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CHAPTER III - 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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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?
[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.)]