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CONCLUSION - 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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The excellent poet we have so often quoted, hath clearly shewn, in one of his Ethic Epistles,a how difficult it is to judge of the motives by which men are influenced to act, from the actions; because the same actions may proceed from contrary motives, and the same motives may influence contrary actions: and therefore to form characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man’s life, and try to make the magree, in which there must be great uncertainty, from nature itself, and from policy.
But whatever difficulty or uncertainty there may be, in judging of the springs of particular actions, human nature and its Author are sufficiently vindicated, when it appears, that all the powers of man, and all the springs which move him, are given him for excellent purposes: and that all the variety of<397> characters among men must be resolved into certain mixtures or blendings of appetites and affections, which are all of them of the greatest use in our frame, and which all operate, or are operated upon, mix and combine, grow and improve, or contrariwise degenerate and corrupt, according to most excellent general laws. We have not attempted in this essay to draw or paint particular characters, or to account for any particular characters, by analysing them into the original ingredients of which they are compounded; because it was enough to our purpose, to point out the constituent parts, by the various combinations of which, all different, nay opposite characters are composed; and to shew, that not only all these are very useful particles in our constitution, but that they cannot mingle and blend, be strengthened or diminished, improve or degenerate, otherwise than according to certain rules or laws, which are very fitly established. But let any one take any character in Homer, Virgil, Horace, Terence, in any epic poem, in any tragedy or comedy, in history, or in natural, that is, probable fiction, and try whether all the ingredients in it are not resolvable into those powers and affections belonging to human nature, treated of in this enquiry; and the particular mixture forming that character into the operations of the general laws, by which all the various modifications of human powers and affections are brought about, which have likewise been here explained and vindicated.
In other words, the design of this enquiry being to vindicate the ways of God to man,33 by accounting for moral as for natural things, we cannot help thinking it is accomplished, if we have proved that all the instincts, appetites, affections and powers given to man, are so placed, that they have proper materials, occasions, means and objects for their exercise and gratification; and that all the laws relative to their growth and improvement, or degeneracy<398> and corruption, to their strengthening or diminution, their intermingling or jarring; and consequently all the laws relative to our pain or enjoyments, to happiness or misery, to virtue or vice, are excellent general laws, none of which can be changed but for the worse. For thence it follows, that Order is kept in man as well as in nature: or, that in both, the universal interest is steadily pursued by general laws, beyond all exception, good. Now this, we think, is done; because, though all the particular appetites and passions, or rather all their particular workings, are not particularly specified and defined, yet the capital sources whence all the diversity in human life proceeds, are pointed out, and the final causes of these powers and affections are discovered to be exceeding good or beneficial.
Every virtue (as an excellent author hath observed),a hath some vice nearly allied to it, or<399> springing, as it were, from the same root: for every vice is some useful affection misguided or misplaced. But there is no misguidance, abuse or corruption in the human mind, whatever its evil effects and consequences may be, which does not happen according to some law of our nature, which, did it not take place, we could have no dignity, no excellence, no freedom, no power, no virtue, no moral happiness. Man, therefore, is well constituted and well placed here at present. And shall not the work advance as it begins? If order prevail now, shall it not prevail for ever? Universal good is now pursued, and will therefore for ever be pursued. To conclude otherwise, is indeed to forsake all reason; for it is wilfully to reason contrary to all appearances of things, or to the whole analogy of nature.
As in the material world, while one hath no notion of reducing effects to general laws, he cannot but be lost, bewildered and amazed, amidst a chaos of seemingly odd and whimsical, independent effects: so must it likewise happen with respect to the moral world. For regularity and order can never be apprehended, but in proportion as effects are reduced to general laws; or when they are considered as the effects of such. When one objects against eclipses, meteors, comets, earthquakes, vulcano’s, and a thousand other phenomena, which indeed appear very uncouth, while considered by themselves singly, as arbitrary effects, produced without any rule; or while one merely reflects on the mischiefs they produce; what does the philosopher, what ought he to do, or what indeed can he do, to remove such objections against nature, but shew, if he can, the general laws whence these seemingly evil effects proceed, and the fitness of these general laws: or, if he cannot do that, shew that we can trace nature, in so many instances, to operation, by excellent general laws, that there is good ground to<400> think nature works universally by good general laws, and never by partial arbitrary wills. And in the same manner, when one objects against particular appearances in the moral world, the philosopher certainly gives a satisfying answer, when he shews, that we can trace the far greater part of the appearances in the moral world to powers, and general laws of powers, wisely and fitly chosen and established, in order to promote the general good of the human system. It will not be easy to name any effects which may not be reduced to one or other of the general laws here defended. But if some appearances should be inexplicable, that is, if the general laws from which some particular phenomena arise, should not be ascertainable; yet seeing in very many, or rather almost all instances, general laws can be assigned which are unexceptionably good, it is highly reasonable to conclude, that nature works throughout all by good general laws; and consequently, that even the appearances which cannot be explained, because their general laws are not known, must be the effects of good general laws. For to conclude otherwise, is to argue in downright opposition to analogy, or to all rules of judging concerning any system or whole.
In other words, whatever disorder and confusion there may appear to be in the material world, whilst one stops at particular effects, or considers them as single, unconnected incidents; yet all must appear very orderly, when one represents to himself the necessity of its being governed by general laws, and accordingly is able to represent to himself all its effects, as proceeding from such general laws, as gravity, centrifugal force, attraction, elasticity, electricity, &c. For in proportion as he comes thus to see effects, seemingly evil, whilst they are considered as the effects of particular wills, to be in reality good, as being the effects of operation by good general laws, he must in proportion begin to think<401> well of nature, and persuade himself that all effects in it are owing to good general laws, and must therefore be all, for that very reason, good effects. But if this way of reasoning, with respect to the material world, be just: it must likewise be good reasoning with regard to the moral world, to conclude in like manner concerning it, that all its effects proceed from good general laws, provided in many instances we can trace its effects to good general laws. And accordingly, let any one, instead of suffering his mind to wander through the various appearances in the moral world, from phenomena to phenomena, as single, detached, unconnected parts, represent to himself the powers and affections belonging to human nature, and the laws relative to the different operations, influences and effects of these powers, as one whole; and then, let him say, whether it is not a system formed to produce a quantity of good, that well deserves its place in nature. It is to help one to take such a review of the moral world, that the general laws of our nature have been pointed out in this enquiry. For that being done, it only remains to every one to remove himself, as it were, at a distance from it, and to consider it as a whole, governed by these general laws, in like manner as we may and ought to do, in order to have a just idea of our material system; to construct it to himself in his imagination, and thus making a whole of it, consider the general laws by which it is governed. It requires but a very small degree of reflexion to find out that there is no other way of judging concerning either. And whoever carefully attends to what hath been said of the general laws relating to our powers, and their operations, must soon see, 1. That all the laws of matter and motion, or of the material world, are either necessary, or very proper to afford suitable materials, means, occasions and objects, to the exercise, employment and gratification of our powers<402> and affections; and consequently, that no circumstances happen in consequence of the general operation and prevalence of these laws, which are evils, absolutely considered. And, 2. That as our powers and affections themselves are necessary to our happiness and dignity, so all the laws relative to their various operations, and all their changes, modifications, influences and consequences, are likewise necessary to our dignity, happiness and perfection. But what else is there to be accounted for, with regard to mankind, but the affections and powers belonging to our composition, and their operations in various circumstances; and the variety of circumstances which excite or bring them forth into action, according to fixed laws in certain manners.
Whatever powers creatures have, they must be powers which operate, or are operated upon, according to certain fixed methods. But if the powers be good, and all the laws according to which they work, or are worked upon, be good, the system composed by these powers, and laws of powers, must be a good system. If therefore the laws relative to our external circumstances, that is, the laws of the sensible world; and the laws relative to our moral faculties, to our advancement in knowledge, in power and liberty, to association of ideas and habits, to virtue, to private and social happiness, that is, all the laws relative to our moral perfection; if all these laws be good, be well adjusted to one another, and none of them can be altered without sinking and degrading the rank and condition of man, or without diminishing his capacity of happiness and perfection, then is the human system a good system. Or it must be said, that the human system, though contrived and formed very fitly to produce a very good whole, ought not to take place in nature, because other powers placed in other circumstances, would make, not in deed the human system, but a comparatively better system. To which I<403> know no answer can be given, but this one, That there is a very good reason why there should exist in nature every kind of system which makes a good whole; for thus alone can nature be full and coherent; thus alone can infinite benevolence exert itself, and be happy, by communicating happiness in the amplest or the most unbounded manner.
If a system be the contrivance and production of a perfect mind, it must be a perfect work. There can be no evil in it. We may clearly see, on that supposition, how it comes about in such a system, that those who know but a part, are not able to account for every phenomenon; or why some things may appear to such, imperfections, nay, disorderly and evil effects. For that must needs be the case, with regard to those who have only a partial view of a system. But in such a whole there can be no real evil, or absolute imperfection; that is, there can be nothing that is not necessary to the general order, perfection and good of the whole system. Wherefore, if the Author of the system of which we are a part, be perfectly good, that system must be perfectly good. But since we can see but a part, it is not strange that some things should appear to us imperfect or unaccountable. Nay, it is impossible in such a situation that some things should not appear to us to be such. What then ought those who are persuaded of the being of a God, and of a perfect over-ruling providence, by arguments brought à priori to prove it; what ought they to conclude, but that if we had a larger view of our system, we should see more order and perfection in it, than we can possibly perceive in a limited view of it. The goods we perceive in it, we may be sure, were intended by the Author of nature; and the causes, means, or laws which produce them, may likewise produce other greater goods, which we cannot discern, till we have a more full and comprehensive knowledge of the system. But the seeming evils for<404> which we cannot account, because we do not comprehend enough of the system to be able to account for them, cannot be real evils, but must be, with respect to the whole, good, if the Author be perfect in wisdom, goodness and power. For what is produced by such a mind, must be good in the whole. This is the conclusion which necessarily follows from the arguments brought à priori for a divine all-perfect providence. Now how compleat, how full, must our conviction of this truth be, when we find by enquiring into our system, that the farther we are able to carry or extend our researches into it, the more marks and evidences we discover of wisdom and good order prevailing throughout all in man as well as in nature, agreeably to what the arguments fetched à priori prove, must needs be the case.
The arguments à priori have been set in so many various lights by excellent writers, Dr. Samuel Clarke and Mr. Woolaston particularly,35 that I need not now insist upon them, in an essay merely intended to reason à posteriori. Let me, however, just observe, that these arguments are far from being so intricate as some are pleased to represent them. They, on the contrary, must be very obvious to every one, who but understands what power and effect of power, contrivance and production, whole and part mean. For those ideas to which the consideration of any animate or inanimate being, or indeed any artificial machine, naturally leads us, being distinctly conceived, all the reasoning à priori (as it is called) to establish the being of a God, and the reality of an all-perfect providence, turns upon the few following self-evident principles.
1. That whatever is contrived is contrived by some contriver; and whatever is produced is produced by some producer, possessed of power sufficient to produce it.<405>
Observations on the arguments à priori.2. That all power, not only of contriving, but of producing, all power belonging to mind; or nothing being active but mind by its will, it is a mind only that can contrive and produce.a
3. That nothing can be an original ultimate source of derived power, but a mind whose power is not derived.
4. A mind which produces by power not derived, produces by power eternal and uncreated, between the exertion of which and its effects, there is an essential, necessary, independent, immutable connection; a connexion not established by the will of any other being, but which cannot but take place.
