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CHAPTER I: Of the Nature of Things . - Richard Cumberland, A Treatise of the Laws of Nature 
A Treatise of the Laws of Nature, translated, with Introduction and Appendix, by John Maxwell (1727), edited and with a Foreword by Jon Parkin (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
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Of the Nature of Things.
The Laws of Nature, defined. Altho’ the Scepticks and Epicureans of old denied, and others of like Principles still persist in denying, that there are any Laws of Nature;1 we are, nevertheless, on both sides agreed, what is intended by that Name; for we both understand thereby, certain Propositions of unchangeable Truth, which direct our voluntary Actions, about chusing Good and refusing Evil; and impose an Obligation to external Actions, even without Civil Laws, and laying aside all Consideration of those Compacts, which constitute Civil Government. “That some such Truths are, from the Nature of Things and of Men, necessarily suggested to the Minds of Men, and by them understood and remember’d, (whilst the Faculties of their Minds continue unhurt,) and that therefore they really exist there”; This is what we affirm, and our said Adversaries as expressly deny.
The Author’s Method of Inquiry, concerning their Existence.Wherefore, that the Nature of these Propositions may more plainly appear, it is necessary, that we first examine the Nature of Things universally, then, of Men, and lastly, of Good, as far as they relate to this Question. We must afterwards shew, what sort of Propositions direct Mens Actions, and naturally carry along with them the Force and Obligation of Laws, as pointing out what is necessary to be done, in order to obtain that End, which Nature has determin’d Men to pursue. Lastly, that there are such Laws, will sufficiently appear from the certainty and necessary influence of those Causes which produce them.
The Consideration of the Nature of Things, necessary in this Question;§II. Nor ought it to seem strange to any, that I said, “That the Nature of Things in the Universe ought first to be consider’d”; because the extensive Faculties of Man, which need many Things for their Preservation and Improvement, and are excited by all to Action, can’t be otherwise understood: For how can any one understand, what is most agreeable, or most hurtful, to the human Mind or Body, unless he considers (as far as he is able)2 all those Causes, as well remote, as near, which form’d, and now preserve, Man, and may hereafter support, or destroy, him? Nor is it possible to know, what is the best Thing a Man can do, in the present Case, unless the Effects, as well remote as near, which may proceed from him, in all variety of Circumstances, be foreseen and compar’d among themselves. But the Consideration of the Causes, upon which Men depend, and of those Effects, which may be produc’d by the Concurrence of their Powers, will necessarily lead every Man to consider, not only other Men, where soever dispers’d, and himself, as a small part of Mankind, but also this whole Frame of Nature, and God, its first Founder, and supreme Governor. These things being consider’d, in the best manner we are able, our Mind may by some general Conclusions pronounce, “What sort of human Actions chiefly promote the Common Good of all Beings, especially such as are Rational,” wherein each Man’s proper Happiness is contain’d. And we shall hereafter see, that in such Conclusions, provided they be true and necessary, the Law of Nature is contain’d.
Because all moral Philosophy is finally resolved into the Knowledge of Nature.§III. Yet the Nature of our Undertaking does not require, that we should take a particular View of all kinds of Beings. We congratulate, indeed, the happy Genius of this learned Age, that the intellectual Part of the World has been much illustrated by that great Accession of Light, which former Proofs of the Being of God, and the Immortality of the Soul have receiv’d from the daily increasing Knowledge of the inferior Part of Nature. We also congratulate, both the present Age and Posterity, that, now at length, the material Part of the Universe begins to be explain’d by introducing Mathematicks into the Study of Nature. It is truly a vast Undertaking, “To resolve the visible World into its most simple Principles, Matter, variously figur’d, and Motion, differently compounded, and after the Geometrical Investigation of the Properties of Figures, and of compounded Motions, from Phaenomena faithfully observ’d, to shew the History of the whole corporeal System exactly conspiring with the Laws of Matter and Motion”; but that is an Undertaking, not only unequal to the Abilities of any one Man, but of an Age. It is, nevertheless, worthy of the united Endeavours, and unwearied Industry of those great Genius’s of which the Royal Society is compos’d: Worthy of his most excellent Majesty, King Charles its Founder, Patron and Example.3 We may therefore safely commit so important and difficult an Affair to so faithful and skilful Hands. It is sufficient for us, in the beginning of this Undertaking, to have admonish’d the Reader, “That the Whole of moral Philosophy, and of the Laws of Nature, is ultimately resolv’d into natural Observations known by the Experience of all Men, or into Conclusions of true Natural Philosophy.” But Natural Philosophy, in the large Sense I now use it, does not only comprehend all those Appearances of natural Bodies, which we know from Experiment, but also inquires into the Nature of our Souls, from Observations made upon their Actions and distinguishing Perfections, and at length leads Men, by the Chain of natural Causes, to the Knowledge of the first Mover, and acknowledges him to be the Cause of all necessary Effects. For the Nature, as well of the Creatures, as of the Creator, suggests all those Ideas, of which the Laws of Nature are form’d, and discovers the Truth of those Laws, as practical Propositions; but their full Authority is deriv’d from the Knowledge of the Creator. And these things require to be a little farther explain’d in this Place.
The Natures of Things consider’d only as necessary to explain one general Law of Nature, whence all particular Laws of Nature may be deduc’d.§IV. But altho there are innumerable things, which, in the Knowledge of the Universe, may be made use of for the Matter of particular Propositions, which are to form our Manners; I have, nevertheless, thought proper to select only a few, and those the most general, which might, in some measure, explain that general Description of the Laws of Nature, which I at first propos’d, and are a little more manifestly contain’d in one Proposition, the Fountain of all Nature’s Laws. Which general Proposition is this, The greatest Benevolence of every rational Agent towards all, forms the happiest State of every, and of all the Benevolent, as far as is in their Power; and is necessarily requisite to the happiest State which they can attain, and therefore the common Good is the supreme Law.4
The Method observ’d in treating of this general Law.The Sense of this is first rightly to be explain’d. Secondly, We are to shew, how it may be learned from the Nature of Things. Lastly, I hope it will plainly appear, from what follows in this Treatise, that it has the Force of a Law, and that all the Laws of Nature flow from it.
Its Parts explain’d, Benevolence.The Reader is to observe, that I no where understand by the Name of Benevolence, that languid and lifeless Volition of theirs, which effects nothing of what they are said to desire; but that only, by force whereof we execute, as speedily and thorowly as we are able, what we heartily desire. We may likewise also comprehend in this Word, that Affection, by which we desire things grateful to our Superiors, which is particularly distinguish’d by the Name of Piety, towards God, our Country, and our Parents; and therefore I chose to make use of the Word [Benevolence] rather than [Love], because, in virtue of its Composition, it implies an Act of our Will, join’d with its most general Object, and is never taken in a bad Sense, as the Word [Love] sometime is.The greatest Benevolence of all I here use the Words, the [greatest] Benevolence, because I would express the intire or adequate Cause of the greatest Happiness. We shall elsewhere shew, how those Scruples which some object here, may be easily solv’d. By the Word[All] I understand that whole System which consists of the Individuals consider’d together, in order to one End, which It here mention by the Name of [the happiest State.] By the Name of [Rationals] I beg leave to understand, as well God as Man; and I do it upon the Authority of Cicero, whom I think I may safely take for a Guide, as to the Propriety of a Latin Word.Rationals, For he acknowledges Reason, common both to God and Men, and has taught, That “Wisdom” (which all ascribe to God) is nothing else but “Reason in Perfection.”5Forms the happiest State of all, I have us’d the Word [Forms] to intimate, that Benevolence is both the intrinsic Cause of present, and the efficient Cause of future Happiness, and is necessarily requisite in respect of both. I have added [as far as is in their Power] to insinuate, that the Assistance of things external, is often not in our Power, altho they are requisite to the Happiness of the animal Life;As far as is in their Power. and that no other Assistance to a happy Life is to be expected from the Laws of Nature and moral Philosophy, than Precepts about our Actions, and those Objects of Actions, which are in our own Power.6 And altho it happens, that different Men, according to their different Abilities of Mind and Body, nay, that the same Men, in different Circumstances, are not equally able to promote the public Good; nevertheless, the Law of Nature is sufficiently observ’d, and its End obtain’d, if every one performs what he is able, according to his present Circumstances. But of this there will be a fuller Explanation in what follows.
How we come to the Knowledge of the Terms of the foregoing Proposition.§V. I must now shew, “Both how the Ideas contain’d in the foregoing Proposition, necessarily enter into the Minds of Men, and that when they are there, they are necessarily connected, that is, that they make a true Proposition”; which we shall afterwards prove to be practical, and to have the force of a Law. Seeing therefore it is well known by the Experience of all Men, that those Ideas or Thoughts, which the Logicians call simple Apprehensions, are two ways excited in the Mind of Man; (1.) By the immediate Presence and Operation of the Object upon the Mind; after which manner the Mind is conscious of its own Actions, and also of the Motions of the Imagination, or of the Ideas its Objects; and by Analogy to these, we judge of the Minds of other rational Beings, God and Men. (2.) By the Means of our external Senses, Nerves, and Membranes, in which manner we perceive other Men, and the rest of the Parts of this visible World; it presently appears, that the Terms of our Proposition become known, partly by internal, partly by external, Sensation. For what Benevolence is, and what are its Degrees, and, consequently, what is any ones greatest Benevolence, we do not otherwise understand, than by the Mind’s reflecting upon itself; nor needs there other help; for such is the Frame of the Mind, that it cannot but be thorowly sensible of its own Actions and Affections, as being what are intimately united with it self. I acknowledge, however, “That it is to the Assistance of our outward Senses, we owe the Knowledge of external Advantages, which Benevolence distributes amongst all,” of which hereafter. In the same manner we come to the Knowledge of Reason, by our inward Sense thereof; and we apprehend what are rational Agents, mention’d in the Subject of the Proposition. “That there are others besides our selves who have the use of Reason,” we collect by Observations made by our outward Senses. We come at the Knowledge of the Causes constituting any thing, whether intrinsically, or in the way of an Efficient, generally by the Assistance of our outward Senses, and by Reasoning founded on Appearances. The inward Nature of our Mind, and its active Powers by which it determines the voluntary Motions of our Bodies in pursuit of apparent Good, the Mind it self perceives, partly by reflecting upon it self, partly by the Aid of the Senses observing the Effects consequent upon the Command of our Will. Lastly, we come to the Knowledge of the State of Men, and of their Happiness, by the same Means, by which we hinted, that their Nature, and those good Things, in the Enjoyment whereof their Happiness consists, were known; for the State of Things adds nothing to their Nature, besides the Notion of some Duration, or Continuance. And a State is called Happy, from the Possession of good Things, very many, and very great.
And of the Connexion of these Terms, or its Truth.§VI. As to the Connexion of the Terms of this Proposition, in which its necessary Truth consists, it seems to me sufficiently plain; for it signifies the same as if we should say as follows; That the Willing, or Prosecution, of all good Things situated in our Power, which is most effectual to the Enjoyment of them by our selves and other Rationals, is the most that Men can effect, that they themselves, and others, may most happily enjoy them. Or, There is no Power in Men greater, by which they may procure to themselves and others a Collection of all good Things, than a Will to pursue every one his own Happiness, together with the Happiness of others.
In which words, what is first obvious, is, “That there is no Power in Men greater to effect any thing, than a Will determin’d to exert its utmost Force.”
In the next place, it is also most evident, “That the Happiness of single Persons, for example, of Socrates and Plato, and other Individuals,” (mention’d in the Predicate) “cannot singly be separated from the Happiness of all,” (whose Cause is contain’d in the Subject,) because the Whole does not differ from all the Parts taken together. This universal Proposition, pronouncing concerning the Benevolence of all, may be observ’d to agree with Laws from this, that it declares, “Not what any one Person, or a few, ought to do to procure their own Happiness, without any regard to that of others, but what both all unitedly can do, in order to be happy, and what each separately, without any Repugnancy amongst themselves, (for that is not consistent with Reason, of which all are Partakers,) may do, in order to obtain the common Happiness of All, in which the greatest Happiness possible to Individuals is contain’d, and most effectually promoted.” It is first and better known, as flowing from the common and essential Attributes of human Nature, “What all in general can, or cannot, do, conducing to the common Good,” than, “What any particular Person can do in determinate Circumstances,” for these are infinite, and, consequently, impossible to be known by any Man. As, several Armies being brought into the Field, it is better known, that they cannot all get the Victory, than which Army shall overcome.
Thirdly, in the last place, “One or a few particular Persons can neither enjoy a present Happiness, or with probability hope for it hereafter, by acting without any regard, or in opposition, to the Happiness of all other rational Beings”; for to a Mind so affected, an essential Part of its Happiness is wanting, “That inward Peace, which arises from an uniform Wisdom, always agreeing with it self,” for it is inconsistent with it self, when it determines to act after one manner in relation to itself, and after another manner in relation to others, that partake of the same Nature: That “great Joy” is also wanting, “which arises in a benevolent Mind, from a Sense of the Felicity of others.” Not to say any thing at present of Envy, Pride, and those Legions of other Vices, which besiege the Malevolent, and necessarily render him miserable, as labouring under the worst Distempers of the Mind.
Beside, “No Person, in such an Attempt, can have a well-grounded Hope of Happiness,” because in it he neglects, nay provokes to his Destruction, other external rational Causes, God and Men, upon whose Aid that Hope necessarily depends. “There is therefore no other way, which can lead any particular Person to his Happiness, than that which is to lead all to the common Happiness.” Let it suffice, briefly to have hinted these things in this place, which I have done only with this View, that I might shew from such Observations as are most obvious by common Experience, that the Truth of the aforesaid Proposition is very evident; but these things we shall deduce more at large hereafter.
Which kind of Truths are as necessary as Mathematical ones.§VII. However, I acknowledge, that this Proposition cannot be effectual, to the forming any Man’s Manners, before he has propos’d to himself as his End, the Effect here discoursed of, “His own Happiness in Conjunction with that of others,” and has taken “those various Actions into which Benevolence is branched,” for the Means. The Proposition, however, and all just Inferences from it,(such as those less general ones, which declare the Power of Fidelity, Gratitude, natural Affection, and the other particular Virtues, towards obtaining any part of human Happiness,) may, before such Proposal, be prov’d necessarily true. For the whole Truth, as well of that general Proposition, as of those which are thence deduced, depends upon the natural and necessary Efficacy of such Actions, as Causes, to produce such Effects. For they do not suppose, that there are such Actions, which, indeed, depend upon the Agency of free Causes. And it is sufficient to evidence this Truth, “That, when soever there are such Causes, Effects of such a kind shall thence follow.” It is an undisputed Point in the Solution of all kind of Mathematical Problems, in relation to which no one questions, but that we come at true Science. All know, “That to draw Lines, and to compare them, in Geometrical Calculation, depends upon the Will of Men. We freely add, subtract, &c. and yet whoever performs these Operations, according to the Rules prescribed, necessarily finds out the true Sum, which is equal to all the Parts added.” The like may be said of the Remainder in Subtraction, the Product in Multiplication, the Quotient in Division, and the Root in Extractions: And in general, in every Question, whose Solution is possible from what is given, the Answer is necessarily found from the Operations duly perform’d. The Connexion is necessary, between the Effect desired, and its Causes assigned by this Science. According to this Pattern are other practical Arts to be modell’d, and this we have endeavour’d to attain, in delivering the Principles of Morality, by reducing to one general Name [Benevolence], all those voluntary Actions, which fall under the Direction of Moral Philosophy, by inquiring into its Branches; and lastly, by shewing the Connexion between this Act and the End design’d.7
All those Actions which fall under the Consideration of Moral Philosophy, are comprehended in Benevolence.§VIII. But seeing only voluntary Actions can be govern’d by human Reason, and those only which regard intelligent Beings, are consider’d in Morality; and seeing the Object of the Will is Good, (for Evil is rated from the Privation of Good;) it is evident, “That a more general Notion of such Actions cannot be form’d, than what falls under the Name of Benevolence,”8 because it comprehends the Desire of all kinds of goodThings, and consequently the avoiding all kinds of Evils. But beside, the force of Benevolence extends it self to all the free Acts of the Understanding, (whether we consider or compare good Things among themselves, or enquire concerning the Means of obtaining them;) and of our bodily Faculties, which are directed by our Will in the pursuit of Good. But it is universally true, “That the motion of a Point does not more certainly produce a Line, or the Addition of Numbers a Sum, than that Benevolence produces a good Effect (to the Person to whom we wish well) proportion’d to the Power and Affection of the Agent, in the given Circumstances.” It is also certain, “That keeping Faith, Gratitude, natural Affection, &c. are either Parts or Modes of a most effectual Benevolence towards all, accommodated to particular Circumstances; and that they must certainly produce their good Effect, after the same manner, as it is certain, that Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division, are Parts or Modes of Calculation; and that a right Line, Circle, Parabola, and other Curves, do express the various Effects, which Geometry produces by the motion of a Point.”
General Mathematical Theorems, necessary to the Construction of Problems, are freed from the uncertainties of such Guesses as are made concerning future Contingencies, “By not affirming that such Constructions shall be, only demonstrating their Properties and Effects, if ever such Constructions are produc’d”; I have thought fit to proceed in the same Method, and “To deliver some evident Principles, concerning the natural Effects, the Parts, and the various respects of universal Love, without affirming that there is such Love”; being, however, certain, because such Benevolence is possible, that many Consequences may be thence drawn, which may direct us in the Practice of Morality, “which is what Theorems perform in the possible Construction of Problems.” I confess, notwithstanding, that whilst we, with the greatest Prudence, endeavour some things which require the concurrence of others, we may sometimes not succeed according to our wish; but this does not prove any error in the Rules. The Trial shews, “That the Effect was not in our Power,” or, as the Mathematicians speak, “That the propos’d Problem could not be solved, or thorowly determin’d, from what was given”; and as they acquiesce in such Discovery, so in like Cases may prudent Minds very justly enjoy Tranquillity. But the Experience of past Events, and the Observation of our own Strength, will quickly enable us to form a Judgment, “whether any Effect propos’d, be in the given Circumstance in our power, or no”; and that, for the most part, without the trouble of making an Experiment. And Reason requires, that such Judgment should be made; because he can hardly avoid the Imputation of Folly, “Who greatly labours the gaining a Point, which he did not know, that his Strength, together with the Assistance he had reason to expect, might obtain.” This, at least, is necessary, that he be certain, “That the probable Hope of obtaining his End, is of greater Value, than any Effect his Endeavours could produce in the same time.” For I hereafter shew, “That some Propositions of unchangeable Truth, can be form’d concerning the Value of contingent Advantages.”9
Which is the Summary of the Laws of Nature.§IX. Moreover, the Nature of Things instructs us, “That we must first distinctly know, what is the best Effect in our Power, before we can distinctly know the chief End we ought to regard.” For the Answer to the former Question consists of more simple Terms, and consequently, of more certain Signification. The Answer to the latter, as it ought to contain all that is in the former, so it moreover denotes, “That the rational Agent has determin’d within himself, to use the means proper to produce that Effect.” But because from this Consideration, “That many Effects tending to the common Good are in our Power; and that they, by the Will of the first Cause, are made necessary to the Attainment of our own Happiness,” there arises, both an Obligation to intend the producing those Effects, and the actual Intention it self also, whenever it is found in Men: We must of necessity lay the Foundation of the Laws of Nature, in those manifest Observations on the Powers of Men, by which duly regulated they are enabled to make each other happy, nay will certainly do so. But these Laws are all summ’d up in [Benevolence] or [Universal Love.]
