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PART II - 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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A further vindication of Human Nature; in which the chief objections made against it are examined, and proved to be absurd.
Quod si mundi partes naturâ administrantur, necesse est mundum ipsum naturâ administrari: cujus quidem administratio nihil habet in se, quod reprehendi possit. Ex iis enim naturis, quae erant, quod effici potuit, optimum, effectum est. Doceat ergo aliquis potuisse melius, sed nemo unquam docebit, & si quis corrigere aliquid volet, aut deterius faciet, aut id quod fieri non potuit desiderabit.
Cicero de natura Deorum, Lib. II.1
How it is proposed to answer objections.In the former part of this enquiry, we have proved from the direct consideration of our frame and constitution, that it is good; or that we are made for an excellent end. But because this subject is of the last importance, it is well worth while to consider the objections which are made against human nature, and the present state of mankind.
Objections which end either in demanding an impossibility, or a change to the worse are absurd.Now before I examine particular objections, it is proper to premise in general,
I. That objections which necessarily terminate in demanding impossibilities, are absurd. And such<276> are all those which imply in them as direct a contradiction, as if it were demanded that man should be, and not be, at the same time.
II. Such objections are likewise absurd which demand any alteration to the worse; or a change from which greater inconveniencies would necessarily follow than those complained of. For a more inconvenient law would certainly be a worse one.
It is necessary to premise these two plain truths in an Essay, wherein it is proposed to shew, that the objections brought against our present state, do, if not at first sight, yet when closely pursued to their ultimate meaning and tendency, terminate either in demanding an impossibility, or a change to the worse.What the ancients meant by the inhability or obliquity of a subject. But they are also premised, because a great many imperfections and evils in the world, are resolved by some ancient philosophers into what they call inhability or obliquity of the subject, and necessity of nature. By which I am apt to think, they meant imperfections and evils which are, in the nature of things, absolutely unavoidable upon the supposition of the existence of certain subjects, as being absolutely inseparable from them. And, without all doubt, the objections which terminate in demanding some law or property in a material being; for instance, which it cannot in the nature of things admit of, are absurd for that very reason, if there is a moral fitness, that there should be a material creation. I give this example,a because those philosophers had recourse to the inhability or obliquity of the subject, and the necessity of nature chiefly in accounting for apparent evils of the physical kind, that is, apparent evils resulting from the properties of matter, and the laws of corporeal motion. But we may justly call inhability of the subject and necessity of nature, all natural or essential incapacity in any subject, moral or material of any demanded perfection.<277> For certainly all such appearances are sufficiently vindicated, which are shewn to be the necessary result of the essential qualities of a subject, natural or moral; or all such objections are sufficiently refuted, which are shewn to demand something incompatible with the essential properties of a subject, provided it can be proved to be morally fit and good that such a subject should exist.
Thus all objections against the material creation, which necessarily terminate in demanding that matter should be active and not passive, are certainly absurd. If it be morally fit that matter should exist: since matter is essentially, or as matter, passive and inert. In like manner, all objections against a moral creature, which necessarily terminate in demanding impeccability in such creature; or a physical impossibility of its forming any wrong judgment, or chusing unreasonably, must be absurd, if it be morally fit and good that such a moral creature should exist; since impeccability or absolute impossibility of erring is incompatible with the moral powers and properties which constitute a moral creature. All such demands terminate in an absurdity, because they require what the subject cannot admit of; what is contrary to its nature, that is, what is really impossible and contradictory.
In what sense inhability of the subject sopposes no limitation of the divine power.Now inhability of a subject, or necessity of nature, as we have explained it, supposes no limitation of creating, unless the impossibility of working contradictions; as for instance, of making a thing to be and not to be at the same time, or of making the same subject possess at the same time repugnant and incompatible qualities, be a limitation of creating power, which cannot be asserted. Nor does inhability, or necessity of nature, as we have explained it, presuppose the necessary existence of any subject previous to and independent of the mind that created the world; it only supposes, that subjects of a certain nature, if they be created, must be created with<278> that particular nature, or with the properties which belong to it; and that properties which are absolutely in their essence repugnant to co-existence in the same subject, cannot be made to co-exist in the same subject. And that is, not to suppose creating power limited by any thing, or subjected to any thing, since the impossibility of making contradictions to be true, is no limitation of power.
Objections that terminate in demanding a change to the worse, are absurd.II. The other proposed method of solving objections made against human nature, and the present state of mankind, by shewing, that they terminate in demanding a change to the worse; or that would be attended with more or greater disadvantages than those complained of, does not involve in it any limitation of creating power; since power cannot be said to be limited or confined, because it is directed by wisdom and goodness; and is only employed to produce that from which greater good, in the sum of things, must necessarily ensue. Nay, if we rightly consider the matter, it will be found, that this last way coincides with the former; and that such demands, as well as the former, terminate in requiring a natural impossibility. For, so certainly do all demands terminate, “which require the general advantages of a general law without the general prevalence of that law”; “or the goods of one law by means of another law”; “that an end should be produced without means proper and apposite to its production”; “or that such and such a law should be general, and yet several necessary effects of its general operation be hindered from taking place.” To require a change of any law on account of the inconveniencies which attend it, if these be compensated by the good effects of that law, is an absurd demand; since all the interests of intelligent beings require, that the laws by which they are regulated, or which are fixed for their regulation of themselves, should be general and prevail uniformly: and to require<279> that a being should be progressive, without the consequences which necessarily redound from progressiveness, is plainly an absurd demand. But all this will become clearer, when we consider particular objections. And whatever ancient philosophers meant by the inhability of the subject, and necessity of nature, we shall see that the greater part of the objections against man, do necessarily terminate in some contradictory, or very unreasonable request, and that in this sense, “Si quis corrigere volet, aut deterius faciet, aut id quod fieri non potuit desiderabit.”3
Let us first consider the effect of complaining that man is so perfect as he is; or that he has the powers and affections he is really endowed with; and, secondly, the effect of complaining that he is not more perfect than he is.
Some objections against man, are really objections against his perfection.I. All objections which tend to cut off and retrench any perfections which man is endowed with by nature; any of his senses, appetites, affections, or capacities of pleasure, his reason, activity, moral agency, power and liberty, or any other property, are objections against his perfection; they are complaints against the Author of our nature for making him so perfect as he is. For which of them is not exceeding useful; the source of very noble enjoyments; the foundation of many excellencies and virtues?For all our powers, dispositions and affections are capacities of happiness and perfection. Our discerning, distinguishing, judging and reasoning powers, are evidently the foundation of our being capable of rational exercises and enjoyments: and as for our appetites and affections, they are either of private or public use, or both. We <280> may call the private ones modes of self-love, for they are all moved by a prospect of real or apparent good to ourselves. But can a perceptive being exist without a principle of self-preservation; or without the love and desire of pleasure; or can the love and desire of pleasure in a sensible being be less extensive than its ideas of good and pleasure? The public ones we may call modes of benevolence or social love; for they are all moved by the specious shew of public good: and is it not fit that rational creatures should be endowed with such affections as unite and bind them together, and without which there can be no merit, no society, no happiness by communication and participation; which would be the case, were we not endowed with a principle of benevolence, and the social affections which spring from it?
All appetites and affections, of whatever kind, may be rendered weaker or stronger than they ought to be by habit; but such active, bestirring principles, as appetites and affections, are necessary in our constitution, to be the springs of motion, to prompt, to impel, or rather to drive us into action: not the private only, lest we forget the public, and reason should not be sufficient, or have force enough to persuade us before it is too late, to mind that interest, which, though in one sense it be foreign to us, is in reality our most natural or best good. Nor yet the public only, lest by being wholly taken up abroad, we should entirely forget home affairs, and soon become incapable either to look abroad, or to take care at home to any advantage. It is, indeed, hard to say, whether the social without the private, or the private without the social, would be more pernicious to us. And not only is it necessary, if either the one or the other have any considerable degree of force in our frame, that the other should likewise have considerable force, in order to preserve a just ballance; but it is requisite that both should have a considerable degree of force, that they may<281> be able to move us, and that we may have pleasure and satisfaction in our pursuits; for without affections and appetites there can be no enjoyment. Reason itself can only give us satisfaction by its exercises, whether in searching after knowledge, or in acting agreeably to the nature of things, in consequence of our having in our nature an appetite after knowledge, and a moral sense of the fitness of actions.
So are all the laws with regard to them. The law of habits in particular.Now as for appetites and affections, their being diminished or strengthned in their force by habit; this is necessary, in order to our being really benefited by the exercises of our faculties; or to their being bettered and improved by our diligence to improve them. For what is any habit, but a faculty or affection brought to great force and vigour by repeated acts? Without such a constitution, we could never attain to perfection in any science, art or virtue. And which way more honourable or advantageous to us could have been contrived for improving all our different powers and affections to their greatest perfection, and for keeping them in due order, than besides the natural controul which those of one kind are to those of another, to have given us a cool and sedate principle, to deliberate, advise and govern them: our reason, which also becomes stronger or weaker, in proportion as it is exercised; and soon becomes master as it ought to be, if it has but fair play allowed it, or if it is not violently opposed and born down. For reason, by frequently exercising our powers and affections aright, forms many good and perfect habits in us.
Let us examine all our senses, all our appetites and passions, and then let us say which of them we would not have to take place in our frame: not those which impel us to take care of ourselves, for why should the private system not be preserved? or can the public system be sufficiently taken care of by nature, unless each private part of the whole be<282> furnished with what is necessary to its preservation? Not those which lead us to partnership and union; for how can individuals make a whole, without a common feeling, and cementing affections? Reason cannot be left out of our frame, and we continue rational; and if there were no affections and appetites in our frame, what improvements would we be capable of; what would reason have to govern; or what would spur us to action? All the proper exercises of any of our affections, whether private or public, are certainly pleasant; and if the improper ones are either mischievous to ourselves or others, or equally so to both, how can we have the pleasures in the one way, without the pains in the other; otherwise than by the right government of them the consciousness of which is itself the greatest pleasure we are capable of? Did the passions move within us necessarily, just as it is proper and convenient for ourselves and our kind that they should, without the interpositions of our reason as a governor, or independently of our own choice and direction, then would we be good animals, but we could not be called virtuous or moral beings: that higher rank and character supposes in its very idea, reason to govern affections and appetites agreeably to a natural sense of right and wrong, of fit and unfit: without them therefore we would be deprived of all the enjoyments and advantages which now belong to us, as beings of a higher order than merely sensible, passive creatures; capable of ruling our appetites and passions to good purposes, if we but set ourselves in earnest to do so: that is, we would be less perfect than we are.
The objections against man’s imperfection are no less absurd.But hardly will any one object against our Author for providing us with so large a capacity for pleasures of various sorts, or for making us so perfect as we are. And yet, on the other hand,<283>
II. All objections which are made against our constitution, because we have not greater and higher natural capacities, or a larger stock of faculties, are absurd; because such objections cannot stop, while man is less than the very highest order of created perfection. These objections, if they have any meaning at all, must prove that no creature ought to exist, but that which is of the most perfect nature a finite and created being can be.They terminate in demanding an impossibility. In reality, to use the words of a very good author,a “The demands made when man is objected against because he is not a complication of all perfections, are as absurd, as to demand why a fly is not made a swallow, every swallow an eagle, and every eagle an angel; because an angel is better than any of the other creatures named. There must, says he, be a gradual descension and ascension of the divine fecundity in the creation of the world, to make it a full demonstration of the fullness of his power and bounty.” The ancients answered these objections in like manner, by telling us, that the riches and perfection of nature consists in its being filled with different kinds of being and perfection from the lowest to the highest. Such objections, in truth, ultimately come to this, Why man at all? or rather, why any creature, which is not as perfect as a creature can be?They know no stop. And sure it is sufficient to oppose to such like questions, the following more generous ones: Why should there be any discontinuity or void in nature, which unless it be full cannot be coherent? Why should any system be wanting which the first cause can produce, the natural tendency of which, according to its constitution, is to greater good in the sum of things? Why not all possible kinds, orders and ranks of beings? Why not as rich a manifestation of the Creator’s power and goodness, as<284> the most immense variety of being, perfection and good, can shew forth? If angels, why not arch-angels? And why not, likewise, in the descending scale of life, man; since he hath made him but a little lower than the angels, and hath crowned him with glory and honour, and given him a very large dominion natural and moral.
Objections then, which demand that man should be more perfect than he is, are absurd, because they can never stop; and they are really objections against the general perfection of nature. This is their absurd language,
There is plainly a physical absurdity in them.But there is likewise a physical contradiction in these demands or objections. For with regard to the moral, as well as the natural world, it is necessarily true, that every species of being must have its determinate nature and constitution, with which certain other qualities are absolutely incompatible. With respect to corporeal beings it is manifest, that flying, swiming, walking upright, and all other such various qualities, require a particular organization to be maintained and preserved in a particular way, with which other structures are as inconsistent as being streight is with being crooked. Nor will it be less evident if we think a little upon the matter, that every moral being must have some certain determinate constitution, with which the qualities of any other mental fabric is as inconsistent, as one bodily organization adapted to one chief purpose, is with that adjusted to another: a moral being can no more have two different mental structures, than one and<285> the same material being can have two different bodily structures. It is equally absurd in the moral and in the natural world, that one and the same being should be two different beings. It is therefore a contradiction to demand, why any being is not a complication of all perfections: it is to ask, why a being has not at the same time all various structures and constitutions: it is to ask, why it is made for an end that requires a certain fabric adjusted to it, and why at the same time it is not made for another end, that requires another distinct fabric adjusted to it.
Hence we may see what must be the only question with respect to our make.Now from this it plainly follows, that the only intelligible question, with regard to any constitution or fabric, must be, to what end is it adapted, and whether that end be worth while; could it be better adjusted to its end, or ought the end to which it is adjusted, to have place in nature? So that all the objections made against man must vanish, if it appears that he is made for a very noble end. For (though there are, no doubt, higher orders of beings in nature than man) yet if he be so made, he well deserves his place in a gradation which could not exist without him; but, did he not exist, would necessarily be interrupted and incoherent. But to be satisfied that man is made for a very noble end, let us only consider what our own hearts tell us, upon serious reflection, our end is. For if to be made to make progress in moral perfection to the degree we are capable of arriving, by due diligence to improve ourselves, be not a noble and worthy end, what can be such? Is it not worth while to attain to that perfection we know men can arrive at by due diligence, whether we look within, and enquire what we are made for; or whether we recal to mind certain sublime characters in history which cast us at a distance, and reproach us, because we are able, if we set about it, even to do more than they have done. Man hath, indeed, noble, honourable and glorious powers,<286> capable of being improved, even in this their first state, to a wonderful height of excellency and merit, if we are not wanting to ourselves, whatever our circumstances or situation may be. And that these powers are immortal, and shall afterwards be placed in circumstances well suited to the use that has been made of them here, must be certain, if there be any thing immortal in the creation; if all things are not made merely to be soon annihilated; if the Author of nature does not take more pleasure in pulling down and destroying, than in building up and communicating happiness; if capacity for enjoyment of the noblest kind, is not made merely to be disappointed; if it is not made merely to be able to conceive what the Author of nature will not be so generous as to give; or, in fine, if the Author of nature is but as good as man is by his own natural disposition, which he owes to him.a Man<287>hath, by his reason, power to make every element, every piece of matter, every inferior creature, greatly subservient to him; and if he is not wilfully destroyed by his Maker, through delight in destroying, which there is no reason to apprehend from any thing in nature, nothing but himself can stand in the way, as he is constituted, of his making eternal progress in perfection. And is not such a being worthy of his place in nature? He is furnished by nature for moral improvements, in the only way he can be furnished for such: he hath all the faculties necessary for advancement in knowledge and virtue;a faculties, which, by use and exercise, soon become <288> strong and vigorous; and he is surrounded not only with inexhaustible subjects of the most entertaining enquiries, but with excellent means, materials and occasions of exercising every great and noble virtue, having a very large extent of power and dominion in the material as well as the moral world. What therefore can be objected against him, if it be indeed no objection, as it certainly is not, to say he is not the top of the creation; that there are beings much higher than he; or that though he hath a noble nature, yet it is not the very noblest that can exist? Is it not sufficient to take off all these objections, that we have good reason, from the analogy of nature, and the consideration of the temper and character of the supreme being our Maker, which is so clearly imprinted upon the whole of nature, as far as we can pry into it by all our research to conclude, “That the highest pitch of perfection any among mortals have ever arrived at, howsoever great it be in comparison of our state at our first setting out in infancy, is however as nothing, when compared to the superior perfection those so improved and exalted men shall attain to, by their continued care to improve themselves, in another state; and, in fine, that at every period of their future existence, the perfection arrived to will be the same nothing, so to speak, in respect of that superior excellence still before them, and in their power to attain to.”<289>
To this question a sufficient answer hath been given in the principles.This is what I have been endeavouring to prove to be the case, in the first part of this essay; and that no doubt may remain with relation to it, I shall go on to consider, first of all, two of the most material objections made against the present state of mankind; and then I shall conclude, by endeavouring to make every objector against the government of the world feel the absurdity of all objections against it; or clearly perceive that whatever change he can possibly desire or imagine, would make a very bad state of things, could it possibly take place.
The two great objections made against the state of mankind are, I. The prevalence of vice; and II. The unequal distribution of the goods of fortune, as they are called, or external goods.
The chief objections confuted.I shall therefore, in the first place, lay a few observations together, in such an order as seems to me to give full satisfaction, with regard to the prevalence of vice in the world.
The objection taken from the prevalence of vice among mankind.First of all let it be observed, that a “Here men are apt to let their imaginations run out upon all the robberies, pyracies, murders, perjuries, frauds, massacres, assassinations, they have either heard of, or read in history, thence concluding all mankind to be very wicked: as if a court of justice were a proper place to make an estimate of the morals of mankind, or an hospital of the healthfulness of a climate. But ought they not<290> to consider, that the number of honest citizens and farmers far surpasses that of all sorts of criminals in any state; and that the innocent or kind actions of even criminals themselves, surpass their crimes in numbers.Not so much vice as is generally imagined. That it is the rarity of crimes, in comparison of innocent or good actions, which engages our attention to them, and makes them to be recorded in history, while honest, generous, domestic actions are over-looked, only because they are so common; as one great danger, or one month’s sickness, shall become a frequently repeated story, during a long life of health and safety.”
Cicerob mentions a book written by a famous Peripatetic philosopher, Dicaearchus, to shew that more mischiefs are brought upon mankind by the hands of men themselves, than by earthquakes, deluges, pestilences, devastations of savage beasts, or any other such causes. But we ought, says Cicero, to set over-against these evils, the innumerable benefits which men receive from men. The vast advantages which redound from rightly constituted society, from arts and sciences, from philosophy, from oratory, from prudence and virtue.
Let not the vices of mankind be multiplied, or magnified; let us make a fair estimate of human life, and set over-against the shocking, the astonishing instances of barbarity and wickedness, that have been perpetrated in any age, not only the exceeding generous and brave actions with which history shines, but the prevailing innocency, good nature, industry, felicity and chearfulness, of the greater part of mankind at all times, and we shall not find reason to cry out, as objectors against providence do on this occasion, that all men are vastly corrupt and vicious, and that there is hardly any such thing as virtue in the world. Upon a fair computation, the fact does<291> indeed come out, that very great villanies have been very uncommon in all ages, and looked upon as monstrous; so general is the sense and esteem of virtue.
In consequence of the excellent laws of our nature, some vices are unavoidable, because narrow views and wrong associations of ideas are unavoidable.II. But, in the second place,a It is easy to conceive, how false opinions, wrong notions of things, prejudices, misleading associations of ideas, narrow views, and unreasonable pursuits must spread, if they are once introduced among any part of mankind, in consequence of these most useful principles and laws in our constitution; “our dependence upon one another”; “the docility and pliableness of our infant minds”; “our regard to our parents, teachers and superiors” ; “the influence of example, and our disposition to imitate.” In consequence of these excellent dispositions in our minds, ’tis impossible, but errors, false judgments, and correspondently wrong actions must gain ground, if they ever begin or take place. No person in such a state as ours, can be single in his false opinions, bad taste, or hurtful pursuits. In the political as well as the natural body, when contagion enters, it must spread. On the other hand, in a state of beings entering upon the world, with minds formed for gradual progress in knowledge and virtue, in sciences, in arts, and every moral perfection; it is morally impossible, but some must form false opinions, and be influenced by narrow views.And according to the excellent laws of our nature, vices when they begin, will spread. It is our imagination and judgment, or our opinion of things, that chiefly guides our conduct, and adds strength to one sort of affections by taking from the force of others: and therefore, if narrow views, false judgments, and wrong associations of ideas take place: vicious pursuits must likewise take place. But how is it possible to conceive any state of beings formed<292> to make gradual progress in perfection, in proportion to their diligence to improve themselves therein, absolutely secured against acting upon any views that are not true; or absolutely secured against rashly conceiving any false opinions? This is certainly to demand an impossibility with respect to any infant or first state of progressive beings, in whatever situation they may be placed. And if it be to demand an impossibility with regard to any infant state of beings: what must such a demand be with respect to beings capable of receiving pleasures from external objects; and consequently of sollicitations from their senses before their reason can grow up even by any degree of culture to very great maturity and strength? Now it is to demand an impossibility with regard to any first state of progressive beings.Illustrations upon this argument. For it is in reality, either to demand a physical or a moral impossibility that such beings should ever err. But to demand a physical impossibility, in this case, is certainly to demand, that their progress should nowise depend upon themselves, which is, in other words, to demand that they should not be progressive beings, or beings to be formed to perfection in knowledge and virtue, by their own application to improve themselves. And to demand a moral impossibility, that beings so made should ever err, what is it but to demand, that it should not belong to the nature of moral agents, to be able to assent to any opinions that are not true, or to be determined in their conduct by any views that are false. And both these demands are equally absurd in any sense that can be put upon them, but this alone: That such ought to be the nature of things, that truth only can have the full and complete distinguishing evidence of truth, and right only can have the distinguishing characteristics of right, which every one will readily own to be necessarily and immutably the case with regard to truth and right, whatever false judgments or wrong choices any one may precipitantly make. <293>These demands, if taken in any other sense, require that moral beings should be so formed, as that either something else should be necessary to perswade and determine them, than the appearances of things to their minds, and what that should be, is absolutely inconceiveable: Or that their making true judgments and acting rightly, should be in their own power some other way, than by their being furnished with the faculties, senses and dispositions necessary to make true judgments and right choices; and by its depending on themselves to exert and employ these faculties and dispositions as they ought, in order to distinguish truth and right from vice and falshood; which is also quite inconceiveable. There is absolutely no middle between these two states; beings with a certain sphere of activity, or a certain dependence of effects upon their own application of their own faculties to this or the other purpose; and beings who have no power, no sphere of activity, or upon whose will there is no dependence of effects as to their existence or non-existence: Beings, whose right and wrong use of their faculties is in their own power, and beings who have no active powers, no dominion.
Further illustrations on this argument.In order to set this in another light, let me but just ask any one, whether it is possible to conceive beings made for progress in knowledge and virtue, all of whom do from the very beginning, and during the whole course of their lives, form just judgments in all cases, where choice and determination is immediately necessary, without ever erring; without ever mistaking their interest or duty? Or to keep close to our state, which is that now under consideration; let me ask, whether it is possible to conceive all men, even in their most infant and unimproved state, ever acting under the influence of right views, and with due proportionate affections to the values of objects, without any one’s ever mistaking his true interest and the nature of things in any point; without any<294> one’s ever yielding rashly to any sollicitations of inviting pleasure; or without his having certain appetites oftner called forth into action, by certain concurrences of circumstances, than any others, and thus made stronger in his constitution by frequent exercise, than those which, tho’ equally natural to him, are not so frequently solicited by their proper objects? Whether, in one word, he can conceive all men as they are now formed, ever so acting, and so influenced to act by circumstances, which must necessarily excite certain affections to a certain degree, that none, (for instance) shall conceive too high an opinion of power over the rest; an inclination to have it; or having it, not be disposed to exert it otherwise than to the greatest advantage of others in all respects, without abusing, deceiving, or hurting any one in any degree. I believe every one will readily grant this to be inconceivable or morally impossible. But if any one, upon granting it to be so, should urge, why then man is made; or why is there such a state at all. He does really ask either.No objection can be fetched from hence that does not terminate in an absurdity. 1. Why there is any affection, faculty or appetite in our constitution, which in the nature of things is capable of being the source of bad. Which is to ask, why there is any affection, faculty or appetite in our nature at all. Since there can be no faculty, no affection, or appetite even of the social or benevolent kind, which may not by misguidance become the source of evil. Or, 2dly. Why any circumstances are allowed to take place, which may invite faculties, appetites or affections to operate in any way that is vicious or hurtful. To which question, the only proper answer is to ask, what circumstances in life happen antecedent to, or independent of all wrong exercises of human powers, affections and appetites, which are not the consequences of some general law relative to our frame and state, which is of excellent use; nay, necessary to our perfection and happiness: and what circumstances in life happen consequently to mankind’s own wrong exercises of<295> their powers, which are not likewise the fit and proper consequences of their being made for happiness and perfection, proportionally to their right use of their powers and faculties: Or to ask in general, what effect belonging to human nature may not be reduced to some general law, either of the natural world, or of the moral kind, which is itself of the greatest utility, if not necessity to our happiness and perfection. Now it hath been proved over and over again in this Essay, that every faculty, appetite, and affection in our nature, and every law relative to their exercises, is of admirable use.
In fine, to infer from our being so made by nature, that our affections, appetites and faculties, which are of very great use, may be perverted and abused, or wrongfully employed; to infer from thence, that we have a very bad make and constitution; or that our make and constitution is very improperly situated and placed; is not only to argue against the utility of a thing from the perversion of it, which is allowed in every other case to be an absurd way of reasoning; but it is to infer that we are badly made, because we are made capable of turning a very large stock of powers, faculties, appetites and affections to very good account; in such a way as we may have the merit of it, and the pleasure arising from the consciousness of such merit. For it is self-evident, that were it not the order and constitution of nature with regard to us, that right use and bad use of our natural stock should depend on ourselves, we could make no acquisition; we could not be capable either of praise or blame, good or ill desert, because nothing would be ours in any proper sense of that word. Observing the connexions of things, in order to act wisely or agreeably to them, could not be our employment, or the source of our happiness, as it is at present: We would only be capable of receiving a succession of meer sensations, external or<296> internal, without any of the interpositions of our own reason or will, which being our own interpositions, give us a title to the character of moral active beings; and are the source, as such, of all the noblest pleasures we enjoy.
We must admit this solution to be good; or say, that good taste ought not to be an acquirable perfection.We may illustrate all that hath been said by this obvious similitude. Does not every one rest satisfied, that the right culture of his garden depends absolutely on himself, tho’ notwithstanding a sense of harmony, beauty, and of true imitation of nature be natural to all men, yet one must have improved that sense very much, and have studied gardening before he can be able to lay out fields with good taste: and tho’ it be morally impossible, some amongst mankind should not fall into a wrong taste of imitating nature, or of beauty in laying out fields, or in other imitative arts, notwithstanding the natural sense of beauty common to all mankind, capable of being improved by all to a perfectly good taste. Does any one think his gardens independent on him, because his fields are not so made, that nothing can succeed, but what is done according to right taste, and tends to make a good<297> whole; or because negligence and wrong taste have bad effects, and it is only good culture and good taste, that can make a well-disposed garden, suitably furnished with all that is useful and delicious, wholesome and beautiful? Would any one have our taste in this, or any other of the elegant arts, not to depend upon our own improvement of our natural faculties, or to be acquirable otherwise than it is by us? Does not every one take the acquisition of such a taste to be sufficiently in his power, as things are constituted; and is he not sensible of the abridgement, nay, total destruction of the pleasures the elegant arts now give; that would necessarily ensue, if improvements in them were not made as they now are?
Which none will say.But if this be owned, it must by parity of reason be acknowledged, that the right culture of all our other natural powers and dispositions, and of the mind, in general, is sufficiently in our power as we are now constituted; and that, in any other way, our improvement would not be our own acquisition, nor by consequence give us the pleasures it now does, by being our own work and acquisition. Let not men therefore contradict themselves, and call that unreasonable and unfit in one case, which they allow to be proper and very well ordered in another precisely parallel or like case: but let it be remembered, that the way of the human mind’s operation towards its improvement, ought to be uniform; that the way to one improvement ought to be analogous to the way of improvement in every other case: or that it is fit there should be an universal fixed order with regard to the manner of attaining to perfection of whatever kind; that is, of whatever faculty, disposition, taste or affection in our nature, viz. that it should be in proportion to our diligence and care to improve our knowledge and taste.
Vices are but the corruptions or degeneracies of good and useful affections.III. All this will be yet plainer, if we consider the vices of mankind in their true light, or trace them<298> to their real springs; for we universally find, “that no man acts from pure malice; that the injurious person only intends some interest of his own without any ultimate desire of our misery; and that he is more to be pitied for his own mean selfish temper, for the want of true goodness, and its attendant happiness, than to be hated for his conduct, which is really more pernicious to himself than to others. There is no reason to think, there is any such thing as pure disinterested malice in the most vicious of mankind.”a
Some of self-love which is absolutely necessary.And, in reality, if we trace vices to their sources, we shall find, that they are all the corruptions or degeneracies of highly useful and noble affections. This point is exceedingly well handled by Plato in his Gorgias,6 but I shall only on this subject, excerpt two observations from two excellent modern writers upon it, which are sufficient to shew us from what springs all vices proceed, or to what causes they ought to be ascribed. Dr. Henry More, in his Divine Dialogues,7 speaking of vices, says, “They are the spawn of self-love, which, if we eye narrowly, we shall find to be very useful, nay, a very necessary mother in society. Self-love is absolutely necessary: nay, it is no more than the desire of pleasure and happiness, without which a sensitive being cannot subsist: and if rightly conducted, it would lead us to the pursuit of virtue as our interest. Yet wrath, envy, pride, lust, and the like evil passions, are but the branches and modifications of this fundamental necessary disposition towards good and happiness; for what is wrath, but self-love edged and strengthened for fending off the assaults of evil? What is envy but self-love grieved at the sense of its own want, aggravated and made more sensible by the fullness of another’s enjoyment? What is pride, but self-love desiring to be the best, or aspiring for the best,<299> and partly triumphing and glorying that it is now become none of the least? He quotes an excellent saying of Socrates8 to this purpose, that the wicked man really pursues, by a fatal mistake, that which is worst for himself; that he himself is the greatest sufferer; and that therefore, with the wise and good he can be no object of envy, but of pity and compassion.”
This was the opinion of the best ancients.Such indeed was the opinion of all the wiser and better ancientsa concerning vices. A philosophy as much more tender and humane, as it is truer than<300> the prevailing modern philosophy, which delights in exhibiting man in the blackest colours. There certainly is implanted in our nature that desire of power and dominion which Hobbes takes notice of and from the degeneracies, corruptions and perversions of this natural appetite, many woful evils do indeed arise. But Hobbes’s error consists in his considering, that desire of power and dominion as the only principle of our nature, and not taking along with it the other equally natural appetites with which it is united in our frame, and with which it is therefore intended to co-operate; and in the just ballance of which kept and maintained by the presiding authority of reason, virtue or the health and perfection of the mind consists. Now these other appetites and dispositions are our love of knowledge, and our delight in truth, or our desire of knowing the real connexions, relations and values of things: our love of society and public good: and our moral sense or our determination to approve or disapprove affections, actions and characters, according as they are conducive to public good or public mischief. My Lord Shaftbury9 refutes this gloomy pernicious doctrine of Hobbes, in the truly philosophical, pleasant and good natured way, of which we have several examples among the ancients when they are reasoning against the same tenets.They set us an excellent example of the best manner of confutation. We find Arrian just arguing in the same way in his commentaries upon Epictetus against that opinion, as Lord Shaftbury does against Hobbes. Cicero often treats the same opinion in the same pleasant manner: and those excellent authors do indeed set a noble example before us, that ought to be imitated in all disputes and controversies, even of the most important kind. For what can be of greater moment than the question about the human make, whether it argues a good or a bad disposition in its Author: and yet even upon this subject, they shun invectives and use kindly terms, preferring hard arguments to abusive words.<301>
It was certainly, as Lord Shaftbury observes,a an extreme dread of anarchy and licentiousness, that frightened Hobbes, into his system of absolute monarchy and passive obedience: the fright he took upon the sight of the then governing powers, who unjustly assumed the authority of the people, gave him such an abhorrence of all popular government, and of the very notion of liberty itself, that to extinguish it for ever, he recommends the very extinguishing of letters, and exhorts princes not to spare so much as one ancient Greek or Roman historian. His quarrel with religion was the same as with liberty; the same times gave him the same terror in this other kind: he had nothing before his eyes besides the ravages of enthusiasm, and the artifices of those who raised and conducted that spirit. Hence likewise his quarrel with human nature. But what should we say to one of these anti-zealots, who in the zeal of such a cool philosophy, should assure us faithfully, “that we were the most mistaken men in the world to imagine there was any such thing as natural faith or justice? For that it was only force and power that constituted right. That there was no such thing in reality as virtue; no principle of order in things above or below; no secret charm or force of nature, by which every one was made to operate willingly or unwillingly towards public good, and punished and tormented if he did otherwise.” Is not this the very charm itself? Is not the gentleman at this instant under the power of it?—“Sir, the philosophy you have condescended to reveal to us is the most extraordinary. We are beholden to you for your instruction. But, pray, whence is this zeal in our behalf? what are we to you? are you our father? or if you were, why this concern for us? is there then such a thing as natural affection? if not, why all this pains? why all this danger on our account? why not keep this secret to yourself? or what advantage is it to you<302> to deliver us from the cheat? the more are taken in it, the better. ’Tis directly against your interest to undeceive us, and let us know that only private interest governs you, and that nothing nobler, or of a larger kind should govern us whom you converse with. Leave us to ourselves, and to that notable art, by which we are happily tamed and rendered thus mild and sheepish. ’Tis not fit we should know, that by nature we are all wolves. Is it possible, that any one who has really discovered himself such, should take pains to communicate such a discovery?”
