Saturday, June 16, 2007

Butler on the State of Probation

Now whoever will consider the thing, may clearly see, that the present world is peculiarly fit to be a state of discipline for this purpose, to such as will set themselves to mend and improve. For, the various temptations with which we are surrounded ; our experience of the deceits of wickedness ; having been in many instances led wrong ourselves ; the great viciousness of 'the world ; the infinite disorders consequent upon it ; our being made acquainted with pain and sorrow, either from our own feeling of it, or from the sight of it in others ; these things, though some of them may indeed produce wrong effects upon our minds, yet when duly reflected upon, have, all of them, a direct tendency to bring us to a settled moderation and reasonableness of temper : the contrary both to thoughtless levity, and also to that unrestrained self-will, and violent bent to follow present inclination, which may be observed in undisciplined minds. Such experience, as the present state affords, of the frailty of our nature ; of the boundless extravagance of ungoverned passion ; of the power which an infinite Being has over us, by the various capacities of misery which he has given us ; in short, that kind and degree of experience, which the present state affords us, that the constitution of nature is such as to admit the possibility, the danger, and the actual event, of creatures losing their innocence and happiness, and becoming vicious and wretched ; hath a tendency to give us a practical sense of things, very different from a mere speculative knowledge that we are liable to vice, and capable of misery.

From The Analogy of Religion I.V

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