I have observ’d, “That Mathematicians, in laying down the Principles of their Science, make no mention of the End, which the Doctrine by them deliver’d respects”; altho the more eminent of them most diligently pursue a most noble End. For they propose to investigate the Proportions of all kinds of Bodies and Motions, whence arise all the Phaenomena of Nature we are wont to admire, and the most useful Effects in common Life. The Mathesis universalis, (such as Des Cartes and his Commentators have deliver’d in their Geometry)10 is however content in the beginning briefly to suggest, towards the establishment of its Theorems, “That all kind of Proportions may be exhibited, by the help of such right Lines as we can draw,” and “That those which are unknown, may without great difficulty be investigated, by Geometrical Calculation, from those that are more easily known.” But it especially admonishes, “That, in order to the Preparation of those Lines whose knowledge is inquir’d after, nothing else is to be done, than that some Lines should be added together, subtracted, multiplied, or divided,” and “That the Extraction of Roots, which is of principal use, should be look’d upon as a kind of Division.” It uses no long Exhortation to induce you, “To investigate an accurate knowledge of all kinds of Things, from a mutual Comparison of their Proportions,” altho that be its principal End; but it supposes, “That it is desirable for its own sake, and of the greatest use in Life.” It thinks that it has sufficiently discharg’d it self, if it has briefly hinted, “How such Operations may be applied to the solution of all kinds of Problems.” Nor does it think it any diminution, either of its Truth or Dignity, “Tho most Men should, thro’ Unskilfulness or Sloth, neglect, or even oppose, its Rules.” Just so it is with the Doctrine of Morality, which is contain’d in the Laws of Nature. For it is wholly conversant, “In computing the several Proportions of human Powers, which at all contribute to the common Good of rational Beings,” which indeed are different in all Variety of possible Cases; and it may justly be said to have perform’d its Part, if, having in the Beginning, in general, hinted, “That all those Powers are comprehended in universal Benevolence,” it afterwards particularly shews, “That a Division of all Things, Fidelity, Gratitude, a care of our selves and of our Off-spring, is herein contain’d,” and, “In what cases they are to be made use of”; and, “After what manner thence necessarily proceed, Virtue, Religion, Society, and every thing else which contributes to the Happiness of Life.” For in this consists the Solution of that most useful Problem, whose investigation moralPhilosophy teaches. Nor is the Truth and Authority of its Precepts in any measure diminish’d, “Because many will not obey, or will oppose them”; this only thence follows, “That they will make shipwrack of their own Happiness, and perhaps, in some measure, involve others in the same Calamity.” Nevertheless, after it is made manifest, “That so excellent an Effect may certainly be produc’d, by Actions within the compass of their own Power”; it is not to be doubted, but that Men may more easily be persuaded, “To propose this Effect, so far as it is in their Power, as their End; and to take those Actions, from which, as from its Causes, it is produc’d, as the necessary means.” As Men are excited to the making Parabolic Specula, or Hyperbolic Telescopes, for the sake of the Effects which Mathematicians have demonstrated, will thence follow.11
Of which Laws, God is the Author.§X. Here I shall only add, “That this Truth” (as all others equally evident, but especially those which are hence necessarily deriv’d) “does proceed from God, and has annex’d to its Observance Reward; to its Transgression, Punishment; and is, in its own Nature, a proper Rule to direct our Manners.” The case being such, I see not what is wanting, to give it the Force of a Law: However, I shall add, in the Conclusion of this Work, “That in this Proposition is contain’d, both Piety towards God, and Charity towards Men.” In which the Sum of both Tables of the Divine Law, as well Mosaical as Evangelical, is contain’d. I shall at the same time shew, “That from hence all moral Virtues, and the Laws of Nations, in respect both of Peace and War, may be deduc’d.” That a Truth so evident, is impress’d by God as its Author, is very readily shewn from that natural Philosophy, which shews, that all Impressions upon our Senses are made, according to the natural Laws (as they are call’d) of Motion; and that Motion was first impress’d upon this corporeal System by God, and is by him preserv’d unchang’d. By this Method, which to me seems most certain, and is wholly built upon Demonstration, all necessary Effects are immediately resolv’d into the first Mover. But the Impression of the Terms of this Proposition (at least as far as it proceeds from Matter and Motion) is a natural Effect; and the Perception of the Identity, or Coherence of these Terms, as they are in the Imagination, is nothing else than a Perception, that each Term is an Impression made upon us by the same Cause. But the Perception of the Mind, by which it apprehends the Terms, as they lie in the Imagination, and perceives their Connexion, and is sensible of its own Strength and Actions, so naturally and necessarily follows their Presence in the Imagination, and that internal, natural, and unblameable Propension of the Mind, to the Observation of those things which are plac’d before it, that they cannot but be ascribed to the Mind’s efficient Cause, that is, to God, by him who acknowledges God to be the Creator of all Things, or the first Mover. But all other Methods of explaining Nature, how much soever they differ from the foregoing, or amongst themselves, agree in this, that they acknowledge God the first Cause of such necessary Effects: Altho many seem not to have remark’d sufficiently, that the simple Apprehension of Ideas, and their Composition, when they plainly agree, (whence arises a necessary Proposition,) are to be reckon’d amongst necessary Effects, that is, such as (first supposing the natural Impressions of Motion, and an intelligent Nature, to which they are clearly and distinctly propos’d) cannot but exist: which however conduces much to our Purpose, because God being acknowledg’d the Author of these necessary practical Truths, which point out Actions necessary to that End, which Nature has determin’d us to pursue, it gives them the Authority of Laws.
(Hobbes contradicts himself, with respect to the Existence of God.§XI. But what Mr. Hobbes thinks of the resolving such necessary Effects into God as their first Cause, and of the Authority of Laws thence arising, is not easy to affirm; for his Writings seem in some Places to acknowledge thus much, and yet there are many other Passages in him, which contradict, as well the Existence of God, (which is prov’d by this very Argument,) as the Authority of the Laws of Nature, which is establish’d by the same Reasoning. As to the first, it is certain, that the following Syllogism is plainly Atheistical, “Whatsoever is not Body, or an Accident thereof, does not exist. But God is neither Body, nor an Accident thereof. Therefore,” &c.12 But altho Hobbes has in many Places very sollicitously inculcated both the Premises, yet he denies the wicked Conclusion, and affirms it to be only “a Sin of Imprudence,” either to assert it, or any otherwise to blaspheme God.13 The Sense of the foregoing Syllogism, he does but too openly advance, where he contends, that “Incorporeal Substance are Words, which, when join’d together, mutually destroy one another, as if any one should say, A bodiless Body”; and that, “there is no real Part of the Universe, which is not Body.”14 And “what any one shall affirm to be mov’d, or produc’d, by an incorporeal Substance, is affirm’d without Grounds.”15 But the Minor, that “God is not Body,” he seems plainly enough to advance, where he denies, “That God has any Properties of Body; such as Figure, Place, Motion or Rest.”16 It is true, indeed, that, in the Appendix to his Leviathan lately publish’d, he openly declares, “God to be a Body,” in the beginning of the Third Chapter; and he endeavours to prove it; for getting in the mean time, that in the First Chapter of the same Appendix (near the end) he had promised not to deny the First Article of the Church of England, in which it is expresly said, that “God is without Body, and without Parts.”17 But if that Authority,18 which is the only one for which he seems to contend, is of less weight with him, let him hearken to himself, Lib. de Cive c. 15. § 14. where he teaches, “That those Philosophers spoke unworthily of God, who said, that he was either the World itself, or the Soul (that is, a Part) of the World; for they do not attribute any thing to him, but wholly deny his Being.”19 But does not Hobbes affirm him to be “Part of the World,” or “the Whole,” when he says that he is Body? For it is very certain that he has asserted, Leviath. c. 34. “That the Universe is an Aggregate of all Bodies, and that it has no Part, which is not it self Body; and that nothing can be properly called Body, which is not some Part of the whole Universe.”20 But that the World and the Universe, with him signify the same thing, any one will easily perceive, who reads these his Words of the Universe and Stars, Every Object is “either a Part of the Universal World, or an aggregate of the Parts; &c.”21 I am afraid therefore, that he is convicted by his own Authority; “Of denying the Being of God.” But it is not to my purpose, to insist any longer upon these things. I do not however doubt, but that the Properties of Body (such are, to be capable of being measured, and to be divided into Parts, to undergo all the Changes of Generation and Corruption, and to exclude all other Bodies out of its Place) are so well known now-a-days, both to Mr. Hobbes and all others, not to be consistent with the divine Perfections, that it would be easier for him to persuade most Men, “That God did not at all exist,” than, “That he was Corporeal.” This however we are pleased with, that, in contradiction to his own Principles, he professes to believe the Being of God, and acknowledges the Force of the Argument, by which we discover it; for he grants, “That there necessarily exists one first and eternal Cause of all Things.” Leviath. c. 12. § 6.22
And the Authority of the Laws of Nature.But as to the Authority of the Conclusions of Reason flowing from these Principles, (which, tho immediately discover’d by Reason, yet, by the Intervention of that, must appear to proceed from God, who is the Author of that natural Necessity, by which our Reason is determin’d to acknowledge them;) Hobbes is neither consistent with himself, nor with Truth. Leviath. c. 26. § 7. “The Laws (saith he) of Nature, which consist in Equity, &c. in a State of mere Nature, are not properly Laws, but Qualities disposing Men to Peace and Obedience.”23 He gives a Reason for this, “Because a Law, accurately and properly speaking, is the Speech of one, who with Right commands others, to do or for bear any thing.” Hence in the same Place he infers, that, “As they proceed from Nature, they are not Laws.”24As if “God were not properly included in the Name of Nature”; or, as if “a Proposition, the Scope of which consists in declaring to us, what things are to be done, or omitted, under the Reward or Punishment of having our Happiness either increas’d or diminish’d, and which is form’d in the Mind of Man by the Necessity of that Nature which he has receiv’d at the hands of God, were not a sufficient Signification of the divine Will”; or as if “it were not properly enough called, the Speech of him who has a Right to command.” For what else does he who “commands in plain words,” than “make us most assuredly understand, that he has so determin’d concerning our Affairs, that if we act thus, Punishment, if otherwise, Reward is to be the Consequence; and that, in right of the Dominion which he has over us?” In the same place he contends, “That they are not otherwise the Laws of God, than as they are declar’d in Scripture.”25 But if any one inquires, how it appears, “That the Scriptures are the Word of God,” or, “That ever there was at all any Prophet, who either receiv’d them or any other Revelation from God”; in answer to this Question put by himself, he roundly affirms, “That it is plainly impossible, that any Person can be certain of a Revelation made to another, without a Revelation particularly given to himself; no, not even by Miracles.” Leviath. Part 2. c. 26. § 40. of the English Edition.26 Yet he affirms in the same place, “That it is essential to a Law, that the Person to be oblig’d by it be certain of the Authority of the Legislator”:27 And this renders what he says, in the Passage just cited, and in the last Paragraph of the Fifteenth Chapter of his Leviathan, wholly ineffectual. Wherefore, if we will believe him in both places, we shall deny them to be Laws, both as they are from Nature, and as they are revealed in Scripture, because we cannot be certain that those things were revealed; but there ought rather to be no Credit given to what he says, who contradicts himself: For the same Person, (as if he had done it on purpose, that his Readers might conjecture, that one Part of the Contradiction was advanced, out of respect to the Christian Magistrate, the other, from his own real Sentiments,) in the same Treatise de Cive, § next following, and cap. 4. § 1. professes, that “The Law, usually called Natural and Moral, is not unjustly called a divine Law; both because Reason, which is it self the Law of Nature, is immediately given by God, to every one for the Rule of his Actions; and because the Precepts of Life which are thence derived, are the same which were deliver’d from the divine Majesty, for the Laws of the Kingdom of Heaven, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the holy Prophets and Apostles.”28 Here truly, (perhaps that his Reader might see how much he can comply with the Manners of those among whom he lives,) he acknowledges “Those Conclusions, not unjustly to be called Laws,” which but a little before he denied, “To be Laws, properly and accurately speaking.” As if, “When he, who is by right a Sovereign, gives immediately to his Subject, a Rule of his Actions with Rewards and Punishments annex’d,” he did not “properly command him, that something should be done or forborn,” or “ordain a Law.”
Nevertheless, his real Sentiments may be discover’d, which, in such Cases, are always on the impious side of the Contradiction.)§XII. But I will insist no longer on shewing these Contradictions; I will only give the Reader this Hint, (which may be every where useful, to his more certain Discovery of this Author’s real Sentiments;) That these latter Passages in favour of moral Rules have this Mark, by which one may guess they were affirm’d for fear of others, he does not offer any Reason to support what he seems to grant. That “Reason was given by God for a Rule of Action,” That “its Conclusions are promulg’d by Revelation,” he elsewhere endeavours, as I have shewn, to disprove by reasoning, tho here he seems to assert it: But to the contrary Positions he has added a Reason, such as it is, from his Definition of a Law; that you might know his real Sentiment to be, “That the Conclusions of Reason, which direct us to Equity, Modesty, and other Virtues, are not” (as they are wont to be esteem’d) “Laws of Nature properly so called.” He here seems to have done, what he says cautious Men do, in another Affair relating to Religion; they speak of God agreeably to the Sentiments of others, “not dogmatically but piously.” Leviath. c. 12. § 7.29
Who (viz. God) has guarded these his Laws, by the double Sanction of Rewards, Internal or Essential, and External or Adventitious.What I propos’d to my self to prove, was only this, “That as the Being of the first Cause, so the Authority, or full Power of Obligation, which the Laws of Nature derive from their Author, may be made appear from the Consideration of the Universe; from whence the first Cause of all is found out.” In the mean time, I take notice also, “That the Laws of Nature have an intrinsecal and essential Proof of their Obligation, taken from the Rewards or Increase of Happiness which attends the benevolent Person from the natural efficacy of his Actions, and follows the Man who studiously observes these Laws; and from the Punishments, or Degrees of Misery, which, whether they will or no, they call upon themselves, who either do not obey, or do oppose, the Conclusions of right Reason.” For the Connexion of these Rewards with Benevolence, which is the Summary of the Laws of Nature, is plainly express’d in the above-mention’d Proposition, by the most happy State of all; and so the want thereof, and Misery, its Opposite, is sufficiently shewn to be the Consequence of the Malevolence of all towards all.
The Terms of the foregoing Proposition, and their Connexion (i.e. Truth,)§XIII. These things being suppos’d, which I have briefly premis’d concerning God, the Author of natural Effects, and, in consequence, of the Laws of Nature; (they being by the Supposition we have just hinted at, in the present State of Things necessarily introduced into the Minds of Men, as soon at least as they come to Years of Discretion;) I shall now proceed to the Distinction and Explanation of the simple Ideas, of which this Proposition and its Corollaries consist; and also of the complex Truth, which arises from the Composition of those Terms. Its Subject is the greatest Benevolence towards all Rationals, which, it is evident, does consist in a constant Volition of the greatest Good towards all, so far as the Condition of our Nature, and of other Things, makes it practicable. In this place it seems proper to consider, how, together with a Knowledge of the visible World, (of which our Body is a part,) is let in upon our Senses and Minds, the Knowledge, (1.) of good Things; (2.) and, more particularly, of those which are common to many; (3.) amongst which one is often greater than another; (and that we call the greatest, than which we can perceive no greater;) (4.) of which we easily perceive that some are daily in our Power, and therefore practicable; some, in certain Circumstances, exceed the narrow Limits of our Faculties.
Become known two ways, to the Vulgar, more confusedly; to Philosophers, more distinctly.But seeing we come at the Knowledge of the Nature of these Things, two ways, (1.) More confusedly, by obvious Experience and daily Observation; (2.) More distinctly, by Contemplation and Philosophical Enquiries, founded upon Experiments cautiously made, and diligently compar’d amongst themselves: By both these Methods we receive some Knowledge of the Laws of Nature. Hence it comes to pass, that they become known, even to the Vulgar, but confusedly and imperfectly, according to the Degree of Knowledge which they have of Nature: But Philosophers must more accurately observe, both the Connexion of the most general Notions, (of which they are composed,) with the universal Causes and Principles of Things, and the Train of Consequences, by which particular Precepts are deduced from the general Fountain of them all; as also their mutual Relation and Rank, according to which one gives place to another; when, in the same case, the Observance of several of them together seems impossible. The former Manner of coming at the Knowledge of the Laws of Nature, I thought not fit to be intirely slighted, because it is that by which almost all Men learn them; and because the Principles, into which Nature is to be philosophically resolved, are so much disputed, that there might be some danger, if I built the Doctrine of Morality upon those physical Principles alone, which I embrace, that many would reject it, for that very Reason, as not agreeing with me in their Natural Philosophy.30 I shall therefore call to mind the common Phaenomena, in which almost all agree; and from them I shall shew briefly in this Chapter, that the Simple Knowledge of the Terms of the aforesaid Proposition, and their Connexion by which they are form’d into a true Proposition, may be deduced.