But mere vices are the degeneracies of benevolent affections by misguidance.II. But this leads me to another observation upon the springs and sources of human vices; the great disturbers of human life, and on account of which the human make is subject of complaint, or rather railery among some philosophers; and it is this, “a great many evils are not so properly the product of self-love wrong directed, and of our desire of power, which are, however they may be perverted in themselves, very suitable; nay, necessary affections or dispositions in our nature: but they are really the degeneracies of benevolence itself”; for as the noble Author just now quoted, observes,a “Does not Philanthropy, or the love of mankind, by a small misguidance of the affection become pernicious and destructive? A lover of mankind becomes a ravager: a hero and deliverer becomes an oppressor and destroyer. But if we consider matters rightly, it is not strange, that war, which of all things appears the most savage, should be the passion of the most heroic spirits. For it is in war that the knot of fellowship is closest drawn. ’Tis in war that mutual succour is most given, mutual danger run, and common affection most exerted and employed. The generous passion is no where so strongly felt, or vigorously exerted, as in actual conspiracy or war; in which the highest genius’s are often known the forwardest to employ themselves. For the most<303> generous spirits are the most combining. They delight most to move in concert, and feel, if I may so say, in the strongest manner the force of the confederating charm.”
The same Author furnishes us with another example in caballing or cantonizing. “How the wit of man, saith he, should so puzzle this cause as to make civil government and society appear a kind of invention, and creature of art, I know not. For my own part, methinks this herding principle and associating inclination, is seen so natural and strong in most men, that one might readily affirm, ’twas even from the violence of this passion, that so much disorder arose in the general society of mankind.
“Universal good, or the interest of the world, in general, is a kind of remote philosophical object. That greater community falls not easily under the eye. Nor is a national interest, or that of a whole people, or body politic, so readily apprehended. In less parties, men may be intimately acquainted or conversant, and acquainted with one another. They can there better taste society, and enjoy the common good and interest of a more contracted public. They view the whole compass and extent of their community; and see, and know particularly whom they serve, and to what end they associate and conspire. All men have naturally their share of this combining principle, and they who are of the sprightliest and most active faculties, have so large a share of it, that unless it be happily directed by right reason, it can never find exercise for itself in so remote a sphere as that of the body politic at large. For here, perhaps, the thousand part of those whose interests are concerned, are scarce so much as known by sight. No visible band is formed; no strict alliance; but the conjunction is made with different persons, orders, and ranks of men; not<304> sensibly, but in idea; according to that general view, or notion of a state or common-wealth.
“Hence other divisions amongst men. Hence, in the way of peace and civil government, that love of party and subdivision by cabal. For sedition is a kind of cantonizing already begun within a state. To cantonize is natural, when the society grows vast and bulky: and powerful states have found other advantages in sending colonies abroad, than merely that of having elbow-room at home, or extending their dominion into distant countries. Vast empires are in many respects unnatural, but particularly in this, that be they ever so well constituted, the affairs of many must, in such governments, turn upon a very few; and the relation be less sensible, and in a manner lost, between the magistrate and people, in a body so unwieldy in its limbs, and whose members lie so remote from one another, and distant from the head.
“’Tis in such bodies as these that great factions are apt to engender. The associating spirits, for want of exercise, form new movements, and seek a narrower sphere of activity, when they want action in a greater. Thus we have wheels within wheels. And in some national constitutions (notwithstanding the absurdity in politics) we have one empire within another. Nothing is so delightful as to incorporate. Distinctions of many kinds are invented; religious societies are formed; orders are erected; and their interests espoused and served with the utmost zeal and passion. Founders and patrons of this sort are never wanting. Wonders are performed in this wrong social spirit by these members of separate societies. And the associating genius of man is never better proved, than in these very societies, which are formed in opposition to the general<305> one of mankind, and to the real interest of the state.
“In short, the very spirit of faction, for the greatest part, seems to be no other than the abuse and irregularity of that social love and common affection, which is natural to mankind. For the opposite to sociableness is selfishness. And of all characters, the narrow, selfish one is the least forward in taking party. The men of this sort are, in this respect, true men of moderation. They are secure of their temper, and possess themselves too well, to be in danger of entering warmly in any cause, or engaging deeply with any side or faction.”
Thus we see that almost all the vices of mankind are nothing else but the degeneracies of good and useful affections; or good, useful affections influenced by narrow views. I do not say this to extenuate the guilt or deformity of vice, but to shew how we ought to judge of our make and constitution, notwithstanding all the vices which have or do prevail in the world. For sure that ought not to be imputed to the Author of nature, which is in reality a perversion of the qualities he has endowed us with for excellent purposes. Properly speaking, the original stock is his, and what alone he is accountable for; the use or abuse of our affections is ours, if there be any being in the world who hath any thing that can be called its own; or if there can be, with regard to any being, any foundation for approving or blaming itself.
All this is delightfully illustrated by the excellent moral poet so often quoted, in several parts of his truly philosophical, as well as poetical, essay on man.
And with regard to the passions implanted in our nature,
Nature could not possibly have done more for us than it has.IV. But to clear up this point yet further, let us reflect what we would have done by nature to set us right, and to prevent our abuse of our powers and affections; or what we can conceive possible for nature to have done for that effect, which it hath not done.
It appears from what has been said of vices, that none of them take their rise from affections or appetites in our nature, merely implanted for evil purposes, or to qualify us for vices. No vice takes it rise from a passion or affection absolutely hurtful, and not fitted for very good purposes. Even the love of power, as hurtful as it is by some effects of it, is in itself a most noble principle in our nature, as being the foundation of greatness of mind, and of many lofty and excellent virtues. Without it, the human mind would have been timorous, submissive, low and groveling; it could never have risen to great attempts, or have been capable of great sentiments. Magnanimity, despight of danger, and public spirit, could not possibly have been virtues within our reach, without such an original greatness of mind, as supposes the desire of extending our abilities and our sphere of activity. But if this is really the case, nature acted a kind part with regard to us, in implanting in us this principle; it certainly intended our good and perfection by it. Or would any man chuse to have had mankind secured against the bad effects of wrong-turned ambition, at the expence of our being utterly destitute of a capacity of noble and worthy ambition, of high ideas, great sentiments, and suitable actions?
The original forces of affections stand right.How, therefore, can we conceive mankind to be secured by its Author against the vices which really spring from affections necessary to our good and perfection, influenced and directed by false and narrow views, till they are become very strong and powerful; nay, are quite wrought into temper by repeated acts, in consequence of the useful law of habits: how, I say, can we conceive mankind secured<308> by our Author against such vices, and their hurtful effects, otherwise than by his originally well proportioning the forces of the affections implanted by him in our nature, to one another, and to the general good of the whole system; and by giving us reason, together with a sense of order and just subordination, in the regulation of all our natural affections, to enable us to direct and guide them to their best ends. This is certainly the only conceivable way, consistent with our being reasonable beings, our having any moral sphere of activity, or our being capable of approving ourselves and our conduct. For nothing can be more evident than that it is the power of governing appetites, affections and actions by reason, and a sense of right and wrong, that makes the order of beings called rational creatures; an order, confessed to be superior in rank and dignity to such as have no sense of right and wrong, no power over their perceptions, motions and choices; or rather, no power of chusing, prefering and acting.
I. Now with respect to the original forces of our affections, it is well observed by an excellent author,a whom we have often quoted, that to assert, “That men have generally arrived to the perfection of their kind in this life, is contrary to experience. But on the other hand, to suppose no order at all in the constitution of our nature, or no prevalent evidences of good order, is yet more contrary to experience. We actually see such degrees of good order, of social affection, of virtue and honour, as make the generality of man kind continue in a tolerable, nay, an agreeable state. However, in some tempers we see the selfish passions by habits grown too strong, in others we may observe humanity, compassion and good nature sometimes raised, by habits, to excess.<309>
Illustration on this argument.Were we to strike a medium of the passions and affections, as they appear in the whole species of mankind, to conclude thence what has been the natural ballance, previously to any change made by custom or habit, which we see casts the ballance to either side, we should, perhaps, find the medium of the public affections not very far from a sufficient counter-ballance to the medium of the selfish; and consequently the over-ballance on either side, in particular characters, is not to be looked upon as the original constitution, but as the accidental effect of custom, habit, associations of ideas, or other such causes; so that an universal increasing the strength of either, might, in the whole, be of little advantage. The raising universally the public affections, the desires of virtue and honour, would make the hero of Cervantes, pining with hunger and poverty, no rare character. The universal increasing of selfishness, unless we had more accurate understandings to discern our nicest interests, would fill the world with universal rapine and war. The consequences of either universally abating or increasing the desires between the sexes, the love of offspring, or the several tastes and fancies in other pleasures, would perhaps be found more pernicious to the whole, than the present constitution. What seems most truly wanting in our nature, is greater knowledge, attention and consideration; had we a greater perfection this way, and were evil habits, and foolish associations of ideas prevented, our passions would appear in better order.
But while we feel in ourselves so much public affection in the various relations of life, and observe the like in others; while we find every one desiring indeed his own happiness, but capable of discerning by a little attention, that not only his external conveniency, or worldly interest, but even the most immediate and lively sensations of delight, of which his nature is susceptible, immediately flow from a<310> public spirit, a generous, humane, compassionate temper, and a suitable deportment; while we observe so many thousands enjoying a tolerable state of ease and safety, for each one whose condition is made intolerable, even during our present corruption: how can any one look upon this world as under the direction of an evil nature, or even question a perfectly good providence? How clearly does the order of our nature point out to us our true happiness and perfection, and lead us to it, as naturally as the several powers of the earth, the sun, and air, bring plants to their growth, and the perfection of their kinds? We, indeed, are directed to it by our understanding and affections, as it becomes rational and active natures; and they by mechanic laws. We may see that attention to the most universal interest of all sensitive natures, is the perfection of each individual of mankind. That they should thus be, like well-tuned instruments, affected with any stroke or touch upon any one. Nay, how much of this do we actually see in the world? What generous sympathy, compassion, and congratulation with each other? Does not even the flourishing state of the inanimate parts of nature, fill us with joy? Is not thus our nature admonished, exhorted, and commanded, to cultivate universal goodness and love, by a voice heard through all the earth, and words sounding to the ends of the world?”a
Now what is the result of all this excellent reasoning from the experience of all mankind, but that there is ground to think, our affections stand originally in our nature very well proportioned to one another, and to the ultimate end of them all, the general good of the kind, and the private good of every individual, so far as the good of the kind<311> admits the private good of every individual to be consulted; or that all the variety, with respect to the human affections, there is any reason to imagine to be original, is well adjusted to the public good. These conclusions do certainly ensue from the experiences above narrated. And indeed, the most considerable inequalities that are observed in human life, with respect to the forces of the affections, of whatever kind, do plainly take their rise from what hath been proved to be of admirable use in our nature, viz. the way and manner in which habits are generated or produced. It is by habit only that any appetite or affection is strengthened, or wrought into temper.
II. Now there being ground to think that the affections originally stand right, or in due proportion in our original nature, what more could nature have done for us, in order to their being preserved in a due ballance, for private and public good, than to have given us reason, and a sense of right and wrong, to govern them by?
And nature hath given us a guiding principle.That we have such a power or faculty is indisputable; and how this faculty may gain strength, is no less evident to experience: even by exercise, as all our other faculties, powers and principles do. But to say, why hath not nature made reason stronger in us, or to grow up faster, is indeed to ask, why reason is a faculty improvable into strength and vigour by exercise. It is to ask, why it does not acquire force and authority, otherwise than by due culture. It is therefore to ask, why it is reason. It is known to be early in our power to bring reason to very great perfection, with regard to the management of our passions; for, as corrupt as man is, we have many instances of such perfection: this is in our power, in any sense that any thing can be said to be in our power, and if we do not cultivate reason, it does not arrive at due perfection, for this very good<312> cause, “That nature designed and willed that the cultivation of our reason should be a progressive work, dependent on ourselves.” I am obliged often to have recourse to this principle, this law of our nature, because it is universal, or runs through the whole of our composition.a
All this is beautifully expressed by our excellent moral poet.
I shall only now add one thing with respect to it, that has hitherto been but just suggested, namely, that men never hesitate in admitting it to be a good<313> account of nature, with respect to any of our external powers, or their subjects, to shew that the right management of them depends upon ourselves; for that we are free with regard to them, they never doubt. Thus no man thinks of blaming nature, because one does not manage his eyes, or any other of his senses or members, to the best advantage for his conveniency and pleasure, in the way of merely animal life: that is readily said to be one’s own fault, when the person is at his own disposal, and free from external violence of every sort. Here every such an one is immediately pronounced free: no person is at a loss to understand what this freedom means: and none who understand what it means, do not think, that in these matters, nature has done well to put our interest or good in our own power, and to make them dependent upon our selves. Every one will say, that not to have made man so, would have been to have made him a mere sensitive brute; and that such an one, though he should never feel any pain, but be entertained with a constant flow or succession of agreeable sensations, would, however, be but a mere animal, quite passive, and far inferior to a being capable of foreseeing and acting, or of pursuing ends by his own choice. But if this be owned with respect to external objects, and our sphere of activity in the natural world, how comes it not to be owned with regard to moral objects, and our sphere of activity in the moral world? Such a freedom with regard to the latter, must be freedom with regard to them, as much as the freedom with regard to external objects just defined, is freedom with respect to them. And if freedom with regard to external objects be any excellence: freedom of the same kind, with regard to moral objects, must be at least an equal excellence. Let metaphysicians quibble and wrangle about freedom as long as they please, it is certain, that in the same sense that we can be said, and are unanimously said to be<314> free, with respect to eating, drinking, walking, sitting, or any such external acts; we are likewise free with respect to many internal or moral acts, such as thinking upon this or the other subject, indulging or crossing this or the other affection, &c. Nay, which is more, with regard to moral acts, we have really more freedom than with regard to any of our operations upon external or material objects. For who is not sensible, that the cultivation of his mind depends more upon himself than the cultivation (for instance) of his garden; for it is subject to fewer letts and impediments than the other: the cultivation of our mind depends only upon our setting ourselves in earnest to do it; whereas the cultivation of our garden depends upon many causes we cannot oppose or controul.
If our having natural power be no ground of objection, having moral can be none.All that I aim at by this is, that if we are but allowed to be free with regard to the operations of our minds about our affections, in the same sense that we are said to be free with regard to any external actions, or operations upon material objects; it must follow, that nature is not to be blamed for our mismanagements in the one case, more than for our mismanagements in the other, which nobody thinks of doing.
Indeed, to blame nature in either of these cases, is to say, nature has done wrong in giving us any sphere of activity at all, or in making us creatures capable of acting by foresight and choice. But objections against man are sufficiently answered, if they are shewn ultimately to terminate in demanding, “Why nature hath made any order of beings of that kind, or made any creatures with such a<315> sphere of dominion, as raises them above creatures who do not at all guide themselves, or chuse for themselves, having no guiding principle in their constitution.”
If it is said, that several men’s minds are like certain spots of ground, uncapable of cultivation to any good purpose. It might be answered first of all, that it is not certain that there is any such spot of ground, which by a full knowledge of soils acquireable by man, if he gives due pains, and takes right methods to attain to such knowledge, may not be managed to a very useful purpose: we must first be able to say, the science of nature cannot be carried farther than it hath been, before we can affirm any soil is absolutely useless. But however that be, it may be justly affirmed, that there is no ground to think there is any such mind amongst mankind, otherwise than in consequence of some law of matter and motion necessary to the good of the natural world, our union with which, and consequently our dependence upon the laws of which, makes so proper a state of being in the fullness of nature, as has been already proved. I believe all naturalists will agree with me, that there is reason to think from experience, that the incapacities of ideots and changelings is such a phenomenon as distortion in the members of the body, and owing in like manner to natural causes. And in the third place, however even that may be, it is certain, on the one hand, that such examples are very rare; and, on the other, that great variety of talents, not only with respect to strength and quickness, but even in species, is requisite to the happiness and perfection of mankind: though all talents, faculties and genius’s are not alike useful, yet there is none we know of which is not useful, or capable of being employed to very good purposes. Nay, on the contrary, the care of mankind about their happiness is certainly very deficient in this very article, in not taking due pains to manage education<316> in a manner suited to explore, bring forth and improve every various talent and temper in mankind; all these being so many materials nature has liberally laid to our hands, as a rich stock for the improvement of society into goods. And to this we may add, that human life absolutely requires that many should be more fitted for bodily exercise, than for the employments of the understanding; more for the labours of the hands, than for those of the head. But it is sufficient to our purpose to observe, that the fact in universal experience with regard to mankind is, that it is difference with regard to improvement and culture of natural powers and affections that makes the most remarkable differences a and inequalities amongst mankind; insomuch that it may be justly said, “that to attain to a good<317> temper of mind, and to light sufficient for his right conduct in the more ordinary circumstances of human life, is in every man’s power.”
Reason, as such, must depend on culture.’Tis true, very many who call themselves philosophers, have taken great pleasure; a very odd unaccountable pride, in declaiming against human reason: some have even gone such a length, as to say, that the brutes are happier without it than man is with it; or can be, considering how weak it is and feeble; how easily it is deceived by any false semblance of good, and how easily it yields to every corrupt affection or headstrong appetite; or rather how tamely it is driven before them; for so they speak who make this objection, and so may we say of many persons. But to what does all this amount, if it be true, as we have endeavoured to prove from experience, 1. That all our affections stand rightly in our nature. 2. That it is fit habits should be contracted by repeated acts. And, 3dly. That it is fit, reason should depend as to its strength upon our culture or care to exercise and improve it? What do all those objections prove, if these propositions be true, but that some do not take care to improve their reason, and therefore their reason is weak; and that some have, by indulging their passions in a wrong way, instead of governing them by reason, very strong hurtful passions. It does not prove, that the way in which nature designed we should improve in knowledge or in virtue, is not a good way. In order to make<318> their objection militate against the Author of our make, they must either prove, “that to have sensations without the power of chusing, or any sphere of activity, is a nobler, a better state, than to have the power of chusing, a guiding principle, and a sphere of activity:” Or they must prove, “that it is a very bad state of things to make perfection of any kind only attainable by care to improve one’s faculties, powers and affections.” For tho’ it will be readily granted to them, that philosophers (that is, some who are commonly so called) are frequently greater slaves to passions than others; yet what can be inferred from hence, but that the government of the affections requires not only the knowledge of right and wrong, but constant and steady discipline. A man may not only have made very great advances in several parts of learning and science, without having much considered the nature of the human mind, and the right conduct of human affections; but one may even have that latter sort of knowledge in theory to great perfection, and yet be a slave to some bad appetite for want of setting himself to subdue it, and to disenthral himself from its tyranny by proper means. We have had again and again occasion to observe, that it is by repeated acts alone, that new habits are produced, or that old ones are destroyed: and we have not only many examples before our eyes, even among the illiterate part of mankind, to convince us what perfection may be attained to, by right discipline in the conduct of the passions; but we have each of us something within us, which tells us on every occasion, that it is in our power to conquer any bad habit, any impetuous unruly appetite, and to attain to the mastership of all our affections and desires; and that it is at once our interest, and our duty, to set ourselves to obtain this inward liberty, this self-command, this best and noblest of dominions.<319>
We may as well pretend to infer, that there is no such thing as self-love in our nature from the vices that prevail among mankind, as to pretend to prove from them, that there is no benevolence in our nature.V. But, in the fifth place, we might just as well argue from the vices which prevail among mankind, that there is no such thing as self-love in our make, as that there is not a principle of benevolence in our nature. For what vice is contrary to the well-being of our kind, or of society, which is not likewise contrary to the private good of every individual? The three greatest moral evils, in human life, are ignorance, superstition and tyranny. Now let us consider each of these, 1. Ignorance. No doubt, a vast many bad effects arise from it; but what better provision could nature have made than it has done for our improvement in knowledge? Man, indeed, through the defect of natural knowledge is not half the lord of the universe he would be, were he at due pains to improve his knowledge: all the lordship he hath, all the advantages he enjoys, are owing to his knowledge of nature; but what vast fields of natural knowledge lie yet quite uncultivated! Men in their studies and researches go too far beyond or above themselves; not that the knowledge of any part of nature is not worthy of pursuit, but because the interests of mankind chiefly require acquaintance with our earth,This reasoning applied to ignorance with soils, with climates, with air, with water, with fire, and other subjects, more immediately relating to us and our advantages, to the preservation of our health, the abridgement of our labour, and other conveniencies. It chiefly concerns us to know these elements; and if they are not understood, so far as to be able to make them as subservient to our purposes as they might be rendered; whence is it, but from what hath made all the progress we have been able to make in natural knowledge, so late and slow; to our not studying nature itself?of the natural world. Now, benevolence indeed, if we would but listen to it, calls upon us for the sake of mankind to apply ourselves to this study: it calls upon societies to set about and encourage these enquiries: it calls upon magistrates and rulers of states to take proper<320> methods of having this science cultivated and pursued; because all the interests of mankind are deeply concerned in the advancement of such knowledge. But does self-love less strongly excite to what is so evidently the interest of the whole, and of every private person. And why then should the neglect of this study be imputed merely to the want of benevolence in our nature, since all our private interests are no less concerned in it, than public good? If we neglect what self-preservation or self-interest prompts to, is it allowed to be an argument, that there is no self-love in our nature, or that it is too weak? And if that be not allowed, how can the neglect of what benevolence urges to, be reckoned a proof that there is no benevolence, no social principle, no virtue in our composition: or why should the Author of our nature be accused for not having dealt well with us, in not giving us a strong enough desire of public good, merely because public good is not sufficiently attended to; more than be accused for not having planted in us a strong enough principle of self-preservation, since true self-interest is not sufficiently attended to, which is never done. For if it be fair to make the one accusation, it must be so to make the other. And if it be sufficient to vindicate nature, in the one case, that we are well endowed with the powers and means of knowing our interest; it must be sufficient, in the other case, to vindicate nature, that we are sufficiently provided with the power and means of knowing the public interest. Indeed our being so provided is a sufficient justification of nature in both cases, because the chief enjoyments any beings are capable of, are those which arise from the gradual improvement of their own powers, by proper care to improve them: this, I say, is a sufficient vindication of our nature, especially if it be added to the account, “that private and public good, are in the nature of things, the<321> same, or, at least, inseparably connected, and therefore, that to be rightly selfish is true wisdom.”
In the moral world.II. The same reasoning may be applied to moral knowledge, because it can only be acquired in the same way as natural; that is, by experience and observation, or by the study of moral objects, as the other by the study of material ones; and because self-love no less strongly dictates to us the study than benevolence does; a thorough knowledge of ourselves, and of our interests and pleasures, being evidently the interest of every particular person, as much as it can be the interest of the public. But then with regard to moral knowledge, it is worth while to observe further, that tho’ the acurate knowledge of the human mind be a part of science which has never been so much cultivated as it ought, yet the common duties and offices of human life have always, or at all times, and in all ages been sufficiently understood. This plainly appears from the history of mankind; for in all ages of the world, and in all countries, there have been proverbs in every one’s mouth, which sufficiently express the greater part, or, at least, the more important parts of morality.a The ignorance and barbarity of certain nations and times have been studiously magnified by some travelers and historians, to serve I know not what purposes: but from others we learn, that hospitality, justice, gratitude, candor, temperance, and all the<322> virtues have been found very general, even in nations called the most barbarous. Insomuch that no country has ever wanted its proverbs, as has been just said, expressing very fitly the advantages of them, and the obligations to them: not even the countries the most corrupted and perverted by superstition and tyranny: the two other great evils complained of in human life; and which are indeed the two greatest obstacles to the progress of useful knowledge; the great sources and supports of all the ignorance that has prevailed, or still prevails among mankind.
This reasoning applied to tyranny.III. Now with regard to them, we may observe, that though we want very much a history of superstition, faithfully collected, it seems evident that if tyranny be not the inventress and mother of superstition, yet at least, they have always gone hand in hand, kept pace, and acted as it were in concert. Tyranny, no doubt, says a noble author, has a natural tendency to corrupt mens notions of the Deity, and of religion and morals.15 “Morality and good government must go together: there is no real love of virtue without the knowledge of public good. And where absolute power is, there is no public. Accordingly, they who live under tyranny, and admire its power as sacred and divine, are debauched as much in their religion as in their morals. Public good, according to their apprehension, is as little the measure or rule of government in the universe as in the state. They have scarce any notion of what is good and just, other than as mere will and power have determined. Omnipotence, they think, would hardly be itself, were it not at liberty to dispence with the laws of equity, and change at pleasure the standard of moral rectitude.”
“But, notwithstanding the prejudices and corruptions of this kind, ’tis plain, there is something still of a public principle, even where it is most perverted and depressed. The worst of magistracies,<323> the mere despotic kind, can shew sufficient instances of zeal and affection towards it. Where no other government is known, it seldom fails of having that allegiance and duty paid it, which is owing to a better form. The eastern countries, and many barbarous nations have been, and still are, examples of this kind. The personal love they bear their prince, however severe towards them, may shew how natural an affection there is towards government and order among mankind. If men have really no public parent, no magistrate in common to cherish and protect them, they will still imagine they have such a one; and, like new-born creatures, who have never seen their dam, will fancy one for themselves, and apply (as by nature prompted) to some like form, for favour and protection. In the room of a true foster-father and chief, they will take after a false one; and, in the room of a legal government and just prince, they will obey even a tyrant, and endure even a whole lineage and succession of such.”
To superstition which is found to go hand in hand with tyranny.All this is very true with regard to tyranny and its natural tendency; so that the greatest corruptions among mankind, either in morals or in religion, may be ascribed to it as their source and first cause: but surely, tyranny, and its dismal effects, are not more repugnant to benevolence, than they are to self-love and self-interest. For at what would we think should self-preservation make us spurn and rebel more zealously, than the cruel usurpations of despotic will and lawless power? But if the rise of superstition, or false religion, should not be thought sufficiently accountable, by supposing it the device of tyrants to carry on their ambitious schemesa of enslaving<324> mankind more easily and successfully; or whatever may have been the rise of it, sure any barbarous usages which have been established by it, are equally repugnant to the love of ourselves, and to the love of one another. From all which, it follows, that nothing can be inferred from any vices which have ever reigned among mankind, but that men are capable of falling into sad corruptions, if they do not use their natural powers rightly. To which it ought, on the other hand, to be opposed, that mankind are capable of great perfection and happiness by the right use of their powers. And this being the case, it can never remain a question, whether man is well formed by nature, with those who think the greatest of all happiness and perfection is that which is attainable by a being itself, in proportion to its care to improve its natural stock of powers and<325> affections. To what hath been said, we may just subjoin, that almost at all times, and in all ages and countries, even among the most barbarous, enthraled and superstitious, there have not been wanting some persons who not only had arrived, by the due exercises of their faculties, to just notions of religion, morality, and mankind’s true interests; but who likewise thro’ public spirit, boldly bore testimony to the truth, and called upon mankind but to open their eyes, that they might see the happiness and perfection for which nature hath kindly designed them. For this fact is sufficiently attested by history.
Without a mixture of good and evil, there can be no place for prudence, &c.VI. But I proceed to another consideration, in order to shew the absurdity of the complaints made against human nature, on account of the vices to which it is liable. We have often had occasion to desire it to be observed and remembred, that moral ends and effects must have their stated means and causes, as well as natural ones; otherwise there could be no such thing as moral connexions, moral order, and moral knowledge: let those therefore who object against the human make, and the present state of things, on account of physical and moral evils which spring from certain causes, consider well the ultimate result of their objections; whether by them they do not demand causes without their effects, or effects without their causes, both which are equally absurd; both which are owned to be grosly absurd with respect to natural causes and effects: and both which must, by parity of reason, be absurd with regard to moral effects and causes. ’Tis certainly absurd to wish to have the capacity of foreseeing the consequences of things in the natural world to any degree, and the power of procuring goods to ourselves, of avoiding evils, or of turning evils into goods, in consequence of that capacity; and, at the same time, to desire that there were no bad consequences, no evils to be guarded against, or turned<326> into goods. Now the same must likewise hold true with respect to moral connexions, and our capacity of foreseeing moral goods or evils, and our power in consequence thereof, of shunning or warding off such evils, or of turning them into goods. Nature, in both cases, has designed to make procuring goods and avoiding evils dependent on ourselves, in order to make the study of nature our employment, and our happiness in a great measure our own work and acquisition. And therefore, if on the one hand, we think such conduct of nature necessary with regard to us, in order to our enjoying the pleasures of knowing nature’s laws and connexions, of foreseeing consequences, and of exerting ourselves wisely, as it certainly is, then let us not blame nature for having so constituted things, that knowledge and foreseeing might be necessary; or that there might be place for such a thing as acting wisely, and chusing well, since these could not take place, were there no evils to be avoided or converted into good by wisdom and virtue. If, on the other hand, we do not like the conduct of nature, which lays a foundation for wisdom and virtue, good and prudent action, foresight and self-approbation; let us speak out plainly the ultimate meaning of our complaint against nature; and say, nature hath dealt unkindly by us in making our happiness depend in any measure on ourselves, and in making us capable of the pleasures of knowledge, foresight, self-direction, and good management.a <327>
Hence we see the necessity of evils.Before we object against a state of rational creatures, because evils do result from certain combinations of things, as goods do from others, according to fixed laws, ascertainable by them, in order to be the rule of their choices, conduct, and pursuits; we ought to be sure whether it is possible in the nature of things, that there can be rational creatures capable of the pleasures resulting from choice and wise pursuit, were there not evils resulting from certain choices and pursuits, in consequence of the connections<328> of things; or if not positive evils, at least what may be called evils, that is, pleasures very inferior to other pleasures; but that is so far from being possible, that we cannot possibly conceive how there can be any such thing as place for right or wrong choice, wisdom or virtue, but in such a state; nay, we clearly see there cannot be place for wisdom and virtue, good and bad conduct, but in such a state; for right and wrong choice, with respect to whatever mind, even with respect to the creating mind, necessarily suppose connexions productive of happiness, and connexions productive of evil, or at least of less good. There is therefore an absolute necessity<329> in the nature of things, that in order to the existence of agents capable of good and bad choice, there should be, at least, very high goods to be obtained by certain pursuits, in comparison of others, to be obtained by other pursuits. And is not this coming very near to admitting an absolute necessity of connexions from which evils result, in order to the very being of rational creatures, and their distinguishing excellence and happiness. But if we are obliged to go so far, in admitting a necessity of evil in a comparative sense, ought we not to be very cautious how we object against any evils which take place: or can we, indeed, reasonably object against evils, unless we can clearly prove, that they are not at all necessary to the happiness and perfection of rational creatures; for till we can prove that, (a necessity of comparative evil being once admitted) the presumption will lie with respect to any particular evils, that they may be necessary to good, the greater good of rational beings: but as such, they are goods, and not evils.
Several virtues necessarily presuppose not only physical but moral evils.But, having but just suggested this general observation, I shall now go on to shew, from particular instances, that many of the evils complained of in human life, moral as well as natural, are, in the nature of things, necessary, absolutely necessary to many goods, without which human life could have no distinguishing excellence, nor indeed any considerable happiness; which instances will confirm, a posteriori, our arguing, as we have just done, abstractedly, from the nature of things, for the necessity of evil in general.
I. Not only is it true in general, as has been already observed, that there can be no rational creatures, capable of right and wrong choice, good and bad conduct, wisdom and virtue, unless there be, with regard to them, connexions which are productive at least of lesser and greater pleasures, to be<330> the objects and rule of their conduct and pursuits. But with respect to man, it is certain, that several vices and imperfections,a as well as physical pains and wants, are absolutely necessary to the very being and exercise of certain virtues, which are the highest glory of human life, and afford men their best pleasures and enjoyments. Not only are darkness, doubts, ignorance, narrow views and false conceptions, as necessary, in the nature of things, to give a high relish to knowledge, truth,a instruction, recovery from error, and the breaking in of light upon the mind, as hunger, thirst, and other urgent appetites are to the exquisiteness of the pleasure sensible gratifications<331> afford; insomuch that the one could not be without the other: but which is more, several moral diseases, imperfections and vices, make the materials and subjects of many excellent virtues, they make place for them, they call them forth into action, they give them occasion to exert themselves, prove their force, and display all their beauty. As without distresses, wants and afflictions of the natural kind, there could be no room for patience, fortitude, compassion and charity; so without moral evils to combat with, or to remedy, there could be no place for heroism, for generous instruction, for noble efforts to reform mankind from errors and vice, for struggling against corruption and tyranny; in one word, for any of the noble, public-spirited, generous virtues, which add such lustre and glory to human life; and often render it a scene not unworthy of higher orders of rational beings to contemplate.b Here then is not only an <332> excellent use of these moral evils, which are however, as we have seen, nothing but the corruptions and perversions of affections, which in themselves are of the highest importance to our dignity and perfection: but here is plainly a necessity of imperfections and vices, to the very existence of many virtues, or to their formation, trial, exertion, and glorious efforts. Imperfections and vices do indeed give force and heightening to good qualities and virtues, as the shades in a picture set off the brighter and more enlightened parts. It is not possible that there can be an agreeable variety of beauty in the moral world, without foils and contrast, any more than in the natural; for whatever is raised, heightened, or made conspicuous in nature, must be rendered such by shade and contrast; And let us but think how dull the history of mankind would be, or how low, untouching, insipid and<333> groveling a show to ourselves, human affairs would be, without the magnanimous contests, and heroic achievements of virtue contending with vices. But this is not all the vices serve for, merely to illustrate virtues, and to display their charms to advantage: for benevolence, magnanimity, gratitude, patriotism, public spirit, and all the other virtues, which are the great ornaments of mankind, could not take place, were there no wants among mankind to supply, or distresses to be relieved, no monstrous passions to bear down and subdue, no savage enemies to combat and destroy, no great goods to bring to mankind, or no great evils to deliver them from. A Hercules could not have ascended among the gods, and acquired everlasting fame, had there been no cruel tyrants, that ravaged mankind like furious tygers, to conquer and extirpate. Nor could an Orpheus have done the most glorious work that can fall to the share of mere mortal, by civilizing a people, and bringing in wholsome laws, philosophy, arts, and good taste among them, had he not found a nation that was yet living like the wild beasts, and quite a stranger to all the high enjoyments of well polished humanity. All this is as evident, as that supplying supposes wants, and delivering supposes distress. They, therefore, reason most absurdly, who would have human life distinguished by glorious virtues, and yet those virtues not have subjects, materials and occasions to exert and prove themselves upon.
