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PREFACE - George Turnbull, The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 1: The Principles of Moral Philosophy 
The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 1: The Principles of Moral Philosophy, ed. and with an Introduction by Alexander Broadie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
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Tho’ not a few who are really lovers of, and great proficients in Natural Philosophy, be not ashamed of the deepest ignorance of the parts and proportions of the human mind, and their mutual relation, connexion and dependency; but reject all such enquiries with an opprobrious sneer as metaphysick, meaning by that term of contempt, something quite remote from true philosophy, and all useful or polite learning, to be abandoned by men of genius and taste to Pedants and Sophists.—Yet it is certain, that the order and symmetry of this inward part is in itself no less real and exact than that of the body. And that this moral anatomy is not only a part, but the most useful part of Natural Philosophy, rightly understood, is too evident to need any proof to those who will but take the trouble to consider what Natural Philosophy, in its full extent, must mean.
For, in the first place, it is an enquiry into a real part of nature, which must be carried on in the same way with our researches into our own bodily contexture, or into any other, whether vegetable or animal fabrick. Secondly, ’Tis only by an acurate inspection of this whole, and its constituent parts, that we can come at the knowledge of the means and causes, by which our inward constitution may be rendered or preserved sound and entire; or contrariwise, maimed, distorted, impaired and injured. And yet, in the third place, That it is upon our inward state or temper, our<ii> well-being and happiness, or our uneasiness and misery chiefly depend, must be immediately acknowledged by all who can think; or are in the least acquainted with themselves. To deny it is indeed to assert, that our perceiving or conscious part is not principal in us. Moral Philosophy, or an enquiry into the frame and connexion of those various powers, appetites and affections, which, by their coalescence and joint-operation, constitute the soul, and its temper, or disposition, may indeed degenerate into a very idle, sophistical, quibling, contentious logomachy: It hath too often had that miserable fate, thro’ the fault of those to whom unhappily people of a more liberal and polite, as well as more useful and solid turn, have principally left it to handle these subjects. But hath not Phisiology likewise suffered no less cruelly in the same manner? And what other remedy is there in either case, but to treat them both as they ought to be: i.e. as questions of fact or natural history, in which hypotheses assumed at random, and by caprice, or not sufficiently confirmed by experience, are never to be built upon; and in which no words ought to be admitted, till they have had a clear and determinate meaning affixed to them; and withal, in that free, elegant and pleasing way, which we may know from some few examples among the moderns, and from very many among the ancients, not to be incompatible with the profoundest subjects in Philosophy: instead of handling them in that insipid, tedious ungainful manner, which having of late more generally prevailed in the schools, far from doing service to Philosophy, hath indeed brought it into contempt, and as it were quite banished it from amongst the polite and fashionable part of the world, whose studies are by that means become very trifling, superficial and unmanly —Mere virtuosoship.<iii>
The great Master, to whose truly marvellous (I had almost said more than human) sagacity and acuracy, we are indebted for all the greater improvements that have been made in Natural Philosophy, after pointing out in the clearest manner, the only way by which we can acquire real knowledge of any part of nature, corporeal or moral, plainly declares, that he looked upon the enlargement Moral Philosophy must needs receive, so soon as Natural Philosophy, in its full extent, being pursued in that only proper method of advancing it, should be brought to any considerable degree of perfection, to be the principal advantage mankind and human society would then reap from such science.
It was by this important, comprehensive hint, I was led long ago to apply myself to the study of the human mind in the same way as to that of the human body, or any other part of Natural Philosophy: that is, to try whether due enquiry into moral nature would not soon enable us to account for moral, as the best of Philosophers teaches us to explain natural phenomena.
Now, no sooner had I conceived this idea of moral researches, than I began to look carefully into the better ancients, (into Plato’s works in particular) to know their opinion of human nature, and of the order of the world. And by this research I quickly found, that they had a very firm persuasion of an infinitely wise and good administration, actually prevailing at present throughout the whole of nature, and therefore very likely to prevail for ever, founded, partly, upon what they were able to comprehend in general of order in the government of the sensible world; but chiefly (for they had made no very great advances in what is now commonly called Natural Philosophy) upon the great insight<iv> they had acquired into the moral constitution of man, by applying themselves to moral enquiries. They were able to discern clearly from thence, that man is very well fitted and qualified for attaining to a very high degree of moral perfection even here; and being satisfied, that such care is taken of virtue, and such provision made for her in this life, as is most proper and best suited to her first state of formation and discipline, they could not entertain any doubts of the kind concern of Heaven about her to be carried on, as may best serve the purpose of general good, by proper steps, for ever.
