of the whole year. There is a time 
when real reformation may prevent the conse- 
quences of extravagance ; ascend to a higher de- 
gree, and there is no place for repentance. 

8th. The punishments of neglect from inconsid- 
erateness are often as dreadful as those of any 
active misbehavior from the most extravagant 
passion. 

9th. Civil government being natural, its punish- 
ments are so too, and some of these capital; as the 
effects of a dissolute course of pleasure are often 
mortal. So that many natural punishments are 
final,* and seem inflicted naturally to diminish the 
aggregate of mischief, either by the removal of the 
offender from such a course, or by his example. 

These things are so analogous to what religion 
teaches us concerning the future punishment of the 
wicked, that both would naturally be expressed in 
the same words. So much so, that it is doubtful 
to which of the two, principally, the following pas- 
sage from the book of Proverbs, i., 2232 refers : 
Wisdom is introduced as frequenting the most 
public places of resort, and as rejected when she 

* It can not he said that it is Scripture only, and not natu- 
ral religion, which informs us of a future state of punishment, 
and the duration and degree of it. For this was known to 
the heathen poets and moralists ; and reason might well con- 
clude that it would be finally, and upon the whole, ill with 
the wicked. But what is peculiar to revelation is, it fixes 
the time when this distributive justice shall take place; 
namely, at the end of this world. Butler. 









CHAP. II.] ON THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 45 

offers herself as the natural appointed guide of hu- 
man life " How long, ye simple ones, will ye love 
simplicity ? and the scorners delight in their scorn- 
ing, and fools hate knowledge ] Turn ye at my 
reproof; behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto 
you, I will make known my words unto you. Be- 
cause I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched 
out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have 
set at nought all my counsel, and would none of 
my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity ; I 
will mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear 
cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh 
as a whirlwind ; when distress and anguish cometh 
upon you : then shall they call upon me, but I will 
not answer ; they shall seek me early, but they 
shall not find me : for that they hated knowledge, 
and did not choose the fear of the Lord : they 
would none of my counsel : they despised all my 
reproof: therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their 
own way, and be filled with their own devices. 
For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, 
and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them." 

The instances of punishments now mentioned"* 
(for men are not always punished here in propor- 
tion to their sins) are sufficient to show what the 

* Hence may be deduced experimental answers to many 
popular objections and excuses ; as, that God is too merciful 
to inflict everlasting punishment ; that we were sincere in our 
intentions ; that we did not know it was a sin we were com- 
mitting, &c. Our misery, like our neglect, is self-induced. 



46 ON THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

laws of the universe may admit, and to answer the 
usual objections against a future state of punish- 
ment. Indeed, nothing but a universally acknowl- 
edged demonstration on the side of Atheism can 
justify unconcern about such a state. The folly 
of such security without proof appears from the 
following analogy. May it not be said of any per- 
son upon his being born into the world, that he 
may act in such a manner as to be of no service to 
it but by being made an example of the woful ef- 
fects of vice and folly ; he may bring death upon 
himself from the hands of civil justice, or from the 
effects of his excesses ; or infamy and diseases worse 
than death. So that even with regard to the present 
world, it had been better for him that he had never 
been born. And shall we suppose that there is no 
danger of something similar in a future state, under 
the providence and government of the same God, 
though we rest as secure and act as licentiously as 
we please 1 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER II. 

1. What supposition makes the consideration of the 
question, concerning a future life, evidently important 
to each individual ? 

2. Describe the general analogy^ which makes a 
future state of rewards and punishments perfectly 
probable. 

3. Why is the present happiness or misery of crea 
tures left so much dependent upon themselves ? 

4. Suppose it to be granted that " The dispensa- 
tion of happiness and misery, in this world, is to be as- 
cribed to the general course of nature" what follows 
from that admission ? 

5. What is the proper formal notion of government, 
whether human or divine ? And what would be the 
most perfect manner of it ? 

6. State the two objections urged against the as- 
sertion that ** pleasure or pain is annexed by God to 
certain actions as an apparent inducement for our con- 
duct," and refute them. 

7. Describe at full length the particular instances 
of analogy between natural punishments in this life, 
and what religion teaches us of those in the next. 

8. For what purposes are the above-mentioned in- 
stances of analogy amply sufficient ? 

9. By what analogy may the folly of a person, who 
is unconcerned about a future state, be demonstrated ? 



CHAPTER III. 

OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 

Having shown in the last Chapter that, as the appearances of 
Final Causes prove an Intelligent Maker of the World, so the 
particular instances of Final Causes, there mentioned, prove 
an Intelligent Governor of it. In this Chapter, it is shown 
that He is a MORAL Governor. Omitting to consider that 
the natural notion we have of God is as a Moral Governor, 
and that, from the Nature He has given us, we may conclude 
that Vice will finally be punished, and Virtue rewarded 
and not dwelling on the proof that, even in this Life, Virtue 
has its own reward, and Vice its punishment, it is shown that 
the Government by Rewards and Punishments is to be moral. 

I. Because no other seems so suited to our minds. 

II. Our Prudence is here rewarded, and Imprudence punished 

III. Vicious Actions, as injurious to Society, are, in a great 
degree, punished. 

IV. Virtue, as such, is actually rewarded, and Vice punished : 
1st, by their effect on the Mind ; 2d, by the opinion of the 
World in general. 

Y. The natural tendency of Virtue and Vice, if not so much 
obstructed, is to produce good and bad effects in a greater 
degree than they do ; and it is probable that these Obstruc- 
tions will be removed in a Future State. 

I. HAVING seen that we are under a government 
of rewards and punishments an this life, we shall 
next inquire whether this government be moral, and, 
if so, to what extent ? For moral government con- 



CHAP. III.] OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 49 

sists, not barely in rewarding and punishing men for 
their actions, which the most tyrannical person may 
do, but in rewarding the righteous and punishing 
the wicked in rendering to men according to their 
actions, considered as good or evil. And the per- 
fection of moral government consists in doing this, 
with regard to all intelligent creatures, in an exact 
proportion to their personal merits or demerits. 
Let us, then, examine whether there be in the con- 
stitution and conduct of the world any intimations 
of a moral government clear to those who will 
carefully examine it* and consequently of a Moral 
Governor. That simple absolute benevolence is 
the only character and principle of action of the 
Author of nature which makes him disregard the 
actions of his creatures farther than they might pro- 
duce higher degrees of happiness requires to be 
proved before it is asserted. But the possibility of 
its being proved or disproved is foreign to our pur- 
pose, which is to inquire whether in our world a 

* The objections against religion, from the evidence of it 
not being universal, nor so strong as might possibly have been, 
may be urged against natural religion as well as against re- 
vealed. And, therefore, the consideration of them belongs to 
the first part of this treatise as well as the second; but, as 
these objections are chiefly urged against revealed religion, I 
chose to consider them in the second part. And the answer 
to them there (Chap VI.), as urged against Christianity, being 
almost equally applicable to them as urged against the religion 
of nature : to avoid repetition, the reader is referred to that 
chapter. Butler. 

E 



50 OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART L 

righteous government be not discernible, which 
implies necessarily a righteous Governor. It may 
at once be granted, that, if there be a moral gov- 
vernment here, it is not perfect; the question is, 
therefore, reduced to this, can there be discerned 
any principles of a moral government, further than 
the moral nature which God has given us, and oar 
natural notion of Him as a Moral Governor ] 

It might be urged that, in general, less uneasiness 
and more satisfaction are the natural consequences 
of a virtuous than of a vicious course of life ; but it 
is difficult so to weigh pleasures and uneasinesses as 
exactly to estimate the overplus of happiness on the 
side of virtue ; this is more difficult in the case of 
those who have led a vicious life for some time. 
They have, upon their reformation, their former 
passions craving for their accustomed gratification ; 
their former vices will be more frequently thrown 
in their way, by the conversation of men, or other- 
wise, after their amendment, when, from having ac- 
quired a deeper sense of shame, the infamy will be 
more felt ; for, though this properly belongs to their 
former vices, yet it will, in part, be attributed to 
their change of life. We, therefore, rather dwell 
on the following considerations : 

Since it has appeared that we are under the 
government of God, by the methods of rewards 
and punishments, according to some settled rule of 
distribution, what rule for finally rewarding and 



CHAP. III.] OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 51 

punishing appears more natural to us than that of 
distributing justice ? 

II. In this world our prudence is rewarded, and 
our imprudence punished; the one by satisfaction 
and external advantages, the other by inconven- 
iences and sufferings. These afford instances of a 
right constitution of nature. 

III. Vicious actions are, to a great degree, pun- 
ished, as mischievous to society, by the actual in- 
fliction of the punishment, or by the fear of it. 
And this is necessary for the very being of so- 
ciety ; therefore these punishments are as natural 
as society itself. 

OBJECTION. Actions beneficial to society are of- 
ten punished, as in the case of persecutions, &c., 
and actions injurious to it rewarded. 

ANSWER. This is not, in the same sense, neces- 
sary, and, therefore, not natural, neither are they 
punished as being beneficial, nor rewarded as being 
mischievous. 

IV. Virtue, as such, is actually rewarded, and 
vice, as such, punished. In order to see this more 
clearly, we must distinguish between actions in the 
abstract, and with morality attached to them. An 
action by which any natural passion is gratified, or 
fortune acquired, procures delight or advantages 
abstracted from all consideration of the morality 
of such action. Consequently the pleasure or ad- 
vantage in this case is gained by the action itself 



52 OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I 

not by the morality, the virtuousness, or the vi 
ciousness of it ; though it be, perhaps, virtuous 01 
vicious. 1st. Then it appears, from the effects of 
virtue and vice on the mind and temper, that un 
easiness arises from vice pleasure from virtue 
This is evident from daily experience. A man 
says, Jie is vexed with himself, when the uneasiness 
does not arise from a sense of mere loss or harm, 
but from a sense of some action being vicious in a 
greater or less degree. This feeling, in more se- 
rious language, we call remorse. Again, a man la- 
ments an accident or event, and, besides that, feels 
additional grief, when he has to admit that it was 
his own doing ; or else some redeeming satisfaction, 
if he can not blame himself. Thus also vice, even 
where there is no reason to fear resentment or 
shame, causes disturbance from a sense of being 
blameworthy. And it may be added where there 
are some fears, not to be got rid of, of the possibil- 
ity of retribution in after life. On the contrary, 
satisfaction and complaisancy are found in the real 
exercise of virtue, together with the peaceful hopes 
of a better life. 2d. From the opinion of the 
world in general from the encouragement given 
by good and honest men, and even by most men, to 
a person considered to be virtuous. Public hon- 
ors are the consequences of actions considered as 
virtuous for example, patriotism, eminent justice ; 
while actions considered as vicious have been pun- 



CHAP. III.] OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 53 

ished; e. g., tyranny, from a sense of its own na- 
ture, independent of the miseries it brings with it. 
For men resent injuries under the notion, not 
merely of having received harm, but for having 
received wrong, and they feel this resentment in 
behalf of others as well as of themselves. In re- 
turning kind actions, we are influenced, not only 
by the actions themselves, but by the kind inten- 
tion and good desert they imply in the doer. In 
domestic government, children are punished for 
falsehood, injustice, &c., as such, and rewarded for 
the contrary. The authors of crimes, punished by 
civil government, merely as being prejudicial to 
society, are brought to justice very much from the 
sense which men have for their actions as immoral. 
Absence or aggravation of guilt in the moral senses 
often effects the remission or retention of penalties 
annexed to civil crimes. These instances may 
seem trivial, but they borrow importance from the 
subject to which they are applied. But whence is 
it that virtue, as suck, is often rewarded, and vice, 
as suck, punished, and this rule never inverted ? It 
proceeds, in part, from the moral nature which 
God has given us* (and is an additional proof to 

* That we have an approving and disapproving faculty of 
this kind is evident from our own experience from the 
words right and wrong, odious and amiable, base and wor- 
thy, with many others of like signification in all languages 
applied to actions and characters from the many written 
systems of morals which suppose it from our natural sense 
E* 



54 OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

that furnished by the possession of such a nature ; 
for this last is a proof that lie will finally favor and 
support virtue effectually ; while the former is an 
example of his favoring and supporting it at pres- 
ent, at least in some degree), and it proceeds, in 
part, from his having given us, together with this 
nature, so great a power over each other's happi- 
ness and misery. For, from the first, we are so 
made, that well-doing, as such, gives us satisfac- 
tion, at least, in some instances ill-doing, as such, 
in none. And, from both conjoined, vice must be, 
in some degree, infamous, and men disposed to 
punish it, as detestable. There is nothing on the 
side of vice to answer this, because there is nothing 
in the human mind contradictory, as the logicians 
say, to virtue. Any instances of such a thing, if 
they be not imaginary, are, at least, unnatural per- 
versions. There are, it is admitted, cases where 
persons are prosperous, though wicked afflicted, 
though righteous and even rewarded for wicked 
actions, and punished for virtuous ones. But this 
arises not from the reversion of the natural tend- 
encies of virtue and vice, which is impossible, but 
it may arise from there being other wise rules for 
the distribution of happiness, besides that of per- 
sonal merit or demerit, as, for example, the way of 

of gratitude, which implies a distinction between merely be- 
ing the instrument of good and intending it, &c., &c. Vide 
Bishop Butler on the Nature of Virtue. 



CHAP. III.] OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 55 

mere discipline. We see enough to know on which 
Bide the Author of nature is ; and, in the degree 
that we co-operate with Him, we naturally feel a 
secret satisfaction and sense of security, and an im- 
plicit hope bf somewhat farther ; and this hope is 
confirmed by 

V. The natural tendency in virtue and vice to 
produce the good and bad effects now mentioned, 
in a greater degree than they do, in fact, produce 
them. For instance, good and bad men would be 
much more rewarded and punished, as such, were 
it not that justice is often artificially eluded. With 
regard to individuals, these tendencies are obvious. 
But it may require more particularly to be consid- 
ered, that power in a society, by being under the di- 
rection of virtue, naturally increases, and has a nat- 
ural tendency to prevail over opposite power not 
under the direction of it ; in like manner as power, 
by being under the direction of reason, increases, and 
has a tendency to prevail over brute force. The 
superiority which reason gives to power is consid- 
ered to be, not the accidental, but the natural ten- 
dency of reason ; and yet it could not prevail over 
altogether disproportionate force. It is possible 
that brute force, either by excess of numbers, by 
union, by want of sufficient length of time, or of 
some other opportunities in the rational creatures, 
should gain the superiority over them. No one 
would, notwithstanding, hesitate to consider this as 



56 OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART. I. 

an inverted order of things ; i. e., that the natural 
tendency of reason is to be superior. Now, virtue 
in a society has a like tendency to procure superi- 
ority and additional power, considered either as the 
means of security from opposite power, or of obtain- 
ing other advantages. It has this tendency, among 
other ways, by rendering public good an object and 
end to every member of society, and by uniting 
society by the chief bonds of union veracity and 
justice. But yet there must be some proportion 
between the natural power or force which is under 
the direction of virtue, and that which is not : there 
must be sufficient length of time ; for the complete 
success of virtue, as of reason, can not, from the na- 
ture of the thing, be otherwise than gradual. There 
must be a fair field of trial, a stage large and ex- 
tensive, proper opportunities for the virtuous to 
join together, to exert themselves against lawless 
force, and to reap the fruit of their united labors. 
Since much less power, under the direction of vir- 
tue, would prevail against power not under the di- 
rection of it, good men, if united, would prevail 
even here, to a considerable degree, over the bad. 
But there are various obstacles to their being uni- 
ted ; for example, they can not be sufficiently as- 
sured of each other's characters. These obstacles 
may be removed in a future state (which implies a 
more perfect one, like the state of mature ago 
compared with that of childhood), where men may 



CHAP. III.] OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 57 

unite among themselves and with other orders of 
virtuous creatures. Virtue is here militant. Among 
other things, the shortness of life denies to it its full 
scope in several other respects. In a future state 
it may prevail, and enjoy its consequent rewards. 
There may be scenes there lasting enough, and, in 
every other way adapted to afford it a sufficient 
sphere of action ; and it may be added, if this ten- 
dency were carried into effect, it would serve as an 
example to those orders of creatures capable of 
being recovered to a just sense of virtue. These 
are merely suppositions, which are not to be consid- 
ered true, because not incredible ; but they are 
mentioned to show that there can be no objections 
against the natural tendency of virtue, from the 
obstacles that prevent it in this world, as we can 
easily conceive how these obstacles can be remov- 
ed ; and the presumption that they will be removed, 
as they are only accidental, is proportionate in 
degree to the length of time through which the 
natural tendency will continue. The happy ten- 
dency of virtue might be seen by imagining an 
instance even in this world, by supposing a king- 
dom, or society of men, perfectly virtuous for a 
succession of many years every individual con- 
tributing to its preservation by contentedly employ- 
ing his capacity in its proper sphere; injustice, 
whether by fraud or force, would be unknown 
among themselves, and their wisdom, inviolable 



58 OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART J. 

union, &c., would fully secure them against their 
neighbors, devoid of such virtuous qualities, allow- 
ing both a sufficient time to try their force. The 
head of this society, by the tendency and example 
of virtue, would, in time, become a universal mon- 
arch in another sense than any mortal has yet been, 
and all people, nations, and languages would serve 
Mm. And thus the wonderful power and prosperi- 
ty promised, in Scripture, to the Jews, would be, in 
a great measure, the consequence of what is also pre- 
dicted of them " that the^eo^Ze should be all right- 
eous and inherit the land forever ;" i. e., taking the 
term "forever" to mean length of time sufficient to 
acquire this power. Suppose the obstacles against 
the fulfillment of this prediction to be removed, and 
the dominion and pre-eminence promised must nat- 
urally follow to a very considerable degree. All 
this might appear of little importance, if we did not 
consider what would be the consequence if vice had 
naturally these advantageous tendencies, or virtue 
the direct contrary ones. 

OBJECTION. But prove that the obstacles will be 
removed in a future state. 

ANSWER. Even if they were not removed in a 
future state, if there was to be a continuation of the 
apparent confusion of rewards and punishments 
that exists in this, it could not be said that vice, 
upon the whole, would have the advantage rather 
than virtue. But that the future state is to be one 



CHAP. III.] OF THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 59 

perfectly moral, can be proved by the usual argu- 
ments, of which the things here alleged afford a 
strong confirmation ; for, 1st, they show that the 
Author of nature is not indifferent to virtue and 
vice, so that even the course of nature, as here ex- 
plained, furnishes us with a real practical proof of 
the obligations of religion. 2d. The distributive 
justice, which Scripture declares is to take place 
in a future state, will not be different in kind, but 
only in degree, from what we experience here : it 
will be that in effect to which we now see a tendency. 
3d. Our experience that virtue and vice are actu- 
ally rewarded and punished at present in a certain 
degree, gives us just ground to hope and to fear 
that they may be rewarded and punished in a high- 
er hereafter ; and 4thly, there is sufficient ground 
to think that they will, from the natural tendencies 
of virtue and vice obstructed, indeed, in this life by 
obstacles, which being, in numberless cases, only ac- 
cidental, are more likely to be removed in a future 
state than the natural and necessary tendencies. 

From these things joined with the moral nature 
which God has given us, considered as given us by 
Him, arises a practical proof (vide chap. 6., ad fin.) 
that it will be completed a proof from fact, and, 
therefore, a distinct one from that which is deduced 
from the eternal and unalterable relations, the fit- 
ness and unfitness of actions.* 

* Vide the Note, Part II., Chap, VIIL, 2. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER III. 

1. Explain the meaning of the term "Moral Gov- 
ernment," and show in what it consists. 

2. In commencing the inquiry " whether in oui 
world a righteous government be not discernible," 
what considerations, that might fairly be adduced in 
proof of it, does Butler omit to press as arguments ? 
What reasons does he give for these omissions ? 

3. State the four general heads, under which the 
arguments, showing that God's government is to be 
moral, are comprehended in this chapter. 

4. How does it appear from their effects on the 
mind and temper, that the uneasiness arises from vice, 
and pleasure from virtue ? 

5. Show that from the world in general, virtue, 
considered as such, is actually rewarded ; and vice, 
considered as such, punished. 

6. Whence is it that the above-mentioned rule of 
judging and acting is never inverted by mankind in 
general ? 

7. To the proof of what assertions does Butler ap- 
ply these two facts; viz., that mankind possess a moral 
nature, and that they (taken as a whole) judge and acl 
according to it ? 

8. How may we answer the objection " that some 
persons are even rewarded for wicked actions, others 
punished for virtuous ones ?" 

F 



CHAP. III.] QUESTIONS CHAPTER III. 61 

9. Give a summary of the comparison which But- 
ler institutes between reason and virtue ; as to their 
natural tendency in causing power under their direc- 
tion to increase in a society. 

10. Name some of the obstacles which counteract 
the natural tendency of virtue to prevail. How and 
when does Butler suppose they may be removed ? 

11. For what purpose are the above-mentioned sup- 
positions brought forward ? 

12. By what supposed case (the possibility of which, 
however, is intimated in Scripture) may the natural 
happy tendency of virtue in a society be seen ? 

13. All the reasonings here alleged, affording con- 
firmation of the usual arguments that the future state 
is to be perfectly moral, are summed up under four 
heads. Name them distinctly. 

F 



CHAPTER IV. 

OF A STATE OF PROBATION, AS IMPLYING TRIAL, 
DIFFICULTIES, AND DANGER. 

I . Having shown the confirmation which Analogy affords to 
the Scriptural Doctrine of a righteous distribution of Re- 
wards and Punishments in a Future State, it is next shown 
that this World is our state of Probation previous to it. 
1st. As implying Trials and Difficulties. 3d. As intended 
for Moral Discipline and Improvement. 3d. As a Theatre 
of Action for the manifestation of Persons' Characters to 
the Creation of God. That this World is a state of Proba- 
tion in the first sense of the word, is proved in the present 
Chapter, from the Analogy that, in our Temporal Capacity, 
we are in a state of trial and danger for our Temporal 
Interest. 

II. This Analogy is more perfect, since the same constitutes 
both trials ; men behave the same way under them, and 
the dangers in both are increased from the same causes. 

III. Objections answered. 

I. A STATE of probation (in the most common 
meaning of the word) is, in a great measure, the 
same with the moral government which we have 
already proved to exist affording us scopes and 
opportunities for that good and bad behavior, which 
God will hereafter reward and punish ; for, in or- 



CHAP. IV.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 63 

der that there may be some ground for future 
judgment, there must be some sort of temptation to 
what is wrong ; but the word " probation" express- 
es more clearly and particularly this allurement to 
wrong, together with the dangers and -difficulties 
to be encountered in adhering uniformly to what 
is right. That the present is such a state appears 
from the following analogy : Natural government 
fyy rewards and punishments, which leaves our 
happiness and misery dependent on ourselves 
(chap. 2), as much implies natural trial, as moral 
government does moral trial. Accordingly, in our 
temporal interests, we find ourselves in a state of 
trial ; all temptations to vices contrary to that inter- 
est prove it; also all difficulties and dangers of 
miscarrying in any thing relating to our worldly 
happiness. 

II. This will more distinctly appear, if we con- 
sider, 1st, that the same constitutes both trials ; 
namely, something either in our external circum- 
stances or in our nature. In the one case, a temp- 
tation may be so singular or sudden as to overpow- 
er ; in the other, a person may be so habituated to 
vice as to seek opportunities, and go out of his way 
to gratify sinful* passions ; and these passions are 
as much temptations to act contrary to prudence, 
or that reasonable self-love, the end of which is our 
worldly interest, as they are to act contrary to the 
principle of virtue and religion. However, these 



64 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [PART. I. 

two sources of temptation coincide and mutually 
imply each other, for there must be somewhat 
within men themselves to render outward circum- 
stances temptations, and there must be external 
occasions and exciting objects to render their in- 
ward passions so. Thus mankind, having a tem- 
poral interest depending upon themselves, and a 
prudent course of behavior being necessary to se- 
cure it, passions inordinately excited are dangerous 
temptations to forego what is, upon the whole, our 
temporal interest, for the sake of present gratifica- 
tion. Such is our state of trial in our temporal ca- 
pacity ; and it will answer that in our religious ca- 
pacity, by merely substituting the word future for 
temporal, and virtue for prudence* so analogous 
are they to each other. 2d. That mankind behave 
in the same way under both trials. Many do not 
look beyond their present gratification, not even to 
the consequences in this life, whether they are 
blinded by inordinate passions, or forcibly carried 
away by them against their better judgment, or 
willingly yield in defiance of all consequences tem- 
poral and eternal. 3d. That the difficulties of 
right behavior are increased in a like way in both 

* Parables are founded on analogical reasoning. Vide, in 
this case, the Scripture parable of the Ten Virgins, but more 
especially that of the Unjust Steward. "The Lord com- 
mended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely, for 
the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser than 
the children of light." Luke, xvi., 8. 



CHAP. IV.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 65 

capacities in our religious capacity by the ill be- 
havior of others, by an education wrong in a moral 
sense, sometimes positively vicious, by general bad 
example, by dishonest artifices in business, and by 
religions being corrupted into superstitions which 
indulge men in their vices. In our temporal capa- 
city our difficulties are, in like manner, increased 
by a foolish education by the extravagant and 
careless example of others by mistaken notions, 
taken from common opinion, concerning temporal 
happiness ; and these difficulties are increased to 
men, in both capacities, by their own wrong be- 
havior in any stage of their existence ; for example, 
in youth, it renders their stage of trial more dan- 
gerous in mature age. 

III. 1st OBJECTION. Why is not this state of 
trial less uncertain ? Would it not be more cred- 
ible if it were not so uncertain ] 

ANSWER. There are natural appearances of our 
being in a state of degradation, and, though our 
condition may not appear the most advantageous, 
this furnishes no cause for complaint ; for, as men, 
by prudent management, can secure, to a tolerable 
degree, their temporal interest, so religion requires 
no more of us than what we are well able to do, if 
we do not neglect the appointed means. But the 
chief answer to the objection against such a state 
as religion declares this to be, is the foregoing an- 
alogy, for, from it, this appears to be throughout 



66 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [PART. I. 

uniform and of a piece with the general conduct 
of Providence toward us in all other respects with- 
in the compass of our knowledge. If our present 
interest were not uncertain, but secure, it might 
furnish some presumption against the truth of re- 
ligion, which represents our future interest, not as 
secure, but depending on our behavior; but from 
the contrary being the fact, the objection is of no 
force. 

2d OBJECTION. It is improbable that any kind of 
hazard and danger should be put upon us by an 
Infinite Being, when every thing which is hazard 
and danger in our manner of conception, arid which 
will end in error, confusion, and misery, is now al- 
ready certain in His foreknowledge. 

ANSWER. It might seem improbable, did not 
analogy prove it false in fact. The difficulty of 
accounting for it in speculation can not be removed 
till we know the whole, or, at least, much more of 
the case. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER IV. 

1. What is the meaning of the term, " a state of 
probation," as used in this work ? 

2. From what analogy does the present life appear 
to be such a state ? 

3. Explain the analogy which appears to exist be- 
tween our state of trial in our temporal, and that in 
our religious capacity. 

4. How do mankind commonly behave under both 
trials ? 

5. By what causes, common to both, are the diffi- 
culties of doing well increased? 

6. Answer the following two objections : 1st. Why 
is not this state of trial less uncertain ? 

7. 2d Objection. Is it not improbable that hazard 
should be put upon us by a Being whose foreknowl- 
edge is certain 1 



CHAPTER V. 