Every state of the body politic, as well as of the body natural, is incident to particular diseases or vicesII. But in the second place, if objectors attend to human nature, to the nice ballance and dependence of human affections, and to the natural tendency and course of things, they will plainly see an absurdity in many of their complaints against human nature, on account of the vices to which it is liable, unless they think that mankind ought not to form themselves into societies, and endeavour to make the<334> bodies into which they form themselves, great, opulent and powerful, by encouraging manufactures, trade, and the polite arts. If they think that mankind ought not to do so, but would be happier in small bodies, without any arts, but such as are necessary to mere subsistence; or by foregoing all worldly power and grandeur for simplicity and quiet, or rather indolence. It is sufficient to answer, that men may do so if they please: they are made for society, and they may chuse for themselves, their end and form in contriving society. Though they cannot attain to any end by any means, no more than a machine can be well formed for a certain end, without a fabric adjusted to that end; yet they may chuse their end, and the means to that end, if they will but content themselves with that end, and expect no advantages from it, but what it is fitted in the nature of things to produce.
But, to expect the advantages and benefits which arise from large bodies, who set themselves by proper means to make a great, an opulent and polite society, from small bodies that have no such aim, and do not therefore take the ways and means to attain to it; or to expect to avoid the inconveniencies which naturally arise from this or the other manner of combination, or from the pursuit of this or the other end by its proper means, is as absurd as to eat our cake and cry for it.
Of the vices to which the opulent state is subject.III. But having premised this general answer, in order to be convinced of the absurdity of complaints against our make, on account of the many vices mankind are obnoxious to, when formed into great societies, whose end is wealth, power and politeness; I would desire the reader to attend to the following very evident maxims.
1. On the one hand, worldly wealth, power, greatness, when attained, necessarily give more occasions to the affections to take a strong turn and<335> bent towards the pursuit of external gratifications, than their contraries, indigence, weakness, and obscurity do. Affections and appetites must necessarily be strongly sollicited by objects and means proper to gratify them, if these are continually present to the mind; and affections much sollicited, much called upon, and frequently indulged, must grow stronger and stronger as they are so. Whence it follows, that according to the nature of things, inordinate appetites and affections towards external goods, must be very prevalent in opulent, powerful and great states. It is unavoidable.
2. On the other hand, worldly power, wealth and greatness, cannot be obtained by a state, but by the pursuits of the individuals; for what else is a state but an assemblage of many individuals; or its goods, but the sum or aggregate of the goods obtained by the pursuits of the individuals? But it is impossible that external advantages can be obtained, if they are not very keenly pursued; or be keenly pursued, if they are not highly valued. And it is extremely difficult for individuals to value so highly as to pursue keenly, any external goods, and still preserve their affections from all the inordinancies and irregularities, to which keen and strong affections towards external goods are liable, and which would prove the ruin of society, if they were not restrained to a certain degree by right policy.
3. On the one hand, as riches and plenty cannot be obtained without industry; so without very great consumption industry cannot be encouraged or maintained: but whatever contributes to consumption, must, as such, conduce to promote and encourage industry: and there will necessarily be most encouragement to industry, where there is most consumption; but there will be most consumption of external goods, where there is most sensual gratification, and consequently there will be most encouragement to industry, where there is more affection<336> to sensual gratification, than where there is less. The pains taken to procure goods will be in proportion to the demand for them.
4. But on the other hand, as it is certain that wealth and greatness cannot be procured by a state, unless they are sought and pursued; so it is certain, that opulence and plenty when procured, by affording for a time the means of sensual gratification, to a very great degree of voluptuousness, tend to make men averse to the toils and hardships, to the labour and assiduity, by which alone continual consumption can be supplied and reinforced with fresh stores, in order to the continuance of opulence and plenty. The temper and spirit necessary to acquire them is lost by great indulgence in the enjoyment of them. So that as a nation cannot be opulent, unless there be the consumption by sensual gratifications, necessary to maintain the industry requisite to procure them; so opulence and plenty cannot long subsist, unless, notwithstanding the indulgences necessary to consumption, the spirit of industry be kept up amidst that indulgence and consumption.
5. From these positions it follows, that the formation and maintenance of a society, which shall pursue and attain to wealth and grandeur, requires the nicest administration, a very curious adjustment, many counterpoising regulations, and with all, the most watchful, delicate attention and interposition.a Such a society must, in the nature of things, be<337> a composition of contrary qualities, from which harmony and general good are to be educed; which must require very skilful management, very accurately contrived laws, and a very dextrous administration.
But, 6. That such an adjustment and administration of society is possible, our own constitution, to go no further, is a sufficient proof; since were but a few things changed, it would necessarily produce the continuance of great opulence and power, great industry and noble arts, glorious virtues, and great general happiness: it would produce consumption necessary to the maintenance and encouragement of industry, without the decrease of the industrious spirit, which is, and must be the great secret, in order to the getting and preserving of opulence and greatness. It would not be free from vices; but all vices being duly curbed and restrained, out of the vices that did prevail would be educed great goods by the virtues to which such a constitution would naturally give due vigour and force.
Men may chuse their state, but every state hath its natural and necessary consequences.IV. This reasoning is certainly true, but if it is so, then it inevitably follows, that all objections against man, on account of the vices his nature is liable to in certain combinations of men and things are absurd. For mankind must certainly be well made, “since<338> we are made capable of pursuing various ends, and of forming ourselves into different combinations for attaining various ends with foresight and choice”; “since bad constitutions of society, or unnatural combinations, not proper to attain to any good end, must be miserable and cannot long subsist, but must dissolve like a diseased body”; “and since by means of good government, societies may be extremely happy, not only notwithstanding any excesses or degeneracies, to which the affections implanted in us, or that can be ingrafted upon us, are liable; but in great measure, at least, even in consequence of the inordinate affections and concupiscences which are necessary to the procuring worldly wealth and greatness, or which they naturally tend to engender; these being counter-poised or counter-worked by the virtues, a good constitution of society as naturally tends to produce, as any well contrived machine works to its effect, while all its springs and wheels are in due order.” This being the case, no objection can be made against our make and frame, which does not terminate in asking, either why we are made to arrive at any considerable end by uniting our forces in the social way, which is to object against our being social creatures, and made for fellowship, communication and participation; or, in asking, why our forces must be rightly combined and exerted in order to gain a certain good end, which is indeed to ask, why means are requisite to an end; or why an effect must be produced by its causes, than which there cannot be a greater absurdity in physics or in morals; or, lastly, in asking, why the goods in any combination of qualities in order to attain them may not be effects of another calculated to attain other goods, which is likewise absurd. For it is no less impossible, that the advantages of a simple state of mankind without arts only aiming at quietness, and mere subsistence, can belong to a state calculated to advance in opulence and greatness, by<339> the arts and means requisite to that end; than ’tis impossible, that fire should have at the same time, the properties of fire and of water. Men are capable of both states and conditions, but they cannot have the goods of both at the same time. Each hath its peculiar advantages and disadvantages, which must go together.a <340>
As the natural so the political body hath its infancy, childhood, manhood and decline; and in both equally each of these stages, as it hath its peculiar advantages and pleasures, so it hath its peculiar diseases. Nay, as every habit of the natural body is incident to certain particular disorders; the corpulent to one sort, for instance, and the meager to another; so every form of society and government hath its peculiar evils as well as goods naturally growing out of it. The rich and opulent state hath its evils. But the poor mean one hath likewise its no less pernicious or disagreeable ones.
It belongs therefore to man to chuse. He cannot alter the nature of things, but ought to direct his conduct according to them. And to desire that his Creator should have made him capable of chusing for himself and conducting himself, and yet not have made variety of better and worse for the exercise of his thought and choice; is it not to desire matter of choice without any difference in things? Nay, to demand that all connexions of things should be equally beautiful and<341> good, it is not only to take away from a rational creature all subjects of choice, but it is to demand, that all different things, and combinations of things should have precisely the same relations, qualities and effects: A physical absurdity too gross not to be perceived by the most ordinary understanding. Thus then it is visible, that when we trace objections against the make and frame of man, and the connexions he stands in, to the bottom, they end in contradictory demands.
But the objections brought against mankind, on account of the vices they are liable to, being chiefly fetched from the vices which prevail in great and opulent states: it is not improper, before I leave this head, to add two or three remarks upon them.
Several things are misrepresented; luxury, for instance, is declaimed against in a very vague sense.I. The complaints which are made against such states, in the general confused way of declaiming against luxury, have many of them no meaning at all, or a very absurd one. For luxury is often taken by those declaimers in such a vague, indeterminate sense, that, in reality, every thing which agrandizes a nation, may be said to be luxury, and in such a sense, not only poetry, painting, statuary, sculpture, architecture, gardening, music, and all the fine arts, even philosophy itself are voluptuous pursuits, and encouraging them is luxury; but trade also, and all its imports, are a nusance, a plague.
Now to put an end to such confused railery or morality, let it be called which you will, I would only ask those who have any understanding of human affairs, 1. Whether under a wise administration, a people may not only enjoy all the polite arts in great perfection, but even enjoy all the goods of other countries which their own product can purchase, without being impoverished by it? If they would have no trade, then let us live upon the product of our spot: for sure, if they would have<342> trade encouraged, they would have foreign goods imported in exchange for our own product; and would they have them imported and not enjoyed?The fine arts do not effeminate. And as for the polite arts, what do they do, but employ the wealth of a nation to the best purposes in the best taste, or with the greatest elegance? What indeed is wealth without these, must it not be a nusance? 2. I would ask, whether under a wise administration, where military affairs are duly taken care of, or where a spirit of bravery and skill in military discipline are kept up by proper methods; a wealthy nation may not live in all the ease and plenty imaginable, and in many parts of it shew as much pomp and elegance, and delicacy of taste, as human wit can invent, and at the same time be formidable to their neighbours?But other arts must be united with them to make a brave as well as a polite people. Is there indeed no way of becoming brave and masculine, without being poor, without abandoning trade and all polite arts, and giving ourselves up entirely to martial exercises, and becoming a nation of mere soldiers? Here sure there is a medium, which several nations have hit upon, otherwise there would never have been a nation at once, wealthy, polite and brave. It is indeed commonly said, that the polite arts soften and enervate a people, but if that be absolutely true,a is it not as certain, on the<343> other hand, that without these arts, human life is very rude, savage, unpolished, and hardly one remove above that of the brutes which just breath, eat and drink? Were it indeed a dilemma, one part of which must be the case, who would hesitate which to chuse; whether to be as the fierce savage Lacedemonians, or as the intelligent polite Athenians? But there is far from being any dilemma in the case, for were not the Athenians as brave as they were polite? However, not to enter into historical discussions which would lead us too far from our point; who ever dreamed, that men could maintain a masculine, hardy, martial spirit, or have the courage and skill war requires, without any care taken upon them to nourish and keep up that spirit; and to exercise them for that effect in the arts and discipline of war? But why may not the qualities, resulting from the polite arts be united with those which result from warlike<344> exercises; may not the two be conjoined; is it not the conjunction of the two seemingly opposite qualities, viz. the soft and the masculine, that we admire in the Athenians? Is it not this conjunction that makes the truly amiable hero? It was this made a Scipio. And it is this that will make a people, at the same time brave and polite, humane, social, generous, tender, and bold, formidable, inconquerable. To produce which great and lovely character, a rightly model’d education in a state, otherwise well constituted and governed, would be as infallibly effectual, as any means in the natural world are to produce and effectuate their end.
It is virtue alone that is the cement of society.II. Another observation I would make is, that as it is virtue alone that can make any particular person truly happy; so it is virtue alone that can be called the basis and cement of society, or that makes it happy. For tho’ vanity, prodigality, debauchery, and other vices, promote consumption, and consequently trade, yet they tend to destroy the spirit of industry: they would effectually dissipate and waste opulence and the means of worldly grandeur and power, were they not counterpoised by other vices on the opposite extreme, such as avarice, superstitious abstemiousness, and excessive contempt of all sensible gratification: no goods can arise from vices, without the aids of public wisdom and many virtues; and if not restrained within certain bounds, they would effectually ruin and destroy all society.It is virtue and political wisdom that educes good out of evil. Private vices are therefore really to society, what ordure and filth is to land; they are equally abominable and nauseous in themselves; and, like it, are only made useful by skilful, sagacious and industrious management. They are the excrements of what is really useful, and can only be turned into use as natural ones are. Excrements of the one kind as well as the other, will abound most in opulent places where there is plentiful consumption; and in this also are they both alike, that they are in themselves of a poisonous, pestilential<345> nature, and tend to produce plagues, which would soon destroy mankind, or make them very miserable: In great quantities they are pernicious to good soil, and choak the good seeds thrown into it, bringing forth nauseous weeds in greater plenty than useful grains: without skilful tillage and husbandry, and sound wholesome seed, they would never produce any good at all: and, in fine, as manure is chiefly necessary to poor, barren or exhausted soil, so vanity, prodigality, debauchery, and other vicesonly can serve as a counterballance to such vices of the opposite extreme,a as avarice or penuriousness in all its branches and modifications, which, like poor ground, would but swallow up the seed thrown into it, and yield no crop. The similitude holds exactly in all these instances. And if that be the case, then can vices, in no proper sense, be said to be beneficial to society, though goods may be educed from them by virtue and political wisdom; unless it can be said, that a good crop is owing to excrements chiefly, and not to good seed and right husbandry; which cannot be said even with respect to soil that requires manure to change its barren nature, and render it fertile.Excrements may be made useful, and so may vices. But if it be really so with regard to vice and virtue, then there can be no doubt about the truth I am now endeavouring to establish: for then our argument stands thus. “All the vices of men are but the corruptions, the degeneracies and perversions of affections implanted in our nature for most excellent purposes, and without which, as they are grafted in us to be managed by our reason, we could not be capable of any share of that dignity and perfection to which we now can by that means raise and advance ourselves. But even these vices, by good management in the public, and the counter-working of many virtues exerting themselves to that effect,<346> may be converted into benefits; insomuch, that societies, notwithstanding all the vices human nature is liable to in any circumstances, may be rendered very happy, very great and powerful, by good government and administration.”
Now this defence of human nature must be admitted to be good, if what we have often said of the absurdity of objecting against the dependence of the happiness of society upon a right form of government be called to mind, viz. that it is objecting against our being made social creatures. But,
Supposing vices to be necessary, yet good being educed out of them, the wisdom of the moral world will stand on the same footing as the wisdom of the natural.III. Let it be just added on this article, that supposing it to be granted that vices are necessary in the moral world, in the same sense that excrements are in the other; equally unavoidable, or if you will, mechanical effects; what will follow from this concession, but that, as such is the constitution of the material world, that the excrements which are unavoidably necessary or mechanically so, that would poison or corrupt the air, and produce diseases were they not carried off, may by skill be rendered useful at manuring the ground; so such is the constitution of the moral world, that the evils which are absolutely unavoidable in consequence of the human make, that are in themselves plagues and miseries, may be converted by skill and good management into goods. This, I say, is all that could be inferred upon granting that vices are necessary in the same sense that animal excrements are necessary; and therefore good order would still stand upon the same footing with respect to the moral world, as it does with respect to the material, where an objection taken from filth that can thus be turned into profit, would be justly stiled silly and ridiculous: there would still, even according to that way of reasoning, be the same difference between virtue and vice, as between excrements and good seed, and right husbandry.
But vices are in no proper sense mechanical effects.But what hath been supposed cannot be granted:<347> the similitude between vice and excrement fails in this respect. The former is absolutely a mechanical effect, whereas the other depends, as we feel by experience, upon ourselves; it being in every man’s power to govern his affections, and to prevent them from running into enormities and irregularities. In the one case, it only depends upon us to prevent the bad effects, or to turn into good; in the other, it depends upon us to prevent our affections from being extravagant, and to manage them well; and it likewise depends upon us, by joining in right society, to turn the bad actions of the wicked and vicious into good uses, or to restrain them within certain bounds. We have therefore in the last case a double power, or there is a double dependence on ourselves. And for that reason, whatever necessity there may be for evils in order to goods, no evil can be said to be necessary, in a sense that implies any necessity upon any person not to act right, or not to govern his affections well. We are not more sure that certain effects in nature, within and without our bodies, are absolutely independent upon our will, than we are sure, each of us for ourselves, that the government of our affections and actions depends upon ourselves: this is a difference between things that must remain, while our nature and the present constitution of things exists, that some things are not in our power, and that others are: it cannot be altered. And so plainly is that difference felt in moral things, that whatever objections may be made against providence, and the human make, all objectors find that they cannot chuse but blame themselves, and think they suffer justly, when they act amiss. We may arraign nature as much as we please, in order to throw a share of our own faults upon nature, providence, or something external to us and independent of us, but when we have done all we can thus to extenuate our guilt in doing wrong, to ourselves we are still conscious that the guilt lies at our own door.<348>
Objections taken from physical evils.We shall now consider the objections taken from the physical evils which prevail in the world; the various distresses and calamities that vex human life, and what is called an unequal distribution of external goods, such as riches, power, &c.
Now I think the following observations will sufficiently evince the absurdity or unreasonableness of all such complaints against providence in the government of mankind, and shew that there is no reason to object against the pains and troubles of human life, or the distribution of external goods; but on the contrary, good ground to approve the excellent laws, according to which all is brought about; or to conclude that all is brought about according to most useful general laws, none of which can be changed, but to the worse. But let it be remembered, before we go further, that it is impossible to consider the laws of the material world, and those of the moral separately. Man being indeed, as some philosophers have well expressed it, Nexus utriusque mundi;16 or it being a nice blending and interweaving of natural and moral connexions and their effects, that constitutes our present state, or makes us what we really are. If this be kept in mind, the reader will easily see that repetitions upon this subject are unavoidable, since we must ever be having recourse to the same laws and principles in our nature, whatever the difficulty, question or objection about man may be. This being premised, to prevent cavilling at repetitions, which, however, I shall endeavour to avoid as much as the nature of the subject admits; I would observe, that in order to treat distinctly and<349> clearly of the miseries and vexations complained of in human life, it is necessary to separate or distinguish three sorts of them.
These evils classed.I. Such as totally arise from the laws of matter and motion; or in other words, the laws of the sensible world, such as earthquakes, storms, &c.
II. Such as arise from social connexions. Of which kind are all sufferings on account of disorders in the society we belong to; or such as arise partly from our social connexions, and partly from the laws of matter and motion; of which sort are, for instance, diseases and misfortunes descending from parents to their children. And,
III. Such as spring partly from our own follies and vices, and partly from the laws of the corporeal world. Of this kind are diseases brought upon ourselves by intemperance, &c.
I shall therefore treat of these three classes of evils separately, yet not so as to confine myself so strictly to any of them, as not at the same time to take notice under each of them, of certain evils, which though they do not strictly belong to that class, yet may be accounted for from the same principles as those which are properly of it.
Unless there is a mixture of good and evil, there can be no prudence or folly; there cannot be good and bad choice.I. With respect to evils of all sorts in general, or to those which flow from the steady and uniform operation of the general laws of the sensible world, in particular, let not a principle already mentioned be forgot, namely, connexions producive of evils are necessary, in order to our having matter of foresight and choice: for if all connexions produced equal goods, we would have no occasion for studying nature, no use for foresight, no matter of deliberation and choice. It would be all one to us what happened,<350> we might fold our arms, and let things take their course. If it is fit there should be creatures whose goods and enjoyments are to be in any measure of their own procurance, it is absolutely necessary, with regard to such beings, that there should be some things to be avoided, as well as some things to be desired and sought after; matter of bad as well as of good choice; actions which tend to bring pain, as well as methods of acting which tend to bring pleasure and happiness. In fine, unless it can be doubted whether it is worth while to be endowed with the power of studying nature’s laws and connexions, and to have happiness dependent in any degree on one’s self; it cannot be doubted, but it must be fit that choices and actions should have different consequences, some producing good, and others evil; and to desire that there should be any such beings existing as we are, capable of chusing and acting, and whose happiness is dependent in a great measure on our choices and pursuits, where there is nothing evil to be avoided, is really to demand a state, in which there shall be beings capable of chusing, without any matter or subject of choice in that state.
Physical evils are absolutely necessary, if beings have particular textures, and are subject to general ascertainable laws.2. With regard to physical evils, or such as flow from the laws of the sensible world in particular, to object against our state because there are such evils in it, involves this absurdity in it: it is to demand our bodies were so made, that every object, whatever its texture is (for every particular object must have its own particular one) might be congruous to their structure or organization. Now let objectors explain, if they can, how any body can affect another agreeably, without being proportioned and adjusted to it, without tallying with it, so to speak; for their objections suppose that to be possible. It is certain that physical goods ought to be produced according to some general law, or in some fixed, unvarying order: and this is found by experience to be the general<351> law with regard to us (and to all animals that fall within our observation) that whatever external objects tend, by any application, any effluvia, or in whatsoever way, to hurt our bodily contexture, alarms us by a sense of pain;a and the sense of pleasure is produced by influences of external objects which suit our organization, or no wise tend to destroy or hurt it. Now to ask why we should have any sense of pain, when external objects are really prejudicial to us, or tend to destroy our bodies, is to ask, why nature gives us warning what to avoid? And to ask, why any external objects are hurtful to our bodies, is either to ask why we have a particular organization, or why there is any variety of external objects? Nay, it is to demand, that even the same external object, applied to the same bodily organization, at whatever distance, with whatever force, or in one word, in whatever manner, should always be congruous to it, and never tend to hurt it in any degree. The objection really results in demanding, that sensible pleasures should not be produced in us by external objects which have a certain aptitude to our organization, which aptitude may be found out by studying our structure, and the various textures of bodies; for if there be such a thing as aptitude or congruity, there must be likewise such a thing as inaptitude and incongruity: it really results in demanding that sensible pleasures should be produced in us in no order or method, by no intermediate steps, progress or means: for if they are produced in some order or method steadily, each recess from or contrariety to that order, must unavoidably produce an effect different from or contrary to what is produced by the order tending to give pleasure. One order cannot be another order. One<352> train of causes and effects cannot be a different one. Every thing must have its determinate nature and properties; and every determinate nature or composition of properties, must, as such, have its determinate influences, consequences and effects, with regard to every other determinate nature or composition of properties. All this is self-evident; or what can knowledge and study of nature mean?
We must think we have quite exhausted natural knowledge, before we can say that several evils are absolutely unavoidable by prudence and art.3. But in the third place. With regard to physical evils let it be observed, that as general laws producing goods and evils, are necessary to the existence of beings capable of activity and prudence, and of happiness acquired in that way; so we cannot possibly determine, that all physical evils we complain of are quite inevitable by prudence and art, till we are sure that we have quite exhausted the science of nature, and have gone as far by the study of it, as our knowledge can extend, with regard to avoiding evils, or turning them into goods. The further we advance and improve in the knowledge of nature, the more we are able to subdue earth, sea, and every element; or to make them subservient to our advantage. And though there are, no doubt, many hurtful effects of the laws of the sensible world, which are absolutely unavoidable or unalterable by us, yet it is no less sure, that the study of nature is far from its being at its ne plus ultra, and that it may be yet carried much farther than it is, in order to abridge human labour, to surmount the barrenness of soil, to provide remedies and antidotes against diseases occasioned by a bad constitution of air, pestilential exhalations, and other physical causes; to make navigation and commerce less dangerous; and in a word, to produce many goods we are not yet able to produce, and to prevent, or at least to alleviate, many evils in human life we cry out against. But as far as evils are owing to our ignorance, or the narrowness of our knowledge, through our neglect of studying nature in a right manner; so far we can<353> have no just reason of complaint, unless it be such, that our happiness is made to depend upon our own prudence and activity; that is, unless it be a just cause of complaint that we are rational beings.
But which is principal, they all proceed from good general laws.4. But what is of principal consideration in this question is, “That natural philosophers have been able to shew, that almost all the physical evils complained of in human life, flow from the general laws, by which we have and enjoy, and can only have and enjoy, all the pleasures and advantages a sensible world affords us in our present state, which cannot be changed but to the worse.” Dr. Henry Moore, in his Divine Dialogues, insists much upon the necessity of general laws; and in answer to the objections taken from the falling of rain in the highways, &c. says, the comical conceit of Aristophanes, in explaining rain by Jupiter’s pissing through a sieve, is not so ridiculous, as considering the descending of rain like the watering of a garden with a watering pot by subaltern free agents.17 The objections taken from earthquakes, storms at sea, irruptions of fire in vulcano’s, pestilences, and other such phenomena, terminate in a like absurdity: they demand that the sensible world should be governed by those general laws, to which we owe all the pleasures and benefits arising from our present commerce with a sensible world, without any of their hurtful effects. That is, they terminate in demanding general laws, without all their effects. When we murmur at the evils which happen by the qualities of air, fire, water, and other bodies, in consequence of gravitation, elasticity, electricity, and other physical powers, we certainly do not attend either to the innumerable good and useful effects of these qualities or powers, and their laws; or to the fitness in the whole, that qualities or powers, and their laws, should be general, that is, operate uniformly and invariably. If we reflect upon this, we would not rashly conclude, to use the words of some author<354> on this subject, for instance, “That the wind ought not to blow unfavourably on any worthy design of moral agents: but think better, and say more wisely, that the good laws of nature must prevail, tho’ a ship-full of heroes, patriots, worthies, should perish by their invariable uniformity.”
Illustration.If we consider the beautiful order of the sensible world, and the vast extent of those few simple laws which uphold it, we can by no means think it strange, says an excellent author, “If either by an outward shock, or some internal wound, particular animals, and sometimes man himself, are deformed in their first conception, and the seminal parts are injured and obstructed in their accurate labours. It is, however, then alone that monstrous shapes are produced. And nature, even in that case, works still as before, not perversly or erroneously, but is over-powered by some superior law, and by another nature’s justly conquering force. Nor need we wonder, if the soul or temper partakes of this occasional deformity, and suffers and simpathises with its close partner. Why should we be surprized either at the feebleness and weakness of senses, or the depravity of minds inclosed in such feeble and dependent bodies; or such pervertible organs, subject, by virtue of a just and equal subordination, to other natures and other powers, while all must submit and yield to nature in general, or the Universal System.” But every one may find full satisfaction with regard to the laws of a sensible world, inseveral excellent treatises on this subject; in Dr. John Clarke’s discourses at Boyle’s lecture (in particular) upon the origine of evil; and therefore referring my readers, on this head, to such writers, I shall just add, that from the late improvements in natural philosophy it plainly appears, as an admirable philosopher excellently expresses it, “That as for the mixture of pain or uneasiness which is in the world, pursuant to the general laws of nature, and<355> the actions of finite, imperfect spirits: this, in the state we are in at present, is indisputably necessary to our well-being. But our prospects are too narrow: we take, for instance, the idea of some one particular pain into our thoughts, and account it evil; whereas if we enlarge our view, so as to comprehend the various ends, connexions and dependencies of things, on what occasions, and in what proportions we are affected with pain and pleasure, the nature of human freedom, and the design for which we were put into the world, we shall be forced to acknowledge, that those particular things, which, considered in themselves, appear to be evil, have the nature of good, when considered as linked with the whole system of beings.”
Let those who object against evils as absolute evils, well consider the concatenation of things natural and moral, and how things must hang together in nature.5. But before I leave this head, in order to lead the reader to attend to the wonderful concatenation of causes and effects throughout nature, throughout all, in particular, that regards mankind; and to observe how necessary the present mixture of evils and goods is to our well-being, and how impossible it is to conceive any change but to the worse; I cannot<356> choose but suggest another observation to him, almost in the words of an author, who does not seem to have designed to defend providence, and yet has made several observations, which, when pursued to their real result, do effectually prove its wisdom and goodness; which observations, were this the proper place for it, I could easily shew to have no dependence upon certain principles with which he sets out, and of which he seems excessively fond. “The necessities, the vices and imperfections of man, together with the various inclemencies of the air, and other elements, contain in them the seeds of all arts, industry and labour: it is the extremities of heat and cold, the inconstancy and badness of seasons, the violence and uncertainty of winds, the vast power and treachery of water, and the stubbornness and sterility of the earth, that rack our invention, how we shall either avoid the mischiefs they may produce, or correct the malignity of them, and turn their several forces to our own advantage a thousand different ways; whilst we are employed in supplying the infinite variety of our wants, which will ever be multiplied as our knowledge is enlarged, and our desires encrease.”19 No man needs to guard himself against blessings, but calamities require hands to avert them. Hunger, thirst and nakedness, are the first tyrants that force us to stir; afterwards our pride, sloth, sensuality and fickleness, are the great patrons that promote all arts and sciences, trades, handicrafts and callings; whilst the great task-masters, necessity, avarice, envy and ambition, each in the class that belongs to him, keep the members of the society to their labour, and make them all submit, most of them chearfully, to the drudgery of their station, kings and princes not excepted.
Illustration.The greater the variety of trade and manufactures, the more operose they are, and the more they are divided in many branches, the greater numbers may be contained in a society, without being in one another’s<357> way, and the more easily they may be rendered a rich, potent and flourishing people. Few virtues employ any hands, and therefore they may render a small nation good, but they can never make a great one. To be strong and laborious, patient in difficulties, and assiduous in all businesses, are commendable qualities; but as they do their own work, so they are their own reward, and neither art or industry have ever paid their compliments to them: whereas the excellency of human thought and contrivance has been, and is yet, no where more conspicuous, than in the variety of tools and instruments of workmen and artificers, and the multiplicity of engines, that were all invented, either to assist the weakness of man, to correct his many imperfections, to gratify his laziness, or to obviate his impatience.
It is in morality as it is in nature: there is nothing so perfectly good in creatures, that it cannot be hurtful to any one of the society, nor any thing so entirely evil, but it may prove beneficial to some part or other of the creation. So that things are only good and evil in reference to something else, and according to the light and position they are placed in.
And thus, saith he,20 what we call evil in this world, moral as well as natural, is the grand principle that makes us sociable creatures, the solid basis, the life and support of all trades and employments; without exception, there we must look for the true origine of all arts and sciences; and the moment evil ceases, the society must be spoiled, if not totally dissolved.
This author brings a very proper instance to illustrate this, from the advantages and different benefits that accrue to a nation on account of shipping and navigation, compared with the manifold mischiefs and variety of evils, moral as well as natural, that befal nations on the score of sea-faring, and<358> their commerce with strangers, and that are the very foundation of trade and commerce; which the reader may consult at his leisure.a
Illustration.There are several other reasonings and examples in this author, which might very well be applied to our present purpose, to shew what is the result upon the whole, of the mixture of pains, that is so greatly murmured at in human life, and how absurd such murmuring is, when we take a large view of the connexions and dependencies of things. But as for the main end that author had in view, which was to prove, “that there is nothing social in our nature, and that it is direful necessity only that makes us sociable creatures; and that all the so much exalted moral virtues, are nothing else but the offspring of political flattery, begot upon pride”;21 I need not stay here to refute them, since in the former part of this essay, we have fully proved the very contrary to be true, or that we are social by nature, and have a principle of benevolence very deeply inlaid into our nature, and likewise a moral sense of the beauty and deformity of affections, actions and characters. Cicero hath long ago, in several parts of his philosophical works, charmingly proved the absurdity and falshood of such corrupt doctrines concerning human nature, and the rise of society, towards the end, in particular, of his first book of Offices, where he borrows a very apt similitude from the bees. My lord Shaftsbury hath shewn us what we ought to think of this kind of philosophers, and how we ought to deal with them, in the passage above quoted. And a little after he more particularly examines this philosophy, tracing it through all its subtle refinements; a piece of excellent reasoning, that well deserves our closest attention. “You have heard it (my friend) as a common saying, that Interest governs the world. But I believe, whoever looks narrowly into the affairs of it, will find that passion, humour, caprice, zeal, faction, and a thousand<359> other springs, which are counter to self-interest, have as considerable a part in the movements of this machine.These reasonings have no necessary connexion with the principles of the author from whom they are taken.There are more wheels and counterpoises in this engine than are easily imagined. It is of too complex a kind to fall under one simple view, or be explained thus briefly in a word or two. The studiers of this mechanism must have a very partial eye, to overlook all other motions besides those of the lowest and narrowest compass. It is hard, that in the plan or description of this clock-work, no wheel or ballance should be allowed on the side of the better and more enlarged affections; that nothing should be understood to be done in kindness or generosity, nothing in pure good-nature or friendship, or through any social or natural affection of any kind: when perhaps the main springs of this machine will be found to be, either these very natural affections themselves, or a compound kind derived from them, and retaining more than one half of their nature.
But here (my friend) you must not expect that I should draw you a formal scheme of the passions, or pretend to shew you their genealogy and relation, how they are interwoven with one another, or interfere with our happiness or interest.How such principles ought to be refuted. It would be out of the genius and compass of such a letter as this, to frame a just plan or model, by which you might, with an accurate view, observe what proportion the friendly and natural affections seem to bear in this order of architecture.
Modern projectors, I know, would willingly rid their hands of these natural materials, and would fain build after a more uniform way. They would new frame the human heart; and have a mighty fancy to reduce all its motions, ballances and weights to that one principle and foundation, of a cool and deliberate selfishness. Men, it seems, are unwilling to think they can be so outwitted and imposed on by nature, as to be made to serve her purposes, rather<360> than their own. They are ashamed to be drawn thus out of themselves, and forced from what they esteem their true interest.
