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CHAPTER IV - 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 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.
[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.”