And accordingly what I now publish, is an attempt (in consequence of such observations as I have been able to make, or have been led to by others) to vindicate human nature, and the ways of God to man, by reducing the more remarkable appearances in the human system to excellent general laws: i.e. to powers and laws of powers, admirably adapted to produce a very noble species of being in the rising scale of life and perfection.
And what I think I have proved, by thus endeavouring to account for moral as for natural things, amounts briefly to this, “That order is kept in man, as well as in the other parts of nature within our observation, constituting the same system: And that from what we clearly see of perfectly wise and good government in all present things, in that part chiefly where virtue is concerned, there is sufficient reason to infer the universal, never-ceasing superintendency of a divine providence, and a future state of complete happiness to the virtuous; or the continuance of perfectly wise and good order in all<v> things, and, which is chief, of due concern about virtue, in all its different stages, for ever and ever.”
In order to conclude a providence, (in the belief of which the chief happiness of thinking persons is absolutely bound up) it is plain, we must first have acurately considered the condition of virtue and vice with respect to this life merely, so as to be able to determine, when, and how far, or in what degrees, and how circumstantiated the one or the other is our present greater good or ill. Now it is only by strictly examining the structure and fabrick of the mind, the frame and connexion of all its powers and affections, and the manner of their operation, that we can ascertain the end and purpose of our being; find out how our moral part either improves or suffers; know what its force is when naturally preserved and maintained in its sound state, and what happens to it in proportion as it is neglected or prostituted, abused or corrupted. Thus, alone, can we with any degree of certainty and assurance say, what is the natural force and tendency of virtue, on the one hand, or the natural influence and result of vice, on the other; or in what manner either of these may work toward our happiness or misery.
But if we set about such an enquiry in the fair impartial way of experiment, and of reasoning from experiment alone, we shall plainly perceive, that as many as the hardships and difficulties are, which virtue has to encounter, struggle with, and surmount in this state; far however, from being quite abandon’d, she is not left without great support and comfort: Nay, that in reality, she is only exposed so far as various trial necessary to her culture and improvement requires; and has a real happiness belonging to her exercises, sufficient to<vi> render her the best and wisest choice even at present, in the opinion of all who make a fair and complete estimate of human life: just so much as leaves room for further hopes in her behalf, by clearly shewing providence to be already most seriously concerned about her, and thoroughly interested on her side in her first probationary state. And therefore the argument for a future life in this treatise, runs in this channel, “There is such provision made for virtue, there is such happiness, such advantages belonging to her, even here in her first state, or at her first setting out in life, as render it highly probable, nay, absolutely certain, that a perfectly kind providential care of her interests begun here, is to be extended to a succeeding life, and perfected hereafter.” There is such a foundation laid, nay, such an advancement made here, as plainly points out the nature and scope of that moral building intended to be carried on to its completion in another state. For that work or scheme must be advanced gradually, because virtue must be gradually formed to ripeness and vigour, by means of proper exercises and trials: And virtue cannot possibly in the nature of things have the happiness resulting from its exercises, but in proportion as it advances and improves. Education must precede perfection in the moral, as spring must go before harvest in the natural world. And moral perfection must be arrived to full maturity by proper cultivation, before the excellent fruits it can then, and then only produce, can be reaped and enjoyed. Virtue must be fit to be placed in the circumstances which alone can render it fully happy, by affording it proper means and occasions of exerting its complete force and excellence, before it can be placed in such circumstances; or being so placed, could reap to<vii> the full, all the advantages of such a situation: but being well provided for, and duly attended to and supported in its first state of education and discipline, what reasonable ground of doubt or fear can there be with regard to its future condition, or its succeeding circumstances in another state, after it is brought by due culture, step by step, to considerable strength, beauty and perfection, as virtue must: Gradual improvement to perfection by proper diligence to cultivate it, being involved in the very notion of virtue and merit.