OF A STATE OF PROBATION, AS INTENDED FOR MORAL 
DISCIPLINE AND IMPROVEMENT. 

I. That we are in a state of Probation, in the second sense, as 
intended for Moral Discipline and Improvement for another 
state, appears from Analogy from the beginning of Life 
considered as a preparation for mature age. 

II. The extent of this Analogy may be determined from the 
1 following considerations, I. In both respects, new Char- 
acters must be acquired. 2. We are capable of acquiring 
these new Characters by our capacities of Knowledge and 
power of Habit (Habits are either active or passive ; Habits 
either bodily or mental ; all virtuous Habits formed by ac- 
tive exertion). 3. The possession of these Capacities im- 
plies what experience also proves to us the necessity oi : 
using them. And, 4th, we can show how virtuous Habits 
can be useful in the preparation for another Life ; and Dis- 
cipline necessary even for Creatures finitely perfect. 

III. Objections to such a State answered. 

IV. This World is a state of Probation in the third and last 
sense. 

I. FROM considering that we are in a state of 
probation, the question naturally arises, how came 
we to be placed in it 1 But this is a question in- 
volved in insuperable difficulties. We may lessen 



CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 69 

these difficulties by observing that all wickedness 
is voluntary, and that many of the miseries of life 
have apparent good effects ; but it is plain folly 
and presumption to pretend to give an account of 
the whole reason of the matter. Perhaps the dis- 
covery or comprehension of it is beyond the reach 
of our faculties, or, perhaps, the knowledge of it 
would be prejudicial to us. Religion affords a par- 
tial answer to it, but a satisfactory one to a ques- 
tion of real importance to us, namely, What is our 
business here ? And this answer is, we are placed 
in a state of so much affliction and hazard for our 
improvement in virtue and piety, as the requisite 
qualification for a future state of security and hap- 
piness. 

GENERAL ANALOGY : The beginning of life con- 
sidered as an education for mature age, in the pres- 
ent world, appears plainly to be analogous to this 
our trial for a future one : the former being in our 
temporal capacity what the latter is in our religious 
capacity. This will more clearly appear from the 
following : 

II. PARTICULAR ANALOGIES : 1st. Every species 
of creatures is, we see, designed for a particular 
way of life, to which the nature, the capacities, 
temper, and qualifications of each species are as 
necessary as their external circumstances. One 
thing is set over against another, as an ancient 
writer expresses it (Eccles., xlii., 24). Our nature 



70 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [PART I. 

corresponds to our external condition.* So that 
there must be some determinate capacities some 
necessary character and qualifications, without 
which persons can not but be utterly incapable of 
a future state of life ; in like manner as there must 
be some without which men would be incapable 
of their present state of life. 2d. The constitution 
of human creatures, and, indeed, of all creatures 
within our observation, is such as that they are ca- 
pable of naturally becoming qualified for states of 
life for which they were once wholly unqualified. 
We may imagine creatures, but we do not know 
of any, whose faculties are not made for enlarge- 
ment by experience and habit. We find ourselves 
in particular, endued with capacities of acquiring 
knowledge, namely, apprehension, reason, and mem- 
ory. And by the power of habits, we can acquire 
.a new facility in any kind of action, and settled al- 
terations in our temper and character. But neither 
the perception of ideas nor knowledge of any sort 
are habits, though they are absolutely necessaiy to 
the forming of them ; but the improvements of our 

* Bishop Butler has clearly shown, in his sermons, the pe- 
culiar correspondence between the inward frame of man 
and the external conditions and circumstances of his life; that 
the several passions and affections of the heart, compared 
with those circumstances, are certain instances of final causes ; 
for example, anger leads us to the immediate resistance of 
injury, and compassion prompts us to relieve the distressed, 
&c., &c. 



CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 71 

capacities of acquiring knowledge, especially in the 
case of memory, may, perhaps, be so called. That 
perceptions come into our minds readily and of 
course, by means of their having been there before, 
seems a thing of the same kind as readiness in any 
particular kind of action proceeding from being 
accustomed to it ; and aptness to recollect practical 
observations of service in our conduct, is plainly 
habit in many cases. There are habits of percep- 
tion, as, for example, our constant and even invol- 
untary readiness in correcting the impressions of 
our sight concerning magnitudes and distances, so 
as to substitute, imperceptibly to ourselves, judg- 
ment in the room of sensation. And it seems as if 
all other associations of ideas, not naturally con- 
nected, might be called passive habits, as properly 
as our readiness in understanding languages upon 
sight or hearing of words. There are also active 
habits, as, for example, our readiness in speaking 
and writing languages. For distinctness, we may 
consider habits as belonging to the mind or to the 
body. As habits of the body, i. e., all bodily activi- 1 
ties and motions, are produced by exercise; so are 
habits of the mind including, under this denomi- 
nation, general habits of life and conduct, such as 
those of obedience and submission to authority, or; 
to any particular person ; those of veracity, justice, 
and charity ; and those of attention, industry, self-- 
government, revenge. But there is this difference 



72 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [PART I. 

between them, that bodily habits are produced by 
repeated external acts mental habits by the exer- 
tion of inward practical principles carried into ac- 
tion, or acted upon. No external course of action 
can form these habits otherwise than as it proceeds 
from the inward principles, e. g., of obedience and 
veracity ; because it is only these inward principles 
exerted which are strictly acts of obedience, ve- 
racity, &c. It will contribute toward forming vir- 
tuous habits to resolve to do well, and to endea- 
vor to impress on our minds a practical sense of 
virtue, or to beget in others that practical sense of 
it which a man really feels himself (for resolutions 
and endeavors are properly acts). Practical hab- 
its are formed and strengthened by repeated acts; 
not so with passive impressions they grow weaker 
by being repeated ; so that going over the theory 
of virtue in one's thoughts, talking well, and draw- 
ing fine pictures, in place of forming a habit of vir- 
tue, may form a habit of insensibility to all moral 
considerations. Thoughts, by often passing through 
the mind, are felt less sensibly. Thus 

(1st.) Being accustomed to danger begets intre- 
pidity, i. e. t lessens fear. 

(2d.) Being accustomed to distress lessens the 
passion of pity. 

(3d.) Being accustomed to instances of others' 
mortality lessens the sensible apprehension of our 
own. 



CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 73 

And these effects of active and passive habits 
may occur at the same time ; active habits may be 
strengthening while the motives that excite them 
are less and less sensibly felt ; and experience con- 
firms this, for active principles, at the very time 
that they are less lively in. perception than they 
were, are found to be somehow wrought more 
thoroughly into the temper and character, and be- 
come more effectual in influencing our practice. 
Thus, in the three examples of passive habits, just 
mentioned, active habits may be operating at the 
same time. 

(1st.) Active caution may be increasing, while 
passive fear is growing less. 

(2d.) The practical principle of benevolence may 
be strengthening, w r hile the passive impression of 
pity, in consequence of frequently witnessing dis- 
tress, will be less and less sensibly felt. 

(3d.) It greatly contributes to strengthen a prac- 
tical regard to death ; i. e., to form a habit of acting 
with a constant view to it ; to behold daily instan- 
ces of men dying around us, though these instan- 
ces give us a less sensible feeling or apprehension 
of our ow T n mortality. 

Thus it appears that passive impressions made 
upon our minds by admonition, experience, and 
example tend to form active habits, not from our 
being so affected, but from our being induced to 
such a course of ; action; i. e. t it is the acting, and. 
G 



74 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [PART I 

not the affection, that forms them ; only it must be 
always remembered that real endeavors to enforce 
,good impressions upon ourselves are a species of 
virtuous actions. And practical principles grow 
stronger absolutely in themselves by exercise, a8 
well as relatively with regard to contrary princi- 
ples, which, by being accustomed to submit, do so 
habitually and of caurse. Thus a new character, 
in several respects, may be formed. 

3d. We should be totally unqualified for the 
employments and satisfactions of a mature state of 
life, unless we exerted the capacities that are given. 
us, and therefore, we may conclude, intended to be 
made use of. Even maturity of understanding and 
bodily strength require the continued exejxnse of 
our powers of mind and body from our infancy. 
But if we suppose a person brought into the world 
with both these in maturity, as far as this is con- 
ceivable, he would plainly, at first, be as unquali- 
fied for the human life of mature age as an idiot. 
Want of acquired habits would be like want of 
language it would destroy society. Children, 
from their very birth, are daily growing acquainted 
with the scene in winch they are to have a future 
part, and learning something necessary to the per- 
formance of it ; he, from his ignorance would be 
distracted with astonishment; apprehension, and 
suspense. The subordination to which they are ac* 
. customed teaches them subjection and obedience ; 



CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 75 

he would be so strangely headstrong and self-willed 
as to render society insupportable. And there are 
numberless little rules of action, learned so insen- 
sibly as to be mistaken for instinct, which he would 
be ignorant of, without which we could not live. 
Thus, by example, instruction and self-government, 
we are suited to different stations in life, and our 
conduct in each (which depends upon habits from 
our youth) determines our character and rank in 
society. All this is an analogy applicable to the 
present life, considered as a preparation for a fu- 
ture. Our condition in both respects is uniform, 
and comprehended under one and the same gene- 
ral law of nature. 

4th. But do we know how this world is calcula- 
ted for such a preparation ? If we did not, this 
would be no objection against it being so. We 
might, with as much reason, object to the known 
fact that food and sleep contribute to the growth of 
the body, because we do not know how they can 
do it, and, prior to experience, we could not have 
thought that they would. Children are as ignorant 
that sports and exercise are useful for their health ; 
and they might as well object to restraints in them, 
and in other matters necessary for their discipline, 
because they do not see the reason of them. But 
taking in the consideration of God's moral govern- 
ment, and, consequently, that the character of vir- 
tue and piety is a necessary qualification for a fu- 



76 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [PART. 1 

ture state, we may distinctly see how and in what 
respects the present life may be a preparation for 
it, since we want, and are capable of, improvement 
in that character by moral and religious habits, and 
the present life is Jit to be a state of discipline for 
such improvement. Now, first, as regards the state 
for which we are to prepare, analogy leads us to 
conclude that it will be a society as Scripture de- 
scribes it ; and it is not at all unreasonable to sup- 
pose, though there be no analogy for it, that it will 
be, according to the representation of Scripture, 
under the more immediate or sensible government 
of God. That we are capable of improvement, has 
been already shown ; and that we want it, every 
one will admit who is acquainted with the great 
wickedness of mankind, or even with those imper- 
fections which the best are conscious of. But the 
necessity for discipline in human creatures is to be 
traced up higher than to excess in the passions by 
indulgence and habits of vice. From the very con- 
stitution of their nature they are deficient, and in 
danger of deviating from what is right, and, there- 
fore, they stand in need of virtuous habits for a se- 
curity against this danger ; for, besides the general 
principle of moral understanding, they have, in their 
inward frame, various affections toward external 
objects, which the principle of virtue can neither 
excite nor prevent being excited ; and when the 
object of any affection can not be obtained with the 



CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 77 

consent of the moral principle, yet may be obtained 
without it, such affection, though its being excited, 
and its continuing some time in the mind, be as in- 
nocent as it is natural and necessary, tends to in- 
cline them to venture upon an unlawful means of 
indulgence. Now, what is the general security 
against their actually deviating from what is right? 
As the danger is from within, so, also, must the se- 
curity be from the inward practical principle of 
virtue ;* and the strengthening this principle will 
lessen the danger or increase the security against 
it. All this is under the supposition that particular 
affections remain in a future state. If this suppo- 

* It may be thought that a sense of interest would as ef- 
fectually restrain creatures from doing wrong. But if, by a 
sense of interest, is meant a speculative conviction, or belief, 
that such and such indulgence would occasion them greater 
uneasiness, upon the whole, than satisfaction, it is contrary 
to present experience to say, that this sense of interest is suf- 
ficient to restrain them from thus indulging themselves. And 
if, by a sense of interest, is meant a practical regard to what 
is, upon the whole, our happiness, this is not only coincident 
with the principle of virtue or moral rectitude, but is a part 
of the idea itself. And it is evident this reasonable self-love 
wants to be improved as really as any principle in our nature ; 
for we daily see it overmatched not only by the more boister- 
ous passions, but by curiosity, shame, love of imitation by 
any thing, even indolence ; especially if the interest the tem- 
poral interest suppose which is the end of such self-love, bo 
at a distance ; so greatly are profligate men mistaken when 
they affirm they are wholly governed by interestedness and 
self-love ; and so little cause is there for moralists to disclaim 
this principle. Butler, 

G* 



78 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [PART I. 

sition be true, acquired habits will probably be 
necessary to regulate them; if it be not, it amounts 
to the same thing ; for habits of virtue, thus ac- 
quired by discipline, are improvements in virtue ; 
and improvements in virtue must be advancement 
in happiness, if the government of the universe be 
moral. The necessity of moral improvement by 
discipline wrll further appear by considering, 1st, 
how creatures, made upright, may fall; and, 2d, 
how, by preserving their integrity, they may raise 
themselves to a more secure state of virtue. The 
nature of liberty can no more account for the for- 
mer than the possibility of an event can account 
for its occurrence. But it seems distinctly con- 
ceivable, from the very nature of particular affec- 
tions or propensions ; for, suppose creatures intend- 
ed for a state of life for which these propensions 
are necessary, endued with them, together with a 
moral understanding, having all these principles 
exactly proportioned to their intended state of life, 
such creatures would be made upright or finitely 
perfect. Now, these propensions must be felt, the 
objects being present ; they can be gratified with- 
out the consent of the moral principle, and, there- 
fore, possess some tendency to induce persons to 
such forbidden gratification ; which tendency, in 
such particular cases, may be increased by a great- 
er frequency of occasions to excite them, by the 
least voluntary indulgence, even in thought, till, by 



CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 79 

peculiar conjunctures conspiring, the danger of de- 
viating from right ends in actual deviation a dan- 
ger necessarily arising from the very nature of pro- 
pension, which, on this account, could not have 
been prevented, though it might have been inno- 
cently passed through.* It is impossible to say 
how far the first act] of irregularity might disorder 
the inward constitution, but repetition of irregular- 
ity would produce habits; and, in proportion to 
this repetition, creatures, made upright, would be- 
come depraved. But, 2d, by steadily following 
the moral principle, creatures might have preserved 
their uprightness, and, consequently, might have 
been raised to a higher and more secure state of 
virtue, since the moral principle would gain strength 
by exercise, and the propensions from habit would 
more easily submit. Thus, then, vicious indulgence 
is not only criminal in itself, but also depraves the 
inward constitution and character. And virtuous 
self-government is not only right in itself, but also 
improves the inward constitution, and may improve 
it to such a degree as that the danger of actually 

* This proves that it was not necessary for our Lord to 
take upon him our sinful nature in order to be capable of 
temptation. Vide two Sermons, by Dr. O'Brien, to prove 
that he might be " tempted like as we are, and yet without 
sin." 

t This may serve as an answer to the common objection, 
that the consequences of a single crime in our first parents 
are represented in Scripture as incredibly excessive. 



80 OF A STATE OF PROBATIOiN. [PART I. 

deviating from right may be almost infinitely less- 
ened. Thus it appears, that creatures without 
blemish, even possessed of a moral principle, may 
be in danger of going wrong, and so stand in need 
of the higher perfection and security of virtuous 
habits formed in a state of discipline. Much more 
are they in danger, and much do they require such 
habits, whose natures are corrupted, and whose 
passions have become excessive from habits of in- 
dulgence. They require to be renewed, not merely 
improved ; for them, discipline of the severer sort 
must be necessary. This world is peculiarly fit to 
be a state of discipline for this purpose. Such ex- 
perience as it affords of the frailty of our nature 
of the danger and actual event of creatures losing 
their innocence and happiness hath a tendency to 
give us a practical sense of things very different 
from a speculative knowledge of what we are liable 
to. But what renders it peculiarly fit, are the snares 
and temptations to vice, because they render cau- 
tion, recollection, and self-denial necessary to such 
as will preserve their integrity. And strong temp- 
tations particularly call these into action ; and, re- 
quiring a stronger effort of virtue, or a continued 
exercising of it, they confirm a habit of it much 
more than weak or instantaneous temptations could 
possibly do. It is, indeed, ridiculous to assert that 
self-denial is essential to virtue and piety ; but it is 
nearer the truth, though not strictly the truth itself, 



CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 81 

to say, that it is essential to discipline and improve- 
ment ; for, though actions materially virtuous may 
not be an exercise of the virtuous principle, i. e., 
not virtuous actions at all, but merely done from 
being agreeable to our own particular inclinations, 
yet they may be an exercise of that principle, and, 
when they are, they tend to form and fix the habit 
of virtue ; and this in proportion to the frequency 
or intensity of the exercise of the virtuous princi- 
ple ; but, as neither our intellectual power nor bod- 
ily strength can be improved beyond a certain de- 
gree, and both may be overwrought, possibly there 
may be some trifling analogy to this in the moral 
character. Thus it appears, in general (for there 
may be some other minute exceptions), that this 
world is peculiarly fit to be a state of trial, in the 
same sense that some sciences are fit to form to 
habits of attention the minds of such as will attend 
to them. These several observations, concerning 
the active principle of virtue, are applicable to pas- 
sive submission, or resignation to the Divine will, 
which is another essential part of a right charac- 
ter, connected with the former, and very much in 
our power to form ourselves to. > 

III. 1st OBJECTION. " The present state is so 
far from proving, in event, a discipline of virtue to 
the generality of men, that, on the contrary, they 
seem to make it a discipline of vice." 

ANSWER. The viciousness of the world is, in dif- 



32 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [.PART L 

ferent ways, the great temptation, which renders 
it a state of virtuous discipline, in the degree it is, 
to good men. The whole end of man being placed 
in such a state as the present, is not pretended to 
be accounted for. It is a discipline to some who 
attend to and follow the notices of virtue arid relig- 
ion ; and if it be not to the generality, this can no 
more be urged as a proof against its being intend- 
ed for moral discipline than the decay of the great- 
er part of the numerous seeds of vegetables and 
bodies of animals put in a way to improve to ma- 
turity and perfection can be urged as an objection 
against their being intended for that end, to which 
only one in a million attains to.* 

2d OBJECTION. As far as a course of behavior 
materially virtuous proceeds from hope and fear, 
so far it is only a discipline and strengthening of 
self-love. 

ANSWER. Doing what God commands, because 
he commands it, is obedience, though it proceeds 
from hope or fear; and a course of such obedience 
will form habits of it. There is no foundation for 
this great nicety ; for veracity, justice, and charity 
(regard to which must form habits of self-govern- 

* I can not forbear adding, though it is not to the present 
purpose, that the appearance of such an amazing waste in na- 
ture, with respect to these seeds and bodies, by foreign causes, 
is to us as unaccountable as, what is much more terrible, the 
present and future ruin of so many moral agents by them- 
selves, i. e., by vice. Butler. 



CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 03 

ment), respect to God's authority, and to our own 
chief interest, are not only all three coincident, but 
each of them is, in itself, a just and natural princi- 
ple of action.* 

3d OBJECTION. How can passive submission and 
resignation! be in any way necessary to qualify for 
a state of perfect happiness, since nothing but afflic- 
tions can give occasion for ; or require this virtue ? 

ANSWER. Experience contradicts this assertion. 
Even prosperity begets extravagant and unbounded 
thoughts. Imagination is as much a source of dis- 
content as any thing in our external condition. It 
is, indeed, true, that there can be no scope for pa- 
tience when sorrow shall be no more ; but there 
may be need of a temper of mind which shall have 
been formed by patience. For, though self-love, 
considered as an active principle leading us to pur- 
sue our real and chief interest, must coincide with 
the principle of obedience to God's command (this 
obedience and the pursuit of our own interest be- 

* Religion is so far from disowning the principle of self-love, 
that it often addresses itself to that very principle, and al- 
ways to the mind in that state where reason presides ; and 
there can no access be had to the understanding but by con- 
vincing men that the course of life we should persuade them 
to is not contrary to their interest. Butler's Sermons. 

t Resignation to the will of God is the whole of piety; it 
includes in it all that is good, and is a source of the most get- 
tied quiet and composure of mind. It may be said to be 
perfect when our will is lost and resolved into His. Butler 1 * 
Sermons. 



34 OF A STATE OF PROBATION. [PART. I. 

ing synonymous), yet it can not be said so certainly 
to coincide, considered merely as the desire of our 
own interest, any more than particular affections 
can, i. e., so as to be incapable of unlawful excite- 
ments. So that habits of resignation may, upon 
this account, be requisite for all creatures habits, 
i. e., what are formed by use. However, in gen- 
eral it is obvious that both self-love and particular 
affections in human creatures, considered only as 
passive feelings, distort and rend the mind, and, 
therefore, require discipline to moderate them. 
But the proper discipline for resignation is afflic- 
tion, since a right behavior under that trial will 
habituate the mind to a dutiful submission, which, 
with the active principle of obedience, make up the 
character which belongs to us as dependent crea- 
tures. 

4th OBJECTION. All the trouble and danger, un- 
avoidably accompanying such discipline, might have 
been saved us by our being made at once the crea- 
tures which we were to be. 

ANSWER. This is contrary to the general conduct 
of nature ?, which is not to save us trouble or danger, 
but to furnish us with capacities for going through 
them, and to oblige us to do so. Acquirements of 
our own experience and habits are the natural sup- 
ply to our deficiencies, since it is as plainly natural 
to set ourselves to acquire the qualifications as the 
external things which we stand in need of. 






CHAP. V.] OF A STATE OF PROBATION. 85 

IV. There is a third sense of the word probation : 
a theatre of action for the manifestation of persons' 
characters to the creation of God. This may, per- 
haps, be only a consequence of our being in a state 
of probation in the other senses. However, this 
manifestation of the real character of men may 
have respect to a future life in ways unknown to 
us : particularly it may be a means of their being 
disposed of suitably to their characters, and of its 
being made known to the creation, by way of ex- 
ample, that they are thus disposed of. 
H 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER V. 

1. What is the only question of real importance to 
us, that arises from the consideration of our being in a 
state of probation here ? And how may it be an- 
swered ? 

2. State, 1st, the general analogy by which Butler 
illustrates this subject; and, 2d, the four distinct con- 
siderations by which he shows the extent and force of 
that analogy. 

3. How does he explain the passage in Ecclesiasti- 
cus, chap, xlii., 24 ; and what consequence does he 
deduce from it? 

4. State what are our capacities of acquiring knowl- 
edge ; and by what power we may acquire settled al- 
terations of our character. 

5. What comparison may we institute between the 
habits of the body and those of the mind ? 

6. Give a summary of the argument showing the 
momentous difference between practical habits and pas- 
sive impressions on the mind ; noting especially the 
only way in which the latter can become useful to us. 

7. Prove that the possession of capacities implies 
the necessity also of using them. 

8. By what considerations may we distinctly see 
how, and in what respects, the present life may be a 
preparation for a future state ? 

9. Show that, from the very constitution of our na- 
ture being deficient, there is a necessity for discipline 
in human creatures. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER V. 87 

10. What meaning does Butler affix to the term "a 
sense of our interest," when he proves it is perfectly 
compatible with moral rectitude ? State his argument 
on this point. 

11. How does it seem distinctly conceivable, from 
the very nature of particular affections implanted in 
them, that creatures, made upright, may fall? 

* 12. How does it appear that upright creatures, by 
pursuing their integrity, may raise themselves to a 
more secure state of virtue? What inference is 
drawn from the two foregoing positions ? 

13. By what arguments is it proved that "this 
world is peculiarly fit to be a state of discipline for the 
purpose, not merely of improving, but of renewing 
men ? 

14. Answer the following objections. 1st. The pres- 
ent state becomes to most men a discipline of vice in- 
stead of virtue. 

15. 2d. Actions proceeding from hope or fear, though 
they be materially virtuous, only discipline and strength- 
en self-love. 

16. 3d. How can passive submission and resignation, 
which are required only in afflictions (and they are 
occasioned by a state of sin), serve to qualify us for 
perfect happiness and virtue ? 

17. 4th. Might not all our trouble and danger in this 
state of discipline have been saved by God making us 
at once the creatures which he intends us finally to be ? 

18. What purpose may be served by the manifesta- 
tions of the real character of individuals in this life ? 



CHAPTER VI. 

OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY CONSIDERED AS IN- 
FLUENCING PRACTICE. 

I. The proof of the existence of an Intelligent Author of na- 
ture, taken for granted in this Treatise, is not affected by 
the opinion of Universal Necessity, For, 1st, when a Fa- 
talist asserts that every thing is by necessity, he must mean 
by an agent, acting necessarily ; and, 2d, the necessity by 
which such an agent is supposed to act does not exclude 
intelligence and design. 

II. Neither does the opinion of Universal Necessity affect the 
system of there being a Moral Governor, or of our being in 
a state of religion ; for, if that opinion can be reconciled 
with our condition under the present Moral Government, 
it can be reconciled with that which religion teaches us to 
expect ; but, in the former case, it is found to be practically 
false. 

III. The opinion of Universal Necessity does not affect the 
practical proof of religion, derived from the particular final 
causes of pleasure and pain annexed to actions, combined 
with the external evidence of Natural Religion. 

I. AN objection may be made from universal ne- 
cessity against the existence of an Intelligent Au- 
thor of nature, which has been taken for granted 
throughout this treatise as a thing proved, as it 



CHAP. VI.] OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. 89 

may be supposed that such necessity will account 
for the origin and preservation of all things. But, 
in the first place, when it is said by a fatalist that 
every thing is necessary, and could not possibly 
have been otherwise, it is to be observed that this 
necessity does not exclude deliberation, choice, 
preference, and acting from certain principles and 
to certain 'ends, because all this every man may 
every moment be conscious of. So that the asser- 
tion that every thing is by necessity of nature is 
not an answer to the question whether the world 
came into being as it is, by an Intelligent Agent 
forming it thus or not ] but to quite another ques- 
tion whether it came into being in that way and 
manner which we call necessarily, or in that way 
and manner which we call freely ? For, suppose 
farther, that, in a dispute between a fatalist and one 
who believed himself a free agent, a house was in- 
stanced ; they would both agree that it was built 
by an architect ; the point of their difference would 
be, whether he built it necessarily, or freely 1 We 
ascribe to God a necessary existence,* uncaused, 

* As to the meaning of necessary existence, logicians have 
long since determined that there are but two modes according 
to which any Being can be said to exist, or to be what it is ; 
and these are contingency and necessity. Where the non-ex- 
istence of a Being is possible, that is, where we can, without 
a contradiction, suppose it not to exist, that Being exists con- 
tingently, or contingency is the mode of its existence. But 
if there is any Being who demonstrably must exist, and whose 
non-existence is therefore impossible and inconce viable, that 



90 OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. [PART I. 

by any agent : for we find within ourselves the 
idea of infinity, i. c., immensity and eternity, impos- 
sible even in imagination to be removed out of be- 
ing ; and from hence (for this abstract, as much as 
any other, implies a concrete) we conclude that 
there is, arid can not but be, an Infinite and Im- 
mense Eternal Being, answering this idea, existing 
prior to all design contributing to his * existence ; 
and, therefore, from the scantiness of language, we 
say necessity is the foundation of his existence. 
But there can not be said to be this kind of neces- 
sity for the existence of every thing a necessity 
antecedent in nature to design, for many reasons : 
but chiefly because it is admitted that design in the 
actions of men contributes to many alterations in 
nature. 