There has been, in all times, a sort of narrow-minded philosophers, who have thought to set this difference to rights, by conquering nature in themselves. A primitive father and founder among these, saw well this power of nature, and understood it so far, that he earnestly exhorted his followers, neither to beget children, nor serve their country. There was no dealing with nature, it seems, while these aluring objects stand in the way. Relations, friends, countrymen, laws, politic constitutions, the beauty of order and government, and the true interest of society, and mankind, were objects which he well saw would naturally raise a stronger affection, than any which was grounded upon the bottom of mere self. His advice, therefore, not to marry, nor engage at all in the public, was wise and suitable to his design. There was no way to be truly a disciple of this philosophy, but to leave family, friends, country, and society to cleave to it.—And, in good earnest, who would not, if it were happiness to do so?—The philosopher, however, was kind in telling us his thought. ’Tis a token of his fatherly love of mankind.
But the revivers of this philosopy in later days, appear to be of a lower genius. They seem to have understood less of this force of nature, and thought to alter the thing, by shifting a name. They would so explain all the social passions and natural affections, as to denominate them of the selfish kind. Thus, civility, hospitality, humanity towards strangers, or people in distress, is only a more deliberate selfishness. An honest heart is only a more cunning<361> one; and honesty and good nature, a more deliberate, or better regulated self-love. The love of kindred, children, and posterity, is purely love of self, and of one’s immediate blood; as if, by this reckoning all mankind were not included; all being of one blood, and joined by intermarriages and alliances, as they have been transplanted in collonies, and mixed one with another. And thus, love of one’s country, and love of mankind, must also be self-love. Magnanimity and courage, no doubt, are modifications of this universal self-love! For courage, (says our modern philosopher) is constant anger. And all men (says a witty poet) would be cowards if they durst.
That the poet and the philosopher both were cowards, may be yielded perhaps without dispute. They may have spoken the best of their knowledge. But for true courage, it has so little to do with anger, that there lies always the strongest suspicion against it, where this passion is highest. The true courage is the cool and calm. The bravest of men have the least of a brutal bullying insolence; and in the very time of danger, are found the most serene, pleasant and free. Rage, we know, can make a coward forget himself and fight: but what is done in fury or anger, can never be placed to the account of courage. Were it otherwise, womankind might claim to be the stoutest sex: for their hatred and anger have ever been allowed the strongest and most lasting.
Other authors there have been of a yet inferior kind: a sort of distributers and petty retailers of this wit; who have run changes and divisions, without end, upon this article of self-love. You have the very same thought spun out a hundred ways, and drawn into motto’s and devices to set forth this riddle; ‘that act as generously or disinterestedly as you please, self still is at the bottom, and nothing else.’ Now if these gentlemen, who delight so<362> much in the play of words, but are cautious how they grapple closly with definitions, would tell us only what self-love was, and determine happiness and good, there would be an end of this enigmatical wit. For in this we should all agree, that happiness was to be pursued, and, in fact, was always sought after: but whether found in following nature, and giving way to common affection; or, in suppressing it, and turning every passion towards private advantage, a narrow self-end, or the preservation of mere life; this would be the matter in debate between us. The question would not be, ‘who lov’d himself, or who not’; but, ‘who lov’d and serv’d himself the rightest, and after the truest manner.’
’Tis the height of wisdom, no doubt, to be rightly selfish. And to value life, as far as life is good, belongs as much to courage as to discretion. But a wretched life is no wise man’s wish. To be without honesty, is, in effect, to be without natural affection, or sociableness of any kind. And a life without natural affection, friendship, or sociableness, would be found to be a wretched one, were it to be try’d. ’Tis as these feelings and affections are intrinsically valuable, and worthy, that self-interest is to be rated and esteemed. A man is by nothing so much himself, as by his temper, and the character of his passions and affections. If he loses what is manly and worthy in these, he is as much lost to himself, as when he loses his memory and understanding. The least step into villany or baseness, changes the character and value of a life. He who would preserve life at any rate, must abuse himself more than any one else can abuse him . And if life be not a dear thing indeed, he who has refused to live a villain, and has preferred death to a base action, has been a gainer by the bargain.”a <363>
Such evils as result from social dependence are goods.II. But I proceed to consider a second class of evils in human life objected against; those which arise from our social connexions, or partly from them, and partly from the laws of the sensible world. Now upon this head I need not insist long, since evils, as far as they are resolvable into the connexions of things, which make the sensible world, or the laws of matter and motion, have been already considered. And as for our suffering in consequence of our social relations and dependencies; as by the misfortunes of others, their want of health, infirmity, death, or their external losses by bad weather, storms, shipwrecks, and other physical causes, it is plainly the result of our reciprocal union and connexion; that is, of our being made for society, and by consequence mutually dependent: Can a finger ake or be hurt, and the whole body to which it belongs not suffer? If therefore it is not unfit that we should be one kind, made for participation and communication, it cannot be unfit that we should be linked and cemented together, by the strongest ties, by mutual wants and indigencies; or that we should make one body. For to demand society, social pleasures, social happiness, without that closs and intimate dependence which makes us one body, is indeed to desire society without society. And it being as impossible, that a certain number of men should be congregated together in a certain form politic, called a state or constitution, without certain effects resulting from it; as that any number of bodies should be mixed, without producing certain effects; nature is justly deemed very kind to us, since it prompts, directs, and points us, by our generous affections, and our inward sense and love of public order and good, to associate ourselves in the way and manner, by which alone, in the nature of things, general good, beauty and happiness can be attained. For this is all that could be done consistently with the dependence of <364> our happiness on ourselves, to put us into the road to true happiness.
III. In the third place therefore, it remains to consider those evils which flow from follies and vices of whatever kind; whether the laws of matter and motion have any share in the effect, as they plainly have in the diseases brought upon us by excesses in eating, drinking, and other external indulgencies; or whether our social connexions have any share in the effect, as they likewise must have in many cases; since ’tis impossible, for example, man can have the advantages of good reputation and conduct in society, without having, at least, the semblance of the qualities that deserve it; and since, whatever sets us in a bad situation with regard to the favour and love of mankind, must impair our happiness: Or whether, in the last place, they are wholly mental, and spring from the natural ballance and dependence of our affections, in consequence of the anatomy, so to speak, of the mind; as many plainly are: for what are the diseases of the mind, the worst of all diseases, such as choler, envy, peevishness, madness, &c. but disorders naturally introduced into the mind, in consequence of its fabric, by excessive passions, and wrong associations of ideas. Now with regard to all these evils, I would observe, that it must be highly unreasonable to complain of them, unless it be absolutely unfit that vice should be its own punishment, or bring its own chastisement, either along with it, or after it in any degree; or unless it be unfit, that there should be such a thing as prudence and imprudence, wisdom and folly, right and wrong conduct.Vices punish themselves according to the natural course of things. For what can these mean, if different passions and actions have not different consequences?<365>
On the one hand,a it is absurd to object against providence, or the government of the world, because some goods fall to the share of the vicious. For persons guilty of many vices, may yet have several excellent qualities, and do several prudent, nay good actions. Very few, if any are totally vicious, or quite deprived of every good quality. And good actions and qualities will be good actions and qualities with whatever vices they are mixed.Goods fall to the share of the vicious according to the excellent general laws of industry. But is it a bad constitution of things in which acts of prudence, industry and virtue have their good effects? Nay, on the contrary, is it not a most excellent general law, that prudence and industry should be in the<366> main successful and obtain their ends? Is it unreasonable or unjust, that internal goods should be procured by certain means? And what are the means, by which they are attained to, according to the connexions of things in the government of the world? Is it not industry employed to get them, that purchases them? And can there be a better rule with regard to acquisitions of all sorts, than that they should be made by industry, diligence and labour to make them? Thus the philosopher attains to the knowledge which is his delight. Thus the virtuous man attains to the virtuous qualities his soul is solely or chiefly bent upon. And in no other way do any goods fall to the share of any person than by setting himself to attain to them.
Vice always produces misery.On the other hand, it would certainly be a great absurdity to object against providence, that according to the connexions and order of things, vice is in a great measure its own punisher by the evils it brings upon the wicked. And yet if we look cautiously into things, we shall find, that the far greater part of the evils and miseries complained of in human life, are the effects and consequences of vicious passions, and their pursuits. Whence else is it that honesty is so universally pronounced the best policy; and dishonesty, folly? The plain meaning of this maxim is, that according to the natural tendency and course of things, there is no solid security for the best goods and enjoyments of life, but by virtuous conduct; and that a vicious one is the most unwise, because the most unsafe, dangerous course, all things considered, even with regard to this life only. This maxim is readily assented to by all up on the slightest review of human affairs, or when the more visible and obvious effects of good and bad conduct only are attended to. But the more accurate observers of things have found reason to carry the maxim still further, and to assert, “omnis homo suae fortunae artifex est.”23 Or, as it is otherwise expressed, “sui cuique mores<367> fingunt fortunam.”24 i.e. Every man’s happiness or misery is chiefly owing to himself; insomuch, that what is vulgarly called good or bad luck, is really and truly at bottom good or bad management. Many, very many of the evils of human life, which to superficial observers appear accidental, are indeed originally owing to wrong judgments or excessive passions.History and poetry prove this. If we attend to faithful history, or to what Aristotlea calls a better instructor than history, to good, that is, probable poetry, in which human life and the natural consequences of passions and actions are justly represented: if we attend to these teachers, we shall quickly perceive, that many more of the miseries of mankind are owing to misconduct, to some wrong step, to some immorality, than we are generally aware of; or, at least, than the objectors against providence seem to have sufficiently attended to. Every good dramatic piece is a proof of this. The reason why the tragic plots, which according to Aristotle are the best,b move our fear and pity without raising any dissatisfaction, or repiningin our minds at providence, is because they exemplify to us the fatal consequences into which one little error, any too vehement passion, any the smallest immoral indulgence, may plunge those who are possessed of many excellent, highly estimable, truly amiable qualities. But how could this be done; or how could we be moved by such representations, were they not natural? And in what sense can they be called natural, unless the whole progress of the representation be according to nature; that is, unless the effects represented be according to the structure of the human mind, and the regular established course and influence of things?c “Tragedy hath indeed chiefly for its object the distresses of the great:<368> the high genius of this poetry, consists in the lively representation of the disorders and miseries of the great, to the end that the people and those of a lower condition may be taught the better to content themselves with privacy, enjoy their safer state, and prize the equality of their guardian laws.”d But how does it, or can it conduce to that excellent end, but by shewing in what greater miseries than lower life can ever be plagued with, the great are often involved by the vices to which their high circumstances only expose, as they can only so severely punish. No such representation could move, unless it were natural. And it cannot be natural, unless nature, that is, the constitution of things with regard to virtue and vice, be such as the imitation represents. In fine, we must give up all pretensions to beauty, truth and nature in moral poetry, that is in fiction or imitation of moral life, unless it be true, in fact, that the least vicious excess, or the smallest immoral indulgence, may and commonly does involve in a long train of miseries.
In reality, poetical probability, beauty, justice, truth or nature, if they are not words without a meaning, suppose the account that hath been given of human nature in this essay to be true.
They suppose, 1. That there is a social principle, and a sense of beauty in actions and characters deeply interwoven with our frame, and improveable to a very high pitch of perfection. For how else could we be moved by the struggles between virtue and passion, which make the sublime and the pathetic too of sentiments in such compositions? Or how could we possibly not only admire but love virtue even in distress; be charmed with its firmness and beauty, and prefer its sufferings to the most triumphant circumstances of the villain? 2. They suppose such a nice ballance and dependence of our affections,<369> that every vicious passion produces great disorder, horrible tumult and riot in the mind, and sadly endangers its health, peace and soundness. 3. They suppose, that the smallest immoral indulgence often, nay, almost always involves in the most perplexing difficulties, the most awful miseries. There, in particular, do we see the truth of what the satyrist observes.
If these principles are not true, poetry can have no foundation in nature, it cannot be true imitation and please as such; it cannot be natural: Truth, consistency, beauty, a natural plot, and right and wrong conduct in such compositions and representations are words without a meaning. But, on the other hand, if the premises concerning the imitative arts are true, as they must be, if there is truth in poetry, or indeed in any other imitative art; how excellently is human nature constituted, and what reasonable objection can be brought against it? For which of those principles of human nature, which have been mentioned as the foundation of poetical truth, and as the source of all the pleasures moral imitations afford or can afford us, is not a most useful and noble one: an unexceptionable proof that we are indeed the workmanship of an infinitely wise Being, who is, as he was called by the ancients, perfect reason, perfect virtue?
In objections external goods and evils are much magnified.But to proceed, in the objections against providence, on account of the distribution of external goods and evils; are not these goods and evils exceedingly magnified? It is certainly fair to reduce<370> them to their true values and measures before we pronounce any judgment concerning them. Now what are those goods which are said to be so unequally divided? Or what are their opposite evils which are so loudly complained of? The goods may be all reduced to one, wealth, for it includes them all in it, that is, it is the means of procuring all that voluptuousness desires, or rather, lusts after; and the opposite to that is poverty, or mediocrity of circumstances; a fortune that can afford little or nothing toward the gratification of sensual appetites. But what is wealth, if, in reality, there be more greatness and sublimity of mind in despising it than possessing it? And if those are indeed the most amiable and glorious characters among mankind, who prefer virtue, not only in poverty, but under violent persecution, to flourishing redundant vice; and who look upon the consumption of wealth in mere gratification to selfish sensual concupiscence as sinking and degrading the man; as acting a beastly, a vile, abominable part? And yet what else is it, but such a virtuous contempt of merely sensual enjoyments, that makes the sublime of sentiments and actions in life, in history, or poetry?
If we attend to the objections made against providence, or the doubts which crowd into our minds in melancholly hours, we shall find that we are apt to make several mistakes: the goods of sense are over-rated, and the pains magnified; for what are all these goods in comparison with those, which our reason, and a refined imagination, our moral sense, and such other powers, far superior to our external senses, afford us? And what are all the evils and pains in the world, compared with the agonies of a guilty mind? Besides, we are ready to apprehend every person to be miserable in those circumstances which we imagine would make ourselves miserable; and yet we may easily find, that the lower rank of mankind, whose only revenue is their bodily labour,<371> enjoy as much chearfulness, contentment, health, quietness, in their own way, as another in the highest station of life. Both their minds and their bodies are soon fitted to their state. The farmer and labourer, when they enjoy the bare necessaries of life, are easy. They have often more correct imaginations, thro’ necessity and experience, than others can acquire by philosophy. This thought is indeed a poor excuse for a base, selfish oppressor, who, imagining poverty a great misery, bears hard upon those in a low station of life, and deprives them of their natural conveniencies, or even of bare necessaries. But this consideration may support a compassionate heart too deeply touched with apprehended miseries, of which the sufferers themselves are insensible.
The pains of the external senses are pretty pungent; but how far short, in comparison of the long tracts of health, ease and pleasure? How rare is the instance of a life, with one tenth spent in violent pain? How few want absolute necessaries; nay, have not something to spend in gaiety and ornament? The pleasures of beauty are exposed to all, in some measure. Those kinds of beauty which require property to the full enjoyment of them, are not ardently desired by many; the good of every kind in the universe is plainly superior to the evil. How few would accept of annihilation, rather than continuance in life, in the middle state of age, health and fortune? Or what separated spirit, who had considered human life, would not, rather than perish, take the hazard of it again, by returning into a body in the state of infancy.
External goods depend in general on industry, which is a good institution of nature.Again,a Let us consider that external goods must (as it hath been observed) fall to the share of those who set themselves to procure them; they are the purchase of industry and labour. They may be got by fraud or violence. But they are naturally the product of virtuous labour and diligence to get them. They may fall by succession or gift into the mouths of the indolent and lazy, but some one must have taken pains to procure them. And is it then any wonder, or any just cause of complaint, that things are so constituted that wealth shall be purchased by industry, or riches fall to the share of any one who leaves no stone unturned to attain them? Do not all goods, of whatever kind, thus depend upon our setting ourselves to purchase them; the goods of the mind as well as external ones? But, which is more, when external goods fall to one’s share, can they alone make him happy? Who is it that truly enjoys them, but the good, the generous man, whose supreme delight is in making others happy? Truly,b the happiness of man does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.They cannot make happy alone, or without virtue. Else, whence is discontent and uneasiness more frequent among those placed in the most favourable circumstances of outward enjoyment, than others in more disadvantageous ones? And if many want and are distressed, are there not many likewise, who, being able to relieve them, deprive themselves of the highest joy riches and power can afford, to wipe tears from mournful eyes, and to bid misery be no more?<373>
Further; the pleasures of wealth or power are proportioned to the qualifications of the desires or senses, which the agent intends to gratify by them; now “the pleasures of the internal senses, or of the imagination, are allowed by all who have any tolerable taste of them, as a much superior happiness to those of the external senses, though they were enjoyed to the full; so that wealth or power give greater happiness to the virtuous man, than to those who consult only luxury or external splendor. If these desires are become habitual or enthusiastic, without regard to any other end than possession; they are an endless source of vexation, without any real enjoyment: a perpetual craving, without nourishment or digestion: and they may surmount all other affections, by aids borrowed from other affections themselves. The sensible desires27 are violent, in proportion to the senses from which the associated ideas are borrowed; only it is to be observed, that however the desires may be violent, yet the obtaining the object desired gives little satisfaction, the possession discovers the vanity and deceit, and the fancy is turned towards different objects, in a perpetual succession of inconstant pursuits.”a
When “we have obtained any share of wealth or power, let us examine their true use, and what is the best enjoyment of them.
What moral pleasures, what delights of humanity, what gratitude from persons obliged, what honours<374> may a wise man of a generous temper purchase with them? How foolish is the conduct of heaping up wealth for posterity, when smaller degrees might make them equally happy; when the great prospects of this kind are the strongest temptations to them to indulge sloth, luxury, debauchery, insolence, pride, and contempt of their fellow creatures; and to banish some noble dispositions, humility, compassion, industry, hardness of temper and courage, the offspring of the sober dame poverty? How often does the example, and almost the direct instruction of parents, lead posterity to the basest views of life! How powerfully might the example of a wise and generous father, at once teach his offspring the true value of wealth or power, and prevent their neglect of them, or foolish throwing them away, and yet inspire them with a generous temper, capable of the just use of them.”29 Education, in order to make wise and happy, ought to fix early upon the mind those two important truths, 1. That it is not indeed riches which can make happy, but that he only who can be happy without them, can have true happiness from them. 2. But yet it is fit that industry should gain its end: vicious industry its end, as well as virtuous industry its end. These two truths well understood, and deeply rooted in the mind by right instruction and education, could not fail to produce a quiet, easy, contented mind, and industry wisely placed.
All this reasoning is excellently set forth by the incomparable poet often quoted.
But having sufficiently insisted in the former part of this essay upon the happiness which virtue alone can give; I shall just subjoin two or three more reflexions upon the present distribution of goods and evils.
The punishment of vice is wisely left in some measure to society.I. As many of the goods of life are by our social constitution dependent upon the right government of society; so, on the one hand, many of the evils complained of arise from a disorderly or ill-administred state; and, on the other hand, many of the sufferings and punishments due to vice are likewise left to be the effects of rightly governed society.<376> All these things are too evident to need much illustration. The progress of knowledge, and all the elegant pleasures, which the due encouragement of ingenious arts are able to afford to mankind, plainly depend upon the care of society, to promote and encourage the arts and sciences. And therefore, if society is deprived of many enjoyments of these sorts, so superior to merely sensual gratification, ’tis owing entirely to the wrong government of society, the narrow views and bad pursuits of its administrators. And just so, on the other hand, if all manner of vice is not duly restrained, curbed, and chastised, and consequently vice is more prosperous and triumphant than it ought to be; to what is that owing, but to society’s not taking suitable measures to promote general happiness? But the fitness or moral necessity of such dependence of general happiness upon the right government of society, a good politic constitution, and the impartial execution of good laws, has been again and again handled in this discourse.
Unless we suppose a mixture of goods and evils dependent on other causes than virtue; or if we suppose external motives to virtue according to the course of things; there could be no true or pure virtue in the world.II. Let us consider a little what would be the consequence, if the encouragement of virtue, and the discouragement of vice, were not in some degree left to society, to mankind themselves; but if such were the constitution of things, that vice was always discovered and pointed out by some extraordinary calamity inflicted upon it in this life; and virtue, on the other hand, was sure of having its merit distinguished by some remarkable external favour. ’Tis evident, that the present constitution of things, by which the procurance of external goods is the effect of skill and industry to attain them, is absolutely inconsistent with such a state and connexion of things, and could not take place with it. But besides, in such a constitution of things, virtue would not be left to be chosen for its own sake, that is for the enjoyments which virtuous exercises, together<377> with the sense of having acted rightly, afford: There would then be another motive to virtue, arising from a positive external reward, the very being of which would necessarily lessen the merit and the excellence of virtue, by removing the trial of it, which the present state gives occasion to.
For then only indeed is a person truly virtuous, when his sense of the dignity and excellence of virtuous conduct, is able to make him adhere to virtue, whatever other pleasures he may forego, or whatever pains he may suffer by such adherence. I do not say, that there is no virtue, but where this virtuous fortitudea is quite insurmountable: few attain to it in such a degree. But one is only virtuous in proportion as he hath this noble strength of mind. And invitation to this pure love of virtue does not require a positive connexion between it and any external badges of the divine favour: it can, on the contrary, only take place, in a state where there is no external bribe to virtue, or nothing to excite to it, besides the pleasures of the rational and moral kind accompanying it, and the consciousness of its excellence. The fortitude in which the perfection of virtue consists, cannot be formed but in a state where there is a mixture of goods and evils to try and prove it, to give it occasions, subjects and means of exerting itself. And therefore, at least, till that fortitude be formed and attained to, its fit that rational beings should be placed in a state fit for forming and improving it. But, which is more, how<378> can virtue be supposed to be rewarded, in consequence of a positive arbitrary institution, by enjoyments distinct from the exercises of virtue, and its natural fruits in the mind, without supposing something superior to all those enjoyments which are the natural effects of virtue itself? For virtue is the love of virtuous pleasures: but a pleasure given by way of reward for acting virtuously, must mean a pleasure superior to that which attends virtuous behaviour. Wherefore in any proper sense of reward, virtue can only be said to be its own reward: it can only be rewarded by higher attainments in virtue. I am afraid, those who demand such a connexion of things, as has been mentioned in favour of virtue, desire such a connexion in its favour, as should at last reward the virtuous man for his virtuous conduct, by giving him the means of wallowing in sensual pleasures. If this is not their meaning, let them explain themselves, and name the positive reward they would have annexed to virtue in this life different from all that is rational and virtuous: and if they mean such a reward: as, to desire any reward to be given virtue before it be formed to very great perfection, if they are for allowing virtue at all to take place, and to be formed, is to desire it too soon; so to desire such a reward after virtue is formed, is to desire a reward to formed virtue, which would destroy it after it is formed. But if they do not mean such a reward as would destroy virtuous affection, but a reward consistent with it, and that not till it is arrived at very great perfection, let them say at what time, or at what period of virtue they would have it bestowed; and, above all, let them name the reward they would have, that we may see whether it can be bestowed in this life on virtue, without altering the state of things in this life that is necessary to form and try virtue, and to bring it to perfection. If by their reward to virtue, they mean higher improvements in virtue, and better and more enlarged means of exerting its excellence,<379> let them shew us, that this state does not afford means of higher improvements, and of larger exertions of the virtuous dispositions, than any, the most virtuous or perfect man, has made all the advantage of in his power; let them shew us, why a first state of virtue, which ought to be a mixed one, should not have its boundaries; or how it possibly cannot have its ne plus ultra. And let them shew us, that it is better and wiser not to place virtue first in a forming state, and afterwards in a state suited to its improvements, than to do so. For all this they ought to prove, in order to make their objection against this state of any force; for till they prove all this, it will remain exceeding probable, that this state is very well adapted to form and improve virtue; since any other connexions in favour of virtue than now take place (as by positive rewards different from its natural and inseparable fruits) would make this an improper state for the education, trial and improvement of virtue; that is, for forming rational beings to the love of moral perfection or virtue for its own intrinsic excellence, and its own rational fruits.
The evils that happen to the virtuous, are occasions and materials of great virtues.When all the sufferings which virtue now and then meets with in the world, all its oppositions and persecutions are laid together, what do they prove, but that in this state, occasions and means now and then arise of calling forth and exercising very great virtues? And how glorious! how eligible are such circumstances to true, high-improved virtue! Who would not rather be the distressed sufferer than the prosperous persecutor? What do all these sufferings prove, but that a noble trial falls sometimes to the share of virtue; and that it is then it appears in all its fortitude, majesty and beauty? And what is the result of this, but that this is a proper first state for virtue, and that we are indeed made to be virtuous, since the case of suffering virtue is so eligible to every mind able to discern its<380> beauty; since the toils, the struggles, the hardships of virtue are so inviting to us, that while the greatness of virtue in suffering bravely for truth and goodness is present to the mind, none can chuse but prefer such a state to all the triumphs of prosperous, insolent vice? What is the natural language of all this, or what does such a constitution of things prognosticate, but care for ever to give virtue suitable occasions of exerting, and thereby rewarding itself; and that when this state of formation and trial comes to an end, virtue shall be placed in circumstances suited to its improvements, in which it shall be, more than it can be in its forming state, its own reward? In fine, whatever violence, opposition, cruelty or barbarity virtue may meet with in this state, what can be inferred from thence, but that this state is not the whole of our existence, but a part, our entry on being; and that the future state of virtue and vice shall clear up many difficulties, which cannot but appear dark and intricate, till the drama is further advanced. Very good arguments are drawn from the present state of things to prove a future state, which have been often repeated by divines and philosophers, and I shall not therefore now insist upon them.Some reflexions on the arguments for a future state from present inequality with respect to virtue and vice. Two cautions, however, with regard to some such arguments are not unnecessary, since, in fact, many are led by them into mistakes. The first thing I would observe on this head is, that in the warmth of some reasonings on this subject, several goodmen are often led to represent the case of virtue here as very deplorable, and the administration of things as very disorderly; and thus to magnify the distresses and evils of human life, and to undervalue its blessings and advantages, in order to prove the necessity of reparation, or juster distribution in a future state. But surely future order cannot be inferred from utter present disorder and confusion. 2. In the warmth of such reasonings, several expressions are used, which are liable to be misconstructed<381> into an opinion of future rewards, distinct from rational pleasures, nay, contrary to the exercises of virtue, and of the sensual kind. But surely nothing can be more excellent, or more great than virtue; and what is inferior, not to say repugnant to it, cannot be its reward.
I do not make these observations, which greatly merit our attention, with any view of derogating from any writer, far less with an intention to suggest that the reasonings taken from the present flourishing of vice, and suffering of virtue, to prove a future state, are not conclusive; but merely to prevent any one’s being misled by inaccuracies of language or rhetorical arguments, into opinions very contrary to truth, and to the sense of those writers themselves who have laid the great stress of the evidence for a future state upon what they have called an inequality with regard to virtue and vice in this life. When providence and the present state of mankind are fairly represented, the argument for a future state stands thus, and is unanswerable.The true state of the case or argument. We are so constituted, that the exercises of virtue, and the conscience of it, are our highesta enjoyment; and vice, whatever pleasure it may afford of the sensual kind, always creates bitter remorse, and almost always great bodily disorder: but such a constitution must be the workmanship of<382> such a perfectly virtuous and good Creator, as all the other parts of nature prove its Author to be, in proportion as we advance in the knowledge of it. And therefore we have just reason to think, that beings capable of improvements in virtue, are not made merely to exist in a state, which, though it be very fit for the trial and formation of virtue, yet cannot be thought to be contrived for any other purpose, but to be a first state of trial and formation. Were a state of trial and formation the only state in which moral beings exist, nature would be but a very imperfect, nay, a bad system: but as it cannot be such, if the Author of nature be infinitely good and perfect, which all the other parts of nature, as far as we can search into them, proclaim him to be; so there is no reason to apprehend it to be such, from any such appearances as are by no means symptoms of imperfect administration, but upon supposition that this is the only state of mankind: for to infer so, purely on that account, is to conclude that there is no future state, merely because the first state looks to be what a first state ought to be, namely, a state of trial and formation; which is absurd.
If we do not exceedingly depretiate virtuous enjoyments, and excessively magnify external gratifications, we must own some care about virtue here; a care proper to its state of education and discipline: but if we do, it is reasonable to expect future care and concern about it. If separately, from the consideration of certain goods which fall to the share of vice, and of certain evils which sometimes fall to the share of virtue here, we have very good reason<383> to think well of nature; or, that all bespeaks a good Author and Governor; then is it highly probable there is a future state of mankind, to which this is a well adjusted prelude. To shew it is not probable, it must be proved, that such is the fate of virtue and vice here, that this state hath not at all any appearance of being a proper first state, but is so irregular, and contrary to good order, that whatever all other things may seem to prove, considered separately, yet when the circumstances and connexions with regard to virtue and vice are taken into the account, all the other signs of wisdom and goodness prove nothing, and the present state of virtue and vice clearly evidences such utter confusion, irregularity, and hatred of virtue, that from it no future good can reasonably be hoped for. Either this must be proved, or a future state is certain. But who can think so harshly of nature, if he but opens his eyes to the manifold instances of wisdom, benevolence, and love of virtue, which every where appear throughout its administration!
The present question chiefly turns upon this single point, Whether, since it is reasonable to think that the first state of rational beings should be a state of formation and discipline, there is not, all things considered, more reason to think that this our present state is but a first state of trial and formation, than to think it is our whole existence? Now if it be true, that all the evils in this state are not only proper to a first state of trial and formation, but do arise from general laws, the steady operation of which is absolutely fit, and which produce much greater goods than evils, goods of the highest and noblest kind: and if it be true, that the further we look into any parts of nature, and into the connexions and dependencies of things relative to man in particular, the more reason we find to think well of nature, and consequently of its Author: if all this, I say, be true, as I think we have sufficiently proved it to be, what then can be concluded, with any shew of reason, but that, as<384> there ought to be a first state of rational beings, so this is our first state, and not the whole of our existence: and that, as the progress of things, or the scheme of government advances, so in proportion, shall all perplexing difficulties with regard to nature open to us, be cleared up and unravelled? If the drama be not compleated here, then we see but a part: and if we see but a part, it is no wonder if we are considerably in the dark. But do we not see enough of order, and goodness, and excellent conduct, to persuade us that we are only in the dark, because it is but a part that we can see? For must not virtue be formed before it can be perfect? And must it not be perfect, before it can reap the fruits of its perfection? Can the effect precede or take place without the cause; or the end prevent the means?
A complex view of the objections made against human nature and of the absurdities resulting from them, or in which they necessarily terminate.But to go through more objections separately would but oblige me to repeat very often the same principles, from which the solutions given to those that have been mentioned are brought, the principles fully explained in the first part of this enquiry. I shall now, therefore, take as complete a view of the human state as I am able, and endeavour to shew, that no change can be demanded, which is not either impossible or unreasonable; that is to say, for the worse.
Let us, I say, take as full a view of our nature as we can, and impartially enquire, what it is in our constitution and frame we would have altered; or strictly examine the tendency and meaning of our objections and demands, whether they do not necessarily terminate, when they are closely pursued to<385> their last result, in requiring something very absurd, or very inconvenient and disadvantageous.
Would he who is not pleased with our present make have no gradation of perfection in nature? Or would he have a gradation in nature from the lowest to the highest species of created perfection without man? Would he have nature as full of life, perfection and happiness as may be; and yet such a species as man wanting? Or would he have mankind to exist, and to make a proper species in the rising scale of existence, that fills nature and makes it coherent, and yet not be that very species necessary to such gradation and fullness? Why does not man deserve his place in being? Or in what respect is he wrong placed? Would he have earth without inhabitants, or would he have no earth in our mundan system? Or can we alter that mundan system in any respect, without altering it entirely, that is, without making quite another system, and consequently without allowing this one a place in nature? This no person, who has any tincture of natural philosophy, will propose.