I think I need say no more of the design in a Preface. The variety of materials contained in this Essay, and the order in which it proceeds, may be soon seen by casting one’s eye on the Contents, as they are digested into a regular summary of the whole. And therefore all that remains to be said here is, in the first place, that the margine is filled with quotations from ancient authors, not to make a shew of reading; but because, in reality, the best observations in this enquiry are taken from some ancient moralist; and it seem’d to me so much the more necessary to do justice to them on this occasion by such references, that it hath been so lately asserted, the wisest ancients had not just notions of God, or of a future state; or, at least, were not able to produce any conclusive arguments on these important subjects. But of this opinion I have said enough in my Conclusion. And therefore I shall just say a word of the modern authors from whom I have received the greatest assistances in this work. I think all of them from whom I have borrowed any thing are referred to in the notes. But the pleasure and advantage I have reaped from them, render it but justice in me to make more particular mention of them in this place.<viii>
Some few very good and useful remarks are taken from Dr. John Clark’s excellent Sermons at Boyle’s lecture.3
I have quoted some very beautiful passages relating to the necessity of general laws, and to the wise order of nature appearing in the established connexions between our sensible ideas of different senses, from the philosophical writings of Dr. Berkley (Bishop of Cloyd) a writer highly esteemed by all persons of good taste.4
I have used some of Dr. Butler’s (Bishop of Bristol) phrases in his discourse on the analogy,5 &c. because I thought them very proper, and well chosen for the purpose to which they are employed: and this I take to be a liberty that does not so much as border on plagiarism. Beside that, I am obliged to the same treatise for several very useful and truly philosophical observations on human nature. But every intelligent reader, who is acquainted with his excellent sermons, will quickly perceive, that throughout the whole I am yet more indebted to them. And, indeed, that true method of enquiring into human nature, which is delineated with such force and perspicuity of argument in the admirable preface to these divine discourses, being strictly kept to in them, they make a full vindication of human nature, and of the ways of God to man. There the natural dignity of human nature, the real excellence of virtue, the solid happiness it creates, and it alone can give, and the indefeasible, unalienable right of moral conscience to maintain the superiority, and govern in the human breast, are set forth in the most forcible convincive manner, with evidence truly irresistible.
I cannot express the vast satisfaction, and equal benefit, with which I have often read the Earl of Shaftsbury’s<ix> Characteristicks:6a work that must live for ever in the esteem of all who delight in moral enquiries. There is in his Essay on virtue and merit, and his moral Rapsody, a complete system of Moral Philosophy demonstrated in the strictest manner, which fully secures that first step to revelation, the belief of a Deity and providence. And I cannot possibly account to myself, how it could come about, that a person of great candor and integrity, well acquainted with these writings, and who hath on other occasions shewn such a laudable readiness to do justice to mistaken or wilfully misrepresented authors, should say, This writer aimed at giving a scheme of virtue without religion,7since he hath on purpose at great length demonstrated the relation which virtue has to piety; and hath there fully proved, the first not to be complete but in the later; because where the later is wanting, there can neither be the same benignity, firmness or constancy; the same good composure of the affections or uniformity of mind. And thus the perfection and height of virtue must be owing to the Belief of a God.8These are that incomparable author’s own words. ’Tis true, indeed, he hath let fall some things concerning revelation, which have rendered his satisfaction with regard to the evidences of it very doubtful to many. But even with regard to such surmises in his writings, may I not refer it to any candid person, who acts the better part? He, who for the sake of them, thro’ the warmth of his zeal, (tho’ it be for the best causes) condemns the whole work in the lump; or he who hath been at pains to find out some alleviations and excuses for them? Such a person I know whose sincere belief of christianity would not be called into question, were I at liberty to name him: And sure if<x> there be any virtue peculiarly recommended by the christian religion, it is, The charity which is not easily provoked to think evil, but beareth all things, and hopeth all things, i.e. is disposed to put the most favourable construction upon every thing.
The writer from whom I have borrowed most, is Mr. Hutcheson, professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow, a teacher and writer who hath done eminent service to virtue and religion in both ways, and still continues indefatigably so to do.9But that none of my faults may be imputed to him, it is fit I should apprise my Readers, that in quoting from him I have sometimes taken the liberty, not only to change some of his phrases, but to join places together which lye at some distance in the original; and which is yet a greater freedom, to intermix some things of my own with his reasonings. This his native candor and ingenuity will not only very readily forgive, but immediately attribute to its true cause, which was not any affectation of amending or correcting one whom I think not inferior to any modern writer on morals in accuracy and perspicuity, but rather superior to almost all; but purely, because such changes and additions appeared to me not unnecessary to serve the purpose of my argument.