5. One system is one effect, but one effect can have but one cause or producer; it cannot be totally produced by two causes.
6. There must be some likeness, proportion or parity, between the manner in which a being exists, and its essence, or all its qualities and attributes. And consequently, a being which exists in an independent and unlimited manner, must be in every respect independent and unlimited: or, in other words, a being which exists in the most perfect manner, must be in every respect essentially and absolutely remote from all imperfection, that is, perfect.
To corroborate this last proposition, involving in it an absolute necessity for the essential moral perfection of an independent mind, it is justly added,
I. That there can be no malice but where interests are opposite. But a first universal mind can have no interest opposite to that of its own workmanship, and therefore can have no malice. “If therea be a General Mind, it can have no particular<406> interest; but the general good, or the good of the whole, and its own private happiness, must of necessity be the same. It can intend nothing beside, nor aim at any thing beyond, nor be provoked to any thing contrary; so that we have only to consider, whether there be really such a thing as a mind which has relationb to the whole or not. For if unhappily there be no mind, we may comfort ourselves, however, that nature has no malice. But if there really be a mind, we may rest satisfied, that it is the best-natured, the best-disposed, the most benevolent one in the world.”
II. It may be added, that there cannot be a disposition in creatures more perfect than the disposition of their Maker. If therefore, there is such a thing in our nature as delight in universal good, there must be such a disposition belonging to our Maker: He must have it in its most perfect degree, unalloyed and incorruptible.
Now all these propositions being very evident, we have thus a very clear evidence before we enter into a particular examination of effects, that the one eternal mind, the Author of the system of which we are a part, must be perfect in wisdom and goodness, as well as in power. And by the preceeding enquiry into the human make and situation, man is found to be such a being, that the further we are able to carry our researches into his frame and state, the more reason have we to be satisfied with respect to the wisdom and good intention of his Maker. Thus therefore we have arguments, à priori and à posteriori, exactly tallying together to confirm beyond all exception that most comfortable truth, “That there is an infinitely perfect God, who<407> made and rules his whole creation, of which we are a part, in the most perfect manner, whom it is therefore our duty to love, adore and imitate.” But as this is the doctrine of reason, so it is the doctrine of the christian religion, confirmed to us by another kind of truly philosophical evidence. For Jesus Christ gave a proper and full proof by his works, of a far more comprehensive knowledge of the universe in all its parts, that is, of God’s providence and government of the world, natural and moral, than we can attain to; and at the same time, full evidence of his integrity and good intention. But such information or testimony hath all the qualities necessary to create trust, or render it credible. The truth of the testimony of Jesus Christ concerning a divine providence, immortality and a future state, (which yet does not encroach upon reason, but leaves sufficient room for all philosophical researches into nature, and leaves the proper evidence of every other kind of reasoning entire) depends upon a no less simple self-evident maxim than this, “That samples of knowledge are samples of knowledge, and samples of integrity are samples of integrity; that these two evidence an honest and well qualified informer, and that a well qualified honest informer ought to be credited and relied upon.”a
Reason therefore, and revelation concur to assure us, that we are made by, and are under the direction of an infinitely perfect Author, who loveth virtue, and who will make it happy: that man is framed by him to make immortal progress in virtue, in proportion to his diligence to improve in it.
And that virtue or moral perfection, when it is brought by proper exercise and culture to due maturity and vigour, shall then be rendered completely<408> happy by those higher employments for which it cannot before that be qualified: the capacity for great moral happiness must first be formed or acquired before that happiness can be enjoyed: but when the capacity is acquired, then shall the happiness for which it is fitted, be attained.
It is usual in treatises of this nature and length to conclude with a brief recapitulation of the whole. But the contents shall be digested into a regular summary to serve that purpose; and because of the momentuousness of the subject, I rather chuse to finish this vindication of human nature, or of the ways of God to man, by giving in a few propositions such an united view of the human state, as will immediately be perceived by every intelligent reader to make a very coherent and comfortable system, and to carry (not to say any more of it) a much greater degree of probability along with it, than the contrary to it, and that by itself, or independently of any other considerations.
Another view of the human state.I. As a material world can only be good or bad, that is, useful or hurtful with respect to beings made capable of perceiving it, and of being affected by it; or is really to all intents and purposes, nothing, while it is considered as absolutely unperceived: so it is obvious to every one, who can think at all, that the material world, with which mankind and other perceptive beings are so closly and intimately united in this present state of things wherein we exist, must be considered as making one whole; or a system, all the parts of which have a mutual connexion and dependence. This connexion and dependence is very manifest where soever we cast our eyes. And the parts which have this coherence may very properly be divided in general, into moral and natural parts, that is, perceptive beings, and their powers, capacities and affections, and material objects perceived by perceptive beings, and variously affecting them.<409>
II. Now where parts have mutual respects, and are so connected, as evidently to make one system, if general laws are found by induction to prevail in many instances in that system, the presumption must be, that general laws prevail throughout all the parts of it, or throughout the whole system. If they are found to prevail in many instances in the material part, that is, in the effects of the material part upon perceptive beings; it is presumable, not only that they prevail universally with regard to the material part, but universally with regard to all the parts of the same system. But the presumption that all is governed by general laws, must be yet stronger, if general laws are found in any considerable number of instances to prevail also in the moral part, that is, with respect to other effects distinct from those of the material kind, such as the improvements of understanding, reason, temper, &c. and the pleasures and pains arising from these and the like sources.
III. By parity of reason, if the general laws, to which effects are reducible, as far as we are able to go in tracing or deducing them, be good, the presumption must be that all is governed by good general laws. If we may not reason in this manner concerning effects, there is an end to all enquiries into effects: there is, there can be no such thing as knowledge.
In reality, unless effects proceed from general laws, and may be traced to them, we cannot possibly understand them, or form any rules of conduct to ourselves from them: there is no order; and science is a vain absurd attempt. But, on the other hand, if we find general laws prevailing and ascertainable in any instances, then we have encouragement to go on in our enquiries: and if in going on, we find good general laws prevailing as far as we go, then may we most reasonably presume, that we may advance<410> further by due diligence in finding out good general laws; and that in proportion as we advance in this knowledge, the more goodness and wisdom we shall find in the constitution and government of things.
IV. And accordingly, philosophers have found by their enquiries into the material part, as far as they have been able to carry their researches, order, beauty, and general good, arising from the general laws by which it is governed; or according to which appearances in it are produced. They have not only been able to ascertain several general laws, by operating conformably to which, or in imitation of which many very useful arts have been invented to the great advantage of human life: but they have found the general good of perceptive beings to be pursued and effected, and therefore intended by the operation of these general laws; the good of mankind more particularly. Since the knowledge of the material world hath been brought to such great perfection by Sir Isaac Newton, many excellent treatisesa have been written to prove, that the material part is governed by excellent general laws, or general laws admirably adjusted to produce the greatest general conveniency or advantage with respect to the perceptive beings, which inhabiting it are capable of receiving pleasures from it. The result of his and all other researches into the material system, (commonly called nature) carried on in the same way of induction from experiments, and of resolutionb of appearances into laws deduced from experience, is, that the Author of nature does nothing in vain, but works by the fewest, that is, the simplest means, steadily and uniformly, or always<411> analogously for the general good and perfection of the whole.
V. Now this being the result of all proper methods of enquiry into nature, we have not only great encouragement to go on in our researches into the material part, but we have likewise great encouragement to go on as Sir Isaac Newtonc proposes, and to enquire in the same manner into the moral part, or the appearances which properly relate to our moral powers, that is, to our improvements, as beings capable of reflexion, reasoning, acting, and of uniting in society for the advancement of our common happiness and perfection. That we have reason, and the power of acting and chusing, and certain moral affections belonging to our nature, cannot be called into question: Nor can it be doubted, that powers and affections of whatever sort, sensitive or moral, must have their various degrees of perfection and imperfection; and that a power is intended to be advanced to the highest degree of perfection to which it can be. But, in order to the advancement of any power to its perfection, there must be certain means and methods of advancing it to its perfection: and if there be certain means and methods, by which a power may be advanced to its perfection, there must necessarily, on the other hand, be certain means and methods, by which a power cannot but degenerate and corrupt, or become depraved: for the means and methods contrary to the perfecting means will be such. Our business therefore is to enquire into these fixed means, or general laws relative to our powers and affections, according to which they may be raised to their perfection, and into their contraries producing opposite effects, in order to know them, and see whether, as in the material part, so likewise in the moral part, all the laws, as far as we can trace them, be not contributive to the<412> general good, or such as cannot be changed in any respect without the greatest inconveniencies or disadvantages.
VI. But if we give any attention to our make and situation, we shall plainly find, that by the powers and affections bestowed upon us, and the laws relative to their exercises in our situation, we are fitted to attain to a very considerable degree of moral perfection and happiness, consisting in, or arising from the dominion of reason over our sensitive appetites, or their just subordination to a well-improved sense of order, fitness, right and public good implanted in us, to be duly improved in order to be our guide and ruler. By a little attention to our constitution and circumstances, we shall find, that being endued with a principle of reason, and capable of forming the ideas of general order and good, and of delighting in the contemplation of it, our union with a material world, by means of our bodies, affords us matter of most agreeable contemplation and study; and that being endued with a social principle, and a sense of public good, and of moral order and decency, that the highest satisfaction we are capable of is, that which results from our being able to moderate and govern the sensitive appetites and faculties, by which we are made susceptible of pleasures from material objects, as a just view of public good, and a right sense of moral order and decency requires; while at the same time, such are the laws relative to our sensitive pleasures and pains, or the laws according to which material objects affect us, that, in general, not sensitive pleasure, but sensitive pain is the proportional effect of departure from the dictates of reason with respect to the government of our sensitive appetites. Either there is no such thing as perfection and imperfection with respect to any power or quality; but these words have absolutely no meaning: or the regular and constant presidence of our reason over our sensitive appetites and faculties,<413>and over all our choices, actions and pursuits; is the perfect state of those powers, sensitive and rational, which constitute us what we really are. And as indeed, it is a contradiction to suppose in any case the happy state of a being not to be of a kind with, to result from, and be proportioned to the perfect state of that being: so, in our case, our self-enjoyment, greatest peace, pleasure and happiness, result from and are proportioned to that which hath been said to be our perfect state, and must be such in any proper sense of perfection: or in the same sense, that we say the perfection of any constitution of whatever sort is such or such.