Would the objector have man a merely passive being, without any power, dominion or sphere of activity allotted to him; only impelled by appetites and affections, succeeding to one another in their turns, independently of his own choice and direction, and driving him irresistibly to ends he cannot foresee, or foreseeing, cannot prevent or avoid? Would he have man to have been made only capable of certain passive gratifications, without any power of judging, willing, chusing, deliberating and ruling; without any thing committed to his charge and management; without any objects or subjects to regulate, work upon, and command? Would he have man to have been created incapable of acquiring and procuring goods to himself or others, incapable of reflecting upon himself, as one able to be useful or hurtful to his kind as he pleases; incapable of distinguishing<386> between good and evil, beneficial or hurtful, and of approving or disapproving his conduct?Continued. Would he have man formed without a moral sense, without the capacity of perceiving fitness and unfitness in affections, actions, and characters; and without the capacity of receiving pleasure from the consciousness of having acted a fit and becoming part? Or can there be a sense of right and wrong, fitness and unfitness, unless there be essential differences of things as to right and wrong, fit and unfit? Can objects co-exist, without having certain relations to one another? Or a mind designed for chusing and acting, and to whom a certain sphere of activity is assigned, ought it not to be capable of discerning the relations and differences of objects; moral ones in particular? Would we have been more perfect without any power, without any dominion? Or can there be power and dominion without subjects? Ought our power to extend only to natural objects and not to moral, or to moral and not to natural ones? Is it too large? Or is it too small, because we are not omnipotent? Hardly will it be said it is too large. Yet to say, that there must be a gradation in nature, and no inferior as well as superior species to us, is manifestly absurd. But how are intelligent beings superior to others, but in knowledge, power and dominion, or an intelligent sphere of activity? Nor is it less absurd to say, that any species can exist without having its determinate nature, capacity and extent of power. The only question therefore is, whether our sphere of activity has not an extent that constitutes a very noble species of being, worthy, as such, of a place in the scale of existence? Let us therefore examine a little its reach and extent. Is not progress in knowledge to infinity, or beyond any assignable bounds dependent upon ourselves; that is, is it not in our power to be continually advancing in a field of science, which is absolutely exhaustless? And does not our dominion in nature encrease<387> with our knowledge of nature; our dominion over material objects with the knowledge of the material creation, or of the laws and properties of bodies; and our dominion over moral objects with the knowledge of ourselves, or of the nature and ballance of our affections, and of the qualities of the objects suited to them? What known property of bodies has not been made subservient to some use by science and arts? Practical arts, which are all imitations of nature, advance with real knowledge. And thus our dominion in nature is enlarged, and is continually enlargeable by ourselves. And as for our affections and appetites, is it not in our own power to regulate them according to our reason and moral conscience, or conformably to the natural agreements and disagreements of things?Continued. For these two ways must mean the same thing. Now, would the objector have us capable of acquiring dominion, either natural or moral, previously to knowledge; or knowledge not to be dependent on, or acquirable by ourselves; but have judgments to spring up in the mind, without our knowing whence they proceed, how they are formed, or why they are right, and may be relied upon; or, in one word, without our having the pleasure of attaining to science by our own diligence, by our own application to get it, by the voluntary right use of our faculties? Sure no objector against the imperfection of our make would have us more perfect, and yet not active. But can we otherwise be active, than by moving, exerting and employing our faculties by choice? Far less sure would any objector have man so formed, that he could not arrive at perfection or improvement of any sort by all his repeated labour; but that he should always be obliged to begin anew, and never acquire any facility, readiness or perfection in sciences or actions, by all the repeated exercises of his powers. Would he have man incapable of attaining to the deliberative habit; or to the habit of thinking well<388> before he determines? Or would he have him to attain to it, without repeated acts, without endeavours to acquire it? Would he have man formed without affections; and so have no springs to move him, no motives to action, and no capacity of pleasure? But how can we have pleasure without affections; or what but a sense of pleasure and pain can stir us to action and choice? Or would he have us formed with affections and appetites, without objects suited to them; would he have man capable of pleasures, without senses of pleasures and appetites after pleasures; or would he have us indued with appetites and senses, and no objects fitted to gratify them? Or would he have objects fitted to gratify them, and yet these objects have no congruity with one another; or have congruity without having particular determinate natures; or have particular determinate natures, and not operate according to them; or operate according to their determinate natures, without operating within certain fixed limits and boundaries; or can objects and appetites have determinate natures and operate according to them, only within certain boundaries, and yet there be, with regard to perceiving beings, no transitions from pleasure to pain, and alternately from pain to pleasure; no stated rules with regard to agreeable and disagreeable sensations and perceptions, no blending of good and ill, or bordering of the one upon the other?Continued. Is it not this to demand, that an object may be determined and yet undetermined, congruous and incongruous in the same respects? Is it not to demand, that white may be also black, that a triangle may be a circle?
Would the objector against man, have him formed without private affections, without self-love and the other appetites necessary to self-preservation; or without those which regard others, and knit us to society, and merely with the few narrow contracted ones which terminate in ourselves? Would he have man capable of sensible and private pleasure, and likewise capable of social happiness, without both these kinds of affections to ballance one another? Or<389> of which of these kinds of happiness would he have us incapable? Would he have the soundness of a mind indued with these kinds of affections not to depend upon the just ballance of them; or the ballance to be necessary to happiness, and yet not to depend upon our own regulation of our affections; or would he have the ballance impaired or incroached upon, and that diminution or encroachment not felt by sensation, but merely perceived by reflexion, without any uneasiness; whilst the effect of each rightly governed and ballanced affection is pleasant in itself, by way of sensation? Or would he have us perceive affections operate within us without any sensation of pleasure or pain? One or other of these he must demand; or our affections must continue to work as they do. But to demand the last, is to require that affections should not at all affect us, or be perceived by us. And to demand the other, is to require that an affection in its due proportion should be pleasant, and yet not be disagreeable when it is out of that due proportionate state; which is to require, that things should be proportionate and disproportionate at the same time in the same respect; congruous and incongruous to the same thing; tally and not tally with it? Would he have our frame of body or mind to be disordered, or threatened with hurt, and we have no warning of our danger; or would he have all things to have the same relation to, the same agreement with the same texture? Would he have every man so framed, as to have no relation to other men, no dependence upon the rest of his kind? Would he have men to constitute one kind, without a common stock, a common interest?Continued. Or would he have a common dependence, without reciprocal ties and affections? Would he have men so framed as to be related to one another, and mutually connected and dependent, and yet their common happiness not be dependent upon good union and joint endeavours<390> rightly directed and governed? Or would he have the common happiness of mankind to be dependent, and yet the happiness of individuals not to be dependent in any measure upon right union and duly confederated force? Would he have one kind of union as fit to promote the common happiness as any other; disunion as fit as union? Would he have ends gained without means, or all means to be equally fit for accomplishing and effectuating any end whatsoever? Would he have mankind to constitute one kind, without being like to one another in the fabric and temperature of their minds, as well as in that of their bodies? Or would he have mankind constitute one species, whose greatest good and perfection should depend on social, virtuous union, and yet there be no differences amongst men in talents, dispositions, genius’s and abilities? Would he have all men precisely the same in every respect; all of them placed in one point of time, place and sight, altogether equal, as so many pieces of matter of the same magnitude, form, size and weight? Can there be a whole without parts? Can there be unity and harmony of design without variety, either in the natural or in the moral world? Or is it only in the natural world, that diversity of parts and qualities can shew power and wisdom, or that uniformity amidst variety can produce beauty and good, and so evidence wise and good design? Would any objector have man begin to be, and not set out; to be a progressive creature, and not begin and proceed? Would he have man to attain to perfection gradually, and yet not to aim at it, advance towards it, and arrive at it by intermediate steps; attain to it without means, by any sort of means, or by contrary means? Would he have man to be formed to attain to moral perfection, without moral powers, or without exerting these powers; that is, acquire otherwise than by acquiring: For is not moral perfection, a perfection and happiness that is acquired by moral beings<391> themselves? In fine, let any objector take a just and full view of the natural aptitude and tendency of all our faculties, as sensitive, as understanding, as moral, as social beings, and say, whether all these are not fitted together to attain to an excellent end; a very considerable portion of sensitive and of rational, moral and social happiness.Continued. Let us but imagine mankind, with their common wants and indigencies, and their different talents and dispositions, acting with regard to themselves and others, as far as their mutual power and influence reaches, conformably to their reason and moral sense, in all their pursuits, employments and exercises; and then let us say, whether mankind in such a situation, would not shew a very beautiful variety of moral perfection and happiness; or make a very orderly, beautiful and happy kind? Let us consider, how orderly, beautiful and happy, any consociation of mankind is in proportion as it approaches to such a state; and then let us say, where the blame is to be laid, if mankind be not a very happy, orderly and beautiful system. The question, as far as the end of our make designed by our Author is concerned, is, what we are capable of being in this state, what we are sufficiently framed and provided for; and consequently what is the natural aptitude and tendency of all the inferior parts of our frame, considered as commited to the guidance and management of our reflecting powers, to be directed according to our moral sense of right and wrong. This is the only fair way of judging or pronouncing sentence concerning mankind, the end of our being, and the intention of our Author; because this is the only fair way of judging of any whole, or of any author and contriver. Would it not be absurd to say, a watch is not a good watch because it is not a ship, or a fire-engine, or is only fitted for what it is fitted? And would it not be absurd, in like manner, to say, a watch is not well contrived because it can be broken and disordered? But it is no less absurd to say, mankind is not a<392> good system because it is not another system; or that mankind is not well constituted for its end, because men may disappoint that end: the very end for which we were made, being a certain degree of perfection and happiness to be acquired by our proper care to attain to it. That only can be called natural to any intelligent being to which its nature regularly tends; and by deviating from which, proportionable disorder and unhappiness are produced. Let us therefore consider by what deviations it is, that disorder and unhappiness are produced among mankind; and then, say, if virtue, if moral perfection be not our natural end. But how closly we are pushed and prompted by nature, to pursue that end, and not to deviate from it in any degree, will sufficiently appear to every one, if he will but ask his own heart, whether he is ever difficulted to find out his duty, and what it becomes him to do, if he but consults his moral conscience, looks within himself, and seriously enquires about it.Continued. Notwithstanding all attempts to silence moral conscience, and bear it down or impose upon it, it often, uncalled upon, bears testimony for truth; for right, and against wrong, even in the most corrupted mind, to its great disquietment. And this moral conscience is never consulted or called upon, but it immediately gives sentence against vice and folly, and clearly points out truth, fitness and goodness. Let the most abandoned, hardened, callous debauchee, retire but a moment within his own breast, and tell himself, if he dare, that it does not.
Can our duty, our dignity, our happiness be more clearly or more strongly pointed out to us? Or can we indeed make any wrong step without blaming ourselves, without being conscious it is our own fault? And is not virtue our supreme happiness? Where else can we find it? And is not this happiness within our power, within every one’s reach? Is not virtue most glorious, most lovely, when it is most severely tried; and is not trial necessary to its formation, necessary to its education, and to displaying all its charms, beauty and force? Can there be trial and formation, without means, occasions and subjects? Or is it not fit, nay, necessary to the being of virtue, that it be schooled, proved and severely searched? Ought not rational beings to be placed in such a state? And does not such a one naturally forebode another more perfect state of formed and improved virtue to succeed it? Must immortal moral powers necessarily perish when the first means and objects of their exercises cease? Or is there ought in nature that gives ground to apprehend, that this first state of our existence is our only one? Are we formed to acquire virtue, and yet hardly have time with all our diligence to make great advances in it till we are utterly destroyed?Continued. Or is it a good reason to think no other state succeeds to this, because this hath all the appearances and symptoms of such a state of trial and formation, as our first state ought to be? Is it a good reason to think, that it is the whole of our being, because some things appear as dark to us, as they must necessarily do, if this be but a part of our being? Whence could we have ideas of virtue, a sense of its beauty, a strong attachment to it,<394> if our Author had no ideas of it, no perception of its beauty, no attachment to it? Or what is there in nature we understand, that does not clearly evidence the goodness, the perfect goodness of its Author? But if he be good, what have the virtuous to fear, here or hereafter? All things must work together for the good of the virtuous, for their good is the chief object worthy the Author of nature’s care and concern; he can love or approve them only. But that all things may work to their good, to this state of trial, another state must succeed, so fitted to beings, who have passed through their first state of trial, as will best conduce to the general happiness of all moral beings; to the happiness of the virtuous, or of such as are at due pains to improve in the moral perfection their nature is capable of. That there is order, and wisdom, and goodness prevailing in nature, all nature cries aloud: And if there be, the Author of nature must love and pursue the general order, happiness and perfection of his system. But if he does so, what hath his own image to dread? And surely well improved reason and virtue is such. If we are not to subsist hereafter, it must be because there can be no provision, no entertainment for us after our commerce with this sensible world is at an end; or because, tho’ there can be, yet the Author of nature is not disposed to make any other provision for those excellent powers with which he hath furnished and adorned us. But what reason have we to imagine so cruelly of him who hath so well provided for us here? If we have none other but the mixture of pains and evils with goods in this state, we have none at all; for the goods, are by far superior to the evils; the evils all flow from principles and laws necessary to the highest goods and enjoyments; and a mixture of evils is absolutely necessary to the forming, schooling, proving, and perfectionating reason and virtue.<395>
Can the full fruits of virtue take place till virtue is become perfect? Can the happiness which results from a greatly improved mind, from ripened and well formed powers and good habits, exist before powers are duly formed and improved, and good habits are contracted and established? Can an effect precede or prevent its cause? Can harvest be before spring? Or must there not be a moral spring before a moral harvest, as well as a natural spring before a natural harvest? Whatever may be said of the order in which natural effects are produced, it is certain, that moral powers cannot come to their full maturity, or consequently bring forth their fruits, and have their full effect, till they are duly cultivated and improved. To suppose it, is a downright contradiction.
Continued.What else then can any one, who impartially considers things, conclude, but with Socrates, “Nec enim cuiquam bono mali quidquam evenire potest, nec vivo, nec mortuo, nec unquam ejus res a diis immortalibus negliguntur.”32
In all the reasoning hitherto, I think I have not supposed the Being of a God, and a divine providence proved from any arguments a priori: but if I have, let such suppositions be entirely laid aside, as they ought to be in an attempt to prove divine providence a posteriori, or from the state and condition of things; and let every one ask himself, what it is most natural to conclude concerning man from the account that has been given of the human nature; what it is most reasonable to conclude concerning a being so furnished for progress in knowledge as man is, so fitted for society and happiness in the way of participation and communion; a being with such an extent of dominion and power in the natural and in the moral world, and so capable of delighting in order, wisdom, truth of design, and general good: whether it is more likely that he is the workmanship of a wise and good Creator,<396> and under a perfectly wise and good providence and administration, than otherwise; and whether, in fine, it is more natural to imagine, that this present state of mankind is our whole existence, or that it is but our first state of formation and trial; since all appearances are very accountable up on that supposition. For the question comes to this, “Whether all the parts of our complex frame, and all the laws relative to it, are really so good as we have shewn; that is, whether they do not really produce exceeding great goods, and no evils for the sake of evil?” And to that question the first part of this essay is designed to be an answer.
The excellent poet we have so often quoted, hath clearly shewn, in one of his Ethic Epistles,a how difficult it is to judge of the motives by which men are influenced to act, from the actions; because the same actions may proceed from contrary motives, and the same motives may influence contrary actions: and therefore to form characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man’s life, and try to make the magree, in which there must be great uncertainty, from nature itself, and from policy.
But whatever difficulty or uncertainty there may be, in judging of the springs of particular actions, human nature and its Author are sufficiently vindicated, when it appears, that all the powers of man, and all the springs which move him, are given him for excellent purposes: and that all the variety of<397> characters among men must be resolved into certain mixtures or blendings of appetites and affections, which are all of them of the greatest use in our frame, and which all operate, or are operated upon, mix and combine, grow and improve, or contrariwise degenerate and corrupt, according to most excellent general laws. We have not attempted in this essay to draw or paint particular characters, or to account for any particular characters, by analysing them into the original ingredients of which they are compounded; because it was enough to our purpose, to point out the constituent parts, by the various combinations of which, all different, nay opposite characters are composed; and to shew, that not only all these are very useful particles in our constitution, but that they cannot mingle and blend, be strengthened or diminished, improve or degenerate, otherwise than according to certain rules or laws, which are very fitly established. But let any one take any character in Homer, Virgil, Horace, Terence, in any epic poem, in any tragedy or comedy, in history, or in natural, that is, probable fiction, and try whether all the ingredients in it are not resolvable into those powers and affections belonging to human nature, treated of in this enquiry; and the particular mixture forming that character into the operations of the general laws, by which all the various modifications of human powers and affections are brought about, which have likewise been here explained and vindicated.
In other words, the design of this enquiry being to vindicate the ways of God to man,33 by accounting for moral as for natural things, we cannot help thinking it is accomplished, if we have proved that all the instincts, appetites, affections and powers given to man, are so placed, that they have proper materials, occasions, means and objects for their exercise and gratification; and that all the laws relative to their growth and improvement, or degeneracy<398> and corruption, to their strengthening or diminution, their intermingling or jarring; and consequently all the laws relative to our pain or enjoyments, to happiness or misery, to virtue or vice, are excellent general laws, none of which can be changed but for the worse. For thence it follows, that Order is kept in man as well as in nature: or, that in both, the universal interest is steadily pursued by general laws, beyond all exception, good. Now this, we think, is done; because, though all the particular appetites and passions, or rather all their particular workings, are not particularly specified and defined, yet the capital sources whence all the diversity in human life proceeds, are pointed out, and the final causes of these powers and affections are discovered to be exceeding good or beneficial.
Every virtue (as an excellent author hath observed),a hath some vice nearly allied to it, or<399> springing, as it were, from the same root: for every vice is some useful affection misguided or misplaced. But there is no misguidance, abuse or corruption in the human mind, whatever its evil effects and consequences may be, which does not happen according to some law of our nature, which, did it not take place, we could have no dignity, no excellence, no freedom, no power, no virtue, no moral happiness. Man, therefore, is well constituted and well placed here at present. And shall not the work advance as it begins? If order prevail now, shall it not prevail for ever? Universal good is now pursued, and will therefore for ever be pursued. To conclude otherwise, is indeed to forsake all reason; for it is wilfully to reason contrary to all appearances of things, or to the whole analogy of nature.
As in the material world, while one hath no notion of reducing effects to general laws, he cannot but be lost, bewildered and amazed, amidst a chaos of seemingly odd and whimsical, independent effects: so must it likewise happen with respect to the moral world. For regularity and order can never be apprehended, but in proportion as effects are reduced to general laws; or when they are considered as the effects of such. When one objects against eclipses, meteors, comets, earthquakes, vulcano’s, and a thousand other phenomena, which indeed appear very uncouth, while considered by themselves singly, as arbitrary effects, produced without any rule; or while one merely reflects on the mischiefs they produce; what does the philosopher, what ought he to do, or what indeed can he do, to remove such objections against nature, but shew, if he can, the general laws whence these seemingly evil effects proceed, and the fitness of these general laws: or, if he cannot do that, shew that we can trace nature, in so many instances, to operation, by excellent general laws, that there is good ground to<400> think nature works universally by good general laws, and never by partial arbitrary wills. And in the same manner, when one objects against particular appearances in the moral world, the philosopher certainly gives a satisfying answer, when he shews, that we can trace the far greater part of the appearances in the moral world to powers, and general laws of powers, wisely and fitly chosen and established, in order to promote the general good of the human system. It will not be easy to name any effects which may not be reduced to one or other of the general laws here defended. But if some appearances should be inexplicable, that is, if the general laws from which some particular phenomena arise, should not be ascertainable; yet seeing in very many, or rather almost all instances, general laws can be assigned which are unexceptionably good, it is highly reasonable to conclude, that nature works throughout all by good general laws; and consequently, that even the appearances which cannot be explained, because their general laws are not known, must be the effects of good general laws. For to conclude otherwise, is to argue in downright opposition to analogy, or to all rules of judging concerning any system or whole.
In other words, whatever disorder and confusion there may appear to be in the material world, whilst one stops at particular effects, or considers them as single, unconnected incidents; yet all must appear very orderly, when one represents to himself the necessity of its being governed by general laws, and accordingly is able to represent to himself all its effects, as proceeding from such general laws, as gravity, centrifugal force, attraction, elasticity, electricity, &c. For in proportion as he comes thus to see effects, seemingly evil, whilst they are considered as the effects of particular wills, to be in reality good, as being the effects of operation by good general laws, he must in proportion begin to think<401> well of nature, and persuade himself that all effects in it are owing to good general laws, and must therefore be all, for that very reason, good effects. But if this way of reasoning, with respect to the material world, be just: it must likewise be good reasoning with regard to the moral world, to conclude in like manner concerning it, that all its effects proceed from good general laws, provided in many instances we can trace its effects to good general laws. And accordingly, let any one, instead of suffering his mind to wander through the various appearances in the moral world, from phenomena to phenomena, as single, detached, unconnected parts, represent to himself the powers and affections belonging to human nature, and the laws relative to the different operations, influences and effects of these powers, as one whole; and then, let him say, whether it is not a system formed to produce a quantity of good, that well deserves its place in nature. It is to help one to take such a review of the moral world, that the general laws of our nature have been pointed out in this enquiry. For that being done, it only remains to every one to remove himself, as it were, at a distance from it, and to consider it as a whole, governed by these general laws, in like manner as we may and ought to do, in order to have a just idea of our material system; to construct it to himself in his imagination, and thus making a whole of it, consider the general laws by which it is governed. It requires but a very small degree of reflexion to find out that there is no other way of judging concerning either. And whoever carefully attends to what hath been said of the general laws relating to our powers, and their operations, must soon see, 1. That all the laws of matter and motion, or of the material world, are either necessary, or very proper to afford suitable materials, means, occasions and objects, to the exercise, employment and gratification of our powers<402> and affections; and consequently, that no circumstances happen in consequence of the general operation and prevalence of these laws, which are evils, absolutely considered. And, 2. That as our powers and affections themselves are necessary to our happiness and dignity, so all the laws relative to their various operations, and all their changes, modifications, influences and consequences, are likewise necessary to our dignity, happiness and perfection. But what else is there to be accounted for, with regard to mankind, but the affections and powers belonging to our composition, and their operations in various circumstances; and the variety of circumstances which excite or bring them forth into action, according to fixed laws in certain manners.
Whatever powers creatures have, they must be powers which operate, or are operated upon, according to certain fixed methods. But if the powers be good, and all the laws according to which they work, or are worked upon, be good, the system composed by these powers, and laws of powers, must be a good system. If therefore the laws relative to our external circumstances, that is, the laws of the sensible world; and the laws relative to our moral faculties, to our advancement in knowledge, in power and liberty, to association of ideas and habits, to virtue, to private and social happiness, that is, all the laws relative to our moral perfection; if all these laws be good, be well adjusted to one another, and none of them can be altered without sinking and degrading the rank and condition of man, or without diminishing his capacity of happiness and perfection, then is the human system a good system. Or it must be said, that the human system, though contrived and formed very fitly to produce a very good whole, ought not to take place in nature, because other powers placed in other circumstances, would make, not in deed the human system, but a comparatively better system. To which I<403> know no answer can be given, but this one, That there is a very good reason why there should exist in nature every kind of system which makes a good whole; for thus alone can nature be full and coherent; thus alone can infinite benevolence exert itself, and be happy, by communicating happiness in the amplest or the most unbounded manner.
If a system be the contrivance and production of a perfect mind, it must be a perfect work. There can be no evil in it. We may clearly see, on that supposition, how it comes about in such a system, that those who know but a part, are not able to account for every phenomenon; or why some things may appear to such, imperfections, nay, disorderly and evil effects. For that must needs be the case, with regard to those who have only a partial view of a system. But in such a whole there can be no real evil, or absolute imperfection; that is, there can be nothing that is not necessary to the general order, perfection and good of the whole system. Wherefore, if the Author of the system of which we are a part, be perfectly good, that system must be perfectly good. But since we can see but a part, it is not strange that some things should appear to us imperfect or unaccountable. Nay, it is impossible in such a situation that some things should not appear to us to be such. What then ought those who are persuaded of the being of a God, and of a perfect over-ruling providence, by arguments brought à priori to prove it; what ought they to conclude, but that if we had a larger view of our system, we should see more order and perfection in it, than we can possibly perceive in a limited view of it. The goods we perceive in it, we may be sure, were intended by the Author of nature; and the causes, means, or laws which produce them, may likewise produce other greater goods, which we cannot discern, till we have a more full and comprehensive knowledge of the system. But the seeming evils for<404> which we cannot account, because we do not comprehend enough of the system to be able to account for them, cannot be real evils, but must be, with respect to the whole, good, if the Author be perfect in wisdom, goodness and power. For what is produced by such a mind, must be good in the whole. This is the conclusion which necessarily follows from the arguments brought à priori for a divine all-perfect providence. Now how compleat, how full, must our conviction of this truth be, when we find by enquiring into our system, that the farther we are able to carry or extend our researches into it, the more marks and evidences we discover of wisdom and good order prevailing throughout all in man as well as in nature, agreeably to what the arguments fetched à priori prove, must needs be the case.
The arguments à priori have been set in so many various lights by excellent writers, Dr. Samuel Clarke and Mr. Woolaston particularly,35 that I need not now insist upon them, in an essay merely intended to reason à posteriori. Let me, however, just observe, that these arguments are far from being so intricate as some are pleased to represent them. They, on the contrary, must be very obvious to every one, who but understands what power and effect of power, contrivance and production, whole and part mean. For those ideas to which the consideration of any animate or inanimate being, or indeed any artificial machine, naturally leads us, being distinctly conceived, all the reasoning à priori (as it is called) to establish the being of a God, and the reality of an all-perfect providence, turns upon the few following self-evident principles.
1. That whatever is contrived is contrived by some contriver; and whatever is produced is produced by some producer, possessed of power sufficient to produce it.<405>
Observations on the arguments à priori.2. That all power, not only of contriving, but of producing, all power belonging to mind; or nothing being active but mind by its will, it is a mind only that can contrive and produce.a
3. That nothing can be an original ultimate source of derived power, but a mind whose power is not derived.
4. A mind which produces by power not derived, produces by power eternal and uncreated, between the exertion of which and its effects, there is an essential, necessary, independent, immutable connection; a connexion not established by the will of any other being, but which cannot but take place.
5. One system is one effect, but one effect can have but one cause or producer; it cannot be totally produced by two causes.
6. There must be some likeness, proportion or parity, between the manner in which a being exists, and its essence, or all its qualities and attributes. And consequently, a being which exists in an independent and unlimited manner, must be in every respect independent and unlimited: or, in other words, a being which exists in the most perfect manner, must be in every respect essentially and absolutely remote from all imperfection, that is, perfect.
To corroborate this last proposition, involving in it an absolute necessity for the essential moral perfection of an independent mind, it is justly added,
I. That there can be no malice but where interests are opposite. But a first universal mind can have no interest opposite to that of its own workmanship, and therefore can have no malice. “If therea be a General Mind, it can have no particular<406> interest; but the general good, or the good of the whole, and its own private happiness, must of necessity be the same. It can intend nothing beside, nor aim at any thing beyond, nor be provoked to any thing contrary; so that we have only to consider, whether there be really such a thing as a mind which has relationb to the whole or not. For if unhappily there be no mind, we may comfort ourselves, however, that nature has no malice. But if there really be a mind, we may rest satisfied, that it is the best-natured, the best-disposed, the most benevolent one in the world.”
II. It may be added, that there cannot be a disposition in creatures more perfect than the disposition of their Maker. If therefore, there is such a thing in our nature as delight in universal good, there must be such a disposition belonging to our Maker: He must have it in its most perfect degree, unalloyed and incorruptible.
Now all these propositions being very evident, we have thus a very clear evidence before we enter into a particular examination of effects, that the one eternal mind, the Author of the system of which we are a part, must be perfect in wisdom and goodness, as well as in power. And by the preceeding enquiry into the human make and situation, man is found to be such a being, that the further we are able to carry our researches into his frame and state, the more reason have we to be satisfied with respect to the wisdom and good intention of his Maker. Thus therefore we have arguments, à priori and à posteriori, exactly tallying together to confirm beyond all exception that most comfortable truth, “That there is an infinitely perfect God, who<407> made and rules his whole creation, of which we are a part, in the most perfect manner, whom it is therefore our duty to love, adore and imitate.” But as this is the doctrine of reason, so it is the doctrine of the christian religion, confirmed to us by another kind of truly philosophical evidence. For Jesus Christ gave a proper and full proof by his works, of a far more comprehensive knowledge of the universe in all its parts, that is, of God’s providence and government of the world, natural and moral, than we can attain to; and at the same time, full evidence of his integrity and good intention. But such information or testimony hath all the qualities necessary to create trust, or render it credible. The truth of the testimony of Jesus Christ concerning a divine providence, immortality and a future state, (which yet does not encroach upon reason, but leaves sufficient room for all philosophical researches into nature, and leaves the proper evidence of every other kind of reasoning entire) depends upon a no less simple self-evident maxim than this, “That samples of knowledge are samples of knowledge, and samples of integrity are samples of integrity; that these two evidence an honest and well qualified informer, and that a well qualified honest informer ought to be credited and relied upon.”a
Reason therefore, and revelation concur to assure us, that we are made by, and are under the direction of an infinitely perfect Author, who loveth virtue, and who will make it happy: that man is framed by him to make immortal progress in virtue, in proportion to his diligence to improve in it.
And that virtue or moral perfection, when it is brought by proper exercise and culture to due maturity and vigour, shall then be rendered completely<408> happy by those higher employments for which it cannot before that be qualified: the capacity for great moral happiness must first be formed or acquired before that happiness can be enjoyed: but when the capacity is acquired, then shall the happiness for which it is fitted, be attained.
It is usual in treatises of this nature and length to conclude with a brief recapitulation of the whole. But the contents shall be digested into a regular summary to serve that purpose; and because of the momentuousness of the subject, I rather chuse to finish this vindication of human nature, or of the ways of God to man, by giving in a few propositions such an united view of the human state, as will immediately be perceived by every intelligent reader to make a very coherent and comfortable system, and to carry (not to say any more of it) a much greater degree of probability along with it, than the contrary to it, and that by itself, or independently of any other considerations.
Another view of the human state.I. As a material world can only be good or bad, that is, useful or hurtful with respect to beings made capable of perceiving it, and of being affected by it; or is really to all intents and purposes, nothing, while it is considered as absolutely unperceived: so it is obvious to every one, who can think at all, that the material world, with which mankind and other perceptive beings are so closly and intimately united in this present state of things wherein we exist, must be considered as making one whole; or a system, all the parts of which have a mutual connexion and dependence. This connexion and dependence is very manifest where soever we cast our eyes. And the parts which have this coherence may very properly be divided in general, into moral and natural parts, that is, perceptive beings, and their powers, capacities and affections, and material objects perceived by perceptive beings, and variously affecting them.<409>
II. Now where parts have mutual respects, and are so connected, as evidently to make one system, if general laws are found by induction to prevail in many instances in that system, the presumption must be, that general laws prevail throughout all the parts of it, or throughout the whole system. If they are found to prevail in many instances in the material part, that is, in the effects of the material part upon perceptive beings; it is presumable, not only that they prevail universally with regard to the material part, but universally with regard to all the parts of the same system. But the presumption that all is governed by general laws, must be yet stronger, if general laws are found in any considerable number of instances to prevail also in the moral part, that is, with respect to other effects distinct from those of the material kind, such as the improvements of understanding, reason, temper, &c. and the pleasures and pains arising from these and the like sources.
III. By parity of reason, if the general laws, to which effects are reducible, as far as we are able to go in tracing or deducing them, be good, the presumption must be that all is governed by good general laws. If we may not reason in this manner concerning effects, there is an end to all enquiries into effects: there is, there can be no such thing as knowledge.
In reality, unless effects proceed from general laws, and may be traced to them, we cannot possibly understand them, or form any rules of conduct to ourselves from them: there is no order; and science is a vain absurd attempt. But, on the other hand, if we find general laws prevailing and ascertainable in any instances, then we have encouragement to go on in our enquiries: and if in going on, we find good general laws prevailing as far as we go, then may we most reasonably presume, that we may advance<410> further by due diligence in finding out good general laws; and that in proportion as we advance in this knowledge, the more goodness and wisdom we shall find in the constitution and government of things.
IV. And accordingly, philosophers have found by their enquiries into the material part, as far as they have been able to carry their researches, order, beauty, and general good, arising from the general laws by which it is governed; or according to which appearances in it are produced. They have not only been able to ascertain several general laws, by operating conformably to which, or in imitation of which many very useful arts have been invented to the great advantage of human life: but they have found the general good of perceptive beings to be pursued and effected, and therefore intended by the operation of these general laws; the good of mankind more particularly. Since the knowledge of the material world hath been brought to such great perfection by Sir Isaac Newton, many excellent treatisesa have been written to prove, that the material part is governed by excellent general laws, or general laws admirably adjusted to produce the greatest general conveniency or advantage with respect to the perceptive beings, which inhabiting it are capable of receiving pleasures from it. The result of his and all other researches into the material system, (commonly called nature) carried on in the same way of induction from experiments, and of resolutionb of appearances into laws deduced from experience, is, that the Author of nature does nothing in vain, but works by the fewest, that is, the simplest means, steadily and uniformly, or always<411> analogously for the general good and perfection of the whole.
V. Now this being the result of all proper methods of enquiry into nature, we have not only great encouragement to go on in our researches into the material part, but we have likewise great encouragement to go on as Sir Isaac Newtonc proposes, and to enquire in the same manner into the moral part, or the appearances which properly relate to our moral powers, that is, to our improvements, as beings capable of reflexion, reasoning, acting, and of uniting in society for the advancement of our common happiness and perfection. That we have reason, and the power of acting and chusing, and certain moral affections belonging to our nature, cannot be called into question: Nor can it be doubted, that powers and affections of whatever sort, sensitive or moral, must have their various degrees of perfection and imperfection; and that a power is intended to be advanced to the highest degree of perfection to which it can be. But, in order to the advancement of any power to its perfection, there must be certain means and methods of advancing it to its perfection: and if there be certain means and methods, by which a power may be advanced to its perfection, there must necessarily, on the other hand, be certain means and methods, by which a power cannot but degenerate and corrupt, or become depraved: for the means and methods contrary to the perfecting means will be such. Our business therefore is to enquire into these fixed means, or general laws relative to our powers and affections, according to which they may be raised to their perfection, and into their contraries producing opposite effects, in order to know them, and see whether, as in the material part, so likewise in the moral part, all the laws, as far as we can trace them, be not contributive to the<412> general good, or such as cannot be changed in any respect without the greatest inconveniencies or disadvantages.
VI. But if we give any attention to our make and situation, we shall plainly find, that by the powers and affections bestowed upon us, and the laws relative to their exercises in our situation, we are fitted to attain to a very considerable degree of moral perfection and happiness, consisting in, or arising from the dominion of reason over our sensitive appetites, or their just subordination to a well-improved sense of order, fitness, right and public good implanted in us, to be duly improved in order to be our guide and ruler. By a little attention to our constitution and circumstances, we shall find, that being endued with a principle of reason, and capable of forming the ideas of general order and good, and of delighting in the contemplation of it, our union with a material world, by means of our bodies, affords us matter of most agreeable contemplation and study; and that being endued with a social principle, and a sense of public good, and of moral order and decency, that the highest satisfaction we are capable of is, that which results from our being able to moderate and govern the sensitive appetites and faculties, by which we are made susceptible of pleasures from material objects, as a just view of public good, and a right sense of moral order and decency requires; while at the same time, such are the laws relative to our sensitive pleasures and pains, or the laws according to which material objects affect us, that, in general, not sensitive pleasure, but sensitive pain is the proportional effect of departure from the dictates of reason with respect to the government of our sensitive appetites. Either there is no such thing as perfection and imperfection with respect to any power or quality; but these words have absolutely no meaning: or the regular and constant presidence of our reason over our sensitive appetites and faculties,<413>and over all our choices, actions and pursuits; is the perfect state of those powers, sensitive and rational, which constitute us what we really are. And as indeed, it is a contradiction to suppose in any case the happy state of a being not to be of a kind with, to result from, and be proportioned to the perfect state of that being: so, in our case, our self-enjoyment, greatest peace, pleasure and happiness, result from and are proportioned to that which hath been said to be our perfect state, and must be such in any proper sense of perfection: or in the same sense, that we say the perfection of any constitution of whatever sort is such or such.