The only other author I have to name is Mr. Pope, in his Essay on Man, which hath been lately defended against the objections of Mr. Crousaz, with so much judgment, and such good taste of poetry as well as philosophy, by the very learned, ingenious and worthy author of the divine legation of Moses.10Never did any poetical work afford me such delight, because none ever gave me such deep and useful instruction. As much as I have had occasion by a long course of study in that way to be<xi> acquainted with the subject, yet that truly philosophical poem is always new to me: the oftner I read it, the more I am charmed with it, and benefited by it.
This author hath shewn us, that the seemingly most abstruse matters in philosophy, may be rendered, instead of dry and tedious, exceeding pleasing and agreeable. He hath given to this very profound subject, all the charms of poetry, without sacrificing perspicuity to ornament, without wandering from the precision, or breaking the chain of reason. And tho’ I am far from thinking writing in prose upon such philosophical matters, not to be absolutely necessary on many accounts, (otherwise I had not attempted what I have now done) yet I could not chuse but conclude my abstract reasonings with a quotation from him, as far as he goes; which is indeed to the bottom of his subject: because I have often felt, that principles, precepts or maxims, written in such harmonious verse, both strike the reason more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by it afterwards. And it is impossible for any one to express such profound abstract truths in prose, so shortly as he has done in verse: Yet nothing is more certain, than that much of the force, as well as grace of arguments or instructions, depends on their conciseness. What a blessing to society is such a genius! who hath
Such a poet, indeed, deserves the ancient venerable name so justly appropriated to poets who employed their muse to truly divine purposes, (divinus, sanctus)aand all the honours due to that sacred, highly beneficial character. But as is the heart, so will one’s works always be.
But now that I am speaking of poetry, and its genuine noble ends, I cannot forbear expressing my most ardent wishes, that some genius fit for the glorious task, would give us a Counter-lucretius;12and sing those wonderful harmonies and beauties of nature which have been lately discovered by searching into her order and administration; and the praises of that Divine man to whom we are principally beholden for all these momentous discoveries;13who may indeed be said, by unraveling the deepest mysteries of nature, and setting her excellent laws in their true light, to have effectually discomfited Atheism and Superstition, and all the gloomy horrors which naturally sprout from the frightful notion of a fatherless world and blind chance, or, which is yet more terrible, the opinion of a malignant administration.
A certain poet,14who is universally confessed to have shewn a most extraordinary genius for descriptive poetry in some of his works, and in all of them a heart deeply impregnated with the warmest love of virtue and mankind, if he chances to cast his eye on this Preface, as his friendship to me will naturally induce him to do upon<xiii> whatever bears my name, I desire he would consider this, as a call upon him from one who highly esteems and sincerely loves him, to set about a work so greatly wanting, and which must gain him immortal honour, by doing vast service to the cause he has most sincerely at heart.
And what is susceptible of poetical charms, if the beautiful order, and the immense magnificence of nature in all her works be not? There is a person of very uncommon abilities, and equal virtue, from whom, in frequent conversations upon this subject, I have had many very useful hints, but I am not at liberty to name him:15Let me, however, assure him of my warm sense and high value of a friendship so useful to me on many occasions. Let me just add, that tho’ this enquiry hath not been very long by me in the shape it now appears, yet it is (a few things taken from late writers excepted) the substance of several pneumatological discourses, (as they are called in the school language) read above a dozen years ago to students of Moral Philosophy,16by way of preparative to a course of lectures, on the rights and duties of mankind; at which time were published two Theses, in the University way, indicating the importance of this philosophy; one upon the connexion between natural and moral philosophy; and the other, upon the manifest evidences and signs of wisdom and good order appearing in the moral as well as the natural world.17
The Corolaries subjoined to the last part (in which I hope the Reader will excuse some repetitions hardly avoidable, since it will appear, that upon the whole I have taken no small pains to diversify things I was often of necessity obliged to repeat) well deserve the attention of all who are seriously concerned about the improvement of true<xiv> philosophy, and right education. To some part of the work carved out in them, shall my studies ever be devoted, in proportion as providence gives me health, leisure and opportunity for carrying them on to advantage. Many who have great abilties for such employments, ’tis to be regreted, are not in the easy circumstances necessary to the pursuit of such serious, profound enquiries. But are there not several, who have both abilities and excellent opportunities, and whose profession loudly calls upon them indefatigably to dedicate themselves to the service of virtue and religion; who wholly neglect these noble ends? Let me therefore address such, together with those, who suitably to their character, very earnestly employ their time, their talents, and all the advantages providence affords them, in recommending and promoting truth, piety, or useful learning, in the words of Cicero, who was ever engaged, either in useful action, or in teaching virtue and true philosophy. Quod enim munus reip. afferre, majus, meliusve possumus, quam si docemus atque erudimus juventutem? His praesertim moribus atque temporibus: quibus ita prolapsa est, ut omnium opibus refrenanda, ac coercenda sit.18 <xv>
[3. ]The chemist and scholar Robert Boyle (1627–91) provided in his will for the foundation of a series of annual lectures in defense of natural and revealed religion “to prove the truth of the Christian religion against infidels.” In 1719 and 1720 John Clarke (1682–1757) delivered the sermons, printed as An Enquiry into the Cause and Origin of Evil (London, 1720), and An Enquiry into the Cause and Origin of Moral Evil (London, 1721).