VII. Now since intelligent pursuit supposes knowledge guiding the pursuit, and knowledge cannot but be progressive; and what is not acquired by the application of a being with choice, to acquire it cannot be its own acquisition, or give it any pleasure as such, it is plain the perfect state of our powers and affections, in order to give us the pleasure of self-approbation and a sense of merit, must be gradually formed and acquired by ourselves, or by the intelligent and diligent pursuit of such a state, according to the methods by which it may be attained to, in consequence of the laws of our nature and circumstances. Which method will immediately be found, upon a little reflection, to be no other than exercising our reason, not only to know the boundaries of pain and pleasure, their moments or quantities, the effects of different exercises and gratifications, with regard to the happiness of our kind, and the rules of truth, fitness and decorum, with respect to all our exertions of our affections, and all our actions; but likewise to regulate our affections, choices, actions and pursuits, agreeably to the dictates of this knowledge. For as habits of any kind can only be acquired by repeated acts, so this habit of governing all our affections and<414> conduct by reason, and agreeably to the just views of things, acquired by its due application to have right information, can only be attained by repeated acts of reason, in order to get knowledge, and to establish itself into full power and command. Knowledge to direct to what is right and fit can only be attained by taking due pains to know. And the habitual authoritative power of reason, by which it becomes our steady ruler, can only be acquired by its assiduity to exert and keep its command. And consistently with this method of attaining to our perfect moral state, it is the universal law of our nature with respect to all acquirements, internal and external, that they shall be purchased by application to purchase them, according to certain methods easily discoverable by us. Were there not certain methods of our attaining to external goods established by nature, they could not be purchased by us. And in like manner, were there not certain methods of our acquiring internal qualities or goods established by nature, they could not be acquired by us. Now as the methods of attaining to external advantages by application and diligence agreeably to them, are easily discoverable by all who will but look a little about them, and reflect upon the connexions in nature which every day present themselves to all: so the methods of attaining to the internal dominion of reason, our most perfect state and chief good, are very obvious, since it only requires our having made this reflexion, that it is our perfect state and chief good, and our setting ourselves, in consequence thereof, assiduously and steadily, to exert our reason as our guiding principle.
VIII. But this being the case with regard to all acquisitions, external or internal, it is evident, that men are upon the equallest footing they possibly can be, not only with respect to external advantages, but, which is principal, with respect to their attainment<415> of their chief good. For thus acquisitions of both kinds are as dependent upon every one’s intelligent and assiduous application and pursuit, as may or can be consistently with certain differences among mankind, which are absolutely necessary. For different circumstances with respect to situation for taking in views of the connexions of nature, and with respect to situation for receiving social assistances in our pursuits, must make differences with regard to situation for making acquisitions by our application or industry. But all men cannot be placed in the same circumstances; nor can community and society take place, or all men be mutually useful, and at the same time mutually dependent, without various powers, or (which will amount to the same thing, with different original talents) without our being placed in various situations, which produce divers turns of mind, different extent of powers, and various use and application of powers. Such differences which are the result of our make as social individuals, or are the effects of the laws of nature, properly so called, that is, of the laws of the material world, are the only limitations upon the general law, with respect to our acquisitions by our industry: so that it may be said, that according to the general law of acquisitions, all men are upon as equal a footing as possible, with respect to external advantages, it being the general law with respect to the acquirement of them, that they are to be the purchase of industry to attain to them. And as for moral happiness and perfection, every man is upon as equal a footing as may be, it being according to the general law and establishment of moral things, in every man’s power to have that supreme satisfaction, which arises from the sense of due pains to keep and maintain, or rather improve, his reason, in its capacity and authority, to guide and rule his conduct.<416>
IX. And what is the effect of all the differences among mankind, proceeding from the sources which have been just mentioned; but that hence arise means, occasions and subjects, for the education, trial, exertion and improvement of many eminent moral excellencies. There is no ground to think that the powers and affections in all men do not stand originally so rightly proportioned to one another in force, that by due culture a great degree of moral perfection may be acquired by every one. The most remarkable moral differences among mankind do arise from negligence and culture, from right use and abuse of powers and affections; for by diligence to cultivate do powers and affections only gain strength and vigour, and arrive to perfection. But the exercises necessary to perfect faculties and affections, and establish good habits, cannot take place without certain proper objects or materials. And such really is the result of all the differences among mankind, whence soever they arise, that they afford suitable means, opportunities and objects for the exercises necessary to bring forth several virtues into action, and thereby to work them into perfect habits. All the virtues may be reduced to benevolence; they are nothing else but so many different exertions of social love or benignity on different occasions, or in different circumstances. And without many differences among mankind, variety of benevolent affections and actions could not have place, they could not have subjects: there could not be that variety of circumstances which is requisite to their various exertion, to their trial and formation, their discipline and culture, and a due diversity of their beautiful pleasant employments.
X. Now if this be the state of mankind, all the evils complained of in human life, must either be owing to the steady operation of the laws of the material<417> world, which laws are sufficiently justified and vindicated by natural philosophers: or to our suffering sensitive pain, in consequence of our not governing our sensitive appetites, and their pursuits and gratifications by the rules of right reason, which is an excellent law in the moral world; or to our not bestowing proper culture upon our powers and faculties, to bring them to their proper perfection; and yet that right and wrong use, improvement and neglect, pains to perfect, and labour to deprave, should have the different effects in the moral world they have, is likewise an excellent general law: or lastly, they must arise from differences among mankind, all the sources of which are necessary to the general good, and which differences are in themselves a very proper means of forming and improving virtuous habits. So that upon the whole we may justly conclude; that mankind are endued with powers capable of being advanced to great perfection; and are at present very well placed, in order to the schooling, the education and discipline of these powers. It is therefore a very orderly and well constituted state of existence, which well deserves its place in nature.
XI. But if it be a proper state for education, to a very great degree of moral perfection, in which happiness, inward happiness, advances proportionably with moral perfection: is it not highly reasonable to conclude, that it is really intended for a state of moral education? It is plainly our first setting out; and if it be a proper state to set out in, or to begin the pursuit of moral perfection and happiness, what reason can there be to conclude that it is not such only; or that it is the whole of our existence? From a proper state for the formation and improvement of moral powers to great perfection, what ought we to expect or look for, but proper care afterwards to place well-improved powers in circumstances suited<418> to them, or in which they shall have proper enjoyments by proper exercises. To make compleatly happy, two things must concur, powers or capacity, and objects suited one to another. Powers or capacity cannot make happy, without suitable objects; nor can objects bring happiness, where the powers or capacity is wanting. Capacity must be formed, before objects only suited to capacity, formed to a certain pitch of perfection, can be means of happiness. But if suitable care to form a capacity for great moral perfection be taken here, by furnishing us with the proper materials or subjects of exercise, in order to its improvement; and if the gradual advances in improvement by proper exercises reward themselves, or are a very great degree of happiness, what can we induce ourselves to think shall be the state of highly improved capacity of moral happiness, when the state of formation and trial is at an end, but such an one as shall afford it full happiness, by exercises adequate to it? Virtue and vice cannot be idle unmeaning words, unless use and abuse, corruption and improvement, perfection and degeneracy of powers, be insignificant terms. But if they are not, highly improved virtues or moral powers, brought by due culture to their perfection, and corrupted minds, or depraved faculties and powers, must have very opposite effects. Nothing but tormentful appetites, and a direful conscience of guilt and deformity, can be the result of a vitiated mind, in a state far removed from all the means of sensual gratification, and where the employments and entertainments necessarily require moral powers greatly improved, a prevailing love of moral exercises and enjoyments, and full dominion and mastership over sensual appetites. But how can we imagine that man, who by his frame and make cannot, even in the most luxuriant circumstances of outward enjoyment, attain to any solid contentment or satisfaction of mind, but in proportion<419> as he is conscious to himself of his giving due diligence to improve all his rational faculties to their proper perfection, and to maintain his reason in full power over all his desires, appetites and passions; how can we imagine that man, who is so made, when this state, which is only fit for educating and cultivating moral powers to a certain degree of perfection, and which cannot possibly always last, does cease, shall not pass into another state, in which care shall be taken of virtue, proportioned to the improvements it hath made! This state being really wisely and benignly constituted and governed, we may justly promise ourselves, that order shall prevail for ever; and that, as it is really the effect of perfectly wise and kind contrivance and administration, so whatever we can clearly conceive to be necessary to equally good administration in an after state, shall certainly take place there. And therefore we may reasonably conclude, that though here many die before they have had time and opportunity of attaining to any very great degree of moral perfection, yet since that happens in consequence of laws very well adapted to general good in the present state, it can be no ground of objection against providence; because, if a good disposition is but beginning to exert itself, moral powers may be placed, upon their removal from this state, in circumstances very advantageous for their speedy improvement. And though all have not here the same advantages for moral improvements, yet since the differences whence that inequality proceeds, arise from excellent causes, and are themselves exceeding useful, this can be no just ground of objection against providence, because minds duly improved by proper culture, in proportion to the circumstances they are placed in for improvement, may be placed after death in a very happy situation for quick and great improvement: and thus, as it were, compensation may be made to them. In one word, if this be an<420> orderly first state, in which the general good is steadily intended and pursued by its Author, we have all the reason in the world to rest satisfied, that a future state shall likewise be a very orderly one, in which the happiness of every well-disposed mind shall likewise be pursued, as far as is consistent with the universal good of rational beings. And we may be as sure as we can be of any thing, “That if the universal good of rational beings be intended and pursued, this is the law of the government of the universe with regard to mankind, and all rational beings, that their happiness shall advance with their moral perfection, which can only advance in proportion to the care of moral agents to improve their moral powers.”
I think it is impossible to take an impartial view of mankind, and not clearly see that this is the real state of the case, with regard to us; or to imagine, that we are not here in a very proper station for arriving to a very great capacity of moral happiness, by attaining to a great degree of moral perfection.
And sure nothing can be more delightful than this opinion of mankind; or more gloomy, horrible and dispiriting than the contrary notion. One’s mind must indeed be in a very corrupt state, before he can possibly take pleasure in persuading himself that man is not made to aim at and attain to moral happiness hereafter, by duly improving his moral powers here; if to take pleasure in it be at all possible, as I, indeed, can hardly conceive how it can be. The mind of man is so made, that the idea of attainment to great happiness hereafter, by the suitable culture of his mind here, is no sooner presented to it, than it gladly takes hold of it, and indulges itself with truly laudable complacency in the great and cheering hope; nay, it triumphs and exults in it, and thereby feels itself rise to the noblest ambition, and swell with the most elating expectation. And if it be so, then indeed is man made for virtue, and he is indeed<421> the workmanship of an infinitely perfect being; for is not a mind, animated with such virtuous desires, resolutions and hopes, truly the image of a Creator, who is complete moral perfection, complete reason and virtue? Whence else could such capacity proceed? How could man, were not his Creator infinitely perfect, have been capable of such a great idea, and so divine an ambition?
Would a person really have a strong, a truly great soul, this is the belief which alone can produce it. He who hath this persuasion duly rooted and established in his mind, by frequent meditation upon it, must indeed rise in his affections above all sensual enjoyments, and look down with contempt upon every pleasure that is repugnant to integrity and virtue: nay, he will be able to surmount, with sedate fortitude, the cruelest sufferings by which virtue ever was or can be proved, and come forth from them doubly brightened and perfected.
Surely no one who duly considers the moment of this doctrine I have been endeavouring to establish; or with what noble comfort, with what fulness of joy, with what great and elevating hopes, it is pregnant, will wonder that I have laboured to the utmost of my abilities to set it in various lights; and that I can hardly part with it, but am at the end of every different view I am capable of giving of it, fond to begin again, and to try to set it yet in some other light, that may better suit some one or other’s understanding.