VII. Now since intelligent pursuit supposes knowledge guiding the pursuit, and knowledge cannot but be progressive; and what is not acquired by the application of a being with choice, to acquire it cannot be its own acquisition, or give it any pleasure as such, it is plain the perfect state of our powers and affections, in order to give us the pleasure of self-approbation and a sense of merit, must be gradually formed and acquired by ourselves, or by the intelligent and diligent pursuit of such a state, according to the methods by which it may be attained to, in consequence of the laws of our nature and circumstances. Which method will immediately be found, upon a little reflection, to be no other than exercising our reason, not only to know the boundaries of pain and pleasure, their moments or quantities, the effects of different exercises and gratifications, with regard to the happiness of our kind, and the rules of truth, fitness and decorum, with respect to all our exertions of our affections, and all our actions; but likewise to regulate our affections, choices, actions and pursuits, agreeably to the dictates of this knowledge. For as habits of any kind can only be acquired by repeated acts, so this habit of governing all our affections and<414> conduct by reason, and agreeably to the just views of things, acquired by its due application to have right information, can only be attained by repeated acts of reason, in order to get knowledge, and to establish itself into full power and command. Knowledge to direct to what is right and fit can only be attained by taking due pains to know. And the habitual authoritative power of reason, by which it becomes our steady ruler, can only be acquired by its assiduity to exert and keep its command. And consistently with this method of attaining to our perfect moral state, it is the universal law of our nature with respect to all acquirements, internal and external, that they shall be purchased by application to purchase them, according to certain methods easily discoverable by us. Were there not certain methods of our attaining to external goods established by nature, they could not be purchased by us. And in like manner, were there not certain methods of our acquiring internal qualities or goods established by nature, they could not be acquired by us. Now as the methods of attaining to external advantages by application and diligence agreeably to them, are easily discoverable by all who will but look a little about them, and reflect upon the connexions in nature which every day present themselves to all: so the methods of attaining to the internal dominion of reason, our most perfect state and chief good, are very obvious, since it only requires our having made this reflexion, that it is our perfect state and chief good, and our setting ourselves, in consequence thereof, assiduously and steadily, to exert our reason as our guiding principle.
VIII. But this being the case with regard to all acquisitions, external or internal, it is evident, that men are upon the equallest footing they possibly can be, not only with respect to external advantages, but, which is principal, with respect to their attainment<415> of their chief good. For thus acquisitions of both kinds are as dependent upon every one’s intelligent and assiduous application and pursuit, as may or can be consistently with certain differences among mankind, which are absolutely necessary. For different circumstances with respect to situation for taking in views of the connexions of nature, and with respect to situation for receiving social assistances in our pursuits, must make differences with regard to situation for making acquisitions by our application or industry. But all men cannot be placed in the same circumstances; nor can community and society take place, or all men be mutually useful, and at the same time mutually dependent, without various powers, or (which will amount to the same thing, with different original talents) without our being placed in various situations, which produce divers turns of mind, different extent of powers, and various use and application of powers. Such differences which are the result of our make as social individuals, or are the effects of the laws of nature, properly so called, that is, of the laws of the material world, are the only limitations upon the general law, with respect to our acquisitions by our industry: so that it may be said, that according to the general law of acquisitions, all men are upon as equal a footing as possible, with respect to external advantages, it being the general law with respect to the acquirement of them, that they are to be the purchase of industry to attain to them. And as for moral happiness and perfection, every man is upon as equal a footing as may be, it being according to the general law and establishment of moral things, in every man’s power to have that supreme satisfaction, which arises from the sense of due pains to keep and maintain, or rather improve, his reason, in its capacity and authority, to guide and rule his conduct.<416>
IX. And what is the effect of all the differences among mankind, proceeding from the sources which have been just mentioned; but that hence arise means, occasions and subjects, for the education, trial, exertion and improvement of many eminent moral excellencies. There is no ground to think that the powers and affections in all men do not stand originally so rightly proportioned to one another in force, that by due culture a great degree of moral perfection may be acquired by every one. The most remarkable moral differences among mankind do arise from negligence and culture, from right use and abuse of powers and affections; for by diligence to cultivate do powers and affections only gain strength and vigour, and arrive to perfection. But the exercises necessary to perfect faculties and affections, and establish good habits, cannot take place without certain proper objects or materials. And such really is the result of all the differences among mankind, whence soever they arise, that they afford suitable means, opportunities and objects for the exercises necessary to bring forth several virtues into action, and thereby to work them into perfect habits. All the virtues may be reduced to benevolence; they are nothing else but so many different exertions of social love or benignity on different occasions, or in different circumstances. And without many differences among mankind, variety of benevolent affections and actions could not have place, they could not have subjects: there could not be that variety of circumstances which is requisite to their various exertion, to their trial and formation, their discipline and culture, and a due diversity of their beautiful pleasant employments.
X. Now if this be the state of mankind, all the evils complained of in human life, must either be owing to the steady operation of the laws of the material<417> world, which laws are sufficiently justified and vindicated by natural philosophers: or to our suffering sensitive pain, in consequence of our not governing our sensitive appetites, and their pursuits and gratifications by the rules of right reason, which is an excellent law in the moral world; or to our not bestowing proper culture upon our powers and faculties, to bring them to their proper perfection; and yet that right and wrong use, improvement and neglect, pains to perfect, and labour to deprave, should have the different effects in the moral world they have, is likewise an excellent general law: or lastly, they must arise from differences among mankind, all the sources of which are necessary to the general good, and which differences are in themselves a very proper means of forming and improving virtuous habits. So that upon the whole we may justly conclude; that mankind are endued with powers capable of being advanced to great perfection; and are at present very well placed, in order to the schooling, the education and discipline of these powers. It is therefore a very orderly and well constituted state of existence, which well deserves its place in nature.
XI. But if it be a proper state for education, to a very great degree of moral perfection, in which happiness, inward happiness, advances proportionably with moral perfection: is it not highly reasonable to conclude, that it is really intended for a state of moral education? It is plainly our first setting out; and if it be a proper state to set out in, or to begin the pursuit of moral perfection and happiness, what reason can there be to conclude that it is not such only; or that it is the whole of our existence? From a proper state for the formation and improvement of moral powers to great perfection, what ought we to expect or look for, but proper care afterwards to place well-improved powers in circumstances suited<418> to them, or in which they shall have proper enjoyments by proper exercises. To make compleatly happy, two things must concur, powers or capacity, and objects suited one to another. Powers or capacity cannot make happy, without suitable objects; nor can objects bring happiness, where the powers or capacity is wanting. Capacity must be formed, before objects only suited to capacity, formed to a certain pitch of perfection, can be means of happiness. But if suitable care to form a capacity for great moral perfection be taken here, by furnishing us with the proper materials or subjects of exercise, in order to its improvement; and if the gradual advances in improvement by proper exercises reward themselves, or are a very great degree of happiness, what can we induce ourselves to think shall be the state of highly improved capacity of moral happiness, when the state of formation and trial is at an end, but such an one as shall afford it full happiness, by exercises adequate to it? Virtue and vice cannot be idle unmeaning words, unless use and abuse, corruption and improvement, perfection and degeneracy of powers, be insignificant terms. But if they are not, highly improved virtues or moral powers, brought by due culture to their perfection, and corrupted minds, or depraved faculties and powers, must have very opposite effects. Nothing but tormentful appetites, and a direful conscience of guilt and deformity, can be the result of a vitiated mind, in a state far removed from all the means of sensual gratification, and where the employments and entertainments necessarily require moral powers greatly improved, a prevailing love of moral exercises and enjoyments, and full dominion and mastership over sensual appetites. But how can we imagine that man, who by his frame and make cannot, even in the most luxuriant circumstances of outward enjoyment, attain to any solid contentment or satisfaction of mind, but in proportion<419> as he is conscious to himself of his giving due diligence to improve all his rational faculties to their proper perfection, and to maintain his reason in full power over all his desires, appetites and passions; how can we imagine that man, who is so made, when this state, which is only fit for educating and cultivating moral powers to a certain degree of perfection, and which cannot possibly always last, does cease, shall not pass into another state, in which care shall be taken of virtue, proportioned to the improvements it hath made! This state being really wisely and benignly constituted and governed, we may justly promise ourselves, that order shall prevail for ever; and that, as it is really the effect of perfectly wise and kind contrivance and administration, so whatever we can clearly conceive to be necessary to equally good administration in an after state, shall certainly take place there. And therefore we may reasonably conclude, that though here many die before they have had time and opportunity of attaining to any very great degree of moral perfection, yet since that happens in consequence of laws very well adapted to general good in the present state, it can be no ground of objection against providence; because, if a good disposition is but beginning to exert itself, moral powers may be placed, upon their removal from this state, in circumstances very advantageous for their speedy improvement. And though all have not here the same advantages for moral improvements, yet since the differences whence that inequality proceeds, arise from excellent causes, and are themselves exceeding useful, this can be no just ground of objection against providence, because minds duly improved by proper culture, in proportion to the circumstances they are placed in for improvement, may be placed after death in a very happy situation for quick and great improvement: and thus, as it were, compensation may be made to them. In one word, if this be an<420> orderly first state, in which the general good is steadily intended and pursued by its Author, we have all the reason in the world to rest satisfied, that a future state shall likewise be a very orderly one, in which the happiness of every well-disposed mind shall likewise be pursued, as far as is consistent with the universal good of rational beings. And we may be as sure as we can be of any thing, “That if the universal good of rational beings be intended and pursued, this is the law of the government of the universe with regard to mankind, and all rational beings, that their happiness shall advance with their moral perfection, which can only advance in proportion to the care of moral agents to improve their moral powers.”
I think it is impossible to take an impartial view of mankind, and not clearly see that this is the real state of the case, with regard to us; or to imagine, that we are not here in a very proper station for arriving to a very great capacity of moral happiness, by attaining to a great degree of moral perfection.
And sure nothing can be more delightful than this opinion of mankind; or more gloomy, horrible and dispiriting than the contrary notion. One’s mind must indeed be in a very corrupt state, before he can possibly take pleasure in persuading himself that man is not made to aim at and attain to moral happiness hereafter, by duly improving his moral powers here; if to take pleasure in it be at all possible, as I, indeed, can hardly conceive how it can be. The mind of man is so made, that the idea of attainment to great happiness hereafter, by the suitable culture of his mind here, is no sooner presented to it, than it gladly takes hold of it, and indulges itself with truly laudable complacency in the great and cheering hope; nay, it triumphs and exults in it, and thereby feels itself rise to the noblest ambition, and swell with the most elating expectation. And if it be so, then indeed is man made for virtue, and he is indeed<421> the workmanship of an infinitely perfect being; for is not a mind, animated with such virtuous desires, resolutions and hopes, truly the image of a Creator, who is complete moral perfection, complete reason and virtue? Whence else could such capacity proceed? How could man, were not his Creator infinitely perfect, have been capable of such a great idea, and so divine an ambition?
Would a person really have a strong, a truly great soul, this is the belief which alone can produce it. He who hath this persuasion duly rooted and established in his mind, by frequent meditation upon it, must indeed rise in his affections above all sensual enjoyments, and look down with contempt upon every pleasure that is repugnant to integrity and virtue: nay, he will be able to surmount, with sedate fortitude, the cruelest sufferings by which virtue ever was or can be proved, and come forth from them doubly brightened and perfected.
Surely no one who duly considers the moment of this doctrine I have been endeavouring to establish; or with what noble comfort, with what fulness of joy, with what great and elevating hopes, it is pregnant, will wonder that I have laboured to the utmost of my abilities to set it in various lights; and that I can hardly part with it, but am at the end of every different view I am capable of giving of it, fond to begin again, and to try to set it yet in some other light, that may better suit some one or other’s understanding.
For it is of the greatest importance to every thinking person’s solid happiness to be firmly persuaded of it. Without being convinced of it, what can one who thinks enjoy! Or how can he be easy? For if it be not true, how gloomy, how frightful is the state of things! Discontent, horror, despair, must needs be the never ceasing tormentors of every one who thinks mankind are not under the kind care of an all-perfect mind. But the doctrine of a good providence over-ruling all, and of a future<422> state of immortal happiness to the virtuous, is as true as it is comfortable. For even the very small part of the vast scheme of providence we here see, tho’ it be but a small, a very small part, is full of the riches of the wisdom and goodness of its Author, in imitation of which lies, according to our make, our only true happiness; for the happiness of a man consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth, but in the practice of virtue, and the hopes of attaining to complete happiness, by attaining to perfect virtue: and our happiness being so placed, as to be found there alone, that is itself a full proof, that he who made us, and placed us here, is perfectly happy only in consequence of his absolute moral perfection.
XII. Those who search into the works of God, have indeed reason to say with an ancient, “He hath garnished the excellent works of his wisdom, and he is from everlasting to everlasting: unto him may nothing be added, neither can he be diminished; and he hath no need of any counsellor. O how desirable are all his works! and that a man may see even to a spark. One thing establisheth the good of another; and he hath made nothing imperfect; and who shall be filled with beholding his glory? By his word all things consist, and all his visible works praise him. But there are yet hid greater things than these be, for we have seen but a few of his works.” The same writer after a long discourse upon the works of God, and the wonderful conduct of providence towards all his creatures, towards man in particular, breaks forth into this most animated address to all good men.
“Hearken unto me, ye holy children, and bud forth as a rose growing by the brook of the field: and give ye a sweet savour as frankincense, and flourish as a lily; send forth a smell, and sing a song of praise, bless the Lord in all his works. Magnify his name, and shew forth his praise with<423> the songs of your lips, and with harps, and in praising him you shall say after this manner: All the works of the Lord are exceeding good, and whatsoever he commandeth shall be accomplished in due season. And none may say, What is this? Wherefore is that? For at time convenient shall they be sought out.—He seeth from everlasting to lasting; and there is nothing wonderful before him. A man need not to say, What is this? Wherefore is that? For he hath made all things for their uses.—For the good are good things created from the beginning: so evil things for sinners. The principal things for the whole use of man’s life, are water, fire, iron, and salt, flour of wheat, hony, milk, and the blood of the grape, and oil, and clothing. All these things are for good to the godly: so to the sinners they are turned into evil.—All the works of the Lord are good, and he will give every thing in due season. So that a man cannot say, this is worse than that; for in time they shall all be well approved. And therefore praise ye the Lord with the whole heart and mouth, and bless the name of the Lord.”
I have in the marginal notes quoted many passages from ancient authors, to prove the antiquity and universality of the belief of an universal good providence, and of the immortality of mankind, and of all rational beings. And I need not tell any who are acquainted with the sacred writings, how clearly these truths are there asserted. But I cannot chuse but take notice of what is said of a future state, in a book of the same class with that from which I have just now transcribed so beautiful a part.
Righteousness, saith that writer, is immortal.
He represents the reasoning of the ungodly with themselves in this manner. “Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave. For we are born at all adventure;<424> and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been: for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of our heart; which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as the soft air, and our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof.—Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present, and let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments,—let none of us go without his part of voluptuousness; let us leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place; for this is our portion, and our lot is this.
Let us oppress the poor righteous man, let us not spare the widow, nor reverence the ancient gray hairs of the aged. Let our strength be the law of justice; for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth. Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings; he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education. He professeth to have the knowledge of God; and he calleth himself the child of the Lord. He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold; for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits; he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness; he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his Father. Let us see if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.”<425>
After this truly natural picture of a vicious mind and its language, he adds, “Such things they did imagine; for their own wickedness hath blinded them. As for the mysteries of God they know them not: neither hoped they for the wages of righteousness; nor discerned a reward for blameless souls. But God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.—The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, and their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. For tho’ they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded; for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself; as gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and in the time of their visitation they shall shine. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever; but the ungodly shall be punished according to their own imaginations. For whoso despiseth wisdom and nurture, he is miserable, and their hope is vain, their labours unfruitful, and their works unprofitable. But glorious is the fruit of good labours, and the root of wisdom shall never fall away. The unrighteous tho’ they live long yet shall they be nothing regarded; and their last age shall be without honour. Or if they die quickly, they have no hope, neither comfort in the day of trial. And when they cast up the accounts of their sins, they shall come with fear, and their own iniquities shall convince them to their face. Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of him who afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. For the righteous live for evermore, their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High.”<426>
I have quoted this beautiful passage, as a further proof to shew how ancient, the comfortable belief of a future state is. And with regard to the doctrine of the christian scriptures concerning a future immortal state, I shall only beg leave to observe, 1. That no positive account can in the nature of things be given of the order, constitution, and laws of a future state, but so far as it is analogous or like to our present one; and therefore being a new state, very different from this, which can only be like to it in a few general respects, a positive account of it can only be given in these few general respects; and the many more things in which it is different from it, can only be declared to us negatively, or by negative propositions, signifying that it differs from, or is not like to our present state, in such and such respects.Observations on the account given of a future state in the christian religion. Wherefore to object against christianity, that the account given of a future state, consists chiefly of negative propositions, is to object against it for not giving an account of a future state, that cannot possibly be given to us, unless our intelligence could reach further than our ideas, or our ideas extend beyond experience, and analogy to our experience. I need not tell philosophers, that a great part of what is called science is but negative knowledge. It is sufficient to the present purpose to remark, that the few positive and many more negative declarations relative to a future state in the gospels and epistles, if they were carefully collected together under their proper heads, would be found to amount to such a discovery of the nature of a future state, as well deserves the most serious attention of all who have just notions of God, and of the dignity of human nature. 2. I would observe, that according to the scripture doctrine concerning the happiness of a future state, it arises from moral perfection suitably exercised and employed. It is described to be the natural and proper effect, fruit or harvest (in consequence of the laws of God’s<427> moral providence and government) of highly improved virtues, good habits, or a well formed and pure mind, and its suitable exercises about objects adequate to its capacity and disposition; it is said to be the consequence of having sown to the spirit, that is, of having laid a foundation by the improvement of our moral powers and affections for spiritual employments, and the happiness resulting from them; as the misery of the vicious is, on the other hand, represented to be the natural effect, harvest and fruit of a vitiated and depraved mind, or of degenerated corrupted powers and bad habits, or of having sown to the flesh and corruption. A great part of the happiness of a future state is said to arise from more perfect knowledge; that is, from larger, juster, and more clear and comprehensive views of the divine wisdom and goodness in the government of rational beings, than we can now attain to in our present situation, or till the great scheme of providence is advanced to that period; and from those devout and pious affections, which such knowledge must excite towards the all-perfect Creator and Governor of the universe. Yet the whole of the felicity of that state is not represented as consisting in contemplation and pious adoration; but it is described as an active state, a state of service to God, and of mutual service to one another: for it is represented to be a city, a state of high and noble activity; a state of active benevolence; a state of rule, trust, power and dominion. And indeed the happiness of the superior orders of beings to man mentioned in the sacred writings, is likewise set forth there, as chiefly resulting from their being ministering spirits, employed in carrying on some noble, generous ends, in the administration of God, for the universal good of all rational beings. But it is not my present business to enquire more particularly into the christian doctrine concerning a future state. I have only mentioned these few things,<428> in order to shew the consistency between what is said of it in revelation, and what reason naturally leads to conceive concerning it. In the scripture, it is expresly affirmed, that this is the unchangeable law of God in his government of all rational beings, of mankind in particular, that “as they sow so shall they reap.” And this we find, by enquiring into the constitution of man, and into the nature and means of all the acquisitions he is found capable of making, to be the rule. It is the rule here, and will be the rule for ever; and that rule being observed in the administration of moral beings, it must be right, just, good, reasonable administration: the ways of God towards man are perfect.
The chief thing aimed at in this essay, is to prove from the consideration of our affections, and powers, and of the laws relative to them, natural and moral, which constitute our present state, that man is made by an infinitely wise and good being for immortal progress in moral perfection and happiness. But in the marginal notes several remarkable passages of ancient authors are quoted, or referred to, not to make an ostentation of reading; but to shew, that the way in which human nature is considered in this enquiry, and the inferences deduced from it are very ancient; because some late writers have contended, that among the ancients, no good reasonings are to be found about divine providence, the end of man’s creation, and a future state; and to shew the contrary is not merely to do justice to ancient philosophers; it is doing justice to truth and to human nature. For had even the most thinking and enquiring part of mankind, for many ages, never been able to form a just idea of the end or perfection for which man is made; of his relation to a supreme Author and Governor of infinite excellence; and of our duties and interests resulting from our moral powers, and their relations, connexions, and tendency or aptitude, mankind must<429> certainly have been all that time in a most forlorn, dark and miserable situation; as incapable of attaining to their true end, as if they had been created for no such end. We are exceedingly indebted, on many important accounts, to divine revelation in all its different periods and dispensations, which will be found by every careful, impartial observer, to make a very beautiful, progressive part in the system of providence; or one continued connexion and series, one uniform design and analogy carried on for many ages, to its completion in the appearance of Jesus Christ in the world, very consistent with all the laws of the moral world. But surely, to assert that without revelation, men have no law, rule or guide; or which is to all intents and purposes the same thing, are unable to discover any law, rule or guide, to direct them in the pursuit of their proper end, perfection and happiness, is to affirm, that men, without a revelation, are incapable of attaining to that knowledge, which alone can enable them to judge rightly of a revelation when it is given to them.
As well may a house stand in the air without a foundation, as revelation be supposed not to be built upon some certain principles of reason or natural religion, clearly discernible by their own intrinsic light and evidence. But because it will be said, that this question is simply about fact, that is, whether previously to revelation, or without its assistance, enquirers into nature had been able to reason well concerning the being of God, a future state and human duties: I have therefore taken care, as I have gone on in this enquiry concerning man, to point out several passages from ancient authors, where the nature of man, of divine providence, and of human perfection and happiness, are not only well defined, but accurately deduced from solid principles in a truly or strictly philosophical manner.<430>
It is a very considerable satisfaction to a well-disposed mind, to imagine that good sense hath always been very universal in the world. Nay, in truth, it is hardly possible to vindicate moral providence, or the ways of God to man (in the persuasion of the equity and goodness of which all the comfort of a thinking person is bound up) upon the contrary supposition. And, in fact, there have almost never been wanting some among mankind, who, in the main, had just notions of human dignity and perfection; and who, actuated by a due sense of it, laid themselves out with all diligence to instruct others in that important knowledge. It does not appear that there were more scepticks, who took pleasure in puzzling and perplexing clear truths, in ancient than in later times; or that such were then looked upon by the wiser part of mankind with less contempt, or rather pity, than they now are, on account of the illiberal cast of mind, from which alone a zealous propagation of doctrines tending to discourage virtue, and throw a most gloomy damp upon all truly noble and generous ambition, can proceed. And what though speculative men in former ages had recourse to various hypotheses; and in pursuing some particular one; which, as all false suppositions when they are pursued far must do, led them into odd subtilties to avoid glaring contradiction, reasoned sometimes very weakly and childishly; can it be inferred from thence, (as, I think, a late author does in express terms) that these philosophers never reasoned well, or were absolutely incapable of reasoning well, about the very first principles of natural religion and morality? I cannot help thinking, that it would be very bad logic to say, that the great design of revelation cannot even now be discovered, because many pursuing strange hypotheses, reason, even now, very wildly and incoherently about it: or that, even now, morality is not capable of being set in a clear light because very different, not to say repugnant, methods<431> are even now taken, in order to explain it; and among many writers very uncouth suppositions are still admitted and reasoned from. It might easily be shewn, that there is no hypothesis made use of by any ancient moralist, in order to account for providence, and the present state of mankind, which hath not been adopted, nay, pursued very far, and had great stress laid upon it, by some very modern writer. But what would that prove? Surely, to bring it as an argument that, even now, morality is quite darkness and uncertainty, would justly be reckoned very childish and silly. And yet, if such reasoning be not true now, it can never be in any case, that is, with respect to any time, good reasoning. If any thing be clear, this must be so: That good reasonings are good reasonings, though, not only at the time they were produced others reasoned weakly and foolishly about the same things, but even the very same persons did, on other occasions, admit and push far some odd hypotheses, and so reasoned very wildly and foolishly about the same matters, concerning which they at other times express very just sentiments, with great clearness, propriety, elegance, and force of argument. So strangely do some still go to work in their defences of a cause, which standeth indeed upon a very plain, as well as sure foundation; that I could not chuse but say thus much in behalf, not merely of ancient philosophy, but of the clearness and certainty of rational morality, that is, morality easily deducible from obvious principles of reason and common sense. Nay, I cannot but add, that, so fully and clearly are all the principles and doctrines of morality explained in the writings of ancient moralists, that there is no conclusion, and almost no reasoning, in any of the best modern writers upon morality and natural religion, that is not to be found in some ancient philosopher, if not in all of them. None who are acquainted with Puffendorf and Grotius, and their<432> commentators, and the other most esteemed authors of this class, can call this assertion into doubt: for in these writers, most beautiful passages from ancient authors are on every occasion quoted. What is principally aimed at in this essay, is to call upon philosophers to take the ancient way of considering human nature, and the care of providence about man in moral affairs, which is the same late philosophers have agreed to take in the investigation of natural effects, and in accounting for them, as the only proper method of coming at the knowledge of nature. And all the best, or most useful observations in this treatise, concerning human nature, and the ways of God to man, are taken from ancient authors: it was by them, or by modern authors who have rendered justice to them, that I was led to these reflexions. All indeed I have any right to pretend to, is to have attempted to dispose very ancient observations upon mankind and moral providence, into the order that natural philosophers, after Sir Isaac Newton, follow, in accounting for material phenomena, which in moral philosophy was the ancient method. It is in the knowledge of the natural world that we surpass the ancients. And if it may be justly wondered at, that the ancients never thought of searching for general laws in the material system, but imagined it almost impossible to attain to any certainty in phisiology, though they plainly had very just notions of moral providence, or of the care of heaven about mankind; and accounted for moral effects, by reducing them to powers and their laws, or manners of operation, which they perceived to be excellent beyond all exception; may it not with equal reason be justly wondered, that modern philosophers, who have found so remarkably the advantage of tracing material effects to powers and general laws of powers, should not think of carrying on their enquiries into moral phenomena in the same manner? The reason why Socrates despised the<433> phisiology of his time, was because it did not reduce effects to general laws, and shew the wisdom, fitness or goodness of those general laws, from which effects proceed. And those who will take the trouble to look into his philosophy, as it is delivered to us by his scholars, must soon see, that his way of reasoning concerning human duties, consisted in pointing out the perfections to which our several moral powers are capable of being advanced, according to the laws of our nature; and that his way of vindicating moral providence, or the ways of heaven to man, was by reducing effects in the moral world to good powers, and excellent laws of these powers, constituting the human capacity of moral perfection and happiness.
But after all that hath been said of the perfection of moral philosophy among the ancients, I think the following truths, with respect to its farther improvement, in order to carry on right education to the best advantage, very obviously follow, from the sketch of its design and aim, and fundamental principles, which hath been delineated in this enquiry; and they may therefore be added to it, as so many Corolaries.
From the idea of moral philosophy delineated in this enquiry, it plainly appears that physiology and moral philosophy are (as the ancients have often observed) in the nature of things, quite inseparable. The material world was certainly created for the sake of the moral world; they make one strictly, connected system. And indeed, the material world, considered apart from its effects upon perceptive beings, hath no existence, or at least, cannot be said to merit existence; it is neither good nor bad, beautiful nor deformed, useful nor hurtful; it cannot be<434> said to have any properties, but bare existence, which, by consequence, would, in that case, be thrown away upon it. Now hence it follows, that enquiries into the beauty, order and goodness of the material world, can only mean, enquiries into the effects, material laws and connexions have, by the appointment of the Author of nature, upon perceptive beings, and the good final ends answered by such effects. But in this sense, not only is natural philosophy a part of moral, but a very essential part of it, in order to form a just judgment of our Creator, and his disposition towards us; or, at least, to have a full and satisfactory idea of his wisdom and goodness.
Not only is this true in general, but we are so united in our present state with the material world, that we may justly be said to be a kind of being constituted by a certain blending and intermingling, or mutual dependence of moral powers and laws of matter and motion. This we plainly feel to be our present state and rank. And therefore the knowledge of ourselves must be perfect or imperfect, in proportion to the justness and adequateness of the ideas we have of that mutual dependence, and of the parts so blended and connected: This must be true of what is called moral knowledge with respect to us, or the knowledge of human nature; because it is obviously true in general. “That to know any frame, constitution, or whole, of whatever sort, is to know its parts, and those mutual respects of its parts, which make it one whole adapted to a certain end or ends.”<435>
It is therefore very much to be desired, that philosophers would carry on their researches into human nature, as a being composed by the mutual respects of moral and material parts: And while these researches are pursued, it would be of great use to youth, if the more important observations, and reasonings from observations, which have hitherto been made concerning the human nature, and the material world with which it is united, so as to make one system, were ranged into such order, as would best serve at once to give them early right notions of man’s great end, or of the chief perfection and happiness for which he is intended and made; and of the care of God, the Father of all rational beings, about mankind; and to put them into the right road of pursuing such important enquiries for the further advancement of true knowledge. Such a system of moral philosophy for the instruction of youth, would certainly be of the greatest use. The great happiness of every man, depends upon his being early convinced, by good and solid reasoning, of his being under the care of an infinitely wise and good providence, and made to pursue, by proper culture, the moral perfection of which his nature is capable, in order to complete happiness. Without such early instruction, all other science is comparatively vain and unprofitable. The proper study of mankind is man. And a system of this knowledge proper for youth is greatly needed. The necessary materials are not wanting: the work is well worth the labour of some genius adequate to it: and several noble steps have been made towards it; but a great deal remains to be done, to accomplish such a body of moral knowledge, as would fully answer the ends which have been mentioned.<436>
It is very evident from what hath been found to be true concerning human nature; and indeed, it is obvious to every one who thinks at all, that mere instruction of the best kind is not sufficient to effectuate the great end of education; but together with it, early and uninterrupted, right usage or accustomance is absolutely necessary. For the deliberative temper, or a fixed unalterable disposition to act with judgment, and after due deliberation, can only be acquired or established in the mind, like all other habits, by use, custom, or often repeated acts. And yet until this temper or habitual power of acting deliberately and judiciously be formed, one acts precipitantly or blindly, and is not master of himself and his actions: he is really not a reasonable agent. Education ought therefore to be contrived, and calculated to produce betimes this self-command, this freedom and mastership of the mind. But tho’ it be absolutely necessary, that by proper instruction, young minds should early be richly replenished with just opinions and judgments concerning all the pleasures and pains in human life, or which may attend human actions; and concerning what is fit and unfit, true, just and good, or contrariwise in every various kind of conduct in all circumstances: yet of how little use will these judgments laid up in the mind be, unless from the moment one is capable of imbibing any of them by any methods of instruction, he is likewise inured to have recourse to them to direct him in his choices and determinations. It is only by the last method, that theoretic principles can become practical ones; and that the deliberative habit can be formed in the mind; which being formed, it would almost be impossible to err, so strongly doth pure undebauched nature point out to every<437> one in every case what is fit and becoming; or, at least, what is base and unworthy. How defective education commonly is in this respect is but too evident. And how much of the viciousness and misery of mankind is owing to its being so, will appear by considering the same part of human nature in another light.
For how is it, according to the preceeding analysis of human nature, that we are guided in our actions; or how are our affections variously moved, strengthened or diminished? Is it not by our opinions of things, or by the associations of ideas which prevail in our minds? And how do false ones become so strong and fixed, that they can hardly be altered, but by allowing them to operate upon us very long without examination or controul? If our happiness chiefly depends upon our opinions of things, and the associations of ideas which excite our affections, it must be of the last importance to accustom youth by right education and discipline, often to examine their opinions of things, and call their associations of ideas to a strict account; to break them into pieces, or resolve them into their constituent parts, and impartially to consider how these parts come to be united together into one idea, opinion or judgment; upon what foundation, or for what reason, that is, whether justly or unjustly. For thus alone can one acquire, or having acquired, maintain the ruling power of reason over his opinions and associations; or be sure of not becoming a mere dupe and slave to any the most foolish unaccountable fancy. But that our happiness, as far as it depends on ourselves, chiefly depends upon our opinions of things, and the associations of ideas which rule in our minds, is evident; for<438> tho’ we cannot alter natural qualities and connexions; tho’ pleasures and pains are fixed and immutable things, yet there are almost no pains human life is incident to, which we may not very considerably alleviate by dissociating from the ideas of them, several opinions connected with them by association, contrary to reason and truth, which greatly aggravate them. Nor are there any pleasures which truly deserve to be pursued with very great affection, which may not, on the one hand, be very much diminished in our opinion, by some false and unreasonable association; or, on the other hand, very much heightened, by a true and just or well founded opinion of them, or by uniting with them, by frequent association, such complete ideas of them, that is, of their influences, tendencies, consequences and connexions, as properly belong to the account, in a fair and true estimation of their full value. Nothing can be more true, than that our affections are excited by and correspondent to the complicated appearances of things to our minds. And it is certainly true, that a very large share of the vexation and misery, as well as folly and wickedness of mankind, is owing to want of a full and strong view of the dignity and excellence of steady consistent virtuous conduct; or of just and complete associations of ideas with respect to right actions; and to the very false opinions of the pleasures arising, from certain mere vanities, in consequence of false ideas of good connected or associated with them. To lead youth therefore to right opinions, and to form and fix in their minds just and true associations of ideas, is the great business of education; the principal part of which end is accomplished by inuring them often to examine their opinions and associations of ideas; and, in general, to let no idea of happiness or misery enter, or, at least, settle in their mind, till it hath been soundly examined; for, notwithstanding the prevalency of false opinions in the world about happiness,<439> were the examining temper early established by right practice, so powerful is nature and truth; so powerful is the language of genuine, uncorrupted nature, that just ideas of pleasures and pains would as it were spontaneously present themselves to the mind: The truth of this appears plainly, if we but reflect how unavoidably the true notions of virtue and vice haunt even the most vicious to their great disquiet. In vain do they chase them away, fly from them, or endeavour to keep them out.