[4. ]George Berkeley (1685–1753), philosopher, was bishop of Cloyne from 1734 to 1752. His publications included An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision (1709,1710, 1732) and A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710, 1734).
[5. ]Joseph Butler (1692–1752) was bishop of Bristol from 1738 to 1750, then bishop of Durham. Among his publications were Fifteen Sermons (1726) and The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature (1736).
[6. ]Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713). His Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (London, 1711; rev. 1713) included the essays “An Inquiry Concerning Virtue and Merit” and “The Moralists, a Philosophical Rhapsody.”
[7. ]Francis Hutcheson, An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, 4th ed. (London, 1738), xix-xx (Liberty Fund edition: Indianapolis, 2004).
[8. ]Shaftesbury, “Virtue,” I.iii.3, in Characteristics, ed. Klein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 192.
[9. ]Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746) was appointed professor at Glasgow in 1729, and was professor of moral philosophy 1730–46. The work of his most quoted by Turnbull is An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense (1728), ed. Aaron Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).
[10. ]Alexander Pope (1688–1744) published a series of moral and philosophical poems in four epistles, An Essay on Man (London, 1733–34). Its principal critic was the Swiss professor of logic Jean-Pierre de Crousaz (1663–1750). William Warburton (1698–1779), author of The Divine Legation of Moses (1738–41), wrote a series of articles in Pope’s defense (1738–39), later published together as A Vindication of Mr. Pope’s Essay on Man (1742).
[11. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.391–98.
[a. ]Poetam natura ipsa valere, & mentis viribus excitati, & quasi divíno quodam spiritu inflari. Quare suo jure noster ille Ennius sanctos appellat poetas, quod quasi Deorum aliquo dono atque munere commendati nobis esse videantur. Sit igitur sanctum hoc poetae nomen quod nulla unquam barbaria violavit.
[12. ]Lucretius, or Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99–52 bc). A Roman poet whose book-length poem De rerum natura expounds a version of Epicureanism. He held that the human soul is material and that at death we cease to be. We therefore have no need to fear death. Turnbull countered all these doctrines, but since he was not a poet he was not a “counter-Lucretius.”
[13. ]“That Divine man” refers to Sir Isaac Newton.
[14. ]“A certain poet” is almost certainly James Thomson (1700–1748), author of The Seasons (1730), Liberty (1735–36), and The Castle of Indolence (1748). See Thomson, Liberty, The Castle of Indolence, and Other Poems, ed. James Sambrook (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).
[15. ]“A person of very uncommon abilities”—the reference is probably to Colin Maclaurin (1698–1746), professor of mathematics at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he overlapped with Turnbull. He was later appointed to the Edinburgh chair on the recommendation of Newton.
[16. ]Lectures delivered at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where Turnbull was a regent from 1721 to 1727.
[17. ]Turnbull, Theses philosophicae de scientiae naturalis cum philosophia morali conjunctione (Aberdeen, 1723), and Theses academicae de pulcherrima mundi cum materialis tum rationalis constitutione (Aberdeen, 1726).
[18. ]Cicero, De divinatione, II.ii.4: “For what greater or better service can I render to the commonwealth than to instruct and train the youth—especially in view of the fact that our young men have gone so far astray because of the present moral laxity that the utmost effort will be needed to hold them in check and direct them in the right way?” Cicero, De senectute, De amicitia, De divinatione, trans. William Armstead Falconer, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1923).