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is not the principle to which the high moral offices in question are intrusted.
If, in the physical economy of man, many animal functions, necessary to his outward existence and temporary welfare, must be exercised, without his controul if not his cognizance; if, in all these instances Reason would be a weak and imperfect guide; is it credible that so erring a faculty would be intrusted with those dignified operations of the mind which appertain to its immortal interests; or that Reason could effect that for the most noble principle in man-his soul or spiritual essence, which it is incapable of effecting for the least noble part-his bodily frame?
We see, that although man has been constituted lord of the creation, and the lower animals have been appointed for his use; though he has been endowed with reason as a noble faculty by which he is enabled to exercise dominion over them; yet the government of their instincts is taken away from their delegated ruler-clearly, because Reason is incompetent to the task.
Therefore, in all that concerns the natural offices of Instinct, it must be considered a more sure and infallible guide than Reason; and consequently a more direct sign of the immediate working of the Deity. But, withal, the lower animals, however perfect, are not brought a step nearer to the God of Nature by their Instincts, than the plant or the stone; though, in all that concerns the part they have to act in the
grand scheme of Providence, their mode of action. must be held to be conformable to the divine will. But this admission, on the one hand, does not elevate them above man, because Instinct is a better, what if we say, a more divine guide than Reason; nor, on the other, does it make the more perfect animals machines, because they are directed to ends which they do not see.
Imperfection of Reason.
It has been justly considered, that man differs essentially from the lower animals, not merely in degree, as one species differs from another, but in kind. It has however been added, that the distinguishing feature is the faculty of Reason. Accordingly Reason is set forth as the ennobling characteristic of man; and Instinct as the degrading attribute of the brute.
Now it cannot be doubted that both are gifts eminently useful, each necessary in its place, and wisely allotted by the Creator; and that a talent bestowed for cultivation, which may be improved by the creature's own care and assiduity, and thus rendered capable of important blessings to society, is highly to be appreciated. Such is the faculty of Reason. But
it neither appears that Reason, in itself, forms the only ground of distinction between the brute and human species; nor yet that the natural light derived from outward experience and observation, in other words, that the Discursive Faculty, by all its acquirements, can raise the mind to that degree of excellence in which it becomes, as it were, an instinctive worker of the divine will. And this, we must surely consider to be the perfection of our being; provided it be granted that we owe the Universal Parent unquestioning filial obedience.
If every thing around us, from the least to the greatest, animate and inanimate, acts in conformity to the counsels of the Almighty,-a fact we cannot for a moment doubt-why should not the most perfect specimen of God's workmanship, his creature man? And why should Reason belie its assumed dignity, in falling short of those performances, which inferior natures readily execute? The fault must be in Reason, or else Reason is not the faculty to which the most excellent operations of the human soul are intrusted. For, if Reason be the faculty, on which so much depends, its inferiority, compared with the infallible direction vouchsafed to the brute, is at once apparent. But, abstractly, we cannot conceive that an inferior principle would be given to man for superior ends and purposes: and, therefore, because man, so far as he is governed solely by a reasoning faculty; so far, I mean, as he is beyond the sphere of Instinct, does not, in the majority of cases-scarcely
perhaps once in a thousand instances attain to the perfection of which his nature is susceptible; it must be pronounced, that Reason is not the faculty to whose influence and operations, the highest degree of moral excellence is wholly to be ascribed.
I apprehend, it will be granted, that brute animals fulfil the ends of their creation; and am not aware that the proposition, in a moral sense, can be denied, that man does not fulfil the ends of his creation. For if he did, we should see purity of conduct instead of vice and wickedness overspreading the world.
But brute animals are governed by Instinct or the superior guidance of Providence and man, in the usual course of affairs at least, is governed by Reason, that is, his own discretion. I state the proposition generally; which is the only way it can be taken.
Therefore, in fair deduction, Reason does not enable man to fulfil the ends of his creation; and his own discretion, however competent to his outward affairs, sleeps, or is overpowered, so far as his better, that is, his immortal interests are concerned. For, if Reason enabled man to fulfil the ends of his creation; this governing principle of human nature might be expected to produce effects as universal as the instinct of brutes.
The argument avails little which some may oppose, that Reason is not suffered to have the mastery, because other principles, antagonists to good, are superior in strength: and, hence, that the fault is not to be laid to Reason. Suffice it to say, that whatever
is boasted of as a special endowment, constituting the pride and glory of a creature, ought to have dominion; nay more, it would be doing injustice to Providence to suppose that it might not have dominion: and if Reason could accomplish all that is ascribed to it, I believe, it would have the dominion.