II. The condition of mankind under the present 
moral government being greatly analogous to our 
condition under a farther government, which reli- 
gion teaches us if any assert, as the fatalist must, 
that the opinion of universal necessity is reconcil- 
able with the former, there immediately arises a 
question, in the way of analogy,* whether he must 

Being exists necessarily, or necessity is the mode of its exist- 
ence. But necessity can in no sense be considered as the 
cause, or even as the ground or reason of any existence, or 
of any effect whatever. Hamilton on the Existence of God. 
* " Fatalists are fond of inferring moral necessity from phys- 
ical, in the way of analogy, In effect, says Voltaire, it would 
be very singular that all nature, all the planets, should obey 



CHAP. VI.] OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. 91 

not also own it to be reconcilable with the latter, 
i. e., with the system of religion itself, and the proof 
of it. Suppose, then, a fatalist to educate any one 
from his youth up in his own principles to eradicate 
the very perceptions of blame and commendation 
out of his mind, by teaching him that he can not pos- 
sibly behave otherwise than he does ; suppose the 
child to judge, from this system, what treatment he 
is to expect from reasonable men, upon his com- 
ing abroad into the world as the fatalist judges 
from it what he is to expect from the Author of 
nature, and with regard to a future state. At first 
he would have a great degree of conceit and vanity 
at being freed from the restraints of fear and shame 
with which his playfellows were fettered ; but this 
is not all; he must evidently, by constant correction, 
have the want of those natural perceptions of blame 
and commendation supplied, which this system de- 
stroyed, and thus be convinced that, if it be not 

eternal laws, and that there should be a little animal five feet 
high, who, in contempt of these laws, could act as he pleased, 
solely according to his caprice. We do too much honor to 
such reasoning when we reply to it in the bold but sublime 
words of a great genius :" 

Know'st thou th' importance of a soul immortal 1 

Behold this midnight-glory, worlds on worlds ! 

Amazing pomp ! Redouble this amaze ; 

Ten thousand add ; add twice ten thousand more ; 

Then weigh the whole. One soul outweighs them all, 

And calls the astonishing magnificence 

Of unintelligent creation poor. 

BEATTLE. 



92 OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. [PART I. 

false, it is misapplied when applied to practice. 
Or, supposing his temper could remain still form- 
ed to the system, upon his coming abroad inte 
the world he would be insupportable to society, 
and the treatment which he would receive from it 
would render it so to him ; and he could not fail 
of soon committing some act for which he would 
be delivered over into the hands of civil justice. 
Any other practical application of this opinion will 
be found equally fallacious ; for instance, that there 
is no need for taking care to preserve life, for, if 
we are destined to live, we shall live without it; 
and, if to die, we can not prevent it. None of these 
practical absurdities result from reasoning upon the 
supposition that we are free; and, therefore, though 
it were admitted that this opinion of necessity were 
speculatively true, yet, with regard to practice, it is 
as if it were false, so far as our experience reaches; 
that is, to the whole of our present life. And how 
can people think themselves so very secure, that 
the same application of the same opinion may not 
mislead them also, in some analogous manner, with 
respect to a future one, on which is dependent a 
more general and more important interest ] For 
religion being a practical subject, and the analogy 
of nature showing us that we have not faculties to 
apply this opinion, were it a true one, to practical 
subjects, whenever we do apply it to the subject 
of religion, and thence conclude that we are free 



CHAP. VI.] OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. 93 

from its obligations, it is plain this conclusion can 
not be depended upon. Nor does this contain any 
reflection upon reason, but only upon what is un- 
reasonable applying our reason to subjects to 
which experience shows us they are not suited. 
Farther, we find within ourselves a will, and are 
conscious of a character, i. e. y that frame of mind 
whereby we act in one manner rather than another. 
Now, if this in us be reconcilable with fate, it is 
reconcilable with it in the Author of nature (be- 
sides natural government and final causes imply a 
character and a will in the Governor concerning 
the creatures whom He governs) ; and it is as rec- 
oncilable with the particular character of benevo- 
lence, veracity, and justice in Him, which attributes 
are the foundation of religion, as with any other 
character, since we find this necessity no more hin- 
ders men from being benevolent than cruel true 
than faithless just than unjust or, if the fatalist 
pleases, what ice call unjust. For it is said, indeed, 
that what, upon supposition of freedom, would be 
just punishment, upon supposition of necessity be- 
comes manifestly unjust; because it is punishment 
inflicted for doing what persons could not avoid 
doing. As if the necessity which is supposed to 
destroy the injustice of murder, for instance, would 
not also destroy the injustice of punishing it. How- 
ever, as little to the purpose as this objection is in 
itself, it shows how the notions of justice and in- 



94 OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. [PART I. 

justice force themselves upon the mind, even while 
we are making suppositions destructive of them. 

III. But, though it is most evident that universal 
necessity, if it be reconcilable with any thing, is 
reconcilable with that character in the Author of 
nature, which is the foundation of religion, yet 
does it not plainly destroy the proof that He is of 
that character, and consequently the proof of reli- 
gion ? By no means ; for we find that happiness 
and misery are not our fate in any such sense as 
not to be the consequences of our behavior, but 
that they are the consequences of it. But as the 
doctrine of liberty, though experienced to be true, 
may be perplexed with difficulties, and as necessity 
seems to be the basis of infidelity, we shall prove 
more distinctly and particularly that necessity does 
not destroy the obligations of religion. The proof, 
from final causes, of an Intelligent Author of nature, 
is not affected by it. And it is a matter of fact 
and, therefore, there can be no objection against it 
from necessity that He governs the world by the 
method of rewards and punishments, and also that 
He hath given us a moral faculty, by which we 
distinguish between actions virtuous and vicious. 
This is a rule of such authority, that we can not 
depart from it without being self-condemned. It in 
plainly a Divine command, immediately producing 
a sense of duty, being a direction of the Author of 
nature to creatures capable of looking upon it as 



CHAP. VI.] OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. 95 

such; and his having annexed to some actions an 
inseparable sense* of good desert, and to others of 
ill, surely amounts to declaring upon whom his 
punishment shall be hereafter inflicted, and his re- 
wards be bestowed.t But besides this, natural 
religion hath an external evidence which the doc- 
trine of necessity, if it could be true, would not ef- 
fect. 1st. Somewhat of this system has been pro- 
fessed in all ages and countries of which we have 
any information. This general consent shows the 
system to be conformable to the common sense of 
mankind. 2d. It is a certain historical fact, as far 
as we can trace, that religion was believed in the 
first ages of the world, and this when it was un- 
adulterated by superstition. The only alternative 
is, either that it came into the world by revelation, 
or that it is natural and obvious, and forces itself 
upon the mind. The former is the conclusion of 

* From hence might easily be deduced the obligation of 
religious worship, were it only to be considered as a means 
of preserving upon our minds a sense of this moral govern- 
ment of God, and securing our obedience to it ; which yet is 
an extremely imperfect view of that most important duty. 
Butler. 

t The conclusion, that God will finally reward the rights 
eous and punish the wicked, is not here drawn from it ap- 
pearing to us jit that He should, but from its appearing that 
He has told us He will. However, I am far from intending 
to deny that the will of God is determined by what is fit, by 
the right and reason of the case ; though such abstract sub- 
jects are rather to be declined, or, at least, treated with 
caution. Butler. 



96 OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. [PART I. 

learned men, rendered more probable by the in-' 
aptness of uncultivated minds for speculation, and 
by the early pretenses to revelation, otherwise not 
easily accounted for. 3d. There is express histor- 
ical, or traditional evidence, as ancient as history, 
of the system of religion being taught mankind by 
revelation ; and why should not the most ancient 
tradition be admitted as some additional proof of 
a fact against which there is no presumption ; and 
this proof is mentioned here, because it tends to 
show that religion came into the world by revela- 
tion prior to all consideration of the proper author- 
ity of any book supposed to contain a revelation, 
and even prior to all consideration whether the 
revelation itself be purely handed down. 

It is carefully to be observed, and ought to be 
recollected, after all proofs of virtue and religion, 
which are only general, that, as speculative reason 
may be neglected, prejudiced, and deceived, so 
also may our moral understanding be impaired 
and perverted, and the dictates of it not impartially 
attended to ; this should admonish us not to take 
custom, and fashion, and slight notions of honor, or 
imaginations of present ease, use, and convenience 
to mankind for the only moral rule. 

The foregoing observations together amount to a 
practical proof, sufficient to influence the actions of 
men, who act upon thought and reflection, if it were 
admitted that there is no proof of the contrary. 



CHAP. VI.] OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. 97 

OBJECTION. " There are many probabilities which 
can not be shown to be no probabilities, and yet 
may be overbalanced by greater probabilities on 
the other side ; much more by demonstration. 
And there is no occasion to object against particu- 
lar arguments alleged for an opinion, when the 
opinion itself may be clearly shown to be false. 
Now the method of government by rewarding and 
punishing good and ill desert, as such, supposes 
that we are free, and not necessary, agents ; and it 
is incredible that the Author of nature should gov- 
ern us upon a supposition, as true, which he knows 
to be false,* and, therefore, absurd to think that he 
will reward or punish us for our actions hereafter, 
especially considered as of good or ill desert." 

ANSWER. The whole analogy of nature shows 
that the conclusion, from this reasoning, is false, 
wherever the fallacy lies. The doctrine of free- 
dom, indeed, clearly shows where in supposing 
ourselves necessary, when, in truth, we are free 
agents. But, upon supposition of necessity, the 
fallacy lies in taken for granted that it is incredible 

* Hume goes so far as to affirm, " that, though man, in 
truth, is a necessary agent, having all his actions determined 
by fixed and immutable laws, yet, this being concealed from 
him, he acts with the conviction of being a free agent." 
Who conceals it? Does the Author of nature conceal it, and 
this writer discover it ? 

To laugh were want of goodness and of grace, 
And to be grave exceeds all power of face. 

BEATTIK. 



98 OF THE OPINION OF NECESSITY. [PART I. 

that necessary agents should be rewarded and pun- 
ished. It is matter of fact that men are rewarded 
and punished for their actions, considered as vir- 
tuous and vicious ; so that, if it be incredible that 
necessary agents should be thus rewarded and 
punished, then men are not necessary, but free. 
But if, on the contrary which is the supposition 
we have been arguing upon it be insisted that 
men are necessary agents, then there is nothing in- 
credible in the farther supposition of necessary 
agents being thus rewarded and punished, since 
we ourselves are thus dealt with. 

Is, then, the common assertion true, that the 
opinion of necessity is essentially destructive of all 
religion ? It is true, 1st, in a practical sense, that 
atheists encourage themselves in vice by this no- 
tion. 2d. In the strictest sense, that it is contrary 
to the whole constitution of nature, and so to every 
thing. But it is not true ; as we have seen that 
necessity, supposed reconcilable with the consti- 
tution of things, is not also reconcilable with nat- 
ural religion; its proof remains unaffected by it, 
and, therefore, the proof of revealed religion. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER VI. 

1. Show that the proof of the existence of an intel- 
ligent Author of nature is not affected by the opinion 
of universal necessity; and give a familiar illustration 
of the argument. 

2. Explain the meaning of ascribing to God a neces- 
sary existence. Why can not any thing similar be pre- 
dicted of all natural objects ? 

3. In what manner does Hamilton distinguish be- 
tween the existence of God and creatures ? 

4. By what examples does Butler illustrate his as- 
sertion, that the opinion of universal necessity, when 
practically applied to our condition in the present life, 
is found to be fallacious ? 

5. How is it proved that, in the application of the 
above opinions to the things of a future life, it will be 
found equally fallacious ? 

6. Show that from the fact of " our finding within 
ourselves a will, and our being conscious of a certain 
character belonging to us," arguments may be deduced 
against the idea of Universal Necessity affecting the 
system of a Moral Governor. 

7. Prove that the opinion of necessity does not af- 
fect the practical proof of religion, derived from the 
particular final causes of pleasure and pain annexed to 
actions. 



100 QUESTIONS CHAPTER VI. 

8. State the heads under which it is argued, that 
natural religion has an external evidence that can not 
be affected by the doctrine of necessity. 

9. Answer upon his own grounds the following ob- 
jection of a fatalist, viz., "the method of government 
by rewards and punishments in a future life must go 
upon the supposition that we are not necessary agents; 
but the Author of nature knows that we are so ; and, 
therefore, will not reward or punish us for our actions 
hereafter under the notion that they are of good or 
ill desert." 

10. In what sense is it true that the doctrine of ne- 
cessity is essentially destructive of all religion ? 



CHAPTER VII. 

OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD CONSIDERED AS A 
SCHEME OR CONSTITUTION, IMPERFECTLY COMPRE- 
HENDED. 

I. Admitting the credibility of the general doctrine of re- 
ligion as a matter of fact, there may yet be objections 
against the wisdom, justice, and goodness of it. Analogy 
affords a general answer to such objections, by showing 
that God's moral government must be a scheme beyond 
our comprehension. 

II. This appears more clearly from particular analogies. 1st. 
In the natural government means are used to accomplish 
ends, and often such means as appear to us unsuitable. 
2d. The natural government is carried on by general 
laws, with which we are unacquainted. 

III. Objection answered, viz : " This is only arguing from 
our ignorance, which may as well be made use of to inval- 
idate the proof of religion." 

I. HAVING shown the credibility of religion, as a 
matter of fact, there may yet be objections against 
the wisdom, equity, and goodness of the Divine 
government implied in the notion of religion, and 
against tbe method by which this government is 
conducted. To these objections analogy can fur- 



102 OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

nish no direct answer. For the credibility or cer- 
tainty of a matter of fact, which is all that analogy 
can directly prove, does not immediately prove 
any thing concerning the wisdom or goodness of 
it. But analogy furnishes a remote answer it 
suggests, and makes it credible, that this govern- 
ment must be a scheme or system, as distinguished 
from a number of single, unconnected acts of dis- 
tributive justice and goodness, and a scheme be- 
yond our comprehension.* 

GENERAL ANALOGY. Upon supposition that God 
exercises a moral government over th6 world, the 
analogy of his natural government suggests and 
makes it credible that his moral government must 
be a scheme quite beyond our comprehension. 
1st. It must be a scheme for the world, and the 
whole natural government of it, appears to be so, 
to be a scheme or system, whose parts corre- 
spond to each other, and to a whole, as really as 
any work of art, or as any particular model of a 
civil constitution and government. And as there 
is not any action or natural event, with which we 
are acquainted, so single and unconnected as not to 
have a respect to some other actions and events, 
so, possibly, each of them, when it has not an im- 

* The ignorance of man is a favorite doctrine with Bishop 
Butler. It occurs again in the second part of the Analogy ; 
it makes the subject of his 15th Sermon, and we meet with 
it also in his Charge. 



CHAP. VII.] OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 103 

mediate natural relation to other actions and events, 
may yet have a remote one, beyond the compass 
of this present world. Things, apparently the 
most inconsiderable, are perpetually observed to be 
necessary conditions to the most important mat- 
ters ; so that any one thing whatever, for aught we 
know to the contrary, may be a necessary condition 
to any other. In short, there is not any one thing 
of which we can give the whole account, of all its 
causes, ends, and adjuncts necessary to its existence. 
Thus it appears that the natural government is a 
scheme, and a scheme so incomprehensible, that 
a man must really know nothing at all who is not 
sensible of his ignorance in it. This immediately 
suggests, and strongly shows the credibility, that 
the moral world and government of it may be so 
too. Indeed, the natural and moral constitution 
and government are so connected as to make up 
together but one scheme ; and it is highly probable, 
but more than is necessary to be proved at present, 
that the first is formed and carried on merely in 
subserviency to the latter, as the vegetable world 
is for the natural and organized bodies for minds. 
In the same way, then, every act of Divine justice 
and goodness may be supposed to look much be- 
yond itself and its immediate object ; it may have 
some reference to other parts of God's moral ad- 
ministration, and to a general moral plan : and 
every circumstance of this government may be ad- 



104 OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

justed beforehand, with a view to the whole of it ; 
as, for example, the time, degrees, and ways in 
which virtue is to remain in a state of warfare and 
discipline, and in which wickedness is permitted to 
have its progress; the kinds of rewards and punish- 
ments, &c., &c.* And supposing this to be the 
case, it is most evident that we are not competent 
judges of this scheme, from the small .parts of it 
which come within our view in the present life, and 
therefore we are supplied with an answer to all 
objections to it. For, suppose it were objected, 
" the origin and continuance of evil might easily 
have been prevented by repeated interpositions, so 
guarded as to preclude all mischief arising from 
them. Or, if this were impracticable, that a scheme 
or system of government is itself an imperfection, 
since more good might have been produced with- 
out it, by continued single, unconnected acts of dis- 
tributive justice and goodness, because these would 
have occasioned no irregularities." The answer 
is obvious. Were these assertions true, yet the 
government of the world might be just and true, 

* There is no manner of absurdity in supposing a veil, 011 
purpose, drawn over some scenes of infinite power, wisdom, 
and goodness, the sight of which might, some way or other, 
strike us too strongly ; or that better ends are designed and 
served by their being concealed than could be by their being 
exposed to our knowledge. The Almighty may cast clouds 
and darkness round about Him for reasons and purposes of 
which we have not the least glimpse or conception. Butler's 
Sermons. 



CHAP. VII.] OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 105 

notwithstanding ; for, at the most, they would infer 
nothing more than that it might have been better. 
But, indeed, they are mere arbitrary assertions, no 
man being sufficiently acquainted with the possi- 
bilities of things to bring any proof of them to the 
lowest degree of probability ; for though what is 
asserted may seem to be possible, yet many in- 
stances may be alleged, in things much less out of 
our reach, of suppositions absolutely impossible, 
which few would perceive to be such, and perhaps 
no one, at first sight, suspect. Some unknown re- 
lation, or some unknown impossibility, may render 
what is objected against just and good, nay, good 
in the highest practicable degree. 

HB PARTICULAR ANALOGIES : 1st. As in the 
scheme of the natural world no ends appear to be 
accomplished without means,. so we find that means 
very undesirable often conduce to bring about ends, 
in such a measure desirable, as greatly to overbal- 
ance the disagreeableness of the means. Experi- 
ence also shows many means to be conducive and 
necessary to accomplish ends, which means, before 
experience, we should have thought would have 
had even a contrary tendency. In the same way, 
the things objected against in the moral govern- 
ment, may be means by which an overbalance of 
good, will, in the end, be found produced; and 
likewise, it appears to be no presumption against 
this, that we do not see those means to have any 



106 OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

such tendency, or that they seem to us to have a 
contrary one. 

In order to obviate an absurd and wicked con- 
clusion from any of these observations, it is to be 
observed, that though the actual permission of evil 
may be beneficial to the world (/. e., less mischiev- 
ous than if it had been forcibly prevented by an- 
other person), yet it would have been much more 
beneficial if this evil had never been done. Thus, 
in the natural world, some disorders bring their 
own cures some diseases are themselves remedies. 
Many a man would have died, had it not been for 
the gout or a fever ; yet it would be thought mad- 
ness to assert that sickness is a better or more per- 
fect state than health ; though the like has been 
asserted with regard to the moral world. 

2d. The natural government of the w r orld is car- 
ried on by general laws. For this there may be 
wise and good reasons : and that there are such 
may be concluded from analogy. For we have 
scarce any kind of enjoyments but what we are, in 
some way or other, instrumental in procuring our- 
selves, by acting in a manner which we foresee 
likely to procure them ; now there could not be 
this foresight were not the government of the world 
earned on by general laws. Though every single 
case may be at length found to have been provided 
for, even by these, yet, by general laws, the pre- 
vention of all irregularities may be naturally im- 



CHAP. VII.] OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 107 

possible. Objected. Could not then the necessary 
defects of general laws be remedied by interposi- 
tions 1 Ans. This were to be wished, if these in- 
terpositions would have no other effects ; but it is 
plain they would have some visible and immediate 
bad effects for instance, they would encourage 
idleness and negligence, and they would render 
doubtful the natural rule of life, which is ascertained 
by this very thing, that the course of the world is 
carried on by general laws. And it is certain they 
would have distant effects, and very great ones too, 
by means of the wonderful connections before men- 
tioned : thus, for aught we know, interpositions 
would produce greater evil than they would pre- 
vent, arid prevent greater good than they would 
produce ; so that the not interposing, so far from 
being a ground of complaint, is an instance of 
goodness. 

III. Objected against this whole argument from 
our ignorance. " We must argue from what we 
know, not from what we are unacquainted with; 
or, however, the answers here given to objections 
against religion might equally be made use of to 
invalidate its proof. 

ANSWER: 1st. Though -toted ignorance in any 
matter equally precludes all proof concerning it, 
and objections against it, yet partial ignorance 
does not. The proof of religion is a proof of the 
moral character of God, and consequently that his 



108 OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

government is moral. We may know this, and 
yet not know the means for accomplishing it ; so 
that objections against the means actually made use 
of might be answered by our ignorance though 
the proof that such an end was intended might not 
be at all invalidated by it. 2dly. Admitting that 
the proof of religion was affected by it, yet it is un- 
deniably true that moral obligations would remain 
certain ; for they arise immediately and necessarily 
from the judgment of our own mind, unless per- 
verted, which we can not violate without being 
self-condemned ; and the credibility that the con- 
sequences which religion teaches us, may result, 
would make them certain from considerations of 
interest. 

But, 3dly, the above analogies show that the 
way of arguing made use of in objecting against re- 
ligion is delusive, because they show it is not at all 
incredible, that, could we comprehend the whole, 
we should find the permission of the disorders 
objected against to be consistent with justice and 
goodness, and even instances of them. Now this 
is not applicable to the proof of religion, as it is to 
the objections against it, and therefore can not in- 
validate that proof, as it does these objections. 

4thly. Strictly speaking, as it appears from the 
last observation, the answers above given are not 
taken merely from our ignorance, but from some- 
what which analogy shows us concerning it. 



CHAP. VII.] OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. 109 

CONCLUSION.* The credibility of religion, from 
experience and facts here considered, should afford 
sufficient motives to religion, and ought to make 
men live in the general practice of virtue and piety. 
The plea of ungovernable passion, on the side of 
vice, is no reason, and is but a sorry excuse ; for 
men, in their temporal concerns, are inured and ne- 
cessitated to govern their passions. But the prop- 
er motives to religion are the proper proofs of it, 
from our moral nature,! from the presages of con- 
science, and from our natural apprehension of God 
under the character of a righteous Governor and 
Judge a nature, conscience, and apprehension 

* A connected view of the preceding Part, similar to that 
in the conclusion of the original, may be formed by reading 
in continuation the short summaries prefixed to each chap- 
ter. 

t St. Paul commences his Epistle to the Romans with the 
professed acknowledgment, or rather the authoritative asser- 
tion, of the two great evidences of Natural Religion the one 
legible in the book of the Creation, the other indigenous in 
the soul of man This latter is the moral constitution of our 
souls, which is the transcript, obscured and defaced indeed, 
but still the transcript of the great law of God : that law 
which the very Heathen know, and can not avoid knowing, 
because " they have the work of it written in their hearts," 
and their thoughts " accusing or excusing them" by its dic- 
tates. And when St. Paul charges the Gentiles with the 
knowledge of this law, it is such a knowledge, as in his mind, 
was sufficient to bring them under the capacity, and conse- 
quent obligation, of some obedience ; otherwise his whole doc- 
trine and inculcation of that law, as subjecting them to judg- 
ment, would be a lifeless argument. Davison on Primitive 
Sacrifice. 

K 



110 OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [PART I. 

given us by Him ; and from the confirmation of 
the dictates of reason given us by life and immortal- 
ity brought to light by the Gospel ; and the wrath 
of God revealed from heaven, against all ungodli- 
ness and unrighteousness of men. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER VII. 

1. What answer can analogy furnish to objections 
against the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God's 
moral government? 

2. How does it appear that God's natural govern- 
ment of the world is a scheme, and one that is incom- 
prehensible ? 

3. To what extent does Butler assert that the Di- 
vine, natural, and moral governments are connected ; 
and what does he suppose to be credible from them ? 

4. Prove that, from our very ignorance of the uni- 
versal scheme of Divine government, we are supplied 
with a reasonable answer to all objections against it. 

5. " In the scheme of the natural world no ends are 
accomplished without means ; and good ends are often 
brought about by means undesirable and apparently 
unsuitable.'' 1 Apply this to the case of the moral 
world. 

6. What good reasons may be given for the fact, 
that the natural government of the world is carried 
on by general laws ? 

7. Answer the following objections : 

1st. That we must argue from what we know, not 
from what we are unacquainted with. 

8. 2d Objection. That the answers here given to ob- 
jections against religion might equally be made use of 
to invalidate its proof. 

9. What conclusion does Butler draw from all that 
he has advanced in respect of natural religion? 



t 

SCHEME OF PART II. 



OF REVEALED RELIGION. 

CHAP. I. The Christian Revelation is important as a clear 
and authoritative republication of Natural Re- 
ligion, and as containing Duties additional to 
those of Natural Religion, which duties we 
are bound to perform. 

CHAP. IT. For the supposed presumptions against Revela- 
tion in general, are obviated by Analogy 

CHAP. III., IV., V., VI. As well as objections against the 
Christian Revelation in particular. First, as 
a Matter of Fact. Secondly, as being con- 
trived by Wisdom, Justice, and Goodness. 
Thirdly, as being proved by sufficient Evi- 
dence 

CHAP. VII. Namely, the positive Evidence for its Truth ; of 
which Analogy furnishes a great confirmation, 
notwithstanding 

CHAP. VIII. The Objections which may be made against ar- 
guing from the Analogy of Nature to Religion. 



PART II. 
OF REVEALED RELIGION. 



CHAPTER I. 

OF THE IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 

I. The importance of Christianity is here considered, as it can 
not but be a proper introduction to a Treatise concerning 
the credibility of it ; especially as there are some who re- 
ject revelation as in its very notion incredible ; and others 
who think it of indifferent value, as they both consider the 
light of nature to be sufficient. 

II. The importance of Christianity is more distinctly shown 
by considering it, 1st. As a republication of Natural Relig- 
ion, being authoritative, with new light, and other circum- 
stances of peculiar advantage. 2d, As containing an ac- 
count of things not discoverable by reason, in consequence 
of which several distinct precepts are enjoined us. 

III. Two deductions are added by way of illustration, stating 
the distinction between moral and positive precepts, and 
the preference due to the former. 



114 IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

I. SOME persons avowedly reject all revelation, 
as in its very notion incredible, and necessarily fic- 
titious, as the light of nature is considered to be 
fully sufficient.* Indeed, if it were so, no reve- 
lation would have been given. But that it is not, 
appears from the state of religion in the Heathen 
world before revelation, and its present state in 
those countries which have borrowed no light from 
it from the doubts of the greatest men concerning 
vital points, and the inattention and ignorance of 
mankind in general. It is not likely that any could 
reason out natural religion clear of superstition. 
Certainly the generality would want the power, or 
the inclination. But admitting that they did not, 
and so might reason it out, revelation might be re- 
quired, and might afford the greatest assistance and 
advantage.t Therefore to affirm that revelation is 
superfluous, is not less extravagant than saying 
that, men being so completely happy in the pres- 
ent life, it implies a contradiction to suppose they 
could be more so. 

* That the principles of natural religion have come to be 
so far understood and admitted as they are, may fairly be tak- 
en for one of the effects of the Gospel revelation ; a proof 
of its actual influence on opinions at least, instead of a dis- 
proof of its necessity or use. Damson on Prophecy. 

t Socrates, Plato, Confucius, and others, the bright and 
shining lights of antiquity, have given their authority to the 
opinion of the probability of a revelation from God. Vide 
Leland on the Advantages and Necessity of the Christian 
Revelation. 



