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my friend, I devote it to his memory, and make daily offerings of it to a certain divinity, whose temples, tho' now well-nigh deferted, were once held in the highest veneration; she is mentioned by antient authors under the name and title of DIVA AMICITIA. To her I bring the victim you have furnished me with, in all the pomp of Roman rites. Wreathed with the facred vitta, and crowned with a branch of rosemary, I place it on an altar of well polifhed mahogony, where I pour libations over it of acid wine, and fprinkle it with flour of muftard. I deal out certain portions to thefe who affift at this focial ceremony, reminding them, with an Hoc age, of the important business upon which they are affembled; and conclude the festival with this votive couplet:
Clofe as this brawn the circling fillet binds, May friendship's facred bands unite our minds!
LE T T E. R VIII
To CLYTANDE R.
July 2, 1736.
You must have been greatly diftreffed
indeed, Clytander, when you thought of calling me in as your auxiliary, in the debate you mention. Or was it not rather a motive of generosity which suggested that defign? and you were willing, perhaps, I should share the glory of a victory which you had already fecured. Whatever your intention was, mine is always to comply with your requests; and I very readily enter the lifts, when I am at once to combat in the cause of truth, and on the fide of my friend.
It is not neceffary, I think, in order to establish the credibility of a particular Providence, to deduce it (as your objector, I find, seems to require) from known and undifputed facts. I fhould be exceedingly cautious in pointing out any fuppofed inftances of that kind; as those who are fond of indulging themselves in determining the precife cafes wherein they ima
gine the immediate interpofition of the Divinity is discoverable, often run into the weakest and most injurious fuperftitions. It is impoffible indeed, unless we were capable of looking through the whole chain of things, and of viewing each effect in its remote connections and final iffues, to pronounce of any contingency, that it is abfolutely and in its ultimate tendencies either good or bad. That can only be known by the great Author of nature, who comprehends the full extent of our total existence, and fees the influence which every particular circumstance will have in the general fum of our happiness. But though the peculiar points of divine interpofition are thus neceffarily, and from the natural imperfection of our discerning faculties, extremely dubious; yet it can by no means from thence be justly inferred, that the doctrine of a particular Providence is either groundless or abfurd: the general principle may be true, though the application of it to any given purpose be involved in very inextricable difficulties.
THE notion that the material world is governed by general mechanical laws, has induced
induced your friend to argue, that "it is "probable the Deity fhould act by the << fame rule of conduct in the intellectual; * and leave moral agents entirely to those
confequences which neceffarily refult"from the particular exercife of their ori"ginal powers." But this hypothefis takes a queftion for granted, which requires much proof before it can be admitted. The grand principle which preferves this fyftem of the universe in all its harmonious order, is gravity, or that property by which all the particles of matter mutually tend to each other. Now this is a power, it is acknowledged, which does not effentially refide in matter, but must be ultimately derived from the action of some immaterial caufe. Why therefore may it not reasonably be fuppofed to be the effect of the divine agency, immediately and conftantly operating for the prefervation of this wonderful machine of nature? Certain, at least, it is, that the explication which Sir Ifaac Newton has endeavoured to give of this amazing phenomenon, by means of his fubtile ether, has not afforded univerfal fatisfaction: and it is the opinion of a
very great writer, who feems to have gone far into enquiries of this abftrufe kind, that the numberless effects of this power are inexplicable upon mechanical principles, or in any other way than by having recourfe to a spiritual agent, who connects, moves, and difpofes all things according to fuch methods as beft comport with his incomprehenfible purposes.
BUT fuccefsful villainy and oppreffed virtue are deemed, I perceive, in the account of your friend, as powerful inftances to prove, that the Supreme Being remains an uninterpofing fpectator of what is tranf acted upon this theatre of the world. However, ere this argument can have a determining weight, it must be proved (which yet, furely, never can be proved) that profperous iniquity has all thofe advantages in reality, which it may feem to have in appearance; and that thofe accidents which are ufually efteemed as calamities, do in truth, and in the just scale of things, deferve to be diftinguished by that appellation. It is a noble faying of the philofopher cited by Seneca, that there
cannot be a more unhappy man in the " world,