For it is of the greatest importance to every thinking person’s solid happiness to be firmly persuaded of it. Without being convinced of it, what can one who thinks enjoy! Or how can he be easy? For if it be not true, how gloomy, how frightful is the state of things! Discontent, horror, despair, must needs be the never ceasing tormentors of every one who thinks mankind are not under the kind care of an all-perfect mind. But the doctrine of a good providence over-ruling all, and of a future<422> state of immortal happiness to the virtuous, is as true as it is comfortable. For even the very small part of the vast scheme of providence we here see, tho’ it be but a small, a very small part, is full of the riches of the wisdom and goodness of its Author, in imitation of which lies, according to our make, our only true happiness; for the happiness of a man consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth, but in the practice of virtue, and the hopes of attaining to complete happiness, by attaining to perfect virtue: and our happiness being so placed, as to be found there alone, that is itself a full proof, that he who made us, and placed us here, is perfectly happy only in consequence of his absolute moral perfection.
XII. Those who search into the works of God, have indeed reason to say with an ancient, “He hath garnished the excellent works of his wisdom, and he is from everlasting to everlasting: unto him may nothing be added, neither can he be diminished; and he hath no need of any counsellor. O how desirable are all his works! and that a man may see even to a spark. One thing establisheth the good of another; and he hath made nothing imperfect; and who shall be filled with beholding his glory? By his word all things consist, and all his visible works praise him. But there are yet hid greater things than these be, for we have seen but a few of his works.” The same writer after a long discourse upon the works of God, and the wonderful conduct of providence towards all his creatures, towards man in particular, breaks forth into this most animated address to all good men.
“Hearken unto me, ye holy children, and bud forth as a rose growing by the brook of the field: and give ye a sweet savour as frankincense, and flourish as a lily; send forth a smell, and sing a song of praise, bless the Lord in all his works. Magnify his name, and shew forth his praise with<423> the songs of your lips, and with harps, and in praising him you shall say after this manner: All the works of the Lord are exceeding good, and whatsoever he commandeth shall be accomplished in due season. And none may say, What is this? Wherefore is that? For at time convenient shall they be sought out.—He seeth from everlasting to lasting; and there is nothing wonderful before him. A man need not to say, What is this? Wherefore is that? For he hath made all things for their uses.—For the good are good things created from the beginning: so evil things for sinners. The principal things for the whole use of man’s life, are water, fire, iron, and salt, flour of wheat, hony, milk, and the blood of the grape, and oil, and clothing. All these things are for good to the godly: so to the sinners they are turned into evil.—All the works of the Lord are good, and he will give every thing in due season. So that a man cannot say, this is worse than that; for in time they shall all be well approved. And therefore praise ye the Lord with the whole heart and mouth, and bless the name of the Lord.”
I have in the marginal notes quoted many passages from ancient authors, to prove the antiquity and universality of the belief of an universal good providence, and of the immortality of mankind, and of all rational beings. And I need not tell any who are acquainted with the sacred writings, how clearly these truths are there asserted. But I cannot chuse but take notice of what is said of a future state, in a book of the same class with that from which I have just now transcribed so beautiful a part.
Righteousness, saith that writer, is immortal.
He represents the reasoning of the ungodly with themselves in this manner. “Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave. For we are born at all adventure;<424> and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been: for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of our heart; which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as the soft air, and our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof.—Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present, and let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments,—let none of us go without his part of voluptuousness; let us leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place; for this is our portion, and our lot is this.
Let us oppress the poor righteous man, let us not spare the widow, nor reverence the ancient gray hairs of the aged. Let our strength be the law of justice; for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth. Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings; he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education. He professeth to have the knowledge of God; and he calleth himself the child of the Lord. He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold; for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits; he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness; he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his Father. Let us see if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.”<425>
After this truly natural picture of a vicious mind and its language, he adds, “Such things they did imagine; for their own wickedness hath blinded them. As for the mysteries of God they know them not: neither hoped they for the wages of righteousness; nor discerned a reward for blameless souls. But God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.—The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, and their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. For tho’ they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded; for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself; as gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and in the time of their visitation they shall shine. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever; but the ungodly shall be punished according to their own imaginations. For whoso despiseth wisdom and nurture, he is miserable, and their hope is vain, their labours unfruitful, and their works unprofitable. But glorious is the fruit of good labours, and the root of wisdom shall never fall away. The unrighteous tho’ they live long yet shall they be nothing regarded; and their last age shall be without honour. Or if they die quickly, they have no hope, neither comfort in the day of trial. And when they cast up the accounts of their sins, they shall come with fear, and their own iniquities shall convince them to their face. Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of him who afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. For the righteous live for evermore, their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High.”<426>
I have quoted this beautiful passage, as a further proof to shew how ancient, the comfortable belief of a future state is. And with regard to the doctrine of the christian scriptures concerning a future immortal state, I shall only beg leave to observe, 1. That no positive account can in the nature of things be given of the order, constitution, and laws of a future state, but so far as it is analogous or like to our present one; and therefore being a new state, very different from this, which can only be like to it in a few general respects, a positive account of it can only be given in these few general respects; and the many more things in which it is different from it, can only be declared to us negatively, or by negative propositions, signifying that it differs from, or is not like to our present state, in such and such respects.Observations on the account given of a future state in the christian religion. Wherefore to object against christianity, that the account given of a future state, consists chiefly of negative propositions, is to object against it for not giving an account of a future state, that cannot possibly be given to us, unless our intelligence could reach further than our ideas, or our ideas extend beyond experience, and analogy to our experience. I need not tell philosophers, that a great part of what is called science is but negative knowledge. It is sufficient to the present purpose to remark, that the few positive and many more negative declarations relative to a future state in the gospels and epistles, if they were carefully collected together under their proper heads, would be found to amount to such a discovery of the nature of a future state, as well deserves the most serious attention of all who have just notions of God, and of the dignity of human nature. 2. I would observe, that according to the scripture doctrine concerning the happiness of a future state, it arises from moral perfection suitably exercised and employed. It is described to be the natural and proper effect, fruit or harvest (in consequence of the laws of God’s<427> moral providence and government) of highly improved virtues, good habits, or a well formed and pure mind, and its suitable exercises about objects adequate to its capacity and disposition; it is said to be the consequence of having sown to the spirit, that is, of having laid a foundation by the improvement of our moral powers and affections for spiritual employments, and the happiness resulting from them; as the misery of the vicious is, on the other hand, represented to be the natural effect, harvest and fruit of a vitiated and depraved mind, or of degenerated corrupted powers and bad habits, or of having sown to the flesh and corruption. A great part of the happiness of a future state is said to arise from more perfect knowledge; that is, from larger, juster, and more clear and comprehensive views of the divine wisdom and goodness in the government of rational beings, than we can now attain to in our present situation, or till the great scheme of providence is advanced to that period; and from those devout and pious affections, which such knowledge must excite towards the all-perfect Creator and Governor of the universe. Yet the whole of the felicity of that state is not represented as consisting in contemplation and pious adoration; but it is described as an active state, a state of service to God, and of mutual service to one another: for it is represented to be a city, a state of high and noble activity; a state of active benevolence; a state of rule, trust, power and dominion. And indeed the happiness of the superior orders of beings to man mentioned in the sacred writings, is likewise set forth there, as chiefly resulting from their being ministering spirits, employed in carrying on some noble, generous ends, in the administration of God, for the universal good of all rational beings. But it is not my present business to enquire more particularly into the christian doctrine concerning a future state. I have only mentioned these few things,<428> in order to shew the consistency between what is said of it in revelation, and what reason naturally leads to conceive concerning it. In the scripture, it is expresly affirmed, that this is the unchangeable law of God in his government of all rational beings, of mankind in particular, that “as they sow so shall they reap.” And this we find, by enquiring into the constitution of man, and into the nature and means of all the acquisitions he is found capable of making, to be the rule. It is the rule here, and will be the rule for ever; and that rule being observed in the administration of moral beings, it must be right, just, good, reasonable administration: the ways of God towards man are perfect.
The chief thing aimed at in this essay, is to prove from the consideration of our affections, and powers, and of the laws relative to them, natural and moral, which constitute our present state, that man is made by an infinitely wise and good being for immortal progress in moral perfection and happiness. But in the marginal notes several remarkable passages of ancient authors are quoted, or referred to, not to make an ostentation of reading; but to shew, that the way in which human nature is considered in this enquiry, and the inferences deduced from it are very ancient; because some late writers have contended, that among the ancients, no good reasonings are to be found about divine providence, the end of man’s creation, and a future state; and to shew the contrary is not merely to do justice to ancient philosophers; it is doing justice to truth and to human nature. For had even the most thinking and enquiring part of mankind, for many ages, never been able to form a just idea of the end or perfection for which man is made; of his relation to a supreme Author and Governor of infinite excellence; and of our duties and interests resulting from our moral powers, and their relations, connexions, and tendency or aptitude, mankind must<429> certainly have been all that time in a most forlorn, dark and miserable situation; as incapable of attaining to their true end, as if they had been created for no such end. We are exceedingly indebted, on many important accounts, to divine revelation in all its different periods and dispensations, which will be found by every careful, impartial observer, to make a very beautiful, progressive part in the system of providence; or one continued connexion and series, one uniform design and analogy carried on for many ages, to its completion in the appearance of Jesus Christ in the world, very consistent with all the laws of the moral world. But surely, to assert that without revelation, men have no law, rule or guide; or which is to all intents and purposes the same thing, are unable to discover any law, rule or guide, to direct them in the pursuit of their proper end, perfection and happiness, is to affirm, that men, without a revelation, are incapable of attaining to that knowledge, which alone can enable them to judge rightly of a revelation when it is given to them.
