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assumption of either, in order to account for these results, as they naturally arise out of the exercise of right reason deducing its inferences from an observation of facts, and the order and constitution of nature. The ground on which all analogical reasoning must rest, is the uniformity of the constitution and laws of nature; and as there is undoubtedly very great uniformity in these respects in the system, this reasoning is not always to be rejected, although, as it may so readily lead us into error, it should be indulged with the greatest caution, and circumspection. The savage tribes for instance, who lived along the Atlantick coast, from observing that the tides rose and fell in all the rivers with which they were acquainted, might have inferred from analogy, that the same changes took place in all other rivers: but this would be an erroneous conclusion, as this is not the case universally. The medicinal roots which in one disease had been found efficacious, would, in like manner, be considered by them as applicable in others in which they might be injurious or fatal. Into a thousand errors of this nature,
, mankind would undoubtedly be betrayed from their imperfect acquaintance with the objects around them. The reasoning from mere analogy should, therefore, be very sparingly indulged, and diligently tested, before it be admitted as a sufficient ground of assent. And yet it is not to be de- . nied that in many cases, it may furnish us with evidence entirely satisfactory to the understanding, although it can never amount to demonstrative certainty. Who, in visiting a new and undiscovered country would not be assured, that if there were any inhabitants living on it, they would prove to be precisely such beings as the rest of his species with whom he had been before conversant, and would not discredit the report of a voyager who should assert, that he had discovered a race of creatures, holding the rank of ours, but totally unlike them in form, features, understandings, passions, ideas, and habits? Have we any doubt, that in
those northern and southern regions, not yet explored by civilized man, all the phenomena of the earth and heavens are exactly the same as in the climates we inhabit, that they have, in like manner with us, thunder and lightning, clouds, rain, hail and snow, rivers, mountains, and cultivable soils? Nay, to extend the matter beyond our sphere, I presume there is scarcely any one who doubts that the planets that compose the solar system, as Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, and all the rest, are filled with beings similar to those of our globe; since like it they evidently move round the sun, which is the sourse of light and heat to them, turn upon their axis, some at less and others at greater intervals than our earth, have atmospheres, reflect light, some of them have moons, and in so many respects are similarly situated with our globe? And yet all these things rest solely upon analogy. Analogies in many cases are the only ground on which we can rest an opinion, and in cases where we are obliged to enter into important measures, and perform necessary and interesting acts. The physician trusts to it when, after much observation and frequent dissections of human bodies, he concludes that the same component parts are found in the bodies of all human beings, and that the functions performed by them are the same; and when to different men he prescribes the same remedies, which he had before found to effect a cure, or furnish relief to his patients, taking care, at the same time, to limit his practice by a consideration of the various constitutions, temperaments and habits of men. The politician presumes upon it when, availing himself of the lessons collected from induction, he calculates that measures, which have been found salutary or mischievous among one people, will be attended with the same or similar consequences among those for whom it is his province to legislatz; the historian depends upon analogy, when he endeavours to trace back effects to their causes in the history of mankind, and develop the great sources of the decline and fall, or the rise and prosperity of nations; the orator when he draws from his own mind, those considerations of truth and expediency, of duty and interest, by which he expects to influence the minds of other men; the seaman rests upon the evidence of analogy, when he unfurls his sails, and lanches into the deep, under the expectation, that winds will arise to waft him to his port; the husbandman when he sows his seed, upon the presumption that the rains as usual will descend, and the dews fall, and the sun shine and fructify the soil, and cause them to rise, bud, and produce his harvest; the grammarian is frequently constrained to resort to it, in settling the principles of philology, and the judge in establishing and applying the great maxims of jurisprudence. In many of the most important transactions of life, analogy is the only light to guide us; and, although not furnishing one entirely competent to the illumination of our path, is the best we are able to obtain. In any given subject, the more frequent the cases in the reasoning from analogy have been found to hold, the more convincing does it become. Every new instance of its truth, gives additional force to it, until at length by continually repeated examples, there is no longer room left for doubt. After so many renewed dissections of the human body, in all of which the same constituent parts have been found to belong to it, it can now scarcely admit a shadow of doubt that the like would be found in the whole race. The more strict the resemblance also, the stronger still will become the argument. The ancients fell into error when, having never seen the human subject exhibited by the anatomist, they undertook, from a view of those of inferior animals, to extend their conclusions by analogy to the species of men.
Here it ought to have been perceived that the analogy is too distant to be trusted.
Whenever, therefore, we reason from what we have seen of the constitution and laws of nature, to what is probable of that constitution and laws in similar circumstances. This constitutes an argument from analogy. And while it is evident that, for the most part, these analogies do not form a foundation sufficiently solid on which to build a rational confidence, and are better fitted to furnish similitudes to the poet or agreeable sallies to the wit, than materials out of which the philosopher is to construct his theories; yet, in many in. stances, they may become an instrument of no inconsiderable power, in the confirmation of truth and detection of error. If this method of reasoning furnish us not with an armour strong enough for purposes of attack and invasion, it becomes irresistible as a weapon of defence and protection. In Bishop Butler's analogy of natural and revealed religion, we see a masterly use of this instrument in vindicating from objections the authority of Divine Revelation. If it can be shown, that the same objections which are alleged against the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian Dispensations as proceeding from God, according to the account contained in the scriptures, would apply with equal force against the whole frame and organization of both the physical and moral world, and the Divine administration in them, which almost all allow to proceed from God, surely our religion stands impregnably fortified on this quarter from the attacks of her enemies. With a single example by way of illustration, we dismiss the subject. The scriptures, we are told, cannot be the word of God, because we are there informed, that the Creator ordered Moses to exterminate the nation of the Canaanites, thereby involving the innocent, and even women and children in the same indiscriminate ruin, with its depraved inhabitants. We answer, by way of analogy, that however strange and unaccountable this may seem at first view, it forms no valid objection to the truth and divine authority of the scripture history; since in the works of nature we find similar proceedings of the Supreme Being, who sometimes makes one nation during the purity of its morals, and sim
plicity of its habits, the instrument by which another, that is effeminate and corrupt, is chastised and overthrown; and even in the physical world, when earthquakes, volcanoes and inundations take place, they destroy alike innocent women and children, and the more vicious part of mankind. Is not the conclusion irresistible, that if it be a sufficient argument to prove that the Bible is not the word of God, that God there is represented as giving a commission to Moses to extir. pate the corrupt nation of Canaan, the same mode of reasoning would justify the inference, that he is not the author and governor of the system of moral and physical nature, since we see effects precisely of a piece with that event produced in them?