CHAP. I.] IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 115 

But, 2dly, there are other persons not to be 
ranked with these, who, with little regard to the 
evidence of revelation, or even upon the supposition 
of its truth, affirm that its only design must be to 
establish the moral system of nature, and to enforce 
the practice of natural piety and virtue ; but that 
it is immaterial whether these things are believed 
and practiced upon the evidence and motives of 
nature or of revelation. Now, this opinion bor- 
ders very nearly upon the former, and therefore the 
particular consideration of it will be a confirmation 
of the answer above given. At first sight it is evi- 
dent, if God has given a revelation, we can not 
consider it an indifferent matter whether we obey 
or disobey the commands contained in it, unless we 
are certain that we know all the reasons for them, 
and that they are now ceased ; and this is a thing 
impossible. 

II. But the importance of Christianity will more 
distinctly appear, by considering it, 1st, as a repub- 
lication and external institution of natural or essen- 
tial religion ; and, 2dly, as containing an account 
of a dispensation of things not discoverable by 
reason, in consequence of which several distinct 
precepts are enjoined us. 

1st. It is a republication of natural religion.* 

* It has been admitted by Infidels, that Christianity is a 
republication of the law of nature ; but they deny that there 
are any additional advantages arising out of this republication. 



116 IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

It instructs mankind in the moral system of the 
world that it is the work of an infinitely perfect 
Being, and under his government that virtue is 
His law, and that there will be a future righteous 
judgment. This republication presents natural re- 
ligion free from the superstition under which it was 
in a manner lost. It is authoritative, and so af- 
fords the evidence of testimony for the truth of it. 
For though the miracles and prophecies recorded 
in Scripture were intended to prove a particular 
dispensation of Providence, yet they prove God's 
general providence as our moral Governor arid 
Judge ;* for these two are necessarily connected, 
and they are both alike taught by those that 
wrought the miracles and delivered the prophecies. 
While the law of Moses, then, and the Gospel of 
Christ, afford the only evidence of revealed relig- 
ion, they afford an additional evidence, and a new 
practical proof of natural religion ; for would not 
the working of miracles, and foretelling of future 
events, add credibility and authority to a person, 

So that if they do not themselves draw the conclusion, they 
leave it to be inferred, that Christianity is useless. This 
latter is the method and design of the author of " Christianity 
as Old as the Creation." 

* Miracles not only contain a new demonstration of God's 
existence, but strengthen the proofs it draws from the frame 
of the world, and clear them from the two principal objec- 
tions of Atheism, viz., either that the world is eternal, or that 
it owed its existence to the fortuitous concourse of atoms. 
Vide Farmer on Miracles. 



CHAP. L] IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 117 

e. g., teaching natural religion to a nation wholly ig- 
norant of it 1 or would it not be a great confirma- 
tion to a person who had never heard of a revela- 
tion, believing from principles of reason in the 
moral system of things, but yet wavering from per- 
ceiving in the world little or no practical sense of 
these things, to hear that this system was distinctly 
revealed, and that the revelation was proved by 
miracles ] Farther, this is a clear republication of 
the doctrine of a future state of the danger of 
a course of wickedness, and especially of the effica- 
cy of repentance. Life and immortality are emi- 
nently brought to light by the Gospel. Moreover, 
revelation considered only as subservient to natural 
religion, is important as an external institution of 
it. As miraculous powers were given to the first 
preachers of Christianity, in order to their introdu- 
cing it into the world, a visible church was estab- 
lished, in order to continue it, and carry it on suc- 
cessively throughout all ages. This visible church 
is like a city built upon a hill, a standing memorial 
to the world of the duty which we owe our Maker 
a repository of the oracles of God. It pi-events 
its forgetting the reality of religion, by the form of 
it being ever before our eyes ; and it has a further 
tendency to promote natural religion, as being an 
instituted method of education, that the body of 
CJirist, as the Scripture speaks, should be edified. 
The benefit of a visible church being thus apparent, 



118 IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

it follows that positive institutions are beneficial, for 
the visibility of the church consists in them. The 
importance of Christianity in this view, then, is far 
from being inconsiderable. It lays every Christian 
practically under an obligation to contribute to- 
ward continuing and carrying it on.* If any one 
will yet doubt whether there arises from Christian- 
ity any benefit to natural religion, let him consider 
whether the generality of mankind in the Heathen 
world were in as advantageous a situation with 
regard to natural religion, as they are now among 
us? 

OBJECTED. Christianity has been perverted, and 
has had little good influence. 

ANSWER. Even admitting this assertion (though 
the effects of Christianity have been by no means 
small, nor its supposed ill effects, properly speaking, 
any effects of it at all),t the dispensations of Provi- 
dence are not to be judged of by their perversions, 
but by their genuine tendencies by what they 
would effect if mankind performed their duty ; for 

* From these things appears the weakness of all pleas for 
neglecting the public service of the church. For though a 
man prays with as much devotion and less interruption at 
home, and reads better sermons there, yet that will by no 
means excuse the neglect of his appointed part of keeping up 
the profession of Christianity among mankind. This neglect, 
were it universal, must be the dissolution of the whole visible 
church. Bishop Butler's Sermon before the Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel. 

\ Vide Paley's Evidences, Part III., Chap. 7. 



CHAP. I.] IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 119 

such an objection applies with the same force against 
the manifestation of the law of nature by reason, as 
we see that has been perverted, and thus it leads to 
downright Atheism. 

2d. But revelation makes known to us, in addition 
to the general providence of God in natural religion, 
a particular dispensation of providence carrying on 
by His Son and Spirit. From this being revealed, 
important duties arise on our part to the Son and 
Holy Ghost. We are to be baptized in their name, 
as well as in the name of the Father. Now, the 
importance of these duties may be judged of by 
considering that they arise not merely from positive 
command, but also from the offices, which appear 
from Scripture to belong to these Divine Persons 
in the Gospel dispensation, or from the relations 
which they are declared to stand in to us. Now, 
considering religion as divided into internal and 
external, under the first notion, the essence of nat- 
ural religion may be said to consist in religious 
regards to God the Father Almighty, and the es- 
sence of revealed religion, as distinguished from 
natural, to consist in religious regards to the Son 
and to the Holy Ghost. And the obligations we are 
under, of paying these religious regards to each of 
these Divine Persons respectively, arise from the 
respective relations which they each stand in to us. 
How these relations are made known, whether by 
reason, as those belonging to the first Person are, or 



120 IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

by revelation, as those belonging to the other two 
Persons, makes no alteration in the case, because 
the duties arise out of the relations themselves, not 
out of the manner in which we are informed of them. 
The Son and Spirit have each his proper office in 
that great dispensation of Providence the redemp- 
tion of the world the one our Mediator, the other 
our Sanctifier. Before revelation, we could be un- 
der no obligations from these offices and relations, 
yet upon their being revealed, the duty of religious 
regards to both these Divine Persons, as imme- 
diately arises from them, as charity toward our 
fellow-creatures arises out of the common relations 
between us and them. But it will be asked, What 
are these inward religious regards 1 I answer, the 
religious regards of reverence, honor, love, trust, 
gratitude, fear, hope. In what external manner this 
inward worship is to be expressed is a matter of 
pure revealed command ; as perhaps the external 
manner in which God the Father is to be wor- 
shipped, may be more so than we are ready to 
suppose. 

The conclusion from all this is, that Christianity 
can never be esteemed of little consequence, till it 
be positively supposed false. If Christ be what 
Scripture declares him to be, no one can say what 
may follow not only the obstinate, but the careless 
disregard of the high relations He stands in to us 
as our Lord, our Saviour, and our God. If we re- 



CHAP. I.] IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 121 

quire the assistance of the Holy Ghost to renew 
our nature for another state (as Scripture declares 
" Except a man be born of water and the Spir- 
it, he can not enter into the kingdom of God.'' 
John, iii., 5), is it a slight matter whether we make 
use of the means, expressly commanded by God 
for obtaining this Divine assistance, when analogy 
shows us that without using the appointed means 
we can not expect any benefit ] Reason shows us 
nothing of the particular immediate means of ob- 
taining either temporal or spiritual benefits. This, 
therefore, we must learn, either from experience or 
revelation. And the present case does not admit 
of experience. 

III. The two following deductions may be prop- 
er to be added, in order to illustrate the foregoing 
observations, and to prevent their being mistaken. 

First. Hence we may clearly see where lies the 
distinction between what is positive, and what is 
moral, in religion. 

Moral Precepts, are precepts the reasons of 
which we see. 

Positive Precepts, are precepts the reasons o 
which we do not see.* 

* This is the distinction between moral and positive pre- 
cepts, considered respectively as such. But yet, since the 
latter have somewhat of a moral nature, we may see the 
reason of them considered is this view. Moral and positive 
precepts are in some respects alike, in other respects differ- 
ent. So far as they are alike, we discern the reasons of both : 

L 



122 IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

Moral Duties, arise out of the nature of the case 
itself, prior to external command. 

Positive Duties, do not arise out of the nature of 
the case itself, but from external command : nor 
would they be duties at all but for such command. 

The manner in which the relation is made 
known, does not constitute a duty positive, as has 
i>een already shown in the instance of Baptism ; 
nor does it constitute a duty moral, as has been 
also shown in the instance of religious regards to 
Christ. Hence, also, we may see that positive 
institutions are founded either on natural religion, 
as Baptism in the name of the Father (though this 
has also a reference to the Gospel dispensation, for 
it is in the name of God, as the Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ) or on revealed religion, as Baptism 
in the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. 

Secondly. From the distinction between what is 
moral and what is positive in religion, appears the 
ground of that peculiar preference which the Scrip- 
ture teaches us to be due to the former. Positive 
institutions, in general, as distinguished from this or 
that particular one, have the nature of moral com- 

BO far as they are different, we discern the reasons of the for- 
mer, but not of the latter. Butler. 

But we are not to suppose that because we can not see the 
reasons for them, that God has not the wisest and best rea- 
sons for imposing them. This would not be worth remarking, 
if Deistical writers, who deny the possibility of such pre- 
cepts, did not confound positive with arbitrary precepts. 



CHAP. I.J IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 123 

mands, since the reasons of them appear. Thus, 
for instance, the external worship of God is a moral 
duty, though no particular mode of it be so. Care, 
then, is to be taken, when a comparison is made 
between positive and moral duties, that they be 
compared no farther than as they are different. 
This being premised, should there be a moral and 
positive precept enjoined by the same authority, 
and should it be impossible, In certain conjectures, 
to obey both which is to be preferred 1 Undoubt- 
edly the moral. For, 1st, there is an apparent 
reason for the preference, and none against it, since 
we see the reason of the moral, but not of the pos- 
itive precept. 2d. The positive institutions enjoin- 
ed by Christianity are means to a moral end : and 
the end must be acknowledged more excellent than 
the means. 3d. The observance of positive insti- 
tutions is no religious obedience at all, otherwise 
than as it proceeds from a moral principle. This 
is the logical way of deciding the matter; but, in 
a practical and more lax way of considering it, 
moral law and positive institutions are both alike 
matter of revealed command : but the Author of 
nature has given an intimation which is to be pre- 
ferred, by writing the moral law upon our hearts, 
and interweaving it with our nature. k But we are 
not left to reason alone ; for, first, Scripture, by its 
general tenor and particular declarations, con- 
demns the idea to which men have been always 



124 IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

prone that peculiar positive rites constitute relig- 
ion, in place of obedience to moral precepts. Sec- 
ondly, in comparing positive and moral duties to- 
gether, it always puts the stress of religion upon the 
latter, and never upon the former; as our Lord 
himself, when the Pharisees censured him for eat- 
ing with publicans and sinners, and also when they 
censured his disciples for plucking the ears of corn 
on the Sabbath day, answered, " I will have mercy 
and not sacrifice" (Mat., ix., 13, and xii., 7) ; and, by 
this manner of expression, authoritatively deter- 
mined, in general, which should have the prefer- 
ence : for it is as applicable to any other instance 
of a comparison between positive and moral du- 
ties as to this upon which it was spoken. And 
that He intended to explain wherein the general 
spirit of religion consists, appears from the Phari- 
see, on both occasions, not understanding the mean- 
ing of it ; for the literal sense of the passage (Hos., 
vi.) has no difficulty in it. But as it is one of the 
peculiar weaknesses of human nature, when, upon 
comparison of two things, one is found to be of 
greater importance than the other, to consider the 
other as of scarcely any importance at all,* we 

* A neglect of the ordinances of religion of Divine appoint- 
ment is the sure system of a criminal indifference about those 
higher duties by which men pretend to atone for the omission. 
It is too often found to be the beginning of a licentious life, 
and for the most part, ends in the highest excess of profligacy 
and irreligion." Bishop Horsely's Sermons on the Sabbath. 



CHAP. I.] IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 125 

ought to remember how great presumption it is to 
make light of any institutions of Divine appoint- 
ment, and that our obligation to obey all God's 
commands, of whatever kind they may be, are ab- 
solute and indispensable. 

NOTE. The account now given of Christianity enforces 
upon us the obligation of searching the Scriptures ; and if 
there be found any passages therein, the apparent meaning 
of which is contrary to natural religion, such, we may con- 
clude, is not the real meaning. But it is not at all a pre- 
sumption against an interpretation of Scripture, that it con- 
tains a doctrine which the light of nature can not discover, or 
a precept which the law of nature does not oblige to. 
L* 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER I. 

1. Give summarily the scheme of the second part 
of this book ; in which the support given to revealed 
religion by analogy is described. 

2. Show the extravagance of the assertion that 
Revelation is in its very notion not incredible, as being 
superfluous. 

3. Refute the argument that " the only design of 
Revelation must be to enforce the practice of natural 
piety ; and it is immaterial whether we believe and 
practice upon the evidence of nature, or of revealed 
religion." 

4. What are the two views which must be taken of 
Christianity, in order that we may understand its im- 
portance ? 

5. In what manner does the revelation of Christ- 
ianity confirm and support natural religion ? 

6. How is it proved that this Revelation, consid- 
ered only as subservient to natural religion, is import- 
ant, as an external institution of it ? 

7. Answer the objection " that Christianity has been 
proved, and has had little good influence." 

8. What important duties arise on our part to God 
the Son, and the Holy Spirit, from Christianity re- 
vealing to us the particular dispensation of Providence, 
carrying on through them ? 

9. What are the two instances by which Butler il- 
lustrates his conclusion, " that Christianity can never 
be esteemed of little consequence till it be positively 
supposed false ? 

10. Show clearly where is the distinction between 
what' is moral and what is positive in religion. 

11. Prove that the peculiar preference, which the 
Scripture teaches us is due to the former, is reason- 
able. 



CHAPTER II. 

OF THE SUPPOSED PRESUMPTION AGAINST A REVELA- 
TION CONSIDERED AS MIRACULOUS. 

Before the positive evidence for Christianity is considered, 
together with the objections against that evidence, the preju- 
dices against revelation in general, and the Christian revela- 
tion in particular, must be removed ; to the former the pres- 
ent chapter is devoted. 

I. There is no presumption from analogy against the general 
scheme of Christianity ; for it is no presumption against it 
that it is not discoverable by reason and experience, or 
that it is unlike the course of nature ; and there can be no 
other kind of presumption. 

II. There is no presumption against a revelation, consider- 
ed as miraculous, in the beginning of the world, for this is a 
question about a matter of fact, or about the extent of the 
exertion of an ordinary power, or about the extent of the 
exertion of a power called extraordinary, but certainly 
exerted. 

III. There is no presumption against it from analogy after 
the settlement of a course of nature, for we have not a 
parallel case to compare with it, &c., &c., &c. 

I. IT is commonly supposed that there is some 
peculiar presumption, from the analogy of nature, 
against the Christian scheme, at least, against mir- 



123 THE SUPPOSED PRESUMPTION [PART II. 

acles, so as that stronger evidence is necessary to 
prove the truth and reality of them than would be 
sufficient to convince us of other events, or matters 
of fact.* Now there is no appearance of a pre- 
sumption, from the analogy of nature, against the 

* Hume has gone farther ; he asserts, " the credit we give 
to testimony is derived solely from experience" " a miracle 
is contrary to experience." " No testimony should ever gain 
credit to an event, unless it is more extraordinary that it should 
be false, than that the event should have happened." " It is 
contrary to experience that a miracle should be true, but not 
contrary to experience that testimony should be false." In 
short, he considers miracles as impossible, for, speaking of the 
Abbe de Paris's miracles, he says, " What have we now to 
oppose to such a cloud of witnesses, but the absolute impossi- 
bility OR miraculous nature of the events they relate. 71 Be- 
sides the answers here given, vide the Introduction to " The 
Analogy," and that to " Paley's Evidences." The fallacy of 
Hume's reasoning consists in this, that he argues from the 
laws of matter and motion established in the world, which 
laws, being confessedly arbitrary constitutions of the Creator, 
the manner of their operation can not be drawn from any 
previous reasoning, but must be drawn solely from experi- 
ence ; but if we admit the existence of a God, we must admit 
that we can discover by reasoning " a priori" a connection 
between an Almighty cause and every effect which is the 
object of power. To establish his position it is necessary to 
prove, that nothing is possible but what is established in the 
usual course of nature. And as to his objection from tes- 
timony for he opposes the uncertainty of testimony to the 
certainty of contrary experience this is answered Infra., III. 
Farther, that the evidence of testimony is superior to that of 
experience, and that they are somewhat connected, so that the 
weakening of the one weakens the other, is shown in " Price's 
Dissertations," page 400, and in " Dr. Adam's Essay on Mir- 
acles," page 5. 



CHAP. II.] AGAINST A REVELATION. 129 

general scheme of Christianity that God created, 
and invisibly governs the world by Jesus Christ; 
and by him will hereafter judge it in righteousness ; 
and that good men are under the secret influence 
of his spirit. For, if there be a presumption from 
analogy, it must be either because it is not discov- 
erable by reason or experience ; or else, because it 
is unlike the known course of nature, which is so 
discoverable. Now there is none on the first ac- 
count, because that things lie beyond the natural 
reach of our faculties is no sort of presumption 
against the truth and reality of them ; because it is 
certain there are innumerable things in the consti- 
tution and government of the universe which are 
thus beyond the natural reach of our faculties. And 
there is no presumption on the second account, for, 
in the natural government of the world, as well as 
in the moral government of it, we see things in a 
great degree unlike one another, and therefore we 
ought not to wonder at such unlikeness between 
things visible and invisible. However, the Christian 
and natural schemes are by no means entirely un- 
like. So that whether we call this general Christ- 
ian dispensation miraculous or not, we see there is 
no presumption against it from analogy. But we 
are to consider miracles as visible* and invisible. 

* A miracle is defined by Hume to be a violation of a law 
of nature, by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the in- 
terposing of an invisible agent. It is correctly defined by 



130 THE SUPPOSED PRESUMPTION [PART II. 

The former furnish a proof of a Divine mission ; 
the latter, being secret, do not, but require them- 
selves to be proved by visible miracles, as, for ex- 
ample, the incarnation of Christ. Revelation itself, 
too, is miraculous, and miracles are the proof of it 
the supposed presumption against these we shall 
now consider. 

II. There can be no peculiar presumption from 
the analogy of nature against a revelation, consider- 
ed as miraculous at the beginning of the world no 
such presumption as is implied in the word mirac- 
ulous; for a miracle, in its very notion, is relative 
to a course of nature, and implies somewhat differ- 
ent from it, considered as being so. Now, either 
there was no course of nature at that time, or if 
there were, we do not know what the course of 
nature is upon the first peopling of worlds. And 
therefore this is not to be considered as a question 
about a miracle, but as a common question of fact, 
admitting of the report of tradition, like other mat- 
ters of fact of equal antiquity. Or else it is a ques- 
tion about the extent to which an ordinary power 
exerted itself a power different from the present 
course of nature (but not, as we have seen, to be 
called miraculous) namely, whether this power 
merely made man, or exerted itself farther in giv- 
ing him a revelation. Or even if the power be 

others, as an extraordinary work, i which the interposition 
of Divine Power is clear and indisputable. 



CHAP. II.] AGAINST A REVELATION. 131 

called miraculous, it will make no difference, for 
the power, whatever it be called, was exerted ; 
and the question will then be, the extent to which 
an extraordinary power exerted itself. Against 
this there is as little presumption as there would 
be, if it were granted that our Saviour exerted mi- 
raculous powers, against his exerting it in a greater 
degree, or in more or fewer instances. If, then, 
this is a fact, admitting the testimony of tradition, 
what is that testimony ] not that religion was rea- 
soned out, but altogether the contrary that it came 
into the world by revelation. This was mentioned 
in the former part of this treatise, as affording a 
confirmation of natural religion ; and here we see 
it has a tendency to remove any prejudices against 
a subsequent revelation. 

III. But it may be objected that there is some 
peculiar presumption from analogy against mira- 
cles ; particularly against revelation, after the set- 
tlement, and during the continuance of a course of 
nature. 

GENERAL ANSWER. Before we can raise an ar- 
gument from analogy, for or against a revelation, 
considered as miraculous, we should be acquainted 
with a similar or parallel case. And nothing short 
of the history of a world in like circumstances with 
our own can be a parallel case ; and had we even 
this, it would be but a single instance, and a pre- 
sumption from it must be infinitely precarious. 



132 THE SUPPOSED PRESUMPTION [PART EL 

PARTICULAR ANSWERS : 1st. There is a very 
strong presumption against common speculative 
truths, and against the most ordinary facts prior to 
the proof of them, which, yet, is overcome by almost 
any proof. The question, therefore, whether there 
be any peculiar presumption at all from analogy, is 
of no consequence ; for if there be a small addi- 
tional presumption against miracles, is that worth 
reckoning with the millions to one that there are 
against the most common facts ?* The only ma- 
terial question is, whether there be any such pre- 

* As this has been controverted, and as it does not appear 
to have been Locke's opinion (for in his chapter on Proba- 
bility he says, in things happening indifferently, there is 
nothing for nor against them), it may be useful to confirm the 
account of Butler by a passage from Price's Dissertations. 
" In many cases of particular histories, which are immediately 
believed upon the slightest testimony, there would have ap- 
peared to us, previously to this testimony, an improbability 
of almost infinity to one against their reality, as any one must 
perceive who will think how sure he is of the falsehood of all 
facts that have no evidence to support them, or which he has 
only imagined to himself. It is, then, very common for the 
slightest testimony to overcome an almost infinite improba- 
bility. In order to discover whether there is this improba- 
bility, let the connection of such facts with testimony be 
withdrawn, and then let it be considered what they are. If 
upon doing this, i. e., upon making them objects of imagina- 
tion unsupported by any proof, they became improbable, the 
point, I should think, will be determined; for, to find that a 
fact, when its connection with testimony is withdrawn, be- 
comes improbable, is the same as to find that independently 
of testimony it is improbable. Vide Price's Four Disserta- 
tions. 



CHAP. II.] AGAINST A REVELATION. 133 

sumption against miracles as to render them in any 
sort incredible. 

2d. Leaving out the consideration of religion, the 
presumption against miracles is, beyond all com- 
parison, less than against common facts, before any 
evidence for either. For we are so ignorant, as to 
what the course of nature depends on, that there is 
no improbability for or against supposing that length 
of time may have given cause for changing it. 

3d. But taking in the consideration of religion, 
we see distinct reasons for miracles, namely, to af- 
ford mankind instruction, additional to that of 
nature, and to attest the truth of it ; and this gives 
a positive credibility to their history in cases where 
these reasons hold. 

4th. Miracles must not be compared to common 
natural events, but to the extraordinary phenomena 
of nature, such as comets, the power of magnetism 
and electricity ; and as distinguished from such 
phenomena there is no peculiar presumption against 

miracles. 

M 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER II. 

1. Explain what Butler means by " the general 
scheme of Christianity ;" and show that there is no 
appearance of a presumption from the analogy of na- 
ture against it. 

2. By what arguments does Hume attempt to prove 
that we ought not to believe in any miracles ? Where- 
in does the fallacy of his reasoning consist? 

3. Give the correct definition of a " miracle ;" and 
illustrate by examples the two classes, into which they 
are divided, of visible and invisible. 

4. Why can there be no peculiar presumption from 
the analogy of nature against a revelation, considered 
as miraculous, at the beginning of the world ? 

5. Describe the three views, under which alone the 
subject of a revelation from the beginning can be fairly 
considered. 

6. Why may we safely admit the testimony of tra- 
dition as to the original revelation ? And what is that 
testimony ? 

7. Give a general answer to the objection that "af- 
ter the settlement, and during the continuance of a course 
of nature, there is a presumption from analogy against 
miracles." 

8. What comparison does Butler draw between mir- 
acles and ordinary facts, in order to show what is the 
only material question respecting the former? How 
does Price support these assertions ? 

9. What weight does the consideration of religion 
add to the testimony concerning miracles ? 



CHAPTER III. 

OF OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING WHAT WERE TO BE 
EXPECTED IN A REVELATION, AND THE CREDI- 
BILITY, FROM ANALOGY, THAT IT MUST CONTAIN 
THINGS APPEARING LIABLE TO OBJECTIONS. 

Objections against the scheme of Christianity, as distin- 
guished from objections against the evidences of it are frivo- 
lous, for analogy furnishes a general answer to them. 

I. That .we are incompetent judges of it. 

II. That it is probable, beforehand, that men will imagine 
they have strong objections against a revelation, however 
unexceptionable. 

III. This leads to the determining the office of reason, namely, 
to judge only of the meaning, the morality, and evidence of 
revelation. 

VARIOUS OBJECTIONS : The whole scheme of 
Christianity is objected to ; the whole mariner in 
which it is put and left in the world ; several par- 
ticular relations in Scripture ; things in it appear- 
ing to men fooliskn ess ; things appearing matters of 
offense; the incorrectness of the style of revelation, 
especially of the Prophetic parts, in consequence of 
the rashness of interpreters, and the hieroglyphic 



136 OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. [PART II. 

and figurative language* in which they are ex- 
pressed. 

I. General Ansiocr to all objections against Chris- 
tianity considered as a matter of fact. Upon sup- 
position of a revelation, it is highly credible before.- 
hand that we should be incompetent judges of it 
to a great degree, and that it would contain many 
things apparently liable to great objections in case 
it be judged of otherwise than by the analogy of 
nature. Not that the faculty of reason is to be de- 
preciated for it is not asserted that a supposed 
revelation can not be proved false from internal 
characters ; for it may contain clear immoralities 
or contradictions, and either of these would prove 
it false ; this belongs to reason to decide. ( Vide 
this Chap. III.) 

Proof from analogy that we are likely to be in- 
competent judges. If the natural and the revealed 
dispensations are both from God, if they coincide 
and together make up one scheme of Providence, 
our being incompetent judges of one, must render 
it credible that we may also be incompetent judges 
of the other. Since, then, upon experience, the 
natural dispensation is found to be greatly different 
from what, before experience, would have been ex- 
pected, and is supposed to be liable to great objec- 

* Thus Voltaire pretended to believe that Ezekiel eat the 
roll of parchment in reality, which the Prophet expressly as- 
serts to have been a mere vision. 



CHAP. III.] OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. 137 

tions, this renders it highly credible, that if they 
judge of the revealed dispensation in like manner, 
they will find it different from expectations formed 
beforehand, and apparently liable to great objec- 
tions. Thus, suppose a prince to govern his do- 
minions in the wisest manner possible, by common 
known laws, and that upon some exigencies he 
should suspend them if one of his subjects were 
not a competent judge beforehand of the wisdom 
of the ordinary administration, it could not be ex- 
pected that he would be a competent judge of the 
wisdom of the extraordinary. Thus we see gener- 
ally that the objections of an incompetent judg- 
ment must needs be frivolous. But let us apply 
these observations to a 

PARTICULAR EXAMPLE. Upon supposition of a 
revelation, let us compare our ignorance concern- 
ing inspiration before experience, with our igno- 
rance concerning natural knowledge. We are not 
judges beforehand. 