Here the maxim holds true,
Naturam licet expellas,36&c.
The many artifices men contrive to put some fair shew to themselves upon their vices, are clear proofs, that the sense of virtue and vice is natural and hardly eradicable: every vice is originally so hateful to every man, that he naturally thinks himself at first absolutely incapable of ever yielding to it: it is by slow degrees, not without violent struggling, and by means of many deceitful artifices to palliate things, or give them false colours, that any man ever becomes reconciled to vice in any degree: But if a person once suffers himself to listen to the subtle language of false pleasure, and to be deluded by its guileful devices into precipitant compliance, instead of calling upon his reason and moral conscience, to exert their proper authority, who can tell where such a one may stop! ’Tis for this reason, that all good moralists speak so seriously of the deceitfulness of sin, and warn us with so much warmth, to guard with the utmost watchfulness against yielding or indulging in any case, till we are sure there is no deceit, but that all is strictly agreeable to honour, virtue and integrity.<440>
It is in some such way only, that men become villains. And therefore the only preservative against gradual corruption of the heart, is strict and uninterrupted care to maintain and uphold our reason in the habitual practice of governing all our passions, and of examining strictly all the subtle pretexts with which they are so fertile.
But more particularly with regard to instruction in the science of man, it is evident from the preceeding introduction to moral philosophy, that it may proceed two ways. Either by laying open to view the powers belonging to human nature, and the laws relative to these powers in our present situation, and by tracing effects to these powers and laws of powers, as their sources, and shewing their good final causes. By powers, I would here be understood to mean, not only the active faculties belonging to man, more properly called powers; but, together with these, all the affections and appetites belonging to our nature. And in this sense I have often used the word powers in this essay for brevity’s sake. Now, in such an analysis of man, human duties will naturally present themselves to our view; for what else can the duties of man mean besides the proper exercises of his several powers; the several perfections to which they are capable of being advanced by suitable exercises; and the apposite means, according to our frame and situation, for attaining to the highest degree of excellency our powers are susceptible<441> of. The end, the dignity, the perfection, and the happiness of a being, must necessarily mean the same thing. And as it can only be inferred from the consideration of the make and situation of a being; so these being known, it must obviously appear, or be very easily discoverable.
Or moral philosophy may proceed to shew directly, that certain manners of acting, in certain circumstances, are human duties. Now if it goes this way to work, it is manifest, not only that it ought to advance gradually from one class of duties to another, according to the simplest order, and to advance in demonstrating the duties of each class from the simplest, to more and more complex cases gradually; but it is likewise very evident, that in such a demonstration of duties, recourse must every where be had to our real frame and constitution, and to our real situation, and the real connexions of things upon which we in any degree depend. It will therefore ultimately terminate in a true analysis of human nature, from which the care of Heaven about mankind, and the provision made for their advancement to perfection and happiness, will plainly appear.
An ethical system, in either of these methods, in the latter more particularly, would not only be exceedingly embellished, but greatly enforced by pointing out the various devices of ingenious arts, in order to paint out, and recommend with force to the mind, moral truths, or all the discoveries of reason concerning human duties, the beauty and advantages of every virtue, and the deformity and evil consequences of every vice; and the wise and good order observed by the Author of nature in all his works. For what, indeed, properly speaking,<442> are all the ingenious arts, or their productions, which are called works of taste and genius, (poetry more especially in all its branches) but so many languages by which truths may be conveyed into the mind, so as to reach our affections, and move them at once usefully and agreeably?
But which is more, in such ethical systems, the principal powers of the mind, and their operations, cannot be fully explained, without having recourse to the imitative arts, because there is a very remarkable class of effects produced on our minds by these arts, in consequence of certain powers belonging to our nature. Their influences upon the mind, the sources of these influences; and the rules which must be observed in compositions of various sorts, in each agreeably to its particular kind and end, in order to its perfection, must be laid open; or a very considerable part of our frame would be neglected and left out of the account. And accordingly, in ancient treatises upon morals, these arts and their delightful effects, are frequently taken notice of and illustrated. And in many ancient authors, the use that might be made of them in education, and the fitness of instructing youth early in their principal aim and true excellence, are often inculcated with great earnestness.a <443>
Early instruction in the true beauty and perfection of poetry, and its sister-arts, is not only necessary to render liberal education complete, because a right taste of them adds greatly to human happiness, and because that is the only proper method of preventing the bad effects, which these arts, being misapplied, have upon the morals of youth: But besides, right instruction in the foundation and rules of these arts, and the proper ends they ought to pursue, and cannot arrive to their beauty and perfection without pursuing, must really terminate in a very full examination or analysis of human nature. For whence else can the effects of these arts be deduced, but from nature? This is acknowledged, as often<444> as the conduct of a good poem or of a good picture is pronounced to be just and beautiful, because it is natural. And, in fact, the pieces left us by the ancients upon poetry and rhetoric, and several justly esteemed discourses of the same kind by moderns, are indeed truly moral treatises, and afford very great insight into human nature. But having sufficiently considered this matter in my treatise on ancient painting, I shall go on to another remark, which may be inferred from this introduction to moral philosophy.
In explaining moral duties, in the various circumstances of human life, in those which more frequently occur in particular, the necessity of bringing examples from history, or probable fictions, in which actions and characters are naturally represented, from the former more especially, will be readily acknowledged by all who have duly attended to the power and efficacy of example upon the human mind, or our natural strong disposition toward imitation. Examples of the virtues and vices, beautifully expressed or pointed out by being opposed to one another, do, like contrast in a picture, wonderfully strengthen, heighten and set off a moral lesson: it is thus the beauty of virtue, and the deformity of vice appear in the most conspicuous shining light. And as examples take a firmer hold of the imagination and memory than bare precepts;a <445> so instances of good and praise-worthy conduct laid up in the memory, are ready at hand, not only to point out duty to us in a stronger and clearer language, than a general rule, without particular exemplifications of it, can possibly do; but likewise to work immediately upon our imitative disposition, exciting a truly noble and laudable emulation in us. For the same reasons, it would be a very useful exercise for youth, to employ them in frequently giving their judgment of particular actions recorded in history, with reasons to support their opinion: and also to accustom them to determine what virtue requires to be done in certain given cases, which ought always to be such as have, or may occur in real life; and at first ought to be such as more frequently occur in, and are most suited to their own age and its common incidents, much in the manner Xenophon describes in his account of the education of Cyrus.38
As moral instruction ought to be carried on very gradually, by proceeding from simpler to more and more complex cases; so certainly, in the education of those of the higher ranks in life more especially, it ought to advance to the most complex and difficult of sciences, politicks. I do not merely mean, that part of it which treats of the general duties of magistrates, and the duties and rights of subjects; nor even that which treats of the duties of separate independent states, one to another; but that still more complex part, which enquires into the nature and effects of different constitutions and forms of government, and compares them together. It is not more absurd to assert, that different mixtures and combinations of sensible qualities have not each its peculiar effects, in consequence of the properties of bodies, and the laws of matter and<446> motion; than it is to assert, that different mixtures and combinations of moral qualities or causes, have not each its peculiar effects, in consequence of the nature of moral causes and their laws. Both assertions do equally terminate in affirming, that what results from a certain combination of qualities or causes, happens by chance, and is not the natural effect of the combination of qualities and causes. And if that affirmation be absurd with respect to physical qualities, or causes, and their combinations, it must likewise be absurd with respect to moral qualities, or causes, and their combinations. For quality is in no other sense a quality, but as it hath fixed, certain influences in certain cases. The words natural and moral, can make no difference in that respect. As a natural quality must mean a property of a body, which hath certain effects, so a moral quality must mean some quality of a mind which hath certain effects. If combinations of moral qualities or causes hath not their natural effects, as well as combinations of physical qualities, then there could be no political science, since that only means a collection of just conclusions concerning the natural effects arising from certain moral causes: even as there could be no physical science, did not physical causes or qualities produce certain effects, since that only means a collection of just conclusions concerning the operations of physical qualities in various circumstances or combinations. Better or worse, more or less inconvenient, cannot be acknowledged, or indeed have any meaning with respect to civil constitutions, but upon supposition that different internal principles of government (as they are very properly called by political writers) have naturally different effects. But if they have, and therefore there really be such a science as politicks, it ought certainly to make a principal part in the education of youth, of the more distinguished ranks in life, who are, as it were, born, to be public guardians, that is,<447> they ought early to be directed into the proper method of making right judgments about different constitutions, and the various effects they are liable to, in consequence of the natural effects of their internal principles in various circumstances; and of studying history in that view: and to prepare them for such study, they ought early to be made acquainted with the authors who have reasoned best upon these subjects. And indeed the more I have looked into history, and into such authors, the more reason have I found to conclude, all the effects produced by different internal principles of government or civil polity, to be proofs of the wisdom of the laws, which constitute and govern the moral world: and, at the same time, the more reason have I found to conclude, that a great deal more is owing to the natural operation of internal principles than is commonly imagined.
It is pity, that historical registers of natural phenomena have not been carefully kept from the beginning of the world, in all times and countries. Had that been done, it is reasonable to think, natural knowledge must have been long ago brought to very great perfection; and, by consequence, man would have been, long before this time, that master of the world he was certainly intended to be by science, and can only be in that manner. But tho’ that method of enlarging human dominion and happiness be yet exceedingly neglected, notwithstanding all the pains Lord Verulam, and other great genius’s have taken to recommend and chalk it out to us; tho’ it be not set on foot as it ought, even now when it is universally acknowledged by all philosophers to be the only method, and an infallible one, of getting at the knowledge of nature, of the advantages of which to us no one can doubt: tho’ this is really matter of regret, yet it is a great happiness to mankind, that the history of moral affairs from the most ancient times is so exactly transmitted to<448> us as it is: and indeed, in this case, the only thing that seems wanting, is the art of making the proper uses of such experimental registers. It were therefore to be wished, that more persons of abilities for it, would apply themselves to such calculations and deductions, for the benefit of human society, as these moral records afford proper materials for.
As it is natural to think, that very like circumstances of mankind, in the more capital or important respects, must frequently recur, because all men, in all ages, are actuated by the same springs, i.e. by the same affections, and have nearly the very same powers, and the very same connexions and dependencies: so, in fact, almost no circumstances now happen to any society, of which ancient history doth not afford some example, so similar in many material points, that by it a very right judgment may be made of their tendency, according to the natural operations of moral causes; and of the proper means to be used or interposed to give them any demanded turn.
This must have been the case ever since history deserved to be recommended, not merely for amusement, but for our instruction in the various tendencies of moral causes, and in the arts of government. ’Tis only on this account, that history merits to be called not barely, “Testis temporum & nuntia vetustatis;” but, “Lux veritatis & magistra vitae.”39
It could not be of use in that way, were it not for that likeness of times to times, and events to events, arising from the likeness of men to men, or that sameness of human nature in all times and ages of the world, which history puts beyond all doubt. But human affairs appearing by history to be really such, it acquireth thereby a right to be appealed to, to confirm or refute any political reasonings, as we do in philosophy to experiment; and thus to be<449> deemed the best, the most useful of all studies, and the surest teacher and guide in matters of society and publick concern. No doubt, men acquainted with history and human nature, might carry on moral investigations about moral qualities, and combinations of moral qualities, and their effects, a much greater length than hath been yet done. And till youth are acquainted with making proper reflexions upon, or useful deductions from events, as from moral experiments, they cannot possibly study history in the only profitable way.
But, however that be, it is obvious, to use the words of a very great author often quoted, “That as low as philosophy is now reduced, if morals be allow’d belonging to her, politicks must undeniably be hers. For to understand the manners and constitutions of men in common, ’tis necessary to study man in particular, and know the creature, as he is in himself, before we consider him in company, as he is interested in the state, or join’d to any city or community. In order to reason rightly concerning man, in his confederate state and national relation; as he stands engaged to this or that society by birth or naturalization; we must first have considered him as a citizen or commoner of the world, and have traced his pedegree a step higher, or have view’d his end and constitution in nature itself.”40
Philosophy does not proceed to its principal part, till the nature of human society, the end of government and laws, and the various tendencies of different moral combinations in social respects, or with regard to publick happiness, are thoroughly weighed and understood. But it must begin at considering man in the abstract, or his natural state and constitution; since to deduce any moral duty, or to know the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatever, it is requisite first of all to understand what condition and relation it is placed in,<450> and what is the proper end and purpose of its being.
If any one should ask, what is the properest way and time of beginning in the instruction of youth? The answer seems obvious from the preceeding account of human nature. It may be delayed too long, but it cannot be attempted too soon.a For the sooner our faculties are invited by proper methods to disclose themselves, the sooner they begin to operate, and by proper working, they quickly gain considerable strength, and arrive to great maturity: our moral sense, together with our delight in analogy and similitude, soon discover themselves, if they are duly tried. And one of the properest means of improving both these faculties, or rather determinations of our nature, is very early to convey into young minds the more simple and obvious moral truths, by apposite fables and allegories. Here poetry is of admirable use; for whatever principles, maxims, or precepts can<451> be so conveyed, both strike the mind more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by it afterwards.
But, in order to form the attentive habit, and strengthen and whet reason and the perceptive faculties; or to beget at the same time the love of knowledge, and a just notion of acuracy and coherence in reasoning, geometry hath ever been acknowledged by all philosophers to be the proper instrument, if I may so speak. Quintilian tells us, in a few words, what opinion the best ancients had of it in these respects. “Fatentur esse utilem teneris aetatibus, agitari namque animos atque acui ingenia & celeritatem percipiendi venire inde concedunt. Sed prodesse eam non ut caeteras artes, cum perceptae sint, sed cum discantur, existimant.”a
But there is another reason, tho’ that be sufficient, why it ought to make an early part of education, namely, because it is the key to that true natural philosophy, which shews so plainly the wisdom of God in all his administration; and so naturally leads the mind to the study of order, beauty, wisdom and goodness, which cannot be contemplated without being loved, nor loved without being imitated.
I shall only add to this, that by the proper methods of instructing youth in any language, their tender minds will be early let into, and replenished with the knowledge of the beautiful and truly wonderful analogies and harmonies, which prevail throughout the whole of nature. For were not only all sensible ideas analogous, in many respects, one to another, but all moral ideas likewise analogous in many respects to almost all sensible ideas, if there could be any such thing as language at all, which I much doubt, yet it is plain, at least, that languages could not abound so much as they do in<452> metaphorical words. But that being the case, early instruction in the beauty, propriety, elegance and force of metaphorical words, must not only improve the imagination, but it must really fill the mind betimes with very useful and agreeable knowledge. All this is as true and as manifest, as it is that a metaphor must be lost upon one who does not fully and clearly comprehend the analogy signified by it, and that makes it a proper or well chosen one.
From this specimen of moral philosophy, and the preceeding corolaries, it is visible, that the ancients had very good reason to say, that all the sciences are one, even as nature is one; and that they ought not to be violently torn asunder from one another in education; but ought, on the contrary, to be united together in it agreeably to their natural connexion and one common end.a <453>
All the liberal sciences into whatever different classes they may be distributed, do indeed make but one body; and none of them can be fully understood separately, or apart from all the rest; no more than a limb can be, without referring it to the whole body of which it is naturally a member.
This is plain, because in reality, that which is the only object of real knowledge, viz. nature, is truly one indivisible object, all the parts of which are strictly coherent. All that we can study, or have to study, is our own constitution and situation; our own make, and the relation we stand in to the system of which we are a part, and its author. And all the liberal arts and sciences are really but so many different languages, by which the various connexions which make our system may be pointed out, expressed, embellished, recommended or enforced on the mind: as other inferior ones are but so many arts of imitating certain laws and connexions in nature, for the convenience or ornament of human life and society. But having sufficiently illustrated this point in my essay on ancient painting,41 I shall not now insist longer upon it.
I shall conclude with observing, that the moral philosophy here delineated, will not suffer its students to give themselves up entirely to contemplation and admiration, but will vigorously push and<454> prompt them to virtuous activity as their main end, in fitting us for which the whole merit of science consists. They will soon perceive, as Cicero observes, 1. That the active mind of man when it is once inured to serious meditations and profitable enquiries, can be very busy about these while the body is intent upon, or entirely occupied in walking, riding, or other such exercises. 2. And every step one advances in moral researches, he must have this important truth more and more deeply enforced upon him, that man is made for society and action. “Virtutis laus omnis in actione consistit.”a I cannot better explain this doctrine, which is the plain language of our whole frame and contexture, than Cicero hath done in his offices.b I shall therefore give his opinion of it in the words of his english translator.
“The principal of all the virtues is that sort of wisdom which the Greeks call σοϕια; (for as to that sort which they call ϕρονησις and we prudentia, it is a thing of a perfectly different nature, as being no more than the skill of discerning what it is that we ought, or ought not to do:) But that sort of wisdom, which I said was the principal is, the knowledge of things both divine and human; and so comprehends the society and relation of men with the gods, and with one another. If then this, as most certainly it is, be the greatest virtue; it follows, that the duties which flow from society must as certainly be the greatest: for the deepest knowledge and contemplation of nature, is but a very lame and imperfect business, unless it proceed and tend forward to action: now the occasions wherein it can shew itself best, consist in maintaining the interests of men, and of consequence belong to the society of mankind: from whence it follows, that the maintaining<455> of this, should in reason take place before learning and knowledge. Nor is this any more than what all good men shew they judge to be true by their actions and practices: for who is there so wholly addicted to contemplation and the study of nature, as that, if his country should fall into danger, while he was in one of his noblest researches, he would not immediately throw all aside, and run to its relief with all possible speed; nay, though he thought he might number the stars, or take the just dimensions of the whole world? And the same would he do in the case of any danger to a friend or a parent. From all which things it undeniably appears, that the duties of knowledge and searching after truth, are obliged to give way to the duties of justice, which consist in upholding society among men; than which there is nothing we should be more concerned for. Nay, those very men, who have spent their whole lives in philosophy and learning, have yet always endeavoured, as much as they could, to be serviceable to the interest and good of mankind. For many brave men, and very useful members of their several states, have in great part been made such by their institutions. Thus Epaminondas, the famous Theban, was indebted for his education to Lysis, the Pythagorean: Dion of Syracuse, for his to Plato; and the same may be said of a great many others; even I myself, whatsoever service I have done the republick, (if at least it may be said that I have done it any service) must wholly ascribe it to that learning and those instructions I received from my masters. Neither is their teaching and instructing others determined to the time of their living here; but they continue to do it even after they are dead, by the learned discourses which they leave behind them: for there is no one point they have left unhandled, relating either to the laws, customs, or discipline of the commonwealth: so that they seem to have sacrificed their leisure and<456> opportunities of study, to the benefit of those who are engaged in business: and thus we see how those men themselves, whose lives have been spent in the pursuit of wisdom, have nevertheless endeavoured by their learning and prudence, to be some way profitable to the community of mankind. And for this one reason, persuasive speaking, if joined with prudence, is a greater accomplishment than the acutest thinking, if destitute of eloquence: for thinking is terminated in itself alone, but speaking reaches out to the benefit of those with whom we are joined in the same society. Now as bees do not therefore unite themselves together, that so they may the better prepare their combs; but therefore prepare their combs, because they do by nature unite themselves together: so men, and much more, being creatures that naturally love society, in consequence of that, seek how they may find methods of living happily in it. From hence it follows, that the knowledge of things, unless it is accompanied with that sort of virtue, which consists in defending and preserving of men, i.e. in the maintenance of human society, is but a barren and fruitless accomplishment; and even greatness of soul, without a regard to this society and conjunction, is very little better than savageness and barbarity. Thus we may see, that the getting of knowledge is a duty of much less concern and moment, than the preserving this society and union amongst men. It is a very false notion, that hath been advanced by some people, that necessity alone was the motive to this society, which we have so often mentioned; and that men would never have associated together, but that they were not able, in a solitary life, to furnish themselves with the necessaries of nature; and that every great and exalted genius, would providence supply him with food and the other conveniences of life, would withdraw from all business and intercourse with mankind, and gave himself<457> wholly to study and contemplation. This is not so; for he would avoid solitude, endeavour to find a companion in his studies, and always be desirous of teaching and learning, of hearing and speaking. From all which it is abundantly evident, that the duties belonging to human society, should in reason take place before those which relate to unactive knowledge.”
All I have been endeavouring to prove, in the text to be true, and in the marginal notes to have been the constant opinion of the best ancient philosophers, concerning human nature and the present state of virtue, is delightfully expressed by Cicero, in his first book of laws, where it is likewise fully explained and demonstrated. Animal hoc providum, sagax, multiplex, acutum, memor, plenum rationis & consilii quem vocamus hominem, praeclara quadam conditione generatum esse a supremo Deo. Quid est, non dicam in homine, sed in omni caelo, atque terra ratione divinius? Quae cum adolevit, atque perfecta est, rite sapientia nominatur. Est igitur, quoniam nihil est ratione melius, eaque & in homine, & in Deo; prima homini cum Deo rationis societas. ——— Jam vero virtus eadem in homine ac Deo est, neque ullo alio ingenio praeterea. Est autem virtus nihil aliud, quam in se perfecta, & ad summum perducta natura. Est igitur homini cum Deo similitudo. Quod cum ita sit, quae tandem potest esseproprior, certiorve cognatio. ——— Nec est quisquam gentis ullius, qui ducem naturam nactus ad virtutem pervenire non possit.42
[1. ]Cicero, De natura deorum, II.xxxiv.86–87: “But if the parts of the world are governed by nature, the world itself must needs be governed by nature. Now the government of the world contains nothing that could possibly be censured; given the existing elements, the best that could be produced from them has been produced. Let someone therefore prove that it could have been better. But no one will ever prove this, and anyone who essays to improve some detail will either make it worse or will be demanding an improvement impossible in the nature of things.” Cicero, Denatura deorum, Academica, trans. H. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1933).
[2. ]Pope, Essay on Man, I.51–52.
[a. ]Plutarch de procreatione animae. [Plutarch, De procreatione animae. Possibly a reference to passages at 1014D-E, 1015A, 1026D-E, or 1027A. Plutarch, Omnia quae extant opera, 2 vols. (Paris, 1624).]
[3. ]Cicero, De natura deorum, II.xxxiv.87: “anyone who essays to improve some detail will either make it worse or will be demanding an improvement impossible in the nature of things.”
[a. ]Henry More’s Divine Dialogues. [Henry More, Divine Dialogues (Glasgow: Foulis Press, 1743), 236.]
[4. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.162–66.
[a. ]See what Plutarch says of the dignity of man, and the extent of his power and dominion, in his excellent treatise de fortuna. Finge vero aliquem nostrum sic dicere: fortuna praestat ut videamus, non visus & oculi, quos luciferos Plato dicit. Fortuna audimus non facultate ictum aeris apprehendente qui per aures ad cerebrum fertur. Quis non vereatur hoc modo sensibus detrahere? Atqui visum auditum, gustatum olfactum, reliquas item corporis facultates atque partes natura nobis dedit, ut earum ministerio prudentia uteretur, mens enim videt, mens audit, reliqua caeca sunt & surda. Et sicut sole sublato quod ad reliqua sidera attinet, perpetuam haberemus noctem ut Heraclitus dixit: ita praestare reliqui sensus non possent absque mens esset & ratio, ut reliquis animalibus anteiret homo. Nunc quod potiores sumus iisque imperamus, non casu aut fortuitu fit, sed Prometheus, id est, rationis usus hoc efficit.
Alioqui sui ortus natura & conditione pleraque bruta sunt quam nos meliora. Alia enim cornibus armantur, dentibus stimulis, &c.—Solus homo, ut ait Plato, nudus, incrinis, sine calceis & tegmine est a natura relictus.
Scilicet rationis usum & industriam ac providentiam,
Nihil agilius equo nihil velocius; sed hominibus currunt. Ferox est animal canis & iracundum: sed homines custodit—Faciunt enim eo, ut discamus quo hominem attollat ratio, & quibus rebus eum superiorem faciat, utque omnia in suam redigat potestatem.—Peritia autem, memoria, sapientia & arte secundum Anaxagoram omnia quae ipsa habent bruta in nostros vertimus usus: favos apum colligimus, lac mulgemus, &c.—Enim vero in humanis rebus haud dubie censendum est etiam artificum opera & fabrorum qui metalla cudunt, qui domos aedificant, qui statuas faciunt, &c.—Mirum itaque sit, cum artes ut suum finem consequantur nihil indigeant fortunae opera, artem omnium maximam & perfectissimam quae humanae gloriae & officii summam continet nullam esse, &c. [Plutarch, Defortuna, 98B-99C:“Suppose indeed that one of us says that it is chance that is responsible for our seeing and not the faculty of sight and our eyes, which Plato calls ‘conveyers of light,’ that it is by chance that we hear and not by a faculty which takes up a vibration of the air which is conveyed through the ears to the brain. If this were how things were, who would not be fearful of relying on their senses? But nature has given us sight, hearing, taste, smell, and the other faculties and parts of the body so that practical wisdom should make use of their ministerial possibilities. For mind sees, mind hears, everything else is blind and deaf. And, just as if the sun were removed from the world then, despite the continuing existence of the stars, we would be in perpetual night as Heracleitus says; so also even if a human being had the other senses, but did not have mind and reason, he would be no greater than the other animals. But we are greater than they and have dominion over them, not fortuitously or by chance, but instead it is because of Prometheus, that is, it is brought about by the use of reason. ‘The offspring of horses, of asses, and of bulls take on our roles and undertake our labors’—as Aeschylus says. Yet by the nature and condition of their birth most animals are better provided for than we are. For some are armed with horns, with sharp teeth, etc. . . . Only man, as Plato says, naked, hairless, unshod and without covering, has been forsaken by nature. ‘But by nature’s gift one thing softens everything,’ namely the use of reason, attentiveness, and foresight.
Nothing is more nimble than the horse, nothing faster, but it is for men that they run. Dogs are courageous and irascible, but they watch over men. . . . The point is that we thereby learn to what extent reason elevates man, and learn what those beings are over which reason gives him a superior position, so that all things are in his power. . . . By experience, memory, wisdom, and art we put to our use, according to Anaxagoras, everything that the beasts have. We take honey, milk, etc. . . . Moreover, without doubt among ‘human activities’ there areto be included the work of artificers and handymen who work with metals, build dwellings, make statues, etc. . . . It would be a matter for wonderment if, when the other arts do not need good fortune to secure their goals, the greatest and most perfect of all arts, the one which includes the peak of human glory and duty, were a nothing without good fortune.”]
[a. ]Natura enim hoc corporis tabernaculum veluti instrumentum composuit ut & obediens sit, & ad omnes vitae rationes concinno quodam aptoque modo par esse possit. Animus quoque ad convenientes virtutes conformandus est atque instituendus: nimirum ad temperantiam, veluti corpus ad sanitatem: ad prudentiam vero veluti ad sensuum subtilitatem: ad fortitudinem veluti ad robur & vires: ad justitiam veluti corpus ad pulchritudinem. Harum virtutum primordia quidem sunt ex natura: media, vero & fines, in diligentia: in corpore videlicet gymnastices adjumento & medicinae: in animo autem eruditionis & philosophiae beneficio. Hae enim facultates nutriunt & roborant, &c. Timaeus Locrus de anima mundi.
[a. ]See Mr. Hutcheson on the Passions, whose words these are. [Francis Hutcheson, An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions. . . . (1728), ed. Aaron Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002), I.VI.iv.]
[b. ]De Offic. Lib. 1. [Cicero, De officiis, II.v.16.]
[a. ]See the corolary to the Chapter, on the association of ideas and habits; Part 1.
[5. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.53–66.
[a. ]See Hutcheson on the passions, whose words I here use. [Hutcheson, Passions, I.VI.iv. The last sentence of the quote is not included in this passage, but appears to be a version of a sentence in I.III.v.]
[6. ]This is a major topic in the lengthy discussion between Socrates and Callicles in Plato’s Gorgias, 477E-481B.
[7. ]More, Divine Dialogues, 219–20.
[8. ]Plato, Gorgias, 477E-481B.
[a. ]See Plutarch de virtute morali.—Multo autem his utiliores sunt affectuum foetus, rationi praesto ubi sunt, eique ad virtutem enitenti opem ferunt. Sic moderata ira fortitudini adjumento est, odium in malos justitiae, ac justa indignatio adversus nullo suo merito rebus secundis elatos, quando hi dementia simul atque petulantia inflammatis animis coercitione opus habent. Jam ab amicitia naturalem ad diligendum propensionem, ab humanitate misericordiam, a vera benevolentia gaudere una atque dolere, ne si velis avellere ullo modo possis. Praeterea si peccant qui una cum insano amore omnem tollunt amorem: equidem non recte agunt, qui propter avaritiam omnes etiam alias damnent appetitiones. Sed perinde agunt ac si quis currendum, quod aliquando impingatur, aut jaciendum neget, quia nonnunquam a scopo aberretur; aut canendum quod inscite canatur.—Adde quod si omnino evelli ex animis affectus possint multorum eorum ratio hebetior fieret atque ociosior, sicut gubernator vento cessante non admodum habet quod agat. Atque haec ut apparet, observantis legumlatoris in civitate ambitionem, aemulationemque excitant, &c.—Non enim tam recte cum Xenocrate dixeris, mathematicas disciplinas esse ansas philosophiae: quam hoc, affectus istos verecundiam, cupiditatem, poenitentiam, voluptatem, dolorem, ansas esse adolescentium: quas salutari atque concinna opportunitate ratio & lex apprehendentes, eos cum profectu in rectam perducant viam, ut non male professus fuerit Laco ille paedagogus effecturum se, ut puer gauderet honestis, ac moleste ferat turpia, quo liberalis institutionis fine neque major potest ullus, neque pulchrior nuncupari.
[9. ]Shaftesbury, “Sensus communis,” II.i, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 42–45.
[a. ]See his Essay on the freedom of wit and humour. This passage is quoted as an example of good natured refutation. [What follows is a selection of quotes from Shaftesbury’s “Sensus communis,” II.i, in Characteristics, ed. Klein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 42–44.]
[a. ]See Charact. T. 1. p. 115. whence this excellent observation is taken. [What appears to be a single long quote is an out-of-order selection of quotes from “Sensus communis,” III.ii, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 52–53.]
[10. ]Pope, Essay on Man, I.165–78.
[11. ]Ibid., II.181–202.
[a. ]Mr. Hutcheson on the passions. [Hutcheson, Passions, I.VI.vii.]
[a. ]This author makes another observation to the same purpose, page 177, which the reader may consult.
[a. ]Animi constitutio sic se habet, ut una sit ejus pars ratio, altera iracundia, tertia cupiditas. Ratio cognitioni, ira robori, cupiditas appetitui praeest. Cum igitur haec tria una compago in unum redigantur, tum virtus in animo gignitur & concordia: cum per seditionem inter se dividuntur, vitium oritur atque discordia. Sunt autem virtuti haec tria necessaria, ratio, facultas & consilium. Jam ratione animae praeditae virtus est prudentia, quoniam judicii & contemplationis particeps est habitus: iracundiae autem fortitudo, quandoquidem resistit, & gravia perfert hic habitus: cupiditatis vero temperantia, posteaquam corporis voluptatum quaedam est moderatio: totius denique animi justitia, &c. Ex Theage Pythagorio, in libro de virtutibus. [Theages Pythagoreas, De Virtutibus, in Gale, Opuscula, 688–89. The sentence beginning “Sunt autem” is from Metopus Pythagoreus, De virtute (Gale 685), and the remainder of the passage is a paraphrase of Theages Pythagoreus (Gale 689–90). “The constitution of the mind is such that one of its parts is reason, the second is irascibility, and the third is desire. Reason governs thinking, anger governs strength, and desire governs appetite. When therefore these three things are reduced to one by a single link then virtue and concord arise in the mind. When they become divided by dissension then vice and discord arise” (Gale 688–89). “But there are three things that are necessary for virtue, reason, ability, and deliberation”(Metopus, Gale 685). “Now, the virtue of the mind that corresponds to reason is practical wisdom, since that is a disposition to both judgment and contemplation. The virtue corresponding to irascibility is courage, since it withstands things, and the disposition secures weighty aims. Temperance is the virtue corresponding to desire, since it acts to moderate the pleasures of the body. Justice briefly is the virtue of the whole mind” (Theages, Gale 689–90). Gale, ed., Opuscula mythologica, physica et ethica. Graece et Latine. . . .(Am sterdam, 1688).]
[12. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.67–80.
[13. ]Pope, Essay on Man, I.162–64.
[a. ]This objection would quickly evanish, if we would but reflect, 1. How necessary variety of talents and characters among mankind is.
And, 2. Whence this variety proceeds.
[Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle I, To Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobham, lines 15–22, 31–36, 149–50, 208–9. Alexander Pope, Pope: Poetical Works, ed. Herbert Davis (London: Oxford University Press, 1966).]
[14. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.29–34.
[a. ]That temperance is the best preservative of health, and that honesty is the best policy, are universal proverbs in all countries, and they ever were so; and are not these a complete system of morals. For every one becomes soon enough acquainted with his constitution to know what disorders or discomposes him; and, in order to know, what honesty requires in any particular instance, one needs only suppose himself in the case proposed, and ask himself, what he would desire or expect to be done to him in it. But which is more, in all countries there are prevailing fables known to the vulgar, that express in a very strong manner, all the more important duties and rules of life.