The former Method.§XIV. All daily behold, “That the Enjoyment of very many Things,” (produc’d upon the Surface of this Earth, and compriz’d under the Name of Victuals, Clothing and Houses,) “and the mutual Assistance of one Man to another, contribute naturally to the Life, Preservation, Strength, Comfort and Tranquillity of Man.” Such kind of Effects we conceive to have this in common, that they agree with that Nature for whose sake they are; that is, we esteem them Good; and so we come to represent that Affection of Man, whence the external Acts, productive of these Effects, proceed, under the Notion of Benevolence. Again, all are sensible, “That this their Benevolence may profit, not themselves only, or a few, but very many, partly by Counsel, partly by Strength and Industry”; and whereas they see others altogether like themselves, they cannot but think “them able to make like Returns,” and consequently, see “much Good and Advantage to each Man, arising from mutual Aid and Assistance, which all must want, and in their stead suffer innumerable Dangers, with extreme Poverty, if each, regarding himself only, were always malevolent to others.” But such Endeavours, profitable to many rational Beings, necessarily produce in the Mind a Notion of common Good, which, from the obvious Likeness of Rationals among themselves, may easily alike regard all, whom we have ever an Opportunity of coming to the knowledge of. To which this also may be added, that it is most obvious, by constant Experience, “That we have it more in our power to assist Men, than other Animals,” to say nothing of the inanimate Kind: for the Nature of Man (and consequently, his Good and Evil) is most known to us, from that Knowledge of ourselves which we cannot avoid; and is also capable of enjoying more good Things, to the Attainment whereof we can lend our Aid; and liable to greater Calamities, in guarding against which, our Power may most usefully be employ’d. Besides, we may procure innumerable Advantages to Men, by our Prudence and Counsel communicated by proper Signs, of which other Animals are wholly incapable.
Moreover, because of the Likeness of the Nature of other rational Agents. “To will such things to them, as we are naturally inclin’d to desire for ourselves, Reason cannot but judge more agreeable to our inward Principles of Action,” (whatever they may be,) “than to desire the like to Beings widely different.” Further, as we perceive our selves more willing to benefit others who are like our selves, we may with reason hope, “That they whom we benefit, will be mov’d with our Benefits, to return us the like, or greater, that they may likewise oblige us.”
Lastly, it is well known by the Experience of all, “That there is no more valuable Possession upon Earth, no greater Ornament or Safeguard, than is the sincere Benevolence of all towards all”; (which is very consistent with a particular Friendship for a few select Persons;) because Men, if they are malevolent, may easily force from others, as all other things, so Life it self. Nor is there a more effectual Method to procure either of these, than “by our Actions to shew the same Affection towards others, that we desire from them,” that is, Benevolence, as occasion offers, towards all, but a more particular Regard and Kindness toward chosen Friends. But if (as is meet, and as is every where the Practice, even of the Vulgar;) we take care “to sollicit the Aid of the first Cause, to the Establishment of human Happiness,” we shall find nothing in ourselves more Divine, by which we may please the Deity, than that sincere and most extensive Love, (of which we have been hitherto discoursing,) which reaches even God himself, as the Head and Father of rational Beings, and all other rational Agents, as his Children, more like to himself than the rest of his Creatures are; and, in consequence, the most dear to him: “For we are his Offspring.” is the Saying of Aratus the Cilician, approv’d by the Athenians, when Heathens.31 I could easily quote innumerable Testimonies to the same purpose, but ’tis folly to light a Candle to the Sun.
Which is as certain and clear, as Mathematical Reasoning.§XV. The things now propos’d concerning human Happiness, appear so plain by common Experience, or obvious Reasoning, that I know nothing belonging to human Nature more evident; and they have the same Respect to the Direction of our Practice in Morality, which the Postulates of Geometricians have to the Construction of Problems; such are for plain Problems, that we can draw a Right Line from any one Point to any other; or that we can describe a Circle with any Center and Radius: And other more difficult ones, for the Construction of solid and linear Problems. In all these Cases are suppos’d Actions, depending upon the free Powers of Men; yet Geometry does not become uncertain, by any Disputes arising from the Explanation of Freewill. The like may be said of Arithmetical Operations; for it is sufficient for the Truth of these Sciences, that the Connexion is inseparable between such Acts (which it supposes may be done, and which we find placed in our power, when we go about the Practice of Geometry,) and the Effects desir’d. And either the Pleasure arising from such Contemplations, or the manifold Uses in Life, are sufficient to invite Men to search after such Effects. By a like Reasoning, the Truth of Moral Philosophy is founded in the necessary Connexion between the greatest Happiness human Powers can reach, and those Acts of universal Benevolence, or of Love towards God and Men, which is branch’d out into all the moral Virtues. But in the mean time these things are suppos’d as Postulates, “That the greatest Happiness they can attain, is sought by Men”; and, “That they can exercise Love, not only towards themselves, but also towards God, and Men, partaking of the same rational Nature with themselves.”
I will here only add,32 “That the same Experience which proves that the Benevolence of each towards all, is the most effectual Cause of the Happiness of the Benevolent, does most necessarily prove, by a Parity of Reason, that the Love of any Number, towards any Number, has an Effect in proportion; and that likewise Malevolence towards all, brings most certain Destruction upon particular Persons, how much soever they may love themselves.” For “what takes away the necessary Causes of Happiness, and places in their stead the Causes of all kinds of Calamities, threatens nothing short of extreme Misery.”
(Hobbes himself allowing the Principles, tho he over-looks their natural Consequence.)§XVI. The justness of this Consequence is every where acknowledg’d by Mr. Hobbes, whilst from his Supposition, “That every one naturally provides for his own Life only, and arrogates to himself a Right over all Things and Persons,” he infers, “A War of all against all,” and then proclaims, “That from thence all kinds of Miseries, even Death it self, hang over the Heads of all.” Nay, he supposes, “That all Men are sensible of this, before they consent to enter into Compacts of Society with others.”33 The Man is very sharp-sighted, in the Causes of Evil, and of Fear; but he is perfectly blind, with respect to the Causes of Good, and the Hopes of Happiness altho these latter are certainly equally obvious, nay first in the Order of distinct Knowledge, because the Causes constituting and preserving the Natures of Things, (which are Good,) come first to be discovered, before the Causes corrupting and dissolving the same, which are call’d Evils. I cannot therefore doubt, but that it is manifest, even to Hobbes himself, that the Study and Pursuit of the common Good, under the prudent Conduct of Reason, avails as much toward the Security and Happiness of all, as the Neglect thereof can toward the Destruction of all, whilst every one is intent upon his own particular Advantage: But, whatever he may think, it is certain, that from ourselves this Truth may be learn’d by every Man of common Sense, that is come to Years of Discretion. For from their Experience, “That the Activity of their Will in procuring Good, is, at proper times, both sufficient to benefit themselves and others,” they cannot but understand, “That a like Will in other Men is neither less effectual, nor less necessary, to the obtaining the same end.” But ’tis tedious to inculcate with many Words a thing so plain; yet I would not pass it over in silence, because all that follows is deduc’d from thence, as presupposed.
But seeing the Deduction of the particular Laws of Nature from this general one, is Matter of philosophical Enquiry, and does therefore belong to the second Method of deducing them, it seem’d proper to premise some Considerations drawn from Natural Philosophy, in order to make it appear, “That a philosophical Contemplation of Nature does very much assist the Minds of Men, in forming a more distinct Notion of that general Law.”
How, in pursuance of the second Method, the Mind comes to form universal ideas,§XVII. In the first place, I think it proper to take notice, “That those more general Notions,34 whose use very frequently occurs in all the Laws of Nature, are observ’d in Things corporeal, and that the Mind may therefore perceive them, even by the assistance of their Senses”: Such are those universal Ideas, of Cause and Effect, and of their connexion; of Number, compos’d of Units, and consequently of Summ, (whence all collective Notions,) of Difference, &c. of Order, of Duration, &c. But, altho I think this Observation conduces much to our present purpose, because such Notions are essential Parts of the Laws of Nature, yet because this is no matter of Debate between us and our Adversaries, and is obvious to all, there is no occasion farther to enlarge upon this Point.
As also, of natural Good and Evil.2dly, Natural Philosophy does very distinctly explain, “What Things, or Powers and Motions of Things, are to others either Good or Evil”; and, “How necessarily and unchangeably this is brought about.” For seeing it is the only Scope of this Science, “To discover the Causes of Generation, Duration, and Corruption,” (all which we behold daily to happen to most Bodies, but especially to Men,) and “To demonstrate the necessary Connexion of such Effects with their Causes”; and seeing it is certain, “That the Causes generating and preserving Man, for example, by Efficacy of which he continues for some time, and flourishes with Faculties, as well of Body as Mind, enlarg’d, and determin’d to their proper Functions, are call’d Good to him,” but “That the Causes of Corruption, Grief, and Troubles, are to him naturally Evil”; it evidently follows, “That Natural Philosophy explains what things are to him naturally Good and Evil, and demonstrates that they are necessarily such.”
I esteem as Parts of natural Science, the Knowledge of all those things, which Nature produces for the Food, Cloathing, Habitation, and Medicine of Man. We may also refer to natural Science, the Knowledge of all human Operations and Effects, of use in human Life: for, altho the voluntary Actions of Men, whose Effects are external, do not take their Rise in the same manner with Motions merely natural, from the impulse of other Bodies, but are determin’d by our Reason and Free-will; nevertheless, since they are true Motions produc’d by, and receive their Measure or Proportion from, the Powers of our Body, which are of the same Nature with the Powers of other natural Bodies, they must, after once they exist, by a like Necessity and altogether in the same manner, as other natural Motions, produce their Effects according to the Laws of Motion. This is most clearly and universally evident, in the Operations of the simple mechanical Powers, (such are the Lever, the Pully, and the Wedge, into which all the rest may be resolv’d,) which (as is well known to all) produce the same Effects, when they are enforc’d by human Strength, as, when, instead thereof, the Weight of inanimate Bodies is apply’d.
Which are such necessarily, and invariably.§XVIII. It is likewise commonly known, “That the Industry of Man, by the Motions of his Body,” (which the Philosopher easily resolves into the mechanic Powers,) “is both able and wont to be subservient to the Preservation of himself and others, in preparing and preserving Victuals, Medicine, Apparel, Houses, and Ships.” Upon these Effects is laid out the whole Power of Man, exerted in Agriculture, Architecture, Ship-building, Merchandizing, and other handycraft Trades, of Smiths, Carpenters, and Weavers. Even the Propagation of the Species, the Suckling and Nourishment of Infants, may be resolv’d into the same Principles, according to Hobbes’s own Confession, to which he has my Concurrence. Nor are those other more liberal Arts, in which, by the help of sensible Signs, articulate Sounds, Letters, and Numbers, the Minds of Men are enrich’d with Sciences, or directed to various Operations, wholly exempt from these Laws of Motion; the natural Powers of our Hands and Mouths, are our Instruments, for Writing, or Speaking, in the making Contracts, in the Distribution, Conveyance, and Preservation of Rights; in which, Justice, the principal Effect of Ethicks and Politicks, almost wholly consists. For, to say nothing of Action, the Power of Words and Letters, which are perform’d wholly by bodily Organs, is not inconsiderable, either in the Instruction of the Mind, or in the Government of the Passions, altho both the first Institution of Words as Signs, and their Choice and Composition, be entirely the Work of the Mind, directing the Imagination and the Tongue; and altho, after Men have heard Sermons, and perused the Laws, they are still left to the free Determination of their own Will. Let us consider, for Example, after what manner Laws written, or spoken, operate. How great soever the Force of these Laws is, it consists entirely in these two Things, the Promulgation, and foreseen Execution of them by the Distribution of the Punishments and Rewards therein express’d: but both these become known to Men, by the help of the Senses, which are affected by corporeal Motions necessarily producing their genuine Effect; which I therefore thought proper here to remark, because, seeing the Promulgation and Execution of Laws are good, that is, conducing, as efficient Causes, to the Happiness of all rational Beings; it may be hence prov’d, “That there are things which are good, necessarily and naturally”; and this could be certainly known, before any Laws at all were made by Men: for these Signs35 conduce to the formation of Mens Manners, after the like manner, as the North-Star, the Observation of the Motion of the other Stars, the Mariners Compass, Sea-Charts, and other Mathematical Instruments, are of use to the Safety of Ships, altho they may thro’ Carelessness be neglected. But the Operation and Concurrence of the Mind with the bodily Powers, to produce these Effects, may be compar’d with the Action of the Steersman, plac’d at the Ship’s Helm, and of the Merchant carried in that Ship, estimating the Prices and Uses of the Lading;36 who can do nothing without the help of an Interpreter, and of Signs; without the Conveniences of Ports and Winds; and unless the Ship be tight in the Seams, and furnish’d with Sails and Rigging; unless also different Countries produce such Merchandizes, as may relieve mutual Wants, which yet, every one must own, depend upon necessary Causes.
37Altho it cannot be imagin’d, “That such Arts had arriv’d to their present Perfection, or even their Improvement and bringing to Perfection could be distinctly foreseen, before Men enter’d into Societies”; yet Mr. Hobbes himself must acknowledge, “That all were appriz’d, mutual Assistance would prove very advantageous”; and “That all were able, sufficiently to make known their Inclinations to others by Signs”: Because he founds Societies upon Compacts, enter’d into for that very Purpose.
By Parity of Reason, all Actions and Motions contrary to these, are naturally and necessarily Evil; such are those, by which human Bodies are brought to decay, either by withdrawing what is necessary to Life and Strength, as Food, Raiment, and Houses; or by introducing hurtful things in their stead: as also those Motions, by which the Minds of Men are debarr’d from Knowledge and Virtue; or, in their stead, Errors and unbridled Affections, which stand in opposition to the common Good, are introduc’d.
And may be common to many.§XIX. When we treat of Good or Evil, with relation to the Laws of Nature, we regard not the Body or Mind of any particular Man, or of a few, (because the Suffering or Punishment of these may sometimes contribute to the public Good;) but the collective Body of all Mankind, as naturally subordinate to God their Governour, which will afterwards be more clearly explain’d. But the Good of the collective Body is no other, than the greatest which accrues to all, or to the major Part of the Whole.
But these things, which I have here enlarg’d upon, concerning the natural Efficacy of many human Actions, to the preserving or assisting others, I have mention’d only for this Purpose, that we might distinctly consider, “How Men, from the Observation of the Faculties of others, may naturally come to the knowledge of Things naturally good, and those both great and necessary; and so be induc’d to do what they have in their power, for the Benefit of the Bodies and Minds of other Men.” It will not now be difficult to shew, “That these Faculties and Actions are not so limited, as to profit one only, but that their Force and Benefit extends to many; so that the Knowledge, Art, and Industry, the Benevolence, Fidelity, or Gratitude of one Man, may gratify very many; and being themselves good and common to many, may naturally imprint upon the Minds of the Observers, an Idea of common Good.” What is more, by means of the Union of the Mind with the human Body, the Power of Man reaches farther, and performs greater Things, than the much greater bodily Force of other Animals. For that Power has invented the Art of Navigation, knows how to enter into and observe Compacts with others at a great Distance, hath shewn us how, by the benefit of Letters and Numbers, to maintain Commerce with the East and West-Indies; and at so great a Distance, can treat of Peace, or wage War: But, of necessity, innumerable Motions must hence be determin’d. Nevertheless, it is not unusual in other Causes, whose Force is only Mechanical, to observe an evident Efficacy, productive of Advantage or Disadvantage to many. This is acknowledg’d, even by the Peripatetic Philosophy, and by common Experience, which shews, “That the Rays of the Sun convey vital Nourishment, to innumerable Vegetables over the whole Earth, and necessary Heat to the Blood of all Animals.” But a more accurate Inquiry into Nature, does upon several Occasions demonstrate, “That every Motion of every corporeal Particle does very widely extend its Force, and consequently, in some measure, however little, necessarily concur with many other Causes, to produce many Effects.” The Proof of this Assertion is easy, nor at all foreign to the matter before us: But because it depends upon Principles which are partly Physical and partly Mathematical, which to most would seem too remote from the Doctrines of Morality, and because it will be readily allow’d, even by our Adversaries, I chose to omit what I had prepar’d upon this Head.38
(It is therefore a Mistake in Hobbes, to assert the variable Nature of Good and Evil, even upon his own Principles.)§XX. This, however, I have here thought fit to take notice of, “That Hobbes, in this matter, seems to grant more than sufficient,” when in the last Paragraph but one, of his Treatise De Corpore, he expressly asserts, “That there can be no Motion in a Medium admitting of no Vacuity, unless the next part of the Medium give way, and so on infinitely, so that the particular Motions of every particular Body contribute somewhat to every Effect.”39 Mean-while he is not aware, that this will thence follow, “That any human Action may, by its own Nature, contribute somewhat to this Effect, viz. The Preservation and Perfection of many, who do not desire it,” that is, may be naturally Good to many. Otherwise, he would not so crudely assert, “That Good respects only him who desires it”;40 and hence infer, “That the Nature of Good and Evil is variable, at the pleasure of single Persons in the State of Nature, and at the pleasure of the Government in every civil State.”41 Which are the fundamental Principles of Hobbes’s Ethicks and Politicks, as I shall shew in the Chapter concerning Good.42
I propos’d in this Place only to shew, “That certain Motions, Powers, and Actions of all Things whatsoever, and consequently also of Men, whence we perceive that something is done tending to the Preservation or more flourishing Condition of others, do naturally imprint upon us the notion of a Good common to many”; and because the Nature of Things will not permit us, to think all kinds of Motions or Actions equally conducive to this End, that therefore Nature does sufficiently instruct us. “That there is a difference between Things good and evil, whether they relate to many, or to Individuals.” Yet further, seeing the Generation, Preservation, and Perfection of natural Bodies, (Men for Instance,) and on the contrary, their Destruction and Corruption, are nothing else than certain Motions, variously complicated, of those Particles whereof they consist, and that all these Motions are produc’d by their Causes, according to the Laws of certain Theorems geometrically demonstrated; it is clearly manifest, “That all things are generated, preserv’d and perfected by their Causes with the same necessity, that these Theorems are geometrically demonstrated to be true.” But the constituting, preserving, and perfecting Causes of Things or Men, are those Things which we call good, and the contrary to these, evil, whether their Efficacy reaches one only, many, or all. Wherefore, supposing “such Motions and Actions, of some Men in relation to others, as we now see tend to their Preservation,” they produce this Effect with the same necessity, that the geometrical Theorems concerning such Motions are true; and therefore they are naturally Good, altho no Laws were yet suppos’d, by which they are commanded.