As well may a house stand in the air without a foundation, as revelation be supposed not to be built upon some certain principles of reason or natural religion, clearly discernible by their own intrinsic light and evidence. But because it will be said, that this question is simply about fact, that is, whether previously to revelation, or without its assistance, enquirers into nature had been able to reason well concerning the being of God, a future state and human duties: I have therefore taken care, as I have gone on in this enquiry concerning man, to point out several passages from ancient authors, where the nature of man, of divine providence, and of human perfection and happiness, are not only well defined, but accurately deduced from solid principles in a truly or strictly philosophical manner.<430>
It is a very considerable satisfaction to a well-disposed mind, to imagine that good sense hath always been very universal in the world. Nay, in truth, it is hardly possible to vindicate moral providence, or the ways of God to man (in the persuasion of the equity and goodness of which all the comfort of a thinking person is bound up) upon the contrary supposition. And, in fact, there have almost never been wanting some among mankind, who, in the main, had just notions of human dignity and perfection; and who, actuated by a due sense of it, laid themselves out with all diligence to instruct others in that important knowledge. It does not appear that there were more scepticks, who took pleasure in puzzling and perplexing clear truths, in ancient than in later times; or that such were then looked upon by the wiser part of mankind with less contempt, or rather pity, than they now are, on account of the illiberal cast of mind, from which alone a zealous propagation of doctrines tending to discourage virtue, and throw a most gloomy damp upon all truly noble and generous ambition, can proceed. And what though speculative men in former ages had recourse to various hypotheses; and in pursuing some particular one; which, as all false suppositions when they are pursued far must do, led them into odd subtilties to avoid glaring contradiction, reasoned sometimes very weakly and childishly; can it be inferred from thence, (as, I think, a late author does in express terms) that these philosophers never reasoned well, or were absolutely incapable of reasoning well, about the very first principles of natural religion and morality? I cannot help thinking, that it would be very bad logic to say, that the great design of revelation cannot even now be discovered, because many pursuing strange hypotheses, reason, even now, very wildly and incoherently about it: or that, even now, morality is not capable of being set in a clear light because very different, not to say repugnant, methods<431> are even now taken, in order to explain it; and among many writers very uncouth suppositions are still admitted and reasoned from. It might easily be shewn, that there is no hypothesis made use of by any ancient moralist, in order to account for providence, and the present state of mankind, which hath not been adopted, nay, pursued very far, and had great stress laid upon it, by some very modern writer. But what would that prove? Surely, to bring it as an argument that, even now, morality is quite darkness and uncertainty, would justly be reckoned very childish and silly. And yet, if such reasoning be not true now, it can never be in any case, that is, with respect to any time, good reasoning. If any thing be clear, this must be so: That good reasonings are good reasonings, though, not only at the time they were produced others reasoned weakly and foolishly about the same things, but even the very same persons did, on other occasions, admit and push far some odd hypotheses, and so reasoned very wildly and foolishly about the same matters, concerning which they at other times express very just sentiments, with great clearness, propriety, elegance, and force of argument. So strangely do some still go to work in their defences of a cause, which standeth indeed upon a very plain, as well as sure foundation; that I could not chuse but say thus much in behalf, not merely of ancient philosophy, but of the clearness and certainty of rational morality, that is, morality easily deducible from obvious principles of reason and common sense. Nay, I cannot but add, that, so fully and clearly are all the principles and doctrines of morality explained in the writings of ancient moralists, that there is no conclusion, and almost no reasoning, in any of the best modern writers upon morality and natural religion, that is not to be found in some ancient philosopher, if not in all of them. None who are acquainted with Puffendorf and Grotius, and their<432> commentators, and the other most esteemed authors of this class, can call this assertion into doubt: for in these writers, most beautiful passages from ancient authors are on every occasion quoted. What is principally aimed at in this essay, is to call upon philosophers to take the ancient way of considering human nature, and the care of providence about man in moral affairs, which is the same late philosophers have agreed to take in the investigation of natural effects, and in accounting for them, as the only proper method of coming at the knowledge of nature. And all the best, or most useful observations in this treatise, concerning human nature, and the ways of God to man, are taken from ancient authors: it was by them, or by modern authors who have rendered justice to them, that I was led to these reflexions. All indeed I have any right to pretend to, is to have attempted to dispose very ancient observations upon mankind and moral providence, into the order that natural philosophers, after Sir Isaac Newton, follow, in accounting for material phenomena, which in moral philosophy was the ancient method. It is in the knowledge of the natural world that we surpass the ancients. And if it may be justly wondered at, that the ancients never thought of searching for general laws in the material system, but imagined it almost impossible to attain to any certainty in phisiology, though they plainly had very just notions of moral providence, or of the care of heaven about mankind; and accounted for moral effects, by reducing them to powers and their laws, or manners of operation, which they perceived to be excellent beyond all exception; may it not with equal reason be justly wondered, that modern philosophers, who have found so remarkably the advantage of tracing material effects to powers and general laws of powers, should not think of carrying on their enquiries into moral phenomena in the same manner? The reason why Socrates despised the<433> phisiology of his time, was because it did not reduce effects to general laws, and shew the wisdom, fitness or goodness of those general laws, from which effects proceed. And those who will take the trouble to look into his philosophy, as it is delivered to us by his scholars, must soon see, that his way of reasoning concerning human duties, consisted in pointing out the perfections to which our several moral powers are capable of being advanced, according to the laws of our nature; and that his way of vindicating moral providence, or the ways of heaven to man, was by reducing effects in the moral world to good powers, and excellent laws of these powers, constituting the human capacity of moral perfection and happiness.
But after all that hath been said of the perfection of moral philosophy among the ancients, I think the following truths, with respect to its farther improvement, in order to carry on right education to the best advantage, very obviously follow, from the sketch of its design and aim, and fundamental principles, which hath been delineated in this enquiry; and they may therefore be added to it, as so many Corolaries.
From the idea of moral philosophy delineated in this enquiry, it plainly appears that physiology and moral philosophy are (as the ancients have often observed) in the nature of things, quite inseparable. The material world was certainly created for the sake of the moral world; they make one strictly, connected system. And indeed, the material world, considered apart from its effects upon perceptive beings, hath no existence, or at least, cannot be said to merit existence; it is neither good nor bad, beautiful nor deformed, useful nor hurtful; it cannot be<434> said to have any properties, but bare existence, which, by consequence, would, in that case, be thrown away upon it. Now hence it follows, that enquiries into the beauty, order and goodness of the material world, can only mean, enquiries into the effects, material laws and connexions have, by the appointment of the Author of nature, upon perceptive beings, and the good final ends answered by such effects. But in this sense, not only is natural philosophy a part of moral, but a very essential part of it, in order to form a just judgment of our Creator, and his disposition towards us; or, at least, to have a full and satisfactory idea of his wisdom and goodness.
Not only is this true in general, but we are so united in our present state with the material world, that we may justly be said to be a kind of being constituted by a certain blending and intermingling, or mutual dependence of moral powers and laws of matter and motion. This we plainly feel to be our present state and rank. And therefore the knowledge of ourselves must be perfect or imperfect, in proportion to the justness and adequateness of the ideas we have of that mutual dependence, and of the parts so blended and connected: This must be true of what is called moral knowledge with respect to us, or the knowledge of human nature; because it is obviously true in general. “That to know any frame, constitution, or whole, of whatever sort, is to know its parts, and those mutual respects of its parts, which make it one whole adapted to a certain end or ends.”<435>
It is therefore very much to be desired, that philosophers would carry on their researches into human nature, as a being composed by the mutual respects of moral and material parts: And while these researches are pursued, it would be of great use to youth, if the more important observations, and reasonings from observations, which have hitherto been made concerning the human nature, and the material world with which it is united, so as to make one system, were ranged into such order, as would best serve at once to give them early right notions of man’s great end, or of the chief perfection and happiness for which he is intended and made; and of the care of God, the Father of all rational beings, about mankind; and to put them into the right road of pursuing such important enquiries for the further advancement of true knowledge. Such a system of moral philosophy for the instruction of youth, would certainly be of the greatest use. The great happiness of every man, depends upon his being early convinced, by good and solid reasoning, of his being under the care of an infinitely wise and good providence, and made to pursue, by proper culture, the moral perfection of which his nature is capable, in order to complete happiness. Without such early instruction, all other science is comparatively vain and unprofitable. The proper study of mankind is man. And a system of this knowledge proper for youth is greatly needed. The necessary materials are not wanting: the work is well worth the labour of some genius adequate to it: and several noble steps have been made towards it; but a great deal remains to be done, to accomplish such a body of moral knowledge, as would fully answer the ends which have been mentioned.<436>
It is very evident from what hath been found to be true concerning human nature; and indeed, it is obvious to every one who thinks at all, that mere instruction of the best kind is not sufficient to effectuate the great end of education; but together with it, early and uninterrupted, right usage or accustomance is absolutely necessary. For the deliberative temper, or a fixed unalterable disposition to act with judgment, and after due deliberation, can only be acquired or established in the mind, like all other habits, by use, custom, or often repeated acts. And yet until this temper or habitual power of acting deliberately and judiciously be formed, one acts precipitantly or blindly, and is not master of himself and his actions: he is really not a reasonable agent. Education ought therefore to be contrived, and calculated to produce betimes this self-command, this freedom and mastership of the mind. But tho’ it be absolutely necessary, that by proper instruction, young minds should early be richly replenished with just opinions and judgments concerning all the pleasures and pains in human life, or which may attend human actions; and concerning what is fit and unfit, true, just and good, or contrariwise in every various kind of conduct in all circumstances: yet of how little use will these judgments laid up in the mind be, unless from the moment one is capable of imbibing any of them by any methods of instruction, he is likewise inured to have recourse to them to direct him in his choices and determinations. It is only by the last method, that theoretic principles can become practical ones; and that the deliberative habit can be formed in the mind; which being formed, it would almost be impossible to err, so strongly doth pure undebauched nature point out to every<437> one in every case what is fit and becoming; or, at least, what is base and unworthy. How defective education commonly is in this respect is but too evident. And how much of the viciousness and misery of mankind is owing to its being so, will appear by considering the same part of human nature in another light.
For how is it, according to the preceeding analysis of human nature, that we are guided in our actions; or how are our affections variously moved, strengthened or diminished? Is it not by our opinions of things, or by the associations of ideas which prevail in our minds? And how do false ones become so strong and fixed, that they can hardly be altered, but by allowing them to operate upon us very long without examination or controul? If our happiness chiefly depends upon our opinions of things, and the associations of ideas which excite our affections, it must be of the last importance to accustom youth by right education and discipline, often to examine their opinions of things, and call their associations of ideas to a strict account; to break them into pieces, or resolve them into their constituent parts, and impartially to consider how these parts come to be united together into one idea, opinion or judgment; upon what foundation, or for what reason, that is, whether justly or unjustly. For thus alone can one acquire, or having acquired, maintain the ruling power of reason over his opinions and associations; or be sure of not becoming a mere dupe and slave to any the most foolish unaccountable fancy. But that our happiness, as far as it depends on ourselves, chiefly depends upon our opinions of things, and the associations of ideas which rule in our minds, is evident; for<438> tho’ we cannot alter natural qualities and connexions; tho’ pleasures and pains are fixed and immutable things, yet there are almost no pains human life is incident to, which we may not very considerably alleviate by dissociating from the ideas of them, several opinions connected with them by association, contrary to reason and truth, which greatly aggravate them. Nor are there any pleasures which truly deserve to be pursued with very great affection, which may not, on the one hand, be very much diminished in our opinion, by some false and unreasonable association; or, on the other hand, very much heightened, by a true and just or well founded opinion of them, or by uniting with them, by frequent association, such complete ideas of them, that is, of their influences, tendencies, consequences and connexions, as properly belong to the account, in a fair and true estimation of their full value. Nothing can be more true, than that our affections are excited by and correspondent to the complicated appearances of things to our minds. And it is certainly true, that a very large share of the vexation and misery, as well as folly and wickedness of mankind, is owing to want of a full and strong view of the dignity and excellence of steady consistent virtuous conduct; or of just and complete associations of ideas with respect to right actions; and to the very false opinions of the pleasures arising, from certain mere vanities, in consequence of false ideas of good connected or associated with them. To lead youth therefore to right opinions, and to form and fix in their minds just and true associations of ideas, is the great business of education; the principal part of which end is accomplished by inuring them often to examine their opinions and associations of ideas; and, in general, to let no idea of happiness or misery enter, or, at least, settle in their mind, till it hath been soundly examined; for, notwithstanding the prevalency of false opinions in the world about happiness,<439> were the examining temper early established by right practice, so powerful is nature and truth; so powerful is the language of genuine, uncorrupted nature, that just ideas of pleasures and pains would as it were spontaneously present themselves to the mind: The truth of this appears plainly, if we but reflect how unavoidably the true notions of virtue and vice haunt even the most vicious to their great disquiet. In vain do they chase them away, fly from them, or endeavour to keep them out.
Here the maxim holds true,
Naturam licet expellas,36&c.