[15. ]This sentence and the following lengthy quote are from Shaftesbury, “Sensus communis,” III.i, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 50.
[a. ]A late author, (Hist. du Ciel) in my opinion, hath rendered it exceeding probable, that superstition or idolatry took its rise from the misinterpretation of the symbolical language in practice amongst the Aegyptians more especially, the first meaning of which, after the invention and common use of letters, was soon forgot. But, at the same time, he shews, that the worship of dead heroes was the earliest species of idolatrous worship; ancient symbols that were originally used, to signify the proper occupations of the different seasons and months of the year, and to mark out the returns of feasts, having been, after their proper use was forgot, first interpreted to signify the inventions or actions of deceased benefactors, heroes or kings. And nothing is more plain from history, than that ambitious men were at great pains to promote the custom of Apotheosis, in concert with those employed about sacred things, who found their account in it on many considerations. In fine, we may judge how idolatry was introduced and kept up in ancient times, from the way in which false religion is now supported. Tyrants, and corrupt priests, mutually finding their interest in it, cordially league and unite to uphold it by all the arts they can devise. ’Tis the divine right of these two to enslave the rest of mankind, and to live luxuriantly upon their industry, or rather drudgery, that is the chief end of all the mixed policy of arbitrary power and superstition. But the success of such cruel policy, so evidently contrary to the well-being and happiness of every individual in such tyrannies, must first be allowed to be a good argument against our being naturally sensible to misery and happiness, before it can be brought as one to prove, that we have in our nature no social feeling, no disposition toward society and union. [Noël Antoine Pluche, Histoire du ciel considéreé selon les idées des poètes, des philosophes et de Moïse (Paris, 1738–39, translated by J. B. de Freval as The History of the Heavens (London, 1740).]
[a. ]See this subject finely treated in Plutarch de fortuna. Vitam regit fortuna, quidam dixit, non sapientia. Quid ergo? neque justitia, neque equalitas, neque temperantia, neque modestia res humanas dirigunt? Sed a fortuna & propter fortunam factum est ut in sua perseveraret Aristides paupertate cum parare divitias sibi posset? Et Scipio, &c.—Jam consilii dexteritate sublata, par est neque considerationem ullam rerum relinqui; neque investigationem utilitatis—Quid enim invenire aut discere homines possent homines si fortuna omnia dirigantur?—Ita prudentia neque aurumest, neque argentum, neque gloria, neque valetudo, neque robur, neque pulchritudo. Quid ergo ea est? Id quod recte his omnibus uti potest, ac singula horum jucunda facit, laudibilia, utilia, cum sine hac inutilia, sterilia, damnosaque sint, & molestiam dedecus possidenti ea adferant. Praeclare itaque Prometheus apud Hesiodum praecipit Epimetheo.
Nimirum de fortunae bonis loquens: perinde ac si musicae ignarum canere fistula, aut recitare indoctum, aut equitare ignarum equi gubernandi vetant: ita eum hortans ne magistratum gerat cum imprudens sit, neve sit dives animo praeditus illiberali. Non enim duntaxat res secundae indigno oblatae occasionum stultis exhibent malorum consiliorum, ut Demosthenes dixit; sed & prosperitas merito major imprudentibus calamitatum ansa & origo est.
[a. ]The whole dissertation of Plutarch de capienda ex inimicis utilitate is a proof of this. Vis inimico ut egre sit facere, noli ei exprobare lasciviam, molitiem, intemperantiam, illiberalitatem, ipse fortis esto, castus, verax, humanumque & aequum iis cum quibus tibi res est te praebe. Quod si ad maledicendum, &c.—Si illiteratum, studium discendi tuum laboremque intende: si timidum, excita fortitudinem tuam, si lascivum dele ex animo si quod restat delitescens libidinis vestigium.—Atque hoc modo licet in inimicitia mansuetudinem & malorum tolerantiam demonstrare. Simplicitati & magnanimitati atque bonitati plus loci hic est, quam in amicitiis. Non enim tam pulchrum est, bene amico facere quam turpe non facere id, cum necessitas ejus requirit. Ceterum oblata occasione ulciscendi inimicum, eum missum facere aequanimitatis est. Qui vero & miseratur inimicum afflictum & opem infert indigenti, & filiis ejus ac familiae adverso ipsorum tempore operam suam studiumque defert; hunc qui non amat ob animi humanitatem neque probitatem laudat, Huic pectus atrum est atque adamantinum.—He concludes with a most generous remark. Qui vero non excaecatur odio inimici, sed vitam ejus, mores, dicta, factaque ut incorruptus spectator contemplatur, is pleraque eorum, quorum sinistra aemulatione correptus est, intelliget ei diligentia, providentia, probisque actionibus parta esse: eodemque contendens, studium honestatis, gloriaeque suum augebit; vanitate & socordia affectuum amputatis, &c. [Plutarch, De capienda ex inimicis utilitate: “Should you wish to upset your enemy do not reproach him with being licentious, soft, intemperate, or mean. You yourself be strong, pure, truthful; be humane and fair with those with whom you have to treat. If for cursing, etc. . . . If you say your enemy is illiterate, intensify your studying and your hard work. If you say he is timid, kindle your courage. If you say he is licentious, erase from your mind any trace of lechery that may remain there. . . . And in this way it is possible, in our dealings with our enemies, to show mildness and tolerance of wicked people. There is more room for guilelessness, magnanimity, and goodness here than in our dealings with our friends. For it is less fine a thing to behave well toward a friend than it is a bad thing not to behave well toward him when he has need of your kindly act. But to let pass an occasion to take revenge on an enemy is to perform an act of impartiality toward him. Indeed a person who has pity for an afflicted enemy and helps him in his need, and works industriously on behalf of his enemy’s children and household during this difficult time for them—one who does not love him for his humane spirit and does not praise him for his uprightness has a heart which is black and hard” (88C-91A). “But someone who is not blinded by hatred for his enemy but instead, as an uncorrupted spectator observes his enemy’s life, morals, affirmations, and actions, will come to understand that most of the things of which the enemy has been accused as a result of perverse envy, have been produced in consequence of his enemy’s diligence, foresight, and honest acts. And so, striving toward this same goal, he will intensify his striving for honor, repute, and renown, and will make an end of his idleness and indolence, etc.” (92C-D).]
[a. ]So Cicero, in a fragment preserved by D. Aug. Lib. IV. cap. 2. de Trinitate.—Nec enim fortitudinis indigeremus, nullo proposito aut labore aut periculo: nec justitia cum esset nihil, quod apeteretur alieni: nec temperantia quae regeret eas, si nullae essent libidines: nec prudentia quidem egeremus nullo delectu proposito bonorum & malorum. [Augustine, De trinitate, XIV.ix.3: “For we would not need courage where neither travail nor danger confronts us. Nor would we need justice where there was nothing of another’s that was coveted. Nor would temperance govern the passions where there were no passions. Nor would we need prudence where there were no goods to delight us, nor any evils either.” (A.B., trans.)]
[b. ]See Seneca. Quare bonis viris mala accidunt quum sit providentia. He perhaps goes too far, when he says, Nobis interdum voluptati est, si adolescens constantis animi irruentem feram venabulo excipit, si leonis incursum interritus pertulit, tantoque spectaculum est gratius, quanto id honestior fecit. Non sunt ista quae possunt Deorum in se vultum convertere, sed puerilia & humanae oblectantia levitatis. Ecce spectaculum dig. num, ad quod respiciat intentus operi suo Deus. Ecce par Deo dignum, vir fortis cum mala fortuna compositus, utique si & provocavit. Non video inquit, quid habet in terris Jupiter pulcrius, si convertere animum velit, quam ut spectet Catonem?
[a. ]Ut in fidibus, ac tibiis, atque cantu ipso, ac vocibus concentus est quidam tenendus ex distinctis sonis, quem immutatum, ac discrepantem aures eruditae ferre non possint, isque concentus ex dissimillimarum vocum moderatione concorstamen efficitur & congruens: sic ex summis & infimis, & mediis interjectis ordinibus, ut sonis moderata ratione, auctus consensu dissimillimorum concinit, & quae harmonia a musicis dicitur in cantu, ea est in civitate concordia arctissimum atque optimum omni in repub. vinculum incolumitatis; quae sine justitia nullo pacto esse potest. Cicero de rep. l. 2. Ex Aug. de civit. dei. l. 2. c. 21.
[a. ]See an excellent paper on this subject, Vol. VI. No. 464. that is concluded with a very pretty alegory, which is wrought into a play by Aristophanes, the Greek Comedian. It seems originally designed as a satyr upon the rich, though in some parts of it, it is like the foregoing discourse, a kind of comparison between wealth and poverty.
[a. ]See the different effects of arts described by Plato, together with the gymnastical exercises, which make a truly liberal education. De Rep. Lib. 3. Nonne animadvertis inquam at animum afficiant, qui gymnasticam per omnem vitam exercent, musicam non attingunt, vel qui contra faciunt? Qua de re, inquit loqueris? De feritate inquam & rustica quadam duritie, & contra molitie & mollitate & comitate. Novi equidem eos inquit, qui mera simplicique utuntur musica plus aequo agrestiores evadere. Qui contra musica duntaxat molliores, quam quod sit illis decorum. Atqui vis ipsa aggrestis ad iracundae naturae animositatem, granditatemque pertinet quae in recta educatione instituitur, in fortitudinem abit: sin autem praeter id quod decet extenditur atque excrescit, ferox, ut consentaneum est, ac dura;—Quid vero? Nonne philosophica natura vim habet quandam mitem atque comem, quae si nimium remissa fuerit, plus aequo mollior redditur: sin praeclare educata atque instituta, praeclarum aliquod modestiae & comitatis exemplum solet existere.—Nonne igitur oportet illas inter se aptas conspirare atque consentire? Ejusque animus qui hoc temperamento aptatus est atque affectus temperans est atque fortis.—Quicunque igitur sinit musicaecantus perpetuo circumsonare animo suo, eamque per aures veluti per infundibulum, concentibus illis quos supra dulces, molles appellavimus perfundit.—Tandemqueliquat & dissolvit animum, donec omnis illa animositas contabuerit penitus, eamque veluti nervos ex animo exciderit, segnemque bellatorem effecerit.—Quod si quis gymnastices victui se totum tradat musicae & philosophiae studiis neglectis, primo quidem firmum corporis habitum consecutus, animos sumit, & granditate seipsum replet ipseque seipso fortior evadit. Quid vero? Quandoquidem nihil aliud agit, neque illi quicquam cum musis est commune, neque ullum discendi studium in ipsius animo inest quippe qui ne supremis labris quidem ullam disciplinam gustarit.—Nequeullam aliam musicae partem, infirmitas quaedam, & visus, & auditus hebitudo dominatur: quum ipsius sensus neque exsuscitentur, neque nutriantur, neque ullo modo expurgentur: Hispidus quidem & importunus homo, omnis eruditionis ac comitatis expers mihi videtur, &c. See Aristot. Polit. Lib. 8. 3, 4, 5, 6, &c. where the character of the Lacedemonians is shewn to be the natural effect of their education. [Plato, Republic, 410C-411D: “‘Surely you have noticed,’ I said, ‘the effect on the mind made by those who do gymnastic exercises throughout their lives, and who do not concern themselves with music, and the effect on the mind of those who live the opposite kind of lives?’ ‘What do you mean?’ he said. ‘I mean a certain wildness and coarseness, and on the contrary side, a gentleness and courteousness.’ ‘I have noticed,’ he said, ‘that those who listen to plain, simple music more than they should, become more wild. Those who listen only to music become softer than is right for them. And there is a wildness if the boldness turns into courage. But if it grows beyond what is fitting, then, as is agreed, it becomes fierce and hard.’ ‘And so?’ ‘Surely a philosophical nature has a certain kindly and gentle force which, if it were too weak, would become too soft. But if it were rightly instructed and composed it would have a disposition of exemplary modesty and kindness. Should not these two natures combine and work harmoniously? And the mind which has become suited to and qualified by this temperament is self-controlled and strong. Whoever allows music to resonate forever in his soul, pours through his ears as through a funnel the sweet, soft songs to which we have already referred. At length it melts and dissolves the mind until all that wildness has wasted away completely, as if he has cut out the nerves from his mind and made himself a lazy fighter. . . . But if someone works hard at gymnastics and eats heartily, and if he does not work at music and philosophy, then he becomes physically strong and also lively in spirit, and he acquires a certain grandeur and a greater courage.’ ‘Surely he does.’ ‘But if he does nothing other than this, nor has anything in common with the Muses, nor goes in for any studying, he will not taste any instruction at the highest levels nor will taste any other part of music. A certain weakness and a dullness of sight and hearing reigns, for his senses are neither stimulated nor nourished nor in any way purified. He seems to me to be a rough and unfit man, a stranger to all learning and to courteous living.’”]
[Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle III, to Allen, Lord Bathurst, lines 161–62. Alexander Pope, Pope: Poetical Works, ed. Herbert Davis (London: Oxford University Press, 1966).]
[16. ]“A binding of both worlds.”
[a. ]Quicunque igitur motus sunt qui naturam excedunt, dolorem pariunt: quicunque vero ad ipsam restituuntur voluptates nominantur, &c. Timaeus locrus de anima mundi. [Timaeus Locrus, De anima mundi: “Hence whatever changes there are that go beyond what is natural, cause pain; and whatever changes there are that restore things to their natural state are called pleasures.” In Gale, ed., Opuscula mythologica, physica et ethica. Graece et Latine. . . . (Amsterdam, 1688), 557.]
[17. ]Henry More, Divine Dialogues (Glasgow: Foulis Press, 1743), 153.
[18. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.117–30.
[19. ]Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, 4th ed. (London, 1725), 424–25.
[20. ]Ibid., 428.
[a. ]Fable of the bees. [See notes 19–20.]
[21. ]Ibid., 37.
[22. ]Lucretius, De rerum natura, III.9–10: “Thou, father, are the discoverer of truths, thou dost supply us with a father’s precepts.” Lucretius, De rerum natura, trans. W. H. D. Rouse, rev. Martin Ferguson Smith, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1975).
[a. ]Characteristicks, T. 1. [The long quote, running from pp. 376 to 380, is from Shaftesbury, “Sensus communis,” III.iii, in Characteristics, ed. Klein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 53–56.]
[a. ]There is an excellent treatise of Plutarch, De his qui sero a numine puniuntur, well worth our attention, in which he gives several answers to this important question, Why the wicked are not immediately and visibly punished in this life, but often suffered to flourish. First, he quotes Plato, Plato in nobis visum a natura fuisse accensum dicit, ut spectandis admirandisque coelestium corporum motibus anima nostra amplecti condocefacta decorum & ordinem odium conciperet incompositorum & vagorum motuum, temeritatemque & casui fidentem levitatem fugeret tanquam omnis vitii & erroris originem. Non est enim major alius fructus quem ex Deo capere possit homo, quam quod imitatione pulchrorum & bonorum quae divinae naturae insunt, virtute potiatur. Propterea Deus malis interposita mora ac tarde poenas infligit. Non quod vereatur, ne accelerando supplicio erret aut committat cujus poenitentia aliquando ducatur. Sed ut in vindicandis aliorum peccatis saevitiam & vehementiam nobis hoc exemplo suo eximat.—Caute in hoc genere versari & mansuetudinem graviumque laesionum tolerantiam pro divina habere virtutis parte, quam Deus nobis demonstrat, puniendo, paucos emendantem, tarde puniendo multosj uvantem atque corrigentem, &c. The other reasons he adds seem very nearly to coincide with what our Saviour says in answer to this question, Wilt thou then that we go and gather up the tares? But he said, Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them: And with what St. Peter says, Be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Account therefore that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation. [Plutarch, De his qui sero a numine puniuntur, 550D-F, 551C: “Plato says that sight was awakened in us by nature, so that by looking at and admiring the motions of heavenly bodies our mind would love their beauty and regularity, would conceive a hatred for irregular and undirected motions, and would flee from what happens by chance and by accident as the origin of all vice and error. For there is no greater benefit that a man can gain from God than that by imitation of the beautiful and good things which are inherent in the divine nature he can come to acquire virtue. God therefore imposes punishment in a slow unhurried way. It is not that he is afraid that if he punishes with greater haste he will make a mistake or will come to repent of his acts. Rather it is that in not hurrying to punish the sins of people he would by his example take from us our cruelty and violence. . . . Consider things in this area with caution and take the mildness and strong tolerance which God revealsto us to be adivinepart of virtue, a part which improves a few people by punishing them, and helps set right many by being slow to punish, etc.”
[23. ]“Every man makes his own fortune.”
[24. ]Cornelius Nepos, Atticus, XI.16: “Tis each man’s character his fortune makes.” Cornelius Nepos, trans. J. C. Rolfe (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1984).
[a. ]Aristotle ars poetica, cap. 9. [Aristotle, Poetics, 1451A36–1452B4.]
[b. ]Ibid. cap. 13. [Ibid., 1453A.]
[c. ]See this observation illustrated by Mr. Hutcheson, in his conduct of the passions. [Hutcheson, Passions, I.III.v.]
[d. ]Characteristics, T. 1. advice to an author. [Shaftesbury, “Soliloquy,” II.i, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 98.]
[25. ]Juvenal, Satires, XIII.240–45: “For who ever fixed a term to his own offending? When did a hardened brow ever recover the banished blush? What man have you ever seen that was satisfied with one act of villainy? Our scoundrel will yet put his feet into the snare. . . .” Juvenal and Persius, trans. G. G. Ramsay, rev. ed., Loeb Clas sical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940).
[26. ]Milton, Paradise Lost, 2.146–47. “Though full of pain” is given in place of “For fear of pain.” Turnbull appears to have lifted the quote from Hutcheson, who has the same wrong wording (An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions. . . . (1728); ed. Aaron Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002), VI.iv).
[a. ]Most of these observations are given in Mr. Hutcheson’s words, in his excellent treatise on the conduct of the passions. [Rather than being “in Mr. Hutcheson’s words,” the preceding paragraph and what follows are paraphrased in Turnbull’s words; see Hutcheson, Passions, IV.iv.]
[b. ]See Plutarch’s excellent treatise De virtute & vitio, where he reasons at great length to prove that the greatest abundance of worldly wealth, or the happiest circumstances of outward enjoyment, are absolutely insufficient, without virtue, to produce peace and contentment of mind, or to make happy; and on the other hand, that virtue is an unspeakable support in adversity. [The subject of Plutarch’s entire treatise De virtute et vitio is indicated in Turnbull’s comment.]
[27. ]In this quote from Hutcheson, Passions, I.V.ix, Turnbull has “sensible desires” in place of Hutcheson’s “Fantastic desires.”
[Horace, Epistles, I.i.98–100: “scorns what it craves, asks again for what it lately cast aside; when it shifts like a tide, and in the whole system of life is out of joint, pulling down, building up, and changing square to round?” Horace, Satires, Epistles and Ars poetica, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1926).]
[28. ]Persius, Satires, III.69: “What good is there in fresh-minted coin; how much should be spent on country and on your dear kin?” Juvenal and Persius, trans. G. G. Ramsay, rev. ed., Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940).
[29. ]Hutcheson, Passions, II.VI.vi.
[30. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.145–56, 167–72, 181–84, 230–36.
[a. ]So all the ancients define the virtuous man. See Plutarch, De virtutibus moralibus. And, De animi tranquillitate.—So Cicero frequently. See particularly, De legibus, Lib. 1. Quod si poena si metus supplicii non ipsa turpitudo, &c.—So even the poets.
[Cicero, De legibus, I.xiv.40: “But if it is a penalty, the fear of punishment, and not the wickedness itself, etc.” Cicero, De republica, De legibus, trans. Clinton Walker Keyes, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1928). Horace, Epistles, I.xvi.50–52: “For the wolf is wary and dreads the pit, the hawk the suspected snare, the pike the covered hook. The good hate vice because they love virtue.”]
[a. ]See a fine sentence of Cicero to this purpose preserved by Lactantius, Lib. 5. cap. 19. Vult paene virtus honorem: nec est virtutis ulla alia merces, quam tamen illa accipit facile, non exigit acerbe. Sed si aut ingrati universi, aut invidi multi, aut inimici potentes suis virtutem praemiis spoliant, nec illa se tamen multis solatiis oblectat, maximeque suo decore seipsam sustentat. With regard to vice, there is another fragment of Cicero preserved by the same author, Lib. 6. cap. 8. which is exceedingly beautiful. Est quidem vera lex, recta ratio, naturae congruens, diffusa in omnibus, constans, sempiterna—Unusque erit communis quasi magister, et imperator omnium Deus, ille legis huius inventor, disceptator, lator: cui qui non parebit, ipse se fugiet, ac naturam hominis aspernabitur, atque hoc ipsoluet poenas maximas, etiamsi caetera supplicia, quae putantur, effugerit. See a charming description of virtue, and the happiness it brings along with it, in Juvenal’s Prayer, Satyre 18. See what he says of the punishment of vice by itself, Satyre 13. And there are many beautiful passages to the same purpose in Plato, particularly De Republica, Lib. 1. [Lactantius, The Divine Institutes, bk. 5, ch. 18.4: “Virtue almost has a claim on honor, nor does virtue have any other reward. But she accepts it with ease and does not demand it with bitterness. Yet if all the ungrateful people or the many who are envious or the powerful hostile people rob virtue of its rewards, she will nevertheless delight in so much consolation and will sustain herself particularly with her comeliness.” Lactantius, bk. 6, ch. 8: “The true law, right reason, is indeed congruent with nature, diffused through all things, constant, everlasting. . . . And one God will be as it were a com mon master and commander of all. He will be inventor, judge and proposer of this law. Whoever will not submit to him will put himself to flight and will spurn his nature as a human being. He will thereby suffer the greatest penalty even if he escapes other punishments which are being considered.” (A.B., trans.)]
[31. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.203–4, 207–16.
[32. ]Plato, The Apology, 41C-D: “No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods.”
[a. ]Ethic Epistles, Book II. Epist. 1. to Lord Cobham. [Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle I, To Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobham. Alexander Pope, Pope: Poetical Works, ed. Herbert Davis (London: Oxford University Press, 1966).]
[33. ]Pope, Essay on Man, I.16.
[34. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.107–22.
[a. ]Cicero de Inven. Rhet. Lib. II. No. 55. Ed. Schrivelii. [See Cicero, De inventione, II.liv.165. Cicero, De inventione. . . ., trans. H. M. Hubbell, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1949).]
[35. ]See Samuel Clarke, A Discourse Concerning the Unchangeable Obligation of Natural Religion (London, 1706), and William Wollaston, The Religion of Nature Delineated (London, 1724).
[a. ]See this important truth fully and clearly explained by Mr. Locke, in his chapter on power. Essay on human understanding. [John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), bk. 2, ch. 21.]
[a. ]This reasoning often occurs in the Meditations of Marcus Antoninus Philosophus. See it explained, Characteristicks, T. 1. Essay on enthusiasm. [Shaftesbury, “Letter Concerning Enthusiasm” V, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 21.]
[b. ]That there must be a mind which has relation to the whole, is evident, because a whole must be contrived and produced.
[a. ]See this fully handled in my philosophical enquiry concerning the connexions between the doctrines and works of Jesus Christ. [A Philosophical Enquiry Concerning the Connexion Between the Doctrines and Miracles of Jesus Christ (London, 1731).]
[a. ]Many of the discourses at Mr. Boyle’s lecture are of this kind. Those of Dr. John Clark in particular.
[b. ]Analysis and by Synthesis.
[c. ]In his optics towards the end. [Isaac Newton, Opticks, 4th ed. (1730); reprint, pref. I. Bernard Cohen (New York: Dover Publications, 1952), bk. 3, query 31.]
[36. ]Horace, Epistles, I.x.24: “you may drive out nature. . . .” Horace, Satires, Epistles and Ars poetica, trans H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1926).
[37. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.217–20.
[a. ]See Plutarch de audiendis poetis.—Non ergo fugienda sunt poemata philosophaturis: sed adhibenda poematibus philosophica consideratio, adsuescendumque ut in eo quod delectat utilitatem quaeras & eam amplectaris.—Enim vero sicut in picturis color plus afficit quam linea, propter similitudinem corporis & fallendi aptitudinem: ita in poematibus mendacium probabilitate temperatum magis percellit & gratius est apparatu carminis & dictionis fabula & figmento carentis.—Magis quoque adhuc cautum eum reddemus, si simulatque eum ad poemata applicamus, ipsam poeticam ei describamus; artem nimirum esse imitatricem, pingendique arti quasi ex altera parte respondentem. Neque id modo auditum habeat omnium sermone tritum, quo loquentis picturae nomine poesis, pictura tacentis poesis afficitur. Sed praeterea quoque eum doceamus quod pictam lacertam aut simiam, aut Thersitae faciem videntes delectamur, miramurque non pulchritudinis sed similitudinis causa. Suapte enim natura fieri id quod turpe est pulchrum non potest: imitatio, sive pulchrae, sive turpis rei similitudinem exprimat laudatur: eademque rursus, si pulchram turpis corporis imaginem effingat, decorum non servaverit. Pingunt etiam quidam actiones absurdas—in his adolescens est maxime assuefaciendus ut discat rem quae imitatione expressa est, non laudari: sed artem quae id quod propositum erat, recte representaverit. Quando igitur poetica ars—idcirco eum admonebimus, indignum esse, si honestatis pulchrique studiosus, & non hoc, sed doctrinae capiendae causa poemata legens obiter negligenterque percipiat quae ad fortitudinem, temperantiam aut justitiam declamantur in iis—qualia sunt, videre hominem prudentissimum in mortis periculo cum tota multitudine communi constitutum, non mortis sed turpitudinis metu duci, animo adolescentis ad virtutis studium motum afferet.—After many virtuous lessons from the poets, he adds, Nonne haec demonstrationem habent eorum quae de devitiis & externis bonis tradunt philosophi, ea sine virtute nihil possessoribus prodesse?—He concludes, Itaque cum propter haec, tum praedictorum causa omnium, adolescenti in lectione poetarum bona opus est gubernatione; ne sinistra suspicione occupatus, sed praecedente potius institutione formatus, placidus ita familiarisque & amicus a poesi ad philosophiam deducatur. [Plutarch, De audiendis poetis: “So poems should not be shunned by budding philosophers. Instead philosophical thought should be given to poems, and you should form the habit of seeking and embracing the beneficial in that which delights you” (15F-16A). “For just as, in the case of pictures, color is more affecting than line because of color’s resemblance to bodies and because of its tendency to take people in, so also a poem containing plausible falsehoods is more striking and more gratifying than is a work which has poetic form and vocabulary but lacks a story line and is unimaginative” (16B-C). “We shall make the budding philosopher still more cautious if, when we turn his mind to poetry, we describe the poetic art to him as an imitative art corresponding to the art of painting and, as it were, from another part of the mind. And he should not just be given the trite description that is on everyone’s lips: ‘Poetry is a vocal picture and a picture is silent poetry’” (17F). “But we should also teach him that we delight in, and admire, a painting of a lizard or a monkey or of Thersites’ face, because of the likeness achieved and not because of the beauty of the model. For that which is ugly by nature cannot be made beautiful. But if a painting resembled a thing, then whether the thing was beautiful or ugly, the painting would be praised. If, to the contrary, the painting was a beautiful image of an ugly body, propriety would not have been maintained. Some painters even paint crazy acts” (18A). “In these things, the young man should, through instruction, become accustomed to the fact that what is to be praised is not the thing which has been copied, but the art itself which has accurately represented the object that was copied. When therefore the art of poetry . . .” (18B). “So let us advise him that it is not right if a person who is keen on what is honorable and beautiful, and who reads poems for the sake of gaining instruction, should only incidentally and negligently notice the elements in poems that speak of courage, temperance, and justice. To see that a most prudent man, in danger of death along with the entire multitude, is led on by fear not of death but of disgrace will bring the young man to the study of virtue” (30D-E). Then: “Surely these things are a demonstration of what philosophers conclude as regards riches and external goods—they are worthless to a possessor who lacks virtue” (36C); and finally: “Given these points and all the ones that precede, a young man needs sound guidance on the reading of the poets; so that not preoccupied with dark distrust, but instead informed by prior instruction, he may be drawn, in an amiable, familiar, and friendly mood, from poetry to philosophy” (37A-B). Plutarch, Omnia quae extant opera, 2 vols. (Paris, 1624).]
[Columella, De re rustica, XI.i: “Nothing can be taught correctly without an example.” Columella, On Agriculture: X-XII, On Trees, ed. and trans. E. S. Forster and Edward H. Heffner, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1968). Seneca the Elder, Controversariae, IX.2.27: “it is easier for us to learn by example both what to imitate and what to avoid.” The Elder Seneca, Declamations, trans. M. Winterbottom, vol. 2, Controversariae, bks. 7–10 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1974). Seneca the Younger, Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, I.vi.5: “the way is long if one follows precepts, but short and helpful, if one follows patterns.” Seneca, Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, trans. Richard M. Gummere, 3 vols., Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1917).]
[38. ]Xenophon, Memorabilia, II.ii.10–11.
[39. ]Cicero, De oratore, II.ix.36: Testis temporum —“bears witness to the passing of the ages”; nuntia vetustatis —“bears tidings of ancient days”; lux veritatis —“sheds light upon reality”; magistra vitae —“gives guidance to human existence.” Cicero, De oratore, Books I and II, trans. E. W. Sutton, completed by H. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1942).
[40. ]Shaftesbury, “The Moralists,” I.i, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 232–33.
[a. ]Quintilian gives a very important advice to this purpose, founded on a very true observation. Igitur nato filio, pater spem de illo primum quam optimam capiat, ita diligentior a principiis fiet. Falsa enim est querela paucissimis hominibus vim percipiendi quae traduntur esse concessam; plerosque vero laborem ac tempora tarditate ingenii perdere. Nam contra, plures reperias, & faciles in excogitando, & ad discendum promptos: quippe id est homini naturale. Ac sicut aves ad volandum, equi ad cursum, ad saevitiam ferae gignuntur: ita nobis propria est mentis agitatio atque solertia, unde origo animi coelestis creditur. Hebetes vero & indociles, non magis secundum naturam hominis eduntur quam prodigiosa corpora, & monstris insignia. Sed hi pauci admodum fuerunt. Argumentum quod in pueris elucet spes plurimorum, quae cum emoritur aetate manifestum est, non naturam defecisse sed curam. Praestat tamen ingenio alius alium concedo: sed ut plus efficiat aut minus. Nemo tamen reperitur, qui sit studio nihil consecutus, &c. Quin, Inst. l. 1. c. 1. [Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, I.i.1: “I would, therefore, have a father conceive the highest hopes of his son from the moment of his birth. If he does so, he will be more careful about the groundwork of his education. For there is absolutely no foundation for the complaint that but few men have the power to take in the knowledge that is imparted to them, and that the majority are so slow of understanding that education is a waste of time and labour. On the contrary you will find that most are quick to reason and ready to learn. Reasoning comes as naturally to a man as flying to birds, speed to horses and ferocity to beasts of prey: our minds are endowed by nature with such activity and sagacity that the soul is believed to proceed from heaven. Those who are dull and unteachable are as abnormal as prodigious births and monstrosities, and are but few in number. A proof of what I say is to be found in the fact that boys commonly show promise of many accomplishments, and when such promise dies away as they grow up, this is plainly due not to the failure of natural gifts, but to lack of the requisite care. But, it will be urged, there are degrees of talent. Undoubtedly, I reply, and there will be a corresponding variation in actual accomplishment: but that there are any who gain nothing from education, I absolutely deny.” Quintilian, The Orator’s Education, ed. and trans. Donald A. Russell, 5 vols., Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2001).]
[a. ]Instit. l. 1. c. 17. [Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, I.x.34: “. . . it is admitted that some parts of it [geometry] are useful for young children, because it exercises the mind, sharpens the wits, and generates quickness of perception. But it is thought that the advantages come not (as with other arts) when it has been learned, but only during the learning process.”]
[a. ]See what is said on this head from Plato by Cicero. Ac mihi quidem veteres illi majus quiddam animo complexi, multo plus etiam vidisse videntur, quam quantum nostrorum ingeniorum acies intueri potest, qui omnia haec, quae supra & subter, unum esse & una vi, atque una consensione naturae constricta esse dixerunt. Nullum enim est genus rerum, quod aut avulsum a ceteris per seipsum constare, aut quo cetera, si careant, vim suam atque aeternitatem conservare possent—Est etiam illa Platonis vera & tibi, Catule, certe non inaudita vox, omnem doctrinam harum ingenuarum, & humanarum artium; uno quodam societatis vinculo contineri, ubi enim perspecta vis est rationis ejus, qua causae rerum, atque exitus cognoscuntur, mirus quidam omnium quasi consensus doctrinarum, concentusque reperitur. De Orat. 1. 3.
[41. ]Turnbull, A Treatise on Ancient Painting (London, 1740), ch. 7.
[a. ]First book of the offices, toward the beginning. [Cicero, De officiis, I.vi.19: “The whole glory of virtue is in activity.” Cicero, De officiis, trans. Walter Miller, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938).]
[b. ]First book of the offices towards the end. Edit. Schrv. No. 43, 44. [Ibid., I.xliii.153-xliv.158.]
[42. ]Cicero, De legibus: “. . . that animal which we call man, endowed with foresight and quick intelligence, complex, keen, possessing memory, full of reason and prudence, has been given a certain distinguished status by the supreme God who created him. . . . But what is more divine, I will not say in man only, but in all heaven and earth, than reason? And reason, when it is full grown and perfected, is rightly called wisdom. Therefore, since there is nothing better than reason, and since it exists both in man and God, the first common possession of man and God is reason” (I.vii.22–23). “Moreover, virtue exists in man and God alike, but in no other creature besides; virtue, however, is nothing else than nature perfected and developed to its highest point; therefore there is a likeness between man and God. As this is true, what relationship could be closer or clearer than this one?” (I.viii.25) “In fact, there is no human being of any race who, if he finds a guide in nature, cannot attain to virtue” (I.x.30).