Therefore Hobbes’s Fiction, “That Good and Evil are changeable,” is perfectly inconsistent with the necessary and immutable Causes, which he every where asserts, of the Being and Preservation of Man. Nor can he come off this by saying, (which yet he often inculcates,) “That before civil Laws there is no measure of Them”; for there is the same measure of Good and Evil, that there is of Truth and Falshood, in those Propositions which relate to the Efficacy of those Motions, that tend to the Preservation or Corruption of other Things, namely, the Nature of Things; and whatsoever Proposition points out the true Cause of Preservation, does at the same time shew, what is true Good.
From the limited Powers of all Finite Beings, appears,§XXI. We have now briefly seen, “How the Nature of Things imprints on us as certain and firm a Knowledge of Good and Evil, even of that which is common to many, as is that by which we know the Causes of Generation and Corruption.” I now proceed to consider, “That the Matter and Motion, in which the Powers of a human Body, as of all other parts of the visible World, do consist, have a finite Quantity, and certain Limits, beyond which they cannot extend themselves.” Whence flow these most evident Axioms concerning all natural Bodies: That the same Bodies cannot at the same time be in more Places than one: That the same Bodies cannot at the same time be mov’d toward several Places, (especially if contrary,) so as to be subservient to the opposite Wills of several Men; but that they are so limited, that they can be determin’d by the Will of one only, unless several conspire to one and the same Effect or Use. Nor is this peculiar to Bodies only, but common to the Minds of Men, and to all created Beings, as being Finite.
1. The Justness and Usefulness of that Distinction of the Stoicks, between Things in our Power, and, out of our PowerFrom hence I would infer two Things, of great Consequence to our Purpose. (1.) That from the Knowledge of Nature, especially that of ourselves, we learn that celebrated Distinction of the Stoicks, between those things which are in our Power, (such are the Actions of our Mind, and some bodily Motions, both which, by the Effects we daily perceive, are obedient to the Will, and thence, by a parity of Reason, we may easily collect, what we shall be able to do hereafter;) and those things which are not in our Power: Such are by far the greatest, and the most, of those Motions which we daily perceive in the Universe, which we (little Animals) cannot obstruct, and by whose Force all things are in a perpetual Change, and which are the continual Sources, even to Men themselves, of the Vicissitudes of Adversity and Prosperity, Birth, Maturity, and Death.43
Which is a great help to Prudence,This Distinction, constantly attended to, is of great use in forming our Manners, and regulating our Affections and Endeavours. For hence we are taught, “Not to seek any other Happiness to alleviate our Labours, than that which arises from a prudent Management of our Faculties, and from those Aids, which we know the Providence of God, in the Administration of the Universe, will afford us.”
And to the Government of our Passions.By this means we are freed from those fruitless Labours, to which vain Hopes sollicit most Men; nor shall we ever disturb our selves upon account of those Evils, which, without our Fault, have hitherto happen’d to us, or may hereafter happen; and so a great part of the Troubles, which usually arise from those restless Affections, Grief, Anger, and Fear, will be prevented. Nor shall we be hence only directed how to avoid Evils, but we shall also be shewn the most compendious Way, by which we may by degrees proceed to the best Things, which are possible to be obtain’d by us, namely, the cultivating our Mind, and the Dominion over our Affections. But I have no purpose to prosecute any farther, this Subject, in this Place.
2. The Necessity of Benevolence, in order to our Happiness.I will only make this Observation, which is to our present Purpose,44 that it is well known by the Experience of all Men, “That the Powers of any single Person, in respect of that Happiness, of which from without he is both capable and stands in need, are so small, that he wants the Assistance, both of many Things and Persons, to lead his Life happily; but that every one can nevertheless afford many Things for the use of others, which himself does not at all need, and which therefore can be of no use to him.” But seeing we are certain, from the known limits of our Powers, “That we cannot compel all those whose Aid we want, (God and Men,) to co-operate with us in the procuring our Happiness”; the only Method we have left to obtain this End, is, “To procure their Good will, by making a tender to them of our Service, and by a faithful Performance.” But, altho that greatest Benevolence, (mention’d in our foregoing general Proposition) consists in a hearty, constant, universal Inclination so to act; and therefore also in Cases, where often no Retaliation is expected, nay, where we know there will be no return of reciprocal Affection: Yet it does not hinder us, from cultivating Friendship chiefly with them, from whom Reason persuades us to hope for the grateful return of a mutual Benevolence.
This is the first Conclusion which I draw from the finite Nature of all Things, of our selves especially. It thence follows,
3. The Necessity of limiting the uses of certain Things, and of human Services, to particular Persons for a limited time.§XXII. Secondly. If Men, or other Things, do, or afford, any thing for the use of Men; such Service or Benefit is naturally and necessarily limited to certain Persons, Times, and Places. Therefore, if right Reason enjoins, “That the Use of Things, or the Services of Men, should be useful to all Men,” it necessarily enjoins, “That, for a certain Time and Place, that use of Things and of human Services should be limited to certain Persons.” The Consequence is manifest, because “That is right Reason in commanding, which commands that to be done, which is possible to be done, according to the Nature of Things.” The Consequence tends to prove, “That a Division of Things, and of human Services, at least for the time they may be of use to others, is necessary for the Advantage of all.”
(Which over-throws Hobbes’s fundamental Principle, of every Man’s Right to every Thing.)And, certainly, that necessary Limitation of the use of one Thing to one Man for the time it benefits any Person, is a natural Division, that is, Separation from the use of any other Person for the same time. It is manifest, that I here call those things one, that are necessarily wholly employ’d, in one use at one time. For other things are likewise call’d one, which at the same time may be of use to many, as one Island, one Wood, &c. concerning whose Division I have yet affirm’d nothing. From the above-mention’d natural Division of Things, and its necessity to the Preservation of all, is deriv’d that primitive Right to Things by first Occupancy, (which is so frequently mention’d by Philosophers and Lawyers, and which they teach is to take place, supposing all things common;) for Right is the Liberty of acting any thing, granted by a Law: But in that suppos’d State there is no other Law, but the Conclusions of right Reason, concerning Actions necessary to the common Good, promulgated by God. Therefore, because right Reason grants, as necessary to the common Good, to every Man the use of Things and human Services, for so long time as such Use is beneficial to him, by that Grant a Right is given him (the first Occupant) to the use of that Thing or Person, for that time. The Will or Benevolence conformable to this Conclusion, is as truly Justice, as that which gives every one his Rights afterwards arising in civil Society. And the same Benevolence, as far as it permits such Rights to every one, and restrains those Affections which have a contrary Tendency, is laudable Innocence. But it is most evident, that no one can in any measure promote the publick Good, except he preserve his Life, Health, and Strength, by the use of Things, and of human Labour; and that therefore such Occupancy of Necessaries is a means plainly necessary to that End. For the Preservation of a Whole, consisting of mutually divided Parts, (such as Mankind is,) consists in the Preservation of the divided Parts, (not to mention any thing now of the Order to be preserv’d among them:) But the Preservation of the divided Parts, that is, of particular Men, requires the divided use of Things and of human Labour; therefore that is necessary to the Preservation of the Whole. Such Division, which is a kind of Property, after things are occupied and applied to uses truly necessary, is very consistent with some Community, like that in Feasts and Theatres; such as several of the antient Philosophers have suppos’d,45 not contrary to Reason indeed, but not very consistent with the sacred History; and directly inconsistent with that Right of all to all, which Hobbes has feign’d, in order to prove, “That, before the Institution of civil Government, preceded a State of universal War, of every Man against every Man; and that then a License of doing any thing against any Man, was both just and necessary.”46
Here may be collected, by the way, “How every Man comes to have a right to preserve his own Life and Limbs,” from this, that these are his most certain Means of serving God and Men, in which consists that common Good, I have been treating of. It is also plain, that the Right of every one is under these Restrictions: (1.) That if Religion, or the publick Welfare of Men, requires it, we be ready to part with the last drop of our Blood: And, (2.) That no innocent Person is to be hurt, to procure to our selves any Advantage.
This is most clearly deduc’d from the Principles which I have here briefly touch’d upon, and overthrows Hobbes’s whole Doctrine of the Laws of Nature and Empire. For the whole of that does first suppose (not prove, nor limit) “A right to preserve this mortal Life, as the Foundation of all natural Laws, and of Society”; and then is intirely employ’d, “In applying to that End some Means, which are often most enormous.” Lib. de Cive, c. i. §. 7. and elsewhere.47
And this is what we must assert, concerning the Original of Meum and Tuum, of Property and Dominion, (in the large Sense of the Words,) without taking into consideration what is reveal’d in the Mosaic History, as those Philosophers necessarily did, who had not receiv’d that Account. But this Example of introducing a Division being given by Nature, it is easy, and agreeable to the Genius of a human Mind, by a parity of Reason, from observing those Inconveniences, which every Man experiences, of holding all things in common, to proceed (for the benefit of all) to a further Division of Things and human Services, and to introduce amore complete Dominion or Property in both, that might be in some respect perpetual.
Whence also is deduc’d the Origin of Property and Dominion.§XXIII. The Reader, I believe, will not expect, “That I should recite all the most grievous Mischiefs, that would arise from a Parity introduc’d amongst all, or from having in common, Wives, Children, and all other Goods,” for of these Mischiefs, others have abundantly treated. See Aristotle, in the second Book of his Politicks, and his Commentators.48 For what he had said of a particular Society, may be easily applied to the general Society, made up of Mankind, the Subjects, and God, the Governour. It is sufficient, that the common Experience of the World teaches us, “That, where any thing is yet left in common, that thing generally comes to a Division, to avoid needless Contentions”: And “That it is a natural Vice, to neglect that which is possess’d in common, and to think he has nothing, that has not the Whole.”49 For the Dangers of Contentions, and Want, the Effect of neglecting to cultivate the Earth, would (especially after Mankind grew numerous, and Vices, arising from Ignorance and a neglect of Discipline, became prevalent) reduce human Affairs to such a State, “That all must see it equally necessary to their common Happiness, to make a Distribution of Things and the Services of Men, which shall be fix’d and valid for the time to come, as to permit the present enjoyment of them to him, who first gets them into his Possession.”
From whence it follows, “That as Nature” (according to what we have above shewn) “confers the right of using Necessaries present, so she does, in the same manner, grant the right of a stated and durable Division of Things, and Offices, which is call’d direct Dominion.” For nothing is more evident, “Than that the future use of Things, or of human Labour, has the same relation to future Life or Health, which the present Enjoyment has to present Life”; there is in both the relation of a necessary Cause. Wherefore the Case is almost the same in this, as in Geometrical Propositions, where from three given Terms a fourth is found; and we may justly think, that Mankind, in a State of Nature, (which Hobbes himself supposes,) may thus reason: As a right to the Life of this Day, proves a right to its necessary preserving Causes, viz. A limited and divided use of Things and of human Labour, whilst they are now at hand; so also a right to Life for the time to come, shews a right to limit the use of Things and Persons for the future. There is no occasion here for artificial Multiplication and Division, which are requisite to find out a fourth Proportional in large Numbers; for such reasoning is obvious to every Man in his Senses, and is daily practis’d by all, even whilst they are not aware of it, nor distinctly dispose the Terms into such an order. I have shewn, that the two first Terms are given by Nature. And it is evident, that the third Term also is given, because it contains nothing that is not known by all. For all Men provide for the future, and suppose it probable, that themselves and other Men, or even their own Posterity, and that of others, shall hereafter continue some time upon the Earth, and have a right of preserving their Life. Nay, to foresee Things future at a great Distance, to be very sollicitous about them, and to inquire into the Causes of such Things as present themselves to his Thoughts, is peculiar to Man above other Animals.50 They will therefore come at the above-mention’d fourth Proportional, which is the certain and limited Causes of preserving their Life for the future, which are no other, than “The divided use of Things, and of human Labour, to be ratify’d and ascertain’d by common Consent for the future,” avoiding all the Hazards of Contention, and banishing that Scarcity, which we suppose Experience taught them to have taken its Rise from a Neglect of the Cultivation of Things.
But such Reasoning from an exact Similitude of Cases is so strong, that in evidence it rivals Euclid ’s Method (Elem. 6.) of finding a fourth Proportional, by drawing a Parallel to a Line given, and in easiness exceeds it; which yet no one will deny to be suggested by natural Reason.51
From this Example of a further Division, appears first, “How from a Change of Circumstances,” (or from a Consideration of some Things, which, not being essential, are not contain’d in the primary and universal Notion of Mankind;) “human Actions of a new kind may become necessary to the publick Good”: And secondly, “After what manner, from such Necessity, arises a Right,” (antecedent to the Institution of Civil Government,) “to perform such Actions.”
And of a Right to self-preservation, and self-defence.Nor upon these Suppositions, will there be any Right to do any thing, except what right Reason declares to be necessary to the common Good, or at least consistent with it; of which the first is therefore commanded by Reason, the last permitted, which I shall explain more at large in the Chapter of the Law of Nature. This, however, I thought proper here carefully to inculcate, “That all Right, even to the Use of those Things, which are absolutely necessary to every one’s Preservation,” (as it is distinguish’d from the mere force of seizing those Things, in which Sense only its Original is here inquir’d into,) “is founded in the Command, or at least in the Permission, of the Law of Nature,” that is, of right Reason, pronouncing concerning those things which are necessary to the common Good, according to the Nature of Things; and that therefore it cannot be known, “That any one has a Right to preserve himself, unless it be known, ‘That this will contribute to the common Good,’ or That it is at least consistent with it.” But, if this be the Rise of our Right to our own Preservation, our Powers will be hereby so limited, that we may not invade the equal Rights of others, nor break forth into a War against all; that is, make an Attempt towards the Destruction of all.
In short, I affirm first, “That a Right,” (distinguish’d from mere Power,) “even to Self-defence, cannot be understood without Respect had to the Concessions of the Law of Nature, which consults the Good of all”; and that all solid Arguments, “by which any one can claim any Right to himself,” do prove, “That there is such a Law, and that it is at the same time of equal Force to the Protection of others.” But secondly, since the Right to the making such a Division can only be deduc’d from a Care of the common Good, it manifestly follows, that the Dominion of God over all Things is preserv’d unviolated; and that, from this Principle, no Right of Dominion can accrue to any Man over others, which will license him to take from the Innocent their Necessaries; but on the contrary, that the Right of Empire is therefore given to them, that the Rights of all may be protected from the Evils of Contention, and may be encreased, as far as the Nature of Things, assisted by human Industry, will permit.
A brief Deduction of the principal particular Laws of Nature.§XXIV. Having already briefly deduced, from the Law which commands an Endeavour to promote the common Good, the Property of particular rational Beings, at least in things necessary, some Right is granted, which every one may justly call his own; and, by the same Law, all others will be obliged to yield that to him, which is usually included in the Definition of Justice.52
Justice;It seems moreover proper, more distinctly to shew, “what kind of Actions have a natural Tendency to promote the publick Happiness”; for thence will appear, both what Actions are commanded, and what permitted to Individuals.
Abstaining from,It is manifest, First, That to abstain from hurting any innocent Person, is necessary: For the Damage of any Part is a detriment to the Whole, unless it be inflicted as a Punishment, for some Crime committed against the publick Welfare. Hence all Invasion of another’s Property, is prohibited; for all Damage done to the Mind, Body, Goods, or good Name of any Person, is a Loss to the Publick.
And repairing, Injuries;Hence also the same natural Law, which requires to give every one his own, must, for the publick Good, command Reparation of Injuries.
Secondly, It is manifest, that this greatest and noblest End cannot be obtain’d by a bare Abstaining from doing Evil; but it is necessary, that every one contribute his Share, by a true, certain, and constant Application, as well of Things external, as of his Powers, towards the gaining this Point. For, otherwise, neither will the publick Happiness, nor our own, be the greatest we can effect.53 It is upon this account a natural Precept, that if at any time, (the Nature of the chief End so requiring it,) we should transfer to another some Right of ours, either by Gift, at present, or by Promise, or Compact, afterwards to be perform’d; we make that Transfer validly and faithfully, and not with an Intention to deceive;Liberality; making, and faithfully performing Promises and Compacts; for it is only such a firm transferring of any Thing, or of our Services, to the Use of another, as I have mention’d, which can at all conduce to the End commanded us. Hence arises the obligation to make and keep promises; but our Pains is most wisely and happily laid out, in the prosecution of the common Good of all rational Beings, if we observe the following Order in our Actions.
Piety, Loyalty, Gratitude to Parents, Benefactors, and Ambassadors;We should, first, perform what is acceptable to the intelligent Agents,54 who are Causes of the common Good, and, consequently, of our own; that is, every one should take care to make himself acceptable to God, to Princes, and the whole Body of the State, (upon supposition that there are such in being,) to Parents, to Benefactors; but especially to Negotiators of Peace, or Ambassadors.
Self-Preservation and Improvement;Secondly, Every one should study his own Preservation, and further Perfection; but always preserving the Rights of others, by that Innocence which I have already shewn to be commanded. Hither I refer our being oblig’d to study the Improvement of our Minds, with all useful Knowledge and Virtue, and to preserve the Life, Health, and Chastity of our Bodies.
Natural Affection;Thirdly, Men should provide for their Families and Offspring, because (to omit, that they are the Substance of their Parents, form’d into the same Species with them, whence they may justly claim to themselves the Rights of human Nature) they are the only Prop of the approaching old Age of the present Set of Men, and by them only we can hope to raise a succeeding Generation. To this Care of our Offspring, I refer Love towards our Kindred, (who are the Offspring of our Parents,) and towards our whole Posterity.
And Humanity, towards All;Fourthly, Every one should study to make himself acceptable to all others, by good Offices, and to benefit others, without the detriment of any, by all Acts of Humanity, as they are called, such as, to shew the way, to raise the Fallen, &c. in proof whereof there is no Occasion to add any thing farther, than that, in order to the preservation of any aggregate Body, whose Parts are transient, (as is the Case of all Mankind,) it is necessary, “That the Causes of its Corruption, especially those which happen to its inward Parts, be taken away; that there be a certain Communication of Motion between its Parts; that its Causes of Preservation, and all its essential Parts, be cherish’d, not only those which are at present, but also those which shall hereafter be produc’d, by the Motion which is intrinsick to that aggregate Body; and that its Parts and Motions, which have a less Proportion to the Whole, give way to those which have a greater Proportion to the same.” For scarce any thing can be prov’d more plainly, than this general Proposition, which immediately flows from the Definitions of Things preservative and destructive,55 of Whole and Part, of Cause and Effect; and yet in all things suits with those Particulars, which, in the foregoing Section, I affirm’d to be necessary to the Preservation of Mankind.