1st. What degree or kind of natural information 
it were to be expected God would afford men, each 
by his own reason or experience ; nor, 2d, how far 
he would enable and effectually dispose them to 
communicate it ; nor, 3d, whether the evidence of 
it would be certain, highly probable, or doubtful; 
nor, 4th, whether it would be given with equal 
clearness and conviction to all ; nor, 5th, whether 
it or the faculty of obtaining it would be given us 



138 OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. [PART II. 

at once, or gradually. In like manner, respecting 
supernatural knowledge, we are ignorant before- 
hand, 1st, what degree of it should be expected ; 
2d, how far miraculous interposition would be 
made to qualify men for communicating it ; 3d, 
whether its evidence would be certain, highly prob- 
able, or doubtful ; 4th, whether its evidence would be 
the same to all ; and, 5th, whether the scheme should 
be revealed at once or gradually committed to wri- 
ting, or left to be handed down by verbal tradition. 

OBJECTION. But we know that a revelation, in 
some of the above circumstances, one, for instance, 
not committed to writing, and thus secured against 
the danger of corruption, would not have answered 
its purposes. 

ANSWER. What purposes ] It would not have 
answered all these purposes which it has now an- 
swered ; but it would have answered others, or the 
same in different degrees : and could we tell before- 
hand which were the purposes of God 1 It must, 
therefore, be quite frivolous to object to revelation, 
in any of the fore-mentioned respects, against its be- 
ing left in one way rather than another ; for this 
would be to object against things because they are 
different from expectations, which has been shown 
to be without reason. And thus we see that the 
only question concerning the truth of Christianity 
is, whether it be a real revelation, not whether it 
be attended with every circumstance which we 



CHAP. III.] OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. 139 

should have looked for ; and concerning the author- 
ity of Scripture, whether it be what it claims to be ; 
not whether it be a book of such sort, and so pro- 
mulgated, as weak men imagine it should be. And 
therefore, neither obscurity, nor seeming inaccura- 
cy of style, nor various readings, nor early disputes 
about the authors of particular parts, nor multi- 
plied objections of this kind, could overthrow the 
authority of Scripture, unless the Prophets, Apos- 
tles, or our Lord had promised that it should be 
secure from these things. So that there are several 
ways of arguing, which, though just with regard 
to other writings, are not applicable to Scripture, 
at least not to the Prophetic parts of it. We can 
not argue that this can not be the sense of any par- 
ticular passage of Scripture, for then it would have 
been expressed more plainly, or have been repre- 
sented under a more apt figure or hieroglyphic ; 
yet we may justly argue thus with respect to com- 
mon books, because in Scripture we are not, as we 
are in common books, competent judges how plain- 
ly, or under how apt an image the true sense ought 
to have been represented. The only question is, 
what appearance there is that this is the sense, and 
scarce any at all how much more determinately it 
might have been expressed. 

OBJECTION. But is it not self-evident that inter- 
nal improbabilities of all kinds weaken external 
probable proof] 



140 OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. [PART II 

ANSWER. Doubtless ; but to what practical pur- 
pose can this be alleged in the present case, since 
internal improbabilities, which rise even to moral 
certainty, are overcome by the most ordinary testi- 
mony ; and since we scarcely know what are im- 
probabilities as to the matter before us. 

II. The analogy of nature shows beforehand, not 
only that it is highly credible men may, but also 
probable that they will, imagine they have strong 
objections against revealed knowledge, however 
really unexceptionable ; for so, prior to experience, 
they would think they had against the whole course 
of natural instruction. Prior to experience, they 
would think they had objections against the instruc- 
tion which God affords to brute creatures by in- 
stincts and propensions, and to men, by these, to- 
gether with reason, merely on account of the means 
by which such instruction is given. For instance, 
would it not have been thought highly improbable 
that men should have been so much the more capa- 
ble of discovering, even to certainty, the laws of 
matter and of the planetary motions than the causes 
and cures of diseases, wherein human life appears 
so much more nearly concerned, or that they should 
discover in an instant, and unexpectedly, by the 
faculty of invention, what they have been in vain 
searching after, perhaps for years ] or, that language 
the only means of communicating our thoughts, 
should, in its very nature, be inadequate, ambigu- 



CHAP. III.] OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. 141 

ous, and liable to abuse, both from neglect and de- 
sign 1 or that brutes should, in many respects, act 
with a sagacity and foresight often superior to what 
is used by man ] These general observations will 
furnish an answer to almost all objections against 
Christianity, as distinguished from objections against 
its evidence ; because these objections are no more, 
nor greater, than analogy shows beforehand to be 
highly credible that there might seem to lie against 
revelation. This will more clearly appear by apply- 
ing these observations to a 

PARTICULAR OBJECTION. The gifts said to be 
miraculous, exercised by some persons in the apos- 
tolic age in a disorderly manner, were not really 
miraculous ; for had they been so, they would have 
been committed to other persons, or these persons 
would have been endued with prudence also, or 
have been continually restrained in the exercise of 
their miraculous power.* 

ANSWER. That is, in other words, God should 
have miraculously interposed, if at all, in a differ- 
ent manner , or higher degree. But from the above 
observations it appears undeniable, that we are not 

* It is an objection of the same kind, and, therefore, to be 
answered in the same way that the apostles were ignorant 
of the true nature of demoniacs ; for, even if their ignorance 
be admitted on this or any other point of the like kind, it can 
not be concluded that they could not be taught Divine truth, 
without a knowledge of bodily diseases, or of other points 
equally extraneous from the design of their mission. 



142 OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. [PART II. 

judges in what degrees and manners it were to be 
expected he should miraculously interpose. Let 
us look to the natural course of Providence, and 
see are the superior gifts of memory, eloquence, 
and knowledge conferred only on persons of pru- 
dence and decency 1 And it is to be supposed that 
persons endued with miraculous gifts, had the same 
influence over them as if they were natural en- 
dowments. Farther, our natural instruction is not 
always given us in a way most suited to recom- 
mend it, but often with circumstances apt to preju- 
dice us against it. 

The analogy between natural and revealed in- 
struction farther appears from this circumstance, 
that the improvements and hindrances of both are 
of the same kind. Practical Christianity, like the 
common rules of our conduct in temporal affairs, is 
plain and obvious. The more accurate knowledge 
of Christianity, like many parts of natural and civil 
knowledge, may require exact thought and careful 
consideration. The perfect understanding of reve- 
lation, if it come to pass before the restitution of ali 
things, and without miraculous interposition, must 
be arrived at in the same w r ay as that of natural 
knowledge is attained to, namely, by pursuing 
hints arid intimations which are generally disre- 
garded by others. Nor is it at all incredible that 
the Bible, though so long in our possession, should 
contain many truths as yet undiscovered (possibly 



CHAP. III.] OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. 143 

only to be developed by events as they come to 
pass); in the same way as with the same phenom- 
ena, and the same faculties of investigation, as men 
were possessed of long ago, great discoveries have 
been lately made in natural knowledge. 

OBJECTION. " This analogy between natural and 
supernatural light fails in a material respect; for 
natural knowledge is of little or no consequence." 

ANSWER. We have been speaking of the general 
instruction which nature does or does not afford us. 
Besides, some parts of natural knowledge are of the 
greatest consequences. But suppose the analogy 
did, as it does not, fail in this respect, yet it might 
be abundantly supplied from the whole constitu- 
tion and course of nature ; which shows that God 
does not dispense his gifts according to our notions 
of the advantages and consequence they would be 
to us. And this in general, with His method of 
dispensing knowledge in particular, would make 
out an analogy full to the point. 

Objection against Christianity as a Remedy: 
" Scripture represents Christianity as an expedient 
to recover a lost world, to supply the deficiencies 
of natural light. Is it then credible that this sup- 
ply should be so long withheld, and then be made 
known to so small a part of mankind should be so 
deficient, obscure, doubtful, and liable to the like 
perversions and objections as the light of nature it- 
self? 



144 OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. [PART II. 

ANSWER. Without determining bow far this is so 
in fact, it is by no means incredible from analogy 
that it might be so ; for are the remedies which na- 
ture has provided for diseases, certain, perfect, or 
universal 1 The same principles which would lead 
us to conclude that they must be so, would lead us 
also to conclude that there could be no occasion 
for them, i. e., that there could be no diseases at all ; 
and these principles being found fallacious, from 
the fact that they are diseases, would render it 
credible beforehand that they may be false with re- 
spect to these remedies as, by experience, we find 
they are since the remedies of diseases are far 
from being certain, perfect, or universal. 

III. Does it follow from all these things that 
reason can do nothing 1 By no means, unless it 
follows that we are unable to judge of any thing 
from our inability to judge of all things. Reason 
can and ought to judge (as has been partly shown 
already), not only of the meaning, but also of the 
morality and evidence of revelation. First, it is 
the province of reason to judge of the morality of 
Scripture, that is, not whether it contains things 
different from what we should have expected from a 
wise, just, and good Being ; for objections of this 
kind have been now obviated ; but whether it con- 
tains things plainly contradictory to wisdom, jus- 
tice, or goodness to what the light of nature teaches 
us of God. There is no objection of this kind 



CHAP. III.] OCR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. 145 

against Scripture but such as would equally apply 
against the constitution and course of nature. 

OBJECTION. But are there not some particular 
precepts in Scripture requiring actions immoral 
and vicious ]* 

ANSWER. There are some requiring actions that 
would be immoral and vicious, but for such precept; 
but the precept changes the whole nature of the 
case and of the action ; for these precepts are not 
contrary to immutable morality they require only 
the doing an external action, e. g., taking away 
the property or life of any, to which men have no 
right, but what arises solely from the grant of 
God ; when this grant is revoked, they cease to 
have any right at all in either. If, indeed, it were 
required to cultivate the principles, and act from 
the spirit of treachery, ingratitude, cruelty, the 
command would not alter the nature of the case or 
of the action, in any of these instances. But are 
not these precepts liable to be perverted by de- 
signing men, and to mislead the weak and enthu- 
siastic 1 True, they are ; but this is not an objec- 
tion against revelation, but against the whole no- 
tion of religion as a trial, and against the general 
constitution of nature. Secondly, reason is to 
judge of the evidence of revelation, and the objec- 
tions against it (which will form the subject of the 

* For example, the command given by God to destroy the 
nation of Canaan. Vide Graves on the Pentateuch. 

N 



146 OUR INCAPACITY OF JUDGING. [PART II. 

7th chapter). And it can also comprehend what 
is to be expected from enthusiasm and political 
views ; and, therefore, can furnish a presumptive 
proof that a supposed revelation does not proceed 
from them, and is consequently tine. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER III. 

1. Name the three principal divisions under which 
the subjects in this chapter are comprehended. 

2. What are the various objections usually brought 
against the Christian revelation ; and what general 
answer may be given to them, assuming Christianity 
to be a matter of fact 1 

3. Prove from analogy that we are likely to be in- 
competent judges as to what were to be expected in a 
Divine revelation. 

4. State fully the particular example, in which But- 
ler compares our ignorance concerning inspiration, be- 
fore experience, with our ignorance concerning natural 
knowledge. 

5. How is the objection obviated that * Revelation, 
unless given in such or such a way (i. e., according to 
the objector's judgment of what was proper) would 
not answer its purposes ?" 

6. Give the argument by which the following asser- 
tion is proved, viz., that the analogy of nature shows it 
to be probable, beforehand, that men will imagine they 
have strong objections against a revelation, however 
unexceptionable." 

7. Answer the objection against Christianity, drawn 
from the abuse of gifts and powers, said to be mirac- 
ulous, by persons exercising them. 

8. Show that the improvements and hinder 'ances of 
both natural and revealed instruction are of the same 
kind. 

9. Answer the objection, that, If Christianity be 
so great a remedy, why it has been so long withhold- 
en, and now so little known ?" 

10. What is the proper province of reason in judg- 
ing of revelation ? 



CHAPTER IV. 

OF CHRISTIANITY CONSIDERED AS A SCHEME, OR CON- 
STITUTION, IMPERFECTLY COMPREHENDED. 

I. Admitting the credibility of Christianity as a matter of 
fact there may yet be objections against the wisdom, jus- 
tice, and goodness of it. Analogy furnishes a general an- 
swer to such objections, by showing that Christianity (like 
God's moral government, Chap. VII., Part I.) must be a 
scheme beyond our comprehension. 

II. This appears more clearly from particular Analogies. 
1st. Means are used to accomplish ends ; and, 2d, it is car- 
ried on by general laws. 

III. The principal objections in particular, may be answer- 
ed by particular and full Analogies in Nature. One of 
these objections, being against the whole scheme of Christi- 
anity, is considered here, namely, " That it supposes God 
to have been reduced to the necessity of using roundabout 
means to accomplish man's salvation." 

I. IT has appeared, from the seventh chapter of 
the First Part, that objections against the wisdom, 
justice, and goodness of the constitution of nature 
may be answered by its being a constitution or 
scheme imperfectly comprehended. We now pro- 
ceed to consider the like objections against revela- 
tion. And it is evident, if Christianity be a scheme, 
and of the same kind, the like objections against it 
must admit of the like answer. 



CHAP. IV.] OF CHRISTIANITY. 149 

Now, Christianity is a scheme beyond our com- 
prehension. The moral government and general 
plan of Providence is gradually proceeding, so that 
finally every one shall receive according to his de- 
serts, and truth and right finally prevail. And 
Christianity is a particular scheme under this gen- 
eral plan of Providence, and a part of it conducive 
to its completion, consisting itself also of various 
parts a mysterious economy for the recovery of 
the world by the Messiah (John xi., 52 ; and 2 Pet., 
iii., 13) after successive manifestations of this great 
and general scheme of Providence (1 Pet., i., 11, 
12) the incarnation and passion of the Redeemer 
(Phil., ii.) the miraculous mission of the Holy 
Ghost the invisible government of the church 
Christ's second coming to judgment, and the re-es- 
tablishment of the kingdom of God (John, v., 22, 
23; Mat., xxviii., 18 ; 1 Cor., xv.). Surely this is 
a scheme of things imperfectly comprehended by 
us ; or, as the Scripture expressly asserts it to be, 
a great mystery of Godliness (1 Tim., iii., 16). 

II. But this will more fully appear, by consider- 
ing, 1st, that it is obvious means are made use of 
to accomplish ends in the Christian dispensation as 
much as in the natural scheme of things ; and thus 
the things objected against, how foolish soever they 
may appear to men, may be the very best means 
of accomplishing the very best ends. And, 2dly, 
that the Christian dispensation may have been all 

N* 



150 OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

along no less than the course of nature, carried on 
by general laws. To show the credibility of this, 
let us consider upon what grounds the course of 
nature is said to be carried on by general laws. 
We know several of the general laws of matter ; 
and a great part of the natural behavior of living 
agents is reducible to general laws. But we know 
in a manner nothing by what laws storms and 
tempests, earthquakes, famine, pestilences become 
the instruments of destruction to mankind ; by 
what laws some die as soon as they are born, and 
others live to extreme old age ; by what laws one 
man is so superior to another in understanding ; 
and innumerable other things which we know so 
little of as to call them accidental, though we know 
there can not be such a thing as chance. Thus it 
appears that it is from analogy from finding that 
the course of nature, in some respects, and so far, 
goes on by general laws that we conclude this of 
the rest. And if this be a just ground for such a 
conclusion, it is a just ground also, at least, to ren- 
der it credible, which is sufficient for answering ob- 
jections, that God's miraculous interpositions may 
have been all along in like manner, by general laws 
of wisdom ; and, if so, there is no more reason to 
expect that every exigence should be provided for 
by them than that every exigence in nature should 
be by the general laws of nature. 

III. Objected against the whole scheme of Christ- 



CHAP. IV.] OF CHRISTIANITY. 151 

ianity : " The Gospel scheme seems to suppose, 
that God was reduced to the necessity of a. long 
series of intricate means in order to accomplish His 
ends the recovery and salvation of the world ; just 
as men, for want of understanding or power, are 
forced to go roundabout ways to arrive at their 
ends." 

ANSWER. The use of means is the system of na- 
ture (and means which we often think tedious). 
The change of seasons, the ripening of the fruits 
of the earth, the very history of a flower is an in- 
stance of this. Rational creatures form their char- 
acters by the gradual accession of knowledge ; our 
existence, too, is successive, and one state of life is 
appointed to be a preparation for another. Men 
are impatient, and for precipitating things the 
Author of nature appears deliberate throughout 
His operations. This is a plain answer to the ob- 
jection ; but we are greatly ignorant how far things 
are considered, by the Author of nature, under the 
single notion of means and ends, so as that it may 
be said, this is merely an end, and that merely 
means, in His regard. 



QUESTIONSCHAPTER IV. 

1. In obviating objections against the wisdom, jus- 
tice, and goodness of Christianity, with what does But- 
ler compare it; and what connection does he assert to 
exist between it and the general plan of Providence ? 

2. Name two particular analogies, by the considera- 
tion of which the credibility of Christianity being a 
scheme imperfectly comprehended by us, will more 
fully appear. 

3. Upon what grounds is it said that the course of 
nature is carried on by general laws ? What infer- 
ence may be drawn from this subject, applicable to 
miraculous interpositions? 

4. How may the principal objections in particular 
against Christianity be answered ? 

5. Answer the following particular objection, viz., 
'* The Gospel scheme supposes God to have been re- 
duced to the necessity of using roundabout means to 
accomplish man's salvation." 



CHAPTER V. 

OF THE PARTICULAR SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY THE 

APPOINTMENT OF A MEDIATOR, AND THE REDEMP- 
TION OF THE WORLD BY HIM. 

J. Proceeding to answer other Particular Objections. An- 
alogy shows that there can be no objection against the gen- 
eral notion of a Mediator. 

II. This analogy appears more fully upon the supposition of 
future punishments following in the way of natural conse- 
quences. 

III. The Analogy of Nature shows that there is no probability 
that behaving well for the future, or any thing that we 
could do, would alone, and of itself, prevent the conse- 
quences of vice. 

IV. The Scripture view of Redemption explained, and two 
Objections against the Atonement answered, viz., " That we 
can not see the efficacy of it, and that it represents the in- 
nocent as suffering for the guilty." 

I. THE whole analogy of nature removes all im- 
agined presumption against the general notion of a 
Mediator between God and man; for we find all 
living creatures are brought into the w^orld, and 
their life, in infancy, is preserved by the instrumen- 



154 SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

tality of others ; and every satisfaction of it is be- 
stowed by the like means. Is riot then the suppo- 
sition that His invisible government is, in part, at 
least, carried on by the like means as credible as 
the contrary 1 The light of nature, therefore, fur- 
nishes no presumption against the general notion of 
a mediator* (and it is against this that the objection 
is urged, not against mediation in that high, emi- 
nent, and peculiar sense in which Christ is our 
Mediator), since we find by experience that God 
does appoint mediators to be the instruments of 
good and evil to us the instruments of His justice 
and His mercy. 

II. The moral government of the world (which 
must be supposed before we can consider the re- 
vealed doctrine of its redemption by Christ) implies 
that the consequence of vice shall be misery in 
some future state, by the righteous judgment of 
God ; but since w r e are altogether unacquainted 

* The instances of Codrus, the last Athenian king, exposing 
himself to inevitable death; and Marcus Curtius, a noble 
Roman, leaping into the gulf, have been both considered, 
from the certainty of the offering, and the feelings of their 
respective nations, as proofs of a disposition in mankind to 
think that the voluntary and certain death of a person reputed 
noble and innocent (Pliny says of Curtius, " virtvie ac pietate 
ac morte pracclara expleverat"), may prevent impending and 
Divinely threatened calamities. Vide the Epistle to the Ro- 
mans, v., 7, 8. " For scarcely for a righteous man will one 
die ; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare 
to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that 
while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." 






CHAP. V.] SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. 155 

how future punishment is to follow wickedness, 
there is no absurdity in supposing that it may follow 
of course, or in the way of natural consequence, 
from God's original constitution of the world (in 
the same way as many miseries follow particular 
courses of action at present) from the nature He 
has given us, and from the condition in which He 
places us ; or in like manner, as a person rashly 
trifling upon a precipice falls down, breaks his 
limbs, and without help perishes all in the way of 
natural consequence. 

OBJECTION. Is not this taking the execution of 
justice out of the hands of God, and giving it to 
nature ? 

ANSWER. When things come to pass according 
to the course of nature, this does not prevent 'them 
from being His doing, who is the God of nature ; 
and Scripture ascribes those punishments to Divine 
justice, which are known to be natural. Yet, after 
all, this supposition is of no consequence, but a 
mere illustration of our argument ; for, as it must 
be admitted that future punishment is not a matter 
of arbitrary appointment, but of reason, equity, and 
justice, so it amounts to perhaps the same thing, 
whether they follow by a natural consequence or 
in any other way. Without this supposition, we 
have a sufficient analogy, but with it, we have a 
full analogy in the course of nature for a provision 
made for preventing the future consequences of 



15G SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

vice from following inevitably, and in all cases. 
For there is at present a provision made, that all 
the bad natural consequences of men's actions should 
not always actually follow, but should in certain 
degrees be prevented. As the Author of nature 
permits evil, so He has provided reliefs, and in 
many cases, perfect remedies for it reliefs and 
remedies even for that evil which is the fruit of our 
own misconduct, and which otherwise would have 
ended in our destruction. And this is an instance 
both of severity and of indulgence in the constitu- 
tion of nature. Thus all the bad consequences, 
now mentioned, of a man's trifling upon a precipice 
might be prevented ; or some, at least, by the as- 
sistance of others, in obedience to the suggestion of 
their nature, and by this assistance being accepted. 
Now, suppose the constitution of nature were other- 
wise; that the natural bad consequences of actions, 
foreseen to have such consequences, could not, in 
any instance, be prevented, after the actions were 
committed, no one can say whether such a more 
severe constitution of things might not have been 
really good. But the contrary being the case, this 
may be called mercy or compassion, in the original 
constitution of the world compassion,, as distin- 
guished from goodness in general. Therefore, the 
whole known constitution and course of things af- 
fording us instances of such compassion, it would 
be according to the analogy of nature to hope that 



CHAP. V.] SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. 157 

however ruinous the natural consequences of vice 
might be, from the general laws of God's govern- 
ment over the universe ; yet provision might be 
made, possibly might have been originally made, 
for preventing these ruinous consequences from in- 
evitably following, at least from following univers- 
ally arid in all cases. Some will, perhaps, wonder 
at finding it spoken of as at all doubtful, that the 
ruinous consequences of vice might be prevented, 
having scarcely any apprehension or thought at all 
concerning the matter. But, judging from the pres- 
ent scene, we find the effects of even rashness and 
neglect are often extreme misery, irretrievable 
ruin, and even death. Now, it is natural to appre- 
hend that the bad consequences of irregularity will 
be greater in proportion as the irregularity is so. 
And there is no comparison between these irregu- 
larities and the greater instances of vice, whereby 
mankind have presumptuously introduced confu- 
sion and misery into the kingdom of God. So that, 
as no one can say in what degree fatal the unpre- 
vented consequences of vice may be, according to 
the general rule of Divine government, so it is, by 
no means, intuitively certain, how far these conse- 
quences could possibly be prevented, consistently 
with the eternal rule of right, or with what is, in. 
fact, the moral constitution of nature. However, 
there would be large ground to hope, that the uni- 
versal government was not so severely strict, but 

O 



158 SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. (TART n. 

that there was room for pardon, or for having those 
penal consequences prevented. Yet, 

III. There seems no probability that any thing 
we could do would alone, and of itself, prevent 
them ; for we do not know all the reasons which 
render future punishments necessary, nor all the 
natural consequences of vice, nor in what mariner 
they would follow if unprevented, and, therefore, 
we can not say whether we could do any thing 
which would be sufficient to prevent them. Far- 
ther, that repentance and reformation alone, and 
by itself, is wholly insufficient to prevent the future 
consequences of vice,* or to put us in the condition 
in which we should have been had we preserved 
our innocence, appears plainly credible from anal- 
ogy ; for we see it does not avail in a much lower 
capacity. In their temporal capacity, men ruin 
their fortunes, and bring on diseases, by extrava- 
gance and excess. Will sorrow for these follies 

* The case of penitence is clearly different from that of in 
nocence it implies a mixture of guilt precontracted, and 
punishment proportionably deserved ; it is consequently in- 
consistent with rectitude that both should be treated alike by 
God. The present conduct of the penitent will receive God's 
approbation; but the reformation of the sinner can not have a 
retrospective effect ; the agent may be changed, but his for- 
mer sins can not be thereby canceled. The convert and the 
sinner are the same individual person, and the agent must be 
answerable for his whole conduct. Balgny's Essay on Re- 
demption. 

Cicero goes no farther on this head than to assert Quern 
poenitet peccasse, pene est innocens. Dr. Shuckford. 



CHAP. -V.] SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. 159 

past, and behaving well for the future, alone and 
of itself, prevent the natural consequences of them 1 
On the contrary, their natural abilities of helping 
themselves are often impaired ; or, if not, yet they 
are absolutely forced to seek assistance from others 
for retrieving their affairs. 

2d. It is contrary to all our notions of govern- 
ment, that reformation alone would prevent all the 
judicial bad consequences of having done evil :* 
and though it might prevent them in some cases, 
yet we could not determine in what degree and in 
what cases it would do so. 

3d. It is also contrary to the general sense of 
mankind, as appears from the general prevalence 
of propitiatory sacrifices over the heathen world.t 

IV. In this darkness, or this light of nature, call 

* If it be said that this would not be proper in human gov- 
ernments, because they may easily be deceived by false shows 
of repentance ; I answer, that, supposing human governors 
could certainly distinguish a true repentance from a false one, 
the inconvenience of such a constitution to the public would 
still be the same ; for it would encourage persons to commit 
crimes, in hopes of doing it with impunity, since every crim- 
inal would think that, in order to escape punishment, he had 
nothing more to do but to repent, and that this alone would 
satisfy the law ; and he would be apt to flatter himself that 
this was at any time in his power. Leland against Tindal. 

t That the heathen supposed their animal sacrifices to be 
not only of an expiatory, but of a vicarious nature, might be 
shown from a variety of passages. The following from the 
Book of Ovid's Fasti is full to the point : 

" Cor pro corde, precor, pro fibris, sumite fibras 
Hanc auimam vobis pro meliore damus." 



160 SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

it which you please, Revelation comes in confirms 
every doubting fear which could enter into the 
heart of man concerning the future unpre vented 
consequence of wickedness supposes the world to 
be in a state of ruin (a supposition which seems the 
very groundwork of the Christian dispensation, and 
which, if not provable by reason, yet is in no wise 
contrary to it) teaches us 'too, that the rules of 
Divine government are such as not to admit of 
pardon immediately and directly upon repentance, 
or by the sole efficacy of it ; but then teaches, at 
the same time, what nature might justly have hoped, 
that the moral government of the universe was not 
so rigid but that there was room for an interposi- 
tion ; and that God hath mercifully provided this in- 
terposition to prevent the destruction of the human 
kind. " God so loved the world, that he gave his 
only begotten Son, that whosoever kelieveth in him 
(i, c., in a practical sense) should not perish" He 
gave his Son in the same way of goodness to the 
world as He affords particular persons the friendly 
assistance of their fellow-creatures; when without 
it, their temporal ruin would be the certain conse- 
quence of their follies in the same way of good- 
ness, I say, though in a transcendent and infinitely 
higher degree. And the Son of God loved us, and 
gave himself for us, with a love which he himself 
compares to that of human friendship ; though, in 
this case, all comparisons must fall infinitely short 



CHAP. V.] SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. 161 

of the thing intended to be illustrated by them. 
He interposed in such a manner as to prevent the 
appointed or natural punishment that would other- 
wise have been executed upon them.* Nor is 
there any thing here inconsistent with Divine good- 
ness ; for were we to suppose the constitution of 
things to be such that the whole creation must 
have perished, but for something appointed by God 
to prevent it, even this supposition would not be 
inconsistent, in any degree, with the most absolute- 
ly perfect goodness. 