The many artifices men contrive to put some fair shew to themselves upon their vices, are clear proofs, that the sense of virtue and vice is natural and hardly eradicable: every vice is originally so hateful to every man, that he naturally thinks himself at first absolutely incapable of ever yielding to it: it is by slow degrees, not without violent struggling, and by means of many deceitful artifices to palliate things, or give them false colours, that any man ever becomes reconciled to vice in any degree: But if a person once suffers himself to listen to the subtle language of false pleasure, and to be deluded by its guileful devices into precipitant compliance, instead of calling upon his reason and moral conscience, to exert their proper authority, who can tell where such a one may stop! ’Tis for this reason, that all good moralists speak so seriously of the deceitfulness of sin, and warn us with so much warmth, to guard with the utmost watchfulness against yielding or indulging in any case, till we are sure there is no deceit, but that all is strictly agreeable to honour, virtue and integrity.<440>
It is in some such way only, that men become villains. And therefore the only preservative against gradual corruption of the heart, is strict and uninterrupted care to maintain and uphold our reason in the habitual practice of governing all our passions, and of examining strictly all the subtle pretexts with which they are so fertile.
But more particularly with regard to instruction in the science of man, it is evident from the preceeding introduction to moral philosophy, that it may proceed two ways. Either by laying open to view the powers belonging to human nature, and the laws relative to these powers in our present situation, and by tracing effects to these powers and laws of powers, as their sources, and shewing their good final causes. By powers, I would here be understood to mean, not only the active faculties belonging to man, more properly called powers; but, together with these, all the affections and appetites belonging to our nature. And in this sense I have often used the word powers in this essay for brevity’s sake. Now, in such an analysis of man, human duties will naturally present themselves to our view; for what else can the duties of man mean besides the proper exercises of his several powers; the several perfections to which they are capable of being advanced by suitable exercises; and the apposite means, according to our frame and situation, for attaining to the highest degree of excellency our powers are susceptible<441> of. The end, the dignity, the perfection, and the happiness of a being, must necessarily mean the same thing. And as it can only be inferred from the consideration of the make and situation of a being; so these being known, it must obviously appear, or be very easily discoverable.
Or moral philosophy may proceed to shew directly, that certain manners of acting, in certain circumstances, are human duties. Now if it goes this way to work, it is manifest, not only that it ought to advance gradually from one class of duties to another, according to the simplest order, and to advance in demonstrating the duties of each class from the simplest, to more and more complex cases gradually; but it is likewise very evident, that in such a demonstration of duties, recourse must every where be had to our real frame and constitution, and to our real situation, and the real connexions of things upon which we in any degree depend. It will therefore ultimately terminate in a true analysis of human nature, from which the care of Heaven about mankind, and the provision made for their advancement to perfection and happiness, will plainly appear.
An ethical system, in either of these methods, in the latter more particularly, would not only be exceedingly embellished, but greatly enforced by pointing out the various devices of ingenious arts, in order to paint out, and recommend with force to the mind, moral truths, or all the discoveries of reason concerning human duties, the beauty and advantages of every virtue, and the deformity and evil consequences of every vice; and the wise and good order observed by the Author of nature in all his works. For what, indeed, properly speaking,<442> are all the ingenious arts, or their productions, which are called works of taste and genius, (poetry more especially in all its branches) but so many languages by which truths may be conveyed into the mind, so as to reach our affections, and move them at once usefully and agreeably?
But which is more, in such ethical systems, the principal powers of the mind, and their operations, cannot be fully explained, without having recourse to the imitative arts, because there is a very remarkable class of effects produced on our minds by these arts, in consequence of certain powers belonging to our nature. Their influences upon the mind, the sources of these influences; and the rules which must be observed in compositions of various sorts, in each agreeably to its particular kind and end, in order to its perfection, must be laid open; or a very considerable part of our frame would be neglected and left out of the account. And accordingly, in ancient treatises upon morals, these arts and their delightful effects, are frequently taken notice of and illustrated. And in many ancient authors, the use that might be made of them in education, and the fitness of instructing youth early in their principal aim and true excellence, are often inculcated with great earnestness.a <443>
Early instruction in the true beauty and perfection of poetry, and its sister-arts, is not only necessary to render liberal education complete, because a right taste of them adds greatly to human happiness, and because that is the only proper method of preventing the bad effects, which these arts, being misapplied, have upon the morals of youth: But besides, right instruction in the foundation and rules of these arts, and the proper ends they ought to pursue, and cannot arrive to their beauty and perfection without pursuing, must really terminate in a very full examination or analysis of human nature. For whence else can the effects of these arts be deduced, but from nature? This is acknowledged, as often<444> as the conduct of a good poem or of a good picture is pronounced to be just and beautiful, because it is natural. And, in fact, the pieces left us by the ancients upon poetry and rhetoric, and several justly esteemed discourses of the same kind by moderns, are indeed truly moral treatises, and afford very great insight into human nature. But having sufficiently considered this matter in my treatise on ancient painting, I shall go on to another remark, which may be inferred from this introduction to moral philosophy.
In explaining moral duties, in the various circumstances of human life, in those which more frequently occur in particular, the necessity of bringing examples from history, or probable fictions, in which actions and characters are naturally represented, from the former more especially, will be readily acknowledged by all who have duly attended to the power and efficacy of example upon the human mind, or our natural strong disposition toward imitation. Examples of the virtues and vices, beautifully expressed or pointed out by being opposed to one another, do, like contrast in a picture, wonderfully strengthen, heighten and set off a moral lesson: it is thus the beauty of virtue, and the deformity of vice appear in the most conspicuous shining light. And as examples take a firmer hold of the imagination and memory than bare precepts;a <445> so instances of good and praise-worthy conduct laid up in the memory, are ready at hand, not only to point out duty to us in a stronger and clearer language, than a general rule, without particular exemplifications of it, can possibly do; but likewise to work immediately upon our imitative disposition, exciting a truly noble and laudable emulation in us. For the same reasons, it would be a very useful exercise for youth, to employ them in frequently giving their judgment of particular actions recorded in history, with reasons to support their opinion: and also to accustom them to determine what virtue requires to be done in certain given cases, which ought always to be such as have, or may occur in real life; and at first ought to be such as more frequently occur in, and are most suited to their own age and its common incidents, much in the manner Xenophon describes in his account of the education of Cyrus.38
As moral instruction ought to be carried on very gradually, by proceeding from simpler to more and more complex cases; so certainly, in the education of those of the higher ranks in life more especially, it ought to advance to the most complex and difficult of sciences, politicks. I do not merely mean, that part of it which treats of the general duties of magistrates, and the duties and rights of subjects; nor even that which treats of the duties of separate independent states, one to another; but that still more complex part, which enquires into the nature and effects of different constitutions and forms of government, and compares them together. It is not more absurd to assert, that different mixtures and combinations of sensible qualities have not each its peculiar effects, in consequence of the properties of bodies, and the laws of matter and<446> motion; than it is to assert, that different mixtures and combinations of moral qualities or causes, have not each its peculiar effects, in consequence of the nature of moral causes and their laws. Both assertions do equally terminate in affirming, that what results from a certain combination of qualities or causes, happens by chance, and is not the natural effect of the combination of qualities and causes. And if that affirmation be absurd with respect to physical qualities, or causes, and their combinations, it must likewise be absurd with respect to moral qualities, or causes, and their combinations. For quality is in no other sense a quality, but as it hath fixed, certain influences in certain cases. The words natural and moral, can make no difference in that respect. As a natural quality must mean a property of a body, which hath certain effects, so a moral quality must mean some quality of a mind which hath certain effects. If combinations of moral qualities or causes hath not their natural effects, as well as combinations of physical qualities, then there could be no political science, since that only means a collection of just conclusions concerning the natural effects arising from certain moral causes: even as there could be no physical science, did not physical causes or qualities produce certain effects, since that only means a collection of just conclusions concerning the operations of physical qualities in various circumstances or combinations. Better or worse, more or less inconvenient, cannot be acknowledged, or indeed have any meaning with respect to civil constitutions, but upon supposition that different internal principles of government (as they are very properly called by political writers) have naturally different effects. But if they have, and therefore there really be such a science as politicks, it ought certainly to make a principal part in the education of youth, of the more distinguished ranks in life, who are, as it were, born, to be public guardians, that is,<447> they ought early to be directed into the proper method of making right judgments about different constitutions, and the various effects they are liable to, in consequence of the natural effects of their internal principles in various circumstances; and of studying history in that view: and to prepare them for such study, they ought early to be made acquainted with the authors who have reasoned best upon these subjects. And indeed the more I have looked into history, and into such authors, the more reason have I found to conclude, all the effects produced by different internal principles of government or civil polity, to be proofs of the wisdom of the laws, which constitute and govern the moral world: and, at the same time, the more reason have I found to conclude, that a great deal more is owing to the natural operation of internal principles than is commonly imagined.
It is pity, that historical registers of natural phenomena have not been carefully kept from the beginning of the world, in all times and countries. Had that been done, it is reasonable to think, natural knowledge must have been long ago brought to very great perfection; and, by consequence, man would have been, long before this time, that master of the world he was certainly intended to be by science, and can only be in that manner. But tho’ that method of enlarging human dominion and happiness be yet exceedingly neglected, notwithstanding all the pains Lord Verulam, and other great genius’s have taken to recommend and chalk it out to us; tho’ it be not set on foot as it ought, even now when it is universally acknowledged by all philosophers to be the only method, and an infallible one, of getting at the knowledge of nature, of the advantages of which to us no one can doubt: tho’ this is really matter of regret, yet it is a great happiness to mankind, that the history of moral affairs from the most ancient times is so exactly transmitted to<448> us as it is: and indeed, in this case, the only thing that seems wanting, is the art of making the proper uses of such experimental registers. It were therefore to be wished, that more persons of abilities for it, would apply themselves to such calculations and deductions, for the benefit of human society, as these moral records afford proper materials for.
As it is natural to think, that very like circumstances of mankind, in the more capital or important respects, must frequently recur, because all men, in all ages, are actuated by the same springs, i.e. by the same affections, and have nearly the very same powers, and the very same connexions and dependencies: so, in fact, almost no circumstances now happen to any society, of which ancient history doth not afford some example, so similar in many material points, that by it a very right judgment may be made of their tendency, according to the natural operations of moral causes; and of the proper means to be used or interposed to give them any demanded turn.
This must have been the case ever since history deserved to be recommended, not merely for amusement, but for our instruction in the various tendencies of moral causes, and in the arts of government. ’Tis only on this account, that history merits to be called not barely, “Testis temporum & nuntia vetustatis;” but, “Lux veritatis & magistra vitae.”39
It could not be of use in that way, were it not for that likeness of times to times, and events to events, arising from the likeness of men to men, or that sameness of human nature in all times and ages of the world, which history puts beyond all doubt. But human affairs appearing by history to be really such, it acquireth thereby a right to be appealed to, to confirm or refute any political reasonings, as we do in philosophy to experiment; and thus to be<449> deemed the best, the most useful of all studies, and the surest teacher and guide in matters of society and publick concern. No doubt, men acquainted with history and human nature, might carry on moral investigations about moral qualities, and combinations of moral qualities, and their effects, a much greater length than hath been yet done. And till youth are acquainted with making proper reflexions upon, or useful deductions from events, as from moral experiments, they cannot possibly study history in the only profitable way.