This illustrated by various Examples from Nature, of the Contrivance of its Author, for the Preservation of the whole, with respect, 1. To Individuals;§XXV. But, lest any thing should be wanting, which might suggest such Thoughts to the Minds of Men, and might demonstrate their necessary Connexion among themselves, Nature lays before us a sufficient Number of Examples, in Beings of various Kinds. Let the Nature of any Animal be consider’d, as an Aggregate made up of Parts very different, that defends it self, for the time appointed by universal Nature, by the Methods already mention’d; (1.) By expelling, according to its Power, those Things which are hurtful, which it diligently separates from the vital Nourishment; (2.) by circulating the Blood, and perhaps other useful Fluids, as the Lymph, the Bile, and the nervous Juices; (3.) by repairing what is wasted, by a new Succession of like Parts; (4.) and by the mutual good Offices of every Part, perform’d according to the general Laws of Motion, which nevertheless hinder not, but that each may take to themselves what is sufficient for their proper Nourishment and Strength.
2. To Animals of the same Species;If we turn our Eyes to the mutual Behaviour of different Animals, but of the same Kind; it is evident, that they continue their Species, by a certain kind of Innocence, Retaliation of Benefits, limited Self-Love, and a most powerful Love of their Offspring.
i.e. Wild Beasts of the same Kind do not fight with one another.
3. To the Frame of the visible World.Lastly, If we consider this visible World, with Des-Cartes and others,57 as a most exquisite Machine, we may perceive, that this our Vortex is no otherwise daily preserv’d, than by resisting some contrary Motions of the neighbouring Vortices; by changing or removing Bodies of Figures or Motions less agreeable; by a circular Motion of the Parts; by propagating the different Species of Things, by such kind of Motions, as those by which it has produc’d the Individuals which now are; and by causing its Parts to yield to one another, according to the Proportion which their Dimensions and Motions have to one another, and to the Whole. But I am determin’d, not to insist upon such Hypotheses, altho I know, that we may fairly reason from them, provided the natural Laws of Motion be exactly observ’d in them; and I dare affirm, that has been perform’d by Des-Cartes, with great Care and Exactness, in most Parts of his Hypothesis. Howbeit, whatsoever Hypothesis be assum’d, in order to explain the Phaenomena of Nature, such Laws of Motion must of necessity be allow’d, as, amidst all natural Changes, preserve the State of the System of the World, by such Methods as I have mention’d. Such being the Case, it is manifested by a most illustrious Example, what things are necessary to the Preservation of the greatest and most beautiful aggregate Body; the Consideration whereof cannot but most certainly convince Men, “That human Actions, not unlike these, may be the no less proper Causes of preserving the whole System of Mankind, and making them happy.” Upon which account I am of opinion, that it would not be unprofitable to consider the special Laws of Motion, from the necessary Observance whereof the above-mention’d general Effects arise: But because this is too remote from my present chief Aim, the Philosophical Reader is referr’d, either to his own Experience, or to Galileus, Des-Cartes, Wallis, Wren, and Huygens, all celebrated Writers.58 But all these Theorems, or Laws of Motion, may be deduced from this Supposition, “That Motion is not annihilated, after it has been impress’d upon Matter by the first Cause”: And for this very Reason. “That it exists in a World that admits no Vacuum, it is necessarily still further propagated, till it return into it self”:59 And, on the contrary, the Truth of this Supposition is demonstrated, by all the Theorems of Motion observ’d in Nature, by the help of the Senses. It is sufficient for my present purpose, that, in what State soever Men are suppos’d to exist, the Power of doing those things which I have mention’d is plainly necessary to be permitted them, that the collective Body or Race of Men may be preserv’d; and that the Will to do so is no less necessary to the actual Happiness of Men: And to these Heads may be reduc’d whatever is necessary to this Effect.
How it appears to be the Will of God, that we should promote the publick Good, i.e. be Virtuous.§XXVI. What I have hitherto said, concerning the necessary Connexion between the aforesaid Actions and the common Good, is advanc’d with this View, “To fix unchangeably, by their Relation to this Effect, the Nature of those human Actions, wherein Piety, Probity, and every Virtue consists”; for the Relation between entire adequate Causes (that is, Causes consider’d in all their Circumstances requisite to Action) and their Effects, is wholly immutable. In every State, as well of holding Things in common, as of divided Property, such a Course of Life, as deceives no Man by Lyes or Perfidiousness, as injures no Man in his Life, Reputation, or Chastity, as makes Returns of Gratitude to Benefactors, and provides for himself or his Posterity, without hurting another, always has been, and will be, a Cause of the common Good, and is therefore to be distinguish’d by the Name of Virtue. This is only to be taken care of, that we have in view an Effect great enough, that is, that some Advantage accrue to the Whole, or, at least, that it suffer no Damage, whilst we endeavour to gratify a Part; whatsoever is acted otherwise, is to be look’d upon as Vice. And because the Nature of Things makes known to Men, “That by such Actions the common Good” (in which their own proper Happiness is contain’d) “may be obtain’d, and that in the highest degree, that is to them singly possible; but that contrary Actions do likewise make Men miserable; and that these things are so, because of the Connexion made by the Will of the First Cause, between such Actions and their Effects”; it evidently follows, “That Men are oblig’d, by the same Will of the First Cause, to exercise Virtue, and Shun Vice; under the Penalty of losing Happiness, or for the Hope of acquiring it.”
1. From the Evils necessarily connected with a vicious Action.Innumerable Evils, to the Doer himself, naturally attend every Action injurious to others; for he himself, because he contradicts better practical Principles, (which are known to himself,) sets his own Mind at variance with itself, so as to be Self-condemn’d; and he that but once delivers himself up to the Conduct of Rashness and of blind Affections, rather than to the Counsel of his own Reason, will, for the future, be more easily hurried away by them, whence he will at last with ease procure his own Ruin: He sets others also an Example, which may be highly prejudicial to himself: He increases Suspicion and the Causes of Distrust, the Inconveniencies of which he will some time or other experience. Nay, further, every vicious Action may be said to contain all that Punishment, to inflict which, it will excite any rational Agents, out of their regard to publick or private Good, in order to restrain Malefactors.
2. From the Punishments inflicted, for evil Actions, by other rational Beings,Now this Influence of Actions, to excite Observers to inflict Punishment, tho it extends only to rational Natures, God and Men, yet is of great moment, and ought always to be consider’d, before we undertake any Action, lest we should thereby, even unwillingly, draw Destruction upon our own heads; because our whole Hope depends upon God and Men, who judge of the Merit or Demerit of our Actions, by their Relation to the common Good.
Whether God,“That God is privy to, and punishes, the most concealed Wickedness,” perhaps I should seem impertinent, if I went about to prove, after so many Philosophers, antient and modern, and also so many Christian Fathers; especially since he, whose Opinions I am now examining, does no where, that I know of, deny it. Nevertheless, the manner, by which we naturally come to the Knowledge of this, I shew afterwards, where I more fully set forth my Opinion, concerning the Obligation of the Laws of Nature.60
or Men.Besides, the Author of no Villany can be secure; because Men (whose Interest it is universally, that a most extensive Benevolence, and that Justice should take place) may come to the Knowledge of, and punish, the most secret Crimes, which may be discover’d a thousand ways, that no one can avoid. Wicked Persons have often betray’d themselves in their Dreams, in their Ravings, in their Cups, or in a sudden Fit of Passion.61 And this even Epicurus and his Followers have confess’d; they, who have used great Endeavours to shake off the Fears of a divine Providence, have yet frequently own’d, that the Fear of Man cannot be shook off: The Reader may have recourse to the fundamental Maxims of Epicurus, with Gassendus’s Notes.62 I will add only this, that, beside the divine Vengeance, which the Conscience of almost all wicked Men dread, as the Avenger of the most secret Crimes, among Men, consider’d even out of a State of civil Government, Revenge generally follows any Act of Wickedness, after it has been discover’d. For seeing it is the Interest of all, “That Crimes should be punish’d,” any Person, that is able, has a Right to exact those Punishments, which a regard to the publick Good requires should be taken by some body. For, by the Supposition, all Inequality among Men being taken away, that Saying of the Latin Poet takes place, I am a Man, and therefore no Calamity that befals Mankind seems to me indifferent.63
(Hobbes is inconsistent with himself, in denying the foregoing Obligation of the Laws of Nature, in a State of Nature;)Nor certainly can Hobbes, who says, “That every Man has in that State a Right of warring against all,” justly deny him the Sword of Justice to punish Crimes. Nor do I see any just Reason why he (who teaches, that the obligatory Force of Civil Laws proceeds from the Punishments annex’d, and the Fear thence arising) should not allow some Obligation to accrue to the Laws of Nature, even to external Actions, either from the Punishments which Conscience foresees will be inflicted by God; or even from the Punishments which any Man, in a State of Nature, has a Right to exact from the Transgressor of Nature’s Laws. Truly, the hands of so many Avengers were to be fear’d, and it were strange, if none of them were sufficiently furnish’d with Strength and Courage, so as to be both able and willing to revenge a Contempt of the common Good. But even Hobbes himself does elsewhere (Leviathan, Chap. 31. near the End) acknowledge, that we may observe such natural Punishments; and asserts, that they follow Crimes not by positive Appointment, but by Nature. “There is (saith he) no Action of Man in this Life, that is not the beginning of so long a Chain of Consequences, as no human Providence is high enough to give a Man a Prospect to the End. And in this Chain, there are link’d together, both pleasing and unpleasing Events, in such manner, as he that will do any thing for his Pleasure, must engage himself to suffer all the Pains annex’d to it; and these Pains are the natural Punishments of those Actions, which are the beginning of more harm than good. And hereby it comes topass, that Intemperance is naturally punish’d with Diseases, Rashness with Mischances, Injustice with the Violence of Enemies, Pride with Ruin, Cowardice with Oppression, negligent Government of Princes with Rebellion, and Rebellion with Slaughter; for seeing Punishments are consequent to the Breach of Laws, natural Punishments must be naturally consequent to the Breach of the Law of Nature, and therefore follow them, as their natural, not arbitrary, Effects.”64 But this same Philosopher of Malmsbury, altho he asserts a War of all against all in that State, hath entirely overlook’d this Cause of War, that they might punish Crimes against the publick Good, or defend it against Invaders; yet he sets all a fighting, to take from others what they are either justly possess’d of, or lay claim to.65 And whereas the immediate effect of the Right to punish, for example, an Invader, be an Obligation to abstain from that Crime, Hobbes does indeed acknowledge the Cause, viz. that all have a Right to punish, by acknowledging their Right to War, but does not see the Effect, viz. the Obligation thence arising, or rather discover’d. He acknowledges almost all Virtues to be necessary to Peace and mutual Defence, and that Men do agree, that this State of Peace is good, and that War (in which is included the Right of punishing Offences) has a natural Connexion with the neglect of moral Virtues; and yet he does not see, that Men are obliged, for fear of that War as of a Punishment, to the outward Acts of those same Virtues, whose inward Acts only will not preserve Peace and mutual Defence, which Nature dictates are to be pursued. Compare Chap. 3. § 27. with § 31.66
Upon a mistaken Notion, of all Mens Right to all Things, which is here examin’d;§XXVII. But because, from this general consideration of all things, I have briefly shewn, “That it is necessary to the common Good, that all Rationals should constantly desire, that the use of Things and the mutual Services of Men, at least for the time in which they may be of advantage to particular Persons, should be divided or look’d upon as their Property”; and also, “That this Dictate of Reason declares Rewards to those who observe it, and Punishments to those who violate it; and that the same is necessarily impress’d upon the Minds of Men, and has therefore God, the Author of all natural Effects, for its Author and Enforcer,” in which the whole Power of a Law is contain’d; it will not be improper to examine likewise briefly Hobbes’s Assertion, concerning the Right of all Men to all Things: for as we think, that the Foundation of universal Justice, and consequently of all Virtue, is establish’d by our Doctrine; so we are of opinion, that the same is entirely overthrown (as far as in him lies) by these his contrary Notions. Hobbes affirms, That “in a natural State” (that is, without the civil Authority) “every one has a Right to all Things”; which he thus explains, that “every one has a Right to do whatsoever, and against whomsoever, he pleases,” or “to have and to do all things,” as he says in the Conclusion of that Article.67 That this monstrous License is necessarily contain’d in the Law of Nature, he in the same place endeavours to prove, from what he had advanc’d in the ninth Article, and in the rest, from the seventh to the end of the Annotation subjoin’d to the tenth; which because I think not worth while to transcribe word for word, the Reader is desir’d attentively to consider, whether I have not justly reduc’d their whole force into this Syllogism. In a State of Nature every one has a Right to, or may lawfully have, all things, and do all things against all, which he himself shall judge necessary to his own Preservation. But every one will judge it necessary to his own preservation, to have all things, and to do all things against all. Therefore every one has a Right to, or may lawfully, do thus.68
But lest any one, perhaps, should not have Hobbes’s Treatise at hand, and to avoid Suspicion, that I have not fairly stated his Argument, I will transcribe the Abridgment of this Reasoning of Hobbes’s, which he himself has set down in these words, in his Annotation upon c. 1. §. 10. “Every one has a right to preserve himself, by Art. 7. Therefore he has a right to make use of all the means necessary to that End, by Art. 8. But the Means necessary are those, which he shall judge such,” by Art. 9. Therefore he has a Right to do, and to possess all things, which he himself shall judge to be necessary to his own Preservation. “It is therefore by the Judgment of the Doer, that what is done, is either rightfully or wrongfully done; it is therefore rightfully done. Therefore it is true (which I propos’d) that in a State of Nature every one has a right to do all things against all, &c.”69 From that last Consequence, “Every one has a right to do and to possess all things, which he himself shall judge necessary, &c. therefore every one has a right to possess and to do all things against all”; it is manifest, that this Minor Proposition is to be understood: But to possess all things, and to do all things against all, every one will judge necessary to his own Preservation; for otherwise the Conclusion would not follow from the given Major. But both the Premises of that Syllogism are false; and, in the first place, that Minor which is understood, which he seems to presume to be so evident, that he does not so much as mention, much less prove it; unless perhaps he thinks it sufficiently prov’d, from what he had said in the 7th §, That “every one is carry’d to the Desire of that which is good to himself, and that by a natural Necessity, not less than that by which a Stone is carry’d downwards”;70 for I do not see, even tho this be granted, “Why every one should judge every Good to be necessary to himself.” Certainly Hobbes himself elsewhere (c. 1. § 4.) grants concerning some, that they think otherwise, in these words; “For another, according to natural Equality, permits to the rest all those things which he claims to himself, which is the Part of a modest Man, and one who rightly estimates his own Strength.”71 Certainly, if he judges according to right Reason, who permits to others like things with himself, whosoever will arrogate all things to himself, as necessary to his own Preservation, can acquire no right to himself by such his irrational Judgment; for Hobbes himself has defin’d “Right to be a Liberty of using our natural Faculties according to right Reason.”72 Therefore no one will have a Right to disturb that natural Equality, which he had but just before confess’d that right Reason dictates. But if Individuals judg’d according to right Reason, at the same time that they determin’d, “That a plenary Disposition, Use, and Enjoyment, of all Things and Persons, according to their several Wills, tho perfectly contrary to one another, was necessary to the preservation of each particular Person”; it might be concluded, “That the matter were so”; for the matter is always as right Reason pronounces it. But, on the contrary, the Nature, both of all Bodies and of Motion, and common Experience, testify, “That it is impossible that any body” (much less that all) “should at once be subject to so many contrary Motions, as there would be contrary Wills of Men, concerning its Use; and therefore that that is, in the Nature of Things, impossible, which Hobbes supposes each particular Person to judge, according to right Reason, necessary.”