* It can not, I suppose, be imagined, that it is affirmed or 
implied, in any thing said in this chapter, that none can have 
the benefit of the general redemption but such as have the 
advantage of being made acquainted with it in the present 
life. But it may be needful to mention, that several questions, 
which have been brought into the subject before us, and de- 
termined, are not in the least entered into here questions 
which have been, I fear, rashly determined, and, perhaps, 
with equal rashness contrary ways. For instance, " Whether 
God could have saved the world by other means than the 
death of Christ, consistently with the general laws of his gov- 
ernment?" . And " Had not Christ come into the world, what 
would have been the future condition of the better sort of 
men those just persons over the face of the earth, for whom 
Manasses, in his prayer, asserts repentance was not appoint- 
ed?" The meaning of the first of these questions is greatly 
ambiguous ; and neither of them can properly be answered 
without going upon that infinitely absurd supposition that we 
know the whole of the case. And, perhaps, the very inquiry, 
What would have followed, if God had not done as he has ? 
may have in it some very great impropriety, and ought not to 
be carried on any farther than is necessary to help our partial 
conceptions of things. Butler. 



162 SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

OBJECTION. But Christianity supposes mankind to 
be naturally in a very strange state of degradation. 

ANSWER. This is true, but it is not Christianity 
which has put us into this state, and there will be 
little reason to object against the Scripture account, 
if we consider the miseries and wickedness of the 
world ; the wrongness which the best experience 
within themselves ; and that the natural appear- 
ances of human degradation were so strong, that 
the heathen moralists inferred it from them, and 
that the earth, our habitation, has the appear- 
ances of being a ruin. It was, according to Scrip- 
ture, the crime of our first parents that placed us in 
this state, and this account of the occasion of our 
being placed in a more disadvantageous condition 
is particularly analogous to what we see in the 
daily course of natural Providence, as the recovery 
of the world by Christ has been shown to be so in 
general. 

But let us consider the Scripture account of the 
particular manner in which Christ interposed in the 
redemption of the world, or his office of mediator, 
in the largest sense between God and man. He is 
the light of the world* the revealer of the will of 
God in the most eminent sense. He is a propiti- 
atory sacrifice t the Lamb of God\ our High 

* John, i., and viii., 12. 

t Rom., iii., 25, and v., 11; Cor., v., 7; Eph., v., 2; 1 
John, ii., 2 ; Mat., xxvi., 28. 

t John, i., 29, 36, and throughout the Book of Revelation. 



CHAP. V.] SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. 163 

Priest* and, what seems of peculiar weight, he is 
described beforehand, in the Old Testament, under 
the same characters of a Priest and an expiatory 
victim.f 

OBJECTION. Christ's atonement is merely by way 
of allusion to the sacrifices of the Mosaic law. 

ANSWER. The Apostle, on the contrary, asserts, 
that the " law was a shadow of good things to 
come ;"| that the Levitical priesthood was a shadow 
or type of the priesthood of Christ (Heb., viii., 4, 
5), in like manner, as the tabernacle made by Mo- 
ses, was a copy of that shown him in the mount. 
Nor can any thing be more express than the fol- 
lowing passage : " It is not possible that the blood 
of bulls arid of goats should take away sin. Where- 
fore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, sac- 
rifice and offering (i. e., of bulls and goats) thou 
wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me. 
Lo ! I come to do thy will, O God. By the which 
will we are sanctified through the offering of the 
body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb., x., 4, 5, 
7, 9, 10. Again, " Christ was once offered to bear 
the sins of many, and unto them that look for him 
shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto 
salvation." Heb., ix., 28. Without sin, i. e., with- 
out bearing sin without being a sin-offering. 

* Throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews, 
t Is., liii. ; Dan., ix., 24 ; Ps., ex., 4. 
J Heb., x., 1. 



164 SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II 

Moreover, Scripture declares that there is an ef- 
ficacy in what Christ did and suffered for us, addi- 
tional to and beyond mere instruction, example, 
and government. That Jesus should die for that 
nation (the Jews), and not for that nation only, but 
that also, plainly by the efficacy of his death, he 
should gather together in one the children that are 
scattered abroad ;* that he suffered for sins, the 
just for the unjust ;t that he gave his life himself 
a ransom ;\ that he is our advocate, intercessor, and 
propitiation. 

Let us now consider the nature of Christ's office, 
according to the three heads under which it is usu- 
ally treated of, namely Prophet, Priest, and King, 
reserving the second head for the last, in order to 
answer the objections against it. First. He was, 
by way of eminence, the Prophet that Prophet 
that should come into the world\ to declare the Di- 
vine will. He taught authoritatively ; He gave to 
the moral system of nature the additional evidence 
of testimony ; He distinctly revealed the manner in 
which God would be worshipped, the efficacy of 

* John, xi., 51, 52. t 1 Pet., iii., 18. 

t Mat., xx., 29. Vide, also, Mark, x., 45 ; 1 Tim., ii., 6 ; 
2 Pet., ii., 1; Rev., xiv., 4; 1 Cor., vi., 20; 1 Pet., i., 19; 
Rev., v., 9; Gal., iii., 13; Heb., vii., 25; 1 John, ii., 1, 2; 
Heb., ii., 10, and v., 9; 2 Cor., v., 19; Rom., v., 10; Eph., 
ii., 16; Heb., ii., 14. See also a remarkable passage in the 
Book of Job, xxxiii., 24; Phil., ii., 8, 9; John, iii., 35, and 
v., 22, 23; Rev., v., 12, 13. 

$ John, vi., 14. 



CHAP. V.] SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. 165 

repentance, and a future state of rewards and pun- 
ishments; and He set us a perfect example, that 
we should follow his steps. Secondly. He is a 
King, as he has a kingdom which is not of this 
world. He founded a visible church, to be a 
standing memorial of religion, and invitation to it ; 
over this He exercises an invisible government, 
" for the perfecting of the saints for the edifying 
his body."* All persons who live in obedience to 
his laws are members of this church, and for these 
he is gone to prepare a place, and will come again 
to receive them to himself ;\ and likewise to take 
vengeance on those that know not God, and obey not 
liis Gospel.\ 

Against these parts of Christ's office there are no 
objections, but what are fully obviated in the be- 
ginning of this chapter. 

Thirdly. As to the priesthood of Christ, he of- 
fered himself a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of 
the world. Expiatory sacrifices were commanded 
the Jews, and obtained among other nations from 
traditions, the original of which was probably rev- 
elation. These were continually repeated. "But 
now, once in the end of the world, Christ appeared 
to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself." How 
the atonement has this efficacy, which the heathen 
sacrifices had not, and the Jewish had only in a 

* Eph., iv., 12. t John, xiv., 2; Rev., iii., 21, and xi., 15. 
t 2 Thes., i., 8. $ Heb., ix., 26. 



166 SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

very limited degree, Scripture has not revealed to 
us. Some have gone beyond what the Scripture 
has authorized in explaining it; and others, be- 
cause they could not explain it, have rejected it, 
and confine the office of Chiist, as Redeemer of the 
world, to his instruction, example, and government 
of the church. Whereas the Gospel doctrine is, 
not only that He taught the efficacy of repentance, 
but that He made it of the efficacy which it is, by 
what He did and suffered for us ; that he revealed 
to sinners that they were in a capacity of salvation, 
and how they might obtain it, and also put them 
in that capacity. 

1st OBJECTION. We do not see the necessity or 
expediency of the sacrifice of Christ. 

ANSWER. Our ignorance with regard to the 
means, manner, and occasion of future punish- 
ments, and with regard to the nature of future 
happiness, shows evidently that we are not judges, 
antecedently to revelation, whether a Mediator was 
or was not necessary. And for the very same 
reasons, upon supposition of the necessity of a Medi- 
ator, we are not judges, antecedently to revelation, 
of the whole nature of his office. And, therefore, 
no objection can be urged against any part of that 
office, until it can be shown positively not to be 
requisite to the ends proposed, or that it is in itself 
unreasonable. There seems to be something of 
this positive kind in this. 



CHAP. V.] SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. 167 

2d OBJECTION. " The doctrine of Christ's being 
appointed to suffer for the sins of the world, repre- 
sents God as being indifferent whether he punished 
the innocent or the guilty." 

ANSWER. 1. This is not an objection against 
Christianity merely ; but concludes as much against 
the constitution of nature, since, in the daily course 
of natural providence, it is appointed that innocent 
persons should suffer for the guilty. The objection 
does not apply the more against the appointment 
in Christianity, because it is of infinitely greater 
importance, since notwithstanding, it may be, as it 
plainly is, an appointment of the same kind, but it 
would apply (if it had any force) more against the 
appointment in nature, where we are commanded, 
and even necessitated, to suffer for the faults of 
others; whereas the sufferings of 'Christ were vol- 
untary. Yet, there is no objection to the former ; 
for, upon the completion of the moral scheme ev- 
ery one shall receive according to his deserts. Bui 
during the progress of this scheme, vicarious pun- 
ishments may be fit and absolutely necessary. 2d. 
This method of our redemption is unanswerably 
justified by its apparent natural tendency -its 
tendency to vindicate the authority of God's laws, 
and to deter his creatures from sin. 

This (though by no means an account of the 
whole of the case) would be a sufficient answer to 
objections of the foregoing kind, which are insisted 



168 SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

upon, either from ignorance of what are to be con- 
sidered God's appointments, or forgetfulness of the 
daily instances of this case in those appointments ; 
and, from this ignorance or forgetfulness, together 
with their inability of seeing how the sufferings of 
Christ could contribute to the redemption of the 
world, unless by arbitrary and tyrannical will, they 
conclude that they could not contribute to it any 
other way. But to see the absurdity of such an 
objection against Christianity, or, as it really is, 
against the constitution of nature, let us consider 
what it amounts to that a Divine appointment can 
not be necessary or expedient, because the object- 
or does not discern it to be so, though he must 
own that the nature of the case is such as renders 
him incapable of judging whether it be so or not, 
or of seeing it to be necessary, though it were so ! 
The presumption of this kind of objections to par- 
ticular things revealed in Scripture, seems almost 
lost in the folly of them ; and the folly of them is 
yet greater, when they are urged, as usually they 
are, against things in Christianity analogous or like 
to those natural dispensations of Providence which 
are matter of experience. And the absurdity is 
still farther heightened by the consideration that 
we are not actively concerned in the parts, the ex- 
pediency of which can not be understood, for these 
relate to the Divine conduct, which is a very differ- 
ent subject from our duty, with respect to which 



CHAP. V.] SYSTEM OF CHRISTIANITY. 169 

none need plead want of information. The con- 
stitution of the world, and God's natural govern- 
ment over it, is all a mystery, as much as the 
Christian dispensation. Yet, under the first, He 
has given men all things pertaining to life (though 
it is but an infinitely small part of natural provi- 
dence which experience teaches us), and, under 
the others, all things pertaining unto godliness. 
There is no obscurity in the common precepts of 
Christianity; though, if there were, a Divine com- 
mand ought to impose the strongest obligation to 
obedience. But the reasons of all the Christian 
precepts are evident. Positive institutions are nec- 
essary to keep up and propagate religion. The 
internal and external worship which we owe to 
Christ arises out of what He has done and suffered 
for us out of His authority, and the relation He 
(according to revejation) stands in to us. 
P 






QUESTIONS CHAPTER V. 

1. Show that there can be no objection from analogy 
against the general notion of a Mediator. 

2. In reasoning upon the redemption of the world, 
what supposition may we, without absurdity, assume, 
respecting the way in which punishment may follow 
sin? 

3. Answer the objection that * supposing punish- 
ment to be the natural consequence of sin, is taking the 
execution of justice out of the hands of God." 

4. Give fully the argument illustrating the assertion 
that " with this supposition, we have a full analogy, in 
the course of nature, for a provision made for prevent- 
ing the future consequences of vice from following in- 
evitably and in all cases." 

5. How may we prove the unreasonableness of those 
who wonder at finding it spoken of as at all doubtful 
that the ruinous consequences of vice might have been 
prevented ? 

6. What considerations show the improbability that 
behaving well for the future, or any thing that we could 
do, would alone, and of itself, prevent the fatal conse- 
quences of vice ? 

7. What confirmation is given to the teaching of the 
light of nature by the Scriptural view of man's re- 
demption? 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER V. 171 

8. Prove that there is no weight in the objection 
that ** Christianity supposes mankind to be naturally 
in a very strange state of degradation." 

9. Explain at large, under three different heads, 
the particular manner in which Christ interposed in 
the redemption of the world. 

10. Against what part of Christ's office have most 
objections been urged, and how have men erred on 
contrary sides in their reasonings concerning it ? 

11. Answer the following objections: 1st. We do 
not see the necessity or expediency of the sacrifice of 
Christ. 

12. 2d Objection. The doctrine of Christ's being 
appointed to suffer for the sins of the world, repre- 
sents God as being indifferent whether He punished 
the innocent or the guilty. 

13. By what arguments does Butler expose the 
presumption and folly of these, and similar objections, 
to particular things revealed in Scripture ? 



CHAPTER VI. 

OF THE WANT OF UNIVERSALITY IN REVELATION, 
AND OF THE SUPPOSED DEFICIENCY IN THE PROOF 
OF IT. 

I. The next Objections to be considered are, 1. That Rev- 
elation is left upon doubtful evidence, and, therefore, it 
can not be true. 2. Revelation is not Universal, and, 
therefore, can not be true. These Objections are answered 
by full Analogies in the Constitution of Nature. 

II. Admitting Revelation to be uncertain in its evidence, the 
three following practical reflections will tend to remove all 
causes of complaint: 1. The evidence of Religion not ap- 
pearing obvious, may constitute one particular part of some 
men's Trial, in the religious sense. 2. Doubting implies 
some degree of evidence, and puts men into a general 
state of Probation, in the moral and religious sense ; and 
consequently, 3. These difficulties are no more to be com- 
plained of than external circumstances of temptation. 

III. But this uncertainty may partly arise from our own neg- 
lect. 

IV. An apparent Analogy against the fitness of doubtful evi 
dence answered. 

I. IT has been objected, 1st, that if the evidence 
of revelation appears doubtful, this itself turns into 
a positive argument against it ; because it can not 



CHAP. VI.] WANT OF UNIVERSALITY, ETC. 173 

be supposed that, if it were really true, it would be 
left to subsist upon doubtful evidence; 2d, that 
revelation can not be true from its want of Uni- 
versality. 

Now the weakness of these objections may be 
shown by observing the suppositions upon which 
they are founded, which are really such as these : 
1. It can not be thought that God would bestow 
any favor at all upon us unless in the degree we 
imagine might be most to our particular advantage ; 
and, 2, that it can not be thought he would bestow 
a favor upon any, unless he bestowed the same 
upon all. 

General Answer to the 1st Objection. Let the 
objectors to revelation, on account of its supposed 
doubtfulness, consider what that evidence is which 
they act upon with regard to their temporal inter- 
ests. There are various circumstances which 
render it uncertain and doubtful ; such as the diffi- 
culty and almost impossibility of balancing pleasure 
and pain, to see on which side the overplus lies 
of making allowances for the difference of feeling 
which we may have, when we have obtained 
the object in view and of the casualties which 
may prevent our obtaining it, e. g., sudden death 
the danger of our being deceived by the appear- 
ances of things, especially if we are inclined to fa- 
vor deceit. Yet all this is considered to be justly 
disregarded, upon account of there appearing 



174 WANT OF UiNIVERSALITY [PART II. 

greater advantages in case of success, though there 
be but little probability of it ; and even when the 
probability is greatly against success, if there be 
only a possibility that we may succeed. 

General Answer to the 2d Objection. These ob- 
jectors should observe that the Author of nature, 
in numberless instances, bestows upon some what 
he does not upon others who seem equally in need 
of it ; for instance, health and strength, capacities 
of prudence and of knowledge, riches, and all ex- 
ternal advantages ; and, notwithstanding these va- 
rieties and uncertainties, God exercises a natural 
government over the world ; and there is such a 
thing as a prudent and imprudent institution of 
life, with regard to our health and our affairs under 
this government. 

Now, let us more particularly consider what is 
to be found in the evidence and reception of reve- 
lation analogous to the preceding, and we will see 
farther the futility of these objections. As neither 
the Jewish nor Christian revelation has been uni- 
versal, and, as they have been afforded to a greater 
or less part of the world at different times, so like- 
wise at different times, both revelations have had 
different degrees of evidence. The Jews who lived 
during the succession of prophets, that is, from 
Moses till after the captivity, had higher evidence 
of the truth of their religion than those had who 
lived in the interval between the captivity and the 



CHAP. VI.] IN REVELATION. 175 

coming of Christ. And the first Christians had 
higher evidence of the miracles wrought in attesta- 
tion of Christianity than we have now. They had 
also a strong presumptive proof of the truth of it, 
of which we have little remaining the presumptive 
proof from the influence which it had upon the 
lives of the generality of its professors. And we, 
or future ages, may possibly have a proof of it, 
which they could not have, from the conformity 
between the prophetic history, and the state of the 
world and of Christianity. And, farther, if we 
were to suppose the evidence which some have of 
religion to amount to little more than seeing that 
it may be true ; others to have a full conviction of 
its truth ; and others severally to have all the inter- 
mediate degrees of evidence between these two ; 
if we put the case that revelation, for the present, 
was only intended to be a small light in the midst 
of a world greatly overspread with darkness, so 
that some at a remote distance might receive some 
glimmerings of it, and yet not be able to discern its 
origin ; and others, in a nearer situation, should 
have its light obscured in different ways and de- 
grees ; and others within its clearer influence, en- 
livened and directed by it, and yet, even to these, 
that it should be no more than a liglit shining in a 
dark place ; all this would be perfectly uniform 
with the conduct of Providence in the distribution 
of His other blessings. If the fact of the case really 



176 WANT OF UNIVERSALITY [PART II. 

were, that some have received no light at all from 
Scripture, as many heathen nations ; that others 
have had, by this means, natural religion enforced 
upon them, but never had Scripture revelation, 
with its real evidence, proposed to them, like, per- 
haps, the ancient Persians and modern Moham- 
medans ; that others have had revelation proposed 
to them, but with such interpolations in its system, 
and with its evidence so blended with false mira- 
cles, &c., as to produce doubt and uncertainty, which 
may be the case with some thoughtful men in most 
Christian nations ; and, lastly, that others have Chris- 
tianity proposed to them in its proper light, but 
yet not light sufficient to satisfy curiosity. Now, 
if this be a true account of the degrees of moral 
and religious light and evidence, there is nothing 
in it but may be paralleled by manifest analogies in 
the present natural dispensations of Providence. 

But does not this unequal distribution appear 
harsh and unjust 1 By no means ; for every one 
shall be equitably dealt with : no more shall be 
required of any one than what might have been 
equitably expected of him, from the circumstances 
in which he was placed : i. e., every man shall be 
accepted according to what he had, not according to 
what he had not. This, however, doth not imply 
that all persons' condition here is equally advan- 
tageous with respect to futurity ; and their being 
placed in darkness is no more a reason why per- 



CHAP. VI.] IN REVELATION. 177 

sons should not endeavor to get out of it, and why 
others should not endeavor to bring them out of it, 
than it is a reason why ignorant people should not 
endeavor to learn, or should not be instructed. 

II. What, in general, may be the account or rea- 
son of these things ] It is not unreasonable to sup- 
pose that the same wise and good principle, what- 
ever it was, which disposed the Author of nature to 
make different kinds and orders of creatures, dis- 
posed Him also to place creatures of the like kinds 
in different situations : and that the same principle 
which disposed Him to make creatures of different 
moral capacities, disposed Him to place creatures 
of like moral capacities, in different religious situa- 
tions, and even the same creatures, at different 
periods of their being. And the account, or rea- 
son of this, is also, most probably, the account why 
the constitution of things is such, that creatures of 
moral capacities, for a considerable part of their 
life, are not all subjects of morality and religion. 

But can we not give a more particular account 
of these things ? Here we must be greatly in the 
dark,* were it only that we know so veiy little, even 

* To expect a distinct, comprehensive view of the whole 
subject, clear of difficulties and objections, is to forget our 
nature and condition, neither of which admit of such knowl- 
edge with respect to any science whatever: and to inquire 
with this expectation, is not to inquire as a man, but as one 
of another order of creatures. Butler's Sermon on the Ig 
norance of Man. 



178 WANT OF UNIVERSALITY [PART II. 

of our own case. We are in the midst of a system ; 
our present state probably connected with the past, 
as it is with the future. A system in its very notion 
implies variety, so that were revelation universal, yet 
from men's different capacities of understanding, 
from the different lengths of their lives, from their 
difference of education, temper, and bodily consti- 
tution, their religious situations would be widely 
different, and the disadvantages of some in compar- 
ison to others would be altogether as much as at 
present ; and the true account of our being placed 
here must be supposed also to be the true account 
of our ignorance of the reasons of it. But the fol- 
lowing practical reflections may deserve the consid- 
eration of those persons who think the circumstances 
of mankind, or their own, in the fore-mentioned . 
respects, a subject of complaint. 1st. The evi- 
dence of religion not appearing obvious, may con- 
stitute one particular part of some men's trial, in 
the religious sense, as it gives scope for a virtuous 
exercise, or vicious neglect of their understanding, 
in examining, or not examining, into that evidence. 
There seems no possible reason to be given why 
we may not be in a state of moral probation with 
regard to the exercise of our understanding upon 
the subject of religion, as we are with regard to 
our behavior in common affairs. For religion is 
not intuitively true, but a matter of deduction arid 
inference ; a conviction of its truth is not forced 






CHAP. VI.] IN REVELATION. 179 

upon every one, but left to be by some collected 
by heedful attention to premises. The careful and 
solicitous examination of the evidence of religion 
before conviction, is an exercise of the same inward 
principle that renders a person obedient to its pre- 
cepts after conviction ; and neglect is as much real 
depravity in the one case as in the other. 

2d. Even if the evidence of religion were, in the 
highest degree, doubtful, it would put men into a 
general state of probation, in the moral and religious 
sense. For, suppose a man to be really in doubt 
whether such a person had not done him the great- 
est favor, or whether his whole temporal interest 
was not depending on that person, he could not 
consider himself (if he had any sense . of gratitude 
or of prudence) in the same situation as if he had 
no such doubt; or as if he were certain he had re- 
ceived no favor from such a person, .or that he no 
way depended upon him. So that, considering the 
infinite importance of religion, there is not so great 
a difference as is generally imagined between what 
ought in reason to be the rule of life to those who 
really doubt and those who are fully convinced of 
the truth of religion.* Their hopes, and fears, arid 

* For would it not be madness for a man to forsake a safe 
road, and prefer to it one in which he acknowledges there is 
an even chance he should lose his life, though there were an 
even chance, likewise, of his going safe through it? Yet 
there are people absurd enough to take the supposed doubt- 
fulness of religion for the same thing as a proof of its falsehood, 



180 WANT OF UNIVERSALITY [TAUT II. 

obligations will be in various degrees ; but as the 
subject-matter of their hopes and fears is the same, 
so the subject-matter of their obligations is not so 
very unlike. For doubting gives occasion arid mo- 
tives to consider farther the important subject ; to 
preserve- a sense that they may be under the Divine 
moral government, and an awful solicitude about 
religion, so as to bind them to refrain from all im- 
morality and profaneness ; and such conduct will 
tend to improve in them that character which the 
practice of religion would in those fully convinced 
of its truth. And they are farther accountable for 
their example, if with a character for understanding, 
or in a situation of influence in the world, they dis- 
regard all religion, though doubtful to them ; and 
very accountable, as they may do more injury this 
way, or might do more good by the opposite, than 
by acting ill or well, in the common intercourse 
among mankind. 

The ground of these observations is, that doubt- 
ing necessarily implies some degree of evidence for 
that of which we doubt: for no person would be 
in doubt concerning the truth of a number of facts, 
accidentally entering his mind, and of which he had 



after they have concluded it doubtful, from hearing it often 
called in question. This shows how infinitely unreasonable 
skeptical men are with regard to religion, and that they 
really lay aside their reason, upon this subject, as much as the 
most extravagant enthusiast. Butler's Charge. 



CHAP. VI.] IN REVELATION. 181 

no evidence at all. In the case of an even chance, 
we should commonly say we had no evidence at all 
for either side ; yet this case is equivalent to all 
others, where there is such evidence on both sides 
of a question as leaves the mind in doubt concern- 
ing the truth : and in all these cases, although there 
is no more evidence on the one side than on the 
other, there is much more for either than for the 
truth of a number of random thoughts. And thus, 
it will appear that there are as many degrees be- 
tween no evidence at all, and that degree of it 
which affords ground for doubt, as there are be- 
tween that degree which is the ground of doubt^ 
and demonstration. And it is as real an imperfec- 
tion in the moral character, not to be influenced "by 
a lower degree of evidence, when discerned* as it 
is in the understanding not to discern it. The 
lower degrees of evidence will be discerned or 
overlooked, according to the fairness and honesty 
of men, as in speculative matters,, according to 
their capacity of understanding. 

3dly. The speculative difficulties ki which the 
evidence of religion is involved, are no more a just 
ground of complaint than external circumstances of 
temptation, or than difficulties in the practice of it, 
after a full conviction of its truth. (And there is no 
ground for objection here, for temptations render our 
state a more improving state of discipline, by giving 
occasion to a more attentive and continued exercise 

Q 



132 WANT OF UNIVERSALITY [PART II. 

of the virtuous principle.) Now, it will appear, 
that the same account may be given of the doubtful 
evidence of religion, as of temptation and difficul- 
ties, with regard to practice ; for they belong to a 
state of probation. (1st.) As implying trial and diffi- 
culties. The doubtfulness of its evidence affords 
opportunities to an unfair mind of explaining away 
and deceitfully hiding from itself that evidence 
which it might see, and of being flattered with the 
hopes of escaping the consequences of vice ; though 
it is clearly seen that these hopes are, at least, un- 
certain, in the same way as the common temptation 
to many instances of folly, which end in temporal 
infamy and ruin, is the ground for hope of not 
being detected, and of escaping with impunity, i. c.. 
the doubtfulness of the proof beforehand that such 
foolish behavior will thus end in infamy and ruin. 
The examination of this evidence requires an at- 
tentive, solicitous, and, perhaps, painful exercise of 
the understanding. And there are circumstances 
in men*s situations, in their temporal capacities, 
analogous to those concerning religion. In so??w 
situations the chief difficulty, with regard to conduct, 
is not the doing what is prudent when it is known, 
but the principal exercise is recollection, and being 
guarded against deceit. In other situations, the 
principal exercise is attention, in order to discover 
what is the prudent part to act. 