But, however that be, it is obvious, to use the words of a very great author often quoted, “That as low as philosophy is now reduced, if morals be allow’d belonging to her, politicks must undeniably be hers. For to understand the manners and constitutions of men in common, ’tis necessary to study man in particular, and know the creature, as he is in himself, before we consider him in company, as he is interested in the state, or join’d to any city or community. In order to reason rightly concerning man, in his confederate state and national relation; as he stands engaged to this or that society by birth or naturalization; we must first have considered him as a citizen or commoner of the world, and have traced his pedegree a step higher, or have view’d his end and constitution in nature itself.”40
Philosophy does not proceed to its principal part, till the nature of human society, the end of government and laws, and the various tendencies of different moral combinations in social respects, or with regard to publick happiness, are thoroughly weighed and understood. But it must begin at considering man in the abstract, or his natural state and constitution; since to deduce any moral duty, or to know the perfection or imperfection of any creature whatever, it is requisite first of all to understand what condition and relation it is placed in,<450> and what is the proper end and purpose of its being.
If any one should ask, what is the properest way and time of beginning in the instruction of youth? The answer seems obvious from the preceeding account of human nature. It may be delayed too long, but it cannot be attempted too soon.a For the sooner our faculties are invited by proper methods to disclose themselves, the sooner they begin to operate, and by proper working, they quickly gain considerable strength, and arrive to great maturity: our moral sense, together with our delight in analogy and similitude, soon discover themselves, if they are duly tried. And one of the properest means of improving both these faculties, or rather determinations of our nature, is very early to convey into young minds the more simple and obvious moral truths, by apposite fables and allegories. Here poetry is of admirable use; for whatever principles, maxims, or precepts can<451> be so conveyed, both strike the mind more strongly at first, and are more easily retained by it afterwards.
But, in order to form the attentive habit, and strengthen and whet reason and the perceptive faculties; or to beget at the same time the love of knowledge, and a just notion of acuracy and coherence in reasoning, geometry hath ever been acknowledged by all philosophers to be the proper instrument, if I may so speak. Quintilian tells us, in a few words, what opinion the best ancients had of it in these respects. “Fatentur esse utilem teneris aetatibus, agitari namque animos atque acui ingenia & celeritatem percipiendi venire inde concedunt. Sed prodesse eam non ut caeteras artes, cum perceptae sint, sed cum discantur, existimant.”a
But there is another reason, tho’ that be sufficient, why it ought to make an early part of education, namely, because it is the key to that true natural philosophy, which shews so plainly the wisdom of God in all his administration; and so naturally leads the mind to the study of order, beauty, wisdom and goodness, which cannot be contemplated without being loved, nor loved without being imitated.
I shall only add to this, that by the proper methods of instructing youth in any language, their tender minds will be early let into, and replenished with the knowledge of the beautiful and truly wonderful analogies and harmonies, which prevail throughout the whole of nature. For were not only all sensible ideas analogous, in many respects, one to another, but all moral ideas likewise analogous in many respects to almost all sensible ideas, if there could be any such thing as language at all, which I much doubt, yet it is plain, at least, that languages could not abound so much as they do in<452> metaphorical words. But that being the case, early instruction in the beauty, propriety, elegance and force of metaphorical words, must not only improve the imagination, but it must really fill the mind betimes with very useful and agreeable knowledge. All this is as true and as manifest, as it is that a metaphor must be lost upon one who does not fully and clearly comprehend the analogy signified by it, and that makes it a proper or well chosen one.
From this specimen of moral philosophy, and the preceeding corolaries, it is visible, that the ancients had very good reason to say, that all the sciences are one, even as nature is one; and that they ought not to be violently torn asunder from one another in education; but ought, on the contrary, to be united together in it agreeably to their natural connexion and one common end.a <453>
All the liberal sciences into whatever different classes they may be distributed, do indeed make but one body; and none of them can be fully understood separately, or apart from all the rest; no more than a limb can be, without referring it to the whole body of which it is naturally a member.
This is plain, because in reality, that which is the only object of real knowledge, viz. nature, is truly one indivisible object, all the parts of which are strictly coherent. All that we can study, or have to study, is our own constitution and situation; our own make, and the relation we stand in to the system of which we are a part, and its author. And all the liberal arts and sciences are really but so many different languages, by which the various connexions which make our system may be pointed out, expressed, embellished, recommended or enforced on the mind: as other inferior ones are but so many arts of imitating certain laws and connexions in nature, for the convenience or ornament of human life and society. But having sufficiently illustrated this point in my essay on ancient painting,41 I shall not now insist longer upon it.
I shall conclude with observing, that the moral philosophy here delineated, will not suffer its students to give themselves up entirely to contemplation and admiration, but will vigorously push and<454> prompt them to virtuous activity as their main end, in fitting us for which the whole merit of science consists. They will soon perceive, as Cicero observes, 1. That the active mind of man when it is once inured to serious meditations and profitable enquiries, can be very busy about these while the body is intent upon, or entirely occupied in walking, riding, or other such exercises. 2. And every step one advances in moral researches, he must have this important truth more and more deeply enforced upon him, that man is made for society and action. “Virtutis laus omnis in actione consistit.”a I cannot better explain this doctrine, which is the plain language of our whole frame and contexture, than Cicero hath done in his offices.b I shall therefore give his opinion of it in the words of his english translator.
“The principal of all the virtues is that sort of wisdom which the Greeks call σοϕια; (for as to that sort which they call ϕρονησις and we prudentia, it is a thing of a perfectly different nature, as being no more than the skill of discerning what it is that we ought, or ought not to do:) But that sort of wisdom, which I said was the principal is, the knowledge of things both divine and human; and so comprehends the society and relation of men with the gods, and with one another. If then this, as most certainly it is, be the greatest virtue; it follows, that the duties which flow from society must as certainly be the greatest: for the deepest knowledge and contemplation of nature, is but a very lame and imperfect business, unless it proceed and tend forward to action: now the occasions wherein it can shew itself best, consist in maintaining the interests of men, and of consequence belong to the society of mankind: from whence it follows, that the maintaining<455> of this, should in reason take place before learning and knowledge. Nor is this any more than what all good men shew they judge to be true by their actions and practices: for who is there so wholly addicted to contemplation and the study of nature, as that, if his country should fall into danger, while he was in one of his noblest researches, he would not immediately throw all aside, and run to its relief with all possible speed; nay, though he thought he might number the stars, or take the just dimensions of the whole world? And the same would he do in the case of any danger to a friend or a parent. From all which things it undeniably appears, that the duties of knowledge and searching after truth, are obliged to give way to the duties of justice, which consist in upholding society among men; than which there is nothing we should be more concerned for. Nay, those very men, who have spent their whole lives in philosophy and learning, have yet always endeavoured, as much as they could, to be serviceable to the interest and good of mankind. For many brave men, and very useful members of their several states, have in great part been made such by their institutions. Thus Epaminondas, the famous Theban, was indebted for his education to Lysis, the Pythagorean: Dion of Syracuse, for his to Plato; and the same may be said of a great many others; even I myself, whatsoever service I have done the republick, (if at least it may be said that I have done it any service) must wholly ascribe it to that learning and those instructions I received from my masters. Neither is their teaching and instructing others determined to the time of their living here; but they continue to do it even after they are dead, by the learned discourses which they leave behind them: for there is no one point they have left unhandled, relating either to the laws, customs, or discipline of the commonwealth: so that they seem to have sacrificed their leisure and<456> opportunities of study, to the benefit of those who are engaged in business: and thus we see how those men themselves, whose lives have been spent in the pursuit of wisdom, have nevertheless endeavoured by their learning and prudence, to be some way profitable to the community of mankind. And for this one reason, persuasive speaking, if joined with prudence, is a greater accomplishment than the acutest thinking, if destitute of eloquence: for thinking is terminated in itself alone, but speaking reaches out to the benefit of those with whom we are joined in the same society. Now as bees do not therefore unite themselves together, that so they may the better prepare their combs; but therefore prepare their combs, because they do by nature unite themselves together: so men, and much more, being creatures that naturally love society, in consequence of that, seek how they may find methods of living happily in it. From hence it follows, that the knowledge of things, unless it is accompanied with that sort of virtue, which consists in defending and preserving of men, i.e. in the maintenance of human society, is but a barren and fruitless accomplishment; and even greatness of soul, without a regard to this society and conjunction, is very little better than savageness and barbarity. Thus we may see, that the getting of knowledge is a duty of much less concern and moment, than the preserving this society and union amongst men. It is a very false notion, that hath been advanced by some people, that necessity alone was the motive to this society, which we have so often mentioned; and that men would never have associated together, but that they were not able, in a solitary life, to furnish themselves with the necessaries of nature; and that every great and exalted genius, would providence supply him with food and the other conveniences of life, would withdraw from all business and intercourse with mankind, and gave himself<457> wholly to study and contemplation. This is not so; for he would avoid solitude, endeavour to find a companion in his studies, and always be desirous of teaching and learning, of hearing and speaking. From all which it is abundantly evident, that the duties belonging to human society, should in reason take place before those which relate to unactive knowledge.”
All I have been endeavouring to prove, in the text to be true, and in the marginal notes to have been the constant opinion of the best ancient philosophers, concerning human nature and the present state of virtue, is delightfully expressed by Cicero, in his first book of laws, where it is likewise fully explained and demonstrated. Animal hoc providum, sagax, multiplex, acutum, memor, plenum rationis & consilii quem vocamus hominem, praeclara quadam conditione generatum esse a supremo Deo. Quid est, non dicam in homine, sed in omni caelo, atque terra ratione divinius? Quae cum adolevit, atque perfecta est, rite sapientia nominatur. Est igitur, quoniam nihil est ratione melius, eaque & in homine, & in Deo; prima homini cum Deo rationis societas. ——— Jam vero virtus eadem in homine ac Deo est, neque ullo alio ingenio praeterea. Est autem virtus nihil aliud, quam in se perfecta, & ad summum perducta natura. Est igitur homini cum Deo similitudo. Quod cum ita sit, quae tandem potest esseproprior, certiorve cognatio. ——— Nec est quisquam gentis ullius, qui ducem naturam nactus ad virtutem pervenire non possit.42
So soon as the Author’s Health permits, will be published, Christian Philosophy: or, TheChristian DoctrineconcerningProvidence, Virtue,and aFuture State, proved to be perfectly agreeable to the Principles of Moral Philosophy. In a Discourse given by St. Paul, of the divineMoral Government, in these Words: Be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
[a. ]Ethic Epistles, Book II. Epist. 1. to Lord Cobham. [Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle I, To Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobham. Alexander Pope, Pope: Poetical Works, ed. Herbert Davis (London: Oxford University Press, 1966).]
[33. ]Pope, Essay on Man, I.16.
[34. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.107–22.
[a. ]Cicero de Inven. Rhet. Lib. II. No. 55. Ed. Schrivelii. [See Cicero, De inventione, II.liv.165. Cicero, De inventione. . . ., trans. H. M. Hubbell, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1949).]
[35. ]See Samuel Clarke, A Discourse Concerning the Unchangeable Obligation of Natural Religion (London, 1706), and William Wollaston, The Religion of Nature Delineated (London, 1724).
[a. ]See this important truth fully and clearly explained by Mr. Locke, in his chapter on power. Essay on human understanding. [John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), bk. 2, ch. 21.]
[a. ]This reasoning often occurs in the Meditations of Marcus Antoninus Philosophus. See it explained, Characteristicks, T. 1. Essay on enthusiasm. [Shaftesbury, “Letter Concerning Enthusiasm” V, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 21.]