And which he endeavours to support by a groundless Supposition, That every Man has a Right to what he himself shall judge necessary to the Preservation of his Life,§XXVIII. My Readers now, I suppose, perceive the Reason, why I rank’d that common Observation, that the Powers and Uses of things are limited, amongst the Notions chiefly necessary to the Knowledge of the Laws of Nature: for hence both a fundamental Error of Hobbes is detected, and a most useful Truth is inferr’d, “That both the Uses of Things, and Services of Men, are necessarily to be divided, or to be determin’d to one Person for one time, if we design they should effect any thing at all; and consequently, if we would promote the publick Good”: Hence also, when many have a like Right to Things to be enjoy’d in common, the first Occupant has always the Preference.73
And so much may suffice concerning the Minor of the foregoing Syllogism, that it contradicts the most general Notions upon which Laws are founded; but the Major of that Syllogism is more diligently defended by Hobbes, and is by us therefore more at large to be confuted. But it cannot be done here so pertinently, because the Nature of this Right cannot be so distinctly understood, unless the Knowledge of the Law of Nature be first suppos’d. Wherefore Hobbes seems to have transgress’d the Rules of Method; who, altho he openly acknowledges, that by the Name of “Right,” he understands a “Liberty left by the Laws”;74 yet supposes it in Men, and sets forth to them its vast extent, before he explains even Natural Laws: and yet it is certain, that, without respect had to them as prior, what Right is cannot be understood; which very thing has given occasion to many of his Errors. But that Hobbes has thus transgress’d, may be understood from his Definition, who has defin’d “Right” to be “A liberty of using the natural Faculties according to right Reason”; which is the very Law of Nature, by him not yet explain’d, c. 1.§7.75 Notwithstanding, because this Syllogism is before us, we will briefly consider how he proves the Major, in order to make the Falshood of it more evidently appear. His Proof of it, reduc’d by me into the Form of a Syllogism, stands thus: Every one has a Right to possess all Things, and to do against all what the Judge shall have judg’d necessary to the Preservation of every one’s Life: But what he himself shall judge necessary, that the Judge judges necessary to his Preservation; for he himself is the Judge of those things which are necessary to his own Preservation, Art. 9. Therefore, &c. The Sense of the major Proposition is contain’d in these words, which are found Art. 10. “But we suppose himself Judge, whether these things conduce to his Preservation or no; so that those things are to be look’d upon as necessary, which he himself judges to be such. And by Art. 7. Those things are, and are esteemed to be, according to the Law of Nature, which necessarily conduce to the defense of a Man’s proper Life and Limbs.”76
Which ought to be parted with for a greater Good;But I affirm that Major to be false, (I.) Because Life it self is to be parted with for a greater good, such as the Salvation of a Man’s Soul, the Glory of God, and the common Good of Men. These are not to be given up, altho it were necessary to the Preservation of Life. (2.) Because a Judge may in the State of Nature falsly affirm those things to be necessary, which really are not necessary.Nor does his mistaken Judgment of the Means necessary to that End, alter the unalterable Nature of Things. Nor can any Reason be given, “Why in a State of Nature the Sentence of a Judge should have power to confer a Right upon any one, if that Sentence disagrees with the Rule according to which Judgment ought to be given.” But the Laws of Nature, and the Nature of Things, whence they are drawn, are the Rule of Judgment in that State; so that it will come to the same thing, which of these two we take for the Standard of Judgment. No State can be imagin’d, in which there is either no Rule of Judgment, or wherein things immediately become such, as the Mind shall rashly determine. The usefulness of things to the preservation of human Life, much more their Necessity to that End, depends upon the natural Powers of things, nor can be chang’d at the Pleasure of Men. If any one, in a State of Nature, should have judg’d Wolfsbane to be a wholesom Herb, or even necessary to the Nourishment of his Body, and should therefore have gorg’d himself with its Juice, it will not therefore become wholesom Nourishment, but will kill him, notwithstanding the Opinion of the Judge to the contrary. Nor is the Efficacy of those things less determin’d, which are good or evil to the whole collective Body of Men, whether they be voluntary human Actions, (concerning which the Laws of Nature, or moral Philosophy pronounces,) or whether they be the natural Powers of Meats and Drugs, (in which Medicine instructs us;) nor are they chang’d by the Opinions of Men, however they may be Judges, from whom no Appeal is permitted. According to the same unalterable Laws of Motion act all those universal Causes, which at once profit or hurt many, as doth any particularCause, Wolfsbane for instance, when it takes away the Life of one only.77
The Rise of Hobbes’s Error, “That a mistaken Judgment, in a State of Nature, confers a Right,” proceeds from the obligatory Force of even the unjust Sentence of a civil Judge, for Reasons which will not hold in a State of Nature.§XXIX. But this Error of Hobbes, concerning the Force of that Sentence (which falsly pronounces a Dominion over all Things and Persons to be necessary to Self-preservation) to give any Persons such a prodigious Right, has arisen hence, that in civil Society he observ’d, “That the Sentence of the supreme Judge bound the Subjects, however it may have been given contrary to what the Nature of the Case requir’d.” But this (which is supported only by a probable Foundation) has been introduc’d by the Consent of Parties, to put an End to Contentions in civil States. Nor is the Sentence of a Prince of so great efficacy, as to make things in their own Nature impossible, or not necessary to the Preservation of the Life of any Person, become necessary to that end.78 It does indeed transfer Property, which Subjects are oblig’d not to resist; for all Subjects are oblig’d to acknowledge the supreme Judge (whenever there is occasion) as an equal Arbitrator to all, and in Law-suits are understood to have subjected themselves to his Arbitration. This Judge is supposed to be chosen out of the most skilful Lawyers, so as to be able, and to be under the Obligation of an Oath, so as to be willing, to give Sentence according to the known Laws, the Allegations, and the Evidence.
But all think with themselves, “That this conduces more to the common Happiness, That a few should suffer that Evil, which may follow from an unjust Sentence, (which will sometimes happen, notwithstanding the above-mention’d Precautions,) than that Strifes should never be ended, but by Wars.” So that a greater care of the publick Good, than of the Life of any particular Person, may be suppos’d as the Foundation of this Prerogative granted to the ruling Powers in States.79 But in a Stateof Nature, (which Hobbes supposes and defines to be the Condition of Men out of civil Society,) it is manifest, that these Considerations can have no place: for where every one is a Judge, there no Skill or Probity can be suppos’d, by which the Judge excels others; no Power of citing Witnesses, and of doing those other things which are requisite to come at the exact Knowledge of a Cause; as is the Case of civil Judgments. There is no Agreement of all in the State of Nature to be suppos’d, by which particular Persons should trust both themselves, and such things as are necessary to them, to the publick determination and integrity of supreme Powers. Nor is there at all any Reason, why this great Privilege of the chief Magistrates should be indulg’d to particular Persons in a State of Nature, however ignorant and wicked. On the contrary it is evident, that the State of Nature affords no other final Determination of any doubtful Case, except that Evidence which arises from Things themselves, or from Testimony, by which the Mind of Man is freed from all Scruples, and is fully satisfy’d that it is not deceiv’d; and that there could be no end of a Dispute among several, unless one Part willingly came into the Opinion of the other, being thereunto moved, either by the weight of Reason, or thro’ an Opinion of the other’s Knowledge and Veracity: for this is evident from the Nature of Judgment, (of which we are every one of us conscious within our own Breasts,) that its Doubts cannot be clear’d by any coercive Power, but by Arguments only, and that they are all deduc’d from the Nature of Things, or from the Authority of the Teacher, which the Learner receives as authentick. Nature acknowledges a Distinction between true and false Judgment, right Reason, and that which is corrupted; and Truth and right Reason have this Privilege, that Man has a natural Right to do those things which they command; for the very Definition of Right declares it to be nothing else but a Liberty of using our natural Faculties according to right Reason:80 But Error, or a false Judgment of the Mind, whether it be concerning things necessary to support Life, or other matter of Practice, gives no one a Right of doing that which he falsly thinks necessary to be done, in order to preserve his Life: for the Reason of him who is in an Error, is not right; nor can any one use his Faculties according to right Reason, (which is to act by Right,) whilst he acts according to Error, which contradicts it. It is therefore a gross Error of Hobbes, when he teaches, “That all things are to be look’d on as necessary to any Man’s Preservation in a natural State, which he himself judges necessary; and that therefore every one has a Right to all things, and to do any thing against every Man.” But it was particularly a shame for Hobbes to commit such a Mistake in this Matter, or in this Place:
First,81 Because it was absurd to ascribe to any Man in a State of Nature, that which is the peculiar Privilege of a civil State, even there where he pretends to treat with the greatest accuracy of the difference of these two States:
Secondly, Because he boasts to have demonstrated that to be necessary, which is naturally impossible, That the same Body should be mov’d towards parts diametrically opposite, according to the opposite Wills of Men; for that Conclusion will justly cause the truth of the Premisses to be suspected:
Thirdly, Because every thing that is particular to Hobbes in Politicks falls to the ground, when this Foundation is taken away; for that State of War vanishes, whose necessary Connexion with a State of Nature he hath hence inferr’d, Art. 12. where he hath rashly concluded, “That every one, from his own arbitrary Opinion, has a Right to invade all others; and that likewise every one has a Right of resisting, whence War ariseth.”82 All the rest likewise fall to the ground, which he thinks he has demonstrated from these Principles: but there will be a more convenient Opportunity for refuting these, when I shall have more fully propos’d better, Principles, whence both the Laws of Nature take their Rise, and a Liberty is left within the Bounds prescribed by them.
By means of which Error, Hobbes proposes Means that are impossible, as necessary to obtain an End, which is too narrow.I will only mention this by the way, “That Hobbes has propos’d too narrow an End on this first Head now under examination, viz. the mere Preservation of Life and Limbs”; for Men may be very miserable, tho these were safe. “The Means by him requir’d are likewise too narrow, viz. only Necessaries, c. 1. § 8.”83 For this World, whose Inhabitants we are born, and which first offers it self to our Consideration, supplies us with things innumerable, which solicit the Mind to the acknowledging and honouring its first Cause; and which, with regard to our selves, are subservient to the Perfections of the Mind, and do not only preserve the Life of the Body, but also contribute sufficiently to its Health, Strength, Activity, Beauty, and Ornament. All these, as well as the Necessaries of Life, do afford both Matter to the Laws of Nature, directing us in their Use, and Room for the exercise of Liberty, according to right Reason. But seeing these are manifest, from so superficial an Observation, that Hobbes could not be ignorant of them, any one may easily conjecture, for what cause he assign’d no larger Bounds to Right and the Laws of Nature, than the Preservation of this frail Life; as if Men, like Swine, had Souls given them only, instead of Salt, to preserve the Body from Putrefaction;84 and in the mean time, to obtain so diminutive an End, has given every one all things as means necessary; so that here he has been as faulty in excess, as there in defect: nor can any one more shamefully transgress the Rules of right Reason, than by neglecting the best End, and by looking on things impossible as means necessary.
Nor can such a Right of all Men to all things be prov’d, from an original holding all things in common;§XXX. Vain is Mr. Hobbes’s Attempt to maintain or prove this absurd Right of all Men to all Things, from that primitive holding things in common, which some Philosophers suppose, and some Histories have affirm’d:85 For besides that Mr. Selden hath taught, and prov’d from the divine Donation, Gen. i. 28. “That private Dominion was a most acknowledg’d Right from the days of Adam,” as you may see in his MareClausum, l. 8. c. 4.86 it is certain, that both Philosophers and Historians thought, “That the use of such an universal Right had so much in it of the nature of Property, that what any one had seiz’d for himself, it were an Injury in another to force from him.” This may be explain’d by an Example us’d by Cicero. Altho the Theatre be common, it may justly be said, that the Place which any one has taken possession of, is his.87
Nor from the Power of Individuals.But no Mortal, before Hobbes, ventur’d to assert such a Right of every one to all things; which, if you will believe him, contains in it self a Right of reigning over all, coeval with their very Nature;88 that is, from their Infancy; altho, according to the same Person, it be founded in Power: Which destroys all Property in another, so that it is impossible to invade that which is another’s, and lawful to claim every thing to himself:89Which makes it lawful to lie with every Woman, to break the Faith pledg’d to another: Which makes it lawful to wage War against all, and therefore to kill any Person, even the most innocent: Which leaves every Determination of disputed Cases, to every Man’s proper arbitrary Judgment, and Children at liberty to honour their Parents or not.90 He in the mean time forgot, that he had said elsewhere, “That it cannot be understood, that a Son can exist in the State of Nature”;91 and that, therefore, neither has the Right proper to this State any place in Sons. Of a-piece with this, is what he has added in the end of c. 14. § 9. That “there is no occasion to give Testimony, whether true or false, in a State of Nature, because there are there no publick Courts”;92 as if a private Judge had no occasion for Testimony, in order to give his Award, where he hath been chosen Umpire between Persons at Variance; or, as if a false Testimony in such a Case were not criminal, (as contrary to the common Good,) altho there were yet no Civil Laws; such as he there contends the Precepts of the second Table of the Decalogue to be. Here may be added that of Hobbes, which he sometimes expresly acknowledges, That “all Violation of the Laws of Nature consists in the false Reasoning, or in the Folly of Men who do not see,” (and why not as well, of Men who do not observe?) “their Duties toward other Men, necessary to their own Preservation.”93 And he acknowledges that the Laws of Nature, in the State of Nature, do oblige in the inward Court, or that of Conscience;94 therefore they at least oblige to pass a true Judgment, that all Things, and a Dominion over all Persons, are not necessarily requir’d to the Preservation of every one. But if every one is under an Obligation so to judge, vain will be the Judgment of him whose Sentiments are contrary; nor can that prodigious Right over all things accrue to him from so gross an Error. To be brief, there can be no Right of acting contrary to the Law of Nature, or the Dictates of right Reason, because Right is defin’d to be a Liberty of acting according thereto. But right Reason, as I have shewn, points out the necessity of coming to a division of Things; and, according to Hobbes’s own Confession, forbids the retaining a Right to all Things, c. 2.§3.95
Another Error of Hobbes, by which he endeavours to support a Right of every Man to every thing in a State of Nature, is, “That Right and Wrong depend upon human Laws.”§XXXI. Let us therefore proceed to examine, what other Arguments Hobbes has brought to establish this his wild Doctrine: He suggests, “That what any one does in a State merely natural, cannot be injurious to any Man; because Injustice toward Men supposes human Laws, such as in that State are not.”96 Yet he grants that even then, Men may sin against God and the Laws of Nature; but he in vain and without proof assumes what is most false, “That an Injury against Man supposes human Laws.” For from the Dictates of right Reason, altho they be the natural Laws of God only, accrues to Man a Right to those things, which Reason has dictated to be granted to him by God: As for example, “The innocent Person has a Right to his Life, to preserve his Limbs entire, and to necessary Sustenance, without which it is well known, that he cannot be subservient to the common Good.” Therefore an Injury is done him, if any one, upon Hobbes’s Principles, shall maim or kill him, in pursuit of his Claim of all things: for every Opposition to, or Violation of, another’s Right, is an Injury, by what Law soever that Right accrued to the other; but much more, if that Right was yielded him by the divine Laws, than if by any human Law or Compact. Hobbes indeed supposes, “That no one can injure another, but after he has transferr’d by compact his own Right of doing what he pleases.” But this supposes that it has been prov’d, “That a Right of doing what he pleases belongs to every one”; which I have prov’d to be impossible. Therefore in vain he seeks a Support to his tottering Foundation, from this Consequence, which wholly depends upon the Supposition (which I have overthrown) of every Man’s Right to all Things. Even Hobbes himself, altho he asserts here, and more openly c. 3.§4. “That no Injury can be done to any one, with whom we have not enter’d into compact”;97 yet elsewhere more justly, and as the Truth it self requires, he has most expresly taught, “That it is injuriously done, whatsoever is done contrary to right Reason.”98 Seeing all grant, “That to be rightfully done, which is not done against right Reason”; we ought to think, “That injuriously done, which is contrary to right Reason”; and so he there acknowledges, That to be a Law. You observe he does not here require a transferring our Right to another, before an Injury can be done. Now seeing he acknowledges these Dictates of Reason to be divine Laws,99 I desire that he will shew, “What hinders, but that these may confer upon every one such a Right to Life, as without Injury cannot be taken away, or how any one can have a Right to oppose and violate another’s Right”: For every Man’s Right is a Liberty granted by right Reason, which can never allow, that Men speaking or acting by its Prescription, can contradict or oppose one another. It will be in vain for him to say, that the Injury is done to God only, seeing only his Laws are violated; unless he shew, that these Laws of God cannot confer on Men a Right to their Life and its Necessaries, nor prohibit others to violate the Right so granted.
This however I here thought fit to add by the by, “That if an Injury consists only in the Violation of Compacts transferring Right, then no Injury could possibly be done to God, according to Hobbes’s Principles, altho his natural Laws, both concerning the Cultivation of Peace amongst Men, and concerning the Worship which ought to be paid himself, should be violated by Crimes of the deepest Dye, and even by Blasphemy it self”: for Man is suppos’d, “Not to have enter’d into a Compact with God, to yield Obedience to his Laws”;100 nay, he openly declares, c. 2. § 12, 13. “That a Compact cannot be enter’d into with God, except as he has thought fit, by the sacred Scriptures, to substitute in his Place certain Men, with an Authority to consider and accept of such Compacts.”101 God therefore and Men are in such a State, according to Hobbes, that without Injury Men may be Enemies to God, and have a Right (as the Giants are fabled to have done)102 to make war upon him, and to hate him. God indeed will have a Right (according to Hobbes’s Principles) to kill such, which he might with equal Justice have done, tho they had not sinn’d. But they, who so reject all Reverence towards God, as not to submit to his Precepts, nor fear his Threats, are not look’d upon as his Subjects, but his Enemies, or as living without the Limits of the Kingdom of God, whom he may at pleasure invade, as he hints,c. 15. § 2.103 But, in my Opinion, even Atheists and Epicureans, who deny a Providence, are oblig’d by the Law of Nature, (which is sufficiently promulg’d, altho by them neglected and deny’d,) to obey God; and they are Subjects by Birth, not Compact, and may therefore be punish’d by God for their Crimes as rebellious Subjects, and not invaded only, as Persons born without his Jurisdiction. But this by the by.
Nor does War, as Hobbes supposes, necessarily arise from the Passions.§XXXII. Let us now consider, if you please, what the same Author has advanc’d in his Leviathan, towards the establishing this Right of every one to all Things; for he there endeavours to infer it from different Principles. However, I cannot but observe, that Hobbes is no less inconsistent with himself, than with all others in this Point, which is the Foundation both of his Morality and Politicks. For, in his Treatise de Cive, he deduces the War of every Man against every Man, from this Right of every Man to every Thing, as from a Cause, which made it both lawful and necessary.104 Whereas, in his Leviathan, he first affirms the State of Nature to be a State of War; and thence infers a Licence to do every thing in that State, as will appear from considering the Thirteenth Chapter, and comparing the former part thereof with this in the Close. “To this War” (saith he) “of every Man against every Man, this also is consequent, that nothing can be unjust; the Notions of Right and Wrong, Justice and Injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common Power, there is no Law; where no Law, no Injustice. Force and Fraud are in War the two cardinal Virtues, &c.”105There he affirm’d, that the Invasion of the one Party, and the Resistance of the other, were both just, whence a War must needs arise just on both sides. But here he refers the Original of this War to the Nature of the human Passions, little sollicitous about the Right of commencing it; and, War once suppos’d, he affirms (without proof) that it will follow, That there is nothing unjust, That there is no Property, &c. This Reasoning in the Leviathan is more popular, but less conclusive; for it is acknowledg’d by all judicious Writers, that a War must first be prov’d just, before it can justify any Proceedings against the Enemy; nor are all things lawful, even in the justest War. The Law of Nature must therefore first be acknowledg’d; whence we may determine, whether the War to be undertaken be just, or at least permitted by right Reason, before we can infer the lawfulness of those things, which are necessary in the carrying on such War. And this is so evident, that even Hobbes himself, tho in the latter part of this Chapter he contends, that, in a State of Nature, there is no Distinction between Just and Unjust; yet in the former Part of it he endeavours to prove, “That this Power of waging War ought to be allow’d to every Man in that State, as necessary to Self-defense”;106 which is equivalent to saying, “That such a War is just or lawful.” Wherefore he is inconsistent with himself, even in the same Chapter; for whatever Argument proves, that any thing is Just and Lawful in a State of Nature, proves that there is a Distinction between Lawful and Unlawful in that State, and supposes the Obligation of some Law, by whose Permission, at least, that War may be licens’d: which is the chief Point I would establish, and which Hobbes (as we have seen) expresly denies, when he affirms nothing to be Just, or Unjust.