(?d.) This, and, indeed, temptation in general, as 






CHAP. VI.] IN REVELATION. 183 

it calls forth some virtuous efforts additional to 
what would otherwise have been wanting, can not 
but be an additional discipline and improvement of 
virtue, nay, may form the principal part of some 
persons' trial ; for as the chief temptations of the 
generality of the world are the ordinary motives to 
injustice or pleasure, or to live in the neglect of 
religion, from a frame of mind almost insensible to 
any thing distant, so there are others, without this 
shallowness of temper, of a deeper sense as to what 
is invisible and future, who, from their natural con- 
stitution and external condition, may have small 
temptations and difficulties in the common course 
of life. Now, when these latter persons have a 
full conviction of the truth of religion, its practice is 
to them almost unavoidable ; yet these persons may 
need Discipline and exercise in a higher degree 
than they would have by* such an easy practice of 
religion. 

(3d.) This may be necessary for their probation 
in the third sense of the word,* for a farther mani- 
festation of their moral character to the creation of 
God, than such a practice of it would be. 

III. But all the preceding reflections suppose 
that men's dissatisfaction with the evidence of re- 
ligion, does not arise from their neglect or preju- 
dices; but may it not be owing to their own fault 1 
Levity, carelessness, passion, and prejudice do hin- 
* Vide Chap. IV., Part I. 



184 WANT OF UNIVERSALITY [PART II. 

der us from being rightly informed with respect to 
common things, and they may in like manner (and 
perhaps in some farther providential manner) hin- 
der us with respect to moral and religious subjects. 
But does not the Scripture declare that every one 
shall not understand ?* Certainly. But it does not 
determine how this shall be effected ; and it make^ 
no difference whether it be effected by the evidence 
of Christianity being originally and with design so 
ordered, as that those who are desirous of evading 
moral obligations should not see it, and that honest- 
minded persons should ;t or whether it come to 
pass by any other means. Farther, the general 
proof of natural religion lies level to the meanest 
capacity ; for all men, however employed in the 
world, are capable of being convinced that there is 
a God who governs the world ; and they feel them- 
selves to be of a moral nature and accountable 
creatures. And as Christianity entirely falls in 

* Daniel, xii., 10. See also Is., xxix., 13, 14 ; Mat., vi., 23. 
and xi., 25, and xiii., 11, 12; John, iii., 19, and v., 44; 1 Cor., 
ii., 14 ; 2 Cor., iv., 4; 2 Tim., iii., 13; and that affectionate, 
as well as authoritative admonition, so very many times incul- 
cated, He that hath ears to hear let him hear. Grotius saw 
so plainly the thing intended in these and other passages of 
Scripture of the like sense, as to say that the proof given of 
Christianity was less than it might have been for this very 
purpose. " Ut ita sermo Evangelii tanquam lapis esset Lydins 
ad quern ingenia sanabilia explorarentur." Butler. 

t The internal evidence of religion seems chiefly to havo 
been intended as a means of moral probation. Vide John, 
vii., 17. 



CHAP. VI.] IN REVELATION. 185 

with this natural sense of things, so they may be 
persuaded and made to see that there is evidence 
of miracles wrought in attestation of it, and many 
appearing completions of prophecy. But though 
this general proof be liable to objections, and run 
up into difficulties which can not be answered so as 
to satisfy curiosity, yet we can see that the proof 
is not lost in these difficulties, or destroyed by these 
objections. It is true, this requires knoivledgc, time, 
and attention, and therefore can not be the business 
of every man ; but it ought to be considered by 
such as have picked up objections from others, and 
take for granted upon their authority that they are 
of weight against revelation, or by often retailing 
them, fancy they see that they are of weight. In 
this, as in all other matters, doubtfulness, ignorance, 
or error must attend the neglect of the necessary 
means of information. 

IV. Analogy objected against the fitness of the 
evidence of Revelation. " If a prince or common 
master were to send directions to a servant, he 
would take care that they should always bear the 
certain marks of him from whom they came, and 
that their sense should always be plain ; so that 
there should be no possible doubt, concerning their 
authority or meaning." 

ANSWER. The proper answer to all this kind of 
objections is, that wherever the fallacy lies, it is 
even certain we can not argue thus with respect to 



186 WANT OF UNIVERSALITY [PART II. 

Him who is the Governor of the World, and par- 
ticularly that he does not afford us such information, 
with respect to our temporal affairs and interests. 
However, there is a full answer to this objection, 
from the very nature of religion for they are not 
parallel cases. The prince regards only the ex- 
ternal event the thing's being done ; religion re- 
gards the inward motive and exercise by action. 
If the prince regarded the same, if he wished to 
prove the understanding or loyalty of a servant, he 
would not always give his orders in such a plain 
manner. It may be added, the Divine Will re- 
specting morality and religion may be considered 
either absolute or conditional ; it can not be abso- 
lute in any other way than that we should act vir- 
tuously in such given circumstances, and not by 
His changing of our circumstances ; so that it is 
still in our power to do or contradict His will. But 
the whole constitution of nature affords certain 
instances of its being conditional, that if we act so 
or so, we shall be rewarded ; if otherwise, pun- 
ished. 

Several of these observations may well seem 
strange, perhaps unintelligible, to many good men ; 
but if the persons for whose sake they are made, 
think so persons who object as above, and throw 
off all regard to religion under pretence of want 
of evidence, they are desired to consider whether 
their thinking so be owing to any thing unintelli- 



CHAP. VI.] IN REVELATION. 187 

gible in these observations, or to their not having 
sucli a sense of religion, as even tlieir state of skep- 
ticism does in all reason require ? It ought to be 
forced upon the reflection of these persons, that our 
nature and condition require us, in the daily course 
of life, to act upon evidence much lower than prob- 
able, and to engage in pursuits when the proba- 
bility is greatly against success, if it be credible 
that possibly we may succeed in them. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER VI. 

1. Upon what supposition is the weak objection 
founded that * because revelation is left upon doubtful 
evidence it can not be true?" Give a general answer 
to it. 

2. Explain in like manner the foundation of the 2d 
objection that ** Revelation can not be true from its 
want of universality ;" and answer it generally. 

3. Give a. particular application of the subject to the 
evidence of revealed religion in different ages, and the 
degrees of religious light enjoyed by various parts of 
mankind. 

4. What considerations may tend to reconcile us to 
the apparently unequal dispensations of the Creator in 
regard to religion ? 

5. Admitting revelation to be uncertain in its evi- 
dence, there are three practical reflections which will 
tend to remove all causes of complaint. Name them. 

6. How does Butler prove that there is not a great 
difference between what might in reason be the rule 
of life to those who really doubt, and those who are 
fully convinced of the truth of religion ? 

7. How does Butler prove that doubting necessarily 
implies some degree of evidence for that for which we 
doubt? 

8. Show that the same account may be given of 
doubts in the evidence of religion as of temptation and 
difficulties in practice. 

9. Give a summary of the argument in which it is 
explained, that uncertainty in religious truths may part- 
ly arise from our own neglect. 

10. Answer the apparent analogy, by which an ob- 
jection is raised against the fitness of revelation being 
left upon doubtful evidence. 






CHAPTER VII. 

OF THE PARTICULAR EVIDENCE FOR CHRISTIANITY. 

The presumptions against Revelation, and objections against 
the general scheme of Christianity, and particular things 
relating to it being removed, there remains to be consid- 
ered what positive evidence we have for its truth ; this is 
considered under two heads. 

I. The direct and fundamental evidence for Christianity from 
Miracles and Prophecy, and various objections answered. 

II. The direct and circumstantial evidence considered as 
making up one argument. 

WE proceed to consider what is the positive evi- 
dence for the truth of Christianity. We shall, 
therefore, First, make some observations relating 
to miracles, and the appearing completions of proph- 
ecy, (which are its fundamental proofs), and con- 
sider what analogy suggests in answer to the objec- 
tions brought against this evidence; and, Secondly, 
We shall endeavor to give some account of a gen- 
eral argument, consisting both of the direct and col- 
lateral evidence (for the latter ought never to be 
urged apart from the former), considered as making 
up one argument ; this being the kind of proof 



190 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

upon which we determine most questions of diffi- 
culty concerning common facts, alleged to have 
happened, or seeming likely to happen, especially 
questions relating to conduct. The conviction 
arising from this kind of proof, may be compared 
to what they call the effect in architecture or other 
works of art a result from a great number of things 
so and so disposed and taken into one view. 

1. 1. The Historical Evidence of Miracles. 

The Old Testament affords the same historical 
evidence of the miracles of Moses and of the Pro- 
phets, as of the common affairs of the Jewish na- 
tion. And the Gospels and Acts afford the same 
historical evidence of the miracles and of the com- 
mon facts because they are alike related in plain, 
unadorned narratives. Had the authors of these 
books appeared to aim at an entertaining mariner 
of writing, the case would be different; then it 
might be said that the miracles were introduced, 
like poetic descriptions and prodigies, to animate 
a dull relation to amuse the reader and engage 
his attention. 

2. Some parts of Scripture, containing an account 
of miracles fully sufficient to prove the truth of 
Christianity, are quoted as authentic and genuine 
from the age in which they are said to be written, 
down to the present. 

3. The miraculous history, in general, is confirm- 
ed by the establishment of the Jewish arid Christ- 



CHAP. VII.] .EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 191 

ian religions; events cotemporary with the mira- 
cles related to be wrought in attestation of both, or 
subsequent to them. These miracles are a satis- 
factory account of those events, of which no other 
satisfactory account can be given, nor any account 
at all but what is merely imaginary and invented. 
Mere guess, supposition, and possibility, when op- 
posed to historical evidence, prove nothing, but 
that historical evidence is not demonstrative. There 
must be something positive alleged against the 
proof of the genuineness and authenticity of Scrip- 
ture, before it can be invalidated; either that this 
evidence may be confronted by historical evidence 
on the other side, or the general incredibility of the 
things related, or inconsistency in the general turn 
of history; none of which can be proved. 

4. The Epistles of St. Paul, from the nature of 
epistolary writing, and moreover, from several of 
them being written, not to particular individuals, 
but to Churches, carry in them evidences of their 
being genuine, beyond what can be in a mere his- 
torical narrative, left to the world at large. One 
Epistle especially, which is chiefly referred to here 
(the 1st to the Corinthians), has a distinct and par- 
ticular evidence, from the manner in which it is 
quoted by Clemens Romanus, in an epistle of his 
own to that Church. Indeed, the testimony of St. 

Paul is to be considered as detached from that of 

/' 

the rest of the Apostles, for the author declares, 



19-2 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

in his Epistles, that he received the G-ospel in gen- 
eral, and the institution of the Communion in par- 
ticular, not from the rest of the Apostles, or jointly 
together with them, but alone and from Christ him- 
self; and he declares farther, that he was endued 
with the power of working miracles, as what was 
publicly known to those very people, in the man- 
ner any one would speak to another of a thing 
which was as familiar, and as much known in com- 
mon to them both, as any thing in the world.* 
This evidence, joined with what these Epistles 
have in common with the rest of the New Testa- 
ment, does not leave a particular pretence for de- 
nying their genuineness : for, as to general doubts 
concerning it, any single fact, of such kind and an- 
tiquity, may have them, from the very nature of 
human affairs and human testimony. 

5. It is an acknowledged historical fact, that 
Christianity offered itself to the world, and demand- 
ed to be received, upon the allegation of miracles, 
publicly wrought to attest the truth of it, in such 
an age, and that it was actually received by great 
numbers in that very age, and upon the professed 
belief of the reality of these miracles. Now all 
this is peculiar to the Jewish and Christian dispen- 
sations. Mohammedism was not introduced on the 

* Vide Rom., xv., 19 ; 1 Cor., xii., 8, 9, 1028, &c., and 
liii., 1, 2, 8, and the whole of xiv. ; 2 Cor., xii., 12, 13 ; Gal., 
iii., 25. 



CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 193 

ground of miracles, i. e., public ones, for as revela- 
tion itself is miraculous, all pretence to it must nec- 
essarily imply some pretence to miracles.* Partic- 
ular institutions in Paganism or Popery, confirmed 
by miracles after they were established, or even 
supposed to be introduced and believed on the 
ground of miracles, are not parallel instances, for 
single things of this kind are easily accounted for, 
after parties are formed, and have power in their 
hands when the leaders of them are in venera- 
tion with the multitude, and political interests are 
blended with religious claims and religious distinc- 
tions. But even if this be not admitted to be pe- 
culiar to Christianity, the fact is admitted that it was 
professed to be believed on the evidence of mira- 
cles. Now, certainly it is not to be supposed that 
such numbers of men, in the most distant parts of 
the world should forsake the religion of their coun- 
try, and embrace another which could not but ex- 
pose them to much self-denial, and, indeed, must 
have been a giving up of the world in a great de- 
gree, unless they were really convinced of the truth 
of these miracles, as they professed, when they be- 
came Christians, and this their testimony is the 

* This was all that Mohammed pretended to. " The Ko- 
ran itself is a miracle." So far was he from claiming to him- 
selt the working of public miracles, that he declared he did 
not work them, since those wrought by others, the Prophets, 
Apostles, and Jesus Christ, failed to bring conviction with 
them! Vide Sale's Koran, passim. 

R 



194 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

same kind of evidence for those miracles as if they 
had written it, and their writings had come down 
to us. And it is real evidence, because it is of 
facts of which they had capacity and full opportu- 
nity to inform themselves. It is also distinct from 
the direct historical evidence, though of the same 
kind ; for the general belief of any fact at the time 
in which it is said to have happened, is distinct 
from the express testimony of the historian. We 
admit the credulity of mankind ; but we should 
not forget their suspicions, and backwardness even 
to believe, and greater still to practice, what makes 
against their interest. So that the conversion of 
many to Christianity, when education, prejudice and 
authority were against it, is an undoubted pre- 
sumption of its Divine origin. It lies with unbe- 
lievers to show why such evidence as all this 
amounts to, is not to be credited.* Accordingly, 
there is 

OBJECTED. 1st. " Numberless enthusiastic peo- 
ple, in different ages and countries expose them- 

* If it be objected that it is rather slender ground upon 
which to stand, merely that we cannot prove the contrary, or 
the falsehood of the thing, we may answer, that it is not in- 
tended to be ground to rest on ; it is intended to set us in 
motion; and the evidence will grow in proportion to the 
earnestness and sincerity to ascertain the point. Now, is there 
not a moral fitness in this, that evidence should be progress- 
ive, and that in proportion to the singleness of eye and tho 
diligence with which it is sought and investigated 1 Wolfe's 
Remains. 



CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 195 

selves to the same difficulties which the primitive 
Christians did, and are ready to give up their lives 
for the most idle follies imaginable." 

ANSWER. Though testimony is no proof of en- 
thusiastic opinions, or of any opinions at all, yet (as 
is allowed in all other cases) it is a proof of facts. 
The Apostles* sufferings proved their belief of the 
facts ; and their belief proved the facts, for they 
were such as came under the observation of their 
senses. 

2d OBJECTION. " But enthusiasm greatly weakens, 
if it does not totally and absolutely destroy, the ev- 
idence of testimony even for facts, in matters relat- 
ing to religion. 

ANSWER. If great numbers of men, not appear- 
ing in any peculiar degree weak or negligent, af- 
firm that they saw and heard such things plainly 
with their eyes and ears, and are admitted to be 
in earnest, such testimony is evidence of the strong- 
est kind we can have for any matter of fact. Such 
an account of their testimony must be admitted, in 
place of that far-fetched, indirect, and wonderful 
one of enthusiasm, until some incredibility can be 
shown in the things thus attested, or contrary testi- 
mony produced. The very mention of enthusiasm 
goes upon this previous supposition, which must be 
proved before such a charge need be answered ; 
but as the contrary has been proved, an answer to 
it is much less required. However, as religion is 



196 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

supposed to be peculiarly liable to enthusiasm, we 
will consider what analogy suggests. Nameless 
and numberless prejudices, romance, affectation, 
humor, a desire to engage attention or to surprise, 
party spirit, custom, little competition, unaccount- 
able likings and dislikings, are to be considered as 
influences of a like kind to enthusiasm, because 
they are often scarce known or reflected upon by 
the persons themselves who are influenced by them. 
These influence men strongly in common matters, 
yet human testimony in these matters is naturally 
and justly believed notwithstanding. 

3d OBJECTION. " But the primitive Christians 
might still, in part, be deceived themselves, and, in 
part, designedly impose upon others, which is 
rendered very credible from that mixture of real 
enthusiasm and real knavery to be met with in the 
same characters/' 

ANSWER. It is a fact that, though endued with 
reason to distinguish truth from falsehood, and also 
with regard to truth in what they say, men are all 
liable to be deceived by prejudice ; and there are 
persons who, from their regard to truth, would not 
invent a lie entirely without any foundation at all, 
but yet would propagate it after it is once invented, 
with heightened circumstances. And others, though 
they would not propagate a lie, yet, which is a low- 
er degree of falsehood, will let it pass without con- 
tradiction. This is analogical to the ground of the 



CHAP. VII ] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 197 

objection ; yet, notwithstanding all this, human testi- 
mony remains still a natural ground of assent, and 
this assent a natural principle of action. 

4th OBJECTION. But it is a fact that mankind 
have, in different ages, been strangely deluded with 
pretences to miracles and wonders." 

ANSWER. They have been, by no means, of- 
tener, nor are they more liable to be, deceived by 
these pretences than by others.* 

5th OBJECTION. But there is a very considerable 
degree of historical evidence for miracles acknowl- 
edged to be fabulous." 

ANSWER. Is there the like evidence ] By no 
means.t But, even admitting that there were, the 
consequence would not be that the evidence of the 
latter is not to be admitted ; for what would such 
a conclusion really amount to but this, that evi- 
dence confuted by contrary evidence, or any way 
overbalanced, destroys the credibility of other evi- 
dence neither confuted nor overbalanced ] If two 
men, of equally good reputation, had given evi- 

* Counterfeit coin supposes that there is such a thing in the 
world as good money, and no one would pretend outwardly 
to be virtuous, unless some were really so. In the same man- 
ner, false miracles suppose the existence of real ones ; and 
the cheats that have been imposed upon the world, far from 
furnishing us with reasons to reject all miracles in general, 
are, on the contrary, a strong proof that some, of which they 
are imitations, have been genuine. Douglas on Miracles. 

t Vide Paley's Evidences, Part 2, where this point is satis- 
factorily proved. 



198 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II 

clence in different cases no way connected, and one 
of them had been convicted of perjury, would this 
confute the testimony of the other ? 

In addition to all these answers, it may be ob- 
served, it can never be sufficient to overthrow di- 
rect historical evidence, indolently to say, that there 
are so many principles from whence men are liable 
to be deceived themselves, and disposed to deceive 
others, especially in matters of religion, that one 
knows not what to believe. It, indeed, weakens the 
evidence of testimony in all cases, and it will ap- 
pear to do so in different degrees according to 
men's experience or notions of hypocrisy or enthu- 
siasm ; but nothing can destroy the evidence of testi- 
mony in any case, but a proof or probability that 
persons are not competent judges of the facts to 
which they give testimony, or that they are actu- 
ally under some indirect influence in giving it, in 
such particular case. Till this be made out, the 
natural laws of human actions require that testi- 
mony be admitted. Now, the first and most ob- 
vious presumption is, that they could not be de- 
ceived themselves, nor would deceive others ; for 
the importance of Christianity must have engaged 
the attention of its first converts, so as to have ren- 
dered them less liable to be deceived from care- 
lessness, than they would in common matters; and 
the strong obligations to veracity which their reli- 
gion laid them under made them less liable to do- 



CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 199 

ceive others. The external evidence for Christi- 
anity, unbelievers, who know any thing at all of the 
matter, must admit; that is, as persons in many 
cases own they see strong evidence from testimony 
for the truth of things which yet they can not be 
convinced are true supposing that there is con- 
trary testimony, or that the things are incredible. 
But there is no testimony contrary to that which 
we have been considering ; and it has been fully 
proved that there is no incredibility in Christianity 
in general, or in any part of it. 

I. 2d. The evidence of Christianity from Proph- 
ecy. The obscurity or unintelligibleness of one 
part of a prophecy, whether it arise from the nature 
of prophecy or from want of learning or of oppor- 
tunities of inquiry, or from the deficiencies in civil 
history, and the different accounts of historians, 
does not, in any degree, invalidate the proof of 
foresight arising from the clear fulfillment of those 
parts which are understood. For the case is evi- 
dently the same as if those parts which are not un- 
derstood were lost, or not written at all, or written 
in an unknown tongue. Suppose a writing partly 
in cipher and partly in plain words at length, and 
that in the part understood there appeared mention 
of several know r n facts ; it would never come into 
any man's thoughts to imagine, that, if he under- 
stood the whole, perhaps he might find that those 
facts were not in reality known by the writer. 



200 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

The fulfillment of the facts known is extensive 
enough to prove foresight more than human. 

1st OBJECTION. "Considering each prophecy 
distinctly, it does not at all appear that the prophe- 
cies were intended of those particular events to 
which they are applied by Christians ; and, there- 
fore, if they mean any thing, they are intended 
of other events unknown to us, and not of these at 
all." 

ANSWER. A long series of prophecy being appli- 
cable to such and such events, is itself a proof that 
it referred to them. This appears from analogy ; 
for there are two kinds of writing which bear a 
great resemblance to prophecy, with respect to the 
matter before us the mythological, and satirical 
where the satire is, to a certain degree, concealed. 
In the former kind, a man might be assured that 
he understood what an author intended by a fable 
or parable, related without any application or 
moral, merely from seeing it to be easily capable 
of such application, and that such a moral might 
naturally be deduced from it. And, in a satirical 
writing, he might be fully assured that such per- 
sons and events were intended, merely from its 
being applicable to them ; and his satisfaction that 
he understood the intended meaning of these writ- 
ings would be greater or less, in proportion as he 
saw the general turn of them and the number of 
particular things to be capable of such application. 



CHAP. VIL] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 201 

In the same way, if a long series of prophecy is 
applicable to the present state of the Church, arid 
to the political situations of the kingdoms of the 
world, some thousand years after these prophecies 
were delivered ; and if a long series of prophecy, 
delivered before the coming of Christ, is applica- 
ble to Him, these things are in themselves a proof 
that the prophetic history was intended of Him, 
and of those events, in proportion as the general 
turn of it, and the number and variety of particular 
prophecies are capable of such application. And 
although the appearing fulfillment of prophecy is 
to be allowed to determine its meaning, it may be 
added that prophecies have been determined be- 
forehand, as they have been fulfilled. The prophe- 
cies of a Messiah were applied to Him, by the 
Jews, before the coming of Christ ; and those con- 
cerning the state of the Church in the last ages, 
were applied to it by the primitive Christians, as 
the event seems to verify. 

Farther, even if it could be shown, to a high de- 
gree of probability, that the Prophets thought of 
events different from those which Christians allege 
to be the completion of their predictions ; or that 
their prophecies are capable of being applied to 
other events than what Christians apply them to ; 
yet to say that the Scriptures, and the things con- 
tained in them, can have no other or farther mean- 
ing than those persons thought or had, who first 



202 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

recited or wrote them, is evidently saying that those 
persons were the original, proper, and sole authors 
of these books, and not the amanuenses of the Holy 
Ghost; which is absurd, while the authority of 
these books is under consideration it is begging 
the question. If we knew the whole meaning of 
the compiler of a book, taken from memoirs, for 
instance, we would not suppose that we knew, from 
this, the whole meaning of the author of the me- 
moirs. So that the question is, whether a series of 
prophecy has been fulfilled, in any real sense of the 
words : for such completion is equally a proof of 
foresight, more than human, whether the Prophets 
are or are not supposed to have understood it in a 
different sense. For, though it is clear that tho 
Prophets did not understand the full meaning of 
their predictions, it is another question how far they 
thought they did, and in what sense they understood 
them. So that it is useless to show that prophecy 
is applicable to events of the age in which it was 
written, or of ages before it. To have proved this, 
before the completion, might, indeed, have answered 
some purpose ; for it might have prevented the ex- 
pectation of any such farther completion. For ex- 
ample, if Porphyry could have shown that some 
principal parts of the book of Daniel, for instance 
the 7th verse of the 7th chapter, which the Christ- 
ians interpreted of the latter ages, was applicable 
to events which happened before, or about, the age 



CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 203 

of Antiochus Epiphanes,* this might have prevented 
them from expecting any farther completion of it. 
But even if he could prove his assertion which by 
no means appears these remarks show it to be of 
no consequence : and they are remarks which must 
be acknowledged, by those of a fair mind, to be 
just, and the evidence referred to in them real. 
But it is much more easy, and more falls in with 
the negligence, presumption, and willfulness of the 
generality, to determine at once, with a decisive air 
there is nothing in them. 

II. We shall now endeavor to give some account 
of the general argument for the truth of Christ- 
ianity; consisting both of the direct and circum- 
stantial evidence, considered as making up one ar- 
gument, for three reasons 1st, this is the kind of 
evidence upon which most questions of difficulty, 
in common practice, are determined evidence 
arising from various coincidences, which support 
and confirm each other; 2d, this seems to be of 
the greatest importance, and not duly attended to 

* It appears that Porphyry did nothing, worth mentioning, 
in this way. For Jerome, on the passage, says : " Duas pos- 
teriores bestias in uno Macedonian regno ponit." And as to 
the ten kings, " Decem reges enumerat, qui fuerunt ssevissi- 
mi : ipsosque reges non unius ponit regni, verbi gratia, Mace- 
(Ionise, Syrire, Asiae, et Egypti, sed de diversis regnis unum 
efficit regum ordinem." And in this way of interpretation 
any thing may be made of any thing. Vide Newton on the 
Prophecies, and Bishop Chandler's Vindication of Christi- 
anity. 



204 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

by every one ; 3d, the matters of fact here enu- 
merated, being acknowledged by unbelievers, the 
weight of the whole, collectively, must be ackowl- 
edged to be very important. 

(1.) Revelation, whether real or supposed, may 
be considered as wholly historical for prophecy is 
nothing but anticipated history and doctrines and 
precepts are matters of fact. The general design of 
Scripture, containing this revelation, thus consider- 
ed as historical, may be said to be, to give us an 
account of the world in one single view as GOD'S 
WORLD ; by which it appears distinguished from 
all other books. It begins with an account of 
God's creation of the world, in order to ascertain 
by what He has done, the object of our worship, 
distinct from idols, and the Being of whom the 
whole volume treats. St. John, perhaps in allusion 
to this, begins his gospel with an account of Him 
by whom God created all things. It contains an 
abridgment of the history of the world, in the view 
just mentioned, from the first transgression, during 
the continuance of its apostacy from God, till the 
times of the restitution of all things ;* giving a gen- 
eral account of the governments by which religion 
is, has been, or shall be affected. On this it may 
be remarked, that the supposed doubtfulness of the 
evidence for revelation, in place of implying a posi- 

* Acts, iii., 21. Vide, also Rev., x., 7; Dan., ii., 44, vii., 
22; Rev., xxii., 5; Dan., vii., 27. 



CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 205 

tive argument tliat it is NOT true, implies a positive 
argument tliat it is TRUE : for, if any common re- 
lation of such antiquity r , such extent, and variety 
could be proposed to the examination of the world, 
and if it could riot be confuted in any age of knowl- 
edge and liberty, to the satisfaction of reasonable 
men, this would be thought a strong presumptive 
proof of its truth ; strong in proportion to the prob- 
ability that if it were false, it might have been 
shown to be so. Now Christianity is not said, by 
any, to have been thus confuted. Farther, the Old 
Testament, together with the moral system of the 
world, contains a chronological account of the be- 
ginning of it; and, .from thence, an unbroken gen- 
ealogy of mankind for many ages before common 
history begins. It contains an account of God's 
making a covenant with a particular nation His 
government of them His threatenings " that he 
would scatter them among all people, from one 
end of the earth unto the other" and His promise 
" that he would bring again the captivity of His 
people Israel, and plant them upon their land and 
they should be no more pulled up out of the land."* 
It foretells that God would raise them up a partic- 
ular person the Messiah in whom all His prom- 
ises should be finally fulfilled ; and consequently 
(as profane, as well as sacred, history informs us), 

* Vide Deut., xxx., 2, 3; Is., xlv., 17, lx., 21; Jer., xxx., 
11, xlvi., 28 ; Amos, ix., 15 ; Jer. xxxi., 36. 

s 



206 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

there was a general expectation of his appearing 
at such a particular time, before any one appeared 
claiming to be that person. It foretells also, that 
he should be rejected by those to whom he was so 
long promised,* and that he should be the Saviour 
of the Gentiles. t The Scripture farther informs us, 
that at the time the Messiah was expected, a per- 
son arose in this nation claiming to be that Messiah, 
to whom all the prophecies referred. He continued 
some years working miracles, and endued his dis- 
ciples with a power of doing the same, to be a 
proof of the truth of that religion which He commis- 
sioned them to publish; that they, accordingly, made 
numerous converts, and established His religion in 
the world ; to the end of which the Scripture pro- 
fesses to give a prophetic account of the state of 
this religion among mankind. 

(2.) Suppose now a person, quite ignorant of his- 
tory, to remark these things in Scripture, without 
knowing but that the whole was a late fiction ; then 
to be informed of the following confessed facts : 
that the profession and establishment of natural re- 
ligion is greatly owing to this book, and the sup- 

* Vide Is., viii., 14, 15, xlix., 5, xliii.; Mai., i., 10, 11, 
rind iii. 

t Is., xlix., 6, ii., xi., Ivi., 7 ; Mai., i., 11. To which must 
be added the other prophecies of the like kind, several in thf 
New Testament, and very many in the Old, which describe 
what shall be the completion of the revealed plan of Provi- 
dence. 



CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 207 

posed revelation which it contains,* even in those 
countries which do not acknowledge the proper 
authority of Scripture ; yet that it is acknowledged 
by many nations that religion is highly import- 
ant (all this, considered together, would make 
the appearing and receiving of this book seem the 
most important event in the history of mankind, and 
would claim for it, as if by a voice from heaven, a 
serious examination) ; that the first parts of Scrip- 
ture are acknowledged to be of the earliest antiq- 
uity ; that its chronology, and common history, are 
entirely credible, being confirmed by the natural 
and civil history of the world, collected from com- 
mon historians, from the state of the earth, and 
from the late inventions of arts and sciences ; that 
there appears nothing related as done in any age, 
not conformablet to the manners of that age ; that 
there are all the internal marks imaginable of REAL 

* But it is to be remembered, that how much soever the 
establishment of natural religion in the world is owing to 
Scripture-revelation, this does not destroy the proof of reli- 
gion from reason, any more than the proof of Euclid? s Ele- 
ments is destroyed by a man's knowing, or thinking, that he 
should never have seen the truth of the several propositions 
contained in it, nor had those propositions come into his 
thoughts, but for that mathematician. Butler. 

t There are several objections to passages of Scripture, oc- 
casioned by not considering them in reference to the man- 
ners of the times. Thus it appears that the things objected 
to, like many others that are censured in Christianity, and iu 
Scripture, are, in a greater or less degree, actual proofs of 
their truth and authenticity. 



203 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II 

characters ; that the miracles are interwoven with 
the common history which, therefore, gives some 
credibility to them that the Jews, of whom it 
chiefly treats, are acknowledged to have been an 
ancient nation, and divided from all others ; that 
they preserved natural religion among them, which 
can not be said of the Gentile world (which again 
adds a credibility to the miracles, for they alone can 
satisfactorily account for this event) ; that as there 
was a national expectation among them,* raised 
from the prophecies of a Messiah to appear at such 
a time, so one at this time appeared claiming to be 
that Messiah ; that he was rejected by this nation 
(as seemed to be foretold), but received by the 
Gentiles, yet not upon the evidence of prophecy, 
but of miracles ; that the religion he taught sup- 
ported itself under the greatest difficulties, gained 
ground, and at length became the religion of the 
world; that, in the mean time, the Jewish polity 
was utterly destroyed, and the nation dispersed 

* Vide Bishop Chandler's Vindication of Christianity, where 
it is fully proved that this expectation was general among 
the Jews and Samaritans. The effects of it may be judged 
from its extension among the Gentiles. To say nothing of 
the Arabians and of the appearing of the star to the Magi 
Suetonius informs us (Vespasian, cap. iv., 8), " Percrebuerat 
oriente toto vetus et constans opinio, esse in fatis, ut eo tern- 
pore JudaeA profecti rerum potirentur." And Tacitus, in his 
history (lib. v., cap. 9), testifies, that " Pluribus persuasio 
inerat, antiquis sacerdotum literis contineri, eo ipso tempore 
fore, valesceret oriens, proefectique Judaed rerum potirentur." 



CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 209 

over the face of the earth ; that, notwithstanding 
this, they have remained a distinct numerous people 
for so many centuries, even to this day ; which, 
not only appears to be the express completion of 
several prophecies concerning them, but also ren- 
ders it, as one may say, a visible and easy possi- 
bility that the promises made to them, as a nation, 
may yet be fulfilled ; that there are obvious ap- 
pearances of the state of the world in other respects, 
besides what relates to the Jews, and of the Chris- 
tian Church having so long answered, and still an- 
swering to the prophetic history. Let him view 
these acknowledged facts in connection with what 
has been before collected from Scripture, and the 
weight must appear very considerable to any rea- 
sonable mind. 

OBJECTIONS PRECLUDED : All these things, and 
the several particulars contained under them, re- 
quire to be distinctly and most thoroughly exam- 
ined. This has not been attempted here. How- 
ever, the things advanced, must be acknowledged 
by unbelievers ; for though they may say that the 
historical evidence of miracles, wrought in attesta- 
tion of Christianity, is not sufficient to convince 
them that such miracles were really wrought, they 
can not deny that there is such historical evidence, 
it being a known matter of fact that there is. They 
object to the appearance of a standing miracle, in 
the Jews remaining a distinct people in their dis- 



210 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART. II. 

persion, accounting for this fact by their religion 
forbidding them intermarriages with those of any 
other, and presciibing them a great many peculiar- 
ities in their food, which prevent them being incor- 
porated with any other people. But an event, con- 
sidered apart from all coincidence, may not appear 
miraculous, yet the coincidence with prophecy may 
be so, though the event itself be supposed not. 
Thus the concurrence of our Saviour's being 
born at Bethlehem, with a long series of prophecy 
and other coincidences, is doubtless miraculous, 
though the event itself his birth at that place, ap- 
pears to have been brought about in a natural 
way, of which, however, no one can be certain. 
Men may say, the conformity betwen the prophe- 
cies and events is by accident ; but there are many 
instances in which such conformity itself can not 
be denied. They may say, with regard to such 
kind of collateral things as those above mentioned, 
that any odd accidental events, without meaning, 
will have a meaning found in them by fanciful peo- 
ple. Men, I say, may talk thus, but no one who 
is serious can possibly think these things to be 
nothing, if he considers the importance of collateral 
things, and even of lesser circumstances, in the ev- 
idence of probability, as distinguished in nature 
from the evidence of demonstration. This general 
view of evidence may induce serious persons to set 
down every thing, which they think may be of any 






CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 211 

real weight at all in proof of it, and particularly 
the many seeming completions of prophecy. Nor 
should I dissuade any one from setting down what 
lie thought made for the contrary side ; but let him 
remember that a mistake on one side may be, in 
its consequences, much more dangerous than a 
mistake on the other ; but is not this prejudice '? 
If suffered to influence the judgment,* it is so in- 
deed, and, like other prejudices, it operates con- 
trary ways in different men ; for some are inclined 
to believe what they hope, and others what they 
fear ; and it is manifest unreasonableness to apply 
to men's passions in order to gain their assent. But, 
in deliberations concerning conduct, there is noth- 
ing which reason more requires to be taken into 
the account than the importance of it. But the 
truth of our religion, like the truth of common facts, 
is to be judged by all the evidence taken together. 
And, unless the whole series of things which may 
be alleged in this argument, and every particular 

* Thus, though it is indeed absurd to talk of the greater 
merit of assent upon little or no evidence than upon demon- 
stration, yet the strict discharge of our duty with less sensible 
evidence, does imply in it a better character than the same 
diligence in the discharge of it upon more sensible evidence. 
This fully accounts for, and explains, that assertion of our 
Saviour " Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have 
believed" have become Christians, and obeyed the Gospel, 
upon less sensible evidence than that which Thomas, to 
whom he is speaking, insisted upon. Butler's Sermon on the 
Ignorance of Man. 



212 EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. [PART II. 

thing in it, can reasonably be supposed to have 
been by accident (for here the stress of the argu- 
ment for Christianity lies), then is the truth of it 
proved ; in like manner as, if in any common case, 
numerous events acknowleged were to be alleged 
in proof of any other event disputed, the truth of 
this event would be proved, not only if any one of 
the acknowledged ones did of itself clearly imply 
it, but though no one of them singly did so, if the 
whole of the acknowledged events taken together 
could not, in reason, be supposed to have happen- 
ed, unless the disputed ones were true.* 



* The evidences of religion being so exceedingly dissimi- 
lar are highly characteristic of its truth. If man's contriv- 
ance, or if the favor of accidents, could have given to Christ- 
ianity any of its apparent testimonies either its miracles or 
its prophecy, its morals or its propagation, or, if I may so 
speak, its Founder there could be no room to believe, nor 
even to imagine, that all these appearances of great credibil- 
ity could be united together by any such causes. If a suc- 
cessful craft could have contrived its public miracles, or so 
much as the pretence of them, it required another reach of 
craft and new resources to provide and adapt its prophecies 
to the same object. Further, it demanded not only a differ- 
ent art, but a totally opposite character, to conceive and pro- 
mulgate its admirable morals. Again, the achievement of its 
propagation in defiance of the powers and terrors of the 
world but the hypothesis sinks under its incredibility. For, 
each of these suppositions of contrivance being arbitrary, as 
it certainly is, and unsupported, the climax of them is an ex- 
travagance ; and if the imbecility of art is foiled in the hy- 
pothesis, the combinations of accident are too vain to b^ 
thought of. Davison on Prophecy. 



CHAP. VII.] EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY. 213 

It is obvious how much advantage the nature 
of this evidence gives to those persons who attack 
Christianity, especially in conversation. For it is 
easy to show, in a short and lively manner, that 
such and such things are liable to objection that 
this and another thing is of little weight in itself 
but impossible to show, in like manner, the united 
force of the whole argument in one view. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER VII. 

1. In what does Butler proceed to consider the pos- 
itive evidence for the truth of Christianity ? 

2. Give summarily the five heads under which But- 
ler treats of the historical evidence of miracles. 

3. Why must peculiar importance be attached to 
the testimony afforded by the writings of St. Paul ? 

4. State the argument which leads to the conclusion 
that ' the conversion of many to Christianity, when 
education, prejudice, and authority were against it, is 
an undoubted presumption of its Divine origin." 

5. Answer the objection, that " Enthusiasm greatly 
weakens, if not destroys, the credibility of evidence 
given even for facts, in matters relating to religion." 

6. How may we answer the assertion that there 
is a considerable degree of historical evidence for mir- 
acles acknowledged to be fabulous ?" 

7. What general answer may be given to all the 
foregoing objections against evidences of religion, taken 
from the liability of men to be deceived ? 

8. In stating the evidence of Christianity derived 
from prophecies, how does Butler excuse the defects 
imputed to them, from the alleged obscurity of certain 
parts in them ? 

9. Answer the objection, that " Considering each 
prophecy distinctly, it does not at all appear that the 
prophecies were intended for those particular events 
to which they are applied by Christians." 

10. Explain why we may reasonably assert, that 
" It is useless (for a person arguing against the truth 
of prophecy) to show that prophecy is applicable to 
events of the age in which it was written." Also give 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER VII. 215 

Butler's remarks in conclusion of this part of the 
chapter. 

11. When considering both the direct and circum- 
stantial evidence for the truth of Christianity, as mak- 
ing up one argument, in what light may Scriptural 
revelation be looked upon ? What is its general de- 
sign ? And how does the supposed doubtfulness of ev- 
idence bear upon the question of its genuineness? 

12. Give a summary of the acknowledged facts, 
which, in connection with what is collected from the 
Old Testament respecting its ancient chronology, the 
history of Israel, prophecies of Christ; or from the 
New, respecting the Gospel History or prophecies, 
ought to have great weight with a reasonable and im- 
partial inquirer. 

13. Mention some of the specious reasonings by 
which unbelievers endeavor to evade the force of the 
above arguments ; and answer them. 

14. Prove the reasonableness of the following warn- 
ing, given to a man noting down every thing which 
seems to be a proof against religion, Let him re- 
member that a mistake on one side may be, in its 
consequences, much more dangerous than a mistake 
on the other." 

15. Taking it as an admitted principle, that the truth 
of our religion, as of other common facts, is to be 
judged by all the evidence taken together, show where 
the stress of the argument for Christianity lies. 

16. Describe the argument given by Davison, to 
show that the evidences of religion being so exceed- 
ingly dissimilar, are highly characteristic. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

OF THE OBJECTIONS WHICH MAY BE MADE AGAINST 
ARGUING FROM THE ANALOGY OF NATURE TO RE- 
LIGION. 

I. The Objections that may be urged against arguing from 
Analogy to Religion may be answered, in general, by say- 
ing that they are owing to half views to indeterminate 
language, and the deficiencies and abuse of words; but 
each objection can be separately precluded. 

II. This Treatise proceeds upon the principles of others, and, 
therefore, is not as full a confirmation of Religion as it 
might otherwise be. 

I. 1st. OBJECTED. " IT is a poor thing to solve 
difficulties in revelation by saying, that there are 
the same in natural religion, when what is wanting 
is to clear both of them of these their common, as 
well as others their respective, difficulties." 

ANSWER. The having all difficulties cleared, may 
be the same as requiring to comprehend the Divine 
Nature, and the whole plan of Providence. As to 
its being a poor thing to argue from natural to re- 
vealed religion, it has always been allowed, and it 
is often necessary to argue in such a way of prob- 
able deduction from what is acknowledged to what 
is disputed ; and, indeed, the epithet poor is as 



CHAP. VIII.] OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. 217 

properly applicable to the whole of human life. Is 
it not a poor thing, for instance, that even the most 
eminent physician should have so little knowledge 
in the cure of diseases as often to act upon conjec- 
ture, where the life of a man is concerned ] Yet 
it is not a poor thing in comparison of having no 
skill at all. Farther, it is of great consequence to 
show that objections urged against revelation are 
as much leveled against natural religion ; for thus 
we prove that the objectors are arguing against 
moral Providence, while they seem, whether in- 
tentionally or not, to argue against revelation ; for 
nothing more has been taken for granted in the 
second part of this treatise than there was in the 
first, viz., the existence of an Author of nature ; so 
that Christianity is vindicated, not from its analogy 
to natural religion, but chiefly from its analogy to 
the constitution of nature. 

2d. OBJECTED. "It is a strange way of convin- 
cing men of the obligations of religion, to show 
them that they have as little reason for their world- 
ly pursuits." 

ANSWER. Religion is a practical thing, and con- 
sists in such a determinate course of life, as there 
is reason to think is commanded by the Author of 
nature, and will, upon the whole, be our happiness 
under His government. Now, if men can be con- 
vinced that they have the like reason to believe 
this as to believe that care of their temporal affairs 
T 



218 OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. [PART II. 

will be their advantage this, with the infinitely 
superior interest which religion proposes, will be 
an argument for the practice of it. But the chief 
and proper force of the argument, referred to in 
the objection, lies in another place ; for it is said, 
that the proof of religion is involved in such inex- 
tricable difficulties as to render it doubtful ; and 
this is made a positive argument against its truth, 
since, if it were true, it is said to be incredible that 
it should be left to doubtful evidence. Now, the 
observation, that, from the natural constitution of 
things, we must, in our temporal concerns, almost 
continually, and in matters of great consequence, 
act upon evidence of a like kind and degree to the 
evidence of religion, is an answer to this argument, 
because it is a general instance made up of nu- 
merous particular ones of somewhat in the conduct 
of the Author of nature toward us similar to what 
is said to be incredible. 

3d OBJECTION. " It is a strange way of vindi- 
cating the justice and goodness of the Author of 
nature, and of removing objections against both, to 
which the system of religion lies open, to show 
that the like objections lie against natural Provi- 
dence. This is a way of answering objections 
against religion without even pretending to make 
out that the system of it, or the particular things 
in it objected against, are reasonable ; especially 
when it is admitted that analogy is no answer to 



CHAP. VIII.] OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. 219 

such objections, i. e., those against wisdom, justice, 
and goodness." 

ANSWER. The design of this treatise is, not to 
vindicate the character of God, but to show the 
obligations of men not to justify his Providence, 
but to show us our duty. For, 1st, It is not ne- 
cessary to justify the dispensations of Providence 
against objections, any further than to show, that 
the things objected to may be consistent with, and 
even instances of justice and goodness, as has been 
already shown (Chap. 4, Part II.). 2d. The objec- 
tions are not endeavored to be removed, by show- 
ing that the like objections, allowed to be conclusive, 
lie against natural Providence; but these objec- 
tions being shown to be inconclusive, the credibility 
of the things objected against, considered as mat- 
ters of fact, is shown from their conformity to the 
constitution of nature. 3d. This would be of 
weight, even though these objections were not 
answered. For, there being the proof of religion, 
above set down, and religion implying several facts 
for instance, the fact that God will hereafter re- 
ward and punish men for their actions the obser- 
vation, that His present government is by rewards 
and punishments, shows that future fact not to be 
incredible. 4th. Though objections against the 
reasonableness of the system of religion, can not be 
answered without entering into the consideration 
of its reasonableness ; yet objections against the 



220 OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. [PART II. 

credibility or truth of the system may; because 
the system of it is reducible into matter of fact, 
and the probable truth of facts may be shown with- 
out considering their reasonableness. Nor is it 
necessary to prove the reasonableness of every 
precept and dispensation ; though, in some cases, 
it is highly useful to do so. But the general obli- 
gations of religion are made out by proving the 
reasonableness of its practice. 5th. Though anal- 
ogy be not an immediate answer to such objec- 
tions, yet it is an immediate answer to what is in- 
tended by them, which is to show that the things 
objected against are incredible. 

4th. OBJECTED. " When analogical reasoning is 
carried to the utmost length, it will yet leave the 
mind in a very unsatisfied state." 

ANSWER. It is acknowledged that the foregoing 
treatise is far from satisfactory ; but so would any 
natural institution of life appear, if reduced into a 
system, together with its evidence. Indeed, the 
unsatisfactory nature of the evidence on which we 
are obliged to act, in the daily course of life, is 
scarce to be expressed. Yet men do not throw 
away life, or disregard the interests of it, upon ac- 
count of this doubtfulness. The evidence of reli- 
gion, then, being admitted real, those who object 
against it, as not satisfactory, i. e. y as not being 
what they wish it, plainly forget the very condi- 
tion of our being ; for satisfaction, in this sense, 



CHAP. VIIL] OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. 221 

does not belong to such a creature as man. They 
also forget the very notion of religion ; for religion 
presupposes, in all those who will embrace it, a 
certain degree of integrity and honesty, just as 
much as speaking to a man presupposes that he 
understands the language in which you speak, or 
the warning a man of danger presupposes in him 
self-concern. And, therefore, the question is, not 
whether the evidence of religion be satisfactory as 
to the purposes of curiosity, but whether it be, in 
reason, sufficient to prove and discipline that virtue 
which it presupposes. 

5th. OBJECTED. " It must be unaccountable ig- 
norance of mankind, to imagine that men will be 
prevailed upon to forego their present interests and 
pleasures, from regard to religion, upon doubtful 
evidence/' 

ANSWER. Religion is intended for a trial and ex- 
ercise of the morality of every person's character 
who is a subject of it ; and thus considered, it has 
its ends upon all persons to whom it has been pro- 
posed, with evidence sufficient in reason to influ- 
ence their practice ; for it puts them in a state of 
probation, let them behave as they will in it. And 
the purpose of this treatise is to show how, in 
reason, men ought to behave not how, in fact, 
they will behave. But the objection itself allows 
the things insisted upon in this treatise to be of 
some weight ; hence it is probable that the treatise 

T* 



222 OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. [PART II. 

will have some influence ; and this is the same rea- 
son in kind, though not in degree, to lay it befort; 
men, as there would be if it were likely to have 
a greater influence. 

II. Thus the whole of the foregoing objections 
arise in a great measure from half views, and un- 
determinate language, but farther, it is to be ob- 
served, concerning them, that this treatise has pro- 
ceeded upon the principles of others (i. e., notwith- 
standing these principles even admitting them to 
be true). Thus we have argued upon, or notwith- 
standing, the principles of Fatalists, which we do 
not believe ; and there have been omitted two 
principles of the utmost importance, namely, the 
abstract principles of liberty and moral fitness* 
which force themselves upon the mind, and in en- 
deavoring to avoid them, the form of expression 
sometimes made use of will appear strange, to such 
as do not observe the reason of it. Now these two 
abstract principles being omitted, religion can only 
be considered as a question of fact, and in this view 

* Bishop Butler throughout the present work has only con- 
sidered the moral difference, by which virtue and vice, as 
such, are approved and disapproved. Dr. Samuel Clarke, 
has demonstrated (vide his sermons at Boyle's Lectures), 
that there are essential differences in the qualities of human 
actions established in nature, and this natural difference of 
things, prior to and independent of all will, creates a natural 
FITNESS in the agent to act agreeably to it : it is obvious that 
the introduction of this principle would materially confirm 
Bishop Butler's arguments. 



CHAP. VIII.] OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. 223 

it is here considered, since Christianity, and its 
proof, are historical; and since also, natural reli- 
gion is a matter of fact as its general system is 
contained in the fact, that there is a righteous Gov- 
ernor of the World. This may be considered apart 
from these abstract principles; for instance, that 
the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right 
angles, may be considered apart from their appear- 
ing so to our minds ; the former is an abstract 
truth the latter is only a matter of fact. So like- 
wise, that there is in the nature of things an ori- 
ginal standard of right and wrong, in actions, in- 
dependent upon all will ; but which unalterably 
determines the will of God, to exercise the moral 
government of finally righteous rewards and pun- 
ishments contains an abstract truth as well as mat- 
ter of fact. But suppose that the government of 
righteous rewards took place here it would not 
be an abstract truth, but only a matter of fact ; 
and the same questions as are now raised, might 
still be raised about liberty and moral fitness ; so 
that this proof would remain, however the ques- 
tions might be decided. And thus, God having 
given mankind a moral faculty, the object of which 
is actions, which naturally approves some actions 
as of good desert, and condemns others as of ill 
desert. This final righteous judgment is not to be 
considered as an abstract truth, but as mere a fact 
as if it took place here. This future fact has not. 



224 OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. [PART II. 

indeed, been proved with the force with which it 
might be proved, by taking in the considerations 
of liberty and moral fitness ; but by omitting these, 
we have avoided the abstract questions concerning 
them, which have been perplexed with difficulties 
and abstruse reasonings ; and we have confined 
ourselves to matter of fact, which must have been 
admitted, if any thing was, by those ancient skep- 
tics, , who would not have admitted abstract truth, 
but pretended to doubt whether there was any 
such thing as truth, or whether we could depend 
upon faculties for the knowledge of it in any case. 
Hence, therefore, the force of this treatise may 
be distinctly observed. To such as are convinced 
of religion upon the proof of the two last-mentioned 
principles, it will be an additional proof and con- 
firmation of it ; to such as are not satisfied with 
abstract reasonings, it will be an original proof of 
it. Those who believe will here find the scheme 
of Christianity cleared of objections, and its evi- 
dence peculiarly strengthened. Those who do not 
believe, will be shown the absurdity of all attempts 
to prove Christianity false, and they will also be 
shown its plain undoubted credibility at the least. 
Ridicule may be applied to show the argument 
from analogy in a disadvantageous light, but it is 
unquestionably a real one ; for, religion implying 
in it numerous facts, analogy being a confirmation 
of all facts to which it can be applied ; as it is the 



CHAP. VIII.] OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. 225 

only proof of most, so it can not but be admitted by 
every one to be of considerable weight on the side 
of religion, both natural and revealed. 

CONCLUSION.* Deduct, now, what is to be de- 
ducted from the positive evidence of religion, upon 
account of any weight which may be thought to 
remain in the objections against it upon the most 
skeptical principles, and the practical consequences 
will be 1st. That immorality is greatly aggrava- 
ted in persons who have been made acquainted 
with Christianity : because the moral system of na- 
ture which Christianity lays before us, approves 
itself almost intuitively to a reasonable mind, upon 
seeing it proposed. 2d. That there is a middle, 
between a full satisfaction of the truth of Christian- 
ity, and a satisfaction of the contrary ; which mid- 
dle state of mind consists in a serious, doubting 
apprehension, that it may be true : and this serious 
apprehension that Christianity may be true, lays 
persons under the strictest obligations of a serious 
regard to it throughout the whole of their life. 3d. 
It will appear that blasphemy and profaneness, 
with regard to Christianity, are without excuse; 
for there is no temptation to it, but from the wan- 
tonness of vanity or mirth. If this be a just ac- 
count of things, and yet men can continue to vilify or 

* The summaries prefixed to each chapter should now be 
read in continuation, as the force of the treatise consists in the 
whole analogy considered together. 



226 OBJECTIONS AGAINST ANALOGY. [PART 11. 

disregard Christianity which is to talk and act as 
if they had a demonstration of its falsehood there 
is no reason to think they would alter their behav- 
ior to any purpose, though there were a demon- 
stration of its truth. 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER VIII. 

1. How may the objections urged against arguing 
from analogy to religion be generally answered ? 

2. Give a special reply to each of the following ob- 
jections : 1st. What is wanted is, not to solve difficul- 
ties in revelation by saying that there are the same in 
natural religion, but to clear both of them of their 
common as well as their respective difficulties. 

3. 2d Objection. It is a strange way of convincing 
men of the obligations of religion, to show them they 
have as little reason for their worldly pursuits. 

4. 3d Objection. We can not vindicate the justice 
and goodness of the Author of nature, and remove ob- 
jections against both, to which the system of nature is 
open, by showing that the like objections lie against 
natural Providence. 

5. 4th Objection. Analogical reasoning, carried to 
the utmost extent, does not fully satisfy the mind. 

6. 5th Objection. We can not imagine that men will 
forego their present interests and pleasures from re- 
gard to religion upon doubtful evidence. 

7. Give an exposition of the argument, by which 
Butler distinguishes between abstract truths and mat- 
ters of fact in religion. What important conclusion 
does he draw from thence ? 



QUESTIONS CHAPTER VIII. 228 

8. To what purpose may the force of this whole 
treatise be effectually applied ? 

9. Deducting every thing that can, upon skeptical 
principles, be required to be deducted from the posi- 
tive evidence of religion, what practical consequences 
can be drawn from that which remains unassailable by 
sophistry and cavil ? 



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80. Humboldt's Travels. 

81. Goldsmith's History of Greece. 

82. Natural History of Birds. 

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86. Lee's Elements of Geology. 

87. Goldsmith's Rome. Abridged. 

88. Armstrong on Agriculture. 

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