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easily cheat strangers. Few, where it is not made, are judges of the value of lace. The importer may demand forty, and perhaps get thirty shillings, for that which cost him but twenty.
'Finally, there seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbours. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third is by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein Man receives a real increase of the seed sown in the ground, in a kind of continual miracle wrought by the hand of God in his favour, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.'
The reader will observe that, in this disquisition, labour is made the sole measure of value, without any regard to the questions, whose labour? or how directed? and, with what results? On this principle, therefore, if a Raphael takes only as much time and trouble in making a fine picture as a shoemaker in making a pair of boots, he is a cheat if he receives more for his picture than the other for the boots 1 And if it costs the same labour to produce a cask of ordinary Cape-wine, and one of Constantia, they ought in justice to sell for the same price! I have heard a groom, who had served in the army, descant on the injustice of paying a soldier less than a general, though he had harder work. Thus our notions of morality, as well as of political economy, are thrown into disorder.
Yet such nonsense as this passed current in the days of our fathers. And it is only in our own days that people have been permitted to buy food where they could get it cheapest .
That 'whatever is somewhere gained is somewhere lost,' is true in reference to an increased production of some commodity (as e.g., gold), which is in demand, but of which the increase does not augment the total useful wealth of. the world. If the raisers of corn or of coal could, without any increased outlay, double their production, the available wealth of the world would be increased, as well as that of the producers; since a bushel of corn would contain as much nutriment as now, But a similar increase of gold, though it would enrich the finders, and perhaps those immediately dealing with them, would not at all augment the useful wealth of the world; since there would be no advantage in having two ounces of gold to purchase the goods which were before sold for' one. Those therefore who were enriched, must be enriched at the cost of some others.
'There useth to be more trepidation in court upon the first breaking out of troubles than were fit . . . .'
To expect to tranquillize and benefit a country by gratifying its agitators, would be like the practice of the superstitious of old with their sympathetic powders and ointments; who, instead of applying medicaments to the wound, contented themselves with salving the sword which had inflicted it. Since the days of Dane-gelt downwards,—nay, since the world was created,— nothing but evil has resulted from concessions made to intimidation.
ESSAY XVI. OF ATHEISM.
I HAD rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind; and, therefore, God never wrought miracles to convince' atheism, because his ordinary works convince it . It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth Man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion; for while the mind of Man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism, doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus'and Democritus, and Epicurus—for it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds, unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty without a divine marshal. The Scripture saith, 'The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God;'2 it is not said, 'The fool hath thought in his heart;' so as3 he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that4 he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it; for none deny there is a God, but those for whom it maketh5 that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the Up than in the heart of man, than by this, that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if they fainted in it themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened by the consent' of others; nay, more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects; and, which is most of alL you shall have them that will suffer for atheism, and respecting eredulity; seeing plainly that 'to disbelieve is to believe.' If one man believes that there is a God, and another that there is no God, whichever holds the less reasonable of these two opinions is chargeable with credulity. For, the only way to avoid credulity and incredulity—the two necessarily going together—is to listen to, and yield to, the best evidence, and to believe and disbelieve on good grounds.
1 Convince. Convict; prove guilty. 'To convince all that are ungodly among themof all their ungodly deeds.'—Epistle of Jude.
* Fsalm xiv. 1. * As. That. See page 27. 4 That . Wf,at. See page 83.
* For whom it maketh. To whom it would be advantageous.
* Consent. Agreement in opinion. 'Socrates, by the consent of all excellent writers that followed him, was approved to be the wisest man of all Greece'—Sir J. ElyoL
And however imperfectly and indistinctly we may undprstand the attributes of God—of the Eternal Being who made and who governs all things—the 'mind of this universal frame,' the proof of the existence of a Being possessed of them is most clear and lull; being, in fact, the very same evidence on which we believe in the existence of one another. How do we know that men exist? (that is, not merely Beings having a certain visible bodily form—for that is not what we chiefly imply by the word Man,—but rational agents, such as we call men). Surely not by the immediate evidence of our senses (since mind is not an object of sight), but by observing the things performed—the manifest result of rational contrivance. If we land in a strange country, doubting whether it be inhabited, as soon as we find, for instance, a boat, or a house, we are as perfectly certain that a man has been there, as if he had appeared before our eyes. Yet the atheist believes that 'this universal frame is without a mind;' that it was the production of chance; that the particles of matter of which the world consists moved about at random, and accidentally fell into the shape it now bears. Surely the atheist has little reason to make a boast of his 'incredulity,' while believing anything so strange and absurd as that 'an army of infinitely small portions or seeds, unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty without a divine marshal.'
In that phenomenon in language, that both in the Greek and Latin, nouns of the neuter gender, denoting things, invariably had the nominative and the accusative the same, or rather, had an accusative only, employed as a nominative when required,— may there not be traced an indistinct consciousness of the persuasion that a mere thing is not capable of being an agent, which a person only can really be; and that the possession of power, strictly so called, by physical causes, is not conceivable, or their capacity to maintain, any more than to produce at first, the system of the Universe ?—whose continued existence, as well as its origin, seems to depend on the continued operation of the great Creator. May there not be in this an admission that the laws of nature presuppose an agent, and are incapable of being the cause of their own observance?
'Epicurus is charged, that he did but dissemble for his eredit's sake, when he affirmed there were Blessed Natures .... wherein they say he did but temporize, though in seeret he thought there was no God. But certainly he is traduced.'
It is remarkable that Bacon, like many others very conversant with ancient Mythology, failed to perceive that the pagan nations were in reality atheists. They mistake altogether the real character of the pagan religions.1 They imagine that all men, in every age and country, had always designed to worship one Supreme God, the Maker of all things;2 and that the error of the Pagans consisted merely in the false accounts they gave of him, and in their worshipping other inferior gods besides. But this is altogether a mistake. Bacon was, in this, misled by words, as so many have been,—the very delusion he so earnestly warns men against. The Pagans used the word which is translated 'God;' but in a different sense from us. For by the word God, we understand an Eternal Being, who made and who governs all things. And if any one should deny that there is any such Being, we should say that he was an atheist; even though he might believe that there do exist Beings
1 See Lessons on Reliin'ous Worship, L. ii. 'See Pope's Universal Frayer:—
'Father of all, in every age. In every clime adored; By saint, by savage, and by sage, Jehovah, Jove, or Lord.' See also Rowe's Tragedy of Tamerlane, Act 3, Sc. ii.— 'Look round how Providence bestows alike Sunshine and rain to bless the fruitful year, On different nations, all of different faiths; And (tho' by several names and titles worshipp'd) Heaven takes the various tribute of their praise; Since all agree to own, at least to mean. One best, one greatest, only Lord of all. Thus when he viewed the many forms of Nature lie said that all was good, and bless'd the fair variety.'