Let us examine by what Arguments he would prove a War of all against all to be necessary or lawful. In his Leviathan, he has not that close and compact way of Reasoning, which he aims at in his Treatise de Cive. However, he refers the Original of War to three principal Causes, Competition, Defense, and Glory.107 And he affirms, that it must necessarily take its Rise from these Passions. War from Competition arises from the Hope of Gain: A defensive War, in which we prevent others by Force or Fraud, proceeds from Fear, lest others should usurp a Dominion over us; and we wage War to acquire Fame, from a Desire of Glory.
But I care not to transcribe all his unconclusive Reasonings, in order, from these Affections, to persuade the necessity of a State of universal War; he that pleases may turn to them in the Author himself. I think it sufficient to give this general Answer: “That Men are not necessarily led or compell’d by these Passions, but that both these, and all other Passions may be temper’d and guided by Reason and Counsel; so that it is false, that they hurry Men by a natural and irresistible Force to such a War; and the Reasoning is weak, which thence concludes it lawful.” Inhuman Passions, what is produc’d in Man by a Necessity arising from the Impulse of external Objects, cannot be forbid by any Law of Nature, because Laws direct only such Actions as are in our power. But those Passions, whence Hobbes would infer the Necessity, and consequently the Lawfulness, of War, are of such a kind, (because they look into Futurity, and that often at a great distance,) as depend upon the Reason and Counsel of Men, and consequently may by these be govern’d. Even Hobbes himself elsewhere openly owns, That “those who cannot agree concerning the present” (because of their contrary Appetites) “may yet agree concerning the future, which is the Work of Reason; for Things present are perceiv’d by the Senses, Things future by Reason only.”108 And hence he acknowledges the Agreement of Mankind in this, (which is the Summary of the Laws of Nature,) that Peace is to be sought after. He is therefore inconsistent with himself, when in the Leviathan he sets them at War from those Affections, which depend upon Reason taking a prospect of Futurity, thro’ the whole Course of Life.
What is more, in the Close of this very Thirteenth Chapter, he acknowledges Men to have those Passions which have a peaceable Tendency, which are, Fear, especially of a violent Death, the Desire of the Necessaries and Comforts of Life, and the Hope of obtaining them by Industry. These Passions, if narrowly examin’d, are certainly the same with those, of which he had but just before affirm’d that they compell’d Men to War. This is the same Fear with that before-mention’d, lest others should lord it over us at pleasure, and should, in consequence, rob us of Life, whenever they so thought fit; by which Fear he had before affirm’d them to be prompted, to secure themselves by preventing and invading others. The like may be said of the Desire of Glory, which may be reckon’d among the Necessaries of Life, and also of the Hope of Gain. And thus Peace and War, according to Hobbes, are Effects of the same Causes. Certainly, if any thing in these Affections be absolutely necessary, it ought carefully to be examin’d on both sides, in order to find out, whether they more powerfully incline human Nature to Peace or War; which Hobbes has no where in his Writings done. Yet it is no less absurd to affirm any thing concerning the State of Man, and his natural Inclination to future Actions, from the sole Consideration of those things which incline him to War, without examining those things which persuade him rather to Peace, than it would be to affirm, which way a Balance would incline, from the knowledge of the Weight thrown into one Scale only. But when I have compar’d, as diligently as I can, the Causes of these Effects, and the Forces of the Powers on each side, both as they are natural Motions arising from the Impulse of external Objects, and (in some measure) depending upon the Constitution and Frame of a human Body; and also, which is of much greater Consequence, as they are excited and govern’d by Reason, taking a prospect of Man’s whole future Existence: They seem more powerfully to persuade universal Benevolence, and that Peace, which may reasonably be expected from the Exercise thereof, than that War of all against all; in which, according to Hobbes’s own Confession, is “continual Danger of violent Death, and a Life solitary, poor, brutish, and short”;109 in which therefore no Safety can with Reason be expected.
Hobbes’s Objection, That perfect Security of all possible Happiness is not, by the practice of Benevolence, to be obtain’d, Answer’d, by proving it the most effectual means of Happiness in our power, and therefore to be chosen.§XXXIII. The only Appearance of Difficulty in this Question, is, “That a perfect Security of procuring to our selves all kinds of Happiness is not to be obtain’d, tho we should promote the common Good and Peace, by the Exercise of universal Benevolence; and that, because of the unbridled Passions of some others, who, thro’ Folly and Rashness, will not propose to themselves the same End.” But this will appear no Difficulty, if we consider, “That we can do nothing with respect to Men, which will more effectually secure our Happiness”; or, (which comes to the same thing,) “That it is evidently impossible to obtain that perfect Security from all Misfortunes, proceeding from the unbounded Desires of Men; and that it is therefore necessary that we should be content to do that, among all those things which are in our power, which will be most effectual to the procuring this End.” That is, that, by constantly promoting the Happiness of all, we should first bring them over to some degree of Friendship, and then to civil or religious Society, as effectually as we can; and that afterwards, by the same Benevolence, we should continue them in that State. Whatever is short of, or contrary to, this Endeavour, is so far short of, or contrary to, our utmost Endeavours to promote our own and the common Happiness of all, by those means which, by the Light of Nature, we know to be the most effectual. By this Method we sollicit to our Aid and Defence all rational Beings, whose joint Happiness is that common Good we are in pursuit of, who will therefore concur with us in the same Views, except they be blinded by some Passion, and have so far divested themselves of their Reason. If, thro’ any Inconstancy of Mind, we neglect this End, or hurt any one innocent Person, it is evident, that all are, in some measure, neglected and provok’d; for every one will have just reason to fear the same Evil at our hands, which we have done to the Innocent.110 And this Hobbes himself was aware of, in his Explanation of Compassion upon his own Principles, in his Treatise of Human Nature.111 In short, the Force of these Passions, Hope, Fear, &c. which may incline Men either to Peace or War, is to be estimated from the Force of those Causes, which excite those Passions in Men; for, since these Causes are Things good or evil, which our Reason judges possible or certain, in consequence of the Actions of other rational Agents, we can no otherwise know the Force of those Causes, than by considering the Nature of those Agents. Wherefore the present Question, when we are in search after a Rule of Action pointed out by Nature, is brought to this short Issue, whether, (without any regard to Civil Government,) it be manifest to Men, from such Knowledge of the Nature of God and other Men as is easily attainable, that they shall better consult the Happiness and Security of all, and of themselves in particular, by universal Benevolence, (which includes Innocence, Fidelity, Gratitude, and all the other Virtues,) than by Hobbes’s “Anticipation” (explain’d by him in this Chapter) as “The most reasonable way for any Man to secure himself in this Diffidence of one another; that is, by Force or Wiles to master the Persons of all Men he can, so long, till he see no other Power great enough to endanger him?”112 I affirm it to be evident, that whoever best consults both his own Happiness, and that of others, will compose and settle all those Passions, which may stir up needless Quarrels and Disturbances, such as vain Hopes, Fears, &c. Nor is it less evident, that rational Agents are the principal Causes of such Happiness. Wherefore he takes the best Measures to obtain this End, who most effectually reconciles these Causes to himself, which he does, who accommodates himself to their most prevailing and natural Principles of Action, viz. the Power and the Will of acting according to Reason, by pursuing that Happiness only, which is connected with, and subservient to, the Happiness of All. Hence all may conspire and co-operate with us to the same end, securely, and without prejudice to their rational Desire of obtaining their own Happiness.
No one can rationally desire or expect, from external Causes, greater degrees of Happiness, than what may proceed from the nature of other rational Causes, (between whom and him the dependence is mutual,) and which is therefore consistent with that Happiness of them all, which they all naturally desire. But it is manifest, that this common Good of all is greater than the Good of any one, or of a few, as the Whole is greater than a Part; and that the like Sentiments in all other rational Beings, are the necessary result of the nature of Things.
Upon these Principles, those rational Beings, who have so far cultivated their own Understanding, as to know certainly that this common Good is the greatest, and that the adequate Causes thereof will effect the greatest Happiness of each Individual which is possible in Nature, will most assuredly pursue the same End with us, and will therefore be ready to assist us. Nor are these Principles of living happily so difficult to know, but that we may reasonably presume them, both understood and approv’d of, by almost all other rational Beings; or, at least; that they may be all instructed to believe these Principles, except it appear evidently, that they have entirely given themselves up to the Conduct of unreasonable Passions. These Propositions seem to me to have the greatest Evidence, little different from that of mathematical Axioms. “The good of the Whole, is greater than the good of a Part. The Causes, which most effectually preserve and perfect a Whole, or Aggregate, whose Parts mutually require one another’s Assistance, do in like manner preserve and perfect the Parts thereof.” The Aid of those, who do not acknowledge such first Principles of acting rationally, is either not to be sought after; or, if necessary, it is to be procur’d by the Assistance of those who do acknowledge them. On the contrary, Hobbes’s Anticipation endeavours to compel all others to things evidently impossible to be done, which they would therefore be as unwilling to undertake, as unable to execute; for, upon that Principle, every particular Person would endeavour to force all, to obey him only as his sovereign Lord. But since such Dominion of every particular Person is in direct opposition to the like Dominion of all others, it is no less impossible, that several such Dominions should at once take place, than that the Motion of the same Body should at once have a thousand contrary Directions. It is equally absurd to suppose, that Men should attempt such Impossibilities, after they clearly understand them to be such, as it is that they should effect them. These Observations, drawn from the nature of rational Beings, and from the practical Principles of a right Judgment, (which all rational Beings, as such, are endow’d with,) prove, that universal Benevolence is a more effectual means of Happiness, than Hobbes’s Method of Anticipation. I shall offer more that may be reduc’d to this Head, where I designedly treat of Human Nature.
Likewise, universal Experience confirms Men’s general Tendency, rather to Acts of Benevolence, than Malevolence.§XXXIV. I shall confirm what I have said, by the addition of only two Observations, confirm’d by the concurring Experience of all Ages.
First, Bordering States enjoy a greater Security and sweeter Fruits of Peace, by means of Alliances, which subsist only by Fidelity and some degree of mutual Benevolence, than when they are at open War, and practising upon one another by Force or Fraud.
Secondly, Even in civil Society there are numberless Cases, in which the Authority and coercive Power of the State cannot exert themselves, in which, however, we frequently observe, that Men mutually obey the Laws of Innocence, Fidelity, Gratitude, and all the other Virtues, and much less frequently presume upon a liberty of hurting others, than is usual in a State of War. No one has greater Security, that his Life or Possessions shall not be wrested from him by the Perjury and false Testimonies of his Fellow-Subjects, than what arises from the Fidelity of Men, the Violation whereof the civil Magistrate can rarely detect or punish. But it is needless to add more in answer to what Hobbes has advanc’d, of the necessity or lawfulness of warring against all, from the nature of the Passions.
In pursuit of the same Point he advances a new Argument in these words: “The Desires and other Passions of Men are in themselves no Sin: No more are the Actions that proceed from those Passions, till they know a Law that forbids them; which, till Laws be made, they cannot know; nor can any Law be made till they have agreed upon the Person that shall make it.”113 I answer, that Actions forbid by right Reason, (which is the natural Law of God,) are Sins; tho Men do not see this Legislator, nor make him their Governor; provided it sufficiently appear to them, that he has a Right of Dominion over all, and that he has enacted those Laws. Both which Hobbes elsewhere often acknowledges. Altho here he affirms, that Men are not bound by Laws, to which they themselves have not given their consent. Certainly, since Sin is the Transgression of a Law, if it be prov’d that there are Laws of Nature, the Transgression of them will be truly a Sin, tho none had consented to the Authority of God enacting them. But because I have before prov’d this in a summary way, and shall do it more at large hereafter, there is no occasion to insist upon it here.
Which Hobbes offers to disprove; by pointing out what the Dictates of Reason are, from the practice of Animals void of Reason;However, I will not dismiss this Article of his Thirteenth Chapter, before I have advertis’d the Reader, by how strenuous an Argument Hobbes has confirm’d this his Position, of the Right of War of all against allout of the Bounds of civil Society; which, in the last Edition, he has added to the rest, near the Close, in these words. “But why am I at the pains to demonstrate to Men of Learning, what even Dogs themselves are not ignorant of, who bark at those who approach them, by Day at Strangers only, but by Night at all?”114 Notably argu’d! The Rights of Nature (that is, the Power granted by right Reason) are to be learn’d from the Example of Dogs void of Reason; they bark at all that approach them in the dark; therefore it is lawful for Men, in a State of Nature, to murder all, even their familiar Friends, whom they meet with by Day. Let Hobbists rather learn to warn others, by their harmless barking, to be upon their guard; but let them not, as he has instructed them, attack the unguarded by Force or Wiles: Let them learn to watch before their own Doors; but let them not invade the Rights of others. But it is time to dismiss such Levities.
And by falsly asserting, “That Justice cannot be the Quality of a man existing alone in the worldWhat he afterwards adds to the same purpose, has more of Subtilty in it. “Justice and Injustice are none of the Faculties either of the Body or Mind: If they were, they might be in a Man that were alone in the World, as well as his Senses and Passions: They are Qualities that relate to Men in Society, not in Solitude.”115 But what he would insinuate is false, if it be understood of a Society form’d by human Compact. I own indeed, that external Acts of Justice for the most part respect others, (tho it is possible for a Man to be injurious to himself;) but the Propension or Will, to give every one his own, (in which the Nature of Justice consists,) both may and ought to be in a Man in Solitude. Were there but one Man in the World, he might be dispos’d to allow others, whenever they should be created, equal Rights to those he claim’d to himself. Nor is there any reason, why such an Inclination should not be call’d natural, tho it could not produce external Acts, in a Man existing Single. As Hobbes himself (I believe) will not deny Man’s Propension to propagate his Species to be natural, as he is an Animal, tho he were suppos’d alone, as Adam was before the Creation of Eve.
Lastly, Hobbes, in order to support his Hypotheses, gives absurd Definitions of Right, and of Right Reason.§XXXV. Lastly, because Hobbes’s whole Hypothesis is built upon this one Principle; and (as I believe) he perceiv’d, that this Right of every Man’s warring against all, and of arrogating every thing to himself, was not very consistent with the true Definition of Right, which he himself had given in the Passage above quoted, therefore in the beginning of his Fourteenth Chapter of the Leviathan, he has given a different Definition of natural Right, thus: “The Right of Nature is the Liberty each Man hath to use his own Power as he will himself, for the Preservation of his own Nature.”116Now truly, by the Name of Right, is to be understood, not the Liberty of acting according to right Reason, or any Law of Nature; but of acting any thing, as he will himself.
But lest Hobbes should seem too inconsistent, in order to reconcile him to himself, I will discover the truth of this Affair, which is, that by the Name of “right Reason,” he before understood, in his Treatise de Cive, “every Man’s own Opinion,” (as appears from his Note on c. 2. § 1.)117 not excepting what is most absurd, and contradictory to the Judgment of the same Person at another time, as well as to that of all others; and in this Sense, indeed, right Reason is consistent with every Man’s own Will: But neither right Reason, nor Right, are thus pliable to every Man’s pleasure. These are as inflexible as the Beam of the Balance is suppos’d to be; for right Reason consists in a rigid conformity with Things themselves, whose Natures are invariable, as I shall hereafter prove at large; and Right extends it self no farther than right Reason permits, or pronounces to be consistent with that End, which it proposes to all rational Agents. It is in vain, and without example, to affirm that any one has a Right to do those things, which are neither allow’d nor permitted by any Law. There is no doubt, but that Man has a natural Power, or Will, which he himself may determine to act which way he pleases. But when we are enquiring into the Right of Acting, the Question is, “Which, among those Actions which are in our power, are lawful?” Any Answer to this Question, without respect had to some Law, at least that of Nature, is absurd. Any one can either hang, or throw down a Precipice, either himself, or any other innocent Person; yet no one will affirm, that any one has a Right to do these things, because Right and right Reason which directs it, respect a good or true End, namely, that Happiness which is attainable consistently with the Rights of others, and the Means subservient to that End. But the Will of Man may rashly depart from both these. All others, if at any time they call Liberty by the name of Natural Right, understand a Liberty allow’d and guarded by the Laws of Nature. But if Hobbes pretends that he has a Licence to call such a Liberty of acting any thing at pleasure for Self-preservation, by the name of Right, (tho no one beside himself ever used that Word in this Sense,) because Philosophers are at liberty to limit the Significations of Words according to their own Definitions; this will be a sufficient Answer: Allowing his confining that Word to that Sense, in which he alone uses it, (for others are not oblig’d to make use of that Word in the same Sense;) it is incumbent upon him to prove, “That such a liberty of acting whatever he thinks fit for his own Preservation, does, or ever did, exist in that State”; or, “That there is nothing to forbid, and, consequently, to hinder Men so to act, laying aside the Consideration of Civil Laws.” I affirm, “That, even in that State, there are certain Dictates of right Reason, which God suggests, by the Nature of Things, to the Minds of Men, which denounce most grievous Punishments attending them, who attempt any thing, tho for their own Preservation, contrary to the common Good.” Nor is this a bare Assertion, I prove it undeniably.
Hobbes no otherwise proves, that such a Liberty, as what he calls Right, is granted us, than by affirming, that we cannot will to act otherwise;118 which is contrary to every Man’s manifest Experience. For my own part, I profess, that I can will to act otherwise, and believe, that great Numbers have willingly laid down their Lives for the common Good. So weak is this Foundation, which supports all the rest of his Morality and Politicks; so that all those Arguments, which I offer, in order to establish the Law of Nature, as it respects the Good of others, will prove that, even before the erecting Civil Government, it was not lawful for any one to preserve himself by the Violation of that Law: And they render ineffectual and ridiculous that unbounded Right asserted by Hobbes, which it will never be lawful to use, except when a Man’s Will is conformable to the Law, and consequently limited.