[b. ]That there must be a mind which has relation to the whole, is evident, because a whole must be contrived and produced.
[a. ]See this fully handled in my philosophical enquiry concerning the connexions between the doctrines and works of Jesus Christ. [A Philosophical Enquiry Concerning the Connexion Between the Doctrines and Miracles of Jesus Christ (London, 1731).]
[a. ]Many of the discourses at Mr. Boyle’s lecture are of this kind. Those of Dr. John Clark in particular.
[b. ]Analysis and by Synthesis.
[c. ]In his optics towards the end. [Isaac Newton, Opticks, 4th ed. (1730); reprint, pref. I. Bernard Cohen (New York: Dover Publications, 1952), bk. 3, query 31.]
[36. ]Horace, Epistles, I.x.24: “you may drive out nature. . . .” Horace, Satires, Epistles and Ars poetica, trans H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1926).
[37. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.217–20.
[a. ]See Plutarch de audiendis poetis.—Non ergo fugienda sunt poemata philosophaturis: sed adhibenda poematibus philosophica consideratio, adsuescendumque ut in eo quod delectat utilitatem quaeras & eam amplectaris.—Enim vero sicut in picturis color plus afficit quam linea, propter similitudinem corporis & fallendi aptitudinem: ita in poematibus mendacium probabilitate temperatum magis percellit & gratius est apparatu carminis & dictionis fabula & figmento carentis.—Magis quoque adhuc cautum eum reddemus, si simulatque eum ad poemata applicamus, ipsam poeticam ei describamus; artem nimirum esse imitatricem, pingendique arti quasi ex altera parte respondentem. Neque id modo auditum habeat omnium sermone tritum, quo loquentis picturae nomine poesis, pictura tacentis poesis afficitur. Sed praeterea quoque eum doceamus quod pictam lacertam aut simiam, aut Thersitae faciem videntes delectamur, miramurque non pulchritudinis sed similitudinis causa. Suapte enim natura fieri id quod turpe est pulchrum non potest: imitatio, sive pulchrae, sive turpis rei similitudinem exprimat laudatur: eademque rursus, si pulchram turpis corporis imaginem effingat, decorum non servaverit. Pingunt etiam quidam actiones absurdas—in his adolescens est maxime assuefaciendus ut discat rem quae imitatione expressa est, non laudari: sed artem quae id quod propositum erat, recte representaverit. Quando igitur poetica ars—idcirco eum admonebimus, indignum esse, si honestatis pulchrique studiosus, & non hoc, sed doctrinae capiendae causa poemata legens obiter negligenterque percipiat quae ad fortitudinem, temperantiam aut justitiam declamantur in iis—qualia sunt, videre hominem prudentissimum in mortis periculo cum tota multitudine communi constitutum, non mortis sed turpitudinis metu duci, animo adolescentis ad virtutis studium motum afferet.—After many virtuous lessons from the poets, he adds, Nonne haec demonstrationem habent eorum quae de devitiis & externis bonis tradunt philosophi, ea sine virtute nihil possessoribus prodesse?—He concludes, Itaque cum propter haec, tum praedictorum causa omnium, adolescenti in lectione poetarum bona opus est gubernatione; ne sinistra suspicione occupatus, sed praecedente potius institutione formatus, placidus ita familiarisque & amicus a poesi ad philosophiam deducatur. [Plutarch, De audiendis poetis: “So poems should not be shunned by budding philosophers. Instead philosophical thought should be given to poems, and you should form the habit of seeking and embracing the beneficial in that which delights you” (15F-16A). “For just as, in the case of pictures, color is more affecting than line because of color’s resemblance to bodies and because of its tendency to take people in, so also a poem containing plausible falsehoods is more striking and more gratifying than is a work which has poetic form and vocabulary but lacks a story line and is unimaginative” (16B-C). “We shall make the budding philosopher still more cautious if, when we turn his mind to poetry, we describe the poetic art to him as an imitative art corresponding to the art of painting and, as it were, from another part of the mind. And he should not just be given the trite description that is on everyone’s lips: ‘Poetry is a vocal picture and a picture is silent poetry’” (17F). “But we should also teach him that we delight in, and admire, a painting of a lizard or a monkey or of Thersites’ face, because of the likeness achieved and not because of the beauty of the model. For that which is ugly by nature cannot be made beautiful. But if a painting resembled a thing, then whether the thing was beautiful or ugly, the painting would be praised. If, to the contrary, the painting was a beautiful image of an ugly body, propriety would not have been maintained. Some painters even paint crazy acts” (18A). “In these things, the young man should, through instruction, become accustomed to the fact that what is to be praised is not the thing which has been copied, but the art itself which has accurately represented the object that was copied. When therefore the art of poetry . . .” (18B). “So let us advise him that it is not right if a person who is keen on what is honorable and beautiful, and who reads poems for the sake of gaining instruction, should only incidentally and negligently notice the elements in poems that speak of courage, temperance, and justice. To see that a most prudent man, in danger of death along with the entire multitude, is led on by fear not of death but of disgrace will bring the young man to the study of virtue” (30D-E). Then: “Surely these things are a demonstration of what philosophers conclude as regards riches and external goods—they are worthless to a possessor who lacks virtue” (36C); and finally: “Given these points and all the ones that precede, a young man needs sound guidance on the reading of the poets; so that not preoccupied with dark distrust, but instead informed by prior instruction, he may be drawn, in an amiable, familiar, and friendly mood, from poetry to philosophy” (37A-B). Plutarch, Omnia quae extant opera, 2 vols. (Paris, 1624).]
[Columella, De re rustica, XI.i: “Nothing can be taught correctly without an example.” Columella, On Agriculture: X-XII, On Trees, ed. and trans. E. S. Forster and Edward H. Heffner, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1968). Seneca the Elder, Controversariae, IX.2.27: “it is easier for us to learn by example both what to imitate and what to avoid.” The Elder Seneca, Declamations, trans. M. Winterbottom, vol. 2, Controversariae, bks. 7–10 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1974). Seneca the Younger, Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, I.vi.5: “the way is long if one follows precepts, but short and helpful, if one follows patterns.” Seneca, Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, trans. Richard M. Gummere, 3 vols., Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1917).]
[38. ]Xenophon, Memorabilia, II.ii.10–11.
[39. ]Cicero, De oratore, II.ix.36: Testis temporum —“bears witness to the passing of the ages”; nuntia vetustatis —“bears tidings of ancient days”; lux veritatis —“sheds light upon reality”; magistra vitae —“gives guidance to human existence.” Cicero, De oratore, Books I and II, trans. E. W. Sutton, completed by H. Rackham, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1942).
[40. ]Shaftesbury, “The Moralists,” I.i, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 232–33.
[a. ]Quintilian gives a very important advice to this purpose, founded on a very true observation. Igitur nato filio, pater spem de illo primum quam optimam capiat, ita diligentior a principiis fiet. Falsa enim est querela paucissimis hominibus vim percipiendi quae traduntur esse concessam; plerosque vero laborem ac tempora tarditate ingenii perdere. Nam contra, plures reperias, & faciles in excogitando, & ad discendum promptos: quippe id est homini naturale. Ac sicut aves ad volandum, equi ad cursum, ad saevitiam ferae gignuntur: ita nobis propria est mentis agitatio atque solertia, unde origo animi coelestis creditur. Hebetes vero & indociles, non magis secundum naturam hominis eduntur quam prodigiosa corpora, & monstris insignia. Sed hi pauci admodum fuerunt. Argumentum quod in pueris elucet spes plurimorum, quae cum emoritur aetate manifestum est, non naturam defecisse sed curam. Praestat tamen ingenio alius alium concedo: sed ut plus efficiat aut minus. Nemo tamen reperitur, qui sit studio nihil consecutus, &c. Quin, Inst. l. 1. c. 1. [Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, I.i.1: “I would, therefore, have a father conceive the highest hopes of his son from the moment of his birth. If he does so, he will be more careful about the groundwork of his education. For there is absolutely no foundation for the complaint that but few men have the power to take in the knowledge that is imparted to them, and that the majority are so slow of understanding that education is a waste of time and labour. On the contrary you will find that most are quick to reason and ready to learn. Reasoning comes as naturally to a man as flying to birds, speed to horses and ferocity to beasts of prey: our minds are endowed by nature with such activity and sagacity that the soul is believed to proceed from heaven. Those who are dull and unteachable are as abnormal as prodigious births and monstrosities, and are but few in number. A proof of what I say is to be found in the fact that boys commonly show promise of many accomplishments, and when such promise dies away as they grow up, this is plainly due not to the failure of natural gifts, but to lack of the requisite care. But, it will be urged, there are degrees of talent. Undoubtedly, I reply, and there will be a corresponding variation in actual accomplishment: but that there are any who gain nothing from education, I absolutely deny.” Quintilian, The Orator’s Education, ed. and trans. Donald A. Russell, 5 vols., Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2001).]
[a. ]Instit. l. 1. c. 17. [Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, I.x.34: “. . . it is admitted that some parts of it [geometry] are useful for young children, because it exercises the mind, sharpens the wits, and generates quickness of perception. But it is thought that the advantages come not (as with other arts) when it has been learned, but only during the learning process.”]
[a. ]See what is said on this head from Plato by Cicero. Ac mihi quidem veteres illi majus quiddam animo complexi, multo plus etiam vidisse videntur, quam quantum nostrorum ingeniorum acies intueri potest, qui omnia haec, quae supra & subter, unum esse & una vi, atque una consensione naturae constricta esse dixerunt. Nullum enim est genus rerum, quod aut avulsum a ceteris per seipsum constare, aut quo cetera, si careant, vim suam atque aeternitatem conservare possent—Est etiam illa Platonis vera & tibi, Catule, certe non inaudita vox, omnem doctrinam harum ingenuarum, & humanarum artium; uno quodam societatis vinculo contineri, ubi enim perspecta vis est rationis ejus, qua causae rerum, atque exitus cognoscuntur, mirus quidam omnium quasi consensus doctrinarum, concentusque reperitur. De Orat. 1. 3.
[41. ]Turnbull, A Treatise on Ancient Painting (London, 1740), ch. 7.
[a. ]First book of the offices, toward the beginning. [Cicero, De officiis, I.vi.19: “The whole glory of virtue is in activity.” Cicero, De officiis, trans. Walter Miller, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938).]
[b. ]First book of the offices towards the end. Edit. Schrv. No. 43, 44. [Ibid., I.xliii.153-xliv.158.]
[42. ]Cicero, De legibus: “. . . that animal which we call man, endowed with foresight and quick intelligence, complex, keen, possessing memory, full of reason and prudence, has been given a certain distinguished status by the supreme God who created him. . . . But what is more divine, I will not say in man only, but in all heaven and earth, than reason? And reason, when it is full grown and perfected, is rightly called wisdom. Therefore, since there is nothing better than reason, and since it exists both in man and God, the first common possession of man and God is reason” (I.vii.22–23). “Moreover, virtue exists in man and God alike, but in no other creature besides; virtue, however, is nothing else than nature perfected and developed to its highest point; therefore there is a likeness between man and God. As this is true, what relationship could be closer or clearer than this one?” (I.viii.25) “In fact, there is no human being of any race who, if he finds a guide in nature, cannot attain to virtue” (I.x.30).