But to what purpose take I so much pains to prove this Right of acting arbitrarily against all, vain? since even Hobbes, tho in contradiction to himself, acknowledges almost as much; for he allows (c. 1. § 11.) “That this Right is unprofitable.”119 He himself, who had concluded the immediate foregoing Article with affirming, “That Profit is the Measure of Right,”120 does yet here immediately affirm, “That this Right,” which he had taken so much pains to establish, “is unprofitable.” Nay the very words, Right (as he himself has defin’d it) and unprofitable, (which he has join’d to Right in the Margin of that Article,) are inconsistent; for in both places he defines “Right” by “An Use of Liberty”: but he affirms, upon the same Subject, that no Use of Liberty consists in what is “unprofitable.” But right Reason does not use to tack together such contradictory Notions, nor is so regardless of Futurity, as to affirm that War to be necessary to every one’s Preservation, which it will immediately perceive to be destructive to all: Therefore Hobbes’s Reason, by which he endeavours to establish these Opinions, is not right.
Remark on Chapter I
I think our Author is abundantly too general in this Chapter of the Nature of Things; and that he should either here, or in his Chapter concerning Human Nature, or in that concerning Good, have shewn more particularly, “How the most of our Enjoyments are general or extensive in their Use,” and, “That publick and private Happiness are so interwoven, that the very Actions which promote the private Interest of any particular Person, do in all, at least in all common Cases, necessarily tend to the Advantage of the Publick: That our Possessions of all Kinds, our Lands, our Houses, our Money, are all enjoy’d by many”: And, “That it is not possible to confine them to the Use of one.” The very Clothes we wear are, in some measure, common in their Use: Nay, the very Food we eat is not confin’d to one, but returns to its Parent Earth, and there contributes to the growth of those Vegetables, which may, perhaps, serve for the Nourishment of the Inhabitants of the most distant Countries. Nay, the very individual Particles of Air we breathe, are not our Property, but perform the same kindly Office to Thousands. Our bodily Labour too is always general in its Use: We can’t so much as plant a Tree, or manure a Field, but Thousands reap the Fruit of our Labours; and tho our Labour be most extensive in its Use, yet we are utterly unable, without Assistance, to provide for our selves the most simple Necessaries of Life. The most ingenious Mechanick would not, perhaps, be able of his own proper Labour, to furnish himself out so much as a commodious Garment. Who, that but reflects upon the Number of Hands that one single Garment must pass thro’, before it becomes fit for Use, and upon the Number of curious Arts that contribute to its Perfection, (a competent Knowledge in none of which can be attained without the Industry of some Years:) Who, I say, that yields but the least Attention to these things, can doubt of our Dependence, nay, of the Necessity of our Dependence, on one another?
These things, which I but hint at, are, I think, worthy of the most serious Contemplation; and were they but fully laid open to our View, we should have a clearer insight into the Beauties of the moral World, and be at once fill’d with Love and Admiration of its Author.
The Force of the Reasoning, that is built upon the Observations that are above hinted at, may be thus express’d. It appears, from those Observations, “That the publick Good is, in the greater Number of Cases, most plainly connected with private Advantage. Therefore we have reason to believe, from the Uniformity of Nature, that there is the like Connexion in those other Cases, wherein, from our Short-sightedness into the Consequences of Action, we can’t perceive it with so great Evidence.”
[1. ]The ancient skeptics to whom Cumberland refers probably included Sextus Empiricus, whose works were revived in the sixteenth century. Modern skeptics included Montaigne (Essays, II.12) and Hobbes. For the history of skepticism in general during this period, see Popkin, The History of Scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza (1979); for the relationship between skepticism and natural law ideas, see Tuck, “The ‘Modern’ Theory of Natural Law” (1987), pp. 99–122.
[2. ][Maxwell] “Which is as far as is necessary to discover his Obligation to obey the Laws of Nature, as will appear in the Sequel of this Treatise.”
[3. ]The Royal Society was founded in 1660, with Charles II as patron. Cumberland was not a member of the society, which was not unusual for provincial virtuosi. Scientific references in De Legibus Naturae show that Cumberland kept up with the society’s activities through its journal, Philosophical Transactions. For the history of the Royal Society and its fellows during this period, see Hunter, Science and Society in Restoration England (1981) and Establishing the New Science: The Experience of the Early Royal Society (1989).
[4. ]Maxwell refers the reader to his note on section VIII. The last line of Cumberland’s formula adapts the Roman law maxim “salus populi suprema lex.”
[5. ]Cicero, De Legibus, I.vii.22–23.
[6. ]The distinction can be found in Epictetus, Discourses, I.1.
[7. ]The fascination with the possibility of a moral science was common to ethical theorists of the period. See, for example, Pufendorf, Elementorum Jurisprudentiae Universalis (1660), 1.3; 11.16; More, Divine Dialogues (1668), p. 6; Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 4.3.18.
[8. ][Maxwell] “The Author here means by Benevolence, ‘A Desire of Good, both Private and Publick.’ In this Sense of the Word his general Proposition, § 4. amounts to no more than this; ‘If all Mankind use all Means in their Power to procure the greatest Happiness to Mankind, Mankind would enjoy the greatest Happiness in their Power,’ which Proposition is indeed self-evident; but wants another Argument to make it conclusive, which Argument I shall have occasion to mention in a following Note. For it is no good Consequence to say, ‘Such a Method of acting in any Individual contributes most to the Sum of the Happiness of Mankind upon the Whole; therefore it contributes most to the Happiness of that Individual.’ Much less, is it a Consequence to say, ‘Such a Method of acting in any Individual contributes most to the Sum of the Happiness of Mankind upon the whole; therefore such a Method of acting would contribute most to the Happiness of any single Person, whether the rest concurr’d or no.’
[9. ]See also ch. 5, sects. 18, 43, and 58.
[10. ]For Descartes’ discussion of mathesis universalis in the Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii (1628), see Cottingham, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes (1985), vol. I, p. 19.
[11. ]Cumberland is referring to Christopher Wren’s geometrically designed lens-grinding machine described in Philosophical Transactions 48 (1669), p. 961.
[12. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 46, p. 459.
[13. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 14.19, pp. 163–64.
[14. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 34, pp. 261–62.
[15. ]Hobbes, Elementorum Philosophiae sectio prima De Corpore (1655), p. 394.
[16. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 15.14, pp. 178–79.
[17. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, Appendix, ch. 3, p. 540; ibid., appendix, ch. 1, p. 519.
[18. ][Maxwell] “That is, the Authority of the Legislature, which establish’d the 39 Articles, and which he makes to be the only Standard of Good and Evil.”
[19. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 15.14, p. 178.
[20. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 34, p. 261.
[21. ]Hobbes, De Corpore, 26.1, p. 236.
[22. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 12, p. 64.
[23. ]Ibid., ch. 26, p. 174. Maxwell notes section 7, whereas the reference should be to section 4.
[24. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 3.33, p. 56; see also Leviathan, ch. 15, p. 100.
[25. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 3.33, pp. 56–57.
[26. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 26, pp. 186–87.
[28. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 4.1, pp. 58–59.
[29. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 12, p. 65.
[30. ]Cumberland acknowledges that his readers might not share his preference for Cartesian natural philosophy.
[31. ]Aratus, Phaenomena, 5; cited by St. Paul in Acts 17.28.
[32. ][Maxwell] “As common Benevolence of all towards all, is of use to Mankind, consider’d as one Body, so the several Species of Benevolence, are of use to their respective particular Societies, wherein they are found. In as much as the Members of those inferior Societies are also in divers manners dependent of one another; and as there is a more strict and necessary Dependence of the Members of those inferiour Societies upon one another, than upon the Members of the universal Body: So the Species of Benevolence, that are distributed among those lesser Societies, do each of them exceed the common Benevolence; and the Author of Nature has most exactly proportion’d the Measure of the Benevolence of each Society to the Degree of the Dependence of its Members upon one another. Thus the most necessary and absolute Dependence of one Person upon another that is any where to be found among Men, is that of an Infant upon its Parent; and here hath Nature provided the strongest Benevolence, which is not only absolutely necessary for the Preservation of the helpless Infant, but is productive of a grateful Return of like care and support in the old Age and Imbecillity of the Parent. In like manner there are several other things, which naturally add to common Benevolence, the chief of which are, Benefits receiv’d, a Similitude of Pursuits among Youth, and of the settled Methods of Life in middle Age, Acquaintance, Union of Interests, Neighbourhood, & c. All which, if strictly examin’d both in themselves and in their various Degrees, and applied to the several Relations among Mankind; it will be found, ‘That they naturally produce the greatest Benevolence, where it is the most useful; that is, where there is the strictest Dependence, and where the Parties have the most frequent Occasions of mutual Assistance.’
[33. ]This account is drawn from Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.10–13, pp. 28–30; Leviathan, ch. 13.
[34. ]Cumberland refers to “transcendental notions,” a scholastic usage effaced by Maxwell. Cumberland, De Legibus Naturae, p. 24.
[35. ][Maxwell] “i.e. Arbitrary Signs or Words.”
[36. ]“Load,” or “cargo.”
[37. ]In the original work, Cumberland begins section XIX here. Cumberland, De Legibus Naturae, p. 27.
[38. ]A comment indicating that Cumberland’s original version contained much more by way of scientific illustration.
[39. ]Hobbes, De Corpore, 30.15, p. 261.
[40. ]Hobbes, De Homine (1658), 11.4, p. 62.
[41. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 6, pp. 28–29.
[42. ]Ch. 3.
[43. ]The distinction is drawn from Epictetus, Discourses, I.1.
[44. ][Maxwell] “This Head being a distinct one from both the precedent and sub-sequent, but not taken notice of as such by the Author, it would seem to be a Paragraph inserted by him, after writing the rest; which has occasion’d the Translator to make a Head more than the Author.”
[45. ]For example, Epictetus, Discourses, II.4; Diogenes Laertius, Lives, VI.72, II.4; Cicero, De Finibus, III.20; Seneca, De Beneficiis, VII.12.
[46. ]A paraphrase of the argument from ch. 13 of Leviathan.
[47. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.7, p. 27.
[48. ]Aristotle, Politics, II.
[49. ]Justinian, Digest, 8.2.26; Justinian, Code, 10.34.2.
[50. ]Cf. Cicero, De Officiis, I.4.
[51. ]Euclid, Elementa Geometriae, VI, prop. 12.
[52. ]Cf. Justinian, Digest, 1.1.10.
[53. ][Maxwell]. “That is, we shall be wanting, both to the publick Happiness, and to our own.”
[54. ]The original text has “Causis perceptivis boni communis . . .” (p. 39). Barbeyrac (Traité Philosophique, p. 74, n. 3) plausibly argues that Cumberland intended “praecipuis” rather than “perceptivis”; the amended passage would be: “We should first perform what is agreeable to the principal causes of the common good.”
[55. ]Maxwell notes that he corrects “Contrariorum seu Corrumpentium” to “Conservantium et Corrumpentium.” Barbeyrac agrees (Traité Philosophique, p. 75, n. 4) although the phrase is left uncorrected in Cumberland’s interleaved edition (p. 41).
[56. ]Juvenal, Satires, XV.159.
[57. ]Cumberland’s reference to vortices indicates his familiarity with Descartes, Principia Philosophica (1644).
[58. ]Galileo Galilei (1564–1642); René Descartes (1596–1640); John Wallis (1616–1703); Christopher Wren (1632–1723); Christiaan Huygens (1629–95).
[59. ]Cumberland’s discussion is based upon Cartesian conservation theory. He makes similar use of the theory in 2.15. It is worth noting that at the time he was writing, Wren and Huygens’s experiments were revealing evidence of entropic tendencies in ballistic impacts, which undermined the analogy Cumberland sought to draw. See Scott, The Conflict Between Atomism and Conservation Theory 1644–1860 (1970), pp. 6–13. Barbeyrac (Traité Philosophique, p. 77, n. 2) also notes that by the eighteenth century, plenism had been abandoned by the best philosophers, especially in England.
[60. ]Chapter 5.
[61. ]Cf. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, III.1155.
[62. ]Gassendi, Animadversiones in Decimum Librum Diogenis Laertii (1649), vol. III, p. 1758.
[63. ][Maxwell notes the Latin] “Homo sum, humani nihil à me alium alienum puto.” The line is from Terence, Heautontimorumenos [the self-tormentor], act 1, scene 1, verse 25.
[64. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 31, p. 243. Maxwell has simply quoted the English text of Leviathan here, and Barbeyrac follows him (Traité Philosophique, p. 79, n. 5). However, Cumberland’s Latin text (De Legibus Naturae, p. 45) draws attention to an important change between the English and Latin editions of Leviathan. Cumberland quotes Hobbes’s Latin edition from “There is no action of man” to “suffer all the pains annexed to it.” He then notes that in the English edition, Hobbes comments that “these pains are the natural punishments of those actions, which are the beginning of more harm than good.” Hobbes not only removed this sentence from the Latin, but he also truncated the paragraph, thereby removing an extensive discussion of natural punishments. Curley’s edition does not note this change; see Hobbes, Leviathan (1668), p. 172.
[65. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.11–12, p. 29.
[66. ]Ibid., 3.27, p. 53: “In the face of an inordinate desire for an immediate good, most men are disinclined to observe the laws given above, however well they recognize them.” Cf. 3.31, p. 55: “All men easily recognize that this state [of war] is evil when they are in it; and consequently that peace is good.”
[67. ]Ibid., 1.10, p. 28.
[68. ]Ibid., 1.7–10n, pp. 27–29.
[69. ]Ibid., 1.10n, pp. 28–29.
[70. ]Ibid., 1.7, p. 27.
[71. ]Ibid., 1.4, p. 26.
[72. ]Ibid., 1.7, p. 27.
[73. ]Cumberland’s property theory favors the first occupant following Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacis, II.2.2; see also Parkin, “Probability, Punishments, and Property: Richard Cumberland’s Sceptical Science of Sovereignty” in Hunter and Saunders, eds., Natural Law and Civil Sovereignty (2002), pp. 76–90.
[74. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 14.3, p. 156.
[75. ]Ibid., 1.7, p. 27. Hobbes’s intention, much clearer in Leviathan, is to distinguish between laws and rights. Cumberland argues that it is impossible to define right without reference to law. The argument revolves around the concepts of subjective and objective right, reflecting Hobbes’s skepticism on the one hand and Cumberland’s optimism about knowledge of an objective order in nature on the other.
[76. ]Ibid., 1.10, p. 28.
[77. ]Wolfsbane (Aconitum napellus) was a well-known poison reputed to be derived from the saliva of Cerberus (Pliny, Natural History, XXVII.4). It was also used therapeutically from the eighteenth century onward.
[78. ]Cf. Cicero, De Legibus, I.xvi. 43–45.
[79. ]Cumberland includes a small addition in his own manuscript copy: “Thus one may never presume that men might have accorded to any supreme Judge the power to ignore the natural causes of the public good, or to replace them, as it might please them, with others which are not adequate.” Cumberland, Trinity College MS.adv.c.2.4, p. 51.
[80. ]Referring to Hobbes’s definition in On the Citizen, 1.7, p. 27.
[81. ]The numbering here is added by Maxwell.
[82. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.12, p. 29.
[83. ]Ibid., 1.8, p. 27.
[84. ]Cf. Cicero, De Natura Deorum, II.lxiv; De Finibus, V.xiii.
[85. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 14.9; Latin Leviathan, ch. 17, p. 107, n. 2: “The histories of ancient Greece teach the same thing also, that where there were no authorities except the paternal, theft, on land and sea, was a trade not only lawful, but also, provided they abstained from cruelty and from the tools of agriculture, honorable.”
[86. ]Genesis 1.28–29; Selden, Mare Clausum (1635), I.4 [Maxwell copied Cumberland’s mistaken reference to VIII.4], p. 11–15.
[87. ]Cumberland refers to Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacis, II. 2.2, and the Ciceronian allusion is to De Finibus, III.xx.67.
[88. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 15.5, p. 173.
[89. ]As Barbeyrac notes (Traité Philosophique, 88, n. 4), it is true that the passage states that individuals have a right to all things from power, but Hobbes suggests (On the Citizen, 9.2) that no individual has this power from infancy because they are under the power of the parent. Cf. Pufendorf, De Jure Naturae, I.6.9.
[90. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 14.9, p. 158.
[91. ]Ibid., 1.10n, pp. 28–29; Cf. 14.9, p. 158.
[92. ]Ibid., 14.9, p. 158.
[93. ]Ibid., 2.1n, pp. 33–34.
[94. ]Ibid., 3.27, p. 54.
[95. ]Ibid., 2.3, p. 34.
[96. ]Ibid., 1.10n, p. 28; cf. Pufendorf, De Jure Naturae, I.7.13; I.8.1.
[97. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 3.4, p. 45.
[98. ]Ibid., 2.1, p. 33: “However, all men allow that any act not contrary to right reason is right, and therefore we have to hold that any act in conflict with right reason (i.e. in contradiction with some truth reached by correct reasoning from true principles) is wrong.”
[99. ]Cumberland may be referring to On the Citizen, 15.3, pp. 172–73.
[100. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 2.12, p. 37.
[102. ]Cumberland refers to the wars of the giants against the gods of Olympus reported in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, I.6.1, and mentioned in numerous classical sources.
[103. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 15.2, p. 172: “Nor do we count Atheists, because they do not believe that God exists.” Cf. Pufendorf, De Jure Naturae, III.4.4.
[104. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 1.12, p. 29.
[105. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 78 (see also p. 78, n. 9). Maxwell quotes the English text, but Cumberland follows the Latin, which omits “Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice.” Cumberland, DeLegibus Naturae, p. 58.
[106. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 75.
[107. ]Ibid., p. 76.
[108. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 3.31, p. 55.
[109. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 76.
[110. ]Barbeyrac (Traité Philosophique, p. 94, n. 1) detects in Cumberland’s Latin an allusion to one of Publius Syrus’s Sententiae: “Multis minatur, qui uni facit injuriam.” He that injures one, threatens many.
[111. ]The title refers to the English translation (1650) of The Elements of Law (1640), 9.10.
[112. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 13, p. 75.
[113. ]Ibid., p. 77.
[114. ]Ibid., p.77, n. 6.
[115. ]Ibid., p. 78.
[116. ]Ibid., ch. 14, p. 79.
[117. ]Hobbes, On the Citizen, 2.1, pp. 33–34.
[118. ]Ibid., 1.7, p. 27.
[119. ]Ibid., 1.11, p. 29: “But it was of no use to have a common right of this kind. For the effect of this right is almost the same as if there were no right at all. For although one could say of anything, this is mine, still he could not enjoy it because of his neighbour, who claimed the same thing to be his by equal right and with equal force.”
[120. ]Ibid., 1.10, p. 28.